For my final post for today (and this week) I’m looking at my top 10 series for the year. Not all of them are complete, but the only rule was that I had to have read at least two from the series in 2021 for them to count. Again, these are done alphabetically (by series title) because I couldn’t choose an order.
Thank you again to all the authors for making 2021 such a wonderful year with your words and stories!
Adjacent Monsters – Luke Tarzian
The World Maker Parable:
Guilt will always call you back…
Rhona is a faithful servant of the country Jémoon and a woman in love. Everything changes when her beloved sets the ravenous Vulture goddess loose upon the land. Forced to execute the woman she loves for committing treason, Rhona discovers a profound correlation between morality and truth. A connection that might save her people or annihilate them all.
You are a lie…
Varésh Lúm-talé is many things, most of all a genocidal liar. A falsity searching for the Phoenix goddess whom he believes can help him rectify his atrocities. Such an undertaking is an arduous one for a man with missing memories and a conscience set on rending him from inside out. A man whose journey leads to Hang-Dead Forest and a meeting with a Vulture goddess who is not entirely as she seems.
The World Breaker Requiem:
Prince of Woe…
Avaria Norrith is the adopted heir to the Ariathan throne. But that means little to a man who, for the better part of fifteen years, has sought and failed to earn his mother’s love. Fueled by pride and envy, Avaria seeks the means to prove himself and cast away his mental chains. When he’s tasked with the recreation of The Raven’s Rage he sees his chance, for with the infamous blade he can rewrite history and start anew.
Daughter of the Mountain…
Erath has not felt sunlight for a century. Not since Ariath condemned her people to a life of darkness with their misuse of The Raven’s Rage. But when an old friend comes seeking the remnants of the ancient sword, Erath cannot contain her curiosity and resolves to lend her aid. Is it true—can history be revised? Can her people be reclaimed?
Toll the Hounds…
They are hungry—and they are here.
Adventures of a Villain-Leaning Humanoid – Jamie Jackson
Fear and Fury:
Meet Megaera, Meg for short. She’s like Deadpool, except for funner.
For a girl with the power of fear the recruitment attempts from both sides are never-ending. A self-described not-a-hero, villain-leaning humanoid, Meg just wants to live her life, work her dead-end job and have everyone else (especially the heroes) leave her alone. But when a bigger fish who can turn superpowers back on their users enters the picture and threatens the person Meg loves the most (herself), she must turn to the last group of people she would admit she needs help from.
Forced to team up with the heroes she despises (but won’t murder, because let’s face it, orange is not the new black), Meg will have to face the choices from her past that she won’t get therapy for. Self-centered, snarky, sarcastic and a little bit dramatic, she’s going to have to save the world, even if that wasn’t her intention. And try not to get shot in the process. Because that shit hurts.
Torment and Tarnish:
At least, she hopes you have or you’re going to be dazed and confused.
Having settled into her still-not-a-hero life, Meg’s going to have to learn to start taking this seriously because she’s not the only shark in the water now. And those other fish? They bite. Except these “fish” are small(ish), furry, and they’re just the minions.
On top of that, for the first time ever, Meg’s met a hero who isn’t afraid of her, and that’s going to be a problem. Because Meg doesn’t need some bad-boy biker hero type in her life, mucking up the one good thing she’s got going.
Villains, and monsters, and cops, oh my!
Shit’s about to get real.
Review (to come next week)
The Ancient Ones – Cassandra L. Thompson
The Ancient Ones:
Some things are not meant to die…
When David stumbles upon a tragic young woman in a sordid Limehouse pub, he has no idea she’d recognize him as the last vampyre alive, nor that she’d be the one to pull out his story. Yet as he recalls his life from the sweltering vineyards of Ancient Rome to the cold horrors of Medieval Romania – as well as his tumultuous past with the mad and mysterious Lucius – he realizes she is much more than what she seems.
Gothic horror and mythological fantasy blend seamlessly together in this thrilling adventure, breathing new life into vampire lore as it reveals its true origins. The Ancient Ones is a tale of myth, mayhem, and magic … with a dash of romance that bites.
