SPFBO Finalist SPFBO Finalists

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

https://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-official-self-published-fantasy.html


The Mortal Blade by Christopher Mitchell

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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 Shadow 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

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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

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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

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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

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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...


Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension #1) by Andrew Rowe

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Five years ago, Corin Cadence’s brother entered the Serpent Spire — a colossal tower with ever-shifting rooms, traps, and monsters. Those who survive the spire’s trials return home with an attunement: a mark granting the bearer magical powers. According to legend, those few who reach the top of the tower will be granted a boon by the spire’s goddess. He never returned. Now, it’s Corin’s turn. He’s headed to the top floor, on a mission to meet the goddess. If he can survive the trials, Corin will earn an attunement, but that won’t be sufficient to survive the dangers on the upper levels. For that, he’s going to need training, allies, and a lot of ingenuity. The journey won’t be easy, but Corin won’t stop until he gets his brother back.


Where Loyalties Lie (Best Laid Plans #1) by Rob J. Hayes

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Everybody knows Captain Drake Morass is only out for himself. As the fires of a dying city burn on a distant shore, Drake sees an opportunity to unite the other pirate Captains under his flag and claim a crown for himself. If he is to succeed, he will need allies and the Oracle named Keelin Stillwater, the best swordsman in the isles, as his right hand. With enemy ships sailing his waters and setting fire to his cities, and the sinister Tanner Black threatening to steal the throne before Drake even has a chance to sit upon it, Drake Morass must somehow convince the other Captains that his best interests are also theirs. Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in the Best Laid Plans duology and is set in the same world as The Ties That Bind trilogy, continuing Captain Drake Morass' story where the trilogy left off. WINNER SPFBO3


The Shadow Soul (A Dance of Dragons #1) by Kaitlyn Davis

SPFBO Finalist

When Jinji's home is destroyed, she is left with nowhere to run and no one to run to – until she meets Rhen, a prince chasing rumors that foreign enemies have landed on his shores. Masquerading as a boy, Jinji joins Rhen with vengeance in her heart. But traveling together doesn't mean trusting one another, and both are keeping a deep secret – magic. Jinji can weave the elements to create master illusions and Rhen can pull burning flames into his flesh. But while they struggle to hide the truth, a shadow lurks in the night. An ancient evil has reawakened, and unbeknownst to them, these two unlikely companions hold the key to its defeat. Because their meeting was not coincidence – it was fate. And their story has played out before, in a long forgotten time, an age of myth that is about to be reborn... From bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis comes a fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Kristin Cashore, and Tamora Pierce! Told in alternating male and female perspectives.


Outpost (The Fylking #1) by F.T. McKinstry

SPFBO Finalist

In a war-torn realm occupied by a race of immortal warlords called the Fylking, trouble can reach cosmic proportions. Using the realm as a backwater outpost from which to fight an ancient war, the Fylking guard an interdimensional portal called the Gate. The Fylking’s enemies, who think nothing of annihilating a world to gain even a small advantage, are bent on destroying it. After two centuries of peace, the realm is at war. A Gate warden with a tormented past discovers a warlock gathering an army that cannot die. A King’s Ranger is snared in a trap that pits him against the Fylking's enemies. And a knitter discovers an inborn power revered by the gods themselves. Caught in a maelstrom of murder, treachery, sorcery and war, they must rally to protect the Gate against a plot that will violate the balance of cosmos, destroy the Fylking and leave the world in ruins. The god they serve is as fickle as a crow—and known to demand a steep price for an answered prayer. Includes a map and a glossary.


The Moonlight War by S.K.S. Perry

SPFBO Finalist

Three caravans have vanished traversing the Cowcheanne Way. The legendary Tahsis platoon, warriors thought by most to be invincible, are dispatched to investigate and are never heard from again. Rumours of native uprisings and bandit armies grow wilder and more widespread every day, while the more devout whisper about the return of the Horde, a mythic foe from ages past. The truce between the warring Kael-tii and Ashai nations is put to the test when a new caravan is outfitted and they are forced to travel The Way together. As an ancient evil is unleashed upon them, a group of heroes, friend and foe alike, must band together for survival. When the true nature of their mission slowly comes to light, the growing distrust between the Kael-tii and Ashai camps threatens to tear the caravan apart. Can they set aside their differences in time to combat the menace that imperils them all, or are they doomed to join the ranks of lost souls claimed by the cursed Cowcheanne Way?


