Orion science fiction and fantasy imprint Gollancz has acquired a cross-over fantasy series in a "fierce" and "hotly-fought auction" by debut author Kristen Ciccarelli.
First in the series Askari is described as a "sweeping epic focused on strong characters, dangerous escapades and poisonous politics", centring on protagonist Asha, an accomplished dragon-slayer and fierce warrior whose homeland is on the brink of a devastating civil war. To bring about peace two options exist: an arranged marriage, or bringing the king the head of the oldest and deadliest of all dragons - the dragon who murdered her mother.
The series is pitched as "perfect for readers who enjoy Victoria Aveyard, Kristin Cashore and Sarah J. Mass".
Gollancz publishing director, Gillian Redfearn, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to three novels from Gemma Cooper of the Bent Agency. Translation deals have already been done for Brazilian, Turkish, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Polish language rights. Gollancz and Harper Teen US (which acquired US rights to the series in a six-figure deal) will publish simultaneously in late 2017.
Ciccarelli is from Ontario's Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather's grape farm, and has previously made her living as a baker, a bookseller, and a potter. She said: "It's over-the-moon thrilling to be at Gollancz, alongside my literary heroes (Kristin Cashore, Holly Black) whose books first convinced me that we can do impossible things. I keep waiting for someone to show up and tell me it's just a dream."
Redfearn said: "It is such a thrill to welcome Kristen to the Gollancz list. I was blown away by Askari – it’s perfect for fans of Daenerys Targaryen, and Victoria Aveyard novels. There’s a beautifully realised and thought-through world, as flawed, prejudiced and challenging as our own, a stunning story, and I was blown away by Asha. She’s a strong, compelling character at the heart of this brilliant story, and I can’t wait to see what Kristen writes next."
Cooper of The Bent Agency added: "Kristen’s gripping fantasy adventure with its dragons and cinematic storytelling drew me in immediately, and I’m delighted that Gillian and the rest of the Gollancz team were as enthusiastic about it as I am."