Below you will find a list of the fantasy books published in 2019 that we enjoyed most.
by Guy Gavriel Kay
In a chamber overlooking the nighttime waterways of a maritime city, a man looks back on his youth and the people who shaped his life. Danio Cerra's intelligence won him entry to a renowned school, though he was only the son of a tailor. He took service at the court of a ruling count - and soon learned why that man was known as The Beast.
Danio's fate changed the moment he recognized Adria Ripoli as she entered the count's chambers one night - intending to kill. Born to power, Adria had chosen a life of danger - and freedom - instead.
Other vivid figures share the story: a healer determined to defy her expected lot; a charming, frivolous son of immense wealth; a religious leader more decadent than devout; and, affecting these lives and many more, two mercenary commanders, whose rivalry puts a world in the balance.
"Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Brightness Long Ago is a masterpiece; perhaps the finest work of one of the world’s greatest living storytellers." Adam Weller, Fantasy Book Review
by Ann Leckie
For centuries the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by a god known as the Raven. But in their hour of need, the Raven speaks nothing to its people. It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo - aide to the true heir to the throne - arrives. In seeking to help his master reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven's Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself... and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.
"The Raven Tower is a magisterial tour de force of subverted narrative expectations that wrestles with what it means to find identity as a human, and as a god. Unlike anything being written, Ann Leckie will likely be remembered as a literary pioneer, and not as similar to someone else. A masterpiece of storytelling that leaves a willing reader humbled, The Raven Tower is quite simply the best book of the year – mighty, subtle, captivating, unputdownable."
by Alix E Harrow
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow's spellbinding debut--step inside and discover its magic.
by Samantha Shannon
A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
by Seanan McGuire
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
"Alternate timelines, manifestations, Hands of Glory, alchemy, Doctrine of Ethos and immortality and and and GODDAMN. McGuire provides a clinic in storytelling with Middlegame. This is her magnum opus (so far!) It’s magical... truly magical. I could not love it more!!!"
by Joe Abercrombie
War. Politics. Revolution. The Age of Madness has arrived... The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever. On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal's son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specialises in disappointments. Savine dan Glokta - socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union - plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control. The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another...
"This book is exceptional. Indisputably, spectacularly, criminally good. Clever, funny, and packed with cutting commentary, it’s well worth the wait."
Series: The Age of Madness: Book 1
by Bradley Beaulieu
Çeda was an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai. She has been an assassin in dark places. A weapon poised to strike from the shadows. A voice from the darkness, striving to free her people.
Now she's going to lead.
The age of the Kings is coming to an end...
"Beneath the Twisted Trees delves into the destructiveness of war and the consequences your actions have on yourself and others. I can’t wait to find out what will happen next in this series and how long the status quo will be able to survive as more troubles are on the horizon for our characters."
Series: The Song of the Shattered Sands #4
by Josiah Bancroft
Fearing an uprising, the Sphinx sends Senlin to investigate a plot that has taken hold in the ringdom of Pelphia. Alone in the city, Senlin infiltrates a bloody arena where hods battle for the public's entertainment. But his investigation is quickly derailed by a gruesome crime and an unexpected reunion.
Posing as a noble lady and her handmaid, Voleta and Iren attempt to reach Marya, who is isolated by her fame. While navigating the court, Voleta attracts the unwanted attention of a powerful prince whose pursuit of her threatens their plan.
Edith, now captain of the Sphinx's fierce flagship, joins forces with a fellow wakeman to investigate the disappearance of a beloved friend. She must decide who to trust as her desperate search brings her nearer to the Black Trail where the hods climb in darkness and whisper of the Hod King.
As Senlin and his crew become further dragged in to the conspiracies of the Tower, everything falls to one question: Who is The Hod King?
"It’s been a wonder and a pleasure to experience Thomas Senlin’s progression from underconfident headmaster to competent, resourceful leader who not only demands respect but proves worthy of it through his loyalty and determination. The Hod King is an absolute classic, and while I did find myself eager to read the Senlin POV, and found myself heavily invested in the outcome for Tom and Marya, Bancroft’s impassioned writing and obvious enthusiasm for his creations made me care about the secondary characters almost equally. While Senlin Ascends remains my favorite Book of Babel thus far, I’d place The Hod King, by far the darkest of the three at a very close second. Bring on the finale! "
Series: The Books of Babel #3
by Mark Lawrence
THEY CAME AGAINST HER AS A CHILD. NOW THEY FACE THE WOMAN.
