Book Recommendations?

MannishBoy wrote:
Robear wrote:

Huh. Same thing for me. Very strange.

Edit - When I googled it, the actual Kindle page came up with a price box that said "This title is not currently available for purchase". Which I think means the publisher is doing some work on it. Maybe it's being updated, or reformatted, or something like that.

I've seen this several times on Audible, where stuff I've had in my wish list for a long time just goes off of Audible entirely. Probably due to some kind of legalities around the rights.

Frustrating, though.

Very. They have a lot of 'fluidity' of some of their titles. They also do 'reprints' and try to sell them to you. Their 'in library' tag won't be set. I've accidentally bought older books that i already owned thinking they were new due to the new packaging. Then there's the author's wishes and their publishing rights.

ranalin wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
Robear wrote:

Huh. Same thing for me. Very strange.

Edit - When I googled it, the actual Kindle page came up with a price box that said "This title is not currently available for purchase". Which I think means the publisher is doing some work on it. Maybe it's being updated, or reformatted, or something like that.

I've seen this several times on Audible, where stuff I've had in my wish list for a long time just goes off of Audible entirely. Probably due to some kind of legalities around the rights.

Frustrating, though.

Very. They have a lot of 'fluidity' of some of their titles. They also do 'reprints' and try to sell them to you. Their 'in library' tag won't be set. I've accidentally bought older books that i already owned thinking they were new due to the new packaging. Then there's the author's wishes and their publishing rights.

I know sometimes they even switch narrators. I think The Martian was rerecorded by Wil Wheaton and it became an Audible exclusive. Not really a good move as the original was great with RC Bray. Nothing against Wheaton, but I'd take Bray over him.

I’m about 2/3 of the way through the audiobook of Middle Game by Seanan McGuire. At this point I can strongly recommend it. It has themes of sci-fi and magic, broadly speaking, and it takes place in the modern era (1990-2020ish). Seanan spins a good yarn and fills her stories with plenty of original ideas and concepts.

I listened to about 1/3 of Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, who is one of Seanan McGuire’s nom de plums. It’s like King Kong in a way, but replace one giant ape with a colony of mermaids, who aren’t so much mermaids, as much they are murderous, intelligent, human devouring predators. I got a strong Jurassic Park vibe from the narrative. It’s centered around cryptozoologist that are trying to prove that mermaids exist. I stopped listening to it because it was a little too vanilla for my tastes. It would make a great movie that I would definitely watch, but a 17 hour audiobook was a bit longer than I was able to muster. It’s quite good, but just not for me.

I'm 4 books in to the wheel of time audiobooks... Not sure I'm interested enough for the rest of the books... The TV series got me motivated... but it's a lot of content that moves slowly.

I regret getting in to the Game of Thrones books before the show came out.... not worth the effort... after the show... man... waste of time.

I guess I don't want to end up in the same place. I enjoy the story as it goes... but I don't have a satisfying low level resolution to the plot... its like I'm in the initial part of an MMO... just keep going... I can tell there is some good here.... but is it enough for the time sink? I just want to hear people's opinions who have read it all.

I've heard the audiobooks help with the slog... so that's a plus...

manta173 wrote:

I'm 4 books in to the wheel of time audiobooks... Not sure I'm interested enough for the rest of the books... The TV series got me motivated... but it's a lot of content that moves slowly.

I regret getting in to the Game of Thrones books before the show came out.... not worth the effort... after the show... man... waste of time.

I guess I don't want to end up in the same place. I enjoy the story as it goes... but I don't have a satisfying low level resolution to the plot... its like I'm in the initial part of an MMO... just keep going... I can tell there is some good here.... but is it enough for the time sink? I just want to hear people's opinions who have read it all.

I've heard the audiobooks help with the slog... so that's a plus...

Throw away all this shizzle... and read Jack Vance.

Period.

Peoj Snamreh wrote:
manta173 wrote:

I'm 4 books in to the wheel of time audiobooks... Not sure I'm interested enough for the rest of the books... The TV series got me motivated... but it's a lot of content that moves slowly.

I regret getting in to the Game of Thrones books before the show came out.... not worth the effort... after the show... man... waste of time.

I guess I don't want to end up in the same place. I enjoy the story as it goes... but I don't have a satisfying low level resolution to the plot... its like I'm in the initial part of an MMO... just keep going... I can tell there is some good here.... but is it enough for the time sink? I just want to hear people's opinions who have read it all.

