Hi everyone! As you know, I love reading fantasy and science fiction books, and there are some fantastic self-published books out there in those categories. I had the privilege of reading some of these books, and posting reviews of what I thought of them on Goodreads. If you haven’t read these books, and if you don’t know about these authors, you’re definitely missing out! Let’s celebrate some awesome books! Here are my top indie fantasy and sci-fi books for to June to December 2021! These books are in no particular order, however are broken down into several sub-genres to help guide you in your particular reading tastes.
Title: Creation by Bjorn Larssen
Why it’s so good: It’s hard for an author to make my list for top indie fantasy and sci-fi books for BOTH the first AND second half of 2021, but with first Children and now Creation, Bjorn Larssen has done it! The Pratchett and Adams comparisons you will hear when Larssen's name is spoken about with great esteem in fantasy circles is for a reason. Larssen is extremely gifted and if you have not read him yet, you really should! Creation is a triumph, and packs a huge punch for something you can read cover to cover in a couple of hours or less.
Review Quote: “If after hearing all this, you think the novella Creation delves into Norse Mythology in a completely incongruous way, think again. This is part of the genius of Larssen, a man who knows his Baldrs from his Bragis. Larssen's research into Norse Legend is impeccable and meticulous. Just ask Steven T. Dunn, an educator with a Master's in Medical History and Norse Studies, who provides an endorsement for the novella. Larssen's hilarious take on the Norse creation checks all the "authenticity" boxes, including featuring first humans Ask and Embla.”
GRIMDARK / GASLAMP FANTASY
Title: A Foreshadowing of Darkness by T.B. Wayne
Why it’s so good: The story centers on a religious group that is essentially a law enforcement entity, who serves and defends those under their protection. The group channels a mysterious, but generic magical power, however each member of the group wields the power in unique ways. The group employs a combination of martial prowess and magic to carry out their duties, and it makes for an exciting and compelling story.
Review Quote: “First let me say that I was highly impressed with the writing and creativity of the author. The world designed was easy to conceptualize, and the character descriptions make them believable and quickly engaged the emotion of the reader.”
Title: From the Darkness Comes by Joy Demers
Why it’s so good: A well-written book that I enjoyed, and fans of fast-paced read with plenty of action sequences will definitely enjoy.
Review Quote: “The prose and plot are straightforward and easy to digest. Demers spins an intriguing tale, with plenty of fight sequences, heart-warming camaraderie, roguish figures, mysterious goddesses, and of course the vengeful, broken Cadda and her eerie glowing eyes, as she is relentless in her pursuit of vengeance and to discover her mother’s whereabouts.”
Title: Oathbreaker by A.J. Rettger
Why it’s so good: Oathbreaker is truly the definition of a book one can't put down. Rettger does not permit the reader to take much of a breath, once the reader gets past a lengthy prologue, going from one incredible fight scene to the next! If there is one thing I cannot fault the author for, is his non-stop, thrilling action sequences. Rettger will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering what calamity is coming next for our hero and his companions, and if they can possibly make it out alive.
Review Quote: “Rettger is obviously a highly talented new writer who will only get better, and readers looking for a very young Andrzej Sapkowski or Joe Abercrombie-type author would do well to check out Oathbreaker! I am definitely looking forward to the next book by Rettger!.”
HIGH / EPIC FANTASY
Title: God of Nothing: The All by Shane Scott
Why it’s so good: God of Nothing: The All by Shane Scott is a psychedelic, heterogeneous, absolutely wild ride through an awe-inspiring universe, both celestial and mortal. It is a fantastic book, that has me still absorbing all its incredible aspects, long after I have finished reading it.
Review Quote: “The book is filled with wit, even belly-laughing-type black humour, monumental fight scenes, tender, poignant and tear-jerking moments, terrible defeats, and dazzling triumphs. To say the characters are incredible is an understatement.”
Title: Goldsong by Beth Hudson
Why it’s so good: In Goldsong, Hudson has woven an inventive and distinct universe full of unique kingdoms, diverse peoples, deep and ancient magic, gods, demons, prophecy, magical instruments and weapons, and all the elements a reader would ever want in any fantasy novel.
Review Quote: “If you enjoy an extremely well-crafted system of magic and magical elements, then you will certainly revel in Goldsong. While there is no real large-scale battle pieces in the novel, that certainly did not diminish from my reading enjoyment, as all the mythology and mysticism certainly compensated for the overall lack of war and battle-excitement.”
Title: The Burden of Destiny by Laura E. Thompson
Why it’s so good: Thompson’s debut is quite well-written and descriptive, the characters are heart-warming, well thought-out, and easy to root for, the world building is strong, and the magic system is interesting.
Review Quote: “The book compares favourably, in my estimation, with work of the esteemed Terry Brooks of The Sword of Shannara fame: full of elves, sword and magical battles, scheming, and some surprising emotional depth. A warm and captivating YA high fantasy adventure story!”
