Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!

This week our topic is …


I’ve been a fan of sword and sorcery for a long time.  Several decades in fact.  And like so many others, I was introduced to the genre by Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories before branching out to Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion novels, Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, and so many more.  Each and every one of these S & S stories was amazingly entertaining in their own way.

Unfortunately, sword and sorcery began to disappear from the shelves in the mid 1980s. Classic titles like Conan, Amber, Elric of Melnibon, and a few other could still be found, and, yes, you could still get your S & S fix from the pages of the latest Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Warhammer offerings, but outside of those game-inspired titles, there were not many brand new sword and sorcery novels out there.

A handful of fantasy titles did exist though, keeping alive the sword and sorcery spirit in the mold of Robert E. Howard and others, using action-packed plots coupled with larger-than-life protagonists to thrill readers.  And this list is a few of those “newer” sword and sorcery books which I believe helped carry the flag of the genre into the present day.

10. Morigu by Mark C. Perry


9. Tiger and Del by Jennifer Roberson

sword-singer8. Gerin the Fox by Harry Turtledove



7. Legends of the Nameless Dwarf by D.P. Prior


6. King of the Bastards by Brian Keene & Steven Shrewsbury

king of the bastards

5. Seven Forges by James A. Moore


4. The Witcher Saga by Andrzej Sapkowski


3. The Legend of Drizzt by R.A. Salvatore

the crystal shard

2. The Drenai Saga by David Gemmell


1.  Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

Chronicles of the Black Company


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Another week begins.  I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. But while I try to fool myself into being excited about the promise of a new year and the continuation of the regular grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by reading some great books.


THE DINOSAUR PRINCESSThe Dinosaur Princess by Victor Milán.

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Dinosaur Lords #3

Publisher: Tor Books (August 15, 2017)

Author Information: Facebook| Twitter

Length: 448 pages

With The Dinosaur Princess, we return to Paradise, Victor Milan’s fabulous alternate fantasy universe where humans from Earth were transported to a world where dinosaurs never became extinct.

It is a marvelous but dangerous place, a realm where knights ride these beasts in order to fight epic medieval battles, a place where magic is real.

The ancient gods who brought mankind to Paradise have returned to judge their human experiment. The Grey Angels, fabled ancient weapons of the gods, have come to rid the world of sin.

And if humans are deemed unworthy, they will be scourged from the face of Paradise.

Purchase The Dinosaur Princess at Amazon.

a man of his wordA Man of His Word: The Complete Series
by Dave Duncan

Genre: Fantasy

Series: A Man of His Word

Publisher: Open Road Media  (July 11, 2017)

Author Information: Website

Length: 1503 pages

These four fantasy novels of love and adventure follow the exploits of childhood friends Inos and Rap as their feelings are tested by the direst of circumstances. But while abduction, magic, and imprisonment conspire to separate them, the two remain steadfast in their determination to be together.

Magic Casement: Inos enjoys an idyllic childhood with her friend Rap, but friendship between a princess and a stable boy can never be simple. Soon, they are thrust into adulthood and a magical world full of infinite surprises.

Faery Lands Forlorn: When Inos is abducted through the magic casement and Rap tries to follow her, they arrive in two very strange new lands. With Rap in Faerie and Inos in Zark, they are at opposite ends of the world, but that doesn’t stop the young stable boy from heading to Zark to rescue his princess. And Inos is equally determined to head home to Krasnegar to claim her kingdom.

Perilous Seas: Hunted by the fearsome warlock wardens who rule the world, Inos is convinced that Rap has died. Little does she know, he is alive and, with the aid of his magic wand, trying to bring happiness to his beloved queen. But when the evil Nordland raider, Kalkor, arrives in port, Rap’s plans begin to fall apart.

Emperor and Clown: With Inos married to the wrong man and Rap dying in a dungeon, their cause seems hopeless. Only Aunt Kade refuses to admit defeat. Taking events into her own hands, she knows exactly the five men she can coerce into helping her . . .

Purchase A Man of His Word: The Complete Series at Amazon.

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Flashback Friday is something I do here at Bookwraiths every once in a while; a time when I can post my thoughts about books that I’ve read in the past. With the hectic schedule of day-to-day life, there never seems enough time to give these old favorites the spotlight that they deserve, but with a day all to themselves, there is no reason I can’t revisit them.

Today, I’ll be taking a look back at a fantasy series by Dave Duncan!

The Seventh Sword: The Complete Series
by Dave Duncan

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Seventh Sword

Publisher: Open Road Media  (July 11, 2017)

Author Information: Website

Length: 1453 pages

My Rating: 3.5 stars

The Seventh Sword Series is a “portal” fantasy in the tradition of Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry. Never fear though, Dave Duncan has put his own unique spin on the familiar 1980s era tropes contained herein (portal, quest, fellowship, and Chosen One), subverting most of them in some fashion, while weaving a fast paced, entertaining adventure in the first three books, then returning in the fourth volume to give the series a true conclusion.

It all begins in the Goddess’ Temple at Hann, where Honakura, priest of the seventh rank and true power behind the scenes, has a problem: Hardduju, reeve of the Temple and Swordsman of the seventh rank, is a traitor and thief in league with brigands. This once honorable warrior now more worried about stealing from the goddess’ worshipers rather than protecting them. But what can Honakura do to stop the powerful swordsman and his underlings?

Naturally, the priest prays to his goddess for aid. And, miraculously, his prayers are immediately answered when news reaches him that Shonsu, Swordsman of the seventh rank, has appeared at the temple asking for a demon exorcism. Honakura eager to extend such aid in return for Shonsu’s oath to serve the temple!

But while the exorcism of the demon spirt called Walliesmith goes as planned, Honakura’s plan seemingly falls apart when Shonsu awakes as a very confused Wallie Smith from Earth!

The tale which spirals out from this beginning is focused on Wallie Smith: a mild-mannered engineer from earth who vaguely recalls dying from encephalitis but whose spirit now inhabits the body of Shonsu, Swordsman of the seventh rank. The goddess herself having brought Wallie here to embark on a quest and fulfill a prophecy to save “The World” from a grizzly fate; this journey by the very cosmopolitan and scientific minded Wallie filled with much discovery and more than a little acceptance, as he quickly finds that his modern sensibilities aren’t of much value in a world ruled by real gods!

A fish out of water tale. That is how I’d quickly describe The Seventh Sword, because this story focuses on Wallie Smith’s journey as a modern man in an alien civilization. But where other author dealing with this trope generally espouse the superiority of current culture over all others, Duncan takes a more enlightened approach, showing both the failure and triumphs of Wallie’s preconceived notions. The quest our hero undertakes far less interesting than the evolution of Wallie’s own belief system.

Don’t take that to mean the goddess’ quest is a humdrum affair, since that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many twists and turns along Wallie’s path; a rather unusual fellowship of friends gathered around our hero; foes popping up in unsuspected locations; Wallie always forced to find the correct way to balance his morals and beliefs against those of the goddess’ world; and the final resolutions (both in book three and four) quite surprising. All of these things creating a very entertaining story.

The Seventh Sword isn’t without its weaknesses however. The most glaring being Wallie Smith’s tendency to swing back and forth in his eternal quest to find a balance between The World’s culture/beliefs and his own. Certainly, that is realistic. I mean, no one is going to wake up in an alien world in someone else’s body and immediately accept everything around them as normal. But Wallie’s tendency to seemingly acclimate himself to his new reality, accept it, begin to work within it, then reject it all again became quite annoying after a while. Nor did it ring true after the fourth or fifth episode. At least, for me, it didn’t.

Subverting the classic fantasy quest narrative whiling entertaining with fast paced action and emotional issues, Dave Duncan’s The Seventh Sword is an older series well worth reading. Nope, it isn’t grimdark by any means, but neither is it the shiny fantasy of yesteryear where the hero has all the answers and everything works out for him in the end. Rather, The Seventh Sword is a more realistic look at a normal guy from the modern world (Are the 1980s considered modern anymore?) dealing with magic, gods, and other fantastical circumstances which his upbringing and education have not prepared him for. Recommended!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

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Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to let readers share their excitement for books coming out soon, and the novel I’m eagerly awaiting is . . .


seventh decimateSeventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Great God’s War #1

Publisher: Berkley (November 14, 2017)

Length: 320 pages

Author Information: Website


Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning. These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil.

But a seventh Decimate exists–the most devastating one of all…

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless.

Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate–and reverse the fate of his land.

All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains–and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn…

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cover lover collage 1

It’s that time again! Time to highlight some of my favorite fantasy covers!

This week I’m looking at some self-published or small press fantasy covers.  No real theme other than no big publishing house products.  I wanted to focus on the cool covers that indie authors are producing these days!

10. Empire of Chains by Ryan W. Mueller

empire of chains

9. Blood-Stained Heir by T. Norman 

blood-stained heir

8. A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day

a sea of skulls

7. The Fifth Empire of Man by Rob J. Hayes

the fifth empire of man

6. Free the Darkness by Kel Kade

king's dark tidings

5. Corruption by Adam Vine


4. Throne of the Bastards by Brian Keene & Steven L. Shrewsbury

throne of the bastards

3. The Wolf of the North by Duncan M. Hamilton

the wolf of the north

2. Dragons of Dark by Ava Richardson

dragon of dark

1. The Speaker’s Son by Devin Hanson

the speaker's son



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Another week begins.  I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. But while I try to fool myself into being excited about the promise of a new year and the continuation of the regular grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by reading some great books.


THE BLACK DREAMThe Black Dream by Col Buchanan

Genre: Fantasy — Grimdark

Series: Heart of the World #3

Publisher:  Tor Books (March 12, 2015)

Author Information: Website 

Length: 514 pages


As the empire of Mann threatens the world with enslavement, only a single island nation continues to stand in its way – the Free Ports of the democras. For ten years they have held their own, but now the empire draws its noose even tighter over them.

Rallying to its defence are those from the secretive network known as the Few, including the cripple and troubleshooter Coya Zeziké. Coya has hopes of enlisting the forest contrarè in the aid of the besieged city of Bar-Khos. With him is Shard, the only Dreamer of the Free Ports, a woman capable of manipulating waking reality or the strange dimensions of the Black Dream.

The Roshun order of assassins have also engaged in the war at last. But Ash, their ailing farlander, has more urgent business to overcome. Facing him is a skyship voyage into the Great Hush, then further journeying to the fabled Isles of Sky, where he hopes bring his dead apprentice Nico back to life. Yet, his voyage into the unknown may save more than just Nico . . . it may save the Free Ports themselves.

the reluctant swordsmanThe Seventh Sword Series by Dave Duncan

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Seventh Sword

Publisher: Open Road Media  (July 11, 2017)

Author Information: Website

Length: 1453 pages

In this complete collection of the high fantasy Seventh Sword series by Aurora Award–winning author Dave Duncan, Wallie Smith must face a new destiny and save an unfamiliar world from evil forces.

The Reluctant Swordsman: Wallie goes to the hospital and wakes up in the body of a barbarian swordsman, accompanied by a voluptuous slave girl and an eccentric priest babbling about the Goddess. When he learns the Goddess needs a swordsman, he reluctantly agrees to set off on her quest.

The Coming of Wisdom: Wallie is staring death in the face when the Goddess gives him a new body and the fabled Sapphire Sword in return for being her champion. But Wallie and his weapon quickly find themselves outmatched in a world of high-stakes magic.

The Destiny of the Sword: Wallie is entrusted by the presiding goddess with a mission to bring together all the swordsmen to finally defeat the sorcerers and their terrible technology. And while he’s not quite convinced he should oblige, goddesses can be very persuasive . . .

The Death of the Nnanji: For fifteen years the truce has held, but now sorcerers have started killing swordsmen again and swordsmen traitors are aiding them. Wallie, known now as Shonshu, must ride out to fight the war he hoped would never come, and his failure or success will determine the fate of the world for the next thousand years.


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jl vs ssJustice League vs. Suicide Squad by Joshua Williamson

Genre: Superhero Comics

Series: Justice League (Rebirth)

Publisher: DC Comics (June 27, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 312 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is a book which doesn’t seem to really know what it wants to be. Is it about Suicide Squad and the Justice League clashing, or is it really about Amanda Waller’s diabolic schemes? Is Killer Frost the star, or is it Harley? I mean, the book just seems confused about its identity. And so while it isn’t bad really, it isn’t as good as it could/should have been either. A lot of untapped potential is how I’d put it.

