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What is the most gripping novel you've ever read? Fantasy or otherwise?

Philip Overby

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I'd say "The Green Mile" by Stephen King. It's one of only a handful of King books I've read (why I have no idea, I really like what I've read by him, but I just read more fantasy in general). The book's characters were so strong it just made me want to keep reading to see what would happen to them next.

Other than that, I'd say Chuck Palahniuk's books are page turners. I've never gotten bogged down in any of his books. Haven't read "Rant" but I'll have to check it out sometime. Also, I'll second some of the Dragonlance books. When I was a teenager, I could put those books down. Those and The Cleric Quintet by Salvatore. I must have read all five of them in like one year. Which is pretty remarkable for a 16 year old that loved video games. :)

Nowadays, I'd say the closest I've come to a gripping book that I wanted to continuously read would be "A Game of Thrones" and Joe Abercrombie's "First Law" series. However, I just want to note that we're living in a pretty remarkable time as far as awesome fantasy writers go. There's no excuse not to find something that grips you. There are just so many good writers cranking stuff out now.
I burned through A Game of Thrones and their sequels, despite their incredible length. Totally captivated. Charles Stross's Timelike Diplomacy (which is an omnibus of Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise). Mmm... Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but obviously that had six books' worth of buildup to it. (My wife and I had two copies and read them in a marathon sessions on release day, taking about 10 hours to get through.) Pretty much anything by Bujold.

Oddly, the books I tend to go through real fast are technical books. In fact one of the greatest books I've ever read is Code by Charles Petzold, which explains the concepts underlying computers (and basic electronics) in such an awesomely clear way that even though I first read it eight years after graduating college, I felt like I learned more from the book than I did from four years of computer science classes. (I'm not saying that I did learn more, just that it felt that way. ;) ) I burned through it in less than two days.

David Ivanov

Possibly my all-time favorite novel is Gogol's Dead Souls. Hilariously funny stuff. Also a big fan of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, great psychological thriller.

As far as fantasy novels, some of my favorites are the original Black Company series, and more recently I was very impressed with The Way of Shadows (the Night Angel Trilogy book 1 by Brent Weeks) and Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora. Another non-fantasy recommendation from the sci-fi realm would be Old Man's War by John Scalzi.

Actually I could go on at great length about some of the better books I've read over the years, so I'll just quit now. :)


Lots of books on here it looks like I need to add to my 'to read' list. Haven't even heard of some.
Have to say that my favourite has been 'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss. Absolutely amazing. I got it a few years ago and din't manage to put it down till I was finished. When the second in the series came out I wasn't just happy that the story continued but that I got to reread the first.


The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.

In truth it would qualify as fantasy.

It's about an old WW II vet who is a maintenance guy at an amusement park. He dies trying to save a little girl in the midst of a ride accident. From there he meets five people in heaven that were in his life in some way, and learns some tough lessons about them and himself. A well-told story with a strong message(s) about: Our impact the lives of others, Self Sacrifice, Forgiveness, Lost Love, and Self Worth.
This is an easy one for me.

Kate Griffin's A Madness of Angels.

It was the first real Urban Fantasy novel I'd read in a long time. Lately, publishers have been releasing crappy Paranormal Romance novels as Urban Fantasy.

It's told in first person perspective by a magically-gifted man who wakes up to find he's not dead anymore and he's sharing his mind with childlike supernatural beings called the Blue Electric Angels. The narrative was interesting, most notably because the author manages to successfully blur the line between the main character and his mysterious guests.

Secondly, the magic system is one of, if not the most original that I've ever seen. It's very streetwise. For example, there's a magical bus that can take you anywhere. However, it only appears when you're extraordinarily miserable, have just about resigned yourself to having to walk to your destination, and are far enough away from the bus stop that you have to run to get there before it pulls out.
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'The long Walk' by Richard Bachman (AKA Stephen King) A story he wrote well before he became a house hold name, contains some real thought provoking stuff. Although it's quite brutal and can be a bit disturbing at times, it's well worth a read.
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For me, without any doubt, it was The Road (Cormac McCarthy). Once I picked it up I pretty much couldn't stop reading it.

When I was a lot (lot!) younger, I had a similar experience with Feist's The Magician. I think I read it in a couple of days.


For me, without any doubt, it was The Road (Cormac McCarthy). Once I picked it up I pretty much couldn't stop reading it.

When I was a lot (lot!) younger, I had a similar experience with Feist's The Magician. I think I read it in a couple of days.

Crikey! a couple days to read a weighty book like Magician is pretty impressive. Took a slow poke like myself several months if I recall.


Actually, when I think back maybe it was a tie... For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms.

I know for some these days apparently uncool to dig Hemingway, but I was 17 and these two books not only got me reading, but they set me on the road to writing for a living. I've worked as a journalist/investigative journalist and foreign correspondent (although now I'm a risk consultant, which is not much different) all of my life, and I'm sure that's why.

The Road and No Country for Old Men were up there as well... Not sure if anyone here is familiar with Suttree, but that is one helluva book, as is Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion (the prequel to The English Patient).

With regard to fantasy--there are a number of short stories... Everything from Gaiman (think the Shadow short story--my memory slips tonight to Only the End of the World Again and Bay Wolf) to Martin's fantastic tail of Viking's battling it out at sea (not sure of the title, but it's in the collection he recently put out--Warriors I, I believe) to some of the old Elric tales.

Come to think of it, I'll read just about anything Elric. Not sure why...



I've read some cool stuff but the memorable ones would have to be Twilight-for the hunky wolves, Harry potter-for the its brilliance and Charlaine Harrises Dead series for its humor which I always appreciate. My absolute favourite might not even be among these, maybe I forgot it.


The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst. Great atmosphere and tension, and a very gripping story even if you know what will happen at the end (the novel's set in 1937/38 Warsaw, we all know what happens in 1939). The ending is inevitable and bittersweet, the hero is in a sort of Cassandra like situation, but it's not a let down at all.


Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series is a good one too. As is Gaimans Sandman series.

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The Unseemly

A very peculiar book, called Przygody Dobrego Wojaka Szwejka (translated from Polish: Adventures of the Good Warrior Szwejk), by Jaroslav Hasek. It's one of the few books that for almost it's entire length I laughed until I cried; that sort of very odd humour which I like. It's about a man who's an official idiot, and how he gets about in life, set around the period of WW1 (1914-ish). The book, behind the humour, however, showed me so much about how we all are just another idiot who tries to make the best of his/her life.


I have to agree with The Road, could not put it down.

Also could not put down Hugh Howey's Wool Omnibus.

When I was a teen I remember reading The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson in one sitting as well.