SPFBO Finalist SPFBO Finalists

Finalists in Mark Lawrence's Self-published Fantasy Blog-Off from all years.

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Small Miracles by Olivia Atwater

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist SPFBO Winner

A little bit of sin is good for the soul. Gadriel, the fallen angel of petty temptations, has a bit of a gambling debt. Fortunately, her angelic bookie is happy to let her pay off her debts by doing what she does best: All Gadriel has to do is tempt miserably sinless mortal Holly Harker to do a few nice things for herself. What should be a cakewalk of a job soon runs into several roadblocks, however, as Miss Harker politely refuses every attempt at temptation from Gadriel the woman, Gadriel the man, and Gadriel the adorable fluffy kitten. When even chocolate fails to move Gadriel’s target, the ex-guardian angel begins to suspect she’s been conned. But Gadriel still remembers her previous job… and where petty temptations fail, small miracles might yet prevail. Olivia Atwater explores love, grief, and the very last bit of chocolate in this sweet modern fantasy, full of wit and heart. Pick up Small Miracles, and enjoy a heavenly faerie tale from the author of Half a Soul.


The Anointed by Keith Ward

SPFBO Finalist

**Finalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Contest!** He's a jerk. She knows it. Can they save the world anyway? Xinlas’s life goal is modest: he wants to be a living legend, revered in song and story. And he’s off to a good start. He faced death once, and won. His legend grew -- at least in his own mind. Fame comes calling on Xinlas again, or so he thinks, when he’s flying a dragon one afternoon and stumbles on a hidden village. The village has a resource that no one’s ever seen before, something that can enable invasions of foreign lands. It is a force so powerful that a ruthless king will kill for it. Along the way, Xinlas meets a mysterious orange-haired girl on a river. Greengrass is like no one he’s ever met. He tries to woo her, and can’t understand why she doesn’t fall for his charms like every other girl. But Greengrass is not every other girl. She is, in fact, the key to stopping the ruler who would enslave millions and crush the world under his throne. Xinlas can’t let that happen, but he'll need help. Help from Greengrass. The problem is that she can’t stand him. Will Xinlas become the hero he believes he can be, or will he break under the weight of his destiny -- and his own arrogance? The fate of civilization rests on his choices. Click to buy, or read free with Kindle Unlimited. NOTE: “The Anointed” is chronologically the third book in the “Red Proxy” series, but can be read and enjoyed without having read the others. Book 1: The Blood King Book 2: 99 Days Book 3: The Anointed


Fire of the Forebears by L.A. Buck

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

Pitted against one another, with the people and country they love in jeopardy, the daughter of a deserter and the son of the king have a chance to fulfill their forebears’ legacy—or destroy it entirely. Twisted monsters called saja lurk in the shadows of the mountains. Rumors say the Fidelis, human wielders of an ancient elemental magic, again walk the plains. Not all in Avaron believe, and not all welcome the return of legend. Kura’s a skeptic. But, she’ll cross and befriend centaurs, talking animals, and worse to save her family after the rebellion mistakes her for the land’s prophesied savior. And, while he’d rather negotiate with rebels than fight them, Triston can’t ignore prophecy. That was the sham his father used to steal the crown in the first place. Over a century ago, their ancestors sailed the oceans in search of peace and died as heroes fighting for it. But heroes—and villains—aren’t always what they seem to be.


Mysterious Ways by Abbie Evans

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

The Goddess works in mysterious ways, and Isabella Varselak intends to find out exactly what those ways are. As the commander of the 7th Unit of the Solistopian City Watch, Isabella Varselak has dealt with many a mystery. Murderers, burglars, con artists, and troublesome demons have given her a multitude of crimes to solve over the years. But injustice in the way the world works is all around her. Innocent people suffer, guilty people triumph. When this is questioned, the only answer she receives is that the Goddess works in mysterious ways. Determined to get to the bottom of what these ways are and solve the ultimate mystery, she sets off on a journey to find answers — but she’ll have to go through hell to get them. Mysterious Ways is a fantasy novel set in a matriarchal world. Women are in power, they worship a Goddess, and same sex relationships are common and socially acceptable.


Tethered Spirits by T. A. Hernandez

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

A man with an unknown past For years, Amar has traveled the Kavoran empire, seeking a way to recover his lost memories and end the curse that plagues him. With support from loyal friends, Amar may finally be on the verge of finding answers, but to do so, he’ll need to enlist the help of an unexpected guide. A girl afraid of her own powers Kesari is a Tarja, granted magical abilities through her Bond with a spirit named Lucian. Haunted by past mistakes that have left her desperate to sever her Bond, Kesari has her own reasons for agreeing to help Amar. But in doing so, she may finally have to face the fears she’s carried ever since leaving home. A woman on a vital mission Meanwhile, a young refugee named Aleida is in hot pursuit, hoping the secret behind Amar’s curse can save her brother from a fatal illness. With so much at stake and little left to lose, Aleida will stop at nothing to get what she wants. And when their paths collide, all three are set on a journey to unravel a mystery far deeper than they ever suspected.


