26 Best Grimdark Books

Art by Kai Lim

Grimdark is a fantasy subgenre that is particularly dystopian, amoral, or violent. Its protagonists tend toward the conflicted antihero, and its worlds are often brutal and nihilistic. The writing also tends to be much grittier and realistic. A whimsical quest to get the magic doohickey this is not.

The slightly overwrought term is inspired by the tagline of the tabletop strategy game Warhammer 40,000: “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war.”

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Review: Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson

There’s a sub-sub-sub genre of books out there I’ll call “Baffling Worlds.” The main character is in a world so bizarre and with such strange rules that it’s not clear whether they’re on an alien planet, in a magical landscape, or in a surreal dream. The focus of the book is not on character development or having adventures, but in the reader slowly learning about how this strange world works. Hearts of Oak is one of these books.
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