Sep 5 2008 5:07pm

Fantasy List

I asked a friend if she’d seen the post I made asking for fantasy recommendations, and she said she’d seen it, but not read all the comments because there were rather a lot of them. I was sorting the suggestions at the time, and I thought maybe there were other people who might like it as a list.

This list is split into three parts: books I’ve read already, my new library list, and things for which I’d be a very hard sell. The last section has some comments as to why. I’m including it because I do know that not everybody shares my prejudices.

If your suggestions are on my “already read” list, don’t be sad, that just means you correctly identified things I like. Also, it means I rate any other things you suggested more highly, as we clearly have congruent tastes. Though those people who suggested things I’ve already reviewed here did make me blink a little. Oh, and just because I’ve read it doesn’t mean I necessarily recommend it. I read a lot.

The interesting thing about the “library list” is how often my reaction was “Really? But it looks so generic!” This is proof that this works. It’s all very well that people recommended things that were already on my radar, like Megan Whalen Turner and K.J. Parker. It’s much more significant that they found authors I’d never heard of and books I’d picked up and put down again.

Suggestions that Ive already read

Clive Barker, Imajica

K. J. Bishop, The Etched City

Chaz Brenchley, Bridge of Dreams

Steven Brust & Emma Bull, Freedom and Necessity

Steven Brust, Vlad Taltos series

Emma Bull, War For The Oaks, Territory

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, The Sharing Knife

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

C.J. Cherryh, The Paladin

Susannah Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Storm Constantine, Wraeththu series

Glen Cook

Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising series

Charles De Lint

Kate Elliott, Crown of Stars

John M Ford

C. S. Friedman, Coldfire trilogy

Neil Gaiman

Mary Gentle, Grunts

Barbara Hambly, The Silent Tower

Robin Hobb, Assassin series

P.C. Hodgell

Nina Kiriki Hoffman, The Thread that Binds the Bones

Robert Holdstock, Mythago Wood

Barry Hughart, Bridge of Birds

Diana Wynne Jones, Tough Guide to Fantasyland

Guy Gavriel Kay

Katherine Kerr, Deverry

Rosemary Kirstein—but they’re SF. Look for a post on these soon.

Tanith Lee

Jane Lindskold, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls

Elizabeth A. Lynn, WatchTower, Northern Girl, Dancers of Arun

Patricia McKillip, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Riddlemaster of Hed

Michael Moorcock

Garth Nix, Sabriel

Terry Pratchett

Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials

Sharon Shinn

Johanna Sinisalo, Not Before Sundown

Sherwood Smith, Inda, The Fox, The King’s Shield.

Charles Stross, Merchant Princes

Michael Swanwick, The Iron Dragons Daughter

Judith Tarr, A Wind in Kairo

Sherri S. Tepper, A Plague of Angels

J.R.R. Tolkien, Children of Hurin

Jeff Vandermeer

Lawrence Watt Evans

Michelle West, Hunter series

Edward Whittemore

Walter Jon Williams, Metropolitan

Patricia C. Wrede, Mairelon The Magician

Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple, Pay the Piper



Library List

Joe Abercrombie, First Law

Daniel Abraham, Long Price Quartet

Kage Baker, Anvil of the World

R. Scott Bakker, Prince of Nothing trilogy, comprising: The Darkness That Comes Before, The Warrior-Prophet and The Thousandfold Thought

Elizabeth Bear, New Amsterdam, Blood and Iron, Ink and Steel, Hell and Earth

Carol Berg, Flesh and Spirit, Breath & Bone

Holly Black, Tithe, Valiant

Elizabeth Boyer

Marie Brennan, Midnight Never Come

M.A. Brenner, Catastrophes Spell

Kristen Britain

Trudi Canavan, The Black Magician

Janet Lee Carey, Dragons Keep

Isobelle Carmody

Jonathan Carroll

Mark Chadbourn

Rick Cook, Wizardry series

Dan Crawford, Cat & Mouse

Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger

Dave Duncan, The Great Game

Hal Duncan, Vellum, Ink

Teresa Edgerton, Goblin Moon

Ru Emerson, The Princess of Flames

Steven Erikson, Malazan series

Nancy Farmer, Sea of Trolls

Jeffrey Ford

Kate Forsyth

David Freer and Eric Flint, Pyramid Scheme

Shannon Hale, Princess Academy

Francis Hardinge, Fly by Night

Lian Hearn, Tales of the Otori

Jim C Hines, Goblin series

Robert Holdstock, Merlin Codex series

Simon Ings, City of the Iron Fish

Paul Kearney

David Keck

Greg Keyes, Saga of The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone

Jay Lake, Trial Of Flowers

Juliet Marillier

Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange

A. Lee Martinez, The Automatic Detective

J. M. McDermott, Last Dragon

Sean McMullen, Voyage of the Shadowmoon

China Mieville, Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council

John Moore, Heroics For Beginners

Haruki Murakami

Jeffrey Overstreet, Auralias Colors

Paul Park, A Princess of Roumania

K.J. Parker, Engineer trilogy

Victor Pelevin

Ricardo Pinto, Stone Dance of the Chameleon

Melanie Rawn, Ruins of Ambrai

John Ringo, There Will Be Dragons

Lane Robins, Maledicte

Matt Ruff

Sean Russell, Initiate Brother, Moontide and Magic

Charles. R. Saunders, Imaro

Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn trilogy, Elantris

Andrzej Sapkowski

Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles

Darrell Schweitzer, Mask of the Sorcerer

Ekaterina Sedia, Alchemy of Stone

Jan Siegal, Prosperos Children

Maria Snyder

Vladimir Sorokin, Ice

Wen Spencer, Tinker

Steph Swainson, The Year of Our War

Laini Taylor, Faeries of Dreamdark: BLACKBRINGER

Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphans Tales

Michelle West, Sun Sword

Megan Whelan Turner, Attolia

Liz Williams, Detective Inspector Chen

Sean Williams, The Books Of the Cataclysm

Gene Wolfe, The Wizard Knight, There are Doors

Jonathan Wylie, Dream-Weaver

Sarah Zettel, Isavalta



Very Reluctant to Try.

Emma Bull, E. Bear and others, Shadowunit—TV. I hate TV. This is a pretend TV program, and as such designed to appeal to people who watch TV and like it. Despite the fact Bull and Monette are involved and I’d normally be fascinated, this strikes me as something not at all aimed at me.

Jim Butcher, Dresden Files—Vampires. I hate vampires. I don’t hate them as much as TV, but that’s only because they’re not real.

Jacqueline Carey, Kushiels Dart—BDSM doesn’t repel me as much as TV or vampires, but it still isn’t my thing.

Mary Gentle, Ash: A Secret History, Ilario: The Lions Eye, 1610: A Sundial in a Grave—I hated Grunts. I hated it more than vampires and only slightly less than TV. It seemed to be a direct attack on Tolkien and everything I love about fantasy. Previous to this, I had enjoyed Gentle’s work a lot, so you’d think I could get over it, but every time I pick up one of her books I remember how much I hated Grunts and put it down again.

Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring—despite having enjoyed other Hopkinson and having every reason to believe this is a good book, I’m reluctant to read something that earworms me with Boney M. I admit that this is a terribly shallow reason for not reading something.

Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora—Pirates. Pirates are right up there with BDSM.

Martin Millar, Lonely Werewolf Girl—I strongly suspect it of having werewolves.

Kim Newman, Anno-Dracula—Definitely vampires.

Naomi Novik—Alternate history with dragons but the dragons didn’t change anything so you still have Napoleonic wars. Everybody else on the planet loves these to bits, but watch me gnaw off my own leg to escape.

Georges Perec, Life, a Users Manual—This looks like being the kind of magic realism that irritates me profoundly.


Mike Scott
1. drplokta
There are no pirates in The Lies of Locke Lamora, although there are in the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies.
rick gregory
2. rickg
hmm, in such a long list I'm surprised no one suggested Alan Campbell's Scar Night. Dark but very well done.
3. brennam
Maybe I missed something earlier, but I'm surprised that George RR Martin is not on there for the Song of Ice and Fire series. A must-read, in my opinion.
4. Scott Slater
Jim Butcher, Dresden Files—Vampires. I hate vampires. I don’t hate them as much as TV, but that’s only because they’re not real.

Well, there are some Vampire-Related stories in the Dresden books, but saying that they are about vampires would be like saying Star Trek is about Romulans. They are just one of the villain types in some of the stories.

Question: Do you hate vampires, or do you hate the "I'm-a-lonely-immortal-who-has-all-the-emotional-breadth-of-a-cup-of-coffee-but-is-so-much-better-than-humans-are. Can't-you-feel-my-pain-because-of-this-pesky-bloodlust?" people.
Evan Langlinais
5. Skwid
Jim Butcher, Dresden Files—Vampires. I hate vampires. I don’t hate them as much as TV, but that’s only because they’re not real.

Whoever described these books to you did a terrible, terrible job. There are vampires in these books. They are not what the books are about. This would be like dismissing Friedman's "The Madness Season" for a similar reason.

Naomi Novik—Alternate history with dragons but the dragons didn’t change anything so you still have Napoleonic wars. Everybody else on the planet loves these to bits, but watch me gnaw off my own leg to escape.

That is a (somewhat) valid description of the first book. After that point, everything diverges wildly. Eventually it becomes clear that you still have the Napoleonic Wars because you still have Napoleon. Everything else absolutely must change because of the dragons.
6. vilstef
Under Gene Wolfe, I'd recommend The Book of the New Sun, all four volumes from it, and the fifth book, Urth of the New Sun.

And even if you don't like vampires, read Christopher Moore's Blood Sucking Fiends which is a real anomaly-a fall-down funny vampire novel.
Tomasz Galazka
7. tetrix
Seeing both Pelevin and Sorokin (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, Sapkowski) on the library list made me do a little mental happydance. These two Russians are so good they made me brush up my Cyrillic reading skillz (as opposed, IMO, to Sergei Lukyanenko - the one whose books the Night Watch and Day Watch movies were based on).
Just a word of caution regarding Sorokin - Ice and its sequels are VERY bleak, and Sorokin's trademark, the consistently even and unemotional narrator's voice (way beyond deadpan) used to describe the most horrifying as well as the most ludicrous scenes, can be offputting to some. In his novels bad things can happen to good people, if this is what the events dictate. No handholding, no regard for the reader's feelings - the message gets across like a hammer blow.
8. colomon
re Shadowunit: It's a shared universe writing project structured like a good episodic TV show, with short, standalone stories featuring the same cast of characters and longer background plot threads. Other than that I don't think it's particularly aimed at people who like TV so much as at people who like good stories.

It's also by far the easiest thing to try on your "reluctant to try" list, as the stories are of reasonable length and freely available online.
Helen Wright
9. arkessian
Mary Gentle, Ash: A Secret History, Ilario: The Lion’s Eye, 1610: A Sundial in a Grave

You don't know me from Eve, so no reason to believe me, but... I loathed Grunts (even more than you did, if that's possible) and I loved these, especially Ash.
Ken Walton
10. carandol
You may need to take Elizabeth Bear's "New Amsterdam" off your list, since it definitely has vampires in it. It is very enjoyable, though, for anyone who doesn't mind vampires.

As for the Mary Gentle, I can see we're going to have to create copies with the authors and titles blanked out somehow so you don't know what you're reading till you've started it :-)
Oscar Nelson
11. oscar.nelson
I see Mayer Alan Brenner is on your list. All four of his books are available for free on his website at
12. wsp_scott
I have a request for when you post about specific books. I don't buy books from the publisher so the link to their site is annoying. In fact it makes it more difficult to find the book at amazon or the library because the title is a link so I can't highlight the text and automatically find it on amazon.

Thanks for putting all the recommendations into a list, I dreaded doing this myself :)
13. Katherine Farmar
Skwid @5:

Eventually it becomes clear that you still have the Napoleonic Wars because you still have Napoleon. Everything else absolutely must change because of the dragons.

This, I have to say, is exactly what bothered me about the world-building in the Temeraire books, because it's as if she was holding Europe still and letting Africa and China and the Americas change radically -- as if the changes in the other continents wouldn't affect Europe. That didn't sit right with me. (Mind you, the major reason why I gave up halfway through Black Powder War was because I wanted Laurence to die in a chemical fire and pass on the main-POV-character duties to somebody less dull.)
eric orchard
14. orchard
This is really wonderful, and it answers a question about what to read in SF+F I didn't have anyone to ask. Thanks!
Greg Carere
15. Jeereg
... I hate TV... I hate Vampires...

So, I take it you didn't like Buffy or Angel?

It seems a little odd, saying you hate TV. It's like saying you hate cinema, or books. What do you hate about TV? The commercials? Because there are DVDs, and things like iTunes now.

But, then, you know that already, I'm sure. Mostly, I'm curious. And also, I think everyone should watch something from Joss Whedon, at some point.

If you enjoy Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, you'll also like Clarke's collection of short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu. I don't know if you're looking for short stories, but that's a good collection. As is Mieville's Looking for Jake. And both of Kelly Link's collections, Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners.
16. Mike Kozlowski
I think it's encouraging that there aren't many books on that library list that I'd shout down (Rawn really is generic, and Russell may or may not be generic but is a dull, turgid writer), though of course I haven't read most of them.

On your forget-about-it list, I think you're right to exclude Dresden, and I'm saying this as someone who completely loved the series and read through all of them in a mad rush. I also think you'd dislike his fantasy series, which isn't generic, but which uses Roman flavouring in a way that I think would irritate the heck out of you (though again, I loved it after the plodding first book).

