Cool Site / A Couple of Comments on the Fantasy List

#1
Great site! As I don't have much time to spend looking for new books and authors, I find this site most helpful! So thanks to the author of this page--he/she has given me a lot to look forward to, reading-wise.

A couple of comments on the Fantasy List:

1. I expect to get a lot of flack for this, but I am no longer a fan of the Jordan series. I feel that the books are excessive in the extreme...I gave up during the book in which Perrin's wife was a captive of the Aiel. It all just felt so pointlessly stretched out, and I got bored. Furthermore, I ended up feeling like I'd kill myself if I ever had to read another passage about the inability of Rand/Perrin/Mat to figure out women, or how the females couldn't understand men. Each character should have grown in their ability to understand the other sex as they grew older and became experienced IMHO. For some reason, this GREATLY annoyed me. This is all the more disappointing for me, because the first few books are amazing--I just don't feel that the series as a whole lives up to the potential of the first few books. Perhaps I'll give it another try when the final book comes out.

2. I am fully aware that some Terry Brooks' novels are derivative...I'm assuming that is why they did not make the list. However, I really enjoyed the books that blend fantasy with our world: The Word and the Void series and The Genesis of Shannara. Both works are genre-bending, with the Genesis of Shannara series being an interesting blend of traditional fantasy and modern apocalyptic fiction. It feels very topical, given the many threats--political, environmental, terrorist, etc.--that exist today. They can also be read without having to know the other Shannara novels (I only read the first three, when I was a kid). So, while I agree that the first three Shannara books do not deserve to be on the list, I think the others I mentioned do...

I am pretty interested in genre-bending books that blend our world with fantasy worlds, and and drawn to works with a darker tone...I have read Thomas Covenant, the Gunslinger, and Feist's Faerie Tale. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 
#2
Congrats on the excellent website.

I definitely appreciate people who take the time and give detailed descriptions of series they like. Having read a few of those books i must say I agree with you your selections.

Keep on updating the site and i look forward to reading some of those books!
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#3
@atomx
Hi, and thanks for posting. I agree with you on the Jordan point. His character's idiosyncrasies become rather annoying. I love Jordan’s ability to build and describe a world, but his handling of relationships is pretty juvenile. For 4 or so books he really lost his way with the series. Fortunately, his latest book (Knife of Dreams) ties up some of the major plot lines and moves the story along. Brandon Sanderson is finishing up the last book, and he's a swell writer, so there's hope yet the series can be redeemed!

Yes, I didn't include Brook's on the list because his Shannara novels are pretty much a badly written clone of Tolkien's work. However, his latest series, Genisis of Shannara redeems Brooks in my eyes. He creates a sort of mad max with magic character; quite entertaining. Brooks is actually a pretty decent writer when he is NOT writing in his shannara world. His Word of the Void novels are far superior to his Shannara. I will actually be adding his Genisis books to the Must Reads section -- i already have the entry written up actually, I just haven't had time to include it on the Must Reads list.

If you want genre blending, you must read Mathew Stover's Heroes Die; it's exactly what you are looking for. It's on my Top 25 list so you can read my review/summary there. You should definetly read C. S. Friedman's COld Fire Trilogy. Like Hero's Die, it's what you are looking for. I'll be adding it to my Top 25 soon.You also might like Greg Keyes Age of Unreason...it blends colonial west with magic. Also read E.E. Knight's A Way of the Wolf...a blend of military fiction, sci-fi, and Fantasy. Anne Bishop's Jewel's trilogy is pretty dark and it turns the heaven and hell conceit on it's head (Satan is good and god is evil).

Hope that helps!

@whatup

Thanks, glad you find the site usefull. Expect lots of new lists and updates!
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#5
Thanks, I am glad I finally devoted the time to give the website a proper update.

Cheers
 
#7
One of my all-time favorite fantasy books is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Also I loved the Coldfire Trilogy by C. S. Friedman (Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, and Crown of Shadows). She has a new book out starting a new fantasy series, but I haven't read it yet. What's your take on these books?
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#8
Neverwhere is a great book. Really fascinating world...I prefer American Gods because of the interesting ideas about American identity that Gaiman explores, but Neverwhere is still a fantastic book. I'll be adding it to my Must Reads section.

I love C.S. Friedman's Coldfire trilogy. It's very dark, extremely well written and has very interesting anti-hero character; it's epic fantasy that refuses the title with a character who is anything but a hero... I'm going to add it to the Top 25, which means having to bump something off! But, I feel the series is quite deserving to be listed, since it's really a unique series. I try and choose great books that are different representation of fantasy rather then purely epic/high fantasy that has come to be the posterboy of the genre... I haven't read her new book; it's on my to read. I have heard it's not as good as her Coldfire trilogy though.
 
#9
I would heartily agree with recommending the Coldfire Trilogy. I'm a huge fan of books that traverse well outside the standard fantasy fair, and those most definitely do.

Any input on the Dark Elf Trilogy - R. A. Salvatore? I haven't read them, but they seem pretty interesting.

Also I would recommend reading the Faded Sun Trilogy or the Morgaine Saga by C.J. Cherryh, although the writing style is significantly different than your standard fantasy.

Very fantastic web site, considered it added to my favorites.
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#10
Dark Elf series? I would recommend avoiding it, unless you are completely new to the genre and want some light "pulp" fantasy. Salvatore is from the ol' Dungeons and Dragons' school of fantasy -- not very original and subpar writing, but some people really devour that kind of fantasy. Lot's of better stuff out there worth your time.

