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Best Fantasy Books of 2014

Our Picks for the Top 25 Fantasy Novels for 2014

These our our picks for the best fantasy books of 2014. 

2014 was a phenomenal year for fantasy and there was a stack of highly anticipated book released by some of the biggest authors in the genre, including Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Lev Grossman, Brent Weeks and Robin Hobb.

There was also a slew of awesome debut fantasy books that are the start of some great new fantasy series and a showcase of serious new talent in the genre.

And 2014 also brought some great sequel books to us as well (if anything, I would call 2014 the year of the 'Sequel' with many of the best books in fact sequel books NOT debut fantasy.

The general trend, as has been the same the past few years, was the grimdark aesthetic. Most of the 'big' fantasy releases this year, be they categorized as grimdark or not, at least borrow or adopt some of the grimdark elements. Not all books are supremely dark like say  The Dark Defiles (Richard Morgan) or The Barrow (Mark Smylie), but most do mix in something dark.

Of course, in a genre gone mad for dark and gritty, there were a few standout exceptions like The Goblin Emperor (Katherine Addison) and Traitor's Blade (Sebastien de Castell) that were entirely more positive in nature, heralding back to some of those happier fantasy days of classic fantasy where the heroes don't all have a strong streak of evil (or selfishness) running through them. It's a refreshing change I might add, very much so.

Note, you can check out our other version of this list posted on the blog. The picks are the same as this list but descriptions slightly different.

When The Magicians (the first in the trilogy) was released a few years ago, it received wide critical acclaim from magazines, newspapers and high-brow critics, but was (somewhat) panned by actual readers. This had to do with the characters who were for the most part completely self-absorbed for the entire novel. But it was an interesting subversion of the Harry Potter and Narnia books with all the cute animals made into monsters and the cast of heroes all suffering from serious depression.

But oh what a clever piece of writing. Besides the obvious subversions of Narnia and Harry Potter, there are references works ranging from Hawkings A Brief History of Time to famous poets (Yeats for one). The entire trilogy is self-aware, from the characters, the world, and even the plot -- there's design behind the drudgery of Grossman's characters as they fight, fail, learn, and ultimately find a sort of redemption and peace with the world.

With the final book, Magician's Land, finally released this year, the trilogy came to an end and all old wrongs righted. The characters finally grow up, the plot threads are tied up, and one can look at the entire story as a whole and marvel and the brilliance of it. And besides all this clever literary stuff, it's a pretty damn entertaining tale. There's adventure, friendship, betrayal, romance, tragedy, coming of age, and redemption at the end of the lane.

At its core, The Magicians is a coming of age story about a boy who goes to magic school and learns, ultimately how to master his power AND himself. If you are a fan of the talented boy goes to magic school conceit (Harry Potter, Rithmatist, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Name of the Wind), you'll love The Magicians which takes this theme and completely subverts it, but does so oh so cleverly.

Superbly written, this is one of the sharpest takes on the fantasy genre and gets my vote for one of the best fantasy series in the out there. It's a trilogy where each book is actually better than the last.  

One of my top three reads this year.

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Robert Jackson Bennett is one of the most talented writers in the genre but who has, for whatever reason, been mostly overlooked by the average reader. His best book (in a string of awesome books) is his newest book City of Stairs which will hopefully bring him the acclaim and recognition he rightfully deserves.

City of Stairs was one of the best fantasy books of 2014 -- a sharp, startling, and wonderful mix of epic fantasy, mystery, and good old fashion adventure.

It's a work that combines a fiercely unique setting with some outstandingly realized characters and a sharp plot that starts slow but picks up some serious steam partway through the book. While the basic elements of the story are not necessary unique it's how the author perfectly blends everything together -- story, characters, setting -- into a something special.

Bennett has also managed to create my favorite fantasy character of all time with his delightful Sigrid who absolute steals the show with some of the very, very best scenes ever in a fantasy book.

Serious action. Check. Magical and mysterious setting. Check. Indelible characters that will stay with you long after you finish the book. 

Check. Check and double check.

My only complaint with the novel is that it can take over one hundred pages before the story unfolds and things get kicking, but hell, once it does, hold on tight for the ride!

If you pick up one book this year, make it this one. 

