September 19, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

The Malevolent Seven By Sebastien De Castell Book Tour Stop

The Malevolent Seven By Sebastien De Castell Summary

The Malevolent Seven By Sebastien De Castell book summary: ‘Seven powerful mages want to make the world a better place. We’re going to kill them first.’

Picture a wizard. Go ahead, close your eyes. There he is, see? Skinny old guy with a long straggly beard. No doubt he’s wearing iridescent silk robes that couldn’t protect his frail body from a light breeze. The hat’s a must, too, right? Big, floppy thing covered in esoteric symbols that would instantly show every other mage where this one gets his magic? Wouldn’t want a simple steel helmet or something that might, you know, protect the part of him most needed for conjuring magical forces from being bashed in with a mace (or pretty much any household object).

Now open your eyes and let me show you what a real war mage looks like . . . but be warned: you’re probably not going to like it because we’re violent, angry, dangerously broken people who sell our skills to the highest bidder and be damned to any moral or ethical considerations.

At least until such irritating concepts as friendship and the end of the world get in the way.

My name is Cade Ombra, and though I currently make my living as a mercenary wonderist, I used to have a far more noble-sounding job title – until I discovered the people I worked for weren’t quite as noble as I’d believed. Now I’m on the run, and my only friend, a homicidal thunder mage, has invited me to join him on a suicide mission against the seven deadliest mages on the continent.

Time to recruit some very bad people to help us on this job . . .

Sebastien De Castell

Welcome to my stop on the Malevolent Seven Book Tour. The Malevolent Seven was released on May 11th by Jo Fletcher Books

Assigned Wonderist Magic

In this unique and amazing tour experience, we were each assigned a Wonderist Magic. I am a Portalist.

The ability to open a door in one place that leads to one halfway across the world is surely one of the most desirable sources for any wonderist… or criminal.


Here is a special video from author Sebastien De Castell about Portalists:


About Sebastien De Castell

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started to work on his first dig. Four hours later, he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defense against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

Sebastien’s acclaimed swashbuckling fantasy series, The Greatcoats. was shortlisted for both the 2014 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy. the Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut, the Prix Imaginales for Best Foreign Work, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His YA fantasy series, Spellslinger, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and is published in more than a dozen languages.

Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats. You can reach him at :

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Purchase The Malevolent Seven

The Malevolent Seven By Sebastien De Castell- Excerpt


Chapter 1: Real Mages Don’t Wear Funny HatsTHE MALEVOLENT SEVEN

Picture a wizard. Go ahead, close your eyes if you need to. There he is, see? Old, skinny guy with a long scraggly beard he probably trips over on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. No doubt he’s wearing some sort of iridescent silk robes that couldn’t protect his frail body from a light breeze. The hat’s a must, too, right? Big, floppy thing, covered in esoteric symbols that would reveal to every other mage which sources of magic this moron relies on for his powers? Wouldn’t want a simple steel helmet or something that might, you know, protect the part of him most needed for conjuring magical forces from being bashed in with a mace or pretty much any household object heavier than a soup ladle.

Yep. Behold the mighty wizard: a stoop-­backed feeb who couldn’t run up a long flight of stairs without giving himself a heart attack.

Now, open your eyes and let me show you what a real war mage looks like.

‘Fall, you pasty-­faced little fuckers!’ Corrigan roared as our contingent of wonderists assaulted the high citadel walls our employer had sent us to bring down ahead of his main forces. ‘Fall so that I can rip your hearts out with my bare hands and feed you to my favourite devil as an appetiser before he feasts on your miserable souls!’

Yeah, Corrigan was a real charmer all right.


Big man, shoulders as broad as any soldier’s. I stood maybe half an inch taller, but in every other dimension he was my superior. The muscles on Corrigan’s forearms strained against the bejewelled gold and silver bands he always negotiated into his contracts. Tempestoral mages of his calibre have no particular use for precious metals or gemstones, but when it comes to selling his services, Corrigan likes to – in his words – ‘Remind those rich arseholes who needs who.’

