Fantasy-Faction’s Best Fantasy Books of 2017
2017 was a heck of a year! And we mean that we a giant *SIGH* right after it. But while the world around us seem to darken as the year went by, in the universe of fantasy fiction there were hundreds of new stars born to lighten our paths!
It was a great year for debuts and for series ending. There were dragons and gods, courts and assassins. Light battling dark and sometimes even dark battling dark. The whole year it seemed every week a new title came out that made our to-be-read lists that much higher.
With the insane amount of awesome titles to choose from, picking this year’s winners was hard. We reached out to our readers, our forum and Facebook group members, and our Twitter followers and put together a list that was almost twice as long as the one you’ll see below. And us being us, we just couldn’t narrow it down to only 10 or 20 titles. Instead, after much debate, we picked our top 20 books and 30(ish) others that just missed the cut. The first 30 are listed in order of release and are tied for 21st place. After them is our top 20 – the few that we agreed were the must reads for last year.
So, let me present to you our top 50(ish) picks for Best Fantasy Books of 2017!
The Goddess Project by Bryan Wigmore
“Ancient terror, modern error, future era.” Otter shook himself. “Mean much to you?”
Two years after being washed up on a remote beach, freedivers Orc and Cass still have no idea who they are or where they came from. Worst of all, they feel like lovers but look like brother and sister, and must repress their instincts for fear of committing a terrible mistake.
Now at last they’ve tracked down a psychic artefact powerful enough to restore their memories. But others also seek its forbidden magic. To reach it, deep within a sunken ruin, they must flirt with a ruthless occult conspiracy, one intent on summoning an ancient goddess to destroy the dreadnoughts of the Empyreal fleet.
The depths of the sea, of the past, of the world’s collective mind: down there are truths, but also madness and despair. And a power that will plunge the world back to a new dark age, if it can’t be stopped.
Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly
Le Carré meets Cabaret in this debut spy thriller as a gay double-agent schemes to protect his smuggler lover during the rise of a fascist government coup.
Welcome to Amberlough City, the illustrious but corrupt cosmopolitan beacon of Gedda. The radical One State Party—nicknamed the Ospies—is gaining popular support to unite Gedda’s four municipal governments under an ironclad, socially conservative vision.
Not everyone agrees with the Ospies’ philosophy, including master spy Cyril DePaul and his lover Aristide Makricosta, smuggler and emcee at the popular Bumble Bee Cabaret. When Cyril’s cover is blown on a mission, however, he must become a turncoat in exchange for his life. Returning to Amberlough under the Ospies’ watchful eye, Cyril enters a complex game of deception. One of his concerns is safeguarding Aristide, who refuses to let anyone—the crooked city police or the homophobic Ospies—dictate his life.
Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, top dancer at the Bee and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other.
The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley
Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution. As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.
Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation – the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.
Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion’s destruction – and its possible salvation. But can she and her ragtag band of followers survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?
In the tradition of The Fall of Hyperion and Dune, The Stars are Legion is an epic and thrilling tale about tragic love, revenge, and war as imagined by one of the genre’s most celebrated new writers.
Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin Kiernan
A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the Signalman.
In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible—the Children of the Next Level—and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence. The future is coming and they will help to usher it in.
A day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from ‘other’ sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact.
And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.
A Tyranny of Queens (Manifold Worlds #2) by Foz Meadows
Saffron Coulter has returned from the fantasy kingdom of Kena. Threatened with a stay in psychiatric care, Saffron has to make a choice: to forget about Kena and fit back into the life she’s outgrown, or pit herself against everything she’s ever known and everyone she loves.
Meanwhile in Kena, Gwen is increasingly troubled by the absence of Leoden, cruel ruler of the kingdom, and his plans for the captive worldwalkers, while Yena, still in Veksh, must confront the deposed Kadeja. What is their endgame? Who can they trust? And what will happen when Leoden returns?
The Heart of Stone by Ben Galley
Merciless. Murderer. Monster. He has been called many names in his time.
Built for war and nothing else, he has witnessed every shade of violence humans know, and he has wrought his own masterpieces with their colours. He cared once, perhaps, but far too long ago. He is bound to his task, dead to the chaos he wreaks for his masters.
Now, he has a new master to serve and a new war to endure. In the far reaches of the Realm, Hartlund tears itself in two over coin and crown. This time he will fight for a boy king and a general bent on victory.
