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