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The final volume in Pierce Brown's mega popular Red Rising trilogy. This book came out February 2016; it managed to impress us.
So far, this has been our favorite read of 2016, even though it's technically a science fiction book. Without a doubt, most fantasy fans will enjoy the series and the final book in the trilogy.
Brown does a fantastic job tying up the series. The book's well written, the action non-stop, and the resolution fitting. One thing I've loved about this series is the deep, often profound introspective moments by the protagonist, in between bouts of non-stop action. It provides a counter to quick pacing and frenetic action that propels the story forward to the end game. The whole series has been one of motion from the first page to the last page, the characters are moving, plotting, and acting. It's exciting from start to finish.
I loved the first book in the series the most, Red Rising. Red Rising was a perfect blend of Ender's Game, Dune, and Lord of the Flies. The exiting plot and expansive world building made it one of the most exciting books I've read, ever. I'd give the first book in the series a solid 9.5 out of 10.
The second book, Golden Son, was a bit disappointing. It was still good enough to read and enjoy, but the rampant use of Dues Ex Machina to save the hero, not to mention plot twists you could see a mile off, hurt the story. The protagonist continually made bad choices over and over, which did not fit in line with his character.
Fortunately, the concluding book Morning Star is far better than the last book it reads somewhat like a cross between the first and second book in plot and overall feel.
Overall, Morning Star was a magnificent read from start to finish and a fitting conclusion that wraps everything up while still hinting at more to come in future books. I note that Brown is now working on a sequel trilogy that follows on the events after this trilogy ends.
So for a remarkable reading experience, start on Pierce Brown's Red Rising trilogy. Morning Star is so far my favorite reading of 2016. Given that at time of writing this, it's only the first week of March 2016, so this could change in the 9 or so months before the end of 2016 -- there are a lot of good books coming out.
Books in Red Rising Trilo... Series (3)
Books in Chronicle of the... Series (3)
I maintain Jeff Salyards military fantasy is some of the best stuff in the genre. I was fascinated by the world created by Salyards in the first book (even if it was just a brief introduction to the world at large), I was blown away by the second book which did everything the first book did, but better, and this book lives up and further expands the world created.
If you love military fantasy especially fantasy about mercenary companies i.e. The Black Company or The Broken Empire books Blood Sounder's Arc series is some of the best I've read. Overall, Chains of the Heretic is a fantastic continuation to the series and one of the better books I've read this year so far. This series remains one of my absolute favorite and this book delivers.
Do yourself a favor and pick the series up if you have not yet.
Books in Bloodsounder's A... Series (3)
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.
2014's City of Stairs was a remarkable read and was widely regarded by many critics as one of the best, if not the best, novel of 2014. Robert Jackson Bennett is one of the most talented fantasy / horror authors out there a magnificent story teller but also a very fine writer as well. He can tell you a complex story while also delighting you with how it's told. You won't find any clunky writing in Bennett's work.
City of Blades is a loose sequel to City of Blades. You don't necessary have to read the first book to read the second, though it can help you better understand the nature of Bennett's creation.
Now is the book any good? Yes, it is. I wasn't blown away like I was in the first, but this is probably due to just how damn good the first one was and how high my expectations where for the sequel. By all measures it's nearly the equal to the first book with a far more developed world, now that the heavy lifting in regards to the world building has been done by the first book already. This book serves to expand what was started in the first book.
So far, City of Blades is one of the better books of 2016. It's also a different take on the epic fantasy genre and one of the best written books this year. Perhaps it's not as shockingly impressive as the first book, but with just how awesome City of Stairs was, it's impressive enough that Book 2 manages to maintain the high standards of the first book.
Books in The Divine Citie... Series (2)
Book 4 in the fantastically awesome Traitor's Son Cycle
This series is currently my favorite new fantasy series and it's the next best thing since Malazan Book of the Fallen. It's what you get when The Sword in the Stone has a love child with Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Each book has been better, with the last book capping off one of the most exciting fantasy reads of the decade (and one of the largest 'battles' ever to grace the pages of a fantasy book).
There's a reason why people are comparing the Traitor's Son Cycle to Mazalan. But it's a MUCH easier read, but started to look just as complicated in reach and plot.
Now did this book deliver on the promise?
