Top Anticipated Fantasy Books For 2014 – Readers’ Choice
Our ‘Most Anticipated’ articles have always been some of Fantasy-Faction’s most popular. As we’ve done for the last few years, we will be presenting a list of our most anticipated novels – which is this article – and then a list featuring 5 of the most anticipated titles from each of our 10 favourite publishers from their own publishing schedule (Orbit, Voyager, Gollancz, Ace, Solaris, Jo Fletcher Books, Headline, Tor, Titan and Angry Robot are all taking part so be sure to check back later this week to see what they picked!).
But, before I give you our opinion on what you should be looking out for in 2014, I just want to say WHAT A YEAR! I say that every year and I’ve already said it in our Best of 2013 article, but I honestly think this was the best year of fantasy literature in recent memory. We have been treated to some new series and stunning debuts such as Richard Ford’s Herald of the Storm and Brain McClellan’s Promise of Blood; some obscure self-published novels got picked up by big publishing houses like Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song and Jen William’s Copper Promise; there’s been some excellent entries from already established favourites like Peter V. Brett with The Daylight War and Myke Cole with Fortress Frontier; and a number of series have been completed, freeing the authors up to start new and exciting things in the coming years too: Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire Trilogy, Anne Lyle’s Night’s Masque trilogy and Francis Knight’s Pain Mage trilogy for example.
I’ll say it again: What. A. Year!
Like last year, the scary thing is that some of the genres heavyweights didn’t even publish this year! Authors such as Brent Weeks, George R. R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss and so many more are making fans wait while they perfect their latest manuscripts. Of course, with 2013 being such a great year, the question must be asked: Will 2014 be able to live up to it? Well, it seems to us that authors and publishers are going to give it a damned good go!
They’ve given it such a good go in fact that we are going to abandon the Top 10 idea – just like we did for the Best books of the year – and go with a Top 30. As we always say: PLEASE try to remember that this list is subjective and that we haven’t read books by EVERY AUTHOR, so we may have left people off simply because we’ve not discovered them yet – if this is the case please let us know in the comments
Fantasy-Faction’s Top 30 Most Anticipated Novels of 2014:
30: The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes, #3) by Richard K. Morgan
The final part of Richard Morgan’s fast-moving and brutal fantasy brings Ringil to his final reckoning and sees the world tipping into another war with the dragon folk. And, most terrifying of all, the prophecy of a dark lord come to rule may be coming true very close to home …
Why we are excited: Richard Morgan doesn’t believe in a line between fantasy and science-fiction. Rather, he believes the two can harmoniously work together and this series has proven that they can: Epic fantasy with alien entities? We love it. Not only that, Richard remains one of the only authors to have created a homosexual character that could kick your arse.
29: The Shadow Throne (The Shadow Campaigns, #2) by Django Wexler
Anyone can plot a coup or fire an assassin’s bullet. But in a world of muskets and magic, it takes considerably more to seize the throne.
The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed. When he dies, his daughter, Raesinia Orboan, will become the first Queen Regnant in centuries—and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. The most dangerous of these is Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and master of the secret police. Having meticulously silenced his adversaries through intimidation, imprisonment, and execution, Orlanko is the most feared man in the kingdom.
And he knows an arcane secret that puts Raesinia completely at his mercy.
Exposure would mean ruin, but Raesinia is determined to find a way to break herself—and her country—out of Orlanko’s iron grip. She finds unlikely allies in the returning war hero Janus bet Vhalnich, fresh from a brilliant campaign in the colony of Khandar, and his loyal deputies, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass.
As Marcus and Winter struggle to find their places in the home they never thought they would see again, they help Janus and Raesinia set in motion events that could free Vordan from Orlanko’s influence—at the price of throwing the nation into chaos. But with the people suffering under the Duke’s tyranny, they intend to protect the kingdom with every power they can command, earthly or otherwise.
Why we are excited: Should probably be way higher up on the list, but a couple of panelists thought that the book was a little slow due to the sheer amount of world building Django committed himself too. That said, everyone is excited to see where book two leads now that the exposition has been carried out. Flintlock Fantasy may well be the next ‘trend’ and Django seems set to battle it out with Brian McCellan (author of Promise of Blood) for the title of sub-genre master (it’s a real title… honest!).
28: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley Beaulieu
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is a story set in a powerful desert city that controls the flow of trade and spice through otherwise impassable terrain.
It’s a story about Çeda, a woman who fights in the pits to scrape a living from the cruel but beautiful city she calls home. As the story opens, she discovers that the book her mother left her before she died holds the clues to the unraveling the mystery of her mother’s death, which was tangled up in the story of the Twelve Kings of Sharakhai, men who have ruled the desert with an iron fist for nearly two hundred years.
