34 Must-Read Fantasy & Sci-Fi Books of 2016
**Update 1/1/18: Here are all of the upcoming sci-fi/fantasy books of 2018.
Have you caught up with all the best fantasy releases of 2015, and are ready to see what 2016 has to offer? You’ve come to the right place.
Will we see The Winds of Winter this year? Or Doors of Stone? That remains to be seen.
In the meantime, there are plenty of fantastic-looking fantasy and sci-fi books coming out this year to occupy your time. We will see continuations of many of the best-loved fantasy series out there, as well as several standalone books and new series from some of our favorite authors. To ensure that you don’t miss any, we have compiled a list of the best new books that are currently scheduled to release this year.
Here are 34 must-read new fantasy and sci-fi books in 2016:
1. The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) by Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: January 26, 2016
The highly prolific Brandon Sanderson has no less than three novels coming out this year, beginning with the sixth book set in his Mistborn world. The Bands of Mourning is the conclusion of a spin-off trilogy that began with The Alloy of Law, set several hundred years after the original trilogy, in a steampunk era corresponding with the Industrial Revolution. Sanderson is a master of worldbuilding and has created some truly engaging characters, so definitely pick up this series if you haven’t already. It’s not strictly necessary that you read the first trilogy, but it’s definitely worth your while. With the start of the next trilogy coming out later this year, you’ll want to get this one as soon as it comes out (if you’re not already anxiously awaiting its release), so mark the date on your calendars.Buy it here.
2. City of Blades (The Divine Cities) by Robert Jackson Bennett
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Award-winning author Robert Jackson Bennett broke on to the fantasy scene two years ago with the debut of his new urban fantasy series The Divine Cities. He had previously written several moderately successful books, but it seems that he has really come into his own with this series, which is perhaps why he decided to extend it into a series; City of Stairs was initially published as a stand-alone novel, and though the ending didn’t necessarily pave the way for a sequel (considering the gods that the book centered on were all dead), City of Blades looks to be every bit as good as the first book. It has an entirely different tone, but similarly compelling plot, dynamic characters, and spectacular world-building.Buy it here.
3. The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Yann Martel authored one of our all-time favorite books and #1 international bestseller, Life of Pi, back in 2001, and has not really done much of note since then. Which is, perhaps, what makes us so eagerly anticipate The High Mountains of Portugal. It looks to contain all the elements we loved about Life of Pi, but follows three different characters in different times and places, whose stories are skillfully interwoven. Martel is a wonderful storyteller, and this is everything you’d expect based on his first masterpiece; It is highly complex and thought-provoking, with beautiful prose and an almost fable-like quality. There are similar thematic elements of love and loss, along with a strong animal component.Buy it here.
4. Morning Star: Book III of the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Morning Star is the final book of the highly acclaimed Red Rising trilogy by brand-new fantasy author Pierce Brown. Red Rising, the first book of the series, was Brown’s debut novel, and a wildly successful one. The series has a dystopian feel akin to Hunger Games, with a similarly caste-based society and a main character that exists in the lowest social strata and helps orchestrate a revolution; the difference is, Red Rising takes place on Mars. If this is your cup of tea, we strongly recommend you read the first two books; if you already have, definitely don’t miss out on this exciting conclusion. We will be keeping an eye on this author, and can’t wait to see what his next venture is.Buy it here.
5. Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Brandon Sanderson fans, rejoice; Calamity is his second of three books due out this year, and book number three of his Reckoners series. We’re pretty convinced he’s either a recluse or employing a company of elves in his basement to write for him. Anyway, the Reckoners series follows an event known as the Calamity, which endowed certain people with superhuman powers; they became known as Epics. The Epics subjugated the rest of the human race, and the only people able to defeat them became known as Reckoners. The main character’s name is David, and in this book, he takes on the Epic known as Regalia. Early reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so it’s apparent that this book will live up to the lofty standards that Sanderson has set with his previous works.Buy it here.
6. A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab
Release Date: February 23, 2016
V.E. Schwab came out with A Darker Shade of Magic last year, the first in her new series of the same name that follows the adventures of a Traveller named Kell. Travellers are individuals with the ability to travel between parallel universes. Kell is an ambassador of sorts, travelling between the various Londons with color-coded names. In this book, it seems Black London is coming back to life, which bodes ill for the Londons of other universes.There are many reasons to love this unique series: exceptional world building, beautiful prose, engaging characters, and a compelling story. Not to mention the covers look amazing.Buy it here.
7. Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop
Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Marked in Flesh is the fourth book in New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s highly addictive series The Others, with one more book planned after this one. This paranormal, urban fantasy series follows Meg Corbyn, who is what’s known as a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, in a world inhabited by being known as the Others – vampires and shapeshifters who prey on humans. In Marked in Flesh, the Others have allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, shifting this dynamic; some humans, however, remain skeptical. They begin attacking the Others, with unforeseen consequences involving forces even older and more powerful. Magnificent world-building and character development make this series a must-read; if you haven’t yet, go back and start with Written in Red.Buy it here.
8. The Spider’s War (The Dagger and the Coin #5) by Daniel Abraham
Release Date: March 8, 2016
The Spider’s War is the fifth book in Daniel Abraham’s highly acclaimed series The Dagger in the Coin, which is another must-read for fans of George R.R. Martin (the two have been known to collaborate). The publication date has already been delayed twice, so let’s hope that this date is the final one. War, political intrigue, and action abound in this epic conclusion to the five-book series, which is written in a multi-character point of view similar to ASOIAF. If you need to bring yourself up to speed, pick up the first book in the series, The Dragon’s Path; although it met with lukewarm reviews, some readers raved about it; if you don’t, push through it, because the series does improve as it goes on.Buy it here.
9. The Last Mortal Bond (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #3) by Brian Stavely
Release Date: March 15, 2016
The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series will continue with its third and final entry, The Last Mortal Bond, in March. While seemingly a fairly standard fantasy series, it is notable because of the meticulous worldbuilding, well-developed characters, and highly compelling story. War engulfs the Annurian Empire, bringing destruction to the civilization, as csestriim return to purge humanity, leaches attempt to manipulate the outcome of the war, and gods roam the earth in disguise. But when the smoke clears, and the three imperials — Valyn, Adare, and Kaden — are left standing, will they be able to resolve their conflict over their different ideals for the future? This stunning conclusion to a fantastic trilogy, which began two years ago with The Emperor’s Blades, is not to be missed.Buy it here.
10. Saint’s Blood (Greatcoats #3) by Sebastien de Castell
Release Date: April 7th, 2016
April will see the third installment of Sebastien de Castell’s debut series Greatcoats, a fun, swashbuckling adventure he began two years ago with Traitor’s Blade. If you haven’t read this gem of a series yet, you are truly missing out; contained within are epic sword fights, loveable characters, and playful banter aplenty. The camaraderie between the main characters is delightful, and the witty dialogue adds an often humorous touch to the engaging, action-packed story. If the first two books are any indication as to how this one will be, we can’t wait to get our hands on it (and you shouldn’t either). The tone is distinctly more lighthearted than most epic fantasy, while still managing to be very substantial.Buy it here.
11. Fall of Light (The Kharkanas Trilogy #2) by Steven Erikson
February 25, 2016 April 21, 2016
Steven Erikson, author of the highly popular series Malazan Book of the Fallen, is finally publishing the long-awaited next book of his Kharkanas Trilogy, which he began four years ago with Forge of Darkness. Kharkanas is a prequel trilogy set in the same world. With the number of popular epic fantasy series in existence, it can feel a bit formulaic, so authors really have to be exceptional to stand out. Steven Erikson is one such author, with unparalleled worldbuilding, superb character development (with multiple character perspectives), and compelling action. In Fall of Light, Kurald Galain is ravaged by civil war, and the realm is in chaos as magic bleeds into the world. Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire should definitely check out this series (but read the first book before you dive into this one, or you’ll be lost).Buy it here.
12. Sharp Ends (First Law World #7) by Joe Abercrombie
Release Date: April 26, 2016
From New York Times bestselling author (and one of the most popular fantasy authors of our time) Joe Abercrombie comes a collection of short fiction set in his world of The First Law. It contains 544 pages and thirteen short stories total, a combination of previously published and never-before-seen works. If you haven’t read it yet, The First Law trilogy is a must-read series for fantasy fans, and it will prepare you for the release of Sharp Ends in April. We also included it in our round-up of must-read new fantasy books of April 2016.Buy it here.
13. The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: April 26, 2016
The Raven King is the fourth and final book of The Raven Cycle series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater. Young adult, paranormal romance books tend to be filled with boring tropes but this series is highly rated, and definitely one of the better ones out there. The stunning cover art certainly doesn’t hurt, either. In this book, the main character, Blue, has been warned that she will cause the death of her true love; she never thought it would be an issue, until of course it was. Even if this genre isn’t usually your thing, give the first book, The Raven Boys, a try and see what you think.Buy it here.
