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Michael A. Stackpole

fantasy literature author Michael Stackpole(1957- )
Michael A. Stackpole has won awards in the realms of podcasting, game designer, computer game design, screenwriting, editing, graphic novel writing and novel writing. He lives in Arizona and frequently travels the United States attending conventions and teaching writing workshops. He also writes Star Wars and Battletech sci/fi novels. Learn more at Michael A. Stackpole’s website.

The DragonCrown War Cycle: Fanboy fantasy at its very worst


I enjoyed The Dark Glory War, the prequel to The Dragoncrown War Cycle trilogy, a fair amount. That being said, the story took a steady downhill slide from there.

It is pure fanboy fantasy, and at its very worst. These heroes have all the personality of mud. The men are all “humble” and act completely shocked to find themselves in the roles of heroes. And the women are downright offensive. These strong, proud, independent women, who turn into docile, eager-to-please slaves when their men look at them. They fall in love with the male protagonists, even though they hardly know them, and the males have few qualities worth falling in love with as it is.
The “heroes” of the books are always going on in the vein of “We're heroes, because...” as though they're try... Read More

A Secret Atlas: Slow in places, solid start

A Secret Atlas by Michael A. Stackpole

A Secret Atlas has its flaws, but overall makes for a solidly enjoyable read, especially as it generally (with some exceptions) improves as one moves through it.

The story begins in Nalenyr, one of the "Nine Principalities", the divided remnants of an empire that along with much of the known world was brought to near ruin centuries earlier in the Great Cataclysm. The novel focuses most of its attention on the Anturasi family, whose patriarch Qiro has the Talent (capital T intentional) of mapmaking. His charts have for years allowed Nalenyr to amass wealth and now his two grandsons (whose father Qiro may or may not have purposely sent to his death on an exploration mission) are each sent on a long and vital mission of exploration. One takes ship to expand Nalenyr's knowledge of the world, the oceans, the best shipping routes for trade. The other goes overland, partial... Read More

Cartomancy: Fun middle book ends in a cliffhanger

Cartomancy by Michael A. Stackpole

It's not uncommon for the second book in a fantasy trilogy to suffer the middle-book syndrome — a transition novel that doesn't live up to the quality of the preceding volume but is essential in appreciating the third. Thankfully, that isn't the case with Cartomancy, the sequel to A Secret Atlas.

In fact, Cartomancy is more exciting because Michael Stackpole planted the seeds in the first novel and what you get here is all the action and excitement. Moreover, Stackpole has not only mastered the art of integrating various characters and plots, but knows when to end his chapters, whetting the readers' appetites and leaving them wanting more.

Another element going for Stackpole is that while this is undeniably traditional epic fantasy, he infuses it with new elements as well as pr... Read More

The New World: Lots of action

The New World by Michael A. Stackpole

Retaining the suspense and excitement of the previous book, The New World brings to a close the epic The Age of Discovery series. Michael A. Stackpole's characterization and sense of timing remain his strengths, as well as his ability to deliver the unexpected to readers.

The New World features lots of action and combat scenes, as well as the usual elements of epic fantasy including honor, betrayal, and a climactic battle. The novel kept me on the edge of my seat, and Stackpole's use of language is quite compelling. The ending is a bit indulgent, but not to the point that it ruins an otherwise kinetic trilogy.

Cartomancy, the second book in the series, was superior in my opinion, but The New World Read More

At the Queen’s Command: A fantasy twist on the American Revolutionary War

At the Queen’s Command by Michael A. Stackpole

It’s 1763, and the Crown Colonies of Mystria are in turmoil. Unwillingly, they are becoming the new battleground in the ongoing war between their colonial master Norisle and their rivals, the Tharyngians, after the ongoing conflict on the continent of Auropa. Simultaneously, some Mystrians are beginning to feel that the young colonies don’t owe allegiance to the distant Norillian queen anymore, with underground texts that advocate independence growing in popularity.

