It's June 2021: What fantasy book are you reading?

Jakyro

Journeyed there and back again
#3
I finished A Time Of Courage yesterday ... I'll go from fantasy to crime fiction now. Jo Nesbo has a new book out, it was released today in Belgium
After that I'm thinking on read the Broken Empire series from Mark Lawrence.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#4
Currently reading A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham. Roughly halfway through and it is decent so far. Have Bloodline by Will Wight on deck. Book 9 in the Cradle series. Looking forward to getting back into that.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#6
Finished a Shadow in Summer and I landed at "meh" instead of "decent". Ultimately the plot felt like it went nowhere and I can't imagine how the author found 4 books out of this. Very little magic, very little of anything exciting ever happening, and really just felt like a whole lot of nothing in the end. Wasn't fond of any of the characters either.

This was a book I have known about for a long time and never read because it didn't sound interesting to me but as much as I have read at this point I have to start digging to find new stuff to give a try. My experience to this point has shown me that my instincts are usually right and there are good reasons I never picked up some of these books along the way. I am curious how many of you have examples where you weren't overly excited about a book or series and were surprised by how much you enjoyed it. I can't think of any good examples for myself as I am asking this. For me it is usually either I expect good and it is met, or I am disappointed. Or I have no expectations going in and get either of those results. I can't think of one where I expected not to like it and ended up liking it.
 

Jakyro

Journeyed there and back again
#7
Finished a Shadow in Summer and I landed at "meh" instead of "decent". Ultimately the plot felt like it went nowhere and I can't imagine how the author found 4 books out of this. Very little magic, very little of anything exciting ever happening, and really just felt like a whole lot of nothing in the end. Wasn't fond of any of the characters either.
I have to say I didn't really like this series either. I know some other members here did, but I mostly had a 'meh' feeling as well.
I am however a completist so I did finish the whole series. I liked the third book the best as that one did have a more interesting plot, but don't expect anything too spectacular either. The fourth and final book was 'the worst' of the bunch
 
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kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#8
I am curious how many of you have examples where you weren't overly excited about a book or series and were surprised by how much you enjoyed it.
This was the Memory Sorrow and Thorn series for me, as we discussed last month. Went in thinking I wouldn't like it, tried twice unsuccessfully, and finally made myself read and finish it and ended up buying the other two books even before I finished it, and I'm loving the second trilogy.

I just finished The Broken Eye last night, book 3 in the Lightbringer series. I stopped about halfway on my first try back a couple years ago and made myself read it straight through from the beginning this time. I can see now why I quit the first time, again about halfway. The story I liked in books 1 and 2 was about Gavin, and the change to being about Kip makes me not care anymore. And reading the sample now about The Blood Mirror seems like more of book 3. I guess if Gavin's gone then so am I.

I'm going to read Road Brothers now, 10 short stories set in the Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence.
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
#9
I am curious how many of you have examples where you weren't overly excited about a book or series and were surprised by how much you enjoyed it. I can't think of any good examples for myself as I am asking this. For me it is usually either I expect good and it is met, or I am disappointed. Or I have no expectations going in and get either of those results. I can't think of one where I expected not to like it and ended up liking it.
That's a great question. It's quite rare, to be honest, since I tend to read books and authors that are generally well-regarded. My expectations are generally kept in check, though, as I believe in not getting overly excited about something (great way to avoid disappointment!).

I guess the one that stands out is Harry Potter.

Story time!

Many years ago, HP mania was at its peak. I think there were 4 books out at that time, and the fifth was coming soon. There were articles about how anticipated the book was, and how the publisher was having them transported to stores in armoured vans. Pretty crazy. I hadn't read any of the books, of course, since they were obviously aimed at kids. Insane hype, though, for kids' books. But hey, I'm a grown-ass man, I don't need to read no Harry Potter! Pffft.

