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Author Topic: [books] Fantasy Recommendation?  (Read 4135 times)
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Eco-Logic
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« on: April 20, 2008, 11:22:19 PM »

I may have asked this before, but I can't seem to find the thread.

I am looking for fantasy book recommendations and would prefer not to start a series.  My fantasy reading has been almost non-existent to this point, I have basically read Tolkien & Harry Potter.   

I'm not big into Dragons (especially as a focal point) and prefer to stay away from anything demonic. 

I am looking forward to your recommendations.

Chris

*SF is ok too, I have read Perdido Street Station, Altered Carbon & the Sequel and that is about it.
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Boudreaux
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2008, 11:45:24 PM »

I just finished a couple of books by the relatively new author Scott Lynch - The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies.  They're fairly light fantasy, nothing too out there, but the writing is pretty good.  The characters in both books are the same, but it's not really a series.  Each book is entirely self-contained.  Anyway, they have excellent, twisty plots and I had a hard time putting them down, they're really quite good.

I'm also about to start reading Greg Keyes' The Born Queen, but that's the final in the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone quartet, so you might not want that.  Still, another very good story from a good author. 

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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2008, 12:08:09 AM »

Greg Keyes Kingdom of Thorn and Bone series is very good, but it is a 4 volume series.  Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders is also pretty amazing (think Pirates of the Carribean meets Lord of the Rings), and is only 3 books.  My favorite self-contained fantasy book is Tad Williams War of the Flowers.  I cannot recommend that one enough.  Also check out anything from Terry Pratchett for some quick and extremely funny fantasy.

Quote from: Boudreaux on April 20, 2008, 11:45:24 PM

I'm also about to start reading Greg Keyes' The Born Queen, but that's the final in the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone quartet, so you might not want that.  Still, another very good story from a good author. 

Thanks for the heads-up!.  I've been dying for the next book, but it's been so long that I had completely forgotten to check.   ::whisks off to Amazon::


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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2008, 12:10:57 AM »

For SciFi try Peter Hamilton's 'Fallen Dragon'. He normally does series but this one is stand alone.
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2008, 12:11:21 AM »

Quote from: Creepy_Smell on April 21, 2008, 12:10:57 AM

For SciFi try Peter Hamilton's 'Fallen Dragon'. He normally does series but this one is stand alone.

Hey, he said no dragons!  slywink
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2008, 01:20:37 AM »

Quote from: Boudreaux on April 20, 2008, 11:45:24 PM

I just finished a couple of books by the relatively new author Scott Lynch - The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies.  They're fairly light fantasy, nothing too out there, but the writing is pretty good.  The characters in both books are the same, but it's not really a series.  Each book is entirely self-contained.  Anyway, they have excellent, twisty plots and I had a hard time putting them down, they're really quite good.

I'm also about to start reading Greg Keyes' The Born Queen, but that's the final in the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone quartet, so you might not want that.  Still, another very good story from a good author. 



Yeah, Lynch would get my recommendation.  The first book is quite standalone- when I finished it I wasn't even sure if it was going to be a series (though I was hoping it was since I liked it so much).


Quote from: Gratch on April 21, 2008, 12:08:09 AM

My favorite self-contained fantasy book is Tad Williams War of the Flowers.  I cannot recommend that one enough. 

Yes!  I love War of the Flowers.  Took a little while to get going but it really sucked me in about a third of the way through.  I'd love for Williams to return to that world. 

As far as other stuff goes, I'd throw out a recommendation for anything by Tim Powers.  Almost all of his stuff is standalone.  My favorite of his is Declare, a supernatural espionage novel.  Also, Anubis Gates is a classic time travel novel and a ton of fun.  I'm not as big on On Stranger Tides as many but it's zombie pirates so how can you go wrong? 
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2008, 01:30:52 AM »

Quote from: Gratch on April 21, 2008, 12:11:21 AM

Quote from: Creepy_Smell on April 21, 2008, 12:10:57 AM

For SciFi try Peter Hamilton's 'Fallen Dragon'. He normally does series but this one is stand alone.

