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Read an Excerpt From Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz


Read an Excerpt From Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz

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Read an Excerpt From Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz

Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: godslayers. Agents of the Council of the Treaty for the Safety of the World, charged with the location and removal of listed extra-dimensional entities, more…


Published on August 29, 2023


Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz, godslayers, are relentless travelers in a treacherous world of magic, gunpowder, and adventure.

We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from Garth Nix’s Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz, a collection of short stories featuring the witch knight and his puppet sorcerer, including one brand new tale excerpted below. Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz is out now from Harper Voyager.

Sir Hereward: the only male child of an ancient society of witches. Knight, artillerist, swordsman. Mercenary for hire. Ill-starred lover.

Mister Fitz: puppet, sorcerer, loremaster. Practitioner of arcane arts and wielder of sorcerous needles.

Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: godslayers. Agents of the Council of the Treaty for the Safety of the World, charged with the location and removal of listed extra-dimensional entities, more commonly known as gods.

Together, they are relentless travelers in a treacherous world of magic, gunpowder, and adventure.

Compiled for the first time ever, these eight magical stories—plus an all-new tale, “The Field of Fallen Foe”—featuring fabulous, quintessential Garth Nix protagonists Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz comprise a must-have adult fantasy collection for fans and those about to discover the witch knight and his puppet sorcerer for the first time.




The sun exacerbates the bones, which emit a deadly miasma,” explained the guide, pointing at the sullen green clouds that drifted across the plain, writhing around, above, and between the massive, brilliantly white remains of the long-dead monsters who had died there several centuries ago. Thousands of these skeletons were dotted about the vast field, an unnaturally flat square a little over a league on each side, the entirety ringed by low hills.

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Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz
Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz

Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz

“As you have contracted the guild’s weather-witch, a northwesterly will come soon and will clear enough of the poison to allow passage, with suitable precautions. Our witch will then send clouds overhead, lest the sun begin its work on the bones again, while also ensuring that while it is cloudy, there is no rain.”

“Why?” asked Sir Hereward uneasily, clutching at the rail. He, Mister Fitz, and the guide were atop a slender watchtower made of lashed-together poles of hoopoo wood, and the whole thing was swaying even in the absence of a breeze, all too like the mast of a ship. Which wouldn’t have bothered Sir Hereward, as he was an excellent sailor. But the tower wasn’t the mast of a well-founded vessel. Rather, it was a rickety affair atop a rocky hill overlooking the Field of Fallen Foe, and he suspected neither its construction nor its foundations were particularly reliable.

“If it rains, the bones are excited in a different fashion, and disgorge a liquid poison which mixes with the water to create rivulets of death,” said the guide. She tapped the badge on her tunic proclaiming her to be a senior member of the Guild of Guides to the Field of Fallen Foe. The badge was gold, and looked heavy, indicating guiding parties into the field of poisonous death was more prosperous than might be presumed. This particular one had seven small, bright stones set in it, that the gullible might believe to be diamonds, but to Sir Hereward’s trained eye were only glass. “Though overboots, as well as masks, will be supplied by the guild, they only go so far.”

“Naturally,” muttered Sir Hereward. He glanced down at Mister Fitz. The sorcerous puppet was gazing into the green fog, his strange blue eyes almost luminous. He was wearing a false papier-mâché nose over his own, a non-magical construction, unlike his own ensorcelled skin. The false nose was very long and pointed, with flared nostrils painted a lurid red. Sir Hereward had introduced him as a specialized puppet made for tracking, not one of the more usual entertainers.

The latter part, at least, was true.

“Fitz, are you sure we need to—”

“Yes, master,” replied Mister Fitz, looking up at the knight. He moved jerkily, as he generally did around outsiders, to lull them into thinking he was badly made and weak. “It definitely went into the field.”

The puppet turned to the guide. He pitched his usual speaking voice higher, and quavered on some of the words.

“You have said the clouds are flammable, but if that were so, there would be more evidence of fires, or some continual conflagration, yes?”

