Top Twenty Most Anticipated Novels of March 2013

January was a great month for the speculative genre, and February may have been even better. Can this year really be great enough to churn out a third amazing month in a row? Possibly! March looks to be another great month, with novels from both superstar authors like Elizabeth Bear, Patricia Briggs, Orson Scott Card, Anne Bishop, and Robert J. Sawyer, and relatively new and upcoming authors like Adam Christopher, Luke Scull, and Joseph D’Lacey.

Long story short, whichever speculative subgenre you enjoy reading, you are bound to find something exciting on this wonderful list of twenty books, compiled by democratic vote among our staff and with blurbs written by Janea, Rebecca, Ashik, and myself. We hope you’ll enjoy the list, and we hope it will provide you with awesome new books to read!

Here are the twenty most anticipated novels of March 2013, according to The Ranting Dragon:

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1. The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher
Exactly one year ago, Adam Christopher’s debut, Empire State, successfully combined science fiction, Prohibition-era detective noir, comic book superheroes, and nearly endless plot twists to create a fast-paced and unique saga of surprises. Since then, Christopher has released the equally spectacular superhero novel Seven Wonders. In 2013, Christopher will again release two books: Hang Wire, about ancient gods and serial killers, and more excitingly, the return to his alternate universe, The Age Atomic, which promises to be even more intense and amazing than Empire State.
Published by Angry Robot on Mar 26.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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2. The Grim Company by Luke Scull
Luke Scull’s debut, The Grim Company, seems to follow one of the best trends of contemporary fantasy: making the city a major character. From Camorr to Luthadel, the cities of fantasy are microcosms of the world at large, packing in the magic, intrigue, and tone of the story. The Grim Company tells the tale of Dorminia in a time of corruption and tyranny, where unlikely companions form the titular company to resist the brutality of the regime and strive to fix what has happened to the once great city. Amoral mercenaries, crippled turncoats, and self-righteous outlaws form the cast of what will hopefully be an excellent addition to contemporary dark fantasy.
Published by Head of Zeus on Mar 1.
Blurb written by Ashik.
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3. A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda
In Marrowdell, an isolated pioneer community, the magical world of Verge can briefly be seen at sunset. Jenn Nalynn, eager to see the world, decides to use magic spells to create a husband, which she thinks will help her achieve that goal. Her “imaginary” friend—who is in fact a quite real dragon who is to guard her and keep her from leaving the valley—shows up in the flesh as a man; and he’s not the only dangerous newcomer to suddenly arrive in Marrowdell. A Turn of Light is a deliciously big new fantasy by award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, Julie E. Czerneda, with stunning cover art by Matt Stawicki. There are fifteen installments posted on her website, available to read as PDF now. This book opens the Night’s Edge series, and Czerneda is already “happily at work” on book two, A Play of Shadow.
Published by DAW on Mar 5.
Blurb written by Rebecca.
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4. Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear
Shattered Pillars is the second book of Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy and the sequel to Range of Ghosts. This epic trilogy features a story of magic, politics, and war, set in a world much like our own Asian steppes. So basically, it promises to be everything a fan of epic fantasy needs. Range of Ghosts was well received and Shattered Pillars promises to be equally good. With Bear’s gorgeous prose and wonderfully strange worldbuilding, as well as the amazing covers of these books, the Eternal Sky trilogy seems to be growing in popularity rapidly.
Published by Tor on Mar 19.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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5. Black Feathers by Joseph D’Lacey
“When the final days came, it was said that Satan walked the Earth in the guise of a crow.” With those words begins Black Feathers, first installment in the Black Dawn duology. It is about the Crowman and the end of the world. Most of all, though, it is about a child undertaking a perilous journey to find the dark messiah known as the Crowman. With the wonderful premise of apocalypse and a dark figure that could either be the savior or the final incarnation of evil, award-winning author Joseph D’Lacey—best known for his eco-horror novel Meat—brings a story that promises us a contemporary fairy tale filled with elegant magic and menace.
Published by Angry Robot on Mar 26.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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6. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
The life of coyote shapeshifter and mechanic Mercy Thompson seems to be calming down in Frost Burned, the seventh volume in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. That is, until her mate disappears while werewolves are fighting a political war for public acceptance. The Mercy Thompson series is widely regarded as one of the most addictive urban fantasy series out there, and fans worldwide will be dying to get their hands on this next installment. It sure promises to be another fine example of Briggs’s wonderful writing.
Published by Ace on Mar 5.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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7. The Gate Thief by Orson Scott Card
The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card opened the Mithermages series. Now, The Gate Thief will be continuing the story of the Mages of Westil, who live in exile on Earth. Danny North, high school student and Gatemage, now faces the Families—who would rather control him, but recognizing the impossibility of that, now seek to kill him. The power Danny took from Loki came with great responsibility; he’ll learn for himself exactly why the gates were closed in the first place, centuries ago.
Published by Tor on Mar 19.
Blurb written by Rebecca.
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8. Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer
From award-winning science fiction master Robert J. Sawyer—perhaps best known for his novel Flashforward, which was adapted into a television show in 2009—comes Red Planet Blues. This novel, his twenty-second, features the Martian frontiers on which Alex Lomax, a private eye, is trying to make an honest buck in a dishonest world by tracking down criminals. Set on a lawless Mars where everything is cheap and life is even cheaper, Red Planet Blues promises to be as beautifully crafted and thought-provoking as many of Sawyer’s previous novels.
Published by Ace on Mar 26.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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9. Hammer of Angels by G.T. Almasi
For me, G.T. Almasi’s Blades of Winter was the book that got away in 2012. From the moment I saw the map of the alternate universe in the Shadowstorm series, I was sold. Hammer of Angels is the second volume in this series, which offers a thrilling alternate reality where the United States, the USSR, and the Republic of China share a fragile balance of power with Greater Germany, which emerged from World War II in control of Europe and half of the Middle East. I’ll definitely check both books out this year, and based on the rave reviews Blades of Winter received, I suggest you do the same! The only thing we don’t know is whether it’s really being released in March. Goodreads says so, and so does the review copy we have received, but Amazon disagrees. We’ll find out soon enough!
Published by Del Rey on Mar 26.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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10. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Look at any given list of powerhouse young adult science fiction authors, and you will most likely find Cassandra Clare somewhere near the top of that list. She got her start writing fan fiction and burst onto the mainstream YA scene with the New York Times Bestseller City of Bones in the Mortal Instruments series. In 2010, Clare started a prequel steampunk trilogy to Mortal Instruments, the Infernal Devices. Clockwork Princess is the final book in the trilogy and follows Victorian teenagers Tessa, Jem, and Will. They are Shadowhunters, members of a paranormal society dedicated to fighting demons. Unfortunately, the London chapterhouse is undermanned and under siege. Meanwhile, Jem is losing his long battle against the poisoning he suffered at the hands of a demon as a child. While this trilogy is very YA in its tropes and writing style, it’s also very, very good. Not only do we anticipate this, I expect to see it topping the NYTB the week it releases. If that’s not convincing enough for you, check out our reviews of the first two Infernal Devices titles: Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince.
