News & Media

Acquisition Announcement: DAW Books acquires THE SERPENT CALLED MERCY by Roanne Lau

Katie Hoffman, Senior Editor at DAW Books, has acquired North American rights to The Serpent Called Mercy, a Malaysian Chinese-Inspired epic fantasy novel from debut author Roanne Lau

Fans of the tense, dynamic action of The Witcher and Squid Games, and readers of Asian speculative fiction like works by Shelley Parker-Chan, Sue Lynn Tan, and Nghi Vo will love The Serpent Called Mercy, where a debt-ridden slumdog joins an illegal monster-fighting arena for some fast coin, but quickly learns the most dangerous beasts are outside the ring. Immersive and full of heart, this standalone novel offers sharp commentary on severe class power imbalances in this secondary world fantasy adventure with a battle-tested friendship at its core.

On joining the DAW Books collective of authors, Lau says, “I was gobsmacked when DAW made their offer on The Serpent Called Mercy—the thought of joining their pantheon of genre-defining authors was humbling. I could not be more excited to work with Katie Hoffman and the incredible DAW team in bringing my debut to North America.”


Lythlet and her only friend Desil are shackled to a life of debt and poverty that she fears they will never escape. Desperate for money, they sign up as conquessors: arena combatants who fight sun-cursed beasts in the seedy underworld of the city.

Match-master Dothilos is initially enamored of Desil’s brawling reputation, but after seeing Lythlet lead the pair to triumph with her quick cunning, he takes her under his wing, scorning Desil. Ambition takes root in Lythlet’s heart as a life of fame and wealth unfolds in her imagination.

But Lythlet isn’t the only one out for coin and glory, and she soon finds herself playing an entirely different game—a game of politics and deception. As the cost of her ambition grows, she will have to decide if sacrificing her honor, and only friendship, is worth the chance to shape her own fortune.

A whirlwind of blood-pounding battles as characters grapple with their choices in the face of wealth and financial security, The Serpent Called Mercy‘s heart is the underlying, steadfast friendship between its protagonists.


Roanne Lau is a speculative fiction author whose works are informed by her experiences living in Malaysia, Australia, Taiwan, and Japan and being the descendant of Chinese immigrants. She was selected for the Pitch Wars mentorship program in 2021. Her debut epic fantasy novel The Serpent Called Mercy sold at auction to DAW (North America) and Solaris (UK/Commonwealth). Follow Lau on X.