The Bookwyrm"s Top 20ish Sci-Fi/Fantasy reads of 2020

Top SFF Reads of 2020

As we wind down the last of the awful year that was 2020, it's possible to look back and see some things that were still good. In this case, it was a good year to discover sci-fi and fantasy books to help pass the time. I tried to narrow it down to 20, but if it goes over a bit, well, it's my list, so it'll just be as big as it ends up. These will be in no particular order other than they were my favorites this year.

Shadow of a Dark Queen by Raymond E. Feist

The first book in the Serpent War Story ark in Feist's Kingdom series, This book introduces a new cast of characters two generations after the initial trilogy, dealing with the ancient threat to the Kingdom rising from the southern continent, with possible world ending consequences if the Kingdom falls.

Gedlund by William Ray

Set in a quasi-Victorian era fantasy realm, this mixture of steam era tech with magic tells an exciting story, as the murder of the of the Verin Empire's crown prince leads to the Empire's invasion of a haunted land across the sea, dealing with the magical undead horrors that land has to defend itself, with only their Victorian era rifles, cannons and swords to fight those horrors.

Path To Villainy by S. L. Rowland

A fun LitRPG story about a Kobold bard who discovers he has been killed many times by the "heroes" he helps every day outside the local dungeon, and decides to get revenge on them for not only himself, but for his entire exploited race.

Harpyness Is Only Skin Deep/ Finding Your Harpy Place 
by D.H. Willison

This is my first multi-book addition, because these are both equally good. Centering around Darin, a human who agrees to travel through a portal to a magic realm, which sounds great, except he didn't read the contract very well, since Arvia is home to loads of giant predator species who think humans make a wonderful, tasty snack. It's only when Darin meets Rinloh, a giant harpy, that he discovers the world has so much more to offer.

They Eat Their Own by Amanda K. King and 
Michael R. Swanson

The second book in the Ismae series, this one is a combination of an Ocean's 11 type heist mixed with a revenge story, if murder and mayhem were also integral to the story. The main characters Syl and Aliara are just such multilayered characters, and you can't wait to see what they get into next. 

Forgotten Soldiers by Joshua P. Simon

A story dealing with soldiers returning home from a decade of war, to a country that doesn't want them back, thinking they had become barbaric killers that want to take what the people who stayed behind have built. When a cataclysm comes along, these soldiers are the only thing that can keep the people who didn't want them back safe.

Psycho Killers in Love by C.T. Phipps

A comedic homage to the slasher films the author loves, it ties in deftly to his wider universe, while inhabiting its own stand alone corner of that universe. Taking the usual tropes of those types of movies, he turns the narrative on its head and creates a slasher with a heart story unlike anything you're ever likely to read.

The Usurper by James Alderdice

A prequel to the brilliant Brutal, The Usurper shows us the life and adventures of Gathelus as he grows from the being the son of a barbarian Chieftain into a powerful mercenary captain and eventual usurper king.

The Fall of the House by C. T. Phipps

The final volume of the Red Room Trilogy, in which we see Derek Hawthorne oversee the fall of the House, which is the organization that kept the supernatural under control and hidden from humanity, which is now rendered useless as the vampires have revealed themselves to the world at large. Derek and his allies have to deal with the possible world ending efforts to stop this from occurring.

The Headlock of Destiny by Samuel Gately

A creative mashup of fantasy and wrestling, this book takes the over the top world of wrestling and puts it into a fantasy world in which titans are the stars of the world, travelling and competing in wrestling matches that only their giant bodies can handle, with death and maiming a real possibility for the losers. When an underdog threatens to upset the established order, all bets are off.

Ravine of Blood and Shadow & Mountain of Madness 
by Derek Prior

Another multi-book selection, this one is the story of one of the dwarves of the hidden Dwarven city of Arx Gravis who's tricked into taking up what he thinks is the lost legendary ax of kings, and instead is bonded to a demonic weapon that changes his life, ending with his escape to exile in the outer world. The second book deals with his struggles in the outside world, as he joins a team to try and stop a sorcerous threat to the world.

