Need book recommendations! Light-hearted fantasy or historical fiction?

Thread title’s about the gist of it. I’m running out of ideas from my local library and I’d love to get into some new series. :slight_smile:

In sci-fi/fantasy territory: I’ve read and really enjoyed, so far, the books from Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, Jasper Fforde, Christopher Moore, and David Eddings. I loved the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold and I thought The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein was okay (Stranger in a Strange Land wasn’t my cup of tea). I finished A Game of Thrones but haven’t picked up the second one yet; right now I’m just getting into the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (so good!).

As for historical fiction, I read through the entire Master and Commander series by Patrick O’Brian and really like both Pillars Of The Earth and World Without End by Ken Follett. I love anything set in medieval or renaissance England, but I’m not picky.

Any thoughts?

Try the fantasy works of Chris Bunch and Alan Cole (“The Far Kingdoms”). Or Tom Holt.

Perhaps Fantastic Historical Fiction? The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson or Mr Norrel and Johnathon Strange by Susanna Clarke would probably qualify and are amongst my favorite books. They’re light in the sense of being fairly playful and fun (though not in the sense of being easy to carry around, The Baroque Cycle probably runs north of 5,000 pages.)

“Age of Unreason” series by J. Gregory Keyes. Its an alternate history/fantasy with Benjamin Franklin as our sexy young action hero. :slight_smile:

The first book is called Newton’s Cannon

Anything by Tamora Pierce.

OK, most of it is found on the Young Adult shelves of your local library. And so the heroines (and heros) are often teens and sometimes younger. But it’s short and fun and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Most of her books are set in more or less the Middle Ages, just with Magic. Many of her books are written in Quartets, and a whole Quartet is more or less equivalent to one Adult book.

In fact, I’m told, her first quartet (the story of Alanna) started out as one adult book and when she was told it would be more likely to be published as YA lit ( which has more stringent length limitations), she divided the book in four and got them published as a quartet.

I hesitate, he’s been out of fashion for a long time, but Thomas Costain wrote some very enjoyable historical novels in the 50s and 60s. And some decent history, if you remain aware that he was not a historian, and have grains of salt handy. He was a very Anglocentric Canadian author.

Below the Salt and The Black Rose are my favorites. I also enjoyed both volumes of The Tontine; it’s set more at the dawn of the industrial age in Britain. The Silver Chalice is good also, if you can set aside the religion, and especially if you’re lucky enough to check out the original version from the library, and not the version edited to add more religion.

for historical fiction, try Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances - she pretty much invented that genre; good light reads; excellent dialogue.

going further back, there’s the Brother Cadfael series of historical mysteries, set in mid 12th century Shrewsbury and environs; written by Ellis Peters; very much in the “English cozy murder” tradition.

Another historical mystery series, set about 30 years later, is the Queen’s Man series by Sharon Kay Penman; a bit more gritty.

If you like the O’Brien series, you may find the Hornblower series by Forester, and the Ramage series by Pope of interest. I find the Hornblower series the best of the lot; Pope’s plots are interesting, but his dialogue is a bit stilted and his narrative can be a bit repetitive, as he over-uses similar phrases.

And of course, depending how recently you define “historical fiction” there’s always P.G. Wodehouse, whose stories are essentially set between 1910 and 1940, regardless of the actual publication date.

This sort of inquiry often brings out people recommending the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser; personally I don’t like that series at all, but it’s just a question of taste. (I just don’t find the concept of a villain as hero that interesting or amusing.) You might find them worth a try.

ETA: meant to say that I agree with Frank’s comments and qualifications on Costain.

Also, a lot of historical fiction in English is written from the English perspective. You might find Nigel Tranter’s series of historical novels, set in Scotland, to be interesting; written from the Scots perspective.

Some possibilities for light-hearted fantasy:

James P. Blaylock–The Elfin Ship and its sequels. Also the “Langdon St. Ives” books (this is steampunk).
Ernest Bramah–The “Kai Lung” books.
James Branch Cabell–Jurgen, Figures of Earth, and The Silver Stallion. These are all part of the “Biography of Dom Manuel of Poictesme” collection.
L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt–The “Enchanter” stories.
Arthur Conan Doyle–The Lost World
Lord Dunsany–The King of Elfland’s Daughter as well as any of his early short stories. Also the “Jorkens” stories.
Robert E. Howard–A Gent From Bear Creek or The Riot at Bucksnort (They’re the same thing; Gent is just a fix-up novelization where Riot is the anthology)
L. Ron Hubbard (yes, really)–Slaves of Sleep or Typewriter in the Sky
Keith Laumer–The Time Bender and The World Shuffler. There are two more in the series, but skip them.
Fritz Leiber–The “Fafhrd & Grey Mouser” stories.
A. Merritt–The Face in the Abyss, The Moon Pool, or The Metal Monster
Martin Millar–Anything he’s written. Urban fantasy for the counterculture.
Martin Scott–…is Martin Millar doing by-the-numbers schlocky fantasy noir. It’s fine if you’re into that sort of thing.
Michael Shea–The “Nifft” stories.
Thorne Smith–Topper; Topper Takes a Trip; The Stray Lamb; The Night Life of the Gods
Jack Vance–The “Dying Earth” stories.
And if you haven’t read Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, you owe it to yourself to do so. It’s a travelogue with the boring bits edited out.

