Top Anticipated Fantasy Books For 2012 – Publishers’ Choice
You’ve heard of Gollancz, Orbit, Tor, Voyager, Jo Fletcher, Solaris, Abaddon Books, and Angry Robot, right? These are the publishing houses who are standing at the very forefront of our genre. Although rivals in a business sense, it is their combined dedication to bringing only the very highest level of fantasy novels to readers across our country that has seen fantasy go from strength to strength in recent years.
When you look at how a book comes to market, you come to realise the scale of what a publishing house does. Of course the writer creates the text, but the publishing house edits it, formats it, commissions cover art, decides what shelf it belongs on, picks a method to market it, negotiates with stores, organises signings and much, much more besides. What this means is that they build a huge bond with the books that they publish. When you begin meeting people within the industry, you see that some of them seem to know the books as well as the authors.
Now, you may have seen Friday’s article where we looked ahead to our Top 10 Anticipated Fantasy Books of 2012. But, the problem is, we were just guessing. We haven’t seen the writing or spoken to the authors, and we certainly haven’t been working busily away behind the scenes with them. Well, we know a few people who have. Remember those publishing houses we mentioned earlier? Well, we approached each and every one and asked them the following:
What are you, the publishers, looking forward to in 2012?
Not all of them could pick a Top 5, but all of them came back with five titles that we as fantasy fans should watch out for. What we present to you today, fantasy fans, is without doubt the most comprehensive list of anticipated books for next year. It is a list made by people who spend their days working in the industry, surrounded by books. So simply, who better to tell you what you should be looking out for? The answer of course is no one. So enjoy your read through of what publishers across the country are most looking forward to in 2012.
– – –
Jo Fletcher Books
Being asked to pick just five titles, in a year that is stuffed full of brand new talent, is like being asked to pick three of your five siblings to go on an all-expenses-paid trip to the moon: It’s a no-win situation. So the only possible way I can do this is to focus on brand-new authors and ask enormous forgiveness for the handful who were first published last year. Without that, I would have had to beg for Fletcher’s Five to become Fletcher’s Thirteen, which might have more of a creepy ring to it, but doesn’t entirely fulfill the brief. So on the understanding that just because you’re not listed here, doesn’t I don’t think every book on the Jo Fletcher Books list is just as wonderful, here are Fletcher’s Five for 2012.
Irenicon by Aidan Harte – April
A fabulous alternate history: Pavane meets The Sopranos, with a hefty dose of Rimbaldi artefacts from Alias, Irenicon has all the fun of Renaissance Italy, but with a sinister dark dimension.
A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood – January
Fabulous novel from debut author Alison Littlewood. A cross between Rosemary’s Baby and Dennis Wheatley, A Cold Season contains brilliant characterisation and chilling thrills.
The City’s Son by Tom Pollock – June
The first in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, this is the story of a hidden London that is perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and China Mieville. Dedicated and feisty this novel will appeal to everyone from YA and beyond.
Mage’s Blood by David Hair – July
This is the first in The Moontide Quartet and as David Hair’s YA fiction has already won him a devoted following in Australia, he is about to woo the world with this story of a world on the brink of cataclysm.
Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri – September
This is an exciting new quest fantasy containing rich world-building, strong characterisation and a robust story that twists and turns to a tragic but satisfying conclusion.
– – –
Angry Robot Books
When the fine folk at Fantasy-Faction asked me to come up with a few words about Angry Robot’s Top 5 Books of 2012, I hit a brick wall. As well as 24 great books, we have a number of re-issues of firm favourites, and how the hell do you choose a Top Five from that lot? Especially when you’ve had a hand in choosing the entire year’s output…
So, I’m going to cheat. Instead of choosing my five favourite titles, I’m going to choose five books that have a story to tell – a story other than the one contains within their pages, of course. So, without further ado –
Empire State by Adam Christopher – January
There are so many reasons this book should be listed. It’s our first book of the year (huzzah!). It’s also Angry Robot’s fiftieth book (double huzzah!). It’s also the debut novel of a writer we first came to know through Twitter. It’s also the first book to feature in Angry Robot’s new WorldBuilder project, which allows fan writers, artists and other creatives to play in the world of the book. It’s also (of course) a great novel – a superhero crime noir – which has already received dozens of positive endorsements from the best in the business.
