Top 10 Anticipated Fantasy Books For 2011
What a year 2010 was for fantasy! We had some really, really fantastic books released. Perhaps the biggest story of the year was the full emergence of Brandon Sanderson as a writer. His taking over of Wheel of Time and release of what many considered to be the best book of 2010, The Way of Kings, has solidified his place as one of the biggest names in fantasy. Fighting for that top place were the exciting releases from Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett (Our top pick for 2010) and Brent Weeks.
With such a good year for fantasy in 2010, it almost frightens me to tell you that in 2011 we are set for even more thrilling releases! And looking past that to 2012 perhaps an even a better year than the one coming up. Fantasy is growing. It is getting more popular. And the modern day authors, such as those previously mentioned and many, many that were not, are simply making fantasy exciting again.
Well, without further build up from me, let’s move on to our Top 10 releases of 2011, as chosen by our readers, Twitter fans, forum visitors, and Goodreads group members.
Firstly, honourable mentions go to these fantastic authors that are bringing books out in 2011. Some of these have potential to be in the top 10 quite easily this year, but it just turns out that the votes on Twitter/Facebook/forums and such did not quite have them at the top of the list now. I am sure in some cases though it is just readers were unsure that the books were due out in 2011 because some names on here will no doubt be in our top 10 best books at the end of 2011…mark my words!
Eona by Alison Goodman
Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce
Blackveil by Kristen Britain
The Sending by Isobelle Carmody
Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick
The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan Newton
10. Tiassa by Steven Brust (13th book in the Vlad Taltos series)
Steven Brust is the author of 18 books set in Dragaera and several other standalone volumes.
The series all began with Vlad Taltos, a mobster and assassin in the magical metropolis of Adrilankh who is given the largest contract of his career, but at the same time a job that is even more complicated than he expects. Many fans say that Brust is one of those writers who should be getting more recognition than he currently receives and deserves a larger readership. His work has been compared to The Lies of Locke Lamora.
To catch up with the series you would need to start out by picking up The Book Of Jhereg (the first Taltos omnibus) or Jhereg (the first single Taltos novel).
9. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (4th book in The Inheritance Cycle)
The Inheritance Cycle is a strange series really because after naming the series; a trilogy, Christopher Paolini announced he was working on a new book. Last year he said that there would be a fourth book out this year in fact. People remain skeptical because there have been rumours of its release for a couple of years now and still…nothing. It’s fair to say that the fantasy community remains split over Eragon. Some people love it, some people think the only reason it made it to the level it did, was because of the Harry Potter hype. People were looking for a replacement and went with another author with a good story (a very young author) rather than a book with a good story. Either way though, the forth book will no doubt be one of the biggest selling titles on this list due to its mainstream appeal.
Set in the fictional world of Alagaësia, the novels focus on a teenage boy named Eragon and his dragon Saphira as he becomes one of the few remaining Dragon Riders, a legendary group who governed the land in times past but were almost destroyed by a Rider named Galbatorix and the Forsworn, a group of thirteen Riders who betrayed their fellow Riders by swearing fealty to Galbatorix. After the Fall, when most of the Riders were slain, Galbatorix claimed the throne of Alagaësia. The tyrant king’s greatest fear is that a new Rider will rise up and usurp his position as king of the Empire. Through the efforts of the rebel group, the Varden, and their leader/founder, Brom (in collusion with Jeod and Hefring) a dragon egg is stolen from Galbatorix, and by a whim of fate, is thrust upon a young farmboy in Palancar Valley named Eragon. As Galbatorix attempts to capture Eragon and his dragon, Eragon begins a journey into the past and the future of Alagaësia.
To catch up you will need to read the first three books in the series…there is also a movie.
8. The Rogue by Trudi Canavan (2nd book in The Traitor Spy Trilogy)
I won’t hide it – I love Trudi Canavan. She got me into fantasy. Her original series The Black Magician Trilogy was one of the very best that I personally read. Not as many people suggested this series as I thought might – perhaps because she hasn’t yet matched the high level set by the first series with her following books (Age of Five and Magician’s Apprentice), however this new series has made a good start and the fans are looking forward to see how things progress.
