Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: Strong Contenders

I’ve decided to do this all in a different way. Previously, my idea was to give each book a 3-chapter chance, and if they didn’t interest me in some way by then, I’d pass them by. I’d talk a little about why I passed them by, and then I could focus on the remaining books.

I realised just how difficult this was going to be when some books made it to that 3 chapter mark and I was still a bit undecided. They could be good. They had a writing style or a story that was decent but not outstanding, and could be passable books but probably not the ones that would be strong contenders for the final round, but I still was stuck in my old mindset that if I’d read that far, I may as well read the rest and see if it got better.

And then in talking about the books that didn’t make it, I ran the risk of hurting people. I mean, I run that risk any time I write a review, because authors are human too, and what I’m essentially doing is dissecting their work and saying bluntly, why I didn’t like it. Those posts were focused on negatives rather than positives, and no matter how true my words, I was starting to dread having to talk  yet again about why I didn’t or couldn’t finish any given book.

So I decided to switch it up. After some solid work and some tough decisions, I’ve decided to focus instead on the books that I’m going to give more attention to. The books that are, in my opinion, strong contenders to be passed to the final round.

This means that, bluntly, I’ve slashed a whole load of books from my list. Like other blogs in the challenge, I’ve narrowed my choices down and the majority of the offerings have been cleared from the table. I’ll be posting something shortly that talks a little bit about my reasons and thoughts behind the decisions I made.

So with all that said, I want to present the books that I’ve decided are strong contenders for getting passed to the next round of the SPFBO challenge!

Altdorf, by J K Swift

A wild land too mountainous to be tamed by plows…
A Duke of the Holy Roman Empire, his cunning overshadowed only by his ambition…
A young Priestess of the Old Religion, together with a charismatic outlaw, sparking a rebellion from deep within the forests…
And an ex-Hospitaller caught between them all.

At the end of the thirteenth century, five hundred orphans and second sons are rounded up from villages in the Alpine countryside and sold to the Hospitaller Knights of St John. Trained to serve as Soldiers of Christ, they fight in eastern lands they know nothing about, for a cause they do not understand.

Thomas Schwyzer, released from his vows by the Grandmaster of the Hospitallers, returns to the land of his birth a stranger. Once a leader of men, and captain of the Order’s most famous war galley, he now settles into the simple life of a ferryman. He believes this new role to be God’s reward for years of faithful service fighting the Infidel in Outremer.

Seraina, considered a witch by most, a healer by some, is a young woman with a purpose. A Priestess of the Old Religion, and the last Druid disciple of the Helvetii Celts, she has been gifted by the Great Weave to see what others cannot. Her people need her guidance and protection now more than ever. For Duke Leopold of Habsburg, in his efforts to control the St. Gotthard Pass, builds a great Austrian fortress in Altdorf. Once finished, the Habsburg occupation will be complete, but the atrocities visited upon her people will have just begun.

Auguries of Dawn, by Peyton Reynolds

Welcome to Dhanen’Mar– a land of beauty, magic, chivalry, and above all, superstition. Following the signs of the scores of auguries and omens honored for centuries, the people of Dhanen’Mar are those who search for the paths of Destiny. As this summer season commences, Destiny’s hand begins to beckon.

With a half-mad king upon the throne and a threat long-ago lost to legend upon the verge of reemerging, twelve souls are drawn together to begin unraveling one of Dhanen’Mar’s darkest secrets–a secret with the power to devastate the entire realm.


City of Burning Shadows, by Barbara J Webb

Joshua “Ash” Drake is a man in hiding.

Hiding from the past, from the horror of his life as a priest after the gods disappeared.

Hiding from his emotions, denying the nightmares that haunt his sleep and the anger that fuels his days.

Most of all, hiding from the truth—that no matter how much he keeps his head down, no matter how he clings to the echoes of everyday life, his city—his world—is dying.

When a new technology offers salvation to his desperate city, Ash must reach out to people he left behind and step back into the world that almost killed him. But coming out of hiding now could be the worst mistake Ash has ever made.

