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Mewtarthio
2009-06-20, 06:47 PM
See the title. I'm looking for a new fantasy book to read, but there's kind of a lot of them out there. I find that staring at bookshelves and waiting for divine inspiration is fairly inefficient, so I'm relying on the collective experience of the entire "Media Discussions" forum to help me choose the next novel I'll read.

My preferences, in approximate order of importance:

Good characterization. This is a must. I don't really see any point in reading a novel that doesn't get inside a character's head.
Magic should be surreal and mysterious. I'm not necessarily opposed to characters having magic, so long as the novel can still maintain an air of mystery about it (ie not having everyone in the world capable of casting the same exact spell in the same exact way).
I'd prefer a modern setting, but I'm more than willing to waive that if the setting is well-thought-out and developed. In the latter case, I enjoy having setting elements introduced naturally rather than thrown in with exposition.


Note that I consider "scifi + psionics" or "scifi + aliens" to be fantasy. Also, the overall level of magic is irrelevant (I've enjoyed everything from the extremely-rare-but-powerful of A Song of Ice and Fire to the can't-swing-a-cat-in-here-without-it-turning-into-a-manticore of The Dark Tower).

So, any help would be greatly appreciated. :smallbiggrin:

Starscream
2009-06-20, 07:50 PM
Have you ever read any Discworld? They are mostly comedies in a fantasy setting, but many of them are fantastic fantasies in their own right.

The Witch novels are probably the best examples. They tend to be serious meditations on the conventions of fantasy, fairy tales and even Shakespeare, but are also hilarious and intelligent.

And for good characterization you can't do better than Granny Weatherwax. Strarting from her second appearance in Wyrd Sisters she has evolved into one of the most compelling fantasy characters I have ever encountered. I wouldn't trade her for a hundred Drizzts.

chiasaur11
2009-06-20, 07:52 PM
Have you ever read any Discworld? They are mostly comedies in a fantasy setting, but many of them are fantastic fantasies in their own right.

The Witch novels are probably the best examples. They tend to be serious meditations on the conventions of fantasy, fairy tales and even Shakespeare, but are also hilarious and intelligent.

And for good characterization you can't do better than Granny Weatherwax. Strarting from her second appearance in Wyrd Sisters she has evolved into one of the most compelling fantasy characters I have ever encountered. I wouldn't trade her for a hundred Drizzts.

I'm not sure you can't do better than Weatherwax.

I mean, Vimes at the very least comes very close.

Also: Seconded. So very hard.

Puppeteer
2009-06-20, 07:57 PM
Edited: Sorry, I didn't notice you read A Song of Ice and Fire already.

Jimor
2009-06-20, 08:04 PM
I really like David B. Coe (http://www.sff.net/people/davidbcoe/)'s Winds of the Forelands series which starts with Rules of Ascension. Very rich world, wonderful characters, and really beautifully written.

The magic is only practiced by a small number of refugees from the far south of the continent, who are given leave to practice by the ruling elite, but if they possess one of the more powerful versions, they're put to death.

You get a lot of comparisons to George R.R. Martin, except this series finished on schedule. :smallwink:

cnsvnc
2009-06-20, 08:25 PM
I'm utterly not surprised the first recommendation was Discworld. It's impossible not to mention it if you have read any. Which means this is a thirding.


I'm not sure you can't do better than Weatherwax.

I mean, Vimes at the very least comes very close.

I've always felt they were quite equal. And even though both are awesomer, I prefer Rincewind to them.
...

And for a breath of fresh air into the thread, so to speak, I'll recommend Elantris from Brandon Sanderson. Characterization isn't Pratchett awesome (then again, who is?), but it's very good. The overall atmosphere is great as well.

Starscream
2009-06-20, 08:26 PM
I mean, Vimes at the very least comes very close.

Vimes may be the best character I have ever encountered period. It's just that he is a bit less of a "fantasy character" than Esme. She's a not-exactly-wicked witch, he's a hardboiled cop. He just happens to live on Discworld.

Though some pretty weird stuff does happen to him. He has faced werewolves and vampires, fought dragons, traveled in time, and hired sentient crockery as a policeman. So I guess you can't treat him as being entirely "normal".

Incidentally, if he is ever portrayed in a live action movie, I want Alan Rickman to play him. That would be awesome beyond belief.


I've always felt they were quite equal. And even though both are awesomer, I prefer Rincewind to them.

Like him too. Never before has a protagonist made running away screaming more fascinating.

Thane of Fife
2009-06-20, 08:57 PM
Have you read any of Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine books? They certainly meet your 3rd criteria, and I would consider them to meet your first. The second is less certain - all Necromances can do the same things, for example, but they all do them differently.

JonestheSpy
2009-06-21, 12:39 AM
Judging by your criteria, I'd say you absolutely, positively must read Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke, quite possibly the best fantasy nove published since Lord of the Rings. I really mean that.

Not modern, but set in England during the early 19th century, during the era of the Napoleonic Wars - definetly a change from the standard medievalesque fantasy setting. The premise is that magic used to permeate the world and Faery regualrly interacted with the mundane plane, but it long ago retreated and no real magic had been seen for a couple hundred years. THere are 'magicians' ,but they're actually men who like to write papers and talk about the theory of magic - no one can actually do anything. Then Mr. Nolrrel appears, a man who can actually do real magic, followed soon after by Jonathon Strange, who becomes Norrel's pupil for awhile.

The characterization is amazing - up there with Dickens, really. Magic is awe-inspiring, and fairies are scary as hell.

Susanna Clarke's website is a great place to get a feel for the work.

http://www.jonathanstrange.com/

Check it out now.

chiasaur11
2009-06-21, 12:51 AM
Vimes may be the best character I have ever encountered period. It's just that he is a bit less of a "fantasy character" than Esme. She's a not-exactly-wicked witch, he's a hardboiled cop. He just happens to live on Discworld.

Though some pretty weird stuff does happen to him. He has faced werewolves and vampires, fought dragons, traveled in time, and hired sentient crockery as a policeman. So I guess you can't treat him as being entirely "normal".

Incidentally, if he is ever portrayed in a live action movie, I want Alan Rickman to play him. That would be awesome beyond belief.



Rickman is awesome, don't get me wrong, and I'm sure he'd do an excellent job, but, I dunno.

I mean, Vimes is described as a man who, if he didn't restrain himself, would just be a brute, a nasty, incredibly efficient thug, nothing more. The fact he isn't is his triumph.

Rickman's always seemed a thinker at heart, more Vetinarian. For Vimes you'd want someone worn, but still seeming able to beat you to death with his bare hands, while managing to convey a good amount of depth.

Actually, although he'd be nowhere near perfect, in a few years Adam Baldwin might be a halfway decent choice. Not saying definitely, but...

Oh, and had another possibly insane idea. Jack McBrayer (Kenneth on 30 Rock) as Carcer Dunn.

Discuss.

Trodon
2009-06-21, 12:55 AM
Not sure if this has been recommended yet but the Hunters Blades Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore amazing books.

raitalin
2009-06-21, 01:34 AM
I think "fantasy", painted with a very broad brush, is the best description of Stephen King's The Dark Tower Cycle. The story of Roland and his companions is epic fantasy writ large, and one of the finest pieces of fiction I've ever read.

The characterization is impeccable, that being what King does best, and every single one of the main characters and villains will stick with you for years to come.

The magic is mysterious, mutable, and remains undefined throughout the series, though magic is certainly present it adds to the setting more than taking center stage.

The setting is modern in some places, post-apocalyptic in others, wild-west/Victorian/medieval in still others. No matter where King takes you, however, it still feels like the world of The Tower.

I seriously can't recommend these books enough if you haven't read them.

Marillion
2009-06-21, 01:45 AM
Not sure if this book counts as fantasy or not, but I really liked The Healer by Michael Blumlein. Basically, there are two sets of sentient races: Your boring, everyday Human, and the Grotesques (Tesques for short), which are the same as humans except for two things: First, they have some sort of cranial deformity, ranging from a slight swelling to a frickin horn; Second, they have another orifice on their torso, rather like a vagina. A very small percentage of Tesques (like 1/10,000) can psychically meld with humans, root out their sickness, make the illness take a physical form, and excrete it through the extra orifice. Of course, these Tesques are found at a young age, taken from their parents by force if necessary, and trained to use their talents to best serve humans. Eventually, a healer will go through the Draining, become unable to heal anyone, and succumb to insanity and disease themselves, often before they are 25, and any healer who attempts to heal their fellow will suffer the same fate. The book follows a Healer, one with seemingly unlimited potential for ferreting out diseases, and more importantly, he seems to be immune to Draining.

The first time I read this book, I was like "Huh. Well, that was weird" and took it back to the library. But I found myself unable to stop thinking about it, and I checked it out again and reread it, and it's become one of my favorite books.

I also recommend the Shadowmarch series by Tad Williams.

Fri
2009-06-21, 01:53 AM
Bartimeaus trilogy is my favourite young adult series ever.

It's chronicled the story of the two main character, Nathaniel the upstart young wizard, and the witty genie bartimeaus. Set in alternate present day, but where solomon style magic (using spirit) is abound and with that, a lot of difference with our present. For example, the british imperium is still strong, and america is still in their hand.

The magic is mysterious and consistent, and more importantly, the characters are great. You can see nathaniel's change and the change on his relationship with bartimeaus, from the idealistic apprentice at the first book, to the dour magician at the last book.

Jonathan strange and Mr Norell is my newest favourite book.

Often described as "Arthur Conan Doyle meet Jane Austen meet Neil Gaiman" It chronicled the life of two magician from an alternate victorian age where magic was abound... at the past. In this setting, magicians in the 19th century are reduced to 'theoritical magician' that's basically something like ineffectual magic historian, and usually consisted of rich people without better things to do.

The two titular magicians were magicians who were propechied to bring magic back.

It's written in the style of Jane Austen novel, only with you know, magic. Full of charm, wit, parody and humor, beside its smart idea and writing, and somewhat realistic urban fantasy with fairy and magic in london. And it's supposed to be a real historical book, so it's filled with footnotes (sometimes even filling 3/4 of a page).

And it got Duke of Wellington defeating Napoleon with strategic and logistical use of magic!

It's a really thick book though. It may take you a while to read it.

Marillion
2009-06-21, 02:00 AM
Ooh! And the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabriel (Probably contains spoilers)

The_JJ
2009-06-21, 02:05 AM
For the more off-mainstream, I'd try the Black Company. Really connects you to the narrator, great development of the villian, fun stories about a bunch of mercenaries running around.

Fit's the first two criteria perfectly.

For the third... well, I think the author Chales Lint, does good 'modern' fantasy. Tried it, wasn't my thing, but was okay.

Worira
2009-06-21, 02:08 AM
The Opening of the World series by Harry Turtledove is excellent. Only the first two books are out, but the third should probably be published sometime this year.

EDIT: Also, The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, by the same author. Modern setting.

Joran
2009-06-21, 02:48 AM
Neil Gaiman basically fits your criteria. He writes modern fantasy, usually about fantasy that lies around the edges of what we consider normal. Of his works, I'd recommend Neverwhere or American Gods first.

Neverwhere is basically about a normal guy who gets pulled into London Below, where all the people who slip through the cracks go. People from regular London see the inhabitants of London Below as beggars or homeless when they see them at all. It's a modern urban fantasy with fun characters and is one of my favorite books.

American Gods explores why America is poor ground for gods. Shadow, recently released from jail, joins up with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, but is caught up is something larger than he can believe.

reorith
2009-06-21, 04:04 AM
Good Sir, I second Joran's statement! Sincerely I must place my weight behind an endorsement of American Gods. It will prove a delight on several levels and should you be one to enjoy analysis, it is a text to be examined from several angles including historical, and hermeneutical.

hamishspence
2009-06-21, 05:08 AM
Pete Postlethwaite and Clint Eastwood are both close approximations (Pete according to Terry Pratchett, Clint in the art)

Now that Vimes is getting old, Pete should be about right- Terry Pratchett said "I imagine him as looking something like a young Pete Postlethwaite)" in the Art of Discworld book

Brewdude
2009-06-21, 05:41 AM
Drezden files by Jim Butcher. is exactly what you are asking for.

Toastkart
2009-06-21, 05:58 AM
The Firekeeper Saga by Jane Lindskold. I very much enjoyed these books. Primarily a low magic fantasy with great character development and interaction.

Donnerjack by Roger Zelazny (finished by Jane Lindskold). This books leans more towards the sci-fi than the fantasy, but I think it fits your criteria well.

The Morgaine Stories by C.J. Cherryh. I never did get a chance to read the fourth book, but the first three were great.

Serpentine
2009-06-21, 06:58 AM
I really like Tamora Pierce, Anne McCaffery and Tad Williams. Not sure how many of those will be to your taste, but could be worth a shot. You might also like Carpetworld or Carpetland or something like that.

JabberwockySupafly
2009-06-21, 08:06 AM
Gonna have to throw in my vote for both Terry Pratchett's Discworld series which is my favourite series and I have read it several times through, and Neil Gaiman's American Gods which is this playgrounders favourite book period(to the point I read it about once a month or so... yes, it's a sad obsession but no, no I don't care).

Also, on the note of Gaiman & Pratchett. Modern Fantasy = Good Omens: The Nice & Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.

Jair Barik
2009-06-21, 08:17 AM
Garth Nix yep
Bartimaeus also yep
Discworld super yep (personally my faves are the guard books and death books)

If you don't mind the constant feeling that your reading a reworked LotR then the first 3 Shannara books are fine.

May I also direct you to Kevin Crossley Hollands Arthur books as well? They aren't strictly speaking high fantasy as there is very little extraordinary things bar Merlin and the first books titular seeing stone, but they are an interesting take upon the old English legend

hehe Good Omens is nice, though i'd say more in the realms of Parody than fantasy perhaps

Philistine
2009-06-21, 09:32 AM
I'll third (or so) the recommendation for Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. And I'll fifth or sixth the recommendation for Neil Gaiman; it's hard to go wrong with any of his stuff.

And I'll second the recommendation on Glen Cook, though I find some of his other stuff to be even better than the Black Company books - the Garrett books (hardboiled PI in fantasy land) are very good as pure humor, and the Dread Empire books are excellent "straight" fantasy with just the right amount of black humor for seasoning (IMO).

I'll also second (or third, or whatever) the recommendation for Tad Williams, though again I'd recommend starting at a different point. Specifically, one of his single-volume works - meaning either Tailchaser's Song or The War of the Flowers - rather than one of his series. If you decide you like those, then you can move on to the multi-volume stuff.

Last but not least, I'm a little surprised that the thread has gotten this far without someone at least mentioning Steven Erikson's Malazan Books of the Fallen - it's pretty massive, and it can be rough going at times, but it sounds like just what the doctor ordered for you.

Finn Solomon
2009-06-21, 09:35 AM
I'll check out Jonathan Strange based on the recommendations of this thread. I was always curious about the book, but never thought about picking it up.

Fri
2009-06-21, 09:42 AM
Just saying that I kinda worship Neil Gaiman, and neverwhere is my favourite novel, ever.

Flickerdart
2009-06-21, 09:56 AM
Monday Starts on Saturday, and its somewhat less good sequel, Tale of the Troika, by the Strugatsky brothers. Make sure you find a good translation, though.
The books were written roughly 40 years ago when there was no real classification of fantasy as a genre in Russia, so it's got some very interesting scifi elements. The main character is a programmer, for example, working with what is today hopelessly obsolete technology. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but science and magic mix in funny ways. It's also not very long. However, a number of references may be lost on a foreign reader, sadly.

dish
2009-06-21, 10:55 AM
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: read Lois McMaster Bujold (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lois_McMaster_Bujold). For fantasy you specifically want The Curse of Chalion. It contains the best characterization I have ever read in a fantasy novel (and I have read quite a lot of them). Also, the magic fits in perfectly (and mysteriously) with the setting. Medieval setting, though, not modern.

For a modern setting with great characterization and very mysterious - but completely grounded in British folk traditions - magic, I highly recommend the work of Diana Wynne Jones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Wynne_Jones). She writes YA books, but I love them just as much as an adult as I did when I was a teen. Books set in the present(ish) day include: Fire and Hemlock, Hexwood, The Time of the Ghost, The Ogre Downstairs and Eight Days of Luke.