Sonea, former street urchin, now a Black Magician of Kyralia, is horrified when her son, Lorkin, volunteers to assist Dannyl in his new role as Guild Ambassador to Sachaka, a land still ruled by cruel black magicians. When word comes that Lorkin has gone missing Sonea is desperate to find him, but if she leaves the city, she will be exiled forever, and besides, her old friend Cery needs her help. Most of his family has been murdered – the latest in a long line of assassinations to plague the leading Thieves. There has always been rivalry, but lately it seems the Thieves have been waging a deadly underworld war, and now it appears they have been doing so with magical assistance. The second book in this series continues this story.
To catch up you just need to read the first book in the series: The Ambassador’s Mission.
7. Spellbound by Blake Charlton (2nd book in the Spellwright series)
Coming 7th in a list like this is a phenomenal achievement for a fantasy author who released his first book in 2010. Blake Charlton has become a favourite amongst fans for his unique series that can be read by virtually anybody. Twitter followers of mine were hitting me over and over with this title and I have to say that when an author gets this much positive feedback so early in his career it would be crazy not to pick up the first and see what it is about if you have not done so already.
In a world where words can come to life, an inability to spell can be a dangerous thing. And no one knows this better than apprentice wizard Nicodemus Weal. Nicodemus is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without ‘misspelling’ – a mistake which can have deadly consequences. He was supposed to be the Halcyon, a magic-user of unsurpassed power, destined to save the world; instead he is restricted to menial tasks, and mocked for his failure to live up to the prophecy. But not everyone interprets prophecy in the same way. There are some factions who believe a cacographer such as Nicodemus could hold great power – power that might be used as easily for evil as for good. And when two of the wizards closest to Nicodemus are found dead, it becomes clear that some of those factions will stop at nothing to find the apprentice and bend him to their will.
To catch up you just need to read the first book: Spellwright.
6. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
When The Blade Itself was released in 2006 it was an instant hit, as were the subsequent follow ups and a standalone novel based in the same world. Many, many authors list Joe Abercrombie as one of their favourite authors, including Scott Lynch for example. The books do not feature your typical heroes; in fact, you could say they don’t feature heroes at all. And if you don’t laugh out loud about 20-30 times during the series you need to visit a doctor. To quote one review, “There are great characters, sparky dialogue, an action-packed plot, and from the very first words and an opening scene that is literally a cliff-hanger, you know you are in for a cheeky, vivid, exhilarating ride.” His latest novel is another stand alone, but people are just as excited with its release as they were for the trilogy.
Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts, or even the strongest arms that prevail. Three men. One battle. No Heroes.
To catch up you probably won’t need to read anything because it is a stand-alone, however I’d recommend reading the original trilogy to get a feeling for what Joe Abercrombie can really do.
5. The Crippled God by Steven Erikson (3rd book in The Malazan Book of the Fallen series)
The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a dark fantasy series that is known as one of the very best there is for character development. It has been published in ten volumes beginning with the novel Gardens of the Moon and now ending with The Crippled God later this year.
As the tales begin, the Malazan Empire, under the rule of Empress Laseen, a murderous usurper of the throne, seeks ever to add to its holdings and is often sorely tasked with both consolidating and expanding its rule when faced with rebel armies, religious zealots, and immortal Ascendants opposed to its ambition. But Malazan is not an evil empire, particularly, no more so than any, and like the Romans, often brings order, peace, prosperity and uniform administrative rule under law to its conquered lands. The Empire has expanded to three continents, all of which are undergoing religious upheavals of one sort or another. The Malazan armies are spread rather thin, and, initially, allies are thin on the ground. An unforgettable cast of characters, an extraordinarily rich and detailed world history and magical cosmology, and a gritty, nerve-shattering and heart-breaking story line elevate these novels well above the genre standard.
To catch up you will need to read the previous 9 volumes of Malazan Book of the Fallen.
4. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (3rd book in the Gentlemen Bastard series)
The Lies of Locke Lamora, the first book in this series was perhaps one of the most unexpected hits of the last few years. The style of Lynch pulls no punches and yet at the same time you won’t be able to stop yourself laughing out loud and loving the characters. Characters that steal, kill, punch old women in the face and generally make a nuisance of themselves.
In the first book, after a devastating plague, a man known as the Thiefmaker pays off city guards to allow him to take newly-orphaned individuals, whom he plans to train as thieves. One orphan sneaks into the group of paid children, “thirty-one of thirty”. The Thiefmaker soon discovers that this one child, Locke Lamora, is extremely clever but not “circumspect,” and is a liability due to his lack of foresight or restraint. The Thiefmaker decides to sell Locke to Chains, a priest of the Nameless Thirteenth god, the Crooked Warden who protects thieves. Chains uses his temple as a front to operate the Gentlemen Bastards. They play confidence games on the city’s richest citizens, in defiance of the Secret Peace (an unspoken agreement between the criminal underground and nobility that establishes a toleration of thievery and mischief in Camorr as long as the nobility is not targeted). Over time, Locke becomes known as the “Thorn of Camorr,” an identity which is never linked to Locke, who maintains the pretence of being a perfectly ordinary sneak thief. The third book in this series will continue Locke’s adventures.