Beneath it all he longs for change. For something to surprise him. For an end to this cycle of warfare.
Every fighter has a last fight. Even one made of stone.
Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
The House of Binding Thorns (Dominion of the Fallen #2) by Aliette de Bodard
The multi-award-winning author of The House of Shattered Wings continues her Dominion of the Fallen saga as Paris endures the aftermath of a devastating arcane war.
As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by Fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.
House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.
In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear.
As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.
Winter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy #1) by Ruthanna Emrys
After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. Government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.
The government that stole Aphra’s life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.
Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named Rachel, who makes her living as a scavenger, finds a creature she names “Borne” entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic, despotic bear. Mord once prowled the corridors of the biotech organization known as the Company, which lies at the outskirts of the city, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly and broke free. Driven insane by his torture at the Company, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers like Rachel.
At first, Borne looks like nothing at all—just a green lump that might be a Company discard. The Company, although severely damaged, is rumoured to still make creatures and send them to distant places that have not yet suffered Collapse.
Borne somehow reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment she resents; attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, the Balcony Cliffs, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick, not to render Borne down to raw genetic material for the drugs he sells—she cannot break that bond.
Wick is a special kind of supplier, because the drug dealers in the city don’t sell the usual things. They sell tiny creatures that can be swallowed or stuck in the ear, and that release powerful memories of other people’s happier times or pull out forgotten memories from the user’s own mind—or just produce beautiful visions that provide escape from the barren, craterous landscapes of the city.
Against his better judgment, out of affection for Rachel or perhaps some other impulse, Wick respects her decision. Rachel, meanwhile, despite her loyalty to Wick, knows he has kept secrets from her. Searching his apartment, she finds a burnt, unreadable journal titled “Mord,” a cryptic reference to the Magician (a rival drug dealer) and evidence that Wick has planned the layout of the Balcony Cliffs to match the blueprint of the Company building. What is he hiding? Why won’t he tell her about what happened when he worked for the Company?
Within the Sanctuary of Wings (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #5) by Marie Brennan
The conclusion to the thrilling memoirs of Lady Isabella Trent and her legacy of dragon evolutionary research and anthropological adventures.
After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent–dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.
And yet–after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia–the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure–scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland’s enemies–and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.
The Bear and the Serpent (Echoes of the Fall #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Maniye, child of Wolf and Tiger, has a new soul and a new shape. But as Champion of the Crown of the World, does she represent an opportunity for the North – or a threat? Travelling as a bodyguard to the Southern prince, with her warband of outcasts, she hopes to finally discover her true place in the world.
But if only it was that simple. Tensions rise, and new allies face up to old enemies as civil war threatens to tear the South apart. Royal twins can’t share a throne, so one must be chosen. And whoever rules the southern Sun River Nation will hold the fate of the world in their hands. As the protector of one potential heir, Maniye soon finds herself at the eye of a political storm. Yet all the while, an enemy from the most ancient of times prepares for conquest, and could destroy everything in their path.
A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.
River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1) by Sarah Gailey
In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.
Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.
This was a terrible plan.
Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.
Tyrant’s Throne (Greatcoats #4) by Sebastien De Castell
Would you – could you? – uphold the law at the cost of those you love?
After years of struggle and sacrifice, Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King’s dream: Aline, the King’s daughter, is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.
But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In the neighbouring country of Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies which have long plagued Tristia’s borders – and even worse, he is rumoured to have a new ally: Trin, who’s twice tried to kill Aline to take the throne for herself. With the armies of Avares at her back, she’ll be unstoppable.
Falcio, Kest and Brasti race north to stop her, but in those cold and treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous: a new player is planning to take the throne of Tristia, and the Greatcoats, for all their skill, may not be able to stop him.
As the nobles of Tristia and even the Greatcoats themselves fight over who should rule, the Warlord of Avares threatens to invade. It is going to fall to Falcio to render the one verdict he cannot bring himself to decide: does he crown the girl he vowed to put on the throne, or uphold the laws he swore to serve?
Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab
The world is breaking. And so are they.
Kate Harker isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.
August Flynn once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
The war has begun.
The monsters are winning.
Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.
Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?
Faithless by Graham Austin-King
The temples of the Forgefather have fallen. The clerics and defenders that could once be found across the nine lands are no more. Priests huddle in the great temple, clinging to the echoes of their lost religion. But the Father has fallen silent. There are none who still hear his voice.
