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As SPFBO 9 begins to slowly wrap up and the judge scores come in, now seemed like a good time to do my own SPFBO 9 Round Up on my thoughts on each of the 10 finalists.

What is SPFBO?

For those of you unfamiliar with the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off it is a competition created by fantasy author Mark Lawrence. 300 Indie authors submit unpublished novels to the competition. The novels must be standalones or first books in a series. There are 10 judging teams and they each start with 30 books. They will eventually choose a finalist that will be judged by each of the 10 blogs. The book with the highest cumulative score wins! 

This year is the 9th iteration and it only took 41 minutes for the full 300 books to be submitted! The Before We Go team is one of the 10 judges this year. I am not a part of that team but as an Indie focused reviewer you can bet I’ve still read and reviewed each of the 10 books.

Each year there is a different flavor to the competition based on the judges and the novels entered. Since you cannot submit the same book twice there’s no chance a book that got cut early one year will make it farther the next year. This year felt like the year of cozy reads and shorter books. 

Some SPFBO 9 stats

There were 4 cozy reads. 3 dark fantasy, with 1 being Grimdark. 3 epic fantasy novels. The longest book was 585 pages and the shortest was 141 pages. There were 3 novels that came in at 250 pages or less. The average length of the books came in at 367 pages. SPFBO 8 was 440 and SPFBO 9 480. As you can see, shorter than previous years.

My thoughts

This year was a great example of why I love the competition. My preference is to choose epic fantasy and Grimdark if left to my own devices. I definitely wouldn’t have read any of the cozy reads on my own. I ended up really enjoying three of them.  5 of the 10 I gave an 8 or higher and the ten that I gave was actually my favorite book of 2023. 

You can see my full thoughts and SPFBO 9 Round Up in the video below.

Cameron Scaggs

Purveyor of the Nerd Book Review YouTube Channel. Lover of Indie Fantasy.

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