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







SPFBO Interview with Mark Lawrence

RockStarlit BookAsylum


Phase 1 of this year’s SPFBO is nearing its end, the finalists are being revealed, tears are being shed. To put the dot on the i, James Tivendale from Fantasy Book Review and I set out to interrogate the Godfather of the competition, Mr Mark Lawrence himself.

To see all of our content regarding the competition, check out my SPFBO page!

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say ‘this isn’t rocket science … oh wait, it actually is’.

Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.


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The 2017 SPFBO Finalists that Gave a Fuck [NSFW]

The Fantasy Inn

I was in a group conversation with Esme from the Stabby award-winning blog, The Weatherwax Report when she said that she wanted to do a “fuck counter”. I thought that was a great idea, so I decided to go through all 10 SPFBO finalists and plot the swearing and cursing and all those four letter words. But all credit to the idea goes to Esme.

Without further ado, let’s get started. I want to quickly note here that I only accounted for “real” swear words. Invented swear words, if they occurred, were not counted.

overall findings

  • Every book had some form of swearing in it. If a book only had one swear-word, it occurred at least twice in the novel.
  • Where Loyalties Lie gave the most fucks.
  • Where Loyalties Lie also had the most swearing out of any of the books.
  • Tiger Lily and The Way Into Chaos are practically…

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Review of ~ JK Rowling – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2)


When everyone first read and loved Harry Potter I ignored it. Not for any particular reason but about 10 years ago I didn’t think I would be into it. Fast forward a decade and I’m now working my way through what I can say already is a children’s classic fantasy series that is up there with The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia. (more…)

Scammers Break The Kindle Store

David Gaughran

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

I wrote at the start of June about how scammers were taking over Amazon’s free charts. That post led to a phone conversation with KDP’s Executive Customer Relations.

Repeated assurances were given that the entire leadership team at Amazon was taking the scammer problem very seriously indeed. But it was also stressed that the…

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Black Antlers

I thought I’d keep a note of some nice reviews on this site of Age of Assassins so I can come here and remember the good old days when everything was lovely and clouds rained down candyfloss each time someone decides they hate it.

Dave is clearly a man of charm and integrity.

Age of Assassins – RJ Barker

James Tivendale of the Fantasy Book review is a gentleman and a scholar.


The hands of fate chose Paul because he is most wise.


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