Middle-earth’s Hottest Hobbits, Ranked

Hobbits, Frodo and Sam

Look, sometimes you wake up in the morning and think, “What can I do today that would make J.R.R. Tolkien proud of me?” And your brain, rested and wise, supplies the only true answer:

You will rank hobbits by hotness for Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday.

Disclaimer: This is a ranking of hobbits by hotness, not the humans who play them. They are being ranked on their hobbit forms. Take no offense, dear reader.

Note: Peregrin Took is not on this list because during the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he does not reach the hobbit coming-of-age of 33 years old (he does in the appendices, but that’s not where the bulk of his story can be found). He’s only 28 when the story starts, which puts him at roughly 16 or 17 years old in human terms. Ranking the hotness of a hobbit teenager ...

Hobbits, the Proudfoots
Hobbits, Gollum and Smeagol
Hobbits, Deagol
Hobbits, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins
Hobbits, Gaffer Gamgee
Hobbits, Bilbo
Hobbits, Farmer Maggot
Hobbits, Merry
Hobbits, Frodo
Hobbits, Samwise Gamgee
Hobbits, Rosie Cotton

Texas Hold’em

San Antonio, home of the Alamo, is also host to the nation’s top high school jazz competition, and the musicians at Xavier Desmond High are excited to outplay their rivals. They are also jokers, kids with strange abilities and even stranger looks. On top of that, well, they are teenagers, apt for mischief, mishaps, and romantic misunderstandings.

Michelle Pond, aka The Amazing Bubbles, thinks that her superhero (and supermom) know-how has prepared her to chaperone the event. But when her students start going wayward, she’ll soon discover the true meaning of “Don’t mess with Texas.”

Part of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe, Texas Hold’em features the writing talents of David Anthony Durham, Max Gladstone, Victor Milan, Diana Rowland, Walton Simons, Caroline Spector and William F. Wu. Available October 23d from Tor Books.



Bubbles and the Band Trip

Part 1

The brakes gave a farty ...

Sleeps With Monsters: Secrets and Consequences

There’s an enormous amount of interesting new SFF literature out practically daily. I read fast, but you know, it’s impossible to keep even close to completely current with the fresh new delights (and, occasionally, horrors) this field has to offer.

But! Justina Robson has written the second book in the “After the War” series, following Adrian Tchaikovsky’s excellent Redemption’s Blade. Salvation’s Fire is just as entertaining, albeit with a slightly different focus.

The background: a great war started by the Kinslayer, a demigod-turned-evil-tyrant, has devastated the inhabited world. The war’s over and the Kinslayer’s dead, but the consequences go on: the Kinslayer cut the world off from the gods and punched holes into different dimensions in search of even more power, and a small band of unlikely comrades are drawn together to clean up some of the mess.

Salvation’s Fire, like Redemption’s Blade, combines the tone ...

Trauma and Triumph: Myke Cole’s The Queen of Crows

Myke Cole surprised readers last year when the author of primarily military fantasy fiction told the grim but complex story of a young woman named Heloise, living in a world where wizardry would summon devils into the world, and only the tyrannical Order could keep the people of the world safe.

In The Armored Saint, Heloise lives in Lutet with her mother and father, and does her best to obey them, help the town where she can, and spend time with her friend Basina, for whom she harbors a love beyond friendship. But throughout the book, we see time and again the brutality of this world: how the Order cuts down any who oppose them, no matter how small the infraction, and how they force other civilians to aid them in “the knitting,” a fancy name for utter destruction of a town and its citizens who they fear have ...

Amoral Alchemy: Revealing Middlegame, A New Standalone Fantasy From Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in a new standalone fantasy—Middlegame, coming May 7, 2019 from Tor.com Publishing.

We’re thrilled to reveal the cover below!

America is run in the shadows by the Alchemical Congress, a powerful society focused on transmuting reality itself.

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Many Worlds, One Wheel in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 8)

This week while I was reading the Wheel of Time, I learned that I didn’t understand the Schrödinger’s cat theorem as well as I thought it did. Granted, I am not really a math and science person, and I’m still not sure I understand what quantum superposition is except in the very broadest sense, but what I do now understand is that Schrödinger’s thought experiment ultimately suggests the many worlds interpretation of physics over the idea of waveform collapse; Basically, Schrödinger was trying to say that every possible outcome of an event creates a new universe, and that there are an infinite number of universes created by every possible outcome.

How does this relate to The Great Hunt? you might ask. (Well, you’re probably not asking that because you’ve already read this weeks’ chapters, but please permit me the rhetorical device.) This week, Rand, Loial, and Hurin have accidentally ...

Secrets and Sacrifice: Reading Sarah J. Maas’s Crown of Midnight

Following the events of Throne of Glass, Celaena Sardothien has a lot on her plate. Assassination, scheming, magic, Wyrdmarks, loss, love, witches, a major revelation or two—Crown of Midnight may not have the plot-driving competition of the previous book in the series, but it’s got all the intrigue you could ask for and then some (and two creepy monsters, no less!).