Serpentine
2009-06-21, 11:10 AM
It's been a very, very long time since I last read it, and I can basically remember nothing about it, but The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien - same person who wrote Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - could be worth looking at. My internet's being screwy at the moment, otherwise I'd look it up to jog my memory and give you more information.

Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams is one of my favourite books. I didn't mention it specifically cuz I wasn't sure whether it was the right sort. Certainly mysterious, very weird, I think it's modernish but seeing as it's entirely from the point of view of cats, it's kinda hard to tell. I also really love Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, but I've had people disagree on that one.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-21, 11:27 AM
Ooh! And the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabriel (Probably contains spoilers)
The first was good. And of the three, Sabriel feels like it should stand alone. It operated more like a short story that got expanded on and is generally more self-contained as a novel.

The second was fun but far more flawed. It killed what little mystery the setting had left and generally annoyed me with some rather gratuitous cliches. Lirael is pretty much in its own continuity as far as I'm concerned.

Abhorsen was just an over-extended epilogue. It was literally just the cast running around trying to stop the villain before finally resorting to a deus ex machina. Oh, and Garth Nix even has to tell us about the poetic appearance that Lirael "Goldenhand" takes on -- which was just silly.

TRM
2009-06-21, 11:31 AM
Most of Diana Wynne Jones's books fit the criteria. There are lot of them, and some are aimed at young adult readers, but are generally interesting and quality.

Robin McKinley is also good. Some of her books are re-tellings of fairy tales (the ones I have read are a Robin Hood cover and a Sleeping Beauty rehashing); though she also has a pair of books "The Blue Sword" and the "Hero and the Crown" aimed at teenagers (but they're still fabulous!), as well as three miscellaneous adult novels.

"I am Legend" is also good. They made a movie of it recently; the movie sucked. The book was much more interesting, has a better ending, and gets into the main character's head well. Unfortunately, it doesn't have Will Smith.


It's been a very, very long time since I last read it, and I can basically remember nothing about it, but The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien - same person who wrote Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - could be worth looking at. My internet's being screwy at the moment, otherwise I'd look it up to jog my memory and give you more information.

I've read this too, a long time ago. As I recall, it focuses on a girl who finds a magical silver crown, and is pulled into a dangerous journey involving an evil group of some sort. Despite how clichéd my description sounds, the book really isn't. If, however, you're opposed to childrens' literature you should stay away.

Mewtarthio
2009-06-21, 11:43 AM
Wow. Tons of glowing recommendations for Discworld out there. I'd probably be convinced to give the series a shot, if only I hadn't already read twenty of those books. :smallamused:

Serpentine
2009-06-21, 11:54 AM
Unfortunately, it doesn't have Will Smith.You could pretend?

I've read this too, a long time ago. As I recall, it focuses on a girl who finds a magical silver crown, and is pulled into a dangerous journey involving an evil group of some sort. Despite how clichéd my description sounds, the book really isn't. If, however, you're opposed to childrens' literature you should stay away.That's ringing a bell. Unfortunately, there's a few books - including Talechaser's Song - that for whatever reason are just a bit off from the usual, and so I have a really hard time getting my head around them and remembering the details afterwards. All I'm left with is a nagging feeling that I really enjoyed them...

Jimor
2009-06-21, 12:05 PM
A good fantasy set in modern urban times (and written before "urban fantasy" became a sub-genre moniker) is Megan Lindholm's Wizard of the Pigeons, set in Seattle and using that location wonderfully as a backdrop. When I visited years later, it was like revisiting the book. Unfortunately, might be hard to find as I believe it's out of print.

While I haven't read them myself, her newer fantasy books that are more traditional other world style, have been very popular and a lot of my friends really like them. These are under Robin Hobb (http://www.robinhobb.com/books-main.html). Farseer trilogy, Tawny Man trilogy, and Liveship Traders trilogy.

Faulty
2009-06-21, 12:52 PM
I'm thirding the Black Company novels. The first three books can be found in a single compilation (http://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Black-Company-Glen-Cook/dp/0765319233/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245606829&sr=8-1), as can the next two and the stand alone novel (http://www.amazon.com/Books-South-Tales-Company-Chronicles/dp/0765320665/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245606829&sr=8-2). I've only read the first three, but they're damn good. Lots of focus on characterization; the world is fantasy but realistically so, if you watch my meaning; magic is also ambiguous and rare.

chiasaur11
2009-06-21, 02:11 PM
Wow. Tons of glowing recommendations for Discworld out there. I'd probably be convinced to give the series a shot, if only I hadn't already read twenty of those books. :smallamused:

Thought you might have, but there are certain obligations, you know?

thorgrim29
2009-06-21, 02:50 PM
So, Black company is good, but the Silver spike was a bit confusing for me, a bit like the author wanted to do something with Raven and Darling, but wasn't sure what.

I'll second Dresden Files, don't judge it by the series, pick up the first two books and be entranced. It's pretty much the only book series (outside Discworld) I've read that manages to be deep, compelling and laugh out loud funny at the same time (for my next trick, anvils!). Other then that, Gaiman is always good, the Slayer novels by William King are very good, but the setting is a bit hard to "get". For 40k crazygoodness, try the Gaunt's Ghosts novels by Dan Abnett. GRIMDARK sci fi at it's finest.

Finally, I'd recommend you give The Name of the Wind a read, by Patrick Rothfuss. As far as I know, the guy only has one published book, but it's incredibly good, basically, a mythic hero is hiding away from unspecified (thus far) enemies and (mostly) his past, and a professional biographer finds him. He accepts to tell him his story in 3 days, each day will be a book.
As the main character puts it once the biography starts:
"My name is Kvothe, names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to (he tells us his many names, explains a few of them). I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them. I have stolen princesses from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I thread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. i have talked to gods, loved woman, and written songs that make minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me."

Revlid
2009-06-21, 03:03 PM
Okay, so.

The Abhorsen Trilogy, by Garth Nix
This follows the titular Abhorsen, a Necromancer dedicated to putting down the Dead that others pull up. A unique magic system, some brilliant horror-fantasy moments, and great characters. The first book can be read as a standalone, so at least try that.

The Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
If you haven't heard of this series, you've been living under a rock. Hilarious, tense, thought-provoking, wise, witty, and epic. Read.

The Keys to the Kingdom series, also by Garth Nix
Modern day, but set mostly in a fantastical world closer to Alice in Wonderland meets Guillermo Del Toro and 1984 than Narnia. A young boy is chosen by the sapient Last Will And Testament of the creator to take back control of The House, apparently the control centre of the multiverse.

The Song of the Lioness/The Immortals/The Protector of the Small linked series, by Tamora Pierce
Three series, set sequentially in the same world with linked casts, these books follow their female protagonists into adulthood, from the quest of Alanna to masquerade as Alan in knight school before being dubbed the first lady knight, to the story of Daine the wildmage (druid) and the re-emergence of magical creatures into the world, to Kel, the first girl to go through knight school as one, and her attempts to protect those unable to protect themselves.

The Derkholm duology, by Diana Wynne Jones
Two fantastic deconstructions, one of LotR-style war fantasy, and the other of Harry Potter-style magic schools. Both funny and exciting.

The Assassin and Liveship Traders trilogies, by Robin Hobb
Two trilogies, in the same world but largely unlinked. In Assassin, the bastard child of a great prince is raised as the royal assassin, and Liveship Traders follows a number of characters, most nastier than others, involved with Liveships, incredibly fast and stable sapient ships.

Stardustby Neil Gaiman
A young man in historical England journies into a magical world to prove his love to a woman who'd really rather he hadn't bothered. A brilliant story, with hints of deconstruction.

And, if you're looking for Urban Fantasy:
The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher
Snarky modern-day wizard acts as a private detective and consultant for the Chicago police force.

Badgercloak
2009-06-21, 03:39 PM
Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Simarilion. No need to explain.

The Riftwar Saga. Planar invasion in a medieval setting.

The Iron Tower Trilogy. A Tolkien-esqe tale.

Any R.A. Salvatore books, the Icewind Dale trillogy would be best as it introduces the main cast. D&D.