A Touch of Light by Thiago Abdalla

SFFOasis SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

How far would you go to resurrect someone you love? Would you change who you are to show you belong? The world of Avarin is tearing itself apart. The Domain worships life, its rulers lead eternal lives and death is a shame that must not be mourned. For the clans to the south, however, death is all that keeps the Earth alive. But old enemies are rising. A madness spreads throughout the Domain, and Lynn, a rogue griffin rider in hiding, might be the only one who knows how to fight it, while Adrian, a Domain prince seeking to bring his dead loved ones to worthiness, leads the Domain armies against the madmen. The clans suffer a madness of their own. As the land itself begins to wither away, Nasha, a cursed hunter and lifelong outcast, desperately fights for belonging in the Ronar, while her clan seeks to heal the land. Old beliefs will be challenged as the people of Avarin fight to save it… before death comes for them all. A sweeping epic fantasy saga where religion and politics are one, magic brings terror into the hearts of men, and a looming blight threatens to tear everything down


Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

Sensible, practical Elinor Tregarth really did plan to be the model poor relation when she moved into Hathergill Hall. She certainly never meant to kidnap her awful cousin Penelope's pet dragon. She never expected to fall in love with the shameless - but surprisingly sweet - fortune hunter who came to court Penelope. And she never dreamed that she would have to enter into an outrageous magical charade to save her younger sisters' futures. However, even the most brilliant scholars of 1817 England still haven't ferreted out all the lurking secrets of rediscovered dragonkind...and even the most sensible of heroines can still make a reckless wish or two when she's pushed. Now Elinor will have to find out just how rash and resourceful she can be when she sets aside all common sense. Maybe, just maybe, she'll even be impractical enough to win her own true love and a happily ever after...with the unpredictable and dangerous "help" of the magical creature who has adopted her. A frothy Regency rom-com full of pet dragons and magical misadventures, Scales and Sensibility is a full-length novel and the first in a new series of standalone romantic comedies


The Umbral Storm by Alec Hutson

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

A thousand years ago the Heart of the World was shattered, its fragments scattered across the lands. In the chaos that followed, martial orders arose to gather these shards, for it was found that great powers were granted when these pieces were bonded to the flesh of the chosen. These are the Sharded Few, warriors imbued with the divine energies that once coursed through the Heart, and driven to absorb enough fragments to claim godhood. Deryn has known nothing in his life except suffering. Orphaned at the edge of the realms, indentured to a cruel slaver, he can see little chance of escaping his circumstances. But elsewhere in the world ancient powers are stirring, new alliances threaten the peace of the old order, and in the cataclysms that are coming a slave will become a hero.


Miss Percy's Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

Miss Mildred Percy inherits a dragon. Ah, but we’ve already got ahead of ourselves… Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. She does not dance, she has long stopped dreaming, and she certainly does not have adventures. That is, until her great uncle has the audacity to leave her an inheritance, one that includes a dragon’s egg. The egg - as eggs are wont to do - decides to hatch, and Miss Mildred Percy is suddenly thrust out of the role of “spinster and general wallflower” and into the unprecedented position of “spinster and keeper of dragons.” But England has not seen a dragon since… well, ever. And now Mildred must contend with raising a dragon (that should not exist), kindling a romance (with a humble vicar), and embarking on an adventure she never thought could be hers for the taking.


A Song For The Void by Andrew C. Piazza

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

A Mind Imprisoned Is The Greatest Of Hells. 1853. South China Sea. While on patrol between the Opium Wars, the crew of the steam frigate HMS Charger pursues a fleet of pirates that have been terrorizing the waters surrounding Hong Kong. But now the hunters have become the hunted. Something else has come to the South China Sea, something ancient and powerful and malevolent. Now, the crew of the Charger must face their worst nightmares in order to survive the terrible creature they come to know as the Darkstar. A Song For The Void is a haunting, terrifying historical horror novel that will keep you turning the pages and jumping at the shadows. Readers who are interested in a historical adventure mixed with slow burn cosmic horror should take a closer look at A Song For The Void.


The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

SPFBO8 SPFBO Finalist

When the saints fail, the sinners step up. Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted. Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target. To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands. For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it. The Thirteenth Hour is the first book in The Cruel Gods series—a gaslamp fantasy featuring magical portals, gothic cosmic deities, quaint Britishisms, and steampunk vibes. This is an adult book containing strong language and mature themes that some readers may find disturbing. For a full list of content warnings, visit Trudie Skies's website.


Nether Light by Shaun Paul Stevens

SPFBO6 SPFBO Finalist

Take a journey through a world punished by a dark, imprisoned magic. A world where children are given poison. A world where your talent is decided by the state. A world where reality is breaking down. When refugee Guyen washes up in the land of his enemy, he knows he will fight, but soon finds himself falling down a well of wonder and improbability. Can he survive a system designed to oppress him? Can he tame his anger to unleash his potential? Can he see his enemy for what they truly are? Nether Light is a gritty, heart-wrenching tale of high magic and high stakes, loves lost and friendships gained, set in an oil-lit, 18th century world far, far away. And it's full to the gills with epic fantasy, plotting, scheming, and racy, jaw-dropping, immersive adventure. What more could you ask for? Grab a copy now. For fans of Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Neil Gaiman, Mark Lawrence, V.E. Schwab, Ed McDonald, Brian McClellan. Please note: This book contains mature themes.


