After being immersed in the intricate, incredible world of Westeros, it’s easy to feel that it will be impossible to find another series that gets as downright deep, twisty, and dark as George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. But don’t worry — we’ve rounded up a list of epic fantasy books you should be looking for this year. These new releases contain what we love most about A Song of Ice and Fire: Empires and kingdoms, wars and political intrigue, romance, magic, dragons, and of course, tragic characters. Publishers’ descriptions included below.
Death’s Mistress by Terry Goodkind
Death’s Mistress: Sister of Darkness will launch The Nicci Chronicles, Terry Goodkind’s entirely new series with a cast of characters centered on one of his best-loved characters in the now-concluded Sword of Truth.
One-time lieutenant of the evil Emperor Jagang, known as “Death’s Mistress” and the “Slave Queen,” the deadly Nicci captured Richard Rahl in order to convince him that the Imperial Order stood for the greater good. But it was Richard who converted Nicci instead, and for years thereafter she served Richard and Kahlan as one of their closest friends — and one of their most lethal defenders.
Now, with the reign of Richard and Kahlan finally stabilized, Nicci has set out on her own for new adventures. One of her jobs will be to keep her travelling companion, the unworldly prophet Nathan, out of trouble. But her real task will be to scout the far reaches of Richard Rahl’s realm. This will take her and Nathan to visit the mysterious witch-woman Red, to tangle with the street life of the port city of Tanimura, to fight lethal battles on the high seas, and ultimately to a vast magical confrontation far from home…with the future of life itself, in the Old World and the New, at stake.
Full of life and story, this is a sweeping, engaging tale in the grand Goodkind manner.
The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams
At the end of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Ineluki the Storm King, an undead spirit of horrifying, demonic power, came within moments of stopping Time itself and obliterating humankind. He was defeated by a coalition of mortal men and women joined by his own deathless descendants, the Sithi.
In the wake of the Storm King’s fall, Ineluki’s loyal minions, the Norns, dark cousins to the Sithi, choose to flee the lands of men and retreat north to Nakkiga, their ancient citadel within the hollow heart of the mountain called Stormspike. But as the defeated Norns make their way to this last haven, the mortal Rimmersman Duke Isgrimnur leads an army in pursuit, determined to end the Norns’ attacks and defeat their ageless Queen Utuk’ku for all time.
Two southern soldiers, Porto and Endri, joined the mortal army to help achieve this ambitious goal — though as they venture farther and farther into the frozen north, braving the fierce resistance and deadly magics of the retreating Norns, they cannot help but wonder what they are doing so very far from home. Meanwhile, the Norns must now confront the prospect of extinction at the hands of Isgrimnur and his mortal army.
Viyeki, a leader of the Norns’ military engineers, the Order of Builders, desperately seeks a way to help his people reach their mountain — and then stave off the destruction of their race. For the two armies will finally clash in a battle to be remembered as the Siege of Nakkiga; a battle so strange and deadly, so wracked with dark enchantment, that it threatens to destroy not just one side but quite possibly all.
Trapped inside the mountain as the mortals batter at Nakkiga’s gates, Viyeki the Builder will discover disturbing secrets about his own people, mysteries both present and past, represented by the priceless gem known as The Heart of What Was Lost.
With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Çeda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She knows the dark history of the asirim — that hundreds of years ago they were enslaved to the kings against their will — but when she bonds with them as a Maiden, chaining them to her, she feels their pain as if her own. They hunger for release, they demand it, but with the power of the gods compelling them, they find their chains unbreakable.
Çeda could become the champion they’ve been waiting for, but the need to tread carefully has never been greater. After their recent defeat at the hands of the rebel Moonless Host, the kings are hungry for blood, scouring the city in their ruthless quest for revenge. Çeda’s friend Emre and his new allies in the Moonless Host hope to take advantage of the unrest in Sharakhai, despite the danger of opposing the kings and their god-given powers, and the Maidens and their deadly ebon blades.
