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Best Fantasy Books of 2021

Below you will find a list of the fantasy books published in 2021 that we enjoyed most.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan

10/10

She Who Became the Sun reimagines the rise to power of Zhu Yuanzhang, the rebel leader who fought the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty and eventually went on to found the Ming dynasty in 14th century China. The author’s creativity is stamped upon every page. The book is a masterpiece.

Series: The Radiant Emperor: Book 1

Published: 2021

15+

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

10/10

Now that the intro is out of the way, let me get to the subject I really wanted to talk about: Orka. One of the three main voices in the book and one of the greatest fantasy characters of all time (yep, I’m making that call). I am obsessed. She’s earned her place on my favourites list and I can’t see anyone moving her (I’d like to see them try). Anyone who has read Gwynne before will know that his characterisation is superb, his books populated by characters that readers genuinely care about. We love them because they’re an emotional investment that always pays off, even if it sometimes comes in the form of uncontrollable sobbing.

Series: The Bloodsworn Saga: Book 1

Published: 2021

15+

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

10/10

Let me put my cards on the table. I loved every part of this book. From the hoity-toity English to the queer romance to the UF style murder investigation - all of it was utterly perfect and so much fun to read.

Series: The Last Binding: Book 1

Published: 2021

15+

The God is Not Willing by Steven Erikson

10/10

In the end, I don’t think you’ll find a better book to read: Not just a better fantasy book, but a better book. And if you have yet to dip your toe into the Malazan world created by Erikson and writing partner Ian C. Esslemont, then I encourage you to pick up ‘The God is Not Willing’. It is beautiful, it is captivating and utterly enthralling, and it is a high-water mark for literature.

Series: The First Tale of Witness

Published: 2021

15+

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

10/10

Kinch quickly became one of my favorite first-person characters in as long as I can remember, and its supporting cast of deep, rich characters combined with Buehlman’s creativity and wit brought this exciting book to life. I give The Blacktongue Thief my highest recommendation.

Published: 2021

15+

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews

10/10

I read the whole thing straight through and finished with a cry of disbelief. It couldn’t be the end... But it was. And so now begins the time of waiting. There is absolutely no way that Ilona Andrews can leave us here. It would be cruel torture. Since I have absolutely no doubt any fan reading this book will feel the same, I’m somewhat reassured that our collective pleas will bring us a positive result. We got Hugh, we can get more Julie/Aurelia. Right??!! So read and enjoy, then come join me in my torment.

Series: Kate Daniels World: Book 1

Published: 2021

15+

The Hand of the Sun King by JT Greathouse

10/10

Greathouse has written a memorable character in Wen Alder and Forbidden Cur. He is a man whose life has been divided in two since his birth and given no choices of his own along the way, and I found it hard to root against him. When he fails, he fails through action, not lack of it. He has a constant drive to succeed, no matter where life places him, and his brilliance that outshines his peers doesn’t always go over so well in each environment. It’s all compelling stuff. Add in a very cool magic system with weighty consequences, a cast of meaningful, well-developed characters, and a lush world that carefully considers its lore, economic struggles, and religious history, it’s easy for me to call The Hand of the Sun King one of my top reads of 2021.

Series: Pact and Pattern #1

Published: 2021

15+

Master Artificer by Justin Call

9/10

If Master of Sorrows established a fresh new mark on modern epic fantasy, then Master Artificer carves a brightly burning glyph that will attract a bigger and bigger following for years to come. I can say through experience that there are numerous mysteries and rewards to unpack upon re-reads of these books. There’s more than enough content to establish a fan base of theorists, linguists, fan fic writers, artists, game designers and forum posters, which should flourish as Annev’s story continues to unfold in the years ahead. Call has created a rare blend of story innovation, authentic characters, and a finely-crafted, diverse world that elevates the bar of what epic fantasy can achieve.

Series: The Silent Gods #2

Published: 2021

15+

The Black Coast by Mike Brooks

9/10

The story's threads weave a bigger and bigger tapestry throughout the book as it covers all the major beats of what makes a memorable epic fantasy story. There are high levels of adventure, love, danger, politics, and so forth, but the consistent focus on humanity's struggle to survive together in an increasingly uncomfortable atmosphere was the book's biggest draw. An easy recommendation for a brilliant and thoughtful start to what promises to be a watershed epic fantasy series. I loved it.

Series: The God King Chronicles #1

Published: 2021

15+

Idols Fall by Mike Shel

9/10

Mike Shel’s Iconoclasts series has shown a dramatic metamorphosis over its three volumes. Aching God drew me in with its layered history, narrow plot, terrific dungeons, and a well-developed cast of heroes and gods. Sin Eater shattered its boundaries, introducing us to an expansive world with shifting environments, dangerous quests, new character focus and a bombshell ending that changed everything. If Aching God were a D&D module then Sin Eater was a full-fledged campaign. Idols Fall had some big shoes to fill. Well, it’s time to sharpen your swords and lather your horses, because Idols Fall is a god-murdering, throne-grabbing, dungeon crawling rip of a read. There is a balanced mix of heart and horror, and a nagging dread that anything could happen on any given page. And it often did.  

Series: Iconoclasts #3

Published: 2021

15+

The Free Bastards by Jonathan French

9/10

Jonathan French is a Crafty one, wrapping up Jackal, Fetching, and Oats’ stories with the heart and loss and depth it deserves, but it also leaves the door open for more Lot Lands stories to explore. No matter what the future may bring, for three books I’ve lived in this saddle, and with the killer conclusion of The Free Bastards, I’m fortunate to die on this hog.

Series: The Lot Lands #3

Published: 2021

15+

Bacchanal by Veronica G Henry

9/10

Bacchanal takes the dark carnival/circus setting and reinvigorates it, blending the fantastic and the mundane with a perfect touch of horror.

Published: 2021

15+

The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie

9/10

'The Wisdom of Crowds' is Abercrombie's most political book to date - some of it subtle, some of it banged over your head with the flat of a blade before it guts you with sharp commentary. 'The Trouble with Peace' ended on the cusp of The Great Change, and I thought 'Wisdom' would take some time before the Change itself became the centerpiece to the story. But there was no time wasted, as the big battle was gotten out of the way early. I was surprised to see a lengthy 'Little People' section (a consistent favorite of mine) occurred so early in chapter 2 when the narrative hopped around POVs during the madness of a battle. It was at that point in time when I realized that the book wasn't going to focus on the war itself, like his standalone, 'The Heroes,' but rather the aftermath of it, while attempting to answer the question on everyone's mind -- what now?

Series: The Age of Madness: Book 3

Published: 2021

15+

Choir of the Damned by Steve McKinnon

9/10

Not only was it an exciting page-turner, but I was impressed at how deep the lore of the world was explored this time around. We were previously only given hints of what the outside world looked like, and we got to spend most of this story deep-diving into new cultures and settings other than Dalthea and it’s allied nations.

Series: The Raincatcher's Ballad #3

Published: 2021

15+

Risen by Benedict Jacka

9/10

Sad as I am to say goodbye, I think Jacka did his series justice, both in the high-action battles and in the character outcomes for all those who are left alive. At that, I'll say no more. A wonderful series that I'm already looking forward to reading again. Recommended.

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 12

Published: 2021

15+

The Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft

9/10

The Books of Babel is an original and brilliant saga that is even better on the second read-though. It has left an unmistakable footprint in the self-published and traditionally-published world of storytelling. There's nothing else quite like it.

Series: The Books of Babel #4

Published: 2021

15+