But Scott Lynch, I dunno. Are there even pirates in the first one? I don't remember them. There are thieves, but no more objectionably so than in the early Taltos books.
Clifton Royston
17. CliftonR
Thank you so much for putting these lists together!

Suggestion: given your likes and dislikes, when you do try China Mieville, start with The Scar, and only try Perdido Street Station if you found The Scar at least tolerable. Perdido Street Station seems to put many readers off his writing for life because its events are so horrid. The other also contains horrid events but also some triumphs, and gave me more of a sense of wonder that humans survive in the world in question.

Edgerton - add The Gnome's Engine to your list, right after Goblin Moon. It's a continuation of the story, and shares her earlier book's charm.

On the strength of the previous discussion, I've already ordered Midnight Never Come, which I'd been kind of considering for a bit.
Isa Drone
18. isadrone
Thanks, Jo, for typing up this list. I've only read about half of 'em, and wasn't likely to have the time to read the original thread, so it's a nifty resource.

CliftonR @ 17,
when you do try China Mieville, start with The Scar
Though I understand where you're coming from with this, I'm thinking The Scar might be problematic as it contains both pirates and vampires. (Not the usual sort, admittedly.)

Oh, and hey guys - and this is addressed generally, not to a specific commenter - might I suggest that when someone clearly states that she really doesn't like ~X~, one might consider rethinking responding with, 'you should totally read ~example of X~ because I thought it was just terrific!' I think we can grant the OP the courtesy that she knows her own likes and dislikes, eh?
19. B. Durbin
#6: I got to talk with Christopher Moore once. He said that he originally set out to be a horror writer, except that everybody in his writing groups kept giggling at his descriptions of blood and gore.

In regards to the list, I will simply say that I appreciate the K.J. Parker books. Good stuff, and definitely fantasy not of the stamped mode.
20. Peisen
As a Tolkien fan myself, I'd advise against Perdido Street Station by Mieville. Upon finishing that novel, my first thought was that it was conceived as the anti-Lord-of-the-Rings. Also, please allow me to recommend, instead, any of Tim Powers' books, where horrible things also happen, but not all horribly wrapped up at the end. My particular faves: "Drawing of the Dark," "Last Call" and "Anubis Gates."
Tara Chang
21. tlchang
What an intriguing list! Thanks for compiling. Should keep me busy for some time to come. (and I totally second the comment recommending Susannah Clarke's short stories "The Ladies of Grace Adeiu" - one of the most enjoyable overall collections I've read in a long time.)
Carl Rigney
22. cdr
Thanks for the list! I suspect you've already read Sean Stewart, but if not I'd add him to the list to try. I look forward to hearing what you think of the books on your library list.

What is it about Vampire fans that makes them want people who don't like vampires to read about vampires anyway?

@12, I suspect Tor might not want to link to one particular online seller vs another, since Amazon and Barnes&Noble and Borders and no doubt many other places are all good customers. Plus the UK readers might not care for links to US Amazon and vice versa, and she's posting from Canada anyway. Perhaps the publishers linked to should add links to various places to buy in various countries.

Amazon supports user-created lists; some fan with way too much time on his or her hands could create a "Jo Walton's Library List from" list with links, but I think in the time to do such a thing one could read another book!
David Dyer-Bennet
23. dd-b
I'm having a certain amount of trouble taking seriously a rule ("no vampires") which would rule out Dracula, much of Ann Rice, Buffy, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Agyar all at once -- because to my eye they have so little in common as to character, world-building, or story. It is of course pointless to argue about taste or even strongly-held prejudices, but sometimes discussing them can be illuminating.

And of course if you *do* choose to say anything, you'll just be bothered by people saying "Oh, this vampire novel doesn't have those particular problems", and I'm betting your experience has been bad with that or you wouldn't have adopted such a blanket rule in the first place. So there's probably no available win for you in saying anything more, I do see that.
David Dyer-Bennet
24. dd-b
@12: you can select the link text if you start in the space next to it rather than one of the actual letters of it (when it insists on treating it as a link).
Larry Scroggins
25. LeisureSuitLarry
I'll try not to mimic some of the other comments too much, but if you're not trying the Dresden Files because of vampires and the Lies of Locke Lamora because of pirates, then you're missing out on some fantastic books for very silly reasons. Vampires make up only a very small part of the Dresden Files. Really, they're more of an off-screen antagonist for an off-screen side story. Rarely, a vamp character (traditional vamp at least) will show up for a scene or two, but they haven't been the focus or a major part of any of the books. And pirates in Locke Lamora... nope, not in the first book. And only a little in the second. They're definitely not the main part of the story either.

I sincerely hope that you've got more and better reasons for not giving these authors a chance.
Mike Kozlowski
26. mkozlows
you're missing out on some fantastic books for very silly reasons

But let's face it, there are more good books out there than anyone can ever read. It's okay to miss a few good ones if it means you skip a lot of ones you don't like.
Zack Weinberg
27. zwol
I have to give the opposite advice from CliftonR @17: I read that series in order and was profoundly disappointed in The Scar and Iron Council compared to Perdido Street Station; so much so that Mieville is no longer on my automatic read list.

I didn't mind the gruesome in Perdido Street; it seemed to me effectively used and appropriate to the plot. (YMMV - I don't squick easily.) I loved the worldbuilding. The characters were a little two-dimensional, I suppose, but in context it was fine. And the setup was all there for some genuinely interesting political fantasy. The sequels then completely let me down, mainly because of plot problems. (I still loved the worldbuilding.)

(The next two paragraphs have been rot13ed because of massive book-breaking spoilers. O site admins: could we possibly have tags similar to those found on

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Naq gura ur qvq GUR RKNPG FNZR GUVAT va Veba Pbhapvy, bayl rira zber fb, cyhf ur fghpx frireny bs gur cebgntbavfgf jvgu gur Vqvbg Onyy; va cnegvphyne, V qba'g frr jul gur eroryf vafvqr gur pvgl qvqa'g rira gel gb erqrsvar gur pvgl-rngre'f gnetrg nf whfg gur guvatf nobhg Arj Pebohmba gung gurl jrer gelvat gb trg evq bs. Fvzcyr ovg bs zrgnculfvpny whqb. Znlor jbhyqa'g unir jbexrq, ohg fbzrbar fubhyq unir gubhtug bs vg.

So, alas, my recommendation is to read Perdido Street Station but not the sequels.
- -
28. heresiarch
"Alternate history with dragons but the dragons didn’t change anything so you still have Napoleonic wars."

