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west.logan
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That reminds me, I read "Gardens of the Moon" recently as well, and went away feeling a bit underwhelmed and had mixed emotions. Like the first book in the "Wheel of Time" series, it felt like it got most interesting at the end but took a long time to get there.

There were tons of characters. So many that I had difficulty explaining to my wife who was who and what happened to whom. I left the book a bit confused. Some cool fights and magic happened but I really had no idea why or who all the races were, the gods, or why there was a war in the first place, who the gods were and what they were trying to accomplish, etc. I looked online and some people said you had to get to the third book before things really got explained and started to get interesting. Which I'm not sure I want to invest in. Same with "Wheel of Time", unfortunately, as I've heard a lot of people say they really like it.

Back to reading "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" now.

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09-09-2013 at 08:02 PM
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Pearls
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Yeah, in a series that largely gives you very little to work with most of the time, Gardens of the Moon not only feels entirely different from the rest of the series, it's also the worst offender of this vagueness.

It's probably contextual. It was written a zillion years before the rest of the series, while he was still trying to pitch it (as a film script, I think) and once he got the book deal, all of the rest were written back to back without a break.

I'm not going to say it gets less confusing, but Deadhouse Gates is unbelievably good right away, and it's the second book, not the third. In fact, I think Deadhouse Gates might be one of my favorite fantasy books ever. So many scenes are cemented in my imagination forever. However, if you need your book to have immediate explanations, this series never really becomes that. Even after it's done. And yeah, it's a lot of work.



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09-09-2013 at 09:11 PM
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The Architest
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I read Finnish classic 'the Egyptian' (Sinuhe Egyptiläinen) and it was really detailed and immersive book. :) If you are interested about ancient Egypt and its neighbors, have a read - though be aware that science marches on and some details in it are outdated.

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09-12-2013 at 02:47 PM
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Nuntar
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Just finished The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya, the tenth novel in the Haruhi Suzumiya series (technically the tenth and eleventh, but they are packaged together in the English translation). I love this series. It's charming, heartwarming, thought-provoking and touching, and has some great characters -- my favourite is Sasaki, who gets lots more screentime in this book :) It's also very confusing, nearly impossible to describe, and every book leaves you with a not-quite-satisfied feeling... I think it's because the premise and characters are just so intriguing that anything the author does with them can't quite live up to expectations.

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12-07-2013 at 12:44 PM
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BlueFlower
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Yesterday I started reading Monster a book about a teen, Steve Harmon, in court. It's not written like a normal book, but as a screenplay. I can't wait to finish.

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12-08-2013 at 04:41 AM
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bdwing
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I really enjoyed The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker. It's a kind of historical fantasy romance set in 1900 New York City. A man commissions a female golem to be his wife. Then on the voyage to America he dies and she must cope with being a stranger in a strange land. Really, it was quite good.

Currently I am re-reading the Myth-Adventures of Aahz and Skeeve. I thought the series was over in the '80s and now I find that there are a half dozen or so more books. It's too bad that Robert Lynn Asprin died, but Jody Lynn Nye has taken over the series.

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12-09-2013 at 08:41 PM
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I read Studs Terkel's The Good War a short while ago. I feel like it gave me a more complete view of the second world war than of just about anything else I can think of. If any finer oral history has ever been collected, I do not know of it.

I also checked out All the King's Men, reading it almost entirely over the course of a two week temp job. It's written in a sort of style so over the top that I couldn't take its narrator seriously, but that was part of the fun: it's like reading Fitzgerald if all that he kept in the book was written at 2 AM and not edited in the morning. Despite that, I ended up really attached to most of the major characters, and 600 pages later was very sorry to let them go.

Otherwise I finally got around to reading the Earthsea cycle, all the way up to Tales, which isn't grabbing me in the same way. It's some of the best fantasy I've ever read, at least until that point. I also finished Life of Pi, which I enjoyed thoroughly. An untellable tale in 100 neat little chapters.

Logan, I know I'm a few months late answering this, but I sort of ended up reading Invisible Cities more as a collection of images than as a novel, like a collection of poetry strung together with a loose collection of dramatic scenes putting them in context. The cities described are given impossible features that the speaker cannot possibly know, but every few chapters we have an explorer and writer unable to write for his audience, and a warlord so sick to see new lands that he doesn't care that he can't understand a word. I can definitely see why someone would hate it, but I couldn't stop reading.

And Cheese, If on a winter's night a traveler... was wonderful, and the first Calvino novel I ever read. That's another book I had to sort of take at false value, and the ending made certain things "click" that I wasn't expecting them to ever settle down, and made the whole experience much more special for it. I haven't read Cosmicomics, though for his sort stories I've started Difficult Loves. I have also skimmed his fairy tale compilation.