It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York. When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist. An immensely fun read about a world torn apart, and the people trying to knit it back together.
Carpathia by Matt Forbeck – March
April 2012 sees the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, and the subsequent rescue of the survivors on the RMS Carpathia. Interestingly, the Carpathian mountains are the ones that surround Transylvania. Forbeck’s book posits the question – what if the survivors of the Titanic were rescued by the Carpathia only to find it is inhabited by blood-sucking fiends? (Vampires, in this case, not bankers.) Pure B-Movie thrills, where the lucky ones those that went down with the ship?
Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle – April
Another debut author (we’ll be publishing seven (ish) throughout 2012 – such is our commitment to discovering new talent). When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods – and a skrayling ambassador – to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital? The first in the Night’s Masque trilogy, and the start of what promises to be an amazing career for this superb fantasy writer.
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig – May
By the time Chuck’s novel came to our attention he had already found a following due to his brilliantly subversive blog at terribleminds.com, where he exposes every myth about writing and publishing on a regular basis. His books for Angry Robot centre around Miriam Black – a troubled young woman with a terrible curse: when she touches you, she can see exactly how you will die, whether it’s tomorrow, or fifty years from now. She manages to avoid getting involved, whenever she can, but what will happens when Miriam is tasked with solving a death she’s going to unknowingly cause?
Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon – June
When Mike first signed with Angry Robot back in 2009, he was a debut author. We originally commissioned two books from him – Sixty-One Nails and The Road to Bedlam – the first two books in the Courts of the Feyre series. Superior urban fantasies, they immediately found an appreciative readership, so it was inevitable that we’d ask Mike to continue the story for us. We’ll also be re-releasing books 1 and 2 alongside Strangeness and Charm, to enable new readers to catch up. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with the stories: Alex has been saved from the fate that awaited her in Bedlam, but in freeing her, Niall has released others of their kind into the population – half-breed fey who have been mistreated, abused and tortured by the institution that was supposed to help them. Now, as Warder, he must find them and persuade them to swap their newfound liberty for security in the courts – but is the price of sanctuary to swap one cage for another?
It has been difficult compiling this list, choosing what not to include, because I have something to say about each book on our list, and I’ve just noticed that I’ve only tapped into the first half of the year. I don’t now have space to tell you about our first book centred around an actual angry robot, written by a professional futurist, or about the first titles to have come through our 2011 Open Door Month, in which we allowed anyone to submit their manuscript (rather than go through an agent, which is the usual route), nor can I tell you about the omnibuses we have, collecting some of our most popular series. No – you’ll just have to head over to angryrobotbooks.com to find out about these. See you there!
– – –
Here at Voyager we are very excited about our 2012 line-up! It was a really hard choice but we think you’ll enjoy all the books that we’ve put forward. There are, of course, other titles that are brilliant and definitely deserve a spot – Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane (May) and the paperbacks of A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (March) for example – but unfortunately we’re limited to five (kind of…), so there isn’t any more room to tell you how fantastic the rest of our books are. If you want more information about Voyager and the books that we publish, please visit: voyagerbooks.com
A Crown Imperilled by Raymond E. Feist – January
Discover the fate of the original black Magician, Pug, and his crew of agents who safeguard the world of Midkemia, as prophecy becomes truth in the second book of the last ever Riftwar Cycle trilogy. This is a must read!
City of Dragons by Robin Hobb – April
The third book in The Rain Wild Chronicles, following on from The Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven, this is the continuation of a truly remarkable series from one of the doyennes of fantasy literature. Who has the courage to cross the raging Rain Wild river to reach the fabled city of Kelsingra? And what will happen when the tales of Kelsingra’s riches reach the greedy ears in Bingtown and beyond? Hobb is the master of characterisation, and she doesn’t falter for an instant here – pick up this series even if you haven’t read any Hobb before, and you won’t be disappointed.
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey – June
Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.
Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future. Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.
