The best scifi/fantasy books with action sequences that will stick with you

Who am I?

As a stage combat choreographer myself, fight sequences are always important to me: they have to be believable but exciting, they have to keep up the pace so the reader is experiencing the action at the same speed as the characters—but most importantly, they have to tell a story. Action just for the sake of action always feels empty, but great fight scenes that are both exhilarating and bound to the forward momentum of the plot and emotion will stay with me for a long time. Here’s some that I still remember long after I finished the book.


I wrote...

Nottingham

By Nathan Makaryk,

Book cover of Nottingham

What is my book about?

Sure, the story of Robin Hood has been done over and over again, but somehow I’ve never seen the version I really wanted. I’ve always hated “good guys” vs moustache-twirling “bad guys.” I wanted a Robin Hood with questionable motives, and a relatable Sheriff of Nottingham with good intentions.

Nottingham is my answer to a more complex look at Robin Hood lore, in which we see the world from multiple points of view on both sides of the conflict. There are still plenty of famous tentpole Robin Hood moments that will keep the story familiar to a reader’s expectations, but there are just as many Robin Hood tropes dismantled along the way, in favor of something more realistic and morally ambiguous.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe

Nathan Makaryk Why did I love this book?

Sci-fi is full of plucky bands of found family misfits going up against impossible odds, but the Salvagers series is one of its finest examples. Alex White blends sci-fi tech with a magic system that really works, and leads to some truly memorable action sequences. The final act of this book has stuck with me as one of those big fights where it seems like escape is impossible, but the danger is palpable and you honestly think the entire cast is going to be wiped out. And of course, once you finish Big Ship, continue on to the next two installments—each of which has their own harrowing moments filled with snarky characters, fresh ideas, and genuine character connection.

By Alex White,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Furious and fun, the first book in this bold, new science fiction adventure series follows a crew of outcasts as they try to find a legendary ship that just might be the key to savings themselves-and the universe.

Boots Elsworth was a famous treasure hunter in another life, but now she's washed up. She makes her meager living faking salvage legends and selling them to the highest bidder, but this time she got something real--the story of the Harrow, a famous warship, capable of untold destruction.

Nilah Brio is the top driver in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation and the…


Book cover of Shrouded Loyalties

Nathan Makaryk Why did I love this book?

This lesser-known gem was my favorite book of 2019. You take a World War II-style submarine war but throw in horrifying new supernatural powers, and then pitch it against Cthulu-style interdimensional monsters and you start to have an idea of the gloriously-insane trajectory of this book. That may sound over-the-top at a glance, but I promise this is a grounded read that’s flush with complex interweaving relationships, and an unrelenting pace that constantly throws new, bigger dangers at the characters before they’ve had a chance to catch their breath. This book is far better than it has any right to be.

By Reese Hogan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Naval officer Mila Blackwood is determined to keep her country's most powerful secret - shrouding, the ability to traverse their planet in seconds through an alternate realm - out of enemy hands. But spies are everywhere: her submarine has been infiltrated by a Dhavnak agent, and her teenage brother has been seduced by an enemy soldier. When Blackwood's submarine is attacked by a monster, she and fellow sailor, Holland, are marked with special abilities, whose manifestations could end the war - but in whose favor? Forced to submit to military scientists in her paranoid and war-torn home, Blackwood soon learns…


Book cover of Titanshade

Nathan Makaryk Why did I love this book?

Take one look at the cover and you’ll know if this book is for you. Somewhere between fantasy and retro 70s sci-fi is this incredible detective-noir following a prickly disco-hating antihero and his mandible-faced new rookie. Full of all the dredge-scouring and socialite-snobbery of any good homicide whodunnit, Titanshade also features dangerous magic that is pivotal in a major action sequence that has stuck with me since I first read it. And yes, this one has a couple of follow-up books if you want to revisit the world (which you will).

By Dan Stout,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This noir fantasy thriller from a debut author introduces the gritty town of Titanshade, where danger lurks around every corner.

"Take a little Mickey Spillane, some Dashiell Hammet, a bit of Raymond Chandler, and mix it with Phillip K. Dick's Blade Runner; add a taste of CJ Box, and Craig Johnson, and you've got a masterpiece of a first novel." —W. Michael Gear, New York Times bestselling author

Carter's a homicide cop in Titanshade, an oil boomtown where 8-tracks are state of the art, disco rules the radio, and all the best sorcerers wear designer labels. It's also a metropolis…


Book cover of Saint's Blood

Nathan Makaryk Why did I love this book?

I picked the third book in the Greatcoats series as it contains the fight sequence I remember the most, but every entry in this series has some incredible swordplay and memorable action. The Greatcoats take all the swashbuckling bravado of the Three Musketeers but thrown into a far more dangerous world with black magic and angry deities. There’s a cavalier joy to every sword fight, which often details the specific strategies to the point where you feel like you’re learning how to fight for yourself. There’s tons of honor and bravery in the face of a brutal, bleak world, and worth every page.

By Sebastien de Castell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saint's Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'High energy, highly unique, swashbuckling-cop-epic-noir story. Buy it. BUY IT NOW' Sam Sykes

The Greatcoats are back - and this time it's personal.

How do you kill a Saint? Falcio, Brasti and Kest are about to find out, as someone is doing just that, and they've started with a friend.

The Dukes were already looking for ways to weasel out of their promise to put Aline on her father's throne - but with Saints turning up dead, and Church Inquistitors pushing for control - rumours are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension.

The only way Falcio can stop…


Book cover of The Impossible Contract

Nathan Makaryk Why did I love this book?

The Chronicles of Ghadid follows a family of assassins in a fantastical desert world—but rather than play it safe by following stealthy assassination quests, Doore throws her assassins into the fray against undead armies and unkillable spirits. The result is a truly unique setting with haunting action sequences, bound together by the close ties of family and budding romances. Also, necromancers and undead camels, how could you go wrong?

By K. A. Doore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Impossible Contract as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thana has a huge reputation to live up to as daughter of the Serpent, who rules over Ghadid's secret clan of assassins. Opportunity to prove herself arrives when Thana accepts her first contract on Heru, a dangerous foreign diplomat with the ability to bind a person's soul under his control.

She may be in over her head, especially when Heru is targeted by a rival sorcerer who sends hordes of the undead to attack them both. When Heru flees, Thana has no choice than to pursue him across the sands to the Empire that intends to capture Ghadid inside its…


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Aggressor

By F.X. Holden,

Book cover of Aggressor

F.X. Holden

New book alert!

What is my book about?

It is April 1st, 2038. Day 60 of China's blockade of the rebel island of Taiwan. The US government has agreed to provide Taiwan with a weapons system so advanced, it can disrupt the balance of power in the region. But what pilot would be crazy enough to run the Chinese blockade to deliver it?

Aggressor is the first novel in a gripping action series about a future war in the Pacific, seen through the eyes of soldiers, sailors, civilians, and aviators on all sides. Featuring technologies that are on the drawing board today and could be fielded in the near future, Aggressor is the page-turning military technothriller you have been waiting for!

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