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    Default Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    I read a lot of fantasy novels. I have a shelf full of them, many of which I have read two or three times. I also have a wide pallet, but I tend to enjoy non-epic, non-heroic stories where the protagonists are morally sketchy and human, and the stakes are somewhat low.

    Some of my favorites include:
    • Neverwere, by Neil Gaiman.
    • American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.
    • Coraline, by Neil Gaiman.
    • The War of the Spider Queen series, by various authors.
    • The Dark Elf trilogy, by R. A. Salvatore.
    • Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville.
    • The City of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers.
    • Everything by Terry Pratchett.


    Some books I DON'T like include:
    • Everything by Piers Anthony. He is my nemesis.
    • Anything by James Patterson.
    • Every Dragonlance novel.


    Can you recommend anything?

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    I just started the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks. It might be to your taste - it's about a kid that lives on the street as a member of a small-time thieves guild that wants to become an assassin.

    The Black Company by Glen Cook is about a band of mercenaries. Dark humor and military fiction, written from the doctor's point of view. Actually, most of Glen Cook's work fits your criteria. If you enjoy The Black Company, you may also want to look into the The Instrumentalities of the Night series.

    Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson almost fits your criteria - the only difference being that they're trying to overthrow an evil emperor which is not exactly "low stakes".

    Tad Williams is another author to consider. His Shadowmarch books may be considered epic, but neither side of the conflict is clearly good or evil (as opposed to his previous series, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn). Also, Tailchaser's Song is quite a lot of fun - it's about a cat, written from his point of view, whose ladyfriend's family moved away and he's off on a quest to find her again.

    Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire are both epics with high stakes, and WoT is heroic on top of that, so you'll probably want to avoid those (even though I personally enjoy them).

    If you like to blend sci-fi into your reading, you could sample some Asimov (I, Robot) or Niven (Ringworld) for classics.
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    Good Omens, a collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman revolving around an angel and another angel who, "not so much fell as sauntered vaguely downwards," trying to prevent the end of days because they like living on Earth so much. Great book with a great sense of humor. Also in that vein, I can recommend the vast majority of Christopher Moore's work, the best of which being, "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal." and is possibly one of the funniest books I've ever read. Happy hunting.
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    The Standard Great Evil threatens the world. Only the Great Prophesied Hero can stop him. Oh look, there he is. Wait, what? He FAILED?!?!?

    <cut 1000 years>

    The blasted, literally* ash covered, landscape is ruled over by the god-like immortal Lord Ruler, an invincible tyrant who rules with an iron fist. Nobles enjoy endless parties and balls while trying to stay out of his way, and the vast majority of the population are peasant slaves striving to barely stay alive from day to day.

    * I mean it. There are frequent ash falls.

    And lo, a peasant resistance arises! Again. For the nth time, where no one has the slightest clue what number n is. And they hire a band of plucky peasant heroes thieves to... steal the Lord Ruler's treasury. *gasp*

    Such is the situation at the start of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. It's the first book in a trilogy, btw.

    Also of special note is the way he handles magic. Brandon Sanderson likes inventing magic systems, each of his books/series has one or more homegrown magic systems, and each magic system operates by strict rules that tend to be simple but interact in complex and interesting ways. Additionally, the characters usually do not actually know the rules of magic, not even if they are users of the magic in question, and some of what they do know might be wrong. It is occasionally possible to figure out rules that the characters don't know and use them to predict a plot twist or two.

    Fair warning, this series does develop into the more epic/heroic end of the scale eventually, but it doesn't start there and the development is very convincing and well done.
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books are my favorite series for a lot of reasons you mention besides maybe the last one. The main character is an assassin, which is about as sketchy as you can get, even if he is a nice enough guy to most people. And while it's not the style of Pratchett, the narration and a lot of the dialogue is very funny sometimes, and not in the way in which Patterson tries to be funny *shudder.*

    In terms of stakes, I'd have to liken it to Pratchett, yes, every once and a while there's a war to be stopped or some titanic force to be prevented from rising, but most of the time it's not the focus, it's just Vlad complaining as he slowly figures out how to handle things. The first book is mostly to stop a war between two organizations, if that's any indication. If you liked The Light Fantastic I don't think the whole stakes thing is too much of a problem.

