Top New Fantasy Books in October 2020

Here are some of the upcoming books we’re anticipating for the fall:

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Top New Fantasy Books October 2020

The Emperor’s Wolves by Michelle Sagara

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Mira
Release date: Oct. 13

Den of Geek says: Sagara’s urban fantasy sets itself apart with creative anthropomorphic characters. This new entry could be a good entry point into the pre-existing canon, since it starts a new series in the same world.

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Publisher’s summary: Multiple races carefully navigate the City of Elantra under the Dragon Emperor’s wing. His Imperial Wolves are executioners, the smallest group to serve in the Halls of Law. The populace calls them assassins.

Every wolf candidate must consent to a full examination by the Tha’alani, one of the most feared and distrusted races in Elantra for their ability to read minds. Most candidates don’t finish their job interviews.

Severn Handred, the newest potential recruit, is determined to face and pass this final test—even if by doing so he’s exposing secrets he has never shared.

When an interrogation uncovers the connections to a two-decade-old series of murders of the Tha’alani, the Wolves are commanded to hunt. Severn’s first job will be joining the chase. From the High Halls to the Tha’alani quarter, from the Oracles to the Emperor, secrets are uncovered, tensions are raised and justice just might be done…if Severn can survive.

Buy The Emperor’s Wolves by Michelle Sagara.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse 

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press
Release date: Oct. 13

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Den of Geek says: Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning sent her careening into the urban fantasy world. Now she brings sharp action and an indigenous perspective to high fantasy with a story inspired by the pre-Columbian Americas.

Publisher’s summary: In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.

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Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander dan Vilhjálmsson

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: Oct. 20 

Den of Geek says: A unique setting and a fantasy world reminiscent of China Mieville’s serves as the backdrop for a dark story. Both characters — one an artistic rebel and one an antiheroic wizard addicted to magic — sound like they have specific and intriguing ties to their brutal, magical world. 

Publisher’s summary:  Rebels and revolutionaries disappear into the infamous prison, the Nine, never to be heard from again. Masked police roam the streets, dark magic lurks in the shadows, and the implacable flying fortress casts its baleful eye over all below.

Sæmundur, addict and sorcerer, has been cast out from university, and forbidden to study magic. Dissident artist, Garún, is desperate for a just society and will do anything to achieve it.

Both seek revolution in their own ways. Both seek power.

Together, they will change Reykjavik forever.

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Buy Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander dan Vilhjálmsson.

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Solaris 
Release date: Oct. 15 

Den of Geek says: If you read these lists often, you know I’m a big fan of dragons. Renowned science fiction author Yoon Ha Lee turns to fantasy-with-robots in this twist on the story of an unlikely knight, a mechanical dragon, and a corrupt kingdom. 

Publisher’s summary: Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.

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What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…

Buy Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee.

Top New Fantasy Books September 2020

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release date: Sept. 15

Den of Geek says: Clarke’s atmospheric Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was an eerie, old-fashioned take on the fairy genre, delicate and complex at once. She returns with a haunted house tale (!) featuring endless rooms, mysterious characters, and “A Great and Secret Knowledge.”

Publisher’s summary: Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.

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Buy Piranesi by Susanna Clarke on Amazon.

Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston 

Type: Novel
Publisher: Tor.com
Release date: Sept. 8

Den of Geek says: A lyrical, apocalyptic fantasy epic, Master of Poisons sends two very different characters into an unforgiving world in a creative new alternate empire.

Publisher’s summary: The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.

Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.

Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.

Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston’s characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will bleed your mind with its turns of phrase and leave you aching for the world it burns into being.

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Buy Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston on Amazon.

 The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart 

Type: Novel
Publisher: Hachette Books 
Release date: Sept. 8

Den of Geek says: The magic system in this debut has a pleasantly video game-like system of magic talismans and animal automatons.

Publisher’s summary: The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

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Top New Fantasy Books August 2020

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson 

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Tor
Release date: Aug. 11 

Den of Geek says: The Baru Cormorant series features as its hero a mentally ill accountant with the fate of an empire at her fingers. The third book in the series promises more dark, twisty introspection and grim, creative world-building. 

Publisher’s summary: The hunt is over. After fifteen years of lies and sacrifice, Baru Cormorant has the power to destroy the Imperial Republic of Falcrest that she pretends to serve. The secret society called the Cancrioth is real, and Baru is among them.

But the Cancrioth’s weapon cannot distinguish the guilty from the innocent. If it escapes quarantine, the ancient hemorrhagic plague called the Kettling will kill hundreds of millions…not just in Falcrest, but all across the world. History will end in a black bloodstain.

Is that justice? Is this really what Tain Hu hoped for when she sacrificed herself?

Baru’s enemies close in from all sides. Baru’s own mind teeters on the edge of madness or shattering revelation. Now she must choose between genocidal revenge and a far more difficult path―a conspiracy of judges, kings, spies and immortals, puppeteering the world’s riches and two great wars in a gambit for the ultimate prize. 

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If Baru had absolute power over the Imperial Republic, she could force Falcrest to abandon its colonies and make right its crimes.

Buy The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson on Amazon.

Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

Type: Epic Poem 
Publisher: MCD x FSG Originals
Release date: Aug. 25 

Den of Geek says: Headley got an intimate look at Beowulf in the modern interpretation The Mere Wife. She turns the intellect behind that inventive, scathing novel about complex and furious women to a translation of the poem featuring new research. 

Publisher’s summary: Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf―and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world―there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us. 

A man seeks to prove himself as a hero. A monster seeks silence in his territory. A warrior seeks to avenge her murdered son. A dragon ends it all. The familiar elements of the epic poem are seen with a novelist’s eye toward gender, genre, and history―Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment, powerful men seeking to become more powerful, and one woman seeking justice for her child, but this version brings new context to an old story. While crafting her contemporary adaptation of Beowulf, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation.

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Buy Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley on Amazon.

The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe

Type: Novel (Reprint) 
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: Aug. 11 

Den of Geek says: Gene Wolfe is a modern master of fantasy. This reprint of a 2004 duology provides both original stories in one paperback package. 

Publisher’s summary: A young man in his teens is transported from our world to a magical realm consisting of seven levels of reality. Transformed by magic into a grown man of heroic proportions, he takes the name Sir Able of the High Heart and sets out on a quest to find the sword that has been promised to him, the blade that will help him fulfill his ambition to become a true hero―a true knight. 

Inside, however, Sir Able remains a boy, and he must grow in every sense to survive what lies ahead…

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Top New Fantasy Books July 2020 

The Book of Dragons: An Anthology by Jonathan Strahan

Type: Anthology 
Publisher: Harper Voyager 
Release date: July 7 

Den of Geek says: I’m always looking for a good book about dragons, and this incredible list of authors promises adventurous and unique stories. Anne Leckie, Zen Cho, Seanan Maguire, J.Y. Yang, Patricia A McKillip, Brooke Bolander … it’s an astounding, literary-flavored list of people qualified to write cool creatures.

Publisher’s summary: Here there be dragons . . . 

From China to Europe, Africa to North America, dragons have long captured our imagination in myth and legend. Whether they are rampaging beasts awaiting a brave hero to slay or benevolent sages who have much to teach humanity, dragons are intrinsically connected to stories of creation, adventure, and struggle beloved for generations. 

Bringing together nearly thirty stories and poems from some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers working today— Garth Nix, Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Ann Leckie & Rachel Swirsky, Daniel Abraham, Peter S. Beagle, Beth Cato, Zen Cho, C. S. E Cooney, Aliette de Bodard, Amal El-Mohtar, Kate Elliott, Theodora Goss, Ellen Klages, Ken Liu, Seanan Maguire, Patricia A McKillip, K. J. Parker, Kelly Robson, Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton, Elle Katharine White, Jane Yolen, Kelly Barnhill, Brooke Bolander, Sarah Gailey, and J. Y. Yang—and illustrated by award-nominated artist Rovina Cai with black-and-white line drawings specific to each entry throughout, this extraordinary collection vividly breathes fire and life into one of our most captivating and feared magical creatures as never before and is sure to become a treasured keepsake for fans of fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales.

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Or What You Will by Joe Walton 

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 7 

Den of Geek says: Jo Walton is a writer’s writer, highly praised but still generally skating under the radar. I found her 2014 My Real Children to not nearly live up to its very high concept, but she’s one of those authors with technical prowess who is at least worth checking out for context for women’s science fiction. The metafiction plot sounds fun. 

Publisher’s summary: He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god. 

But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. He has played a part in most of those novels, and in the recesses of her mind, Sylvia has conversed with him for years. 

But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.

Now Sylvia is starting a new novel, a fantasy for adult readers, set in Thalia, the Florence-resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before. Of course he’s got a part in it. But he also has a notion. He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether. All he has to do is convince her.

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Buy Or What You Will by Jo Walton on Amazon.

The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal

Type: Graphic Novel 
Publisher: First Second 
Release date: July 14 

Den of Geek says: The Adventure Zone is a wildly popular humorous fantasy podcast. It’s part of the big 2010s wave of Dungeons & Dragons coming back into the geek space. Especially for someone who might not want to listen to hundreds of episodes of a podcast, the illustrated version does a good job of smoothing out the story into a graphic novel format without removing the goofy chaos of the original podcast. 

Publisher’s summary: START YOUR ENGINES, friends, Clint McElroy and sons Griffin, Justin, and Travis hit the road again with Taako, Magnus and Merle, the beloved agents of chaos from the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novels illustrated by Carey Pietsch, The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins and The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited.

Our boys have gone full-time at the Bureau of Balance, and their next assignment is a real thorny one: apprehending The Raven, a master thief who’s tapped into the power of a Grand Relic to ransack the city of Goldcliff. Local life-saver Lieutenant Hurley pulls them out of the woods, only to throw them headlong into the world of battle wagon racing, Goldcliff’s favorite high-stakes low-legality sport and The Raven’s chosen battlefield. Will the boys and Hurley be able to reclaim the Relic and pull The Raven back from the brink, or will they get lost in the weeds?

Based on the beloved blockbuster podcast where three brothers and their dad play a tabletop RPG in real time, The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal has it all: blossoming new friendships, pining for outlaw lovers, and a rollicking race you can root for!