Katherine Kurtz Deryni books, Camber of Culdi was awesome. Story of a medieval world where magic, religion, and politics collide.

The Apprentice Adept series, a parallel world of magic and science. Each Adept, ie magic user, uses only one form of magic like music, symbols, potions, ect and spells only work once, ever.

The Dark Sword Trilogy, A world where magic is life and the prince is born "dead".

Brian Jaques Redwall books, no magic but all the characters are animals in a medieval setting.

Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking glass. Always a good read.

Tain, a novelization of Irish legends. A realy good story with amazing characters. Cathbad the druid and his talking severed heads, Maeve the queen who strives against her husband causing misery to all, and Cuchulain the Hound of Ulster.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Nonsensical genius.

Hope that helps.:smallbiggrin:

Soepvork
2009-06-21, 04:28 PM
How about:

T.H. White Once and future king
Terry Brooks The Word and the Void trilogy
The Shannara series are not so bad either, especially the Heritage of Shannara

Cire II
2009-06-21, 04:44 PM
The wheel of time series by Robert Jordan is very good.only complaint is tht he writes like tolkein with three times the space.

I.e:he explains everything with way too much detail.

Serpentine
2009-06-22, 04:21 AM
The Song of the Lioness/The Immortals/The Protector of the Small linked series, by Tamora Pierce
Three series, set sequentially in the same world with linked casts, these books follow their female protagonists into adulthood, from the quest of Alanna to masquerade as Alan in knight school before being dubbed the first lady knight, to the story of Daine the wildmage (druid) and the re-emergence of magical creatures into the world, to Kel, the first girl to go through knight school as one, and her attempts to protect those unable to protect themselves.There's also Daughter of the Lioness, about Alanna's daughter, the newer Provost's Dog ones I haven't read yet that are a prequel to the Alanna series, and Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens and a couple of stand-alone related books set in a different world. I think Tamora Pierce is wonderful, and especially in the Tortall series you can actually see her get better at writing as she goes along. There's plenty of great characterisation, but it's definitely not a modern setting and they're very high-magic.

My complaint about Circle of Time is that all the characters are dispicable :smallyuk:

Damaul
2009-06-22, 05:54 AM
Drezden files by Jim Butcher. is exactly what you are asking for.


I second this motion. The charactors have a lot of personality. The magic is not cut and paste. It has a lot to do with the spacific wizards personality. Harry dresden happens to be a pretty blunt person so he is a little better at evocation ;) and it is set in modern day chicago. Harrys even in the phone book under wizard ;) if u like an underdog charactor who prevails due to quick thinking and a couple good friends this is deffinatly the series for u ;) happy hunting

Satyr
2009-06-22, 06:12 AM
The best new fantasy authors I have come across are Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch; Abercrombie's First law trilogy ("The Blade itself", "Before they are hanged" and "Last Arguement of Kings") is very well done, especially for a premiere work and does not only include very well characterized protagonists (they are not exactly shining beacons of heroism who you long to identify with, but they are the best characters this side of ASOIAF nonetheless), a surprising and well made plot and a final resolution of the plot that left me grin for over an hour. These books are delightfully black and like most good authors, Abercrombie is able to show how people are and not how he supposes them to be.
I haven't yet finnished his new book ("Best Served Cold") but the first chapters I have read are very well made as well, even though I feel that the protagonists are not as interesting as in the first book.

Lynch's Locke Lamora books are more entertaining, but also more shallow, more on the easy reading side. I like the books - which work mostly like a fantasy version of a story like "The Italian Job" or "Sneakers" - but they are fun to read. Lynch's characters are not nearly as interesting as Abercrombie's - they are generally more shallow and let's face it, the protagonist himself is too much of a supersmart genius to not annoy - but he can tell a fast and fascinating, light story.

Adumbration
2009-06-22, 06:35 AM
The Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb. It fits your bill perfectly, I think. Start with the first one, Assassin's Apprentice, naturally.

Atelm
2009-06-22, 06:35 AM
My own recommendation is The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs; it is a tad old (written in the 60's) and it may be a bit difficult to find a copy. But it's got witty writing, very good characterization, horror and the magic found in it is left fairly ambigous at parts. The setting is fairly anachronistic, for example, a magical mirror showing a 1943 baseball game (IIRC). My favourite fantasy novel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Face_in_the_Frost (contains spoilers as it details the entire plot here)

I'm also going to second, third, fourth, whatever, the people who have so far recommended the various works of Robin Hobb (The Soldier Son Trilogy, especially) or Dianna Wynne Jones (Try The Dark Lord of Derkholm).

Then there's always Ursula K. Le Guin and her writings, most notably the Earthsea series starting with A Wizard of Earthsea.

Megatron46
2009-06-22, 09:26 AM
I would second the Scott Lynch books, a good take on a the fantasy genre, but not in a medieval setting which makes a nice change.

Obviously the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series by George RR Martin, (which a lot of people have already mentioned) which is brilliant.

However, I would recommend Steven Erikson's Malazan Tales of the Fallen, starting with 'Garden's of the Moon'. They are brilliant. Epic in scale and with a brilliant magic system. Multi strand narrative from a variety of characters, in depth, detailed, slightly confusing at first but well worth the time.

He has just written the 8th book in a series of 10 and so many plot strands are now coming together. His characterisation is excellent and he is not afraid to do nasty things to characters you love!!!!!

He co-created the series with a guy called Ian Cameron Esslemont who has written two books which are part of the Malazan series and add depth and explore characters which Erikson touches on, but are not essential for the main plot...although read them anyway 'cos they're cool too!

tribble
2009-06-22, 05:06 PM
Okay, so.

The Keys to the Kingdom series, also by Garth Nix
Modern day, but set mostly in a fantastical world closer to Alice in Wonderland meets Guillermo Del Toro and 1984 than Narnia. A young boy is chosen by the sapient Last Will And Testament of the creator to take back control of The House, apparently the control centre of the multiverse.


Seconded. features a deal of religious symbolism, but not so much as to be incomprehensible. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NeonGenesisEvangelion) very good book.

KnightDisciple
2009-06-22, 05:37 PM
I second this motion. The charactors have a lot of personality. The magic is not cut and paste. It has a lot to do with the spacific wizards personality. Harry dresden happens to be a pretty blunt person so he is a little better at evocation ;) and it is set in modern day chicago. Harrys even in the phone book under wizard ;) if u like an underdog charactor who prevails due to quick thinking and a couple good friends this is deffinatly the series for u ;) happy hunting

I third it, and add Codex Alera, which is more traditional fantasy. Magic is more commonplace, but there's still surprises with it along the way. It also has a lot of intrigue and such things.

It's also awesome. It's different enough from Dresden that I can't truly compare them, other than to say they're both enjoyable.

Katasi
2009-06-23, 12:23 AM
It's been a very, very long time since I last read it, and I can basically remember nothing about it, but The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien - same person who wrote Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a good book in itself if you're up for a fantasy with a bit more of a sci-fi flavor.


Brian Jaques Redwall books, no magic but all the characters are animals in a medieval setting.

This series is great. It's written in a way that even younger readers can understand and enjoy, but is fully capable of capturing older readers and offering them a trully enjoyable read.


The wheel of time series by Robert Jordan is very good.only complaint is tht he writes like tolkein with three times the space.

I.e:he explains everything with way too much detail.

His wording is at least much simpler and easier to follow than Tolkien. The Wheel of Time series is long, but it is well thought out, interesting, has lots of well fleshed out characters (if a character appears he's more than likely fleshed out at least somewhat at some point), also deals heavily with the differences in men and women in a sort of yin-yang concept, and gives more female heroes than tolkien did.

Also, my person suggestion- the Rachel Morgan (aka The Hallows) series by Kim Harrison. Magic isn't QUITE as mysterious as some other series, except for demon magic, but it makes up for it by mixing in a good setting, as well as being a good action and mystery series. Course the lack of mysteriousness for magic is probably because the series is told through the eyes of a witch. To the majority of the people in the setting magic IS a mysterious, if slightly common, thing.

Also Mists of Avalon is a good modern rework of old Arthurian Tales from the points of view of Morgan Le Fey and Gwenfer. It's a very very good read.