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The best debut novel this year and the finest epic fantasy debut of 2014. And with so many stellar fantasy releases, that's saying quite a bit indeed. If you like your fantasy in the flavor of a Martin book (with less grimdark) with royal siblings scattered across different landscapes with a vast and hostile world about, different kingdoms and cultures, with a mysterious inimical thread looming in the backdrop, you'll love this one.

It just does everything about epic fantasy right. Granted, it doesn't do anything NEW for the genre like The Mirror Empire or City of Stairs, but it blends those elements we love about epic fantasy (vast landscapes, mysterious magic, different cultures, coming of age, etc.), perfectly together and wraps the whole thing with some sharp writing, well-developed characters, and an interesting plot. This book feels like an evolution of the past 15 years of epic fantasy, doing nothing new but condensing and consolidating the best that's been done, while eliminating the dross.

Basically, the book kick's ass and puts itself on the map as one of the best epic fantasy series of the past 10 years IF the author continues to do good things in the next few books. Should you read this? Fuck yea.

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With a Martin-esque plot and Jim Butcher pace, The Axe and the Throne is a definite "must read" for even the pickiest fantasy fans.

In his stunning debut, Ireman has built the type of world so vivid and engrossing that leaving it at the end is agony. In spite of leaning toward grimdark, where authors often enshroud every scene in depressing darkness, there is no lack of cheerful moments or brilliant scenery. Yet the pangs of near-instant nostalgia that come after you put down a book like this have less to do with the inspired setting, and far more to do with those who inhabit it. 

From savage, unremorseful heroes, to deep, introspective villains, the cast of this story is comprised of believable characters capable of unthinkable actions. And it is these characters -- the ones you wish you could share a drink with or end up wanting to kill -- that forge the connection between fantasy and reality. Keethro, Titon, Ethel, Annora. These are names you will never forget, and each belongs to a man or woman as unique as they are memorable. 


No book would be complete without a its fair share of intrigue, however, and there is no lack of it here. Each chapter leaves you wanting more, and Ireman's masterful use of misdirection leads to an abundance of "oh shit" moments. Do not be fooled (or do -- perhaps that's part of the fun) by storylines that may appear trope-ish at first. This is no fairytale. 

Available on Amazon & Audible, Barns & Noble, iTunes, Google, and Kobo.

One of the more interesting fantasy debuts this year by a well-established pedigreed author (she's won some serious awards with two previous HUGO's). It's an interesting take on the epic fantasy genre with solid writing and a highly imaginative world.

The Mirror Empire is one of those few fantasy books that comes along every few years and pushes the boundaries of the genre into a slightly different direction. And for that alone, this book should be lauded.

The author's mashup of a number of different ideas, genres, and even universes, is a breath of fresh air.

However, there are shortcomings a plenty present too. The shift between the two main POV's happens quite often and out of the blue. It's jarring and it ruins the flow and you are left feeling mildly confused as to where you are and what character you are following now (you'll get what I mean when you read the story). Not all the POV's are as well developed as the others. The author does flesh out a few of the characters, but the other characters are really left by the wayside. And by golly, there is an astounding amount of blood, violence, and mayhem. This may or may not be your cup of tea, but the warning is there.

Overall, I must wax lyrical about this book. One of the more interesting and best fantasy books to come out this year -- in my personal top 5. The Mirror Empire holds nothing back, it's a brutal heavy take on the violence and atrocity of warfare: People die, characters die -- often horribly. There are few books I've read with a body count that runs into the hundreds and the thousands -- and this is one of those books. But there is method to all this violence; the book is a sharp look and critique at the horrors of war and all the evils founded on it -- genocide, ethnic cleansing, and brutality. You can certainly read this book and see many real world parallels, especially in the Middle East conflicts and the genocides occurring in Africa.

For a novel that does the novel things and pushes the boundary and spins the genre on its head, for a novel that takes a smart look at the hard things about ware, for a fantasy with a message, and for a fantasy that holds nothing back and combines different genres, ideas, with some serious action and worldbuilding ideas, the Mirror Empire must be read.

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Gets my vote for one of the best sequel fantasy books of 2014 and a stellar book in its own right. Morgan's series, A Land Fit for Heroes, is a complicated read and it took me a couple books to really get into what he was doing.

