So I don’t tend to stick too well to ‘tbr’ lists so I’d like to share some of the sequels I’m super excited about getting to in 2018. Fantasy fiction is my favourite genre and all of these series’ are classed as adult fantasy. I read at least the first book in the series of the following books in 2017 and loved it. I definitely have an exciting year ahead finishing these series up!
Fool’s Quest | Robbin Hobb | Fitz & the Fool book 2
I am actually really sad about finishing up Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings 16 book epic, but with only 2 left to go, I can’t drag it out any longer. Fitz and the Fool are possibly my favourite fantasy characters and I could read about them forever, I still haven’t come to terms with the fact the series has ended. Mixed with the sadness though is the knowledge that I can start from the very beginning once I have completed the last two and relive their adventures all over again. The Realm of the Elderlings has an expansive world comprising of several key areas including the Six Duchies, the Mountain Kingdom and the Rain Wilds. In the first, third and fifth trilogies we follow Fitz and the Fool as they traverse the tricky political climate and change the fate of the royal Farseer line in the Six Duchies. The second and fourth series’ follow different characters who are mainly linked to Bingtown and the Rain Wilds. In this final trilogy I believe Hobb is going to weave all these storylines together. Well, that’s how it’s been going so far so I expect it will continue. Many people ask if they have to read the whole series in order and I would always say yes. Each series makes sense following on from the previous one and I can’t imagine the confusion I’d have if I’d read them out of order. Saying that, it is often said that The Liveship Traders trilogy could be read as a standalone, but I think you’d miss out on a lot of the links and certain aspects may not make as much sense, such as when characters discuss a large event that occurred previously in the Farseer trilogy. From the world building point of view it is certainly best to read them in order. Anyway, I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey to get to these final few books and the cliffhanger at the end of Fool’s Assassin was rather unexpected, so I am keen to see where this one takes us! No matter what, I know it’ll be wonderful, Hobb has yet to let me down.
Deadhouse Gates | Steven Erikson | Malazan Book of the Fallen book 2
I absolutely adored Gardens of the Moon last year and it easily made it into my top 10 books of the year. I dived straight into this sequel, but about half way through I had a mild panic about finishing my 2017 Reading Challenge on Goodreads so I put it down to try and get through some smaller books as this book clocks in at 935 pages. I have high hopes for Deadhouse Gates as the first 50% had me gasp with shock, laugh at the witty dialogue and impressed by the immense world building and character development. Although I was sad to know we wouldn’t be following all the characters I came to love in the first book (they come back into later books apparently, they don’t all get wiped out or something dramatic in the first one, promise!) I had no doubt I would become attached to a new cast. Don’t get me wrong, the Malazan world is huge. The cast of characters in each book is equally so, so it can be quite daunting. I was relieved to find I didn’t have any issues keeping who is who correct in my head as each character is unique and diverse. I loved it. Definitely one for those who love magic, interfering gods, dragons, prophecies, war and multiple plot lines. Erikson has definitely shot to one of my favourite authors and I can’t wait to fall more in love with the Malazan world as I plough my way through this 10 book epic.
Knight’s Shadow | Sebastien de Castell | Greatcoats book 2
The first book, Traitor’s Blade was another 2017 favourite (full review here) and I’ve heard this series just gets better! A swashbuckling fantasy story full of magic, battles, strategy and an amazing trio as main protagonists. My favourite aspect of the first book was the witty banter between the three best friends. It made the world feel more realistic as even when you’re totally surrounded and you know there’s going to be a bloody fight, a quick remark can help spur your mates on. I found the humour very refreshing in a fantasy read and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the series progresses. Despite the light interludes of amusing dialogue, their world has serious political issues that they need to cleverly navigate and I genuinely can’t predict how the series as a whole will play out.
We follow Falcio Val Mond in a first person narrative as he and his two best friends, Kest and Brasti, attempt to stay honourable in a world where the once illustrious Greatcoats are considered the worst kind of traitors, untrustworthy and barely worth the spit it takes to call them ‘tattercloaks’. All 150 of the Greatcoats disbanded after they let the Dukes of Tristia kill their king. Once revered as wandering magistrates who ensured the King’s law was adhered to across the land and are so well trained every one would think twice before challenging them, Falcio won’t allow his friends let their name down by stealing from the rich, even if they are in pretty dire straits. Five years after the death of his king, Falcio is still trying to fulfil his last request: to find the king’s Charoites. I won’t tell you if Falcio is successful or not by the end of the first book, you’ll have to read it to find out! If you haven’t heard of Castell’s Greatcoat series I highly recommend you check it out.
Shadow of Night | Deborah Harkness | All Souls book 2
What a surprise, another sequel to one of my 2017 favourites! A Discovery of Witches was such a great read for me, I really didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Following Diana (a witch with unknown hidden potential) and Matthew (a vamp with a past, naturally) have to navigate a world where the magical community is quite segregated and hostile in order to discover the truth about Diana and the mysterious manuscript Ashmole 782. In a world where good vampire fiction can be difficult to find and is definitely an acquired taste, I found this quite refreshing. I was expecting something akin to paranormal romance stories where the plot is generally very romance heavy and there is little world building/history. That was not the case here, and I quickly got extremely addicted to the storyline. Diana and Matthew do have romantic leanings towards each other yes, but there is so much more going on and for once, the political and historical aspects of this world play heavily in their character and plot development. Their journey begins in a library in Oxford in present day England and takes them to Diana’s family home in North America and to Matthew’s ancestral home in a medieval-esque palace in France. I was very invested in their mission and the villains we have encountered so far have been pretty horrific. I love how far Matthew’s history extends and how we get to explore that going forward (I would explain further, but spoilers) and I’m looking forward to diving into this second instalment.
Seer of Sevenwaters | Juliet Marillier | Sevenwaters book 5
I could gush about Juliet Marillier forever. Starting the Sevenwaters series was one of my better decisions of 2017. I cannot use enough hyperbolic superlatives to describe my love for this world and characters. Marillier’s writing is truly magical and really brings the medieval Irish setting to live. The forest and homes around Sevenwaters are almost characters in themselves. This series follows female characters through the generations as they embark upon adventures, all of which are heartbreakingly difficult and emotionally traumatic and usually against the Fae. A sense of family love is strong throughout, with sacrifices aplenty in order to keep each other safe. This is definitely a fantasy series, but could also fit in fairytale/folklore/historical fantasy lists. Especially the first book, Daughter of the Forest, which not only retells the fairytale of the brothers who are turned into birds and the sister who must save them, but also expands on it and creates a world in which this could take place. You can certainly tell that Marillier weaves old celtic/irish myths and legends into her stories and the plots compliment her wonderful prose. You could lose yourself for days in this world, and Sevenwaters remains my fictional home of choice. Yes, despite the heartbreak these characters endure, the sense of home and family love is so strong that it really invokes a sense of belonging in the reader.
There we have it, some of my most backlist anticipated reads of 2018. Writing this up has been tough, I want to put down my current read (The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – it is great by the way) and pick ALL of these up. So many good choices 🙂