Best Grimdark Fantasy Books

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There's a new type of fantasy book that's all the rage now: grimdark. Depressing worlds, gritty settings, troubled morally ambiguous heroes. These elements have thoroughly pervaded the fantasy genre to the point where most new fantasy heavily borrow grimdark conceits. The classic grimdark is best typified by Joe Abercrombie's works (start with The Blade Itself). This is a list of the best of the best grimdark fantasy in the genre, from the more classics that help spawn the grimdark movement, to recent grimdark releases as of 2015.
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The Way Of Shadows

by Brent Weeks

4 avg rating
From New York Times Bestselling author Brent Weeks...

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city's most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly - and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins' world of dangerous politics and strange magics - and cultivate a flair for death.
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Conan The Barbarian

by Robert E. Howard

Originally appearing in the pulp fiction publication "Weird Tales" throughout the 1930's, The Complete Conan Saga is the complete collected stories of Conan the Cimmerian as written by Robert E. Howard. This eBook, which is optimized for Kindle, re-tells all 18 stories of Conan. Each story was gathered and are re-formatted, in chronological order, as they were from 1932 to 1936.

This one of a kind compilation includes an active table of contents and original artwork to include a map of the Hyborian Age, to fully immerse the reader in the world of Conan.

Stories included:

INTRODUCTORY MATERIAL
• Cimmeria - A Poem
• The Hyborian Age — Conan's World

THE CONAN STORIES
1. The Phoenix On The Sword (Dec 1932)
2. The Scarlet Citadel (Jan 1933)
3. The Tower Of The Elephant (Mar 1933)
4. Black Colossus (Jun 1933)
5. Xuthal Of The Dusk (The Slithering Shadow)(Sep 1933)
6. The Pool Of The Black One (Oct 1933)
7. Rogues In The House (Jan 1934)
8. Gods Of The North (Mar 1934)
9. Iron Shadows In The Moon (Apr 1934)
10. Queen Of The Black Coast (May 1934)
11. The Devil In Iron (Aug 1934)
12. The People Of The Black Circle (Sep-Oct 1934)
13. A Witch Shall Be Born (Dec 1934)
14. Jewels Of Gwahlur (Mar 1935)
15. Beyond The Black River (May-Jun 1935)
16. Man-Eaters Of Zamboula (Nov 1935)
17. The Hour Of The Dragon (Dec 1935-Apr 1936)
18. Red Nails (Jul-Oct 1936)

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Veil Of The Deserters

by Jeff Salyards

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Steel Blood And Fire

by Allan Batchelder

5 avg rating
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. 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. 

Are you a fan of: Grimdark, Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series, Steven Erikson’s The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Glen Cook’s Chronicles of the Black Company, or Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle? If so, grab your copy of Steel, Blood & Fire now!

AUTHOR Q&A


Is this book appropriate for children?

No, only 17+ please.

Kirkus says "Vykers is a remarkable, indelible protagonist," and the story has "a hefty amount of action," and "intrigue abounds."
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The Forgetting Moon

by Brian Lee Durfee

A massive army on the brink of conquest looms large in a world where prophecies are lies, magic is believed in but never seen, and hope is where you least expect to find it.

Welcome to the Five Isles, where war has come in the name of the invading army of Sør Sevier, a merciless host driven by the prophetic fervor of the Angel Prince, Aeros, toward the last unconquered kingdom of Gul Kana. Yet Gault, one of the elite Knights Archaic of Sør Sevier, is growing disillusioned by the crusade he is at the vanguard of just as it embarks on his Lord Aeros’ greatest triumph.

While the eldest son of the fallen king of Gul Kana now reigns in ever increasing paranoid isolationism, his two sisters seek their own paths. Jondralyn, the older sister, renowned for her beauty, only desires to prove her worth as a warrior, while Tala, the younger sister, has uncovered a secret that may not only destroy her family but the entire kingdom. Then there’s Hawkwood, the assassin sent to kill Jondralyn who has instead fallen in love with her and trains her in his deadly art. All are led further into dangerous conspiracies within the court.