The mines of Aspiration lie far below the temple’s marble halls. Slaves toil in the blackness, striving to earn their way into the church and the light. Wynn has been sold into this fate, traded for a handful of silver. In the depths of the mines, where none dare carry flame, he must meet his tally or die. But there are things that lurk in that darkness, and still darker things within the hearts of men.
When the souls bound to the great forge are released in a failed ritual, one novice flees down into the darkness of the mines. The soulwraiths know only hunger, the risen know only hate. In the blackest depths Kharios must seek a light to combat the darkness which descends.
Waters and the Wild by Jo Zebedee
Amy was five when she vanished during a family trip, only to be found hours later, clutching a golden acorn and claiming to have visited fairies. Now she’s eighteen and the fairies are calling her back.
While attending a wedding deep in the Antrim glens, the voices grow darker and their song takes hold. Not sure if she’s mad or if the fairies are real, she flees, drawing well-meaning Simon into her fairy-fuelled roadtrip.
To escape their hold, she must confront long-hidden secrets, and find a truth which may not be hers to unearth.
But, even then, the fairies may not let her go.
Raising Fire by James Bennett
Ben Garston is back . . . and feeling less than fantastic.
To be fair, life isn’t exactly treating him all that well. He’s lost everything he once held dear, including the love of his life. Still, he did at least escape being dragged into hell by a malevolent spirit bent on total destruction. So there is that.
Now Ben just wants to drink, and forget, and drink some more. But he can’t. Not yet.
Because someone is stirring up trouble. Someone who wants to wake the sleepers, and watch the realm of mythology come crashing into the modern day.
Only Ben can stop them. The world will burn if he fails – and that’s the last thing he needs on his conscience.
Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff
A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.
Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called, “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.
Akata Warrior (Akata Witch #2) by Nnedi Okorafor
A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.
Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.
Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.
The Seven (The Vagrant #3) by Peter Newman
Years have passed since the Vagrant journeyed to the Shining City, Vesper in arm and Gamma’s sword in hand.
Since then the world has changed. Vesper, following the footsteps of her father, journeyed to the breach and closed the tear between worlds, protecting the last of humanity, but also trapping the infernal horde and all those that fell to its corruptions: willing or otherwise.
In this new age it is Vesper who leads the charge towards unity and peace, with seemingly nothing standing between the world and a bright new future.
That is until eyes open.
And The Seven awakes.
The Tiger’s Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency #1) by K. Arsenault Rivera
Even gods can be slain.
The Hokkaran Empire has conquered every land within their bold reach?but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.
Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.
This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng
Catherine Helstone’s brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon – but the Queen of the Fae and her insane court are hard on his heels.
Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords (Yarnsworld #3) by Benedict Patrick
Don’t draw your blade in the City of Swords, unless you’re willing to kill . . . or ready to die.
Young and filled with idealistic fervor, Arturo packs his blade and travels to the fabled City of Swords in the hopes of joining the dashing Bravadori. Yet upon arriving he discovers these masked vigilantes have more in common with brutal thugs than noble monster slayers. Disillusioned and mocked, he stubbornly refuses to give up his dreams.
When an impending bandit attack threatens untold depravities upon a distant village, and no others will heed the call for help, Arturo joins forces with a worthless outcast and a walking legend to attempt the impossible, to traverse the demon-haunted wilderness and prove that in the City of Swords, true heroes can rise from the unlikeliest of places.
Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords is a gritty, action-packed standalone novel set in Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld, a land where folktales and fantasy mix, where the monsters from stories are real.
Start reading today to discover this epic tale of broken heroes and inspiring hope!
La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman
Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them, a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua.
Malice of Crows (The Shadow #3) by Lila Bowen
The Ranger known as Rhett has shut down a terrible enterprise running on the blood of magical folk, but failed to catch the dark alchemist behind it. And now the Shadow refuses to let him rest.
Rhett must make the ultimate transformation if he has any hope of stopping the alchemist or fulfilling his destiny; he must become the leader of a new Rangers outpost.
To save his friends, and the lives of countless others, he’ll first have to lead them on a mission more dangerous than anything they’ve ever faced.
