Exclusive Extract from THE MASKED CITY by Genevieve Cogman

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The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman is the second of The Invisible Library series, and is published on December 3rd, and we have an exclusive extract below for STARBURST readers.  

"Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.

Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.

Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternative Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death."



Excerpt taken from Briefing Document on

Orientation Amongst Various Worlds


Section 2.1, version 4.13

Author: Coppelia; editor: Kostchei; reviewers: Gervase and Ntikuma For authorized personnel only





By now you will have passed basic training, and will either be working in the field with a more experienced Librarian or be pre- paring to do so. This confidential  document is a more in-depth examination of the Library’s position towards both Fae and drag- ons. It will help you understand why we remain unaffiliated with either side.






You will be aware of the dangers that the Fae present  to human- ity. They receive their nourishment from emotional interactions with humans, feeding off us in this way. And they perceive every- one other than themselves, both humans and indeed other Fae, as mere participants  – fulfilling background roles – in their own personal stories. And here we have an interesting  feedback loop. The more dramatic  they can make their personal stories (for ex- ample, playing the role of villain, rogue or hero), the more power a Fae can gain. And the more powerful  they are, the more stereo- typical this role-playing   behaviour  becomes. As a result of all

this, a  Fae’s viewpoint will grow correspondingly  more socio- pathic1  over time.

In terms of other dangers, the Fae display  powers  ranging from the ability to clothe themselves in a basic glamour (in order to affect human perceptions of them) to the capacity to emotionally manipulate  those around them. In addition, powerful Fae occasionally  display specific magical  or physical powers, depending on the personal archetype  or stereotype they have chosen to adopt.






The  known worlds are  ranged  on a  spectrum  from order to chaos. And the further we journey into the worlds affected by chaos,  the more  Fae can be found there.  In chaos-affected worlds, there is of course the risk of humans being open to chaos contamination. This may affect  a Librarian’s powers or even pre- vent them re-entering the Library. In such worlds where  Fae dominate, humanity  forms a background cast. Their roles range from pets to food, and they are seen as props  for the psycho- dramas, romances or vendettas indulged in by the Fae around them – these Fae being contaminated with chaos, body and soul. Individual or weaker  Fae may be able to interact with single Librarians on a relatively  ‘human’ level. The more powerful  ones either won’t want to or won’t be capable of doing this. Beware of forming alliances if apparently friendly  overtures are made, as they will still have very Fae motivations.






1.    The question  of whether this is sociopathy  or psychopathy  is beyond the scope of this briefing document.





So, you might  ask, why don’t  we ally ourselves outright with the dragons? They stand for order, just as the Fae stand  for chaos. They represent reality, in the same way that the Fae embrace  and are empowered by concepts of fiction and unreality. As such, the dragons esteem the ‘real’ and the physical world above all else, having little patience with matters of the imagination.  So why shouldn’t we want to embrace2   physical  reality?  The answer is that, in their own way, the dragons are just as biased and non- human in their viewpoint  as the Fae.






Dragons may represent the physical world – the world we can touch, if you like – but physical reality is not kind.3 It is raw, brutal and merciless.  Dragons’  powers  are  grounded  in the physical realm: they can control the weather, the tides, the earth, and so on. Dragons are also highly practical in their thinking, and see little need for discussions about democracy, human self- determination or other such fantasies  – when they consider themselves demonstrably  the most powerful creatures around. They believe  they automatically  have the right to rule by this token. So in the worlds where a high degree of order is present, the dragons do rule, either openly or behind the scenes.





2.    Figuratively  speaking. Librarians’ personal lives are their own business.

3.    Librarians who have other theological  opinions are reminded that their personal beliefs are also their own business.



Through connections via its doors to multiple alternate worlds – connections forged by  harvesting key  books from  these worlds –  the Library helps maintain the balance.  Its links with worlds prevent them from drifting too fast in the direction of chaos  or order,  and a  reasonably  stable environment  for humans is possible somewhere in the middle.4  Junior Librarians may be heavily penalized if they are  seen to be making un- authorized pacts with the Fae. This is especially  the case if these are seen to undermine the Library’s all-important neutrality – which must be preserved at all costs. It should be stressed that we aren’t here in order to make judgements about what is ‘best for humanity’. Humanity should be left to make its own deci- sions. The purpose  of the Library  is to preserve humanity  from either absolute reality or absolute unreality.

And you will do this by collecting nominated books, to maintain the balance.





4.   We are aware that this is extremely  simplistic.  An in-depth discussion  is beyond the scope of this briefing document and requires a high level of expertise in the Language.

THE MASKED CITY by Genevieve Cogman is published by Pan Macmillan on December 3rd in paperback and Kindle formats.

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0 #1 Aidan Arkwright 2015-11-14 12:36
Hard to describe how excited I am by this book (lots!)

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