Megatron46
2009-06-25, 08:00 AM
However, I would recommend Steven Erikson's Malazan Tales of the Fallen, starting with 'Garden's of the Moon'. They are brilliant. Epic in scale and with a brilliant magic system. Multi strand narrative from a variety of characters, in depth, detailed, slightly confusing at first but well worth the time.

He has just written the 8th book in a series of 10 and so many plot strands are now coming together. His characterisation is excellent and he is not afraid to do nasty things to characters you love!!!!!

He co-created the series with a guy called Ian Cameron Esslemont who has written two books which are part of the Malazan series and add depth and explore characters which Erikson touches on, but are not essential for the main plot...although read them anyway 'cos they're cool too!

Having now just finished the second Ian Cameron Esslemont book in the series, I would now argue that his books are an integral part of the story line and make up a sequence of 15 books altogether!

Estrecca
2009-06-25, 08:35 AM
I found Dark Heart (the first book of an unfinished series co-authored by Margaret Weis and her late son) to be a rather enjoyable read that fits quite nicely your requirements (modern setting, fairly solid writing, pretty good characterization and magic is definitely treated as something both mysterious and special).

Since the book gets very little love (probably because Miss Weis decided not to continue the series after the death of her son), I suggest that you check it out if you can find it somewhere.

bloodlover
2009-06-25, 08:58 AM
Just read anything written by R.A.Salvatore. That guy is awesome and his books are great. "The Dark Elf Trilogy" are my fav.

Serpentine
2009-06-25, 09:14 AM
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a good book in itself if you're up for a fantasy with a bit more of a sci-fi flavor.Huh... I don't remember any sci-fi, except maybe the fact that the rats are extra-intelligent because of a human experiment. Also it's about mice. I didn't think it'd be what he's looking for... but it is good.

Also Mists of Avalon is a good modern rework of old Arthurian Tales from the points of view of Morgan Le Fey and Gwenfer. It's a very very good read.I never did finish that book... Doesn't mean it was bad, but from what I recall it was pretty heavy going, and, well, I don't recall all that much of it... I should give it another shot sometime.

Katasi
2009-06-25, 10:41 AM
Huh... I don't remember any sci-fi, except maybe the fact that the rats are extra-intelligent because of a human experiment. Also it's about mice. I didn't think it'd be what he's looking for... but it is good.
I never did finish that book... Doesn't mean it was bad, but from what I recall it was pretty heavy going, and, well, I don't recall all that much of it... I should give it another shot sometime.

it is pretty heavy reading, took me two weeks to finish it.

Flickerdart
2009-06-25, 10:47 AM
Oh, and if you've read Hitchhiker's Guide and want more Adams, the Dirk Gently books are awesome, and if you can get your hands on the Salmon of Doubt, what little there is, is pretty good as well (plus the Genghis Khan story made me laugh).

Set
2009-06-25, 11:10 AM
The Riftwar Saga. Planar invasion in a medieval setting.

Magician, the first book in the series (and, IMO, the best) is right up there with Zelazny's Lords of Light for books that I can (and have) read over and over and over again. At least a dozen times. I have two copies of the trade paperback (both of which are held together with tape, at this point) and one of the hardback (I never bothered with the little paperbacks, since they had to split it into two books, Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master).

The sequels get increasingly epic in scope, and lose my interest quickly.

Ray Fiest and Janny Wurts also collaborated on a vaguely related series called Daughter of Empire / Servant of Empire / Mistress of Empire that is probably the best asian-style fantasy I've ever read. As with the other, the first is the best, IMO, and Daughter of Empire I've read probably three or four times. The female protagonist manages to be strong, without any skill with the sword, or with sorcery, making her a very nontraditional heroine.

Talanic
2009-06-25, 11:37 AM
Most everything I know of is already on the list. Particular kudos to Pratchett and Hobb.

Other than that, I'd like to humbly push forward my own book, unpublished as yet: http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=7961

I can't declare it great because, as the author, I'm liable to be biased, but most who've read it, liked it.

bosssmiley
2009-06-25, 02:30 PM
Wow. Tons of glowing recommendations for Discworld out there. I'd probably be convinced to give the series a shot, if only I hadn't already read twenty of those books. :smallamused:

Only 20? Fairweather fan! :smalltongue:

Neil Gaiman
David Gemmell
China Mieville

WalkingTarget
2009-06-25, 03:05 PM
Tim Powers. The man is the master of the secret history, taking real life events and tying them together with some sort of paranormal explanation.

To quote him when speaking about his novel Declare: "I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar - and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all."

I've read all of his work since Last Call and recommend any/all of it (Declare is my personal favorite). He wrote several books prior to that, but I haven't gotten around to reading them yet.

Theolotus
2009-06-25, 07:15 PM
As other's have stated:

Dresen files by Jim Butcher-modern fantasy in ways I never thought possible

Codex Aleria also by Jim Butcher-more "sword and horses" fantasy, but he charaters are devloped so well that i found myself cheering on the bad guys almost as often as the good guys

Discwolrd by Terry Pratchet-less magic, but turns alot of fantasy sterotypes into fun satire about the way we look at our modern world.

It's good stuff, and many are available at the local library. Free is always best, I think.

Megatron46
2009-06-26, 05:30 AM
Zelazny's Lords of Light.

I agree, this is an AWSOME book! Really enjoyed this, great concept. To echo the Tim Powers comment, "Annubis Gates" is also a brilliant read. On the SF front- Richard Morgan, (Richard K Morgan in the US), writes excellent, cyberpunk style, fast paced and excessively violent novels. His books are a sequence of 3- "Altered Carbon", "Broken Angels" and "Woken Furies"- read in this order. "Market Forces" and "Black Man" ("Thirteen" in the US) as stand alone novels and has just written a fantasy which I haven't read yet called "The Steel Remains". Excellent...even though he will have two graphic sex scenes in each novel, one about 100 pages in and one about 150 pages after that...I don't know why...keep interest for the slightly purvey? Who knows!

Closet_Skeleton
2009-06-27, 10:04 AM
The Wheel of Time series is long, but it is well thought out, interesting, has lots of well fleshed out characters (if a character appears he's more than likely fleshed out at least somewhat at some point), also deals heavily with the differences in men and women in a sort of yin-yang concept, and gives more female heroes than tolkien did.

Unless you trust critics, when The Wheel of Time has the same number of female heroes as Lord of the Rings, she just has more names and bodies. The joke here is that all of Robert Jordon's female characters have the same personality.

Liffguard
2009-06-27, 02:55 PM
The Prince of Nothing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_of_Nothing) by R. Scott Bakker. Amongst the best fantasy ever written IMO, and arguably on a similar level to Tolkien in terms of the depth of the world and its history.

Where it really surpasses almost all other fantasy is in its themes and characterisation. All of the characters are deeply flawed, extremely complex and very well realised with believable and consistent motivations. Even the main protagonist, who comes across to the other characters as a typical fantasy hero Marty Stu, is a very intriguing person and one of the most truly messed-up heroes in fantasy.

A fair warning though, this series is dark. A Song of Ice and Fire is a happy jaunt through a sunlit meadow compared to what goes on in Prince of Nothing. However, if you want an epic, sprawling tale of politics and war, featuring a varied cast of intricate characters and all tied together by thoughtful philosophical themes then you could do a lot worse.

kopout
2009-06-27, 03:34 PM
The Derkholm duology, by Diana Wynne Jones
Two fantastic deconstructions, one of LotR-style war fantasy, and the other of Harry Potter-style magic schools. Both funny and exciting.


Yes, especially the first one. You should also read Howl's Moving Castle (and see the movie) and Archers Goon both by the same person.

I also recommend Villains by Necessity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villains_by_Necessity) it's about good triumphing over evil, a Druid that is really dedicate to balance, and a group of badass anti-villains who try to do good by being Evil.

Jorkens
2009-06-28, 05:58 PM
I'll check out Jonathan Strange based on the recommendations of this thread. I was always curious about the book, but never thought about picking it up.
I'd add my voice to all the recommendations.

Slight caveat that it's very much character driven rather than plot driven so if you expect a fight or an explosion every other chapter you'll be disappointed, but it's really really brilliant.

