Martha Wells' Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below was published by Night Shade Books in June 2015.

Information about Martha Wells:

Martha Wells is the author of five Ile-Rien novels (The Element of Fire, The Death of the Necromancer, The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air and The Gate of Gods), Books of the Raksura trilogy (The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea and The Siren Depths), City of Bones, Wheel of the Infinite, the Emilie series (Emilie and the Hollow World and Emilie and the Sky World), two Stargate Atlantis novels (Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary and Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement) and one Star Wars novel (Razor's Edge). She has also written short stories and non-fiction articles.

Click here to visit the author's official website.

Information about Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below:

Moon, Jade, and other favorites from the Indigo Cloud Court return with two new novellas from Martha Wells.

Martha Wells continues to enthusiastically ignore genre conventions in her exploration of the fascinating world of the Raksura. Her novellas and short stories contain all the elements fans have come to love from the Raksura books: courtly intrigue and politics, unfolding mysteries that reveal an increasingly strange wider world, and threats both mundane and magical.

"The Dead City" is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In "The Dark Earth Below," Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet; their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree's roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell...


Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below is the second volume of stories about the Raksura. It's just as good and interesting as its predecessor (Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud) and will appeal to readers who enjoy reading about the Raksura and the Three Worlds.

I was impressed by this collection and its contents. I honestly think that this short story collection deserves all the praise it gets, because there's no fluff here, only quality fantasy from start to finish. With this collection, Martha Wells once again proves that she's one of the best authors of original and compelling fantasy fiction. I have nothing bad to say about this collection, because it's a perfect collection for fans of the Raksura.

I think it's good to mention that if you haven't read any of the other previous Raksura novels and stories, it may be difficult to understand the contents of this collection. "The Dead City" is the most accessible story in this collection and can probably be understood well by new readers, but if you're new to the Raksura novels and stories, it's difficult to understand what's going on in the other stories. I recommend reading The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea and The Siren Depths before delving into these stories (trust me, you won't regret reading them).

The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea and The Siren Depths introduced the Raksura, their enemies and the Three Worlds to fantasy readers. The first short story collection (Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud) added more depth to the characters and the fantasy world. Now this collection adds even more depth and provides important information about the characters and the world to the readers.

All the trademarks of the novels and the previous stories can be found in this collection. Whether it's engaging characters, rousing adventure or enchanting storytelling you're looking for, this collection has it all.

This collection contains the following five stories:

- The Dead City (novella)
- Mimesis (short story)
- Trading Lesson (short story)
- The Almost Last Voyage of the Wind-Ship Escarpment (short story)
- The Dark Earth Below (novella)

Just like in the previous short story collection, the appendices that can be found at the end of the collection are useful and helpful to readers. They contain information about the different Raksura and their known enemies.

Here's more information about the two novellas and my thoughts about them:

The Dead City:

- The events in this novella take place a few turns before the events of The Cloud Roads.
- In this story, Moon has travelled far from Saraseil, a groundling city that was destroyed by the Fell. He has almost given up hope of finding other beings like him. He is tired and careful around the groundlings so that they won't notice him in his winged form, because shapeshifters are regarded as vicious predators. Moon finds a friendly caravanserai. He hears that miners, who dig into hills, have attacked anyone who goes near them and have frightened off many traders. Soon Moon meets the menacing miners...
- This novella is charmingly dark and has a thrilling atmosphere that will please many readers.

The Dark Earth Below:

- The events in this novella take place a turn and a half after the events of The Siren Depths.
- In this story, Moon is consort to Jade, the Sister Queen of the Indigo Cloud court. Jade is expecting her first clutch and Moon will soon become a father and has to deal with fatherhood. The Kek (groundlings who dwell in the roots of the colony tree) ask for help from the Raksura, because some of their hunters have gone missing...
- This is an excellent and well written novella, because readers have an opportunity to see how well the Indigo Cloud Court works and what happens among the Raksura.
- It was nice to read about the familiar characters (Jade, Balm, Stone etc), because they're well-created characters.

