EJ’s Top 10 Fantasy Novels of 2017

As an internationally published author of fantasy myself I am also fan. This is my top 10 list of fantasy novels in 2017.  This was a tough cut because there were so many great bodies of work last year but I took some time after reviewing this list to identify the top 10 in my opinion.  Be sure to comment below.  This is EJ’s top 10 list of fantasy novels in 2017:

1. Brandon Sanderson – OathBringer

The third book was initially titled Stones Unhallowed with Szeth-son-son-Vallano as its focus, then Skybreaker, and eventually Oathbringer with the focus on Dalinar Kholin.

Brandon Sanderson is an accomplished author of fantasy and fiction.  I must say I was very impressed by this project.  This is personally my first encounter with his work and it encouraged me to check out his other books as well.

Prior to the release of Oathbringer, several chapters and interludes have been posted in blog posts, read in conventions and published in an anthology. Sanderson has provided numerous updates on Reddit about his progress on the book. On December 9, 2016, three weeks after his fifth update, Tor announced that Sanderson had completed his first draft, coming in at 461,223 words. On March 15, 2017, Sanderson completed the third of five planned drafts, which totaled 514,000 words. On June 15, 2017, Sanderson completed the fifth and final draft and managed to cut it down to 450,000 words. On June 27, 2017, Tor posted a blog post detailing the process of beta reading for Oathbringer in which beta readers give their immediate reactions to any given point in the story and look for continuity. Due to the length of the book, Tor had to use a different press and bindery from the one that printed Words of Radiance.

After realizing the book took more time to work on than originally planned, Sanderson wrote a novella titled Edgedancer, following Lift; first published in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection, an anthology of Cosmere short fiction, on November 22, 2016.

 


2. N.K. Jemisin – The Stone Sky

The Broken Earth series uses several different styles of narration. The most widely remarked upon is its use of second person. It is eventually revealed that the books’ narrator is Hoa. In The Stone Sky, Hoa narrates portions of the book set in the past in first person, and portions set in the present in second person (for Essun’s perspective) and third person (for Nassun’s perspective). Jemisin has stated that she isn’t sure what prompted her to try writing Essun’s chapters from a second person point-of-view, but that she ultimately chose to keep writing in second person because it conveyed “disassociation of [Essun], the not-all-here of her”. The Stone Skys release was anticipated on several “best of” upcoming science fiction and fantasy lists, including The Washington Post and io9, and reception upon its release was laudatory, with reviewers from Tor and The Verge asserting that it was likely to win Jemisin a third consecutive Hugo Award for Best Novel, behind The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate. Following the events of The Obelisk Gate, the former inhabitants of Castrima-under are moving north after damage has compromised the mechanisms of the geode and made it uninhabitable. Essun, who has been in a coma since opening the Obelisk Gate, awakens to find that her arm has turned to stone as a consequence of the massive magical energies of the Gate. She is nursed back to health, and finds that the Moon is approaching the closest point in its long, elliptical orbit, meaning that she has only a short time to return it to a normal orbit and end the Fifth Seasons forever.

 

3. Elizabeth Bear  – The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull, the first volume in her new trilogy, takes readers over the dangerous mountain passes of the Steles of the Sky and south into the Lotus Kingdoms.

The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort. They are walking into a dynastic war between the rulers of the shattered bits of a once great Empire.

This is a remarkable fantasy novel by Elizabeth and well worth the read!

 

4. Aliette de Bodard –  The House of Binding Thorns

As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by Fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear….

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

 

5. Naomi Alderman – The Power

In THE POWER, the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

From award-winning author Naomi Alderman, THE POWER is speculative fiction at its most ambitious and provocative, at once taking us on a thrilling journey to an alternate reality, and exposing our own world in bold and surprising ways.

 

6. Katherine Arden – The Bear and the Nightingale

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Praise for The Bear and the Nightingale

“Arden’s debut novel has the cadence of a beautiful fairy tale but is darker and more lyrical.”The Washington Post

“Vasya [is] a clever, stalwart girl determined to forge her own path in a time when women had few choices.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Stunning . . . will enchant readers from the first page. . . . with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Utterly bewitching . . . a lush narrative . . . an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family.”Booklist (starred review)

“An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.”—Robin Hobb

“Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can’t wait for her next book.”—Terry Brooks

 


7. Brian Staveley  – Skullsworn: A Novel in the World of The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne)

“Brilliant.” —V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author

From the award-winning epic fantasy world of The Emperor’s Blades

Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer—she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love . . . and ending it on the edge of her sword.

“A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets.” —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor’s Blades

Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
The Emperor’s Blades
The Providence of Fire
The Last Mortal Bond

Other books in the world of the Unhewn Throne
Skullsworn

 

8. J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

The playscript for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was originally released as a ‘special rehearsal edition’ alongside the opening of Jack Thorne’s play in London’s West End in summer 2016. Based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, the play opened to rapturous reviews from theatregoers and critics alike, while the official playscript became an immediate global bestseller.

This definitive and final playscript updates the ‘special rehearsal edition’ with the conclusive and final dialogue from the play, which has subtly changed since its rehearsals, as well as a conversation piece between director John Tiffany and writer Jack Thorne, who share stories and insights about reading playscripts. This edition also includes useful background information including the Potter family tree and a timeline of events from the Wizarding World prior to the beginning of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

 

9. Fonda Lee – Jade City

FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.

Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for — and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone — even foreigners — wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones — from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets — and of Kekon itself.

Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.

 

10. Brian McClellan – Sins of Empire

A world on the cusp of a new age…
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place — a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

Sedition is a dangerous word…
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.

The past haunts us all…
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.


For more from Brian McClellan, check out:

The Powder Mage Trilogy
Promise of Blood
The Crimson Campaign
The Autumn Republic

 

Check out my best-selling fantasy series titled The Knights of Betha: Volume 1 The Beast Master on Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle now!

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