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Topic: Favorites to Start

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Subject: Favorites to Start
Date Posted: 1/7/2012 3:19 AM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
Posts: 469
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Okay, so I responded to a thread that I didn't realize was old-ish (October) until I'd already bumped it, but it prompted me to post this.


I haven't read a ton of fantasy yet (Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, and the Artemis Fowl books to okay for my kiddo), but am definitely at home with a new favorite genre here. (I'm also a mystery reader but getting more away from that in the last few years. Not all about death, and never have been about horror. Thriller and suspense is okay but if it gives me nightmares it's an issue.)


Anyway. I'm wondering what some of your favorite ADULT fantasy authors and books are! Which books (other than those classics I've listed) would you recommend as a first-to-genre reader?

Date Posted: 1/7/2012 9:52 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 3,112
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I went through the Tolkien books with my daughters and saw the movies but never sat down to read the entire series until this year when I put them all on my challenges.  Just finishing The Fellowship of the Ring.  All I can say about Tolkien's writing is "Wow!"  I've even been reading his biography, too, which explains so much about the man and the author.

Last Edited on: 1/7/12 9:52 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/7/2012 1:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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Fantasy has a ton of variety -- there's mysteries, romances, thrillers, horror, historical fiction, and on and on and on. 

If you like mysteries, you can try the noir style urban fantasies.  Many of those have a private investigator or police officer lead character.  Most but not all include werewolves, vampires, and the like.  They come in all flavors from police procedural all the way to romance with the slightest bones of a mystery plot.  The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher would be on the PI side of things with a huge dose of sarcastic humor.  Patricia Briggs' Mercedes Thompson series would be more on the romance side of the spectrum, but still has tons of plot.

More on the order of high or heroic fantasy, you have Bujold's Chalion trilogy, which is absolutely wonderful.  It does deal heavily in a made-up religion but that's part of what makes it so good.  Her Vorkosigan sci fi series is also very good and hilarious.

If you want stories set in a modern city with bits of fantasy here and there, try one of Charles de Lint's short story collections

Robin McKinley is also a wonderful author.  She officially writes for the young adult audience, but for most of her books, that doesn't matter a bit.  She writes everything from fairy tale retellings to epic style fantasies to a single urban fantasy.  There's really only a couple of books from her that I didn't like.

For a non-standard suggestion, what about Sharon Shinn's Archangel?  It's not as religious as the title might suggest but it does incorporate biblical names and of course, angels .  It's a sci-fi/fantasy mix, set on a separate planet.  I can't answer for the rest of the series since I'm just now reading book 2, but this first one was really good.

Last Edited on: 1/7/12 1:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/7/2012 1:35 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
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DaLynn, hold onto your hat, you are probably gonna get enough suggestions to keep you going for the rest of your life LOL!  To get your feet wet I'd highly recommend David Eddings 2 series - they are each complete, but related - The Belgariad and the Mallorian, 5 each but none of them too big and no rough, nasty stuff.

Cheers, Margaret

Date Posted: 1/7/2012 1:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
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Me again, there's a really useful website that I use a lot to get info, recommendations, reviews and synopses on fantasy books:

www.fantasyliterature.com it's great.


Date Posted: 1/7/2012 11:04 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
Posts: 469
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Yay, thanks ladies!


Starting with the masters, I worry some that I'll be highly unimpressed with anything else. LOL How silly is that??


Sounds like some great places to start - will have to see if the local library has any of these. Thanks so much! I'll check out the link too.

More suggestions than I can possibly read, ever, is right up my alley. HA! Keep em coming and thanks!

Date Posted: 1/7/2012 11:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I'll second Melanti's recommendation of the Chalion series for High Fantasy in the Kingdom vein, with the caveat that some people find the first 200 pages a little slow. Though I'll add that even the people who find the first 200 pages slow say it's totally worth it. . . ;)

Another Kingdom Fantasy series I love is Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series, starting with Kushiel's Dart; for this one I do have to mention that it's very much "adult" -- the world is one where bisexuality is the norm, prostitution is sacred, and the main character is a divinely-marked masochist. And being kingdom fantasy, there are several bloody battles. But if none of that offends you, I think the series is superb.

Will also second Melanti's rec of Robin McKinley, if you're in the mood for fairytale retellings in particular as I think those are where she shines best; if you want to try her but aren't into fairytale retellings I'd suggest starting with either The Blue Sword or The Hero and the Crown. (They're related, but can be read in either order.)

If you want to get a sense for fantasy before Tolkien, I recently read and loved both Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter and Hope Mirrlees' Lud-in-the-Mist; the second was written as a response to the first, so it's interesting to read them close together to see different approaches to the same sort of magic.

Melanti mentioned the whole subgenre of urban fantasy, but if you want to try a high fantasy/mystery mix I strongly recommend Amanda Downum's The Bone Palace; it's the second in what will be an ongoing series, but I read it by itself and like a good mystery should it stands on its own. It's a fantasy police procedural, in a low-tech (but not medieval; there are guns) world with magic and monsters and three genders. And if you want something really different, Aliette de Bodard has a series of mysteries set in the Aztec Empire pre-Columbus, where the gods are real, starting with Servant of the Underworld. And I also can't recommend enough Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam series of novellas, which is set in a steampunk alternate history and stars a vampire private detective and a forensic sorceress.

And finally, I really enjoyed N.K. Jemisin's recently concluded Inheritance Trilogy, starting with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms; it starts off as Kingdom Fantasy and ends up as true Heroic Fantasy, sort of, if you can tell a Heroic Fantasy from the perspective of a trickster god. ;)

Date Posted: 4/21/2012 12:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2006
Posts: 50
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I would recommend making your way through the list of Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks, which includes many great authors and stories from across the spectrum of fantasy subgenres.  The Gollancz editions are rarely seen on PBS, but the majority of titles are available here in other editions.  Some of the Gollancz titles are omnibus volumes, so you may have to search for component volumes when seeking them out on PBS.

Last Edited on: 4/21/12 12:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1