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12-10-2013 at 08:40 AM
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I'm currently reading Starship Troopers. I haven't finished it, but it's awesome so far!

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12-11-2013 at 10:28 PM
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karlpopper
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I'm putting a mention here for Neal Stephenson's just released long, serious account of the end of the world: Seveneves

This is no more spoilery than the blurb or most of the reviews out there .... the reason to bring it to this forum is that it's kinda like "The Turning"!

A black hole passes through the moon, causing it to break into seven closely spaced chunks. Sadly for mankind, this gives the world a two year warning of impending death by meteoric fire for everyone.

Everyone who has not managed to make it either into space, or into a deep subterranean cave system with enough ability to keep folk alive for 5,000 years, which is how long earth will be scorched for.

Wait - haven't be all just been engaged in a saga of civilization's destruction....

What's going to happen if and when the space humans return?





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[Last edited by karlpopper at 05-29-2015 11:44 PM]
05-29-2015 at 01:19 AM
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Dischorran
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I just got Seveneves as a somewhat belated birthday present - haven't gotten around to reading it since I'm currently in the middle of Reamde. I think Stephenson's SF is better than his present-day/past stuff (the geekly overextollation is less grating in a more abstracted setting), so I'm looking forward to it!

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05-29-2015 at 01:38 AM
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skell
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Is there an audiobook of it? I am about to finish Dresden Files (I've got the last book left) and I wouldn't mind "reading" something else (since Zelazny's Amber audiobooks are not the best quality out there).

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05-29-2015 at 07:40 AM
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Audible.com has Seveneves - weighing in at 31 hours, which is a big listen even at 1.25 speed.

here's a screenshot of my phone.

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I no longer advertise when I'm reading something in audio form, it's unabridged, and the only thing I miss (and I do miss this) is the spelling of the Stephenson neologisms.


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[Last edited by karlpopper at 05-29-2015 11:42 PM]
05-29-2015 at 11:33 PM
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karlpopper
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Dischorran - you may safely dump Reamde: it was a little lightweight chattering, just keeping the writing muscles exercised.

Seveneves, like Anathem, engages with a big subject, takes it seriously, and deconstructs it minutely. Large portions of the novel read like lectures on orbital mechanics.

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05-29-2015 at 11:41 PM
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Dischorran
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Or I could have just finished Reamde this evening because light chattering is nice sometimes. Nothing wrong with twenty-way running gun fights every so often.

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05-30-2015 at 06:32 AM
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azb
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I finished Garth Nix's "Keys to the Kingdom" series (all the books are named after days of the week, and these are the antagonists' actual names), and also "Rumble Fish" and "Tex" by SE Hinton.

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05-30-2015 at 04:57 PM
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BlueFlower
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Go the F to Sleep

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05-31-2015 at 05:02 AM
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Dischorran
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This rather than an impolite suggestion, one hopes?

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05-31-2015 at 05:28 AM
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I found this on Saturday at a used bookstore for $1, and it had me laughing to tears. What a find! Highly recommended.

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06-01-2015 at 08:13 PM
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Dan Simmons: Endymion. If you're on to complex SF stories (i.e. Dune), this one's a must-read.

It's meant to form a bundle with Hyperion, but I'm still uncertain whether those should be read in order. If you want a surprise effect (like "I am your father"), read Endymion first, it'll be quite the stunner. If you want to watch the plot going full circle, read Hyperion first. But whatever you do, read it.

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09-14-2015 at 11:32 AM
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Lucky Luc
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So, I suppose the fact that Neil Gaiman hasn't been mentioned yet in a thread about great books on a forum with a fantasy setting is only because it's a bit like saying "Have you ever heard of that Tolkien guy?". I have only read "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" and "Neverwhere" so far, but they were both highly enjoyable. Just throwing it out there, in case you achtually have never heard of him (which I must admit was the case for me until last winter).

However, the best book I've read this year so far has been Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief". Even if you don't usually care a lot for stories set in Nazi Germany, you might enjoy this one. I guess it probably works so well because it doesn't try to tell a story of criminals, victims and heroes, as it is usually the case for this kind of stories, but rather about humans in an inhuman time. And the narration by Death is simply beautiful.

I know these two are not really insiders' tips, but they're still worth mentioning I think.

[Last edited by Lucky Luc at 09-14-2015 11:02 PM]
09-14-2015 at 11:01 PM
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quote:
Lucky Luc wrote:
So, I suppose the fact that Neil Gaiman hasn't been mentioned yet in a thread about great books on a forum with a fantasy setting is only because it's a bit like saying "Have you ever heard of that Tolkien guy?".