The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.
Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.
Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.
The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.
A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.
"An exceptional series and by far my favourite of Mark Lawrence’s work. It has that something that sets it apart. It has the deft, unexpected characterisation, the perfect turn of phrase, the killer hook we’ve seen before in his other series, but this has a magic all of its own. I can’t explain it and I’m not going to try. I cheered and I cried. Then I cried some more. I was surprised, amused, and devastated. The author snuck in some stuff that I can’t even talk about because its spoilery, but damn I didn’t see that coming. As for a happy ending? Well, you know who wrote it, right??? That’s all I’m saying. Make sure this is on your 2019 reading list. Highly recommended."
Series: Book of the Ancestor #3
by Leigh Bardugo
Galaxy 'Alex' Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale's freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she's thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world's most elite universities on a full ride. What's the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale's secret societies, well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than she ever imagined...
"I can’t remember the last time I wanted to step into a book so much, be part of a world so desperately. Even with all the danger, with the pain and darkness and death, it’s a place that feels like possibility…"
by Jen Williams
All is chaos. All is confusion. The Jure'lia are weak, but the war is far from over.
Ebora was once a glorious city, defended by legendary warriors and celebrated in song. Now refugees from every corner of Sarn seek shelter within its crumbling walls, and the enemy that has poisoned their land won't lie dormant for long.
The deep-rooted connection that Tormalin, Noon and the scholar Vintage share with their Eboran war-beasts has kept them alive so far. But with Tor distracted, and his sister Hestillion hell-bent on bringing ruthless order to the next Jure'lia attack, the people of Sarn need all the help they can get.
Noon is no stranger to playing with fire and knows just where to recruit a new - and powerful - army. But even she underestimates the epic quest that is to come. It is a journey wrought with pain and sacrifice - a reckoning that will change the face of Sarn forever.
"An exceptional finale that exceeded every expectation and which epitomises the kind of inventive, diverse, and emotional fantasy writing the genre really needs. Everything about this series is so creative, so vibrant and refreshingly different that it almost needs to come with a caution. Beware reader, this is ground untrodden, an exhilarating yet hazardous journey. Your heart is in danger. You have been warned." Emma Davis, Fantasy Book Review
Series: The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #3
by Sam Sykes
Among humans, none have power like mages. And among mages, none have will like Sal the Cacophony. Once revered, now vagrant, she walks a wasteland scarred by generations of magical warfare.
The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, is where rogue mages go to disappear, disgraced soldiers go to die and Sal went with a blade, a gun and a list of names she intended to use both on.
But vengeance is a flame swift extinguished. Betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head.
All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carved both.
Vengeance is its own reward.
"At almost 700 pages, I can't help but admire the sheer skill and cleverness of the plot that unfolds throughout this wrist-breaker. It never felt bogged down or excessively long. Sal's blood-soaked backstory was handled brilliantly by Sykes and added some truly gut-punchy moments. His timing is just utter perfection! Complex characters, great dialogue, intense action, a compellingly bonkers magic system, intricate worldbuilding, brutal violence, humor, romance, A FUCKING GIANT RIDING BIRD NAMED CONGENIALITY. I just adored this book so completely!"
Series: The Grave of Empires: Book 1
by Angela Boord
A secret affair. A disfiguring punishment. A burning need for revenge.
Kyrra d’Aliente has a bad reputation and an arm made of metal.
Cast out of the safe and luxurious world of silk to which she was born, played as a pawn in a game of feuding Houses, Kyrra navigates a dangerous world of mercenaries, spies, and smugglers while disguising herself as a man.
War destroyed her family and the man she loved.
Vengeance is within her grasp.
But is she willing to pay its price?
