Songs of Love & Death

For everyone we’ve loved and lost

—you know who you are.


The earliest reference we can find for the phrase “star-crossed lovers” traces it to 1595, attributing it to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy about the doomed romance that blossoms between a young man and a young woman on the brawling streets of Verona, a romance that is destined to fail because the families they come from are locked in a deadly feud: “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, / a pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.”

It’s an astrological phrase, of course, stemming from the old belief (still held today by millions of people, as a look at any newspaper will tell you) that the position of the stars at your birth casts a supernatural influence that determines your fate. So to say that a romantic relationship is “star-crossed” is to say that the influence of the stars are working against it, that it’s opposed by fate, ill-fated, “thwarted by a malign star.” Not meant to be. That you’re destined to be kept apart no matter how hard you struggle to be together.

In real life, even without the influence of the stars or the dread hand of Fate, there are any number of things that can doom a relationship—differences in temperament, race, religion, social status, political affiliations, being on different sides of a bitter war, philosophical dogma, degrees of affluence (or lack of it). Even simple distance can work to keep people apart, and over the centuries there must have been many lovers who stood on the dock and watched their loved ones sail off to destinations like Australia or America thousands of miles away, knowing that they’d never see them again, since in the days before modern transportation, they might as well have been sailing off to Mars. Many, many immigrants must have left someone behind them in the Old Country, as they were forced into exile or set off to find their fortunes, and most were never reunited.

This is a theme that has been eagerly embraced by fiction and folklore, and world literature is full of star- crossed lovers desperately struggling to hold on to love no matter how overwhelming the odds against them: Paris and Helen, Pyramus and Thisbe, Lancelot and Guinevere, Roxanne and Cyrano, Cathy and Heathcliff. Recently, thanks to the booms in fantasy and romance, everyone knows of Buffy and Angel, Bill Compton and Sookie Stackhouse, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan.

Which brings us down to the book you hold in your hands at this moment (unless you’re using your mental powers to make it levitate or reading it off a screen), a cross-genre anthology called Songs of Love & Death, which explores the borderlands of fantasy and romance, stories from the heart and about the heart, tales of endangered love played out against every kind of setting, from ghost-haunted fantasy landscapes to mile-long spaceships in transit between the stars, stories where a lover’s heart is put in danger, and love, life, and happiness are at risk with great odds to be overcome to achieve them. Star-crossed lovers who are really star-crossed, with grave obstacles to be overcome before they succeed in finding love (if they do): a wizard who must battle both a supremely powerful vampire and the hidden desires of his own heart; a man who must seduce a reluctant maiden or forfeit his family’s life to the Queen of Faerie; a woman who falls in love with a superhero she glimpses hurtling toward the scene of a crime; a ghost who lusts for sex and blood long after he should be safely in his grave; a girl who must brave the wrath of an otherworldly prince to rescue the man she loves; a lonely man who falls in love with a woman he can never meet; a smuggler who dares to fall in love with the ruler of a star-spanning Empire; a soldier cast adrift from his world who will face immense hardships to return to his own time and place; a lover who may—or may not—exist; a love that persists across lives and worlds, and transcends death . . .

We’ve gathered for you here some of the most prestigious and widely read names in romance and fantasy, and the booming hot new field of paranormal romance, including Jim Butcher, Robin Hobb, Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, Jacqueline Carey, Carrie Vaughn, and eleven other first-class writers. Among other goodies, we are proud to offer you a brand-new Harry Dresden story, a pivotal story in the Kushiel series, a follow-up to An Echo in the Bone, and a new novelette set in the Farseer universe. And more star-crossed lovers, of every imaginable sort, than you can shake a stick at.


Jim Butcher

New York Times bestseller Jim Butcher is best known for the Dresden Files series, starring Harry Dresden, a wizard for hire, who goes down some very mean streets indeed to do battle against the dark creatures of the supernatural world and is one of the most popular fictional characters of the twenty-first century to date; he even had his own TV show. The Dresden Files books include Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, and Turn Coat. Butcher is also the author of the swashbuckling sword and sorcery Codex Alera series, consisting of Furies of Calderon, Academ’s Fury, Cursor’s Fury, Captain’s Fury, and Princeps’ Fury. His most recent books are First Lord’s Fury, the new Codex Alera novel, and Changes, the new Dresden Files novel. Butcher lives in Missouri with his wife, his son, and a ferocious guard dog.

Here he sends Harry Dresden up against one of his deadliest adversaries and also into battle with the secret desires of his heart—which may turn out to be even more dangerous.

Love Hurts

Murphy gestured at the bodies and said, “Love hurts.”

I ducked under the crime scene tape and entered the Wrigleyville apartment. The smell of blood and death was thick. It made gallows humor inevitable.

Murphy stood there looking at me. She wasn’t offering explanations. That meant she wanted an unbiased opinion from CPD’s Special Investigations consultant—who is me, Harry Dresden. As far as I know, I am the only wizard on the planet earning a significant portion of his income working for a law enforcement agency.

I stopped and looked around, taking inventory.

Two bodies, naked, male and female, still intertwined in the act. One little pistol, illegal in Chicago, lying upon the limp fingers of the woman. Two gunshot wounds to the temples, one each. There were two overlapping fan- shaped splatters of blood, and more had soaked into the carpet. The bodies stank like hell. Some very unromantic things had happened to them after death.

I walked a little farther into the room and looked around. Somewhere in the apartment, an old vinyl was playing Queen. Freddie wondered who wanted to live forever. As I listened, the song ended and began again a few seconds later, popping and scratching nostalgically.

The walls were covered in photographs.

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