Thursday 17 August 2017

The biggest fantasy debuts in the past decade!

The biggest fantasy debuts in the past decade!
(this started as the past decade and I've added to it each year)

This list is restricted to "epicish" fantasy, which by my off the cuff definition generally involves a secondary world and warfare based on sword and spear.

The reason for such restriction is simple - it's my favourite kind of fantasy, and were I to include YA fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, romance fantasy etc the great majority of the the books below would be swept off the table because the truth is that "epicish" fantasy is a niche genre and sells far fewer books than the kinds of fiction I just listed.

I crowd sourced this list over at r/fantasy and if you have a debut book you think fits, please mention it in the comments.

The numbers in brackets are the number of Goodreads ratings the book has. Since this is directly related to sales it is a clear indication of the "size" of that debut.

I have included some titles that aren't really "epicish" but don't seem to fall into the other categories I mentioned either. They are probably close to magical realism, which crosses over well into the general readership and gets big sales. I've left them (shaded red) as reminders that the kind of fantasy shown here constitute small fish in a big pond!

Where an author has debuted in epic fantasy but had previous books I've shaded them grey. Marlon James, for example, won the Man Booker Prize with an earlier novel. So his debut in epic fantasy is not his debut.

Where an author has been published under a different name before I shade their debut under a new name in blue.

Where I had more than three I have stuck to the top three except in cases of ties.

2007 - The Name of the Wind (708K), The Summoner (12K)

2008 - The Way of Shadows (147K), The Warded Man (107K), The Steel Remains (15K)

2009 - The Dwarves (11K), Lamentation (3K), The Adamantine Palace (2K)

2010 - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (63K)

2011 - The Night Circus (743K), Prince of Thorns (110K), Blood Song (79K), Theft of Swords (61K)

2012 - Malice (19K), The Red Knight (16K),  Throne of the Crescent Moon (11K)

2013 - The Golem and the Jinni (111K), Promise of Blood (48K), Senlin Ascends (18K), The Thousand Names (17K)

2014 - The Emperor's Blades (35K), The Goblin Emperor (26K), The Shadow of What Was Lost (26K), Traitor's Blade (17K)

2015 - The Library at Mount Char (32K), Dawn of Wonder (22K), Free the Darkness (15K), The Grace of Kings (11K)

2016 - The Star-Touched Queen (22K), Benjamin Ashwood (4K), The Crimson Queen (4K), Hope and Red (2K), The Summer Dragon (2K)

2017 - The Bear and the Nightingale (115K), Kings of the Wyld (25K), The Rage of Dragons (12K), Jade City (8K), Blackwing (5K)

2018 - Children of Blood and Bone (183K), The Poppy War (73K), Priest of Bones (3K), Empire of Sand (7K), The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (2K)

2019 - The Ten Thousand Doors of January (79K), Gideon the Ninth (56K), 
Black Leopard Red Wolf (19K)The Raven Tower (15K), The Ruin of Kings (7k), The Gutter Prayer (3K), Master of Sorrows (2K)

2020 - The Year of the Witching (28K), All the Stars and Teeth (25K), Bone Shard Daughter (18K), The Unspoken Name (7K), The Last Smile in Sunder City (5K)The Kingdom of Liars (2K)

2021 - She Who Became The Sun (65K), The Witch's Heart (48K), The Gilded Ones (46K), He Who Fights With Monsters (22K), The Blacktongue Thief (20K)

2022 - Daughter Of The Moon Goddess (77K), Kaikeyi (26K), The Stardust Thief (21K)

2023 - Ink Blood Sister Scribe (28K)Godkiller (17K), Daughters of Izdihar (2K), The Sun and the Void (2K)

Red = not both 'adult' & 'epicish'.
Blue = previously published under different name.
Grey = previously published in different genre/sub genre. 

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter.  #Prizes #FreeContent 


  1. I have a question about the dwarfes: does that even count as a debut?
    Becaus Markus Heitz is a german author and has written several other books before which didn't got translated. Also he has written die Zerge (the dwarfes) in 2003 the translation was just 6 Years later.
    I mean I love all the dwarfes and albae books but I don't count it as a debut.

  2. The Vagrant had a 3K debut in 2015, which doesn't reach those on the list, but still suggests strong impact for a debut. Seth Dickinsons ''The Traitor Baru Cormorant' , from the same year, has 5K, though I'm debating now whether it fits the definition of Epic Fantasy...

  3. I've seen how you calculate how much the book makes. But you may be downplaying how much they made on the newer releases.

    Seeing that books will sell a lot more on the first few years after publication.

    So your numbers in profits for the newer ones might be a bit lower than they actually are.

    Either way, it's a great post ;)

    1. There's nothing being said about profits here, and the figures are since publication rather than in the first year.

    2. Yes, sorry. For some reason my brain mixed up number of sales for profits ;P

  4. Any particular reason why you went with 11 years rather than a round 10?

    1. I went with a round 10 and then carried on a year later.

  5. Where is Scott Lynch, from the Gentleman Bastards series?

  6. The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso has 2.5k ratings. (2017)
    Also in 2017 these made a lot of noise, but I'm surprised their ratings aren't higher:
    Godblind by Anna Stephens (1k)
    The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith-Spark (1k)
    The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli - 9.9k ratings (2017)
    The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty 21k ratings! (2017)
    Jade City by Fonda Lee 2k (2017)

    City of Lies by Sam Hooke 1k ratings (2018)
    Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri 2k (2018)

    The Ruin of Kings - Jenn Lyons 1.8k (Feb 2019)
    The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon 7.6 ratings (Feb 2019)

    1. The Priory of the Orange Tree isn't a debut.

    2. City of Brass would be there in red but there's a bigger example.

  7. I reckon Black Leopard Red Wolf, Raven Tower by Ann Leckie, Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir and The Ten Thousand Doors of January look promisimng for 2019.

    1. is Raven Tower Leckie's fantasy debut then?

  8. Malice by John Gwynne (I think its his debut)

    The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter (this one is more of a prediction as it has 2500-ish rating at the moment, but it is excellent)

  9. Though it is a fantasy series with sci fi clothing, Red Rising could be on this list as well.

  10. Would it be possible to link the book title to the respective goodreads page? Thank you for compiling such a great list!

  11. Didn't realise untill I checked your profile that your own book is in the list.

  12. Ah, ignore my previous comment about Stormlight, I missed the "Debut" part even though it is written everywhere.

  13. Does the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson count as "epicish" for you?
    I mean, there is a bunch of warfare there, but I guess there are a lot of other things, sooo...

    1. Yes it does.

      What's your point?

    2. Maybe add year 2006 to the list, so you can have Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie and Brandon Sanderson all in one. :) Elantris is 2006 from what I've checked.

    3. Was I imagining things or did this list previously have Blake of an Exile and Shadows of the Short Days on it?