I've heard the audiobooks help with the slog... so that's a plus...

Throw away all this shizzle... and read Jack Vance.

Period.

lol That might be an add to the pile kind of thing, but I'm more of a modern writer fan when it comes to Sci-Fi. Can't follow Asimov books at all these days... too many computer the size of a building references.

I might drop the wheel and pick up Disc World as it may play more towards my current favorite series (Dresden File), but I'm in a fantasy mood most of the time.

I'd just read something like The Red Knight or Mazlan than to drag yourself by your braids getting through WoT.

manta173 wrote:

I'm 4 books in to the wheel of time audiobooks...

I can tell there is some good here.... but is it enough for the time sink?

No. We've talked about this before, but can't find it with the site search.

My take is that Wheel of Time came very early in a transitional period for fantasy. And while acknowledging that I'm painting with a very broad brush, it was one of the earliest series that wrote fantasy in a more modern voice than past writers from the 70's and 80's. At the time, it felt very fresh and very different. But in comparison with a lot of more contemporary authors, (and a bunch of just plain underlooked authors from that period and earlier) I just don't think it holds up that well. I'd recommend series like the Black Company by Glen Cook; or Memory, Thorn, and Sorrow by Tad Williams if you're looking for high fantasy from that period.

WoT was great in the early nineties, when there wasn't the amazing amount of fantastic fantasy that is currently available. Now it would kind of be a timesink whose payoff after 13 books isn't really worth the amount of effort you have to put into it in order to get there.

I have to support Peoj here. Jack Vance is the real deal. He *invented* modern fantasy and combined it with SF. He's incredibly creative. He strongly influenced Zelazny and many other modern fantasy writers. If you like Dungeons and Dragons, he's a major source for the magic system in it.

This link should give you enough of a taste - the first chapter of what was called "The Eyes of the Overlord", but now is styled "Cugel the Clever", one of Vances more famous books. If you don't enjoy it, then he's probably not for you.

Cugel the Clever wrote:

The Overworld

On the heights above the river Xzan, at the site of certain ancient ruins, Iucounu the Laughing Magician had built a manse to his private taste: an eccentric structure of steep gables, balconies, sky-walks, cupolas, together with three spiral green glass towers through which the red sunlight shone in twisted glints and peculiar colors.

Behind the manse and across the valley, low hills rolled away like dunes to the limit of vision. The sun projected shifting crescents of black shadow; otherwise the hills were unmarked, empty, solitary. The Xzan, rising in the Old Forest to the east of Almery, passed below, then three leagues to the west made junction with the Scaum. Here was Azenomei, a town old beyond memory, notable now only for its fair, which attracted folk from all the region. At Azenomei Fair Cugel had established a booth for the sale of talismans.

Cugel was a man of many capabilities, with a disposition at once flexible and pertinacious. He was long of leg, deft of hand, light of finger, soft of tongue. His hair was the blackest of black fur, growing low down his forehead, coving sharply back above his eyebrows. His darting eye, long inquisitive nose and droll mouth gave his somewhat lean and bony face an expression of vivacity, candor, and affability. He had known many vicissitudes, gaining therefrom a suppleness, a fine discretion, a mastery of both bravado and stealth. Coming into the possession of an ancient lead coffin--after discarding the contents--he had formed a number of leaden lozenges. These, stamped with appropriate seals and runes, he offered for sale at the Azenomei Fair.

Unfortunately for Cugel, not twenty paces from his booth a certain Fianosther had established a larger booth with articles of greater variety and more obvious efficacy, so that whenever Cugel halted a passerby to enlarge upon the merits of his merchandise, the passerby would like as not display an article purchased from Fianosther and go his way.

On the third day of the fair Cugel had disposed of only four periapts, at prices barely above the cost of the lead itself, while Fianosther was hard put to serve all his customers. Hoarse from bawling futile inducements, Cugel closed down his booth and approached Fianosther's place of trade in order to inspect the mode of construction and the fastenings at the door.

Fianosther, observing, beckoned him to approach. "Enter, my friend, enter. How goes your trade?"

"In all candor, not too well," said Cugel. "I am both perplexed and disappointed, for my talismans are not obviously useless."

"I can resolve your perplexity," said Fianosther. "Your booth occupies the site of the old gibbet, and has absorbed unlucky essences. But I thought to notice you examining the manner in which the timbers of my booth are joined. You will obtain a better view from within, but first I must shorten the chain of the captive erb which roams the premises during the night."

"No need," said Cugel. "My interest was cursory."

