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Recommendations: must-read fantasy

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Chilari, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    It has occurred to me recently that, while I've read a lot of fantasy, there's a lot more that people consider seminal or important that I have not read. The recent discussion of ASoIaF in the Women in Fantasy thread really brough it home that I've missed out on that. Mostly I've been preoccupied writing everything written by a small number of authors - from Brian Jacques and Diane Wynne Jones when I was younger to Terry Pratchett, David Gemmell and Robin Hobb in my later teens and university years, and more recently new and self-published works by less well known authors.

    Yesterday, I finally got round to getting Elantris by Brandon Sanderon and started reading it. So far, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I have decided to dedicate April to reading more fantasy and familiarising myself with the most important works of recent decades.

    So, aside from Game of Thrones and Elantris, what 3 other books should I read in April to get up to speed with what's big and important in fantasy?
  2. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series has garnered a strong following. I've both read and listened to his novels (and novella) he has out in the series to date. I'd recommend you give the first novel in the series Hounded a try. It stands alone, but also sets up the reader for the future novels.
  3. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I've also heard good things about Kevin Hearne's stuff.

    I'm not sure what your overall tastes are, but it sounds like some of what you've read recently is a little older. Still good stuff, but not really currently what everyone's talking about.

    Some authors that get a lot of press recently:

    Brandon Sanderson-looks like you're already on to him
    George R.R. Martin-reading him is pretty important I think, even if you don't want to write like him, he's THE guy in fantasy right now
    Peter V. Brett-his series has done well in press, I really like The Painted Man, which I'm reading right now
    Joe Abercrombie-he's the highest profile guy writing "darker" stuff at the moment, really good though
    Brent Weeks-his second book The Blinding Knife in his current trilogy was on the top of a lot of must read lists
    China Mieville
    Patrick Rothfuss
    Jim Butcher
    Scott Lynch
    Daniel Abraham
    Robin Hobb
    Steven Erikson

    You can research or ask more about each one and I (and others) may be able to tell you more about them. These are names that I see come up a lot on various websites and such, as well as ones I've read.
  4. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    I was given The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie a while ago but never got round to reading it; I'll add that to my April reading list.

    I've got one by Brent Weeks that I borrowed from a friend that I got stuck on about 50 pages in. I can't remember what it was, but there was some element that was just completely unbelievable that it broke immersion and I haven't touched it since; though perhaps a second attempt on that would be in order now.

    I have The Name of the Wind but struggled to get into it and ended up putting it down not that far into it. I think it was the voice. It didn't feel organic, it didn't gel with what I was being told about the protagonist's upbringing; it was too dry. Just not quite right.

    I've read plenty of Robin Hobb. Everything under that name except the most recent trilogy. Got about 40% of the way through the first of that lot by the time the library wanted it back, and I never bothered to pick it up again when it became available again. It didn't feel like it had gotten up to sleep by the time I stopped reading, like I was just coming to the end of the prolgue and into the meat of the story.

    Maybe I'm being too fussy or too impatient.

    I don't know anything about Peter V Brett. What sort of stuff does he write?
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    If anything can be said about Abercrombie, he's definitely not dry. I'd give him a try. His writing may be too dark if you're not into that kind of thing, but has a good humor to it also, which I like.

    I understand where you're coming from as I can be impatient as well. When I first started reading The Painted Man, I had a little trouble getting into it. But as it went on, I thought it was really interesting. Brett is good at creating normal people put in extraordinary situations. That's sort of what I like about him. I would most closely put him in the same camp as Sanderson. Interesting world, nice use of an inventive magic system, and pretty straight forward writing.

    There's the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks that I think got pretty good reviews mostly. But the one I'm talking about starts with The Black Prism. His second book in the series, The Blinding Knife, is the one that people have been raving over recently.

    I haven't finished Rothfuss's book either, but I liked what I read of it. Lots of people rave about him and have said his second book is even better.

