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World Fantasy Awards for Best Novel

ALL Best Novel Winners from 1975 to present

Each year the World Fantasy Convention awards the years best English language fantasy fiction with the respected World Fantasy Awards prize.

The World Fantasy Awards are, together with the Hugo and Nebula Awards, is one of the most significant and respected speculative fiction awards. These three awards form the award triumvirate -- winning ones of these is a huge accomplishment -- and are considered the highest fantasy fiction award.

The World Fantasy Awards have been described by book critics like The Guardian as a "prestigious fantasy prize". 



So winning this award is a very big deal indeed.

To give our readers more recommendations (and help guide your fantasy book selections), we've decided to list all of the past and present Word Fantasy Award winners since the award was first given in 1975 to The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip. 

There are a number of different World Fantasy Award categories (these vary depending on the year); this list gives the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel  winners. The Best Novel category is arguably the most prestigious and important of the World Fantasy Awards that are given out each year.

Politics can influence who's nominated and who wins and there's certainly a preference for specific styles of fiction. Just because a novel does NOT win a Nebula, Hugo, or World Fantasy Award does NOT mean it's not an outstanding book! 

Thus, the awards are not necessary the only recommendation you should use to choose a good fantasy book. However, a book that wins one of these awards (or nominated for it) signals there's a good deal of critical acclaim behind that book.

So, use this list along with our many other lists to help guide your picks. Some of my favorite fantasy books have won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

You'll also want to check out our other award winning lists we've compiled: Hugo Award for Best Novel and Nebula Award for Best Novel.

The story starts in 1984, introducing us to a 15-year-old girl from England named Holly. The book shares the significant moments in Holly's life as she intersects with various characters, some with apparent supernatural powers, some with the power of second sight, and some that seem completely ordinary.Throughout the 6 "snapshots" in this book Holly finds herself in the middle of an incredible confrontation between The Radio People and their archenemies, the Horologists.

Why it's on the list

The Bone Clocks will whet your appetite for more. It is unlike most other books you will read. This book flows wonderfully through Holly's life. It is one of the best books you will ever read, and with just a little suspension of your beliefs, you will love every second of this adventure.

The characters are captured so perfectly that you almost forget about the story arc itself. When the story arc starts to take over the books become truly exciting.

The book has an incredible story to tell and it gets built and enhanced over time. The story is elegant but it keeps its heart in the bonds between people, and many of its passages are nothing short of poetic--and all in a variety of different voices, depending on the character.

Read it if you like

Epic stories, Character growth, Fantasy in a modern setting

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A stranger in Olondria follows Jevick the 2nd son of an influential trader from the city of Tyom. Even though he was born and grew up in the Tea Islands, Jevick is captivated by the tales of faraway Olondria, the remote country where his father trades his goods. When Jevick has the chance to participate in the spice trade and travel there, he discovers a country that seems similar but also, at the same time, entirely foreign. Olondria is in the midst of a complicated religious conflict over whether or not ghosts exist and when Jevick lands up haunted by an actual ghost, Olondria enfolds him into its' darkest betrayals, intrigues and mysteries.

Why it's on the list

This book is pure elegant poetry. Samatar's imagery is invigorating and mesmerizing. The side characters are particularly enchanting and riveting.

The whole book is, essentially, an ode to the joys (and perils) of reading (and writing). You'd expect other book addicts to be appreciative of this! The world of Olondria is interesting and well-drawn, and very different from any other fictional world.

The language is dense and beautiful, and the reader will be rewarded for sticking with it to the sad yet disquieting ending.

Read it if you like

Strange lands and faraway cultures

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Award Nominations:2013 CAMPBELL

Alif is the screen name of a hacker in an unnamed totalitarian Middle Eastern state. Alif's clients are a diverse group of rebels -- pornographers, bloggers, Islamists, activists -- who challenge authority by using the anonymity of the internet. Alif's life takes a sudden and dramatic turn when his upper-class girlfriend dumps him. He writes a computer program to ensure he becomes completely untraceable. She will never be able to find him online. The program is a work of brilliance and, due to a host of circumstances, it ends up in the states' control. Just like that, Alif is on the run. Besides his challenges with the government, thanks to a gift of his ex-girlfriend a rather unusual book called the Thousand and One Days his life becomes a magnet for the bizarre and unexplainable too. This book could just have the power to undo reality -- or totally rebuild it.

Why it's on the list

The plot is an excellent blend of cyber thriller and modern urban fantasy. Wilson's prose is spare but wonderfully lyrical and descriptive at the same time, and there's not a page in this book that you can call boring. It's also frequently funny. In short, this novel is vastly entertaining, full of ideas and action, and highly recommended.

Wilson has created a story that has a little bit of everything: totalitarian police, demons, imprisonment, politics, religions, hackers, jinn, a mysterious and powerful medieval book, a coming-of-age story, pure love all taking place in the daily life of a modern Middle Eastern nation.

Read if you like

Technology/magic mashups, or learning about the possibilities of the meanings of words.

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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.

Joe is a typically average private investigator who lives in Southeast Asia. The only real difference is that Joe's world, terrorist attacks like 9-11 never actually happened. Instead, they're simply key pieces in a popular series of fiction books titled "Osama bin Laden, Vigilante". These books have become so popular that they even have an annual fan convention dedicated to them.When Joe is hired to find the creator of these pulp novels, his life takes a decidedly strange turn. Very quickly Joe finds himself traveling the world and interacting with people who seem more than a little out of place. Next, he finds people who don't want him asking any more questions.

Why it's on the list

Tidhar is an Israeli writer and has written a beautiful and haunting book. It is exceptionally well-written and brilliantly evokes each of the places it takes place: Vientiane, Laos; Paris; New York; and finally, Kabul.

She has created the ultimate in escapist fiction, a universe where Osama Bin Laden is merely a character in a book, and the acts of terror and destruction he was responsible for are only fictional events. In Tidhar's world, these acts are so inconceivable that people can only imagine them as over the top fiction.

Osama lets its readers step back and consider what was lost since the war on terror began. We become acutely aware of the comforts we once had and the gradual erosion of the freedom we used to take for granted.

Read if you like

Alternate History.

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Awards Won:2011 WFA
Award Nominations:2010 NEBULA, 2011 LocusF

In a post-apocalyptic Sudan, technology has fallen and sorcery flourishes. But the hatred between peoples and cultures still exists. Onyesonwu was a child conceived from a brutal rape. Her mother is a member of the dark-skinned Okeke tribe who was victimized by a cruel man from her tribe's enemies - the light-skinned Nuru. These two tribes have a long, violent and complicated history and Onyesonwu's experience are merely the latest atrocity. As Onyesonwu grows older, she learns more about her history and also discovers that she has magical powers. Together with some trusted friends she accepts a quest to find and defeat the man who is responsible for the awful genocide against her people her father.