In short, this book is a lot.

Welcome to the next installment of Reading Throne of Glass! In anticipation of Kingdom of Ash, I’m reading the entire series over the next six weeks. This isn’t a reread for me, but a first-read: if you’ve already read the whole series, you will be able to feel extremely superior while I ponder things you probably know backwards and forwards. My fellow first-readers, though, beware: there are likely to be spoilers for future books in the comments.

Spoilers ...

Magical Intrigue: Revealing The True Queen by Zen Cho

In the follow-up to the Regency fantasy novel Sorcerer to the Crown, a young woman with no memories of her past finds herself embroiled in dangerous politics in England and the land of the fae…

We’re thrilled to share the cover for Zen Cho’s The True Queen, publishing with Ace in March 2019. Check out the full design below, with art by Kate Forrester!

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high ...

Outside the Lines: Unique Narrative Devices in Fantasy

There’s something appealing about a book that does things a little differently. Maybe it doesn’t break the rules, but bends them? Tries something new? Experiments with narrative? That’s absolutely my jam. I love when writers find new ways, new formats, and new styles to help elevate narration. Tricks of the trade that deliver information, or tell the reader something new, or force them to look at a story in a new way.

Inspired by a bevy of these tricks in Ruin of Kings, coming soon from Jenn Lyons, I thought I’d highlight a few other stories that utilize different devices to burst free from the housing of conventional narrative, and try to teach the reader something in the process.


Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Ruin of Kings—the story of Kihrin, a young man coming to terms with his potential royal heritage, and the ...

Read an Excerpt From The Phoenix Empress, Sequel to The Tiger’s Daughter

Once they were the heirs to a prophecy that predicted two women would save an empire.

Now Shefali is dying—and her wife is unaware of the coming tragedy. Shizuka is too busy trying to reunite a fractured empire and right the wrongs of her ancestors.

As the Imperial Army gathers against a demonic invasion, Shizuka must do all she can with an empire on the brink of civil war.

K. Arsenault Rivera’s The Phoenix Empress, sequel to The Tiger’s Daughter, is available October 9th from Tor Books.




There are people who have never heard Barsalai Shefali speak. There are people who do not know the joy of a violet-gold sky, people who have never bitten into a ripe mango and felt its juice run down their chin, people who have never heard Tanaka Kyosuke’s Petals Landing on a Maiden’s Hair. Some things in life are ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: A Weaving of Themes in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 7)

Hello hello, Wheel of Time fans! This week we’re tackling Chapters 11 and 12 of The Great Hunt. They have auspicious names too, “Glimmers of the Pattern” and “Woven in the Pattern,” but they are definitely more about set up than important action moments. This makes sense, when I think about it; seeing glimmers of the pattern shows what is being woven, i.e. what is yet to come.

One of the story-telling techniques I really love in fiction in general–and am finding that I enjoy in Jordan’s work, specifically–is when character’s journeys parallel each other in unexpected ways. We saw some of that in The Eye of the World, as Perrin struggled with being a wolfbrother while Nynaeve dealt with the discovery of her own abilities, and as Rand and Mat traveled together while each was under a burden (Mat’s dagger and Rand’s unknown channeling) that he wasn’t ...

Epic Poetry + Space Opera + YA Fantasy = A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

Esmae has a secret, one that when revealed will reshape the galaxy. For most of her life she thought she was alone, an orphaned girl left to a foundling home on the the spaceship Wychstar. But when Amba, the goddess of war, shared the dark truth of her birth, Esmae knew she was fated for greater things. Years later, King Darshan proposes a nearly competition with a indestructible, sentient ship, the Titania, as the prize. Darshan tilts the game in favor of the exiled prince Alexi, whom he hopes will use it with his brother Bear to take back throne of Kali from their usurper uncle Elvar. Instead, Esmae wins and announces her secret: she is Alexi’s long lost twin. And the match of fate is struck.

All Esmae wants is a peaceful life on Kali, but in order to do that she must insinuate herself into her uncle’s ...

Read a Lost Chapter from A Room Away from the Wolves

A Room Away from the Wolves is a ghost story set in a refuge for troubled girls deep in the heart of New York City. This boardinghouse is called Catherine House, named after the young woman who died a century ago, questionably and tragically, leaving her home open to future generations of girls. The house is filled with magical secrets and living memories, the downstairs rooms still decorated the way they were when Catherine was alive.

The original draft of A Room Away from the Wolves had an over-ambitious component that fell out of the story. There used to be some interspersed chapters written in a third-person, often omniscient voice that didn’t match the bulk of seventeen-year-old Bina’s narration. My intention was to use these pieces as a way to see the world from other eyes, but I came to realize that I didn’t need those eyes. In fact, the ...

Angry Robot to Publish English Translation of The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman

Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love in The Heart of the Circle, an extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman. Angry Robot will publish the first English language edition, translated by Daniella Zamir, in July 2019 in both the US and the UK/Commonwealth.

Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close ...

Is the Arthurian “Lady of the Lake” a Metaphor for a Jacked Blacksmith?

The Lady of the Lake Arthurian legend

As iconic as the sword Excalibur is, so too is the image of the Lady of the Lake, arm aloft, bestowing the gift upon young Arthur. But what if the moniker “Lady of the Lake” is, as in much mythology, more of a metaphor? Author Jennifer R. Povey got to thinking about this in a recent Tumblr thread, and the result is a delightful new take on this fantasy archetype.

Povey’s argument:

Lady of the Lake jacked smith Bridget Jennifer R. Povey Arthurian legend interpretation

We would watch that movie.

But the legend continues! As in the case of the best Tumblr exchanges, other users picked up Povey’s thread and ran with it—specifically, to pondering Damascus steel and how its blade shimmers like water…

Top image: The Lady of the Lake gives Excalibur to King Arthur (original work: Alfred Kappes, 1880; derivative work: Themadchopper, 2011)

Visit Space Prisons, Faerie Kingdoms, and Alternate Futures in Barnes & Noble Booksellers Picks for September

For two decades, Jim Killen has served as the science fiction and fantasy book buyer for Barnes & Noble. Every month on Tor.com and the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Jim shares his curated list of the month’s best science fiction & fantasy books.


Halo: Silent Storm: A Master Chief Story, by Troy Denning
(September 4, Gallery Books—Hardcover)

The complexity of the universe spawned by the Halo video game franchise rivals any other in the speculative genres. Telling the story of a galaxy-spanning war between humanity and a coalition of aliens called The Covenant who worship an extinct race known as the Forerunners who were destroyed by a horrifying symbiotic parasite called The Flood. And that’s just the basics—over the course of several games, graphic novels, books, comics, and animated shorts the story and universe have become incredibly detailed and rich. This all-new standalone novel is ...

Read an Exclusive Excerpt from Port of Shadows, a New Black Company Book from Glen Cook

The soldiers of the Black Company don’t ask questions, they get paid. But being “The Lady’s favored” is attracting the wrong kind of attention and has put a target on their backs—the Company’s historian, Croaker, has the biggest target of all.

The one person who was taken into The Lady’s Tower and returned unchanged has earned the special interest of the court of sorcerers known as The Ten Who Were Taken. Now, he and the company are being asked to seek the aid of their newest member, Mischievous Rain, to break a rebel army. However, Croaker doesn’t trust any of the Taken, especially not ones that look so much like The Lady and her sister…

Glen Cook returns to the Chronicles of the Black Company with Port of Shadows, a military fantasy adventure available September 11th from Tor Books.



Long Ago and Far Away: Oblivion Fall

The ...

Bullet Journaling as a Fantasy Writer

Have you ever heard of bullet journaling? Its basic concept is simple: instead of using a day planner with formally assigned pre-printed pages, a bullet journal starts out completely blank. You assign pages in the front to be an index, and then write down important information and to-do lists as you go. Any time you want to dedicate space to a special subject (say ‘Plot Notes’) you can do so while just jotting down the page numbers of that topic back in the index. Its primary power lies in its versatility. It’s not just a day planner: it’s a to-list combined with a day planner plus a journal with a healthy dollop of idea book mixed together with…well…honestly anything you might want to write or draw.

There are, to misquote one of my favorite pirates, no rules with bullet journals, only guidelines.

As a fantasy writer, I am a big ...

Home Sweet Home: Nova Ren Suma’s A Room Away From the Wolves

Bina Tremper is out of options. Her stepsisters make her life a living hell, her stepfather has no interest in her, and her mother is sick of her constant lying. Eventually her mother kicks her out of the house; it’s only supposed to be temporary, she says, a month crashing with church friends, just long enough for hostilities to cool down. Bina has other ideas. Her mother once told her about the Catherine House, a group home in Manhattan where she sought refuge from Bina’s abusive biological father. After a violent incident at a high school party in the woods, Bina runs away to New York City.

But the Catherine House is not what it seems. Time stands still on the property. It feels at once ancient, contemporary, and outside the bounds of space and time. Although ostensibly the girls living there are all fairly recent arrivals, Bina gets the ...

Henry Cavill to Play Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher Series

The Witcher 3

Fresh off Mission: Impossible – Fallout and Justice League, Henry Cavill is taking on the leading role in a new franchise: He will play Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher, Netflix’s television adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy book series. While the adaptation has been in the works for over a year, this casting news is a huge step forward in the series’ development.

Cavill shared the news via a cheeky Instagram post:

Henry Cavill Geralt of Rivia The Witcher adaptation casting news Netflix Andrzej Sapkowski

Netflix’s See What’s Next Twitter account followed up with a tweet confirming that the fantasy series will consist of eight episodes:

And showrunner/executive producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (Daredevil, The Defenders, Umbrella Academy) shared her delight with the series’ lead: