Ever since an Oxford medievalist named John Tolkien decided to create a fantasy world based on his studies in Middle English poetry, historical mythology has proven to be a rich inspiration for fantasy audiobooks of all kinds.
This fall, two hotly anticipated titles prove that when it comes to creating fantasy audiobooks that cast a spell a spell on listeners, turning to traditions of fairy tale and folklore is a winning approach.
If you like taking time away from the busyness of everyday life to escape into intricate and thrilling fantasy worlds, here are two fantasy audiobooks you need to check out this fall.
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Few fantasy series are as immediately immersive as Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone Trilogy. Set in a world based on Slavic folklore (what Bardugo calls the “Grishaverse”), this series of fantasy audiobooks brings together adventure, politics, magic, and romance in a way that is completely new.
At the beginning of Bardugo’s latest book set in the Grishaverse, King of Scars, Nikolai Lantsov is struggling to rebuild his kingdom following a bloody civil war. But the enemies that gather on his weakened borders are nothing compared to the threat posed by the dark magic growing inside him. In a world of saints and demons, where some wounds just don’t heal, will Nikolai be able to vanquish his enemies — and the most sinister parts of himself?
If you can’t wait until the TV adaptation of Shadow and Bone comes out, listening to King of Scars — already one of the top audiobooks of the year — is a great way to reconnect with one of the most compelling series of fantasy audiobooks of the past decade.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Marlon James became a household name for his Booker Prize-winning novel A Brief History of 7 Killings, a gritty, lyrical epic about Jamaican society in the late twentieth century.
Listeners who couldn’t get enough of his earlier audiobooks will definitely want to check out his latest, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, where he applies his gifts as a writer of multi-vocal prose to the creation of a rich fantasy world based on African mythology that has been likened to fantasy blockbusters like the Game of Thrones audiobook.
The story follows a hunter named Tracker with a preternatural sense of smell searching for a boy who had disappeared three years earlier. As he travels through ancient cities and dense jungles with a curious band of fellow-searchers that includes a shape-shifter name Leopard, Tracker begins to suspect the boy he is searching for is no ordinary child.
Whether you have been following James’ work for years or are simply looking for new fantasy audiobooks, there is no doubt that Black Leopard, Red Wolf is one of the best fantasy titles released this year.
In a world that can sometimes be overwhelming, fantasy audiobooks don’t just provide us with an opportunity to escape from our cares by diving into dynamic worlds that are completely different from ours. They also give us a chance to explore what it means to empathize with completely different kinds of people.
Fantasy may be famous for dragons, magic, and big set piece battles, but the best fantasy audiobooks also give us a chance to slow down, explore new characters and worlds, and return to our own lives refreshed and with new perspectives.