Top 10 Anticipated Fantasy Books For 2012 – Part One
Last year we ran an article where we chose our top 10 most anticipated novels for 2011. It proved overwhelmingly popular, amassing just shy of 20,000 hits! This year we decided to take things a little bit further though. Push a few boundaries.
We are going to do it in two phases. Phase one will be Fantasy-Faction’s Top 10 novels to look forward to in 2012. Nothing different there right? Well, no, but it’s Phase Two that will be exciting! Phase Two will be…well, it’s kind of a secret. But check back Wednesday and we think you’ll be blown away with what we’ve come up with!
I guess we should start by saying: What a year 2011 was for fantasy! Yet again, we had some amazing books released. Débuts such as Prince of Thorns, Songs of the Earth, and Among Thieves really stick out in my mind. Then we had the “solidification” books, the books that proved that authors were as good as we hoped they were; Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear and Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes are good examples. How about books from veterans such as: Steven Erikson, Jim Butcher, and even the unexpected entry from G. R. R. Martin!!!
With such a good year for fantasy in 2011, can 2012 really live up to it? Well, looking ahead, I truly believe it can. We’ve got more big names in our top 10 and also a few débuts who are looking to shake things up a bit too. One thing that fantasy fans should stop and recognise is the foundation of new publishing label: Jo Fletcher Books. Jo Fletcher is one of the most respected editors in the UK and under her new label there are a huge amount of authors whose names you will soon be familiar with; Tom Pollock, Mazarkis Williams, Tom Fletcher, Will Elliott are just a few that spring to mind. This launch combined with the strengthening of the smaller labels and continued strong releases of the bigger labels confirms for me my beliefs. 2012 is going to be a great year for fantasy!
Well, without further build up (and rambling), let’s move on to our top 10 releases of 2012 as chosen by our readers, Twitter fans, forum visitors and Goodreads group members.
The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle (Night’s Masque #1)
The Daemon Prism by Carol Berg (Collegia Magica #2)
The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham (Dagger and the Coin #2)
The King’s Assassin by Stephen Deas (Memory of Flames #4)
The Skybound Sea by Sam Sykes (Aeon’s Gate #3)
Top 10 Books
11. City of Dragons by Robin Hobb (The Rain Wilds Chronicles #3)
You will see why we need a number 11 as we reach the peak of the list, but for now – just trust us, it’s justified!
The Rain Wild Chronicles to date have included The Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven. The series was originally said to be just the two books, however Robin Hobb will release City of Dragons early next year.
“The Rain Wild Chronicles take place in the years after the Liveship Traders Trilogy, and runs concurrently with and following the events of the Tawny Man Trilogy. Unlike her earlier series, it is written in third-person narrative from the viewpoint of several of the key characters. The narrative joins these separate threads together as a party of malformed dragons, their human keepers and other supporters set out on a quest for the legendary Elderling city of Kelsingra.”
To catch up with the series you technically only need to read the first two novels, however – you’d be rewarded greatly if you went back to the beginning of Hobb’s career and began with Assassin’s Apprentice.
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10. Shadow Ops by Myke Cole (Shadow Ops #1)
The only débutée in our Top 10 (shhhh – 11) and for good reason. For those who haven’t heard of Myke Cole, he has been making a few waves lately. If you can’t quite see it from the picture above, Peter V. Brett came out and said that Myke’s book was, “Black Hawk Down Meets the X-Men”. Now, if that doesn’t intrigue you, nothing will!
“For a millennium, magic has been Latent in the world. Now, with the Great Reawakening, people are “coming up Latent,” manifesting dangerous magical abilities they often cannot control. In response, the military establishes the Supernatural Operations Corps (SOC), a deadly band of sorcerers dedicated to hunting down “Selfers” who use magic outside government control. When army officer Oscar Britton comes up Latent with a rare and prohibited power, his life turns upside down. Transformed overnight from government agent to public enemy number one, his attempt to stay alive and evade his former friends drives him into a shadow world he never knew lurked just below the surface of the one he’s always lived in. He’s about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.”
As this is Myke’s first novel, all you need to do is pick up this first book and get reading. Having been lucky enough to read an ARC – I can tell you this book is a mile a minute and fantastic fun. Sadly, I’ve been condemned to silence though and cannot give you a full review until January. Add it to your pre-order lists though. I swear you won’t regret it.