“The exact nature of the miasma has defied many an alchemist, save the guild’s own. We have penetrated its secret,” answered the guide. Though the woman remained as expressionless as ever, Hereward caught the faintest sideways flicker of her eyes, an indication of some lie or half-truth. “The clouds are flammable, and for that reason we forbid naked flames and anything that might too easily strike a spark, such as powder weapons. However, our sorcerers have exerted an influence so that when such ignition occurs, the fire does not spread. There is a local explosion, a fireball of some prodigality, but it does not ignite nearby densities of the miasma. It does, of course, kill whoever sparked the fire.”

“Interesting,” said Mister Fitz, once again staring down at the swirling clouds of poison. He made loud sniffing noises, almost snorting, his bulbous head jerking up and down. Sir Hereward hoped the prosthetic nose was as firmly fastened as the puppet had promised. The guide moved away, as far as she could on the flimsy platform.

Sir Hereward sighed deeply. Unlike Mister Fitz, he did not find the field of deathly gas and the monster skeletons interesting. He found them alarming and annoying. He sighed again, gripped the railing as the tower swung in the breeze, and wished his aunt had found him harder to locate, because if she had, he would not be here.


Everything had been going so well for a change. He had just been paid off from his last contract, a straightforward and peaceful ten weeks spent as the master artillerist tasked with overseeing the emplacement of new cannon in the rebuilt south bastion of Pecall-Torin, a lively city untroubled by any proscribed godlets or malign entities.

Gold in hand, Hereward had looked forward to staying on in Pecall-Torin for several weeks. Time to read, and eat extravagantly, drink wine, gamble a little and pursue an architect-wizard, one Suryane Diramolo, who was in charge of rebuilding the bastion and had worked closely with Sir Hereward—and who had let it be known she might welcome cooperating more closely still with him on personal matters when their mutual task was done.

But all that had been taken from him, just as everything began to look so promising.

Suryane had accepted his invitation to play a game of Starmount and Moonshade (often known elsewhere as “Kings and Fools”), an accepted tactic in the convoluted courting practices of the region. Sir Hereward had put two heavy gold nobles into the willing hand of the innkeeper of the Striated Pardecoup where he lodged, and ordered a meal of seven removes, with a flask of an almost transparent Alastran white wine to be set in ice, and two flasks of a particularly fine vintage of the ever-popular wine commonly called oxblood, to be opened and allowed to draw breath.

Hereward and Suryane had opened the ritual of seduction with the game, using a particularly fine set of jade and gold– chased pieces on a polished board made of five timbers, most notably walnut and fruitwood, which Fitz had procured from somewhere when Sir Hereward said he wanted to brush up on his playing. Fitz was far better at bartering—the knight always overpaid if he was left to his own devices—and so Hereward was rarely allowed full control of their shared purse.

Naturally, the puppet knew Hereward wanted to practice because he hoped to entice Suryane to his bed, and the knight had to win at least one campaign to advance his suit. But the puppet had raised no objection, and he even went so far as to play several games the day before with the knight without being too scathing about Hereward’s strategies and lack of ability to mentally picture more than ten moves ahead.

But the courting game had barely begun—only the first, careful mouthfuls of the Alastran wine drunk and Suryane having made her opening move (the orthodox steepling of her second moonshade roost) when disaster struck. Or perhaps misfortune was more apt, disaster being at that point too strong a term. Sir Hereward had reached for his foremost Dverzlak, to push it forward where it could intercept the launch of moonshades (again an orthodox response to the steepling). But even as his fingers closed on the horned beast of jade it rippled under his fingers, losing solidity. Its long backbone of thorns, ready to fire at aerial opponents, shrank into its body and the whole piece began to assume a new shape, that of a human or humanoid.

“What’s this?” exclaimed Suryane. She pushed back her chair, and straightened up, ready to move. “Cheating already?”

