Here we are at the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning. It really depends on your viewpoint.

Paternus (cover)Round One is complete and done. The ten finalists have been selected, put forward to other blogs and one author (that we know of) has already bagged an agent and they didn’t even make it to Round Two. Which only goes to prove just how damn great the books were this year.

Our winner for Round One, Paternus by Dyrk Ashton, is our benchmark. We, the team who read the book, all agreed on the final score: a 9 out of 10. Similarly, we agreed on our second place book, Ravenmarked by Amy Rose Davis, as a score of 8. We will be using that experience to read the other nine books in the final ten.

What does that mean for our scoring, I hear you cry, type, mutter, wonder? It means we will be using the full range from 0 to 10. Being honest, I really can’t see any of the final ten, chosen as they were by esteemed, tried and tested bloggers/reviewers, getting a low score, but it has been known. If there is a book we view as being better than Paternus it will get a 9.5 or a 10. If, in our subjective taste we don’t enjoy it as much as Paternus, it will score lower. Simple really.

As a team, what have we learned from Round One? Well, we seem to prefer books that do something a little different, or do something quite traditional in an exceptional way. That really sums up our feelings about our winner and runner-up. We will be looking for the same in the next set of books we read for the SPFBO.

I know, over at Pornokitsch, the difficult decision was similar. Which one would more bloggers prefer, which one stood more of a chance of appealing to a multitude of tastes? A worthy quest, if an impossible question.

I think we will simplify it for us simple folks at Fantasy-Faction: which book did we enjoy the most? Actually, that’s no simpler. We’ll figure something out. We usually do.

What else can I tell you? Well, the team have started reading already. We are working our way through the books that appealed to us as individuals first. We are really going to try and crack on through these books and post up a review of each and every single one of them.

So the final ten are:

Paternus (cover)

Paternus by Dyrk Ashton

Fionn (cover)

Fionn by Brian O’Sullivan

Assassin’s Charge (cover)

Assassin’s Charge
by Claire Frank (Bibliosanctum)

Grey Bastards (cover)

Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

Larcout (cover)

Larcout by K A Krantz
(Elitist Book Review)

Outpost (cover)

Outpost by F T McKinstry
(Lynn’s Book Review)

The Path of Flames (cover)

The Path of Flames
by Phil Tucker (Pornokitsch)

The Moonlight War (cover)

The Moonlight War by SKS Perry
(Fantasy Book Critic)

The Music Box Girl (cover)

The Music Box Girl
by K A Stewart (The Qwillery)

The Shadow Soul (cover)

The Shadow Soul by Kaitlyn Davis
(Fantasy Literature)

Onwards readers, to the end!

Title image by Dina Belenko.


By Geoff Matthews

G. R. Matthews began reading in the cot. His mother, at her wits end with the constant noise and unceasing activity, would plop him down on the soft mattress with an encyclopaedia full of pictures then quietly slip from the room. Growing up, he spent Sunday afternoons on the sofa watching westerns and Bond movies after suffering the dual horror of the sounds of ABBA and the hoover (Vacuum cleaner) drifting up the stairs to wake him in the morning. When not watching the six-gun heroes or spies being out-acted by their own eyebrows he devoured books like a hungry wolf in the dead of winter. Beginning with Patrick Moore and Arthur C Clarke he soon moved on to Isaac Asimov. However, one wet afternoon in a book shop in his hometown, not far from the standing stones of Avebury, he picked up the Pawn of Prophecy and started to read - and now he writes fantasy! Seven Deaths of an Empire coming from Solaris Books, June 2021. Agent: Jamie Cowen, Ampersand Agency. You can follow him on twitter @G_R_Matthews or visit his website at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.