One of my favourite things about Sci-fi & Fantasy is the popularity of trilogies, quartets, series, spin-offs.
Whatever they’re called, what this means for authors is that world building and character development cannot be constrained to a single book. What this means for readers is endlessly exciting lists of continuing reads.
This list contains ten books sorted by release date.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance – Tomi Adeyemi
Book 1: Children of Blood and Bone
Leading the charge for bold new stories in fantasy was Children of Blood and Bone, which is about a character called Zélie, one of the few people remaining who can use magic after a ruthless purge by the king. In this story, she fights to bring it back, aided by an unlikely ally.
Although this book was not as groundbreaking a read as I had hoped, it was still a good book, and the sequel is on my TBR. The setting was also something new for YA, and if you’re a fan of the genre you’re sure to like this book.
Release: December 2019… should it even be on this list?
False Value – Ben Aaronovitch
Book 1: Rivers of London
Rivers of London is a series about police officer Peter Grant who comes across a ghost witness for a crime. He discovers, with a large amount of hilariousness, that the world of magic doesn’t stop at ghosts. The series consistently introduces creative characters and world building with good mysteries involved.
This eighth instalment (yes, this series on book eight and it’s beautiful) moves Peter a little bit away from chasing down criminal magicians and into new territories.
This is one of my favourite series of all time. I think it may technically count as a crime novel, but there’s magic, so it belongs here.
Release: February 20th, what am I waiting for?!
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins
Book 1: The Hunger Games
Odds are (see what I did there?) you’re familiar with the Hunger Games. With this book, Collins rewinds seventy years to the tenth Games.
If you’ve caught the marketing, you’ll know the protagonist is the future President Snow – as a good guy. However, I’m pretty optimistic about where this book’s going to go. Collins wrote a Capitol that was full of capitalist horror: greedy for entertainment at any expense; a centre of concentrated wealth; extreme, orchestrated poverty.
All dystopias have to start somewhere, and I’m curious to see how Collins builds this one. And how much familiarity it will have with our present day…
Harrow the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir
Book 1: Gideon the Ninth
The first novel of this series can best be summed up as genre-bending. It’s a cross between a world literally built on necromancy and interplanetary politics, all narrated by a wonderfully hilarious narrator, the kind people describe as ‘irreverent.’
From what I can tell, the second book of this trilogy is going to be just as intriguing. It’s narrated by the secondary protagonist of book one, which gives us opportunity to learn more about her, her past, her magic.
The Empire of Gold – S.A. Chakraborty
Book 1: The City of Brass
The final book of the Daevabad trilogy is out soon, bringing to a close the adventures of Nahri. She’s a girl with a mysterious past and a knack for swindling people and also, maybe, calling djinns?
I’m actually still on book one of this book, mostly because I haven’t had the time to sit down and get stuck in. It’s a fantasy series that deviates from a generically medieval Europe setting. Instead, it’s set in Cairo, a city contending with both Ottoman rule and an invasion from France. The language is rich with descriptions that lets you know exactly where you are, and it’s half worth reading just for that. (Sidenote: why is history about the late eighteenth century is so damn interesting!)
Sorcery of a Queen – Brian Naslund
Book 1: Blood of an Exile
The first book in The Dragons of Terra series is about (as you might imagine from the title), an exile. He’s been given the kingdom’s usual punishment to troublemakers – kill dragons. Only unlike all of the others, he’s still alive.
I’m halfway through this book and enjoying it far more than I’d thought. The summary sounds a bit rote – powerful man has magic power. But it’s published by Tor, who reliably produce excellent books, and also it’s about dragons, so there is generally little room for error. The characters are lively, the threat is a nice surprise (that bit will make more sense once you’ve read it) and the humour is the wry kind that I especially enjoy.
The second book out this summer, then, is definitely on my TBR!
Doors of Stone – Patrick Rothfuss
Book 1: The Name of the Wind
This series focuses on a young man with a mysterious past, delving into said mysterious past, which includes such points as attending a prestigious school for magic, mastering every skill known to man and introducing many intriguing mysteries.
I’m not going to lie – I have a love/hate relationship with this book. On the one hand, every page I read frustrated me. The Name of the Wind was the first book I just skipped sections of, because I couldn’t bring myself to read them. And yet, I’ve read both books so far, haven’t I? I guess the series is a bestseller for a reason.
The third book of the Kingkiller Chronicles should be out this year. For example, you may notice there is no cover release atm, throwing this whole book up in the air. The second was published in 2011, so it seems Rothfuss is following the GRM route of writing. Nonetheless, the final book of the trilogy should promise the answers we’ve all been waiting for. (Even though, if I’m honest, I’ve kinda forgotten what the questions were.)
Release: possibly August
Call of the Bone Ships – R. J. Barker
Book 1: The Bone Ships
This is a series about dragons, which is probably why it’s on this list, considering I haven’t actually read it yet. Essentially, two warring nations who used dragon bones to build their ships have just realised there’s a new dragon in the sea, after centuries.
I am a sucker for a story about dragons (who isn’t?), and this book has testimonials from some of my favourite authors, including Robin Hobb. Let’s see how it goes I guess!
The Burning God – R. F. Kuang
Book 1: The Poppy War
The Poppy War is what I would call a fantasy epic. It focuses on an orphan girl called Rin, who wins admission to the most elite military school in the country. The story is based on events during twentieth century Chinese history, such as invasion by Japan, alliances with Russia and the creation of the Republic.
It’s a series that makes you want more of fantasy world building, right alongside history lessons, which is no mean feat I think.
This book is the third in the series, and both instalments so far have turned out to be excellent. Kuang is one of the few authors whose plots you can never really predict. And that’s not because her stories take a sudden turn into the unpredictably mystifying, it’s because the world she has built is on shaky foundations. When everything could come crashing down at any second, it frequently does.
The Witness for the Dead – Katherine Addison
Book 1: The Goblin Emperor
The Goblin Emperor is one of my favourite fantasy books of all time. After my first read, I read it again after a very short amount of time, partly to just luxuriate in the world building, partly to better understand it.
My review is here if you want to find out more (scroll to end).
This title itself gives clues about who the book will follow and although I loved the first book’s protagonist, Addison has an excellent way of developing characters and their backstories, so I’m more than happy to follow someone new.
There are quite a few fantasy books released this year that are new stories by familiar novelists. YA legends from Veronica Ross to Sarah J. Maas are breaking into adult fantasy fiction.
Other books of note that are releasing this year: the fourth instalment of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives.
Are you looking forward to any of these books? Let me know!