Well, the great thing about the Novik books is that really, they're a subtle critique of the whole "Just like the regular world but with X" sub-genre. Each book very deliberately spirals farther and farther from the "norm" of Napoleanic Europe. The first book takes place mostly in England, which is very normal--dragons are kept out of sight, peasant-folk are terrified of them, and the Airforce is considered weird and dodgy by everyone who is Anyone> However, the second book happens in China, where dragons can own land, buy things, and are legally just like (or perhaps several cuts above) people. Things continue to get weirder as different continents are explored, and different cultures that have incorporated dragons into their societies very differently.
Zack Weinberg
29. zwol
This seems like an appropriate time and place to bitch about a similar problem I had with Barry Hughart. On the first read, I loved Bridge of Birds and The Story of the Stone. I dived into Eight Skilled Gentlemen expecting to love it too ... and then shortly before the end I experienced a horrible revelation: gur onfvp cybg naq punenpgre eryngvbafuvcf va nyy guerr abiryf jrer rknpgyl gur fnzr; va cnegvphyne, gur ivyynva jnf uvqqra naq gur cebgntbavfg'f ybir vagrerfg gnxra njnl va rknpgyl gur fnzr znaare rnpu gvzr. This retroactively ruined all three novels for me. Some of the scenery still makes me smile, but I can't reread them cover to cover anymore.
Cathy Mullican
30. nolly
Personally, I loved Perdido Street Station; until Un Lun Dun, it was my favorite Miéville. I would recommend Un Lun Dun to anyone who loved The Phantom Tollbooth.

I will heartily concur with the Matt Ruff recommendation -- he's one of my favorites.
Avram Grumer
31. avram
Peisen @20, while Mieville does have very different politics from Tolkien, and to some degree Perdido Street Station is an assault on certain tropes of Tolkien-derived fantasy, he's also got a lot in common with Tolkien. Specifically, the ending of Perdido takes Tolkien's principle that evil will destroy some things that can't be saved, and carries it through even more seriously than Tolkien did.
Joe Sherry
32. jsherry
@8: Exactly. The origins of Shadow Unit may have to do with the whole tv thing and there is behind the scenes meta dealing with tv, but Shadow Unit works perfectly as a series of related short stories which has a "season ending" conclusion of a short novel.

I read Shadow Unit as stories, though I do talk about them as "episodes" and "seasons". They don't read as scripts or as television.
- -
33. heresiarch
"Shadowunit—TV. I hate TV. This is a pretend TV program, and as such designed to appeal to people who watch TV and like it. Despite the fact Bull and Monette are involved and I’d normally be fascinated, this strikes me as something not at all aimed at me."

If what you hate about TV is periodic, mostly self-contained episodes that nevertheless build up to larger arcs, and those arcs are also contained within larger story arcs, then yeah, you should avoid Shadowunit. It definitely replicates that structure. If it's just about anything else about TV that bugs you, then you might want to give it a try, because in almost every respect, it's very different.

(One of the things I do periodically when reading is imagine how it could be made into a movie or TV show. Shadowunit would never work--the internal life of the characters is too important.)
Debbie Moorhouse
34. GUDsqrl
I'm not a massive fan of Novik's alt histories. I read "Temeraire" and thought it majorly lacking in conflict. It dodges potential conflict with amazing aplomb. So if you like books without conflict, there you are :).

(it's also exactly what I'd expect to come out of the OWW, based on my own experiences there)
Jo Walton
35. bluejo
I can't like everything in the world. People have different tastes. If we all liked the same thing, think of the terrible shortage of oatmeal.

What I hate about TV would be a very long post, and I know from experience that it would lead to everybody saying:

a) I never watch TV except for exceptional documentaties on BBC2/The Discovery Channel

b) You should totally watch /TV flavour of the day/ whether that's Firefly or Buffy or Doctor Who.

Just trust me that I hate TV, and I've hated it since I was a kid and I'm unlikely to change my mind now. Hating it gives me time to read and write and mess about online.

"Shadowunit", as I understand what the creators have said, mimics the pattern of a TV show and the way people get into TV shows. This is very unlikely to appeal to me.

If I'm ever trapped on a desert island with nothing but Shadowunit and vampire books, I'll read them. But right now, the world is full of new things I want to read and old things I want to re-read and write about here. I suppose I may be a closed-minded old curmudgeon, but there are 75 books on that "library list" and 10 on the "hard sell" list.
Jo Walton
36. bluejo
WSP_Scott -- CDR is exactly right. Sorry.
Debbie Moorhouse
37. GUDsqrl
I have come to hate tv over the years. I can't even concentrate on programmes I like any more.

Book, please!
Mary Aileen Buss
38. maryaileen
If you like the Jan Siegel, also read her books as Amanda Hemingway, The Greenstone Grail, The Sword of Straw, and The Poisoned Crown. Not Arthurian, despite that 'grail', and they reminded me very strongly of the Siegel's Prospero's Children series before someone told me that they're the same person.
Debbie Moorhouse
39. GUDsqrl
I found "Lies of Locke Lamora" very dull and pointless. I couldn't understand why the characters were doing the things they did. "Scar Night" was better, but not good enough to make me rush out and buy book 2.
Sandi Kallas
40. Sandikal
GUDsqrl, I felt the same way about "The Lies of Locke Lamora". I was really looking forward to reading it because it sounded so different from a typical fantasy novel. But, I was disappointed. Maybe I just expected more from it.
41. wsp_scott
@22 & @24 & @36 (and anyone else)

Reading my post I see that I wasn't clear. I don't expect a link to amazon (or any other specific seller), I understand the constraints that a site like this operates under. My preference would be that the title is plain text and not a link to the publisher.

I am aware that you can start selecting before the link but that sometimes is a pain, perhaps I am lazy :)

I think an amazon wish-list would be awesome if someone is really bored, hint hint :) And thanks again for compiling this list, I have a lot of reading to do.
Sam Weber
42. Slither
Yay for the recommendation of Hodgell's God Stalk series! You might want to add a link to the ebook versions of them: God Stalk series, which are available now. (Three cheers for ebooks!)
43. Janice in GA
I'm pretty fond of Juliet Marillier's work. Her fantasies don't have a lot of magic, but the writing is good. And if you like a little romance, it's there too, kind of the way it's in a lot of Guy Gavriel Kay's work.

I couldn't read Grunts at all, but I did like Mary Gentle's Ash books. I'm not liking the Ilario books as well, however.

Greg Keyes started off well with the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone books. I think it loses lots of energy by the last volume, though. But it started with some really interesting ideas and concepts.

And if you read Barry Hughart, stop with The Bridge of Birds. As others have said, the other two books about Master Li and Number Ten Ox don't really cover any new ground. Mr. Hughart seems to have had one really good book in him, and BoB was it. It's my second favorite book of all time.

And while I enjoyed the nods to Patrick O'Brian in the Novik books, I really couldn't quite buy the way they were using all the men on the dragons. But maybe that's just a failure of my imagination.
44. Janice in GA
Apologies for the double-post, but I realized I'd forgotten to mention Kij Johnson's The Fox Woman. I loved that book. I liked her book Fudoki also, but not as well.
45. KatG
Hmm, you haven't read Bakker, Lynch or Abercrombie yet -- was that because the publishers besieging you for quotes slipped up, or you'd just been repelling them off the walls on these before?

