Must-Read Asian Fantasy Books By Asian Authors

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The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

 

The Sword of Kaigen – M.L. Wang

SPFBO 2019 Winner

On a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire’s enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name ‘The Sword of Kaigen.’

Born into Kusanagi’s legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family’s fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen’s alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.

Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.

When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?

Songs of Insurrection – JC Kang

SPFBO 2018 Semi-Finalist.

Lose yourself in this fusion of Asian and Western fantasy, which critics extol as “wonderfully opulent,” “Breathtaking,” and “Unique.”

Only the lost magic of Dragon Songs can save the world. Only an awkward girl with the perfect voice can rediscover it.

The Dragon Singers of old summoned typhoons and routed armies, liberating mankind from the orcs before fading into legend. Now, with the world again facing a new cataclysm, the power of music stirs in Kaiya, an a naïve misfit with the perfect voice.

Without a master to guide her, she must rely on Hardeep, a disgraced foreign paladin, to help awaken her latent magic. His motives might not be entirely noble. When he leads her to the fabled Dragon Scale Lute, which only a Dragon Singer can wield, it is up to Black Lotus Clan to intervene.

Because the instrument’s fell power can save the world…

Or destroy it.

 

The Chanter’s Blade – AA Lee

The moon-eating serpent is coming.

Tasked to complete the seven blades, Kanas has traversed many lands, spending countless gold and waging wars. But when the last chief he has to face isn’t blinded by gold nor fear the blade, Kanas employed his last weapon—deceit to infiltrate his household.

Just when he thinks his plan is going well, colonizers who now rule the land uncover the chief’s traitorous plan. Lin-ay, the chief’s secluded daughter awakens the blade to protect her family—something Kanas has trained for and failed.

To defeat the giant moon eating serpent, he must get Lin-ay to the bolo warrior village, but first, she must trust him.

Inspired by Bakunawa from Philippine mythology, The Chanter’s Blade is perfect for fans of Shadow of the Fox.

 

The Priestess Trials Box Set – AA Lee

A priestess’s skin color and status shouldn’t matter… except in the shrine.

As war wages, and famine threatens civilization, Tala needs salvation. With marriage as her only option, she reluctantly resigns herself to it, but when she discovers her future groom is a murderer, the dark-skinned slave escapes to brave the priestess trials.

When a magical torch chooses Tala to be its all-powerful and wealthy master, she’s surprised to discover there’s something potentially sinister afoot. There are devastating repercussions that override its power.

Can she save herself and her village before it’s burned to the ground?

Read the complete series of The Priestess Trials, a three-book Asian myths and legends fantasy boxed set that includes:

  1. The Priestess Trials
  2. High Priestess
  3. Torch of Greed

 

A Thousand Li – Tao Wong

 

Given a chance at immortality, can Wu Ying grasp the fleeting opportunity?

Long Wu Ying never expected to join a Sect or become a real cultivator. His days were spent studying, planting rice on the family farm and spending time with his friends. Fate, however, has different plans for Wu Ying and when the army arrives at his village, he and many other members of the village are conscripted. Given the opportunity to join the Verdant Green Waters Sect, Wu Ying must decide between his pedestrian, common life and the exciting, blood soaked life of a cultivator.

Join Wu Ying as he takes his first step on his Thousand Li journey to become an immortal cultivator.

The First Step is the first novel in A Thousand Li series, a book on cultivation, immortals, wondrous martial art styles and spirit beasts and will be loved by wuxia and xanxia fans. The First Step is written by Tao Wong, the bestselling scifi and fantasy LitRPG author of the System Apocalypse, Adventures on Brad and the Hidden Wishes.

 

Crimson Mage – Dorothy Dreyer

Upon the one hundredth reincarnation of the Lotus empress, the dark god Kashmeru would send out his shadow army–Pishacha–to destroy the reborn empress, which in turn would bring about the collapse of the universe.

The world changed at the time of the Eradication. The New Asian Administration outlawed mages, forbidding any use of their powers. To protect her imprisoned family, Mayhara Guatama made a deal to surrender her mage status and pledge her life to the New Order.

Years have passed, the chaos from the upheaval long since settled. Or so Mayhara believed… until she receives a mysterious message pleading for her help.

Stunned by the claim that the empress has been reincarnated, Mayhara must choose between fealty to the Lotus empire, or honoring the decree that assures her family’s safety.

 

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro – K.S. Villoso

From “a powerful new voice in fantasy” (Kameron Hurley) comes the tale of a queen who must unite her divided land, even if she’s hated by the very people she’s trying to protect.


“They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of her kingdom, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves. It nearly tore her nation apart. But her arranged marriage to the son of a rival clan heralds peace.

However, he suddenly disappears before their reign can begin, and the kingdom is fractured beyond repair.
Years later, he sends a mysterious invitation to meet. Talyien journeys across the sea in hopes of reconciling their past. An assassination attempt quickly dashes those dreams. Stranded in a land she doesn’t know, with no idea whom she can trust, Talyien will have to embrace her namesake.

A Wolf of Oren-yaro is not tamed.

 

Street Cultivation – Sarah Lin

In the modern world, qi is money.

The days of traveling martial artists and mountaintop masters are over. Power is controlled by corporations, modernized martial arts sects, and governments. Those at the bottom of society struggle as second class citizens in a world in which power is a commodity.

Rick is a young fighter in this world. He doesn’t dream of immortality or becoming the strongest, just of building a better life for himself and his sister, who suffers from a spiritual illness. Unfortunately, life isn’t that easy…

A Warrior’s Path – Davis Ashura

An ancient evil rises. Hidden truths are unmasked. The world stands on the brink . . . and a young warrior stands at the heart of it all.

Two thousand years ago, the Sorrow Bringer destroyed the First World. She stirs once more.

Into this world is born Rukh Shektan, the finest warrior of his generation. Like all members of Caste Kumma, he has always understood duty, dedicating his life to the mastery of the sword. But defending his home against the Sorrow Bringer will require more than just peerless skill with the blade. It will require the hardest of sacrifices.

It is a lesson taught to him by Jessira Grey, a beautiful woman who Rukh knows to be an abomination. The holy texts warn against her kind: ghrinas, children of two Castes. They are to be executed whenever discovered, but for the first time in his life, Rukh defies duty. Jessira may be the key to the world’s survival.

She offers Rukh the promise of terrifying Talents, abilities most name evil but which may also be the only means of saving his world.

For Rukh, the choice was always easy.

 

Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa

Every millennium, whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers has the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for one wish. The time is near…and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto.

When demons kill half-kitsune Yumeko’s adoptive family, she’s forced to flee her home with one part of the ancient scroll. Fate thrusts her into the path of mysterious samurai Kage Tatsumi, who is Yumeko’s best hope for survival. But he’s under orders to retrieve the scroll. An uneasy alliance forms, and Yumeko begins the deception of a lifetime, knowing her secrets are more than a matter of life or death—they’re the key to the fate of the world.

 

Wicked Fox – Kat Cho

An addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

 

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