This week’s Sapphic Reading Challenge post features sapphic high fantasy.
High fantasy refers to fantasy books that are set in a fictional world that is entirely different from our reality (as opposed to low fantasy, which is set in our world with some fantastic elements added).
Speculative fiction sale at Ylva Publishing (April 23-25)
The two first novels on my list of sapphic high fantasy books are on sale at Ylva Publishing this weekend, along with 10 other speculative fiction books, including two of mine (my shape-shifter romances True Nature and Natural Family Disaster). If you’re interested, check out the sale in the Ylva Publishing webstore.
15 sapphic high fantasy books
I put together a list of 15 sapphic high fantasy books. I hope you find at least one you’ll enjoy.
Daughter of Fire: Conspiracy of the Dark (Destiny and Darkness Book 1) by Karen Frost
I am the daughter of winter. My people are strong and unbending as ice. I was born with the frozen winds sweeping through my hair, with snow dusted across my skin. I am. I am. I am…
For Aeryn, a girl born to the remote, wintry Ice Crown region of Ilirya, the outside world is a fantasy: a series of wonderful stories told by occasional passing travellers. She never imagines anything for her life beyond following in her parents’ footsteps.
But the discovery that she has the rare gift of magic shatters her isolated world. Aeryn can create and tame fire. It’s an intoxicating, raw, and thrilling power, but it also sets her apart. And her gift attracts attention.
She is whisked from her home in the wilds to train at Windhall University and master her magic. There, Aeryn slowly learns the truth about the real world, with its strange mix of people and powers, and so many intertwining threads of shadows and light. She’s drawn to unattainable Lyse, a beautiful healer in training who makes Aeryn’s heart soar. But she also senses a creeping darkness all around that could threaten the future of the kingdom itself.
Banshee’s Honor (The Tales of Y’myran #1) by Shaylynn Rose
Warleader. This is what the people of Y’Dan used to call the proud warrior Azhani Rhu’len.
Banshee. Oath breaker. Murderer. These are words that slip off their tongues now.
Azhani Rhu’len, once one of the greatest of Y’Dan’s warriors, is now just a common criminal, escaping the justice of the kingdom she swore to serve.
Kyrian Stardancer. Goddess’ Own. A healer and priestess, she is inviolate until one day, when her world is turned upside down and tossed over the back of a horse—literally.
Torn from all she knows, Kyrian finds her fate now rests squarely on the shoulders of the oath breaker, Azhani Rhu’len.
When signs of ancient evil appear, Azhani and Kyrian must choose whether to ignore the warnings or stand and face the terrifying menace.
The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon—until one sister’s betrayal split their world in two. A Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in eternal night, the other scorched beneath an ever-burning sun.
While one sister rules the frozen fortress of Aranth, her twin rules the sand-locked Golden City—each with a daughter by their side. Now those young goddesses must set out on separate, equally dangerous journeys in hopes of healing their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.
But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.
Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.
Sunkissed Feathers and Severed Ties by Kellie Doherty
Misti Eildelmann is a Vagari—a race whose innate crafting ability is connected to the creatures of the world. She’s also a Moon Knight. Misti is fighting a banished one when he slips a pendant around her neck that saps her strength. The pendant is dangerous. Deadly even. It harnesses crafting in a way not seen before, so she sets off to find help.
Old and new friends join her on this quest, including her longtime crush Dylori Clyofis and a villager named Arias Silverstone. The journey is risky—filled with frightening suncreatures, evil worshippers, and twisted betrayal. Misti is thankful to have friends on this path into the scorching light, but something much bigger is waiting for them in the sunshine. Her pendant is just a piece of puzzle.
The Shattering of the Spirit-Sword Brackish: Part I by Sam Farren
Princess Castelle is the last of her bloodline.
Kept safe by the spirits bound to the forest surrounding her, Castelle devotes herself to studying all a future Queen needs to know, waiting for the day she can wield Brackish. The spirit-sword is her birthright. Only those worthy of ruling the archipelago can temper Brackish’s ancient rage without succumbing to it.
After half a lifetime spent waiting to reclaim her mother’s throne, Castelle’s frustration gets the better of her. After yet another assassination attempt, her disenchantment with her exile forces her to act. Castelle wanders into the forest, crossing the lines that have kept her safe.
Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff
The Bards of Shkoder hold the country together. They, and the elemental spirits they Sing – earth, air, fire, and water – bring the news of the sea to the mountains, news of the mountains to the plains. They give their people, from peasant to king, a song in common.
Annice is a rare talent, able to Sing all four quarters, but her brother, the newly enthroned King Theron, sees her request to study at the Bardic Hall as a betrayal. To his surprise, Annice accepts his conditions, renouncing her royal blood and swearing to remain childless so as not to jeopardize the line of succession. She walks away from political responsibilities, royal privilege and her family.