As Çeda begins to unlock the secrets hidden within the poems in the book—as well as what her mother was trying to do before she died—the Kings learn of her, and they will stop at nothing to keep those secrets buried in the desert where they belong. And so the chase is on. Çeda must unlock the hidden riddles of her mother’s book before the Kings find her. She had better hope she does, for she is the last hope for the people of the desert.
Why we are excited: Bradley Beaulieu is a massively under-rated author. Despite having won awards from some of the biggest genre-fiction blogs and even picking up a Gemmell award nomination, his work doesn’t seem to have picked up the kind of attention you’d expect from genre readers who hit the book stores… perhaps his first book was a little tough to get into (due to the Martin-esque scale)? We don’t know, but we have a feeling that Bradley’s latest book will dial back the scale and look to appeal to a larger audience.
27: Blood and Iron by Jon Sprunk
The Akeshian Empire has long been ruled by God-Kings and -Queens with the power of life and death over their subjects. When ship carpenter Horace is shipwrecked on its shores, he is taken captive and soon discovers that he possesses latent magical power of his own.
Elevated to the court of the enemy queen, Horace finds himself in the middle of a power struggle between the empire’s traditional wizard-rulers and a rising religious sect that wants to subjugate all magic-wielders and seize control.
Why we are excited: Jon Sprunk was one of the first authors to write about assassins when the sub-genre first began picking up steam and remains at its forefront. A lot at Sprunk’s résumé diplays evidence of fantastic magic systems; a dark, historically familiar World; and characters that intrigue us as much as the constantly twisting plot they are thrown along.
26: The Fifth Season (Untitled Trilogy #1) by N.K. Jemisin
From Jemisin’s Blog: The Fifth Season is set in a world which has suffered frequent, repeated Extinction Level Events for millions of years, and all life (and magic) in this world has adapted to it. Hundreds of years might pass between these events — easy, plentiful years in which great cities rise, and people have the leisure for art and science and rapid advancement — but then, again and again, the cities fall. The world is littered with the detritus of these times of plenty, and this cover hints at them: past ages of decadence, now decaying; stone that endures beneath flaking gilt.
Why we are excited: Is there a female author that writes as powerfully as N.K. Jemisin? Jemisin’s plots offer a World where humans and Gods are able to interact and relatable questions about politics, mortality and religion are not shied away from. Jemisin’s first series was a huge success, her second perhaps attracted a little less attention (which is weird because it was even better and seems to get better ratings by those who’ve rad it).
25: The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick
An ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood. An original and beautifully imagined world, populated by unforgettable characters.
Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted – but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the ‘insane’ women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.
Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself.
Why we are excited: Quite simply Den Patrick is a lovely guy. His Twitter feed is full of fun musings, he made it his job to promote authors in London for a number of years and his recent War Handbooks were excellent fun. Gollancz have made no secret of the fact that they are very excited about Den’s coming novel and the unique sounding story has us intrigued.
24: Sword of the North (The Grim Company, #2) by Luke Scull
In The Grim Company, Luke Scull introduced a formidable and forbidding band of anti-heroes battling against ruthless Magelords and monstrous terrors. The adventure continues as the company—now broken—face new dangers on personal quests?.
As Davarus Cole and his former companions were quick to discover, the White Lady’s victorious liberation of Dorminia has not resulted in the freedom they once imagined. Anyone perceived as a threat has been seized and imprisoned—or exiled to darker regions—leaving the White Lady’s rule unchallenged and absolute. But the White Lady would be wiser not to spurn her former supporters: Eremul the Halfmage has learned of a race of immortals known as the Fade, and if he cannot convince the White Lady of their existence, all of humanity will be in danger.
Far to the north, Brodar Kayne and Jerek the Wolf continue their odyssey to the High Fangs only to find themselves caught in a war between a demon horde and their enemy of old, the Shaman. And in the wondrous city of Thelassa, Sasha must overcome demons of her own.
Why we are excited: Luke Scull didn’t get the kind of attention Anthony Ryan (Blood Song) or Brian McCellan (Promise of Blood) enjoyed, perhaps because he wasn’t with publishing giant Orbit, but none-the-less we are excited about his second book. Scull is often described as being in the shadow of Abercrombie and in our mind you can never have enough gritty characters wondering through a dark and dangerous world told by a narrative voice that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
23: The High Druid’s Blade (The Defenders of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks
Legend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once ruled the Highlands and waged war with magical weapons. But those kings, queens, and heroes are long gone, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon’s fireplace. Running his family’s modest shipping business, Paxon leads a quiet life—until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world . . . and rewrite his destiny.
