This year I decided to myself I was going to read more books written by men. It seems that over previous years I've tended to read a lot of female authors. What that translates to, is I haven't been reading very many fantasy books!! That's all changed this year and I thought I would share with you some of the authors I've discovered. This is new to me fantasy, where I've been reading the author's first series and it's been a lot of fun. The imagination and worlds these authors have created has truly been a pleasure to read. I can't wait to see what new works they produce in the future. Let's have a brief rundown of three great series. Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley, The Bloodsounder's Arc by Jeff Salyards and Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell. There are great authors to watch for in the future. Their storytelling brings the Annurian Empire, the Syldoon Empire and Tristia to life.
Brian Staveley - Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
Three siblings, battling to stay alive when their father the Emperor has died. Separated since they were children, it's up to them to see how the future will play out, as forces battle against them. Forces that have been in play for some time.
One of my favourite aspects about this series is the Kettrel. Giant birds trained for battle. They can deposit small Wings into most locations for either a quick attack or surveillance. The ability to have such a useful weapon at one's disposal can be critical in winning a confrontation. Valyn trained to be a member of a Kettral wing. His is one of the biggest transformations, for me at least. Tragedy and adversity I hope can only make him stronger. Can you tell he is my favourite?
Kaden, trained in the priesthood, yet heir to the Emperor. Why is the skill Tan is desperate to teach him so essential in order for Kaden to be the Emperor? After all so much of the teaching appears pointless. Or is it?
The third sibling Minister Adare has a dangerous role to play. Can she keep her wits about her and keep herself alive in the treacherous political court? All is not as it seems in her part of the Empire.
Over time each character grows and they each have a very different view for the future of the Empire. A view of empire that could lead them to a confrontation. Some have said this series is a bit YA as our siblings are teenagers. I didn't read it as YA. It's fantasy and there are certainly moments of tragedy, discovery and WTF moments. Staveley has created a great world and cast of characters. I'm beyond excited that there is going to be standalone set in the same world called Skullsworn.
Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
1. The Emperors Blades
2. The Providence of Fire
3. The Last Mortal Band
Jeff Salyards - The Bloodsounders Arc
The first book Scourge of the Betrayer was a book of the month in a Grimdark Fantasy Group I belonged to. Had I ever, even heard of Jeff Salyards? Nope. So what a delight it was to pick up a book with no expectations and boy was I entertained. Military fantasy and a secret to uncover. What could be better than that?
We follow the exploits of Captain Killcoin as told through the eyes of his scribe Arki. It felt like a novel idea to me to have a scribe telling the tale. Killcoin has a magical flail and it's effects on him are to say the least interesting. Is the flail trying to kill him or control him? The Syldoon aren't telling Arki everything, but his keen observation skills come in very handy. The Syldoon won't be able to keep secrets from Arki for long.
In the Grimdark Fantasy Group we were lucky enough to have Salyards do a Q & A. He was very generous with his time and answering questions. So cool, when an author makes themselves so approachable. Plus who doesn't love telling an author as directly as you can on Goodreads that you enjoyed their work. So much so that it didn't take me very long to move onto book #2 Veil of the Deserters. Part of the magic for Salyards work which was highlighted in the second even more, is that he is able to create great female characters. They are equal to the men and have their own unique abilities to help them throughout the story. Although be warned that you shouldn't get too close to any one character. Salyards might just kill that character you adore. Bring on the grim!
The Bloodsounder's Arc
1. Scourge of the Betrayer
2. Veil of the Deserters
3. Chains of the Heretic
Sebastien de Castell The Greatcoats series
What fun! Swashbuckling! Sword fights! Bow and arrows! It's refreshing to read a fantasy book that wasn't all doom and gloom. Or maybe it's just a case of too often I steer myself towards grimdark fantasy. The leads are called Falcio, Brasti and Kest. Wonderful names for some Three Musketeers action. The heart of this series is the relationship between our three Greatcoats. The humour and banter kept me entertained and I wanted to know what was going to happen to our characters as they try to preserve King Paelis' dream for Tristia. However Tristia seems rotten to the core, and it's going to be difficult path to try to change that fact.
Well the series does have many moments of grimness, this is alleviated by the impossible situations our heroes can escape from. 20 vs 3 no problem. Our heroes will defeat them! The outlandish situations our heros are able to escape from continues to keep one entertained and that light hearted feel remains. Especially in the first two books. However I should let it be stated that after three books I really think Falcio val Mond deserves a break. I need our heroes to win and save Tristia, as forces continue to align against our trio.
1. Traitor's Blade
2. Knight's Shadow
3. Saint's Blood
4. Tyrant's Throne - expected publication April 2017.
If you are looking for a fantasy author to try out then you can't go wrong with these authors. Staveley and Salyards series are completed so jump in, you don't have to wait for the trilogy to be completed. If you want a fantasy series that a little more exuberant, give Greatcoats a go. Just don't plan on it all being plain sailing. What started out at the beginning of the year as a plan to read more male authors, has actually lead to some wonderful new discoveries in fantasy reading. I can't wait to see what I will discover next. Oh wait I'm going to give Daniel Abraham's The Dragon and the Coin series a go.
Let me know some lesser known fantasy writers whose series / books you have enjoyed below.