I’ve already described how I found each of the books, and my overall conclusions, but I thought I’d highlight a few of the books that stood out. Remember, I was going in with very little expectation about any of these, reading them “cold” like I presume a slush reader might, though they’d all done something to catch my eye and get me to snag them (for free!). None of these are perfect, but they all had something extra that kept me reading – right to the end, in several cases!
Fire & Ice by Patty Jansen is perhaps the most original book I came across, with one of the strongest “voices” and some interesting characters. Not one for the squeamish, it drew me in and kept me going even though it’s not my preferred setting – though I’m still annoyed by the medieval sword on the cover! It rises to a good climax but ends with a few things up in the air- it is the first in a trilogy, after all.
New World: A Frontier Fantasy Novel by Steven W White was another unique one, being perhaps the only book in the sub-genre of “new world” fantasy that I’ve encountered. I don’t know how it ends yet, but it starts pretty well and I’m looking forward to the rest of it. The author handles the distinctive voice of his frontiersman protagonist exceptionally well, weaving in phrases and sayings that really add colour and don’t sound forced.
The Last Priestess by Elizabeth Baxter was a good ex
ample of how to handle some familiar settings and tropes well – though it grew more complex the farther in you went (almost too complex, in places, for the foundation laid). Again, being the first in a two-part series, it ends at a suitable climax with a lot still to be resolved, but I’ll definitely put the second book on my list. A lot darker and grittier than I expected, it packs a lot of plot into a relatively small package, and I like that!
Enchantment’s Reach by Martin Ash is one that took my particular fancy, despite breaking a lot of the rules that other books tripped up on. The author manages to pull off the old-fashioned style of narration (which isn’t going to work for everyone) quite well, and forms quite a compelling story around a compelling heroine. There are flaws, a few odd moments, and an abrupt ending, but it was the first one I finished and I enjoyed it.
Sorcerer’s Code by Christopher Kellen was a nice little surprise – a short novella with a noir-ish mystery, carried along by the narration. Plenty of minor flaws if I’m being picky, and very generic, but a fast, fun ride nonetheless.
Magic of Thieves by C Greenwood had a lot going for it, not least a good pace and readability, and a compelling story. I took issue with the protagonist’s “plot armour” but what fantasy protagonist doesn’t have a set? I haven’t finished this yet, but it’s one I’ll probably revisit now I’ve got others out of the way.
Stormsinger by Stephanie A Cain was another short one, but had the most diversity (there wasn’t a lot, overall, which was disappointing), and set the scene for what could be some interesting longer adventures involving the intriguing cast. The writing could use a bit more polish in places, but overall it’s a good (short) introduction to an intriguing new voice.
These were my highlights, but there were plenty of other books well worthy of a read – some were well-written but just not to my taste, some were intriguing but too flawed, and all of them are worth a punt if they take your fancy (especially the ones that are still free). I’ve left out the “big names” mostly in Update 5, because I think they can speak for themselves at this point, and you probably won’t go wrong picking them up, either.
If you don’t like the sound of these, have a look at the other updates (1, 2, 4, 5) and see if anything else strikes your fancy. The great thing about indie publishing is that there’s probably a book out there for every reader, and a reader or two for every book – hopefully I’ve been a little help in bringing them together.
If anyone else has read any of these, or has some good indie recommendations, I’d love to hear about it!