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The Winged Histories


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Promotional Information

$5,000 marketing and publicity budget Large galley run. Consortium galley box mailing. Galleys: NAIBA, NCIBA. onward. National radio interviews Advertising campaign in print (Sci Fi Magazine, Rain Taxi, F&SF, Conjunctions, Lightspeed, etc.), radio, and online #WeNeedDiverseBooks Promotion on the author's website: sofiasamatar.com Publicity and promotion in conjunction with the author's continuing speaking engagements including readings for Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016. Readings and conference appearances. Book display at MLA 2017, AWP 2017, & more.

About the Author

Sofia Samatar is the author of the novel A Stranger in Olondria, the Hugo and Nebula nominated short story "Selkie Stories Are for Losers," and other works. She has won the John W. Campbell Award, the Crawford Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award. Two of her stories were selected for the inaugural edition of the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She has written for the Guardian, New Inquiry, Believer, Strange Horizons, BOMB, and Clarkesworld, among others. She is working on a collection of stories. Her website is sofiasamatar.com.


NPR Best Books of the year - Locus Award finalist


All of it is harrowing -- and written in such heart-stoppingly beautiful language there's a good chance readers will ignore the plot and spend a few hours just chewing on the words, slowly, to draw out the flavor. Then they'll need to read it again. Fortunately, this is a short book; also fortunately, there's a lot of novel packed into relatively few pages. A highly recommended indulgence. -- N. K. Jemisin, New York Times Book Review

Like an alchemist, Sofia Samatar spins golden landscapes and dazzling sentences. . . . The Winged Histories is a fantasy novel for those who take their sentences with the same slow, unfolding beauty as a cup of jasmine tea, and for adventurers like Tav, who are willing to charge ahead into the unknown. -- Shelf Awareness (starred review)

It is dazzlingly beautiful and as close to perfect as a reader can hope. . . . The Winged Histories is one of the finest fantasy novels of 2016, or any year. -- Jane Franklin, Rain Taxi

Samatar's second novel's lyrical and gorgeous prose explores the lives of four very different women caught up in the brutality of war. -- Recommendations from the Booksmith in the San Francisco Chronicle

The lush syntax is often so spellbinding that entire paragraphs demand an immediate re-read, and the plot map follows tributaries as often as the river itself. Rhythmically, it varies between traditional fantasy fiction and a sort of poetic prose. Samatar's women are realistically flawed, and the storylines have intentionally frayed edges and visible brutalities and, of course, monsters and magic. Based on just a first read of this lyrical work, Samatar's fascination with language and the human condition is very apparent, and perhaps even contagious. Excerpts of in-world books and songs, plus an intricate family tree and glossary, help transform this fantasy into a world so real that when the book ends, Olondria becomes a red balloon, ever-present but just out of reach. For every moment of power and adrenaline, an equally crushing or lovely or strange occurrence is offered. But then, such is war, and life. -- Jessi Cape, Austin Chronicle

Throughout it all, Samatar ponders weighty questions. 'What is the difference between a king and a monster?' Tialon asks; 'What is music?' wonders Seren. But Histories isn't a book about easy answers, any more than it's driven by plot. It's circuitous and hypnotic, told through flashbacks, meditations, and stories within stories. Tialon pores over a history book written by her aunt; Seren sifts through the traditional songs she sings. Rather than being distractions, these nested texts ring with lyricism.
At the same time, they underscore one of Samatar's profound themes: how words make us, every bit as much as we make them. At one point Seren, waxing philosophical about the distinction between sorcery and literacy in Olondria, says that writing is 'like riding a horse to go somewhere instead of walking. You go to the same place, but you can carry more.' Accordingly, Samatar carries a great deal with her in the pages of The Winged Histories: beauty, wonder, and a soaring paean to the power of story. -- Jason HellerNPR

Told by four different women, it is a story of war; not epic battles of good and evil, but the attempt to make things right and the realities of violence wielded by one human against another, by one group against another. It's about the aftermath of war, in which some things are better but others are worse. Above all, it's a story about love--the terrible love that tears lives apart. Doomed love; impossible love; love that requires a rewriting of the rules, be it for a country, a person, or a story. -- Jenn Northington, Tor.com

"An imaginative, poetic, and dark meditation on how history gets made."--Hello Beautiful

This book. This perfect book. -- Amal El-Mohtar, Lightspeed

If you think Samatar has the ear and soul of a poet, you will love this book. . . . If One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende, are favorites of yours, you will love how Samatar shows us a rebellion and a civil war through the lens of a central family. Each of the viewpoint characters (there are four main ones) brings not only a different perspective, but new information about a prince's attempted coup and a warrior's attempt to free her nation... or the rise of the Priest of the Stone. . . . If you love stories but distrust them, if you love language and can also see how it is used as a tool or a weapon in the maintenance of status quo, then read The Winged Histories. -- Marion Deeds, Fantasy Literature

I wouldn't normally taunt you with a book you can't have for two months, but this time is different, ok? Because the book in question is a sequel, which means you have time to go and read A Stranger in Olondria, and then be ready for Winged Histories in all its glorious glory. In Olondria, Samatar built us a beautiful fantasy world, full of diverse peoples and customs, gorgeous landscapes, and a dark undercurrent. Our guide to Olondria, Jevick, found himself caught up in the midst of a troubled political situation, in a country on the brink of war. In Winged Histories, we see that war from four perspectives. And, god, what perspectives they are. Samatar has created characters that you will carry around with you for weeks (months?). If you love strong voices, world-building, and books that tell hard truths with beautiful language, these are for you. -- Jenn Northington, Book Riot