To catch up you simply need to read the previous two books, both of which are highly enjoyable and offer some good variety.
3. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (5th book in A Song of Ice and Fire)
A Dance with Dragons is the fifth of seven planned novels in George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. This is perhaps the only series in the fantasy genre, which has people questions the title given to Lord of the Rings as the biggest, best epic fantasy out there. The sad news is that although some publishers have listed provisional release dates, after several previously announced dates were not achieved, Martin has indicated that no release date will be set until the book is finished. In other news, towards the end of the year the first book, A Game of Thrones, will be featured on American television.
The story of A Song of Ice and Fire takes place in a fictional world, primarily upon a continent called Westeros but also on a large landmass to the east, known as Essos. Most of the characters are human but as the series progresses other races are introduced, such as the cold and menacing Others from the far North and fire-breathing dragons from the East, both races thought to be extinct by the people of the story. There are three principal storylines in the series: the chronicling of a dynastic civil war for control of Westeros between several competing families; the rising threat of the Others who dwell beyond an immense wall of ice that forms Westeros’ northern border; and the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, the exiled daughter of a king who was murdered in another civil war fifteen years previously, to return to Westeros and claim her rightful throne. As the series progresses, all three storylines become increasingly interwoven and dependent on each other.
To catch up you have to read the first 4 books in the series, which are pretty lengthy, however as already said – they are indeed some of the best fantasy literature out there.
2. A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson (14th book in The Wheel of Time series)
The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest and most successful fantasy series of all time. A Memory of Light is the planned 14th and final book of the series. Sadly, as Robert Jordan passed away, it was for a while uncertain what would happen to the series, which was at the time unfinished. To fans delight, talented author, Brandon Sanderson, picked up Jordan’s notes and has all the skills and the backing to finish the series. His first two books (of the three that he wrote) have been well received. We cannot actually promise that this book will be out in 2011, but it SHOULD be, if not expect it latest around March 2012.
At the dawn of time, a deity known as the Creator forged the universe and the Wheel of Time, which, as it turns, spins all lives. The Wheel has seven spokes, each representing an age, and it rotates under the One Power, which flows from the True Source. Essentially composed of male and female halves (saidin and saidar) in opposition and in unison, this power turns the Wheel. Those humans who can use this power are known as channelers; the principal organization of such channelers in the books is called the Aes Sedai or ‘Servants of All’ in the Old Tongue.
To catch up *gulp* you would need to read all 13 of the previous books, which are all in their own rights epic; ranging from about 600-800 pages each, I believe. Don’t see it as such a bad thing though because I’m told (I haven’t read this series) that it is one of the very best out there.
1. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (2nd book in The Kingkiller Chronicles)
Well, I was blown away by the amount of people who named this series as their most anticipated of 2011. Rothfuss certainly has a HUGE following. People have had a long wait and Rothfuss himself, names himself a perfectionist when it comes to writing, so anticipation has really built. Let’s hope it lives up to expectations!
Sequel to the extraordinary The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear is the second installment of this superb fantasy trilogy from Patrick Rothfuss. Picking up the tale of Kvothe Kingkiller once again, we follow him into exile, into political intrigue, courtship, adventure, love and magic, and further along the path that has turned Kvothe, the mightiest magician of his age, a legend in his own time, into Kote, the unassuming pub landlord. Packed with as much magic, adventure and homegrown drama as The Name of The Wind, this is a sequel in every way the equal to its predecessor and a must-read for all fantasy fans. Readable, engaging and gripping The Wise Man’s Fear is the biggest and the best new fantasy novel out there.
To catch up with this series you will need to pick up a copy of The Name of the Wind. We will most likely be reading it as our February 2011 Book Club read if you fancy are-read in preparation or even a read for the first time.
Well, that’s a wrap guys. We really hope that you enjoyed the list and hope you agree with most of our choices – it was certainly a tough one. Should you want to talk more or add your own suggestions please visit our forums here.
Title image by Ed Beard Jr.