Book Recommendations?

Spent a week at my in-laws farm in Missouri, with virtually no internet to speak of. As such, got some solid reading done.

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. A book about a young girl that joins a school training warrior nuns in a dying fantasy world. The opening line of this book is, “It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy convent Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.” It just gets better from there. The prose in this book is astonishing, and the ending is incredible. I’ve ordered the next two already.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. A group of retired mercenaries get together for one last job, rescuing the daughter of one of the members, who’s trapped in a city under siege by an army pulled right from the Monster Manual. It’s funny and really well written, kind of a “one last ride” kind of story. I tore through it, and while it works quite well as a standalone, I’m definitely interested in checking out the follow up.

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold. The cover quote that sold me was “Terry Pratchett meets Daschiell Hammett”. It’s a hard boiled noir set in a fantasy city a few years after a catastrophe ends all magic in the world, condemning all magical creatures to a slow and agonizing existence. A bitter private detective is hired to find a missing vampire who’s been working as a schoolteacher. It’s good; a solid B+. Arnold tries a bit too hard to get that noir language, and comparing him to Terry Pratchett is a wildly unfair comparison. But it completely convinced me that we need more noir fantasy books. Well worth checking out.

I’m a chapter into The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. I’ve heard great things, so I’m excited.

trichy wrote:

Spent a week at my in-laws farm in Missouri, with virtually no internet to speak of. As such, got some solid reading done.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. A group of retired mercenaries get together for one last job, rescuing the daughter of one of the members, who’s trapped in a city under siege by an army pulled right from the Monster Manual. It’s funny and really well written, kind of a “one last ride” kind of story. I tore through it, and while it works quite well as a standalone, I’m definitely interested in checking out the follow up.

You forgot to point out that it's totally based on washed up hair bands.

The sequel is pretty stand alone as well. I don't know that it really even matters what order you read them.

Noir fantasy is indeed a thing. Richard Kadry is one practitioner with his Sandman Slim series. That's also the name of the first book. Urban fantasy with some serious twists. Well written, dark with a light filling of hope and love. This is not exploitation, there are real emotions going on. Characters grow and change.

Also the Daniel Faust series, which is gentler, but also a bit more traditionally noir with magic on top. Starts with "The Long Way Down".

trichy wrote:
CaptainCrowbar wrote:
trichy wrote:

Finished A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik last night, and it was an absolute knockout. A magical school with no teachers, designed to protect students from carnivorous monsters hunting vulnerable magic users, monsters that do occasionally slip through the school's defenses to messily devour students. The main character is excellent, the world building is astonishing... it all works. It's also a remarkably compact story. I'm starting the sequel today.

I thoroughly endorse your opinion of the book, but I'll post my regular warning that the second book ends on a huge cliffhanger (and the third isn't out yet).

Finished it last night, and you're not kidding. Wholly worth it, though. At this point, Novik has completely earned my trust. Plus, this isn't a massive fantasy epic that we have to wait fifteen years for the next book... I hope.

The second book in the series is out: The Last Graduate.

I just finished it last night, and it picks right up where the first left off and starts running.

I love this series.

mateo wrote:

I love this series.

I wasn't so keen on the second one. She's a good writer, so it wasn't like I was having to force myself to finish it, but it definitely feels like a case where the set up of the world was more interesting than the action that now happens within it. Will definitely still pick up the third once it appears, but for now the series is off my recommendation list.

I missed that Leviathan Falls, the 9th (and final?) Expanse novel is out today. And I was thinking about going back through the series again before it hit. Oops.

trichy wrote:

I’m a chapter into The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. I’ve heard great things, so I’m excited.

I'm now eight chapters in, but who cares, because Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee just got dropped in my mailbox. I will be uninterested in anything else for the next day or so.

MannishBoy wrote:

I missed that Leviathan Falls, the 9th (and final?) Expanse novel is out today. And I was thinking about going back through the series again before it hit. Oops.

I am in same boat!

trichy wrote:

I’m a chapter into The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. I’ve heard great things, so I’m excited.

Let me know how this goes. While I really like the characters and world of his Night Angel trilogy, I found all the sexual violence hard to stomach.

His writing is waaaay better in the new series.

I finished Jon Peterson's Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons yesterday. This one is a bit more focused and has a stronger central narrative than his other books. It's a history of TSR as a business from its origin up through when Gary Gygax lost control of the company in 1986, and of the feud between Gygax and Dave Arneson that spanned most of that time.

Somehow Peterson got access to meeting minutes, legal documents, the TSR employee newsletter, lots and lots of correspondence, and even an audio recording Arneson made of a TV appearance by Gygax, in which Arneson can be heard yelling at the screen.

Gygax and Arneson both end up looking pretty bad. Gygax was a startup-company founder who believed way too long that his business would keep growing exponentially forever, and refused to either learn how to properly run a business himself or delegate authority for day-to-day operations to someone else. Plus, he went from poverty to wealth very quickly when D&D first got big, and kind of ran wild with it. Arneson, meanwhile, spent a large part of his life convinced that Gygax had stolen wealth and recognition that rightfully should have been his.

