DANIEL POLANSKY, winner of the Prix Imaginales, is the author of the critically-acclaimed Low Town trilogy and The Builders, which was a 2016 Hugo Award finalist. He can be found in Brooklyn, when he isn’t somewhere else.
A CITY DREAMING
Regan Arts – October 4, 2016
M is a drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and limited magical ability, who would prefer drinking artisanal beer and wasting time with his friends to involving himself in the politics of the city. Alas, in the infinite nexus of the universe which is New York, trouble is a hard thing to avoid, and when a rivalry between the city’s two queens threatens to turn to all out war, M finds himself thrust into the unfamiliar position of hero. Broken from his life of amiable irresponsibility and forced to stop the apocalypse from descending on the Big Apple, M will have to call in every favor, waste every charm, and blow every spell he’s ever acquired – he might even need to get out of bed before noon.
Enter a world of Wall Street wolves, slumming scenesters, desperate artists, drug-induced divinities, pocket steam-punk universes, hipster zombies, and phantom subway lines. Because the city never sleeps, but is always dreaming.
Praise for A CITY DREAMING
“Daniel Polansky is one of my favorite new writers. Again and again, he manages to reinvent and invent well-worn genres. Imagine a mash-up of Trainspotting and Harry Potter and you might end up with something as wonderfully gonzo as A City Dreaming. M is a gloriously under-achieving, couch-surfing mage for the Instagram generation.”—David S. Goyer, co-writer of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel
“There’ll be two kinds of people in this world: ones who never want to leave the New York of A City Dreaming, and those that never want to see it. For those of us making up the former, welcome home. Daniel Polansky, and his latest work, surges like a revelation.”—Matt Fraction, Eisner Award-winning author of Sex Criminals
“A City Dreaming is maybe the most original book I’ve read, and easily one of the most entertaining. First-rate prose and laugh-out-loud writing. I’m pretty sure Daniel Polansky is the love child of J.K. Rowling and Kurt Vonnegut.”—Tom Isbell, author of The Prey trilogy
“This f*cking guy. He’s too good to live. . . His descriptions of characters, places, motivations are both cutting and magical. His descriptions of magic itself, visceral. It’s unlike any other urban fantasy I’ve read before. I really hate this guy.”—John Hornor Jacobs, author of the critically acclaimed The Incorruptibles and Southern Gods
“A City Dreaming is that rare kind of literary treat that reaches, gloriously, into edgy fantasy, while serving up a wholly recognizable world and its relatable inhabitants. This stunningly visceral and lushly tense read provided an inviting and adventurous welcome outside of my more typically defined genre zone.“—Sara Blædel, author of the Louise Rick series
“A City Dreaming is dazzling and unique. A book that promises to be your coolest friend, and makes good on the deal.“—M.R. Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts
“A City Dreaming grabbed me and didn’t let me go. I’m resentful of that kind of storytelling. It makes one-miss subway stops and meals and bedtimes. When Polansky weaves his next world, I’ll be first in line to enter it.”—Mur Lafferty, John W. Campbell author of Six Wakes
“Daniel Polansky’s stories cannot be confined by genre. Fantasy, noir, thriller, mystery, they are merely tools he uses to construct his mad inventions. I haven’t had this much fun since Big Trouble in Little China.“—James Renner, author of The Great Forgetting and The Man from Primrose Lane
“Daniel Polansky is what would happen if Tom Robbins and Douglas Adams got drunk at a dive bar in New York, and that is a tremendously great thing. A City Dreaming is a rare, wondrous, playful, imaginative smorgasbord that breathes new life into urban fantasy.”—Delilah S. Dawson, author of Wicked As They Come
“Deceptively wry, visceral, and engaging, Polansky creates a view of New York that is oddly comforting.”—Lawrence M. Schoen, author Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard
“The rambling adventures of M (part John Constantine, part Sterling Archer) in an ever-morphing New York City form the basis of this clever, funny and at times horrifying novel. Almost every page had something that made me smile, and I’m envious of the rich world-building.“—Alex Bledsoe, author of The Hum and the Shiver
“A vast leap forward…Polansky walks a spectacular high wire.“—Kirkus Reviews
“A City Dreaming is as debauched as it is divine and as drug-addled as it is dreamy. It’s quite simply the best thing Daniel Polansky has ever written—and he’s already written some brilliant things. In retrospect, it reads like the book he was born to write, and if he never writes another, well, that’d be sad, but on the back of this most marvelous medicine, I’d manage. A City Dreaming really is that remarkable.”—Tor.com
“It’s not often that it feels as if someone has grabbed a familiar genre by the scruff of the neck and given it a complete makeover, but that’s what Daniel Polansky has done for the urban fantasy with this stunning piece of work…Verdict: Start spreading the news—a beautiful, harsh, wonderful book. 10/10”—Sci-Fi Bulletin
“Fiction like this comes along far too infrequently. This is a great book that deserves to be hugely successful. I rather suspect Daniel Polansky’s latest is in the running for my book of the year.”—The Eloquent Page
The Empty Throne Book 2
Hodder & Stoughton – March 10, 2016
For centuries beyond counting, humanity has served the Others, god-like Eternals who rule from their cloud-capped mountain-city, building a civilization of unimagined beauty and unchecked viciousness.