"As to the disappointment you suffer," Fianosther went on, "it need not persist. Observe these shelves. You will note that my stock is seriously depleted."

Cugel acknowledged as much. "How does this concern me?"

Fianosther pointed across the way to a man wearing garments of black. This man was small, yellow of skin, bald as a stone. His eyes resembled knots in a plank; his mouth was wide and curved in a grin of chronic mirth. "There stands Iucounu the Laughing Magician," said Fianosther. "In a short time he will come into my booth and attempt to buy a particular red libram, the casebook of Dibarcas Maior, who studied under Great Phandaal. My price is higher than he will pay, but he is a patient man, and will remonstrate for at least three hours. During this time his manse stands untenanted. It contains a vast collection of thaumaturgical artifacts, instruments, and activants, as well as curiosa, talismans, amulets and librams. I'm anxious to purchase such items. Need I say more?"

"This is all very well," said Cugel, "but would Iucounu leave his manse without guard or attendant?"

Fianosther held wide his hands. "Why not? Who would dare steal from Iucounu the Laughing Magician?"

"Precisely this thought deters me," Cugel replied. "I am a man of resource, but not insensate recklessness."

And so it begins - that's not the whole chapter, of course, just a teaser.

I’m a small chunk of the way through a Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Becky Chambers. It’s fun.

It would be hard for me to take any futuristic sci-fi seriously that didn’t reference iPhone-like personal tech. At least for humans in a futuristic setting anyway. Chambers made sure to include that.

It’s a detail that’s getting harder to overlook in heritage sci-fi like Star Trek and Star Wars.

Robear wrote:

And so it begins - that's not the whole chapter, of course, just a teaser.

Not one but two usages of 'candor'. This is persuasive to me.

I never made it out of the nineties with The Wheel of Time, and even that I feel was time wasted on a con artist. I recall a fondness for one of the brotagonists because we shared a childhood activity of throwing ourselves at the ground from too high as a nebulous preparation for adulthood.

After that I don't know if I ever got closer to fantasy than Tim Powers.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

After that I don't know if I ever got closer to fantasy than Tim Powers.

The Drawing of the Dark is one of the best books ever written.

Thanks for the teaser... Seems a little too Melvillian in his word usage. Words are fun, but if the entirety of the books are written that way I will lose interest. I guess I'm a bit plebeian... If it's just like that because it's the intro I might be game.

Scalzi, Weir, Crichton, and Butcher have been the only authors I have actively sought more content from that I can remember offhand.

I've read the first Monster Hunter book (unrelated to the video game), most of the Shannarra books and Salvatore's Drizzt books, and the even older Dragon Knight series, Eragon, Dragonrider's of Pern, Dragonlance, Game of Thrones, the Kingkiller Chronicles, and of course Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Out of those, only the Tolkein are on my recommended list, although Salvatore isn't bad if you really like the D&D stuff.

So I guess I'm not really well versed in some of the more commonly mentioned fantasy series (Earthsea, Discworld, Wheel of Time), and know little to nothing of newer works. Sanderson get's a lot of praise... but I was going to get to his writing through WoT.... now maybe I should start elsewhere.

It's nice to hear I shouldn't be forcing through WoT.... Just maybe want the snark of Butcher, and high fantasy that doesn't need 10 books to begin to grasp the depth of the world with a pile of reference notes to know who everyone is. I like Urban fantasy, but am craving some classic medieval fantasy type stuff that has some good action.

After that wall of text... maybe you GWJers understand my tastes a little. As the new Dresden book is out next week... I'll chew through it in a day or two and then will be amped up and will need more content to fill the void.

If you're looking for urban fantasy with a little snark, you might enjoy the Innkeeper Chronicles, a (so far) 5-book series about a young lady who runs an inn, by "Ilona Andrews", a pen name for a husband-and-wife writing team.

The Earth, you see, is a crossroads in the Universe proper, and those traveling through from other worlds and dimensions need places to stay hidden from the locals during transit. Innkeepers are tasked with protecting their guests from snoopy Earthlings, from other guests, and from themselves, and this can be tougher than it sounds. But they have certain resources that mundane innkeepers lack, and their magic gets stronger the more guests they have.

(If you enjoy those, they have another series that's quite involved, about a sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy Atlanta, but it's not very snarky and doesn't link closely in my mind to the Dresden Files.)