James Stark is a fantastic character and Kadrey has created a world in which he can flourish. The writing is sharp, the characters are fantastic and you will not be disappointed when you read it. Refreshingly awesome.
King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – August
The land burns with the fires of a hundred battles as lords and petty kings battle for the Broken Empire. The long road to avenge the slaughter of his mother and brother has shown Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath the hidden hands behind this endless war. He saw the game and vowed to sweep the board. First though he must gather his own pieces, learn the rules of play, and discover how to break them…
The highly anticipated sequel to Mark Lawrence’s brutal-but-beautiful debut, Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns will see Jorg transition from boyhood into a man – but at what price to the Broken Empire? Mark is an author that continues to astound, shock, and awe with every word. A must read next August.
Fever by Lauren DeStefano – February
Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.
In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever. The story is hauntingly beautiful and Fever is the second part in what promises to be a remarkable trilogy.
Earth Girl by Janet Edwards – June
2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an ‘ape’, a ‘throwback’, but this is one ape girl who won’t give in. But can she prove to the norms that she’s more than just an Earth Girl?
This is YA science fiction with a smart, feisty heroine, incredible world-building and plenty of wit. Earth Girl is set in a distant future where humanity has learned how to portal off-world and explore other parts of the universe… except for those unfortunate few whose immune system can’t handle living anywhere else but Earth. Jarra is one of those few, but she’s determined to prove that just because she’s confined to the planet, doesn’t mean she can’t reach for the stars.
– – –
Solaris & Abaddon Books
It’s hard to pick your favourites and, anyway, that’s not what this list is really about. No, this list is about introducing you to some of our authors, and to give you a taste of what we do here at Solaris and Abaddon.
So, without further ado, and in chronological order:
Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold – January
It’s always nice to find a brilliant new author in fantasy. Babylon Steel is one of the most entertaining fantasies I’ve read, but what makes Gaie stand out from the crowd is that she writes about sex and sexuality so well. Not only is this a great adventure novel, but it’s also a work about sexual freedom, fighting against prejudice and the choices we make in our emotional and sexual lives. In having the main character of the novel the madam of a brothel, Gaie has already made a brave choice, but it is what happens to Babylon and how profoundly she is changed by the events of this novel that make this such a fascinating read.
Greatshadow by James Maxey – February
After having talked to James at World Fantasy Con a couple of years ago, it was clear that the time was right to work with him on a new project. What James manages to do with Greatshadow is no mean trick. Not only is this a solid fantasy novel, but it’s also a super-hero novel and it has a kick-ass dragon at the centre of the plot. James seems to channel the spirit of Rider Haggard when he writes, while adding his own unique take on the genre. This novel is playful, witty and wise and, as the beginning of a new trilogy, you couldn’t hope for a better opener.
Dark North by Paul Finch – March
This is the second novel from Paul I’ll have published, but I’ve been reading Paul’s dark and gritty fiction for a while now, and when he pitched for Mallory’s Knights of Albion it was clear that his take on fantasy would add a fresh new voice to the series. This is both historical fantasy and Lovecraftian horror and Finch does a brilliant job of blending the two genres.
Besieged by Rowena Cory Daniells – July
It’s great to be bringing Rowena back for a new series and The Outcast Chronicles is easily her most ambitious work yet. We all loved the King Rolen’s Kin trilogy and what Rowena has achieved here is something entirely on a par, while being yet more rich and complex. In Rowena’s world of the T’En, magic is linked to desire and sexual awakening. When you factor this into a world divided very rigorously along matriarchal and patriarchal lines it makes for fascinating conflicts. This promises to be a rich and epic narrative that will draw new readers and established fans alike.
Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan – August
Another debut and it’s a delight to introduce people to such a distinctive new voice in urban fantasy. Lou pitched this as Alice in Wonderland goes to hell and that’s not far off the truth. It’s about the search for a family, set against the backdrop of the continuing war against heaven and hell. Lou’s angels are funny and wise, and sometimes utterly horrifying. The characterisation and dialogue really sparkle here, in a novel that is as heart-breaking as it is thrilling.