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9. Trinity Moon by Elspeth Cooper (Wild Hunt #2)
The next three on my list were almost impossible to put in any kind of order. Elspeth Cooper, Douglous Hulick, and Mark Lawrence exploded onto the scene last year and came out top amongst the tens of début authors that hit our shelves earlier this year. Elspeth’s poetic language, intriguing characters and solid magic system look like they will be taken to another level when book 2 is released in 2012.
“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.”
To catch up all you need to do is pick up the fantastic Songs of the Earth, which is book one in the series.
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8. Sworn in Steel by Doug Hulick (A Tale of the Kin #2)
Doug Hulick is one of the best first person writers writing today. He has a style reminiscent of those Raymond Chandler type P.I. books, but he puts you in a completely different setting and on the side of a character who is essentially a man who doesn’t blink at stealing, snitching and murdering for decent pay. The first book was a mile a minute and we gave it an easy 5/5. The second book looks to expand the character of Drothe even further and we look forward to seeing where we go next!
“It’s been three months since Drothe killed a legend, burned down a portion of the imperial capital, and unexpectedly elevated himself into the ranks of the criminal elite. Now, as the newest Gray Prince in the underworld, he’s learning just how good he used to have it.
With barely the beginnings of an organization to his name, Drothe is already being called out by other Gray Princes. And to make matters worse, when one dies, all signs point to Drothe as wielding the knife. As members of the Kin begin choosing sides – mostly against him – for what looks to be another impending war, Drothe is approached by a man who not only has the solution to Drothe’s most pressing problem, but an offer of redemption. The only problem is the offer isn’t for him.
Now Drothe finds himself on the way to the Despotate of Djan, the empire’s long-standing enemy, with an offer to make and a price on his head. And the grains of sand in the hour glass are running out, fast…”
To catch up simply check out Among Thieves and enjoy a fantastic first person ride.
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7. King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Broken Empire #2)
Disturbing, beautiful, chaotic, poetic, haunting, exhilarating…Believe it or not, these are all words I used to describe a single book. Prince of Thorns the debut novel of British author, Mark Lawrence. Something about Mark’s first book rang true with me. We’ve all seen the young boy grows and becomes powerful type stories and more recently we’ve seen the grittier stories told with darker protagonists.
“The Broken Empire burns with the fires of a hundred battles as lords and petty kings battle for the all-throne. 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.
A six nation army, twenty thousand strong, marches toward Jorg’s gates, led by a champion beloved of the people. Every decent man prays this shining hero will unite the empire and heal its wounds. Every omen says he will. Every good king knows to bend the knee in the face of overwhelming odds, if only to save their people and their lands. But King Jorg is not a good king.
Faced by an enemy many times his strength Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight. But playing fair was never part of Jorg’s game plan.”
Again, to catch up is simple, just pick up and read through the fantastic Prince of Thorns.
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6. Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson (Kharkanas Trilogy #1)
Steven Erikson is one of the most well known fantasy writers around today and his Malazan books have become some of the most recognised within the genre. They start off a bit heavy, literally chucking you into the deep end, but those who make it past book one are rewarded for their staying power.
All I can tell you about this novel is what TheWertZone has uncovered.
“Erikson’s new book is set several hundred thousand years before the events of the main Malazan sequence and expands on the Tiste Andii and events in the city of Kharkanas (which appears, in a deserted state, in the main series novels). Anomander Rake is expected to feature heavily.
Erikson reports that the novel has come in at 292,000 words, noting that (ironically) this is “short” by his standards. It falls between the length of Deadhouse Gates (272,000 words or over 900 pages in paperback) and House of Chains (306,000, or over 1,000 pages).”
To catch up and get a real feeling for the novel you are probably going to need to read Erikson’s past 10 novels in the Malazan series. Enjoy!
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5. Railsea by China Mieville
People seem to either love Mieville’s work or they “don’t get it”. Simply put, this is because China’s novels are pretty damned weird. His prose are poetic, but can sometimes take you on a bit of a trip. However, those who do get it, really, really love his work and are on the edge of their seats in anticipation of his next novel.
“All I can tell you guys is that ‘Rail’ and ‘Sea’ sounds kind of like some kind of train crossed with a boat? It is only 288 pages, so perhaps is going to be a YA book? As I find out more, we’ll update you all.”
I couldn’t tell you what you’ll need to do in order to be ready for this novel. China’s work tends to vary between standalones and sequels and un-related sequels.