14. Peace Talks (The Dresden Files #16) by Jim Butcher
May 10, 2016 TBA
After a brief foray into a completely new series, Jim Butcher has returned to his highly popular series The Dresden Files with the sixteenth (yes, sixteenth) book, Peace Talks. Stay tuned for more details.
15. League of Dragons (Temeraire #9) by Naomi Novik
May 10, 2016 June 14, 2016
League of Dragons is the ninth and final book of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestelling series Temeraire, which is basically historical fiction (during the Napoleonic era) interjected with dragons. Count us in. In this particular installment, the main character must attempt to rescue Temeraire’s stolen egg from the hands of the French. Not only must the heroes recover a dragon egg, but of course stop Napoleon as well. History buffs and fantasy fans alike will enjoy this series, which is vaguely reminiscent of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, and will love the beautifully written relationship between Captain Lawrence and Temeraire, his dragon.Buy it here.
16. Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
Release Date: May 10, 2016
The bestselling author of Tigana and Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay, is back with another phenomenal standalone novel, this time inspired by Renaissance Europe. As usual, his writing draws on real-world historical events and locations with a fantastical twist. Children of Earth and Sky follows several complex, relatable characters, whose stories beautifully intertwine in a rich tapestry of cultures and faiths, even as those same cultures vie for dominance throughout the world. Kay has been a powerful voice in fantasy since the publication of his debut novel The Summer Tree in 1984 due to his stunning prose and remarkable character development , and this is the perfect opportunity for unfamiliar readers to acquaint themselves with his work. You won’t be disappointed, we promise.Buy it here.
17. The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3) by Justin Cronin
Release Date: May 24th 2016
The City of Mirrors is the long-awaited final book in Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic vampire series The Passage. We featured the first book on our list of best post-apocalyptic novels for its unique take on apocalyptic and vampire literature, in which it frames vampirism as a viral epidemic. This book takes place two decades following The Twelve; in it, the original Twelve have been destroyed, their reign of terror is ended, and the survivors work to build society anew. Ther has not been a viral sighting in years. The threat is not over, however; in the shadows lurks Zero, the original, and he is bent on Amy’s destruction. This epic conclusion was well worth the wait, and was a satisfying end to a fantastically thrilling series. Don’t read it if you haven’t read the first two, however; and if that’s the case, we obviously recommend you do so. You won’t be disappointed.
18. The Sorcerer’s Daughter (The Defenders of Shannara #3) by Terry Brooks
Release Date: May 24th 2016
We realize the Shannara series can be daunting for outsiders; fortunately, Terry Brooks has written The Defenders of Shannara series, of which each book is meant to function as a standalone novel. So The Sorcerer’s Daughter would be a perfect introduction to the work of Terry Brooks, who is one of the biggest names in epic fantasy (and heavily influenced by Tolkien); he first published The Sword of Shannara in 1977, and it was in fact the first fiction novel to be featured on the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list. In The Sorcerer’s Daughter, suspicion cast upon the ancient Druid order after the murderous rampage of demon. Paxon Leah, protector of the Druid order, knows that vile sorcerer Arcannen Rei is the real culprit. As he leads the Druids to safety, his lifemate (and estranged daughter of Arcannen Rei) is tasked with protecting his sister from the sorcerer, who longs to control her power. It is everything fans have come to expect from Terry Brooks, and a must-read for veterans and newcomers alike
19. The Wheel of Osheim (The Red Queen’s War #3) by Mark Lawrence
Release Date: June 2, 2016
Mark Lawrence’s epic fantasy series, The Red Queen’s War, will conclude with its third book, The Wheel of Osheim, in which a reluctant prince returns from Hell to engage in his most epic of battles. The tale so far has been filled with epic moments, fantastical sequences, and a hefty dash of humor, leading Lawrence to receive a great deal of praise from his peers. There are heroes, and anti-heroes, tricksters, those who seek revenge and those who deserve what’s coming to them. In Red Queen’s War, no one is safe, and for that reason, we’re considering it to be one of the most exciting upcoming fantasy books of 2016.Buy it here.
20. Age of Myth (Legends of the First Empire #1) by Michael J. Sullivan
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Michael J. Sullivan is already being compared to Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and even Tolkien. His hardcover debut is Age of Myth, Book 1 of the Legends of the First Empire series (which will be five books). The story will follow Raithe, “The God Killer,” after he slays one of the gods they call the Fhrey, who were supposedly immortal and all-powerful. Alongside Suri, a seer whose burden it is to see impending doom, and Persephone, a woman who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people, the trio will take a stand against the rebellion of the gods.Buy it here.