The Music Box Girl by K.A. Stewart

SPFBO Finalist

FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC, FOR THE MUSIC OF LOVE Steam and steel are king, nowhere more so than Detroit, the gleaming gem of the world’s industrial crown. A beacon of innovation and culture, it is the birthplace of the mechanical automatons, and the home of the famed Detroit Opera House. It is where people come with their dreams, their plans, and their secrets. A young man with the voice of an angel and dreams of stardom. A globe-trotting heiress with a passion for adventure and memories of a lost childhood love. A mysterious woman with a soul made of pure music and a secret worth killing for. Beneath the glitter and sparkle, something sinister lurks at the opera, and three lives will collide with tragic consequences.


Assassin's Charge (Echoes of Imara) by Claire Frank

SPFBO Finalist

A cold-hearted assassin. A boy with a price on his head. Rhisia Sen is one of the Empire’s highest paid assassins. Living a life of luxury, she chooses her contracts carefully, working to amass enough wealth so she can leave her bloody trade. She is offered a new contract on the outskirts of civilization, and almost refuses—until she sees the purse. It could be the last job she ever has to take. But when she reaches the destination, she discovers her mark is a child. The contract, and her reputation, demand she kill the boy—if she can banish his innocent face from her mind. But another assassin has been sent to kill her, and a notorious bounty hunter is on her trail. She doesn’t know why the boy is a target, or why her former employer wants her dead. Saving the child could be her only chance at survival.


Larcout (Fire Born, Blood Blessed #1) by K.A. Krantz

SPFBO Finalist

Blood-beings can be chattel or char. Fire seethes through the veins of every Morsam, demanding domination and destruction. Combat is a hobby. Slaughtering the inferior blood-beings is entertainment. Life is a repetitious cycle in the prison fashioned by the gods. But mix-race abomination Vadrigyn os Harlo suspects the key to freedom lies with safeguarding the blood-beings; until her blood-born mother uses foreign magic to turn the Morsam against Vadrigyn. Betrayed, bound, and broken, Vadrigyn struggles against the dying of her essential fire. Yet the ebbing flames unleash the dormant magic of her mixed heritage… The magic to destroy free will. Seized by the gods and dumped in the desert nation of Larcout to stop history from repeating, Vadrigyn discovers her mother’s legacy of treason and slaughter still festers. To survive the intrigues of the royal court, the roiling undercurrents of civil war, and the gods themselves, Vadrigyn must unravel the conspiracy behind her mother’s banishment. But manipulating free will unleashes a torrent of consequences. If she fails the gods, she will return to the Morsam prison, stripped of all magic and all hope. If she succeeds, she can rule a nation. Kasthu. Roborgu. Inarchma. Live. Learn. Burn.


Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma (Fionn mac Cumhaill #1) by Brian O'Sullivan

SPFBO Finalist

The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series - Book 1: Defence of Ráth Bládhma: Ireland: 192 A.D. A time of strife and treachery. Political ambition and inter-tribal conflict has set the country on edge, testing the strength of long-established alliances. Following the massacre of their enemies at the battle of Cnucha, Clann Morna are hungry for power. Elsewhere, a mysterious war party roams the forests of the ‘Great Wild’ and a ruthless magician is intent on murder. In the secluded valley of Glenn Ceoch, disgraced druid Bodhmhall and the woman warrior Liath Luachra, have successfully avoided the bloodshed for many years. Now, the arrival of a pregnant refugee threatens the peace they have created together. Run or fight, the odds are overwhelming. And death stalks on every side. Based on the ancient Irish mythology and Fenian Cycle texts, the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series by Irish author Brian O’Sullivan is a gritty and authentic retelling of the birth and early adventures of Irish mythology Ireland’s greatest hero, Fionn mac Cumhaill. Gripping, insightful and utterly action-packed, this is Irish mythology/ fiction as you’ve never read it before. This classic Irish fantasy and historical adventure was a 2016 SPFBO Competition finalist and Irish bestseller. The book also includes the following extra content: * a glossary with explanations on ancient Irish cultural concepts * historical notes on the Fenian Cycle * a pronunciation guide and links to an online audio pronunciation guide