“Not by me,” said Hereward cautiously, snatching back his hand. He let it fall by his side, fingers close to the hilt of the misericorde in his boot-top. But Suryane seemed genuinely surprised and was making no threatening motions, no spellcasting gestures or the like. Besides, the former Dverzlak was beginning to assume an actual face, one that was beginning to look rather familiar. Even familial.

“Fitz!” called Hereward. He inclined his head to Suryane, a regretful motion. “I am sorry, Mistress Diramolo. One of my aunts has tracked me down and will doubtless shortly be listing my many faults and shortcomings, and in the midst of that, some sort of family message. We must postpone our… game.”

“This is not a sorcery I know,” said Suryane. She glanced from Hereward to Mister Fitz, who stood in the doorway, a box of rosewood and gold under his arm. An innocuous container, or so it seemed to outsiders, but it was Fitz’s sewing desk and at present was fully stocked with the sorcerous needles with which he could unstitch or repair things both of this world and the extra-dimensional.

“There is evidently more to you than merely an artillerist, Hereward. And to you, Master Puppet—I sense some powerful sorcery emanating from that box, the layers of lead and bone behind the wood notwithstanding. You are not an entertainer puppet after all, are you?”

“I am not,” agreed Mister Fitz. “But you need not wield your sharpened measure-stick nor call upon the power of your thumb ring, Mistress Diramolo. We are not your enemies, nor of Pecall-Torin. Indeed, unless I am mistaken, we are about to be ordered to go elsewhere.” He addressed his companion. “Your Aunt Rapalle will manifest within minutes, Hereward.”

“Rapalle?” Diramolo asked. “An unusual name. She is named after the fabled Witch of Har, I take it.”

“Not exactly,” hedged Sir Hereward. “It would be best you depart, I’m afraid—”

“She is a Witch of Har,” said Mister Fitz, whose inability to lie and desire to offer instruction were of equal strength in his makeup. “One of the Mysterious Three of the High Pale—”

“Fitz,” interrupted Hereward. “Suryane, you should go now.”

Suryane sat down instead.

“But I am fascinated. The Witches of Har are more than legend? And one is your aunt? In the stories they only had girl-children, though. No men at all, yes?”

“I am, as in so many ways, an exception,” said Sir Hereward, with the faintest tone of melancholy. “Now, please go—”

“Too late,” said Fitz. “Rapalle is almost manifest.”

“I beg you do not move or speak,” hissed Hereward urgently. “Rapalle will not take kindly to the presence of an outsider.”

Suryane nodded very slightly, and remained still.

The little Dverzlak figurine had completely changed, jade and gold melting and reforming to become an angular woman of advanced age. She wore boots, leather shorts that extended past the knee, and an armoured coat of many metal paillettes. Her head was half shaven, the left side bare, and even in miniature the scars on her face and scalp were very visible. She held a sorcerous needle in her right hand.

The needle flared, so bright Hereward had to look away. When he looked back, the figure had come alive, Rapalle replacing the needle in a purse at her waist. Having done so, the figurine looked up from the board, directly at Sir Hereward. Her face, no longer carved jade with golden eyes, shone like moonlight on a lake, cold and mysterious.

“Hereward! Attend me!”

“I am attending, Aunt,” replied Hereward, rather mulishly.

“Is Fitz there? I have limited sight through this working.”

“I am here,” said Fitz, climbing up on to the table before leaping to Hereward’s shoulder. He sat there, wooden legs dangling down the knight’s chest, his arm lightly wrapped around Hereward’s neck. The knight noticed Suryane shiver at this, but he liked it himself. Fitz had been his nanny as a child, and was almost the only person in the High Pale who had consistently paid him attention, cared for him, and taught him what he needed to know to stay alive.

“Good. The star pool indicates you are presently in the town of Pecryll-Tollen, correct?”

“Yes,” answered Fitz. “It is called Pecall-Torin now, however.”