21. The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria #1) by Anthony Ryan
Release Date: July 7, 2016
Anthony Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow trilogy became a New York Times bestseller, and now the author is beginning a new saga, The Draconis Memoria, of which The Waking Fire is the first entry. The novel will see three unlikely heroes team up and fight to turn the tide of a coming war, in a steampunk world where the blood of drakes is highly valued for its ability to make elixers that grant special powers. Ryan has been praised for his captivating storytelling ability, and his first trilogy is full of great character development, fast-paced plot, and intricate worldbuilding, with several interesting belief systems. We can only assume that The Waking Fire will be much the same, and if that’s the case, we can’t wait to get our hands on it. Also, we like that there is a female protagonist in this series, as the cast of Blood Song was almost overwhelmingly male.Buy it here.
22. Necessity (Thessaly #3) by Jo Walton
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Necessity is the third and final book in Jo Walton’s highly acclaimed Thessaly series, in which the gfoddess Athena founds the Just City on a Mediterranean island and attempts to build a society based on Plato’s Republic. Among the citizens, the god Apollo secretly dwells in human form, known as Pytheas. The Just City eventually split into five entitities, and their quarrels drew Zeus’s attention; he could not allow them to remain, and moved the contents of the island to planet Plato. Now, Pytheas has died and returned to his god form, and there is a human ship from Earth orbiting planet Plato. The series is built on a fascinating premise, and is both highly absorbing and thought-provoking; fans of Greek mythology should definitely check it out, and if you’ve read the first two already, don’t miss this epic conclusion.Buy it here.
23. Assassin’s Fate (The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb
July 14, 2016 March 7, 2017
Stay tuned for more details…
24. The Thorn of Emberlain (Gentleman Bastard #4) by Scott Lynch
Release Date: July 21, 2016
Scott Lynch has received praise from fantasy titans such as Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin (the hallmark of a good epic fantasy series nowadays seems to be the George RR Martin Seal of Approval). There has been considerabele anticipation built up for The Thorn of Emberlain, the fourth book of his Gentleman Bastard series, considering that it was originally supposed to release back in 2014 and has been delayed multiple times. We can only hope that this release date is set in stone, because it is a fantastic series, full of wit, adventure, and remarkable prose; you will be hooked within the first 50 pages of The Lies of Locke Lamora. Patrick Rothfuss is often compared to Scott Lynch, so if you enjoy The Kingkiller Chronicles, you should definitely check out this series.
25. With Blood Upon the Sand (The Song of the Shattered Sands #2) by Bradley Beaulieu
August 2nd, 2016 February 7, 2017
Epic fantasy with a capable female lead always catches our interest, and we were not disappointed with The Song of the Shattered Sands series by Bradley P. Beaulieu. With Blood Upon the Sand is the second novel, which is a continuation Çeda’s quest to defeat the omnipotent Twelve Kings of Sharakhai. Her search for answers to the riddles left to her in her departed mother’s book leads her to the desert, where members of the Thirteenth Tribe aid her on her quest. Meanwhile, the kings hunt her, and she uses the secrets she uncovers to kill more of them. Additionally, she must use one of their own tools to stop an invasion from the kingdom’s northern neighbors. Beaulieu has created a diverse world, notable for its rich history, distinct religions, and varied magic systems. The plot is complex and reads almost like a mystery as Çeda uncovers secrets about her past; also, she is a fantastic main character. In case you missed it, though, you’ll definitely want to read Twelve Kings in Sharakhai before attempting this one.
26. The Guns of Empire (Shadow Campaigns #4) by Django Wexler
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Django Wexler is back with the fourth installment in his epic fantasy series The Shadow Campaigns. If you enjoy epic fantasy with a strong military focus, political intrigue, and a touch of magic, this is the series for you. In The Guns of Empire, Queen Raesinia hopes to negotiate an end to the war with the Sworn Church of Elysium, which general Janus bet Vhalnic does not believe possible; consequently, soldiers Marcus d’Ivoire and Winter Ihernglass finds themselves torn between the two. Which side will they choose, and at what cost? That is not all, though; naturally, in the heart of fortress-city Elysium, an as-yet-unknown dark entity is rising. Fans of ASOIAF and the like shouldn’t hesitate to dive into this captivating world, with its constant action and dynamic cast of characters.Buy it here.