Why it's on the list

The story of Onyesonwu is beautifully written, with many twists and turns. The characters fight to further their personal ends and you will find yourself cheering for them the entire time.

This is a remarkable book with so many different and complex layers. At one level it's a brilliant post-apocalyptic dystopia, set in a far future Sudan. It's filled with magic, mysticism, and myth, but at a deeper level it also brilliantly addresses the same issues that plague not just the current day region of the African continent, but the world as well. Onyesonwu is a heroine who is at once utterly unique and brilliantly relatable. She is empowered but vulnerable, full of hope and love but also anger and confusion. She's the fierce female heroine you feel like you spent your whole adolescence waiting for.

For all its complexity at its core, the novel is very similar to a classic fantasy quest. Following along with Onyesonwu, we share travels with a band of trusted companions, magical apprenticeship, prophecies, and an all-encompassing quest to fight evil. It's the details around these set pieces that make the experience so very different and utterly enjoyable.

Read if you like

Female Heroines, Deeper issues reimagined through a Fantasy lens.

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Imagine two cities that share the exact same geographic space, but do not interact with one another under any circumstances. Unless the government authorities grant permission, that is. If citizens of one city interact with the other city at without getting that approval, it is referred to as a "breach". When a murder happens in one city, the detective assigned to the case is convinced that a breach is involved. Usually, the entity that oversees the governments of both cities--itself called Breach--takes over. But there are, of course, complications that are factual, political and, potentially, supernatural.

Why it's on the list

China Mieville's books are always fabulous experiences for a reader's imagination. The idea of the dual city is a fascinating premise, and the way Mieville builds a police procedural that successfully takes place within a dual city is a massive feat that he executes with great style.

The City & The City is a crime novel at its heart with just enough glimpses of fantastical elements. This story is full of unexpected details and diversions, while being beautifully told, as the focus spreads from a simple crime story to an exploration of meanings. The reader starts to truly consider how deliberate choices limit our knowledge and cause us to miss out on the potential of what's in front of our noses and all around us.

Read if you like

Police Procedural. Imaginative and Unique Fantasy settings.

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The story of the narrator's sixth-grade year in the New York suburbs in the 1960's. In addition to dealing with issues with school, bullies, and his alcoholic mother, he and brother Jim and sister Mary are searching for a prowler that has been seen in the neighborhood. That search becomes much more frightening when they realize that a serial killer may actually be stalking their town. They are aided in their pursuit by "Botch Town", a model of the neighborhood that Jim has built in the basement. Mary seems to have the ability to place the model citizens of Botch Town in the same locations as the actual people of the town.

Why it's on the list

This interesting fiction is an amalgamation of mysticism, imagination and mystery. The twelve-year-old narrator maintains a journal detailing all the shenanigans in the town for the year and since the story is told in his first person, readers get into the heart of an young adolescent boy. The atmosphere is gothic and reality and the supernatural meet to form a book well worth reading.

The Shadow Year is most definitely worth reading. Jeffrey Ford's uses compelling prose, excellent descriptions and lifelike imagery to invite us into a life that we can all relate to. At the same time the story provides a riveting mystery with plenty of tension and spellbinding suspense. On top of all this, we also get to be share the touching relationship between the boy, his big brother and their little sister.

Jeffrey Ford has managed to create an adventure with twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end.

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Awards Won:2009 WFA
Award Nominations:2009 LocusYA

Molested by her father, gang raped by her peers, Liga wishes for death but instead find herself delivered to a magical haven, safe from all sexual violence. But as she raises her two daughters there, overlaps begin to appear between her world and the one she's left. Now a decision needs to be made should the three women remain in the safe, but predictable Liga? Or is it now time to go back to the real world? A world that is enticing, vibrant and energetic but at the same time is also the ugly, violent world that Liga hid from so many years ago.

Why it's on the list

Tender Morsels is a brave, beautiful, but not untroubled book. In the line of McKinley's Deerskin, it manages to do what most novels are better off not even trying: combine rape and fantasy, without distorting one or diluting the other, to paint a heart-breaking and heart-building portrait of sexual trauma.

This is a hauntingly beautiful book that has you scared to turn the page just in case something horrifying happens and then anxious to turn the next one just to see what happens next. It is very seldom that a book can excite such conflicting emotions.

Read if you like

Dark Fantasy covering real world issues

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Awards Won:2008 WFA
Award Nominations:2008 LocusF

Ned is Fifteen, and spending the year with his father in France. He just met a cute girl named Kate. He really should be having a real good time. Unfortunately, he isn't. Kate and him have just seen a scary, mysterious man in a church who confides in them that he has killed children in the past. And so begins a whirlwind of an adventure. Ned and Kate seem to have front row tickets as modern France collides violently with the France of 2,500 years ago.

Now, to rescue a friend who has been taken over by the spirit of a women who lived more than 2 000 years ago, Ned will need to unravel the past. What is the connection between his family and this woman? What is the relationship between a Celtic Chieftain and a Roman? Ned must somehow figure out the answers to these questions. Fast.

Why it's on the list

Guy Gavriel Kay manages to blend historical fiction with fantasy in this fun and easy to read novel. The book is dramatic without being over the top, and is tense but not scary. Ysabel captures the essential elements of any outstanding speculative fiction novel - a weave of believable characters, fantasy, and history.

The story line is filled with historical depth but is still fast-paced and exciting.

Read if you like

Historical Fiction

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Awards Won:2007 WFA
Award Nominations:2007 LocusF

This is the third book of Gene Wolfe's Soldier series. The story continues the story of the life of Latro, a soldier who forgets every day, and is forced to write his memories down onto a scroll. We re-join Latro and discover that he found his way home to Italy. Latro realizes that he is not happy with his new, home-bound lifestyle, and finds himself still desperately trying to remember as other men do'. Latro has no choice but to leave his home, and his wife, and travel to Egypt in search of answers.

Why it's on the list

What makes this novel so enjoyable is how you get numerous snapshots of each character. Because Latro always forgets his peers, he is always introducing them again. While it can sometimes be confusing, most fo the time these introductions are enlightening. The reader sees the development of the relationships in the book, since each introduction is always new and based on "yesterday's" experiences.The writing is fairly candid and straightforward. Soldier of Sidon is perfect for any reader who enjoys accurate history and good writing.

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Awards Won:2006 WFA

This remarkable book tells the story of Kafka Tamura and Nakata. Kafka is a tough fifteen-year-old who, after running away from his father in Tokyo, begins a journey to a new life. He yearns to find his mother and sister who left when he was little, while at the same time he is inexorably, and unexplainably drawn to the island of Shikoku. Nakata is very different to Kafka. He is an old man who was injured during World War II. This injury left Nakata with a strange, and possibly useful gift: he can communicate with cats. The two characters are brought together as the mysteries behind Nakata's past, Kafka's family, and the history of a beautiful and tragic librarian, Ms. Saeki, are slowly revealed.