The Fall of Erlon (The Falling Empires Saga #1) by Robert H. Fleming

SPFBO6 SPFBO Finalist

As empires burn, heroes must rise. Elisa Lannes was once heiress to the mighty Erlonian Empire. But when her mother abandons the empire and her emperor father is defeated on the battlefield and sent into exile, the world she would rule collapses around her. As enemies converge on the capital, Elisa must join with the last of the empire's loyal soldiers to escape the evil that hunts her and her family. With the help of her father's generals, can Elisa find the strength to fight for her people? Or will a twist in the tide of the empire's last war awaken an evil far greater than the enemy's blade? The Fall of Erlon is the first in the new military fantasy series from author Robert H. Fleming. If you like deep fantasy worlds filled with colorful characters and massive battles, the gods and generals of the Falling Empires Saga is for you.


The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin

SPSFC SPFBO Finalist SPFBO6

We fight, so the rest shall not have to. In a world where single combat determines the fate of nations, the Grievar fight so that the rest can remain at peace. Cego is a mysterious Grievar boy forced to fight his way out of the slave Circles into the world's most prestigious combat school. At the Lyceum, Cego will learn a variety of martial arts from eclectic teachers, develop deep bonds of friendship and fight against contentious rivals to climb the school's rankings. But, Cego will find far more than combat studies at the Lyceum. He will find the mystery of his past unraveled by forces greater than he could ever imagine.


Darkness Forged (Legends of the Ragnarok Era #1) by Matt Larkin

SPFBO6 SPFBO Finalist

Norse mythology retold - Volundarkvida The greatest crafts on Midgard come from the dvergar realm of Nidavellir. Volund, a gifted smith and once apprentice to the dvergar, escaped their dark realm to find solace in the arms of a valkyrie. Nine years of respite. And then she was gone. Volund will do anything to get her back. But his reputation precedes him, and a cruel king knows the weapons Volund forges can win his wars. Imprisoned in the king’s forge, Volund’s only hope to escape is to find his wife. If he can’t, more than the forge’s darkness will overtake him. For even more dark Norse adventure, don't miss the tie-in series Gods of the Ragnarok Era, starting with The Apples of Idunn.


A Wind from the Wilderness (Watchers of Outremer #1) by Suzannah Rowntree

SPFBO6 SPFBO Finalist

Hunted by demons. Lost in time. Welcome to the First Crusade. Syria, 636: As heretic invaders circle Jerusalem, young Lukas Bessarion vows to defend his people. Instead, disaster strikes. His family is ripped apart. His allies are slaughtered. And Lukas is hurled across the centuries to a future where his worst nightmares have come true... Constantinople, 1097: Ayla may be a heretic beggar, but she knows one thing for sure: nine months from now, she will die. Before then, she must avenge her father's murder--or risk losing her soul. Desperate to find their way home, Lukas and Ayla join the seven armies marching east to liberate Jerusalem. If Lukas succeeds in his quest, he'll undo the invasion and change the course of history. But only if he survives the war. Only if his enemies from the past don't catch him. And only as long as Ayla never finds out who he really is. A Wind from the Wilderness is Book 1 in the new Watchers of Outremer series. If you love stories full of dark magic, bloody warfare, and star-crossed love, then you'll be spellbound by this sweeping historical fantasy!


Last Memoria (Memoria Duology #1) by Rachel Emma Shaw

SPFBO6 SPFBO Finalist

A character driven and heartbreaking, dark-fantasy thriller about flawed people making flawed decisions. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Joe Abercrombie. SPFBO 2020 Finalist. Sarilla has learnt one thing from stealing memories. Everybody lies. There's nothing Sarilla hates more than stealing memories, but the king forces her to take them to keep his subjects in line. She wants to escape to where nobody knows what she is or what she can do, but her plans go awry when she runs into Falon. Falon has a six month void in his memories that he's desperate to restore. He doesn't know why they were taken or what they contained, nor why the man he loves is acting so cagily about what happened during that time. He hopes to use Sarilla to get back his stolen memories and doesn't care what she wants or why she's desperate to escape. She will help him get them back, whether she wants to or not.


Shadow of a Dead God (Mennik Thorn #1) by Patrick Samphire

SPFBO6 SPFBO Finalist

A dead god. A brutal murder. A second-rate mage. It was only supposed to be one little job – a simple curse-breaking for Mennik Thorn to pay back a favor to his oldest friend. But then it all blew up in his face. Now he's been framed for a murder he didn't commit. So how is a second-rate mage, broke, traumatized, and with a habit of annoying the wrong people supposed to prove his innocence when everyone believes he's guilty? Mennik has no choice if he wants to get out of this: he is going to have to throw himself into the corrupt world of the city’s high mages, a world he fled years ago. Faced by supernatural beasts, the mage-killing Ash Guard, and a ruthless, unknown adversary, it’s going to take every trick Mennik can summon just to keep him and his friend alive. But a new, dark power is rising in Agatos, and all that stands in its way is one damaged mage…


Black Stone Heart (The Obsidian Path Book 1) by Michael R. Fletcher

SPFBO6 Indie Recs Indie SPFBO Finalist

A broken man, Khraen awakens alone and lost. His stone heart has been shattered, littered across the world. With each piece, he regains some small shard of the man he once was. He follows the trail, fragment by fragment, remembering his terrible past. There was a woman. There was a sword. There was an end to sorrow. Khraen walks the obsidian path.


