In many ways, there are no books like mine. I deliberately don’t imitate other people too closely. I’m not writing generic commercial fantasy; that’s been done by plenty of other people, and I have no interest in it.
At the same time, nothing that’s readable at all is completely unlike everything else. If you’re a fan of my books, here are some others that resemble them a bit. I’ve noted the ways in which they resemble them, so that you can avoid the ones that are like my books in ways that you put up with, rather than in ways that you actively enjoy.
These authors have something else in common with me and each other, apart from the content of their books: good editing. This isn’t a given for indie authors (or trad authors, these days), as you’re no doubt aware.
Disclaimers: Links are to Amazon and include my affiliate ID, so I get some laughably small amount of money (in the form of Amazon credit) if you buy on my recommendation. I’ve beta-read for several of these authors, and sometimes vice versa, and know most of them on social media – because that’s what I do when I find an author whose books I like.
Cheerybright is my extremely tongue-in-cheek, not-at-all-literal name for the opposite of grimdark. Grimdark is a style of fantasy that’s very popular right now, being written to great critical and commercial acclaim by George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie and others. It features morally ambiguous or downright villainous protagonists, lots of suffering and slaughter, and very little hope. That’s not my thing. It’s not the thing of several other authors I know either, and when the revolution comes and people get sick of grimdark, we’ll be waiting with our backlists.
Even though I jokingly use the name “cheerybright,” I absolutely don’t mean that this style is always sunshine and rainbows. People suffer and struggle through dark times, but they’re decent people, and they struggle in the justified hope of a better world.
C.J. Brightley: Her Erdemen Honor series is the epitome of what I’m talking about. I’m reading the second book right now. Start with The King’s Sword (Erdemen Honor Book 1). The hero is a loyal soldier, humble and dedicated, and that makes all the difference. Although it’s about a soldier, there’s no rush to get to the fighting; there is some fighting, but that’s not what the book’s mainly about.
Brian Rush: Brian’s books have more explicit sex than mine do, and go a bit darker in places, but I include them in my “cheerybright” list because of their unambiguous moral universe. It’s very clear who is wearing which colour hat, especially in The Order Master (Refuge Book 1). The Stairway To Nowhere (The Star Mages Book 1), an earlier work, has much the same feel. Both series are science fantasy, mixing technology and magic, something that I also do in a completely different way. There’s action, but it’s not continuous.
Debora Geary: I refer to Debora’s work as “suburban fantasy”. Where your typical urban fantasy has cosmic battles against supernatural supervillains, featuring a heavily armed, smart-mouthed protagonist, her books are about comfortable contemporary suburban witches being kind to one another and eating cookies. It sounds dull, but it really isn’t; there’s plenty of struggle, it’s just more intra- and interpersonal, and very few things explode. The start of her main series is A Modern Witch (A Modern Witch Series: Book 1). The whole long series is very consistent, to the point of formula, but it’s a formula that, if you enjoy it, you’ll want a lot of.
Larry Kollar: Larry’s loyal, brave, resourceful young adult protagonists treat each other decently and with respect. His series starts with Accidental Sorcerers.
Morgan Alreth: Athame (The Unfortunate Woods Book 1) begins the story of two youthful characters who feel like real people, and who navigate the pitfalls of a fantasy world with humour, determination and integrity.
Daniel Swensen: Unlike the others featured here, Daniel has only one book out so far (and it’s from a small press, so I initially forgot it). Orison is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read, which, if you look at my reading list on Goodreads, you’ll see is an impressive achievement. It could so easily be grimdark, but it very much is not.
Fantasy in an Age of Steam
Medieval fantasy is fine. Some of the books I’ve mentioned above are medieval fantasy. But it’s also fun to break out of that mould and write about the collision of magic and technology (and society) in a more industrial-revolution setting.
I’d describe these books (and my own) as “steampunk-adjacent” rather than out-and-out steampunk. Mainstream steampunk is often very silly. It features extremely high concepts that, all too frequently, are let down by poor execution. These books try for less (they don’t go over the top with the devices and the aesthetic), but achieve more (they’re well written and tell a good story).
Sabrina Chase: Unlike the headstrong “plucky gels” of so much steampunk, the main character of The Last Mage Guardian (Guardian’s Compact Book 1) is level-headed, pragmatic, and highly effective at something that women aren’t supposed to be able to do: magic. It goes cinematic at the end, but is none the worse for that.
Lindsay Buroker: when I’m looking for people to review my books, my best results come from approaching people who’ve enjoyed Lindsay’s books. She’s highly productive at the moment, and has a large backlist, so if you’re just starting you’re going to have to read fast to catch up. Her main series, now sort of complete (though she keeps writing new books in the same setting), starts with The Emperor’s Edge. It’s permanently free.
Her books are more action-oriented than mine, but they also have a lot of good character interplay, often humourous, and some of the characters at least try to resolve things without fighting. There’s also a science-fictionish aspect behind the magic in most of her series, which isn’t always apparent at first.
I welcome anyone’s suggestions of other books that are similar to mine. And for a longer list of indie books I recommend (some of which are very unlike mine), go here.