"Boord has given us a rare novel that combines crisp, cadenced prose with wonderful, deep, complex characters and a twisting plot that keeps you guessing all set in a brilliantly realized fantasy world. It will appeal especially to fans of Robin Hobb, with prose every bit as evocative and characters every bit as authentic as that master storyteller. Fortune’s Fool should be on the top of your TBR pile. This is a rare piece of storytelling that is beautiful, compelling, and demands to be read. I can’t wait for the sequel and to see what gems Boord shares with us next."
Series: Eterean Empire: Book 1
by Richard Nell
Follow the long, bloody journey of Ruka, son of Beyla through the islands of Pyu and the frozen wastes of the Ascom; see the return home of Ratama Kale Alaku, the 'Sorcerer-Prince', and the terrifying rise of his 'miracles'. Before the end, a shocking history will unravel, ancient connections unfold, and all will learn the cost of unleashing the Kings of Ash...
"Nell is one of fantasy’s most underrated (for now) talents, and I find it difficult to fathom how good this series is coming from an author so early in his career. I can only imagine what heights the future has in store for Nell, but I selfishly hope it consists solely of writing Kings of Heaven for now. In Kings of Ash, Nell has crafted a rare and unforgettable sequel that exceeds its predecessor. It will surprise and haunt you, while playing your emotions like an unfinished symphony. I give this series my highest recommendation. "
Series: Ash and Sand #2
by R F Kuang
The war is over.
The war has just begun.
Three times throughout its history, Nikan has fought for its survival in the bloody Poppy Wars. Though the third battle has just ended, shaman and warrior Rin cannot forget the atrocity she committed to save her people. Now she is on the run from her guilt, the opium addiction that holds her like a vice, and the murderous commands of the fiery Phoenix—the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power.
Though she does not want to live, she refuses to die until she avenges the traitorous Empress who betrayed Rin’s homeland to its enemies. Her only hope is to join forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who plots to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new republic.
But neither the Empress nor the Dragon Warlord are what they seem. The more Rin witnesses, the more she fears her love for Nikan will force her to use the Phoenix’s deadly power once more.
Because there is nothing Rin won’t sacrifice to save her country . . . and exact her vengeance.
"This is a story of self-worth and determination, of finding value in life when your strengths are stripped away. It shines a light on some of the worst aspects of humanity which are sadly still reflective of our current society. It is a story of tragedy and loss, of anger and hypocrisy, of perseverance and triumph. Kuang excels at wreaking emotional havoc while delivering a powerful meditation on war and survival. It is a compelling follow-up to a landmark debut, so make sure you visit The Dragon Republic."
Series: The Poppy War #2
by Anna Smith Spark
Hail Him. Behold Him.
Man-killer, life-stealer, death-bringer, life’s thief.
All are bound to Him,
His word is law.
The night coming, the sudden light that makes the eyes blind,
Golden one, shining, glorious.
Life’s judgement, life’s pleasure, hope’s grave.
Marith Altrersyr has won. He cut a path of blood and vengeance and needless violence around the world and now he rules. It is time for Marith to put down his sword, to send home his armies, to grow a beard and become fat. It is time to look to his own house, and to produce an heir. The King of Death must now learn to live.
But some things cannot be learnt.
The spoils of war turn to ash in the mouths of the Amrath Army and soon they are on the move again. But Marith, lord of lies, dragon-killer, father-killer, has begun to falter and his mind decays. How long can a warlord rotting from within continue to win?
As the Army marches on to Sorlost, Thalia’s thoughts turn to home and to the future: a life grows inside her and it is a precious thing – but it grows weak.
Why must the sins of the father curse the child?
"Anna Smith Spark has grown as a writer across this series and I’m excited to see what she may come up with next. I shall be certainly watching out for future works because she has proven that she can keep pace with the best writers of the genre. Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch and Mark Lawrence make way because the Queen of grimdark is ready to lead the charge in a new wave of dark fantasy fiction."
Series: Empires of Dust #3
by Melissa Caruso
While winter snows keep the Witch Lord Ruven's invading armies at bay, Lady Amalia Cornaro and the fire warlock Zaira attempt to change the fate of mages in the Raverran Empire forever, earning the enmity of those in power who will do anything to keep all magic under tight imperial control. But in the season of the Serene City's great masquerade, Ruven executes a devastating surprise strike at the heart of the Empire - and at everything Amalia holds most dear.