Picking up right where The Ancient Ones left off, David has just discovered the diabolical brother he left for dead in 15th century Romania has returned. Making matters even stranger, the news is delivered by his old friend, Danulf, the half-vampyre/half-lycanthrope he had also presumed dead. As Dan divulges his story to David and his newly reanimated lover, Morrigan, it becomes clear that the ancient pagan gods history hoped to forget are back.
Another adventure throughout history, from the Carpathian Mountains to Pre-Revolutionary France, the story unfolds to reveal there is a much bigger problem than just the vainglorious Lucius. Even with the addition of a liminal witch named Cahira, the gods find themselves facing a threat that can erase their existence for good. Wrought with adventure, romance, tragedy, and heartache, the second book in The Ancient Ones Trilogy dives deeper into a tale as old as time itself… that bites.
Review (to come next week)
The Broken and the Fallen – Ryan Cahill
The Order have watched over the continent of Epheria for thousands of years. But there are those who believe The Order has had its day. That it is corrupt, indulgent, and deceitful – that it is ready to fall.
The City of Ilnaen is on fire.
Dragons fill the skies.
Traitors fill the streets.
The Fall is a prequel novella that takes place four hundred years before the events in Of Blood and Fire – book one in The Bound and The Broken series.
Of Blood and Fire:
Born in fire. Tempered in blood.
Epheria is a land divided by war and mistrust. The High Lords of the south squabble and fight, only kept in check by the Dragonguard, traitors of a time long past, who serve the empire of the North.
In the remote villages of southern Epheria, still reeling from the tragic loss of his brother, Calen Bryer prepares for The Proving—a test of courage and skill that not all survive.
But when three strangers arrive in the village of Milltown, with a secret they are willing to die for, Calen’s world is ripped from under him and he is thrust headfirst into a war that has been raging for centuries.
There is no prophecy. His coming was not foretold.
He bleeds like any man, and bleed he will.
Of Darkness and Light:
Heroes will rise. Nations will fall.
Behind the towering walls of Belduar, Calen Bryer and his companions stand in defense of the city and its new king. In over a thousand years, Belduar has never fallen. It has stood as a bastion of hope. But the Lorian empire are at its walls once more, and the Dragonguard are coming.
In the North, with Faenir by her side, Calen’s sister Ella arrives at the port of Antiquar. She holds no fear of the unknown. She will see this through, no matter what – or who – gets in her way.
Meanwhile, at the embassy of the Circle of Magii in Al’Nasla, Rist Havel hones his newfound powers in preparation for the trials. Unbeknownst to Rist, he is being watched, measured, and judged. He was not taken into the Circle by chance. There is greatness in him. But great men can do terrible things.
As Lorian forces land on southern shores and Aeson Virandr’s letters of rebellion find their way to the right hands, only the Knights of Achyron see the true danger. The danger that stirs in the darkness. The coming shadow will not stop. It will consume all in its path. It wants for nothing but blood and fire.
The Guardian of Empire City – Peter Hartog
When former hotshot homicide detective Tom “”Doc”” Holliday is recruited to join Special Crimes, he trades in his boring desk job for a second chance to do what he does best, hunt down killers. And his first case doesn’t disappoint: a murdered woman with a bogus past, her body drained of blood, and two eyewitnesses wasted on the designer drug goldjoy claiming a vampire did it.
For Holliday is no stranger to the unusual. He wields the Insight, a fickle clairvoyance that allows him to see the dark and terrible things that hide upon his world. After all, when you live in Empire City, where magic and technology co-exist, and humanity endures behind walls of stone and spell-forged steel, anything is possible.
Saddled with a team whose past is as checkered as his own, Holliday embarks upon an investigation that pits them against bio-engineered vampires, interdimensional parasites and the magical masterminds behind it all.
From nightclubs and skyscrapers, to underground drug labs and coffee shops, Holliday’s search for the truth will uncover a shadowy conspiracy that spans the ages, and forces him to confront a destiny he never wanted.
Pieces of Eight:
How do you stop a killer who’s already dead?
