Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2013: New Year’s (Reading) Resolutions – Fantasy


Last year, I promised myself that I would read at least one of Joe Abercrombie’s novels. Thankfully, I just managed it. For 2013, I’ve decided to come up with a similar resolution, to address a few more gaps in my SFF reading. In this post, I give you the four fantasy series I hope to read at least one novel from in 2013:

Robin HobbFarseer Trilogy

James BarclayChronicles of the Raven

Brandon SandersonMistborn

Tom LloydTwilight Reign

There are, of course, many other established and completed series I wish I had tried by now. These are just four of the fantasy series I’ve decided to single out for this year. Allow me to share some details about these series, in case you haven’t managed to get around to them yourself. If you have already read any of these series, please do share your own thoughts and impressions, in the comments. (Or, alternatively, share suggestions for other fantasy series you think I and other readers need to try out.)

James Barclay – Dawnthief (Pyr/Gollancz)


Isolated, Betrayed, and Facing the End.

The Raven: six men and an elf, sword for hire in the wars that have torn apart Balaia

For years their loyalty has been only to themselves and their code.

But, that time is over. The Wytch Lords have escaped and The Raven find themselves fighting for the Dark College of magic, searching for the location of Dawnthief. It is a spell created to end the world, and it must be cast if any of them are to survive.

The first in Barclay’s Chronicles of the Raven series, and is one of the fantasy series I always intended to read. It was a victim of the site’s own success, however, as it steadily got bumped down the TBR pile as newer and advanced novels and series arrived or were bought. It is time for me to remedy this oversight. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series, and it’s high time I read it.

Chronicles of the Raven: Dawnthief, Noonshade, Nightchild

Legends of the Raven: Elfsorrow, Shadowheart, Demonstorm, Ravensoul

[Coming Soon: An interview with James Barclay]


Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Apprentice (Voyager UK/ Spectra US)


In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chilvary Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribbing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

I’ve mentioned in the past on the website that I’ve read the first few pages of Assassin’s Apprentice, while on an internship. Hobb’s prose is superb, from what I’ve seen, and her skills at world-building and characterisation are superb. This is very high on my Catch-Up list.

The Farseer Trilogy: Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin’s Quest

Tawny Man Trilogy: Fool’s Errand, Golden Fool, Fool’s Fate


Tom Lloyd, The Stormcaller (Gollancz UK/Pyr US)


Isak is a white-eye, feared and despised in equal measure. Trapped in a life of poverty, hated and abused by his father, Isak dreams of escape, but when his chance comes, it isn't to a place in the army as he'd expected. Instead, the Gods have marked him out as heir-elect to the brooding Lord Bahl, the Lord of the Fahlan.

Lord Bahl is also a white-eye, a genetic rarity that produces men stronger, more savage and more charismatic than their normal counterparts. Their magnetic charm and brute strength both inspires and oppresses others.

Now is the time for revenge, and the forging of empires. With mounting envy and malice the men who would themselves be kings watch Isak, chosen by Gods as flawed as the humans who serve them, as he is shaped and moulded to fulfil the prophecies that are encircling him like scavenger birds. The various factions jostle for the upper hand, and that means violence, but the Gods have been silent too long and that violence is about to spill over and paint the world the colour of spilled blood and guts and pain and anguish…

I mentioned this series not too long ago, when I interviewed Lloyd, and also received a copy of this first book from Pyr. It’s a series I’ve been wanting to read for a very long time indeed. I have no idea why I never got around to it. Expect a review in the next couple of months at least. This is the first book in the Twilight Reign series, which has now been completed (there is a short story anthology on the way in 2013, though).

Twilight Reign: The Stormcaller, The Twilight Herald, The Grave Thief, The Ragged Man, The Dusk Watchman, The God Tattoo (2013)

Also on CR: Interview with Tom Lloyd


Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire and The Way of Kings (Gollancz UK/ Tor US)


Once, a hero arose to save the world. A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.

He failed.

For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and even the Lord Ruler himself. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn.

Ok, so I have actually read something by Sanderson before – The Emperor’s Soul, a stand-alone novella. Nevertheless, I intend to finally get around to either the Mistborn series or The Way of Kings this year. Sanderson is another of those authors whose books I have bought on release, but never actually read. Partly I blame this on Kindle Out of Sight Syndrome, but also because… well, they’re huge, and I sometimes favor shorter fiction in order to not leave too much of a gap between reviews on here. This is something I need to stop worrying about, as there are now a fair few Big Book Fantasy novels that I have let slide because I didn’t think I had the time for them. So many of my friends and fellow reviewers have sung the praises of both of these series – and my sister devoured them all, after finding my copy of The Final Empire.

Mistborn: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, The Alloy of Law

The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings (book #1 of projected 10-book series)

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soiless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.



Which series, in any genre, have you always wanted to try, but have never found the time? Any you’ve decided to tackle in 2013?


  1. There are probably three big authors that I haven't read from yet (two of which you mention):

    Brandon Sanderson
    Patrick Rothfuss
    Joe Abercrombie

    I tend to read more sci fi and horror than fantasy and have found myself occasionally disappointed with fantasy titles that others rave about. But I need and want to catch up with these folks. I'm thinking of just biting the bullet and picking up book one of Sanderson's mammoth ten volume series...