Hey, he said no dragons!  slywink

Heh..didn't even think about the title since its not a fantasy d&d dragon. I was going to suggest the Night's Dawn Trilogy but he didn't want a series and thats the about the only stand alone by Hamilton. Not sure how 'Second Change At Eden' works if one is not familiar with Night's Dawn.
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koanicriddle
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2008, 02:10:04 AM »

Some favorites of mine (synopses are provided via the links)...

The San Veneficio Canon by Michael Cisco.  A compilation of 2 books, The Divinity Student and The GolemThe Divinity Student is one of the great works of weird fiction... unlike anything else I've ever read.

Viriconium by M. John Harrison.  Collection of 4 books, the last of which, Viriconium Nights, is a seminal masterpiece.  Though not fantasy, I also very much recommend Harrison's novel Light, one of my favorite novels of the last 10 years or so.

The Etched City by K. J. Bishop, a novel heavily influenced by the Decadents.

Ambergris: The City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer.  I recommend all of VanderMeer's books (including the ones he has edited), but this is the book to start with. 

Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, two great short story collections; "Stone Animals," from Magic for Beginners, is one of the most heart-rending stories I've ever read.

Anyway, those are the first ones that popped into my head. 
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EngineNo9
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2008, 02:16:41 AM »

Well if you haven't read Tolkien, what the fuck are you asking for other recommendations for?? 
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koanicriddle
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2008, 02:23:04 AM »

Quote from: EngineNo9 on April 21, 2008, 02:16:41 AM

Well if you haven't read Tolkien, what the fuck are you asking for other recommendations for?? 

Personally, I'd recommend Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels instead (the first 2 books especially).
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iloveplywood
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2008, 02:41:35 AM »

The George RR Martin books are excellent, some of my favorite books of all time -- fantasy or otherwise.  Oops, you said no series, sorry for my lack of reading comprehension in a thread about reading.
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2008, 02:45:15 AM »

I guess I'll be the one to say the Song of Ice and Fire series.  It is a series obviously, but it is worth getting into and I would recommend over Tolkein.  It is more of a gritty medieval fantasy world with intricatly woven plots & characters-and few dragons.  It actually has very little of the typical dragons & orcs and fireball wizards that the Tolkein/R.A. Salvatore types have.  Give it a shot.


EDIT: Plywood beat me while I was typing.
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Eco-Logic
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2008, 02:46:11 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.  I am going to print this and go to B&N tomorrow.

Quote from: EngineNo9 on April 21, 2008, 02:16:41 AM

Well if you haven't read Tolkien, what the fuck are you asking for other recommendations for?? 

I did read Tolkien, I just phrased it completely wrong in the original post.

 paranoid
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2008, 03:24:20 AM »

The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake is sold as a single volume...does that count as not starting a new series?  I second koanicriddle's suggestion.  Amazing work.
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2008, 03:47:25 AM »

Quote from: Eco-Logic on April 21, 2008, 02:46:11 AM

Thanks for all the replies.  I am going to print this and go to B&N tomorrow.

Quote from: EngineNo9 on April 21, 2008, 02:16:41 AM

Well if you haven't read Tolkien, what the fuck are you asking for other recommendations for?? 

I did read Tolkien, I just phrased it completely wrong in the original post.

 paranoid


Ah, OK.  Well, if you like realistic, gritty fantasy I would also highly recommend George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and fire series (or at least the first three books of it, the fourth was weaker). 
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2008, 04:25:46 AM »

China Meiville has some new books that are set in the same world as Perdido Street Station.  I've read The Scar, which was quite good.  I'll get around to reading The Iron Council once it goes mass market paperback.
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2008, 04:30:31 AM »

George R. R. Martin...

If he interests you at all, you might pick up Dreamsongs, currently two volumes of his short story work. 

Quote
From Publishers Weekly
Martin may be best known for his Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy, but this mammoth collection of short stories (the first of two volumes) highlights his work in numerous genres, including SF, horror and fantasy.

Also, for the existing fans, Amazon has Book 5, A Dance with Dragons, listed for September 30.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2008, 04:56:49 AM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on April 21, 2008, 04:30:31 AM

Also, for the existing fans, Amazon has Book 5, A Dance with Dragons, listed for September 30.


