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.
A magical new world and a whole host of stunning characters to take to your hearts in this brand new, un-putdownable novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Laini Taylor.
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
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.
Wow! This was a gripping, thought-provoking read. Totally compelling, Scythe is a dark, original take on the ultimate power – the power over life and death. Death and disease have been eradicated and life can continue quietly without fear of death or illness. Revival centres are on hand if you suffer an accident and even a fall from a thirty-nine-storey building will simply require a few days speed-healing. Unless you are chosen to be gleaned by a Scythe. These elite humans are given the task of choosing their victims in an effort to maintain the population. Citra and Rowen are strangers until they are both chosen to be apprentice scythes. Thrown together in an isolated and strange world they soon strike a bond. As they undertake the arduous and difficult training they begin to discover that not all is as it seems and even a 'perfect' society suffers as corruption infiltrates those of power and a new generation of Scythes begin to breakout. With a cruel turn of events Citra and Rowen discover that only one of them can become fully ordained as a Scythe and then must glean the other. As their feelings grow stronger they each search for a way to save not only themselves but also the reputation and sanctity of the Scythedom. The subject matter is handled sensitively and although at times can be brutal there is no gratuitous violence. As I began reading I was fascinated by the idea behind the story and was soon pulled in, unable to stop until I found out what would become of Citra and Rowan ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
In a Nutshell: Drive Out the Devil Dancers Menace, madness and medieval adventure abound in this thrilling fourth volume of the atmospheric Order of Darkness series by a doyenne of historical fiction. Luca Vero belongs to the Order of Darkness and has been charged with investigating disturbing occurrences that seem to herald the imminent end of the world. Travelling through medieval Europe with Lady Isolde and her companion Ishraq, he witnesses the alarming outbreak of “dancing sickness”. As Luca seeks to discover the truth behind this phenomenon – are the victims possessed by Satan? – Isolde herself succumbs to an overwhelming urge to dance after acquiring an irresistible pair of scarlet shoes from a travelling tradesman. Alongside being an epic adventure, and richly rewarding for history and mystery buffs, a powerful thread about rejecting prejudice and hatred weaves its way through this novel. “You have to do the right thing, not just the certain thing... Surely you want to be a good lord, not just a powerful one?” Such remarks about social responsibility and acting honorably resonate sharply, as does a potent sense of female empowerment. While women were believed to “have little determination and they are not strong”, the principle female protagonists here display much resolve, with Isolde determined to raise an army to win back her inheritance from her brother, and Ishraq being a highly educated free woman. ~ Joanne Owen Click here to view all titles in the 'Order of Darkness' series; They are: Vol One: Changeling Vol Two: Stormbringers Vol Three: Fools' Gold Vol Four: Dark Tracks A note from Philippa Gregory: “I am delighted to move into a new area of writing. I know I have many young adult readers already and it will be a pleasure to write a series especially for them. Bringing history alive is a great joy and to bring it to a younger generation doubly so.”
February 2018 Debut of the Month In a nutshell: sci-fi and fantasy blend in high-action, thought-provoking adventure Musician and entertainer will.i.am has collaborated with science of the future specialist Brian David Johnson to create an epic adventure. WaR seamlessly combines fantasy favourites wizards with robots, long beloved in sci-fi but now accepted as a crucial part of all our futures. Flipping back and forth in time, it stars feisty teenager Sara, whose mother is creating the first fully intelligent robot. This puts Sara at the centre of a power struggle, spanning centuries, between wizards and robots. As the story unfolds however, Sara must reconcile the two factions to defeat a common enemy. In this she’s helped by a young wizard called Geller and a robot, Kaku. Intriguing, refreshing and packed full of ideas, the momentum of the story sweeps readers along to its dramatic conclusion (at the CERN institute!). Real science is scattered throughout, and sci-fi has never seemed so now. ~ Andrea Reece
Intergalactic war? That's just not cricket ... or is it? The Doctor promised Romana the end of the universe, so she's less than impressed when what she gets is a cricket match. But then the award ceremony is interrupted by eleven figures in white uniforms and peaked skull helmets, wielding bat-shaped weapons that fire lethal bolts of light into the screaming crowd. The Krikkitmen are back. Millions of years ago, the people of Krikkit learned they were not alone in the universe, and promptly launched a xenophobic crusade to wipe out all other life-forms. After a long and bloody conflict, the Time Lords imprisoned Krikkit within an envelope of Slow Time, a prison that could only be opened with the Wicket Gate key, a device that resembles - to human eyes, at least - an oversized set of cricket stumps...
Since The Takeover, Seattle belongs to the Eklyptor government. Human sovereignty has been lost and Marci Guerrero is now working undercover, surrounded by enemies. But even in the darkest times, Marci continues to ask questions. Can a cure for this evil be found? Can Seattle break free and lead other cities to regain human sovereignty? Can Marci love again? Marci must hold on to her faith in the fight, her faith in humanity, her faith that the darkness will shatter and the light will return.
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.
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A selection of authors who will feature in this Lovereading category include: