Try a Taste of: Epic Fantasy with a Twist

Published Monday, February 15, 2021

For me, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is my favorite root beer. It’s the one I stock in my fridge for a comforting night at home. It sits alongside The Wheel of Time, The Belgariad, and so many other classics right there, known companions. But, as much as I adore classic epic fantasy, sometimes I need something in the genre that gives me a new flavor. A twist, you might say. The books on this list still fill the epic fantasy archetype, but with a little dash of something extra. Here we will find mages fueled by gun powder, fantasy mecha, rakish mercenaries, and even a tale from the Bad Guys perspective. It may not all be to your taste, but I guarantee this isn’t your father’s epic fantasy. -Jason

Plot summaries from publisher.

Kings of the Wyld
by Nicholas Eames

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best -- the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk - or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It's time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.

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Promise of Blood
by Brian McClellan

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king... Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved... Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

Available Digitally:
Hoopla (audiobook)

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The Armored Saint
by Myke Cole

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

The Armored Saint is a story of religious tyrants, arcane war-machines, and underground resistance that will enthrall epic fantasy readers of all ages.

Available Digitally:
Hoopla (audiobook)

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The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss

My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages, you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

Available Digitally:
Overdrive/Libby (ebook)
Cloud Library (ebook)

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The Black Company
by Glen Cook

Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead.

Until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Company to find her...

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About the Author

Jason has been a circulation clerk at EPL since 2018. He enjoys sci-fi/fantasy books, movies, and games especially if they have a dark or horror twist to them. He can also be found digging around in the history section.