    The universe is very well-established IMO, you shouldn't be too confused by the magic they talk about (since you've got experience with Salvatore's worlds, which are just as complex) unless you're supposed to be. Which does happen sometimes.
    Last note, there are 13 books, most of which are rather short, in the 200's or early 300's of pages, if that's a plus or a minus in your book.
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Check out the Spellsong Cycle by L.E. Modesitt jr.

    Its a 5 book series that involves a girl from earth, an opera singer named anna, who finds herself pulled into another world, where music is magic. Its a very patriarchal society, medieval sword and sorcery all the way. And anna has to make a place for herself in a world where being female is a weakness and only men are supposed to hold power. Its actually a pretty cool series reading as she learns the rules of this new world and proceeds to kick butt. I normally dont like the earth related fantasy stories, but this set was well done. Starts with The Soprano Sorceress.
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    If you enjoyed Perdido Street Sation by Mieville you should read the rest of what he's written, it's very good, and he keeps getting better, especially his foray into sci-fi, Embassytown.

    A great, if relatively unknown series, is the Night Wach series by Sergei Lukyanenko. It's urban fantasy largely set in Moscow which fits your criteria of moral greyness (it is Russian after all), a human cast (a large theme of his works is how to maintain one's humanity when one is so far beyond regular humans in abilities) and lower stakes (at least for the first few books, he tends to up the consequences as the series goes on). All in all it's very good.
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Gene Wolf - Book of the New Sun. ("Shadow of the Torturer",...)
    Fantasy/SciFi Fusion.
    Set in a future where the sun is dying, its never clear whether the magical events are technological or spiritual. The main character is an apprentice to the Torturer's guild, gone wrong.
    Lots of ambiguity. Lots of original ideas.
    The four books of the original series are excellent, I'm not sure about the 5th though.
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Anything by Garth Nix, my friend. Garth does phenomenal worldbuilding and approaches heavy themes in a very accessible fashion. Don't let his label as a 'children's author' fool you.


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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Well you seem to like Neil Gaiman so there is always Anansi Boys a sem sequel to American Gods.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chainsaw Hobbit View Post
    . I also have a wide pallet, but I tend to enjoy non-epic, non-heroic stories where the protagonists are morally sketchy and human, and the stakes are somewhat low.
    And it fits right in there. The protagonist is a man that learns that his father is a the god Anansi shortly after his death and then his brother visits him.
    Last edited by pffh; 2012-09-25 at 04:11 PM.
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Charles de Lint's Newford books will be right up your alley as a Gaiman fan. Start with "Dreams Underfoot"...it's a short story collection set in Newford (there are a few of those), but the stories flow so well from one to another, it has a sort of novel-like feel to it. Read it, you'll see what I mean.

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    You could also try The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch, with a good example of a thoroughly dubious central character.

    I'm manfully resisting the temptation to suggest Sorrel in Scarlet...

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    You might enjoy Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles.

    Hearne's strongly influenced by Gaiman's American Gods (something he admits in a tongue and cheek fashion), with various mythologies coming to life through the power of faith. It's a first person urban fantasy, has a generally light-tone with plenty of action. The protagonist, Atticus O'Sullivan, is the last remaining Druid, an immortal from the Irish bronze age. He's not exactly a bad person, he simply has the values one would expect from a 2000 year old Celt surrounded by equally morally dubious gods, vampires, and werewolves.

    In the first novel he's in the middle of power struggle among the Tuatha Dé Danann, one that has put him on the wrong side of the Celt God of Love over a mythical sword.

    Butcher's Dresden Files' is also worth a look, if you like detective noir mixed with contemporary urban fantasy. If you like Butcher you'll probably like Hearne, and vice versa.

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    The Witcher Saga a dark fantasy series with great humour and deconstruction of various 'heroic fantasy' tropes.

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Try Anansi B...

    Quote Originally Posted by pffh View Post
    Well you seem to like Neil Gaiman so there is always Anansi Boys a sem sequel to American Gods.
    Oh. Okay.

    In that case, how about Nigh...