If all of this doesn’t sound familiar yet, just change Norisle to England, Tharyngia to France, Auropa to Europe and Mystria to America, because At the Queen’s Command is essentially a fantasy twist on the colonial side of the Seven Years’ War and the first stirrings of the Revolutionary War, with future books in the CROWN COLONIES series probably focusing more on the ... Read More

Of Limited Loyalty: Sluggish

Of Limited Loyalty  by Michael A. Stackpole

Of Limited Loyalty is Michael Stackpole’s second book in the CROWN COLONIES series, set in an alternate version of our world where magic exists and dragons and other creatures are real, but politics and other social conditions evolved much as they did in reality.

In the previous installment, At the Queen’s Command, we were introduced to Owen Strake, a young Officer sent to Mystria and serving the Crown Governor Prince Vladimir. Owen is so noble at times that it almost hurts. While I greatly admire that about him, his unwillingness to open his eyes to reality becomes such a constant problem that one begins to feel like he deserves the pain he suffers. Sometimes being an honorable person can be carried to a painful extreme…

In Of Limited Loyalty our main characters, Prince V... Read More

Steampunk’d: Uneven, not recommended

Steampunk'd by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg

Steampunk’d is an anthology edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg. The most common premise of steampunk is an idea that technology — steam-driven technology — went in a different direction during the Victorian era. The best steampunk stories create a sense of otherness, a truly different world, while some tales just dangle steampunk tropes like jewelry or fashion accessories.

I’m a cautious consumer of themed anthologies because the work can be uneven, and that certainly is the case with Steampunk’d.

“Foretold,” by Bradley Beaulieu, does create a different world. In Russia, Maks, a seer, uses his orrery ... Read More

More speculative fiction by Michael A. Stackpole

The Dark Conspiracy — (1991-1992) Publisher: Tycho Caine is a man with a mission. He’s sure of that. But, waking up in a body bag with amnesia, he not sure of much else. Except that someone wants him dead. The New York Times Bestselling author of I, Jedi and Rogue Squadron, Michael A. Stackpole brings you an exciting adventure novel of a near-future world where technology and occult mysticism merge. Dark forces and hidden masters conspire to control humanity, and Tycho Caine needs to figure out which side he’s on.

science fiction book reviews Michael Stackpole Dark Conspiracy 1. A Gathering Evil 2. Evil Ascending 3. Evil Triumphant science fiction book reviews Michael Stackpole Dark Conspiracy 1. A Gathering Evil 2. Evil Ascending 3. Evil Triumphant science fiction book reviews Michael Stackpole Dark Conspiracy 1. A Gathering Evil 2. Evil Ascending 3. Evil Triumphant

Realms of Chaos — (1997-1998) Publisher: An apprentice swordsman, Locke has ridden the narrow trail to the City of the Sorcerers to see with his own eyes the Ward Walls that hold back the realms of Chaos. It is Locke’s dream to become a Chaos Rider, and seek his destiny beyond the Wall. It is Locke’s hope that somewhere, in the wildness where time and change rage out of control, his lost father still survives. But more than just survival is at stake. For on the other side of the Wall awaits a Darkness beyond all ken — and evil inchoate that will test the steel of one young hero and, indeed, all of that bold and foolish race called humankind.

Michael A. Stackpole 1. A Hero Born 2. An Enemy Reborn Michael A. Stackpole 1. A Hero Born 2. An Enemy Reborn

Merlin Bloodstone Mystery Novellas — (2008-2013) Publisher: A notorious serial killed — dubbed the Deathdealer by the press — decorates his kills with a spread of Tarot Cards. At wit’s-end, authorities asked noted Occultist, Doctor Merlin Bloodstone to consult on the case. A press leak highlighted Bloodstone’s work, causing authorities to cancel it and blame him for the leak. Bloodstone washed his hands of the case. But then the Deathdealer killed again, in the shadow of Bloodstone’s home, making the case very much personal, and one Bloodstone can no longer ignore.

Michael A. Stackpole 1. The Cards Call Themselves 2. Brewed Fortune Michael A. Stackpole 1. The Cards Call Themselves 2. Brewed Fortune fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Homeland Security Services — (2011-2016) Publisher: From New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole comes the first in a brand new series of stories set in a world very close to our own, and yet so very different. In the world of Homeland Security Services, the 1993 attack on the Twin Towers brought them down, killing over 60,000. In response, American ratified the Patriot Amendment to the Constitution and went to war with Al Qaeda. In 1996, terrorists attacked the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, wiping out the left wing of American politics and vaulting Newt Gingrich into the White House. Miracle Dunn has just joined the elite Homeland Security Services. On her first day she catches two cases. The first is a seemingly simple murder of a drug company employee. The second is a twelve year old murder discovered because of the first; the resolution of which threatens the leadership of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The world of HSS is one filled with many secrets, and just as many ways of ferreting them out. For Miracle Dunn, the question is how far can someone go to protect people who truly have no clue as to how much danger is lurking out there.

Michael A. Stackpole Once a HeroOnce a Hero — (1994) Publisher: A Legend Come To Life. Half a millennium ago Neil Elfward, a legendary human warrior, fought alongside his Elven friend Aarundel for the freedom of mankind against the tyranny of the sorcerous Reithrese empire. But Neal’s victory began a genocidal war that cost him dearly. Now the future he hoped for is unraveling. Count Berengar has invited the lovely Genevera, Aarundel’s granddaughter, to join in a quest to bring stability to the land. Pressed to accomplish the impossible, Genevera suggests the unthinkable — raising Neal from the dead. But what is true in legend is not always true in reality. A hero from yesteryear may be a hero still, but is Neal the hero they want? Once a Hero is a rousing adventure of mystery and magic, in the best tradition of Robert Jordan and David Eddings, by one of the most exciting and imaginative new voices in fantasy fiction.

Michael A. Stackpole Once a Hero, Talion: RevenantTalion: Revenant — (1997) Publisher: The man he is sworn to protect is the man who butchered his family. Justices — the select of the Talions, endowed with fearsome magick and lethal martial skills — roam the Shattered Empire, crushing the lawless and championing the oppressed. Their word is law and their judgment binding on highborn and low. Nolan is a Justice born in what once was the free nation of Sinjaria. Orphaned in the war of conquest with the nation of Hamis, he traveled to far Talianna and secured the right to become a Justice. Now, years later, the Master of all Talions has a dangerous assignment for Nolan: he is to guard the life of the king who destroyed Sinjaria and slaughtered his family. Alone, Nolan ventures into the political maelstrom that is the court of Hamis to stop an assassin even his Masters think cannot be slain…

Michael A. Stackpole Once a Hero, Eyes of Silver Eyes of Silver — (1998) Publisher: From one of the most exciting new voices in fantasy fiction comes a spellbinding epic of adventure and mystery, intrigue and magic… Eight centuries ago, the legendary Keerana Dost conquered a vast empire.  Now younger nations battle for the remnants of his realm. As the turmoil spreads, princes and spies, priests and heretics are drawn into the fray. Nomad leader Rafiq Khast fights to reclaim his homeland and avenge his family honor. Princess Natalya undertakes a journey for love and finds herself standing alone against forces that could shatter her nation. And the warrior-priest Malachy Kidd, blinded in combat years before, finds himself holding the fate of the world in his hands, using his powerful battlemagicks in service to his god… protecting a figure who may be the very devil himself.

Michael A. Stackpole In Hero Years... I'm Dead In Hero Years… I’m Dead — (2010) Publisher: In Hero Years… I’m Dead is New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole’s first Digital-Original novel. Twenty years ago someone stole him away from Capital City. Having been released from captivity he returns to find everything changed. The great heroes of his day, men who could move planets or tear apart criminal syndicates, have all retired. A new breed of hero has sprung up to deal with a perplexingly new brand of villain. It’s a world that makes no sense, and a world which, if he persists in playing the hero, will surely see him dead. In Hero Years… I’m Dead mixes action, dark humor, satire and strong characters into a thrilling page-turner. It’s superheroes facing challenges both in costume and out, battling a cunning enemy bent on destroying all they have worked so hard to preserve.