Siege Line (Reawakening Trilogy #3) by Myke Cole
Myke Cole continues to blow the military fantasy genre wide open with Siege Line, an all-new epic adventure in the highly acclaimed Reawakening trilogy.
The Gemini Cell has taken everything from former Navy SEAL James Schweitzer: his family, his career, his life. Schweitzer knows the only way he can stop running, the only way to keep his son safe, is to destroy the Cell once and for all.
But out of control and fighting a secret war against the government it once served, the Cell will not be destroyed easily. Its Director has been sent to the far reaches of the subarctic to search for a secret that could allow the Cell to seize control of the country.
Schweitzer must move fast and join with the elite warriors of both America and Canada in a bid to get there first.
Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee
Family is duty. Magic is power. Honor is everything.
Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.
Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.
Heartland (The Worldmaker Trilogy #2) by Lucy Hounsom
She came to protect a people, but she needs to preserve a world.
Kyndra has saved and damned the people of Mariar. Her star-born powers healed a land in turmoil, but destroyed an ancient magic – which once concealed them from invaders. Now Kyndra must head into enemy territory to secure peace.
She finds the Sartyan Empire, unstable but as warlike as ever. It’s plagued by dissident factions, yet its emperor still has the strength to crush her homeland. The Khronostians, assassins who dance through time, could help Kyndra; or they might be her undoing. And deep within the desert, Char Lesko struggles to control his own emerging powers. He’s been raised by a mercenary whose secrets could change everything – including the future and the past.
But when Kyndra and Char meet, will their goals align? Kyndra must harness the full glory of the stars and Char has to channel his rage, or two continents will be lost.
God’s Last Breath (Bring Down Heaven #3) by Sam Sykes
Acclaimed author Sam Sykes returns with the exhilarating conclusion to his Bring Down Heaven trilogy.
The great demon Khoth-Kapira has broken free of his prison and taken his first step upon the mortal world. And he owes it all to Lenk. Believing that the demon will heal a broken world that the gods have abandoned, Lenk serves as reluctant champion to Khoth-Kapira’s cause. But as the desperate and fearful flock to Khoth-Kapira’s banner, begging for salvation, Lenk begins to doubt his patron’s great designs.
The city of Cier’Djaal, meanwhile, has become the field for the last great battle of mortals. And as humans, shicts and tulwar prepare to tear each other apart, none are aware of the ancient horror that marches upon their tiny wars.
At the tip of a spear or beneath the heel of demons, the reign of mortals ends.
20. Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire #2) by Michael J. Sullivan
If you enjoy epic fantasy, and are perhaps hungering for something with timeless appeal, then I highly recommend picking up Age of Myth. – The BiblioSanctum
In Age of Myth, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan launched readers on an epic journey of magic and adventure, heroism and betrayal, love and loss. Now the thrilling saga continues as the human uprising is threatened by powerful enemies from without—and bitter rivalries within.
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?
The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.
19. City of Miracles (The Divine Cities #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett
City of Miracles caps off a tremendous series that stands out from the SFF crowd. And Robert Jackson Bennett stands above them. Bump him to the top of your “to be read” pile. – Eric Christensen
Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.
So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do — and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve.
Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And — perhaps most daunting of all — finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.
18. The Rift by Nina Allan
Allan’s work has always straddled the literary and the genre worlds, for the betterment of both. The Rift demonstrates how the tools and tropes of genre fiction can be used to give literary fiction a more vital, immediate and relevant focus, and how the quality of prose and depth of characters from literary fiction can be used to make genre fiction even more strange and unsettling. – Jonathan Thornton
Selena and Julie are sisters. As children they were close, but as they grow older, a rift develops between them. There are greater rifts, however. Julie goes missing at age seventeen. It will be twenty years before Selena sees her again. When Julie reappears, she tells Selena an incredible story about how she has spent time on another planet. Does Selena dismiss her sister as a victim of delusions, or believe her, and risk her own sanity?
17. The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden
I can see why previous reviewers have compared it to the works of Novik and Gaiman – after all, The Bear and the Nightingale and American Gods each have characters based on the same Russian god – but trust me: The Bear and the Nightingale stands all on its own. – Richard Bray
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
16. A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V. E. Schwab
A Conjuring of Light is a deeply satisfying, if bittersweet resolution to the Shades of Magic trilogy. It makes me so happy to see an author stick the landing, even if the ending makes me feel so sad to say goodbye to these characters, this world. – Eric Christensen
Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.