When his brash young sister is abducted by a menacing stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. And in a harrowing duel, he is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him—and within his ancestors’ ancient blade. But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands, and Paxon must master it quickly because his nearly fatal clash with the dark sorcerer Arcannen won’t be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the fabled Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector.
But treachery is afoot deep in the Druids’ ranks. And the blackest of sorcery is twisting a helpless innocent into a murderous agent of evil. To halt an insidious plot that threatens not only the Druid order but all the Four Lands, Paxon Leah must summon the profound magic in his blood and the legendary mettle of his elders in the battle fate has chosen him to fight.
Why we are excited: Terry Brooks has written some bad books, but he was written a heck of a lot of good books too. His more recent books seem darker in tone and generally more ‘modernly narrated’ too. The orbit cover seems to suggest they are happy with this and are encouraging that transition so a stand-alone from one of Fantasy’s best selling authors could hardly not appear, could it?
22: The Glass Republic (The Skyscraper Throne, #2) by Tom Pollock
Pen’s life is all about secrets: the secret of the city’s spirits, deities and monsters her best friend Beth discovered, living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners; the secret of how she got the intricate scars that disfigure her so cruelly – and the most closely guarded secret of all: Parva, her mirror-sister, forged from her reflections in a school bathroom mirror. Pen’s reflected twin is the only girl who really understands her.
Then Parva is abducted and Pen makes a terrible bargain for the means to track her down. In London-Under-Glass looks are currency, and Pen’s scars make her a rare and valuable commodity. But some in the reflected city will do anything to keep Pen from the secret of what happened to the sister who shared her face.
Why we are excited: Tom Pollock is a more ‘gettable’ China Mieville for my money. Where as China’s writing ‘can’ feel like a chore at times, Pollock’s never does. Through the most beautiful, readable prose Pollock still offers his readers a weird, peculiar London and incredibly unique creatures that will grip them through fascination and wonderment. Book two is set to take a huge turn into an even weirder World and we can’t wait.
21: Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky, #3) by Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear concludes her award-winning epic fantasy Eternal Sky trilogy in Steles of the Sky.
Re Temur, legitimate heir to his grandfather’s Khaganate, has finally raised his banner and declared himself at war with his usurping uncle. With his companions—the Wizard Samarkar, the Cho-tse Hrahima, and the silent monk Brother Hsiung—he must make his way to Dragon Lake to gather in his army of followers. But Temur’s enemies are not idle; the leader of the Nameless Assassins, who has shattered the peace of the Steppe, has struck at Temur’s uncle already. To the south, in the Rasan empire, plague rages. To the east, the great city of Asmaracanda has burned, and the Uthman Caliph is deposed. All the world seems to be on fire, and who knows if even the beloved son of the Eternal Sky can save it?
Why we are excited: Elizabeth Bear is one of the best writers of fantasy today. Her biography is full of award winning books and you know that there are far more to come. The first and second books in this series got better subsequently and, as with everything that Elizabeth writers, this series has gotten so deep, so exciting and rewritten so many genre conventions along its way that its one you should really be excited about too.
20. The Dragon House (The Wild Hunt #4)by Elspeth Cooper
In Gimrael no church, no believer is safe. The Lector of Dremen has declared a crisis of the faith and the Suvaeon Knights are riding to war for the first time in over twenty years. In the north, the Warlord is faced with a hopeless choice: marshal the Empire’s defences, or try to save his own people from the Hunt rampaging across the plains of his homeland.
Too long at peace, the Empire is ill-equipped to face war on two fronts and its internal alliances begin to crumble. The ancient peoples of Astolar and Bregorin are finally roused to confront the damage that has been done to the Veil, and the Guardians gather their strength to reclaim the starseed so it can be used to banish the Hunt back to the Hidden Kingdom.
In the Warlord’s absence, his predecessor Garimair – dubbed the Eagle of Leah during the desert wars – is recalled from retirement to help save what can be saved of the Empire. It will require bold tactics, and force Garimair to confront the legacy of a past mistake.
Gair’s struggle with the after-effects of Savin’s reiving has stretched him to breaking point. Now he must learn to master the darkest and most deadly aspects of his gift and accept the consequences as he faces his enemy for the final time.