    1. That's fair enough - a lot of fantasy isn't for everyone. Have you tried Scott Lynch? I find his novels are superb gateway drugs... ;)

      I've heard very good things about Sanderson's Stormlight Archive - I picked up the eBook when it was published because it was so cheap for a 1,000+ page novel.

      If horror's your thing, you could try to find some fantasies that are also quite horror-tinged? Unfortunately I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I'll have a think and report back with suggestions. (If someone else has any, feel free to share!)

    2. Yes, I've read Scott Lynch's first novel in the Gentlemen Bastard series. I absolutely loved it. I'm holding off on the second until it looks like there will actually be a release day for the third book.

      It's too bad he's struggled with depression, because he is really a phenomenal writer and would likely venture into SF as well. With folks like Brandon Sanderson or Daniel Abraham, you know the books will be coming out regularly, so there is little risk in picking up a series from them.

  2. I need to read all of Sanderson's non-Mistborn stuff (and The Alloy of Law), All of Patrick Rothfuss, All of Neil Gaiman apart from American Gods, the second and third First Law novels as well as Best Served Cold, Tad Williams' Dirty Streets of Heaven, Ready Player One, catch up to date on Jim Butcher's Dresden Files (on Book 9), read Timothy Zahn's Star Wars, read the rest of the Alex Cross novels... So yeah, a lot.

    1. I enjoyed Sanderson's "The Emperor's Soul", but felt it was too short - more like a vignette/scene from a larger piece of work. This, I think, bodes well for his full-length (well, double-length, some might say) novels. I've heard nothing but good things, too. They're just... so damned BIG!
      [First person to make a "That's what she said" joke is fired...]

      Tad Williams is another I've never read - Michael "Mad Hatter" gave me a spare copy of "Dirty Streets of Heaven", so I hope to get a chance to read it relatively soon. (Those words have been written so very many times on this blog... I should just stop using them...)

      There should be a couple more Alex Cross novels - "Merry Christmas Alex Cross" and "Alex Cross Run". Quite looking forward to those, but I'm waiting for the eBooks to get a bit cheaper before I buy them.

      re: Tim Zahn & Star Wars: his new ones, or his old ones? Or both? His first SW trilogy is still, in my opinion, some of the best sci-fi/space opera ever written. His and Kevin J. Anderson's first SW trilogies sparked my life-long passion for the series. [Although, I do prefer everything set around and after Episode IV.]

      Dresden... Yes. I've read I think the first two or three, and didn't particularly love them. Apparently he gets MUCH better not too long after that. One day I'll get around to reading more, but they're not too high on my priority list at the moment. In that vein, it's Kevin Hearne for me. And Richard Kadrey, but he's in a league all his own, IMHO.

      Rothfuss is great - first novel stuck with me long after I finished reading it. Second book was also very good, but could have done with an aggressive edit. Neil Gaiman's amazing - I'm hoping to read his Sandman series before Vertigo publishes the prequels later this year.

    2. I haven't read any Tad Williams either, but The Dirty Streets of Heaven looks really interesting. Merry Christmas, Alex Cross is alright but it's basically two novellas rather than an overarching story.

      And for Zahn, I'm going to read the Heir to the Empire stuff first and then if I like that (which I should) get some newer stuff.

  3. People who haven't read Sanderson don't know what they're missing out on. It makes me extremely sad. It's like growing up in Western society without celebrating Christmas.

  4. I actually also have to read most of the series you have listed here. Since my focus is more on science fiction the fantasy keeps getting bumped down the list each time.

    I've tried James Barclay's ELVES: ONCE WALKED WITH GODS, but it was far too confusing (had to check that it was the 1st book) and I moved on to something else. I actually have to pick it up again at some point.

    1. Isn't the Elves series a "spin-off" from the Raven books?
      (Actually, if you keep an eye out, you'll find this out from an interview with James Barclay, that is currently in the works...)

    2. Which Sci-Fi series would you recommend, then?

    3. Yes, it's a "spin-off". If I understand correctly one of the elves in the book will later become part of the Ravens.

      The Elves is set before the Raven books (as far as I can gather) so I don't think reading them would've been a requirement.

      As for sci-fi series:
      Anything by Peter F. Hamilton (Night's Dawn, Commonwealth, Void)
      Iain M. Bank's Culture (though some of them work better than others)
      Neal Asher (very violent, action orientated).

  5. I'm planning to read Tom Lloyd as well! In addition, I have a gazillion series to catch up on and I really need to read Gemmell, Shinn, and Kate Griffin.

    1. Gemmell should also have been on my list - both of them, actually, as Stella Gemmell's "The City" looks pretty awesome, too.

  6. Ambitious goals, and I wish you the best of luck :) My reading goal is to read more books this year than last year, since my reading pace has slowed down so much!


    1. I don't think I'll be able to read as many this year as I did last year... I have a feeling that, of the series I mention in the post, Sanderson's will be the last attempted (maybe it'll be Christmas 2013...?) due to the novels' length. James Barclay's I've had for a long time, so I feel I really should get to that soon.