The Emperor of the Eight Islands, by Lian Hearn

It seems so obvious to merge fantasy with Japanese folklore, and yet so few authors have done so. Fantasy is historically seldom translated, however, so even if there had been a slew of Japanese fantasy books, I likely wouldn’t know of them. That Lian Hearn is a British woman living in Australia is possibly the…

The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty

I need to admit something right away – I had a song from Aladdin playing in my head almost the entire time that I read this book. I partly blame myself for watching that movie about a million times as a child, and partly blame author S.A. Chakraborty for creating a character called Prince Ali…

Traitor’s Blade, Sebastien de Castell

To my great shame, I have never read The Three Musketeers. I have seen and loved multiple movie versions, despite the poor quality of said adaptations (except for “The Man in the Iron Mask,” which is dope). The myth of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and little baby brother d’Artagnan is one I hold close. I will…

The Thousand Names, Django Wexler

The Thousand Names is something unique in the fantasy genre (at least in this reader’s experience). There is a common piece of advice about writing fantasy that goes something like – look at current the niches within the genre and then see how you can create your own. There are fantasy mysteries and thrillers, mash-ups…

The Black Company, Glen Cook

The Black Company was first published in 1984. This is 12 years before A Game of Thrones is first released and 15 years before Gardens of the Moon. It is six years before The Eye of the World starts The Wheel of Time saga. If you told me that Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, and…

The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

The biggest issue I had with The Bear and the Nightingale is that the titular Bear is not identified until halfway through, and the Nightingale does not make an appearance until the final fourth of the book. Does that make this a poorly titled novel? No. The title is inviting and intriguing. My complaint is…

Spiderlight, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Back in the 90s – I say, dating myself – there were multiple novel series set in different Dungeons and Dragons campaign worlds; mostly Dragonlance and The Forgotten Realms. These included some gems like Salvatore’s Drizzt series and the Dragonlance narrative itself. These two sagas were fantasy comfort food that one didn’t have to think…

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

The title of a book can be a powerful indicator of its success. I think the title of The Goblin Emperor is apt enough, it is a book about an emperor who is half-goblin, but it is not one that would have caught my eye. When I heard people raving about how good it was,…

Memories of Ice – Steven Erikson

Fifteen days and 784 pages later, with some of the tiniest font I have seen, I finished what is probably one of the finest fantasy novels I have ever read. Third in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Memories of Ice is considered by many fans of the series to be the finest of them….

The Summer Dragon, Todd Lockwood

Why do I love dragons? Is it their impossibility? Even with hollow bones, something that large carousing through the air with nothing but muscle power is pretty unbelievable. Is it their ferocity? I do also love bears and sharks (at a distance). Is it their mythical nature? I tend to be drawn towards those creatures…

To Ride Hell’s Chasm, by Janny Wurts

Hell’s Chasm terrifies me, and it does so because Janny Wurts’ talent for writing about a harrowing flight through some of nature’s most unforgiving terrain is second to no one. I didn’t even really understand the title of the book until the lead characters come to the titular Chasm itself, and then I could think…

Kings of the Wyld, Nicholas Eames

As if the fantasy genre and heavy metal weren’t connected enough, along comes Nicholas Eames to tighten the leather straps and forever marry two oddly similar forms of entertainment in Kings of the Wyld, the first in a series that thrums like a Jimmy Page riff in a genre full of entry-level chord practice. What’s…