    Quote Originally Posted by Weezer View Post
    A great, if relatively unknown series, is the Night Wach series by Sergei Lukyanenko.
    Right.

    Okay then, The W...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cen View Post
    The Witcher Saga a dark fantasy series with great humour and deconstruction of various 'heroic fantasy' tropes.
    Dammit!

    Might as well recommend The Dres...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    Butcher's Dresden Files' is also worth a look, if you like detective noir mixed with contemporary urban fantasy.
    Argh.


    So yeah, everything I wanted to recommend has been mentioned already.

    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    Check out the Spellsong Cycle by L.E. Modesitt jr.
    I always forget about this series. It's pretty good. Worth a try.


    There's a few others I can recommend:

    You might want to check out the Alex Verus series. Urban fantasy series, and what I like about it is that it has such a nice... provincial feel, almost. No globe-spanning conspiracies (yet, heh), just some guy dealing with his own problems - with magic. Three books so far; Fated, Cursed, Taken.

    I've mentioned the A Land Fit For Heroes series by Richard Morgan before. It's a very dark fantasy series, dealing with racism, drug abuse, homophobia, and other similar fun issues. The protagonists are only marginally more likable than the antagonists and the whole world feels... grimy. The books are The Steel Remains, The Cold Commands, and the third novel is due pretty soonish.

    But really, based on your tastes, you should find both The Witcher and Night Watch enjoyable.
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    I second Kitten Champion on Butcher's Dresden Files. If you're looking for a fast paced read then I would recommend The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (it like Ocean's Eleven, but set in an alternate magical Renaissance Italy).

    Another less well known one is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It's beautifully written, and it's a period novel in the style of Jane Austen.

    I'm mostly into science fiction books, and it's pretty hard to come up with things that haven't been mentioned yet!

    I strongly recommend The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It's probably my favorite book in the world at the moment.

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    I will second Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos Series. And fourth(?) the Dresden Files.

    I'd also recommend:

    Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series: group of college students are playing their weekly RPG with one of their professors. He also happens to be a supremely powerful wizard from an alternate world, and he sends them there (as their characters), to defeat his nemeis. They decide not to, and end up staying there and changing the world. A poor explaination of the plot, sadly...

    Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar novels. Pretty much anything she's ever written, actually... I mean that quite sincerely. There are so many that I can't even begin to describe them.

    Jennifer Roberson's Chronicles of the Cheysuli.

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Quote Originally Posted by pffh View Post
    Well you seem to like Neil Gaiman so there is always Anansi Boys a sem sequel to American Gods.
    I'll have to second this one. Along with the short story collections Fragile things and Smoke and Mirrors, both by Gaiman. (Haven't read M is for Magic yet so I can't say anything about that one.)

    And while it's not "proper" fantasy I'd still recommend looking into Three Days to Never by Tim Powers. It's been a while since I read it so the details are a bit fuzzy, but I do remember it had a similar feel as some of Neil Gaimans work, supernatural things going on in the real world, albeit with slightly higher stakes.

    And if you ever find ANYTHING by Nick Perumov in a language you understand well enough to read, go for it. He's not Gaiman, and he does go for more epic tones (but absolutely not heroic...), but there's just something there that makes me get similar vibes from his works, although... darker, so very much darker. (Think grimdark, except not ridiculous. He can be worth looking into if you get the chance.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    I will second Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos Series. And fourth(?) the Dresden Files.

    I'd also recommend:

    Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series: group of college students are playing their weekly RPG with one of their professors. He also happens to be a supremely powerful wizard from an alternate world, and he sends them there (as their characters), to defeat his nemeis. They decide not to, and end up staying there and changing the world. A poor explaination of the plot, sadly...

    Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar novels. Pretty much anything she's ever written, actually... I mean that quite sincerely. There are so many that I can't even begin to describe them.

    Jennifer Roberson's Chronicles of the Cheysuli.
    I was never a big fan of the bardic voices set of novels by Mercedes. But the Valdemar stuff is pure gold. All the valdemar books are on a timeline. I would suggest picking up the book title Foundation, and checking the time line in the front so you know what order to read them in. The first series is the Mage Wars trilogy with the Black Gryphon White Gryphon and Silver Gryphon books. That way you can start at the start, and not have any spoilers by reading them out of order.

    Also, keep in mind that there are a LOT of short story collections out there. Some with pure valdemar, others with some valdemar mixed in. Its neat because some of them do a good job of filling in a few gaps, while others just provide interesting side stories of citizens of valdemar doing their thing. Read the regular books first though, once again, avoids spoilers.
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    I support the sugestions of Dresden files, Good Omens (Loved that book, it has the pacing of Neil Gaiman with the attention for detail Pratchett has), Anansi boys, Lies of Locke Lamora (and part 2: Red Seas under Red Skies).

    I might add that even though a bit childish the Artemis Fowl series are a great read. Liek Harry potter it starts kid friendly, but the series quickly mature as mroe books get printed. I quite enjoyed (although not as good as the previously mentioned books and/or series) the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. You now, dragons, magic, melee fights etc. further more I'd add Innocent Mage and Awakened Mage (forgot the writer and too lazy to google but you should find them easily)

    if you can read Dutch or find and English translation you should try Onmagiër and Meestermagiër (one of the rarer examples of great Dutch Fantasy)

    Personally I liked the Percy Jackson books but opinions seem to be divided on how great they are, you could give them a try though.

    I think these suggestions should keep you busy for the next few months

    Ooh! another if you can find it: Colors of Steel by K. J. Parker. A book where you follow a lawyer in a country where legal disputes are settled by duelling lawyers (yes, to the death), nice twist on the legal system

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    I'd also recommend:

    Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series: group of college students are playing their weekly RPG with one of their professors. He also happens to be a supremely powerful wizard from an alternate world, and he sends them there (as their characters), to defeat his nemesis. They decide not to, and end up staying there and changing the world. A poor explaination of the plot, sadly...
    That's because there isn't a plot, after the first book or so.

    But the first book makes for beautiful reading. Agreed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LordDeathkeeper View Post
    Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books are my favorite series for a lot of reasons you mention besides maybe the last one. The main character is an assassin, which is about as sketchy as you can get, even if he is a nice enough guy to most people. And while it's not the style of Pratchett, the narration and a lot of the dialogue is very funny sometimes, and not in the way in which Patterson tries to be funny *shudder.* [snip]
    Last note, there are 13 books, most of which are rather short, in the 200's or early 300's of pages, if that's a plus or a minus in your book.
    Recommending these as well.

    There is a companion series to the ones mentioned, though. They're set prior to the main Vlad books and are written in a different style (patterned after The Three Musketeers and its sequels rather than being the "first person smartass" that is normal for the Vlad books). There are 5 volumes, each about double the length of the main books. There is a bit of a crossover between these and the most recent Vlad book, Tiassa, and that book makes less sense if you haven't read these.

    There's also a so-far standalone book in the setting, Brokedown Palace, that is set between the other two series. It's kind of a mix of the established setting, Hungarian folk tales, Marxist allegory (if you look for it - you can just as easily ignore it), and Grateful Dead lyric in-jokes.
    Last edited by WalkingTarget; 2012-10-14 at 04:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    I might add that even though a bit childish the Artemis Fowl series are a great read. Liek Harry potter it starts kid friendly, but the series quickly mature as mroe books get printed. I quite enjoyed (although not as good as the previously mentioned books and/or series) the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. You now, dragons, magic, melee fights etc.

    Personally I liked the Percy Jackson books but opinions seem to be divided on how great they are, you could give them a try though.

    I think these suggestions should keep you busy for the next few months
    i second all these books. including the 2nd series of books involving Percy Jackson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weezer View Post
    If you enjoyed Perdido Street Sation by Mieville you should read the rest of what he's written, it's very good,
    Except King Rat. Don't read King Rat.

    In all seriousness, Perdido Street Station is the second-worst book that Mieville wrote, and it is very good. So yeah, I second reading more of his things. Especially The Scar, and "The City & The City".

    Have you tried Glen Cook? Either the Black Company series or his Garrett, PI series. Both are quite strong.