Seanan McGuire is another major urban fantasist, an incredibly prolific one. Her two main lines are the Incryptid series, about a family of monster hunters who doesn't think you're a monster just because you're not human, which puts them at serious odds with many other forces in that world, and the October Daye series, about a halfbreed Faerie woman who's trying to cut ties with Faerie and make it as a private investigator in the human world.

But she's got others, too, like the Wayward Children series, about kids who find doorways leading to other worlds... and each world is suited just exactly for that child. Some come back, and are lost back on Earth, having a terrible time adjusting to mundanity again. Those are the ones her books are about.

She also writes horror and science fiction as Mira Grant, and has a whole bunch more books there.

Between her two known pen names, she puts out two or three books a year. They're usually a good time, and occasionally verge on great. She's at her best when she's doing mythic storytelling, like in her two Ghost Stories books, Sparrow Hill Road and The Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

manta173 wrote:

Thanks for the teaser... Seems a little too Melvillian in his word usage. Words are fun, but if the entirety of the books are written that way I will lose interest. I guess I'm a bit plebeian... If it's just like that because it's the intro I might be game.

No, that's pretty typical of Vance's prose.

manta173 wrote:

Scalzi, Weir, Crichton, and Butcher have been the only authors I have actively sought more content from that I can remember offhand.

I've read the first Monster Hunter book (unrelated to the video game), most of the Shannarra books and Salvatore's Drizzt books, and the even older Dragon Knight series, Eragon, Dragonrider's of Pern, Dragonlance, Game of Thrones, the Kingkiller Chronicles, and of course Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Out of those, only the Tolkein are on my recommended list, although Salvatore isn't bad if you really like the D&D stuff.

So I guess I'm not really well versed in some of the more commonly mentioned fantasy series (Earthsea, Discworld, Wheel of Time), and know little to nothing of newer works. Sanderson get's a lot of praise... but I was going to get to his writing through WoT.... now maybe I should start elsewhere.

I was about to suggest Sanderson, based on the other names you mentioned. I recommend starting with the first Mistborn trilogy (The Final Empire and sequels), which is some of the best epic fantasy I've ever read.

Malor, your description of the Innkeeper's Chronicles reminded me of Way Station by Clifford D. Simak.

Peter F. Hamilton said in The Guardian:

Written and set in the early 1960s, this novel is very much a product of its time. Only one man on Earth has any knowledge of a vast and benevolent civilisation among the stars. Meanwhile around him he sees the cold war starting to unravel. If Earth was to be incorporated within this civilisation, almost all of our political and social problems would be over, but at the cost of independence. Does he alone have the right to make that decision? A small, quiet novel from Simak, who writes pastoral SF.

manta, here's my recs based on what you've been saying:

Wil Wight's Cradle series
Basically a fantasy kung-fu movie taken to some extreme ends. It reads really fast, and it reminds me a lot of Jim Butcher (I think it's a tad less formulaic).

The Powder Mage Series by Brian McClellan
Basically, the premise is that some people can snort gunpowder and it gives you temporary magic powers. Sounds weird, but it's actually really good, really fast-paced and well plotted. Based in a 17th century setting, which is a nice change of pace from a lot of fantasy.

Django Wexler - Shadow Campaigns
In the suprisingly large canon of "fantasy novels based on the Napoleonic campaigns", this is probably the strongest. Wexler does a really great job animating the politics of these novels, and you're always a touch uncertain about the political ground beneath the main characters.

David Anthony Durham - Acacia
Acacia cribs a lot from Game of Thrones, but it's very much its own thing. It's been awhile since I read it, but Durham is just as good as George RR Martin at throwing a curveball just when you think you've got a handle on things.

Joe Abercrombie
The above series tend more towards guilty pleasures. Abercrombie's a touch different in that he's writing rather explicitly about the interplay of power, governance, and myth. But even if you don't pay much attention to those, the stories themselves are real barn-burners. Abercrombie is probably the most "writerly" author in this bunch, but he's a lot more Hemingway than Melville.

Glen Cook - The Black Company
Really the basis for most fantasy written in the past two-and-a-half decades. The Black Company follows a mercenary company who are often working for the "wrong" side, to the extent that there is a right side. Cook's world is a horror show, dominated by magicians who's sheer power has made them distant to non-magical humanity, and it's fascinating to watch this little amoral group make their way through it. If you've ever played Myth, you'll realize how much that game was pulling from this series.

edit:
Let's add Naomi Novik to this list.
His Majesty's Dragon is a cross between the Patrick O'Brien Master and Commander series based on ships of the line in the English Navy and...Pokemon. Highly acclaimed, very quick reads, etc., etc.