Paternus: Rise of Gods (Paternus Trilogy #1) by Dyrk Ashton

SPFBO Finalist Indie Recs Indie

Described as American Gods meets The Avengers and Supernatural meets The Lord of the Rings, Paternus combines myths from around the world in a modern story of action and intrigue that is “urban fantasy on the surface, but so much more at its core!” Even myths have legends. And not all legends are myth. When a local hospital is attacked by strange and frightening men, Fiona Patterson and Zeke Prisco save a catatonic old man named Peter—and find themselves running for their lives with creatures beyond imagination hounding their every step. With nowhere else to turn, they seek out Fi’s enigmatic Uncle Edgar. But the more their questions are answered, the more they discover that nothing is what it seems--not Peter, not Edgar, perhaps not even themselves. The gods and monsters, heroes and villains of lore—they’re real. And now they’ve come out of hiding to hunt their own. In order to survive, Fi and Zeke must join up with powerful allies against an ancient evil that’s been known by many names and feared by all. The final battle of the world’s oldest war has begun. Paternus: Rise of Gods, is Dyrk Ashton’s critically acclaimed debut novel and the first book in The Paternus Trilogy. It has been compared to works by Neil Gaiman, Scott Hawkins, Roger Zelazny, China Miéville, Joss Whedon, and Kevin Hearne.


The Path of Flames (Chronicles of the Black Gate #1) by Phil Tucker

SPFBO Finalist Indie Recs Indie

A war fueled by the dark powers of forbidden sorcery is about to engulf the Ascendant Empire. Agerastian heretics, armed with black fire and fueled by bitter hatred, seek to sever the ancient portals that unite the empire - and in so doing destroy it. Asho--a squire with a reviled past--sees his liege, the Lady Kyferin, and her meager forces banished to an infamous ruin. Beset by tragedy and betrayal, demons and an approaching army, the fate of the Kyferins hangs by the slenderest of threads. Asho realizes that their sole hope of survival may lie hidden within the depths of his scarred soul--a secret that could reverse their fortunes and reveal the truth behind the war that wracks their empire. Unpredictable, fast paced, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Path of Flames is the first installment in a gripping new epic fantasy series. r/Fantasy 2016 Stabby Award Finalist 2016 #SPFBO Finalist


A Soul for Trouble (Soulbearer #1) by Crista McHugh

SPFBO Finalist

When you’re a witch named Trouble, chaos follows. Arden Lesstymine (known to everyone as Trouble) likes attention as much as the next girl, but this is getting ridiculous. When an insane stranger is murdered at the inn where she works, Trouble becomes the next Soulbearer for the disembodied god of chaos, Loku. Yes, it comes with the ability to channel the god’s limitless power, but at the cost of her sanity — literally. Now she has a sexy but cynical knight claiming to be her protector, a prince trying to seduce her to his cause (and his bed), and a snarky chaos god who offers a play-by-play commentary on it all, whether she wants to hear it or not. To make matters worse, a necromancer wants to capture the soul of Loku for his own dark purposes, and the only way he can get it is by killing her first.


Under a Colder Sun (Khale the Wanderer #1) by Greg James

SPFBO Finalist

A Grimdark Fantasy Adventure set in a world of Darkness and Chaos! Khale the Wanderer: dark warrior of legend, a reaver with a demon’s soul. King Alosse: ruler of Colm, willing to risk everything to save his city and its people. Princess Milanda: an innocent, kept pure since birth, unknowing of her fate. Neprokhodymh: the cursed city of sorcerers where Khale must make a choice that will scar him for life, or fall into darkness forever. INCLUDES BONUS SHORT STORIES: 'Timestone' and 'Each Dawn, I Die'. 2015 SPFBO Finalist!


