Quintessence by David Walton
A disgraced doctor and a cold-blooded con man in alternate history 16th-centruy England seek out Horizon, a fabled land across the ocean that holds great riches and even greater dangers. A delightfully unconventional little book that takes its time laying out its players and adding layers to a nuanced fantasy world. The magic system using quintessence is intriguing and things really get interesting when Horizon colonists begin applying the scientific method to this unknown substance. A thrilling finale and determined protagonists make for a thoroughly entertaining read!
His Majesty’s Dragons by Naomi Novik
Will Laurence, a British navy captain, is charged with transporting a dragon egg during the Napoleonic Wars, but his career comes to an abrupt end when the newly hatched dragon bonds with him. Imaginative fast-paced adventure stories don’t come along every day, especially not this witty. Rich in historical detail, His Majesty’s Dragons is a delightful twist on both familiar dragon tropes and history.
Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
Young Althea Vestrit struggles to win back her family’s sentient ship from her ruthless brother-in-law who aims to use the vessel for trading slaves. An intoxicating read from an author who excels at creating complex characters. The atmosphere is heady and the drama sophisticated while raising interesting questions about family, honor and self-determination. There are pirates, treasures, wizards and a whole host of interesting characters in this novel that is bursting with ideas.