Why it's on the list

The strengths of Kafka on the Shore lies in the wealth of characters that Murakami creates. They are all unique. Murakami creates them all distinctly, but binds them closer and closer together. It is the human connections in the book that help solve the mysteries of Kafka and Nakata. Even when these connections are not conventional, Murakami finds the beauty in these relationships.

Kafka on the Shore is quite enigmatic, and the story is such an original tale with enormous seductive powers. It is a modern Oedipus story mixed with unexpected and surreal twists that build to a nail-biting climax.

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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is an epic tale of the rebirth of magic in nineteenth-century England. Taking place among the regular historical occurrences of the time, the main difference between this world and ours is that magic is real and works. Rather it did work, until everyone began to study the theory of magic instead of doing magic.

But then, to everyone's great surprise, emerges Mr. Norrell, a magician who can do magic. He takes society by storm when he brings a young woman back from the dead and becomes one of the main reasons Napoleon hasn't overrun the British navy. Then, Jonathan Strange shows up. Another gentleman, who also practices real magic, he becomes the pupil of Mr. Norrell. Magic is disputed, and two great magical minds fight against a background of evil fairies, high kings, and the spirit of sorcery in England.

Why it's on the list

Susanna Clark managed to write an entirely enjoyable novel. Her expert use of diction helped create a unique tone that makes any reader consume the book as fast as possible.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has it all: memorable and richly drawn characters, vivid setting, poignant atmosphere, action, adventure, humor, horror, and writing that is pitch perfect on every page. You will also like the fact that it's long - when a story is this enchanting you want the experience to last a while.

This novel defies comparison to any other novels; it's in a class by itself. But if someone was to compare it to something else it'd probably be most accurate to compare it to something written in the 19th century, like Dickens. The story ends in a satisfying way and in one that's true to its internal logic, but Clarke leaves just enough unfinished to provide the perfect premise for a future novel.

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“On the shores of despair, there was a maiden, she was my quarry and my redemption.”

Marishka Grayson’s novel Bloodreign I: Regnum Ignis is a new breed of adult neo-gothic fantasy—a cross-genre novel that defies easy categorization but makes for a scintillating and highly enthralling read.

Magdalena’s encounter with the vicious but fascinating creatures of light, the Nuria, push her to the brink of sanity. Dark and brooding, the story reveals a hidden world of beings who possess magic, and a lore whose thread is hidden in the haze of history. Battling against their own violent, lustful nature and seeking atonement, the Nuria pursue their goals in the constant shadow of powerful foes—magi who have sworn to destroy them. Allegiances shift, alliances form and shatter. But through all the madness, there may be one immutable constant—Arik Kuno, grandson of the Sovereign and heir to the title of Luminary, whose obsession with Magda seems to have no bounds and time itself cannot wane.

Click here to buy Bloodreign on Amazon. For more information about the book and author, check out her blog.

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Awards Won:2004 WFA

The story opens with a moderately well-to-do family gathering at the deathbed of their father, and fighting over the inheritance - not his gold hoard, which has been divided equitably, but what portion each of his children and their spouses will get to eat of his dead carcass. And if all this talk of eating puts you off, don't worry, it is not at all gory, and treated as an entirely reasonable part of dragon life, and indeed, the only way that dragons can grow is by consuming dragon-flesh. This comedic story deals with one family's quest to grow, nurture and establish themselves properly in society, and of course find true love.

Why it's on the list

This is a fun, charming book. Imagine Jane Austen with dragons. The culture of dragons depicted is not merely a mirror of Victorian culture with dragons substituted for people; it is a fun re-imagining of dragon lore with subtle plotlines.

Although it tackles familiar themes of love and courtship, class equality, revenge, and moral obligation, Tooth and Claw explores these through a different lens, creating a remarkable and entertaining reading experience.

Read if you like

Elizabethan mash-ups, comedy, dragons

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The Facts of Life is set during and after World War II in Coventry, England. The novel begins with a young girl, Cassie, and her newborn baby, Frank. Cassie was simply unable to give Frank up to a foster mother. This failure leads Cassie and Martha, her mother, to have a discussion whose tone sets the scene for the balance of the story. Martha and her daughters make the realization Cassie is in no way fit to raise a baby. The solution is simple, Frank should be cared for by all of them. Frank is then exchanged from Martha and Aunt Beatie Vine's supervision to his aunts Ina and Evelyn, and even to Uncle Tom and Aunt Una's farm. During all of this it starts to become apparent that Frank is exceptional and has some unusual and unique abilities

Why it's on the list

The Facts Of Life is one of the most intensely and perceptively written cast of characters. Just seeing what happens next to these people is enough driving force of the book, and the time and place that they live is evocative and compelling enough - almost to make you feel like you are there, laughing and crying along with them.

Joyce has a real talent for descriptive language. The sheer feeling of emotion that is portayed through these pages is astounding. It isn't important whether you buy into the extraordinary qualities he gives the principal characters, he translates it across to the readers in such a manner that it feels almost commonplace. He takes everyday expereinces and infuses it with an extraordinary reality.

Read if you like

Heart-warming stories with a healthy dash of eccentricity.

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Awards Won:2003 WFA

Ombria is an ancient city. Its history lies buried underground among layers of buildings and previous manifestations of a town cloaked in darkness. Aboveground, the city is in trouble. The prince is dead, which means that his five-year-old son, Kyel Greve, under the control of Domina Pearl. This on its own wouldn't be a problem, except it seems like Domina is deliberately ruining Ombria for her own purposes. Doing their best to stop her is a team of different heroes; The Princes mistress, his illegitimate nephew, an artist and a mere servant. Throw in the host of nobles who have no idea about the magical forces within Ombria, and you have a Political story that is perfectly woven b the myths and legends of this fantastical city.

Why it's on the list

McKillip's has actually surpassed her previous works with this book. The book covers deeply sympathetic themes of parents letting go as their children grow up. The characters are vibrant, lifelike, and diverse and the book grows from a few leading figures to several fully developed personalities. McKillip's talent for blending numerous unconnected threads into one superlative tapestry makes the book an immensely satisfying read.

Magic is something that characters in her novel deal with every day, and is the breath and life of her characters and her world. Mckillip doesn't fail to instill wonder and beauty into this facet of the beautiful story. The characters are all very dissimilar, and, as you read more about them, you come to care about them. The city of Ombria is, of course, a character all on its own.

Read if you like

Recommended to fans of fantasy who would like to expand their horizons beyond the traditional Sword and Sorcery type tale. It is truly magical.