There's very little BDSM in the Jacqueline Carey series. It's more the protagonist dealing with geopolitical meltdown, with some sexual politics thrown in. If you're so tired of what you feel to be generic, try something that might be the opposite. (Or might not be for you, your call.)

"I hated Grunts. It seemed to be a direct attack on Tolkien and everything I love about fantasy."

Are you seriously kidding me? You do a column about how you hate that so much of fantasy is warmed over generic Tolkein that doesn't float your boat, and then say you hate something that tried a different take? Stay away from Stan Nicholls' Orcs then too, I would suggest. We wouldn't want anyone thinking creatively there. That being said, Ash is not anti-Tolkein in the least. Gentle does lots of different kinds of stories in fantasy and sf. Try her gargoyle novel, it's very McKillip in approach.

Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring is a SF novel. Don't know if that makes any difference to you or not.

Definitely don't read Scott Lynch's sequel to Lies of Locke Lamora if you have a pirate problem, but if you like C.J. Cherryh -- and it seems you do - than Lies may be something of interest.

We took a risk with your Tooth & Claw, didn't we, so at the least you might want to take a risk with Novik and see if you really would want to gnaw your own leg off or not.

I still think your way of asking for recommendations sucks frogs, but thank you for putting up the list of authors so that they get some exposure.
46. vilstef
Another book I'd recommend highly is Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds. While looking up info on it, I've found there is to be an omnibus volume of Hughart which will include Bridge, and its' sequels, The Story of the Stone and Eight Skilled Gentlemen.
zaphod beetlebrox
47. platypus rising
Late to the party,I know,but I have not had much time over the last days.
I have about a dozen recommendations,classics and oddballs,which do not appear on the lists,should I put them here or on the original post?
A few words on the received suggestions:

Jeffrey Ford is very good.I loved everything's written.Everyone should go to the old Sci-fiction site and read the brilliant Empire of Ice-Cream.

Murakami,Schulz,Pelevin and Sorokin are quite removed from the English tradition of fantasy.Definitely no "same old,same old" there.

Murakami: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood are the best.Wonderful tales of imperfect coming of age,crisis and/or (failed?) maturation in a chaotic world.

Pelevin and Sorokin continue in Bulgakov's tradition of mixing weird imagination and political satire.

Schulz's book is a childhood memoir seen through the stained glass of a dreamlike imagination.

Another highly talented and original writer is Matt Ruff.None of his books resemble one another.The "fantasy" one is the first,Fool on the Hill.

Hard sells:

A while ago I've recommended the Adminstration by Manna Francis.One of the most common responses to the series is:BDSM is really not my thing,yet I loved it.It's Sf,but I really think it deserves to be known outside its little ghetto of original slashdom.All the series is online,so everyone can have a look and decide for him/herself.

Perec:Magical realism? More like Pynchon + Proust.Alliteration aside,his novel reminded me a bit of V.
Justin Adair
48. Hobbyns
I can't believe I forgot to mention Joe Abercrombie, but thankfully someone else remembered. The reviews all mention that fact that on the surface The First Law appears to be more of the same old tropes, until you begin to see that Abercrombie has taken those tropes and turned them on their ear. I tore through the entire trilogy (ordering them from the UK to do so, ouch) and was very satisfied when I was finished.

If you don't feel like reading Mark Millar's Lonely Werewolf Girl, at least give The Good Fairies of New York a try. Not only did I laugh until I cried reading it, I also discovered the New York Dolls, another good thing. I also came to forgive Mark Millar for winning the World Fantasy Award for Thraxas (under the pseudonym Martin Scott). I make no apologies when asserting that Glen Cook did fantasy/comedy noir first, and better with the Garret PI series, and the World Fantasy Award judges were smoking something truly ghastly when making their judgments. Still, as mentioned, all was forgiven when I read The Good Fairies of New York. The new edition comes with a foreword by Neil Gaiman, no less.

Hal Duncan's books are beautifully written, yet I still didn't finish either of them. And I tried, I really did.

I misspelled Murakami in my earlier suggestion, but I'm not kidding when I say he's easily one of my favorite writers. Even his regular fiction, such as Dance Dance Dance or Norwegian Wood are a sort of comfort food for me. The only western writer who comes close in tone and emotion would be Jonathan Carrol, who I'm reluctant to second as a "must-read" author because his work is so hit and miss. I'd still recommend The Wooden Sea though, as fantasy in the magic realism sense.

There is a lot of discussion about Mieville. My two cents is that Perdido Street Station and Iron Council are my favorites of the Bas Lag books, though The Scar still works for pure originality, pirates notwithstanding.

In terms of just not having enough hours in ones life to read all of these things, you may as well drop the entire list right now if you're planning to read the Malazan books. Those things are dense. They're good though, but I'm not as fervent a disciple as some others on the intertrons .

New Amsterdam has vampires, but in a good way. It's not about them (or indeed the werewolf).

All in all, the list is great, because now I have one too. And there really isn't enough hours in the day.
Clifton Royston
49. CliftonR
Pelevin and Sorokin continue in Bulgakov's tradition of mixing weird imagination and political satire.

50. Tragon
Robert Jordan, The wheel of time. can't believe you havent read it...
Clifton Royston
51. CliftonR
A discussion elsewhere just reminded me of Margaret St. Clair, a much neglected SF&F writer in the '50s and '60s. Her The Shadow People is to my mind a minor masterpiece of urban fantasy, written a good 20 years before the genre was invented.

Tragon, of course she knows of it. I think she's applying the Latin maxim De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
Holly Johnson
52. HollyAnn
Hi Jo! This is somewhat off-topic but I wasn't sure where else to let you know how much I enjoyed Farthing and Ha'penny. I've just started reading The King's Peace and am really enjoying it.
Debbie Moorhouse
53. GUDsqrl
Nods to Patrick O'Brian? Maybe, but "Temeraire" didn't give me any feeling that Novak had done one-hundredth of O'Brian's research.
Jo Walton
54. bluejo
KatG: Publishers only besiege me for quotes in your imagination. Friends ask me to quote on their books from time to time, and I do if I like the book. I have never been anything other than honest in the half dozen quotes I've given. Generally, I think you have to have a far higher profile than I do to get to the "besieged" level.

You're fighting a windmill somewhere over in the distance, and I can see you doing it, but it's a windmill that's almost entirely in your head. I'm not the person you're imagining and my life is nothing like that. It's fine if you disagree with me about there being too much generic fantasy or indeed anything else, but I'd appreciate it if you disagreed with *me*, and not some phantasm.
55. DocDre
re: Novik and Temeraire

i almost gave up on Novik's books - until i read the 4th book. Her imagining of Africa made me re-read the entire series; i'd like to suggest that potential readers read the series as a meditation on world history with the premise: what if EVERY major race/culture was possessed of an artifact that made all civilizations equal at a time when European culture was attempting to colonize the East and the West?

i heartily recommend against R. Scott Bakker.

i heartily recommend Sean Williams' Initiate Brother series, as well as his Voidworld's series. Eric Flint's Philosophical Strangler (available from Baen Free), Lorna Freeman's Borderland's series, and another vote for Patrick Rothfuss' book.