But all that is about to change. Bas Alyates, grizzled general of a thousand battles, has assembled a vast army with which to contend with the might of Those Above. Eudokia, Machiavellian matriarch and the power behind the Empty Throne, travels to the Roost, nominally to play peacemaker – but in fact to inspire the human population toward revolt. Deep in the dark byways of the mountain’s lower tiers, the urchin Pyre leads a band of fanatical revolutionaries in acts of terrorism against their inhuman oppressors. Against them, Calla, handmaiden of the Eternals’ king, fights desperately to stave off the rising tide of violence which threatens to destroy her beloved city.
The story begun in Those Above comes to a stunning conclusion in this unforgettable battle for the hearts and minds of the human race, making The Empty Throne the most exciting epic fantasies of recent times.
Praise for THOSE BELOW
“Polansky’s writing is flawless – beautiful settings and intriguing characters ensure a gripping read…an intense, brilliantly written fantasy that will delight fans of the genre.”—The Bookseller
“Prepare yourself to be blown away.”—The Bibliophile Chronicles
“An excellent new series from an author that has gone from strength to strength. Dark, epic and eloquent…a delight to read.”—Mithril Wisdom
“Amazing.”—The Book Plank
Tor.com – November 3, 2015
A missing eye.
A broken wing.
A stolen country.
The last job didn’t end well.
Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain’s company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain’s whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.
Praise for THE BUILDERS
2016 Hugo Award for Best Novella Finalist
Fantasy Faction’s “Best Fantasy Books of 2015”
“A living, breathing world of vivid, winsome characters hellbent on their blaze of glory and as unforgiving as a runaway train carrying all your friends over a cliff. I haven’t cared about animals this much since Watership Down.“—Delilah S. Dawson, author of Hit and Wicked as They Come
“Nobody does dark like Polansky. The Builders is Redwall meets Unforgiven, combining the endearing wit of Disney’s Robin Hood with all the grit and violence of a spaghetti western.“—Myke Cole, author of the Shadow Ops series
“If Sam Peckinpah and Brian Jacques had a strange peyote ritual and shared a collective dream, it might look something like this. Brutish, nasty, short much like life Polansky’s The Builders is also funny, exciting, and extremely original. The Wild Bunch meets Watership Down.“—John Hornor Jacobs, author of The Incorruptibles
“Polansky employs a style that’s knowing and sly, a little tongue-in-cheek but deadly serious; it’s as though Brian Jacques and Quentin Tarantino went drinking one night… a violently compelling story.“—Publishers Weekly
“Bawdy and sometimes bleak, but most outrageous.“—Locus
“Bloody and dark… This is a story of loyalty, trust, backstabbing, betrayal and obsession and how, ultimately, it’s always easier to tear things down than it is to create. The Builders is a story of gang warfare but as you’ve never read gang warfare before. 5/5“—Geek Syndicate
“Polansky’s sense of humour remains bone dry and just this side of black. It’s a story Tarantino would be proud to film, fur and all…The Builders is a gem.”—Forbidden Planet
“Bawdy and sometimes bleak, but most outrageous.”—Locus
“This is a brilliant novella…a must-read.”—Civilian Reader
“The Builders is THE story of the year so far… This novella is utterly brilliant. It is Redwall. It is Watership Down. It is the Dirty Dozen. It is Unforgiven and True Grit. It is all of them, and more. It is The Builders. A different and masterful tale that epitomises everything I love about this genre, The Builders is highly recommended for anyone (human and animal) with a beating heart! 5 out of 5 stars.”—Smash Dragons
“The Builders is a wild ride from start to finish.”—SF Bluestocking
“If you take the time to browse through the reader reviews of Daniel Polansky’s outstanding The Builders, you’ll see it compared to all sorts of stories—Redwall, Watership Down, Unforgiven, The Dirty Dozen, True Grit, Mouse Guard, The Magnificent Seven, The Wild Bunch, Red Country, The Usual Suspects and even Quentin Tarantino movies. Perhaps the most impressive thing about The Builders is that even as it draws inspiration from many of these classic stories, it’s wholly original, and unlike anything I’ve come across. Much like the characters whose story it tells, The Builders is a lean, vicious story that doesn’t pull any punches once the action gets going…In the end, The Builders cuts with a punchline so sharp that you’re two steps out the door before you realize you’re bleeding.”—Fantasy Faction
The Empty Throne Book 1
Hodder & Stoughton – February 26, 2015
They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.
Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.
Those Above is the first of an extraordinary new fantasy epic by the author of the acclaimed Low Town series that will sweep the reader into a wholly alien, wholly recognizable world of rebellion and revenge, of love and of death, of intrigue and pitiless war.
Praise for THOSE ABOVE
“Machiavellian clockwork glory.”—Mark Lawrence
“Gripping…Polansky has pulled off a polished fantasy thriller that’s very much in the George RR Martin/Joe Abercrombie vein, but has still given the book its own distinctive style and voice, alongside plenty of evocative world-building…fascinating and provocative. 4 stars”—SFX
“From low conflict to high skulduggery, this is Daniel Polansky’s most assured and engrossing novel yet. 9/10”—Sci-Fi Bulletin
“A cracking good adventure. There’s politics and plotting, war and adventure, conquest, invasion, flirtation, assassination, big magic swords, tawdry affairs, murder, blackmail, burglary, mountaintop duels… As brilliantly as Those Above delivers its big, thematic vision, it is also gloriously entertaining. Those Above is I, Claudius by way of Tolkien and filtered through Chandler. That is to say, really damn good.”—Pornokitsch
“A brilliant start to what is sure to be one of the fantasy epics of all time, Those Above is the work of an author at the top of his game and brings with it the promise of a lot more to come.”—Reader Dad
“An engaging and incredible series, that’s going to have a strong fan following. (And if we’re lucky, a TV series, because seriously…..so cinematic.)”—Reality is a Bore
“Highly recommended for fantasy fans. And much as I dislike comparisons, I do think honestly that if you are a Game of Thrones fan you will adore this.”—Liz Loves Books
SHE WHO WAITS
A Low Town Novel
Hodder & Stoughton – October 31, 2013
Low Town: the worst ghetto in the worst city in the Thirteen Lands.
Good only for depravity and death. And Warden, long ago a respected agent in the formidable Black House, is now the most depraved Low Town denizen of them all.
As a younger man, Warden carried out more than his fair share of terrible deeds, and never as many as when he worked for the Black House. But Warden’s growing older, and the vultures are circling. Low Town is changing, faster than even he can control, and Warden knows that if he doesn’t get out soon, he may never get out at all.
But Warden must finally reckon with his terrible past if he can ever hope to escape it. A hospital full of lunatics, a conspiracy against the corrupt new king and a ghetto full of thieves and murderers stand between him and his slim hope for the future. And behind them all waits the one person whose betrayal Warden never expected. The one person who left him, broken and bitter, to become the man he is today.
The one woman he ever loved.
She who waits behind all things.
Praise for SHE WHO WAITS
“There’s something about Polansky’s writing that floats my boat…The first two books in this series (trilogy?) are excellent but when you get to She Who Waits you understand they were entrees. This is the main course – this is where the payoffs you hadn’t noticed building up are delivered…Polansky writes great noir crime fiction, his plots are complex and draw you in, his characters are colorful and well drawn. He wields the first person point of view masterfully, fully exposing the man at the pivot point of the tale without exposition or breaking character. His greatest strength perhaps is in slick, witty, bitter, revealing dialogue.“—Mark Lawrence, author of The Broken Empire
“Polansky delivers another captivating and haunting narrative and a moving conclusion to Warden’s tale. We can only hope this is not the last we will see of Low Town.“—The British Fantasy Society
“She Who Waits transcends the series’ fantasy-noir roots and elevates the story into literary tragedy territory…I would unequivocally recommend the entire trilogy to a new reader. It is, in my opinion, must-read material for any fan of fantasy…Polansky has crafted a stunning conclusion to the Warden’s tale that will leave you breathless and aching for just one more page, one more chapter, one more hit of breath. It is the best book I’ve read this year. I give it all the stars. 10/10“—Fantasy Faction
“This was the series that pulled me into dark fantasy by the throat and refused to let go until I’d fully immersed myself into its darkness. It’ll do the same to you, and you’ll love it. An outstanding conclusion to an excellent series.“—Mithril Wisdom
“Daniel Polansky solidified his standing in the genre as one not to look out for, but one to always be on the watch for his next move. There is no doubt in my mind that She Who Waits is Fantasy Noir at its finest.“—Acerbic Writing
TOMORROW, THE KILLING
A Low Town Novel
Hodder & Stoughton – October 11, 2012
Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town.
