Mystified by magic? Love to marvel at the magnificence of new realms? Or maybe you love to read about wars fought by strange beings in strange lands… Head off on an adventure with our specially selected fantasy books.
A brilliantly conceived Viking epic set in eighth-century Sweden. Bernard Cornwall meets George R.R. Martin in this ambitious, masterful series. Action-packed, evocative and impressively grand in scope, this second installment of The Wanderer Chronicles is a veritable feast of character-driven Viking verve, fusing fantasy with history, and blending detail with brilliant broad brushstroke atmosphere. The time and place is 8th century Sweden. Viking Erlan Aurvandil has pledged to serve Sviggar, King of the Sveärs and enemy of Harald Wartooth, King of the Danes. Thus when Wartooth stirs the embers of an ancient feud, Erlan is bound by his oath to remain loyal to Sviggar. Alongside struggles of allegiance, and the brutalities of battlefield conflict, high-stake conflicts of the heart also come into play when the King’s daughter falls for Erlan. Further trying tests of loyalty ensue as the violence escalates, with both the battle scenes and personal struggles evoked with sword-sharp precision. Certainly recommended for fans of Bernard Cornwall and George RR Martin, this is a highly readable epic of Shakespearean proportions, with a lightness of touch and sense of otherworldly mystery dancing alongside the high drama of torn loyalties and tragedy.
In a Nutshell: Magic | Murder | Mystical plague | This satisfying sequel to Spellslinger sizzles with sorcery, secrets and a slathering of swindle and comes highly-recommended for fans of funny fantasy. Though darker than its predecessor, this is still driven by cinematic scope, and by Kellen’s quirks and self-depreciating tone. “I made a terrible outlaw. I couldn’t hunt worth a damn, got lost just about everywhere I went, and it seemed like every person I met found some perfectly sensible reason to try to rob me or kill me.’ Kellen has made the (perhaps not unexpected) discovery that he’s a hopeless fugitive - this is classic crisis of confidence stuff. He’s an on-the-run outlaw, with allies who aren’t exactly delivering on the helping-him-through front. The plot twists and thickens when a mysterious blindfolded girl embroils him in a web of murder and magic, not to mention the ‘shadowblack’ plague. What a whirlwind of Wild West-ism and witty wonder this is. ~ Joanne Owen
The Song of Achilles was a beautiful and evocative retelling of a Greek myth which well deserved its praise and prize. It is possible that this second offering is even better. The language is poetic with not a word wasted, a real joy to read. I remember Circe was one of the challenges met by Odysseus, the one who turned men into pigs. The beautiful character who narrates this story is that same “wicked witch” but a far cry from how Homer portrayed her. She is lovely, misunderstood, wilful and brilliant, a strong woman slowly growing into her power. Many famous mythical figures pepper these pages; Jason, Prometheus, the Minator … but don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them all, this spellbinding story gives you all you need to know. If you are familiar with the myths you will find new life in them in this enchanting retelling. I really cannot praise it enough. It is a special book, bridging romance, fantasy, poetic literature and feminist writing to create a work of high standard with wide appeal. I loved it and I think you will too.
In a Nutshell: Martian odyssey meets classic quest Ingeniously inventive, involving and wildly witty, this thrilling finale of the Lora Trilogy is sci-fi, but not as you know it… Having suffered and survived the perils of the inhospitable Martian prairie, Lora and Peter must find the Ancient Heart of Mars. But, as Toaster, Lora’s walking, talking sunbed, remarks, “Going to meet these so-called Ancient Ones might be the most hazardous adventure we have embarked on yet.” Toaster’s certainly right on that front, and he might also hold the key to saving them. This flamboyant fusion of science fiction and classic adventure contains more sparks and surprises than a box of fireworks. It’s a rousing epic underpinned by playfulness, and a drive to do the right thing in even the most difficult of circumstances. It’s also a genuine, 100%-certified crossover that will delight a vast spectrum of readers.