Some secrets never die. When the mutilated corpse of an ex-con is found in the bowels of an old church, haunting Biblical verses scrawled at the crime scene speak of divine retribution, and a killer hellbent on revenge. For Special Crimes detective Tom “Doc” Holliday doesn’t need his fickle clairvoyance to see that a murder like this is only the beginning.
With few leads and fewer suspects, Holliday and his quirky team of paranormal specialists embark upon an investigation that will lead them down a dark and twisted path, and test the bonds of family and friendship. From the frozen streets of Little Odessa to the diabolical wealth of Park Avenue, Holliday will need more than his Insight to hunt down an unstoppable killer.
But when Holliday suspects the killer might not be what it seems, he’ll have to unravel a twisted web of greed and lies to save an innocent soul, or lose his own, and watch his world die.
Welcome back to Empire City!
Onyxborn Chronicle – D.W. Ross
Cold from the North:
Driven by the promise of an ancient prophecy which will bring the dark ways of an old god back to power and prominence, an army of invaders swarms Ogulf Harlsbane’s homeland slaughtering all those who oppose them.
Along with his people, Ogulf must seek refuge from this savage force. In his search of sanctuary, he is tasked with finding the one person who can put a stop to the onslaught.
Doing so will send him across lands and seas, have him and his closest friend navigate the intricacies of a civil war, and try to win the help of the princess fighting for her throne. If he fails, darkness will prevail and the reign of the Onyxborn will begin.
The Darkest Dusk:
Following on from D.W. Ross’ debut novel Cold From The North, The Darkest Dusk is the next instalment of the adventures of Ogulf Harlsbane and his allies as they attempt to thwart the advances of malevolent forces trying to take over the realm of Gelenea.
Battle lines are drawn all over the continent as the march of The Order of Maledict continues, Ogulf and his companions must summon magical weapons which have the potential to even the odds, and all the while powerful new players emerge among the fray, bringing with them vast armies and new abilities as the struggle for control intensifies.
With the fate of the world in the balance – can they march of the Onyxborn be stopped?
Review (Review to come next week)
Songs of Sefate – Sarah Chorn
Of Honey and Wildfires:
From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil.
What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory.
The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all.
Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.
Oh, That Shotgun Sky:
Days after the Boundary falls, six strangers converge in a one-horse town, all of them on the run. Some from the past, some avoiding the future.
When men from Shine Company arrive to reclaim their own, these desperate travelers have to decide if they stand with the law, or against it.
Men pull the trigger and blood spills.
Fate pulls the strings and everybody dances.
Five years ago, the Boundary fell. Now the Union is coming to claim Shine Territory as its own.
But not everyone wants to live under their heel.
In a hidden town run by women with rough pasts, life remains untouched until greed paves the way for conflict. Faced with few choices, Grace Hart must stop the Union to protect the women under her care.
Elroy McGlover has spent the past five years running from what he’d done in Matthew Esco’s name. Haunted by ghosts from his past, he returns to where it all went wrong. Enlisted to help Arlen Hobson fight against Union control, Elroy soon finds himself in the middle of a war for the heart of Shine Territory.
In the fight for the soul of the West, no one is innocent.
Threadlight – Zack Argyle
Voice of War:
While preparing for the birth of his first child, Chrys Valerian is tasked with uncovering the group responsible for a series of missing threadweavers–those able to see and manipulate threadlight. With each failure, the dark voice in his head grows louder, begging to be released.
A young girl from a secret city in the center of the Fairenwild veers off course to explore the streets of Alchea. She never expected that her journey would end in chains.
Far in the deserts to the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.
When Chrys learns who is responsible for the missing threadweavers, they come for him and his family. He must do everything in his power to protect those he loves, even if it means trusting strangers or, worse, the dark voice in his mind.
Together, they will change the world–whether they intend to or not.
Stones of Light:
The coreseal is shattered and a new darkness is coming.
Chrys swore to never again let the Apogee take control but, in a moment of desperation, he gave in. Now, he will learn what the Apogee truly wants.