And hidden at the edge of Gul Kana is Nail, the orphan taken by the enigmatic Shawcroft to the remote whaling village of Gallows Haven, a young man who may hold the link to the salvation of the entire Five Isles.

You may think you know this story, but everyone is not who they seem, nor do they fit the roles you expect. Durfee has created an epic fantasy full of hope in a world based on lies.
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Among Thieves

by Douglas Hulick

View our feature on Douglas Hulick's Among Thieves.

Drothe has been a member of the Kin for years, rubbing elbows with thieves and murderers in the employ of a crime lord while smuggling relics on the side. But when an ancient book falls into his hands, Drothe finds himself in possession of a relic capable of bringing down emperors-a relic everyone in the underworld would kill to obtain.


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A Crown For Cold Silver

by Alex Marshall

1 avg rating
"It was all going so nicely, right up until the massacre."

Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.

Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner.

FIVE VILLAINS. ONE LEGENDARY GENERAL. A FINAL QUEST FOR VENGEANCE.
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Noreela

by Tim Lebbon

The worst has come and one man must rise to lead the fight against it.

He thought he'd seen the worst.

No one knew about the Strangers from beyond Noreela, and it was the Core's job to make sure it stayed that way. Kel Boon was once an agent of the land's most secret organization, tracking, observing, and eliminating the Strangers as part of an elite Core team. But then one horrifying encounter left his superior officer - and lover - dead, along with many innocents. And Kel has been running ever since.

But the worst was still to come.

Forsaking magic, living as a simple wood-carver, Kel came to the fishing village of Pavmouth Breaks to hide. But when a mysterious island appears out to sea during a cataclysmic storm, sending tidal waves to smash the village, his Core training tells him to expect the worst. How can he warn the surviving villagers - especially the beautiful young witch Namior - that the visitors sailing in from the island may not be the peace-loving pilgrims they claim to be? That this might be the invasion the Core has feared all along and that he, Kel Boon, may be Noreela's last chance?

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The Mirror Empire

by Kameron Hurley

A stunning new epic fantasy from two-time Hugo Award winner Kameron Hurley.

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past... while a world goes to war with itself. 

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. At the heart of this war lie the pacifistic Dhai people, once enslaved by the Saiduan and now courted by their former masters to provide aid against the encroaching enemy.

Stretching from desolate tundra to steamy, semi-tropical climes seething with sentient plant life, this is an epic tale of blood mages and mercenaries, emperors and priestly assassins who must unite to save a world on the brink of ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war; a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family to save his skin; and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father's people or loyalty to her alien Empress.  

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself. 

In the end, one world will rise - and many will perish.

File Under: Fantasy [ Orphaned Child | World at War | Blood Magic | The Fluidity of Gender]
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Elric Of Melniboné

by Michael Moorcock

“The stories here are the raw heart of Michael Moorcock. They are the spells that first drew me and all the numerous admirers of his work with whom I am acquainted into Moorcock’s luminous and captivating web.”
–from the Foreword by Alan Moore, creator of V for Vendetta

When Michael Moorcock began chronicling the adventures of the albino sorcerer Elric, last king of decadent Melniboné, and his sentient vampiric sword, Stormbringer, he set out to create a new kind of fantasy adventure, one that broke with tradition and reflected a more up-to-date sophistication of theme and style. The result was a bold and unique hero–weak in body, subtle in mind, dependent on drugs for the vitality to sustain himself–with great crimes behind him and a greater destiny ahead: a rock-and-roll antihero who would channel all the violent excesses of the sixties into one enduring archetype.

Now, with a major film in development, here is the first volume of a dazzling collection of stories containing the seminal appearances of Elric and lavishly illustrated by award-winning artist John Picacio–plus essays, letters, maps, and other material. Adventures include “The Dreaming City,” “While the Gods Laugh,” “Kings in Darkness,” “Dead God’s Homecoming,” “Black Sword’s Brothers,” and “Sad Giant’s Shield.”

An indispensable addition to any fantasy collection, Elric: The Stealer of Souls is an unmatched introduction to a brilliant writer and his most famous–or infamous–creation.