To stand a chance of defeating Ruven, Amalia and Zaira must face their worst nightmares, expose their deepest secrets, and unleash Zaira's most devastating fire.
"A phenomenally well-written, engrossing political fantasy series with fine dialogue throughout. Swords and Fire is a series that many more people should add to their reading list."
Series: Swords and Fire #3
by Evan Winter
"The Rage of Dragons explodes at a breakneck pace. Complex characters, dragons, revenge, ALL THE STABBY-STABBY-STAB-STAB. I adored everything about this book! The cover, the chapter titles, the maps, the wee dragon on the spine, the notes from Winter at the back... it was just fucking phenomenal. Truly. What a brilliant debut!"
The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for generations. The lucky ones are born gifted: some have the power to call down dragons, others can be magically transformed into bigger, stronger, faster killing machines.
Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Tau Tafari wants more than this, but his plans of escape are destroyed when those closest to him are brutally murdered.
With too few gifted left the Omehi are facing genocide, but Tau cares only for revenge. Following an unthinkable path, he will strive to become the greatest swordsman to ever live, willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill three of his own people.
Series: The Burning #1
by KD Edwards
The last member of a murdered House tries to protect his ward from forced marriage to a monster while uncovering clues to his own tortured past. The Tarot Sequence imagines a modern-day Atlantis off the coast of Massachusetts, governed by powerful Courts based on the traditional Tarot deck. Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Throne, is backed into a fight of high court magic and political appetites in a desperate bid to protect his ward, Max, from a forced marital alliance with the Hanged Man. Rune's resistance will take him to the island's dankest corners, including a red light district made of moored ghost ships; a surreal skyscraper farm; and the floor of the ruling Convocation, where a gathering of Arcana will change Rune's life forever.
"The Tarot Sequence is proving to be a top-notch fantasy series and if you haven’t already joined the ride, you should do so as soon as possible. The Hanged Man is that rare second novel that improves on everything the first novel already did so well. This one takes everything and cranks it to eleven and I loved every minute of it. The Hanged Man releases on December 17 and is available for preorder now."
Series: The Tarot Sequence: Book 2
by Brandon Sanderson
All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she's a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumors of his cowardice are true--he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.
Spensa is sure there's more to the story. And she's sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars--and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.
But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself--and she'll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.
"It takes little effort to understand that Starsight is an intense ride with equal measures of thrilling action and emotional resonance. Once again, he knocks it out of the park; it’s another Grand Slamderson. Every new project he tackles, his storytelling somehow seems to get better and better. His brain belongs in a museum. It’s truly a gift that we get to experience so many stories from such a prolific writer. Don’t be put off by the YA label. Everyone should join Spensa on her journey, and strap in tight. There’s many more light years of space mileage to cover yet."
Series: Skyward #2
by James Islington
After a savage battle, the Boundary is whole again - but it may be too late. Banes now stalk the lands of Andarra, and the Venerate have gathered their armies for a final, crushing blow.
In Ilin Illan, Wirr fights to maintain a precarious alliance between Andarra's factions of power. With dark forces closing in on the capital, if he cannot succeed, the war is lost.
Imprisoned and alone in a strange land, Davian is pitted against the remaining Venerate. As he tries to keep them from undoing Asha's sacrifice, he struggles to come to terms with his own path and all he has learned about Caeden, the friend he chose to set free.
And finally, Caeden is confronted with the reality of a plan laid centuries ago - heartbroken at how it started and devastated by how it must end.
"The Light of All that Falls is complex, epic fantasy that deals wonderfully with ideas and themes in fresh ways. While feeling like a classic fantasy it does new and fresh things with old tropes and I enjoyed every moment of it. It will appeal most to fans of big, sprawling epics like Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn or Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. I can't wait to see what Islington gives us next!"
Series: The Licanius Trilogy: Book 3
by Justin Call
You have heard the story before - of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.
But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?
What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?
Among the Academy's warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents' killers.
Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy's masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfil.
Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is . . . and the darker truth of what he may become . . .
Series: The Silent Gods #1
by M L Wang
On a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire's enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name 'The Sword of Kaigen.' Born into Kusanagi's legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family's fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen's alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies. Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface. When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?
