Shadows in the Stone

Author: Jack Dann
Publisher: IFWG
Published: November 2019
Cover design by: Marianne Plumridge
Cover art by: Bob Eggleton
ISBN 13: 978-1-925759-79-2

“Jack Dann’s Shadows in the Stone creates such a complete world that Italian history no longer seems comprehensible without his cosmic battle of spiritual entities behind and within every historical actor and event.” (Kim Stanley Robinson, New York Times Bestselling Author)

The author of The Age #1 bestselling novel The Memory Cathedral returns to Renaissance Italy with a transcendent vision of the ultimate battle between good and evil.

In Shadows in the Stone Jack Dann creates a fully-realized, living, breathing universe, a universe where the Vatican is in Venice, Jehovah is really the demiurge, and the magus John Dee’s experiments with angels are true and repeatable. Here you’ll discover a nun who has the expertise and agility of a Ninja warrior, the reincarnated snake goddess known as the Daughter of Light, the famed Florentine magician Pico Della Mirandola, a young magus who is part stone, the Knights Templar of the Crimson Cross, the sapphire tablet: the most secret of the Dead Sea scrolls, and a 15th Century dirigible kept aloft by imprisoned souls. Here you’ll find wild adventure and Machiavellian subtlety, treason and heroism, love and carnality, joy and loss, magic, machines, the cosmic machinations of angels, demons, gods, and half-gods; and the absolutely breathtaking vistas that are their battle grounds.

New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson has compared Shadows in the Stone with Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, calling it “such a complete world that Italian history no longer seems comprehensible without [Dann’s] cosmic battle of spiritual entities behind and within every historical actor and event.”

Join Jack Dann’s protagonists—Louisa Morgan and Lucian Ben-Hananiah—and the fellowship of The Dark Companions in their apocalyptic battle against the Demiurge—described in the forbidden Gnostic texts as the demon god Yaldabaoth … and known to us as Jehovah.


“Jack Dann returns to the Italian Renaissance, a very fertile story zone for him, to weave an absorbing novel that presents historical elements of the Renaissance as aspects of an immense cosmic battle of spirits. Somewhat like Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’s treatment of the English Regency period as being a space filled with spirits, Dann’s Shadows In the Stone creates such a complete world that Italian history no longer seems comprehensible without his cosmic battle of spiritual entities behind and within every historical actor and event.

“This then serves to suggest that Dann’s complex network of spiritual entities are also allegories for the various urges and forces that have driven humanity throughout its history, inspiring us to do what we’ve done. That aspect of his novel creates a kind of X-ray vision through to the underlying realities of human experience which is quite exhilarating, and all this in a novel with all the more usual pleasures of sharply observed place and character and plot.

Shadows in the Stone joins Dann’s The Memory Cathedral, The Rebel, and Promised Land, as one of his deep plunges into historical characters we thought we knew, but whose true natures have never before been seen so clearly and dramatically. It’s an amazing gift Jack has.”

–Kim Stanley Robinson, New York Times bestselling author


“Jack Dann has gone beyond alternate world to alternate universe in this stunning take on the Renaissance. His language is eloquent, his characters wholly engaging—this is a book to lose yourself in. You’ll be the richer for it.”

–Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Bram Stoker Grandmaster and World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning author


“‘[The lion] ran across the piazza, gnashing and tearing at anyone unfortunate enough to be in its way. Its sensorium overwhelmed, it ran through the screams and smells, slipping on wet stones, swiping its claws at a porphyry statue of a crouching lion as it crossed a bridge. It paused behind the church of San Zaccaria, sniffing at its moon-white facade, then circled the convent. There was something inside the squat brick building, a sapphire lodestone that the lion perceived as comfort and satiation; but against its will the lion moved on, moved away from the discordant clamor of nuns and daughters of patricians who were entertaining eligible guests. Although it yearned for raw flesh and warm blood, the lion skirted around the crowded piazattas and campos and made its way north thorough ramo side streets and dead-silent alleys.’

“In this one masterful paragraph we get cultural details, emotions, a sensual onslaught, and action. It’s typical of the whole book, whether describing earthly or celestial events.

“A wealth of very lively and unforgettable ancillary characters fleshes out the cast as well, and Dann always makes sure to grant each individual a full measure of moral complexity.

“With flavors of the work of Gene Wolfe and John Crowley, James Morrow and K.J. Parker, Dann’s new book is guaranteed to take the reader on a whirlwind journey of danger and enlightenment behind the cardboard reality we mistake for the universe’s true substance.”

–Paul Di Filippo, Locus Online, 17 Dec 2019


“Majestic. Modern sensibilities with echoes of Milton and the second (eponymous) book of Lewis’ Perelandra trilogy. And yet, utterly distinctive. It is like reading an undiscovered classic with the pacing of a modern thriller.”

—Charles E Gannon, author of the Caine Riordan series


“The conclusion is so epic in scope and yet so personal in its impact that it feels like the story the Christian Bible never finished telling.

“Historical fantasy is a bridge between the escapism of speculative fiction and the realism of literary fiction, and Jack Dann’s Shadows in the Stone is an enthralling example of what historical fantasy looks like when done well.

“Throughout the book, the narrative is elevated by [Dann]’s voice as a writer, honed over a long career as a writer, editor, and teacher. He has mastered the art of being cryptic without descending into meaninglessness, of surprising the reader without resorting to cheap tricks, and telling a cosmic story that still centers around very believable people.”

Parallel Worlds, April 2020