Published by McElderry on Mar 19.
Blurb written by Janea.
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11. Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
This new young adult dystopian novel by Sherri L. Smith promises magnificent worldbuilding and no romance—a pleasant break in the young adult genre! The Gulf Coast has been quarantined after an outbreak of Delta Fever. The Outer States assume life there is all but extinct, but a new primitive society has developed. The story follows Fen, a member of the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta, and Daniel, an Outer States scientist who snuck into the Delta illegally. As the two of them navigate the wastelands of Orleans, they are each other’s last hope for survival.
Published by Putnam on Mar 7.
Blurb written by Rebecca.
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12. Deep Down by Deborah Coates
Wide Open, Deborah Coates’s debut novel that was released last year, was pretty amazing. The dreadful ghost story brought a fresh breath of horror to the contemporary fantasy genre. By all accounts its sequel, Deep Down, will be even better. Now that she’s solved her sister’s murder, Hallie Michaels has left the army and isn’t sure what to do next. Her relationship with deputy Boyd Davies is tentative, there’s still distance between her and her father, and she needs a job. The good news is, she hasn’t seen a ghost in weeks. All that changes when she gets a call asking her to help an elderly neighbor who is being stalked by black dogs, creatures from the underworld that are harbingers of death. With that premise, this promises to be a worthy sequel to Coates’s refreshingly original dark fantasy debut.
Published by Tor on Mar 5.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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13. Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Anne Bishop is best known for her Black Jewels series. However, her following works have failed to gain the same amount of traction. With her third series, The Others, Bishop is leaving the world of epic fantasy behind for urban paranormal fantasy. According to early reviews, she’s also left behind some of the lighter romantic side of things and dug back into the deep, dark, bloody and gritty fantasy/horror blend that she did so well in her first four books. Protagonist Meg can see the future, but has been kept captive by her Controller. When Meg escapes, she goes to ground among a group of paranormal people called the Others. However, you can never hide for long, and Meg is forced to face her past and her newfound friends to decide just how far they’ll go to protect her. I’m excited to see where Bishop will go with this, as her worldbuilding has always been incredible and I loved the horror elements in the early Black Jewels volumes.
Published by Roc on Mar 5.
Blurb written by Janea.
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14. Bloodfire Quest by Terry Brooks
Terry Brooks’s bestselling Shannara series began in 1977 with The Sword of Shannara. The Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy takes place about a century after the conclusion of the High Druid of Shannara trilogy. Bloodfire Quest is the second book in this newest trilogy, and the twenty-sixth book in the Shannara series. The magical barriers locking away the dangerous creatures are now eroding, and war seems inevitable. A few brave souls venture into the forbidden lands, while others undertake a quest whose failure would carry unimaginable consequences—but whose success can still mean death.
Published by Del Rey on Mar 12.
Blurb written by Rebecca.
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15. Slashback by Rob Thurman
Slashback is the eighth book in Rob Thurman’s debut Cal Leandros series. Title character Cal is half-human and half-monster and in a constant struggle to find balance between his two heritages. Along with his half-brother Niko (a full human), Cal works as a paranormal private investigator… also known as hitman, pest removal service, and bodyguard depending on the occasion and the payment offered. Or when the rent is due. Once upon a time, Cal and Niko took out a human serial killer, and now that killer’s paranormal mentor has come to take revenge. Thurman’s work is irreverent, crass, very violent, and not for everyone. But if you’re in the market for highly original characters, complex worldbuilding, and most of all for an urban fantasy that’s like nothing else on the market, this will be a book (and series) you won’t regret reading.
Published by Roc on Mar 5.
Blurb written by Janea.
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16. Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck
Blood and Magick is the third volume in James R. Tuck’s popular Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series. With a unique world and a well-written anti-hero in the lead, this series is an urban fantasy favorite, and Blood and Magick promises to be no exception to that. Of course, there will again be lots of paranormal creatures to be hunted down in this third volume. Armed with blessed silver hollow-points and the ability to manipulate magick, Deacon Chalk is ready for anything—except betrayal he never saw coming…
Published by Kensington on Mar 5.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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17. Goldenland Past Dark by Chandler Klang Smith
ChiZine Publications is a very tiny small-press publisher that has steadily been publishing not-so-tiny novels. Goldenland Past Dark promises to be no exception to their streak of high quality releases. Taking place in the 1960s, this genre-bending literary novel features a hostile stranger who is hunting Dr. Show’s ramshackle traveling circus across America. His target? The ringmaster himself. Struggling to elude the menace, Dr. Show scraps his ambitious itinerary; ticket sales plummet, and nothing but disaster looms.
Published by ChiZine on Mar 19.
Blurb written by Stephan.
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18. No Return by Zachary Jernigan
We here at The Ranting Dragon have fallen hard for a number of releases by the not-so-small independent publisher Night Shade Books. They’ve given us such talents as Kameron Hurley, Mazarkis Williams, and Paolo Bacigalupi. No Return marks the debut of one of their newest authors, Zachary Jernigan. On the world of Jeroun, the God Adrash watches from above as he contemplates destroying humans once and for all. Down below, the humans struggle between appeasing their vengeful God and destroying him. Part fantasy, part science fiction, this promises to be a powerhouse which will utterly re-write your conceptions of what the genre entails.
Published by Night Shade on Mar 5.
Blurb written by Janea.
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19. MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
Debra Driza’s debut is a young adult novel that carries promise for science fiction fans of all ages. Mila is a teenage girl who isn’t supposed to have learned that she’s an experiment in artificial intelligence. Now, she’s on the run from her small town Minnesota home, evading operatives who want her dead and others who want to exploit her for their own mysterious purposes. This is the first book in a planned trilogy which claims to be in the style of Bourne Identity, with heart-stopping action and a thrilling cliffhanger.
Published by Katherine Tegen on Mar 12.
Blurb written by Rebecca.
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20. Shadow of Freedom by David Weber
The fourteenth book in the space opera Honor Harrington series, Shadows of Freedom, follows Michelle “Mike” Henke, Manticoran Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin and Honor Harrington’s best friend. As the commanding officer of the Manticore’s Tenth Fleet, she’s got enough problems of her own to deal with—matters like a life-or-death war against the Solarian League—but now she’s received a message from the Moibus Liberation Front that they’re ready to launch their coordinated attack against the regime of hated President Svein Lombroso. There’s just one problem; Manticore hasn’t ever heard of the Moibus Liberation Front. Mike Henke knows it’s a setup, and she knows that she can’t really spare the ships without even so much as official orders; but she also knows she can never just stand by as thousands of patriots go to their deaths, trusting in Manticoran help that will never come.
Published by Baen on Mar 5.
Blurb written by Rebecca.
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What do you think? Any books you are particularly looking forward to? Which are your favorites? Did we miss a book? Let us know in the comments below!