Blood of Heirs (The Coraidic Sagas #1) by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

SPFBO Finalist

Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive. Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him. Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?


Jack Bloodfist: Fixer by James Jakins

SPFBO Finalist

Jack Bloodfist fixes things. That's what his card says, anyway... When the orcs and goblins of Summervale, Virginia need something done they call Jack. He's the one who convinces the local PD to ignore any orcish violence. The guy who makes sure the goblins aren't evicted whenever they do something decidedly goblin. He also does the little things that no one else is willing to do. Like handing keys over whenever a prodigal son returns, or identifying the body of said prodigal. He's always believed himself capable of fixing any issue his extended family needs fixed, even those they create for themselves, but when a powerful paladin comes to town and starts killing orcs, Jack may be out of his depth. With the help of a drow detective, a reporter that is more than she seems, and a wizard with plans of his own, Jack hopes to, if not fix the problem, at least make sure it doesn't get worse. That's when the paladin's angry god shows up with a whole army of holy knights. All in a day's work.


The Weight of a Crown by Tavish Kaeden

SPFBO Finalist

THE WEIGHT OF A CROWN Thousands dream of it; still more die for it. Yet, how many can truly bear it? After centuries of bitter conflict the realm of Esmoria is at last united under the banner of a single king. On the surface the realm appears to be enjoying its first taste of peace, but lingering resentment and the untimely death of the new ruler threaten to return Esmoria to political chaos. Meanwhile, in the farthest reaches of the frozen north, a dethroned monarch's plot for revenge awakens a long-forgotten evil. As darkness and treachery descend upon the realm, a young escapee from a forced labor camp, a disenfranchised soldier, and an epileptic engraver's apprentice find themselves at the heart of the troubles.


The Lost War (Eidyn #1) by Justin Lee Anderson

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The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn. With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees. In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King’s Envoy. Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission. As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom? Strap in for this twisted fantasy road trip from award-winning author Justin Lee Anderson.


The Mortal Blade by Christopher Mitchell

SPFBO7 SPFBO Finalist

A city ruled by Gods, a mortal champion, a misfit girl and a disobedient dragon… Stolen from his home, Corthie Holdfast has arrived in the City of the Eternal Siege as a new Champion. He must fight alongside the Blades, whose lives are dedicated to the defence of the City against the hordes of monstrous Greenhides; or die at the hands of the Gods who rule. Maddie Jackdaw, a young Blade, faces her last chance. Thrown out of every unit defending the City, either she takes on a new role, or she will be sent to the Rats, a company of misfits given the perilous tasks beyond the Great Walls. Her new role, if she takes it, will bring her face to face with her deepest fears, for beneath the walls, in a secret and hidden lair, lies a dragon, imprisoned and waiting…


The Forever King by Ben Galley

SPFBO7 SPFBO Finalist SFFOasis

Revenge loves company. Mithrid Fenn wants nothing to do with magick. Magick is a curse word, banned by the vast Arka Empire and punishable by death. Its purging has finally brought peace to war-torn Emaneska. Only a stubborn rebellion, led by the warlord Outlaw King, raids and pillages the empire's northern fringes. To cliff-brat Mithrid, this is an age of tranquility and childhood games. That is until an illegal spellbook washes up on her shores, and she finds herself thrust into a war she never knew existed. Now hunted by daemons and mages, she is dragged inexorably north to Scalussen and its rebels fighting doggedly to preserve a memory of freedom. Mithrid holds no such ideals. She fights for revenge and nothing nobler. If spilling blood means helping the Outlaw King, then so be it. Even if it means all-out war. --- The Forever King is the first book in a new trilogy - The Scalussen Chronicles - set in the dark and nordic world of The Emaneska Series. A breathless and emotional tale of revenge that crisscrosses a vast world, The Forever King is an epic fantasy ideal for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson and Mark Lawrence.


Reign & Ruin by J. D. Evans

SPFBO7 SPFBO Finalist SPFBO Winner

“All magic is beautiful...and terrible. Do you not see the beauty in yours, or the terror in mine? You can stop a heart, and I can stop your breath.” She is heir to a Sultanate that once ruled the world. He is an unwanted prince with the power to destroy. She is order and intellect, a woman fit to rule in a man's place. He is chaos and violence and will stop at nothing to protect his people. His magic answers hers with shadow for light. They need each other, but the cost of balance may be too high a price. Magic is dying and the only way to save it is to enlist mages who wield the forbidden power of death, mages cast out centuries ago in a brutal and bloody war. Now, a new war is coming. Science and machines to replace magic and old religion. They must find a way to save their people from annihilation and balance the sacred Wheel—but first, they will have to balance their own forbidden passion. His peace for her tempest, his restlessness for her calm… Night and day, dusk and dawn, the end, and the beginning.


