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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

2019 Review / 2020 Preview - AC Cobble


2019 Favorites


Evan Winter’s Rage of Dragons. This book was previously self-published to great success, but Orbit picked it up and in 2019 launched it to even greater success. It’s billed as “Game of Thrones Meets Gladiator”, which is all I needed to know. Aside from the intriguing premise, the book delivered on all of the elements that a really great epic fantasy does, including giving us a promise of much more to come.

Bryce O’Connor and Luke Chmilenko’s A Mark of Kings. If you’ve read my Benjamin Ashwood series, you know I’m a sucker for a great coming of age, young boy goes on an adventure to become a young man story. Bryce and Luke nail everything I love about those tales, and they do it in a way that feels really fresh and unusual. It gave me the same feeling that fantasy did when I grew up reading it, but AMoK avoids simply re-walking that same ground. Bonus points, audiobook narration by Nick Podehl.

Alec Hutson’s The Shadow King, Book 3 in the Raveling series. I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy when it came out in 2016 because it introduced us to an exciting new world with boundless potential. I felt the epic span of Alec’s story was on par with the greats in our genre. Shadow King brings the tale to a satisfying conclusion, giving the payoffs we stayed three books for. This is the fantasy I want to write!

Carnival Row and The Witcher, the shows. All freaking year everyone was talking about “the next Game of Thrones”, and while it never came, I think we got something better. That kind of breakout hit only happens every few years. We needed something to click so that companies would keep bringing more fantasy to the screen. We needed to prove the genre could be successful without it being a smash hit. Carnival Row, and the upcoming Witcher series both already have second season orders. They’ve proven there is more appetite for good fantasy. They might be base hits instead of home runs, but sometimes that’s what you need to win championships!


Traditional publishing finally is getting its mojo back. I spent the last few years reading self-published books. I just wasn’t interested in much of what the Big 5 were putting out there. This year was different. Some of the old workhorses had releases; Joe Abercrombie, Brent Weeks, Leigh Bardugo, Mark Lawrence, Michael J Sullivan, and others. The publishers took risks, and for the first time in years, they seemed to pay off; Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree, Alix Harrow’s Ten Thousand Doors of January, Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth, Marlon James’ Black Leopard Red Wolf, and more. They also started dipping methodically into the self-pub pool to find some of their next authors. Everyone has known this would happen, a sort of farm league approach, but we didn’t know if they’d get it right. I mentioned Evan Winter already, but I was also excited for; Duncan M Hamilton’s Dragonslayer, Kel Kade’s Fate of the Fallen, and more. I’ll go as far to say 2019 was the best year for debut/new to the genre releases in at least five years.

Hans Rosling’s Factfulness and Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. So, yeah, not fantasy, and published in 2018 instead of 2019, but this was the year I read them both! These books have to do with the way people perceive and understand the world. Interesting material for an author, and important concepts for anyone given the divisive political climates we live in. Both of them permanently changed the way I view the world, and how often can you say that about a book?

Looking Ahead to 2020

The sequels. I claimed 2019 was the best year in the last five for new faces, which means we’ve got a lot of exciting follow-ups coming. I’m really excited to see what these authors can do now that they’ve gotten their feet wet.

Phil Tucker has an unnamed epic fantasy series that will arrive in 2020. I really loved his Chronicles of the Black Gate, and I’ve been keeping up with him as he bounces around a little. I expect when he returns to the genre he does best, he’s going to come back with a bang.

The Kings. Sanderson has the pre-order up for Stormlight 4, there are rumors that George R.R. Martin will get a book out, though I’m suspicious since there is no official word. There are less credible rumors that Patrick Rothfuss is getting close. In the self-pub space, Jonathan Renshaw is working on his sequel again. I wouldn’t bet a lot of money they’re all getting books out next year, but I think they might make significant progress. These authors get a lot of flack from fans for long periods between releases, but I’m still on board. I want to see what they’ve got in the works.

On the Horizon for AC Cobble

At the moment, I’m finishing up the first draft for Spirit:The Cartographer Book 3. This series is a Sherlock Holmes, Epic Fantasy mash-up, and it’s been a ton of fun to write. I’ve really enjoyed adding in layers of mystery, and I don’t drop the final curtain until this last book. I can’t wait to see what people think! I’ve been sharing a June 1st release, but I’m trying to speed that up. Bonus points, Simon Vance is narrating the audiobook, and his work on this series has been amazing.


After I finish up the Cartographer, I’m going to move into a new series. This one will have a classic fantasy feel, similar to my Benjamin Ashwood series or Michael J Sullivan’s work. There will be a ranger character who gets saddled with three mischievous teens. Responsible for managing the wilderness at the edge of an empire, he’ll be pressured into taking the three back to their homes. Their journey will lead the ranger into the heart of a deep, dangerous conspiracy.

About the Author

AC Cobble is the author of the fantasy adventure Benjamin Ashwood series and the gaslamp fantasy mystery, The Cartographer series. AC resides in the Houston, Texas area with his wife, their three children, and his wife’s dog. Outside of time for family and writing, he’d rather be traveling. For updates on his writing, a peek at the artwork for his series, and free short stories and novellas, you can go to: www.accobble.com.

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