Yes and no. Truth be told, the book dragged on in parts with not a lot happening other than characters talking to each other. There were, in typical Cameron style, brief interludes with intense action. Cameron knows how to write thrilling action and those few parts that contain such action keep the book kicking. But I wanted much more of this.
My feeling here is that Cameron, when he writes a more contained story about a small band of adventurers surviving in the wilderness against monsters (i.e The Wild) is when Cameron is at is best. There were several parts in the book (near the beginning and near the end) when Cameron follows a few characters trying to survive against great odds in the Wild. These parts were the strongest in the book. The rest of the book seemed to be mostly setting things up for the next book.
My big complaint is that we have to wait another year for the next book. But the author has been writing at a serious pace, releasing a new book each year, putting the likes of Martin to shame with his one book per 10 year release schedule.
While I don't feel this is the best book in the series so far, as a whole the series has proven to be one of the best new epic fantasy series of the past decade. Cameron has built himself a huge world with a long list of characters and because of this events are dragged out longer, though Cameron is doing a decent job so far at moving things along.
Read it? Yes. Don't even hesitate to pick this book up (if you've read the previous 3). And if you haven't started reading The Traitor's Son Cycle, then make the series your next read dammit.
It's a good book -- not the best read this year or the best in the series, but the book carries the story forward and a few of the thrilling action sequences make up for the slower parts in the book. Just keep in mind it takes a good 1/3 of the book before you start going somewhere.
This is Ryan's best book since his wonderful first book (The Blood Song) which took the world by storm and rang all the same bells that Patrick Rothfuss did in The Name of the Wind.
The Waking Fire, in fact, has been one of my favorite reads this year. It's wonderfully written and brings us a new, inventive fantasy world. This one reads like a cross between Mistborn, Horatio Hornblower, and Pern.
I'm not even sure how to describe what this book is. It seems like Anthony Ryan took a look at a dozen different genres and decided to mix them all together.
steampunkdragon fantasyepic fantasynavel fictionlost worldspirate fictionthief / underworld fantasyspecial agents & spy fictiona Mistborn-style magical system
Over the many pages of this novel, there's everything from magically powered steam ship to ship battles, power struggles in the urban underworld among thieves, Mistborn-style action & magic, Arthur Conan Doyle style Lost World fiction, spy fiction, and of course, all of this wrapped up into an epic fantasy.
And somehow, it works. This is one of the books this year that didn't let go of me. It's not perfect, but man is it a fun, fun read. Can't wait to see what happens in the next book.
The magic system is a bit TOO similar to Sanderson's Allomancy, but Ryan changes things up slightly so it's still unique (though heavily inspired by Mistborn). The plot is pure fantasy adventure, full of super powered heroes, large wild landscapes, and powerfully dangerous wildlife, including dragons.
Definitely pick this one up if you love Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson or The Lightbringer by Brett Weeks -- it has some of the same feeling.
Books in The Draconis Mem... Series (1)
The much-anticipated third installment of R. Scott Bakkers acclaimed series, The Aspect-Emperor
Praised by fans and critics worldwide, R. Scott Bakker has become one of the most celebrated voices in fantasy literature. With The Great Ordeal, Bakker presents the long-anticipated third volume of The Aspect-Emperor, a series that stands with the finest in the genre for its grandiose scope, rich detail, and thrilling story.
As Fanim war-drums beat just outside the city, the Empress Anasurimbor Esmenet searches frantically throughout the palace for her missing son Kelmomas. Meanwhile and many miles away, Esmenets husbands Great Ordeal continues its epic march further north. But in light of dwindling supplies, the Aspect-Emperors decision to allow his men to consume the flesh of fallen Sranc could have consequences even He couldnt have foreseen. And, deep in Ishul, the wizard Achamian grapples with his fear that his unspeakably long journey might be ending in emptiness, no closer to the truth than when he set out.
The Aspect-Emperor series follows Bakkers Prince of Nothing saga, returning to the same world twenty years later. The Great Ordeal follows The Judging Eye and The White-Luck Warrior, and delivers the first half of the conclusion to this epic story. Returning to Bakkers richly imagined universe of myth, violence, and sorcery, The Aspect-Emperor continues to set the bar for the fantasy genre, reaching new heights of intricacy and meaning.
