Thanksgiving is a time when we lay negativity aside and focus our attention on what we love, those people and things that give our lives savor and make us smile when we get up in the morning. I know that whatever might go wrong in my life, I can always conjure a smile at the thought of all the wonderful books I have yet to read. As long as I have even one unread book to look forward to, life is good.
So for my Thanksgiving blog, I send my gratitude toward authors who have created stories that have captured my imagination. I’ve chosen five who are still turning out new books I’m itching to lay my hands on.
Juliet Marillier is one of those writers I read in the desperate hope that a little of the lyrical beauty of her writing style will rub off on me. To read Marillier at her best — Wolfskin, my introduction to her; the original Sevenwaters Trilogy, beginning with Daughter of the Forest — is to step through a gossamer curtain into a country where the supernatural feels quite natural and music and story-making are as highly prized as soldiership. Marillier has created some very remarkable heroines, my favorites being the mystical priestess Nessa of Wolfskin, whose boundless empathy helps reshape the values of a wounded Viking warrior, and Fainne of Child of the Prophecy, who overcomes the darkness in her own soul to use her immense power for good. Marillier also, more often than not, gets the romance right. Book I can’t wait to read: Tower of Thorns, the second book in the new Blackthorn and Grim series.
Kate Elliott I discovered a couple of years ago, when I read her science fiction novel Jaran. I liked it, and was moved to explore more of Elliott’s work, but it wasn’t until I read Cold Magic, the first volume in her Spiritwalker Trilogy, that I fell wholeheartedly in love — with Cat Barahal, the smart, curious, and introverted heroine; with her bond with her more extroverted cousin Bee; and with Elliott’s wide-ranging world building and incredibly diverse cast of characters. Elliott can take me places I want to go, full of dangers and surprises and the company of intriguing characters. Book I can’t wait to read: Black Wolves.
Brandon Sanderson is one of the better-known authors in current fantasy, and one of the most prolific; I believe he has four major series of novels currently ongoing. His style isn’t quite as breathlessly lyrical as Marillier’s, and his world building isn’t quite as rich as Elliott’s, but his work draws me in every time, and I love his practice of creating lead characters who, while flawed sometimes to the point of being downright irritating, are basically good. His series The Stormlight Archive is one of the few current large-scale epic fantasies that doesn’t follow the grimy, cynical “grimdark” trend of having “heroes” who are interchangeable with villains and presenting honor and empathy as mirages in which only fools believe. (Grimdark does have its place, but it’s not my preference.) Book I can’t wait to read: the third Stormlight Archive novel, Oathbringer.
Kate Forsyth also writes epic fantasy on a broad canvas. I started her work a little backwards, with the Rhiannon’s Ride series (The Tower of Ravens et. seq.), which I didn’t realize was a direct sequel to an earlier series. Thankfully I had no trouble following it, and I thought her work fun, engaging in storytelling terms though not as impressive in terms of style or depth. Not until I read Bitter Greens, a compelling blend of fantasy and historical fiction in which the tale of Rapunzel is retold alongside the story of seventeenth-century author of fairy tales Charlotte-Rose de la Force, did I realize how brilliant an author Forsyth could be, in both style and substance. When I turned to the first book in her earlier epic fantasy series, The Witches of Eileanan, I read it with fresh appreciation of her skill, and now I’m dedicated to hunting down all the remaining volumes. New book I can’t wait to read: The Beast’s Garden, the next in the “fairy tale” series.
I’ve already tipped my hat to Django Wexler once before on this blog site, when I defended his Shadow Campaigns series against the charge of having “too many female characters.” (Note to all authors of epic and historical fantasy: you can never have too many female characters.) But his giving prominent roles to multiple female characters is only one reason I’m thankful for him. He writes complex characters of both genders, giving even his villains an understandable perspective. He creates a sometimes sumptuous, sometimes gritty landscape and builds believable nations and cities from historical material. He also offers an empathetic depiction of a lesbian love affair, something many male authors (and not just males) might lack the courage to do. Book I can’t wait to read: Volume 3 of this series, The Price of Valor. The fourth book, The Guns of Empire, is due for a release next year.
Sharon Shinn. Book I can’t wait to read: Jeweled Fire.
Elizabeth Bear. Books I can’t wait to read: Karen Memory, An Apprentice to Elves (co-written with Sarah Monette).
Guy Gavriel Kay. Book I can’t wait to read: Children of Earth and Sky.
Miles Cameron. Books I can’t wait to read: The Fell Sword and The Dread Wyrm, the remaining books in the Traitor’s Son trilogy.
Martha Wells. Book I can’t wait to read: The Edge of Worlds, the latest in her series Books of the Raksura.
Mercedes Lackey. Book I can’t wait to read: From a High Tower, the latest in her Elemental Masters series.