That's just a best guess.  Hopefully it comes to pass but the book isn't finished yet. 
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« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2008, 11:12:32 AM »

Song of Ice and Fire is always my first fantasy recommendation.  However, given Eco's no series, nothing demonic, no dragons stipulations, it didn't sound like that would be a good fit.   It's easily the best fantasy series out there, but this eternal waiting game between installments has tempered my enthusiasm somewhat.
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2008, 06:14:02 PM »

All these posts and I'm the first to mention Terry Pratchett and his Discworld novels?  icon_biggrin

I'd say read Small Gods if you can find it, very very good book.

Another SciFi book I really enjoyed and is a single volume would be John Steakly's Armor.  In fact I'm going to dig it out and read it again.
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« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2008, 06:22:50 PM »

Quote from: Zinfan on April 21, 2008, 06:14:02 PM

All these posts and I'm the first to mention Terry Pratchett and his Discworld novels?  icon_biggrin

Check the third post in the thread icon_wink
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« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2008, 06:38:25 PM »

Quote from: Gratch on April 21, 2008, 11:12:32 AM

t's easily the best fantasy series out there

You, sir, need more Steven Erikson in your life.
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2008, 06:40:59 PM »

Quote from: Eco-Logic on April 20, 2008, 11:22:19 PM

*SF is ok too

In that case, check out Blindsight by Peter Watts.  (WARNING: That page contains the full text so it takes a while to load - however it also contains links to PDF and other versions)

It's completely free but so good I'm going to buy it anyway.  Think Arthur C Clarke but slightly more action-oriented.  It's about a first contact scenario and it's just mind-bending.  The story is fantastic.  The reason I mention Clarke is because it's ultra-realistic in a similar way to which he wrote - the aliens are really alien.

The only caveat is Watts has a slightly arrogant writing style, and assumes a lot of scientific knowledge on the part of the reader.  But it's a very small price to pay for one of the best books I've read in a long time.  And since it costs nothing, you have nothing to lose, so give it a try!
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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2008, 06:49:17 PM »

Quote from: Crux on April 21, 2008, 06:38:25 PM

Quote from: Gratch on April 21, 2008, 11:12:32 AM

t's easily the best fantasy series out there

You, sir, need more Steven Erikson in your life.

I'm working on Memories of Ice right now, and while I've enjoyed the series there's absolutely no way I'd recommend it to someone starting out on the fantasy genre.  Erikson really makes you work for your story.  I'm on the third book and I still don't know what half of the species look like!  My mind's eye is still using some completely wrong image for what a Barghast looks like because it took some 500-700 pages after their introduction to see any sort of explanation of their appearance or origin.  Add in a cast of characters and setting that almost completely changes in each new novel, and you've really got your homework cut out for you!

The guy's got a fantastic imagination and an incredibly well-conceived and original world, but his apparent allergy for exposition really kills the accessibility. 
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« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2008, 08:19:25 PM »

Quote from: Crux on April 21, 2008, 06:38:25 PM

Quote from: Gratch on April 21, 2008, 11:12:32 AM

t's easily the best fantasy series out there

You, sir, need more Steven Erikson in your life.

I can't get into Erikson's books at all.  I've read the first one twice (didn't really like it - or understand it - the first time through, so I gave it another shot hoping I could figure out what everyone was raving about.  Still wasn't crazy about it, but figured I'd plod on regardless), and got about 2/3 of the way through the second book before I was so hopelessly confused that I gave up.  The world he created is fantastic, but his tendency to jump to different characters, locales, and events without any explanation, detail, or background whatsoever is completely maddening.

Personally, if I'm going to have to work that hard to understand a story, I'd rather read something a bit more substantive than pulp fantasy.

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« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2008, 09:09:27 PM »

Shoot, the no series rule takes out my recommendation of Roger Zelazny's Amber Series. But if you want to bend that rule, those books were amazing.

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« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2008, 09:22:49 PM »

The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold are both excellent books.  They are set in the same world and have some of the same characters, but they are stand alone books.
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« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2008, 09:28:44 PM »

Quote from: RightBastard on April 21, 2008, 09:09:27 PM

Shoot, the no series rule takes out my recommendation of Roger Zelazny's Amber Series. But if you want to bend that rule, those books were amazing.



