On May 1, Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award nominated author N.K. Jemisin released The Killing Moon, the first book in her highly anticipated new fantasy series, the Dreamblood duology.
Read the last Book Smugglers at Kirkus on 'Railsea.'
True to form, Jemisin's new novel, set in an ancient Egypt-inspired world and featuring a diverse cast of characters including an apprentice dream gatherer, a cunning diplomat and the equivalent of a ninja priest, is absolutely stunning. The Killing Moon is easily one of the best new releases we've had the pleasure of reading so far in 2012.
Inspired by Jemisin's truly excellent writing, we've decided to compile a list of similarly awesome fantasy books written by similarly spectacular female authors. If you, like us, have read The Killing Moon and want more female-authored fantasy, look no further. Behold! Our Top 10 Female-Penned Fantasy novels/series:
1. The Kushiel's Legacy and Namaah's Blessing series by Jacqueline Carey
Carey's lush prose, stunningly comprehensive worldbuilding and passionate characters define the Kushiel and Namaah books. Spanning three separate trilogies, following three different protagonists, the Terre D'Ange canon is among the finest in all of fantasy literature. Ignore the terrible covers and give Kushiel's Dart a try.
2. The Sevenwaters Saga by Juliet Marillier
Rich with Irish folklore and steeped in magic and romance, Marillier's ongoing Sevenwaters Saga is beauty on the page. Start with Daughter of the Forest, a Celtic retelling of the Six Swans fairy tale.
3. The Raksura Books by Martha Wells
We’ve only recently discovered Wells’ books and have since been glomming her backlist (recently, we discovered the brilliant Wheel of the Infinite), but The Cloud Roads is where it all started. Featuring innovative worldbuilding, gender-bending politics and thrilling action sequences, the Raksura series has it all.
4. The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier
Neumeier's scope for characters and creatures is nigh unparalleled, as seen in her Griffin Mage trilogy and her more recent release of The Floating Islands. That said, our favorite book by the talented author is her breathtaking dark fairy tale, The City in the Lake. Once you've read that, you can run through Neumeier's backlist.
5. The Queen’s Thief Books by Megan Whalen Turner
Mythology, politics, unreliable narrators (as well as a changing narrative with each subsequent book) plus an unforgettable cast of characters make the Queen’s Thief a phenomenal series. Start the journey with Gen in The Thief.
6. The Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott
A more contemporary trilogy from seasoned fantasy author Elliott, the Spiritwalker books follow a girl gifted with the ability to move between worlds, as she tries to uphold her family honor and save her powerful sister from certain death. Exciting, action-filled and romantic, Cold Magic is one of the best starts to a new fantasy trilogy that we've read in a while.
7. The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
OK, so maybe we are cheating by bringing up Jemisin’s books twice, but the Inheritance Trilogy is so brilliant, it warrants breaking the rules because of its unique mythology, beautifully developed stories and great female characters.
8. A Dirge for Prester John books by Catherynne M. Valente
Valente has a gift for creating matryoshka dolls, palimpsests of novels—that is, her work folds stories within stories within stories. With her take on the historical, legendary figure of Prester John, Valente proves again her gift for wordsmithing, intricate storytelling and her flair for ineffable fantasy.
9. The Heroes series by Moira J. Moore
Cursed with perhaps the most terrible covers of all time, Moore's books are the perfect example of the old adage: DO NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER! This fantasy series, set in a world where the climate is controlled and manipulated by "Sources" (who channel energy) who are paired with "Shields" (who protect their Sources from frying their synapses with too much magic), is all kinds of wonderful and follows the hijinks of practical Shield Dunleavy and her flashy Source, Shintaro. Trust us. The books are fantastic.
10. Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor
Quite possibly one of the best contemporary fantasy authors with her gift for intricate and poetic prose, Taylor won our appreciation with Lips Touch Three Times, a collection of three supernatural stories. You can start here then move to the equally wondrous Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
And because we cannot resist cheating just a little bit more here are a few crossover female fantasy authors that are unforgivably under-read: Celine Kiernan, Cinda Williams Chima, Freda Warrington, Heather Tomlinson, Leah Cypess and Sherwood Smith. Look them up. You won’t regret it.
Thea James is half of the maniacal book review duo behind The Book Smugglers and a newly minted M.S. in digital publishing graduate. When she isn't voraciously devouring the latest and greatest in speculative fiction, or swamped in papers and proposals, she can be found blogging, watching bad horror movies and concocting general plans toward world domination.