Because there are monsters in the darkness, feeding the chaos, watching the city burn. And once those monsters know his name, Ash will never be able to hide again.

Scrapplings, by Amelia Smith

Darna shouldn’t have been born – priestesses aren’t supposed to have babies – and she most certainly shouldn’t see dragons. After all, no one else does, except in Anamat, or so the minstrels say.

She sets out for the city of Anamat. Along the way, she meets Myril, an older girl with frequent premonitions and an eerie sense of hearing.

Then there’s Iola, who is so dragon-struck that she actually wants to be a priestess. She’s blind to the corruption in the temples.

Thorat is Iola’s champion. He sees dragons as much as the girls do, but unlike them he blends easily in to a crowd.

Apart from these four, the city seems to be nearly as dragon-blind as the provinces. Darna scavenges for scraps, but apprenticeships cost more than she’s likely to earn. When she’s offered a sack of gold beads for a small bit of thieving, she takes her chances… and ends up angering the dragon herself.

The Flight to Brassbright, by Lori Alden Holuta

Constance is a wild, stubborn young girl growing up poor in a small industrial town. But beneath her thread-worn exterior beats the heart of a dreamer and a wordsmith. She feeds her hunger for reading by picking the lock on the local bookstore late at night to enjoy her own private reading room. But at age twelve, she’s orphaned. With no relatives to take her in, the local authorities scheme to take charge of the bewildered girl’s life. Running away to join the circus—like kids do in adventure books—seems like such a brilliant idea… or is it?

That was six long years ago. Now, Constance is eighteen, fed up with the constraints of life under the big-top, and despairing for her future. She’s ready to dust off her old dreams, but first she’s going to need another cunning escape plan.

Can a young, newly-freed woman travel the road to her dreams and a place to call home? Step back in time to 1895 and take a wild, occasionally hilarious ride with Constance and the friends she meets along the way, as she travels the dirt roads and blue skies of a country called Industralia. Her journey winds through towns and cities bursting with creative eccentrics, high-flying airships, dazed automatons, brilliantly cracked inventors and more than a few kindred spirits. With allies like these, what could possibly go wrong?

The Last King’s Amulet, by Chris Northern

My name is Sumto, and everyone thinks I am a gambling, lazy, good-for-nothing drunk. Frankly, I think they have a point. Right now I may have to join the army and fight in a war I am frankly too corpulent to cope with.

Still, it looks like being a small, short war. So that’s got to be as bad as things get. Am I right?

Trained in his youth for war and politics, Sumto is interested in neither. As the son of a Patron, he should gather clients, acquire wealth, learn magic, husband a political power base and take his place amongst the Assembly of Patrons, the rulers of the city. Sumto would rather gather friends, acquire books, learn history, husband a hangover and take his place at the gambling tables. That is not going to be an option for much longer.

Unknown to Sumto, everything is about to change. There is a war in the north and Sumto is about to become a very unwilling participant.

Defenders of the Sacred Land, by Mark E Tyson

Dorenn Adair is a simple innkeeper’s son from a picturesque mountain village. When Lady Shey, a potent wielder of magic, introduces herself into his daily life, Dorenn is thrust into a world that fascinates him, but he was taught to hate and fear. Magic is stirring again in the Sacred Land, and with the help of his friends and some particularly powerful wielders, Dorenn must find a way to defeat the enemies closing in on him and save the Sacred Land from destructive forces.

Also on the list is Erin Snyder’s A Count of Five, whch did not have an Amazon link that I could find.

I didn’t get it down to a mere 5 the way some of the others did, but I cut a list of 26 down to 8, all of which I’m looking forward to delving deeper into. One of these books will end up getting passed along to round 2, where the other participants in the challenge will read and review it on all their blogs, and everything currently listed here will also be getting a review by me even if it doesn’t make it to the final round.

6 comments on “Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: Strong Contenders

  1. Pingback: I’m A Contender! | A License to Quill

  2. Pingback: The Great Self Published Fantasy Blog Off! | The Brassbright Chronicle

  3. Pingback: April in Retrospect | Bibliotropic

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