Finally, please please PLEASE try Steven Erikson's Malazan epic. hands down the best fantasy world-building series ever.
Debbie Moorhouse
56. GUDsqrl
Persisting through to the fourth book is admirable, but I don't think my walls could take it. Too many dents already.
57. rsatx
No mention of Jack Vance's Lyonnesse Trilogy
Dave Bell
58. DaveBell
I know about not wanting fans of X to enthuse about the topic, when you aren't a fan, but may I just use two items you've rejected as indicators of another problem.

Shadowunit and Mary Gentle.

The first is at least freely available and short enough to try an episode.

Mary Gentle's recent books, on the other hand, are huge. The ones you list are nothing at all like Grunts, at least on the surface, but they're a pretty gigantic committment. And, when hurled with great force, likely to cause expensive structural damage.

I think your basic reasons can be challenged in both cases, on the grounds of being mistaken assumptions. But you'd still be taking a risk with the time and effort needed to read one, just as anyone does with an unfamiliar author. Reading a Shadowunit episode is risking less, but for what return?

They're not equal returns, and what can a reader afford to lose? That's the conundrum.

(Jo, you may skip the remainder of this post.)

I enjoyed Shadowunit until the last episode. That was big, not itself a problem, and took the story in directions which didn't entertain me. It smashed through the limits of network TV like an out-of-control 18-wheeler, presenting a grim, depressing, hopeless, story. It came across to me like a relentless downer. I can't really recommend it any more.

And, like Mary Gentle's books, I can't really call it fantasy. There is a weirdness to it, but at the heart they're SF, of the "any sufficiently advanced technology" sort. Ash is firmly embroiled in real history, and the weirdness is a sort of magical technology, being sort of quantum rather than a fantasy alternate world.

Mary Gentle's books can be hard work, but the rewards are there. I've found them worth reading, but the effort is a barrier. Somehow, I have to find the time and energy, and that's not easy for me. I would recommend them, but I'd be telling you to give up too much in the trial.
zaphod beetlebrox
59. platypus rising
Pelevin and Sorokin continue in Bulgakov's tradition of mixing weird imagination and political satire.


Yes,but be careful because the tone is very different.Sorokin is often much darker than Bulgakov,for example.

Anyway,since new suggestions have begun to creep in,I've decided to post my selection here.

Mervyn Peake:Gormenghast trilogy,Titus Groan in particular.
Really surprised noone mentioned it already.

Jean Ray: Malpertuis.A powerful wizard has captured the essence of the Greek Gods and bound them to human forms.
At his death,his nephew inherits the house in which the gods are forced to live.All is not going to go well.
Possibly the greatest fantasy outside the English language.

Shirley Jackson.Simply the greatest horror writer of all time. The Sundial,The Haunting of Hill House,We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Jan Potocki The Manuscript Found in Saragossa .
An early classic.Stories within stories, kabbalah,secret societies,robbers,inquisitors,conspiracies,hallucinations,philosophic ramblings...

David Lindsay A Voyage to Arcturus.
Available from Project Gutenberg and various others.
Serious contender for the The Weirdest Book in the World.
Flawed,but powerful and brillantly weird.
Inspiration for Lewis'space trilogy,but so much better.

Gustav Meyrink The Golem,The White Dominican,The Angel of the West Window,the collected short stories in The German Philistine's Horn (don't know the availabilty since I've read them in German).
Weird fiction influenced by alchemy,kabbalah,theosophy and oriental philosophies.
At times his rigour and abstraction approach Kafka.There's even a black hole ante-litteram in one of the short stories.

John Crowley Little,Big .Hundred years in the life of a human family at the edge of Fairyland in contemporary America.One day I'll also get around reading the four volumes of Aegypt .

Juan Rulfo, Pedro Paramo .Ok,it's generally considered magical realism,but a masterpiece.

Kelly Link, Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners .
First one available online.Delicious weirdness.

Ellen Kushner, Swordspoint.One of the finest examples of fantasy of manners.

Elizabeth Hand, Waking the Moon.The darkest aspects of the new agey-wiccan trope of the female moon goddess.

Tm Powers The Anubis Gates,Declare,The Stress of Her Regard ,alas,some vampires.

Karl Edward Wagner. Kane (Cain) is a vicious barbarian who's not only immortal and inhumanly strong,but also extremely intelligent.The best of the Conan epigons.

José Eduardo Agualusa The Book of Chameleons.
In Angola an albino man makes his living by forging secret identities and invented pasts.His story is narrated by his pet gecko,who is really a reincarnated man and can see the dreams of his clients.

Arto Paasilinna, The Bear's best Friend.
Sadly it seems this has not been translated in English.
A wonderful little novel about an already peculiar Lutheran pastor who adopts an orphaned bear,gets defrocked and finally embarks in a quixotic voyage around Europe and Russia.
Lots of humor,but also surprisingly dark in places,it leaves you with a warm,fuzzy feeling (horrible pun,but I couldn't resist).
Arachne Jericho
60. arachnejericho
It smashed through the limits of network TV like an out-of-control 18-wheeler, presenting a grim, depressing, hopeless, story.

Grim, depressing, hopeless... isn't that very The Sandbaggers?

New Amsterdam has a vampire. An awesome vampire, and I hate vampires.

Come to think of it, I actually really do hate vampires. The bits of the Dresden series that have vampires all over the place are the bits I cannot read. They're far and few between, but when they happen, it's like watching the sky rain vampires. Thankfully, there are many bits in every book, and sometimes even entire books, where there are no vampires whatsoever. Usually it's more faeries, daemons, and stuff these days.

(I got addicted after my first Dresden book, one of the late, non-vampiry ones. And ever since then I have been TRAPPED, I tell you, and must read all the books, ignoring the vampy bits, such as they are, as much as possible. You are forewarned.)

You'll definitely want to add Whiskey and Water to your trio of Elizabeth Bear's Promethean series books. Blood and Iron is not so complete without Whiskey and Water; similarly for Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth.

The Inspector Chen series is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one---turning away from the standard fantasy-gumshoe sub-genre, and a true Eastern take, not a Western take or a Westernized Eastern take, on fantasy. For instance, the ambulatory teapot is a very nice touch. You'll know when you read it.

The Wizard Knight is definitely different, and draws closer to the "source", about as close as where Tolkien drew his creative waters or whatnot. I liked the Knight. Not sure on the Wizard.
Andy Leighton
61. andyl

I'm a little surprised you haven't read Carroll. Or that no-one has suggested Graham Joyce. The Facts Of Life and The Limits Of Enchantment are just wonderful novels.

