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#1 Edited by The_Ruiner (1018 posts) -

Vinny's question to Rorie in the latest Breaking Brad got me to thinking about my favorite fantasy book. And I'm split between these two:

A pretty fantastic, well written story of betrayal and redemption. People tend to turn their nose up at video game books. But David Gaider is a talented writer and I just love the DA lore so much. It really delves deep into the history of Alistair's father and mother. And if you read this book, you gain a whole new understanding of Lohgain's motivations. He's probably the most bad ass character in the DA lore.

I love the entire His Dark Materials series (Except for the very end of the last book. Yuck). But this is probably my favorite book in the series. It doesn't have the high adventure elements of first book, but the introduction of Will, and the deepening of the series mythology is really interesting. Even if Will's life is kind of a huge bummer.

What is your favorite fantasy novel? And I realize fantasy a loose classification. But what I'm getting at is swords, magic, elves, strange creatures, and alternate histories. Not so much sci fi stuff.

#2 Edited by StarvingGamer (8028 posts) -
#3 Edited by Hailinel (23944 posts) -

But David Gaider is a talented writer

What.

I mean, huh? This is the guy that gave us Dragon Age II.

The amount of fantasy I've read is sorely lacking, but even if I read more, it would be hard to top my enjoyment of The Hobbit.

#4 Edited by chrissedoff (2075 posts) -

I don't usually read fantasy so I've read hardly any fantasy books. But of the handful I've read, I guess I'll say The Last Unicorn. Would you count Dune? My sister gave me The Name of the Wind last Christmas. I still haven't started it. I should get on that since I haven't been reading anything else lately.

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#5 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11488 posts) -
@hailinel said:

@the_ruiner said:
But David Gaider is a talented writer

What.

I mean, huh? This is the guy that gave us Dragon Age II.

There are well written parts of Dragon Age II. Just... not the parts that involve the main story, which I'm pretty sure David Gaider was responsible for.

Also, I'll take the easy way out and say "Probably something in The Wheel of Time"

#6 Posted by Bleshoo (118 posts) -

Say what you will about The Sword of Truth series, but I think Wizard's First Rule is pretty great.

#7 Posted by Hayt (264 posts) -

Does Dune count as fantasy?

#8 Edited by Hunter5024 (5546 posts) -

I like a Song of Ice and Fire, and Wheel of Time quite a bit. I could probably stand to read a bit more fantasy though.

@bleshoo said:

Say what you will about The Sword of Truth series, but I think Wizard's First Rule is pretty great.

Hell yeah. It takes a solid 3 or 4 books for him to ruin that series.

#9 Posted by Whitestripes09 (400 posts) -

@hayt: More or less, I think it would be considered science fantasy.

#10 Posted by phampire (281 posts) -

I really like the Wheel of Time and Mistborn series.

#11 Posted by Rick_Fingers (524 posts) -

Wheel of Time, Dresden Files, and Mistborn would be my top 3

Top 10 is way harder

#12 Posted by Sinusoidal (1299 posts) -

Unquestionably Steven Erikson's Malazan series. Those are probably my favorite set of books period. Though I prefer sci-fi in general.

#13 Edited by MonetaryDread (1993 posts) -

Wheel of time

#14 Posted by Aegon (5413 posts) -

Not going to name one, here are some of my faves:

  • Kingkiller Chronicles
  • Song of Ice and Fire
  • Long Price Quartet (only read 2 of the books thus far)
  • Stormlight Archives
  • Raven's Shadow
  • Harry Potter and Bartimaeus in the YA / Children's category
#15 Posted by Morningstar (2143 posts) -

The Name of The Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. Both by Patrick Rothfuss. Everything by Terry Pratchett. A lot of stuff from David Gemmel. Currently reading the Mistborn series, which are so far pretty amazing. Some of the Warcraft book are pretty good. The wheel of time can be amazing. Many of the books of David Eddings, Terry Goodkind, Raymond E. Feist. And of course The Lord Of The Rings!

#16 Posted by Canteu (2821 posts) -

The Night Angel trilogy, by Brent Weeks.