    Alternately, pick up one David Eddings book and you'll have some fun. Doesn't matter which one, every series is essentially the same thing, but with different window dressing.
    Patchwork Magisters - Volume III is now available! You know, if you like that sort of thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    Alternately, pick up one David Eddings book and you'll have some fun. Doesn't matter which one, every series is essentially the same thing, but with different window dressing.
    i admit that with the possible exception of the Dreamers and the Redemption of Althaus the stories are very similiar, but i like the Belgarion novels better but that may be because of Silk and Ce'nedra i suppose. i highly recomend reading them all though.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Nevereatcars's Avatar

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a point of departure fanfic with !Scientist Harry going off to Hogwarts and kicking the "real" books in the teeth. It is literally the most popular Harry Potter fanfic, and also significantly better than the actual books. Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/...of-Rationality

    Quote Originally Posted by iulia View Post
    I strongly recommend The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It's probably my favorite book in the world at the moment.
    STRONGLY seconded. Name of the Wind is what Lord of the Rings tried to be, and then it gets BETTER. If you've ever loved anything in your life, sell it and buy Name of the Wind with the money.

    Also, if you don't like SF, Ender's Game will change your mind.
    Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is the most popular HP fanfic on the net, and, honestly, it kicks Rowling's stuff in the teeth. Read it if you ever liked any of the following: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Ender's Game, Sherlock Holmes, Science, Magic, Fantasy, Life, or Chocolate.
    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/...of-Rationality

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    ThiagoMartell's Avatar

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    I recommend the Year of Rogue Dragons. Three Forgotten Realms novels (The Rage, The Rite, The Ruin) with very interesting characters. It's amazing how well it works considering the different actors. It definitely needs more love.

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    Weezer's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    Except King Rat. Don't read King Rat.

    In all seriousness, Perdido Street Station is the second-worst book that Mieville wrote, and it is very good. So yeah, I second reading more of his things. Especially The Scar, and "The City & The City"
    Is it really that bad? It's the only thing he's written that I haven't gotten around to reading...
    At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman, and these hills, the softness of the sky, the outline of the trees at this very minute lose the illusory meaning with which we clothed them, henceforth more remote than a lost paradise.
    -Camus, An Absurd Reasoning


    Fourth Doctor avatar courtesy of Szilard

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevereatcars View Post
    STRONGLY seconded. Name of the Wind is what Lord of the Rings tried to be, and then it gets BETTER. If you've ever loved anything in your life, sell it and buy Name of the Wind with the money.

    Also, if you don't like SF, Ender's Game will change your mind.
    I disagree. At best, Name of the Wind is what LotR is SAID to be. An epic, breathtaking fantasy story, full of beautiful language, with a magical air around it; a doorstopper that you'll have a hard time putting down.

    LotR is a slow, ponderous travel/history book into a different world. It is, at times, so heavy that you have to put it down and take a break. That said, it's still well written and epic, it's just not what modern fantasy has come to be.

    Ender's Game isn't for everyone. It's an exploration of B-plot scifi movies taken seriously, it's an exploration of human nature, control, violence. One of the themes is creation and training of super-soldiers through genetic and social engineering.
    Aliens attack, and earth needs defenders - to what lengths would a military be allowed to go to, so that the survival of the human species against this threat is ensured?

    While it is a good book, and I enjoyed it, those are not themes everyone is interested in, or can enjoy.

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    Default Re: Sell Me a Fantasy Novel or Series

    Quote Originally Posted by Weezer View Post
    Is it really that bad? It's the only thing he's written that I haven't gotten around to reading...
    Well...

    It's no worse than a lot of potboiler urban fantasy stories, with the added exception that the villain is kind of dumb, and the "huge reveal" about his evil plan is basically telegraphed so explicitly that I spent most of the book just shaking my head that the main cast hadn't realized it.

    It has a few decent ideas in it, and some of the writing is okay. But on a scale from 1 to Mieville, it is barely above Terry Brooks.


    (Also, and this may just be me, but Name of the Wind didn't particularly impress me. The lead was kind of boring, and so were most of the supporting cast. I was interested in the present-day stuff, but not in his actual backstory that was the bulk of the book.)
    Patchwork Magisters - Volume III is now available! You know, if you like that sort of thing.

    Which you do.

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