(Descriptions from Goodreads)
Imagine an Age of Exploration full of alchemy, human dissection, sea monsters, betrayal, torture, religious controversy, and magic. In Europe, the magic is thin, but at the edge of the world, where the stars reach down close to the Earth, wonders abound. This drives the bravest explorers to the alluring Western Ocean. Christopher Sinclair is an alchemist who cares only about one thing: quintessence, a substance he believes will grant magical powers and immortality. And he has a ship.
River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, review at Fantasy Literature
In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world – a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.
In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.
I have listed these titles in earlier SSS posts: check out my SSS Books Page for links to more reviews:
Cinder by Marissa Meyer, review at On Starships & Dragonwings
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, review at The Ranting Dragon
Redshirts by John Scalzi, review at A Dribble of Ink
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, review at Tales of the Marvelous
The Six Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher, review at Bookworm Blues
MaryJanice Davidson at SF Signal
Robin Hobb at Fantasy Faction
Quintessence by David Walton at Fantasy Literature