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Awards Won:2002 WFA
Award Nominations:2002 NEBULA, 2002 LocusF

Like the previous Earthsea stories, this book seems to be centred around Ged, the sorcerer who is most often recognised by his common name, Sparrowhawk. But, like all except the first bool, this one is in fact focused on the journey of a completly different character. Alder, the local village mage, is mourning his recently departed wife. Full of grief and against his wishes, he is probing for her through the boundary that separates the realms of the living and the dead. This barrier is of such a nature that usually, only mages can safely cross it. Unable to reconcile himself with this loss, Alder journeys to find Ged.

Why it's on the list

The Other Wind deals in a more mature way with themes that appeared in the previous four Earthsea novels: death, loss, greed, intelligence vs. wisdom, middle age and earthly vs. epic fears.This novel is, like Le Guin's previous books, a well-constructed and thoughtful fantasy. Unlike Tolkien, she is less troubled with epic battles and occurrences, and way more interested in the personal tribulations experienced by the characters. The Other Wind is perfect in that it reintroduces us to the major characters from the previous books and it perfectly closes some open-ended questions. Those who've enjoyed the Earthsea saga as well as Ursula K. Le Guin's writing will enjoy every moment of this tale.

Read if you like

High Fantasy

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Set in World War II and during the 1960's during the height of the Cold War, the story takes place in Europe and the Middle East. While Declare is at first glance a spy novel, there is an interesting and appealing twist of sorcery.

It was probably ordained from the day Andrew Hale was born that he would eventually sign up with His Majesty's Secret Service in the war against the Nazi's. But, if the perfect spy had a weakness, it would have to be a woman Elena. She seems to be everything he could ever want, except she also happens to be a Communist from Vichy-controlled France.

After the war, believing his days as a spy were over, Andrew returns to England to a life of academia. But then, in 1963, he gets a phone call reactivating him. It seems like the Soviets are trying to obtain the Ark and all Andrew needs to do is travel to Mount Ararat in the Middle East and protect the world from darkness and evil. How hard can that be for an aging university professor who was once the world's greatest spy?

Why it's on the list

Declare is part espionage novel, part fantasy, and part thriller. Although it requires a lot of focus on the part of the reader, those who pay attention will get drawn into the compelling and rewarding story. Powers' writing displays remarkable credibility in these multiple genres, and he swirls them together into a strong and cohesive work.

Declare is especially notable because it is part science fiction, part espionage thriller, and part fantasy. It is actually doubtful that you have ever read anything like Declare before.

Read if you like

Spy stories, Historical Fantasy

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Awards Won:2001 WFA

In a dystopian future, the last vestiges of civilization is holding out the the tiny island of Galveston. While the rich, high-class citizens enjoy the last remains of what life was before the Flood, all others are left to suffer and to live as best they can. When medicine runs out, all the miracles, the nightmares, the horrifying shamanistic dreams and realities of magic start to run in.

Why it's on the list

"Galveston" is a gorgeously written portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world. The island has been separated from the modern worlds and is a fantastical place overrun by magic. Stewarts characters are likable, a little complicated and wonderfully imagined. The book has a little bit of everything we have come to expect from a post-apocalyptic narrative: weird creatures, humor, heroes who get banished from Galveston Island only to be confronted with cannibals, and numerous plot twists. The writing gives you a flavor of the land, the sky, the sea. You can almost smell it and taste it.

Read if you like

A sophisticated look at magic realism with a Southern twist.

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Awards Won:2000 WFA

Thraxas is a private investigator who is scratching out a career as a private investigator. Living in a poorer section of town, he has a barbarian landlord and an attractive ex-gladiator as a sometime partner. Things get interesting when Thraxas is hired by the Princess Du-Akai to recover a missing letter. Thraxas needs to face a host of threats including a ruthless killer, mad half-orcs, and some pretty evil sorcerers.

Why it's on the list

Scott's world is an intriguing mix of Humans, Elves, and Orcs - a fantasy noir light mix of magic with tongue-in-teeth humor and few politically correct reservations at all. Thraxas is a merry and rebellious look at a detective who enjoys gambling and eating more than casting spells or preaching about the past. This book is even-handed while also not taking itself too seriously. Martin Scott knows what he wants to accomplish and does it perfectly.

Read if you like

Sword and Sorcery, Tongue-in-cheek fantasy

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The Antelope Wife guides its readers through the interconnecting stories of two closely related Ojibwa families. Urban Indians of mixed blood, the story trails them through a set of disastrous marriages, and a bunch of heartbreaking deaths. But the plot also coils and loops around, drawing a lost baby, several dead twins, a baby nursed on a father's milk, a scorched village and a 100-year-old murder.

Why it's on the list

Edrich is a rarity in the literary world. She is profoundly eloquent and has an ability that other authors can only admire. Thanks to her own heritage, she claims Native American descent, she can express the truths of life and awareness within this culture that she is so familiar with.

Her characterizations, accuracy, and thoroughness, is inspiring. The way she weaves spirituality and realism is clever and thought-provoking, and she does it all with a unique touch of humor laced with a slight sense of sadness. She interlaces various contrasting pieces together, forming a story that completely embraces you.

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Awards Won:1998 WFA

Welcome to the Well-Built City where Cley is the perfect judge and jury. He is a reliable mediator between life and death because he has been extensively trained in physiognomy a science (or art?) where every facial feature, body shape and aspect of a personality exposes every secret and can even predict the future.

Convinced that he is doing good work, Cley is continually committing atrocities. While his mentor is grooming Cley for greater things, he soon starts to clash with the powerful leaders of his dictatorial society. Cley's quickly realizes that his battles are not only between the attitudes of his colleagues, they are also with himself and the dark, corrupt soul of the city he calls home.

Why it's on the list

Jeffrey Ford is a master of the evocatively strange and peculiar. This book, together with the two others in the Well-Built City trilogy, has a steampunk feel to them, except steampunk filtered through Faery or Alice's Wonderland. What you seem to think you see may not be there, or may even be something else altogether.

The story is fast moving and attention grabbing while at the same time providing intriguing possibilities for future books. The characterizations, settings, and dialogue are excellent.The characters are quite often even more strange than their surroundings. The book is told in a style that is so sparse, yet the story has a strong, mythic feel.

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Awards Won:1997 WFA

Set in an alternate fantasy world sprawled across the back of a giant turtle, this fantasy novel is broken into distinct episodes, focussed on death, identity and most of all love. Jaqe has no real sense of self and then she meets Laurie. As soon as Mother Night introduced them, She discovers who she is and how deeply she loves Laurie. And yet, as soon as Mother Night becomes a part of their lives. Laurie and Jaqe and their daughter Kate are simply unable to live like other people do.