‘Watch this one, Cade!’ he shouted to me over the tumult of battle all around us. Our employer’s foot soldiers and mounted cavalry were fighting and dying to keep the enemy troops busy while we wonderists did the real damage. Corrigan’s eyes glowed the same unnerving indigo as the sparks that danced along the tightly braided curls of his hair and beard. Tendrils of black Tempestoral lightning erupted from his callused and charred palms to sizzle the air on their way to tear at stone and mortar like jagged snakes feeding on a colony of mice. He grinned at me, his white teeth in stark contrast to the ebony of his skin, then laughed as each of his fists closed around one of his lightning bolts. He began wielding them like whips, grabbing hold of the stalwart defenders atop the walls and sweeping them up into the sky before shaking them until their spines snapped. Several other poor bastards leaped to their deaths rather than waiting for Corrigan to take an interest in them.

‘We don’t get paid extra for making them shit their pants, you know,’ I reminded him, my fingers tracing misfortune sigils in the air so that the volleys of arrows the enemy fired at us missed their targets. ‘Our job is to convince them to surrender, not commit suicide.’

‘Our job?’ The indigo braids of Corrigan’s beard rustled with the same enthusiasm his lightning snakes showed as they destroyed in minutes the gleaming, high-­towered citadel that had taken hardworking masons decades to build. ‘Our job, Cade, is to make what we in the trade call an impression.’

I suppose I couldn’t argue with that. Our employer was an Ascendant Prince – self-­declared, of course – who’d been having some difficulty convincing the local ruling archons of his divinely sanctioned rule. Sending a coven of mercenary wonderists to wage mayhem and murder (I never lied to myself by calling it ‘war’) wasn’t likely to convince anyone of Ascendant Lucien’s holiness, but as his Magnificence had explained it to me, ‘Kill enough of the brave ones and the rest will pray to anyone I tell them to.’

He might be a complete fucking moron, but Lucien was right about that much, at least.

The crossbowmen atop the walls stopped firing their bolts at us, no doubt tired of watching the wooden shafts splinter against the rocks as the ill-­luck spells I’d kept around our division meant each and every one of them missed their mark. Meanwhile, Corrigan and a couple of the others got on with blasting their brethren to pieces with impunity.

Corrigan lightened up on his thunderous assault and motioned for a nearby echoist to spin a little sonoral magic to amplify his voice as he called out to the citadel’s terrified defenders, ‘There now, my little ducklings, no need to jump. Just open up the gates for Uncle Corrigan and we can all have a nice cup of tea before supper.’ He glanced back at me. ‘There. Happy?’

‘You really are a prick, you know that?’ I took advantage of the momentary distraction among the archers to give my fingers a shake before renewing the shield over our squad of eleven wonderists.

Corrigan shrugged. ‘What do you expect? I conjure rampant fucking devastation from the Tempestoral plane for a living so that one group of arseholes can conquer another group of arseholes – and then a couple of years later, that second group of arseholes hires me to kill off the first lot. That can’t be good for the soul.’

Truer words had never been spoken.

‘Enemy wonderists!’ one of our comrades shouted.

Up on those high walls, the tell-­tale shimmer of Auroral magic (that being the ‘nice people’ kind) appeared: Archon Belleda had finally sent out her own contingent of wonderists to kick our arses.

When Corrigan got a look at the silk-­robed, grey-­bearded scarecrows standing up there, he was pissing himself laughing so hard his tendril spell almost collapsed.

‘Look,’ he shouted to the rest of us, ‘real live Auroral mages have come to cast our souls to the pits! Kneel before these noble miracle-­workers and weep for mercy, for surely the judgement of the Lords Celestine is at hand!’

The rest of us didn’t laugh. We focused on our jobs, which now included sending those dignified old men and women to their graves. It wasn’t Archon Belleda’s fault her defenders couldn’t beat us. They were locals, patriots fighting for a noble cause, while we were mercenaries, motivated by greed and lousy upbringings, loyal only to the fees our employer had promised us.

The poor bastards never had a chance.

