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Grimdark Fantasy

Grimdark fantasy features darker settings, complex characters and grittier stories.

The heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Over the course of three days the King of the Union engages in a battle with Black Dow, the Protector of the North for control of the standing stones known as the Heroes, as blundering generals, inexperienced recruits, scheming rulers, murderous thugs, and weary veterans clash in brutal combat

A little hatred : book one of the Age of Madness by Joe Abercrombie

The laws are changing. The chimneys of industry rise over Adua, and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run as deep as ever. On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown, but King Jezal's son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specializes in disappointment. Savine dan Gloktasocialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Unionplans to claw her way to the top of the slag heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control. The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another

The last wish : introducing the Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

Geralt de Riv, a witcher, uses his vast sorcerous powers to hunt down the monsters that threaten the world, but he soon discovers that not every monstrous-looking creature is evil, and not everything beautiful is good

Prince of fools by Mark Lawrence

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her like no other. For all her reign, she has fought the long war, contested in secret, against the powers that stand behind nations, for higher stakes than land or gold. Her greatest weapon is The Silent Sister--unseen by most and unspoken of by all. The Red Queen's grandson, Prince Jalan Kendeth--drinker, gambler, seducer of women--is one who can see The Silent Sister. Tenth in line for the throne and content with his role as a minor royal, he pretends that the hideous crone is not there. But war is coming. Witnesses claim an undead army is on the march, and the Red Queen has called on her family to defend the realm. Jal thinks it's all a rumor--nothing that will affect him--but he is wrong

Red sister by Mark Lawrence

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are raised to be killers. In some few children the old bloods show, gifting rare talents that can be honed to deadly or mystic effect. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don't truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls. A bloodstained child of nine falsely accused of murder, guilty of worse, Nona is stolen from the shadow of the noose. It takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist, but under Abbess Glass's care there is much more to learn than the arts of death. Among her class Nona finds a new family--and new enemies. Despite the security and isolation of the convent, Nona's secret and violent past finds her out, drawing with it the tangled politics of a crumbling empire. Her arrival sparks old feuds to life, igniting vicious struggles within the church and even drawing the eye of the emperor himself. Beneath a dying sun, Nona Grey must master her inner demons, then loose them on those who stand in her way

Promise of blood by Brian McClellan

"Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and greedy scrambling for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces. Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail. Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should.."--

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead. Then comes the prophecy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more…

The many deaths of the Black Company by Glen Cook

“Let me tell you who I am, on the chance that these scribblings do survive. . . .“I am Murgen, Standardbearer of the Black Company, though I bear the shame of having lost that standard in battle. I am keeping these Annals because Croaker is dead, One–Eye won’t, and hardly anyone else can read or write. I will be your guide for however long it takes the Shadowlanders to force our present predicament to its inevitable end. . . .”

Savage legion by Matt Wallace

They call them Savages. Brutal. Efficient. Expendable. The empire relies on them. The greatest weapon they ever developed. Culled from the streets of their cities, they take the ones no one will miss and throw them, by the thousands, at the empire's enemies. If they live, they fight again. If they die, well, there are always more. Evie is not a Savage. She's a warrior with a mission: to find the man she once loved, to find the man who holds the key to exposing the secret of the Savage Legion and ending the mass conscription of the empire's poor and wretched. But to find him, she must become one of them, to be marked in her blood, to fight in their wars, and to find her purpose. Evie will die a Savage if she has to, but not before showing the world who shereally is and what the Savage Legion can really do.

The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley

The children of an assassinated emperor try to stay alive and avenge their father's death while continuing down their individual life-paths, one in a monastery, another training with elite soldiers, and one appointed a minister determined to prove herself to her people

Blood of an exile by Brian Naslund

Bershad was supposed to die. Bershad stands apart from the world, the most legendary dragonslayer in history, both revered and reviled. Once, he was Lord Silas Bershad, but after a disastrous failure on the battlefield he was stripped of his titles and sentenced to one violent, perilous hunt after another. Now he lives only to stalk dragons, slaughter them, collect their precious oil, and head back into the treacherous wilds once more. For years, death was his only chance to escape. But that is about to change. The king who sentenced Bershad to his fate has just given him an unprecedented chance at redemption. Kill a foreign emperor and walk free forever

The steel remains : a land fit for heroes novel by Richard K Morgan

Ringil, the hero of the bloody slaughter at Gallows Gap, is a legend to all who don't know him and a twisted degenerate to those that do. A veteren of the wars against the lizards, he makes a living from telling credulous travelers of his exploits. Until one day he is pulled away from his life and into the depths of the Empire's slave trade, where he will discover a secret infinitely more frightening than the trade in lives.Archeth-pragmatist, cynic, engineer, and the last of her race-is called from her work at the whim of the most powerful man in the Empire and sent to its farthest reaches to investigate a demonic incursion against the Empire's borders. Egar Dragonbane, steppe-nomad and one-time fighter for the Empire, finds himself entangled in a small-town battle between common sense and religious fervor. But out in the wider world there is something on the move far more alien than any of his tribe's petty gods. Anti-social, anti-heroic, and decidedly irritated, all three of them are about to be sent unwillingly forth into a vicious, vigorous, and thoroughly unsuspecting fantasy world-called upon by an Empire that owes them everything and gave them nothing

The witchwood crown by Tad Williams

Now, twenty-four years after the conclusion of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Tad returns to his beloved universe and characters with The Witchwood Crown, the first novel in the long-awaited sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard. Thirty years have passed since the events of the earlier novels, and the world has reached a critical turning point once again. The realm is threatened by divisive forces, even as old allies are lost, and others are lured down darker paths. Perhaps most terrifying of all, the Norns—the long-vanquished elvish foe—are stirring once again, preparing to reclaim the mortal-ruled lands that once were theirs....

Malice by John Gwynne

Follows the adventures of four men in The Banished Lands who prepare for battle after seeing signs that the Black Sun is rising and could mean the death of mankind

A game of thrones by George R Martin

A tale of court intrigues in the land of Seven Kingdoms, a country "blessed by golden summers that go on for years, and cursed by cruel winters that can last a generation." Treachery, murder, incest

The ruin of kings by Jenn Lyons

Raised on storybook tales of royal adventure, Kihrin discovers his identity as the illegitimate son of a treasonous prince and is rendered a pawn in the royal family's power schemes before embracing his anti-hero destiny

The name of the wind : the kingkiller chronicle : day one by Patrick Rothfuss

"The tale of Kvothe, from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages, you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But this book is so much more, for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend"--From publisher description

Empire of silence by Christopher Ruocchio

It was not his war. On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives--even the Emperor himself--against Imperial orders. But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier. Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand

The unwilling : a novel by Kelly Braffet

The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban's vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to her survival and possibly her undoing. As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban -- a lord as mighty as he is cruel, has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah. The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined

Death's mistress : a novel from the Nicci chronicles by Terry Goodkind

One-time lieutenant of the evil Emperor Jagang, the deadly Nicci, captured Richard Rahl in order to convince him that the Imperial Order stood for the greater good. But it was Richard who converted Nicci instead, and for years thereafter she served Richard and Kahlan as one of their closest friends, and one of their most lethal defenders. Now, with the reign of Richard and Kahlan finally stabilized, Nicci has set out on her own for new adventures. Her first job being to keep the unworldly prophet Nathan out of trouble

The fifth season by N Jemisin

A season of endings has begun.

The poppy war by R Kuang

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising. But surprises aren’t always good.
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