• Twenty Palaces

  • A Prequel (Twenty Palaces Series, Book 0)
  • By: Harry Connolly
  • Narrated by: Daniel Thomas May
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Ray Lilly was 13 years old, a handgun accident landed his best friend, Jon Burrows, in a wheelchair and turned Ray into a runaway and petty criminal. Fifteen years later, Ray returns home after a stint in prison; he's determined to go straight, but he knows he can't do that without making peace with his old friend.  

What Ray doesn't expect is that Jon has just received a mysterious cure - not only is he out of his wheelchair, he seems stronger and faster than...well, pretty much anyone. Worse, his cure has drawn the attention of all sorts of powerful people: The media are camped out on his block, the police are investigating him for insurance fraud, and weird shadowy figures have begun to draw closer, figures who clearly do not mean to do Jon any good.  

Can Ray atone for the biggest mistake of his life by protecting his oldest friend? And what terrible price will the world have to pay if he succeeds?

©2011 Harry Connolly (P)2020 Tantor

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Finally!

I preordered Twenty Palaces as soon as I saw it listed. Having read and reread the series many times over the years, I was seriously psyched I could finally listen to it now. Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces series is one of my all time favorites. It straddles the lines of categorization. It fits in the Urban Fantasy genre, but leans more toward the horror side of the equation and could actually be considered Grimdark, except it's not epic fantasy. So it's safe to say it's unique.

The Twenty Palaces story gives more insight into the MC, Ray Lilly, and also fills in the blanks about an incident between Ray and Annalise that's referred to in the other books. (Twenty Palaces was published later.) Ray and Annalise are antiheroes. In the vast array of white and black hat magic stories out there, they're gray at best, interacting with gray to deepest black characters. Annalise is a lesser Peer in the Twenty Palaces Society, tasked with eliminating rogue spell casters and the messes they've left in their wake. It's never a good situation, a lot of times it's desperate, because in exchange for power, alien...things (referred to as predators) from another dimension called the empty spaces have been allowed access to humanity. The predators are unique, bizarre and incredible. And ravenous. Nothing good comes out of the empty spaces. So each adventure in the series is different, but at its core, Ray and Annalise have no choice but to succeed at all costs or die trying. Twenty Palaces is Ray's introduction to magic and the existence of predators. Magic is dangerous and ugly and its wielders, rogue sorcerer or Peer, are nasty, amoral individuals. The stories are disturbing and creepy and really, _really_ good.

With crossed fingers I started listening and was happy to discover Daniel Thomas May's narration is excellent. He has great range and perfectly captures the essence of the characters, making them unique, vivid and stepping off the page.

IMHO Twenty Palaces is well worth the credit. The stories are deep, intense and Lovecraftian. Many times you'll experience a sense of shock an awe during the adventure. Years later I'd remember that sensation, recollect what a cool scene that was and go reread the book again, Okay, I'd end up rereading _anything_ 20P, again, because each story has those moments in it. None replicate the others. All are fascinating, It's well crafted, effortless, meat and potatoes writing. Definitely check it out.

~~~ETA (6/26/20)~~~
For anyone unaware of the latest news, Harry Connolly has decided to write, not one, but _two_ more Twenty Palaces stories!! Woot! Also, Tantor Audio has optioned the previously published Twenty Palaces books and is supposed to release them on audio, monthly, starting with Twenty Palaces in June of 2020. Double Woot! So keep an eye out. Soon the entire series will be available to both read and listen to.

~~~UPDATE (9/30/22)~~~
Harry Connolly has finished The Iron Gate and The Flood Circle! TIG is available in print today (woot!) and TFC is due out in October 2022. Tantor Audio will release The Iron Gate audiobook (that will include The Twisted Path novella) sometime in the future. I don't know about you, but I'm seriously psyched to start reading more of Ray and Annalise's adventures right now. *happy dancing* And the last bit of awesome news is HC says there'll be a third new Twenty Palaces story! Yay! It's titled Twenty-One Palaces and it'll be the last book in the series.

So if you're like me, wanting to inhale anything and everything Twenty Palaces related after finishing the first story, here's a bibliography:

Twenty Palaces
Child of Fire
Game of Cages
Circle of Enemies
The Home Made Mask (novelette in Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths anthology)
The Twisted Path
The Iron Gate - published 9/30/22!
The Flood Circle - due out 10/22!
Twenty-One Palaces - TBW

8 people found this helpful

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The Real Entry Point to a Spectacular Series

Twenty Palaces was written, timeline-wise, after Child of Fire and Game of Cages, etc., but it's definitely the first book in this series. And the Twenty Palaces series is so very worth reading. It is unlike anything else in the genre ...not one single werewolf, not a vampire to be found, and no love lorn heroine torn between them. In fact...no annoying romance at all. Thank you Harry Connolly for a truly enjoyable and unique experience. Every word you publish is a gift to those of us who manage to find it, read it, and love it. This is a superb book from a superb series. I've learned from experience enough times by now, you can't go wrong with Harry Connolly. These books deserve a huge audience. I'm so glad I found them because I almost never re-read a book and these books are the best deal going cuz (I've read other reviews stating this same sentiment) I have literally lost count of how many times I've read each book in this series and I have no clue how this is possible, but I enjoy it every single time! I've read A LOT and have found a tiny handful of novels that hold up to that standard. If I were giving my best friend this book I would say, "I know you are busy...trust me...treat yourself.". And then next time we spoke we would talk non-stop about the fantastic story and all the ways we enjoyed it. I can give no better review than that. And this book...this series...deserves it without question. Thank you Harry Connolly!

3 people found this helpful

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Gripping dark fantasy

Well worth the listen. Great book! I really love this series and hope the author writes more.

2 people found this helpful

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Great read,my have a new dresden files!

loved it ,writer is good at his craft and can't wait to read more! glad he wrote this prequel.

2 people found this helpful

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Very Disappointing

45 minutes into this book and it was still an unintelligible and uninteresting mess. Neither the characters nor the forced "mystery" were compelling. I decided to return it. It could be mistaken for someone's high school creative writing term paper.

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  • user
  • 09-13-22

This book series is one of my favourites

I had started with the other books in the series and they are now in the list of my favourites, so I decided to listen to this prequel.
This series is a refreshing change from the typical super-hero-style of books you usually find. This is a bit of an anti-James Bond, where the main character has to work with no resources, no knowledge and no superpowers, and he manages to earn respect by his actions alone. I really like how the character of the protagonist was made, his relationships with the people he knows, his actions and reactions - dynamic and surprising you from time to time, keeping on your toes. The plot is engaging all the way, and the sense of humour is there too. I am re-reading this series again, and enjoying it again even though I already know the plot.
The prequel gives more explanations, but I personally loved the keep-in-the-dark feel of the first book with which I started.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-22-20

Loved it!

I preordered this audiobook the moment I found out it was going to be released.

Despite my high levels of anticipation it was everything I hoped it to be.