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10 Books That Have Won the Stabby Award for Best Novel

The best of the best, as selected by r/fantasy. 

the best stabby award winning novels

Since 2013, the r/fantasy subreddit has honored books, movies, shows, members of their community, and more with the annual Stabby Awards. The awards are designed "to promote broader engagement with both speculative fiction in general and fantasy literature in specific."

Winners of the Stabby Award take home one of the cooler trophies out there—a dagger emblazoned with the winner's name as well as the title of their work.

Below, we highlight the books that have won the Stabby Award for Best Novel since the honor's inception. If you're looking for your next fantasy read, check out these Stabby-winning fantasies below!

Best Novel winner, 2021

the shadow of the gods

The Shadow of the Gods

By John Gwynne

All of Vigrið was shattered after the gods warred, and the deities themselves went extinct. But the remains of the dead gods still hold power waiting to be scavenged. 

Across the fjords, the fate of three determined individuals intertwine in a world ruled by powerful relics and unrelenting competition. 

With detailed worldbuilding and masterful battle scenes, this Norse-inspired epic fantasy blew readers away.

Best Novel winner, 2020

the trouble with peace

The Trouble With Peace

By Joe Abercrombie

In this sequel to 2019 Stabby-winner A Little Hatred, peace has arrived. Thankfully, it can't last forever.

Savine dan Glokta has been ruined, but her ambition hasn't waned. Leo dan Brock is withering in a world where he can't wage war. And Rikke learns that some lessons have life or death stakes. 

The Trouble with Peace swept readers away in interweaving and constantly-escalating stories filled with conspiracies, betrayals, and rebellion.

RELATED: The Greatest Grimdark Fantasy Books Ever

Best Novel winner, 2019

Joe Abercrombie

A Little Hatred

By Joe Abercrombie

The age of magic refuses to die, even as machines offer Adua new opportunities.

New heroes emerge as old enemies rise, and the Magi struggle to capture the power of the Long Eye. The future is dawning. And even with powerful forces pulling strings, no one may be able to stop it.

The stunning first entry in a series set in Abercrombie's First Law World, A Little Hatred built a dark and compelling story with a fantastic new cast of characters.

Best Novel winner, 2018

bloody rose

Bloody Rose

By Nicholas Eames

All Tam Hashford wants is glory and adventure. So when a renowned mercenary group comes into the Bloody Rose, the infamous tavern where Tam works, she immediately wants in. 

Signing on as their bard gives her the chance to finally live the epic stories she’s only heard about her entire life. But the quest they’re embarking on may be more adventure than she bargained for. 

Set six years after Kings of the Wyld, the first book in The Band series, Bloody Rose managed to weave a new cast and storyline, captivating readers and leaving them wanting more.

Best Novel winner, 2017

red sister

Red Sister

By Mark Lawrence

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls aren’t trained to be nuns—they’re taught to kill. Nona Grey is nine years old when she’s implicated in a murder. She's saved from execution by Abbess Glass and the order of the Red Sisters. 

Nona's arrival at the convent unleashes rivalries that escalate all the way to the emperor. But if she wants to unleash her demons on anyone standing in her way, Nona must learn to tame them first.

The first book in an epic fantasy series about murderous assassin nuns, Red Sister hooked readers from the opening pages and refused to let go.

Best Novel winner, 2016

Morning Star

Morning Star

By Pierce Brown

Darrow survived the Institute. He transformed from a Red to the prestigious ranks of the Golds, earning his place among their ranks, only to watch his chance at vengeance crumble. 

Alliances have dissolved. Friendships have disintegrated. And now Darrow has to face the Society, not knowing who might betray him in the end. His only hope is that the people of Mars will finally claim freedom from the world the cruel elites have built.

A stunning finale to the intense, action-packed Red Rising series, Morning Star kept readers on the edge of their seat with plot twist after plot twist.

Best Novel winner, 2015

shadows of self

Shadows of Self

By Brandon Sanderson

Advancement stops for no one in this fifth book in the Mistborn Saga.

As technology and magic evolve, new problems arise. A series of attacks causes animosity between four religions already rife with tension, leaving Wax, Wayne, and Marasi to unravel the conspiracy before the progress Scadrial has enjoyed crumbles to ash.

This steampunk sequel to The Alloy of Law is a delightful continuation of an epic fantasy series. 

Best novel winner, 2014

words of radiance

Words of Radiance

By Brandon Sanderson

Kaladin struggles to control powers he doesn’t understand, while protecting the king from assassins. Meanwhile, Shallon seeks out the secrets of the Shattered Plains to prevent the legendary Voidbringers from returning, and the Parshendi tire of the never-ending Alethi attacks.

Forces draw these disparate fates together, to a place where civilization may face a devastating end.

Readers agreed that this second installment in The Stormlight Archive is simply a masterpiece.

Best novel winner, 2013

emperor of thorns

Emperor of Thorns

By Mark Lawrence

At just 20 years old, King Jorg Ancrath leads seven nations—but his ambition doesn't end there.

He's vowed to become emperor, and to enact vengeance against his father. But Jorg can't fight his way to the top of the Broken Empire, and a surprise rival stands in the young king's way: the despised necromancer The Dead King. 

Emperor of Thorns was celebrated for its haunting prose and a plot that doesn’t stop twisting and turning. It’s a satisfying end to The Broken Empire trilogy.

Best novel winner, 2012

the blinding knife

The Blinding Knife

By Brent Weeks

Gavin Guile, once the most powerful man in the world, is dying. 

He hoped he had years to wrangle the world's irrepressible magic, as well as the secrets his former love is holding onto. But time isn't on Gavin's side, and his only hope for help is the brother he's betrayed. 

Honored for its phenomenal balance between character development and plot tension, The Blinding Knife is a breathtaking second installment in the Lightbringer series.