The balance of power has finally tipped…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
Who will crumble?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
Who will rise?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
Who will take control?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.
15. Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel #1) by Josiah Bancroft
This is an exceedingly rich book. A depth of imagination married with a poetic turn of phrase and an engaging cast of characters (both those we meet and those who keep us waiting) conspire to deliver an epic story soaring high above the clouds. – T. O. Munro
Senlin, a mild-mannered school teacher, is drawn to the Tower of Babel by the grandiose promises of a guidebook. The ancient and immense Tower seems the perfect destination for a honeymoon. But soon after arriving, Senlin loses his young wife, Marya, in the crowd.
Senlin’s search for Marya carries him through slums and theaters, prisons and ballrooms. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find Marya, Senlin will have to do more than survive. This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.
14. An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy #2) by James Islington
With the arrival of the second installment of James Islington’s Licanius trilogy, it’s clearer than ever—despite the expansive worldbuilding and ever-growing cast of characters—that the real heart of this doorstopper story is all that we don’t know. – Nicole Hill, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
The second book in a glorious new fantasy trilogy by the next major force in commercial epic fantasy.
In the wake of the devastating attack on Ilin Illan, an amnesty has been declared for all Augurs – finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against Andarra. However as Davian and his new allies hurry north toward the ever-weakening Boundary, fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.
In the capital, Wirr is forced to contend with assassins and an increasingly hostile Administration as he controversially assumes the mantle of Northwarden, uncovering a mystery that draws into question everything commonly believed about the rebellion his father led twenty years ago.
Meanwhile, Asha begins a secret investigation into the disappearance of the Shadows, determined to discover not only where they went but the origin of the Vessels that created them – and, ultimately, a cure.
And with time against him as he races to fulfill the treacherous bargain with the Lyth, Caeden continues to wrestle with the impossibly heavy burdens of his past. Yet as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realise that the motivations of the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed.
13. Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 0.5) by Brian Staveley
Skullsworn displays Staveley’s signature bleak style, characters that are teeming with conflict and inner turmoil and exciting small and large-scale fight scenes that should keep every fan of the genre entertained. – Charlie Hopkins
Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess attempting to join the ranks of the God of Death.
Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer–she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.
The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one you love / who will not come again.”
Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.
Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love . . . and ending it on the edge of her sword.
12. Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust #1) by Anna Smith Spark
The book is compelling and well-paced. I devoured, the last two thirds or so in a single day, and an acceleration in reading speed is always a good sign in a book. – T. O. Munro
They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.
In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.
Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.
The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.
11. The Core (Demon Cycle #5) by Peter V. Brett
Thoroughly addicting . . . a thrilling adventure that is, without question, [Brett’s] greatest achievement yet. — Bookreporter
For time out of mind, bloodthirsty demons have stalked the night, culling the human race to scattered remnants dependent on half-forgotten magics to protect them. Then two heroes arose—men as close as brothers, yet divided by bitter betrayal. Arlen Bales became known as the Warded Man, tattooed head to toe with powerful magic symbols that enable him to fight demons in hand-to-hand combat—and emerge victorious. Jardir, armed with magically warded weapons, called himself the Deliverer, a figure prophesied to unite humanity and lead them to triumph in Sharak Ka—the final war against demonkind.
But in their efforts to bring the war to the demons, Arlen and Jardir have set something in motion that may prove the end of everything they hold dear—a Swarm. Now the war is at hand and humanity cannot hope to win it unless Arlen and Jardir, with the help of Arlen’s wife, Renna, can bend a captured demon prince to their will and force the devious creature to lead them to the Core, where the Mother of Demons breeds an inexhaustible army.
Trusting their closest confidantes, Leesha, Inevera, Ragen and Elissa, to rally the fractious people of the Free Cities and lead them against the Swarm, Arlen, Renna, and Jardir set out on a desperate quest into the darkest depths of evil—from which none of them expects to return alive.
10. Godblind (The Godblind Trilogy #1) by Anna Stephens
Godblind is Anna Stephens’ debut, and it writes her name in blood on the roster of masters of grimdark alongside the likes of Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie . . . This is a grimdark fantasy that truly lives up to the name. ? Shana DuBois, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.
Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbours deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.
Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?
9. The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1) by Jen Williams
Fantasy adventure at its very best. – Starburst
Williams excels at eldritch world-building. – Guardian
An original new voice in heroic fantasy. – Adrian Tchaikovsky
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.