#17 Posted by razzdrazz (62 posts) -

Obviously, A Song of Ice and Fire holds some prominence. Martin's world-building is spectacular and it feels real in a way that so many other fantasy stories do not. Dune (space fantasy?), also, is great, although I wouldn't venture too far into the expanded series as I've heard that the later novels aren't any good. Tolkien is probably my favorite, though, if only for nostalgia's sake. As a kid, I loved the Redwall series, though I'm almost positive they wouldn't hold up well if I read them over as an adult. Admittedly, I've always been more attracted to sci-fi because the genre seemed less ridiculous. I could never get into the D&D stuff... Excited to get back into fantasy and begin In the Name of the Wind since I finished A Dance with Dragons a while ago and have to wait who knows how long for the next installment.

#18 Edited by GTCknight (671 posts) -

I guess I'll be that guy and ask the question. Would a manga count? If so then my answer would be Berserk

I've always loved the amount of detail that Kentarou Miura puts into both the story/lore, and art.

Nothing else has ever manged to come close to it for me.

I'm editing this real quick. My answer is based on fantasy, if I could choose a Sci-fi then I don't know. To be honest its been a very long time since I've read a novel. I know I really liked the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order series a lot, but I wouldn't put in the same place as Dune or anything.

#19 Edited by Encephalon (1240 posts) -

Man... I guess apart from A Song of Ice and Fire, I just don't read a lot of fantasy.

I think I like the potential of the genre more than what it tends to actually produce. Even with Martin, I merely tolerate the White Walker crap it until he gets back to the delicious political backstabbery.

Can anyone recommend a mature, well-written series that takes place in a fantastical world, but doesn't let that stuff become the crux of the story?

#20 Posted by MB (12044 posts) -

When I was much younger I was a voracious reader of the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, particularly the Icewind Dale series which led into the long series of Drizzt stories. Out of all of these, Homeland is probably my favorite. I don't think I've ever loved a novel so much, before or since. I guess this was around 1989 or 1990.

I was really into tabletop D&D at that time...AD&D 2nd Edition had just been released, and there were a boatload of novels coming out every year. I think I read all of them. I remember the summer before high school I read 14 Forgotten Realms novels. Nuts. Keep in mind this was long before information on upcoming books was available on the internet, so I had to rely on clerks at bookstores and the "coming soon" and timeline sections of the TSR novels I was reading.

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#21 Posted by Aegon (5413 posts) -

Man... I guess apart from A Song of Ice and Fire, I just don't read a lot of fantasy.

I think I like the potential of the genre more than what it tends to actually produce. Even with Martin, I merely tolerate the White Walker crap it until he gets back to the delicious political backstabbery.

Can anyone recommend a mature, well-written series that takes place in a fantastical world, but doesn't let that stuff become the crux of the story?

Long Price Quartet. Barely any magic. And it has TONS of political backstabbery, especially in the second book (my fave of the two I read).

#22 Edited by Encephalon (1240 posts) -

@aegon: Ah. Googling now, thanks.

To clarify, I don't reject fantastical stuff as a general rule. I would be way into a story where magic is an acknowledged presence in the world, but that it's treated merely as medieval artillery, and doesn't end up with some wizard trying to unleash the ancient evil so go stop him.

When that stuff comprises the entire endgame of the plot, as it often does in fantasy, it can lead to developments that I personally find uninteresting. But then maybe I'm just reading shitty fantasy.

#23 Posted by Levius (1081 posts) -

I think I would have to say Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. I really like the slightly darker tone the book has over his other work, and I think that it makes it one of his most interesting novels. I really need to read that book again.

#24 Posted by The_Vein (270 posts) -

Really good book, not overly indulgent with itself like many fantasy novels are--and a very unique setting. The fantasy world exists alongside an early 20th century world but the two are pretty much separate, with a huge wall patrolled by WWI style soldiers on the modern side constantly guarding for any monsters that might come through. Being too close to the wall makes technology not work so many of them carry swords and shields. Sabriel herself is a special kind of necromancer that keeps dead things dead via special bells and spells she's trained to use. There's two other books in the series which expand on the universe, but I like the first one the best.

