Top Ten Tuesday – Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023 (Fantasy and Science Fiction)

Welcome to my second Top Ten Tuesday list of the week, were I look at my most anticipated fantasy novels coming out in the first half of 2023.  Traditionally I usually only do one list to represent the top upcoming books for the year, however, I was inspired to separate out the fantasy and science fiction novels into a second list due to all the awesome and impressive reads from these genres coming out extremely soon.

2023 is shaping up to be an outstanding year for fantasy and science fiction with a ton of epic and amazing sounding novels set for release throughout the year.  I am particularly excited about the next six months as there are some deeply impressive books coming out that I am extremely excited for.  This includes some fantastic sounding sequels, continuations to brilliant series, and several cool new novels from some very talented authors.  I have already highlighted several of these books in some previous lists and Waiting on Wednesday articles which has made me really appreciate just how awesome the upcoming year is going to be fantasy wise, hence this list.

Just like with my other list of the night, I am only featuring books that are set for release in Australia between 1 January 2023 and 30 June 2023 which I have some descent details about.  Despite only being fantasy and science fiction books, I ended up with a huge collection of exceptional novels that I wanted to feature, which made completing this list surprisingly difficult.  I was eventually able to break it down to the best 10 books (with honourable mentions), and I feel that I have capture the books that are going to be the best fantasy reads of 2023.  So let us see what made the cut.

Honourable Mentions:

Star Wars: The Battle of Jedha by George Mann – 3 January 2023

Star Wars - The Battle of Jedha Cover

The High Republic is set to continue in a big way in the coming days with the full-cast audiobook, The Battle of Jedha that will see a massive confrontation break out between the various Force cults on Jedha.

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Engines of Chaos by Richard S. Ford – 4 April 2023

Engines of Chaos Cover

The follow-up to Ford’s 2022 novel, Engines of Empire, Engines of Chaos will continue to explore Ford’s great steampunk fantasy world and the massive revolution brewing within.

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The Will of the Many by James Islington – 23 May 2023

The Will of the Many Cover

A fun upcoming fantasy read that will put a darker face on the classic magic school story.

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Top Ten List

Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry – 10 January 2023

Son of the Poison Rose Cover

2023 is off to a very strong start on the fantasy front with the next upcoming book from the always amazing Jonathan Maberry, Son of the Poison Rose.  The follow-up to one of the best books and audiobooks of 2022, Kagen the Damned, Son of the Poison Rose will continue to follow broken warrior Kagen Vale as he attempts to save his kingdom from the reign of the murderous Witch-king.  Set to feature more adventures, deadly action and complex characters, Son of the Poison Rose is another guaranteed five-star book, and I cannot wait to see what happens in this complex series next.

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Downfall by Louise Carey – 10 January 2023

Downfall Cover

One of the best, underrated science-fiction series of the last couple of years has been Louise Carey’s Inscape trilogy.  Featuring the excellent novels, Inscape (one of my favourite debuts of 2021) and Outcast, this great series follows two damaged protagonists through a dark dystopian future of advanced technology and warring corporations.  Carey ended her second novel, Outcast, on a great cliff-hanger and I am really keen to find out how she plans to conclude this amazing trilogy with Downfall.

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Seven Faceless Saints by M. K. Lobb – 7 February 2023

Seven Faceless Saints Cover

A fantastic and fun upcoming young adult fantasy read that will set two different protagonists on a deadly mission to uncover a murderer within a corrupt fantasy city.  An intriguing fantasy mystery that has already grabbed my attention.

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The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan – 14 February 2023

The Tyranny of Faith Cover

After wowing the world with his 2022 novel, The Justice of Kings, Richard Swan will continue his epic Empire of the Wolf series this year with The Tyranny of Faith.  Following two supernatural peacekeepers in a deadly fantasy empire, The Tyranny of Faith will once again feature the great combination of mystery, politics, intrigue and magic that made The Justice of Kings such a great book.  I have no doubt this will be one of the most popular fantasy novels of 2023 and I look forward to reading it very soon.

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The Shadow Casket by Chris Wooding – 16 February 2023

The Shadow Casket Cover

One of the fantasy books that I am most excited for in 2023 is The Shadow Casket by Chris Wooding.  The follow up to his epic novel, The Ember Blade, I have been waiting for years for The Shadow Casket to come out and I luckily, I only have a month left before I can dive into to.  The Ember Blade was an exceptional and massive read and the sequel will see the surviving protagonists continue to try and ignite a rebellion against their despotic occupiers.  Sure to be one of the very best fantasy books of 2023, I am so very glad that I can finally continue this exceptional series.

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Star Wars: Cataclysm by Lydia Kang – 4 April 2022

Star Wars - Cataclysm Cover

I have been deeply enjoying the current phase of the outstanding High Republic Star Wars series, and the next major entry is coming out in April with Cataclysm by Lydia Kang.  While we don’t currently have a lot of plot detail about Cataclysm, it will no doubt continue the elaborate prequel narrative of this second phase and should produce an epic read.  All the books in this second phase have been really good and I am confident that will continue with Cataclysm.