The Drawing of the Dark, by Tim Powers was the first book that came to my mind. It is a sort of historical fantasy adventure, set in 16th century Vienna. Very entertaining, I couldn’t help but read it one sitting.

Also, for light hearted fantasy, I can recommend most of James Blaylock’s books.

I’m working on something! Be about a year though.

To tide you over, I heartily second Fritz Leiber’s “Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser” books.

I think the Game of Thrones has collapsed in it’s own epicness.

If you like the Patrick O’Brien books, you might as well go back and read the original Horatio Hornblower books by CS Forester. Or the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell, or better yet the Flashman books by George McDonald Frasier.

If you don’t mind GN’s, The Desert Peach follows the adventures of Erwin Rommel’s flamboyant younger brother, Pfirsich, and his misfit soldiers in North Africa during WWII.

If you liked Patrick O’Brian’s naval stories, I’d strongly recommend C.S. Forester’s fiction, especially his Horatio Hornblower novels. Most of his stuff is out of print, sad to say (and he wrote quite a bit of other stuff, both naval and otherwise, including The African Queen), but I know the Hornblower novels still are.
Have you read all of Chris Moore’s books? Because he has a couple of new ones out.
A lot of great fantasy and SF is out of print, but you might find reprints or used copies of these:
Robots Have no Tails and other stories by “Lewis Padgett”, which is a pseudonym used by the husband-and-wife team of Henry Kuttner and Catherine l. Moore. They both wrote quite a bit besides, both together and apart. But the stories in this series are funny
Anything by Robert Sheckley. He was a BIG influence on Douglas Adams (I swear he ripped off Sheckley’s Dimension of Miracles for his Hitchiker’s Guide, although Adams claimed he wrote his book before he read DoM) and others (if King didn’t get a lot of ideas for Running Man from The Prize of Peril, a lot of people are mistaken). Most of the movie Total Recall feels ripped off from Sheckley’s * The Status Civilixzation*. Shecklery’s work has been nominally filmed many times, but so completely changed that you’d never recognize it. And nobody seems to get his irony and wit. Look up especially his short stories from the fifties, which appeared in a number of anthologies.
Also good, witty short stories fro the fifties – Fredric Brown. And not only his short stories, but novels like Martian, Go Home, What Mad Universe, and others. The guy wrote Science Fiction, Fantasy, and straight Mysteries with equal facility and wit. I don’t know of anything in print currently, but his stuff is definitely worth digging up.

Light fantasy? A. Lee Martinez is your man. Standouts are Gil’s All-Fright Diner (about redneck vampires and werewolves), A Nameless Witch (less funny, but still light) and Monster (superb).

Simon R Green’s Blue Moon Rising, Blood and Honour, and Beyond the Blue Moon are all enjoyable reads.

Very light - but fun - reading are the Thraxas books.

For historical fiction you could try Dorothy Dunnett’s*Lymond *and *Niccolo *series. Set across Europe in the 16th and 15th centuries respectively. Not everyone’s cup of tea but if you get into them very addictive. High politics, romance, action, good history and very high quality writing. (Do read the *Lymond *books first. Although later historically they were written first and best to stick to the order of writing.)

On an entirely different note, how about James Clavell’s Asian saga, Tai Pan, Shogun, and Noble House? (The series contiues with *Whirlwind *and *Gai-Jin *but I don’t recomend them so much.) Just about the opposite of Dorothy Dunnett, the writing is iffy (not Dan Brown bad but not literary) and the history is, well, shakey but great page turners. *Shogun *and *Noble House *are each over a thousand pages but hold the interest throughout.

*Tai Pan *covers the founding of Hong Kong as a British colony in the 1840s, *Shogun *is set in feudal Japan at the begining of the 17th century, and Noble House picks up the story of the Hong Kong in the early 1960s. Each self contained but links between them, particularly *Tai Pan *and Noble House.

For light fantasy, I can recommend John C. Hines, especially The Stepsister Scheme and sequels–Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty as kick-ass action heroines.

John Moore is also good, though fairly forgettable.

Thank you, everyone, I really appreciate this! I owe you all snogs and brownies :smiley:

I’ve read a lot of P.G. Wodehouse and loved it, and I thought Three Men in a Boat was hilarious. The new Flavia de Luce series (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s Bag) has the same sort of tone, and it’s too fabulous for words.

How about historical fiction-mystery mashups? Any thoughts?

Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog is almost a homage to Three Men. Mystery, time travel & a touch of romance.

Light fantasy: Tanya Huff’s Summon the Keeper. I’m currently rereading it. There are sequels but I haven’t read them yet.

Fantasy/history blend: The Sarantium Mosaic, by Guy Gavriel Kay. Set in an alternate Byzantium. I really enjoyed it, though I didn’t care at all for the Follett book, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt.

The Matthew Shardlake historical mystery series set during the reign of Henry VIII is outstanding. Starts with Dissolution.

I also love the Joliffe books by Margaret Frazer, which are mysteries set in medieval England around an acting troupe, but they are fairly slow for some tastes. They start with A Play of Isaac, though later books are stronger.