Samatar's use of poetic yet unpretentious language makes her one of the best writers of today. Reading her books is like sipping very rich mulled wine. The worldbuilding and characterization is exquisite. This suspenseful and elegiac book discusses the lives of fictional women in a fantasy setting who fear their histories will be lost in a way that is only too resonant with the hidden histories of women in our own age." -- Romantic Times Book Reviews (4.5/5 stars, Top Pick)

The Winged Histories is a saga, all right, focusing largely on a single family, but its prose, while characteristically graceful and evocative and often stunningly beautiful. -- Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

It is obviously not coincidental that Samatar's narrators are all women: The Winged Histories addresses that which is so often elided in conventional fantasy novels - the absence of women, or at best, the limited roles available to women. If Lord of the Rings shows us only privileged women, able to disguise themselves in order to fight, or else to remain sequestered from the grubbiness of war, Samatar's women have to deal with the effects of war head on, because in their various ways they are all involved. While it may be true that Tavis presumes on her status in order to learn to fight, she is nonetheless part of a sustained military campaign, and all that entails. Likewise, she and Siski have always been aware of their significance as nieces of Olondria's ruler, the Telkan, thanks to their aunt, Mardith, who seeks to gain power through matchmaking. However, through Seren and Tialon we see women who are nominally reliant on men in order to survive, and the ways in which they negotiate survival in a world that is rapidly changing. . . . And still there is more to be said about The Winged Histories and its predecessor. Thoughts and notes piled up as I read on, and I reached the end wanting nothing so much as to return to the beginning and start all over again. Samatar's work really benefits from rereading, which is more than can be said for a lot of contemporary novels. This is a very satisfying novel to read, challenging and troubling too, as the very best fiction ought to be. -- Maureen Kincaid Speller, Interzone 265

Tav, a teenage girl from the House of Telkan, 'the most exalted bloodline' in Olondria, has run away to become a swordmaiden in the army. As she fights alongside the men, she realizes the war is a distraction while the ruling branch of her family subjugates her native kingdom, Kestenya, and surrounding territories. . . . Samatar is a writer of uncommon beauty, and she takes a genre that has historically tended to focus on the heroic exploits of men and shows how those exploits involve and affect women. This novel teaches us the importance of giving voice to experience and bearing witness; as one character says, writing is less about words than 'how we are written into one another. How this is history.' A lyrical immersion into a finely wrought world. -- Kirkus Reviews

In 2013 Sophia Samatar's A Stranger in Olondria introduced us to new world described with such poetic verve that is has since become a living classic of fantasy fiction. With her new book, The Winged Histories, Samatar's great storytelling talent and wickedly beautiful prose takes us to an Olondria wracked by war. Despite this bloody and turbulent time, four women will have their voices resonate above the fray. Their stories and the stories they tell themselves are vivid portraits of women willing to challenge the conventional and fighting in myriad ways to be remembered. Samatar's creative use of a section titled A Common History unites the voices of these women to unrelated yet connected people or events which adds an emotive depth to the story. She also includes a richly imagined mythology that is shared by the characters, a scintillating vein of ideas bringing such beauty and darkness, but that helps us understand unearthly changes need to be embraced, despite our fears, in order to be truly free. -- Raul M. Chapa, BookPeople, Austin, TX

Can I smear tears on a piece of paper and call that a review? This was GORGEOUS and emotionally bruising and so so wonderful and engaging and many other perfect words. There is so much world-building, a fascinating mythology, and beautiful language (I'm trying not to yell about Seren's little language lessons). There are amazing epigraphs, which I'm always a huge fan of. Samatar winds the stories of four very different women through a monumental period of Olondrian history, and it's one of the best reading experiences I've had in the last year. Poetic and bloody, lovely and dark, this is a book to be SAVORED, and I will be re-reading it again soon, at a much slower pace. -- Allison Senecal, Book Shop of Fort Collins

Sofia Samatar's work is a revelation. Her prose has only become richer and more assured between her debut novel and this follow-up. The Winged Histories gives the stories of four women whose stories are linked by the events that shape them (and that they help to shape). The contexts of the complicated class and national histories the inform these women is described in such clear detail that I feel that I know them all, their histories and their inner realities. Amazing, incredible, lush, emotionally rich, politically fascinating, this is one of the most satisfying novels I have picked up in ages. It begs the reader in each moment to consider how histories are created, and the costs and inequalities behind how we all must fight to be a part of history, however it gets written. -- Gretchen Treu, A Room of One's Own, Madison, WI

Pleasantly startling and unexpected. Her prose is by turns sharp and sumptuous, and always perfectly controlled. Samatar's writing strongly recalls Guy Gavriel Kay's fantasy, which reads like historical fiction, but there are strains here too of Jane Austen and something wilder. -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A nuanced and subtle tale of war, love, duty, family, and honor. It's like polyphony--a chorus of voices singing different melodies, sometimes at odds, but ultimately harmonious. And moving. And exciting. Have I mentioned exciting?" -- Delia Sherman

"Sparse and magical, beautiful and terrible; The Winged Histories is a story spun out of stories and the lives of fierce women, each a warrior in her own right." -- Nalo Hopkinson

"A brightly moving narrative that crystallizes into scenes as delicate, hard, and changing as ice, that rises up to meet four women in the midst of warfare, and the most devastating kinds of devotion and rebellion. It is astonishing what The Winged Histories does with language, what it does as a novel." -- Amina Cain, author of Creature

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