Michael A. Stackpole In Hero Years... I'm Dead, Let Me Call You Sweetheart Let Me Call You Sweetheart — (2009) Publisher: New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole brings you a short story set in an alternate future in which the government won’t let anything bad happen to you. Even if you want it to. In Let Me Call You Sweetheart, you’ll meet Mark Glace, agent for the government’s most valued alphabet agency: the CEA. That’s the Confections Enforcement Agency. That’s right. Chocolate is bad for you, and he’ll stop at nothing to keep the evil pushers from getting their melt-in-your-mouth wares into your hands. But something is wrong at the agency, and he faces his fiercest enemy — a woman he once loved.Michael A. Stackpole In Hero Years... I'm Dead, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, The Silver Knife

The Silver Knife — (2009) Publisher: 1923. London. The Great War is over, but not all wounds have healed. Everyone has their secrets, and, unlike wine, they seldom get better with age. Doctor Watson thought his secret lay buried until Holmes — Farrel Holmes, a young, American cousin of the great detective — arrived on his doorstep, bleeding from a gunshot wound. Czarist exiles, German mystics and the oddest addition to the Holmes canon all meet in The Silver Knife.

Michael A. Stackpole In Hero Years... I'm Dead, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Jed and the Titanium Turtle Jed and the Titanium Turtle — (2009) Publisher: “We’d always fought ’em over there so we wouldn’t have to fight ’em here. In the end, they didn’t come from over there, they came from out there.” — from Jed and the Titanium Turtle. Jed and the Titanium Turtle is an original work of fiction from New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole. Set in a very near future, it explores a world where aliens have descended on America, telling us they’re “here to help.” As with the best of science fiction, the story provides us a mirror to examine our preconceptions; and is an entertaining read as well. Just how would Americans greet such visitors, and why would we expect less from anyone else? Michael A. Stackpole In Hero Years... I'm Dead, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, The Silver Knife

Kid Binary and The Two-bit Gang — (2009) Publisher: Kid Binary and the Two-Bit Gang is a story of virtual reality written by New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole. Kid Binary is a feared hacker who exists in the lawless nether-regions of cyberspace. He earned his name because if he’s ON, you’re OFF. And he’s hunting a man who has run out of time to get away.

Michael A. Stackpole In Hero Years... I'm Dead, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Jed and the Titanium Turtle , Wildest DreamsWildest Dreams — (2009) Publisher: Wildest Dreams is a haunting fantasy story by New York Times best selling author, Michael A. Stackpole. Every two centuries the Maeruunne come for their tribute: a hundred children through which will be funneled the dreams of an entire world. The dreams are to the Maeruune a drug as potent as opium, and nightmares the most valued of all. The Maeruune have conquered dimensions, implacable and invincible. But one man, a man whose twin brother was taken as tribute two centuries before, has planned for a very long time against their return.

Michael A. Stackpole Little Girl Lost, No Rest For The Wicked, Such A Nice Girl, 'Til Death, The Witch in Scarlet, Tricknomancy Tricknomancy — (2010) Publisher: Tricknomancy collects all seven of the Trick Molloy stories into the novel-length story they were always meant to be. This collection includes If Vanity Doesn’t Kill Me and The Devil Within which have not been previously released or collected with these other stories. Tricknomancy tells the story of Patrick Molloy, a magick-using ex-cop who was busted off the force on trumped up bribery charges. He works as a bouncer in a Gentlemen’s Club, Club Flesh, where all the women use magick to conjure dollars out of the patrons’ pockets. His only true friend is the coroner; his family hates him with a passion, and the cop who busted him off the force is just itching to find a way to send him to jail. Trick Molloy’s world is one in which magick-users are feared and hated. Televangelists make bank on casting them as the devil’s tools. Gangsters often use magick more readily than guns. Respectable magickers use their skills for seduction, robbery and murder. No one in power really cares about what befalls the criminal class, which Trick Molloy as the one man smart enough to discover the truth, and tough enough to administer justice.

Michael A. Stackpole In Hero Years... I'm Dead, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Jed and the Titanium Turtle , Wildest DreamsConan the Barbarian — (2011) Publisher: Born in the fires of battle, Conan of Cimmeria lost his father and village when they were slaughtered by the cruel warlord Khalar Zym. Wandering the world alone, Conan was forged into a peerless warrior by hardship and bloodshed. Years later, he crosses paths with Zym and his armies. But before Conan can exact vengeance, he must contend with the warlord’s daughter — the seductive witch Marique — and a host of monstrous creatures. Only then will Conan’s quest bring him face to face with Zym in an epic battle to avenge his people and save the world.