The story starts with Killer Frost being brought into Belle Reve prison. We get a look at the Squad and Waller, then get to see our newest member of the team join in the fun.

Meanwhile, the Squad doesn’t know that Batman has finally discovered that Amanda Waller has not been keeping all the baddies locked away in Belle Reve, but has been using a group as Task Force X. So, naturally, Bats goes to the Justice League, tells them what is going on, and gets the group together to put a stop to the Suicide Squad!

What happens next is a good, old-fashioned fight between the Justice League (Who should wipe the floor with the Squad!) and our group of criminals. To give her people more of an incentive to put up a good fight, Waller tells the Squad they will fight to the death or she’ll personally kill them. (Talk about a rousing pep talk.)

jl vs ss 2

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end with this titanic collision of opposing forces. Instead, writer Joshua Williamson transitions to another plot where a third group shows up to . . . TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

The Good: I liked the idea of the Suicide Squad and the Justice League butting heads. Sure, I had to suspend my disbelief that the League had never known about the Squad until now. (I mean, Batman knows everything, right?). And, yeah, I had to try hard to believe that Deadshot, Harley, and the rest of the Squad could go toe-to-toe with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the League, but I didn’t mind doing that, because the fight between the two groups was pretty cool.

The Bad: A few things really.

My first complaint was the story after the Squad and League clashed. I’m not going into it, because of major spoilers, but none of the major plots after the fight were terribly original, exciting, or realistic. I just could not force myself to believe any of it. The story was a real struggle to get through.

Second, I realized how little I care for a number of the characters here. Amanda Waller: hate her. Killer Frost: pretty boring. Boomerang: he throws boomerangs, brother; what is to like?

Third, the art was a bit up and down. Every issue had a different artist, and I did not like the constant changes. Honestly, I’ve always hated artist changes in the middle of a story arc though, so you could label this complaint just a personal pet peeve of mine.

Overall, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad was an okay read. It had some good parts (introductions to the Squad, the buildup to the clash with the League, and the fight itself), but it also had a lot of bad parts (the rest of the story arc really). What is sad is that this could have been a really cool clash between two very different teams. Instead, the SS vs JL fight comes early and ends too quickly, while the story moves past it to several more plots which I remember very little about because they were generic and forgettable.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

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Today, the guys in the Goodreads Top 5 Wednesday group have an interesting topic, one which is kind of sad from a reading perspective but does happen: Second Is Best!  “We’ve talked about series that went downhill, and series that are worth it, but which series were best in the middle?”

I really thought this would be an easy selection process.  I mean, I immediately thought of several books which became worse the longer the series progressed, but once I started examining my ratings I found they did not quite fit the description, because they had strong concluding volumes.  And so the splitting of hairs began.

Finally, I found five picks which I believe are as close to the topic as I can come, though in fairness to several the middle of the series was only slightly better than the beginning/ending.

5. The Histories of King Kelson by Katherine Kurtz 

This old school fantasy featured young King Kelson dealing with rebellion and betrayal.  It was fun stuff, especially when I read it back as a teenager.  But while The Bishops’ Heir was a good, solid introduction to the plot, The King’s Justice was the high point of the series: The Quest for Saint Camber not really to my liking.

4. The Powder Mage by Brian McClellan

The Powder Mage Trilogy is one of my recent favorites.  I love the world, the magic, and all the characters Brian McClellan introduces me to throughout General Tamas’ revolution.  It all starts with the very exciting Promise of Blood, gets even better with The Crimson Campaign, then, sort of, coasts to the finish line with The Autumn Republic.  Don’t take that to mean I didn’t like book three; it just means I didn’t like it as much as book two, which was the best of the trio.

3. Bloodsounder’s Arc by Jeff Salyards

Another of my recent favorites where book two was just so damn good that it made the beginning and ending of the trilogy pale in comparison.

2. Grim Company by Luke Scull

This is one of those series which you either really like or can’t stand.  Not sure why, but from the reviews on Goodreads that is my take on it.  As for me, I really enjoyed this less serious (though still bloody and grim) fantasy trilogy.  The Grim Company was good fun, and Sword was a damn entertaining grimdark romp, but Dead Man’s Steel was just . . . just okay.  Yet another bell curve series.