Blade's Edge (Chronicles of Gensokai #1) by Virginia McClain

SPFBO Finalist

Mishi and Taka live each day of their lives with the shadow of death lurking behind them. The struggle to hide the elemental powers that mark the two girls as Kisōshi separates them from the other orphans, yet forges a deep bond between them. When Mishi is dragged from the orphanage at the age of eight, the girls are unsure if or when they will find each other again. While their powers grow with each season-cycle, the girls must come to terms with their true selves--Mishi as a warrior, Taka as a healer--as they forge separate paths which lead to the same horrifying discovery. The Rōjū council’s dark secret is one that it has spent centuries killing to keep, and Mishi and Taka know too much. The two young women have overcome desperate odds in a society where their very existence is a crime, but now that they know the Rōjū’s secret they find themselves fighting for much more than their own survival. Finalist in the 2019 SPFBO


Shattered Sands by W.G. Saraband

SPFBO Finalist

For years, Tamazi felt she was nothing like the other slave-girls. It was not until her master disappeared, the Great Vizier of the desert kingdom of Rilmaaqah, that a power older than the sands themselves took hold of her; a power that could finally free her, or enslave her forever. Rilmaaqah is in chaos. The fires of rebellion spread, and the winds of change threaten the Mageocracy, as the common people rise with the courage to claim their share. But the sands hide many things, and it falls to an unlikely group of people to put a stop to death, before she sings her lullaby to the living.


Fortune's Fool (Eterean Empire #1) by Angela Boord

SPFBO Finalist

A secret affair. A disfiguring punishment. A burning need for revenge. Kyrra d’Aliente has a bad reputation and an arm made of metal. Cast out of the safe and luxurious world of silk to which she was born, played as a pawn in a game of feuding Houses, Kyrra navigates a dangerous world of mercenaries, spies, and smugglers while disguising herself as a man. War destroyed her family and the man she loved. Vengeance is within her grasp. But is she willing to pay its price? Second Place Winner in Mark Lawrence's SPFBO 5 ! One of Fantasy Book Review's Best Books of 2019! 2019 Stabby Nominee


What Remains of Heroes (A Requiem for Heroes #1) by David Benem

SPFBO Finalist

Lannick deVeers used to be somebody. A hero, even. Then, he ran afoul of the kingdom’s most powerful general and the cost he paid was nearly too much to bear. In the years that followed, his grief turned him into a shadow of his former self, and he spent his days drowning his regrets in tankards of ale. But now an unexpected encounter casts Lannick upon an unlikely path to revenge. If he can just find the strength to overcome the many mistakes of his past, he can seize the chance to become a hero once more. And with an ancient enemy lurking at the kingdom’s doorstep, he’d better…


A Sea of Broken Glass (The Lady & The Darkness #1) by onya M. Black

SPFBO Finalist

Secrets have a price. After enduring weeks of torture and being convicted of witchery, Ris escapes, only to discover the Darkness and the Lady are hunting her. They need the magic that sings within her. Creator of all, the imprisoned Lady needs Ris, her last vessel, to find the Heart of Creation. The Darkness seeks to corrupt the vessel and retain his hold on the Lady, and with it, the world. Ris finds help from a pair of Paladins of Light who aid her in cleansing the evil taint from the lands. As her power grows, so do her questions. How can she restore balance to the world and free the Lady? Should the Lady be trusted or is she as much at fault for the evil in the world as the Darkness? With powerful demons War, Ruin, and Plague at her heels, Ris struggles to stay alive as she tries to unravel the secrets hidden within her before it's too late. Secrets that may cost Ris her soul even if she does succeed.


Sins of a Sovereignty (Amernia Fallen #1) by Simon (Plague Jack) Watts

SPFBO Finalist

From their prisons, the old gods watch, and wait. Calcifer, the arrogant and obtuse sorcerer turned monster hunter, wants nothing more than to bleed his country of its gold, and return to his lover. When she is assaulted and her mind is left in tatters, Calcifer seeks vengeance by any means necessary. Sir Clark Pendragon has murdered more men than he cares to remember. Tired and battle scarred, the old knight just wants to live out his last days in peace. When he is needed to stop an assassination, Pendragon is ripped from his retirement and sent north to save his country one final time. Shrike, keeper of Amernia's secrets, spends his days combing through letters in search of blackmail. Cunning, and with a mind sharper than a blade, Shrike's luck is slowly running out, as sinister shadows conspire against him. War is coming to Amernia, and the Blood Queen stands at the heart of the chaos. A wave of hatred ripples across her country, and she maintains order with fire and fear. The rift between rich and poor, human and nonhuman, divides the kingdom more everyday, as a spectral rider streaks across the sky, heralding the death of kings. The fates of Calcifer, Pendragon, Shrike, and the Blood Queen are hopelessly intertwined, and new alliances will be forged and broken as war threatens to tear Amernia asunder. 2015 SPFBO Finalist


