1. Child of Fire (2009)

1. Child of Fire (2009)

The Twenty Palaces series is written by Harry Connolly

Genres and SubgenresEdit

Adult Urban Fantasy / Noir UF / "Hard-boiled" Mystery-Crime-Fantasy, 

Series Description or Overview Edit

Child of Fire

The initial book of the Twenty Palaces series, Ray Lilly is the wooden man (a decoy expected to die to allow a sorceress to deal with a predator or enemy sorcerer) and driver of Annalise Powliss, and is under a standing death mark from the Twenty Palace Society. Driving her to Hammer Bay, Washington, Ray helps Annalise uncover a sorcerer, the CEO of Hammer Bay Toys, and his enslaved predator, a Wheel of Fire, that allows Hammer to influence the future. The Wheel is slowly eroding its bindings, enough so that it begins to kill the children of Hammer Bay, using their bodies to build an offspring. Ray eventually kills Hammer and isolates the Wheel. Annalise is horribly wounded during this fight, and Ray manages to resurrect her by force feeding her meat.

Game of Cages

Ray, detached from Annalise and with new knowledge of several of the spells put upon his body prior to Child of Fire by Annalise, is paired with Catherine Little, an investigator of the Society. Sent to investigate rumors of a predator being sold at auction, Ray and Catherine arrive too late to interrupt the sale, and that the sapphire dog, a predator that feeds by forcing victims to kill one another, has escaped. Ray eventually overpowers two other sorcerers who arrive to contest for the dog, and kills the predator itself, again saving Annalise's life, who arrives after the presence of the predator is confirmed.

Circle of Enemies

Ray is contact by former associates in Los Angeles, and discovers all of his friends have been infected with predators to render them invisible. Ray's old nemesis inscribed them the spells to protect them from the predators in henna, which gradually fades, resulting in Ray's friends eventually being devoured. Again working for Annalise, Ray eventually finds the home of a traitor to the Society, and finds the Book of Oceans hidden in the home. Ray reads the Book of Oceans but refuses the gift of magical power. At the end of the book, after killing his nemesis, Ray is invited to the First Palace along with Annalise, as Ray is one of the few people, including the peers, who has actually managed to secure any recent victories. ~ Wikipedia

Primary Supe Edit

  • Sorcerers

What Sets it ApartEdit

  • Crime thriller with magic

Narrative style Edit

  • First person narrative of each story from the point of view of the main character, Ray Lilly,

Books in Series Edit

Twenty Palaces Series:

  1. Child of Fire (2009)
  2. Game of Cages (2010)
  3. Circle of Enemies (2011)

Shorts, Anthologies and GuidesEdit

  • 0.5. Twenty Palaces (2011) ~ prequel novella (250 page)

World Building Edit

Setting Edit

Rural Pacific North-West


  • Twenty Palace Society:

Supernatural Elements Edit

Sorcerers, golem flesh, magic tattoos, rituals, artifacts created by rituals, ghost knife, werewolves, three real tomes of magic, supe-gangs (mob-like), Golem spell


  • Wooden Man: a decoy expected to die to allow a sorceress to deal with a predator or enemy sorcerer.


  • Cousins: Balls of light that grant health and super-human abilities to their host (e.g., strength, speed, etc.). The predator eats away the brain of the host, but retains the host's personality and memories. These predators appear in the novel Twenty Palaces, the prequel to the trilogy of the same name.
  • Wheels of Fire: Fiery wheels made of "grey worms" that exist outside linear time. Proper manipulation of this creature is what allows the Hammers their abilities in Child of Fire.
  • Werewolves: Allows transformation into a wolf. Effects behavior causing pack mentality and over aggression as well as moral disassociation.
  • Ball Lightning: Ball of sentient, electricity hungry lightning. Summoned by Zahn with a magical lightning rod. Shown to be summoned without a circle by killing a person with the rod. Game of Cages.
  • Sapphire Dog: This creature has a magical gift for compulsion. To see it is to love it. Can also pass through solid matter.
  • Iron Balls: Golf ball sized iron balls filled with fire that are simply immovable. Killed easily with the ghost knife they explode into flame, often killing their fellows. Can bestow the gift of total immovability upon a person they inhabit physically. Seen to inhabit wally king in untold numbers.
  • Winds of Air and Hunger or "drapes": Invisible creatures that are sort of like boa constrictors if boa constrictors could totally envelope a person. Seen inhabiting multiple people whom they bestow invisibility on. After the person they inhabit dies they open a hole in the ground to the Deeps where upon they summon exponential numbers of their brethren. 
  • Claws in Darkness: Eagle like talons that come out of voids of darkness. According to Annalise a popular form of guardian for summoners. Fairly resistant to the ghost knife but fall easily to Annalise's green ribbons. ~ Wikipedia