About the no vampires thing - didn't I hear you give hearty recommendations the other year for The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford? Doesn't that have vampires in it? Or is that the exception ...
Jo Walton
62. bluejo
Andyl -- _The Dragon Waiting_ is indeed the exception. I've also read and didn't hate _Agyar_, though it's my least favourite Brust.
Vicki Rosenzweig
63. vicki
Dave @58

The great thing about libraries is that I'm not making a huge commitment when I decide to try a large hardcover book: if it doesn't work for me, I put it down, go do something else, and take the book back to the library. (And if it does work for me, I read it, enjoy it, maybe tell a friend about it, and take it back to the library. The library has lots of storage space.) If I do like the book, I may get more enjoyment because it's longer, but pleasure isn't a simple linear thing: reading a good book for six hours isn't necessarily twice as good as reading a shorter good book for three. It may be as good, or half as, or eight times as, depending on the book, and on my state of mind.

There are books I've liked but that took a while to get into; someone approaching them with the attitude in my first paragraph may stop reading. That's fine. As noted elsewhere in this thread, there are a lot of good books and good stories, and if something doesn't work for a person, there's more out there.
64. Emmet
Hobbyns@48: are you conflating Martin Millar of The Lonely Werewolf Girl with Mark Millar of Superman: Red Son or are they the same person and I have managed to miss this ?

I hate Ash for the blatant deck-stacking in favour of a viciously nihilistic worldview, for having the idea content of a middling-good Greg Egan story diluted in ninety-nine parts superfluous verbiage, and for the ending not making any sense whatsoever; I also hated the language-use choices, but that i will admit is just me.

I think Lies of Locke Lamora is an easy book to bounce off if you have taken to the clever witty scam stuff at the beginning and feel betrayed by the tonal shift part-way through. I nearly gave it away, but I liked it a lot better on my second reading knowing that was going to happen.

The Dresden books are a lot of fun and they hit me right on my plot addiction button, but that is despite a number of things not to my taste, notably where their sense of supposed humour lies; as post-Chandler noir voice urban dark fantasy goes, they're not even in shouting distance of something as good as Mike Carey's Felix Castor books.
Debbie Moorhouse
65. GUDsqrl
I did give "Locke Lamora" away. A friend expressed interest, and it was in the post as soon as I could extract it from the wall.

The thing for me being that the scam stuff seemed so pointless--they didn't need the money, and wouldn't know what to do with it when they got it. Maybe this is meant to be crazy, or even ironic, but it didn't work for me.
66. Laini Taylor
Hmm. I could swear I left a comment here yesterday, but I can't find it above. My computer has been eating comments. What I said was something about how I second (and 3rd and 4th) the Kelly Link comments above; can't believe I forgot her last time! And how glad I am to see some of my recommendations (and my own book!) made it onto your Library List. Thank you!

I really liked Locke Lamora; as for Perdido Street Station, I was amazed by the imagination and world-building, and there were parts of great dramatic tension, but overall I thought the storytelling was lacking, and after getting through almost the entire book, I couldn't care enough to keep reading the last 30-40 pages. I'm a Temeraire fan, but I haven't really spent much time thinking about alternate history narratives, and I see your point.

I'm just reading This Is the Way the World Ends by James Morrow, described as something like "the Alice in Wonderland of Nuclear War" and it's very clever, beautifully written, thought-provoking, but in the way of some tongue-in-cheek satirical stuff, you never truly care so much about the characters. The writing, though!
67. Jim Henry
I'll second the recommendations for Gene Wolfe's The Wizard Knight and Jack Vance's Lyonesse, Peake's Gormenghast (even the third book, which a lot of people didn't like at all and I liked less than the first two), and Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus.

I also recommend all of Tim Powers' later books (from The Anubis Gates onward) except The Stress of Her Regard (has vampires, or a race of creatures that resemble vampires in one stage of their life-cycle, IIRC). Declare is probably his best.

On Mieville: I enjoyed The Scar a bit better than the other two Bas-Lag books, but would recommend all three.

On Hughart: I agree the second two are a bit repetitive and not as original as Bridge of Birds, but they still contain good stuff. I haven't re-read them as often as Bridge of Birds, however.

Vampires are strange. Dracula is one of my favorite nineteenth-century novels, I've read it four or five times, but there are very few more recent vampire novels that appeal to me in the slightest. Kind of like loving Tolkien and hating the vast shelves-full of extruded fantasy product Tolkien-imitations, perhaps. Haven't read Agyar yet, though it's in my queue.
Soon Lee
68. SoonLee
Re: Tim Powers.

His recent books are somewhat hard to categorise: they are a type of urban fantasy. The stories are set against a background where the fantastical elements inform but do not contradict recorded events, like a secret history. But that description doesn't come close to capturing the breadth & depth of the writing.

I heartily recommend "Last Call", "Declare" and "Expiration Date".
Justin Adair
69. Hobbyns
Emmet @64: My bad, I wrote Mark instead of Martin, d'oh.
70. Red Sector A
Jo, I have had similar feelings about fantasy for quite a while. So much so that I've turned to hard SF, which has been great, as I am discovering classic writers that I had previously never got around to reading. I still read fantasy, but mostly children's and young adult. Being a 5th grade teacher, I like to keep up with what my students are reading:

I loved Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy. Alternate history, caste system based on magic, magic based on the summoning of demons, story told from multiple perspectives.

Eion Colfer's Artemis Fowl series is a lot of fun. Fairies, James Bondesque gadgets and adventure, environmentalism.

Un Lun Dun, as mentioned by other posters, is great.
Mike Kozlowski
71. mkozlows
as post-Chandler noir voice urban dark fantasy goes, they're not even in shouting distance of something as good as Mike Carey's Felix Castor books.

Whereas I respect Carey's book more, but don't actually like it as much. It's "better" in an objective sense, but the sense of fun that Butcher has by the bucket-load is completely missing.
[da ve]
72. slickhop
Its funny how easy it is to get worked up other other people's snap decisions over things you respect/cherish/enjoy, isn't it? Obviously its fine if you/Jo doesn't want to read the Jacqueline Carey books, but for some reason I feel compelled to add a brief word: BDSM is an element within the books, and not a quiet one necessarily, but it can be read at arm's length if you're willing to skim a few scenes here and there, and instead be taken with the context of a society where intimate/sexual behaviours are looked at without bigotry (at least until they move out of alternate-France). I think its handled quite well, and in fact the execution of a female protagonist who excels not with swords or sorcery but instead espionage, court manipulation and scholarly acumen is a exceedingly well done.

Otherwise I'd like to cosign on the Tim Powers books. Obviously Last Call won the world fantasy award so its more well known, but I'd recc'd Declare extremely highly (spies, espionage, alt-history and a gradually revealed fantastic element that is just so atmospheric and mind-blowing... great read). Also I just finished his Anubis Gates, which I thought read like a magic-infused "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis.