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The Sword Defiant by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan- 2 May 2023

The Sword Defiant Cover

After absolutely killing it with his highly acclaimed Black Iron Legacy series, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is once again looking to set the fantasy world on fire with The Sword Defiant.  An outstanding upcoming book with a very cool cover to it, The Sword Defiant will follow a legendary hero has he attempts to rally his former companions on a new quest to save the world.  However, the dark swords they claimed during this first mission together has corrupted them all, leading to a deadly and tragic new mission that will pit the protagonist against his former friends.  The Sword Defiant has an outstanding plot behind it and I feel it has the potential to be one of the very best books of 2023.

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The Book that Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence – 11 May 2023

The Book That Wouldn't Burn Cover

It is always a very safe bet that Mark Lawrence will have one of the best fantasy/science fiction books of a year and I am already hyped up for his next novel, The Book that Wouldn’t Burn.  Set in a massive fantasy library, The Book that Wouldn’t Burn is the first entry in a bold new fantasy series, filled with adventure, blood and knowledge, and I cannot wait to dive into it later this year.

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Witch King by Martha Wells – 30 May 2023

Witch King Cover

One of the biggest names currently in science fiction, Martha Wells returns to her fantasy roots in 2023 with Witch King.  Set to follow a deadly demon who awakens from his trap to find himself being controlled by a lesser mage, Witch King has a fun and entertaining plot to it, and I have a feeling I am really going to love this amazing upcoming read.

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Gods of the Wyrdwood by R. J. Barker – 27 June 2023

The final entry on this list could be one of the very best as one of the hottest and most wildly inventive fantasy authors of the current age presents an amazing new story with Gods of the Wyrdwood by R. J. Barker.  Barker has consistently been one of the very best fantasy authors of recent years with The Wounded Kingdom (featuring Age of Assassins, Blood of Assassins and King of Assassins) and The Tide Child (featuring The Bone Ships, Call of the Bone Ships and The Bone Ship’s Wake) trilogies.  Each of Barker’s books have been outstandingly complex and powerful dark fantasy reads, so I am very excited for Gods of Wyrdwood which will set up The Forsaken Trilogy.  While we currently don’t have a cover for Gods of the Wyrdwood, the plot sounds pretty damn exceptional as it will follow a former chosen one, whose destiny was stolen from him as he once again forced into the spotlight.  Sure to be one of the most compelling and powerful reads of 2023, Gods of the Wyrdwood is going to be so damn epic.

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Well that’s the end of this second list.  As you can see, there are some mighty impressive fantasy and science fiction books coming out the first half of this year.  All the above entries on this list have an incredible amount of potential and I have a feeling I am going to deeply enjoy every single of one of these great reads.  2023 is going to be an outstanding year for these two genres, not only with these amazing books, but because of some of the other ones potentially coming out later this.  I look forward to seeing how all these cool novels turn out and I think I am going to have an incredible time reading fantasy and science fiction in 2023.

Waiting on Wednesday – The Sword Defiant by Gareth Hanrahan

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  In this latest Waiting on Wednesday I check out one of the most potential laden upcoming fantasy books of 2023 with The Sword Defiant by Gareth Hanrahan.

The Sword Defiant Cover

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There have been many great new fantasy authors debuting in recent years, but one of the most highly regarded will have to be the very talented Gareth Hanrahan.  Entering the fantasy scene in 2019 with the first book in The Black Iron Legacy, Hanrahan impressed quite a few people with his first series, that introduced a dark and twisted fantasy world, loaded with intrigue and despair.  I had an excellent time with his very first book, The Gutter Prayer, which was one of my favourite debuts of 2019, especially as it wove together quite an enticing and haunting tale.  While I haven’t had a chance to read the rest of the trilogy yet, I am none-the-less extremely excited to see what Hanrahan will come up with next, especially as he has a very intriguing new fantasy tale coming out in early 2023.

His new fantasy book is titled The Sword Defiant, and it sounds pretty damn epic.  Set for release in May 2023, The Sword Defiant is another dark fantasy tale, which will focus on a former group of heroes who bear cursed swords.

Plot Synopsis:

Set in a world of dark myth and dangerous prophecy, The Sword Defiant launches an epic tale of daring warriors, living weapons, and bloodthirsty vengeance.

The sword cares not who it cuts.

Many years ago, Sir Aelfric and his nine companions saved the world, seizing the Dark Lord’s cursed weapons, along with his dread city of Necrad. That was the easy part.

Now, when Aelfric – keeper of the cursed sword Spellbreaker – learns of a new and terrifying threat, he seeks the nine heroes once again. But they are wandering adventurers no longer. Yesterday’s eager heroes are today’s weary leaders – and some have turned to the darkness, becoming monsters themselves.

If there’s one thing Aelfric knows, it’s slaying monsters. Even if they used to be his friends.

Ok, now that is a particularly awesome sounding read.  I love complex tales that look at former heroes who have survived their famous legendary quest, only to be forced back into action years later, and I am really interested to see this author’s take on such a story.  Having 10 companions get corrupted by the cursed weapons they took from a pervious big bad is very cool, and I love the idea of the protagonist being forced to deal with what remains, even if that means putting some of his former friends down.  No doubt that this will result in some very intense moments, and I can’t wait to see how the damaged protagonist deals with it.  This has all the hallmarks of being quite an exceptional read, and I am very excited to see what happens in this book.  Gareth Hanrahan has already shown he has quite a lot of skill as a dark fantasy author, and I can’t wait to see how his new adventure turns out.  I think that The Sword Defiant has an incredible amount of potential, and it is one of the fantasy books I am looking forward to the most in 2023.