Salvation's Dawn/ Eve of Redemption series

Another multi-book series, of which I read the first 6 of 11 in 2020, this series centers around Karian Vanador, resurrected years after her death to fight in the apocalypse brought on by the Demon Queen Seril. After Seril's defeat, Kari continues her service to the demon hunter order, and the books focus on her rise through the order and her efforts to keep her world safe from the Demon Kings, and what her destiny as Salvation's Dawn means to the world.

A Ritual of Bone by Lee Conley

This book revolves around the rise of an undead plague brought about by scholars playing with rituals they didn't fully understand, and the beginning consequences for the Norse type society the story is set in, as they are forced to deal with the hungry risen dead.

Contact Front by Rick Partlow

Contact Front is the first book in the Drop Trooper series, which is centered around Cam Alvarez, an orphan criminal who, when he's arrested after he turned 18, faces a 100 year sentence in cryo-storage, but is offered the chance to escape that by doing a term in the Earth Commonwealth Marines. Going the marine route, he must learn to trust his team mates after a lifetime of trusting no one, and becoming the leader he has potential to be.

Mid-Lich Crisis

Mid -Lich Crisis is the story of the Dark Lord Darruk Darkbringer, necromantic Lich wizard, ruthless ruler of his kingdom, and his struggle to save the world, all while his minions betray and try and kill him permanently, as well as the hero Brynn Brightstar's constant foiling of his plans. Just don't call Darruk the "E"(vil) word . He's doing this for our own good...

Age of Heroes by C. C. Ekeke

This story starts with the murder of Titan, greatest superhero in the world, and the discovery that his powers have wound up somehow with a bullied teen boy. We see the boy's gradual growth into the powers, and we also see the search for Titans killer, and how they did it, as well as the birth of a potential new villain when a vigilante hero's plans go completely awry.

Agent G: Assassin by C. T. Phipps

The third book in the Agent G series, Assassin deals with the changes to society brought about by the release of advanced Black technology as well as the destruction caused by the Yellowstone super volcano erupting. The story has shifted much more to a cyberpunk storyline, and it really takes off from there, with G trying to protect what he loves in the face of monumental odds.

Uncanny Collateral by Brian McClellan

Uncanny Collateral is the story of Alek Fitz, a Reaper, which is a supernatural collection agent. Whether its a soul, a magic wand or an item of power, Alek can find and collect it. That little bit of Troll blood in his ancestry helps, as well as the genie who lives in his ring. Now if he can only figure out who is selling second hand souls to people.

Savage Wars by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

Savage Wars, set in the earlier days of Anspach and Cole's Galaxy's Edge universe, tells the story of the Savage Wars, where the human elites who escaped a sick earth on their arcs have returned to haunt humanity, determined to destroy any humanity that wont conform to their genetically engineered "truth" in some cases, and in others just because they are in the way. It's up to regular humanity to come together and stop them, and the lengths they'll go to save humanity are extreme.

The Path of Ravens by P. K. Lentz

The Path of Ravens is the story of the Olympian gods on the edge of defeat to a Lovecraftian horde of monsters, so in desperation they summon souls from the void to live again in some of the fallen gods' bodies, to try and stop the horde. The souls, who are the fallen Atlanteans, end up falling back with the gods and end up in another realm, which turns out to be one of the realms of the Norse. They must join forces with the Norse, led by a mistrustful Odin, to try and defeat the horde and avert Ragnarok.

Sentenced to Troll by S. L. Rowland

Sentenced to Troll is a fun play on internet trolling, since the main character is convicted of trolling in a game and is sentenced to 30 days in VR immersion in a game world as a troll, the games most hated characters. He is supposed to learn humility, and does learn that there is value in others, even if you cant always see it. He also has to make some interesting decisions, and prove that even a troll has the potential to be a hero.

Brand of the Warlock by Robert Kroese

The Brand of the Warlock has an interesting premise, that of a man imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, even if he was wearing the evidence on his face, in this case, a black warlock's mark covering his face. The fact the real culprit magically placed it on his face after the crime isn't believed by the court, and now after his surprise release years later, he must try and keep the warlock from taking it back, ending his life.