Best Fantasy Books of 2008

Below you will find a list of the fantasy books published in 2008 that we enjoyed most. Click on a book title to read the full review.

Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson (A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 8)

So here we are for the eighth time and it just gets better and better. I found this book to be a bit less frenetic than The Bonehunters as it seems like Mr Erikson is getting things organised for the final push. But that is by no means a reason to believe the action slows down. I guess things just seem more in control since we don’t spend any real time with the Malazan army.

Published: 2008

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn: Book 3)

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world. This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson's saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith and responsibility.

"This review is probably one of the most verbose and superlative I’ve ever written. Maybe because it’s late and I’m tired, but maybe, just maybe, this book is one of the seminal fantasy stories of this generation of writers. Feel free to disagree, but I honestly feel that this book is one of the best that I’ve ever had the opportunity, and sheer pleasure, to read."

Published: 2008

Nation by Terry Pratchett

On the day the world ends... Mau is on his way home from the Boys' Island. Soon he will be a man. And then the wave comes - a huge wave, dragging black night behind it and bringing a schooner which sails over and through the island rainforest. The village has gone. The Nation as it was has gone. Now there's just Mau, who wears barely anything, a trouserman girl who wears far too much, and an awful lot of big misunderstandings...

"In what can really only be called a tour de force by an author who is arguably the greatest living English novelist, Terry Pratchett has pulled out all the stops for his latest book, Nation. Pratchett is best known for his Discworld series of books, which stretch across a monstrous 36 books (of which the majority does well to score below 7 out of 10). However this time around, Pratchett has stepped off the Disc and into a parallel universe to our own, with honorable mentions to Einstein and Isaac Newton." Fantasy Book Review

Published: 2008

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book won the Carnegie medal for children’s fiction, and it deserved to win. The writing style, though easy enough for children, is very descriptive and distinctive.

"If asked to put The Graveyard Book into a genre, I'd have to say: this is a Neil Gaiman book. It's in the Genre of Excellence" Fortean Times

Published: 2008

The Spook's Mistake by Joseph Delaney (The Wardstone Chronicles: Book 5)

The Spook’s Mistake is the fifth book in The Wardstone Chronicles, a series of novels for young-adults written by Joseph Delaney. As danger increases in the Country, Tom is sent north by his master to be trained by Bill Arkwright, another spook. Arkwright lives in a haunted mill on the edge if a treacherous marsh and his training methods are harsh. He has toughened up many previous apprentices though and now must do the same for Tom.

Published: 2008

The Ten Thousand by Paul Kearney (The Macht: Book 1)

Very rarely does an author manage to leave you heartbroken while still allowing you to have enjoyed the book you’ve read. Steven Erikson managed it in ‘Deadhouse Gates’ and Paul Kearney manages it in his book ‘The Ten Thousand.’ I have just finished reading the book, and feel both dispirited and glad for having read it.

Published: 2008

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Liga raises her two daughters in the safe haven of an alternative reality, a personal heaven granted by magic as a refuge from her earthly suffering. But the real world cannot be denied forever and when the barrier between the two worlds begins to break down, Liga’s fiery daughter, Urdda, steps across it…

"Tender Morsels never once tries to show that life has a happily ever after ending. It shows that life is full of hardship; you will experience hurt, you will watch loved ones die and you will often be afraid. It also shows that live can be full of love, caring and kindness and that it is better to experience something, be it good or bad, than to experience nothing at all." Fantasy Book Review

Published: 2008

The Two Pearls of Wisdom by Alison Goodman (Eona series: Book 1)

Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye – a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to nurture and protect the land. But Eon also harbours a desperate secret that, if revealed, will mean certain death.

Published: 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games: Book 1)

This is a book which will be enjoyed a lot by teenagers, as well as adults, to which it will have a certain resonance, having witnessed the explosion and possibilities of reality TV this last decade. It is a strange phenomenon in modern culture and hopefully this is not it’s natural conclusion. This book is also followed by two subsequent books, which will be reviewed in the near future.

Published: 2008

Last Argument Of Kings by Joe Abercrombie (The First Law: Book 3)

In this much anticipated and last instalment of the First Law trilogy from Joe Abercrombie we find the answers to all our questions and some we didn’t even realise existed!