Around this time, I had seen the first two HP movies. I was still a grown-ass man, of course, but in my defense, these were low-quality, pirated DVDs that cost me next to nothing, and were just one of several I had picked up. This was back in the day when it was common to have a Chinese woman walk in to a shisha cafe with a big handbag full of pirated DVDs, going from table to table to not-so-secretly ask if you were interested in buying some. Great quality! she said. Very good sound! she also said. She lied.

The selection was pretty eclectic, I have to say. From classics like The Godfather to B-grade made-for-TV movies starring Steven Seagal, she would have a movie to cater to every taste. Old movies, new movies, action movies, comedy movies. Movies in high-quality rips, similar to original DVDs, and movies where some dude sat in a dark cinema and tried to record it with his shitty, low-res camera. There was even porn. She would always have a cheeky smile when giving us a glimpse of these, like she knew we young, hot-blooded men couldn't possibly say no to pornography. I would always immediately wave my hand in dismissal, like watching porn was the last thing I would be interested in. I lied.

Anyway, so I had bought the first two HP movies one of those days from one of those ladies. When I eventually got around to watching the movies, I thought they sucked, and not just because of the low-quality. My reaction to the movies made me feel that my feelings about the books not being for me were right on the money. But the hype just wouldn't go away! The next Harry Potter book was coming soon, and it was BIG deal! Eventually I thought, "What the hell, I need to see what all the fuss is about." So I bought the first two books and figured I'd give it a shot.

Based on the "target" audience, and my own experience with the movies, I was expecting to be underwhelmed. Maybe the books would be just about okay, but that's it. I was surprised, then, when I finished the first book in a very short time and enjoyed it. Not only that, but I immediately started the second book, and thought it was better. Could this series actually be good? After debating for a couple of days, I eventually went out and bought the next 2 books and finished them in record time. I basically read the books the whole day (had a lot of free time, then) and liked them very much. What was great was that I thought each book was better than the last. At this point, I realized I had officially become a Harry Potter fan.

I bought the next 3 books as soon as they came out in hardback (something I rarely did) and read them as quickly as I could. To the point where I'm pretty sure I read the fifth book in a single night. Just bought the book, started reading it, and kept reading until I finished. Not only that, but I would re-read the books before reading the new one. So I re-read books 1-4 before reading the fifth, re-read the first five books when the sixth came out, and re-read all six before reading the last one. I really enjoyed them.

This was all in the years before I became an avid reader of Fantasy, so I certainly didn't have any other series to compare them to. And now that I've read a few, I no longer think of Harry Potter quite so highly (though they were still a good read). But the series will always hold a fond place for me as being my "gateway drug" into the genre that I now so love. So thank you, J.K. Rowling, for writing them. (No thanks, though, for retroactively adding to the HP lore by claiming backstories and "truths" about the series that you didn't have the balls to put down in the actual text.)

TL;DR version - I guess I could say my first experience with Harry Potter would qualify.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#10
This was the Memory Sorrow and Thorn series for me, as we discussed last month. Went in thinking I wouldn't like it, tried twice unsuccessfully, and finally made myself read and finish it and ended up buying the other two books even before I finished it, and I'm loving the second trilogy.

I just finished The Broken Eye last night, book 3 in the Lightbringer series. I stopped about halfway on my first try back a couple years ago and made myself read it straight through from the beginning this time. I can see now why I quit the first time, again about halfway. The story I liked in books 1 and 2 was about Gavin, and the change to being about Kip makes me not care anymore. And reading the sample now about The Blood Mirror seems like more of book 3. I guess if Gavin's gone then so am I.
Yeah I do remember that conversation. I assume most of us have read a whole bunch of different fantasy so would you agree it is likely we all start to get a feel for what is going to hit for us just by reading a plot summary?

As to Lightbringer I would say you actually picked the perfect time to stop. I didn't lose interest because of Kip becoming the main focus and in fact this was one of my favorite series through book 3. Given that and Brent Weeks having done Night Angel trilogy he was actually up there as maybe my most anticipated author out. So much so that he could have put out a book called Fart in the Wind and I would have pre-ordered. That being said, books 4 and 5 kind of killed the series for me and left a bad taste in my mouth. Biggest swing I can remember in how I felt about a series.

