Over the last two or three years, I’ve had the opportunity to read a lot of independent and small-press fantasy, after decades of reading mainstream stuff, and I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some of my favorite books, series and/or authors. In no particular order, they include:
The Light in the Dark series, by Ulff Lehmann
If you’re Grimdark-curious, check out this sprawling epic by Lehmann – a German citizen who writes better in English than most American authors. You’ll never think of elves the same way again.
The Blighted City, by Scott Kaelen
A city of undead? Say. No. More!
Literally anything written by Charles Phipps
Phipps has one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary fiction. If you like one of his books, you’ll like all of them, especially if you like snarky, Easter-egg filled novels – ranging from classic fantasy to space opera to Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style tales. Phipps
will win you over.
Paternus, by Dyrk Ashton
This guy knows more about mythology than you know about breathing, and he’s woven it all into a thrilling, action-packed epic you can’t put down. I can easily see this being made into a movie or movies.
Fallen Empire, by Keith McCardle
Mr. McCardle served in the Australian military, and it shows in his writing. His battles are filled with such confident use of military strategy and authenticity, you’ll feel like you’re there. This book, the first in a series, focuses on a berserker who must share his body with a malevolent nature god.
Blackwing, by Ed McDonald
I’m gonna guess you’ve heard of this one. And it’s well deserved. It’s like the best of Glenn Cook, with the brutality turned up to eleven.
A Wizard’s Forge, by A.M. Justice
A young woman suffers from what is essentially Stockholm Syndrome at the hands of her sadistic lover, until she escapes and becomes someone powerful in her own right. The story combines elements of both fantasy and sci-fi, and I really enjoyed it. The “bad guy” is probably one of the more three-dimensional and well-drawn villains I’ve come across in years.
Song, The Manhunters #1, by Jesse Teller
This, to me, was a bit more of the traditional D & D type story, but no less compelling for all that. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with the witch, but the whole thing's a great read.
The Goblins of Bellwater, by Molly Ringle
Okay, this one’s by my neighbor (West Seattle Strong!), but she’s a helluva writer, and I LOVE her Pacific Northwest settings. This particular story is a rather dark fairy tale and love story all-in-one. May put you off pastry forever.
The Heresy Within (The Ties that Bind, Book 1)
My favorite thing about this book is the character of Arbiter Thanquil Darkheart. Can't wait to see what he does next.
Master of Chaos (The Harry Stubbs Adventures), by David Hambling
This book is equal parts X-Files, Cthulhu Mythos and late 19th/ Early 20th century romp through London. And I love David’s elegant turns of phrase.
Vampire Soul, a Heartblaze Novel, by Shay Roberts
Don’t let the cover or genre designation fool you. I was one of the beta readers on this book, and it grabbed me from the get-go and I couldn’t stop reading ‘til I’d finished. It’s chock full of monsters, combat, and mystery. It also has two timelines, one of which is a painstakingly researched American Revolution narrative. Masterfully crafted, it deserves to be read by everyone.
Kill Switch by Sean E. Britten
While technically not fantasy, I had to include this, because Sean’s books are so cinematic in terms of their non-stop action, over-the-top violence, and outlandish characters. And the commercials he inserts into the action are some of the funniest stuff I’ve read in years. Think the original Robocop in both action and humor.
I’ve probably read at least this much indie and small-press horror (not to mention my mainstream faves), but I guess that’s for another day.