Ten years later, Annice has become the Princess Bard and her real life is about to become the exact opposite of the overwrought ballad her fellow students at the Bardic Hall wrote about her. Now, she’s on the run from the Royal Guards with the Duc of Ohrid, the father of her unborn child, both of them guilty of treason – one of them unjustly accused. To save the Duc’s life, they’ll have to cross the country, manage to keep from strangling each other, and defeat an enemy too damaged for even a Bard’s song to reach.
The Afterward by E.K. Johnston
It’s been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium’s king and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought home the gem are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity don’t come easily.
Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn’t meant for heroism so early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she’s earned, reputation doesn’t pay her bills. Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves.
Olsa Rhetsdaughter was never meant for heroism at all. Beggar and thief, she lived hand to mouth on the streets until fortune–or fate–pulled her into Kalanthe’s orbit. And now she’s reluctant to leave it. Even more alarmingly, her fame has made her profession difficult, and a choice between poverty and the noose isn’t much of a choice at all.
Both girls think their paths are laid out, but the godsgem isn’t quite done with them and that new golden age isn’t a sure thing yet.
In a tale both sweepingly epic and intensely personal, Kalanthe and Olsa fight to maintain their newfound independence and to find their way back to each other.
Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran
When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster–who took the job to avenge her murdered father–they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason.
Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her father’s murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision.
When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.
The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore
An assassin’s reputation can mean life or death.
This holds especially true for Thana Basbowen, daughter of the legendary Serpent, who rules over Ghadid’s secret clan of assassins. When a top-tier contract drops in her lap — death orders against foreign ambassador Heru Sametket — Thana seizes the opportunity.
Yet she may be in over her head. Heru wields blasphemous powers against his enemies, and Thana isn’t the only person after his life: even the undead pursue him, leaving behind a trail of horror. Her mission leads her on a journey to the heart of a power-hungry empire, where dangers lurk around every corner. Her only ally is Mo, a determined healer set to protect Ghadid any way she can.
As further occult secrets are unleashed, however, the aftermath of this impossible contract may be more than anyone can handle.
Shieldmaiden Book 1: Quest for the Jewel by GL Roberts
It is to be their last summer of freedom. When it’s over Thalynder will not be able to escape her duties as Princess of the Realm. Shieldmaiden Bryn will watch her childhood friend marry and rule, her own words of love forever silenced.
Before their predetermined fate overtakes them, however, one last quest to please the Druids and the King sends Bryn, Thalynder, a dragon, and a Knight on a journey across The Realm That Touches Two Seas in an adventure perilous to their lives—and their hearts.
Broken Wings by L.-J. Baker
In a magical world where being different is the norm, why must Rye Woods fear for her life if the truth about her hidden identity is revealed? When Rye Woods, a fairy, meets the beautiful dryad Flora Withe, her libido, as squashed and hidden as her wings, reawakens along with her heart.
But Rye is a poor builder’s labourer with a teenage sister to raise, while Flora is a wealthy artist-celebrity with a tree-top condominium and a sporty, late-model flying carpet. If those aren’t obstacles enough to the scorching attraction that rapidly develops, Rye lives under the pall of a dark secret that has made her a fugitive in the very land where she sought freedom. The more Rye reveals to Flora, the more vulnerable she is to her past catching up with her. Can she and Flora find their way to loving one another in the face of their social and cultural differences while struggling with the dark forces that threaten Rye?
Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.
If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…
With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?
The Exile and the Sorcerer (Lyremouth Chronicles #1) by Jane Fletcher
The quest for the stolen chalice is a sham – her family’s excuse to get rid of Tevi. Exiled in a dangerous and confusing world filled with monsters, bandits, and sorcerers, Tevi battles demons within and without as she searches for her place in the strange new world.
Jemeryl has her future planned out – a future that will involve minimal contact with ordinary folk who do not understand sorcerers. Her ambition is to lead a solitary life within the Coven and to devote herself to the study of magic. It is all very straightforward – until she meets Tevi. Two unlikely allies join forces to defeat an insidious evil and on the journey find one another.
The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
Csorwe was raised by a death cult steeped in old magic. And on her fourteenth birthday, she’ll be sacrificed to their god. But as she waits for the end, she’s offered a chance to escape her fate. A sorcerer wants her as his assistant, sword-hand and assassin. As this involves her not dying that day, she accepts.
Csorwe spends years living on a knife-edge, helping her master hunt an artifact which could change many worlds. Then comes the day she’s been dreading. They encounter Csorwe’s old cult – seeking the same artifact – and Csorwe is forced to reckon with her past. She also meets Shuthmili, the war-mage who’ll change her future.
If she’s to survive, Csorwe must dodge her enemies, claim the artifact and stop the death cult once and for all. As she plunges from one danger to the next, the hunt is on . . .
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