Every year I set out to choose my favorite book releases, and every year it’s nearly impossible! For the moment, I’ve managed to narrow things down to what I think are the seven best fantasy books of 2022. Read on to discover some of my favorite books of the year!
Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James
Moon Witch, Spider King is the century-spanning story of Sogolon, an orphan turned witch. She witnesses the rise and fall of empires, becomes a mother and fights against the slaughter and suppression of women.
It’s hard to say whether this is a sequel or a prequel to 2019’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf; it spans nearly 200 years of history until catching right up with the events of the former. While book one centers on the nature of storytelling, this one works to correct the record. Sogolon enhances and contradicts the story we think we know, and in the hands of a lesser author, this wouldn’t work. Marlon James, however, is an incredible talent and makes addressing the power and subjectivity of storytelling look easy. I loved starting off 2022 with this amazing fantasy drama.
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The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan
Equal parts heroic fantasy and murder mystery, The Justice of Kings is the start of an epic new fantasy trilogy from debut author Richard Swann. Sir Konrad Vonvalt is the Emperor’s Justice, a detective, judge, and executioner combined. Only he and his protege Helena Sedanka stand between their world and chaos. When they get caught up investigating an aristocrat’s murder, they unearth a conspiracy that will change everything.
I’ve heard The Justice of Kings pitched as Judge Dredd meets The Witcher, and the comparison fits perfectly. While it came out early in the year, this book easily made the cut for one of the best fantasy books of 2022.
Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher
Before Marra set out on a quest for vengeance, she was no one: the youngest of three princesses of a small kingdom, living out her days at a convent. But with one sister gone and another at the mercy of an abusive and evil prince, Marra will do whatever she must to save her sister and defeat the prince, even if it means teaming up with a gravewitch to complete three impossible tasks.
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Nettle and Bone is classic T. Kingfisher. She takes familiar fairytale tropes and turns them on their heads, delving into the darkness and horror that underlie these stories while still providing a hint of hope.
Siren Queen by Nghi Vo
Luli Wei knows how cutthroat Hollywood – and the world – can be for people who look like her. While she’s desperate to become a star, she draws the line at taking on stereotypical roles. After breaking into a Hollywood that relies on ancient magic and blood bargains, Luli must determine whether fame is worth becoming a true monster herself.
I don’t know if it’s possible to overstate how much I loved this book. Siren Queen reimagines the golden age of Hollywood as one full of dark and dangerous magic. This book is perfect for anyone who thought The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo needed a bit more magic.
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant, buying and selling illegal magic. When she saves a prince’s life, his father blackmails her into finding an ancient, powerful lamp to revive their barren land. With the help of the sultan’s oldest son and a djinn bodyguard, Loulie must survive ghouls, djinn, and other killers to track down the artifact.
The first book in an Arabian Nights-inspired trilogy, The Stardust Thief is full of lush mythology and vibrant world-building. It’s just right for fans of S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy, and an easy addition to the best fantasy of 2022.
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The First Binding by R.R. Virdi
“All stories are true from a certain point of view. But, I know you want a clearer answer than that. To be honest, I don’t. But I’d like to think so. I’ve often thought that might be the most important part of belief and stories, choosing to believe the pieces we want. Otherwise, what good and fun are they?”
Ari is a storyteller, a magic-wielding performer hunting down an ancient evil disregarded by most as a fairytale. He weaves together truth and fiction to share his tales of a talented child with a tragic beginning. All the while Ari works his magic and leaves his listeners wondering who exactly he is.
The First Binding is an incredible, ambitious start to a new series. Author R.R. Virdi pulls in the landscapes and cultures of South Asia for an amazing ode to storytelling that you don’t want to miss.
Babel by R.F. Kuang
After Robin loses his entire family to cholera, the mysterious, stern Professor Lovell takes him all the way from China to London. There, he’s raised as a scholar, trained in English, Latin, Ancient Greek and Chinese in preparation for Oxford’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation, or Babel. Babel is the center of everything, the hub for silver-working and translation magic that power the world. While at first Robin is blown away by the city, the university and the first friends he’s ever had, he quickly realizes that studying at Babel could mean betraying his home country. Soon Robin must decide where his allegiances lie, and what he’s willing to sacrifice.
Anyone who’s talked to me for more than five minutes in the past year knows how much I loved Babel. It should come as no surprise to hear it made my list of the best fantasy books of 2022. R.F. Kuang’s globe-spanning doorstopper wastes no space, interrogating language, imperialism and power through an alternate history lens. It is 100%, without a doubt, my favorite book of the year.
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Did any of your favorite fantasy books of 2022 make the cut? Let us know below, and keep an eye out for even more of GGA’s favorite things of the year!
This article was originally published on 11/30/22.
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