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The feature image is a mashup of the cover of The Age Atomic (art by Will Staehle) and the British cover of The Grim Company (design by Mathilda Imlah).

About Stephan van Velzen

Stephan van Velzen
A 29 year-old Communications student, Stephan loves publicity and design, particularly web design. When he’s not designing websites, he’s busy being a total geek for fantasy. In The Ranting Dragon, he has found a way to combine these passions and discover a new love for writing too. Most of all, though, Stephan is just a crazy Dutch guy who enjoys doing things that people don’t expect.

View all articles written by Stephan van Velzen.

7 comments

  1. I have my eye out for FROST BURNED, but BLACK FEATHERS and THE GRIM COMPANY sound like they’d be worth reading as well. …I’m going to need a notebook for this list of books to be read…

  2. Wow! Thanks for listing NO RETURN on here, Stephan! I’m so thrilled! If you aren’t getting an eGalley or such, contact me and I’ll get you a copy! jerniganzachary@gmail.com

    • Janea S

      I’m actually reading our eGalley as I type this, Zachary! Expect to see a review of this up soon!

      • Wow again! Thanks, Janea! I hope that your exclamation marks mean you don’t hate it… though I often use exclamation marks to communicate hate. Hrmmm….

        Oh, well; whatever; I’m happy you’re even giving it a go!

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