Why it's on the list

Godmother night could be amongst the most stunning books ever written. It has an imaginative and mythic essence that while enchanting is also utterly convincing. The modern locale and fanciful events merge seamlessly together. You fall in love with the characters and find yourself laughing, crying and totally breathless while reading this book.

This book works on multiple levels all at the same time. The love relationships (lovers, parents, friends) are excruciatingly genuine and entirely believable. The way Pollack weaves mystical and fantastical elements together comes across like true poetry. After reading Godmother Night, all other love stories will seem shallow and banal.

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Dark Romance

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Awards Won:1996 WFA
Award Nominations:1995 BSFA, 1996 CLARKE

The story is about two rival magicians, told in 2 parts. The first part is narrated by the Alfred Borden, who tells his version of this particular rivalry and what he thinks went on. The second part is told by the rival, Rupert Angier. In between both of these parts, it shows two of their relatives that live in the present day who discuss their families' rivalry while reading their ancestors journals.

Why it's on the list

The prestige is a haunting tale of magic and illusion set in the late 1800s. When a man reluctantly sets out to find the truth about his biological parents, he uncovers a bitter rivalry between two magicians that impacted everyone around them and continues to affect their descendants over 100 years later.

Priest makes the most of such fascinating themes as brotherhood, rivalry, physical and psychological doppelganger, delusion, reality, with style and refinement.

This is a remarkable modern thriller jam-packed with suspense and intrigue. Priest succeeds in creating two convincing characters and unleashing them in a tempest of vengeance and remorse. Just like any magic show, this story will leave you breathless for more.

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Stage Magic, the history of magic

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Anthony Van Horne is visited by an angel and is informed that God is dead. His corpse is miles long and floating in the ocean. Anthony needs to command an oil tanker, snag the cadaver and tow it to the arctic where the angels have created a tomb. During the journey, he has to deal with a host of challenges like a crazy feminist, the Vatican, and the biggest question of all What exactly is God doing dead?

Why it's on the list

Towing Jehovah is unusual and written in an ingenious manner. The book covers a broad array of themes, from the physics of towing a giant corpse, cannibalism, theology, cryonics etc. All in all Towing Jehovah manages to cover a host of sensitive topics in a very engaging and entertaining manner. A really enjoyable book for theist and atheist alike.

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Awards Won:1994 WFA

Ray Shackleford is a middle-aged electronics technician who realizes that life is not what he always imagined it would be. His father died, and things between his wife are strained. One day, while sitting in his shop Ray has a daydream about a Beatles recording that could never have existed. For some reason Ray is able to record these dreams and share them with others. As life gets increasingly complicated, Ray becomes obsessed with re-imagining supposedly lost masterpieces. These attempts lead him down dark and twisted paths.

Why it's on the list

Glimpses will make you feel as if you had. Shiner's deep respect and affection for the music and creators of that time shines through in every aspect of his writing. Pick this vibrant, heartfelt, moving novel up immediately and learn first-hand exactly why it won a much deserved World Fantasy Award--you'll be glad you did.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read for fans of both rock & roll and fantasy. It is an engaging story of a man's search for meaning in his life by imagining unique meetings with the legends of rock like Morrison and Hendrix. Shiner's repertoire and extensive understanding of rock history is exceptional.

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Rock and Roll, Nostalgic Fantasy

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As a young man, Scott played in a very mysterious game of poker involving some dark and mysterious players and a very unusual deck of tarot cards. Now, 20 years later, he is a 46-year-old ex-professional poker player whose past has caught up and tangled him in a net of murder, mayhem and magic. Scott finds himself literally playing for his life against his true biological father who, those many years ago won the rights to his body.Scott is no longer just playing for a mere prize - at stake is not just his life but also the souls of his friends and family.

Why it's on the list

This book has dozens of surreal characters, and each one of them is more than fascinating enough to get their own stand-alone novel. Tim Powers achieves a rare feat in that he manages to pull these profound and disparate individuals into an elaborate and gorgeous narrative.

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Urban Fantasy, Mythology

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Awards Won:1992 WFA

Cory Mackenson is 11 years old and growing up in innocence in a picturesque small southern town during the racially torn 1960s. He and his friends enjoy bikes, baseball, and monster movies at the town cinema on Saturdays. Things change early one morning just before daylight when Cory and his Dad watch a car and its occupant careen off a lonely country road into the dark abyss of a rural lake. Upon attempting a rescue, Cory's dad finds the driver unconscious and handcuffed to the steering wheel with a wire wrapped around his neck. This launches Cory and his father on a search for the murderer who is living as a longtime respected citizen in this small rural community.Who is the man in the car, and what about the tattoo? Can a mysterious black lady who lives on the other side of the tracks in this racially tense time hold one of the keys to unraveling the mystery before it unravels the sanity of Cory's father?

Why it's on the list

An amazing story filled with the twists of fantasy and reality in a boy's life. What sets it apart from anything else is the unabashed presentation of fiction in lockstep with reality. This book gives you a piece of what it's like to be a boy; a sense of magic that you've always had, which you've always found valuable to hold onto. The world is amazing, even when it isn't.This book is filled with strange and creepy and scary and crazy things, and then it has this sense of wonder woven through it all.In addition to the suspense of a father and son trying to solve this mystery, Boy's Life also captures the wonder of being an eleven-year-old boy in much the same way Mark Twain did with Tom Sawyer.

This book is simply a precious jewel of inspiring prose. Each of Cory's multiple adventures brings you back to the first time you experienced those things yourself

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Nostalgic Fantasy, Murder Mystery

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Murray Katz, is a single Jewish guy who experiences an immaculate conception. The scientific reason is clear - one of his donated sperm suddenly fertilize and eventually gives birth to his daughter Julie, who immediately begins to displays powers eerily similar to that other guy who lived two thousand years ago. Needless to say, family and friends start to believe that she's the daughter of God. This is when her journey begins as she attempts to contact her heavenly mother. Meanwhile, she is finding it hard to resist all the urges to use her powers to fix everything in the world. After all fixing things won't really solve anything will it? Along the way she runs into some extreme Christian and the devil himself, and goes to a lot of places that she really shouldn't have expected to go.

Why it's on the list

Morrow's style wreaks havoc with questions of faith of all sorts, from the gender of god, religious freedom fighters, and even what Christ's thoughts on Christianity would have been. If you are prepared to submerge your mind into inspiring prose and ardent rejoinders, then be ready to enjoy a wild journey.

The characters are not just authentic, they are wonderfully attractive. The writing has a suave and friendly style and the plot is well-paced. Even though the topic is filled with potential insensitivities, the story is told with an inordinate amount of humor, love and sensitivity.