Why we are excited: Elspeth Cooper has some of the best prose we’ve ever come across. We were a little unsure about Garimair and this series at first, but Elspeth has really taken this series from something a little to Harry Potter-esque to a series that walks its own path and that is increasingly epic and high-stake for its characters.
19: The Widow’s House (The Dagger and the Coin, #4) by Daniel Abraham
THE RISE OF THE DRAGON AND THE FALL OF KINGS
Lord Regent Geder Palliako’s war has led his nation and the priests of the spider goddess to victory after victory. No power has withstood him, except for the heart of the one woman he desires. As the violence builds and the cracks in his rule begin to show, he will risk everything to gain her love or else her destruction.
Clara Kalliam, the loyal traitor, is torn between the woman she once was and the woman she has become. With her sons on all sides of the conflict, her house cannot stand, but there is a power in choosing when and how to fall.
And in Porte Oliva, banker Cithrin bel Sarcour and Captain Marcus Wester learn the terrible truth that links this war to the fall of the dragons millennia before, and that to save the world, Cithrin must conquer it.
Why we are excited: George R.R. Martin might not be writing a book every year, but Daniel Abraham is. Some people feel this series has got better as it has gone on, others have felt that its lost a bit of its spark – well, moving into the second half of the series its time to see if Mr Abraham can draw the two groups together by providing a thrilling conclusion – certainly the synopsis suggests things are well in-hand.
18. Daughter of Blood (The Wall of Night #3) by Helen Lowe
A Failing Wall, a Broken Shield… Malian and Kalan are pursuing separate paths back to the Derai Alliance – but already it may be too late. The Swarm is rising and the Wall of Night, dangerously weakened in the Betrayal War, is on the verge of failing. Everywhere, the Darksworn are on the move as the threads of an old pattern begin to tighten about Kalan, and Malian searches for the fabled Shield of Heaven, which every account agrees was broken… In Grayharbor and in the Red Keep, a child and a young woman are caught in conflict’s maw, as whispers gather around Dread Pass and a Darksworn prophecy points to Malian herself being the stake the ancient enemy will drive into the heart of the Derai Alliance.
Why we are excited: The Wall of Night series should be as big as The Hunger Games, but it sometimes feels that it doesn’t get enough attention. Those who have read it appreciate an intelligent female protagonist that avoids the warrior-woman cliché and yet is still able to act in a way that means she can control her destiny in a dark world, full of treachery and false truths. Book one earned Lowe the David Gemmell Morningstar award and book three promises to provide us more backstory of characters and locations that intrigued us in the last two books.
17. The Shattered Crown by Richard Ford
Heroes must rise …
The King is dead. His daughter, untested and alone, now wears the Steel Crown. And a vast horde is steadily carving a bloody road south, hell-bent on razing Steelhaven to the ground
… or the city will fall
Before the city faces the terror that approaches, it must crush the danger already lurking within its walls. But will the cost of victory be as devastating as that of defeat?
Why we are excited: Richard Ford has written a number of very good books and is another one of those authors who SHOULD get more attention than he does. If you haven’t read the Abercrombie-esque The Herald of the Storm yet – please take our advice and check it out as quickly as possible. What Richard does incredibly well is meet modern-expectations of character driven action with the added allure of a humorous voice. Whilst Abercrombie takes a break from epic fantasy (to explore other sub-genres) you won’t find a better replacement. That said, please don’t consider Richard a cheap imitation, I’ve heard more than one person say they enjoyed book one more than they did The Blade Itself, which should instantly have you hitting that ‘add to basket’ button.
16: Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15) by Jim Butcher
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….
Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.
He doesn’t know the half of it….
Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.
It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.
Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance…
Why we are excited: The first few Dresden books were OK… but by book four your mind was blown. Over the years Harry has been through a lot, but the synopsis that suggests our protagonist is going to have to play a ‘Littlefinger’ style role should add a new dimension to this series that is still going strong in double digits.
A number of books by Brandon Sanderson have been touted as set for release in 2014. Now, we love Brandon, but there is no possible way we can fathom that all three of these books, plus his short stories and work on book 3 of Stormlight and everything else, will happen, so we are going to give some quick summarising details on each project and say that: we hope they happen, but won’t officially list them in our list O:)
Interlude A: Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson
From Tor: Like 2011’s The Alloy of Law, these novels will follow Wax and Wayne, a team of cowboy detectives who investigate crimes that arise in a Scadrial that is rapidly approaching modernity.
From Sanderson’s Blog: one thing I’ve wanted from the beginning of the Mistborn series was to show the interactions of magic with technology and society through different eras of that world’s development. There is much more to explore with Waxillium Ladrian, his comrade Wayne, and their time period, so we’re going to stay with them for a couple more books. I think you’re going to like what’s coming.
