Best science fiction and fantasy of September

Adrian Liang on September 14, 2020

Best science fiction and fantasy of September

September’s new science fiction and fantasy books range widely, from terrifying space salvage operations to an original fantasy series set among an empire of islands.

The Amazon Books editors have named their picks for the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Month, and below we highlight five books from that list that we can’t stop talking about.

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Book one of Stewart’s new series opens readers’ eyes to an original new fantasy realm set among an empire of islands. The emperor’s magic is generated by bone shards taken from the skulls of the empires’ citizens when they are children, and as more magic is pulled from the shard, the original owner’s health weakens. The emperor’s daughter, stricken with amnesia, is driven to prove herself as the throne’s rightful heir, even as the empire’s power is under attack. This fun, refreshing fantasy with heart should win Stewart a boatload of new fans who will yearn for book two.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Paolini—best known for his fantasy series that began with Eragon—steps into the world of adult sci-fi with this tense story of an alien encounter. When Kira discovers an alien artifact on a planet being prepped for colonization, protocol demands that everyone aware of the artifact be temporarily cut off, so the aliens cannot trace signals back to humanity’s home worlds. A good plan in theory… but the reality gets far more complicated. And bloody. Paolini does an excellent job of heightening the tension with each page, even as he gives the reader some mental breathing space with moments of humor.

Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne

“Space plus bullshit equals death” is the mantra of the captain of Twenty-Five, a salvage ship that cleans up after battles with the Vai. Death surrounds pilot Ash, who pulls bodies from space wreckage as part of her indenture, even as a fatal disease is blooming within hers. But when Ash retrieves a device from a broken ship that could turn the tide of the war, hope is unleashed even as powerful forces maneuver to take control. Osborne’s hard-edged sci-fi novel delivers tight pacing and a roller-coaster ride of secrets, betrayals, and tough choices.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Deonn’s contemporary YA fantasy stars a heroine you’ll be happy you've spent quality time with. A few months after Bree’s mom died in a car accident, Bree sees something inexplicable at her new school. That experience unlocks a hidden memory of her mother’s death and reveals the existence of the Legendborn, a secret group of students who hunt demons. Bree’s strength of will in the midst of the weird and wonderful, even as she struggles to keep her friendships afloat, makes this action-packed page-turner a joy to read.

Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn

Zahn begins a new trilogy starring fan-favorite Thrawn, this time exploring the time period before he joins the Empire. Set completely within the Chiss Ascendancy, Chaos Rising focuses on a threat to the Chiss that could upend their civilization. Star Wars novels are frequently politically and culturally complex, and Chaos Rising is thankfully no exception to this as Zahn builds an entirely new civilization that has few touch points with the well-known Star Wars worlds. Readers seeking more Thrawn will be delighted; those seeking more Star Wars-y stuff should consider picking up either Thrawn (in which he joins the Empire) or Alphabet Squadron (about a post-Return of the Jedi search for rogue TIE fighters).

Looking for more recommendations? Try Kevin Hearne's Ink & Sigil, set in his Iron Druid Chronicles universe; Joe Abercrombie's The Trouble with Peace; Garth Nix's lighthearted The Left-Handed Booksellers of London; or Natalie Zina Walschots' Hench, a razor-sharp take on what it's really like to be a sidekick to villains.

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