The best rip-roaring adventure fantasy novels

Ryan Van Loan Author Of The Sin in the Steel
By Ryan Van Loan

The Books I Picked & Why

Kings of the Wyld

By Nicholas Eames

Book cover of Kings of the Wyld

Why this book?

Kings of the Wyld is an exciting, humor-drenched adventure fantasy with heart. Imagine monster-slaying adventurer groups treated like 80’s rock stars with fans hanging on their every adventure. Now imagine a washed-out, retired old group of has-beens who learn their former lead monster slayer’s daughter has been kidnapped by monsters and has to get the band back together for one last epic adventure. That’s Kings of the Wyld, equal parts magic, humor, heart, and near-death experiences packed into every page.

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The Angel of the Crows

By Katherine Addison

Book cover of The Angel of the Crows

Why this book?

A thrilling re-telling of Sherlock Holmes in a magical London where vampires and werewolves lurk in the alleys and real-life Angels stroll the streets. A war-weary Watson teams up with a fallen Angel (Holmes) who has to discover who is behind the brutal White Chapel murders terrifying the city. Addison’s twists to the classic cases will have readers on the edge of their seats, but it’s her imagining of this new Holmes and Watson as broken pieces that fit together to form a legendary duo that will keep you up reading late into the night.

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Empress of Forever

By Max Gladstone

Book cover of Empress of Forever

Why this book?

This book is an epic fantasy novel masquerading as science fiction. Viv (think female Elon Musk) is on the cusp of changing the world with her tech company when she’s kidnapped by an Empress sitting at the end of Time who rules most of the universe and is bent on conquering or destroying the rest. Forced to team up with a space pirate queen, warrior monk, newb pilot, and a machine virus (yes, really--and it's awesome) that used to serve the Empress, Viv traverses the universe to do what no one has ever attempted: rebel. It’s a ragtag Guardians of the Galaxy with loads more twists and turns that will have you reaching for your space sick bag trying to figure out if Viv and team will make it to the end alive.

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The Lies of Locke Lamora

By Scott Lynch

Book cover of The Lies of Locke Lamora

Why this book?

This is the book I think about when I think of adventure fantasy. A surreal, Venetian-like city, an orphaned boy who is adopted by a gang of thieves, and a story that grabs you by the neck and just won’t let go. Locke Lamora and his brothers in pickpocketing are far more than they seem: pulling off schemes the rest of the criminal underworld would give their left hands for...if they knew of them. When a shadowy figure upends that underworld, Locke and the crew find themselves square in the crosshairs caught in the deadliest subterfuge of their lives. Foul-mouthed, hilarious, violent, and just plain fun, The Lies of Locke Lamora is a tale of fortune and friendship for the ages.

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Ring Shout

By P. Djèlí Clark

Book cover of Ring Shout

Why this book?

Ring Shout is the powerful story of a young Black woman and her close-knit community who fight the KKK in the early 1920s. Clark’s KKK are possessed by actual demons, monsters bent on using the hate in the bodies they’ve consumed to conquer our world. All that stands between them and domination are Maryse Boudreaux, her foul-mouthed friend who is handy with a Winchester, and a former Harlem Hellfighter fresh from the killing fields of France. Maryse has a sword that summons the souls of former enslaved to slay these evil Ku Kluxes, but when the Klan plans a rally to summon their leader to our realm Maryse is forced to confront the incarnation of racist hatred...will a sword and a couple of friends be enough?

Reader, this book has it all from dialogue to prose to adventure to tension so thick you couldn’t cut it with a sword, but it’s the relationships of Maryse and her friends and community that will stick with you long after you reach the end.

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