Below you will find a list of the fantasy books published in 2020 that we enjoyed most.
by A K Larkwood
Does she owe her life to those planning her death . . .
Csorwe was raised by a death cult steeped in old magic. And on her fourteenth birthday, she’ll be sacrificed to their god. But as she waits for the end, she’s offered a chance to escape her fate. A sorcerer wants her as his assistant, sword-hand and assassin. As this involves her not dying that day, she accepts.
Csorwe spends years living on a knife-edge, helping her master hunt an artefact which could change many worlds. Then comes the day she's been dreading. They encounter Csorwe’s old cult – seeking the same magical object – and Csorwe is forced to reckon with her past. She also meets Shuthmili, the war-mage who’ll change her future.
If she’s to survive, Csorwe must evade her enemies, claim the artefact and stop the death cult once and for all. As she plunges from one danger to the next, the hunt is on . . .
"The Unspoken Name is the best kind of surprise. I had heard nothing about it but selected an advanced copy due to its interesting premise and wonderfully mysterious cover. This turned out to be one of the very best decisions I’ve made all year. It is an affecting story that hits all the right notes. This is a book that any fan of fantasy would do well to put at the top of their reading list. Do not miss it."
Series: The Serpent Gates #1
by Mark Lawrence
Only when it's darkest can you see the stars.
East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrown
On the vastness of the ice there is no room for individuals. No one survives alone.
To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is different.
Torn from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her life with, Yaz has to carve a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of danger.
Beneath the ice, Yaz will learn that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined.
She will learn that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she will learn to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.
Only when it's darkest can you see the stars.
"The Girl and the Stars is more than the start of a new series. It’s the culmination of some of the best ideas of Lawrence’s previous works while promising that amazing things are still to come. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Icepunk book in the Yaz-mere."
"If you like dark you will love Mark Lawrence. And when the light breaks through and it all makes sense, the contrast is gorgeous." Robin Hobb
Series: The Book of the Ice #1
by John Gwynne
Heroes shall rise and fall, the earth shall be stained red, and the fate of the Banished Lands will be decided once and for all in A Time of Courage, the final book in acclaimed fantasy author John Gwynne's Of Blood and Bone trilogy.
The demon king Asroth has been freed from his iron prison. Now, alongside his dark bride Fritha, he plans to conquer the whole of the Banished Lands.
In the shadows of Forn Forest, Riv and the surviving Ben-Elim desperately search for a way to unite those who remain against Asroth's vast army.
Far in the west, Drem is with the Order of the Bright Star, besieged by a demon horde. Their fragile defenses are on the brink of shattering, but they know that it is better to fight and die than to live without hope.
And across the Banished Lands, armies are heading south, to settle ancient grudges and decide the fate of humanity.
"Now THIS is the way you end a series. Readers and writers beware, a new standard has been set."
Series: Of Blood and Bone #3
by Rob J Hayes
No one escapes the Pit.
At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.
"Along the Razor’s Edge will make you mad. It will make you hold your breath, pump your fist, pause and reflect, and swear at 2am. It will do all these things and more, because it is one hell of a great story. For me, it was more than just reading a book. It was an experience."
Series: The War Eternal #1
by Marie Rutkoski
Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society's pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colours. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.
Nirrim keeps her head down, and a dangerous secret close to her chest.
But then she encounters id, a rakish traveller from far away, who whispers rumours that the High Kith possess magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.
"By far the most impressive part of The Midnight Lie is the writing, the author playing with lyrical or prosaic language in turn. Each sentence is cleverly crafted and beautifully evocative, emphasising the tone of the scene or clashing with it in arresting discord. It has sentences that stop you in your tracks; more than the weirdness of this imagined world, it is the enchantment of the words that take you somewhere magical. It’s this poetic style which makes the book stand out."
by Alec Hutson
Scarred by what transpired on the island of the sorceress Niara, Keilan and his companions journey north, bearing a weapon forged to end the unnatural existence of the Chosen. But the sand is trickling through the hourglass, as the demon-children are laboring to bring about a second Raveling and end the age of man...
In the shattered city of Nes Vaneth, Cho Lin struggles to survive her imprisonment by the vicious Skein, while in Dymoria the Crimson Queen prepares to reveal her school of sorcerers by bringing them into the Frostlands to confront the Chosen and their allies...
Meanwhile, the immortal sorceress Alyanna schemes to restore her lost glory and destroy those who have wronged her...
"Hutson’s The Shadow King is a wonderful conclusion to his epic trilogy. It has a perfect classic fantasy feel. A wonderful epic fantasy to read curled in a blanket on a snowy morning sipping coffee. The way the various plot threads come together in a satisfying way is a masterful achievement. It's epic fantasy comfort food in the best sense of the term."
Series: The Raveling #3
by Brian D Anderson
Mariyah enjoys a simple life in Vylari, a land magically sealed off from the outside world, where fear and hatred are all but unknown. There she's a renowned wine maker and her betrothed, Lem, is a musician of rare talent. Their destiny has never been in question. Whatever life brings, they will face it together.
Then a stranger crosses the wards into Vylari for the first time in centuries, bringing a dark prophecy that forces Lem and Mariyah down separate paths. How far will they have to go to stop a rising darkness and save their home? And how much of themselves will they have to give up along the way?
"The Bard's Blade delivers modern fantasy at its finest. While it has definite vibes of classical, chosen-one fantasy, (which, come on, though overused is popular for a reason) Brian D. Anderson has suffused the tale with his own fresh take on this well-loved staple, successfully composing an enthralling first entry in The Sorcerer's Song series. The second book is named A Chorus of Fire, and it has emphatically claimed its place as one of my most anticipated reads of 2020."