GolemsVoice
2009-06-29, 07:56 AM
If you can get them, try the Caveworld-Saga by Harald Evers. I don't know how well German fantasy sells outside of Germany, and I'm guessing not very well, but if you can get you hands on him, try it. The world is refreshingly new, as is the magic system, but there is slightly adult content sometimes.

endoperez
2009-06-29, 09:30 AM
As other's have stated:

Dresen files by Jim Butcher-modern fantasy in ways I never thought possible


I tried Dresden books out during the weekend, but they disappointed pretty badly. I only read the first book, and then half of the second, and then had to take a break because the main protagonist is so stupid. From some parts, I got the same feeling about the author.

Harry is constantly almost out of money, but he never actually runs out. He's all out of money, and then he rips his last 50$ to pieces, and then he drives a taxi seven times through Chicago and still has enough money left to throw a bunch at the driver and let him keep the change.

Harry only does potions that will be important for the plot. In the first book, he makes an escape potion, which saves his life. In the second book, he almost dies (several times) because he doesn't have such a potion with him. Preparation, huh?

Harry tells an "ignorant muggle" off when she disses wolves: before they were hunted down they were the deadliest predators in North American continent, what with being able to see your warmth in total darkness (?), see well enough to count your hairs from a distance (?!), have superior sense of smell, being able to run as fast as a car (!!) etc.

The plot, when I left off, was a huge mess already. Basically, an acquantaince of Harry had to ask him for help because she wanted to create a difficult magic circle. She couldn't ask HARRY to do it, oh no, she had to do it herself, even after Harry told her it was too difficult and she couldn't pull it off. Perhaps the billionaire she was doing it for was too poor to pay Harry - wait, that doesn't make sense. Perhaps he didn't know about Chicago's only wizard - oh wait, the friend went to ask his advice. Well, perhaps Harry would have refused - except he was in so tight of a financial spot his friend paid for his advice by buying him a meal!

Then there's the soul-gaze, a nifty way to describe the character of a person who Butcher wants to write about. It happens whenever Harry (or another wizard) meets someone's eyes with his own - except when it doesn't. "He looked out of the window, straight into two yellow dots blablabla." People, even those who believe he's just a charlatan, instinctively know to avoid meeting his gaze.

Also, why is Harry bending the rules by summoning a demon (which makes several people hate his guts), but telling the demon too much would be unwise because the people who hate his guts often summon the same demon. And then he proceeds to tell everything he knows to the demon, who just goes "that's real smart Harry, how did you figure that out" - and Harry answers. It was "only" about his current job, yeah, but it's still bloody stupid.

The way magic works is decent, with little details like anything more complex than a non-mechanical pencil giving Harry trouble, and lots of magic channeled through items instead of just tossed around and about.

Flickerdart
2009-06-29, 09:43 AM
I also recommend Villains by Necessity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villains_by_Necessity) it's about good triumphing over evil, a Druid that is really dedicate to balance, and a group of badass anti-villains who try to do good by being Evil.
It's also out of print. Waaah. :smallfrown:

Brewdude
2009-06-29, 11:13 AM
I tried Dresden books out during the weekend, but they disappointed pretty badly. ...stuff...

An easier description of your issues with Harry would be to say you think he regularly carries the idiot ball (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main.IdiotBall).

endoperez
2009-06-29, 01:44 PM
An easier description of your issues with Harry would be to say you think he regularly carries the idiot ball (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main.IdiotBall).

How come "idiot ball" is easier than "idiot"? It's the same thing. I listed examples so that people who recommended the series can argue back and tell why I'm wrong. Perhaps the series gets better. Perhaps I'm just too picky. Linking to a wiki that doesn't agree with me and doesn't have examples wouldn't have made my point.

HamHam
2009-06-29, 08:25 PM
Unless you trust critics, when The Wheel of Time has the same number of female heroes as Lord of the Rings, she just has more names and bodies. The joke here is that all of Robert Jordon's female characters have the same personality.

It has two, Min, and everyone who is not Min. So that's one more than LotR.

Anyway, I would suggest:

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

Across the Face of the World by Russel Kirkpatrick

thorgrim29
2009-06-29, 08:45 PM
stuff

Dude, I realize it isn't for everyone, but I'm currently rereading the Dresden Files, and I have to agree with you, the first two books are pretty weak (and a lot of the first one goes against later established laws). And at some level, I think Harry's stupidity is kind of the point, he get's better, also a lot of his stupidity stems from the fact that he's got a pretty rigid moral code that he picked up god knows where, but it can be pretty annoying.

Seriously, give the series another chance, if you don't like Grave Peril then fine, but IMO that's where the books hit their stride, the narrative becomes funnier, the plot makes more sense, and a lot of events and supporting characters that define most of the other books are introduced/set in motion. Oh and the potions go away eventually.

endoperez
2009-06-30, 10:16 AM
Seriously, give the series another chance, if you don't like Grave Peril then fine, but IMO that's where the books hit their stride, the narrative becomes funnier, the plot makes more sense, and a lot of events and supporting characters that define most of the other books are introduced/set in motion. Oh and the potions go away eventually.

Thanks. One of the reasons I listed the things I didn't like was in the hope that someone would tell me the later books fixed them. I'll probably give Grave Peril a try sometime.

kopout
2009-07-02, 02:49 PM
It's also out of print. Waaah. :smallfrown:

True, but you should be able to find it at the library. Thats what I did.

Aptera
2009-07-03, 08:22 AM
If you want something very different from your average fantasy novel, you might try the Tales of Alvin Maker, by Orson Scott Card. I didn't read a lot of it, but the idea itself is so different it might be worth a look: Post-Revolutionary America which is just settling the area over the Appalachians, but certain people are born with inborn of magic.

McBish
2009-07-03, 01:48 PM
Patrick Rothfuss. The Name of the Wind. It is a great book. Best Fantasy Novel I have read in many many years. Very well written. Warning though, it is part of a trilogy, and we have to wait for the 2nd one to come out. He is busy in the editing process to make it another kick ass book. But you may hate me for getting you hooked to it before it comes out, not to mention the 3rd one is so far away probably.

I<3Bed
2009-07-03, 02:00 PM
Terry Brooks. The guy is a fantasy machine. I don't know how he does it, but he has five or six series, most of which take place in the Four Lands. Great characterization, and I've never seen anyone use magic quite like him. In the books, it's like magic is a character of itself, giving and taking, concerned only with balance. If you want a good read, try the Heritage of Shannara series, which begins with The Scions of Shannara. They're easy to find. I've seen like three copies of everyone of his books in my library at home, and more in bookstores like hastings.

Terry Brooks is better than Tolkien in my opinion. He not only sets up his own archetypes within these stories, he also tears them down! Its great!

...

I'm done.

Flickerdart
2009-07-03, 02:06 PM
True, but you should be able to find it at the library. Thats what I did.
There is one copy at the Toronto Public Library. But it's in Merryl holdings, which is annoying, because you're not allowed to request stuff out of that one, and can only return books straight to it. And it's downtown, annoying to get to.

Hannes
2009-07-03, 03:02 PM
I was going to suggest Dark Tower, but as you read it already...

What about some old-school S&S fantasy? Michael Moorcock, Elric stories...

zyphyr
2009-07-04, 12:10 AM
Patrick Rothfuss. The Name of the Wind.

Just picked that one up last week, excellent book.

Serpentine
2009-07-04, 01:32 AM
It occured to me recently... How about Animorphs? You said you count scifi + aliums as fantasy... It's very, very easy to read, what with being "young adult". It's also quite violent... It goes on forever and gets repetitive if you read them all one after another (every book starts with some variation of "My name is [ ]. I can't tell you the rest of my name, and neither can my friends. You see, [stuff happened], [terror], [will be tracked down and killed], [yeerks], [Andalites]." I'd really like to see the series edited into a few big books. Anyway, why I recommend it:

Good characterization. This is a must. I don't really see any point in reading a novel that doesn't get inside a character's head.Each of the main characters is an archetype - leader, hippy, warrior, comedian, outcast, exile - but each also has its own twist or complication - reluctant, insecure and with torn loyalties; reconciling pacifist nature with violent duties; is also a fashion-obsessed blonde gymnast; family issues and sensitive about wealth; has to deal with being stuck as a hawk; torn between "Andalites are right and noble and great!" and "maybe my people aren't always right...". I think they're all very well done. Every book is from the point of view of a different character, too, so you get to see inside all their heads (and those of periphery characters, if you read the non-"core" books). It's also fun to watch them all slowly go mad as the series progresses.

