Reviews & Awards


Nominated for Mythopoeic Award, Adult Literature.
Nominated for Locus Award, Fantasy Novel.
Nominated for Gaylactic Spectrum Award, Best Novel.


“Kushner and Sherman return to the sophisticated urban world of Kushner’s Swordspoint 60 years later, as the city is overset by research into the past that unearths dangerous old magic and political unrest. A powerful fantasy that rises above the crowd with a vivid setting, complex characters, and elegant prose.”
Locus, “New and Notable”


“I tore into The Fall of the Kings with the enthusiasm of an emigrant allowed to make a sudden, unexpected trip home….. Kushner and Sherman don’t spin fables or knit fancies: they are world-forgers, working in a language of iron and air.”
—Gregory Maguire, Wicked


“The authors tap into fantasy’s genuine source of drama, its ability to haunt, appall, transform.”
—Faren Miller, Locus


“The Fall of the Kings is, if possible, even better [than Swordspoint]
—twistier and deeper.”
—Neil Gaiman


“Richly textured…authentic…A fantasy novel that won’t insult your intelligence.” 
—Science Fiction Chronicle


“Immensely appealing, intelligent, and great fun.”


“[T]his dynamic tale of the twin powers of love and scholarship offers a glimpse into the connection between learning and politics while portraying the lives of individuals poised on the border of myth and reality.  [… A] sensual and evocative tale.” 
Library Journal


“Two blazing personalities entwine in an exquisite tapestry of intrigue, blood, silk, and magic green as summer.” 
—Elizabeth Wein,  Code Name Verity


“Engaging characters, with their sharp dialogue and complex relationships, and a wonderfully-realized setting combine here for one of my favorite books this year.”
Charles de Lint


“For those who like their fantasy soaked in intrigue, history and romance…. one of the bawdiest and most intellectually stimulating novels of the year!”
—Gavin Grant, BookPage


“This is what Dickens or Eliot might have written, if they had written fantasy… Pick it up and enter a world as complicated as our own, and considerably more colorful.”
—Theodora Goss, Strange Horizons


“This wonderful story defies predictability at every turn. Elegantly written, rich with conversations…. This book is big enough to live in.”
Laurie J. Marks


The Fall of the Kings is about serious magic, the kind that picks you up and shakes you and doesn’t care whether you survive.”
—Sarah Smith


“[A] book of witty dialogue, prose as precise as a blow to the heart… magic with a true aura of numinous danger, thrilling fights, thrilling scholarly debates, old books, swashbuckling aunts, exquisite clothing, ancient rituals, hot chocolate, female pirates, erotic paintings…. [I]t leaves one with much to consider after the book is closed.”
—Rachel Manija Brown, Green Man Review


“If one wants to locate the high ground of fantasy fiction… it is a very good idea to see where Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman are. Individually, and writing together, they honor the genre with their work.”
—Guy Gavriel Kay


“This is how fantasy should be written. The Fall of the Kings is that rare thing these days; a novel that sweeps you in and lets you live the story with the characters.”
—Lynn Flewelling


“I loved this book. [I]t’s a novel deeply rooted in myth, re-configuring the classic motif of king-sacrifice in ways both sensual and startling…. [U]nderneath the razzle-dazzle of the plot, there’s a deeper story that has much to say to our modern world about the value of not discarding myth and fantasy from our lives. And it’s…. dark, sexy, and wickedly funny by turns.”
—Terri Windling


“…[T]ruth, love, hearts of fire, hearts of gold, and even a few hearts of substances less noble but even more interesting.  The Fall of the Kings makes Swordspoint and its world even deeper and richer.  I had astronomically high expectations for this book.  It surpassed them all.”
—Caroline Stevermer,  A College of Magics


“Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman combine their talents to fine effect in The Fall of the Kings, pulling off the considerable trick of making elegant prose seem effortless.  The characters are as vivid, complex and varied as the milieu in which they operate, and the contrast inherent in the reemergence of a deep-rooted, archetypal magic into an elaborately mannered society is piquant and compelling.”
—Jacqueline Carey


“A collaboration evocative of Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, Kushner and Sherman deliver their ‘comedy of academic manners’ with panache.” 
—Kelly Rae Cooper, RT Book Reviews


“A rich fantasy world where swordsmen and lady pirates seem every bit as believable as scholars. Sacred sexuality, drawing room politics, and mystical secrets all walk right into our hearts in the form of unforgettable characters. I enjoyed every page, every line, of this book.” 
—Cecilia Tan


“A charmed, witty romp through an alternate history’s history.”
—Patricia A. McKillip


“Gorgeous prose and a galloping story, with a wickedly funny appreciation for academic  knifefights, and a deep understanding of a true scholar’s passion for his subject.” 
—Mary Doria Russell,  The Sparrow


“This book is stunning.  It has all of the rich fantastic tapestry of Swordspoint, and more depth, more wonder and truth and humanity
—and, of course, lots of parties and handsome men and costumes and scheming and cutting remarks and intimate little dinners and lots and lots of sex.  If Oscar Wilde were writing high fantasy, he’d want to write The Fall of the Kings.”
—Sarah Smith


“[A] truly wonder-filled, lusty, and post-modern novel!”

—Ari Berk, Where the White Stag Runs:
Boundary and Transformation in Deer Myths,
Legends, and Songs


“[A] richly imagined tale in which attractive characters, realistically enmeshed in social, political, and personal concerns, must deal with the resurgence of ancient wizardry and royal divine right into a more rationalistic and modern political system.  The settings—a university full of rival masters and ambitious students, the drawing rooms and festivals of a privileged aristocratic class, and the secret meeting places in which fanatical barbarians plot the return of ancient blood-rites—are realized with a robust depth and realism rare in fantasy literature; and I am pleased to report that our hero comes equipped not only with friends and lovers of various sexes, but with a full-fledged family including among others an astute and influential mother, some aunts and cousins and nieces, and even a delightfully swashbuckling sister—the sort of female relations usually glossed over, if not completley omitted, in sagas of magic and romance.  A sparkling job!”  
—Suzy McKee Charnas


“Go out now and buy The Fall of the Kings. Put it on your nightstand next to Swordspoint. When it’s been raining all day and you are bored beyond endurance, pick it up and enter a world as complicated as our own, and considerably more colorful. Just remember to make plenty of chocolate.”
—Theodora Goss, Strange Horizons