My recommendations would vary depending on whether you want to have a single novel, a set of loosely connected novels set in the same world, or a 10 book epic.

I thought Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana was very good - that's a single novel.
David Gemmell is sort of the grandfather of Joe Abercrombie's style, though his books are less dark than Abercrombie. His books are independent stories in the same world. They're quite old skool heroic fantasy
I was really impressed by Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom - they're Ocean's Eleven style heist books (which I like even more than The Lies of Locke Lamora on balance). Her Shadow and Bone trilogy is a quite by the numbers bildungsroman.
There are easy ways into Sanderson - I would echo Mistborn / The Final Empire (which has lots of heist elements but is the first of three with a quite saggy middle volume) and also suggest Warbreaker (currently a solo book)
I loved the first three Black Company novels. I've gone back to them several times. Super hard boiled and muscular style.

Malor wrote:

Seanan McGuire is another major urban fantasist, an incredibly prolific one. Her two main lines are the Incryptid series, about a family of monster hunters who doesn't think you're a monster just because you're not human, which puts them at serious odds with many other forces in that world, and the October Daye series, about a halfbreed Faerie woman who's trying to cut ties with Faerie and make it as a private investigator in the human world.

I've found i like only half of her material.

ranalin wrote:
Malor wrote:

Seanan McGuire is another major urban fantasist, an incredibly prolific one. Her two main lines are the Incryptid series, about a family of monster hunters who doesn't think you're a monster just because you're not human, which puts them at serious odds with many other forces in that world, and the October Daye series, about a halfbreed Faerie woman who's trying to cut ties with Faerie and make it as a private investigator in the human world.

I've found i like only half of her material.

For urban fantasy snark sort of blended into a magical steam punk world, I highly recommend Honor Raconteur's The Case Files of Henri Davenforth series.

I would throw in a recommendation for the Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone.

Manta, yes, Vance's style is often described as "baroque". But he exhibits constant flights of fancy, throw-away details and sub-sub-plots that could be their own books, all sorts of rabidly inventive backgrounds that make the worlds he writes about seem fully lived in. If you didn't like this chapter, you won't like his style.

And "Melvillian" is to me a compliment of a mostly high order.

Here are some more traditional fantasy recommendations of books I've liked over the last few years:

Scott Lynch - Lies of Loche Lamora - Fun anti-hero series. Starts strong, gets darker and less fun
Shades of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Robin Hobb series, if you like your characters to go through bad times
Nicholas Eames The Band series, if you like your fantasy full of rock band references and puns, with tons of action
Naomi Novick if you either like dragons as fighting ships, or fairy tail types of stories like Spinning Silver or Uprooted
Tamora Pierce's Immortals if you like YA adventure stuff
Lois McMasters Bujold's Penric and Desdemona, a bunch of fun novellas set in the world of her Sharing Knife books (also good) that are all fun adventures (highly recommended). Also, her Vorkosagain saga sci fi is strong for a gazillion books. She writes rogue rapscallion characters very well.
Drew Hayes has some good series, mostly in urban fantasy or super hero genres, but his NPC series is more fantasy based.
Guy Gavriel Kay has some great novels

Urban fantasy stuff there's also tons of. Some that have been mentioned I won't hit, but you might like Jonathan Maberry, Ben Aaronovitch, Patricia Briggs, Kevin Hearne, Alex Bledsoe, Carrie Vaughn, Benedict Jacka, etc, etc.

Whatever the series that starts with Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is called.

I dunno, I kind of think a lot of fantasy is too overtly fascist to enjoy.

boogle wrote:

Whatever the series that starts with Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is called.

I dunno, I kind of think a lot of fantasy is too overtly fascist to enjoy.

They don't have a formal series name, but they all take place in or around the city of Bas-Lag.

Wow thanks GWJers. I now have a full google doc pieced together from your recommendations.

boogle wrote:

Whatever the series that starts with Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is called.

I dunno, I kind of think a lot of fantasy is too overtly fascist to enjoy.

Definitely agree. Fantasy has always had the issue of having to have modern sensibilities applied to a medieval society without the whole thing flying apart under its own cognitive dissonance.

Don't forget KJ Parker! He - a pseudonym of prolific comedic writer Tom Holt - has written a number of excellent, somewhat dark to very dark fantasy novels that celebrate the human spirit through adversity and determination. "Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City" is a marvelous recent example of his skill.