Published: 2008

The Prophecy Keepers by Melaine Bryant (Prophecy Keepers: Book 1)

There is an ancient legend in the memories of the humans of Niwengeard, that a time will come when Darkness will fall upon the kingdoms of Earde and one will rise who threatens all species. It has been foretold that at this time, a Gifted human child possessing the powers of the magical races--the empyreals--will be born to lead a revolution against the Darkness. But this memory is hazy, like the memories of the beginning of time, of the Creators, of the First and Second Destructions, and even of the empyreal races who share the humans' world. So when a fairy named Rædan appears before fourteen-year-old Lisandra Ackart and tells her that the time of the Third Destruction has begun and that she is the Gifted One, she doesn't believe him. When a series of strange events leaves her hundreds of miles from home, Lisandra is thrust unwillingly into the heart of an epic struggle that has spanned millennia, a conflict between the races of the Dark and the races of the Light. Now that struggle is nearing its end, and Lisandra must find the twenty-three Keepers of the ancient Prophecy, each of whom holds a single piece of the key to saving Earde from the Darkness. But first she must find a way to stop the Dark Queen, Lucifæra--who the Light Ones believe is behind the sudden disappearance of thousands of fairies--and her mysterious hexagonal charm.

"I think that Melaine Bryant reasons for writing this book was firstly to entertain and secondly to encourage readers to explore all the classic fantasy tales that have been around for, in some instances, hundreds of years. All the ingredients needed in a high fantasy novel are there; the heroine, the prophecy plus, of course, the quest. This delightfully constructed story reminded me somewhat of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, not so much in content, but in its style and how it read. I would not hesitate to recommend The Prophecy Keepers to adults, both young and old, who are looking for a great new fantasy series." Fantasy Book Review

Published: 2008

Who is Charlie Keeper? by Marcus Alexander

‘Who is Charlie Keeper?’ is the shockingly paced fantasy novel that tells the tale of Charlie, an iron-willed, twelve year old girl suffering an unjust and unhappy fate. Forced to flee her home in the gloomy, rain-drenched landscape of London by a bloodthirsty and terrifying new foe, she escapes to the vibrant, parallel land of Bellania with nothing more than her common sense and razor-sharp wits to keep her safe. Bellania, a land of myth, magic and marauding giants with bad attitude and poor anger management.

Published: 2008

The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane (The Forgotten Legion Chronicles: Book 1)

Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman on his way home from a good night out. At 13 years old, they and their mother are sold: Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome, and their mother into obscurity and death in the salt mines. Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul; the Romans killed his entire family.He rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day - and mentor to the boy slave, Romulus, who dreams night and day of escape and of revenge. The lives of these four characters are bound and interwoven in a marvellous story which begins in a Rome riven by corruption, violence and political enmities, but ends far away, where Romulus, Brennus and Tarquinius find themselves fighting against the Parthians and overwhelming odds.

Published: 2008

The Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford (Young Samurai: Book 1)

August 1611. Jack Fletcher is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan – his beloved father and the crew lie slaughtered by ninja pirates. Rescued by the legendary swordmaster Masamoto Takeshi, Jack’s only hope is to become a samurai warrior. And so his training begins… But life at the samurai school is a constant fight for survival. Even with his Akiko by his side, Jack is singled out by bullies and treated as an outcast. With courage in his heart and his sword held high, can Jack prove himself and face his deadliest rival yet?

Published: 2008

The Way of the Sword by Chris Bradford (Young Samurai: Book 2)

One year of training in samurai school and Jack is in real trouble… He’s busy preparing for the Circle of Three, an ancient ritual that tests courage, skill and spirit to the limit. And at the same time Jack is caught in a running battle with fellow student Kazuki and his gang.

Published: 2008

Echo by Terry Moore

The first volume – ‘Echo: Moon Lake’ was recently sent to me and I sped through it like a kid and a bag of candy. I couldn’t get enough of this brilliant book and it is nearly responsible for nearly making me miss the Serbia v Ghana match. Terry Moore is a genius. He’s well respected as one of the most talented creatives in the comics industry earning him an Eisner Award in 1996 for SiP, and he is a fan favourite for SiP and the more recent ‘Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane’ series at Marvel. With Echo he brings his amazing artistic skills together with his amazing talent for telling a great story to tell a truly unique and intelligent story.

