The Mayan god of death, a mathematical genius with a penchant for firearms, a gift-less warrior who makes war on the gifted, and battling agents who run up and down the threads of time are among the best SF and fantasy reads of July. We highlight five of our favorites below.
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Trust in Silvia Moreno-Garcia to deliver a unique, thoughtful, and thrilling new take on the fantastical. Casiopea was named for the stars, but her life is extremely earthbound as she spends her days as her bad-tempered grandfather’s servant. One day, in a fit of rebellion, she opens a forbidden chest in her grandfather’s room, unleashing the Mayan god of death. With her own destiny tied to the god’s, Casiopea travels to Mexico City and beyond, experiencing the joys of the Jazz Age even as a shadow falls across her country. Those who want to expand beyond the usual sword-and-sorcery fare will find Gods of Jade and Shadow to be a delight.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Winter’s fantasy novel of dragons, conquest, sorcery, and revenge has been available in Kindle format since February 2019, and the enthusiastic customer response (currently an average of 4.7 stars on more than 500 reviews) should give readers of print and listeners of audiobooks strong confidence that they’ll enjoy this Xhosa-inspired tale. When young Tau has everything he loves taken from him, vengeance for the injustice is the only thing that keeps him going. A deeply unequal social system propped up by gifted warriors and bulwarked by fear of uprisings from the indigenous peoples have kept cruel people in power for too long—and Tau is determined to tear it all to the ground. This coming-of-age story burns with fierce action, a breath-taking magical system, and thoughtful introspection on what makes a hero.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Agents Red and Blue fight for different sides in a war that spins up and down the threads of time. A snip here, a weaving there—these major and minor actions tilt the balance of power, and Red and Blue are among the best time agents on the front lines. When Blue leaves a letter for Red at their latest battlefield, a playful correspondence turns into something far bigger. But neither can be sure that the other agent isn’t playing a very long game of subversion and double-cross. Emotionally riveting (and sometimes ravaging), El-Mohtar and Gladstone’s slim tale of love and loyalty despite time and place packs a wallop more potent than that of books three times its size.
Null Set by S. L. Huang
Huang’s follow-up to Zero Sum Game charges forward with the same impetuousness that drives main protagonist Cas Russell into trouble and danger. Gifted with mathematical skills that help Cas divine the source of a gunshot or exactly where to leap to scale a wall, Cas is not gifted with patience… except when it comes to her past. Most of her memories are sealed off, and Cas knows deep down that she can’t handle what she’ll discover if she tries to remember. But she’s learning, fast, that her ignorance might not only get her killed but take the rest of the world down with her. This hot-wired, near-future novel charges forward at top speed, hauling happy readers along for the ride.
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
First there’s one sleepwalker, a young teen who leaves her farm in Pennsylvania to walk, unceasingly, toward an unknown destination. Then more sleepwalkers join the flock, accompanied by dedicated friends and family who become known as shepherds. Even as the CDC becomes involved to discover how the contagion is spreading, the country begins to splinter as it wonders what the sleepwalkers’ ultimate purpose is. Wendig dives into the very different experiences of a shepherd, a CDC investigator, a brain-damaged former cop, an aging rock star, and a radicalized preacher as the flock moves cross-country, widening fractures in society. Wendig isn’t shy about tackling all-too-real political tensions, and readers will quickly figure out if they and Wendig are located in the same area of the political spectrum as the flock gains both allies and enemies.
Looking for more recommendations? Don’t miss the newest novel about Star Wars villain (or is he?!) Thrawn, Anthony Ryan’s new Raven’s Blade series-starter, and Kali Wallace’s thriller Salvation Day, about an abandoned spaceship that might not be empty after all.
You might also like:
- Best science fiction and fantasy of 2019 so far
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- Talking with Neil Gaiman about Good Omens
- Editors’ picks: Best science fiction and fantasy books of the month
- George R. R. Martin on Westeros, Wild Cards, Starport, and more
- The 2019 Hugo Award nominees for the best in science fiction
- 2018 Nebula Award winners
- 100 Science fiction and fantasy books to read in a lifetime
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