Hall of Bones by Tim Hardie

SPFBO7 SPFBO Finalist

In the remote land of Laskar the seven ruling clans have vied with each other for power for over a century. The son of the Reavesburg Clan Chief, Rothgar, has been groomed all his life for a role supporting his elder brother, Jorik, in leading their kingdom when their father’s time finally comes to an end. However, the rulers of their greatest rivals, the Vorund Clan, are in the grip of something older and far darker. They have been conquered by evil, a remnant from the time when the gods warred with one another and the world of Amuran collapsed into the Fallen Age. Everything is about to change … The first book in The Brotherhood of the Eagle series, Hall of Bones begins a tale of epic fantasy, magic and intrigue.


The Iron Crown by L L Macrae

SPFBO7 SPFBO Finalist SFFOasis

Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name. Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors. But her mother is the least of her worries when they discover an ancient enemy is rising again. It should be impossible with the Iron Crown in power—and Fenn is terrified he might unwittingly be playing a part in the war’s resurgence. Surrounded by vengeful spirits and powerful magic, Fenn’s desperate attempt to find his way home might well alter the fate of Tassar, and every power in it. A new high fantasy series bursts into life with the DRAGON SPIRITS who reign supreme in the magic-drenched world of Tassar. THE IRON CROWN is the first novel in this brand new trilogy and will be available in May 2021.


Shadows of Ivory by T L Greylock and Bryce O'Connor

SPFBO7 SPFBO Finalist

I burned cities and drowned mountains. I pulled stars from the night sky and scorched the world with their flames. I am the Fisher King, and the grave does not bind me. An academic with a taste for adventure, Eska de Caraval has means and influence, wit and charm... and a knack for acquiring artifacts that may not be hers to claim. But when Eska comes into possession of a strange disc of rune-carved bronze, she finds herself abruptly hunted by all manner of adversaries: an assassin in the shadows, a monster in the deep, a bitter rival burning with vengeance. From sword and fang and flame Eska must defend herself, struggling all the while to unravel the mysteries of a dangerous artifact. An artifact so powerful, a dead tyrant will rise again to wield it.


Burn Red Skies by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero

SPFBO7 SPFBO Finalist

When the Summoner's army blazes through her village, Dove is forced into hiding. Torn from everything she knows, she begins training in the elements with only one goal in mind: to find her brother. She just needs to get past the Summoner's army-but how can she slay a dragon that is already dead? "Burn Red Skies" is an epic fantasy with fire and flame, swords and martial arts, and strong female protagonists and antagonists. The story is told from different sides of an upcoming elemental war. The atrocities are enough to bring out the hero in the villain-and the villain in the hero.


Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar

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Follow the law and you’ll stay safe. But what if the law is wrong? Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack. Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions. Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her? Why was he the only one who cared? Will Tashué be able to stand against everything he thought he believed in to get the answers he’s looking for?


We Men of Ash and Shadows by HL Tinsley

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‘We Men of Ash and Shadow’ is the first book in the Vanguard Series and follows the journey of protagonist, John Vanguard, through the dark and corrupt city of D’Orsee. A Grimdark gas lamp novel, ‘We Men of Ash and Shadow’ explores themes of redemption, loyalty, and betrayal against the backdrop of a world where survival often means compromising your values. Amidst the gas lamp shadows former soldier-turned-mercenary John Vanguard hunts criminals at the behest of his corrupt employer, Captain Felix Sanquain. Shamed by his deserter past and seeking to make amends for his many misdeeds, a chance encounter with Tarryn Leersac – a skilled young would-be-assassin fallen from the graces of high society – leads Vanguard to become an unlikely mentor. Charged with hunting down the killer of two guards left washed up on the banks of the canal, the further Vanguard delves into the underbelly of the city the more he finds himself entangled in a web of secrets and lies. A prominent aristocrat is missing. Crime lords, con men and harlots run amok and the city teeters on the brink of another revolution. With his already precarious reputation hanging by a thread, Vanguard must piece together how and why the last war came to pass, find a way to earn redemption for his mistakes and come to terms with the past in a city where few survive, and even fewer can be trusted.


Norylska Groans by Michael R Fletcher & Clayton W. Snyder

SPFBO7 SPFBO Finalist

Norylska Groans... with the weight of her crimes. In a city where winter reigns amid the fires of industry and war, soot and snow conspire to conceal centuries of death and deception. Norylska Groans... and the weight of a leaden sky threatens to crush her people. Katyusha Leonova, desperate to restore her family name, takes a job with Norylska's brutal police force. To support his family, Genndy Antonov finds bloody work with a local crime syndicate. Norylska Groans... with the weight of her dead. As bodies fall, the two discover a foul truth hidden beneath layers of deception and violence: Come the thaw, what was buried will be revealed.


Voice of War (Threadlight Book 1) by Zack Argyle

SPFBO6 SPFBO Finalist

Chrys Valerian is a threadweaver, a high general, and soon-to-be father. But to the people of Alchea, he is the Apogee—the man who won the war. When a stranger's prophecy foretells danger to Chrys' child, he must do everything in his power to protect his family—even if the most dangerous enemy is the voice in his own head. To the west, a sheltered girl seeks to find her place in the world. To the south, a young man's life changes after he dies. Together, they will change the world—whether they intend to or not.


