High fantasy is my favorite genre, yet I feel like I don’t read enough of it to justify that. Out of 92 books I read in 2018, only 13 were high fantasy – that’s 14%! Now, in 2018, I made a concerted effort to read outside of my preferred genres, and I definitely succeeded in that, but for 2019 one of my goals was to read more high fantasy. I’ve read 8 so far this year, out of a total of 32 books, which isn’t bad, but still isn’t as much as I hope for.
I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy roll since the FemmeFanTale readathon in March, and with the conclusion of Game of Thrones, I’m left feeling vaguely unsatisfied and desirous of fantasy series with satisfying conclusions. I’ve narrowed down a group of fantasy books I’m determined to read by the end of this year. 12 books may not seem like much for the rest of the year, but keep in mind that these are fantasy, which means they are lengthy. Plus they’ll be interspersed with other books I still intend to read (like a few classics and neo-Victorian historical fiction novels I have in mind).
Anyway, that’s all a lot of rambling just to say: here’s 12 high fantasy books I want to read before the end of 2019.
I think that, while adult high fantasy and YA fantasy have a lot in common, they’re also very, very different. Usually adult high fantasy is a lot longer, slower, more impersonal, and a lot more intimidating when it comes to worldbuilding, whereas YA is pacier and more personal, which in a lot of ways makes it easier to read. I therefore consider them to be two separate genres.
There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool: I haven’t heard too much about this book, but everything I’ve heard as been good. Though it’s YA, it’s multi-POV and judging from the two lines I read in my ARC, it’s got adult fantasy vibes.
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He: I’ve heard such good things about this one! It’s supposed to be slow, with really beautiful writing, and it takes place at court. Oddly enough, a court-based fantasy is something I’ve been craving for a while.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: I’ve been wanting to read this book for years. Years. I was supposed to read it in March but never got around to it, but I’m determined to get to it sometime this year. It’s a murder mystery high fantasy with dragons!
The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad: I’ve heard this is quite different than most YA fantasies, with gorgeous writing, varied female characters, and dense worldbuilding.
Fantasy by White Men
Why, yes, this does need its own category. Sure, some of my favorite fantasy books of this year and last have been by white men, but I’ve also been burned by white men before. It’s just hard not to be wary, you know?
The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley: This wasn’t on my list initially but in the wake of the Game of Thrones debacle, I’ve heard this series upheld as one that actually delivers a great conclusion.
The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham: This series is kind of a classic in the high fantasy world, though it wasn’t published that long ago. It’s hard to see any list of recommended fantasy that doesn’t feature this. The summary sounds epic. And apparently, the author is one half of the duo that wrote the popular Expanse series!
An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock: Another book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, and I just bought a copy of it! It’s supposed to be Italian-inspired steampunk fantasy with some kind of murder mystery interwoven through. It sounds weird and different and I look forward to it!
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu: Yet another book I’ve had on my list for a while, and also another that’s kind popular. It’s a desert fantasy with a young woman as the main character, so I’m here for it.
These books literally have nothing else in common except for the fact that they feature gay folks. Since LGBTQ rep still isn’t all that common in high fantasy (though we’re leagues better than even just two years ago!), I’m giving this its own category.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: I think this has been everyone’s most anticipated fantasy of the year! I’ve heard some great things and I’ve had a copy sitting on my shelf for a while! It’s just…the size of this tome is pretty intimidating, but I still hope to get to it soon.
Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks: This book was published nearly twenty years ago, and has the distinction of being one of the few books with LGB representation of that time. I don’t know much else about it, but it feels very much like Classic 90s Fantasy.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: I honestly have no idea what to expect from this. I’ve heard some people describe it as high fantasy while others have said it takes place in space, and there’s necromancers and weird humor and overall it just sounds totally bizarre, but it’s so hyped that I can’t not read it.
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly: This is a high fantasy inspired by the Weimer era, which is a historical time period I find fascinating! Though I prefer medieval-ish era high fantasy, I’m always fascinated by high fantasy that takes place in a more modern time period. I’ve heard such excellent things about this series!
So there we have it! Do let me know if you’ve read any of these books and loved them (or…not loved them) or if you’re planning on reading any of them soon!