"And when the dust settles and the frantic drumbeat of your skewered heart wanes, the story eases you into a denouement that fittingly takes its time in assuring you of the final outcome, the future ahead and the power of empathy. Take a bow dear author, for you are a storyteller, and The Sword of Kaigen is a tale, beautifully told."
by Peter McLean
Tomas Piety has been many things: soldier, priest, gangster...and spy. As Tomas's power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series.
People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become--until they can't take it anymore. And when they rise up...may the gods help their oppressors.
When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen's Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined.
Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen's Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling.
In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people's champion...or just a priest of lies.
Series: War for the Rose Throne #2
by M H Boroson
The adventures of Li-lin, a Daoist priestess with the unique ability to see the spirit world, continue in the thrilling follow-up to the critically-acclaimed historical urban fantasy The Girl with Ghost Eyes.
It’s the end of the Nineteenth Century. San Francisco’s cobblestone streets are haunted, but Chinatown has an unlikely protector in a young Daoist priestess named Li-lin. Using only her martial arts training, spiritual magic, a sword made from peachwood, and the walking, talking spirit of a human eye, Li-lin stands alone to defend her immigrant community from supernatural threats.
But when the body of a young girl is brought to the deadhouse Li-lin oversees for a local group of gangsters, she faces her most bewildering—and potentially dangerous—assignment yet. The nine-year-old has died from suffocation . . . specifically by flowers growing out of her nose and mouth. Li-lin suspects Gong Tau, a dirty and primitive form of dark magic. But who is behind the spell, and why, will take her on a perilous journey deep into a dangerous world of ghosts and spirits.
With hard historical realism and meticulously researched depictions of Chinese monsters and magic that have never been written about in the English language, The Girl with No Face draws from the action-packed cinema of Hong Kong to create a compelling and unforgettable tale of historical fantasy and Chinese lore.
"I cannot recall a book that has taken me out of my own head and pulled me this deep into its lore. If you have any interest in any of the topics mentioned above, go grab a copy off NetGalley now, pre-order it off a retailer, or go pick up the first volume of the series."
Series: The Daoishi Chronicles #2
by Mark Lawrence
Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.
Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.
Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.
Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.
"I could ramble on about all the brainy twists, the tenderness, love, sacrifice, adventure, and exceedingly intelligent ‘what if’ ideas that were followed through to the end of this novella. Perhaps I already did and decided to jump back for a re-do. If I did it right, you’ll never know. What you should know is that Dispel Illusion is a brilliant finish to the Impossible Times trilogy, rife with unpredictability, nostalgia, and ceaseless imagination."
Series: Impossible Times #3
by Michael R Fletcher
After a cataclysmic war of the gods, the last of humanity huddles in Bastion, a colossal ringed city. Beyond the outermost wall lies endless desert haunted by the souls of all the world's dead.
Trapped in a rigid caste system, Nuru, a young street sorcerer, lives in the outer ring. She dreams of escape and freedom. When something contacts her from beyond the wall, she risks everything and leaps at the opportunity. Mother Death, a banished god seeking to reclaim her place in Bastion's patchwork pantheon, has found her way back into the city.
Akachi, born to the wealth and splendour of Bastion's inner rings, is a priest of Cloud Serpent, Lord of the Hunt. A temple-trained sorcerer, he is tasked with bringing peace to the troublesome outer ring. Drawn into a dark and violent world of assassins, gangs, and street sorcerers, he battles the spreading influence of Mother Death in a desperate attempt to save Bastion.
The gods are once again at war.
"While Fletcher’s grim tales certainly aren’t for everyone, he remains one of my favorite authors, and Smoke and Stone keeps that streak alive. It is a dark tale full of unconventional ideas with that special kind of madness that only Fletcher can provide. Bring on the sequel."
Series: City of Sacrifice #1
by Jonathan French
Half orc. All badass. A female chieftain in a brutal wasteland society fights to take what is hers in an action-packed, foul-mouthed fantasy adventure from the author of The Grey Bastards (“Nonstop action, though not for faint hearts.”—The Wall Street Journal).
Fetching was once the only female rider in the Lot Lands. Now she is the proud leader of her own hoof, a band of loyal half-orcs sworn to her command.