Daniel Abraham's five book epic fantasy comes to an end with The Spider's War. It's a remarkable book that wraps things up just the right way, answering all questions, tying up all threads, and leaving you hungry for more.
The Dagger and the Coin series is one of the more unique epic fantasy works I've read. It's a epic fantasy, military fantasy, economic fantasy and more. It's honestly hard to describe what this series is by category. But however you label it, The Dagger and the Coin is one of the best -- and now with this final book out, COMPLETED fantasy series in the genre.
The characters are all fiercely drawn with completely realistic motivations, the setting highly imaginative, the political maneuvering complex, and the economics interesting to read about. Abraham tries very hard to avoid some of those standard clichs present in the genre. Indeed, all of his characters both the heroes and villains are far from simple creatures, but living, breathing, and understandable in motivations. Regardless of what a character does the good or the evil actions you can at least completely understand what drives that character to make those decisions, even if you still hate them for it.
If you've started the series, you will no doubt be reading this final book to see how things finish. The Dagger and the Coin is not a fast paced series especially the first couple books. It's a slow burning epic fantasy that takes a while for the engine to warm up. But once it does, things move fast.
Read this to finish one of the best fantasy series out there. It's very much different than your classic epic fantasy, but so much the better for it.
Books in The Dagger and t... Series (5)
Tarmun Vykers, the main character of Steel, Blood & Fire and the rest of the Immortal Treachery series, proves time and again that he belongs in the pantheon of anti-heroes, right alongside Conan, Elric, Karsa, and the Bloody Nine. If you like your villains terrible and your heroes worse, this series is for you. Batchelder's series is a real favorite among the BestFantasyBooks.com forum community and we feel if you love gritty fantasy in the vein of Abercrombie, you'll love Batchelder's series.
Tarmun Vykers, the main character of Steel, Blood & Fire and the rest of the Immortal Treachery series, proves time and again that he belongs in the pantheon of anti-heroes, right alongside Conan, Elric, Karsa, and the Bloody Nine. If you like your villains terrible and your heroes worse, this series is for you.
Batchelder's series is a real favorite among the BestFantasyBooks.com forum community and we feel if you love gritty fantasy in the vein of Abercrombie, you'll love Batchelder's series.
On the march, around the campfire, and in the taverns, they tell incredible stories about Tarmun Vykers, the Reaper -- how he's never been cut in battle, how he once defeated hundreds of men by himself, how he exterminated an entire people over an insult.
These stories make Vykers seem like a god, but he is a man, an arrogant, ruthless and bloodthirsty man. For all that, he may be the only thing standing between the human race and utter annihilation at the hands of the mad wizard who calls himself the End-of-All-Things.
The Reaper's appetite for violence is exceeded only by his ability to create it; he's a force so arrogant and unpredictable that even the gods are hard-pressed to control him.
Against this backdrop, smaller, lesser folks struggle to fulfill their own destinies, folks like Aoife, burdened with a secret so dark she is driven to do the unimaginable and seek an alliance with fey powers no mortal has ever encountered.
If you like what Schwab did in her first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, then you'll definitely like what she does in the sequel. I had mixed feelings about the first book, which started out strong with interesting world building, and interesting characters, and an enticing plot. However, the book was wildly uneven, starting strong and ending weak.
Things pick up for the better though in Book 2 and if you liked what Schwab does in the first book, this book does everything a bit better. As such, it's a pretty good read a better one even than the first.
If you want to read about an alternate London full of thieves, pirates, magic, bad boy Royals, teeny angst, and all that, well, both the first and second book in the series will smash all those buttons. Fans of Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Red Queen's War especially, will really enjoy Schwab's books as they occupy the same sort of space.
The two books feature a strong, empowered female protagonist; as such, it's a good female-oriented fantasy with romance, angst, powerful women, and such.
Given the year is still early and there's a lot of awesome books coming out over the next months, I don't feel A Gathering of Shadows will stand the test of time and beat out all the other still-to-be-released books. But at least for now, as of March, it's one of the better fantasy books released.
And if you have read the first book and liked it, then regardless of what I say, you'll be reading it either way.
Books in A Darker Shade o... Series (2)
This Urban fantasy kind of goes in the direction of Dresden and Sandman Slim when you start reading, but diverges pretty quickly, proving that it's something entirely different.