For one, Morgan's writes and anti-fantasy, a complete subversion of just about every fantasy trope. It's somewhat exhausting reading about so much muck, grit, depression, and dreariness -- all things that Morgan pretty much worships in his trilogy. You know if there is anything good, joyful, or sacred in the world -- the bright colors that make the world a better and positive place, Morgan completely removes them from his world, leaving behind only black and grey.

Think of a more positive fantasy series like The Name of the Wind or even The Lord of the Rings. Well this fantasy is the antithesis of that. Every character has issues, every character is unhappy, everyone is a stone's throw away from fucking you over or committing some brutal atrocity -- it's a world where man's base instincts rule and are only kept in check by force of violence.

And yet, there's something powerful to Morgan's work, something visceral. It's the finest example of a postmodern sword and sorcery, taking the maudlin of Elric, the human condition of the Kane books, the heroism of Conan and weaves them all together into something that pushes the boundaries of fantasy. It's a work, as a whole, that takes the genre in a new direction, and it's sure as hell not afraid of taking risks (the hero, for example, is gay).

The Dark Defiles is indeed also one of the finest examples of grimdark -- and I'd say, the darkest of the bunch, topping even the likes of Lawrence's The Broken Empire and Abercrombie's grim tales.

And, it's also a pretty awesome heroic tale of savagery, violence and tremendous action.

If you want to read about heroes doing some serious dirty on their enemies, this A Land Fit for Heroes delivers in quantity. And The Dark Defiles is the best of the series.

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This is the book that everyone in the genre wanted to read -- the most anticipated fantasy novel of 2014.

And it delivered mostly what people expected.

Sanderson knows how to write fantasy and he does so with aplomb in Words of Radiance. If you love those dramatic moments when a hero steps forward to save the day, well, Words of Radiance delivers this many times over. There's not much to say about this book -- if you've read the first book, you are going to read the sequel no matter what I say here. And I almost guarantee, you'll enjoy every second of it.

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This has been a good year for sequels. For some reasons, the dreaded 'second in a series' syndrome has been mostly avoided by sequel books so far. Words of Radiance by Sanderson was a good read -- maybe not better than the first, but not a disappointment -- The Shadow Throne was a different book than the first, but in many ways just as good  and The Crimson Campaign was better in every way over the first in the series.

I was on the fence about this fantasy until this book; now I'm a serious fan of McClellan and feel his gunpowder series is some of the best fantasy to come out in a few years.

There's some serious action in this one -- if you want well written, fantasy with a darker bent, with a seriously unique magic system with lots and lots of action, mayhem, and dead bodies, then The Crimson Campaign is your book. Of course, if you've already read the first book, you will definitely read this sequel. If you haven't read the first book, then get on it, because even better things await in the sequel.

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An awesome read. Lawrence takes another sort of antihero characters. This time, the hero is not a savage and ruthless prince bent on revenge at all costs but rather a reluctant prince who's selfish, vein, and a complete coward but with some real charm. There's some sharp humour here and more than a few times I had a good laugh. The character of the prince reminded me of Abercrombie's self-centred and cowardly Jezal dan Luthar in The First Law trilogy, but a more consistently selfish and cowardly version of him.

Great action, great story, great characters. Lawrence is one of the best writers in the genre and willing to do completely new things, as evinced by Prince of Fools which is a drastic departure in style and tone from his previous work. But it pays off.

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Book three of Week's The Lightbringer series. With the last book, The Blinding Knife, an outstanding read (one of my best fantasy book reads of 2013), The Broken Eye was a bit of a disappointment. My main complaint was that Weeks spent a lot more time developing the characters than the last books, but for the most part the plot barely moved forward. There's action in a few parts, of course, big chunks of it, but almost nothing happened the entire book.

Now if you love the characters and the world, you likely won't complain about getting to know them better. But if you want to see actual plot movement, you will be disappointed. Personally, I feel Weeks could have cut the book down by about half the size considering how little actually happened. Still, as a whole there's a lot to love about this book -- the magic system, the characters, the intricate worldbuilding and the much more developed characters.

So I look forward to the next book in the series, but I hope Weeks returns to the faster plot pace of the previous book.

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An outstanding debut novel and a strong contender for Best Fantasy Debut of 2014

If Alexandre Dumas has a fantasy doppelganger, well, we've just found him in Sebastien de Castell. 