That's a great question. It's quite rare, to be honest, since I tend to read books and authors that are generally well-regarded. My expectations are generally kept in check, though, as I believe in not getting overly excited about something (great way to avoid disappointment!).

TL;DR version - I guess I could say my first experience with Harry Potter would qualify.
I am similar for the most part. Unless it is a series I am already into and a new book comes out and then my expectations are up. I have become pretty good at picking books to try and then waiting long enough to read them that when I pick them up I don't even remember what they are supposed to be about which is fun.

My Harry Potter story isn't quite the same but when HP was coming out and all of the hype was going on I just wasn't a reader and was just like who the hell waits in line for a book? I hadn't watched the movies either and to this day I haven't seen all of the movies. Have tried some and just wasn't a fan. The result for me was close to the same in that Harry Potter (once I did give it a go) really exploded my love of reading. Primarily reading in general but it also made me go to Barnes and Noble to the fantasy section and find a book I wanted to try. The one I ended up picking up was this giant hard backed tome called Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. To keep it short, the rest is history after that. That series completely launched my love of fantasy and is (I think) responsible for me finding this website. Google searched "best fantasy series" and it brought me to the top 25 here. Used that as my main resource for picking out new choices but I did quickly realize how varied opinions can be. I always thought to myself if we share a common interest in some of our favorites I can rely on those opinions for my choices but that wasn't the case. Here is a look at the top 10 right now:

1. A Song of Ice and Fire
2. Kingkiller Chronicle
3. First Law
4. LotR
5. The Magicians
6. Discworld
7. Gentlemen Bastards
8. The Stormlight Archive
9. The Farseer
10. Malazan

Out of the top 10 I like 1, 2, 7, and 8. So even with a great resource like this it is very hard to find a good way of choosing books and being sure you will like them.
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
#11
The one I ended up picking up was this giant hard backed tome called Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. To keep it short, the rest is history after that. That series completely launched my love of fantasy and is (I think) responsible for me finding this website. Google searched "best fantasy series" and it brought me to the top 25 here.
Wow, we have very similar stories. I actually read The Dark Tower after Harry Potter, and liked it enough though I didn't love it. But for me, too, it was The Wheel of Time that truly kickstarted my love of Fantasy. And, like you, a Google search for more led me here. I believe I literally searched for "best fantasy books" and, no surprise, this website was where I ended up. That was over a decade ago now (damn, I'm getting old).

Out of the top 10 I like 1, 2, 7, and 8. So even with a great resource like this it is very hard to find a good way of choosing books and being sure you will like them.
For me, the ones I liked in that list are 1, 3, 4 and 8.

For the rest - I liked the first KKC but disliked the second; read the first #5 and hated it; kinda liked the first #7 but was lukewarm on the second and, coupled with the extended delay in further books, abandoned the series; and tried the first #10 and thought it was okay, but can't bring myself to read the rest. Maybe one day. Haven't yet tried #6 and #9.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#12
Wow, we have very similar stories. I actually read The Dark Tower after Harry Potter, and liked it enough though I didn't love it. But for me, too, it was The Wheel of Time that truly kickstarted my love of Fantasy. And, like you, a Google search for more led me here. I believe I literally searched for "best fantasy books" and, no surprise, this website was where I ended up. That was over a decade ago now (damn, I'm getting old).

For me, the ones I liked in that list are 1, 3, 4 and 8.

For the rest - I liked the first KKC but disliked the second; read the first #5 and hated it; kinda liked the first #7 but was lukewarm on the second and, coupled with the extended delay in further books, abandoned the series; and tried the first #10 and thought it was okay, but can't bring myself to read the rest. Maybe one day. Haven't yet tried #6 and #9.
That's awesome. I always like a good origin story lol. I too have read Dark Tower and I wasn't a fan. I believe the one book I liked enough to maybe revisit was Wizard and Glass. It has been a long time though and tastes change so who's to say.

