Recommend me some fantasy novels

Some of the things I’ve read over the years:

Loved: Everything by Feist up to and including the Serpentwar Saga, Glen Cook’s Black Company series, A Song of Ice and Fire, some Discworld

Liked: Most of the other Discworld, “The Hobbit”, “Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb, Zelazny’s Amber

Meh: Lord of the Rings, Narnia, first three Harry Potter books, first three volumes of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, first three Wheel of Time books, Feist’s “Krondor: The Betrayal” and “Krondor: The Assassins”

Disliked but finished: Wheel of Time #4-8, “Lord Foul’s Bane,” “Krondor: Tear of the Gods” and most of the subsequent Feist books

Disliked and could not read: Gor, Cook’s Instrumentalities of the Night

Please make some recommendations.

I think you should give the fourth Harry Potter book a try, actually. The first two books are entirely intended for kids, the third is a little bit more mature, but it’s in the fourth that it picks up. Read half of it, if it doesn’t have you turning the page like mad by then, put it aside and never think of it again.

I very much liked Richard Adams’s Shardik. It’s consistently classified as fantasy, and I don’t know how else to classify it, but it’s very different from most fantasy literature, so it might not be what you’re looking for. There are no dwarves, elves, dragons or wizards.

I almost don’t want to recommend this as I was thoroughly disappointed with how the series ended, but The Gunslinger, the first book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, is at least excellent. It’s definitely fantasy but also very different in its setting from most fantasy. Guns instead of swords and a sort of semi-postapocalyptic world.

I found Across the Nightingale Floor, the first book in the Tales of the Otori trilogy, to be quite good, but the second book was kind of boring and I’ve been halfway through the third one for months now. I suppose I will force myself to finish it some day. Anyway, it’s a rather interesting setting inspired by feudal Japan, with a quite original take on magic.

I agree with most of your opinions, except for the Malazan books – I love those, even though the plot mystifies me.

You liked Assassin’s Apprentice. Have you tried Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy? The Dragonbone Chair is the first book.

Have you tried Gene Wolfe? The four books that comprise The Book of the New Sun are incredible.

How do you feel about YA? Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials are excellent, you just have to skip over the parts where he philosophizes. Or something. I can’t quite figure out his agenda. Anti-religion, maybe? The first book is The Golden Compass.

I recently read and loved Stardust by Neil Gaiman and The Book of Lost Things (a bit YA) by John Connolly.

The Prince of Nothing trilogy by R. Scott Bakker is engrossing until the third book, when endless introspection from one of the characters brought everything to a screeching halt. The first book is The Darkness That Comes Before.

If you like fantasy that reads like a caper story, try The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Or is it Steve Lynch? I’m not sure.

I very much liked the style and pace of The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie.

Have you read The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers? Awesome time travel story, and the magic puts it more in fantasy than SF.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud is great fun, but I wish he would have expanded the setting and focused on more characters. I think the story (magicians vs. commoners) begged for epic treatment, but it was still very satisfying, and funny. There’s no enough funny in fantasy.

I’ve always really liked Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. The first book is The Dragonbone Chair. It’s good high fantasy: elves, dragons, magic swords, political intrigue, and so forth. In plot and themes, it’s very Tolkeinesque, but much more accesibly written. A new king inherits the throne, and sets in motion a series of dark intrigues that threaten the fate of the world itself. Young scullery boy-turned-apprentice scholar Simon is swept up in events, and finds himself fleeing to the North, where the king’s brother has raised his flag in rebellion.

Lois McMaster Bujold has started writing fantasy, too, that’s quite good. The Curse of Chalion is a good place to start. A veteran, Cazaril, returning from long years of captivity in enemy lands, begs a position as a tutor to a young princess. When the princess is called to the capital by the ailing king, Cazaril learns that the princess and the entire, dwindling royal line is victim of a dark curse laid on the family generations ago. It’s more grounded than a lot of fantasy: all of the characters are humans, the setting is idealized medieval, but generally realistic.

If you like Cook, you’ll probably get a kick out of Steven Brust’s Jhereg novels. It’s high fantasy noir. The main character, Vlad Taltos, is a human assassin living in an elven (although they don’t use that word) city, trying to claw his way up the criminal underground. The books were written out of chronological order, so it doesn’t really matter too much where you start. I’d recommend going by date of publication, because it’s pretty cool how Brust slots all the pieces of backstory together as the series progresses. He’s also written a related series that details the earlier history of the same city, written as Three Musketeers pastiche, called The Phoenix Guard.

If you’re at all interested in urban fantasy, I can make some recommendations in that direction, too.

Try Prince Ombra A wonderful read.

I too enjoyed Cook’s Black Company series, although I believe he should have quite with 3 or at most 6.

Try Furies Series I was both pleased and disappointed when at the end of the third book I found it wasn’t a trilogy. (Pleased because there’s more. Hooray! Disappointed because I was looking forward to closure.)

For non-classic fantasy try Butcher’s other series (The Dresden files.)

I highly recommend Abarat, by Clive Barker. If at all possible, spring for the hardcover version with Barker’s own full-color oil paintings.

