The top 20 fantasy books that I’ve read this year.

So, my first full year of reviewing is quickly coming to its end. I’ve had a great year and have read some amazing books. Believe it or not but it’s been incredibly tough to cut it down to my favourite 20! Without delay – my favourite fantasy books of the year. I’m limiting myself to one book per author.

20 – Melissa Caruso – The Tethered Mage

“Beautifully written political fantasy drama full of courtly intrigue, powerful enemies, and phenomenal magic potential”


19 – Brandon Sanderson – Oathbringer


18 – Jennifer Anne Davis – Cage of Deceit

“Cage of Deceit is an exciting, absorbing fantasy experience that is expertly polished with reference to the writing and editing.”


17 – Brain Staveley – Skullsworn

“I am happy to admit that this is a highly engrossing fantasy world even in this slightly streamlined presentation limited to few, albeit, amazing characters.”


16 – Michael R. Fletcher – Ghosts of Tomorrow

“Gritty, brutal, amazingly well written”


15 – Craig Schaefer – Winter’s Reach

“A stunning dark fantasy narrative with all the double-crossing, deceit, blackmail and political chaos you could hope for”


14 – Benedict Patrick – The Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords

“An exquisite and detailed fantasy gem that contains great characters, a unique world, deep histories, and a mysterious Black Shepherdess.”


13 – Anna Stephens – Godblind

“A thrilling, unrelenting and a brilliantly presented debut”



12 – Dyrk Ashton – Paternus

“Paternus is gritty. Vampires and werewolves are present but you wouldn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day with them. This is urban fantasy done right.”



11 – Anna Smith-Spark – The Court of Broken Knives

“Grimdark of the highest order with one of the most complex, beautiful and destructive characters ever written”


10 – John Gwynne – A Time of Dread

“Epic, unpredictable and exhilarating with action galore and characters worth rooting for”


9 – Graham Austin-King – Faithless

“An utterly dark, unique, well-written, and deeply engaging grimdark story”


8 – RJ Barker – Age of Assassins

“Simply unputdownable… the perfect mix of fantasy and mystery.”


7 – Mark Lawrence – Red Sister

“The finale of this story was utterly breathtaking. Nona is one of my favourite characters in fiction. Lawrence has created one of the most engaging fantasy worlds that my mind has allowed me to visit.”


6 – T.M Lakomy – The Shadow Crucible

“Estella is the strongest female protagonist I’ve read about in a long time which is heightened in this setting where to the religious, women were often seen as less than dirt. Brilliant book. Dark and beautiful.”



5 – Nicholas Eames – Kings of the Wyld

“A fast-paced, excellently written, and extremely enjoyable fantasy story.”


4 – Josiah Bancroft – Senlin Ascends

“An extraordinary debut that is well worthy of the hype. A beautifully written, highly engaging page-turning masterpiece where I was on Tom’s side every step of the way.”


3 – Ian C Esselmont – Deadhouse Landing

Luel licked his bloodied lips and whispered, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am Dassem Ultor.’

“Deadhouse Landing is a masterclass of Malazan awesomeness”


2 – Rob J. Hayes – The Fifth Empire of Man

“This may very well be the best grimdark book I’ve ever read.”


A doodle from Where Loyalties Lie is below. This would have also made the top twenty if I hadn’t limited it to one book per author.


1 – Ed McDonald – Blackwing

“Guaranteed already, this will be one of the best books I will read this year.” (I was right too and made the cover with that statement (although they tweaked it slightly – lol!)



For me, reading and reviewing this year has been awesome. Reading all these great books, publishers sending me all the next big things, being a NetGalley pimp, Goodreads Ninja, acting as a judge for #spfbo, visiting conventions, doing some proofreading for authors I admire, making friends with bloggers I truly respect, chatting to and sometimes interviewing writers I adore. Next year will be even better. It’s all good fun. Peace and to all – merry Xmas. x James x


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