“The most significant UK author of sword and sorcery, a form he has both borrowed from and transformed.”
–The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
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Legend

by Marie Lu

4 avg rating
"Marie Lu's dystopian novel is a Legend in the making."--USA Today

"Taut and exciting."--The Los Angeles TImes

"Legend doesn't merely survive the hype, it deserves it."

A New York Times bestseller!
5 Starred Reviews!


What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

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I Know Not

by James Daniel Ross

Being a bastard is sometimes a survival trait. I am not a bad man. Well, I must be honest with myself: I don't try to be a bad man. It just seems to... happen. I woke up in a castle populated by corpses. Devoid of past or present, bereft of even a name, so I must be honest with myself. I discovered I am a wizard with a blade, silent as the wind, and as deadly as a forest fire. When other men look and see safety, I can feel the ambush coming. When others see only smiles, I can smell the hidden plots and secreted knives. When others only see walls and guards, I can find a highway to the heart of the most imposing castle. I wish I knew what all these things mean, but I must be honest with myself and say I know not. I must be honest because I am a fantastic liar. If I begin lying to myself I will not be able to survive. And I intend to survive. A virtuoso in the symphonies of death, follow Fox Crow as he begins a journey of self discovery begun in an abbitoir, that continues through forbidding lands and the courts of the highest born, and culminates in the coldest darkness filled with temptation and murder. The first fantasy novel of award winning author, James Daniel Ross, I Know Not is a hard hitting, gritty, adventure. Welcome to a world with far more shadows than sunshine. Walk the forest paths where the faries eat human flesh. Explore a world where the heroes may wear black.
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Herald Of The Storm

by Richard Ford

Welcome to Steelhaven... Under the reign of King Cael the Uniter, this vast cityport on the southern coast has for years been a symbol of strength, maintaining an uneasy peace throughout the Free States. But now a long shadow hangs over the city, in the form of the dread Elharim warlord, Amon Tugha. When his herald infiltrates the city, looking to exploit its dangerous criminal underworld, and a terrible dark magick that has long been buried once again begins to rise, it could be the beginning of the end.
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Lord Foul's Bane

by

5 avg rating
British Fantasy Society
World Fantasy
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A Cavern Of Black Ice

by J. V. Jones

HIGH ADVENTURE ON THE SWORD EDGE OF DESTINY

As a newborn Ash March was abandoned--left for dead at the foot of a frozen mountain. Found and raised by the Penthero Iss, the mighty Surlord of Spire Vanis, she has always known she is different. Terrible dreams plague her and sometimes in the darkness she hears dread voices from another world. Iss watches her as she grows to womanhood, eager to discover what powers his ward might possess. As his interest quickens, he sends his living blade, Marafice Eye, to guard her night and day.

Raif Sevrance, a young man of Clan Blackhail, also knows he is different, with uncanny abilities that distance him from the clan. But when he and his brother survive an ambush that plunges the entire Northern Territories into war, he yet seeks justice for his own . . . even if means he must forsake clan and kin.

Ash and Raif must learn to master their powers and accept their joint fate if they are to defeat an ancient prophecy and prevent the release of the pure evil known as the End Lords.

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Son Of Morning

by Mark Alder

Lauded by fellow authors, a five star 'SFX recommends' title, adored by the bloggers, Mark Alder's debut novel of angels, demons, kings and the Hundred Years War marks the beginning of a hugely exciting new series. Edward III stands in a burnt English church, destroyed in a French raid. A raid on his land, a raid on him. He is in debt and surrounded by doubters, only victory against France will save his throne. But Philip of Valois can put 50,000 men in the field. He has sent his priests to summon the very angels themselves to fight for France. Edward could call on God for aid but he is a usurper. What if God truly is on the side of the French? But for a price, Edward could open the gates of Hell and take an unholy war to France...Mark Alder has brought the epic fantasy of George R.R. Martin to the vivid historical adventure of Bernard Cornwell and has a created a fantasy that will sweep you to a new vision of the Hundred Years War.
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12 comments
Anonymous | 2018-03-13 06:43:00
I simply hate that there are no girls writers on this list, more often than not from my loss of reading Uk assignment help in this particular sub-style. If you can endorse any grimdark girl writers, please submit them down beneath for a destiny update in this topic!
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