I did read the Faded Sun Trilogy. Good books and some good characterization, though I felt the books dragged on a bit.

Cheers!
 
#11
It is a good list but i would enclude and exclude some - stover is waaay up on my list :)
Gene Woolf(book of the new sun),
C. Mieville Scar or Perdito
Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky (new)
M. Peake - Gormenghast series
P. Kearny - 10 000 or monarchies of god
Melusine
City of saints and madman
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#12
Empire in Black and Gold -- heard of it, but haven't read it. I'll read it upon your recommendation.

C. Mieville -- I think he deserves to be on the Top 25. His books are weird, but he's an example of a top writer and his books are unique and good enough to qualify.

Genre Woolf -- a great writer who writes some of the most beautiful prose in the fantasy genre; he also explores some deep themes; however, the cost of his writing is the clarity of the plot; his books read more like a lucid dream which may not appeal to the majority of the people out there. Going from something like Robert Jordan or Terry Brooks (which unfortunately many people do, since Brooks is one of the more "popular" fantasy writers and his books are always smack in the center of the bookstore isle) to Book of the New Sun will confuse the hell out of most "new" fantasy readers. You have to really be a mature fantasy reader to appreciate the depth of his books. He deserves to be on the Almost Top 25 though for sure.

M. Peake - Gormenghast series -- like Woolf, another great author. The series is fantastic and utterly different. It's more "gothic" then actual fantasy though. It also takes a mature fantasy reader to appreciate this series. The difference between a series like say "George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire" and Peake's Gormenghast is the ease of readability. Almost any reader (whether they like fantasy or not) can pick up Martin's series and get sucked right in-- it appeals to everyone (usually). But Gormenghast is a book that you really have to be a veteran fantasy reader to read or even know about. Having said that, I may consider adding it to the Top 25, but I have a feeling the book will be unappreciated by most people.

P.Kearny -- Love his Monarchies of God. Haven't read his 10,000 yet. Not sure whether I would add it to the Top 25, but the Almost 25 list I will for sure.

City of Saints and Madman -- never read it.

Melusine -- never read it.

Thanks for the suggestions!
 
#13
Great site - I'm fairly new to the fantasy genre (life long avid reader who avoided only fantasy, sci fi, romance, and historical fiction - out of desperation to find a prolific author I'd never read I stumbled across George R.R. and oh what a lucky day that was! I still plan on avoiding the romance stuff, but have also been venturing into sci fi and historical and am just so glad to have these new genres to explore) so this web site will be a great help. I was surprised that Dave Duncan didn't even get an honorable mention, I've enjoyed his King's Blades books, but perhaps I'm so new to all of these books, that he pales in comparison (in which case i have plenty of good reading in my future). i also just enjoyed Graceling by Kristin Cashore - a little simplistic since it's YA, but still well done. Anyway, thanks for putting the site together!
 

Kiddo

Listens to The Unbeliever whine about life
#14
I'd like to thank you for the list. It has really given me hope because I haven't read more than 3 of the series mentioned. Being the more standard lord of the rings, the farseer trilogy, and too many feist books, which indeed start to bore the more I added to my list. After this I was very close to starting the Terry Goodkind series which apparently wouldn't have been a very smart move. I am indeed happy to know that there are many books that are slightly harder to find but a lot more satisfying to read.

Anyway, thanks alot for pointing out the needles to the newbes such as myself.
Greets
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#15
@Terrapin:

Dave Duncan is a great author. I will be including his (almost forgotten) series "A Man of his Word" on the "Great Fantasy Books" list. His other books are great, but I think my favorite is "A Man of His Word" -- standard fantasy but with a pretty unique twist and one of the most unique magic systems.

@Kiddo:

Glad you like the site. Only 3 books? Well, my friend, you have a long bit of great reading ahead of you :)

Good to see you avoided the NoGoodkind mistake.

Goodkind's first book, Wizard's First Rule, is an entertaining enough read, if you can live with the bad writing and terrible characterization. His other books are terrible though.

Cheers
 
#16
I really appreciate this site. Up until a while ago I was struggling to find fantasy books that I really liked. I got started on LOTR and then read the really popular ones (Harry Potter, Eragon, WOT). Now after your list I've found a lot more great books. I know I'll get bombed here, but I really liked the Sword of Truth series. I totally agree that some of the later books are absolute garbage, but I thought a few were really good reads (Wizards 1st & Temple of the Winds). Especially compared to some of the WOT books that spend 300 pages talking about the %&#*$ weather and what not (I seriouslly hope Sanderson doesn't feel obligated to pick up Jordan's habit of wasting pages). I don't really hate Jordan, just those parts of the books. Anyway, I 've read most of the top 10. The Malazan books are probably my favorite. I've read all of Erikson's and am almost done with Return of the Crimson Guard. They are fantastic. I like Fire & Ice, but I don't think they are as great as everyone else. To me Martin is a little lacking when it comes to the climax of a book. He just doesn't capture me like some others. Still they are great reads. I'm crazy about the Dark tower books. I'm not a traditional King fan but those books are awesome. As time takes it's course I think Sanderson's Mistborn books should make their way on the list. Final Empire (book 1) might be my favorite fantasy book ever. Although the other two are not quite as good, it is still a great trilogy. Sanderson is just so damn original with his ideas (Elantris included.) Once again,thaks for the list!