Hey everybody! After successfully finishing a leisure book for the first time in over a year yesterday, I want to ride the momentum and pick up some more reading. I’m specifically interested in getting back into fantasy, but I’m not really sure where to start anymore. Do any of you fine folks have fantasy novel recommendations? They’d be much appreciated!
The Belgariad series by David Eddings is pretty good iirc, it has been almost 10 years though since i read it, my mother liked it so much my brother has the main character’s name as a middle name
My dad and I read the first one when I was a kid, but I don’t think I ever dipped into the other ones. Maybe I’ll check them out again. Thanks!
I am always a huge evangelist for the Earthsea cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin. Also her short story collection The Wind’s Twelve Quarters (which has both sci-fi and fantasy) is really good.
If you haven’t read it, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom/Abhorsen series is very good! It was the first new-to-me fantasy series I read when I got back into reading for pleasure. It has some really wonderful characters and neat worldbuilding/rules around how magic works.
Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings universe is pretty special. Start with Assassin’s Apprentice/The Farseer trilogy. If you enjoy that then you have such a great adventure ahead of you. Each trilogy in the series is pretty much standalone, but all set in the same universe. Robin’s fantasy universe is so great and I’m so glad we have so many books from her.
Seconding Lamprey’s Discworld! They’re incredibly good and well written and an utter joy to read. You can pretty much jump in anywhere,but this is a good overview of where to start with the different series.. But really, if you grab a discworld novel at random you’ll generally have a good time with it. My personal favourites are some of the Death novels, but I recently got Witches Abroad for $2 at an op shop and I’m so happy about that purchase. He does such good stuff with the witches.
brandon sanderson’s stuff is pretty good!! i started with the stormlight archive, his ongoing series, but you can also start with the mistborn series or one of his standalones (warbreaker is my favorite). most of his books are set in the same universe but on completely different planets so it’s not necessary to read them in chronological order.
i also second petrak’s recommendation of robin hobb’s work, she’s really good
important to mention that both of these authors write rather long books so be prepared for that
edit: if you’re looking for fantasy novels that are less dense, terry prachett’s discworld series is great and super funny. there are a lot of them but they absolutely do not need to be read in chronological order, and in fact you probably shouldn’t because i hear the first few books are kind of rough. there are a few characters that have arcs that last through more than one book but i didn’t even read those in chronological order and i was fine
If you’re looking for recent stuff, N.K. Jemesin’s Broken Earth trilogy’s some of the best fantasy you can find! Start w/ “The Fifth Season.” I also really like Ken Liu’s “Dandelion Dynasty” books, the second volume especially is one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in a loooonngg time
For older stuff, Small Beer Press put out a volume of some of Joan Aiken’s short stories a year or two ago, highly recommended charming spooky tales. Also gonna recommend John Bellairs’s “Face in the Frost” which is a little hard to come by these days, but compact and scary as hell!
Maybe not at all what you’re looking for, but I just wanted to share that I’ve been fascinated by African fantasy recently and have absolutely fallen in love with two books: “Wizard of the Crow” by Ngugi wa Thiongo, and “The Palm-Wine Drinkard” by Amos Tutuola.
Wizard of the Crow is an 800 page epic, there’s a powerful wizard, a corrupt dictator, an underground resistance force, and other magical/fantastical elements, but mostly I think it’s a story about hope with a bunch of really interesting characters that deal with history, race, gender, power etc.
While Palm-Wine Drinkard kind of reminded me of Homer’s Odyssey, where the main character travels across strange lands encountering many different monsters and spirits that are uniquely African. The Nigerian influence on the author’s English made this very fun and bizarre to read. Also this one’s only like a hundred pages or something.
Thanks! I’ll probably have to build up to these, but they sound really interesting and I definitley want to check them out!
Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones, is a pretty good book. It has a sequel that I bought but I’m saving it for my trip this Friday, so I’ll be able to recc it more honestly later.
Derkholm is about a wizard geneticist with a terrible boss and an unconventional family, in that a few of his kids are actually just straight up griffins. His boss has a worse boss that is using his entire world as a hot destination for interdimensional tourism, and everyone has to organize to give each tour group the chance to run through your usual fantasy story script, but everyone’s getting tired of it, so they start to conspire to end the tours once and for all…
I’m not an avid fantasy reader, but I do love Terry Pratchett.
Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy is really good. I have also enjoyed a lot of Trudi Canavan’s work. I’d recommend the Black Magician trilogy, or Age Of the Five (another trilogy).
That’s about the extent of the fantasy I’ve read in the last 10 years.
I feel slightly awkward recommending fantasy since I don’t read a lot of it (although I’m not a complete novice). I’m noting some interesting stuff down from this thread, so thanks!
But I recently read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison which I liked a lot. It’s a very compassionate fish-out-of-water story about court intrigue and a short read.
On a longer and much darker side there’s Perdido Street Station by China Miéville which I just yesterday started a reread of. It’s got two things going for it. One is The City, ie. New Crobuzon, which it’s set in. It’s a fascinating but disgusting spawn of imperialism. A lot of good passages go in on how people are subjugated by it and how the state tramps down on laborer’s rights. The other really good thing are the monsters. They’re terrifying to an extent that at least I have not seen in other fantasy. Every scene with them is great.
I do have to say that there’s one thing that I remember sticking out in a real bad way in the book, which is how a certain character is treated in the end. They do nothing to deserve it and it comes off very cheap. CW: Abuse.
I love these books very much, thank you.
I guess Wicked could sit here alongside its sequel, too. I guess.
(Should maybe note the context of this original post is these books all have queer protagonists)
The third book in the trilogy is so explicit in its socialist politics which isn’t something I’ve seen as much before in a fantasy novel. Goddamn though the protagonists are not treated well by and large.
Both of those sound really interesting. I’ll check them out! Thanks!
I’ve read Wicked a few times, but never actually got around to the sequel. I’ll see about doing a refresher and trying it out.
I’ll second several of the books/series listed so far (Abercrombie’s First Law, Bellair’s Face in the Frost, Pratchett, Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books).
A few more:
- Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is astounding (with, admittedly, the first book being a bit rocky).
- Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series is a charming look at the Napoleonic Wars…with dragons! and is much, much better (and well-thought-out) than this elevator pitch makes it sound.
- Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series (human assassin in a world full of elves), and the Phoenix Guards series (spinoff from Taltos, set a few centuries earlier, and taking the form of a delightful Dumas pastiche)
- Aliette de Bodard’s Obsidian and Blood series is a set of fantasy-mysteries with an Aztec death-priest as chief investigator.
- Howard Andrew Jones’s “Chronicles of Sword and Sand,” an excellent sword and sorcery series that’s set in Abbasid Iraq during the reign of Haroun al-Rashid.
- Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon, another series drawing upon Middle Eastern folklore and tradition.
(Also a content warning on Malazan, the First Law Trilogy, and Glen Cook’s Black Company - I love these series, but there’s some dark stuff there.)
Thank you for this! I’m excited to start checking some of thess out!
I really enjoyed The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It has a novel structure, and deals with themes related to the value/cost/reality of heroism. However, the second book in this series didn’t feel nearly as original, so it didn’t impact me in the same way.