His name is Warden.
He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery’s daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother’s murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.
Dark, violent, and shot through with corruption, Tomorrow, the Killing is a fantastic successor to one of the most heralded fantasy debuts of recent times.
Praise for TOMORROW, THE KILLING
Forbidden Planet Best of 2012
Fantasy Faction Top 5 of 2012
The Founding Fields Best of 2012
A Fantastical Librarian Best of 2012
“With The Straight Razor Cure, Polansky pushed the envelope of modern fantasy. With Tomorrow, the Killing, he tears through the envelope and pushes for horizons yet unseen.“—Myke Cole, author of Control Point
“It is frankly the grimmest and darkest of the grimdarks, vicious, brutal, pulling no punches and yet extremely compelling reading.“—Adrian Tchaikovsky
“In Tomorrow, the Killing, Polansky shows us he is no one-book wonder… If you haven’t read Polansky yet, you must remedy this ASAP. He writes gripping, addictive stories with a grim eloquence…Very, very highly recommended. Polansky is definitely among my new favourite authors. Essential reading.“—civilian-reader.blogspot.com
“Tomorrow, the Killing delivers more of the same noir-esque brilliance that placed The Straight Razor Cure amongst the top releases of last year.“—The British Fantasy Society
Doubleday (US) – August 16, 2011
Hodder & Stoughton (UK) – August 18, 2011
(Published in the UK under a different title: THE STRAIGHT RAZOR CURE)
Drug dealers, hustlers, brothels, dirty politics, corrupt cops…and sorcery. Welcome to Low Town.
In the forgotten back alleys and flop houses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its champion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Each day is a constant hustle for new customers and to protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancrid the Harelip and Ling, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens.
The Warden’s life of narcotized iniquity is shaken by his discovery of a murdered child down a dead end street…setting him on a collision with the life he left behind. As a former agent at Black House—the secret police—he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing—the kind of crime that doesn’t get investigated. To protect his home, he will play a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psychotic head of Black House. But the truth is darker than he imagines, and in discovering it, Warden may very well lose the tattered remains of his soul. Because In Low Town, no one can be trusted.
Daniel Polansky has crafted a fantastic thriller full of noir sensibilities set in a new world of stunning imagination, leading to a gut-wrenching, unforeseeable conclusion. LOW TOWN is an attention-grabbing debut that will leave readers riveted…and hungry for more.
Praise for LOW TOWN
Winner of the 2012 Prix Imaginales
Longlisted for the 2014 and 2016 David Gemmell Legend Award
Fantasy Faction Top 10 of 2012 & 2013
SciFiNow Best Books of 2013
Forbidden Planet Best Books of 2012
The founding Fields Best of 2012
Locus Magazine 2011 Recommended Reading List
A fantastical Librarian Best of 2012
Polansky hits all the right notes in his intelligent first novel, a blend of dystopian fantasy and hard-boiled crime…Sharp, noir-tinged dialogue and astute insights into class struggle mark Polansky as a writer with a future.—Publishers Weekly
A strong debut novel with a hero who doesn’t waste time worrying about the moral implications of cutting someone’s throat.—Kirkus Reviews
When you think of Low Town, picture the Baltimore of The Wire: a city where the criminal subculture has evolved not just into a shadow economy, but a shadow society, flourishing under the surface of official “law and order.” Polansky’s imaginary city is richly layered in history and diverse cultures, but with obvious resonances to our world. Those similarities help to hook the reader into the story, which gradually turns into the type of noir narrative where everything and everyone is tainted by corruption, the elite even more so than the so-called underclasses. Polansky ties all these threads together with a steadfast commitment to the downbeat noir sensibility. Fantasy fans may be more likely than mystery fans to give Polansky’s mashup a try, but both genres benefit from his carefully calibrated integration of their tropes and themes.—Shelf Awareness (Ron Hogan)
