A Voyage Through the Best Nautical Fantasy Novels

Set sail with our pick of top nautical fantasy novels. From Robin Hobb’s sentient ships to Terry Brooks’ airship adventures, embark on a literary journey across high seas and magical realms.

Ah, the salty spray of the sea, the mysterious allure of the unknown depths, the thrill of a chase across the high seas—nothing quite captures the imagination like a nautical adventure.

And when you blend this with the magic and mystery of fantasy, well, you’re in for quite a journey.

Let’s set sail and navigate through some of the best nautical fantasies ever penned.

The Liveship Traders Trilogy (Robin Hobb):

No list of nautical fantasy is complete without mentioning Robin Hobb‘s masterful series. Imagine sentient ships crafted from wizardwood, seafaring merchants, and serpents with secret identities, all woven into a tale of ambition, treachery, and redemption. A true voyage of discovery, in more ways than one.

On Stranger Tides (Tim Powers)

Long before Jack Sparrow swaggered onto our screens, Tim Powers introduced us to a world where pirates dabbed in voodoo and quested for the Fountain of Youth. Filled with magic, historical figures, and more than a few spooks, it’s a fantastical, swashbuckling romp through the Golden Age of Piracy.

Child of a Hidden Sea (A.M. Dellamonica)

When Sophie Hansa finds herself in the magical realm of Stormwrack – a world composed entirely of islands – she discovers a passion for the high seas, exploration, and solving diplomatic conundrums. It’s like The Chronicles of Narnia, but with significantly more ocean.

The Scar (China Miéville)

 In Miéville’s grimdark fantasy, the sea isn’t just a setting; it’s an unsettling, omnipresent character. The floating pirate city of Armada, filled with vampiric mosquito-people and sentient cacti, offers a twisted exploration of power, freedom, and the monstrous abyss. Bring a strong stomach.

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Scott Lynch)

In the second instalment of the Gentleman Bastard series, our favourite rogue, Locke Lamora, takes to the high seas. Lynch trades the Venetian-inspired city of Camorr for a piratical adventure filled with mutinies, naval battles, and devious betrayals. It’s high stakes, high seas fun.

Earthsea series (Ursula K. Le Guin)

Le Guin’s coming-of-age saga is set in an archipelago, which means plenty of sea-voyaging action amidst the magic and dragons. With themes of balance, harmony, and the cost of power, it’s an epic nautical ride and a profound philosophical journey in one.

The Chathrand Voyage series (Robert V.S. Redick)

The Imperial Merchant Ship Chathrand is not just the last of her kind; she’s also the stage for a sinister conspiracy that could plunge the world into war. With a wonderful cast and nail-biting suspense, this series is a love letter to nautical fantasy.

Sea Queens Series (Sarah Tolcser)

With a heroine who dreams of captaining her own ship and a kingdom teetering on the brink of revolution, this series is a tale of destiny, magic, and political intrigue. Oh, and it’s set in a world of river gods and sea monsters. Buckle up.

The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Trilogy (Terry Brooks)

Nothing says ‘nautical adventure’ quite like a quest for ancient magic aboard an airship. Terry Brooks offers a thrilling change of pace in this Shannara saga, complete with perilous seas, uncharted islands, and fantastical beasts.

Maelstrom (Peter Watts)

Imagine a world where the deep sea becomes the last frontier for survival. Watts’ tale of evolution, alien entities and the essence of consciousness set in the abyssal depths of the ocean is enough to make you reconsider your beach holiday plans.

The Bone Ships (RJ Barker)

A society that builds ships from dragon bones, a war that’s lasted generations, and a crew of condemned men and women. This novel is a haunting exploration of life at sea, steeped in deep lore and deeper questions.

Pirate Freedom (Gene Wolfe)

Time travel and piracy? Now there’s a combo. Wolfe’s tale of a modern-day man turned pirate priest offers an engaging look at the realities of pirate life, balanced with philosophical musings. It’s a sea shanty sung in Wolfe’s unique baritone.

So there we have it, a treasure trove of nautical fantasy novels that will satisfy even the most insatiable sea dogs amongst you.

It’s time to haul anchor, unfurl those sails, and embark on a literary journey across the high seas.

May your winds be fair and your pages ever turning.

Which are your favourites? Which ones have I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Five Fantasy Novels Inspired by Tarot: Magic in the Cards

Explore the mystical allure of Tarot cards as we delve into five captivating fantasy novels. Discover worlds where Tarot symbolism weaves through tales of power, love, mystery, and destiny.

Tarot cards, with their rich symbolism and mysterious allure, have fascinated people for centuries.

They’ve also inspired a wealth of creativity in the world of fantasy literature.

Here, we delve into ten enchanting fantasy novels where the tarot’s mystical themes are woven into the fabric of the story.

“The Castle of Crossed Destinies” by Italo Calvino

This literary gem uses tarot cards to tell stories within stories. The narrative sees a group of travellers at a castle who’ve lost their ability to speak and must use tarot cards to communicate their tales. Calvino’s deft handling of the tarot’s symbolism makes this novel a captivating read.

“The Greater Trumps” by Charles Williams

This novel takes its name from the 22 Major Arcana cards, also known as the Greater Trumps in tarot. The story revolves around a unique tarot deck that possesses the ability to control the forces of nature and the universe. A classic tale of power, love, and mysticism.

“Last Call” by Tim Powers

Powers’ ‘Last Call’ merges the world of poker with the symbolism of the tarot deck in an exciting, unconventional narrative. The protagonist must face his past, destiny, and a dangerous antagonist who uses the tarot to manipulate reality. A thrilling combination of Las Vegas, mythology, and tarot.

“The Tarot Sequence” by K.D. Edwards

This series takes the tarot to a whole new level by creating a society where each tarot card represents a ruling family. The protagonist, Rune Saint John, belongs to the fallen Sun Throne and is tasked with unraveling a mystery that ties into the very heart of this tarot-based society.

“The Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness

In ‘The Discovery of Witches’, a bewitched manuscript propels a young scholar into a world of witches, vampires, and daemons. The series often references the tarot, using it as a tool for guidance and prediction, tying it into the overarching narrative.

Honourable mention: “The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot” by Maggie Stiefvater

While not a novel, this tarot deck and accompanying guide book created by the renowned fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater deserve a mention. The guide book weaves a narrative around each card, providing insights into the tarot and the symbolism that Stiefvater incorporates into her own novels.

These books offer a unique fusion of fantasy and tarot, creating captivating worlds where the cards and their meanings come to life.

 Whether you’re a seasoned tarot reader or a newcomer to the cards, these tales will take you on a journey through mystical landscapes where the magic of the tarot permeates every page.