Military Fantasy is, in many ways, the medieval equivalent of modern warfare. The sword-carrying warriors are the counterparts of today’s infantrymen, magic users represent advanced weapons systems like missile launchers and explosive ordinance, and mythical beasts serve as the tanks, transports, and aircraft.
Each of the recommendations below provides superior fantasy entertainment, but for discerning fans of Military Fantasy we’ve added the “Military Angle” to each pick, detailing why we recommend these as particularly solid military fantasy works.
Powder Mage Trilogy
Author: Brian McClellan
Series Overview: 3 books, all published
First Book: Promise of Blood
Military Angle: Powder Mage is loaded with tactically-fought battles, retreats, and pursuits. What we enjoyed most was how well the series captures the confusion of battle paired with the complexity of an enemy possessing unknown resources and using mysterious strategies.
From the Publisher: 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.
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series Overview: Standalone novel, set in the First Law World
Military Angle: Rather than a story centered around the “good guys” vs. anonymous “bad guys,” The Heroes follows multiple POV characters (though it remains unclear who the good guys are, if any) on both sides of a brutal series of battles for control of a strategic piece of land.
From the Publisher: They say Black Dow’s killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbor, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they’ve brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.
For glory, for victory, for staying alive.
Author: Anthony Ryan
Series Overview: 3 books, all published
First Book: Blood Song
Military Angle: Blood Song begins as a tale of ten children volunteered/abandoned by their families for lifelong service into the realm’s elite fighting force, creating an unparalleled view of the brotherhood and camaraderie that forms amongst soldiers regardless of the differences in their personalities and upbringings.
Back Blurb: “The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.”
Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order—a caste devoted to battle. Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate and dangerous life of a warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.
Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the Unified Realm—and Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright knows no bounds. Even his cherished memories of his mother are soon challenged by what he learns within the Order.
But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the Realm, but the world.
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series Overview: 10 planned books, 2 published
First Book: The Way of Kings
Military Angle: Two of Stormlight’s primary POV’s are in the military: one a Duke, and the other a slave. These extreme differences in rank give readers two very different perspectives on the same conflict. The commonality? Both are incredible leaders. Protagonist Kaladin is one of the most inspiring leaders in all of Fantasy Fiction, and he may not even be the series’ best character!
From the Publisher: I long for the days before the Last Desolation.
The age before the Heralds abandoned us and the Knights Radiant turned against us. A time when there was still magic in the world and honor in the hearts of men.
The world became ours, and we lost it. Nothing, it appears, is more challenging to the souls of men than victory itself.
Or was that victory an illusion all along? Did our enemies realize that the harder they fought, the stronger we resisted? Perhaps they saw that the heat and the hammer only make for a better grade of sword. But ignore the steel long enough, and it will eventually rust away.
There are four whom we watch. The first is the surgeon, forced to put aside healing to become a soldier in the most brutal war of our time. The second is the assassin, a murderer who weeps as he kills. The third is the liar, a young woman who wears a scholar’s mantle over the heart of a thief. The last is the highprince, a warlord whose eyes have opened to the past as his thirst for battle wanes.
The world can change. Surgebinding and Shardwielding can return; the magics of ancient days can become ours again. These four people are key.
One of them may redeem us.
And one of them will destroy us.
BONUS: BEST Military Sci-Fi Series!
The Lost Fleet
Author: Jack Campbell
Series Overview: 6 books, all published
First Book: Valiant
Military Angle: Have you ever noticed that space battles in Star Wars are roughly simulations of World War II dogfights? Does it make any sense that ships capable of interstellar flight could miss a target that is only 100 meters away? The Lost Fleet is everything combat amongst spaceships should be: incredibly advanced technology paired with the immutable physics of space and the incredible speeds at which starships are moving. Also, if you have ever served in the military, you will immediately realize that author Jack Campbell is a retired Naval Officer.
From the Publisher: Captain John “Black Jack” Geary’s legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic “last stand” in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance Fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndic.
Appalled by the hero-worship around him, Geary is nevertheless a man who will do his duty. And he knows that bringing the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home is the Alliance’s one chance to win the war. But to do that, Geary will have to live up to the impossibly heroic “Black Jack” legend…
Have you already read any of these? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below!
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