In a Nutshell: Centuries-old sisters wreak revenge An ancient curse haunts a contemporary town, with a seventeen-year-old heroine at the very heart of its darkness. Two centuries ago, three sisters accused of witchcraft were drowned as punishment for their alleged sorcery. And every year, the sisters rise from the waters to inhabit the bodies of three local girls, set on seducing and drowning boys in revenge. This annual act of vengeance has become something of a macabre tourist attraction, with hundreds of visitors descending on the insular town of Sparrow ahead of the sisters’ return. 18 year-old Bo is among them this year, but he’s not Sparrow’s usual kind of tourist, as Penny discovers. But then Penny’s not your usual kind of local, either. She’s an outsider who lives with her grief-stricken, fortuneteller mom on an island off Sparrow. When Bo and Penny’s lives collide on the night the sisters rise from the depths, a thrillingly lyrical tale unfolds and crashes to a pulse-quickening crescendo as an age-old tempest of emotional turmoil plays out against the wild winds of a Pacific storm. Weaving folkloric elements into a contemporary setting is no easy feat, and here this has been accomplished with panache - the writing is as beguiling as the Swan sisters themselves and makes for an exhilarating devour-in-one-sitting reading experience.
This gorgeously intense and fully fledged dystopian fantasy series continues in fine style with The Song Rising. Paige has risen through the ranks as she tries to combat the hell that precious few know about or even believe is forming, will the rest of the clairvoyants back or denounce her? I’m in awe at how incredibly rounded and complete this world is. The intricate layers not only ripple inwards to allow intimate access, they also begin to advance further afield, widening our viewpoint. Paige really is a role model for our times, willing to step forward for what she believes in, and although set in a reimagined England, comparisons can easily be made to the world around us. Told in the first person, I could feel Paige, rely on her, admire her, particularly when things went awry. I really didn’t want this third instalment to end, and I wait with baited breath for the next in the epic 'The Bone Season' series. The Song Rising was everything I have come to expect from Samantha Shannon, richly imagined, thrillingly exciting, and a humdinger of a read - highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
Simon Spanton, formerly Associate Publisher of Gollancz, the oldest specialist SF & Fantasy publisher in the UK, joined the editorial team of Lovereading in 2016 with a brief to select and review the very best titles in the fields of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror including those he believes may become the stars of tomorrow.
Whether you want to join Jonathan Strange on the magic-haunted streets of London or Jon Snow and the rest of the Night’s Watch on the wall Fantasy is the genre for you. Authors from Joe Abercrombie to Zen Cho have turned the modern fantasy genre into one of the most exciting and imaginative genres around. They’ve brought magic and wonder, heroes, heroines and people like you and me, together in stories that will delight, scare and mystify you. Whether you want the romance and deceit of court, the shadows of a great city’s alleyways, the clear air of a mountain range, the terrors of a bloody field let fantasy take you to new realities.
There are characters for everyone; Scott Lynch’s charming conmen, Liz William’s artful magicians. Fantasy has worlds for all; Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea, George RR Martin’s brutal Westeros, Ben Aaronovitch’s contemporary London, Naomi Novik’s dragon haunted version of our 19th century. And the genre has a style for each and every reader; whether the playful literary trickery of Angela Carter or the imaginative epic adventures of Peter Brett. Somewhere here there is a story for everyone, so follow us and let your imagination run wild.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’re never too far away from your next great read, great events, competitions and discounts? Sign up for our free emails and let the passion of our experts guide you to some wonderful new reading.
That book you loved has finally come to an end. Where do you go next? With our unique Author Like for Like tool, you’ll discover other authors guaranteed to be right up your street. Login, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.
Reading Groups! Let us help you find your next hot topic. Visit our Special Section bursting with thought provoking titles and get an extra 5% discount if you buy 5 or more copies.
A selection of authors who will feature in this Lovereading category include: