The 32 Best Fantasy Books Of 2015
2015 has been a truly great year for fantasy, with a number of stunning debuts, startlingly original standalones, and excellent new installments in beloved series.
In no particular order...
1. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Hawkins' fantastic debut novel The Library at Mount Char is the story of a deeply strange, highly unsettling family—the likes of which you've never seen before. Years ago, Carolyn and the other children were adopted by a cruel, powerful man they called Father, and spent years learning some of his secrets and how to develop their own brand of magic. But now Father has disappeared, and the siblings are pitted against each other—and the rest of the world, which has no idea what it's up against—in their fight for dominance. A wild ride of a novel, fierce and totally bonkers yet moving and humane, The Library at Mount Char will stun you on every page.
2. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by by George R. R. Martin and Gary Gianni
We're all eagerly awaiting the release of The Winds of Winter and G.R.R.M. must know that because he was nice enough to throw us a bone this year with A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. The story takes place a century before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and follows a hedge knight named Dunk, and his young squire, Egg. (Who come to life thanks to some incredible illustrations throughout the novel.) So with the prequel behind us, all we have to worry about now is avoiding spoilers from season six of the Game of Thrones TV series.
3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Naomi Novik, whose Temeraire series is a fantasy classic, creates an incredible, rich new world in Uprooted that is dripping with magic and intrigue. The story of a young girl with a gift for magic, a cold, distant magician who decides to teach her, and the chilling evil of a haunted forest, this novel is part fairytale, part court intrigue, and entirely riveting.
4. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
A devastating novel about one woman's journey as she searches a broken and war-torn world for her son who was taken from her. It's an incredibly moving intro novel to a new series from N.K. Jemisin, whom you may know from her incredible "Inheritance" books. If the rest of this series is as compelling as this first novel, we're in for quite an experience.
5. The Cinder Spires: the Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Jim Butcher, best known for Dresden Files, took a break from his long-running series to start what will hopefully become a NEW long-running series of steampunk novels. The first entry of a planned trilogy, The Aeronaut's Windlass is a gripping, fast-paced adventure story full of airships and action.
6. A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria "V.E." Schwab
A world filled with magic, but only if you're in the right dimension. The book's protagonist, Kell, is capable of traveling between four different Londons: Grey London, a boring world devoid of magic; White London, a place where magic is strictly controlled; and its converse, Red London, a place full of magic and wonder. And then there's Black London. We don't talk about Black London.
7. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A modern day Beauty and the Beast, A Court of Thorns and Roses tells the story of a young huntress named Feyre who kills the wrong wolf. She's also captured by a faerie lord whom she pretty quickly falls for, naturally. The book is filled with romance and action and is written for younger readers, which makes it just so damned readable, it'll be almost no time at all before you're waiting for the sequel like the rest of us.
8. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo, author of the acclaimed Grisha Trilogy, has still got it. In this new series, starting with Six of Crows, she's able to tie together several sweeping storylines, and she's built and incredible world to tell those stories within. Six of Crows has a little bit of everything: A prison break, a bank heist, and an ensemble cast of lovable new characters.
9. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Reds are all normal, red-blooded commoners. The Silvers are silver-blooded hoity-toity types with special powers who pull all the strings in society. The two groups live in begrudging harmony, until a young Red woman discovers that she has Silver abilities at the worst possible moment. A very captivating beginning to what promises to be an excellent new YA series.
10. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan is best known for his Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, the story of a young boy who discovers he is a demigod with all the powers of the Greek Pantheon. This new series takes place in the same universe, but this time we're introduced to Magnus Chase, who learns that he's the son of a Norse god, about to be thrown into a whole world (well, worlds) of giants and gods and adventure. The formula will feel familiar to Percy Jackson fans, but there's plenty that's fresh and exciting about this new series.
11. Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace
In the weird and brutal future of Archivist Wasp, Wasp must do two things to survive: First, fight other girls in periodic battles to the death to keep her title of Archivist. And second, hunt the ghosts that plague their world. Wasp is resigned to a nasty, brutish, and short life, until she encounters a ghost that is different from any she has met before and makes a risky deal with it that just might change everything. Archivist Wasp is a wonderful imaginative genre-bender that will make you root for its brave, cunning heroine.
12. Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The charming debut novel from Silvia Moreno-Garcia alternates between 1988 and 2009 in Mexico City to uncover the circumstances behind why heroine Meche's beautiful childhood friendships fell apart, and whether there is a chance she can mend these broken bonds. Meche's ability to cast spells using songs makes this fascinating read as much a meditation on the incredible power of music as it is an exploration of why some friendships disintegrate, and whether they can be put back together again.
13. Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
In the world of Lok, the oceans are filled with demons. There is no religion, there is no tradition, and there is no magic. There is just the capital-L Law, and those sworn to enforce it, known as the Protectors, with their mythical Ancestor Blades. The people live in fear of the authority of the Protectors, and there is nobody more ruthless than Ashok Vadal. But soon Ashok becomes an enemy of the Law, and must fight against the only truth he's ever known. Larry Correia brings the high-energy, chest-beating action of his Monster Hunter books to a new fantasy setting in Son of the Black Sword.
14. The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
The Wake is often described as a post-apocalyptic story, even though the book takes place in England one thousand years in the past. After the Norman invasion and destruction of England in the 11th century, Buccmaster of Holland seeks to drive the invader from his home and restore England to its former glory. The story is written from Buccmaster's perspective in what the author calls Shadow English, which is Old English that has been updated to be readable by modern audiences, so we really get to understand his struggle.
15. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
A gorgeously written book that will surprise you with its plot and delight you with the beauty of its language. The plot follows the demigods Demane and Isa – descendants of long-absent gods – whose journey toward godhood is fraught with danger and magic.
16. Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older
A dark urban fantasy that explores the world between dead and living through the eyes of Carlos Delacruz, an agent of the New York Council of the Dead who, as an "inbetweener," knows a little something about both worlds. Delacruz works to solve a mystery that threatens to bring these two worlds dangerously close together in this engaging beginning to a promising new series.
17. Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu
The days of the 12 cruel and ruthless kings of Sharakhai are numbered, if a young woman named Çeda has anything to say about it. The immortal kings control everything in the desert oasis kingdom (which is one of the more interesting settings for a fantasy novel in recent memory) oppressing the oppressed and keeping the powerful in power. It'll take a group of young rebels (who are all rich and complex characters) to learn the secrets of each of the kings and upset the balance of power,which plays out through some incredible action sequences in this debut novel.
18. The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán
High fantasy with dinosaurs. Is that enough to make you want to read it? Here, let me put it another way… EPIC BATTLES BETWEEN HEROIC KNIGHTS, AND THEY'RE ALL RIDING DINOSAURS. What's not to like about that? It's as crazy and fun as it sounds.
19. Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Erika Johansen's Queen of the Tearling burst onto the scene in 2014, and this sequel pulls off the impressive task of delivering on the promise of its predecessor. Kelsea Glynn, beloved queen of the Tearling, must face the dire consequences of her decision to end the slave trade with the evil Red Queen of Mortmesne in the form of a powerful army that threatens to engulf and destroy her entire kingdom. Will her newfound magical abilities and her incredible resourcefulness and grit be enough to save her people from near certain disaster?
20. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
Sequel to The Alloy of Law, itself a spinoff set in the future of the beloved Mistborn series, Brandon Sanderson's Shadow's of Self delivers more excitement, adventure, and magic in a newly industrialized world that is as richly realized as any of Sanderson's creations.
21. Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Technically, Shadow Study is the first book in the new Soulfinders trilogy, but it's also a continuation of the Chronicles of Ixia series, so you'll definitely want to do yourself a favor and read the other Study books before you start in. Snyder tries her hand at some fresh new storytelling methods in this series, but for fans of Poison Study, this book will feel like coming home again.
22. The Liar's Key by Mark Lawrence
This is Mark Lawrence's follow-up to the fantastic Prince of Fools, in a series that is itself a follow-up to his The Broken Empire trilogy. The Liar's Key continues the tale of the rakish Prince Jalan as he helps his companion Snorri on his quest to open the gates to the underworld using the powerful artifact called Loki's Key and bring his family back to the world of the living.
23. Warheart by Terry Goodkind
Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth finally comes to a conclusion with book 17, and amazingly, the series is just as good as when it started. The final battle in an ancient war where the fate of the world hangs in the balance, Warheart provides a deeply satisfying conclusion to the epic story of Richard and Kahlan.
24. The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett
Peter V. Brett expands and deepens his endlessly fascinating and increasingly complex world of humans beset by powerful demons who prey on them at night with this fourth and penultimate book in The Demon Cycle, which began with the excellent The Warded Man.
25. The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan
Brian McClellan's outstanding Powder Mage trilogy concludes in epic fashion. If you enjoyed Promise of Blood, with its compelling mix of magic, technology, war, and politics, you'll be delighted by this satisfying finale to the series.
26. Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb
The second book in her Fitz and Fool trilogy, Robin Hobb's Fool's Quest continues the story of FitzChivalry Farseer and the Fool in riveting fashion as the Fool falls gravely ill and Fitz must rediscover his abilities as he struggles to care for his stricken friend and rescue his kidnapped daughter.
27. The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
A fast-paced and entertaining continuation of the Riyria Chronicles, The Death of Dulgath continues to explore the Medieval world Michael J. Sullivan created in Theft of Swords with a rousing tale of assassins, murder, betrayal and intrigue.
28. Half the World and Half a War by Joe Abercrombie
Joe Abercrombie finished up his Shattered Seas trilogy this year with two solid follow-ups to the excellent Half a King. Fans of Abercrombie's breathtaking fight scenes and complicated characters with real human flaws will enjoy his worthwhile foray into the world of YA fiction.
29. The Dread Wyrm by Miles Cameron
The third novel in the The Traitor Son Cycle, The Dread Wyrm delivers one of the most breathtaking climaxes in any fantasy book written this year. Which is a lot to say, considering that this is a middle book in the series. Miles Cameron continues to deliver some of the most compelling and convincing depictions of Medieval warfare in the whole genre. If you like your fantasy brutal and violent, Cameron is your man.
30. Sword of the North by Luke Scull
The gritty, dark, bloody, and brutal sequel to 2013's The Grim Company features enough monsters, magic, and gore to keep fans of Luke Scull's Grim Company series satisfied, entertained, and anxious for the next installment.
31. Winter by Marissa Meyer
The final installment in the beloved and instant classic Lunar Chronicles (five new and compelling takes on classic fairytales from Cinderella to Snow White) will delight Meyer's now legions of fans with its delightful mix of science fiction, fairytale, and romance.
32. The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett
The Shepherd's Crown is, sadly, a final book in a lot of different ways. It's the final Tiffany Aching adventure, it's the final Discworld novel, and it's the final book from Sir Terry Pratchett, who passed away earlier this year at age 66. It may not quite feel like the 40 Discworld novels that preceded it, but fans of the prolific author will find a lot to love in his final novel.