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


I already posted on the first page of this thread, but I am completely captivated by The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It's quickly becoming one of my favorites; I'll have it finished tonight, and then I'll know for sure.


Undoubtedly, Game of Thrones for most captivating fantasy book. For non-fantasy book A Thousand Splendid Suns by Kholed Husseini was one of the most satisfying books I have read. I knocked it out in 2-3 days.


One of the foundation series by Isaac Asimov "Foundation and Earth". I can't say which detail because it is a spoiler, but at the reveal, I stopped reading and smiled. I kept smiling and thinking for about 20 minutes. I just had this big stupid smile on my face that wouldn't go away. Then I read that again and again. The same couple of paragraphs over and over. It was wonderful. IF you love Sci-fi or detective novels you should read the Robot series beginning with "Caves of Steel" and then go on to the Foundation series.


Magician by Feist is one I'll have to agree with, it was the first fantasy book I ever read, assigned by my teacher in High School. It's probably the only book I've read several times over.

Fairy Tale also by Feist. No, I'm not trying to promote Feist here :) But, this was the first "horror" book I had ever read and I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely a page turner for me.

Unincorporated Man by Dani and Eytan Kollin was a very recent book that I just couldn't put down. Some of the ideas of what the future could be were exciting to read about. Some really good imagination going on in there.


The most gripping one I read was 'Misery' by Stephen King. I know it's not Fantasy, but I feel it was King's most focused novel and I think I read it in a marathon of 18 hours.

Recently, one of the most gripping novels I've read was R.A. Salatore's "Homeland" which was on the origin of his main character, the Drow Drizzt. I was surprised at the book because much of his other stuff in the series seems to be less intense and almost like they were made for a young audience. But 'Homeland' seemed much more mature and you really felt the growing tension throughout the book. I read it in two days time.

Also, C.J. Cherryh's fantasy books all tend to grip me. I liked "The Dreamstone" and "The Tree of Swords and Jewels" as well as all of her "Morgaine" series. Cherryh really got me interested in Elves and Celtic stories. I read all of her stuff in a day or two period of time.

Of course there is also Tolkien, but he grips most people...



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For me, the most captivating novel I've read so far is Stellar Transformations, a Chinese wuxia fantasy in the process of being translated into English. It was recommended to me by a friend and I read through the whole 1500+ page translation in 3 days.

Btw, I'm sorry for reviving an old thread. Please delete this message if it violates any rules of the forum.
The Sun Also Rises and Slaughterhouse-Five are the only two books I've read not just in one sitting, but at the end of each I went back to page one and reread them in the same sitting.
Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss. As to why-- well, when I finished I described it with:

It's that feeling when a scene in a book works beyond working, when you don't just lose track of time, you regain enough awareness to become afraid that something will interrupt you and end the one perfect chance you'll have to find out what comes next all in one sitting. When you hold your hand over the page to stop your eyes from moving down and killing the order of things. When you remember why you read.


Overall I'd have to go with Steig Larssons's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I got very involved in reading the novel and surprised myself by reading it faster than I thought I would for a largish book. The sequels also were quite involving for me. Fantasy wise I think it'd be Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere which I finally got around to reading just before the radio drama came out last year.

Caged Maiden

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Ellen Kushner's Privilege of the Sword. OMG I loved it. I didn't even realize it was first person. I went back to have a look at it because I remember loving it so much, and I was thrown for a loop when I wanted to incorporate some of the tone in my own book... because i couldn't convert her FPOV into my TPOV. WOW!

It's romance a bit, but a fun sort of alt-earth fantasy. I love the rawness, the tone, everything about it. If you like a little grit in your romance (which I most certainly do) this book is hands-down the best I've read.

Ronald T.

Over the years there were quite a few novels that gripped me by the lapels and wouldn't let go...in both Science Fiction and Fantasy. But most recently, I would say the top honor goes to THE NIGHT ANGEL TRILOGY by Brent Weeks. I absolutely couldn't get enough of those characters. I can only hope Weeks decides to do more with these fantastic, bigger-than-life heroes and heroines. It would be a true gift to readers like me who enjoy such powerfully gifted protagonists. A tip of my hat to Brent Weeks.
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Ronald T.

Very well said, wordwalker. Clearly, NAME OF THE WIND touched your soul, as it did for many of us. But few could've described the impact with such an eloquent and heart-warming sense of being drawn into the author's world. As you suggested...that's the gift...that's why we read. And as writer's, that's the powerful emotion we hope to touch in the hearts of others.

Ronald T.

I know how much most people love G.R.R. Martin's -- A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. I only wish I was one of them.

Gurkhal mentioned Martin's Asoiaf, and I agree with him that Martin is an exceptional writer. His skills are second to none. But I have a problem with George R.R. that stopped me from reading beyond book 2 in the series. I bought the first three books prior to the beginning of the TV series. I really wanted to love these books, but couldn't. And the reason is simple.

By the time I reached the end of book 2, I realized that Martin possesses an almost maniacal joy in killing off his main characters. And this is something I simply can't abide. An author can punish his primary characters, can have them injured, wounded, stabbed, and beaten nearly to death. He can take them to the brink of death again and again. But if he takes pleasure in the random -- wouldn't it be fun to kill off this beloved character -- decision simply to shock his audience, then he's lost my interest in his writing forever.

When I read Tolkien's trilogy the first time, I put down my book and couldn't go back to it for more than two weeks. This was when Gandalf fought the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, and fell to his death in the bottomless chasm. At least that's what I feared at the time. I only continued when my wife and a close friend suggested that things were not what they seemed. It wasn't long before I was rewarded with Gandalf's return. But for those two weeks I was heartsick.

Since then, I've noticed that I become so immersed in the stories I read that the characters become real people to me...so real, that to lose one of them is like losing an actual friend or family member in a real-life death. The pain is unbearable.

But it seems Martin has little if any attachment to his own protagonists. Perhaps it's because he has such an endless gift for creating well-defined, well-rounded characters, that none of them seem that important to him. But as a reader, they are very important to me. If I'm going to invest myself, heart and soul, into a protagonist, I have to know they are going to be around for more than two or three chapters. Otherwise, what's the point? Why put myself through such misery?

There are other great writers out there that can draw me into a story every bit as well as Martin can. And with them, I don't have to let the author punish me over and over again with his cruel decisions. It simply isn't worth the price I must pay.

Perhaps I'm just too much of a soft-hearted fool. I don't know. But if Bilbo or Frodo were killed in the first few chapters, I would've stopped reading the Hobbit and LOTR. That would have happened as well if Rand al Thor was killed a quarter of the way into Jordan's WOT series.
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The most gripping novel I've ever read was The Name of the Wind.
I started reading it on a long trip from Dublin to Indonesia, and ended up spending the first two days of a holiday in one of the most beautiful and all-round exciting places in the world reading this novel, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.