So, somehow I’ve lasted 2 years of blogging. What has surprised me is that I’m still having just as much fun and don’t have any plans to quit in the near future. I also never imagined I’d have amassed 5,000 followers by this point – thankyou!
I’ve learnt quite a lot along the way but the only thing I really want to look back on at this point are the books I’ve enjoyed the most. As you can imagine, this has been a torturous decision making process and I’ve had to leave out some stuff I loved from some awesome authors. I was going to break it down into categories but I’m literally just going to name the books I enjoyed most and why. There was no way I was going to rank them in order so I’ve listed them alphabetically by title of the book.
Where 2 or more books are from the same series, I’ve chosen the book from that series that I enjoyed the most and included it as 1 entry.
Thanks for reading, here are my faves from the past 2 years:
Fury of a Demon (Dragons of Terra)
Fury of a Demon is the stunning conclusion to the Dragons of Terra trilogy by Brian Naslund, and after reading this trilogy, the author became my first ‘insta-buy’ author. I’ll read whatever he writes next, purely because I loved the trilogy so much.
Books 1 & 2 were already dark and funny, and the series gets darker and funnier in Fury of a Demon, as well as building upon the wacky sci-fi elements brought in during book 2, Sorcery of a Queen. Despite the fact I’ve described it as both wacky and funny, it’s not a light hearted series, it just happens that there are humourous exchanges and imaginative sci-fi and fantasy elements.
The implementation of dragons into a natural, believable ecosystem is delightful and the characters are all fantastically written. I just had so much fun with it that it’s one of the only series I know for a fact I’ll re-read.
Northern Wrath/Shackled Fates (The Hanged God)
Thilde Kold Holdt
I just bloody loved these two books so much I couldn’t choose between them, they’re both fantastic reads that have made certain Thilde is also an insta-buy author for me from this point.
Northern Wrath was quite heavy on historical fiction and fantasy with a bit of mythology thrown in, whereas Shackled Fates goes almost all out on the mythology. Everything is just crafted superbly and I’m absolutely desperate to know what happens in the finale next year with Slaughtered Gods. I’m so happy I found these books.
Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Crown)
Priest of Bones has been likened to a fantasy Peaky Blinders and I wholeheartedly agree with the comparison – seeing as I love Peaky Blinders, that’s a particularly good thing!
There aren’t actually loads of fantasy elements at play, but those that are, really complement the whole vibe. Much of the book reads like a grimdark gangster story which feels inspired by the early modern period – where swords were still used but the age of chivalry and knights was becoming less of a thing. I loved getting immersed in this dark, gritty world of soldiers returning from war and not finding anything but the bottom of a brandy bottle, and the will of one morally grey man to take back his city whilst manoeuvring through both his enemies and friends.
Sword of Destiny (The Witcher)
After putting in 350 hours on The Witcher 3 video game, it’s safe to say I love the world of the Witcher.
Would I have loved Sword of Destiny quite so much if I didn’t already have the whole atmosphere, scenery, and general vibe of the Witcher world burnt into my imagination? It’s impossible to say.
What I am sure of is that Geralt is my favourite character from any book. He never stoops to the low morality of some of the characters around him, and he acknowledges that sometimes the biggest monsters are actually human beings rather than the supposed beast he’s been tasked with dispatching. I like that he’s a badass but with a conscience and if we are honest, he’s socially awkward, too.
The Blade Itself (The Third Law)
The Blade Itself is just a fantastic epic fantasy book. The self proclaimed Lord of Grimdark Joe Abercrombie has a knack for writing brilliant characters, the highlight here being the crippled torturer Sand dan Glokta.
The real skill is actually making you feel sympathy for a character who inflicts so much pain upon others. Whilst you can imagine from this sentence alone, this book is R rated at times, there is also that classic adventure and magic to the story, creating an interesting cocktail of mystery and wonder mixed with political intrigue and gory outcomes.
The Court of Broken Knives (Empire of Dust)
Anna Smith Spark
Prose with personality!
Anna Smith Spark’s writing style is like nothing else I’ve read, and you’ll either love it or hate it. I love it!
Not only does she put her own stamp on her work through her prose, she juxtaposes beautiful imagery with pure brutality and death. A real feast for the senses.
The Lost War (Eidyn)
Justin Lee Anderson
The Lost War was either the 2nd or 3rd book I reviewed as a blogger and it has remained a favourite ever since. Whenever I have doubts or imposter syndrome amongst all the great fantasy reviewers out there, I remind myself that I’d yelled at the top of my virtual voice about this book for ages before it eventually won the #SPFBO, a well deserved achievement.
What stood out in The Lost War was a fantastic cast of characters and of course a fantastic plot twist I never saw coming, that really gives this book a unique feel.
The Serpent Sword (Bernacia Chronicles)
I loved this book because it never once lost my interest. It was exciting and engaging all the way through, with colourful characters, revenge driven plot and the perfect blend of well researched history and creative licence.
Although there are some very positive reviews for Matthew Harffy’s work, I think this series needs even more attention brought to it because the first book at least, is fantastic. I’m intending to read more of this series in 2022 (is getting to all 8 too ambitious?)
The Witch’s Heart
The Witch’s Heart is one of my favourite ever reads, which is particularly interesting to me as it’s not even the sort of book I’d usually go for.
There is little action and vast amounts of the book focus on a woman struggling with motherhood and a difficult partner in her modest home. Not a huge sword or a dragon in sight.
Why I enjoyed The Witch’s Heart so much was just how captivating it was. There are parts written so delicately, and the Norse Mythology interweaved so magically. Gornichec’s imagination and the way she was able to make me adore the main character, Angrboda. It’s the type of book that you want to give yourself a hug when you finish it, both in sadness at it ending and at the emotions it’s taken you through during the story. A really magical read.
We Ride the Storm
Devin Madson’s We Ride the Storm was such an original feeling fantasy book. There are definite medieval Asian inspired influences as well as various other unique cultural aspects. The world building therefore was particularly enjoyable but I also loved the three character POVs. You get a real sense of depth and that the author knows a lot more about the world than she’s given us in this first book. One of my favourite fantasy worlds for sure. Like most of the books on this list, I’m a slow reader and I’m behind, but I’m so excited to get onto book two!
There were some books that could very easily have made the list here – Kingshold by D. P. Woolliscroft, The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams and Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell being 3 such examples.
There were others that have stayed particularly memorable with the passing of time that I have appreciated further as I’ve read more books. The Gatewatch by Josh Gillingham for example, is the best book I’ve read for curling up with on a cold winter’s day, despite not quite making the 10.
Alien: The Cold Forge by Alex White is the only book I’ve found (and I’ve done some searching) that achieves everything I love about the first two Alien films.
You’ll notice all of my top 10 are inspired by the middle ages (though you could argue Priest of Bones is Early Modern inspired) or based on Norse Mythology. That’s generally my thing and so it makes sense that my absolute faves stick to this formula. However, knocking on the door of the top 10 are a number of other sub genres, with plenty of amazing 5 star reads. Could 2022 be the year one of them has enough to set aside my usual preference and rocket into the top 10?