Spells & Tattoos:

  • Closed Way: Provides impenetrability on the covered area
  • The Twisted Path: great for criminals—leaves no fingerprints, DNA misdirected, etc
  • Golem Flesh spell: provides an added degree of protection from damage; regenerate damage rapidly, requires eating raw red meat daily
  • The Iron Gate: Protects one from mental influence both from spells and predators
  • Ghost Knife/Soul Knife: Cuts all non living matter, all magic, and "ghosts" or souls; Cast by Ray onto a piece of paper

Goups & Organizations:Edit

  • Twenty Palace Society: mysterious organization of sorcerers—their aim appears to be using any means necessary to keep magic out of the hands of anyone other than their own members.

World Edit

✥ Magic in this universe is almost entirely dependent on rituals or artifacts created by rituals. These can take many forms, and can be performed by anyone with the proper spell form and artifact, though most spells cause incredible pain for the caster during the casting, and are treated like part of the sorcerer who casts them. Ray refuses to loan his ghost knife to an investigator, telling her "you might as well ask me for my thumb." Spells are granted in visions to people who possess one of the three true tomes of magic, becoming "primaries."

There are only three real tomes of magic in the entire world. And they're not really books, but I'm getting ahead of myself. When you read one, you receive visions, dreams. When the sorcerer wakes, he writes down the visions as accurately as he can remember them, and these people we call primaries. —Annalise Powliss, Game of Cages

As spells or artifacts are then passed from hand to hand, they grow weaker, meaning the same spell performed by a primary is more powerful than the same performed by his apprentice, a secondary. Spells are also known to appear on their own in established spell books. ~ Wikipedia

✥ In this world, you can do magic the hard way, which hurts like hell and costs outrageously; or you can do it the easy way, by summoning demons that want to devour all life on the planet. ~ Goodreads Reader | Andrew

Protagonists Edit

Ray Lilly: is an ex-con who works as a driver and "wooden man" for the Society. His job is to distract enemies so that sorcerers can carry out their duties. Ray's only spells are a "ghost knife," a small piece of paper covered in packing tape and laminated, and magical tattoos drawn on him by Annalise. The ghost knife can cut "ghosts, magic, and dead things", and when it passes through a person it saps their will. The tattoos covering Ray's torso and arms protect him from most physical harm and some spells, cause him to be forgotten by people he encounters, and may have other properties about which Ray is not yet aware. During 'Circle of Enemies' Annalise convinces a peer to give Ray the golem flesh spell, which renders Ray impervious to most injuries provided he eats red meat, which he must now do on a daily basis or begin to die. This also means Ray could live up to 500 years or longer. Ray has also read 'The Book of Oceans', and while he refused the infusion of knowledge that would've rendered him a primary, it is unclear if this has had any effect on him.

Annalise Powliss: is a peer with the Twenty Palace Society, and the usual person to whom Ray answers directly. She has super-strength and invulnerability, as well as the ability to heal from extensive wounds, and carries disposable ribbons that summon "spirit fire". Although she appears to be around twenty years old, she is at least 90 to 100 years older, and has dealt with extremely famous cases, including the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run, meaning she has been active since at least the 1930s.