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Religious Satire

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Awards Won:1991 WFA
Award Nominations:1991 LocusF

Thomas is a young and flashy balladeer who follows the various courts of the mighty while preserving a friendship with a farming couple and flirting with their pretty neighbor. Thomas mysteriously disappears, because the Queen of Elfland enticed him to entertain her in her bed. And also sing for her court. After a boisterous seven-year term by her throne, Thomas returns to the human world, unaged and unable to speak anything except the truth. Now his adventure begins since he has to figure out how to reconnect with those he left behind.

Why it's on the list

Ellen Kushner reworked the classic ballad "Thomas the Rhymer" and a few other traditional poems. Kushner weaves these stories into a sensual tale about love, truth, illusion, and the nature of inspiration. Like any good folk tale, Kushner's prose is exquisitely lyrical, and her plot deceptively simple -- for underneath the classic fairy story of a musician's abduction into the Otherworld is a marvelously engaging story about the various temptations and dangers that all innovative people face in the quest of their Muse.

Thomas the Rhymer is conceivably the best description of the Faerie realm ever written. It is fantastical and imaginative and wonderful. The story is what it is. A legend taken from an old poem; and yes it may be anticlimactic. But if you read it, read it for the creative imagination that went into it. Read it for a true glimpse of the Faerie world.

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Scottish and British mythology, Fairy Tales

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The story follows the protagonist, Madouc, and the adventures around her quest for her pedigree. Casimir, the ruthlessly devious king of Lyonesse, has discovered that the girl he initially thought was his granddaughter, Madouc, is actually a changeling. Somehow this fact is wrapped up in the mystery around the son of the King of Troicenet, Dhrun, whom prophesy says will become the next king of the Elder Isles. This is not something that Casimir will allow to happen. The throne is meant for him alone.

But at the same time there are far bigger, murkier schemes in play. Tamurello, an evil magician and the witch Desmei are plotting against the Elder Isle's greatest mage who is, alone, responsible for keeping the Elder Isle's from plummeting into the ocean.

Why it's on the list

Madouc is the last book in the trilogy of a classic Fantasy Tale. Vance takes the myths from a number of cultures and fuses them into an entirely enjoyable tale. The Elder Isles are eventually saved, although it is at a terrible cost. Finally Madouc even learns where she comes from. What is so entertaining is that the book surprises you with nifty little references to other ancient stories.

All told - Madouc is a gorgeous closing chapter to an incredible trilogy.

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Sword and Sorcery, Fairy Tales

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Awards Won:1989 WFA

Koko follows a group of four Vietnam vets who get wind of a series of murders in the Far East each one signed "Koko". They are sure that this is the work of an old squad mate of theirs and set off in the hopes of finding him. Their quest takes them from Singapore, to Tapei, Milwaukee and eventually New York City. This winding path forces each of them to face their own inner demons and shows us all what the dangers of war can do to a person's soul.

Why it's on the list

While some authors throw you in at the deep end on page one, Straub makes sure to lay the groundwork of each scene and carefully introduce the characters. But before you know it you are caught in a sinister world that, only on the surface, seems to resemble everyday life. This is an haunting piece of fiction that you will thoroughly enjoy.

The main characters have a shared experience of Vietnam that gives the book added credibility that os missing in other thrillers. Although Koko is only the first book in a trilogy, this is by far a book that is good enough to stand on its own. This is a mature adventure through a nightmare psychological landscape. Partly supernatural and definitely terrifying, this book will not appeal to everyone.

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Murder Mystery, War, Psychological Horror Novels

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Awards Won:1988 WFA
Award Nominations:1988 CLARKE

At the age of 43, Jeff Winston has a heart attack in his office... and wakes up to discover that he is 18 and a college student again. It's 1963, he is a young man and begins to appreciate that he can live those 25 years over again. He does this with sheer passion, using his knowledge of the future to build a vast financial fortune. And then he dies again. And wakes up, once again, back in 1963....

It is only at this moment that Jeff's real journey begins. He discoveries abandonment, money, betrayal, loss and love. Each life he lives is a new revelation to himself. He explores different possibilities and experiences different paths of his life and learns and grows each time.

Why it's on the list

Ken Grimwood provides an unbelievably well thought out storyline. Each replay of the protagonists story allows him to explore new possibilities. Repetitive most definitely does not mean boring, since as Jeff grows and evolves, his options change. This is a positive story about cherishing life and love and the absolute miracle of existence.

As a character, Jeff rises and falls by as he searches for some sort of meaning in his endless cycle of life. While the story focusses on beauty and hope, it also fully embraces the R-rated options that a person with never-ending time and no concerns about repercussions would enjoy. Sometimes we admire him. Sometimes his actions are despicable. But whatever reaction we experience lands up being an interesting mirror for our own lives. We will all start to wonder what we would change about our own lives, if we could do it all again.

This is not a children's fantasy book. Replay is thoroughly thought-provoking and, ultimately, it serves up a hopeful lesson. The book should open your eyes to different possibilities and leave you treasuring each new moment and experience.

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Time Travel, Speculative Fantasy

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Grenouille, is a simple man who is born with an acute sense of smell. This knowledge is much more advanced than all his other senses combined. Grenouille's life is a constant struggle and he grows up without any sense of sympathy or empathy. In his youth, he apprentices to a perfume maker, and this becomes the perfect job for his unique skills. In the beginning, he collects the smells of flowers and herbs, and as he develops he begins to explore even inanimate objects like door handles. Eventually he turns his attentions to young, beautiful women. When he learns that the scent of virginal women unleash feelings of unfettered love - he becomes obsessed with bottling this scent and wearing it himself. His great dream is to fool the world into believing him "real". Grenouille does this by designing surrogate scents thus becoming the adored and esteemed person he so desperately wants to be.

Why it's on the list

Perfume is an amazing book. It reaches out and clings to you. At the same time both disturbing and revolting. While surrounding you with a barrage of images and smells from eighteenth century Paris, it forces you to think about morality and even identity. Stunningly written with animated descriptions, this is most definitely a book well worth reading. Most interestingly, this book is different to your ordinary murder novels: From the very beginning, we are aware who the killer is. In truth, the book does not really focus on the killings, but rather it focusses on the perversion of scent in Grenouille's life. Suskind does an extraordinary job of finding the perfect jargon to express these weird and unusual scents. Whether it is the careful depiction of a baby's scent to the odor of human "aura"-his words allow the reader to capture the essence of almost indescribable scents. This book is written with incredible narrative genius and is a compelling story of sensual depravity and murder.

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Murder Mystery, Horror and Dark Fantasy

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Awards Won:1986 WFA

Robert is a writer who is finally given his first big break. He must go to Calcutta and bring back the latest poem by the famous M.Das. Except this poet is supposed to have died several years earlier. Robert takes his wife and baby on his assignment to obtain the manuscript and perhaps shed some light on the mystery of how a supposed dead writer is still writing. It is intended to be a short trip but problems occur, and the horrors of Calcutta eventually overwhelm Bobby and his family.

