Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden - The finale to a magnificent trilogy that perfectly delivered the aspects of mythology and magic, along with Arden's brilliant prose and memorable characters that I hope to see more of in the future (William)
Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence - The conclusion to the Book of the Ancestor trilogy that gave the reader even more warrior nuns, even more brilliant character moments, and a truly epic battle. An incredible ending to the series. (William)
A fitting wrap-up to a fantastic series. Nona is one of my favorite fantasy characters... ever. I'm excited to see if Holy Sister really is the end for her (fingers crossed that Mark Lawrence decides to extend it or have more stories in this world.) (Janelle)
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter - One of if not my favourite book of the year. A story of tragedy, heroism, gritty reality, war and a coming of age story. Every page mesmerized me and astounded me. I cried, I laughed, I mourned. A book that does this is brilliant. As The Rage of Dragons is. Everyone, please READ IT! (William)
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter is a truly special book—compelling, gritty, heartbreaking, and profound. It tells the story of a young boy named Tau as he plunges headlong into a world of brutality and terror in his quest for revenge on those who’ve unjustly persecuted him. The characters, world, and magic systems belie Winter’s status as a 2019 debut author as he navigates his world with the precision and pacing of an old master. I cannot recommend this book hard enough. (John)
Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang - Without a doubt, this will be one of my favorite books ever, not just for this year. It's an emotional, character-driven story that takes the reader on a roller-coaster. The characters stick with you, in all the best ways, and the story itself, along with superb worldbuilding, make the author a stand-out for sure. (Janelle)
This is the novel that emotionally shattered me. It’s ah…it’s probably my favourite book of the year, based on emotional punch alone. If I had any money to bet on a SPFBO 2019 winner, I’d bet them all on this one; don’t worry, fellow SPFBO judges, due to my obvious bias, I’m staying away from giving it an official score for booknest.eu’s part in the competition. It’s out of my hands – and I’m really hoping that the other nine finalists are as strong in terms of narrative and characters as this one is. (Filip)
Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger - Epic fantasy meets steampunk meets anime in this engrossing story of a prince at the center of a conspiracy, and many different people who want to kill him. It's full of intriguing political schemes, heart-pounding drama, friendship, moral dilemmas, romance... honestly, this story has it all. (Janelle)
Chains of Blood by M. L. Spencer is a marvelous expansion of the author’s existing world and one that offers both a continuing pleasure for existing readers and a great starting point for new ones. (Andrew)
Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes Featuring a unique magic system and a world on the edge of war, Seven Blades in Black is full of fantasy action, complemented by a protagonist who is equal parts vulnerable, sarcastic and consumed with revenge. (Andrew)
The True Bastards by Jonathan French As hard, brutal and frequently funny as its predecessor, The True Bastards takes the world established in the first novel and broadens it while also deepening its multi-layered characters. (Andrew)
The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft I thought of leaving the third installment of the Books of Babel off of my 2019 list favorites list, but no, I didn’t. As with The Arm of the Sphinx, The Hod King cranks up the steam, taps some dials, and ratchets up the pressure on Thomas Senlin and company.
What entails is a story unparalleled in imagination and execution. If you have not yet picked up Senlin Ascends, you have quite the journey ahead of you. (John)
If there’s a series that I expect to be read fifty years from now the way Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea is, for example, that would be Josiah Bancroft’s The Books of Babel. The Hod King is the third of four planned novels and it continues the adventure of Senlin and his merry band of pirates, adventurers, marauders, sky sailors, past and present and future wives, and – oh, even though I joke, I truly think it’s a brilliant work of fiction. I’m beyond excited to see it all come together with book #4. Will Bancroft stick the landing?
I reckon he just might. (Filip)
Crowfall by Ed McDonald In the same way Ravencry built upon and exploded the stakes set up in Blackwing, Crowfall antes up and doubles it. McDonald’s descriptions are as strong and mean as his protagonist Ryhalt Galharrow, and the story, while tying up loose ends and providing a satisfying conclusion, leaves enough stones unturned that the reader wants more. I sincerely hope this isn’t McDonald’s last ride into the Misery. (John)