27. The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin August 16th 2016
Release Date: August 16, 2016
N.K. Jemisin will release the second entry in the The Broken Earth trilogy in August 2016, titled The Obelisk Gate. The New York Times praised the first book, The Fifth Season, calling it “intricate and extraordinary,” and the second book looks every bit as enchanting. It takes place on a world known as the Stillness, which is plagued by frequent near-apocalyptic events due to relentless seismic activity that also covers it with ash. In this world, a woman named Essun searches for her daughter, who was kidnapped by her husband; in The Obelisk Gate, she apprentices with a man named Alabaster Tenring, and answers are sought regarding the ancient mystery of the obelisks. Little else is known at this point, but we can’t wait to find out more.Buy it here.
28. A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: August 30, 2016
An Ember in the Ashes, the first book in Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series and her debut novel, met with overwhelming praise when it was released last year. This year she returns with the second book, A Torch Against the Night, which looks every bit as praiseworthy; it is definitely one of those YA fantasy series that adult readers can also find enjoyment in, so don’t dismiss it as a teen series. In this sequel, Laia and Elias fight their way into the heart of the tyrannical Empire to rescue Laia’s brother from Kauf Prison. Tahir is one of those authors that has the ability to provoke strong emotions in her readers, as well as create engaging characters, all the while telling a captivating story.
29. Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews
Release Date: September 20, 2016
The ninth entry in the tales of Kate Daniels follows Kate and her former Beast Lord Curran Lennart, who are finally taking the next step in their relationship. But before they can marry, they’ll have to overcome some obstacles. In Magic Binds, Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman in an effort to obtain more power, and a Witch Oracle predicts that if Kate marries her love, Atlanta will burn and Kate will lose him. The odds are not in Kate’s favor, as the only person that could help her is long dead. But Kate, a kick-ass heroine, is not one to give up easily, as fans of this highly addictive series know. This magical husband-and-wife writing duo has done it again (can you say marriage goals?), and if you’re not reading this series well, then, you’re doing it wrong.Buy it here.
30. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 27th, 2016
Crooked Kingdom is the highly anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Six of Crows by YA fantasy writer Leigh Bardugo. We tend to include books of the YA-persuasion only if they’re especially worthwhile, so you can be assured that this one falls into that category; it’s notable for its detailed world building, multifaceted characters, and skillful blend of humor and romance. The series follows an eclectic band of criminals led by Kaz Brekker, who reside in the international trade hub of Ketterdam. It is set in the same universe as her bestselling series The Grisha, and even readers who weren’t fans of The Grisha seem to enjoy Six of Crows. In Crooked Kingdom, the team is devastated by the kidnapping of one of their members following an especially daring heist. Meanwhile, powerful forces converge on Ketterdam in search of secrets surrounding the drug jurda parem, and a war is waged in the streets that will determine the fate of magic in the world.
31. The Lost Metal (Mistborn #7) by Brandon Sanderson
October 20, 2016 TBA
Stay tuned for more details…
32. The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer #4) by Brent Weeks
November 15th, 2016 October 25th, 2016
The Blood Mirror is the epic conclusion to the highly acclaimed Lightbringer series from New York Times bestseller Brent Weeks (best known for his Night Angel series). Alas, all good things must come to an end. The book opens with former Emperor Gavin Guile stripped of power and imprisoned in his own magical dungeon (talk about insult to injury). As fate would have it, though, he is the only one with the ability to save the world from impending doom. Fans of Brandon Sanderson will more than likely enjoy Brent Week’s work as well, with similarly skillful worldbuilding, complex characters, and a fascinating magical system. If you’re interested in this fantastic series (and you should be), go back and start with book one, The Black Prism.
33. The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen
Release Date: November 29, 2016
The Fate of the Tearling is the highly-anticipated conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy, The Quen of the Tearling. The story follows protagonist Kelsea Glynn, who we’ve seen transform from awkward adolescent into powerful monarch. Book three focuses on her quest to end corruption in her realm, pitting her against her fiercest rival yet, the Red Queen. In an effort to protect her people from an invasion, Kelsea gives herself and her magical sapphires to the enemy, leaving the head of her personal guard (the Mace) to rule as Regent in her place. The Mace will stop at nothing to rescue his queen, and it seems the fate of Tearling rests in his hands. Don’t miss this powerful ending to a fantastic series, with an amazing female protagonist.Buy it here.
34. Wrath (The Faithful and the Fallen #4) by John Gwynne
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Wrath is the fourth book in The Faithful and the Fallen series by John Gwynne, which sees numerous comparisons to The Song of Ice and Fire. The series is filled with clans at war, three-dimensional characters and a gripping plot. Fans of the series have book four to look forward to at some point in 2016, with a release date yet to be determined.Buy it here.
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