Why we are excited: The first Steampunky Mistborn book was great fun. Granted, it felt a little rushed at times, but never in a way that bothered us – can I use the word: raw? Well, Wax and Wayne are back for a new adventure and we’re more than ready for more magical abilities vs guns action.
Interlude B: Sequel To Elantris (Elantris, Book 2) by Brandon Sanderson
From Brandon’s blog:
Some notes here. Elantris has three books in the series, but they are loose sequels of each other. This means that side characters in one become main characters in the next. So while you’ll see Raoden and Sarene in the second book, they won’t be main characters. (Kiin’s children will be.) Warbreaker is two books. Mistborn is a trilogy of trilogies, with the second trilogy in an urban (20th-century-level technology) setting. For Stormlight, I’m planning a pattern of two every three years, with a different epic, a standalone, or one of the sequels mentioned above, in between. Thus the Elantris sequel is next in line after Stormlight Three, which would be followed by Stormlight Four and Five.
Why we are excited: Elantris was a fantastic book. It was both epic and very personal at the same time. I’m not sure if (because of how Elantris finished) this book will manage to capture the same claustrophobic and yet hopeful feeling, but if anyone can pull it off it is Sanderson!
Interlude C: Firefight (The Reckoners, Book 2)by Brandon Sanderson
Firefight is the second book in the Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson. It will be set in Manhattan.
Why we are excited: Another of Sanderson’s pet projects, what’s not to love about a novel that is realistic in the sense that it does away with superheroes in favour of the more probable super villains and requires the average citizen to rise up and administer justice?
15: Clariel (The Old Kingdom / Abhorsen, #4) by Garth Nix
“Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen, is the story of the young woman who eventually became Chlorr of the Mask. It takes place about 320 years before the events in Sabriel.
It is set about 300 years before the events of Sabriel, in an extremely settled era of the Old Kingdom, where [there] is almost no threat from the Dead or Free Magic, and the Abhorsens are considered something between an archaic remnant of worse times and municipal rat-catchers.”
Why we are excited: It’s called The Lost Abhorsen, but I’d always considered this as a ‘lost book’. The Old Kingdom series was one of my all time favourites as a child and when Garth Nix first mentioned this book about a decade ago I was excited… every few months since I’ve checked in to see how the book is progressing and every year it had been put back for another project. Well, apparently, now it is with the publisher and being edited. It will tell the story of one of the enemies (Clariel) from the original trilogy.
14: The Crimson Campaign (The Powder Mage, #2) by Brian McClellan
‘The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions’ Tamas’s invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god. In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god-chef Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir’s advancing army. Tamas’s generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.
Why we are excited: Picked by many as the year’s best debut. A number of F-F readers felt the book had moments where it lulled, but all agreed that it showed an extreme amount of promise. Book 2 looks set to give a better view of both the protagonist and antagonists. With Kez in the enemies land with an angry God on his tail you have a recipe for action, excitement and one heck of a novel… surely?
13. Dust and Light (The Sanctuary Duet #1) by Carol Berg
How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her….After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.
But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous….
Why we are excited: Carol Berg has some beautiful prose and a way about her writing that lets her do things that you’d feel shouldn’t work; a magic system based on music, for example (sounds lame, but totally isn’t!). Well, her new series’s synopsis suggests that Berg will provide a politically heavy story (what she does best) full of injustice that the protagonist must fight; an experience that will be shared by the reader.
12: Tower Lord (Raven’s Shadow, #2) by Anthony Ryan
“The blood-song rose with an unexpected tune, a warm hum mingling recognition with an impression of safety. He had a sense it was welcoming him home.”
Vaelin Al Sorna, warrior of the Sixth Order, called Darkblade, called Hope Killer. The greatest warrior of his day, and witness to the greatest defeat of his nation: King Janus’s vision of a Greater Unified Realm drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause Vaelin alone knows was forged from a lie. Sick at heart, he comes home, determined to kill no more.
Named Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Janus’s grateful heir, he can perhaps find peace in a colder, more remote land far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm. But those gifted with the blood-song are never destined to live a quiet life. Many died in King Janus’s wars, but many survived, and Vaelin is a target, not just for those seeking revenge butf or those who know what he can do.
The Faith has been sundered, and many have no doubt who their leader should be. The new King is weak, but his sister is strong. The blood-song is powerful, rich in warning and guidance in times of trouble, but is only a fraction of the power available to others who understand more of its mysteries. Something moves against the Realm, something that commands mighty forces, and Vaelin will find to his great regret that when faced with annihilation, even the most reluctant hand must eventually draw a sword.
