Book One: From Unseen Fire
April 17th, 2018 (DAW Books)
Winner of the 2019 Webster Award
The Dictator is dead; long live the Republic.
But whose Republic will it be? Senators, generals, and elemental mages vie for the power to shape the future of the city of Aven. Latona of the Vitelliae, a mage of Spirit and Fire, has suppressed her phenomenal talents for fear they would draw unwanted attention from unscrupulous men. Now that the Dictator who threatened her family is gone, she may have an opportunity to seize a greater destiny as a protector of the people — if only she can find the courage to try.
Her siblings—a widow who conceals a canny political mind in the guise of a frivolous socialite, a young prophetess learning to navigate a treacherous world, and a military tribune leading a dangerous expedition in the province of Iberia—will be her allies as she builds a place for herself in this new world, against the objections of their father, her husband, and the strictures of Aventan society.
Latona’s path intersects with that of Sempronius Tarren, an ambitious senator harboring a dangerous secret. Sacred law dictates that no mage may hold high office, but Sempronius, a Shadow mage who has kept his abilities a life-long secret, intends to do just that. As rebellion brews in the provinces, Sempronius must outwit the ruthless leader of the opposing Senate faction to claim the political and military power he needs to secure a glorious future for Aven and his own place in history.
As politics draw them together and romance blossoms between them, Latona and Sempronius will use wit, charm, and magic to shape Aven’s fate. But when their foes resort to brutal violence and foul sorcery, will their efforts be enough to save the Republic they love?
Content Warnings: mention of past sexual assault; “off-screen” sexual assault; violence in context of warfare and combat
Praise for From Unseen Fire
“‘Rome with magic’ turns out to be exactly the novel I wanted to read. The magic cleverly intertwines with religion, politics, and daily life. The characters appeal, especially the loving portrait of three loyal sisters. There are battles (of course), a budding love story of the illicit kind, some remarkably topical political maneuvering, an awareness of diverse layers of class and ethnicity, and a love of place that shines on the page.” –Kate Elliott, author of Cold Magic and Black Wolves
⭐”A spellbinding tale of political machinations. Fans of I, Claudius and Game of Thrones are in for a treat. The combination of history, dark and light magic, family, political and religious rivalry, and military conflicts will draw readers from many genres.” — ALA Booklist Starred Review
“Cass Morris brings ancient Rome to life with all its particular details, passions, and political intrigue, and populates it with captivating characters. Then she sprinkles it with magic. Yeah, that’s the stuff.”–Kristen Britain, New York Times bestselling author of the Green Rider novels
“A unique and well-studied fantasy take on the Roman world — an alternate world of another name, where ambition is a driving force and magic is real.” – C. J. Cherryh, author of the Alliance-Union novels
“When Latona and Sempronius are pulled together by the whirring gears of power, they find they form a potent team, and together, they just might shape the fate of an empire. Morris’ ambitious debut is rich in detail and intricate in its plotting.” — B&N SFF Blog
“From Unseen Fire is brilliantly imagined and plotted. Its world is rich, with no detail left unattended to. Cass Morris has generated Tolkien-level tomes of information about the world of Aven to make the world come alive. And come alive it does. The city and the world we explore teem with life, and not just of the alternate-Roman variety. The different cultures that intersect in Aven have different motivations, different gods and different ways of practicing magic. This level of within-world work gives From Unseen Fire a verisimilitude that can be missing from similar books.
And the level of work Morris put into this book isn’t just seen through world building. Every character (with perhaps the exception of Latona’s unfortunate husband) seems like they could be the lead of a story all their own, happening just offscreen. Readers don’t always know where they are going but always have the sense that, while characters may walk out of the frame, their movements are not unaccounted for. Morris knows where they are and what they are doing at all times, in the sort of instinctive way you know where your hand is even in the dark.
Once things get going, they fly. The book rockets along at breakneck speed through the machinations of the Senate, and the public (and personal) struggles of Latona and Sempronius. Any wait at the beginning is well worth it as the pieces fall into place as the book progresses. Readers who are patient enough to let Cass Morris build the world around them will be rewarded handsomely with an amazing ride. “ — Bookpage
Book Two: Give Way to Night
December 29th, 2020 (DAW Books)
The second book of the Aven Cycle explores a magical Rome-inspired empire, where senators, generals, and elemental mages vie for power.
Latona of the Vitelliae, mage of Spirit and Fire, is eager to wield her newfound empowerment on behalf of the citizens of Aven–but societal forces conspire to keep her from exercising her gifts, even when the resurgence of a banished cult plots the city’s ruin. To combat this threat, Latona must ally with Fracture mage Vibia, the distrustful sister of Sempronius Tarren.
While Latona struggles to defend their home, Sempronius leads soldiers through wartorn provinces to lift the siege of Toletum, where Latona’s brother Gaius is hemmed in by supernatural forces. Sempronius must contend not only with the war-king Ekialde and his sorcerers, but with the machinations of political rivals and the temptations of his own soul, ever-susceptible to the darker side of ambition.
Though separated by many miles soon after their love affair began, Latona and Sempronius are united by passion as they strive to protect Aven and build its glorious future.
Content Warnings: mention of past sexual assault; brief violence against small animals (bird, mouse); violence in context of warfare and combat; brief domestic violence
Praise for Give Way to Night
“Morris has a gift for orienting new readers and reimmersing fans into the complex world of the series…. This is especially appealing in the treatment of the mage Latona and her sisters, who exercise hard-won agency in the struggle for their city … The multilayered politics—both mundane and supernatural—will keep readers hooked. This is a satisfying return to the series.” — Publishers Weekly
“Give Way to Night delighted and enthralled me. It’s a fabulous and worthy sequel to my favorite “Rome with magic” novel, From Unseen Fire.” — Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun
“If you haven’t read Cass Morris’ first book, From Unseen Fire, you are missing out on a fantastic new voice in the fantasy realm. Give Way To Night proves that she intends to continue writing intricate plots, with layers upon layers of political, personal, and magical threads woven together into a brilliant whole. Her world building skills only develop further here, with detailed descriptions that make the reader feel as if they are marching with Sempronius’ armies, or walking Aven’s streets with Aula and Latona. Morris has clearly done a lot of careful research to bring ancient Rome to life and clearly thought carefully about what she wants to change for her own world, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular.
Unlike many sequels, Give Way to Night stands equal to From Unseen Fire and will charm fantasy lovers completely.” — BookWyrm Reader
“Latona is clever, articulate, and above all, good – a heroine who does the right thing for the right reasons, or at least tries to. Watching her slowly unfurl, build a self confidence backed by actions, is a pure joy. That she kicks arse, holding fire and friendship in one hand, and spirit and righteousness in the other, is great too. Every time she appears on the page, Latona is a joy.” — SF&F Reviews
Book Three: The Bloodstained Shade, coming Fall 2022