I loved Low Town. I loved the setting. I loved the characters. I loved the noir. And when the sequel is ready, I will love coming back to Low Town and continuing Warden’s tale… What impressed me the most about Low Town was the setting. Of the noir fantasy that I’ve read, the majority of them—urban fantasy novels in particular—take place in an alternate version of our world where magic and the paranormal are real. Not Low Town. Low Town is set in a fully realized secondary world. I also loved the tone of the book. A lot of authors have tried to emulate Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, but not everyone can pull it off. Daniel Polansky does so with ease, with the characters, story and milieu of Low Town all delightfully drenched in hard-boiled noir.—Fantasy Book Critic (Robert Thompson)
Noir lovers you’ve found your new favorite series. Low Town is Polansky’s debut, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it as it’s a very self assured first effort…a rough and tumble novel that keeps a quick pace and never loses its edge.—Mad Hatter Review
Polansky’s writing is confident and punchy from the offset. The action rips along at a brilliant pace allowing us to experience this gritty world through the eyes of a thrilling, dangerous, flawed, yet strangely endearing protagonist. This is modern, dark fantasy at its best and a debut to be envied.—The British Fantasy Society (Elloise Hopkins)
It’s a superb debut novel—the most exciting and original fantasy I’ve read for decades—absolutely stunning. I couldn’t put it down! I can’t remember when I last enjoyed a fantasy book this much.—Books Monthly (Paul Norman)
Brilliant…a phenomenal first novel from a young American author with enough raw talent to make washed-up wretches of us all. With The Straight Razor Cure, Polansky steps straight up to the plate – and with such style! It is practically masterful.
—The Speculative Scotsman (Niall Alexander)
The darkest, most disturbing and unflinching fantasy novel focusing on the criminal underworld that I’ve read. This was definitely a unique fantasy read, and I would recommend this novel to people who like fantasy novels without alien races, and those who prefer a more adult story, or a crime fan who wants to foray into fantasy for the first time but is afraid it’s all going to be elves and dragons.—Walker of Worlds (Steve Aryan)
I give this novel a resounding 9 / 10 – it’s dark, brilliant, boundary-pushing, and unique, with incredible characters and a thought-provoking plot, and it doesn’t read like a debut at all. Daniel is definitely and assuredly a damned good writer and storyteller.—DaveBrendon’s Fantasy & Sci-Fi Weblog
It’s a murder mystery wrapped in a cloak of magic, warfare, and swords. Polansky can definitely write. Every page is an opportunity to enjoy his witty, dark prose.—Shlok Vaidya
I have been a huge fan of both Sin City (Frank Miller) and The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher… In my humble opinion the writing of Low Town stands out just as well as those and more. It was a real effort on my part not to devour this one in one sitting.—Writing Ex Libris (Travis Bingaman)
Sharply written and a ton of fun. Really strong noir sensibilities and world building.—The Bookrageous Podcast
Along with the standard fantasy novel trappings of wise men and wizards-gone-wrong, there are also healthy sprinklings of Chandler and even Lovecraft, making this a novel that spans genres.—The Book Goat
“Polansky is a deft, sensitive dramatist with the blackest sense of humor—and Low Town is brilliant proof. Polansky has managed to craft an assured, roaring, and rollicking hybrid, a cross-genre free-for-all that relishes its tropes while spitting out their bones. And he does it all while spinning one hell of a gripping mystery. Much like its grim, perversely charismatic antihero, Low Town stakes a narrow turf—then completely owns every inch of it.”—A.V. Club (The Onion)
“This debut by Maryland native Daniel Polansky is a fantasy-crime hybrid with serious noir chops. Gritty, cryptically funny and relentlessly inventive.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“A maniacal page turner.”—Newark Star Ledger
“Polansky hits all the right notes in his intelligent first novel, a blend of dystopian fantasy and hard-boiled crime…Sharp, noir-tinged dialogue and astute insights into class struggle mark Polansky as a writer with a future.”—Publishers Weekly
“Polansky writes excellent, well-observed prose…Under different covers, with a different spin, Polansky might well find himself being accused of literature here and being put forward for prizes.”—Mark Lawrence, author of Prince of Thorns
“Brilliantly executed…as good a debut as I’ve read in a long time. Low Town has it all…Highly recommended.”—SFRevu (John Berlyne)