Traitor's Blade is one long love poem to The Three Musketeers and like it, packed with action -- a virtuoso of galloping adventure, intrigue, and thrill from start to finish; a blend of alternative history, sword swaggering heroes. 

This is low fantasy with plot and characters taking the forefront and worldbuilding shoved to the back, so don't expect a huge world that's fully fleshed out. No, this one is about the characters, the intrigue, and most of all, the powerfully detailed swashbuckling action scenes!

If you are in the mood from some fast paced lighter fantasy, fantasy with some real swashbuckling heroes, lots of action, and detailed fight scenes, this is a book for you. Certainly fans of Dave Duncan's Sword series would love this. But it will appeal to anyone who wants a non-strop romp of action and intrigue, and a seriously likable hero (something missing these days in a genre mostly filled with grimdark releases).

Traitor's Blade is the first in a series and signals some serious talent has arrived in the genre. The next book can only be even better. I look forward to what else this author can bring to the table in the future. But in the meantime, feast on this one.

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A strong sequel to last years The Red Knight (one of my favourite fantasy reads of 2013). For the most part, The Fell Sword delivers.

There's gob-smacking amounts of action, military campaigns and strategy, knight doing battle with monsters, and beautiful ladies who are saved; there's magic and mayhem aplenty; and there's that incredible attention to even the smallest details of the medieval world -- the author is an actual expect of medieval history and gleefully builds a fully realized and realistic setting. This attention to detail really bring the world to life; you really do feel like you ARE living in this fantasy world.

There are issues with the book -- less personal focus on the main character of The Red Knight, but it's a better paced and a stronger novel than the first book.

Overall, a great read and one I enjoyed.

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One of those books that takes you with the sheer imagination of it all. If you want something different that blends together a number of genres (though if I had to choose one to shove it in, I'd say it fits under the Urban Fantasy umbrella). It's a wonderful debut and one of the better fantasy books of 2014. While there are a few flaws that hold the novel back, the strengths definitely outweigh the weaknesses.

The story is basically a wild twist on the whole 'I died and now face a strange afterlife' conceit. In some ways, it reminds me of Sean Williams The Crooked Letter, though not as infused with horror. Either way, the protagonist ends up somewhere he wasn't expecting to go -- and a good thing for us too, the place is captivating.

I was quite surprised the different elements of the story all just worked together as a cohesive whole -- and worked very well indeed -- when you toss a number of vastly different genres into the same story with many disparate elements, it's an easy thing for the book to get lost. But these many different things make The Waking Engine an interesting, and eclectic read indeed.

This is a book with some strong worldbuilding -- those of you who like their worlds so large where the borders are only vaguely defined or completely unknowable, will find themselves right at home. The strange afterlife, the different residents, the eclectic world, it's bizarre yet utterly fascinating place you just want to linger in.

The prose too is strong indeed. It's lyrical and compelling. This is an author who knows how to write and write beautifully. And it's a good thing indeed -- the powerfully large (and precise) vocabulary he uses is needed to fully define and flesh out the strange world.

For a rather strange yet very much scintillating novel -- one that, by the last page will have you feeling like you just came back from a very, very far, and very strange journey to distant, exotic lands -- this is a novel to really sink your teeth into. Good things will be coming from this author in the future, mark my words.

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A novella, but an enjoyable one at that. It's a very different type of story than Kovthe's, but my hat's off to Rothfuss for doing something a bit different. Some people loved this tale (a tale that's beautifully written but where nothing absolutely happens) and some people detested it. If you enjoy Patrick's lyrical writing without action or any sense of real adventure, this is a book you might enjoy. If you want a solid plot where something happens, action, and adventure, you won't find it here. Consider yourself warned.

At the end of the day, the story works, even if it's more in the artistic direction than an actual story. Now, if he could just finish the next KINGKILLER CHRONICLE book...

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Tower of the Arkein is epic fantasy at its best; Chase Blackwood weaves a beautiful tale in an intricate world on the verge of collapse. Read what many have called the next Patrick Rothfuss... one of the greatest coming-of-age tales in modern fantasy.

Delve into what has been described as a vast and diverse world, filled with thoughtful, vivid, and unique characters. A place with multiple story threads, and an underlying mystery that builds with each part, growing into a masterful tale that sticks with you long after you've put the book down.

