Thursday, January 30, 2014

Can't Miss Fantasy Novels for 2014

My daughter Emma and I both really like reading.  She just finished Brandon Sanderson's Steelheart while I am re-reading The Way of Kings as a prelude to this year's release of the second volume of the Stormlight Archives, Words of Radiance.

All of which got me thinking about books that I'm looking forward to in the coming year.

As I mentioned above, Words of Radiance is Sanderson's follow-up to The Way of Kings, which is, in turn, his take on the kind of seriously epic fantasy pioneered by the late Robert Jordan.  Sanderson broke out a few years ago when Jordan's estate hired him to finish The Wheel of Time based on his work on the Mistborn trilogy.

Long story short, I loved The Way of Kings.  It is terrifically epic, and I cannot wait to read Words of Radiance.

My next can't-miss book of 2014 is The Broken Eye, third and final chapter of Brent Weeks's terrific Lightbringer trilogy.

Weeks broke onto the scene in a big way with his Way of Shadows trilogy, but what was really interesting about that series was how much better it got as the series went along.  The first book was terrifically plotted but not particularly well executed in its first and second acts.  The second and third books, however, were a quantum improvement over that first effort, and the Lightbringer books have been even better than that.

Lightbringer has an epic scope, but it's a very personal story, and the plotting is both ingenious and consistently surprising.  I think I might call it an "epic fantasy thriller" based on the number of surprise twists and turns it takes.

Paul S. Kemp returned to the Forgotten Realms last year with The Godborn, and it's supposed to be terrific, but I haven't read it yet.  I'm therefore adding it to the list even though, technically, it's not new in 2014.  It came out at the end of last year.

I think that The Godborn is about my favorite fantasy subject, one of the paladins of an evil god.  What I know is that it's set in the FR and is therefore a part of my favorite literary vice.

While we're talking about the FR and literary vices, R.A. Salvatore also has a new book coming out in the spring, Night of the Hunter (Companions Codex, Vol. 1).  Salvatore's work can be hit-or-miss, but when he's on top of his game, his stuff is terrifically fun, and his last book was one of the good ones.  This book reunited (reboots) his signature characters, the Companions of the Hall, so here's hoping...

Jim Butcher is another of my perennial favorites, and this year's Skin Game is another long-awaited follow-up.  Skin Game is maybe the 15th novel in Butcher's long-running series, The Dresden Files, which is amazing not only because of how long the series has gone on, but also because the books themselves have only gotten better with time.

Unlike the others on this list, The Dresden Files isn't epic or heroic fantasy, it's urban fantasy set mostly in modern day Chicago.  But the novels are amazing because of Butcher's uncanny ability with scene structure; honestly every book is like a master class in how to keep a reader turning pages.

I love these Dresden books and can't wait for this one to come out.

Finally, Richard K. Morgan's The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes #3) is scheduled for October 7, 2014.  No cover image is available yet; frankly, I have no idea what to expect.

And yet, Morgan's work is the hardest hitting of the authors on this list.  His best is the best.  What else can I say?

So, what'd I miss?

Anybody got a book out there I should add to the list?  Doesn't have to be a fantasy novel.  In fact, it would be better if it wasn't, since my fantasy docket is already pretty full, and I'm a much more eclectic reader than this list might make it seem.

Let me know, okay?  I'd love to hear your suggestions, even if it's just what you yourself are publishing (even self-publishing), and you want others to hear about it.


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