Never Die (Mortal Techniques #1) by Rob J. Hayes

SPFBO Finalist

Samurai, shinigami, vengeful spirits, and an impossible quest. Itami Cho has earned the name Whispering Blade. She is a Shintei warrior, sworn to the path of oaths and honour. But keeping her oaths has always been more difficult than taking them. When Flaming Fist and his bandits attack the city of Kaishi, Itami swears one last oath: she will protect the city and its people at any cost. Ein has spent his life dreaming of being a hero, and now the God of Death has given him a chance. The Reaper has set him an impossible quest: an eight-year-old boy sent to stop an immortal Emperor. Never Die is a stand alone set in the world of Mortal Techniques. It’s a wuxia adventure filled with samurai, shinigami, heroes, and vengeful spirits.


Sowing (The Purification Era #1) by Angie Grigaliunas

SPFBO Finalist

They can take your house, your daughter, whatever they want. For Ariliah, life under the militarized Hulcondans is one of order and safety. Despite the soldiers’ ruthless policies, she trusts their judgment. They alone provide protection from the enemies lurking beyond the city wall. For her older sister, Rabreah, every glance from a Hulcondan is a threat. Though even a whisper against them is treason worthy of death, Rabreah is determined to end their tyranny. Joining an underground resistance is her only hope – until she realizes she doesn’t know the people she’s aligned herself with at all. Unsure who to trust but unable to back out, she must work alongside the attractive yet infuriating rebel leader who reminds her far too much of the soldiers she hates. But with subversive posters appearing throughout the city and people dying on the blade of an unknown assailant, the sisters’ world begins to crumble. And as the line between friend and enemy blurs, both girls must face the truth: everything is about to change. Sowing is a gritty, slow burn spy thriller set in a dystopian world on the brink of war. Perfect for fans of the characterization and political tension in Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series, and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising saga. **This series is meant to be read in order.**


Out of Nowhere (The Immortal Vagabond Healer #1) by Patrick LeClerc

SPFBO Finalist

An urban fantasy, pacy, funny and compelling to the last page… Healer Sean Danet is immortal—a fact he has cloaked for centuries, behind army lines and now a paramedic’s uniform. Having forgotten most of his distant past, he has finally found peace—and love. But there are some things you cannot escape, however much distance you put behind you. When Sean heals the wrong man, he uncovers a lethal enemy who holds all the cards. And this time he can’t run. It’s time to stand and fight, for himself, for his friends, for the woman he loves. It’s time, finally, for Sean to face his past—and choose a future. A story of love, of battle—and of facing your true self when there’s nowhere left to hide.


Ruthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic #1) by Megan Crewe

SPFBO Finalist

In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die... or kill. Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages' Exam. Disadvantaged by her parents' low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic. Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth. Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win? The first in a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix.


Aching God (Iconoclasts #1) by Mike Shel

SPFBO Finalist Indie Recs Indie

“Closer, mortal. You are here, finally, to feed the Aching God…” The days of adventure are passed for Auric Manteo. Retired to the countryside with his scars and riches, he no longer delves into forbidden ruins seeking dark wisdom and treasure. That is, until old nightmares begin plaguing his sleep, heralding an urgent summons back to that old life. To save his only daughter, Auric must return to the place of his greatest trauma: the haunted Barrowlands. With only a few inexperienced companions and an old soldier, he must confront the dangers of the ancient and wicked Djao civilization. Auric has survived fell beasts, insidious traps, and deadly hazards before. But can he contend with the malice of a bloodthirsty living god? First book in the Iconoclasts trilogy, Aching God is the debut novel of RPG adventure designer Mike Shel. He is working on book 2, Sin Eater. The first two chapters of Sin Eater are included at the end of Aching God.


Symphony of the Wind (The Raincatcher's Ballad #1) by Steven McKinnon

SPFBO Finalist

A bounty hunter with a death wish. A girl with fearsome powers. A kingdom on the brink of destruction. Serena dreams of leaving her harsh desert home behind in her very own airship. But when an assassin’s knife meant for Serena kills her friend instead, the rebellious orphan ventures into the corrupt heart of Dalthea to discover who put a price on her head. With each new turn, she edges closer to uncovering the awful truth… And the mystical powers brewing deep within her. After his fiancée’s death, soldier-turned-bounty hunter Tyson Gallows is eager to sacrifice his life in the line of duty. When a foreign enemy assassinates a high-ranking official, he vows to bring them to justice. On the hunt for a killer, Gallows exposes a sinister plot that proves his fiancée’s death was no accident. Driven by revenge, Serena and Gallows must join forces to take down the conspiracy before the kingdom falls to ruin. Symphony of the Wind is the first book in a gritty epic fantasy trilogy. If you like hardened heroes, steampunk airships, and dark magic and monsters, then you’ll love Steven McKinnon’s visceral adventure.