Both of these novellas reveal interesting things about the lives of the Raksura and the Three Worlds. They're important and welcome additions to the Raksura series, because they bring more depth to the series.

The short stories ("Mimesis", "Trading Lesson" and "The Almost Last Voyage of the Wind-Ship Escarpment") are probably familiar to many readers, because they've been previously available for readers, so I won't write much about them. I'll only mention that they're good stories and worth reading.

I think it's great that the author shows how strong, curious and tired Moon is in "The Dead City", because it adds depth to his character and makes the reader understand him and his feelings better. I enjoyed reading about how Moon had to hide his winged appearance from others, because many groundlings would've feared him if they'd seen him in his winged form (in his winged form he looked a lot like the dreaded Fell). It was impossible for Moon to stay for a long time in one place, because he has to move from one place to another in order to protect himself and hide his appearance from others.

"The Dark Earth Below" reveals a new side of Moon, because he's becoming a father. He has to deal with issues related to fatherhood. This multilayered novella also shows that the Indigo Cloud Court has begun to grow.

I'm sure that readers will be delighted to read about the heartwarming scene in which Jade gives birth to her first clutch. The author wrote well about the birth of the clutch and how Moon and Jade named their babies.

Martha Wells writes excellent and evocative prose. She easily evokes vivid images of the characters by describing what they do, how they interact with each other and what happens to them. Her descriptions of the happenings are realistic and fascinating, and what's best, she never resorts to sentimental storytelling and avoids clichés.

There's a wonderful sense of mystery and threat in these novellas that will be of interest many readers. In my opinion, it's great that there are mystery elements in these novellas, because they add quite a lot of fascination to them. It was intriguing to find out what was going on, because the story unfolded gradually.

Just like in the Raksura novels and in the previous short story collection, the worldbuilding is stunningly good and effective. The author's vision of the Three Worlds comes fully to life through her skillful storytelling and sophisticatedly detailed descriptions of the different places. One of the best things about the fantasy world is that it feels completely natural and realistic yet charmingly magical. The world is so immersive that you'll find yourself wanting to read more about it and its wonders and terrors.

In my opinion, the shapeshifting Raksura are among the most interesting species ever to appear on the pages of fantasy novels and stories. Martha Wells is one of the few authors who have successfully managed to create a species that differs wholly from other species found in contemporary fantasy novels. The menacing spider-like miners and the Cedar-rin are also fascinatingly different kind of beings.

I'll mention separately that it was enjoyable to read about the Kek in "The Dark Earth Below". The Kek were groundlings who lived in the twilight of the forest floor among the roots of mountain-trees. They prefered colony trees and were believed to be good for the health of the trees. Their strange appearance will intrigue readers.

Ever since I read The Cloud Roads, I've been fascinated by their biology and court politics of the Raksura. There's something insect-like yet deeply human in the Raksura that makes them interesting beings. They're surprisingly human in many ways, but they also act on instict when necessary. They're intelligent beings and capable of doing many things.

I enjoyed reading all of the stories in this collection and look forward to reading more stories about the Raksura. The good news is that the next brand new Raksura novel, The Edge of Worlds, will be published in April 2016. I look forward to reading it, because the Raksura series is one of the best and most original fantasy series for adult readers who are intrigued by intelligent storytelling and are fascinated by a rich fantasy world filled with strange beings and creatures.

If you haven't read any of Martha Wells' Raksura novels or stories yet, I strongly urge you to read them as soon as possible (why waste time on reading mediocre novels and stories when you can read something that's really good, original and unique like these novels?). I can assure you that you're in for quite a delicious and rare treat when you begin to read these novels and stories. They're so different from other contemporary fantasy novels and stories that you can't help but be mesmerised them. You'll do yourself a big favour by reading them.

Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below offers excellent entertainment and escapism for fans of the Raksura novels. If you're a fan of the Raksura novels, please read this collection, because you'll enjoy it immensely. It's an excellent collection (if you want quality, depth and style, you'll find it all here).

Highly recommended!