One of the enemy wonderists, a silver-­haired woman already dripping with nervous sweat, took the lead. Blood seeped from her eyes as she cast a sorcerous incantation we in the business call a ‘heartchain’, because it pierces right through defensive spells to burst the enemy’s blood vessels. It’s not the sort of thing any of us would use because it’s a conjoined sympathy spell, which means a heartchain also kills the person casting it. I marvelled at the old codger’s redoubtable courage and sacrifice as the thread-­like silver tether stretched across the two hundred yards between them to bind her heart to Corrigan’s.

The big brute’s eyes went wide as his thick fingers clawed at his own chest. He turned to me, but no sound came from his lips as he mouthed my name.

Corrigan Blight was a monster, no doubt about it. He killed people for money, and he did it without ever questioning whether such acts could be justified. Any time I’d asked whether perhaps there was a better way to earn a living, he’d slap me across the head and proudly declare, ‘Didn’t make the rules, don’t plan to break them.’ If you stuck him next to the old lady on the wall and asked a hundred people which one of them deserved to live, not one of them would say Corrigan.

Well, except me.

Corrigan was my friend, which was a hard thing to admit to myself and an even harder thing to find in this profession. He’d saved my life more times than I’d saved his, and I know that doesn’t justify the choice I made in that moment, but maybe it explains why, without giving it a second’s thought, I conjured a poetic injustice.

Beneath my leather cuirass, a set of three intertwining sigils etched into my torso began to smoulder, then the sigils appeared in the air before me as floating scrawls of ebony ink, curves and edges glimmering. I could feel the seconds counting down towards Corrigan’s heart bursting in his chest.

He clutched at my shoulder in panic, or maybe searching for a final moment of human connection. I shrugged him off; I needed to concentrate.

I placed my right hand above the first sigil, which looked like a distorted stick figure crowned in seven rays; it represented the enemy spellcaster. When I moved my hand upwards, the sigil followed, and I placed it in a direct line between myself and the Auroral mage casting the heartchain.

The second sigil, a gleaming black circle with a second, smaller half-­circle overlapping the top of it, looked almost like a padlock. It moved of its own accord, floating silently up to Corrigan’s forehead, which would have unnerved him no end if he’d not been too busy dying to notice.

The particular forms of magic I work manifest a kind of elementary consciousness within them, which meant that the spell knew Corrigan was the target of the Auroral mage’s heart-­rending invocation. I quickly placed three fingers atop the locking sigil, then moved it between me and the enemy wonderists atop the citadel walls, looking for my target.

This is where casting a poetic injustice gets tricky. Altering the binding on someone else’s spell requires finding someone to whom they have an already strong emotional connection, which would usually require time and research, neither of which we had to spare. But these idiots had made it easy for me. Beside the Auroral mage stood a fierce-­eyed old gentleman holding her hand. I might not be the world’s most sentimental guy, but even I could sense the love between them. I quickly tethered the targeting sigil to him.

Now for the third sigil. With the thumb and forefinger of each hand, I grasped the two-­headed coiled snake, ignoring the ink-­black tongues that flickered menacingly at me, pulled the spiral straight and attached a head to each of the other two sigils.

The thin silver thread binding the Auroral mage to Corrigan snapped away from him, whipping through the air with blinding speed before attaching itself to the old man next to her. Even when he saw the heartchain coming for him, he didn’t make a move to abandon her. Maybe he was her husband and such a cowardly thought never occurred to him.

Till death did they part, as no one with a conscience might say.

Corrigan painfully sucked air into his lungs, giving me just the barest nod of acknowledgment, then, smiling with smug self-­satisfaction, renewed his attack on the walls with just as much vigour and twice as much pleasure as before.

I had to lean against him just to keep from collapsing to the ground. Poetic injustice spells are hard on the body. And the soul, I guess.

In case I hadn’t made this clear already, we’re not exactly the good guys.

But don’t worry – by the end of this story, me, Corrigan and the five other wonderists who would come to be known as the Malevolent Seven would definitely be getting what was coming to us.

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