Also, the Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve, beginning with Mortal Engines. Strongly reminiscent of His Dark Materials but without the religious undertones and a bit more SFish.

Both of these are YA, by the way.

I loved the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I very much got wrapped up in these books. So frustrated at the last!
Also the Incarnation series by Piers Anthony. Quick but good.
I love the Rhapsody series by Elizabeth Hayden. Another series I got submerged in. Needs more!

Thank you for your feedback.

I’ve read the first three (heh, bit of a pattern here) and a portion of the fourth. The first one was excellent, and it went downhill from there IMO.

The writing and backstory are generally excellent. I just can’t accept the ‘imbalanced’ power of mages/gods/ascendants and the forced plot resolutions, and dislike most of the characters. Does Tavore emerge as one of the central characters at some point in the series?

I have tried on several occasions. It’s beautiful but very difficult to read; I have not gone farther than the middle of the second book yet.

Agreed. I’ve yet to meet anyone who remembers anything substantial from the sixth book, which isn’t a good sign.

How about Guy Gavriel Kay? Except for the Fionavar Tapestry-- I’d skip those. Tigana, The Lions of al-Rassan, A Song For Arbonne, and The Saratine Mosaic were all excellent reads.

Briefly, if I remember right.

Rubystreak recommended Tigana. Excellent book. It’s one of the first fantasies I read and it’s the reason I decided to check out more in the genre.

I think it’s good that you’re able to dump a series if you’re unhappy with it. Some readers can’t. Why plod through a book that isn’t satisfying?

How about the Antero Saga(beginning with The Far Kingdoms) by Cole and Bunch?

The True Game by Sherri S. Tepper.
Out-and-out fantasy setting, civilisation set up in a feudal manner where disputes and wars are handled by highly ritualised battles involving various magical abilites. Except that partway through it becomes science fiction. Mostly. I love it when that happens. (I hate random magic systems. If magic exists it should have a consistent set of underlying rules like physics, damnit!)

Tanya Huff

Glen Cook’s Garret novels; a hardboiled detective type in a fantasy world.

Simon Green has written a lot of good fantasy, if sometimes grim and bloody ( but the villians tend to end up splattered at the end ). His Hawk and Fisher books about a badass husband and wife City Guard team ( “We’re the law. Scary, isn’t it ?” ) in an extremely corrupt city are very good. His Forest Kindoms books are also good, and tie into the Hawk and Fisher books. Drinking Midnight Wine is one of my favorites. His Nightside series is also very good, whose protagonist is John Taylor, who has the power to find things - anything, and is another badass; gotta like someone who when someone summons monsters against him the monsters say “John Taylor ? You summoned us to take on John Fucking Taylor ?! Forget this; we don’t do suicide missions.” and vanish. In fact his stories are very high on the badass factor.

David Weber’s Bahzell books are fun, featuring the adventure’s of a reluctant champion of the God of War and Justice.

Doc Sidhe and Sidhe Devil by Aaron Allston, homages to Doc Savage set in the fair world, sister world of ours ( the “grim world” ). It’s like a larger than life 1930s, with a great deal of magic ( “devisement” ).

The Spellsong Cycle by LE Modesitt, about a female singer and music professor from Earth who ends up on a world where song and music makes magic. She’s the most powerful sorceress around, and surrounded by people who want to use her or kill her. Lots of warfare and destruction; she’s forced to smash entire kingdoms to protect herself and others.

Young Adult : The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane. Young wizards fight against entropy and it’s creator, the Lone Power. Wizardry is very, very powerful; reshaping the laws of physics powerful. And the younger a wizard is, the stronger ( but less skilled ) they are, which is why it’s the Young Wizards series.

I came in to recommend Steven Brust’s Jhereg series, but Miller beat me to it. :frowning:

Some others that you might like:

Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels
Michelle West’s Sacred Hunt/Sun Sword novels

I didn’t like the first book in the Spellsong Cycle (and didn’t read the others), mostly because I didn’t like the main character all that much.

Although I suppose they are more for younger readers, I like the ‘Wizard of Earthsea’ books by Ursula K LeGuin.

If you like the Ice and Fire series, you might enjoy The Briar King and its sequels by Greg Keyes. It’s fantasy-as-collage-art, but it’s well done

Re the Black Company series, you might enjoy the Vettius stories by David Drake. Or Killer by Drake and Karl Edward Wagner. They’re gritty fantasy set in ancient Rome.

Re Discworld: You might enjoy the Thraxas stories by Martin Scott. Nobody’s going to mistake them for great literature, and they get repetitious after a while, but they’re entertaining light reading.

Anyone else think Paladud would be a great character name for a fantasy spoof? Or is it already and I missed it?

Thank you for the suggestions. I have read Rhapsody, The True Game, and the first Earthsea book in the past. Off to Borders to find some of the others, though :slight_smile:

It’s original. Several years ago, my friends in Everquest referred to one another as duds, preceded by whatever relevant adjective. A wood elf ranger would be a wood dud; an Erudite became an erudud. My paladin, having picked up the surname Airslasher after fortyish consecutive misses on a green-con (substantially lower level) gnoll at 4.7 seconds a swing, naturally became paladud. It stuck.