Drake is a dark noir story set in an magical London and about a guy who, if he wasn't the protagonist, might otherwise by called by some a scumbag. The 'hero' -- and I use that term loosely here -- also ends up on the receiving end of a lot of beatings, which by itself is unusual in the genre (usually, these down and out magician types give out the beat downs).
But because Drake goes in some different directions that you initially expect, it makes for a pretty interesting read all around. You don't know what to expect. I mean, when your 'hero' doesn't always 'win' fights, well, you never know where things stand plot wise. Anything can happen. And this is what I like about Drake. The unexpected happens, often.
So yes, I really enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves noir urban fantasy with a different twist than the usual.
Do read if you like Sandman Slim and Yancy Lazarus books. You might enjoy it too, if you like the Dresden Files and Alex Verus books, but keep in mind though that Drake is no hero he's a hard drinking magician hitman of sorts who's out for himself first.
Yet another Sanderson book. The second book to come out in 2016, and it's only March! Seriously, I don't know how Sanderson can write so prolifically he writes two, sometimes three books a year.
Wax and Wayne Mistborn book was a pretty exciting read overall and sets things up for the final book in the Wax & Wayne Mistborn series. It's about what you expect from the Sanderson formula at this point.
It's also a much, much, much better book than the previous one which pretty much existed only as a back story to set this book up.
Fortunately Sanderson delivers on expectations with this one. Bands of Mourning is packed with action and moves the Mistborn world and plot forward into new directions.
While this book may not be anything ground breaking or complex, it's definitely one of the more exciting fantasy books to read, especially if you want non-stop action. So well worth reading. With some outstanding books on the Horizon though, we'll see if this book remains on our Best of 2016 list though.
Books in Mistborn (Wax & ... Series (3)
I've finished reading the book and it's a decent read, but in many ways disappointing. This is NOT as good as Book 2 (which was my favorite in the series), and maybe worse than the last book in which almost nothing at all happened to move the plot along.
This book suffers from problems, mainly most of the characters end up stuck in the same place, doing the same things (with a couple exceptions). The magic system is also quite complex -- almost so much so -- that it's still hard to grasp your mind around how things work, even four books in. This is made worse by the author introducing new magics that were never hinted at in the first few books.
Overall, it's a decent book but at time drags, but it does make the series something you'll want to continue reading, especially by the end of the book which was the strongest part of the book.
The Lightbringer is definitely a series you'll want to read if you want an action heavy, magic heavy, coming of age heroic epic fantasy. The series so far (4 books in) has been a bit mixed, but I still want to see where it goes. I hope Weeks does better the next book around.
Fans of Sanderson-style fantasy will love the series, and love Book four.
I would rate this book 2.5 out of 5 or 3 out of 5 truth be told.
I did find myself growing a bit bored with the story and characters partway through. And the author makes the characters a bit too puerile to the point where some situations and actions are completely and utterly ridiculous, especially when it comes to personal relationships and romantic entanglements. There was a great deal of the author's fantasy wish fulfillment going on in the characters to the point of ridiculousness.
Still, lots of action, lots of magical battles, and overpowered heroes kicking ass. But overall, a bit disappointing -- one of the more dissapointing books I've read this year when I expected much more from it.
Our Version of the List
At a Glance
- 1 Morning Star (Pierce Brown)
- 2 The Last Mortal Bond (Brian Staveley)
- 3 Chains Of The Heretic (Jeff Salyards)
- 4 Children of Earth and Sky (Guy Gavriel Kay)
- 5 The Wheel of Osheim (Mark Lawrence)
- 6 City Of Blades (Robert Jackson Bennett)
- 7 The Plague of Swords (Miles Cameron)
- 8 The Malice (Peter Newman)
- 9 The Waking Fire (Anthony Ryan)
- 10 The Great Ordeal (R. Scott Bakker)
- 11 The Guns of Empire (Django Wexler)
- 12 The Spider's War (Daniel Abraham)
- 13 A Gathering Of Shadows (Victoria Schwab)
- 14 Those Below (Daniel Polansky)
- 15 Age of Myth (Michael J. Sullivan)
- 16 Drake (Peter McLean)
- 17 Bands Of Mourning (Brandon Sanderson)
- 18 Sleeping Giants (Sylvain Neuvel)
- 19 Burned (Benedict Jacka)
- 20 The Blood Mirror (Brent Weeks)