The best fantasy novels with unlikely friends

Who am I?

I'm a writer and mother of four fantasy-loving kids. As a mother-writer, I notice there's a lot of YA and women's fantasy geared towards romance. And while I don’t hate romance, it’s never been the thing that drew me to story. There’s nothing better for me than a story where the oppressor and oppressed learn that if they work together they can create a better place for all of them. Or where people of different cultures or races find that they have so much more in common than the differences they have. It’s so tremendously beautiful and I love to see it play out in story.


I wrote...

Book cover of Grey Stone

What is my book about?

In the land of the great red sun, dogs sing, wolves kill, humans serve, and wolf-shifters rule with magic and menace. Pietre is a human boy who has spent the last thirteen years afraid of the sunset, the Blødguard, and the wolf-shifting masters who rule his world.

Wittendon is a werewolf prince who has spent the last nineteen years afraid of his father, his inability to do magic, and the upcoming tournament he's sure to lose. But when Pietre finds an orphaned pup in the woods and Wittendon is forced to arrest the boy's father soon after, both of them begin to realize that keeping the rules might be just as dangerous as breaking them.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Amulet of Samarkand

Jean Knight Pace Why did I love this book?

In this book, a boy (Nathaniel)—trying to impress his wizard master—summons a demon, which he then struggles to control. It’s the most obnoxiously loveable demon you’ve ever met. And the boy is a pretty obnoxious 12-year-old himself (as 12-year-old boy wizards are wont to be). Yup. We don’t start out with any truly likable characters. But, guess what, even though boy and demon start as enemies, then move on to become wary allies, they eventually become friends. True, sacrifice-yourself-for-the-other-person friends. However, the thing that—for me—might have been even more magical than that, was that I also become friends with those two rough-around-the-edges characters. You’re all going to be besties by the end of the series. 

By Jonathan Stroud,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Amulet of Samarkand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The first volume in the brilliant, bestselling Bartimaeus sequence.

When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation or a few simple illusions. But Nathaniel is a precocious talent and has something rather more dangerous in mind: revenge. Against his will, Bartimaeus is packed off to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, a master magician of unrivalled ruthlessness and ambition. Before long, both djinni and apprentice are caught up in a terrifying flood of magical intrigue, murder and rebellion.

Set…


Book cover of Mistborn

Jean Knight Pace Why did I love this book?

This cast of characters has all kinds of unlikely friends. Starting with Vin and Kelsier, a man she has to trust to survive, then learns to trust as a leader, then as a friend. I admit that I have a soft spot for friend/leader relationships that don’t grow romantic, and Vin has a whole group of friends like this by the end. Pretty good for a lonely street urchin. There are so many types of beautiful relationships in life, but all too often in fantasy, we only get to see enemies to lovers. That said, Mistborn also has a sweet enemies-to-friends-to-lovers storyline with Vin and Elend. 

By Brandon Sanderson,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Mistborn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brandon Sanderson - the international phenomenon who finished the Wheel of Time sequence - introduces a fantasy trilogy which overturns the expectations of readers and goes on to tell the epic story of evil overturned in a richly imagined world.

A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash…


Book cover of Red Rising

Jean Knight Pace Why did I love this book?

When a man who’s been deceived and repressed by an upper class all his life enters the ranks of that class with the intent to destroy them, you know it’s going to be a good time. Especially when this story takes place on a multi-leveled Mars. And even more so when our hero, Darrow, ends up best buddies with some of the people he was raised to fear and hate. The bromances between Darrow and Cassius and Sevro are excellent (and sometimes turn from bromance to brenemy in interesting and heart-breaking ways). And then when they all (or some of them) go in together to fight the aristocracy that is keeping others down, well, that’s a pretty perfect story.

But if bromance isn’t quite enough Red Rising also has a wonderful competitors-to-friends-to-lovers storyline with Darrow and Mustang.

By Pierce Brown,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Red Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, BUZZFEED, GOODREADS AND SHELF AWARENESS

Pierce Brown's heart-pounding debut is the first book in a spectacular series that combines the drama of Game of Thrones with the epic scope of Star Wars.

**********

'Pierce Brown's empire-crushing debut is a sprawling vision . . . Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow' - Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Pandemic

'[A] top-notch debut novel . . . Red Rising ascends above a crowded dystopian field' - USA Today

**********

Darrow is a Helldiver. A pioneer…


Book cover of The False Prince

Jean Knight Pace Why did I love this book?

This is a middle grade fantasy where several boys are chosen to attempt to impersonate a missing prince. Only one of them is going to win the spot as false prince and take the throne, which is the perfect stage for all of them to hate each other and then become friends. It’s also the perfect way for them to start to wonder why they’re supposed to be impersonating a prince anyway. They’re going to have to work together (and sometimes fight each other as well as their own aspirations and pride) to beat the real bad guy.

By Jennifer A. Nielsen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The False Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

If you love the danger and sword-fighting of MERLIN, you'll like this! In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point - he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. As Sage's…


Book cover of Eragon

Jean Knight Pace Why did I love this book?

A poor boy. A dragon. A grumpy mentor. An elf princess. They’re all going to have to work together. Yes, it’s a classic trope (a bunch of them together actually), but the relationship between boy (Eragon) and dragon (Saphira) is so fantastically drawn and executed throughout the series, you just can’t help but love them both.

By Christopher Paolini,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Eragon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The first book in The Inheritance Series

When poor farm boy Eragon finds a polished stone in the forest, he thinks it's a lucky discovery. Perhaps, he will be able to buy his family food for the winter.

But, when a baby dragon hatches out of the stone, Eragon realises he's stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

His simple life is shattered, and he's thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic and power. To navigate this dark terrain, and survive his cruel king's evil ways, he must take up the mantle of the…


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At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

Book cover of At What Cost, Silence?

Karen Lynne Klink Author Of At What Cost, Silence?

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Child abuse survivor Reader Adventure traveler Animal lover

Karen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Secrets, misunderstandings, and a plethora of family conflicts abound in this historical novel set along the Brazos River in antebellum Washington County, East Texas.

It is a compelling story of two neighboring plantation families and a few of the enslaved people who serve them. These two plantations are a microcosm of a country on the brink of war, encompassing a variety of issues: love and friendship between men, relationships between fathers and sons, sibling rivalry, slavery, and the position of women in society.

At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

What is this book about?

Adrien Villere suspects he is not like other boys. For years, he desperately locks away his feelings and fears-but eventually, tragedy and loss drive him to seeking solace from his mentor, a young neighbor Jacob Hart. Jacob's betrayal of Adrien's trust, however, results in secret abuse, setting off a chain of actions from which neither Adrien's wise sister, Bernadette, nor his closest friend, Isaac, can turn him.

At What Cost, Silence presents two contrasting plantation families in a society where strict rules of belief and behavior are clear, and public opinion can shape an entire life. Centerstage are the Villeres,…


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