13 Reasons 2014 May Be The Best Year For Fantasy In The 21st Century

2014 is going to be a banner year for fantasy novels. Here are 13 books to put on your must read list.

13. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Why it will blow you away: The most anticipated fantasy book of the year dropped early when Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance was released this March. The second book in Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, Sanderson is one of the few authors who can be said to have the same reach and epic scope as George R.R. Martin. Words of Radiance may be the most accomplished followup to a popular first novel in the last 15 years and the time and energy that Sanderson put into this work tells throughout the novel.

When can I get it?
Right now.

12. The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler

Why it will blow you away: Wexler is in many ways a “student of the game” in the art of fantasy writing as he has taken the best tropes of the field and molded them into his own complex and fascinating world. Wexler has an intrinsic understanding of what keeps readers reading, what good fantasy should be and that grudges should be settled by an epic sword fight. If The Thousand Names was any indication The Shadow Throne should be the best swashbuckling yarn of the year.

When can I get it?
July.

11. The Dark Defiles by Richard Morgan

Why it will blow you away: Known more for his series of Takeshi Kovacs novels, Richard Morgan has quietly flown under the radar with his A Land Fit for Heroes Trilogy. This is a shame since Morgan is one of the few authors brave enough to write a gay character as a lead and not fall prey to the usual stereotypes that abound throughout fantasy. Morgan always takes chances in his writing, so truck through the first few books before this one drops. You will not be disappointed.

When can I get it? October.

10. The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron

Why it will blow you away: If you want to know about how people really fought with swords and halberds, well Cameron is your man. A medieval reenactor, Cameron writes about siege weaponry and belt buckles with an exacting eye for detail. Sometimes this can be a detriment as one wishes that there was less about buttons being polished and more swordplay, but the writing and perspective is fresh enough to keep a reader enticed and wanting more.

When can I get it? Now.

9. The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

Why it will blow you away: McClellan’s Promise of Blood came out of nowhere last year to grab and hold the attention of fantasy readers. Boasting a unique world, a well-thought out magic system and enough action to sate the most bloodthirsty reader, the work was a treat for those who read it. The Crimson Campaign promises to build upon the debut and dial the action up to 11.

When can I get it?
May.

8. The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham

Why it will blow you away: Abraham’s Dagger and Coin series has received mixed reviews due to the fact that he seems determined to finish this series at a rate of one book a year. As such, there has been criticism lobbed at the fact that key characters are glossed over or have sudden and abrupt personality shifts. However, we live in a world were Robert Jordan died before his opus could be finished and fans are demanding daily health updates on George R.R. Martin. Abraham’s commitment to his work and the the frenetic beats of his writing makes The Widow’s House a must read in 2014.

When can I get it? August.

7. The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

Why it will blow you away: Amid the grit and “reality” of modern fantasy, it’s always refreshing when a work of wonderful escapism emerges from the ether to capture your imagination. Staveley’s work is dark in its action, but the world possesses a certain whimsy that much of modern fantasy is missing. Giant birds used for black ops operations? This book has it. Badass killer monks? Check. Badass killer monks on giant birds? Yup. Really, that’s all you need to know.

When can I get it?
Now.

6. Blood and Iron by Jon Sprunk

Why it will blow you away: If you like Spartacus, then Blood and Iron is the book for you. Full of treachery, rebellion and a pinch of sexual tension, Sprunk has written a work which is one part Shogun and four parts amazing.

When can I get it? Now.

5. Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Why it will blow you away: Lawrence’s “protagonist” Jorg from The Broken Empire trilogy was a true “bastard” in that he was an unlikable little jerk whose exploits you couldn’t help but admire. Lawrence returns to his world with a new prince, Jalan, who possesses all the hallmarks of difficult Lawrence lead as he is an alcoholic profligate lech. In Lawrence’s world, you may hate your lead, but you won’t be able to put the book down.

When can I get it? June.

4. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Why it will blow you away: Sometimes prose is what hooks you and N.K. Jemisin is one of the best pure writers in Fantasy today. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was one of the best debuts in recent memory (and was also nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards) and The Fifth Season is the first work of what appears to be a new trilogy. If anyone can make the apocalypse lyrically beautiful, it’s Jemisin.

When can I get it? August.

3. Half A King by Joe Abercrombie

Why it will blow you away: Dirty little secret…Abercrombie’s First Law series is probably better than Game of Thrones. Bold words maybe, until you start reading Abercrombie and are startled by how perfectly his world is designed, and how each successive work builds on the mythology of the world without diluting any of the previous work’s impact. Half a King follows in the tradition of The Heroes and Red Country, adding another layer to Abercrombie’s immense yet enriching nesting egg of a fantasy world.

When can I get it? July.

2. Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan

Why it will blow you away: Ryan is a modern day self-published success story as his first work, Blood Song, was initially only available as a digital download. After frantic word of mouth and an endless series of positive reviews, Ryan found himself with a publisher (Penguin) for the second work in his epic Raven’s Shadow series. If you like your fantasy worlds huge, your stakes to be epic and enjoy new writers to break through the glass ceiling of fantasy, then put Tower Lord on your “must read” list ASAP.

When can I get it? July.

1. The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

Why it will blow you way: If Sanderson’s Words of Radiance may be the most anticipated work of “high” fantasy this year, then Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land may be the most anticipated work of fantasy to be released in the last 25 years period, full stop. Grossman’s first two works in The Magicians trilogy turned the genre on its head, blending a kaleidoscopic, dark Harry Potter motif with some of the most hard hitting prose to enter fantasy in the last decade. The first two works twisted reader’s stomachs (in a good way) and thinking about the works months after conclusion. Now all Grossman has to do is stick the landing. However it turns out, people will be talking about this trilogy for decades to come.

When can I get it? August.

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