She ignored that. “There is a locality some twenty leagues distant from you, commonly called the Field of Fallen Foe. A mortuary of dead Kymberbeasts, summarily executed by the godlet Oraxyll-Pra-Rannill, itself later absorbed by a superior entity. This is background, you understand. The matter at hand is that at long last we have found evidence that Scromris-Paszell-Entercret survived the encounter with Laiselle. That is your late great-great-great-aunt, Hereward, not your living cousin. A recent successful divination confirms it went to ground in the Field of Fallen Foe several hundred years ago and remains there still. You must find and end it.”

“Scromris-Paszell-Entercret,” said Fitz, “is not proscribed.”

“It killed Laiselle!” snapped Rapalle. “Its existence is forfeit!”

“Laiselle incorrectly identified it,” said Fitz calmly. “She was the aggressor. The godlet merely defended itself. In fact, it fled, and I believe has caused no trouble in the four centuries since. Nor did it in the thousand years before. It has always been classified as benign.”

“We made you too much the stickler, puppet,” said Rapalle. “The matter has gone before the Three, it has been decided. Regardless of its prior classification or Laiselle’s error, no extradimensional entity may escape punishment for actions against agents of the Council of the Treaty for the Safety of the World. You understand the instruction, Hereward?”

“Yes,” said Hereward, shortly.

“And you, Fitz?”

“Indeed,” said the puppet.

“Then carry it out,” said Rapalle.

“How is my mother—” Hereward began to ask, but the jade and gold figurine was already melting into an ugly blob, which sank some distance into the board, emitting an acrid twist of smoke. It did not reform into the Dverzlak or anything else. The whole set was spoiled; the game—and the seduction—doubly so.

Suryane scratched the long scar that ran across her forehead. The result of some falling masonry in her early apprenticeship, she had told Hereward, before she fully learned the mystic arts involving stonework, and could not be harmed by such accidents. He, of course, raised among scarified women, found it adorable.

“The stories made the Witches sound more noble,” she said. “Slaying only malignant godlets.”

Hereward frowned, and did not reply. Mister Fitz jumped down from the knight’s shoulder and advanced to the table, reaching up to pull the melted piece out of the board. It was stuck, and came away accompanied by several long splinters.

“A pity,” said the puppet. He dropped the misshapen blob and picked up another piece, one of the two Scryllintars, the sinuous flank guards whose coils could entrap three pieces when fully extended. “This was made by Felice of Konqwal, I have never seen another such set, in all my travels.”

“So you go to the Field of Fallen Foe?” asked Suryane. “There to dispatch some harmless little godlet that has likely slept amidst the noxious vapors some hundreds of years, doing no one any harm?”

“Noxious vapors?” asked Hereward.

“Poisonous airs that stem from the rotting bones of thousands of dead creatures,” said Suryane. “Some with precious gems for eyes, if the guild that controls the Field is to be believed. They guide parties in, demanding swingeing payments to do so. But I have never met anyone who came out richer from the Field of Foes than they were going in. No one from Pecall-Torin would be so stupid, but they still get custom from far places, people who have heard of ruby eyes and choose not to consider the more dispiriting facts. So, I ask again, are you going to the Field to slay some harmless godlet?”

“Yes,” said Sir Hereward. “We are oath-sworn to do so.”

“Then I think the less of you,” said Suryane haughtily, and swept from the room.

Hereward sat heavily in his chair, and reached for the flask of Alastran wine.

“I will purchase riding beasts,” said Fitz. “Do not drink the oxblood too, Hereward. We should depart at dawn and I do not wish said departure to be accompanied by your groans and pitiful requests for remedies.”


Excerpted from Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz, copyright © 2023 by Garth Nix.

About the Author

Garth Nix


Garth Nix has been a full-time writer since 2001. He has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. Garth’s books include the award-winning fantasy novels Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen and the science fiction novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes. His fantasy novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series; and the Troubletwisters books (with Sean Williams). More than five million copies of Garth’s books have been sold around the world, his books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, “Publishers Weekly,” The Guardian and The Australian, and his work has been translated into 40 languages.

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