Court life, political intrigue, backstabbing – figurative and literal, complex alliances, moral grays, diplomacy, spycraft, possible wars etc. These are all the hallmarks of good political fantasy for me.
I have been craving fantasy books full of political intrigue for the last year or so. I have read a number of them so I thought it was time to make a list of recommendations for you. For the purpose of this list i am not interested in assassin books, they can get their own list since there are so many of them. For this list I am interested in the diplomacy and backstappy nature of court and church politics. I like quite a bit of adventure in my fantasy books so these are not dull political meetings and they are not political in the way that they deal with current world politics. Of course current issues might be part of the issues but it tend not to be the point. In these books the protagonists are active players in the politics rather than passive victims of the politics made by other people.
I adore urban fantasy. Cities are so interesting places they drive innovation, they are diverse in a way small towns can never be, they hold the unknown as an integral part of their makeup, they have options of entertainment and nightlife that smaller rural areas just can’t have. They also contain so many contrasts and contradictions. The poor and the super rich exist in the same space, walk the same streets. Cities can hold secrets and hidden places that in the rural areas are only secrets to outsiders. But I do not only like the urban setting in fantasy set in our world – in modern times – I also really like cities as a setting in straight up fantasy. This is a list of the fantasy stories that I can recommend that is not urban fantasy as such, but is fantasy set in cities, where the city is quite important for the story. These are not books were the protagonist travel all over the place on a long quest. These stories primarily take place within the confound of a single city.
Earlier this week when I was putting together a list of epic fantasy books that I recommend, I had to write a little about the first book in the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce. And I found that I almost couldn’t stop writing, so I decided that I would write a longer piece on the book. Mind you it has been a year or two since I read the series. But I have re-read it multiple times over the years. It is one of my favourite fantasy series. Why, you ask?
As a teenager I adored epic fantasy, it was pretty much all I was reading and it is the genre that turned me on to genre fiction in general. As an adult I get a bit bored with some of the clichés and tropes of the genre. A trope that really annoys me is “the chosen one”, so that is included in a story it has to be otherwise freaking amazing. I enjoy stories with strong female protagonists, as you have probably figured out by now, so expect a predominance of those. But I still love a good epic fantasy story, so thought I would share the ones that I recommend with you.
I have divided the books into the adult books first and the young adult and children’s book afterward. If I have already reviewed a book I will link to my review, but most have not been mentioned on the site yet. As always I do not summarise plots, I link to Goodreads so go read the blurb if a book sounds like something you would like.