Why we are excited: It seems incredible that the first book in this series, Blood Song, was self published and flew under so many people’s radars. Well, book 2 has had the full editing treatment and if Anthony Ryan’s book is even better than book 1 – which leant us an incredible pace with a tone that fluctuates gleefully between Rothfuss and Abercrombie – this could well be one of 2014’s best books.
11: The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes
Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.
Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier’Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.
And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.
“Your world is breaking around you,” He Who Makes says, “let me fix it. Let me help you. Let me out.”
Why we are excited: We love Sam Sykes. He somehow manages to balance perfectly wittiness and outrageousness in a way that enables him to remain one of the most charming authors writing in the genre today. One thing about Sam is that he is a true genre enthusiast and his blogging, tweeting and facebooking have really added a new element to the reading experience of his books. That said, we think ‘something familiar, but new’ would be a good bet for him. it his new series’s plot is as strong as it sounds this could well be the time Sam is exposed to the masses (his writing that is…).
10: Breach Zone (Shadow Ops, #3) by Myke Cole
The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…
In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.
In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.
When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…
Why we are excited: Myke Cole’s first book was an all-out action-fest. Book two, however, was a deeper book and one that focused on expanding his world and characters (whilst still including enough kick ass to keep us fist pumping). If book three is even better than book two, Myke Cole should finally turn those extra few heads he needs to really solidify military fantasy as a sub-genre to stay; one he is undoubtedly king of.
9: Sworn in Steel (Tales of the Kin, #2) by Douglas Hulick
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…
Why we are excited: Doug Hullick surprised a lot of people with his first book. In what felt like Harry Dresden thrown into the world of Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora novels, with his own unique twists added to the pot too, Huliick’s book remains one of the best I’ve read since I started the site in 2010. The problem with it has been the wait… well, now it is almost over and I can’t wait to see what precarious situation Drothe finds himself in next.
8: The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley
When the emperor of Annur is murdered, his children must fight to uncover the conspiracy—and the ancient enemy—that effected his death.
Kaden, the heir apparent, was for eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery, where he learned the inscrutable discipline of monks devoted to the Blank God. Their rituals hold the key to an ancient power which Kaden must master before it’s too late. When an imperial delegation arrives to usher him back to the capital for his coronation, he has learned just enough to realize that they are not what they seem—and enough, perhaps, to successfully fight back.
Meanwhile, in the capital, his sister Adare, master politician and Minister of Finance, struggles against the religious conspiracy that seems to be responsible for the emperor’s murder. Amid murky politics, she’s determined to have justice—but she may be condemning the wrong man.
Their brother Valyn is struggling to stay alive. He knew his training to join the Kettral— deadly warriors who fly massive birds into battle—would be arduous. But after a number of strange apparent accidents, and the last desperate warning of a dying guard, he’s convinced his father’s murderers are trying to kill him, and then his brother. He must escape north to warn Kaden—if he can first survive the brutal final test of the Kettral.
Why we are excited: Tipped by Tor to be the best début fantasy book of 2014, despite having a January release date, everyone who has read the seven sample chapters – released totally freee of charge – can’t help but agree that there is something special waiting to be unleashed on the genre very, very soon.
7: Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her like no other. For all her reign, she has fought the long war, contested in secret, against the powers that stand behind nations, for higher stakes than land or gold. Her greatest weapon is The Silent Sister—unseen by most and unspoken of by all.
The Red Queen’s grandson, Prince Jalan Kendeth—drinker, gambler, seducer of women—is one who can see The Silent Sister. Tenth in line for the throne and content with his role as a minor royal, he pretends that the hideous crone is not there. But war is coming. Witnesses claim an undead army is on the march, and the Red Queen has called on her family to defend the realm. Jal thinks it’s all a rumor—nothing that will affect him—but he is wrong.
After escaping a death trap set by the Silent Sister, Jal finds his fate magically intertwined with a fierce Norse warrior. As the two undertake a journey across the Empire to undo the spell, encountering grave dangers, willing women, and an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath along the way, Jalan gradually catches a glimmer of the truth: he and the Norseman are but pieces in a game, part of a series of moves in the long war—and the Red Queen controls the board.
Why we are excited: Mark Lawrence won our award for best book this year, so you’d expect he’d be even higher up the list. The problem is that this is a year full of heavyweights and Mark Lawrence no longer has the intriguing Jorg to guarantee us, without doubt, an intriguing book. This will be an important book and should he pull off similar things with his second series that he did for his first, he will no longer be identified as a new and exciting entrant into the genre, but one of its greats.