But in the year since she became chief, the Lots have tested her strength to the breaking point. The Bastards are scattered, desperate, their ranks weakened by a mysterious famine, their fortress reduced to smoldering slag. And their troubles are only growing. A pack of ravening beasts circles their camp, while grasping human nobles hatch a plan that will shift the balance of power in the Lots.
Fetch and her comrades are still standing defiant—they’re Bastards, after all—but even the toughest half-orc can take only so much; and Fetch knows they’re on the verge of ruin.
As she strives to lead her hoof to safety and unravel the plots set against them, Fetching must journey through forbidden elven lands, overcome long-standing hatreds, battle a monstrous wizard of terrifying power—and, worst of all, delve into the dark truths of her own existence.
She’s no stranger to fighting the world, but on this journey, sharp steel and a strong hog won’t be enough. To survive these trials, she’ll have to defy not just her foes but the very nature of the Lots.
"The True Bastards is an immersive and gripping tale of survival and sacrifice, and does an exceptional job further developing The Lot Lands in surprising and interesting ways. If you have an interest in reading a series based on non-human protagonists as they battle and claw their way through an unforgiving environment while forging bonds of brotherhood, this series checks all of those boxes, and so much more. Highly recommended."
Series: The Lot Lands #2
by Tad Williams
The kingdoms of Osten Ard have been at peace for decades, but now, the threat of a new war grows to nightmarish proportions.
Simon and Miriamele, royal husband and wife, face danger from every side. Their allies in Hernystir have made a pact with the dreadful Queen of the Norns to allow her armies to cross into mortal lands. The ancient, powerful nation of Nabban is on the verge of bloody civil war, and the fierce nomads of the Thrithings grasslands have begun to mobilize, united by superstitious fervor and their age-old hatred of the city-dwellers. But as the countries and peoples of the High Ward bicker among themselves, battle, bloodshed, and dark magics threaten to pull civilizations to pieces. And over it all looms the mystery of the Witchwood Crown, the deadly puzzle that Simon, Miriamele, and their allies must solve if they wish to survive.
But as the kingdoms of Osten Ard are torn apart by fear and greed, a few individuals will fight for their own lives and destinies—not yet aware that the survival of everything depends on them.
"Empire of Grass continues the epic story set in the massive world of Osten Ard. It’s fantasy at its finest because it is layered with so much history and lore. This is a world so detailed it could be real."
Series: Last King of Osten Ard #2
by Benedict Patrick
Impossible world. Impossible dragon. Impossible adventure.
Lost with her ship and crew in an unfamiliar land, Min’s first command could be her last.
Nothing here behaves the way it should:
The magic that powers her skyship has been drained, rendering it immobile.
The sky is an endless twilight, lit by the luminous fish that swim in it.
Off starboard, there’s also the country-sized dragon that is looking particularly hungry.
It will take all of Min’s training and experience to get her people safely back home, but as the truth about the Darkstar Dimension begins to be revealed, Min will have to prove to her crew - and to herself - that she is still the best person for the job.
From the twisted mind that created the ‘delightfully weird’ Yarnsworld series comes a fantasy adventure like no other.
Grab it now, to set sail on a journey you’ll never forget!
"Although it may be home to a New Zealand-sized dragon with teeth the size of skyscrapers, the Darkstar Dimension is still at the top of my list of worlds that I would move to immediately and forever. To have the opportunity to discover new wonders, new worlds, and new dangers at any moment is an adventure too enticing to pass up. And with Patrick’s vivid imagination and natural gift for storytelling, this is a world that I hope we’ll get to revisit for many years to come."
Series: Darkstar #1
by Paul Krueger
A soldier with a curse
Tala lost her family to the empress's army and has spent her life avenging them in battle. But the empress's crimes don't haunt her half as much as the crimes Tala has committed against the laws of magic... and her own flesh and blood.
A prince with a debt
Jimuro has inherited the ashes of an empire. Now that the revolution has brought down his kingdom, he must depend on Tala to bring him home safe. But it was his army who murdered her family. Now Tala will be his redemption - or his downfall.