In Alchea, Laurel will do anything to get her threadlight back, even if it means working for the leader of the Bloodthieves. But she has no choice…a life without threadlight is no life at all.
To the west, Alverax travels with the Zeda people to the large port city of Felia, where they seek refuge after the fires in the Fairenwild. But he shattered the coreseal, and no one quite knows what the consequences will be. They only know it won’t be good.
Together, they doomed the world…now, they must save it.
Wind Tide – Jonathan Nevair
Goodbye to the Sun:
A nonstop thrill ride across an unstable galaxy, combining moral struggle with character-driven adventure…
Tucked away in the blue sands of Kol 2, the Motes are on the brink of cultural collapse. Razor, a bold and daring pilot, leads a last-ditch gambit against their local oppressors, the Targitians. The plan – abduct visiting Ambassador Keen Draden and use him as a bargaining chip to restore her people’s independence in the Sagittarius Arm. But when the operation unravels, Razor is forced to renegotiate terms with the arrogant diplomat.
Light years away on Heroon a radical resistance blossoms. The alluring rainforest planet haunts Keen. All his problems started there during the Patent War, but it’s where Razor’s troubles may find a solution. The moral tide ebbs, exposing an impossible choice that links their futures together more tragically than they ever thought possible.
Goodbye to the Sun: a space opera inspired by the Greek tragedy, Antigone.
A space opera heist brimming with action, twists, and turns that doubles as a story of personal growth, mentorship, and sacrifice.
Ailo is a streetwise teen surviving alone on the remote moonbase, Tarkassi 9. She wants nothing more than to flee into the wider world of the Arm. When her chance arrives, she makes it no farther than the first ship out of the system. That’s where Jati, the Patent War veteran and general fighting the Monopolies, gives her a second chance. It’s an unlikely partnership, but Ailo’s rogue status is just what Jati’s People’s Army needs to drive the final spike of victory into a weakening Garissian Council.
A team of experts assembles and hope rests on Ailo’s skill, stealth, and tenacity to pull off the impossible. It’s a wild gambit, and a moral code may need to be bent, or broken, to achieve success. When an internal shadow rises, casting doubt on their plans, Ailo and Jati are forced to weigh the cost of revenge against honor and justice.
No Song, But Silence:
The tide of justice ebbs. A mysterious and reclusive superpower threatens to extend its reach, colonizing new star systems for Wind energy and spreading a corrupt political empire. The People’s Army, once the hope for a new federation of allies in the Arm, has dwindled to a mere spectator in the fight for political control. Ailo’s role in its revolutionary fervor is over. The esoteric philosophy of the legendary Cin Quinti is her only concern now. But when an unimaginable threat sends a political shock wave through the Arm she must weigh the cost of self-preservation, hiding in the shadows as civilization falls to despotism and tyranny.
Light years away on Kol 2, a young librarian grows inspired by a mentor’s clandestine teachings. What he discovers with the newfound knowledge reveals a moral avalanche. The dubious and cruel political power corrupting his society must be exposed, but it will take a leap of faith to challenge an empire.
The Weirdwater Confluence – Dan Fitzgerald
The Living Waters:
When two painted-faced nobles take a guided raft trip on a muddy river, they expect to rough it for a few weeks before returning to their life of sheltered ease. But when mysterious swirls start appearing in the water, even their seasoned guides get rattled.
The mystery of the swirls lures them on to seek the mythical wetlands known as the Living Waters. They discover a world beyond their imagining, but stranger still are the worlds they find inside their own minds as they are drawn deep into the troubles of this hidden place.
The Living Waters is a sword-free fantasy novel featuring an ethereal love story, meditation magic, and an ancient book with cryptic marginalia.
The Isle of a Thousand Worlds
An aging alchemist seeks the key to the Universal Tincture said to unlock the Thousand Worlds of the mind, but she never expected to solve the riddle of her hermetic heart.
A meditation acolyte travels the mystical social media known as the Caravan and finds that the Thousand Worlds lie just below the surface, if she can only learn to see the space between the stars.
This steamy romantic fantasy explores the confluence of the physical and the metaphysical through the commingling of bodies and minds.