These books all deserve more attention than I’m giving them. I want to go on at great length about The Shattered Sigil books and The Dark Forest in particular. But it has been too long since I read these and I’ve too little time. They deserve this much at least, and no hurdle to writing a full review of the next book when the time comes.
The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer
Schafer’s mountaineering background shows big in her debut. The Whitefire Crossing revolves around a smuggling mission over a steep mountain pass between a magic-rich nation and a nation where magic and magic items are prohibited. The Tainted City drops the mountaineering, but it keeps the worldbuilding with American roots and thought-provoking meditation on liberty-security. After losing her publishing deal and a long delay, Schafer self-published the final volume in The Shattered Sigil trilogy, The Labyrinth of Flame, in December.
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson’s opus marches slowly on. Words of Radiance is better than The Way of Kings. Adolin, Dalinar, and Kaladin are back, but it’s Shallan who gets the flashbacks and shines. The story never lets up and isn’t quite so video game-esque this time around. We learn considerably more about the Knights Radiant and Voidbringers.
The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen
The Three-Body Problem rightly won the Hugo for best novel. The Dark Forest is just as good but has been inexplicably ignored. It’s even more inventive than the first, mostly taking place hundreds of years later. It does dark right, including one of the most holy shit moments I can remember reading in a long, long time.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms collects three previously published novellas—The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, and The Mystery Knight—featuring “Dunk” and “Egg” and set a generation before A Song of Ice and Fire. The first story would be more effective if the big twist weren’t already known to most people by the time they pick up this book. The other two are above average, but nothing approaching the early ASoIaF novels.
Disclosure: I received copies of The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City via NetGalley.