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4. Cold Days by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #14)
For those who have never heard of Harry Dresden, where have you been!? Harry Dresden is a private investigator who also has the added advantages (and disadvantages at times) of being a wizard. They are written in the sarcastic first person voice of Harry who tends to get hired in order to uncover the facts behind some kind of supernatural murder or crime.
The first couple of books were okay, nothing really breathtakingly brilliant about them, but from there they picked up and have quickly become fan favourites. Each novel is relatively short, but they certainly back a lot of great content in-between those covers.
I can’t really say much about book 14 without completely ruining the previous 13 books and a HUGE plot twist in book 12/13 – so to catch up…read them!
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3. A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time #14)
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 uncertain for a while 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 actually had this in our top 10 to be released in 2011 last year (now you see why we chose to run with 11!) but it is pretty much confirmed for 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, each ranging from about 600-800 pages 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.
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2. The Republic of Thieves (The Gentlemen’s Bastards #3)
It certainly seems absence makes the heart grow fonder. Lynch’s book was on last year’s list too (although not quite second place). Perhaps our interview with Scott a couple of months back, where he revealed his plans to really expand the series to a new level in book three means that our readers are anticipating it even further! Scott teased us with a short story in 2011, but it’s Republic of Thieves we are all dying to read. After a number of false starts, will 2012 be the year it is released? Please Scott, please make it so!
“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.
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1. (A) Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
Who doesn’t love Joe Abercrombie? He seems to have come from nowhere, taken his position as the face of “gritty” fantasy and relentlessly defended it over the past few years. It all began with his First Law Trilogy and was then followed up brilliantly by Best Served Cold. The forum and blogging communities seemed to come to an agreement that Joe’s work had reached its peak in the brilliant Best Served Cold. However, after releasing The Heroes in January 2011, he proved that his writing is just getting better and better. I really don’t think anyone was ready for the amount of 5 star reviews that it picked up or the spots on the best selling lists!
It is hard to put your finger on exactly what makes Joe Abercrombie such a fantastic author. Perhaps if I had a few more fingers I’d point at fluent dialogue, unforced humour, stunningly complex characters and an ability to change settings and the types of stories he tells seamlessly. Congratulations to Joe for hitting the top spot of this list – let’s hope it lives up to our extremely high expectations!
Some very sketchy details from Joe’s blog:
“My latest masterwork [is] workingly titled, A Red Country, or possibly just, Red Country, we will see on that score. For those who have failed to follow this blog religiously for the past few months (shame on you faithless scum), it is another semi-standalone set in the world of The First Law, and fusing fantasy elements with western elements, in the same way that The Heroes was a fantasy/war story and Best Served Cold fantasy/thriller-ish.”
Because so few details have been released so far, we cannot say for sure – but judged on The Heroes you may well be able to get away with just reading (A) Red Country on its own. That being said, why on Earth would you want to do that? We implore you…no…demand you to go and pick up Joe’s first four books. Do it…do it now!
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We were lucky enough to catch up with Joe and get a comment from him upon presenting the award. This is what he had to say.
They say that a man should be humble in victory, to which I can only reply, why? What is the purpose of battle if one cannot build a bidet from the skulls of one’s routed enemies? In spite of the several lesser works by lesser authors whose shattered corpses have been permitted to pollute the list, there was only ever going to be one winner. Indeed, I am slightly disappointed that other possible as yet untitled, unwritten and uncontracted books by me did not occupy spaces 2-10. I will prepare my own list in which that is the case. Naturally I wish to thank everyone that voted, and the management of Fantasy-Faction for the lavish cash prize which will presumably soon follow.
Books that probably won’t be out in 2012, but we wish they were!
Well, that just about wraps things up, however, I’d like to mention the books that we hope will come out this year, but don’t look likely. They were the books that were mentioned through the forums and over Twitter that we really can’t see coming out in 2012. That being said, we are going to slide them in here and at least cover our backs should they unexpectedly be released. It happened with A Dance With Dragons right?
The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett (The Demon Cycle #3)
The Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss (Kingkiller Chronicles #3)
Highprince of War by Brandon Sanderson (Stormlight Archive #2)
The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks (Lightbringer #2)
The Winds of Winter by George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #6)
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And that’s a wrap, please leave comments as to your thoughts on our list and also, enjoy the patented, copyrighted, award that goes to Joe Abercrombie and his upcoming novel (A) Red Country.