A detective with a grudge
Xiulan is an eccentric, pipe-smoking detective who can solve any mystery - but the biggest mystery of all is her true identity. She's a princess in disguise, and she plans to secure her throne by presenting her father with the ultimate prize: the world's most wanted prince.
A thief with a broken heart
Lee is a small-time criminal who lives by only one law: Leave them before they leave you. But when Princess Xiulan asks her to be her partner in crime - and offers her a magical animal companion as a reward - she can't say no, and soon finds she doesn't want to leave the princess behind.
This band of rogues and royals should all be enemies, but they unite for a common purpose: to defeat an unstoppable killer who defies the laws of magic. In this battle, they will forge unexpected bonds of friendship and love that will change their lives - and begin to change the world.
"The character development in Steel Crow Saga is nothing short of masterful. The slower start is absolutely worth it because of what the author is building. Fans of character stories and Asian-inspired settings will find a plethora of elements to enjoy, but all fantasy fans will find an authentic world with characters who overcome achingly real struggles."
by Jay Kristoff
The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history of the Itreyan Republic.
Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape the City of Bridges and Bones alive. Her mentor Mercurio is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance over the Republic.
But beneath the city, a dark secret awaits. Together with her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and a mysterious benefactor returned from beyond the veil of death, she must undertake a perilous journey across the Republic, seeking the final answer to the riddle of her life. Truedark approaches. Night is falling on the Republic for perhaps the final time.
"Conclusions are hard to do. How can you satisfy an audience after such a thrilling buildup? If you’re seeking Big Moments, this book is just lousy with them. Whether you’re pumping your fist or definitely-in-no-way-crying-nope-not-me, Kristoff has saved his best for last, delivering powerful, emotional, game-changing reveals meant to shock, stun, and grind you to a pulp. As Mia’s prestige rises, all her wins feels earned and it is immensely satisfying. Every victory, however small, is clawed for with every ounce of effort available. You feel with Mia. You hurt with Mia. And you certainly lose with Mia. If you’ve read this far, you don’t need my recommendation, you’ll be buying this book no matter what. Be assured that Darkdawn solidifies the Nevernight Chronicles as one of fantasy’s all-time greats."
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #3
by Mike Shel
A year has passed since Auric Manteo descended into the haunted depths of a Djao ruin to return a lethal artifact, only to face down a bloodthirsty, imprisoned god. Now his daughter Agnes comes to bring him back to the capital with promises of hidden secrets finally revealed.
But the city decays, poisonous disorder is rife, and whispered prophecy foretells of cataclysm and doom. Summoned by their no-longer human queen, Auric and Agnes are commanded to carry out an impossible task, one that can be accomplished only with the mysterious blade Szaa’da’shaela, gifted to Auric on a lunatic's whim.
Can Auric and his daughter survive a journey fraught with blood, menace, and madness? And can they pay the price demanded by a being every bit as evil as the Aching God?
"Shel has given us a gem in Sin Eater. Wonderful ambiance, delightful characters, and a plot that expands to become authentically epic all combine for a splendid and satisfying read. Those who enjoyed Aching God will not be disappointed!"
Series: Iconoclasts #2
by Steven McKinnon
Serena’s fearsome power is growing stronger. After conning her way aboard a luxury airship in search of clues about her past, she walks straight into a sky pirate’s trap. But after her powers are unleashed and apocalyptic visions invade her mind, Serena realises the greatest threat may be herself…
As Damien Fieri struggles against his bloodlust, connections in high places conspire to keep his killer instincts sharp. He’d love to confront the clandestine forces that turned him into a living weapon - but can he find a way to do it that doesn’t shed more blood?
Can Serena and Damien bend their powers for good, or will they become dangerous pawns in a much deadlier game?
"This is a more than worthy sequel to Symphony of the Wind, as fast and deadly as wildfire, full of heart and humour. All of us loved the first book at Fantasy Book Review choosing it as our finalist in the last SPFBO competition, and this is getting just as much enthusiasm. If you haven’t read the first book, I urge you to do so. It wasn’t just one of the best self-pub books I read last year, it was one of my favourites of 2018. And Wrath of Storms has easily made to on to my Best Books of 2019 list. Safe to say that I’m seriously excited for what comes next."
Series: The Raincatcher's Ballad #2