Why it's on the list

Disturbing would be the most appropriate way to describe this book. Simmons manages to throw you into a world that you know is going mess with your head. He shows remarkable control throughout, carefully keeping the suspense high, the shocks strategically placed, the detail convincing and the Luczak family likable and well-drawn. The Song of Kali does not just scare; it does so much more - it actually repulses. Not with the writing or the violence, but rather through a sinister and repugnant atmosphere. Simmon's version of Calcutta is so unquestionably sinister, so hopeless, that you'll find yourself in wholehearted agreement with his theory that Calcutta should be exterminated, that it is too wicked a place to be left standing unharmed.

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Dark Fantasy, Horror

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Awards Won:1985 WFA

A beautiful fantasy of ancient China, a wonderfully complex and satisfying tale of a peasant village whose children are struck by a mysterious plague. Number Ten Ox undertakes a mission for his community to find a wise man to save the children. He finds Li Kao, a scholar with a "slight flaw in his character." Together they quest for a cure but discover a greater design behind the mission that turns into a battle between immortals over the missing Princess of Birds. Their challenging journey gradually builds steam, collecting people and bits of lore until it takes its place in epic Chinese mythology.

Why it's on the list

Bridge of Birds has everything one could want in a book. Experience romance, comedy, terror, mystery and unique, memorable, characters. Hughart is a true master of imagery and story-telling, intertwining fables, and history with an incredible fantasy that's completely his own.The story is sprinkled with clever little details, light-hearted capers, smart cons, and genuinely touching subplots, not to mention an extraordinarily gifted main plot line.Hughart compiles a mix of fantasy mythology and cultural idiosyncrasy that create a unique book in a genre usually inhabited by magic wands and elves. Even the evil villains are portrayed as creatures at the mercy of their own wiles. The anti-heroes exploits are great. This is the type of book you want to read, save, and buy another copy for a friend.

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The Mythago Wood series explores a magical wood that has produced every mythical and legendary character that ever existed in any culture. The wood is a place where space and time don't follow the usual rules. It's a place of sheer unbridled brutality blended with wondrous and everlasting love. Mythago Wood tells the story of Steve Huxley, a young man who returns to his childhood home and renews his obsession with the nearby wood. He discovers that the wood creates magical creatures, called mythagos, that are ingrained in the mythic classics from various unique cultures. Entangled in a romantic quarrel with his brother, who has also in his own way merged with the wood, Steve embarks on a quest to rescue his love, an exotic being whose history dates back to Roman times.

Why it's on the list

Mythago Wood is quite simply one of the best Fantasy novels ever written, a story refreshingly different to the usual suspects in this genre (no orcs, no wizards, no dwarves or elves), gripping from the beginning to the end. Holdstock manages to create an atmosphere that is immersing: you can almost see the green of the leaves, smell the forest scents and touch the softness of the moss as if you were strolling amongst the trees with the heroes. These engrossing qualities captivate the reader, bind them up in living branches of wonder and mystery, and keep them guessing long after the book is finished. What you have here is a journey that can't be missed, a trip that absolutely must be taken.

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British mythology

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The novel follows the escapades of four diverse characters an exiled Prince, an exiled emperor, an Italian doctor and a German vampire -- in a very alternate fifteenth century Europe. Mingling historical and recognizable characters from our past with fascinating fictional heroes, this is a book that is both captivating and entertaining. Ford is a much-underrated author, who successfully combines in-depth, detailed investigation with a brilliant imagination and twists history to produce a version of Europe in which plots hide behind shady intentions, magic is an unbearable load to the magician and vampirism is an infectious disease

Why it's on the list

The Dragon Waiting is a terrific blend of fantasy and history. A truly marvelous book.The narrative unfolds in a re-working of our history, with the added twist of vampires and magic. It is superbly well-written and intelligent and is imagined with complexity and great humor.

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Historical Novels, Alternate History

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Awards Won:1983 WFA

This series of 4 short novelettes shadow the escapades of Nifft the Lean, an expert thief whose criminal skills will guide you through Stygian realms to places where an endless succession of harm, horror, and unnerving calms flow past each traveler. Nifft the Lean begins with the promise of high-intensity, hard-edged dark fantasy. It delivers this promise in four perfect novels. Taking place in a garish and bizarre world, these stories narrate how Nifft and his team risk not just their lives, but their very souls in the pursuit of their darkest passions.

Why it's on the list

Nifft is a character that like Conan, Fafhrd and other literary barbarians', is the type of man who shows scorn for riches by pilfering untold fortunes and then choosing to drink and gamble everything away. Nifft's universe is suggestive of what can be read in the earliest epics of Homer or Gilgamesh, one in which a man should endeavor to live confidently and well - because there is no paradise waiting for any of us after death. Shea's abilities truly shine when, with horrific detail he describes the way Nifft, and his troupe traipse through a frenzied and untidy world. Michael Shea also truly understands the power of perspective: each story is different with one being recounted by Nifft, another is entirely in the 3rd person. Sometimes the story is continued by Nifft's friends, who are actually masquerading as Nifft This book allows us to enjoy a multitude of differing narrative styles.

Read if you like

Conan, Sword and Sourcery

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The story revolves around Smoky Barnable, a nebulous sort of bloke, who falls in love with a tall and delicate woman. Completely besotted, he chooses to suspend his beliefs in order to follow her. He considers himself the luckiest man alive when he marries her and enters her enchanted home in the woods. The narration drifts backward and forward in time to eventually include six generations of the Bramble, Drinkwater, Cloud, Mouse, Hawksquill, and Barnable families. What becomes evident is that the fairy kingdom is manipulating the entire family. Some believe this more than others, but no-one knows how this fantastical tale will end.

Why it's on the list

Little, Big is more of an experience than a book. It feels slow at first, but it certainly rewards you for your patience. You will fall in love with Barnable and his extraordinary marriage into a unique family. Beneath the surface of this gentle lark beats the heart of a magically amazing story that is part parable for how to enjoy a healthy and fulfilled life. This is one of those timeless, eternal, stories that take on new meanings each time you read it. From the first word, you are caught up in the oddly modern yet nostalgic feeling that Little, Big brings - a wonderful sense of timelessness. John Crowley has managed to create a story that doesn't feel like fantasy it is truly literary fiction that happens to have fantastical elements.

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Modern Fantasy, Fairie Tales.

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'The Shadow of the Torturer' is the first book in Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun tetralogy. Narrated by Severian, a member of the Guild of Torturers, the story follows his adventures as he is cast out for showing mercy to a deserving client. The setting for the story is Earth (or Urth) in the far future where civilization has regressed, and the sun is red and dying.Severian is an outstanding young apprentice in the Torturer's guild. He falls for a beautiful prisoner and is forced to leave his lifelong home to seek his destiny, in the first volume of Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series.