A Tale of Stars and Shadow (A Tale of Stars and Shadow #1) by Lisa Cassidy

SPFBO Finalist

Dumnorix princess and born warrior, Talyn Dynan was the finest fighter of her generation. With her Callanan partner at her side, she was invincible, reckless, a death-knell to their enemies. But after her partner is torn away from her, Talyn is left broken, wracked with guilt and unable to regain the confidence she once had. Could an unexpected mission to the mysterious country of Mithranar, home of the magical winged folk, be the thing that saves her? Or will the danger and secrets she finds there finally break her completely? The Shadowhawk lives a life in the shadows. Constantly hunted for his criminal exploits, yet desperate to help the human folk of Mithranar who are oppressed by their winged folk rulers, he haunts the streets of Dock City. The arrival of a foreign warrior threatens to upset the carefully balanced life he leads, but when she begins to offer a hope for the humans he's only ever dreamed of, can he risk trusting her? And unbeknownst to both, a mysterious foe stalks the dark corners of Dock City. One that answers to a single purpose... Vengeance.


City of Burning Shadows (Apocrypha: The Dying World #1) by Barbara J. Webb

SPFBO Finalist

Joshua “Ash” Drake is a man in hiding. Hiding from the past, from the horror of his life as a priest after the gods disappeared. Hiding from his emotions, denying the nightmares that haunt his sleep and the anger that fuels his days. Most of all, hiding from the truth—that no matter how much he keeps his head down, no matter how he clings to the echoes of everyday life, his city—his world—is dying. When a new technology offers salvation to his desperate city, Ash must reach out to people he left behind and step back into the world that almost killed him. But coming out of hiding now could be the worst mistake Ash has ever made. Because there are monsters in the darkness, feeding the chaos, watching the city burn. And once those monsters know his name, Ash will never be able to hide again.


Spark City (Spark City Cycle #1) by Robert J. Power

SPFBO Finalist

Erroh has a plan. A simple plan. It’ll never work. Young warrior, Erroh, is destined for a life of duty and tradition. By birth-right, the mysterious trials of The Cull await him. A chance to win the greatest prize Spark City can offer. However, he’d rather spend his days drinking, gambling and travelling the roads as a free man. But war is on the horizon and although he doesn’t know it yet, Erroh is standing in the way of the first wave. Across great distances and against many brutal obstacles, he will be forced to call upon the warrior within to hunt down those who disturb the peace of a world he once rejected. And he won’t be alone. Spark City’s slow burn love story, epic sword fights and dark humour have won a devoted readership and earned comparisons to fantasy masters Joe Abercrombie, David Gemmell and Anthony Ryan.


Beggar's Rebellion (Resonant Saga #1) by Levi Jacobs

SPFBO Finalist

The Councilate controls everything except the truth. I have nothing save my discovery—but with this shall I destroy an empire. Tai Kulga lost the rebellion and his best friend on the same day, stripping him of his will to live even as a strange power flooded his bones. When the friend returns as a spirit guide, it feels like a second chance—but his friend is not who he was, and the Councilate is not done oppressing his people. When trouble with lawkeepers lands Tai’s surviving friends in a prison camp, he must go underground to find the last of the rebels and convince them to break his friends free. Along the way he meets Ellumia Aygla, runaway Councilate daughter posing as an accountant to escape her family and the avarice of the capital. Curious about the link between spirit guides and magic, her insights earn her a place among the rebels, and along with Tai’s power help turn the tide against the colonialists. But as the rebels begin to repeat the Councilate’s mistakes, Tai and Ellumia must confront their own pasts and prejudices, before the brewing war turns them into the monsters they fight.


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