The best adult fantasy novels if you grew up reading Tamora Pierce

Christina Dickinson Author Of Waking the Burning Valley
By Christina Dickinson

Who am I?

I've been a fan of Tamora Pierce for nearly as long as I've been writing—well over twenty years. She's been an enormous inspiration throughout my authorship. Her books have accompanied me through many travels, waited in my bag during classes and life events, and I've given them as gifts to other people. Finding books and authors for a more adult audience, which possess that same essence—strong characters, magic, found family, adventure, a touch of romance, and some historical or mythological influence—is a fantastic hunt. I hope you enjoy these. I'm going to look for some more!


I wrote...

Waking the Burning Valley

By Christina Dickinson,

Book cover of Waking the Burning Valley

What is my book about?

Khiriellen Fortiva is a member of an Elven clan that believes not knowing the name of your destined mate is to be soulless, and altering your fate is impossible. When Khiri steps forward to begin her life with her mate and finds he's no longer the one, her fate is forever altered. With her entire future crumbling to dust, Khiri is forced to leave her home and search for answers.

The lands of her world are fraught with peril. Demons prowl the wilds, thieves roam the streets, and assassins lurk in the shadows. It's not safe to travel alone. Joined by a band of unlikely friends, Khiri finds herself on a road that leads to a secret past as much as it does her future.

The books I picked & why

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Green Rider

By Kristen Britain,

Book cover of Green Rider

Why this book?

If you're a fan of Tamora Pierce in any way, this is one of my go-to recommendations. Green Rider has been one of my favorite books since the first time I read it. I still lived in Michigan when I discovered it, and stepping out my door felt like entering the forests of the novel. I sometimes thought if I just listened, maybe I would hear the sound of hoofbeats calling me to adventure. Not only is the setting highly immersive, but Karigan is stubborn and headstrong—a brilliantly flawed heroine. She and Alanna would probably get along extremely well. Kristen Britain created something so believable and genuine, I can't recommend this book any harder. 

Green Rider

By Kristen Britain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Green Rider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's a race against time to save her country, but it could cost her life . . .

Karigan G'ladheon always seemed to be getting into a fight, and today was no exception.

But as she trudged through the forest, using her long walk home to contemplate her depressing future - and the expulsion it was bound to hold - a horse burst through the woodland and charged straight for her. The rider was slumped over his mount's neck with two arrows embedded in his back. Wherever his horse was taking him, he would be dead before they got there.…


Empire of Sand

By Tasha Suri,

Book cover of Empire of Sand

Why this book?

The best stories are the ones that inspire us to read more, right? I love history and mythology—something instilled in me by Tamora Pierce's books—so the inspiration for this setting, India's Mughal Empire, appealed to me before I even cracked the book open. Mehr had a strength that didn't falter through the entire story. I wanted her to win, to succeed, no matter what that meant for the rest of her world. This book was not afraid to carry me to some dark places, which I needed to see to push the limits of my own work. Immediately after I finished this, I snapped up everything else Tasha Suri had on the market. I may also need to read some more books about the Mughal Empire.

Empire of Sand

By Tasha Suri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Empire of Sand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Named one of TIME's Top 100 Fantasy Books Of All Time

A nobleman's daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri's lush, dazzling, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Ambhan Empire for the power in their blood.

Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited. When Mehr's power comes to the attention of the Emperor's…


Nice Dragons Finish Last

By Rachel Aaron,

Book cover of Nice Dragons Finish Last

Why this book?

I can practically hear you protest this choice… But, Christina, that's urban fantasy! Trust me, it's got what you're looking for. Mythologically inspired dragons, cats, spirits, magic, powerful motives, a diverse cast… I love the audacity Rachel Aaron displayed in making her main character a dynamic pacifist. Also, the DFZ is a great lesson in how to make a location into a character. This series traveled with me through one of the most difficult years of my life, and Julius helped me keep my focus while Marcy and Ghost reminded me it was okay to bend the rules. Go check it out!

Nice Dragons Finish Last

By Rachel Aaron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nice Dragons Finish Last as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ--a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit--Julius has one month to prove he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and…


Forging Hephaestus

By Drew Hayes,

Book cover of Forging Hephaestus

Why this book?

Another one where you're probably looking at me skeptically. Superpowers—no, supervillainsare supposed to help with that Tamora Pierce craving? Strong female characters are Pierce's calling card and Drew Hayes delivers. Tori is mouthy, stubborn, and clever enough to get herself into a ton of trouble. I found myself holding my breath when she did and thinking through problems with her. Her fierce desire to prove herself echoed my own drive and reignited some ambitions I'd nearly given up on. I didn't go into this novel expecting this kind of depth, but I couldn't get enough! After I finished this story, I ended up with a whole shelf of Drew Hayes books. 

Forging Hephaestus

By Drew Hayes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Forging Hephaestus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Drew Hayes, author of Super Powereds and Fred, the Vampire Accountant, comes a series set in a new world of capes, cowls, and superheroes.

Gifted with metahuman powers in a world full of capes and villains, Tori Rivas kept away from the limelight, preferring to work as a thief in the shadows. But when she’s captured trying to rob a vault that belongs to a secret guild of villains, she’s offered a hard choice: prove she has what it takes to join them or be eliminated.

Apprenticed to one of the world’s most powerful (and supposedly dead) villains, she…


Mystic and Rider

By Sharon Shinn,

Book cover of Mystic and Rider

Why this book?

I know! Another book with Rider in the title! But trust me, if you've been looking for something to scratch that Tortall itch, this will do it. The magic will feel familiar but not derivative, and the characters are just waiting to step off the page. Senneth's strength resonated with me. We've both been through a lot and had to find our own sense of belonging and purpose. If one of the reasons you love Tamora Pierce is her found family themes, you'll love this cast. This entire series is fantastic (I may even like some of the later books better)—I devoured all five in under a week.

Mystic and Rider

By Sharon Shinn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mystic and Rider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gillengaria seethes with unrest. In the south, hostility toward magic and its users has risen to a dangerous level, though King Baryn has ordered that such mystics are to be tolerated. It is whispered that he issued the decree because his new wife used her magic powers to ensnare him…

The King knows there are those in the noble Twelve Houses who could use this growing dissent to overthrow him. So he dispatches the mystic Senneth to assess the threat throughout the realm. Accompanying her is a motley band of magic-users and warriors including Tayse, first among the King’s Riders—who…


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