When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.
But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran Empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall.
8. Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #1) by Brian McClellan
Brian McClellan earned scores of new fantasy fans with the Powder Mage Trilogy. With Sins of Empire, the first book in his new Gods of Blood and Powder series, McClellan may have found an entirely new level. – Richard Bray
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
7. The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N. K. Jemisin
The depth and breadth of Jemisin’s achievement with this trilogy is geologic. These books are a revolution in which I want to take part. – Amal El-Mohtar, NPR Books
This is the way the world ends . . . for the last time.
The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.
Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.
For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.
The remarkable conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed trilogy that began with the multi-award-nominated The Fifth Season.
Right, so we have 6 top 5 winners this year. Our two #5 picks were too close to choose between, so they are sharing fifth place.
5a. Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom #1) by R. J. Barker
Dead gods, dread magic, and a lead that feels like a breath of fresh air. Great fun. – Peter Newman
Often poignant and always intriguing, Age of Assassins reveals its mysteries with the style of a magic show and the artful grace of a gifted storyteller. – Nicholas Eames
To catch an assassin, use an assassin.
Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.
In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom.
5b. Blackwing (Ravens’ Mark #1) by Ed McDonald
It is to McDonald’s great credit that the characters on his stage and the story they tell more than do justice to the richness of his imaginative setting. – T. O. Munro
Set on the ragged edge of a post-apocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny.
Nothing in the Misery lasts.
Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.
Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.
Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve.
4. Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence
Red Sister is, above all else, a book about friendship. It begins and ends with friendships strained and sundered; shared and spared. And, though doubtless as much as half the population will call me wrong – there is a particular quality of steel and fire to female friendships that Red Sister portrays perfectly. – T. O. Munro
I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.
But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.
Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive.
3. Assassin’s Fate (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb
Fans who have followed Hobb since she first introduced us to this world in Assassin’s Apprentice can’t afford to miss this one. It’s a story that was 22 years in the making, and Hobb’s ability to draw rage and tears and – when she chooses, elation – from her audience is stronger than ever. – Richard Bray
More than twenty years ago, the first epic fantasy novel featuring FitzChivalry Farseer and his mysterious, often maddening friend the Fool struck like a bolt of brilliant lightning. Now New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb brings to a momentous close the third trilogy featuring these beloved characters in a novel of unsurpassed artistry that is sure to endure as one of the great masterworks of the genre.
Fitz’s young daughter, Bee, has been kidnapped by the Servants, a secret society whose members not only dream of possible futures but use their prophecies to add to their wealth and influence. Bee plays a crucial part in these dreams—but just what part remains uncertain.
As Bee is dragged by her sadistic captors across half the world, Fitz and the Fool, believing her dead, embark on a mission of revenge that will take them to the distant island where the Servants reside—a place the Fool once called home and later called prison. It was a hell the Fool escaped, maimed and blinded, swearing never to return.
For all his injuries, however, the Fool is not as helpless as he seems. He is a dreamer too, able to shape the future. And though Fitz is no longer the peerless assassin of his youth, he remains a man to be reckoned with—deadly with blades and poison, and adept in Farseer magic. And their goal is simple: to make sure not a single Servant survives their scourge.
2. Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson
It is a triumph of a novel, and if you’ve enjoyed the first two, you’ll certainly enjoy Oathbringer. I never know where Sanderson is going to take us, in this world of storms and blades, but I am more than happy to continue along the journey with him. – Martin Cahill, Tor.com
The eagerly awaited sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Words of Radiance, from epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson at the top of his game.
In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.
Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.
Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together–and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past–even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.
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And the winner of our Best Fantasy Book of 2017 award is . . .
1. Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames
A comedy, an adventure tale, a consideration on growing older, and a sendup of fantasy conventions, all at the same time. It also has heart. In short: it rocks….I finished this book in one night. If I could, I’d see the tour, and buy the t-shirt. Instead, I’ll have to content myself with waiting for the sequel, and reading it again. – B&N SF & Fantasy Blog
Glory never gets old
Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.
Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.
It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.
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We hope you’ve all discovered some books you missed in 2017 or got to see your favorites on our list! Let us know in the comments if you think we missed anyone. Happy New Year and keep your eyes out for our Most Anticipated for 2018 list!