No problem.  Just buy this and pretend it's one big book icon_wink
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« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2008, 09:48:32 PM »

I love the Robin Hobb Assassin Series (and the fool's series after it, the ship one wasn't as good but okay).
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« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2008, 10:37:28 PM »

Quote from: QP on April 21, 2008, 09:48:32 PM

I love the Robin Hobb Assassin Series (and the fool's series after it, the ship one wasn't as good but okay).

As did I, but it certainly goes against the OP's 'no dragons as a focal point' query.
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« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2008, 01:55:52 PM »

Try Vernor Vinge's  Fire Upon the Deep.   It kind of covers all that you are looking for and its a fantastic read.
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« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2008, 02:37:43 PM »

For a one-volume, it's hard to beat Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana.

Quote from: Gratch on April 21, 2008, 08:19:25 PM

I can't get into Erikson's books at all.  I've read the first one twice (didn't really like it - or understand it - the first time through, so I gave it another shot hoping I could figure out what everyone was raving about.  Still wasn't crazy about it, but figured I'd plod on regardless), and got about 2/3 of the way through the second book before I was so hopelessly confused that I gave up.  The world he created is fantastic, but his tendency to jump to different characters, locales, and events without any explanation, detail, or background whatsoever is completely maddening.

Around book 3, I got the "Oh Crap" moment, and it all came together.  Then it's just pure enjoyment.
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Eco-Logic
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« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2008, 02:49:16 PM »

Thanks again for all the recs!

I went to the used bookstore and came away with The War of Flowers (Tad Williams) hard copy and am about 100 pages into it and thoroughly enjoying it so far.

I'm not opposed to reading a series, I just want to make sure I enjoy fantasy books before tackling one.

Chris
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« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2008, 03:10:33 PM »

I love these threads because I usually follow thru on a lot of the recommendations given. Other than the Dragon Below series I've hardly read a fantasy book in the past 3 years, unless you consider SciFi fantasy.
I'll 2nd the recommendation of Peter Hamilton's books and I'd also recommend Roger Zelazny's and Verner Vinge's fantasy novels.
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« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2008, 03:15:23 PM »

Quote from: Eco-Logic on April 22, 2008, 02:49:16 PM

Thanks again for all the recs!

I went to the used bookstore and came away with The War of Flowers (Tad Williams) hard copy and am about 100 pages into it and thoroughly enjoying it so far.

I'm not opposed to reading a series, I just want to make sure I enjoy fantasy books before tackling one.

Chris

I'll also recommend The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss which just came out in paperback.  Now it is part of a series (though only the first book is out) but it's a damn good read and I'm recommending it because you mentioned Harry Potter in the first post and there are some broad similarities between them. 
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Eco-Logic
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« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2008, 08:02:30 PM »

I was on my Blackberry this morning so I didn't have the time to post that I also bought these and will start one of them after reading The War of Flowers.

The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 1)    - Keyes
A Game of Thrones - Martin
 Assassin's Apprentice - Hobbs

Thanks again you all.

Chris
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2008, 08:04:48 PM »

All of those are excellent picks. 
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« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2008, 08:33:58 PM »

Quote from: Eco-Logic on April 22, 2008, 08:02:30 PM

I was on my Blackberry this morning so I didn't have the time to post that I also bought these and will start one of them after reading The War of Flowers.

The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 1)    - Keyes
A Game of Thrones - Martin
 Assassin's Apprentice - Hobbs

Thanks again you all.

Chris


One suggestion for you.  Although Martin is the cream of the crop, read that one last.  The other two series are complete, while Martin takes forever between volumes.  By the time you finish the other two series, Martin might actually release another book.
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« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2008, 08:42:16 PM »

Quote from: Gratch on April 22, 2008, 08:33:58 PM

Quote from: Eco-Logic on April 22, 2008, 08:02:30 PM

I was on my Blackberry this morning so I didn't have the time to post that I also bought these and will start one of them after reading The War of Flowers.

The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 1)    - Keyes
A Game of Thrones - Martin
 Assassin's Apprentice - Hobbs

Thanks again you all.

Chris


One suggestion for you.  Although Martin is the cream of the crop, read that one last.  The other two series are complete, while Martin takes forever between volumes.

Yeah, I tend to agree. 
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Eco-Logic
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« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2008, 01:25:23 AM »

Good advice, and thanks.

Which would you start first, Farseer Trilogy or Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone? 

Chris
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