Back to the top 10 list for a little more convo. The Magicians is a good one to talk about since we talked about Harry Potter because I specifically remember George RR Martins blurb for the book: “The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea.” Couldn't disagree more. I thought Magicians took all of the fun and adventure out of magic that Harry Potter delivered on in every book. I will say that the trilogy improved every book and finally in the 3rd we got a little more of that magic I was looking for.

Discworld is an interesting one because it is a bit sporadic in how it is written where different books follow different characters. I tried 6 or 7 of them in order of release but I do believe there are different ways to go about it where if you like a certain set of characters you could kind of just pick and choose those books. I didn't hate the series but there wasn't anything that kept me hooked either.

Farseer I have nothing nice to say about lol. Some series bore me, some aren't bad and I just can't get into the characters. I think I actively hate Farseer.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#15
Yeah I do remember that conversation. I assume most of us have read a whole bunch of different fantasy so would you agree it is likely we all start to get a feel for what is going to hit for us just by reading a plot summary?

As to Lightbringer I would say you actually picked the perfect time to stop. I didn't lose interest because of Kip becoming the main focus and in fact this was one of my favorite series through book 3. Given that and Brent Weeks having done Night Angel trilogy he was actually up there as maybe my most anticipated author out. So much so that he could have put out a book called Fart in the Wind and I would have pre-ordered. That being said, books 4 and 5 kind of killed the series for me and left a bad taste in my mouth. Biggest swing I can remember in how I felt about a series.



I am similar for the most part. Unless it is a series I am already into and a new book comes out and then my expectations are up. I have become pretty good at picking books to try and then waiting long enough to read them that when I pick them up I don't even remember what they are supposed to be about which is fun.

My Harry Potter story isn't quite the same but when HP was coming out and all of the hype was going on I just wasn't a reader and was just like who the hell waits in line for a book? I hadn't watched the movies either and to this day I haven't seen all of the movies. Have tried some and just wasn't a fan. The result for me was close to the same in that Harry Potter (once I did give it a go) really exploded my love of reading. Primarily reading in general but it also made me go to Barnes and Noble to the fantasy section and find a book I wanted to try. The one I ended up picking up was this giant hard backed tome called Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. To keep it short, the rest is history after that. That series completely launched my love of fantasy and is (I think) responsible for me finding this website. Google searched "best fantasy series" and it brought me to the top 25 here. Used that as my main resource for picking out new choices but I did quickly realize how varied opinions can be. I always thought to myself if we share a common interest in some of our favorites I can rely on those opinions for my choices but that wasn't the case. Here is a look at the top 10 right now:

1. A Song of Ice and Fire
2. Kingkiller Chronicle
3. First Law
4. LotR
5. The Magicians
6. Discworld
7. Gentlemen Bastards
8. The Stormlight Archive
9. The Farseer
10. Malazan

Out of the top 10 I like 1, 2, 7, and 8. So even with a great resource like this it is very hard to find a good way of choosing books and being sure you will like them.
Wow, just going back to the main site and seeing the latest update is from 5 years ago makes me a bit sad... :(

From the list I like all series, except number 2 and 5. Swap Malazan for Kingkiller and ditch Kingkiller in favor of the Dark Tower and we have a good list in my view. :)

Speaking of Kingkiller... when is the latest book due? And is Winds of Winter already out?
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#16
Wow, just going back to the main site and seeing the latest update is from 5 years ago makes me a bit sad... :(

From the list I like all series, except number 2 and 5. Swap Malazan for Kingkiller and ditch Kingkiller in favor of the Dark Tower and we have a good list in my view. :)

Speaking of Kingkiller... when is the latest book due? And is Winds of Winter already out?
It's entirely possible I will write a book before either of those are released lol.