1.   The Dark Tower by Stephen King

This is a series which generates strong feeling among its lovers and haters.  No doubt, it is a masterpiece of genre blending storytelling by its author; a series which will probably be viewed by some as his masterpiece.  As for myself, I really enjoyed the first book, hated the second, then felt that the third, fourth, and fifth book were the pinnacles of The Dark Tower.  After The Wind Through the Keyhole, the whole saga just began to slip badly until the ending was (for me) absolutely horrible.  Perfect fit for this topic, right?

Agree?  Disagree?  Tell us why.  And what series would you put on your list?  Let us all know.


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cover lover collage 1

It’s that time again! Time to highlight some of my favorite fantasy covers!

This week I’m looking at some fantasy covers which feature inanimate objects: swords, spears, castles, cityscapes, landscapes.  That sort of thing.  No covers with armed guys or girls, badass villains, or mysterious assassins posing all cool-like on the front.

Now, to forewarn everyone, I’m going to allow covers which have people in them.  Honestly, it is pretty difficult to find only inanimate objects portrayed.  So if a cover’s main feature is an inanimate object it will be considered, even if there are people in the image somewhere.



Probably my favorite covers in this variety.  Paul Young doing an amazing job with the first three covers, while James Annal continued on with the coolness with Ruin.  Just a beautiful series of covers.


MISTBORN EUalloy of lawshadows of selfbands of mourning

These UK covers from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series really strike a cord with me. Sam Green producing some amazing pieces here.   If pressed I’d still say The Final Empire is my favorite cover, but they all are striking illustrations. I’ve read they are also the author’s favorites, so I suppose I’m in good company with this pick.


While I didn’t love the series, I’ve always thought these were some outstanding covers.  Mike Bryan thrilling readers with his ice, water, and fire images, which really captured the tone of each Joe Abercrombie story.


Mark T. Barnes created a complex fantasy world with strange races and ethereal beings.  Stephan Martiniere capturing the true essence of this world in his stunning landscapes.


I know, I know, there doesn’t seem to be any inanimate object on these covers.  True . . . unless we view the silhouettes in the background as such.  And I’m going to, because I really like what Lauren Panepinto did with these covers.


Okay, okay, The Brass God might be more focused on that strange, golden robot at the forefront, but Alejandro Colucci’s artwork is just too damn good not to find a way to feature.


You have to admit those are two pretty damn clever and cool covers.  Lee Gibbons gets a big thumbs up from me.


Doug Beekman’s covers for John Marco’s trilogy were all about the dynamic landscapes behind the people in the foreground.  Honestly, the grand castles and stunning mountains are what pops out of these, not the riders.


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I’ve always liked these covers from Dave Duncan’s fantasy series, The King’s Blades.  They are simple yet effective.  Hal Just, Paul Robinson, Boris Zlotsky, and Stephen Hickman taking turns creating each one.

Well, that is it for this week.  Hopefully, you discovered a few books you had never heard of before, or an artist or two that have now become one of your favorites.  Until next time, keep judging books by their covers!

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Jesse Teller is a self-published fantasy author with a track record of crafting dark, twisted tales.  His books never afraid to exam the grim side of life.  And while he has written numerous stories, Jesse’s newest project, Song, is part of his Perilisc fantasy world: a richly detailed setting, ripe with legends, magic, and secrets whispered but not yet explored.  The Tales from Perilisc published so far have been standalone novels with unique story lines, but the cast of characters do overlap slightly.  And here they are!

And because it is always difficult to know the chronological order of an ongoing series, the author has been nice enough to compile a timeline for readers who prefer to experience the stories in that fashion.

As you can see Song is the last on that chronological list, the newest of the Perilisc tales, yet another dark fantasy, walking the edge been reality and insanity. And Bookwraiths is proud to announce its publication date and show off its beautiful cover!

Song: Book One of The Manhunters
Releases October 5, 2017

Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him. 

Reviews of the Tales of Perilisc:

Jesse Teller is a new voice in Grimdark fantasy, and if you like your books dark and bloody as hell, then he might as well be your new favorite author.”
—Peter Tr,

Jesse Teller is a very strong author who boldly builds the world he has created with strong themes and no apologies.”
—Dianne Bylo, Tome Tender Book Blog

jesse tellerAUTHOR INFO:  Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.

He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin.

Author Links:

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