You know, it never hurts to mention it as I'm sure there are at least a few forumers who are unfamiliar with Gaiman. I recall login into Carvel Chat not long after hearing about Terry Pratchett and being somewhat surprised when a few people mentioned not having read anything by him. I mean if a massive series of books set in a ridiculous fantasy world with an offbeat dry sense of humor and bloated bureaucracy would appeal to anyone it would be hardcore DROD fans. So now everyone reading this thread has a double recommendation for Good Omens (which Gaiman and Pratchett co authored.)

Hmm, other book recommendations...

I feel like Jasper Fforde has been mentioned on this forum somewhere at some point, but not in this tread interestingly enough. Fforde's Thursday Next series is ridiculously funny and offbeat and I can't possibly recommend it enough. Set in an alternate future Wales, the protagonist of this book pops back and forth between her real world and "book world" the existence in which all the characters of every novel ever written actually live. If you appreciate the sense of humor in Terry Pratchett's or Douglas Addams's Novels, you'll probably like Fford. Speaking of Douglass Addams, just about everyone here has probably read at least something by him (Probably Hitch Hicker's Guide.) But I'm consistently shocked and Amazed that so few people I've encountered have read Last Chance to See. It is beautiful and personal and hilarious and quite possibly my favorite thing by him. Seriously, if you are at all a Douglass Adams fan go read this.

Another good series that's somewhat offbeat is the Fool's Guild books by Alan Gordon. They take place in medieval Europe, but are pretty far from high fantasy. The main characters are usually part of a guild of fools who perform by day and pull strings to keep the world together by night. they usually take the form of mysteries, but as often as not are behind the scenes retelling of Shakespeare plays or something else entirely. It's a very creative series and highly entertaining.

On a completely different note, recently I've been reading a lot of novels that are sort of modern hard boild/noir crime genera with fantasy and science fiction elements. My favorites so far have been Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes and Secret Dead Men by Duane Swierczynski. Broken Monsters is set in gritty modern Detroit and paints an interesting and nuanced picture of the city through a variety of characters who are intertwined with the life of a serial killer who turns out to be something more than expected. Secret Dead Men is hard to describe, but is kinda a gritty crime novel, in which the protagonist is actually a colony of several conscious minds. I love just about everything I've read by Swierczynski, but Secret Dead Men takes the cake for bizarre, surrealistic, and somehow hilarious.

I've also enjoyed Lev Grossman's The Magicians series, though I know it's not to everyone's liking. If you haven't heard of this one, think Harry Potter, but aimed at Adults and with more sex and drugs. Also a lot more humor, but quite possibly the single most disturbing scene I've read in a fantasy novel at the end of book 2. Anyway, I enjoyed the more realistic modern style and the fact that Grossman's love of the fantasy genera seeps through the whole series.

A one off that I really enjoyed recently was Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It had a similar feel to the above, but with secret societies of librarians instead of schools for magic.

Okay, that's all I got for the moment. But this is a neat thread, so please keep the recommendations coming all!

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09-16-2015 at 05:45 AM
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Lucky Luc
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Okay, so some more reccomendations:

It's been mentioned in the second post of this thread, but since that's been some time and it's a really good fantasy book, I want to praise Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind once more. I can't even tell why it's so good - it takes itself a bit more seriously than I'm usually comfortable with for fantasy novels - but it just is. And once I have two completely free weeks or so, I'll definitely read the second part.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is just beautiful, even if it (thankfully) doesn't relate to me personally. It's a YA fantasy drama, but I really think it's suitable for any age. It contains, you know, metaphors and stuff.

Ben Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London" series is also pretty funny.

For the science fiction genre, I enjoyed The Martian (yeah, another insiders' tip, I know, I know), mainly because it actually gets a lot of the science right. If you write science fiction without decent science, why not just write fantasy instead? Okay, so I don't know that much about space travel, and I know there are some inaccuracies, but not on a level that would lessen my enjoyment of it. Especially pleased that it got many little details right (like not doing miscalculations of about 10 orders of magnitude; looking at you, Michael Chricton's Prey (which was, to be fair, otherwise perfectly enjoyable)).

(Also, I find it frightening that some reviewers use these correct details as arguments how flawed the science of the book / movie is, but well, I guess I just have to live with it)

Outside of speculative fiction (I don't really understand that word, but whatever), Gillian Flynn writes fantastic and darkly funny thrillers. I also like Christian Mähr's thrillers, which also contain a lot of dark humour - and chemistry :D . I don't think there are any translations of them, though ...
06-07-2016 at 05:21 PM
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Dischorran
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Perdido Street Station is really good. Or Mieville in general, either way.

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08-30-2016 at 02:18 AM
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