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Tendrils of Darkness — Epilogue
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2014 was a great year in fantasy, lots of big names came to play. The likes of Lynch were back, Hobb brought back Fitz and a new epic fantasy and new player called Brian Staveley emerged.
Fast forward to the present day and I would say that 2015 was a fizzer compared with 2014.
Besides Staveley, the big names were either no shows or showed weak form. Sanderson brought us back to Elendel but it wasn’t as good as Alloy of Law. Rothfuss and GRRM were still no shows and while there were a couple of good débuts; good fantasy was lacking.
These aren’t in preference order:
The most notable names I am talking about are Rothfuss and GRRM. Doors of Stone and The Winds of Winter are two books that fans are eagerly awaiting. Some have become disinterested in the Kingkiller Chronicles, others are speculating on the health of GRRM. However, what can be said of both is that they are great series and we want to continue reading them.
There are other notable authors/books such as Lynch’s The Thorn of Emberlain (Gentleman Bastard #4), that are scheduled for 2016, but we never know. Lynch has always had a problem releasing books on time. Sanderon’s Oathbringer (Stormlight Archive #3) is still in the drafting process at the moment but with his speed and knack of writing, we can hope that it might come out towards the end of 2016. With that said, he will definitely have Bands of Mourning and Calamity coming out Jan/Feb 2016.
The ending of a series can really make or break a series. Greg Keyes’ series The Kingdom of Thorn and Bone started off so well. ‘The Briar King‘ and ‘The Charnel Prince’ were right up there, one of my all time favourite books. Then ‘The Blood Knight’ and ‘The Born Queen’ just didn’t finish the series well, and hence how many of you have actually read this series? Series that finish well, will get many people recommending the books. The Autumn Republic is a good example of a series that finishes well, and that will help Brian McClellan get another series up and running.
While Hobb won’t have a problem writing/publishing more books, I do hope that Fitz and the Fool finishes well. Tawny man was such a perfect ending, can Assassin’s Fate top that?
Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown, needs to end well. Red Rising was AMAZING. Easily the best thing Ben and I read last year (2014) even though it is technically science fiction, though there is many fantasy elements. Golden Son was ok, but had it’s fair share of problems.
Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson has to be amazing to even save this trilogy. Steelheart was quirky and had many things going for it but Firefight was a real stinker that had a good cliffhanger ending.
The Red Queen’s War by Mark Lawrence has been alright. It’s not as philosophical as The Broken Empire, nor does it delve into ‘the old world’ as much. What It does, is to try to turn the table on a heroic protagonist whilst adding humour. I don’t have a lot of expectations of The Wheel of Osheim. Already the series is just mediocre. I’m just hoping for something better from him next time.
Anthony Ryan and Pierce Brown had the most amazing débuts in 2013/14 respectively. However, I feel that both have failed to really kick on. I’m not sure if Ryan has the ability to continue writing, his series has really just floundered and it took him a while before he found someone to publish his books. Critics have been a plenty about The Tower Lord and Queen of Fire while was better, was a let down for many still. Brown has done a lot of good marketing and will probably have another series in him after Red Rising. Morning Star will need to end with a flourish (re: #2 series ending well).
The Vagrant by Peter Newman was my favourite and Ben’s second favourite début. I ranked it #2 and Ben #3 for best reads of 2015. The action, the world and how different the book was, made it stand out in our minds. While there were critics of this book, many others liked it. There are not many dystopian fantasy books with not only technology, but a world where we know very little about, a mute protagonist and a goat that kicks ass. The Malice will be my most anticipated book of 2016.
Twelve Kings of Sharakhai was Ben’s #2 read of 2015. In a year where epic fantasy was dearth, Bradyley P. Beaulieu came to the rescue. The book had strong characters including a kick-ass heroin, awesome world-building and a plot that drags you along. Don’t start this book if you have things to do. Blood Upon the Sand has a lot to live up to.
What is wrong with Standalone books? There is a serious dearth of them, but when you think of great books, many of them are Standalones. Tigana, American Gods, Legend, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Perdido Street Station and the like.
Recently, Novik’s Uprooted has garnered much praise from this site, yet when you think of new authors or new books coming out, almost none of them are standalones. Our Top 25 books this year only had 3 on the list.
Dare I say it, but are author’s these days just not good enough to be able to write a self containing novel? A story that is contained in one book!
I love trilogies and series, but I also want to be able to read a book, love it and not have to wait for the next one in the series to come out.
Women. They populate more than half the world, yet when you think of Fantasy authors, most are male. Think Epic Fantasy, and it is almost exclusively male. Robin Hobb, Ursula Le Guin and Kate Elliot are just some amazing authors, but they need more company. Our Top 25 this year features six female authors but only one in the Top 10.
I’m not sure you could disagree that our bests lists aren’t male author heavy. There could be a few reasons for this lack; females aren’t writing, reader’s aren’t reading female works or females suck at writing fantasy. I doubt it’s the last, maybe a combination of the first two?
We can’t recommend female authors if we don’t read them. Danica and I freely admit we’re guilty of this when it comes to our own TBR (to be read) pile and maybe by actively searching out the female authors we can give them more exposure and then they will feature on out best lists for 2016!
If you’re a female and have a burning desire to start writing in the most popular sub genres of late, grimdark comes to mind, write an amazing story and I’m sure fantasy readers will catch up!
Thanks @danica for contributing to this article
Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings -- cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.
Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings' laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha'ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings' mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings' power...if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don't find her first.
Believe it or not, Jon Snow really got into reading only after reading A Game of Thrones back in 2002. Previously the only fantasy he had read were Lord of the Rings and many Magic: The Gathering books.While juggling teaching life, he tries to keep up with recently published books.