And I know Scott Lynch's name isn't as big a draw but he can be included in that list of series we will never see finished either. Book 4 is nowhere in site and it is supposed to be a 7 book total.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#17
It's entirely possible I will write a book before either of those are released lol.

And I know Scott Lynch's name isn't as big a draw but he can be included in that list of series we will never see finished either. Book 4 is nowhere in site and it is supposed to be a 7 book total.
Have you read The Red Knight series? Actually series name is Traitor Son Cycle, Red Knight is the first book.

The Red Knight is a Kindle Daily Deal today at $2.99. I have so many suggestions for you and I feel concerned for you when you say you have trouble finding something you like. Top of my list for you is The Red Knight. Five books, series completed.
Amazon.com: The Red Knight (The Traitor Son Cycle Book 1)

And thanks for the heads-up about the Gentleman Bastards series. I was planning on reading Red Seas Under Red Skies soon. Might still since I bought it long ago.
 
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afa

Journeyed there and back again
#18
“The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea.” Couldn't disagree more. I thought Magicians took all of the fun and adventure out of magic that Harry Potter delivered on in every book.
Agree completely. I was intrigued by The Magicians popular description as "Harry Potter for grown-ups" but felt the way you did. Since when did "for grown-ups" have to mean depressing and misanthropic? I appreciate that the other books might be better, but I hated the first book so much that I can't bring myself to even attempt the others.

By the way, there's a TV show based on the books, or at least there used to be. Has anyone here seen it?

Discworld is an interesting one because it is a bit sporadic in how it is written where different books follow different characters.
Yeah, that's a weird one. I've heard a ton of good things about the series, but there are so many books and they don't go in a simple, logical order that's easy to follow, and that's making me hesitate. Also the fact that Pratchett apparently was very good about inserting real-world critiques in his writing, but I'm a dumb-dumb who doesn't understand allegory.

I think I actively hate Farseer.
Wow, that's strong! Not a popular opinion among Fantasy nerds, I think. ;) For me, my "actively hate" list for books/authors that are acclaimed includes The Magicians, American Gods and China Mieville.

I’ve read a couple Hobb trilogies and they are not epic or fast. They are slow paced and methodical.
I've heard that. I've had the first Farseer book for ages, but haven't brought myself to start reading.

Still on the Nightside kick. Really enjoying this series and I'm really happy I found it.
Interesting. I've never heard of this series. Sounds like Urban Fantasy?

Wow, just going back to the main site and seeing the latest update is from 5 years ago makes me a bit sad... :(
I know, right? It seems like yesterday that the lists on the main site had been updated. So many of the older regulars are no longer here, like Jon Snow, Danica and Sneaky Burrito.

Speaking of Kingkiller... when is the latest book due? And is Winds of Winter already out?
KKC - no updates, of course. The last "big" news happened a year ago when Rothfuss's editor and publisher wrote a pretty scathing Facebook post (itself a response to an article that had been circulating with the old "authors don't owe readers a book" excuse) where she basically said that she literally hadn't seen a single page of The Doors of Stone. This was a pretty surprising revelation, specially since Rothfuss had many years ago shared an image of what appeared to be a thick stack of papers that was supposedly the first draft of the manuscript. She even went as far as to say that she personally didn't think Rothfuss had written anything since the novella (which was published in 2014).

TWoW - GRRM wrote on his blog a while back that the COVID lockdowns had resulted in him finally making some significant progress on the book. He claimed he had written more in 2020 than he had in years, which seemed encouraging. But I don't think there has been any major update since. And a couple of months ago there were reports that HBO had signed a multi-year contract with GRRM, worth tens of millions of dollars, to write and develop new GoT-related shows. Considering GRRM wasn't exactly speeding along in his writings, anyway, the news of the HBO contract now mean that GRRM's focus will be entirely on developing shows, so I wouldn't hold my breath for TWoW.