    If you mention what kind of stories and writing you typically like, maybe I can suggest some others. These are just current writers who have been getting buzz one way or another.
  6. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

    What is on my to read list is Rachel Aaron's The Legend of Eli Monpress. It looks interesting. I haven't got around to it yet, but I will.
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I'd like to check out Rachel Aaron, too. I read a writing book by her I liked. She mentioned some of her process for the Eli Monpress books there and they sound like cool adventure stories.
  8. AlexanderKira

    AlexanderKira Minstrel

    Since you've read Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, I'd have to recommend The Way of Kings. It is 1250 pages of pure awesome, it's his first book in a series planned for 10. Don't let it scare you, it's amazing. Michael Sullivan's Riyria Revelations, he has a nice writing style. Nothing to flashy, very smooth. Lastly, I'd probably say give Name of the Wind another try, Patrick Rothfuss is my favorite author, I love his story telling, his characters, his world building. I implore you to at least give it another try.

    This is just a good series in my opinion, but I did start it when I was like 10, so it could be nostalgia. But the Warriors series by Erin Hunter is a fun time. Basic premise, 4 clans of cats that live in the forest, obey a Warrior Code set by Star Clan, the heaven of the cats, it's fun. Sure it sounds dumb about talking cats, but come on, fantasy. Have fun.
  9. PlotHolio

    PlotHolio Sage

    I second Eli Monpress as a series more people should read.

    My own recommendation is Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire trilogy, the third book of which is scheduled for release in August.
    The main character has been described as an anti-hero, but I think he's more like a straight-up villain. It takes a good writer to have you rooting for a psychopath.

    It's told in first person past, and Jorg's inner musings give me chills every time. Here's a quote:

    I’ll tell you now. That silence almost beat me. It’s the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears. The spirits of the dead have nothing on it. The dead one tried to show me hell, but it was a pale imitation of the horror I can paint on the darkness in a quiet moment.

    Recommended for those who think the things people do in A Song of Ice and Fire are not horrible enough.

    Also, AlexanderKira, I recently learned that Michael Sullivan is a member of this forum. Apparently, he's just not online much.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  10. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    I second a lot of the above ones, particularly Rothfuss and Mieville.

    Lois McMaster Bujold is worth a mention. Her Paladin of Souls is one of my favourite novels, and probably my single favourite medieval fantasy novel. She's won tons of awards, if you care what Hugo, Locus, and Nebula tend to pick (they can be a bit predictable with the winners, but they often dig up things I'd have never heard of otherwise by nominating them). Catherynne M. Valente seems to be getting more and more popular each year; a lot of her stories are excellent, but my favourite of hers is Deathless.

    And a personal recommendation, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. Often called 'Harry Potter in Africa'; the worldbuilding alone is worth checking it out, but the characters are what sold me on it.
  11. Darkblade

    Darkblade Troubadour

    Jim Butcher: His Dresden Files series[\i] is one of the most successful urban fantasy series out there right now. A lot of bad jokes and contrived coincidenes but strong charcters on all sides of every conflicts and decent world building. I personally think it has gone down hill with it's recent books but others still find it enjoyable. His Codex Alara[\i] series on the other hand is rather generic and forgetable despite it's creative magic system.
  12. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I've also heard good things about Bujold, but I never got around to reading any of her stuff. It was a little hard for me to find for a while, but I think she's got stuff on Kindle now. Also, Akata Witch sounded really interesting when I downloaded a sample a while back. Another I never got around to reading yet. I have like 100 samples on my Kindle. I'm never going to read all these books! :)

    One other point: there is a thread that has loads and loads of recommendations (although some not detailed) here.

    Another great resource, but maybe not entirely reliable depending on your tastes (this website hates Dragonlance and other D&D books, which I grew up loving, so just a sore spot for me). It's been linked somewhere here before, but here it is again. Best Fantasy Books | #1 Guide to the best fantasy books, games, movies, and more! This website also gives recommendations based on "if you like this author you may like this author" which I like.
    Chilari likes this.

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