5 Backlist Adult SFF books I plan to read in 2021

Hello, friends!
A very late, but hopeful, Happy New Year!

I have been on a bit of an extended hiatus from all my platforms, just enjoying the wind changing (and the unmistakable bells of doom) and freezing in the cold North Indian winter that I am no longer accustomed to.

After years of sticking to YA because I thought I was too dense and immature to understand Adult books, I picked up three adult fantasy series in 2020 – The Poppy War series by R.F. Kuang, The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee and The Chronicles of the Bitch Queen by K.S. Villoso. To say that these books are amazing is an understatement. They were more than just stories, they were history, politics, diplomacy and real life. I am not saying that YA or MG books do not have these things, but there is a difference in the way that adult books handle these topics. It felt like a whole new world, begging to be explore. A world more befitting a 23-year-old who doesn’t feel their age yet.

This month, I have seen so many amazing lists of anticipated releases and I feel like all of them have covered everything I wanted to put on my list. Having a list of my own would be very helpful for my unorganised self and it might also lead to some of you finding some great new releases, but I am much too lazy to do that right now.

So, I thought, instead of looking to the great and unknowable future, I will wincing-ly take a peek at the bittersweet but familiar past. Hence, here I am, talking about some backlist titles that I want to finish in the first half of this year.


The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

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I have been aware of The Sword of Kaigen for a while now. I even bought its Kindle ebook when it was on sale, but I have been too scared to read it because of its size and its themes. I mean, its over 650 pages (a chonky baby!). I have seen a lot of people recommend this book, but those who stand out are Rain and Uma. I remember seeing this as a pick for Uma’s Fantastically Diverse Lit Club and regretting not having the time to join in. It is one of the books that is described as the perfect next pick for the fans of The Poppy War, and, well, I am one. I don’t usually look at a book’s synopsis before reading it, I pick them based on the ~vibes~. But after looking at the synopsis, the book definitely reminded me of The Poppy War–with a young child, bred for war, thinking they know all and yet they are unaware of so much history. It also reminds me of Chronicles of the Bitch Queen with Misaki, who has a young son and has given up on fighting, having to put on her armor because the fight has come knocking at her door.


The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

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N.K. Jemisin is a pillar in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing. She has changed the face of this genre with her innovative books. I have had my eyes on this series for a while because I love dystopia, but N.K. Jemisin always seemed like a figure out of my reach who is so much more intellectual that I couldn’t possibly understand all she was trying to say with her work. And if I couldn’t do that, it seemed meaningless to read her work. Still not secure in my intellectual capabilities, I was pushing myself slowly towards reading this series. That car got kicked into high gear when Cas gifted me a copy of The Fifth Season on my birthday.


The Daevabad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty

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I am so extremely tired of people going out of their way to misrepresent Islam and Muslims (*cough, cough* Netflix). Reading a book that is about Muslims and Islam, by a Muslim author is always a delight. Since, SFF is my favourite genre, I definitely want to read more Muslim SFF books. I love the Ember Quartet by Sabaa Tahir and this one seems perfect for the fans of Ember. I own copies of City of Brass and Kingdom of Copper, and I was planning to read it in 2020. But after all the death, war and descriptions of inhumane activities in The Poppy War series; I didn’t think I could stomach this series so soon after. I know Rameela loves this series, which is why I know it would be great. I have also seen Kate and Div recommend this and our reading tastes match a lot, so I have high hopes.


The Burning Series by Evan Winter

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This is where I start cheating, hehe!
The Rage of Dragons is technically a backlist which is why it is on this list. This is an ongoing series and a quartet, I think? This one came in my radar solely because I have seen Rebecca F. Kuang (author of The Poppy War) mention it in a couple of her interviews. She said that TPW and Rage of Dragons share a lot in common, but they have very different directions. I have seen a couple of people I follow on Twitter–Tammie and Aaron–really like this one and they like Green Bone Saga too, so… I hope you see where I am going with this. This is an Orbit books publication and I have come to trust them since reading Green Bone Saga and Chronicles of the Bitch Queen.


Teixcalaan duology by Arkady Martin

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This is also cheating!
A Desolation Called Peace releases this year on March 2, 2021! (I have also been approved for its e-ARC, go me!) A Memory Called Empire is a space opera and it questions imperialism, always a good thing to do. I have recently realised that I love space operas, but you know what I love more? Sapphics yearning in a space opera! I am very, very excited to read this series. Whenever I think about Teixcalaan, I also think about this short story called Waiting on a Bright Moon by Neon Yang which I have recently been reading and rereading a lot (4 times in 12 days, I am completely fine)! Teixcalaan and Waiting on a Bright Moon share a LOT of similarities and since I love the latter so much, I have no doubt I would also love the former. Teixcalaan was brought on my radar by Bertie, and then I also saw Chai talk about it. Kate also read and loved it recently, so thumbs up all around!


  • Have you read any of these books? What do you think about them?
  • What backlist books, SFF or otherwise, are you planning on reading this year?
  • What books do you think I should add to this list?

8 thoughts on “5 Backlist Adult SFF books I plan to read in 2021

  1. Amazing group of books!! I’m reading The Broken Earth trilogy at the moment and absolutely loving it! I’m also determined to read Sword of Kaigen and The Burning Series this year. Really excited to see what you think of A Memory Called Empire, I’m so glad I help inspire people to pick it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. aahh these sound like really good choices!! the sword of kaigen is hands down one of the best books i have ever read in my life. i can’t recommend it enough and im glad you’re planning on picking it up. hope you end up loving it. also, good luck πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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