Ensemble Fantasy: Born to the Blade by Marie Brennan, Malka Older, Cassandra Khaw, and Michael R. Underwood

Many people will not read Born to the Blade the way I did, in four hours and a single sitting. Born to the Blade is not, in fact, intended to be read that way: created by Michael R. Underwood (Geekomancy), and written by Underwood along with Marie Brennan (A Natural History of Dragons, Lightning in the Blood), Malka Older (Infomocracy, Null States) and Cassandra Khaw (Food of the Gods, Bearly a Lady), it’s the latest speculative fiction serial from Serial Box. Thirteen episodes, each about the length of a novelette, make it the equivalent of a rather long novel.

Structurally, Serial Box serials—and Born to the Blade is no exception—are shaped like 13-episode television shows. Each episode has its own internal arc, and each contributes to the overall arc of the season. Though, like several television series, Born to ...