– – –
Trying to pick just five books out of every superb title we’re publishing in 2012 was like being asked to pick our favourite children – we love all the books we publish but Fantasy-Faction said we could only chose five, and they’re a lot bigger and meaner than we are so we weren’t going to argue. Among our choices, we’ve got an eagerly awaited novel from a fantasy favourite, the next novel from a rising fantasy star and a fantasy game book where you will get to choose your own destiny. The rest of the Gollancz list is as usual stuffed full of the best of SF and fantasy in the galaxy so we hope you try these recommendations plus a few more – and we won’t ask you to stop at just five!
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch – March
He’s back! The long-awaited return of the most exciting new commercial fantasy writer of the 21st century, Scott Lynch, and the most loveable of fantasy rogues: Locke Lamora! Readers have patiently awaiting this new story in 2012, their patience will finally be rewarded with the release of the year’s most anticipated fantasy novel.
Some Kind of Fairytale by Graham Joyce – March
A beautiful, and very English, fairytale from an award-winning master of his craft, Graham Joyce. A missing young woman, thought dead and gone by her family, returns unexpectedly one Christmas, full of stories of her adventures around the world. Nothing she says adds up though and to her brother, it sounds like she’s been away with the fairies…and just maybe she has.
Trinity Moon by Elspeth Cooper – April
Following the huge success of Elspeth’s debut novel, Songs of the Earth, Trinity Moon ramps the saga up by ten. More characters, more danger, higher emotion and altogether more stunning set pieces. Commercially written, gripping and emotive from the first paragraph, Elspeth Cooper is a new fantasy star.
The Red Knight by Miles Cameron – June
Miles Cameron is going to get mediaeval on your fantasy…and you’re about the meet the toughest, meanest knight in history. He and his company are professional killers – dragon slayers, mercenaries and demon killers. If something big and nasty is killing people, he and his mobile army will put it down for good. He is the best at what he does. He is more than he seems. He is about to square off against something far, far more dangerous than he expected…This is a great setting, an amazing character and a brilliant story. More: this is fantasy made real. Hold on to your helmet, we’re going dragon slaying…for real.
Destiny Quest: Legion of Shadow by Michael J. Ward – May
Fantasy goes retro as the classic adventure gaming books of the 80s smash their way into the 21st Century with the Destiny Quest series. Heft you pencil, wield your dice and prepare for an old school adventure with a modern edge as you control the fate of your character through a gripping fantasy narrative. Originally self-published, Destiny Quest will introduce the phenomenon of fantasy gaming to a whole new generation.
– – –
Transworld’s list of new fantasy titles for 2012 is, as always, small but – we like to think – perfectly formed. However even allowing for a select list in the first place, singling out five titles isn’t easy. Gratifyingly though, these books emphatically tick both the ‘personal favourites’ and the ‘keep your peepers peeled for these because they’re corkers’ boxes. So here, in no particular order, goes…
Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson
Having completed his genre-defining ten book Malazan Book of the Fallen epic fantasy sequence, with The Crippled God (out in paperback in the New Year) Steven Erikson powers onwards with Forge of Darkness. Still set in the world of Malaz, it’s the first novel in what is, I know, going to be a breathtaking new trilogy and one of the most eagerly awaited titles of 2012.
The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter & Terry Pratchett
And talking of eagerly awaited, The Long Earth is the first novel in a planned series by two colossuses (should that be colossi?) of the genre world –SF polymath Stephen Baxter and none other than the UK’s bestselling fantasy writer, Terry Pratchett – and must surely be the high point in every genre reader’s year.
Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan & Half Sick of Shadows by David Logan
And talking of Terry Pratchett…In 2010, we launched the first ever Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now Debut Novel Prize and in 2012 we’re extremely proud and rather excited to be publishing the joint winners – Michael Logan’s riotous zombies-with-a-difference novel, Apocalypse Cow – ‘forget cud, they want blood’ – and the seductive Half Sick of Shadows by David Logan (no relation) which plays sly games with Time and Alfred Lord Tennyson.
The Devil’s Looking Glass by Mark Chadbourn
Mark Chadbourn’s a particular favourite of mine and he brings his swashbuckling historical fantasy trilogy, The Swords of Albion, to a close with The Devil’s Looking Glass which finds Will Swyfte, Elizabethan England’s answer to James Bond sailing the high seas in pursuit of England’s most ancient foe.