6: Half a King (Untitled Trilogy #1) by Joe Abercrombie
A classic coming-of-age tale, set in a brilliantly imagined alternative historical world reminiscent of the Dark Ages with Viking overtones, the book tells the story of Yarvi, youngest son of a warlike king. Born with a crippled hand, he can never live up to his father’s expectations of what a real man should be and his destiny is not the throne but the Ministry, not the sword and shield but the book and the soft word spoken.
Why we are excited: Joe Abercrombie writing a Young Adult novel is pretty exciting. Obviously, we feel quite safe that we will not be seeing shining vampires or a magical school for wizards; rather, we are expecting a slightly toned down version of his other fantastic books. It isn’t just Joe’s name attached to this book that has us excited though. Young Adult orientated towards young males is one of the hardest markets to break into and it is often said that young boys don’t read. I’m really interested to see not only what Joe comes up with, but how the book is received and well it performs.
5: Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan
In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.
Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it – should she dare to risk the Angels’ wrath.
But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands.
Not even the people they trust.
Why we are excited: Trudi Canavan writes the kind of books that feel effortless to read. In a world where fantasy is often praised for its epic scope, huge character lists, complicated magic systems and massive worlds, Canavan has a way about her writing where things are kept simple and elegant. Some of Trudi’s best writing has been when her characters practise magic in the shadows, against the rule of the land, and the above synopsis seems to suggest that this will be Thief’s Magic‘s focus.
4: The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks
As the old gods awaken and satrapies splinter, the Chromeria races to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe. But Gavin Guile is enslaved on a pirate galley. Worse, Gavin no longer has the one thing that defined him — the ability to draft.
Without the protection of his father, Kip Guile will have to face a master of shadows alone as his grandfather moves to choose a new Prism and put himself in power. With Teia and Karris, Kip will have to use all his wits to survive a secret war between noble houses, religious factions, rebels, and an ascendant order of hidden assassins, The Broken Eye.
Why we are excited: When Brent Weeks abandoned his Night Angel world (at least for now) I was the first person gritting my teeth and wondering what on Earth Brent was playing at. In fact, even after reading book one I wasn’t 100% sold – although the concepts and World was fantastic, I felt it took a little while to get rolling and the sheer scope of the thing overwhelmed me somewhat. Well, then book two DID happen… Brent Weeks’s The Blinding Knife not only displayed a huge evolution in his own writing, but raised the bar for fantasy books in 2012 (none of which reached it in my opinion). Not for a single page did that book lull, not for a moment could the reader guess what would happen along the various plot twists and turns, and the magic system; damned has it proven itself to be one of the best currently active in the genre. But, surprisingly, the biggest thing for me was just how much the characters have developed. At the end of book one I cared about what happened to Gavin, but the other characters really didn’t feel realised. Now, Brent Weeks has built his characters so well that I can see Gavin, Kip, Karris, Andross, Liv and The Colour Prince as vividly as Locke Lamora, Tyrion Lannister or Frodo Baggins. And, hey, with The Blinding Knife recieving an average of 4.47/5 across 10,960 ratings on Goodreads shows how much love there was for this book’s predecessor.
3A: The Bastards and the Knives (Gentleman Bastard #0) by Scott Lynch
An omnibus containing two novellas: “The Mad Baron’s Mechanical Attic” and “The Choir of Knives”
These two novellas tell the story of how Locke, Jean and the other gentleman bastards acquired the Austershalin brandy that played such a key role in the con at the center of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA and how they managed to avoid being killed by the elite assassins known as the Choir of Knives. These two novellas will fill in the backstory of the Bastards and allow fans to revisit the pleasures of the banter and antics of Calo, Galdo and Bug as well discover how Locke and Jean forged their gang.
Why we are excited: This will be one of two Locke Lamora books released in 2014… Yep. You read that right: two! Although this is only a couple of novellas, as opposed to a full length novel, Scott’s short stories – that have featured in numerous big name anthologies – have never disappointed; and we can’t see one based on Locke Lamora being the first!
3B: The Thorn of Emberlain (Gentleman Bastard, #4)
A kingdom torn by civil war.
A breakaway republic, outnumbered on all fronts.
Two thieves caught between avarice and admiration.
Things change forever.