Sworn to the Night (The Wisdom's Grave Trilogy #1) by Craig Schaefer

SPFBO Finalist

Marie Reinhart is an NYPD detective on the trail of a serial killer. When she sleeps, though, she dreams of other lives; she dreams of being a knight, in strange wars and strange worlds. On the other side of the city, Nessa Roth is a college professor trapped in a loveless marriage, an unwilling prop in a political dynasty. She's also a fledgling witch, weaving poppets and tiny spells behind closed doors. When Marie's case draws her into Nessa's path, sparks fly. What comes next is more than a furtive whirlwind affair; it's the first pebbles of an avalanche. Nessa and Marie are the victims of a curse that has pursued them across countless lifetimes; a doom designed to trap them in a twisted living fairy tale, with their romance fated to end in misery and death. They aren't going out without a fight. As they race to uncover the truth, forces are in motion across the country. In Las Vegas, a professional thief is sent on a deadly heist. In a Detroit back alley, witches gather under the guidance of a mysterious woman in red. Just outside New York, an abandoned zoo becomes the hunting-ground for servants of a savage and alien king. The occult underground is taking sides and forming lines of battle. Time is running out, and Nessa and Marie have one chance to save themselves, break the curse, and demand justice. This time, they're writing their own ending.


We Ride the Storm (The Reborn Empire #1) by Devin Madson

SPFBO Finalist

War built the Kisian Empire and war will tear it down. And as an empire falls, three warriors rise. Caught in a foreign war, Captain Rah e’Torin and his exiled warriors will have to fight or die. Their honour code is all they have left until orders from within stress them to breaking point, and the very bonds that hold them together will be ripped apart. Cassandra wants the voice in her head to go away. Willing to do anything for peace, the ageing whore takes an assassination contract that promises answers, only the true price may be everyone and everything she knows. A prisoner in her own castle, Princess Miko doesn’t dream of freedom but of the power to fight for her empire. As the daughter of a traitor the path to redemption could as easily tear it, and her family, asunder. As an empire dies they will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.


The Gods of Men (The Gods of Men #1) by Barbara Kloss

SPFBO Finalist

Top 10 Finalist in Mark Lawrence's SPFBO 2018 Sable hated the gods. She hated what men did in their name. Magic is forbidden throughout the Five Provinces; those born with it are hunted and killed. Sable doesn’t know her music holds power over souls—not until, at age nine, she plays her flute before the desert court and accidentally stops her baby sister’s heart, killing her. Horrified by what she’s done and fearing for her life, she flees north, out of Provincial jurisdiction and into the frigid land of exiles and thieves, known as The Wilds. There, Sable lives in hiding, burdened by guilt, and survives as a healer. But now, ten years later, someone—or something—is hunting her. On the run again, Sable’s best chance for survival is Jos, a lethal man from the Five Provinces, who claims to need her skills as a healer to save his dying father, and she needs the large sum of money he’s offered. There’s something about him Sable doesn’t trust, but she doesn’t have many options. A spirit of the dead is hunting her, summoned by a mysterious necromancer, and it’s getting closer. Sable soon discovers she’s just the start of the necromancer’s plan to take over the Five Provinces, and she’s the only one with the power to stop it. But harnessing her forbidden power means revealing it to the world, and the dangerous Provincial, Jos, she’s beginning to fall for. Fans of Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, and Victoria Schwab will love this dark and epic fantasy adventure.


Pilgrimage to Skara by Jonathan Pembroke

SPFBO Finalist

Finalist in the 2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off contest! It has been nearly two decades since Pell Wendt abandoned the power and prestige of Collum. Ruled by the semi-divine Ajudicar, the city had been his home all his life, but no longer. Spurned by the woman he loved, the former pathfinder, adventurer and criminal walked away from his life of escorting promising youngsters to the shrines of power, and retreated to his farm in the Sogras, to live a life of bitter and brooding rejection. Now, House Kettiburg has reached out with a an offer he can't refuse: a pilgrimage to Skara, a mythical and dangerous shrine far out in the barbarous Outlands, for the supplicant Keilie - the daughter of the very woman who rejected him. Trapped by the love his heart cannot deny, Wendt agrees to the pilgrimage and finds himself embroiled in intrigue and betrayal, with far-reaching implications for himself, Keilie, and the tattered remains of the human race.


Tiger Lily (Tiger Lily #1) by K. Bird Lincoln

SPFBO Finalist

Lily isn't supposed to hunt game in the Daimyo's woods. She's just the cook's daughter. It isn't her place to talk to nobility. And she definitely isn't supposed to sing the forbidden old, Jindo religion songs. But Lily was born in the year of the Tiger, and can't ever be like other village girls. In the woods snaring rabbits one day, she finds instead the Daimyo's son, Ashikaga, wounded, in the gooseberry brush. When the Pretender Emperor's men arrive to kill Ashikaga, Lily, desperate, sings a forbidden Jindo song. The song wakes a powerful spirit – as well as Ashikaga's interest. The prickly lord has hidden secrets of his own and a burning desire to prove himself to his father. He will stop at nothing to defeat his father's greatest enemy. All Lily wants to do is take care of her sisters. But the Pretender-Emperor's forces are drawing near, and now the Daimyo's son knows she communes with Jindo gods. She wants to trust Ashikaga when he swears he will not tell her secret, but he is a noble – and Lily only a peasant. Lily's heart is leading her down a dangerous path. She may have to defy her father, Ashikaga, and even the spirits themselves in order to defeat the Pretender-Emperor's magic and keep safe all that she loves.