Why it's on the list

While the plot is in many ways pretty ordinary, there are plenty of unusual touches that take this fantasy beyond the run of the mill.Wolfe's language helps create the other-worldly locale for his story, and he often employs archaic or invented words to describe objects that are common enough on "Urth", but are unfamiliar to us. Almost every other page describes some incredible wonder.

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Awards Won:1980 WFA

In a world of warriors and lovers, war and honor, the legendary Tornor Keep is the tower that guards the winter end of the summer realm of Arun. But when Tornor is invaded by raiders, a young prince is the tower's last hope. Only he can protect the future of this enchanting land.

Why it's on the list

Watchtower takes you to another time and place. It allows you to escape your body and experience the world of Arun. Lynn creates a demanding presence with all of her characters that keeps reading this book constantly at the top of your to-do list.Lynn's story contains all the standard fantasy elements: an exiled prince, a devoted manservant, an evil traitor, and a tranquil vale. What's special about Watchtower is that first impressions don't do it justice. This is a story filled with many understated issues and uncommon themes. Thanks to the gentler pace, the reader has time to engage with the difficult temperaments of each character and to discover the strange yet somehow familiar imagined landscape. The trilogy deals delicately and intelligently with the issues of sexual identity of the numerous characters woven through the plotlines.

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Award Nominations:1979 BFS

Queen Gloriana is the absolute ruler of the paramount empire in the history of the world, Albion. With her in charge, the vast kingdom has thrived as peace has led to enormous prosperity. Everyone in the vast realm from the Americas to Asia believes that Gloriana's enlightened leadership has resulted in the Golden Age as never heard of before. But on a personal level, Gloriana is unable to achieve an orgasm, since the weight and duties of her reign have taken their toll. Even though her image is one of unimpeachable ethics, Gloriana has, in private, tried every fetish known and even a few unknown to get satisfaction. To mask her depravity she relies on her ruthless Chancellor to keep everyone in line. However, he isolates his best agent Quire, who begins a plan of vengeance by with seducing the queen in order to get her to fall in love with him.

Why it's on the list

Gloriana is a story full of spellbinding writing and glowing descriptions. This is in the finest tradition of non-Tolkien British fantasy of which Moorcock is the unchallenged master. Ostensibly set in the historical Elizabethan era, some wondrous tiny twists make it an alternative universe. Decadence, automatons, travelers from other realities, court seasons and public poetry set the stage for scenes which are almost more compelling than the story itself. The story line focuses on a Queen Elizabeth like character whose public image is vastly and profoundly different to her own reality. Devotees of erotic fantasy filled with plenty of treachery and intrigue will feel completely fulfilled with this tale. Like other Moorcock novels, it can be read as a high-paced narrative full of plot ideas that twist with a life of their own and characters that demand your attention; your sympathy; your concern;and even your disgust.

Read it if you like

Alternate history, erotic fantasy

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Awards Won:1978 WFA

Our Lady of Darkness tells the story of Franz, a recovering alcoholic and accomplished horror writer in San Francisco. Franz discovers an old journal of weird metaphysical writings and his life takes a bizarre turn. While gazing out his apartment window, he spies a strangely robed figure dancing on Corona Heights. This catches his interest, and he resolves to take a hike out there to discover more. When he gets there, he takes out his binoculars and enjoys the view, but when he looks at his apartment building, he sees the same strangely robed figure waving back at him from his window.

Why it's on the list

An excellent example of urban horror fantasy, Fritz Leiber was one of the great fantasy writers of the 50-70s. The book is so well-written, and the characters (especially Westen) are so compelling that it is sure to keep you in its spell right to the end.The enticing, slow pace of this story sucks you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the final culmination of the tale. Fritz Leiber was brilliant at using disparate objects to create strange and meaningful synchronicities. Without a doubt, he is one of the greatest writers of all time.

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Urban Horror, Fantasy in modern settings.

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The Animals have had enough. For years, they have been used in experiments by human scientists. The time for revolution is now! Every single animal has joined this revolution except for one, Doctor Rat. Doctor Rat is a champion of the laboratory, the survivor of several experimental injuries, and an excellent speaker. He sides with the human and their continuation to perform experiments. He uses clever jingles to make points and has a tagline that is incredibly true in the world of animal experimentation, "Death Is Freedom."

Why it's on the list

Doctor Rat is both gruesome and witty, with one of literature's most memorable characters. The book is a hilarious, wild and slightly psychotic story in the same vein as Animal Farm. Read it, enjoy and it and also be prepared for the shocking and crazy scenes imagined by Kotzwinkle. If you have a dark and twisted sense of humor you will most definitely enjoy this. Dr. Rat was very smartly written. You will be on the floor laughing at some parts, and cringing at others. Although it is great story, it is not recommended for squeamish readers because there is a lot of graphic animal experimentation details

Read if you like

Animal lovers, political zealots, and anyone with an imagination should enjoy this book.

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Set in 1971, a young Richard Collier is sick with a brain tumor and decides to flip a coin to see where it will take him. He ends up in a beautiful hotel built in the 1800's. Richard soon finds himself in love with a portrait of a young actress who was the star of a stage production held at the hotel almost a century earlier. Utterly besotted, he is able to convince himself that he can return to that time to be with her.

Why it's on the list

This delightfully inventive and inspired book draws the reader into its fantastical web. A genuine page-turner, it is a classic story of a love which will not be denied. The yearning that the protagonists have for each other is painfully tangible. A poignant sadness infuses the pages of this book, as the characters pass through life, barely feeling how each is a shadow on the consciousness of the other.Read the book, and then see the movie, "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. You will not be disappointed.

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History, Romance.

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Awards Won:1975 WFA

Sybel is 16 years old, and alone in the world, orphaned by her princess mother and her wizard father. Her only goal in life is to maintain the magical animals left to her by her father and to extend the menagerie through her own magic. Without warning, her world is turned upside down when a baby is brought for her to raise, a child who causes Sybel to become entangled in the human world of revenge, war and love. Now, only her beasts can save her from ultimate destruction.

Why it's on the list

McKillip manages to make the books' heroes seem like villains and its villains look almost heroic. In fact, every character in this book is perfectly human, and that's not a simple achievement in a genre so replete with well-worn cliches. You will be awestruck by the richness of this world and its' characters. The author is a master of her craft and if you enjoy fantasy or are intrigued by how metaphysical concepts show up in Fantasy this is a book worth reading. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a quick read, the story is captivating and it feels fresh and appropriate even though it was published nearly 40 years ago. Most refreshing is that the fate of the world is not what is really at stake, but rather the personal relationships of a sorceress, a nobleman, and a lost prince. This book is simply magical, unforgettable, and truly a delight to read.

Read if you like

Magic, Intrigue, metaphysical concepts?

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