Magic should be surreal and mysterious. I'm not necessarily opposed to characters having magic, so long as the novel can still maintain an air of mystery about it (ie not having everyone in the world capable of casting the same exact spell in the same exact way).Well, technically it's all techology... As well as morphing there's also timetravel, and the Ellimist... I dunno what you'd call what he does.

I'd prefer a modern setting, but I'm more than willing to waive that if the setting is well-thought-out and developed. In the latter case, I enjoy having setting elements introduced naturally rather than thrown in with exposition.Modern, and (as far as I've noticed) consistent and well-developed. In fact, I'd really like to visit The Gardens...

Possible pros: Good characters, interesting and fun aliens, complex relationships, surprising amount of violence, a good deal of character development.

Possible cons: Very very short books (I can finish one in an hour) but very very long series (there's something in the vicinity of 52 of the main series, then about 4 or 5 "Megamorphs", the Ellimist, Visser Three and Andalite Chronicles with another 3 or so in each, and no doubt some others I'm missing. There's also "Alternamorphs", but I don't talk about those), aforementioned violence, may be too low-level for you.

There's also K.A.Applegate's follow-up series. I can't remember what it's called, but a bunch of modern-day teenagers are sucked into this sort of other dimension, where all the "fantasy", magic, old gods, mythical worlds and beasts, etc. retreated to. Oh, and it's under attack by aliums. I only read the first couple of books, but I think it looked reasonably good (the imagery of the road to Hel's domain, that starts as living people buried up to their necks and gradually decomposes to skinless skulls (or was it the other way round?) has really stuck with me).
edit: Everworld, apparently. "Only" 12 books.

HamHam
2009-07-05, 12:25 AM
[snip]

I second this actually. Animorphs turns into a surprisingly well-developed series.


There's also K.A.Applegate's follow-up series. I can't remember what it's called, but a bunch of modern-day teenagers are sucked into this sort of other dimension, where all the "fantasy", magic, old gods, mythical worlds and beasts, etc. retreated to. Oh, and it's under attack by aliums. I only read the first couple of books, but I think it looked reasonably good (the imagery of the road to Hel's domain, that starts as living people buried up to their necks and gradually decomposes to skinless skulls (or was it the other way round?) has really stuck with me).
edit: Everworld, apparently. "Only" 12 books.

Everworld was pretty meh. It started out strong, but then just kind of floundered. It also kind of non-ends.

Flickerdart
2009-07-07, 06:03 PM
I managed to track down a copy of Villains by Necessity (though you can't take books out of that specific collection, and they close early, so I only got 45 minutes with it) but it's really something else. I'm only 59 pages in and I recommend it already.

otakuryoga
2009-07-09, 04:22 PM
Discworld----yes

black company series from Glen Cook----yes

riftwar saga from Feist---yes


surprised no one has mentioned one of my favorite trilogies--The Deeds of Paksenarrion
Sheepfarmers Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold from Elizabeth Moon----the tale of a young woman who runs off to join a mercenary company and her rise to become a Paladin, with a few dips along the way of course.


and as for a big screen(or budget)(unlike The Colour of Magic one from last year) discworld movie----yeah i definitely see Rickman as more Vetinari--- how bout Vinnie Jones for Vimes? he looks like he could easily be a full blown thug...but isnt

Hida Reju
2009-07-10, 06:41 AM
Many of the good choices have already been talked about but I see a few that could be added in. Links are to reviews and info about books.

Hawkmistress by Marion Zimmer Bradley http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/b/marion-zimmer-bradley/hawkmistress.htm

The Complete Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen http://www.berserker.com/bk_swdcompbk.htm

The Initiate Brother by Sean Russell http://www.sfsite.com/seanrussell/theinitiatebrother.htm

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
Also pretty much anything else she wrote for the same series was enjoyable up until just after the Mage Storms. Then it started to really lose steam. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Arrows-Queen-Daw-Science-Fiction/dp/0886773784

endoperez
2009-07-10, 08:51 AM
surprised no one has mentioned one of my favorite trilogies--The Deeds of Paksenarrion
Sheepfarmers Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold from Elizabeth Moon----the tale of a young woman who runs off to join a mercenary company and her rise to become a Paladin, with a few dips along the way of course.

The first book, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, was a very nice read. It really felt like I was reading about someone who deserved power for her dedication. The second book started like a really, really generic fantasy novel, and I lost interest.

Gene Wolfe's duology, Knight and Wizard, does a better work exploring the mind of a person who adheres to very strict moral code. The books are really different, and the world of the Knight-Wizard is much, much darker. To this day, it's the only book where I've been hesitant to continue because I felt things might be going too wrong; it wasn't even because the protagonist couldn't stop it, but because he wouldn't. A knight oughtn't break his word...

Danin
2009-07-10, 10:39 PM
I will say, my current favorite book is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. While it may not be perfect, the style of writing and originality simply had me stunned. I could not recommend it more and have yet to meet a single person who has not enjoyed it throughly.

While I am a fan of the Dresden files, I would agree that they pick up after Grave Peril (With the exception of the most recent addition, which was riddled with so many plot holes that it made me cringe. There is no such thing as a 1939 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith!) and my favorite aspect of the bunch is the character development. Harry, unlike characters in so many books, does go through profound changes. He becomes more wise, more aware of the world and himself. Most the characters, in fact, go through such changes. While that may not be as important to some people, I do think that is one thing the author does better than most.

otakuryoga
2009-07-11, 10:28 PM
The first book, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, was a very nice read. It really felt like I was reading about someone who deserved power for her dedication. The second book started like a really, really generic fantasy novel, and I lost interest.

Gene Wolfe's duology, Knight and Wizard, does a better work exploring the mind of a person who adheres to very strict moral code. The books are really different, and the world of the Knight-Wizard is much, much darker. To this day, it's the only book where I've been hesitant to continue because I felt things might be going too wrong; it wasn't even because the protagonist couldn't stop it, but because he wouldn't. A knight oughtn't break his word...

yah..the 2nd book aint so great....common problem with the middle book in a trilogy....3rd book kicks ass though

Lord Loss
2009-07-12, 09:22 AM
Three Words: Read. Bartemius. Trilogy.

Also I'm a die-hard harry potter fan, so I'll tell you to read all seven...

Turcano
2009-07-12, 11:51 PM
I would suggest the Dragaera series by Steven Brust, but the requirements for magic systems might be a deal-breaker, since Brust's magic systems have something of a sci-fi flavor to them.

Vaynor
2009-07-12, 11:53 PM
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is quite good.

pflare
2009-07-13, 02:07 PM
The Safehold series by Max Weber. The first one is Off Armageddon Reef. Its fantastic and has some of the most complex characters I've ever seen and it has a broad "cast". Plus its exciting, inventive and fun.

zyphyr
2009-07-13, 03:20 PM
The Safehold series by Max Weber.

That would be David Weber.

Crel
2009-07-13, 09:07 PM
Huh. Bunch of interesting stuff on this list. From what I've seen and read from the recommendations, it looks like Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is what you're most looking for. R.A. Salvatore's stuff is good, but a little tame IMO. Somehow feels very... generic? Odd.

Personal favorite is the Wheel of Time, largely for the sheer epicness of it. Some parts feel very the same as any fantasy series, but then it has its own twists, turns, and wonders. Last book (to my knowledge) comes out this fall, and its gonna be a 2000 page monster, so be prepared.

For getting into an interesting character's head, you don't need to go any farther than Paradise Lost by John Milton. You're inside the Devil's head, seeing creation and the war in hell from his perspective. Its pretty cool. Dante's Divine Comedy is also excellent, if you can struggle through it. Both of these are difficult ('cause they are poetry) reads and heavy on philosophy and religious symbology, and will somewhat force you to learn alot. For the Divine Comedy, I recommend the John Ciardi translation, because he keeps excellent rhythm and rhyming style in the english language, and he has footnotes at the end of each chapter explaining all the mythological references, along with a summary of what occurs in each Canto at the beginning.