Anyway, I thought it was a great read. I'd heard some stories about this period and people's more colorful antics, and Peterson put them (and others I'd never heard) all into context.

Can I beg some help from everyone? There's a pitch contest on Twitter today called #PitMad, in which agents will select one-tweet-long pitches and ask for full manuscripts. People retweeting my post without the hashtags makes it a lot more visible, and boosts my chances slightly. Likes apparently don't help, but retweets do, as well as replies with thoughts and support. Any help would be really valuable.

Mr Crinkle wrote:
mateo wrote:

I love this series.

I wasn't so keen on the second one. She's a good writer, so it wasn't like I was having to force myself to finish it, but it definitely feels like a case where the set up of the world was more interesting than the action that now happens within it. Will definitely still pick up the third once it appears, but for now the series is off my recommendation list.

From what I understand...this series started off as 2 books, but midway through the 1st, Novik realized that it had to be a trilogy. As a result, Last Graduate is all setup. It's still good, despite some "middle-book-itis" going on.

Can't wait for the third.

Almost finished "Termination Shock", the latest from Neal Stephenson. It's a solid book. His pacing is finally spot on, he nails the action scenes, and his rambling digressions don't derail the plot. A good story.

Robear wrote:

Can't wait for the third.

Almost finished "Termination Shock", the latest from Neal Stephenson. It's a solid book. His pacing is finally spot on, he nails the action scenes, and his rambling digressions don't derail the plot. A good story.

Just finished. Curious what you think about the ending?

I thought it was satisfactory.

Spoiler:

It was character-focused; it did not resolve the world issues, but it tied up the character threads neatly. Good place to stop. He could do a sequel, or not, with what he has, but I though it was a very controlled conclusion.

Robear wrote:

I thought it was satisfactory.

Spoiler:

It was character-focused; it did not resolve the world issues, but it tied up the character threads neatly. Good place to stop. He could do a sequel, or not, with what he has, but I though it was a very controlled conclusion.

I think that's a fair assessment. This didn't flip my switch like a couple of his earlier books, but I definitely enjoyed it. The story itself was super tight, for me. It was almost too short.

If you haven't read any of the Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee, you need to jump on that as soon as possible. Jade Legacy might be one of the best finales I've ever read. It's ambitious, rich, and beautifully written, and an amazing exploration of family, legacy, culture, and more. It's SO GOOD.

I finished Jade City and just got Jade War through my local library.

Jade City was a fantastic mash-up of fantasy and organized crime. One of the best books I got to this year.

Just finished Mexican Gothic. Really enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone looking for a well-paced, eerie castle on the hill read.

Going to start The Echo Wifeas I've heard good things and it was immediately availble via my library in Kindle

I just finished Risen which is the 12th and final book in the Alex Verus series. It was a fun read I thoroughly enjoyed it. Somewhere around book 6 or 7 the series hits a major slump, but the last few started tying off loose ends. If you've read the first eleven, there's absolutely no reason not to read this one.

Clumber wrote:

I just finished Risen which is the 12th and final book in the Alex Verus series. It was a fun read I thoroughly enjoyed it. Somewhere around book 6 or 7 the series hits a major slump, but the last few started tying off loose ends. If you've read the first eleven, there's absolutely no reason not to read this one.

Thanks for mentioning it. I'd missed its release.

SallyNasty wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:

I missed that Leviathan Falls, the 9th (and final?) Expanse novel is out today. And I was thinking about going back through the series again before it hit. Oops.

I am in same boat!

Just finished the book and I am still processing. Personally, I loved the characters and world building. While am not sure that the landing was completely stuck, I am ultimately satisfied with the ending and how it was all resolved. An absolutely fantastic series and I am sad that it is concluded, but glad they went out on a high note.

Finally read A Desolation Called Peace, and I really loved it. I think I like it better than the first book. Maybe not, but it was still quite good.

Now on to Leviathan Falls…

Just finished The Echo Wife and about to start Midnight Library. I enjoyed Echo Wife. Was a slow burn but interesting to be in the head of the protagonist along the way.

Posted in another thread, but here are the Hugo awards.

https://www.tor.com/2021/12/18/2021-...

Mixolyde wrote:

Posted in another thread, but here are the Hugo awards.

https://www.tor.com/2021/12/18/2021-...

A good year for Murderbot! I'm thinking Network Effect may jump the line for my next read.

I just blitzed my way through the noninitial entries of Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series, a couple of which I loved (Down Among the Sticks and Bones, In an Absent Dream) and the rest of which were enjoyable but kind of middling.

firesloth wrote:

Finally read A Desolation Called Peace, and I really loved it. I think I like it better than the first book. Maybe not, but it was still quite good.

Now on to Leviathan Falls…

So glad to hear this, I really enjoyed the first book though the ending was rather abrupt.

Mixolyde wrote:

Posted in another thread, but here are the Hugo awards.

https://www.tor.com/2021/12/18/2021-...

Hell. Yes. Murderbot.

So well deserved. Murderbot really tapped a vein that no one knew existed, at just the right angle. I'm glad she has been recognized for that.