Title: In the Shadow of Ruin by Tony Dejabo
Why it’s so good: A simply outstanding book, filled with political intrigue, tribal warfare with harrowing battle scenes, mysticism, and lore in the form of African mythology, impressive, atmospheric settings in ancient Nigeria, love, betrayal, and vengeance!
Review Quote: “If you like your battle scenes explosive, your outcomes unpredictable, strong, and well-drawn characters, delightful prose, African lore sprinkled with a hint of the black arts as the magic system, then look no further! Dejabo is an author to watch, and I am very much looking forward to the next entry in The Fractured Kingdom!”
Title: Immortal Defiance by Laura Maybrooke
Why it’s so good: Yes, there are some comfortable tropes here, but Maybrooke writes so well, you will forget about the familiarity of those tropes, and just be wrapped up in what is a great story.
Review Quote: “I could rave about the awesome, intricate worldbuilding created by Maybrooke. There are great secondary characters, colourful warring factions, various races including dwarven, eleven, human, and dragon, unique nations, and a highly detailed and immersive backstory & history to it all, complete with dates of major events (which the reader will see during the headers for the flashbacks).”
SCI-FI-FANTASY / SCI-FI / DYSTOPIAN
Title: The Sequence by Lucien Telford
Why it’s so good: Beyond exceptional characters, The Sequence has the best elements every popular sci-fi books needs: it illustrates the relationship between the characters and the future environment, and how that new-age environment impacts them; it explains the future technologies, systems, and how they operate in a way that is readily understood; and it features incredibly cool, sexy tech that is imaginative candy for the reader.
Review Quote: “The Sequence is a gripping, flawlessly-paced, diverting, beautifully written action sci-fi thriller. This one is bound to garner many more great reviews, and I predict Telford is in for his share of writing accolades in the future. He is surely a great writer to watch.”
Title: Nexus Point by K. Pimpinella
Why it’s so good: Blade Runner. The Bourne Identity. Star Trek. If these franchises excite you, then Nexus Point by the outstanding author, K. Pimpinella, is for you!
Review Quote: “The book is extremely well-written, with a breakneck pace. Action abounds, intrigue and secrets are always lurking around the corner. The fight scenes are excellent, and the author Pimpinella's experience and credibility as both armed forces veteran and paramedic are on full display. There is a sense of realism and urgency that Pimpinella's writing brings to the action sequences. The combination of old and future world settings, were fantastic, and Pimpinella manages to write so well that one never feels disoriented or lost at which slot in time the plot has landed.”
Title: Keepers and Destinies by Carl F. Brothers
Why it’s so good: Author Carl F. Brothers presents a fascinating tale of both celestial and human conflict in his debut novel “Keepers and Destinies”, that fans of the Rapture genre (such as I) will find thoroughly entertaining.
Review Quote: “Brothers maintains the Christian perspective on an apocalyptic future, painting a dystopian landscape for humans, where God, though omnipotent, leaves the fighting to his Angelic hosts, and humans are largely caught in the middle of the conflict between good and evil. I absolutely love the risk-taking for debut authors to end the first book of a series on a cliff-hanger, and Brothers does with “Keepers and Destinies” leaving the reader craving for more.”
Title: The Secret of the Sword by Sean Rodrick Bell
Why it’s so good: The Secret of the Sword features great settings, and interesting characters. Bell takes the reader on a sweeping ride, from modern locations in some of Canada's largest and most sophisticated cities, back to medieval Britain and the glory of mythic Camelot. The book provides a fascinating look at the larger-than-life characters from Arthurian lore, such powerful wizard Merlin, noble Uther, devious Morgana, and more.
Review Quote: “Perhaps what I loved most about the story were the poignant themes. In the novel, Bell highlights the cost of being committed to a cause, the power of family bonds and special relationships, and how enduring love survives the grave.”
Title: Of Us and Them by T.L Coughlin
Why it’s so good: Coughlin has composed a wonderfully detailed futuristic earth, replete with the cool gadgetry one expects to see in a sci-fi entry. With savoury descriptions and backstory that are never overdone, but tantalizing enough to give you the feeling of being with the protagonist, the action in the novel is poignant and the stakes are high.
Review Quote: “Well fleshed out characters, salient reflections on broader themes, a dash of humour, burgeoning young romances, great diversity and LGBTQ + representation, make for an awesome YA novel. Of Us and Them has all these components, and much more..”
Title: The Hidden King by E.G. Radcliff
Why it’s so good: I found myself stopping to re-read certain parts of the book, "smelling the roses", so to speak, as I savoured the delightful prose. Radcliff paints the world of the Gut so deliciously, so vividly with her words, including the sibylline "No-Man's-Land", that I felt I was right there, looking over vast expanses, uncharted lands, and imposing mountains.
Review Quote: “Overall, this is a book that I loved, and after hearing nothing but good things about it, am so pleased all I heard proved to be true. I have already taken steps to secure the next two books in what promises to be an outstanding series, and give a resounding five stars for The Hidden King!”
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