The best self-published books that we have read at Fantasy Book Review

The top self-published books that we have read at Fantasy Book Review, in no particular order. (Or they were self-published when we read them.)

Faithless – Graham Austin-King
Faithless book cover
“An utterly dark, unique, well-written, and deeply engaging grimdark story” – James Tivendale

Richard Nell – Kings of Paradise
Kings of Paradise book cover
“Kings of Paradise is a brilliant book, and I expect it catch fire in the fantasy community as word-of-mouth spreads.” – Adam Weller

A Threat of Shadows – JA Andrews
A Threat of Shadows book cover
“A fun fantasy with some well-placed twists.” – Lee Sibbald

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
Senlin Ascends book cover
“A beautifully written, highly engaging page-turning masterpiece.” – James Tivendale

Darklands by ML Spencer
Darklands book cover
“I really have no idea how it’s going to play out, which is rare and always nice. Ultimately, in Darien We Trust.” – Richard Nell

Aching God by Mike Shel
Aching God book cover

“It is a thrilling, dark, cleverly written debut novel which deserves all the attention it can get.” – Timy Takacs

The Sword of Kaigen by ML Wang
The Sword of Kaigen book cover
“The Sword of Kaigen feels like several books in one, combining breathless action with a deep understanding and exploration of the human condition.” – Adam Weller

Kurintor Nyusi by Aaron Michael Hall
Kurintor Nyusi book cover
“An enjoyable, well-paced fantasy for those who love multiple point-of-view narratives and in-depth worldbuilding.” – Rosalyn Kelly

Trial of Stone by Stone by Andy Peloquin
Trial of Stone book cover
“The perfect novel for fans of multi POV epic fantasy in the vein of Brandon Sanderson and John Gwynne.” – Michael Gruneir

Battle Spire by Michael R. Miller
Battle Spire book cover
“Battle Spire is like Hard Boiled and Die Hard wrapped up in a grandiose and extravagant fantasy game. Instead of Chow Yun-Fat or Bruce Willis to save the day, we have Jack…” – James Tivendale

Paternus: Wrath of Gods by Dyrk Ahston
Paternus: Wrath of Gods book cover
“Recommend for those who love mythology and for those who love a great action story, one which is building up to have a spectacularly EPIC finale.” – Rosalyn Kelly

Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon
Symphony of the Wind book cover
“We flat out loved it.” – Emma Davis

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French
The Grey Bastards book cover
“Recommended for fans of gritty, filthy, and visceral battle scenes mixed with a richly developed cast of non-human protagonists.” – Adam Weller

Death March by Phil Tucker
Death March book cover
“Highly addictive, imaginative, and entertaining, this series is level 50 awesome.” – Adam Weller

Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe
Sufficiently Advanced Magic book cover
“LitRPG excellence that is highly recommended.” – James Tivendale

Art of War: Anthology for Charity by Petros Triantafyllou
Art of War: Anthology for Charity book cover
“This could be the finest fantasy anthology around.” – James Tivendale

The Written by Ben Galley
The Written book cover
“A little gem, unpolished certainly but with such potential.” – Lee Sibbald

The Theif Who Pulled On Troubles Braids
The Thief Who Pulled On Troubles Braids book cover
“Well paced, balanced and genuinely interesting and exciting” – Lee Sibbald

Where Loyalties Lie by Rob Hayes
Where Loyalties Lie book cover
“Piratical grimdark mastery, superbly written, with utterly engaging characters.” – James Tivendale

The Woven Ring by MD Presley
The Woven Ring book cover
“The Woven Ring is one of the most thought-provoking and one of my overall favorite reads of the year.” – Adam Weller

Orconomics by J Zachary Pike
Orconomics book cover
“Pike has crafted a refreshingly original novel that has a lot to say, and does a damn fine job saying it.” – Adam Weller

We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
We Ride the Storm book cover
“Madson has crafted a complex and immersive story that catapults the reader through a gripping series of adventures and doesn’t let go until the final electrifying pages.” – Adam Weller

Hero Forged by Josh Erikson
Hero Forged book cover
“It’s action-packed, creatively imagined, and one of the most genuinely funny books I’ve read in ages, with real heart lightly hidden beneath the humour.” – Emma Davis

The Mirror’s Truth by Michael R Fletcher
The Mirror's Truth book cover
“For those who enjoy long walks through hellish landscapes whilst reflecting on the nature of sanity and truth… You can do no better than the world of Manifest Delusions.” – Adam Weller

Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis
Cage of Deceit book cover
“An exciting, absorbing political fantasy experience.” – James Tivendale

Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords by Benedict Patrik
Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords book cover
“An exquisite and detailed fantasy gem.” – James Tivendale

The Nation of Madness by Jeffrey Hall
The Nation of Madness book cover
“The conclusion is both exhilarating and sad, with difficult choices yielding devastating consequences.” – Adam Weller

Winter’s Reach by Craig Schaefer
Winter's Reach book cover
“A stunning dark fantasy narrative with all the double-crossing, deceit, blackmail and political chaos you could hope for.” – James Tivendale

The Silver Mask by Christian Ellingsen
The Silver Mask book cover
“A well-written flintlock and alchemy fantasy novel infused with a healthy dose of social pomp and political intrigue.” – Lee Sibbald

City of Shards by Steve Rodgers
City of Shards book cover
“Fans of worldbuilding will rejoice at this coming-of-age story filled with some clever twists.” – Adam Weller

The Thousand Scars by Michael R Baker
The Thousand Scars book cover
“Incredible pacing, high energy battles, and quirky dialogue that will keep you turning pages long in to the night.” – Michael Gruneir







Creative writing extract from a mental health sufferers seminar.

I went on a creative writing course today for people who suffer from mental health issues and had a bit of time to write something based on a certain theme, intertwined with making numerous cups of tea and chatting up the girl sitting next to me. Here is what I wrote. I’ve not edited it, this is just what flowed out of me naturally in today’s session. (more…)

Review of ~ Paul S Lavender – Tales From Ashen Falls


In exchange for an honest review, I received a free copy of Tales From Ashen Falls from the author when I met him at BristolCon in 2017. It has taken me a while to get to it which has become an in-joke between myself and the author on certain fantasy forums. Well, 15-months later I finally finished reading it!

Tales From Ashes Falls is a pretty enjoyable humour-tinged grimdark novella (more…)

Review of ~ Ian Fleming – Casino Royale (James Bond #1)


“Surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles.” He laughed. “But don’t let me down and become human yourself. We would lose such a wonderful machine.”

James Bond, Secret Agent for M16, 007 with a license to kill. This was the 1st entry in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and introduces the world’s most famous fictional spy in great fashion.

Bond is in France gambling his nights away at the Royale Casino. It all sounds enjoyable however this is part of a very dangerous and highly expensive mission that could cost the UK Treasury £20-million. An agent of the infamous Russian intelligence outfit SMERSH (Death to Spies) Le Chiffre is in a bit of dilemma. He invested £50-million of his employers’ money without their approval into brothels and prostitution hoping to make a quick profit even though the initial funds weren’t his. I (more…)

Review of ~ Arthur Conan Doyle – The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2)


The narrative begins with a very bored Sherlock Holmes at 221b Baker Street. With nothing to focus his incredible powers of deduction on at the present time, he decides to spend his days injecting a seven-percent-solution of cocaine. Conveniently a client with a particularly peculiar and complex case appears that very day. The potential customer, Miss Marstan, who wishes to employ the world’s only consulting detective explains the scenario. (more…)

Review of ~ Arthur Conan Doyle – The Lost World (Professor Challenger #1)


“If in 100 years I am only known as the man who invented Sherlock Holmes then I will have considered my life a failure.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This review will contain minor spoilers.

Although Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson, Mycroft Holmes, and Professor James Moriarty are Doyle’s most known creations, Professor Challenger, the hot-tempered scientist is another character that many readers will be familiar with. This is the first of the Professor Challenger series and the only one that I had read previously.  I started reading religiously in 2012 and The Lost World was one of my favourite stories from my pre-review era. I decided to revisit this exuberant and vivacious science heavy adventure tale that features dinosaurs – and I’m truly glad that I did. (more…)

Review of ~ Ian C. Esslemont – Kellanved’s Reach (Path to Ascendancy #3)


“The elders were powerful and dreadful – it was a blessing their days were over. Only a fool, or an insane power-craving… He shook his head once again, this time in exasperation. Ah…”

I received an advanced review copy of Kellanved’s Reach in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Ian C. Esselmont and TransworldBooks/ Penguin Books UK. Before I start the review proper I will quickly state that I am quite lucky as a reviewer because of some of the books I get to read early. Ever so often a book arrives on your doorstep and everything else ceases to exist until a certain novel has been completed. This was one such occasion. I was deep through Mark Lawrence’s Holy Sister and John Gwynne’s A Time of Blood – by far, two of my favourite authors but the works of Erikson and Esslemont, and the world they’ve created is incomparable and the pinnacle of not just fantasy but current literature in general. I had to drop everything and start this immediately. (more…)