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Ada Palmer Books In Order

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Publication Order of Terra Ignota Books

Too Like the Lightning (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Seven Surrenders (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Will to Battle (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Perhaps the Stars (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Homer Among the Moderns(2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shoreline of Infinity 8½: Edinburgh International Book Festival Special Edition(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Ada Palmer is a professor of History at the University of Chicago. She is also an author with a preference for science fiction and fantasy. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Ada Palmer is composing folk music.


Ada Palmer comes from Annapolis MD. A student of Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore and the Rock College of Bard, Ada’s love for history manifested at a very young age. In fact, the author left high school at the age of sixteen and went to college early so that she could indulge in her interest for Latin and Ancient Greek.

Ada’s life has been one of scholarly pursuit. Following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College in 2001, the author immediately set her sights on Harvard, determining to get her Ph.D. from the institute because of the opportunity it would offer her to study under James Hankins, a historian whose work Ada had come to love.

Ada took a special interest in Rome and Florence during her time at Harvard. And her eventual graduation from Harvard did little to quench her yearning for history, with the author eventually taking various teaching positions before finally settling down at the University of Chicago.

Ada Palmer is always on the hunt for rare books, especially in places like Italy where she can access resources like the Vatican library.

+Literary Career

Ada has loved writing for almost as long as she has loved history. The author began writing in elementary school and even took essay writing-based summer classes at Johns Hopkins.

Along with a course on Prose Poetry from the Interlochen Center for the Arts and all the nonfiction she wrote at graduate school, Ada Palmer spent several years honing her skills a writer before she ever sat down to produce her first piece of fiction.

Though, it was not always obvious that the author would take to writing fiction. For the longest time, Ada’s skills and interests seemed to lie in the arena of essays. In fact, the author always emphasized the importance of writing to her history students, specifically the fact that analytical essays were no different from novels in that they require proper pacing and structure, not to mention a climax in order to deliver their message in the most appropriate manner.

The first author Ada Palmer remembers following is Dr. Seuss. She would always trawl her local library looking for any Dr. Seuss books she hadn’t yet read. Though, as far as impactful books go, it was “The Hobbit’ that really sparked her love for fantasy.

And she only stumbled upon it because it had been misshelved in the Dr. Seuss section. Her father, who owned a copy, read it to her. And before she knew it, she was hooked on the fantasy genre.

Ada’s love for music had more to do with her mother than anything. Ada knew early on that her mother loved music. And from an early age, the author was already experimenting with the piano and the violin. She even played the recorder for a while before finally stumbling upon and igniting a love for Renaissance music.

By the time she graduated from college, the author was already writing her own Viking-themed music with a particular emphasis on mythology and fantastical themes. While history as a whole appeals to Ada Palmer, she is especially enamored by Viking mythology.

She is drawn to it because it paints a radically different worldview from the one she knows. This is also the same reason why Ada loves Anime and Manga; she believes that Japan is unlike any other place on earth, and the unique themes of their culture best manifest in anime and manga.

+Too Like the Lightning

The 25th century is a strange and distant era, one where gender distinctions are no longer permitted and most of the world’s populace now lives within pockets of like-minded tribes and clans; where competition, be it cultural or economical, is strictly managed.

It is a utopia that was built on the sweat and blood of many, and which many a freedom has been sacrificed for its sake. Mycroft Canner and Carlyle Foster exist at different ends of the spectrum.

While Mycroft wanders the world as a convict, required to help anyone and everyone he meets, Carlyle is a sensayer, a spiritual counselor.

Carlyle and Mycroft discover a boy with the power to make his wishes come true.

This book is very dense, which isn’t surprising because Ada Palmer does a lot of world building. It would be accurate to describe this as an intelligent form of literature, ambitious in its approach and highly complex. Though, while the story plays out in a largely organic manner, the book definitely feels like it is trying a little too hard to be clever in some places.

The book highlights the struggles of a criminal by the names of Mycroft and a Sensayer called Carlyle. The world Ada creates tolerates everything except religion. In fact, talk of the supernatural of any kind is taboo except when one is talking to a spiritual counselor like Carlyle.

When a boy with special powers is discovered, the parties involved must decide whether or not the boy can be used for the purposes of good.

+Seven Surrenders

When the Bridger, a child that can animate objects, emerges, he threatens to destroy everything. Even in a Utopian society where instantaneous continental travel is free for all, religion is banished and gendered language has been deemed illegal, there are still people who conspire, and not for the greater good of all.

This book, a sequel to ‘Too Like the Lightning’, continues to explore Ada Palmer’s Utopia, this time highlighting the seven political entities that rule the day, defined not by borders but ideals.

Ada delves into issues of gender, philosophy and politics, not to mention God. When a boy with special powers grows into a young man and begins to perform miracles, eliciting suggestions that he could be the manifestation of a deity, war becomes inevitable as this boy attracts the attention of the rulers of the world.

The tale is explored by Mycroft and Carlyle who return to unravel an increasingly complex plot with innumerable layers and a problematic message at the center.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Ada Palmer

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