Catherine Little: is an investigator for the Society. She has no magical powers, and is solely responsible for finding indications of possible predator or magical activity and report in to the Society. ~ Wikipedia


Name:   — What:  — Sideckick-to:   — First book seen in: 

Characters Chart Edit

Characters What About
Ray Lily works as a driver and "wooden man" for the Society His job is to distract enemies so that sorcerers can carry out their duties
Annalise Powliss peer with the Twenty Palace Society
Catherine Little investigator for the Society
Charles Hammer owner of a toy factory One of the founding family members of Hammer Bay
Cynthia Hammer Charles Hammer's sister One of the founding family members of Hammer Bay;
Miriam Farleton The Mayor's wife
Emmett Dubois cop
Peter Lemly editor and reporter for Hammer Bay
Phyllis Henstrick Casino owner
Wiley Dubois
Mr. Arnold Reyes
Jimmy Larson
Meg Benton
Aunt Arlene
Sugar Dubois
Eli Warren
Bobby McFerrin
Mr. Lem

To expand the table, in Edit–Visual mode, right-press on a Row of the table (Control-press on a Mac)—choose add Row or Column. Or, in Source Mode: copy-paste rows.

Harry Connolly

Harry Connelly

Author Edit

Harry Connolly

  • Websitehome page
  • Genres: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror, SciFi

Bio: Harry Connolly spent two years writing his first novel, Child of Fire. He has held a variety of jobs in the past, from customer service to landscaping to stay-at-home dad. He lives in Seattle. ~ FF

Cover ArtistEdit

Artist: Chris McGrath

Publishing InformationEdit

  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Author Page:
  1. Child of Fire: Paperback, 343 pages, Pub: Sept 29th 2009—ISBN 0345508890
  2. Game of Cages: Paperback, 344 pages, Pub: August 31st 2010—ISBN 0345508904
  3. Circle of Enemies: Paperback, 320 pages, Pub: August 30th 2011—ISBN 0345508912

Book Cover Blurbs Edit

BOOK ONE—Child of Fire (2009): Ray Lilly is living on borrowed time. He’s the driver for Annalise Powliss, a high-ranking member of the Twenty Palace Society, a group of devoted to hunting down and executing rogue magicians. But because Ray betrayed her once, Annalise is looking for an excuse to kill him–or let someone else do the job. Unfortunately for both of them, Annalise’s next mission goes wrong, leaving her critically injured. With the little magic he controls, Ray must complete her assignment alone. Not only does he have to stop a sorcerer who’s sacrificing dozens of innocent lives in exchange for supernatural power, he must find–and destroy–the source of that inhuman magic. ~ Goodreads | Child of Fire (Twenty Palaces, #1)

BOOK TWO—Game of Cages (2010): ~ A SECRET HIGH-STAKES AUCTION. As a wealthy few gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palace Society mobilize to stop them. Caught up in the scramble is Ray Lilly, the lowest of the low in the society—an ex–car thief and the expendable assistant of a powerful sorcerer. Ray possesses exactly one spell to his name, along with a strong left hook. But when he arrives in the small town in the North Cascades where the bidding is to take place, the predator has escaped and the society’s most powerful enemies are desperate to recapture it. All Ray has to do is survive until help arrives. But it may already be too late. ~ Goodreads | Game of Cages (#2)

BOOK THREE—Circle of Enemies (2011): Former car thief Ray Lilly is now the expendable grunt of a sorcerer responsible for destroying extradimensional predators summoned to our world by power-hungry magicians. Luckily, Ray has some magic of his own, and so far it's kept him alive. But when a friend from his former gang calls him back to his old stomping grounds in Los Angeles, Ray may have to face a threat even he can't handle. A mysterious spell is killing Ray's former associates, and they blame him. Worse yet, the spell was cast by Wally King, the sorcerer who first dragged Ray into the brutal world of the Twenty Palace Society. Now Ray will have to choose between the ties of the past and the responsibilities of the present, as he and the Society face not only Wally King but a bizarre new predator. ~ Goodreads | Circle of Enemies (#3)

First Sentences Edit

  1. Child of Fire — It felt good to sit behind the wheel again, even the wheel of a battered Dodge Sprinter.
  2. Game of Cages — It was three days before Christmas and I was not in prison.
  3. Circle of Enemies —  It was August in Seattle, when the city enjoyed actual sunshine and temperatures in the eighties.

~ Shelfari

Quotes Edit

(no Goodreads quote page)

Read Alikes (suggestions) Edit

Awards Edit

Trivia Edit

Unique Lists:

Notes Edit

The prequel, "Twenty Palaces" was published self published after the publisher of the other 3 books dropped the series.

See Also Edit

Category links at bottom of page

External References Edit



World, Characters, etc:




Community and Fan Sites:

Gallery of Book Covers Edit