Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Self-Published Fantasy

This week's topic is: Self-Published Books

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in a little while, but when I saw this week's topic was about indie and self-published books I really wanted to make sure I participated because there are so many amazing self-published books out there that I love and want to recommend to everyone! I also might cheat a little bit (but whether or not it's cheating depends on who you ask) because I'm going to include some books that were self-published only when I read them, but have now been picked up by publisher. I'm a little out of the loop with new self-published fantasy these days, but I'm hoping later this year I'll have a bit more time to get back into things. Without further ado, let's check out some amazing self-published books!

Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell
This was a very dark fantasy that was entirely unpredictable, compelling, and grabbed me instantly. I remember being really impressed with this book and couldn't wait for the sequel (which was equally amazing, by the way). 

About: "YA deformed genius plots vengeance while struggling to survive. A wastrel prince comes of age, finding a power he never imagined. Two worlds are destined to collide.

Only one can be king.

Ruka, called a demon at birth, is a genius. Born malformed and ugly into the snow-covered wasteland of the Ascom, he was spared from death by his mother's love. Now he is an outcast, consumed with hate for those who've wronged him. But to take his vengeance, he must first survive. Across a vast sea in the white-sand island paradise of Sri Kon, Kale is fourth and youngest son of the Sorcerer King. And at sixteen, Kale is a disappointment. As the first prince ever forced to serve with low-born marines, Kale must prove himself and become a man, or else lose all chance of a worthy future, and any hope to win the love of his life. Though they do not know it, both boys are on the cusp of discovery. Their worlds and lives are destined for greatness, or ruin.

But in a changing world where ash meets paradise, only one man can be king... The first installment of an epic, low- fantasy trilogy. Kings of Paradise is a dark, bloody, coming-of-age story shaped by culture, politics, and magic." Goodreads

We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
I still remember how much I fell in love with this story when I first read it and I'm so happy that it was picked up by Orbit and the entire series is now out! I am actually planning to start a re-read of this series soon in order to read the final book. I also still love this original cover of the self-published version so much (though I love Orbit's as well!)

About "War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.

Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighboring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down.

In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts'ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder.

In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall.

And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e'Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die.

As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.Goodreads 

Flesh Eater by Travis M. Riddle
You might see a few books by this author on this list, but first up is Flesh Eater! I loved this fantasy following a group of compelling characters as they are basically shuttled from one obstacle and adventure to another–it's loads of fun and plays with some really interesting ideas. 

About: "Branded as a Flesh Eater, Coal is on the run from Palace Stingers: soldiers tasked with tracking down those who have consumed flesh and locking them away in specialized prisons.

After a year of avoiding capture and struggling to scrape by working odd jobs for a local crime lord, Coal is growing desperate. He learns of someone in the city's underbelly who can erase his record, but her services don't come cheap.

Seeing no other option, he enters a spiderback race with a grand prize valuable enough to pay for his fresh start. But he's not the only one after the prize, and Coal is about to find out exactly how far he's willing to go to win.

Dreams of the Dying by Nicolas Lietzau
I picked this up after hearing Petrik Leo rave about it and thought it was a fascinating and richly crafted world and story. There's a very unique magic system that grabbed me and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel. 

About: "If your mind is the enemy, where do you run?

Years after a harrowing war experience, ex-mercenary Jespar Dal'Varek has taken to drifting. It's a lonely existence, but, barring the occasional bout of melancholia, he has found the closest thing to peace a man like him deserves. Life is "all right."

Or so he believes. Hoping to turn the page, Jespar accepts a mysterious invitation into the beautiful but dangerous archipelago of Kilay-and everything changes.

Plagued by explosive social tensions and terrorism, the tropical empire is edging ever closer to civil war. Kilay's merchant king is the only person able to prevent this catastrophe, but he has fallen into a preternatural coma-and it's Jespar's task to figure out what or who caused it. As the investigation takes him across the archipelago and into the king's nightmares, unexpected events not only tie Jespar's own life to the mystery but also unearth inner demons he believed to be long exorcised.

Battling old trauma while fighting for his life, his sanity, and the fate of Kilay, the line between dream and reality blurs until only one question remains: If your mind is the enemy, where do you run?

Kingshold by D.P. Woolliscroft
This fantasy is packed with political intrigue, clever plotlines, rich world-building, and characters you can't help but love. 

About: "Mareth is a bard, a serial under achiever, a professional drunk, and general disappointment to his father. Despite this, Mareth has one thing going for him. He can smell opportunity. The King is dead and an election for the new Lord Protector has been called. If he plays his cards right, if he can sing a story that will put the right person in that chair, his future fame and drinking money is all but assured. But, alas, it turns out Mareth has a conscience after all.

Neenahwi is the daughter to Jyuth, the ancient wizard who founded the Kingdom of Edland and she is not happy. It’s not just that her father was the one who killed the King, or that he didn’t tell her about his plans. She’s not happy because her father is leaving, slinking off into retirement and now she has to clean up his mess.

Alana is a servant at the palace and the unfortunate soul to draw the short straw to attend to Jyuth. Alana knows that intelligence and curiosity aren’t valued in someone of her station, but sometimes she can’t help herself and so finds herself drawn into the Wizard’s schemes, and worst of all, coming up with her own plans.

Chance brings this unlikely band together to battle through civil unrest, assassinations, political machinations, pirates and monsters, all for a common cause that they know, deep down, has no chance of succeeding – bringing hope to the people of Kingshold.
” Goodreads

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French
This was an SPFBO winner and has now been picked up by a publisher! I had so much fun with this gritty story of a band of half-orcs and their adventures. 

About: "Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard, member of a sworn brotherhood of half-orcs. Unloved and unwanted in civilized society, the Bastards eke out a hard life in the desolate no-man's-land called the Lots, protecting frail and noble human civilization from invading bands of vicious full-blooded orcs.