If you haven't read it, I recommend "It" by Steven King. Modern setting, unknown creature/adversary, pseudo-magical. Also, Dreamcatcher is very good and might be very similar to what you're looking for, minus a couple hundred pages.

Then again, I'm a heavy reader, so some of these might not be what you're looking for...

WalkingTarget
2009-07-13, 09:11 PM
Personal favorite is the Wheel of Time, largely for the sheer epicness of it. Some parts feel very the same as any fantasy series, but then it has its own twists, turns, and wonders. Last book (to my knowledge) comes out this fall, and its gonna be a 2000 page monster, so be prepared.


The latest news is that the final book is going to have to be published in multiple volumes and they're getting the ball rolling on the earlier parts as Sanderson is still working on the later ones. The first volume/third of the book should be published in a few months, then two more volumes at 1 year intervals. We'll see how that pans out.

Serpentine
2009-07-13, 11:35 PM
Personal favorite is the Wheel of Time, largely for the sheer epicness of it. Some parts feel very the same as any fantasy series, but then it has its own twists, turns, and wonders. Last book (to my knowledge) comes out this fall, and its gonna be a 2000 page monster, so be prepared.If you've read them all, when do the characters start becoming decent people? Cuz I'm not gonna even try to start reading them again unless I can be assured that they will.

Megatron46
2009-07-14, 09:27 AM
If you've read them all, when do the characters start becoming decent people? Cuz I'm not gonna even try to start reading them again unless I can be assured that they will.

Yeah I found a lot of the Wheel of Time characters really annoying, especially in books 4-8. I thought they then picked up again in books 9-11. Glad I persevered with them all, but those middle ones were hard going!

Also, for all of those who have mentioned it, I'm now halfway through 'Name of the Wind', you are all right...it is a great book!

Serpentine
2009-07-14, 10:17 AM
9-11?! Man! I gave up around the time the "great hero"-type fellow demanded that "his people", the desert-dwelling people to whom every drop of water is precious, run him a great, big, wasteful bath.I think I have trouble dealing with a book in which I want the vast majority of the main characters to get the crap beaten out of them...

Crel
2009-07-14, 12:50 PM
Well, part of what gets me through when they are douchebags to most of the world is A) the combat - fun! and B) unlike most "Chosen One" style stories, a large amount of the characters have been thrown into what they are doing with little or no choice. No Mr. Nice Harry Potter, I'm-a gonna blast you with lightning.

The translation of what I was saying is that my excuse for them being crabby is that they don't want to be doing this/destined to die in the case of Rand.

Kinda depressed now that I found out how slow the last book is going to come out... Wah!

pflare
2009-07-14, 01:17 PM
That would be David Weber.

Haha thanks. I totally spaced there. Good series though.

KerfuffleMach2
2009-07-14, 10:34 PM
I admit, I was too lazy to see if these series were recommended at all. You can slap me if they were.

Everworld
This is a series by K.A. Applegate, the author of Animorphs. The basic plot, without giving away too much, is four teens from Chicago thrown into this alternate universe made by all of the ancient gods. Norse, Greek, Aztec, Roman, Egyptian, and more. Great series, twelve books in all.

The Deepgate Codex
I think that's the name of the series. It's on the title page of each book, at least. Anyways, the author is Alan Campbell. It's only three books, and these are the only books he's written. The book titles are Scar Night, Iron Angel, and God of Clocks. Completely made up world, with it's own rules and societies and beliefs and all that. Great stuff.

Serpentine
2009-07-15, 10:22 PM
I admit, I was too lazy to see if these series were recommended at all. You can slap me if they were.

EverworldI'm more just pleasantly surprised that someone else thought of these. I should probably actually read them all sometime...

Copper8642
2009-07-15, 10:28 PM
Sorry if this is totally what you weren't looking for, and I think it kind of ignores the second rule you posted, but the Harry Potter series deserves to be read. A series of books good enough that I was depressed it was over when I finished it.

KerfuffleMach2
2009-07-15, 10:52 PM
I'm more just pleasantly surprised that someone else thought of these. I should probably actually read them all sometime...

Which ones have you read?

Serpentine
2009-07-15, 10:53 PM
The first few. It was years ago now - as they were coming out - so I can't really be more exact than that.

KerfuffleMach2
2009-07-15, 10:55 PM
Definitely should get back into them. Great stuff.

rewinn
2009-07-15, 10:57 PM
Anything by Christopher Moore!

His novels have truly delightful characters in a setting, chiefly Pine Cove, California, a small tourist town that looks like a postcard, except for the occasional demons, seamonsters and so on. If you liked "Shawn of the Dead" you'll love these.

* The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove:
When you're the last of your kind, and a little bit hungry and a little bit lonely, sometimes you just need a special friend.

* Bloodsucking Fiends:
Twentysomething "Clerks" try to hold down a job after being turned into a vampire.

* Dirty Job:
Death is really busy and recruits assistants, not necessarily on the basis of their smarts. Hey, it's a living!

* Island of the Sequined Love Nun:
Absolutely the most uncomfortable 1st chapter I've ever read. Shriekingly funny, emphasis on the shriek.

* The Stupidest Angel:
Our favorite characters from the above return for A Very Special Christmas. Unfortunately, the angel sent to grant a miracle on the 2000th year anno domini was the one who drew the short straw. Hilarity ensues when Santa rises from the dead.

NOTE:
These are adult novels. Sometimes the characters do adult things. Especially the lonely seamonster (whose eyesight isn't too good.)

Enjoy!
=========

And let me second "Good Omens" by Pratchett and Gaimen.
Imagine a Cold War spy novel in which agents in a neutral country become friends, except it's not the Cold War but Heaven vs. Hell ... and the anti-Christ wants a puppy. Hilarious!

lvl 1 fighter
2009-07-15, 10:59 PM
Have you read the Thieves World series? Each book is a collection of short stories set in the same grim and gritty medieval fantasy world. The characters develop over the course of the books - which for the characters is acutally just a few stories.

The first three books were edited by Robert Lynn Asprin and are titled:
Thieves' World / Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn / Shadows of Sanctuary

There's also a D20 version of Thieves World with quite a few supplement books. I've never found anyone to run/play a game with though. :smallfrown:

edit: Another classic series which you may have read is the Amber series from Roger Zelazny. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it.

Serpentine
2009-07-15, 11:37 PM
Definitely should get back into them. Great stuff.Pretty much the only reason I stopped reading them was because it looked as though it was going to be another ridonkulously long series a la Animorphs. Now that it's turned out they're a "mere" dozen or so, I may as well give 'em a shot... if I can find them.

rewinn
2009-07-16, 05:15 PM
For getting into an interesting character's head, you don't need to go any farther than Paradise Lost by John Milton. You're inside the Devil's head, seeing creation and the war in hell from his perspective. Its pretty cool...
The 1st chapter (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_1/index.shtml) of Paradise Lost is a total must-read. Take it slow, read it out loud. The language is beautiful, that character is the ultimate anti-hero.

The rest of the work suffers from the same problem as the movie Titanic: we know how it ends so there's no real surprises. Frankly, the action totally drags and most of the characters are a bit one-dimensional, but the language is still stately.

Hey, don't waste time reading my comments: go read it aloud now! (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_1/index.shtml)

jlvm4
2009-07-18, 06:58 PM
See the title. I'm looking for a new fantasy book to read, but there's kind of a lot of them out there. I find that staring at bookshelves and waiting for divine inspiration is fairly inefficient, so I'm relying on the collective experience of the entire "Media Discussions" forum to help me choose the next novel I'll read.

So, any help would be greatly appreciated. :smallbiggrin:

Anything by author Lois McMaster Bujold

If you are in a sci-fi mood, read her Vorkosigan Series. I would start at the chronological beginning, rather than publish order. Which means Cordelia in Shards of Honor and Barrayar. I love this series, and don't think there's a bad book in it.

If you are more into true fantasy, try her Sharing Knife series. It's a self-contained 4 book arc, with the flavor of the american west mixed with traditional fantasy.

Seriously, I love how this woman writes characters. I have read the books of these series at least 4 times each, some more than that.