Books

Top New Fantasy Books in August 2020

It’s summer. Lots of people are staying home. It might be a good time for a book. Here are some of the upcoming books we’re anticipating:

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Top New Fantasy Books August 2020

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson 

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Tor
Release date: Aug. 11 

Den of Geek says: The Baru Cormorant series features as its hero a mentally ill accountant with the fate of an empire at its fingers. The third book in the series promises more dark, twisty introspection and grim, creative world-building. 

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Publisher’s summary: The hunt is over. After fifteen years of lies and sacrifice, Baru Cormorant has the power to destroy the Imperial Republic of Falcrest that she pretends to serve. The secret society called the Cancrioth is real, and Baru is among them.

But the Cancrioth’s weapon cannot distinguish the guilty from the innocent. If it escapes quarantine, the ancient hemorrhagic plague called the Kettling will kill hundreds of millions…not just in Falcrest, but all across the world. History will end in a black bloodstain.

Is that justice? Is this really what Tain Hu hoped for when she sacrificed herself?

Baru’s enemies close in from all sides. Baru’s own mind teeters on the edge of madness or shattering revelation. Now she must choose between genocidal revenge and a far more difficult path―a conspiracy of judges, kings, spies and immortals, puppeteering the world’s riches and two great wars in a gambit for the ultimate prize. 

If Baru had absolute power over the Imperial Republic, she could force Falcrest to abandon its colonies and make right its crimes.

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Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

Type: Epic Poem 
Publisher: MCD x FSG Originals
Release date: Aug. 25 

Den of Geek says: Headley got an intimate look at Beowulf in the modern interpretation The Mere Wife. She turns the intellect behind that inventive, scathing novel about complex and furious women to a translation of the poem featuring new research. 

Publisher’s summary: Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf―and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world―there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us. 

A man seeks to prove himself as a hero. A monster seeks silence in his territory. A warrior seeks to avenge her murdered son. A dragon ends it all. The familiar elements of the epic poem are seen with a novelist’s eye toward gender, genre, and history―Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment, powerful men seeking to become more powerful, and one woman seeking justice for her child, but this version brings new context to an old story. While crafting her contemporary adaptation of Beowulf, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation.

Buy Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley.  

The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe

Type: Novel (Reprint) 
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: Aug. 11 

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Den of Geek says: Gene Wolfe is a modern master of fantasy. This reprint of a 2004 duology provides both original stories in one paperback package. 

Publisher’s summary: A young man in his teens is transported from our world to a magical realm consisting of seven levels of reality. Transformed by magic into a grown man of heroic proportions, he takes the name Sir Able of the High Heart and sets out on a quest to find the sword that has been promised to him, the blade that will help him fulfill his ambition to become a true hero―a true knight. 

Inside, however, Sir Able remains a boy, and he must grow in every sense to survive what lies ahead…

Buy The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe. 

Top New Fantasy Books July 2020 

The Book of Dragons: An Anthology by Jonathan Strahan

Type: Anthology 
Publisher: Harper Voyager 
Release date: July 7 

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Den of Geek says: I’m always looking for a good book about dragons, and this incredible list of authors promises adventurous and unique stories. Anne Leckie, Zen Cho, Seanan Maguire, J.Y. Yang, Patricia A McKillip, Brooke Bolander … it’s an astounding, literary-flavored list of people qualified to write cool creatures.

Publisher’s summary: Here there be dragons . . . 

From China to Europe, Africa to North America, dragons have long captured our imagination in myth and legend. Whether they are rampaging beasts awaiting a brave hero to slay or benevolent sages who have much to teach humanity, dragons are intrinsically connected to stories of creation, adventure, and struggle beloved for generations. 

Bringing together nearly thirty stories and poems from some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers working today— Garth Nix, Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Ann Leckie & Rachel Swirsky, Daniel Abraham, Peter S. Beagle, Beth Cato, Zen Cho, C. S. E Cooney, Aliette de Bodard, Amal El-Mohtar, Kate Elliott, Theodora Goss, Ellen Klages, Ken Liu, Seanan Maguire, Patricia A McKillip, K. J. Parker, Kelly Robson, Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton, Elle Katharine White, Jane Yolen, Kelly Barnhill, Brooke Bolander, Sarah Gailey, and J. Y. Yang—and illustrated by award-nominated artist Rovina Cai with black-and-white line drawings specific to each entry throughout, this extraordinary collection vividly breathes fire and life into one of our most captivating and feared magical creatures as never before and is sure to become a treasured keepsake for fans of fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales.

Buy The Book of Dragons by Jonathan Strahan on Amazon

Or What You Will by Joe Walton 

Type: Novel 
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: July 7 

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Den of Geek says: Jo Walton is a writer’s writer, highly praised but still generally skating under the radar. I found her 2014 My Real Children to not nearly live up to its very high concept, but she’s one of those authors with technical prowess who is at least worth checking out for context for women’s science fiction. The metafiction plot sounds fun. 

Publisher’s summary: He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god. 

But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. He has played a part in most of those novels, and in the recesses of her mind, Sylvia has conversed with him for years. 

But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.

Now Sylvia is starting a new novel, a fantasy for adult readers, set in Thalia, the Florence-resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before. Of course he’s got a part in it. But he also has a notion. He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether. All he has to do is convince her.

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The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal

Type: Graphic Novel 
Publisher: First Second 
Release date: July 14 

Den of Geek says: The Adventure Zone is a wildly popular humorous fantasy podcast. It’s part of the big 2010s wave of Dungeons & Dragons coming back into the geek space. Especially for someone who might not want to listen to hundreds of episodes of a podcast, the illustrated version does a good job of smoothing out the story into a graphic novel format without removing the goofy chaos of the original podcast. 

Publisher’s summary: START YOUR ENGINES, friends, Clint McElroy and sons Griffin, Justin, and Travis hit the road again with Taako, Magnus and Merle, the beloved agents of chaos from the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novels illustrated by Carey Pietsch, The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins and The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited.

Our boys have gone full-time at the Bureau of Balance, and their next assignment is a real thorny one: apprehending The Raven, a master thief who’s tapped into the power of a Grand Relic to ransack the city of Goldcliff. Local life-saver Lieutenant Hurley pulls them out of the woods, only to throw them headlong into the world of battle wagon racing, Goldcliff’s favorite high-stakes low-legality sport and The Raven’s chosen battlefield. Will the boys and Hurley be able to reclaim the Relic and pull The Raven back from the brink, or will they get lost in the weeds?

Based on the beloved blockbuster podcast where three brothers and their dad play a tabletop RPG in real time, The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal has it all: blossoming new friendships, pining for outlaw lovers, and a rollicking race you can root for!

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