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[GUEST POST] Bryan Thomas Schmidt on 5 Fantasy Series Military Fantasy Fans Don’t Want To Miss

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek for Baen, Mission: Tomorrow and Galactic Games (both forthcoming), also for Baen, Choices and Gaslamp Terrors (forthcoming), Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @SFFWRTCHT.

5 Fantasy Series Military Fantasy Fans Don’t Want To Miss

by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

As the co-editor of Baen’s new anthology of high fantasy with a military feel, Shattered Shields, I have spent a lot of time reading and researching military fantasy. But unlike military science fiction, it’s not a clearly defined subgenre, so most of the books falling into the category must be discovered within other categories. Everyone’s heard of big series like Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Erickson’s Malazan, and Cook’s Black Company, but there are other high fantasy series with great military elements. So here are a few recommendations for military fantasy fans of series they might want to discover.

  1. Ken Scholes’ Psalms of Isaak (TOR)—the first five books are out and filled with various armies negotiating, fighting, and strategizing as major elements of the plot. A science fantasy with an epic fantasy feel, the stories include metal men, diverse cultures, a Catholic-like secular humanist religious order, and more in a postapocalyptic setting similar to Miller’s Canticle of Leibowitz. There’s plenty of action and intrigue here as well as some great characters, unique magic, and a fascinatingly complex world. 4 of the 5 books have been released along with several short stories and the 5th novel is due next year.
     
  2. Ian Tregellis’ Milkweed Triptych (TOR)—Set in World War II, this trilogy revolves around a secret British military core of magic users fighting a special Nazi time with magic and paranormal abilities. A fascinating bit of alternate history with lots of military action and science fiction and fantasy elements, Tregillis does an outstanding job of using the actual history while adding to and modifying the details in fantastical ways. All three books are out.
     
  3. Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns (ROC)—Set in a secondary world, this series features elements of Napoleonic era strategy and warfare. Billed as a flintlock fantasy, there are guns here in addition to magic and swords and the central characters are members of organized military branches invading a foreign land and interacting with armies there. Well written with strong characters and action, there’s plenty here to satisfy any fan’s military fantasy jones.
     
  4. Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer Series (Orbit)—This New York Times bestselling series may be epic fantasy but it’s filled with armies and structured soldiers, including magic users, fighting epic battles, strategizing and jostling for power. A strong hierarchy is a key element and I think military fantasy fans will find a lot to enjoy here.
     
  5. Mercedes Lackey’s Vows and Honor Series (Daw)—Two female mercenaries discover a magic sword and take up arms to right the wrongs done against womanhood. Feminist and military fantasy, not bad, eh? Sword and sorcery with warmth and humor from one of the top female fantasy authors writing today. Sworn by an oath to their goddess, the two soldiers fight together for justice.
     

I tried to think of more military fantasy books by female authors to mention but couldn’t remember any I’ve read so far with as strongly military fantasy elements as these (there are many examples in military science fiction), besides the obvious Elizabeth Moon (Paksenarrion) but that just means you readers can add your favorite recommendations in comments, so please do. I am sure there are other worthy series out there and we’d love to hear about them.

About Bryan Thomas Schmidt (68 Articles)
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children's speculative fiction. His debut novel, THE WORKER PRINCE received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club's Year's Best Science Fiction Releases. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. As book editor he is the main editor for Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta's WordFire Press where he has edited books by such luminaries as Alan Dean Foster, Tracy Hickman, Frank Herbert, Mike Resnick, Jean Rabe and more. He was also the first editor on Andy Weir's bestseller THE MARTIAN. His anthologies as editor include SHATTERED SHIELDS with co-editor Jennifer Brozek and MISSION: TOMORROW, GALACTIC GAMES (forthcoming) and LITTLE GREEN MEN--ATTACK! (forthcoming) all for Baen, SPACE BATTLES: FULL THROTTLE SPACE TALES #6, BEYOND THE SUN and RAYGUN CHRONICLES: SPACE OPERA FOR A NEW AGE. He is also coediting anthologies with Larry Correia and Jonathan Maberry set in their New York Times Bestselling Monster Hunter and Joe Ledger universes. From December 2010 to June 2015, he hosted #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @SFFWRTCHT.

10 Comments on [GUEST POST] Bryan Thomas Schmidt on 5 Fantasy Series Military Fantasy Fans Don’t Want To Miss

  1. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) // November 17, 2014 at 10:43 am //

    I’m not sure I consider the Milkweed books *military* fantasy–I see them far more as espionage fantasy. Even the German side is really a group of specialists rather than set piece battles.

    Sub in Myke Cole’s novels and I wouldn’t quarrel with the list 🙂

    • Richard Shealy // November 17, 2014 at 12:02 pm //

      Agreed about Myke’s books. An utter treasure.

    • Bryan Thomas Schmidt // November 19, 2014 at 1:22 am //

      Mike’s books are already clearly labelled as military fantasy. I am listing fantasy books in other categories with strong military fantasy elements which will appeal to military fantasy fans.

    • Bryan Thomas Schmidt // November 19, 2014 at 1:23 am //

      All, Myke’s books are already clearly labelled as military fantasy. I am listing fantasy books in other categories with strong military fantasy elements which will appeal to military fantasy fans. If the books are labelled military fantasy, they are obvious to fans of the subgenre. I am trying to identify series the might otherwise miss.

  2. I’d also throw Thomas Harlan’s Oath of Empire series into the mix — some truly amazing large-scale set piece battles and excellent use of battlefield magic.

  3. Paul beat me to the punch with the suggestion of Myke Cole’s Shadow OPS novels.

    I’d also suggest Cook’s Dread Empire series.

    I read the first two of Harlan’s Oath of Empire series and liked them, but never returned to finish the series. Interesting world, though.

  4. How about Novik’s Temeraire books? It’s naval warfare, rather than infantry, but there’s very much a military structure to the aerial corps. Each of the books deals with the entire crew of several dragons and ships, and leads us into many battles all over the world.

    • “It’s naval warfare, rather than infantry”

      A very good account of the Battle of Jena–with dragons–in the series . . .

      • Red Levine // November 18, 2014 at 2:18 am //

        I loved that section. I just meant that over the course of the series, there’s more sea battles, and the dragon-crews are organized (and socialize) on a more relaxed naval hierarchy, rather than in the manner of land units.

    • Bryan Thomas Schmidt // November 19, 2014 at 1:28 am //

      Excellent suggestion. Thank you!

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