Published: 2008

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl Series: Book 6)

Teenage criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has a new mission – and this time it's personal. Artemis's mother is dangerously ill, and the only way to find a cure is for Artemis – with Holly Short by his side – to go back in time to battle his younger, more evil self . . . Action packed and full of humour – a must-read for boys and girls aged 10+.

Published: 2008

Redheart by Jackie Gamber (Leland Dragon Series: Book 1)

Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit inside her village fence. Their unexpected friendship is risky in Leland Province, where drought has stripped the land and superstition has cowed its people. And the danger only grows. Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, resents Leland's time-worn venur system. He has inflamed tensions between dragons and humans to the brink of war. He wants to trample humans into utter submission, or wipe them off the face of the land. Anger erupts, scorching innocent lives in its path. When Riza is threatened, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. But first, he must confront his past and the future he stopped believing in. He must claim his destiny.

"There is plenty of soaring action, drama, humour as well as a deeper message behind the thrill-fest about tolerance, understanding and peaceful coexistence. If you liked the BBC series ‘Merlin’ the film ‘Dragonheart’ and the book and film ‘Eragon’ then this is a must read. ‘Redheart’ will appeal to all ages and is a great read right up to its final unexpected twist ending." Daniel Cann, Fantasy Book Review

Published: 2008

Petrodor by Joel Shepherd (A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 2)

Yes, you need to read Sasha before you read Petrodor. Will you be disappointed? Definitely not. Both books are different in ways that make reading them back to back enjoyable, but leave you with a story that you just must follow. Definitely pick up these two books, because you’ll be missing out on some of the most fantastic writing.

Published: 2008

The Toymaker by Jeremy de Quidt

What good is a toy that will wind down? What if you could put a heart in one? A real heart. One that beat and beat and didn't stop. What couldn't you do if you could make a toy like that? From the moment Mathias becomes the owner of a mysterious piece of paper, he is in terrible danger. Entangled in devious plots and pursued by the sinister Doctor Leiter and his devilish toys, Mathias finds himself on a quest to uncover a deadly secret.

"The Toymaker is an excellent book, one of very few that I wish were longer, and the book’s ending is as chilling as it is unexpected. A superb debut in which everything fits together like a jigsaw." Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review

Published: 2008

Truancy City by Isamu Fukui ()

The Truancy series is action-packed, exciting and with the last book, unexpected from start to finish. The whole Truancy series really holds a promise, the plotting already started in the first book and was greatly kept up as the story progressed, in the end there is really a nice curve ball that keeps you tense in reading this book until the final page. What Isamu Fukui managed at young age with creating the idea of the Truants and Educators is only further built up in the other two books that follow it up. Truancy is a great series for teen boys, all the action and I think the Oriental inspiration behind the book will appeal to many. The series has a great build up in the story itself and I must stress to read it in the order (I did it with the prequel in the middle), it will be much more satisfying!

Published: 2008

Valour's Trial by Tanya Huff (A Confederation Novel #4)

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr has finally been allowed to re-join Sh’quo Company and get back to fighting The Others with no politics involved. Before this she spent the previous books becoming increasingly disillusioned by the Elder Races and why the Younger Races are fighting but not included in diplomatic missions, as well as being disquieted by the appearance of Big Yellow and the realisation of what it actually is. Is Torin finally going to be able to settle back into the ranks or will she be able to find out the truth?

"If you have been following and enjoying The Confederation series then you will enjoy the twists and suspense of this latest edition. In terms of the unexpected the series still feels very fresh and I love the dilemmas that Torin has to overcome. Where she goes from here will be full of interesting choices. So I leave you with these questions: Are you ever free of your past and do you need to be?"

Published: 2008

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Strangely told by a nameless narrator, The Gargoyle is a tale of love, pain, transformation and more. The narrator, is involved in a serious car accident causing horrendous burns to his body, forcing him into hospital for many months to under go numerous painful surgeries and rehabilitation. During the stay in hospital he is visited by a beautiful, mysterious woman in her thirties who, unlike his so-called friends, doesn't flee at the sight of his disfigured, charred body. She tells him that she knows him, is sorry he has been burned like this again and that she has been waiting for him for hundreds of years.

Published: 2008