Acacia by David Anthony Durham
I think I first heard about this series on a listcicle with a name like “Books to read while you’re waiting for the next Game of Thrones novel” and that’s totally appropriate. The comparison is perfect: Acacia tells the story of the ruling family of a land full of hidden magic as they fall to a rebellion, go into hiding, and begin their own counter-rebellion. Some major issues here are colonization and slavery. The Acacian empire is based on trade with a mysterious “league” that exchanges drugs for children, and the rebels who overthrow them are a people who had been subjugated and treated unfairly, but who continue the trade system. The narrative switches among many characters’ perspectives, on all sides of the war. As in Game of Thrones, no character is safe, no matter how central or virtuous, and complex moral questions arise as the “good guys” get morally tainted. I’d love to see this series made into an HBO series as well. It’s imaginative, engrossing, and super dramatic, with high fantasy language and lots of violent battles and fight scenes.