When Çeda and Emre are drawn into a plot of the blood mage Hamzakiir, they learn a devastating secret that may very well shatter the power of the hated kings. But it may all be undone if Çeda cannot learn to navigate the shifting tides of power in Sharakhai and control the growing anger of the asirim that threatens to overwhelm her…
Release date: February 7
The Bear and the Serpent by Adrian Tchaikovsky
As the south is in turmoil, an old terror emerges in the north… Maniye, child of both Wolf and Tiger clans, has been named Champion of her people. But they’re unsure if she’s an asset — or a threat. To buy time, she joins Prince Tecuman’s warband of outcasts and heads south, to help him gain his crown. She wants to discover her true place in the world, but instead heads into the jaws of a fierce new conflict. Civil war threatens as Tecuman and his twin sister battle for the throne, for only one can rule. Yet whoever triumphs will carry a heavy burden, as a great doom has been foreseen that will fall across their whole world. And soon Maniye finds herself at the heart of a political storm. Danger is also shadowing her old home, where Lord Thunder and his bear clan are attempting to unite the northern tribes. But only extreme peril will end age-old rivalries. An adversary from the most ancient of times is preparing to strike, putting their lands and their very souls in danger. And neither north nor south will be spared the terror to come. The Bear and the Serpent is the second book in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s epic fantasy series, Echoes of the Fall, following The Tiger and the Wolf.
Release date: February 9
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire, and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes struggle. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees the newly minted New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab reach a thrilling conclusion concerning the fate of beloved protagonists — and old foes.
Release date: February 21
Firebrand by Kristen Britain
Zachary Davriel Hillander, High King of Sacoridia, rues how much he has had to give up to lead his realm, including the freedom to live and love as he chooses. When an embassy from Eletia arrives to propose a joint venture between their realms to seek out an old ally in the north, he is dismayed to learn that the one Sacoridian they have in mind to accompany their guide is the woman he truly loves but cannot have: Green Rider Karigan G’ladheon.
Karigan has only just returned from a dark future where Sacoridia has been conquered and is ruled by a despotic emperor, and she has not recovered in heart or mind. As if that is not enough, the castle ghosts won’t leave her alone. Though Zachary is loath to part from her so soon after her return, he knows she is the best choice to undertake the mission to the north.
Each step on their journey places Karigan and her companions closer to enemy territory and danger, for northward lie the forces of Second Empire, Sacoridia’s longtime foe, and Grandmother, the necromantic leader of Second Empire, has not been idle. She uses her magic to summon a wild elemental spirit to wreak havoc upon Zachary and his wife, Queen Estora.
At first the Sacoridians succeed in fending off the creature, but it so covets Estora that it can’t stay away. It abducts Zachary, assuming his form and his place at Estora’s side — but when it is finally ousted, Zachary is still missing. Estora, alone and heavy with twins, must prepare her realm for the coming conflict from the confines of her bedchamber.
Meanwhile, the danger only deepens for Karigan and her companions as they journey north. When she finds herself caught in the midst of a clash between forces, Karigan must rescue and protect her king before she falls into a trap set by Grandmother — a trap that could give Second Empire the power to control the dead and all the demons of the hells.
Release date: February 28
Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan
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.
Release date: March 7
Skullsworn by Brian Staveley
For one apprentice assassin, the clock is ticking…
Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love — and end it with the edge of her knife.
Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb
The stunning conclusion to Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, which began with Fool’s Assassin and Fool’s Quest (“A complex tapestry of adventure, betrayal, destiny, and unrelenting peril.”—Publishers Weekly).
Release date: May 9
The Hollow Crown by Jeff Wheeler
Following the downfall of a tyrant in the Wall Street Journal bestselling Kingfountain trilogy, years have passed in prosperity for the kingdom of Ceredigion. Now, as the time comes to celebrate the new king’s nuptials, the specter of a new enemy emerges to destroy all that has been painstakingly built in those years.
Tryneowy Kiskaddon has grown up learning military and diplomatic strategy from her father, one of the king’s closest advisors. She feels her destiny lies in defending the kingdom as a knight, not as a Wizr as her parents have decided, though no lady of the realm has taken up the sword in a century. As she seeks to understand her own Fountain-blessed powers, she studies in the tradition of her mother while training in secret and closely following the realm’s politics, alarmed by her mother’s vision of an impending clash and a devastating future.
But the pieces on fate’s game board are in motion, and on the eve of battle, a threatening force irrevocably changes the future of the kingdom and her own. Does Trynne have what it takes to maneuver Ceredigion’s key players into position and outsmart the kingdom’s enemies — even those still concealed in shadow?
Release date: June 13
The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.
The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.
Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.
For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.
Release date: August 15
Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
Pierce Brown expands the size and scope of his #1 New York Times bestselling Red Rising series with a brand-new adventure of revolution and betrayal among the stars.
Release date: August 22
The Winds of Winter by George R. R. Martin
We’re still waiting on concrete news for The Winds of Winter, the forthcoming sixth novel in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Martin told fans: “I think it will be out this year. (But hey, I thought the same thing last year).”
Release date: TBD
Which of these are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments!
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