Let me take you away from the (semi) sweltering heat of the UK in summertime and into some distant lands, aka the realms of fantasy. I’ve had the time to do rather a bit of reading recently, and top of my list have been these absolute bangers. If you’re looking for some quality fantasy to get excited for in the coming months, these books are absolutely it.
Jade War, by Fonda Lee
I have raved about this book online, AND FOR GOOD REASON. Jade War is the sequel to the stupendous Jade City, which follows the lives of the No Peak Clan of the island of Kekon as they attempt to fight off rivals and maintain control over Kekon’s most precious natural resource: jade, which grants its wearer supernatural powers.
Just like its predecessor, this book is like a Bruce Lee film made flesh, if Bruce Lee films combined kick-ass action with politics, plotting and deft character work. Fonda Lee’s characters feel more like real people than words on a page, and by the end I felt oddly bereft, like I’d been forced to part company with some real friends. The decisions they make are relatable, and the politics in this book is actually mind boggling. There’s so much outmanoeuvring and tactical plotting: it’s great. Plus, we get to learn more about the world outside Kekon, as foreign powers turn their eyes to jade…
So. This book is fantastically written, and hits you as hard as a shock of jade. Read it! Or read the first instalment, then read this. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
Cage of Souls, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
What do you get if you mix together a weaselly hero, a world where literally everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is trying to kill you, and an epic quest to (kind of) save the future of the planet? Something very much like this.
Not that we should be expecting any less from the king of out-there science fiction. Cage of Souls is pretty damn epic. We start off trapped in a wooden floating prison in the middle of a rotting jungle (of course) and from there journey underground, to the last human city, and also across the empty desert. It’s a fantastic flight of fantasy, and the mind literally boggles at the stuff this guy comes up with.
Also, a Soviet astronaut randomly makes an appearance. Make what you will of that.
Ruin of Kings, by Jen Lyons
I read the first few chapters of this book wayyy back when (and got really confused when it ended early). Having read the rest of the book, those first few chapters make a lot more sense now!
It’s also a really cracking read. We follow Kihrin on three different timelines through the story: the present day, held captive inside a cell with a monster; the start of his story and the middle. It sounds complicated, but somehow it (mostly) works really well. Lyons has a stupendous eye for worldbuilding: the fantasy realm that she creates feels strange and wacky and very much lived in, from homicidal battles for the crown to snake-people who worship the goddess of Death. The story races along and- apart from the middle, where it sags a tiny, tiny bit- it’s fantastically well told. I was hooked, and I’m super impatient for this book to come out so I can start looking forward to the sequel!
That’s my list! What do you think? What fantasy books are you really looking forward to reading this summer?