The Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) is in it’s fourth year. It is a contest hosted by author Mark Lawrence that brings together 300 self-published fantasy books and ten book blogs. Each blog (which may have more than one reviewer) receives 30 books to read. They must choose one from their batch that goes into the finals.
Recently I read fantasy novel The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley and was intrigued by the gender systems of the different cultures in the world.
In one country, Dhai, there are five genders and each person gets to pick theirs: female-assertive, female-passive, male-assertive, male-passive and ungendered. In Saiduan there are three: male, female and ataisa.
Many epic fantasy worlds are loosely based on medieval Europe – for example the bulk of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. There’s lots of reasoning for this, and, personally, I like reading this type of setting. However, it’s always refreshing to read fantasy worlds set in, or inspired by, non-western settings such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
I was blown away by the brilliance of blockbuster Marvel movie Black Panther! In particular I loved the sub-Saharan African setting.
It made me think what adult fantasy and science fiction novels are out there with similar settings. So… after a bit of digging around the internet, Goodreads, Reddit r/fantasy and Amazon, here are 11 books that I’m going to be checking out and one that I’ve already read that I definitely recommend. Majority are fantasy, but all are either set in Africa or have African inspired settings.
Recently a reviewer described my novel Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1) as grimdark. I’ve been calling it epic fantasy, but as it does fit with the grimdark sentiment, I’m embracing it wholeheartedly! So, just what is grimdark?
Much of the action in my epic fantasy Melokai is set in a matriarchal country called Peqkya. The society is ruled by women and women’s interests are valued above the men.
One thousand years before the story takes place, the country was a war-torn, ravaged and frightening place to live – for both the men and the women. A woman, Sybilya, wrenched power from the tyrannical, savage men who then ruled, and the women have maintained control since.
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