Chaos Trims My Beard by Brett Herman

SPFBO Finalist

A Fantasy Noir Edwayn Sattler is a half-dwarf with a beard and a dead end job. One night when serving drinks to the city's rich and famous, a fiery playboy loses control of his magic and goes on a burning rampage. After some ill-advised heroics aided by the magic that lives in Edwayn's beard, he finds himself unemployed and socially exiled. With no other job or friends to fall back to, he signs on with an inscrutable ratman sporting a badge and a fetching hat, and together they dive beard and whiskers first into a magical murder conspiracy that threatens to consume the city. Armed with sub-par wits, a dry sense of humor, and a handful of magical tricks, Edwayn encounters conflagrating cops, smooth-talking trolls, shadowy corporate enforcers, and an air-headed vixen with a fatalistic streak. When his easy-going life spirals into a thrilling, darkly hilarious tale of intrigue and deception, Edwayn will find out just how close this newfound chaos will trim his beard.


The War of Undoing (Kyland Falls #1) by Alex Perry

SPFBO Finalist

‘My name is Tay Raining, and this is my brother Ellstone. I wonder if you’ve heard of us … I have a birthmark shaped like a question mark on my hand, I think it might mean something but I’m not sure what. My brother is probably important too, though I can’t imagine how. I’m rambling now, sorry. The point is … the point is, we are the Rainings, and we’re here to save you.’ War is brewing in Kyland, as the shadowy, spell-weaving vumas rebel against the human government, but both sides have secret weapons at their disposal. The humans’ secret weapon: a plan that could be the undoing of the world. The vumas’ secret weapon: three young humans abandoned in the smog-shrouded town of Tarot – Tay, Ellstone and Miller Raining. The Rainings could be the key to winning the war, but first they’ll need to work out whose side they are really on… The War of Undoing takes readers on an exciting journey into a world on the brink of tearing itself apart. It is the first book in the Kyland Falls fantasy series, and is Alex Perry's debut novel.


The Way Into Chaos (The Great Way #1) by Harry Connolly

SPFBO Finalist

The Great Way is an epic fantasy trilogy about a supernatural invasion that destroys an empire. The city of Peradain is the heart of an empire built with steel, spears, and a monopoly on magic… until, in a single day, it falls, overthrown by a swarm of supernatural creatures of incredible power and ferocity. Neither soldier nor spell caster can stand against them. The empire's armies are crushed, its people scattered, its king and queen killed. Freed for the first time in generations, city-states scramble to seize neighboring territories and capture imperial spell casters. But as the creatures spread across the land, these formerly conquered peoples discover they are not prepared to face the enemy that destroyed an empire. Can the last Peradaini prince, pursued by the beasts that killed his parents, cross battle-torn lands to retrieve a spell that might—just might—turn the battle against this new enemy?


Devil's Night Dawning (Broken Stone Chronicle #1) by Damien Black

SPFBO Finalist

As a kingdom teeters on the brink of war, two witch hunters fight to stop a warlock before he unleashes an ancient evil… For centuries, the Argolian Order has protected the mortal vale from the dark forces of the Other Side. Now the barrier between worlds is breaking down, and two monks must survive a civil war before they can stop the wizard responsible. When Adelko is assigned to legendary exorcist and witch hunter Horskram, he expects an adventurous life. Death by adventure isn’t what he had in mind – but it seems the only outcome when they learn of a sorcerous theft that threatens the world. The thief wants to silence them – permanently. And so Horskram and Adelko flee from one danger to another as the Jarl of Thule leads a rebel army against the King of Northalde, plunging the realm into conflict. And on the Other Side, demonkind reawakens… The Broken Stone Chronicle is a riveting tale of war, quest, magic and horror for fans of medieval fantasy, sword and sorcery, dark fantasy and epic fantasy. Buy a copy now! Selected for the final in the 2017 SPFBO book competition


The Crimson Queen (The Raveling #1) by Alec Hutson

SPFBO Finalist Indie Recs Indie

2016 Ink and Insights Competition - Judges' Favorite 2017 Reader's Favorite Award for Epic Fantasy 2nd place in the 2017 SPFBO Long ago the world fell into twilight, when the great empires of old consumed each other in sorcerous cataclysms. In the south the Star Towers fell, swallowed by the sea, while the black glaciers descended upon the northern holdfasts, entombing the cities of Min-Ceruth in ice and sorcery. Then from the ancient empire of Menekar the paladins of Ama came, putting every surviving sorcerer to the sword and cleansing their taint from the land for the radiant glory of their lord. The pulse of magic slowed, fading like the heartbeat of a dying man. But after a thousand years it has begun to quicken again. In a small fishing village a boy with strange powers comes of age... A young queen rises in the west, fanning the long-smoldering embers of magic into a blaze once more... Something of great importance is stolen - or freed - from the mysterious Empire of Swords and Flowers... And the immortals who survived the ancient cataclysms bestir themselves, casting about for why the world is suddenly changing...


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