A New Dragons of Pern Book by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
And lastly – if I must – I can’t go without mentioning a new novel from one of fantasy’s most respected names: McCaffery (Anne, writing with her son, Todd). It doesn’t yet have a title but it’s a Dragons of Pern book and will a must for all fans.
– – –
What an incredibly hard task to pick just five titles from the hundreds of excellent books Orbit is publishing in 2012! We had to self-impose some rules to cut our long-list down –including sticking to fantasy only for Fantasy-Faction. But for the more SF inclined readers we have some really exciting titles coming up, including a new Iain M. Banks Culture novel, the next book from the multiple award-winning new author Paolo Bacigalupi, a massive new title from legendary SF writer Kim Stanley Robinson 2312, and one of Ken MacLeod’s best novels yet, Intrusion. We could go on a lot longer but that would really be cheating…so here are Orbit’s top five fantasy titles for 2012.
Seven Princes by John R. Fultz – January
The magnificent story of an age of legends – where giants and men walk side-by-side, ancient sorcerers stalk the land and heroes do battle with dragons and kraken. Seven princes must discover their seven destinies in this breath-taking fantasy epic from a debut novelist.
Fated by Benedict Jacka – March
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal…and, as it turns out, leylines. Fated is the start of a compelling new urban fantasy series set in Camden, featuring Alex Verus – a mage with a dark past who can see the future. Part Ben Aaronovitch, part Jim Butcher, Benedict Jacka is an extremely talented debut UK author.
“Fated is an excellent novel, a gorgeously realized world with a uniquely powerful, vulnerable protagonist. Books this good remind me why I got into the storytelling business in the first place.” – Jim Butcher
The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham – May
War casts its shadow over the lands that the dragon’s once ruled. The high and powerful will fall, the despised and broken shall rise up, and everything will be remade. Only the courage of a young woman stands between hope and universal darkness.
The eagerly awaited second part of the thrilling epic fantasy series The Dagger and the Coin, following the brilliant series launch The Dragon’s Path. Daniel Abraham’s stunning debut series the Long Price Quartet met with widespread critical acclaim, and his SF Expanse series, starting with Leviathan Wakes has been equally well received.
“Everything I look for in a fantasy.” – George R. R. Martin
The Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood – May
BSFA Award-winning author Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a critically acclaimed SF novelist and master storyteller. The Assassini series blends history, politics, dark fantasy and a pinch of Shakespeare to create a vivid portrait of fifteenth-century Venice and a compelling thriller.
“Grimwood has made fusion of genre energy and literary depth his calling card.” – Guardian
“Conjures up Venice so vividly you can almost smell it.” – SFX
The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks – September
Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. His strength, wit and charm are all that preserve a tenuous peace. But when Guile discovers he has a son he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear the world apart.
The second compelling installment in an exciting and inventive new fantasy series from the author of the internationally bestselling Night Angel trilogy – the bestselling fantasy debut of 2009.
– – –
The beloved Chloe Healy from Tor was travelling New York City – How lucky is she! (I actually think it’s work related – so perhaps not?). Anyway, having to email me back quickly from across the pond she has expressed her wish to rave about and discuss five of the following titles at a later date. As soon as Chloe can get back to me, I’ll update the page and tweet you all about it, for now though, enjoy her rather cheeky list (seeing that there are 8!).
Somewhere I Have Never Travelled by Alden Bell
Untitled (Deepgate #2) by Alan Campbell
Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
The Broken Isles (Book #4) by Mark Charan Newton
The Air War (Shadows of Apt #8) by Adrian Tchaikovsky
London Falling by Paul Cornell
So Deep A Malice by John Gwynne
– – –
Well, that just about raps it up for us guys and girls! I hope you’ve enjoyed this huge, huge list of titles as much as I have. The bad news is of course you will probably be a couple hundred pounds worse off in a few hours time. Damned Amazon’s Pre-Order Lists!
Do you think the publishers have missed anything? What are you looking forward to? It doesn’t end here. You can either comment or come along to the forums and post what you’re most anticipating for 2012!