Why we are excited: Firstly, we agree that it is somewhat of a surprise this book didn’t get the number one spot. However, there seems to be a feeling amongst genre fans that Locke’s second and third adventures although better than 90% of what is out there haven’t quite hit the incredibly high standard book one set. That said, book four will mark the ‘over half way’ point in Locke’s seven book adventure and we believe that things will begin to snow ball from here… Just reading the above synopsis you get the feeling that the remaining books will read more like an epic fantasy novels and that the stakes will begin to get higher for Locke. When you consider epic fantasy featuring Locke Lamora and told through Scott Lynch’s voice you can’t help put drool… I mean, get excited (we’re respectable critics or something, right?). As with any of the Top 10 in this list, this could well be next year’s best book.
2: The Fool’s Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy, #1) by Robin Hobb
No details AT ALL have been released on this series. All we’ve been treated to so far is a photo of a manuscript… the teasers!!!
Why we are excited: Robin Hobb is one of the best loved authors in fantasy literature. As brilliant as we’ve found her foray into the past and the lateral movement that have shown new areas and characters in her World, I think I speak for everyone when I say it feels good to know we will be catching up with that loveable Fool and Fitz again very soon. Why am I even more excited about this series than Hobb’s previous? Well, there is little doubt in my mind that the Fool as a character is so intriguing and so loveable that ‘it’ has become almost a trope in fantasy these days and I can’t wait to see where Hobb takes her character next.
1: Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive, #2) by Brandon Sanderson
In the first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war. Among those caught up in the conflict are Highprince Dalinar Kholin, who leads the human armies; his neice Jasnah, a renowned scholar; her student Shallan, a brilliant but troubled young woman; and Kaladin, a military slave who, by the book’s end, was beginning to become the first magically endowed Knight Radiant in centuries.
In Words of Radiance their intertwined stories will continue and, as Sanderson fans have come to expect, develop in unexpected, wonderfully surprising directions. The war with the Parshendi will move into a new, dangerous phase, as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it. Shallan will come along, hoping to find the legendary, perhaps mythical, city of Urithuru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind’s survival on Roshar. The Parshendi take a dangerous step to strengthen themselves for the human challenge, risking the return of the fearsome Voidbringers of old. To deal with it all, Kaladin must learn how to fulfill his new role, while mastering the powers of a Windrunner.
Why we are excited: Well, if you read The Way of Kings you will understand why this book got the number one spot on our list. How many other books can consist of over 400,000 words and still be flown through in a couple of days? The way Sanderson achieved it was mightily impressive: he opened the book presenting to readers a world of God-like beings that abandoned a world they probably could have saved. With questions of why and whether they will return still in our mind, he then took us into the aftermath: a world of disruption and turmoil experienced by both the upper and lower classes. What was it that made these beings God-like? It wasn’t their weapons, because they left these behind and certainly they haven’t been used to bring peace to the world… In fact, they’ve resulted in so much destruction you have to question whether the world would be better of without them. Much of the excitement lies in the fact we honestly don’t know where this 10 book series is going to go next… which character will it follow? Who will rise and who will fall? Will the Knights return and, also, why did they leave? What role will the magic system play? Sanderson writes a lot of books, but he himself has said that he considers this his own A Song of Ice & Fire, his own Wheel of Time; essentially, the series he wishes to be judged on. Well, it has been a little too long waiting for our liking (3 years), but we’re dying to see whether the incredible concepts that Sanderson laid out in book one will be picked up by book two and secure its place as a series mentioned among the above greats.
— — — — —
Exclusions and Ambiguities
Oh, and finally, before we let you go we’d just like to highlight a few books we discussed and really wanted to put on this list, but due to either uncertainty or ambiguity we were unable to include for whatever reason:
The Copper Promise by Jennifer Williams
Why isn’t it eligible: The Copper Promise was originally released in 2011 and the first third of it was been released in 2013 as a novella. The whole, re-edited novel will be available in 2014.
What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton
Why isn’t it eligible: This is a collection of essays based on books from yesteryear, we think it will be awesome, but it isn’t fiction.
Vicious by Victoria Schwab
Why isn’t it eligible: Vicious was originally released in 2013 over in the USA and was placed in Fantasy-Faction’s Top 10 of 2013.
New series by Francis Knight
Why isn’t it eligible: We don’t think it will be out in 2014.
Untitled Study Book #4 by Maria V. Snyder
Why isn’t it eligible: We don’t think it will be out in 2014.
The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett
Why isn’t it eligible: We don’t think it will be out in 2014.
Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin
Why isn’t it eligible: We don’t think it will be out in 2014.
The Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss
Why isn’t it eligible: We don’t think it will be out in 2014.
Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
Why isn’t it eligible: This is a Science-Fiction novel and only Fantasy novels are eligible.