Tower of the Arkein was voted best Fantasy of 2017 by Philly Adventure and Fantasy Book Club...and for good reason: the depth of experience, in which Chase paints a vivid picture of the human experience through beautiful prose, is extremely rare in modern fiction. It's a story that hints at something greater than itself. Chase Blackwood's Kan Savasci Cycle is a rarity, and stands out among the ever-growing crowd.

Get Tower of the Arkein on Amazon in Kindle format or paperback now.

This is one of those books you didn't know you needed until you actually start reading it. Kind of like that old friend you don't realize how much you really missed and liked until you have a reunion. Fool's Fate showcases Hobb's master of the character-driven fantasy.

This is one of her better books. Of course, there is no point to start reading Fool's Assassin until you've taken down her two previous trilogies about the characters, but if you have, Fool's Assassin is a welcome return to her world.

I still love her original The Farseer trilogy as her best with the strong coming of age themes present and wonderful new world that Hobb deliciously explores the boundaries of during those first three books. Fool's Fate is a different sort of book, the character is now a middle-aged man, wealthy, successful and retired. His unexpected return to his former role brings a new perspective with it this time -- one of patience and wisdom, not the untamed passions of youth.

Don't expect a book of action though. This is a very slow paced novel with Hobb slowly revealing the edges of the plot and delightfully lingering about the day-to-day events. It's clear she's writing this one for the fans. And to that, she succeeds.

If you loved her previous works and how she tells her stories, then you'll enjoy this one immensely. If you didn't, then you won't. Simple enough.

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Oh, a very good read indeed. There's a strong Italian Renaissance feel to the setting, but a darker, grittier one. It's a place where noble houses feud for status and power and where dark secrets linger behind the conflicts.

My complaint with this book was the pacing which kept jumping back and forth between present to past. Annoying yes, but the book is worth dealing with it.

The strength of this novel is definitely the superb characters and the thrilling story that really grabs your attention. This is NOT one of those books where boredom takes you -- there's magic, there's mystery, there sick and twisted plots that go levels deep, a dark, oppressive and brooding atmosphere pressing down on the whole story. I love it.  There's also some pretty damn good action found here too with interesting sword fights (rapiers to be precise).

One of the best debut fantasy novels of 2014. Read it.

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Daniel Abraham has been doing many good things in the Science Fiction world (The Expanse series) and the fantasy world the past decade. His Long Price Quartet is some of the best, most unique fantasy in the genre. His epic fantasy, The Dagger and the Coin, is something interesting as well. Like his previous efforts, it's a series that tried to take the fantasy tale in a new direction, stretching the boundaries of the genre, if slightly.

There's some real deep characterization, a compelling and expansive world with different races and some real ancient mythology built into the seams of it. And of course, the characters are all complicated -- neither good nor bad. Just characters doing what they think is best at the time in order to survive. It's not really a tale of villains or heroes, but a tale of people trying to live their lives in a fucked up world. And maybe even profit while at it.

His heroes are some of the more interesting characters in fantasy, complex and compelling, selfish and altruistic. Nothing, as you find out if you start reading this series, is ever simple in life. And this extends to the characters and their actions -- bad, good, heroic, or dastardly; there are always just reasons for them.

As Shakespeare once said in Hamlet 'there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so'; and as it turns out, Abraham's complex epic fantasy is one long elucidation of this. Evil, you see, is only a matter of perspective.

Book four in the series and Abraham gets down to business. Things are in play and move along fast. One of my complaints with his series so far (at least in the first two books) is that the author spends a great deal of time building up the framework of the story and fleshing out the characters and their motivations, but very little actually seems to happen for long parts of the book. The plot often has characters planning this out or that out in great detail for 50 pages before anything actually happens. And repeat this over and over.

So if you are expecting vicious personal action scenes like a Sanderson novel, you won't really get that. Action plays out slowly and over long parts of a book, like a chess match, it's slow and methodical -- broad strategies not individual personal fights for the most part.

I will say things finally come together in this newest book; action is there, plots are finally unfolding, things are moving along, world-shaking events have come, finally.

For those who have a bit of a patience, this is one of the best epic fantasy series in the genre. Sharp, intelligent, and populated with complexities and real characters -- you'll love this one, IF you have a bit of a patience and like the story to slowly be built up over a few books.