My two cents - It's possible the last KKC novel gets written. Rothfuss is still young enough (in his 40s) that he has plenty of time to write. But whatever grand plan he had in mind (he had cheekily claimed that the KKC trilogy was simply a "million word prologue" to the whole story) is unlikely to materialize now. As for GRRM, I wouldn't be completely shocked if TWoW eventually comes out (though I don't think it will) but even if it does, the last book is never getting written. Everyone has to accept the fact that the ending we got from the show, as bad as it was, is the only ending we're getting for ASoIaF.

And I know Scott Lynch's name isn't as big a draw but he can be included in that list of series we will never see finished either.
Yup. Lynch, Rothfuss and GRRM are the three-headed monster of modern, acclaimed Fantasy series that will likely never finish. For what it's worth, Lynch has apparently been quite open for several years about suffering from mental health issues.

The Red Knight is a Kindle Daily Deal today at $2.99.
I actually got the first one as an audiobook a while back. Unfortunately, my audiobook listening has historically been on my daily commutes, and there has been no commute to speak of for over a year now, so I have no idea when I'll ever get to reading it (with my ears).
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#19
Have you read The Red Knight series? Actually series name is Traitor Son Cycle, Red Knight is the first book.

The Red Knight is a Kindle Daily Deal today at $2.99. I have so many suggestions for you and I feel concerned for you when you say you have trouble finding something you like. Top of my list for you is The Red Knight. Five books, series completed.
Amazon.com: The Red Knight (The Traitor Son Cycle Book 1)

And thanks for the heads-up about the Gentleman Bastards series. I was planning on reading Red Seas Under Red Skies soon. Might still since I bought it long ago.
I have not but it that the one I have seen mentioned many times where the author is very detailed in getting right the pieces of armor and things of that nature? If so I believe that is why I passed on it. The descriptions I saw from people talking about it (while positive) didn't sound like it would work for me.

And thanks for the concern and sending ideas my way. I am always to open to more new suggestions. My issue isn't so much that there isn't a lot of good fantasy out there, it is more so that I have read so much of it and been through everything that jumped out at me that it is hard to find more that still intrigues me. So now I am picking ones that don't intrigue me and most of the time it turns out my initial instincts were right on if I would like them.

Agree completely. I was intrigued by The Magicians popular description as "Harry Potter for grown-ups" but felt the way you did. Since when did "for grown-ups" have to mean depressing and misanthropic? I appreciate that the other books might be better, but I hated the first book so much that I can't bring myself to even attempt the others.

By the way, there's a TV show based on the books, or at least there used to be. Has anyone here seen it?
Yeah we are on the exact same page lol. Funny how an author like Martin can create such an amazing and entertaining story but yet the stuff he likes seems so much worse.

Yeah, that's a weird one. I've heard a ton of good things about the series, but there are so many books and they don't go in a simple, logical order that's easy to follow, and that's making me hesitate. Also the fact that Pratchett apparently was very good about inserting real-world critiques in his writing, but I'm a dumb-dumb who doesn't understand allegory.
I am far from the expert on how to go about it but I would read the first book of each set of characters and if there are some you are into maybe just grab all of those ones. I am sure if you google it you can find 10 different suggestions on how to approach the series.

Wow, that's strong! Not a popular opinion among Fantasy nerds, I think. ;) For me, my "actively hate" list for books/authors that are acclaimed includes The Magicians, American Gods and China Mieville.
Yeah I somehow feel into being in the minority on a lot of the popular works of fantasy. Lord of the Rings, Farseer, and First Law trilogy being the biggest offenders I think. I wasn't a fan of American Gods either. China Mieville is one I have heard of and seen on lists but have 0 interest in.

I am also in the minority on a few not so popular ones that I really like. Biggest example being The Demon Cycle. I read that series all of the way through and enjoyed it and have even read all of the side stories the author has put out.

It happens though. Always makes for interesting conversation and learning of different viewpoints. Kenubrion for example.....do not test that willpower. Quit Memory, Sorry, and Thorn TWICE and still picked it back up and finished the series. I can't imagine a world where I decide to do that.