And I just finished Kay Kenyon's Bright of the Sky, which is also great ... its maybe 90%scifi/10%fantasy, although the 10% could be revealed to be entirely science as it goes forward.
[da ve]
73. slickhop
Sorry, I didn't really mean "snap decision," I should have proofread that post more.

Thanks for this discussion.
Samantha Brandt
74. Talia
I kinda think, even with your aversion to vampires, you may be missing out if you don't at least give the Dresden Files a tiny chance. They're written with such warm good humor, and Dresden is such a funny, dorky, likeable fellow it seems a shame to dismiss them just for one particular type of monster. I mean, he has a magical skull named Bob who's a smartass and a lech. That's just awesome to me. :p

Slickhop, you're exactly right. Its hard to fight the feeling that everyone should like everything that I do :p Although In regards to the Carey books, which I thought were pretty good (I haven't gotten around to the third one yet), I think its probably better to just skip the books than skim over some sections. The whole pain/pleasure thing is pretty much at the core of whatserface's (been a while.. heh)gifts, and thusly is kind of a running theme, even when tis not at a particularly graphic point. Best avoided if that sort of thing makes one uncomfortable. In my opinion anyway
Stefan Raets
75. Stefan
Jo, definitely check out "Ash" by Mary Gentle. Like you, I strongly disliked "Orcs", but "Ash" is nothing short of genius. I really hope you'll give it a chance.

Glad to see "The Wizard Knight" on the list. It's absolutely lovely.
76. Dreamline
Terry Goodkinds "Sword of Truth" series is an all time favorite of mine, and the first book (Wizards First Rule) will be becoming a television series pretty soon. I forget which channel... but Im sure the show will not do the book justice, because I think I heard that the show will be "kid friendly". NOOOO!
Estara Swanberg
77. Estara
@76: I may not like the "Sword of Truth" series anymore (stuck with it for four books), but that doesn't mean anyone else shouldn't like it, BUT since we've just been talking in the comments about BDSM you do need to mention that torture plays a significant part in the maturation of the protagonist, receiving and dishing out as far as I remember.

And then there was the Evil Chicken (I only read the quotes, I stopped reading the series long before that thank God - YMMV):
Melissa Moody
78. dragonlady80
Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series is one of my personal favorites as well as Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series. I hope the person who finishes it up is at least half as good as he was. Regarding Jacqualin Carey's "Kushiel" series, the BDSM is along the lines of the main character's methods, sort of like Sherlock Holmes's deductive reasoning. Yes, she goes into excruciating detail, but just skip those parts and you still have a great story.
Bruce E. Durocher II
79. bedii
I have been going over "Lies of Locke Lamora" in my head since reading your list and outside a mention or two that piracy exists the only pirates that show up are in a mention that the story's "villain" (as opposed to our heroic theves) spent time as a pirate. You'll want to skip "Red Skies" though--it's full of pirates, but not as many as in "Of Stranger Tides" by Tim Powers.
80. Keita
Thanks for compiling this list! I'm definitely going to be using it to decide where I go next.

If you're reluctant to try Dresden Files, might I suggest Furies of Calderon as an alternate Jim Butcher novel? One of the podcasts I listened to last summer had him on as a guest, and he related the story of how he started the "Codex Alera" series (of which Furies is the first). Essentially (paraphrasing heavily) he was in a debate on a writer's forum about whether it's bad ideas or bad writers that make bad books. Butcher wound up being challenged to write a good story from a bad idea, and upped the ante by volunteering to do two -- Pokemon and The Lost Roman Legion.

Just shows that sometimes bad or overused ideas can turn into awesome stories.
Steve Taylor
81. teapot7
I've only just glanced at the tail end of the list, but I distinctly enjoyed (despite my frequent disagreement) with your list of reasons for not reading things.

It makes me want to search my heart (and my bookshelf) for my own set of dodgy reasons.

Steve Taylor
82. teapot7
> The interesting thing about the “library list” is how often my reaction was “Really? But it looks so generic!”

Michael Moorcock's _Wizardry and Wild Romance_ may have spent much of its time putting the boot in to Tolkein, but I do owe it a huge debt, as it's what convinced me that it might possibly be worth my while to pick up a series of books with cheesy b-film titles like _The Shadow of the Torturer_ and _The Claw of the Conciliator_.

Imagine if I'd missed out.

Lyndsey LeCureux
83. shadowbox
While reading the Kushiel series, it wasn't that the BDSM made me particularly uncomfortable, but that some one might find out I was reading that kind or particular "smut novel" It kind of goes outside of the typical soccer-mom romance novel into a whole new kind of world.
84. rogerothornhill
As always, Jo, thank you. You're one of my favorite posters on here, and it's truly embarrassing how much you've shaped my leisurely reading over the last few months. And what a wonderful list--you simply don't care about categories; you blow them wide open.

If I can pick one nit, however, on Butcher: I never think of him as fantasy or horror. The Dresden stories are straightup private eye novels. The shamus just carries a powersoaked hockeystick instead of a gat.

Seriously, thank you. You never fail to educate me.
Joseph Lewis Szabo III
85. pointman74250
If your interested in reading while your eye swell up with tears, I suggest giving the magnificent Replay by Ken Grimwood a chance.

Excellent read. Just finished it myself last month. Won the World Fantasy Award in 1988. Thought I'd give it a try. My money and time was well worth it.
Jo Walton
86. bluejo
Pointman: I love Replay. But I think of it as science fiction.
E.M. Grimoire
87. emgrimoire
Possibly that I just have simpler tastes than most here but I enjoyed Grunts myself, eagerly picked up the next best book of hers I could get my hands on (Golden Witchbreed btw) and was hugely disappointed. I just couldn't get into it. Started again and again just to put it down again only a few pages into it. Which kinda prevented me from grabbing any of her other works to try.
wych wood
88. wychwood
To quibble slightly with various other people in this thread - I'm pretty BDSM-sensitive, and it really bothered me in Kushiel's Dart. Yes, there was a lot of story that *wasn't* about that, and I did enjoy quite a lot of the plot, but I was deeply uncomfortable reading the book, and it's the BDSM that keeps me from reading further in the series.

Not to imply anything about people who *do* enjoy the books, or BDSM, because I have no problem with that, but - on a personal level, the story didn't win me over, and it was for that reason. So if Jo thinks it would bother her, she may well be right.
92. OldHacker
While I generally don't care for BDSM, I did enjoy reading Kushiel's Dart and Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey. The only reason that I haven't read other of her books is that I haven't received them yet. I've ordered several more. I consider the two books that I've read to be pretty incredible and difficult to put down. I delayed reading them because of what I read of the protagonist and I regret that I delayed. I would read anything that Jacqueline Carey writes.
Daniel Phelan
93. DanielPhelan
A couple years back, I read THE FLOATING ISLANDS by Rachel Neumeier, and I am currently nearing the end of Neumeier's first novel, THE CITY IN THE LAKE. Highly recommended, both.

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