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The first book, Scourge of Swords is one of the better Grimdark books in the genre, taking the style of grit pioneered by Abercrombie and running with it.

However, the book stands out in a crowded genre of 'grims' because he breaks out of the all to common pattern that most author authors ends up writing grimdark in. The way he does it is by including the grimdark elements (gory violence, sarcastic characters, graphic sex, selfish characters, gritty settings) but then wraps it all in a very thick layer of realism and precise, almost excessive, attention to the smallest details (case in point, the author puts a great deal of attention to exactly HOW MUCH armour can and can't protect you).

Don't expect heroes from prophecy to save the day or characters to go on god-like rampages and slay dozens and dozens of people at once. People, yes even good guys, can die at the drop of the hat. Good characters can become bad in one situation and bad characters become good. There are no 'fixed' roles as it is.

Veil of the Deserters is the sequel and it delivers on all fronts. If you like revenge tales, well, you are going to just love this tale. Revenge, as it is, is a dish best served flaming hot -- and Salyards has heated it up to about a thousand degrees. If you liked the first book, this book lives up the promise shown in every way. With bigger stakes, more developed characters this time around, and with a gripping plot that doesn't stop the whole way through and an ending worth the read itself, this is one of the best sequels I've read.

If you like your fantasy dark, dirty, and horrific and you are fans of Joe Abercrombie's works, Mark Lawrence, and Luke Scull's The Grim Company, then are going to be right at home in this series.

Pick the first book up and know the sequel is even better.

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A sequel that does justice to the first book which found a ready niche with a tale about the gritty underworld and the character trying to survive various nefarious plots between various powers in the city. The character, Drothe, is well developed and completely likable. What's interesting is that he's not developed as this all powerful hero, but more of an every-man who has a real knack for getting caught up in at the wrong place at the right time. The prose is smooth, the characters surprisingly developed and the urban setting with all the power plays and criminal factions is fascinating. This much-awaited sequel delivers. The characters are more fleshed out and continue to grow and change in this book. The author to opts for a different setting than the first -- it's a bit risky to make such a change, but it pays off. IF you are a fan of Brent Weeks 'Night Angel' series, you'll definitely love this series.

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The first book, Six Gun Tarot, was an impressive debut fantasy and a must read if you like an ambitiously dark novel that pushes the boundaries. It's wasn't an interesting blend of different genres -- a sort of Deadwood meets Vampire fiction set in a steampunkish Weird West world. And there's a strong Lovecraftian feel to the whole thing. I don't even want to guess how many genres and subgenres this novel blends together; but it all actually works.

The sequel takes all that was good about the fist novel, and ramps it up. It's a delicious return to the world and completely intoxicating. Without a doubt The Shotgun Arcana is even by far much more spectacularly ambitious and imaginative than the first and a stronger book overall. If you are a fan of Weird Westerns, Urban Fantasy, Lovecraftian stories, strange steampunk or vampire fiction with a coming-of-age story tossed in, you'll love this novel. With so many genres mashed together here, there's bound to be something for every reader to be found in it. And you know, it's also a pretty damn fun swashbuckling ride from start to finish.

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Reading a new Abercrombie book is just like going to a fancy restaurant, it doesn't happen very often, but when it does, you relish every moment of the experience. Half a King is the author's first YA effort, and for the most part, it works. He takes his now-patented take on the fantasy genre (I call his version of grimdark 'aberdark') and trims it down a bit for a younger audience. There's less savagery, less sarcasm, less violence, but the feeling you come to expect from his writing is still there, strong as ever. The setting, loosely influenced by Scandinavian / Norse culture, is an interesting one and a good choice for a new world to start a new tale in.Overall, well worth reading. I don't feel it stands over the other great works that have come out this year by other authors AND it's a lesser work to his more adult storytelling (his best of which is The Heroes), but it's a book that's true to his form and an outstanding read.

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This was a pretty good follow up to his amazing first The Thousand Names which set a new standard for colonial military fantasy. It was a compelling read and had a cast of interesting characters. The magic system was well done and there were some brutal action scenes. The setting was interesting as well with the imperial soldiers engaged in a life-or-death march through the desert, hounded on all sides by the enemy.

