Sometimes, searching for your next fantasy read can feel a little overwhelming...
If you haven't heard of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off run by fantasy author, Mark Lawrence, you're in for a treat.
The SPFBO (Spifbo) has officially started for 2017. It's a contest in which 300 Indie Fantasy titles are judged by ten blogs. Bloggers must put on their 'agent hats' and choose one semi-finalist (from a group of 30 titles) to go through to the final round of ten titles. Ultimately, there can only be one, but by the contest's end there's a wonderful selection of titles for the avid fantasy reader to pick from. The contest always kicks off with a cover competition, this year won by Benedict Patrick for this little masterpiece...
Benedict Patrick's mythic tale, Where the Waters Turn Black won SPFBO's cover competition for 2017
Mark Lawrence started the contest in 2015 as a way of helping self-published authors gain exposure –
"...as a new author, particularly a self-published one, it is desperately hard to be heard. It's a signal-to-noise problem. Who knows how many Name of the Winds or [fill in your favourite] are lost to us because they just couldn't be seen? None? A hundred?" (Mark Lawrence, 2015)
The ten finalists for SPFBO 2015, won by Michael McClung's The Thief who Pulled on Troubles Braid
The top ten for SPFBO 2016, won by Jonathan French's The Grey Bastards
Spifbo is a great way for lesser known gems in the fantasy genre to come to light. I've added all past semi-finalists to my 'to read' list, but I've also checked out a few other titles, and it's not a bad way to find books that are right up your alley.
I found TL Greylock's Nordic epic, The Blood-Tainted Winter through last year's SPFBO (see review here)
Ashley Capes' City of Masks is a contender in this year's SPFBO and one of my long time favourite epic fantasies.
Josiah Bancroft's Senlin Ascends wasn't in the top ten in last year's SPFBO, but received favourable reviews
L Penelope's Song of Blood and Stone is an award winning title and a fellow semi-semi-finalist in last year's SPFBO
I entered The Raven in last year's Spifbo. It didn't do too bad at all and was in Fantasy Faction's final seven titles.
My entry in last year's SPFBO, The Raven
I look forward to adding more entries to my reading list with this year's spifbo which has officially kicked off. One other bonus is that the SPFBO exposes fantasy enthusiasts to some pretty brilliant fantasy book blogs. I hope you enjoy filling your reading lists as much as I do.