But as Jackal is soon to learn, his pride may be misplaced. Because a dark secret lies at the heart of the Bastards' existence - one that reveals a horrifying truth behind humanity's tenuous peace with the orcs, and exposes a grave danger on the horizon.

On the heels of the ultimate betrayal, Jackal must scramble to stop a devastating invasion - even as he wonders where his true loyalties lie.

A standout adventure fantasy debut that's down, dirty and damn good fun - perfect for fans of Joe Abercombie, Mark Lawrence, Markus Heitz's Dwarves series and Stan Nicholl's Orcs series.

On Lavender Tides by Travis M. Riddle
I had to include another Travis Riddle novel because they're just so good! Plus, this post is about books, not authors, so I think it's fine. On Lavender Tides is an incredibly fun, action-packed Pokemon-inspired fantasy that is the start of a series I can't seem to get enough of. 

About: "Ever since he was a kid, all Balt Vana wanted was to be a world-renowned Jekua Summoner like his grandmother, battling other Summoners in front of audiences of thousands. But from where he stands now, living up to the Vana name feels impossible.

When his best friend Alani, an initiate at the local Church, is sent on a pilgrimage to find her path in life and the god she will follow, Balt sees the perfect opportunity to launch his career by escorting her across the archipelago and its purple seas. The islands are filled with monsters to imprint and Summoners to battle, with every victory bringing him one step closer to his dream.

It will take more than just his family name to reach the same heights as his grandmother, but Balt won't stop until he does." Goodreads

The Blighted City by Scott Kaelen
The Blighted City made it to the semifinals in Mark Lawrence's SPFBO4, and for good reason! It's an ambitious dark fantasy that I recall having a mix of horror elements and complex world-building and characters that really made this one something special. 

About: "To challenge the gods is to invite their wrath.

So it is written of Lachyla, the Blighted City, in the Codex of the Ages. But who reads codices? And who really believes the tall stories of the Taleweavers?

Dagra does. If it’s a story about the gods – even a dead god – he believes every word. When his sellsword team is offered a contract to cross the Deadlands and find a burial jewel in the crypts of the Blighted City, Dagra wants no part of it. His companions are undaunted by the legend; to them, the blurred divide between the living and the dead is superstitious nonsense. Completing the contract would earn their guild’s failing reputation a much-needed boost and secure them the bounty of a lifetime. They’re going, with or without him. Torn between the convictions of his beliefs and the importance of his friendships, Dagra reluctantly journeys into the godless region in search of the fabled city. But the Deadlands are only the first challenge.

The sellswords uncover an age-old deception when they learn that Lachyla’s foul seed is much darker than its legend, that its truth must forever remain untold or risk plunging humanity into an eternal nightmare. Snagged on the barbs of the blight, Dagra faces the toughest choice of his life … and of his death." Goodreads

Never Die by Rob J. Hayes
This was a really fun Asian-inspired fantasy that is a standalone and has some companion standalone novels available set in the same world.

About: "Samurai, shinigami, vengeful spirits, and an impossible quest. 

The Emperor of Ten Kings has plunged Hosa into war, and the gods are angry.

When the god of death gives Ein a mission to kill the immortal emperor, he knows he can't do it alone. He needs allies, heroes who will fight for him. How else can an eight-year-old boy hope to do the impossible?

Whispering Blade, Iron Gut Chen, the Century Blade, and Flaming Fist. These are all names of legend. And the god of death has given Ein a way to bind them to his cause. There is only one catch. In order to serve him, they must first die.

Never Die is a stand alone set in the world of Mortal Techniques. It’s a wuxia adventure filled with samurai, shinigami, heroes, and vengeful spirits." Goodreads 

They Mostly Come Out at Night by Benedict Patrick
This has one of the coolest covers–and it's also a really interesting plot as well!

About: "He locked himself away from the dark, but in the Magpie King’s forest nowhere is safe…

Lonan is an outcast, accused of letting the monsters that stalk the night into the homes of his fellow villagers. Now, he will not rest until he wins back the heart of his childhood love and reclaims the life that was stolen from him. However, locked safely in his cellar at night, in his dreams Lonan finds himself looking through the eyes of a young prince…

Adahy has a destiny, and it terrifies him. How can he hope to live up to the legend of the Magpie King, to become the supernatural protector of the forest and defender of his people? But when the forest is invaded by an inhuman force, Adahy must rise to this challenge or let the Wolves destroy his people.

Watching these events unfold in his sleep, Lonan must do what he can to protect his village from this new threat. He is the only person who can keep his loved ones from being stolen away after dark, and to do so he will have to earn back their trust or watch the monsters kill everyone that he holds dear.

Have you read any of these books? Are there any self-published books you love?


  1. I haven't heard of any of these books as I'm not one to read sci-fi/fantasy books. But they do look interesting.
    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  2. Dreams of the Dying has been on my TBR for a while! On Lavender Tides sounds like a fun one. I'll have to look into that authors books.

    My TTT: https://www.mollysbooknook.com/top-ten-tuesday-7-indie-authors-you-should-follow-on-bookstagram-their-books/

  3. I think it's fine to include originally self-published books. It's cool when an author gets picked up after doing well.

  4. Glad you enjoyed all of these.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2023/04/04/top-ten-tuesday-414-spotify-wrapped-book-tag-2022/

  5. I haven't read any of these, but I do love fantasy, so I suspect these will all be finding their way onto my TBR. One of my favorite indie authors is S. Usher Evans. You might enjoy her work.


  6. I'm really out of the loop when it comes to self published, so it's nice to see lists like this. On Lavender Tides has one of the most awesome covers!

  7. Rob Hayes and Travis Riddle are two authors I need to read at some point😁