If you liked Glen Cook's military fantasy or Erikson's Mazalan (especially Bone Hunters which deals with armies marching through the desert), then you'll love this one -- it has a somewhat similar feel. However, it's MUCH easier to read, the characters are more relatable for the most part. Overall, the first book was one of those novels you pick up and finish shortly and demand the sequel right away. Certainly one of the best fantasy releases of 2013.

How does the sequel The Shadow Throne stack up? Very good, though a very different kind of read. While the first book was about several companies of soldiers (and individual squads) trying to survive in the desert while fending off hostile natives and magical menaces, the sequel books moves things into the city. It's more a book about internal city politics than a pure military fantasy. I suspect if you like books like Among Thieves where individuals must navigate among the different power structures in a city, you'll really get a kick out of this one. Personally, while I respected the author doing something new, I much preferred the previous setting. However, The Shadow Throne is by no means a bad book -- it's a great read overall. I just didn't like it nearly as much as the first.

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With this 5th book in his Alex Verus series, Benedict Jacka has proved he's one of the leading writers of Urban fantasy. And in a genre packed with so many books and hosting some august writers (Jim Butcher for one), that's saying a lot.

Hidden is a fantastic novel and just reinforces this series as one of the best in the genre. In fact, with the Jim Butchers star in decline (his The Dresden Files is going downhill I feel), Alex Verus has stepped up as 'the new' best urban fantasy series. Certainly if you love The Dresden Files, you will love Alex Verus -- both series have a very similar feel.

Alex Verus is darker though and the character more realistic. He also doesn't have a fraction of the power that the (now) godlike Harry Dresden can command, which means it's quite entertaining reading about Alex Verus trying to take on wizards far more powerful than himself.

Hidden is the best book in the series. I won't go into plot details, but it delivers on every front. If you like Dresden or you want to read something BETTER than Dresden, I suggest you pick up the Alex Verus books. And you can rest assured that the 5th book in the series is only better than the previous four.

Books in Alex Verus Series (6)

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Of all the books here, this book is more of your ode to classic fantasy. No grimdark, no nasty heroes, just a good old fashion tale about a young unready emperor navigating the power structures of his court.. While this may not sound interesting (I didn't think so when I first started reading it), you soon are drawn into a delightfully different world than you are used to. You see, this is a world of Goblins and the hero of the tale is emperor of a Goblin kingdom. The world is richly drawn and quite fascinating overall.

This is not an action fest of a book -- the action takes place in the political arena, the drama in the relationships between characters. The stakes are not the fate of the world, but rather about a kingdom at risk of civil war and invasion from external powers. And caught in the midst a potential tinderbox is a young, callow Maia, the fourth son of the Goblin Emperor who unexpectedly comes to power when his entire family is killed in an accident, just shy of his 18th birthday. Our hero is rather plain as Goblin standards of beauty go and he's only half goblin to boot.

So for a richly (and I mean it when I say this) drawn tale that's packed with political intrigue and a lovely setting that's completely unique, you'll love this one. This is a book that IF you enjoy the style of writing and story told, you would happily spend many hundreds of pages lost in it.

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Tad Williams has been doing some good stuff in the Urban fantasy subgenre the past couple years. His Bobby Dollar novels are a refreshing addition to the genre and a unique twist on the heaven and hell conceits. Heaven is cast as this hypocritical power grabbing bureaucracy while Hell as a selfish, maniacal prison for unlucky souls with minions from both places pressured by their higher-ups into fighting over the recruitment of human souls.  As you find out as the series goes on, Heaven and Hell is not White and Black.

A lovable character, good action, good adventure, great prose, and right up your alley if you love The Dresden Files style fantasy.

Books in Bobby Dollar Series (3)

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A huge disappointment. Doing everything wrong that The Bone Song did right. The Tower Lord wasn't a bad book by any means and I'm sure many of you will still enjoy it. But it lacked the power of the first one. Particularly, the complaint most people seem to have is that the Vaeilin story line is weak and very little focus is given to him, as in the first book. There's new POV's too, but most people are interested in the original hero. It's akin to Patrick Rothfuss writing Book 3 of The Kingkiller Chronicles and making the first couple chapters about Kvothe, then spending the rest of the book on a couple other characters. 

No, just no. At this point, I'm not sure if Ryan Anthony is a one hit wonder. Let's hope he gets back on track with the next book.

Books in A Raven's Shadow Series (3)

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