#25 Posted by Jimbo (9775 posts) -

The BibleLOLOL

But srsly, I think this is one area where the popular ones (LOTR, Song) are actually the good ones.

#26 Posted by The_Vein (270 posts) -

@encephalon: Try reading the Farseer trilogy, starting with Assassin's Apprentice. It's a very real fantasy world with a ton of sneaking around, backroom deals, scheming princes and forbidden love. The only magic in it is a sort of low grade psychic power called the Skill that very few people have and an even rarer power to speak in limited ways with animals called the Wit. Mostly its about a prince's bastard son being taught to be an assassin in the shadowy backroom world of a kingdom at war while the old king of the realm approaches death and his two sons vie to gain control and the young assassin tries to find a place for himself. Eventually, towards the end of the series, things get a bit more magical but I feel like the magic is treated more like a type of nuclear option--something very dangerous everyone wants to get their hands on--rather than a ancient evil awakening.

#27 Posted by The_Vein (270 posts) -

@encephalon: If that doesn't float your boat, check out Kushiel's Dart. It's also the first part of a trilogy--because all fantasy has to be a trilogy, right?--about a world that's very similar to earth, but all fantasied and magicked up. The story is set in a fantasy version of France where the people are distant descendants of angels. Sex and romance are religiously important to them and the main character is a prostitute's daughter named Phedre who has a small red mark in her eye that marks her as someone who feels pain as pleasure. She's sold to a man who raises her to be a prostitute of the highest quality and a spy for him. Eventually she falls into a huge intrigue to depose the kingdom's new queen--which leads to her traveling around the world to save her. There's magic in this book too, but it's very low key, something most people don't really believe in. The only accepted magic most people believe in is guy called the Master of the Straights who's basically an immortal wizard who has absolute control over the ocean in what's basically the Straight of Dover. I know the cover looks sort of like a shitty romance book and the idea for the story sounds bad, but it's actually really good. If you like it I suggest all of Jaqueline Carey's work, one of the best fantasy writers out there.

#28 Posted by ervonymous (1297 posts) -

I don't usually read scifi or fantasy but Terry Pratchett's Mort was hilarious. Some really interesting choices so far, I'll have to check them out.

#29 Posted by Jeust (10481 posts) -
#30 Posted by caska (113 posts) -

Best series I'd have to say goes to Malazan Book of the Fallen. Best books I've ever read and they only get better with each reread.

Best standalone book for me I think has to go to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

There's really a tonne of great fantasy books and series' though which makes it really hard. It along with a bit of sci fi are pretty much the only genres I've read growing up so I guess that's what makes it so hard for me at least...

#31 Edited by The_Vein (270 posts) -

One last suggestion I'd make is Perdido Street Station. I didn't put this up at first because I'm not sure how "fantasy" it is. It's a very "steampunk" novel, there are airships and robotic constructs and logic engines, but also magicians, frog people, monsters, and golems. It's a really good dark fantasy novel. Violent, scary, weird and unnerving. There's no typical fantasy tropes, no elves or goblins or dragons. Instead there's thaumatugic scientists, a race of women with beautiful human bodies and giant scarabs for heads, flying talking rats and cactus people. Seriously a great book, especially for people sick of the swords elves and maidens of regular fantasy. Certainly in my top five favorite books.

#32 Posted by CaLe (3914 posts) -

The Worm Ouroboros. It wins by default because it's the only fantasy book I've ever read.

#33 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (917 posts) -

#34 Posted by 2HeadedNinja (1553 posts) -
#35 Posted by Hugh_Jazz (336 posts) -

@encephalon: Sounds like The Kingkiller Chronicle might be something for you. Patrick Rothfuss has really written the only mundane-feeling application of magic that I can remember, where the natural rules and laws of the magic feel like something grounded in our own understanding of physics, instead of just being some mystical force. That's also not the only reason why The Name of the Wind is the best fantasy novel I've read.

Aside from the afore-mentioned and its sequel, I'm currently getting all up in Scott Lynch's business with The Republic of Thieves, the third book in The Gentleman Bastards Sequence, which I've also found to be a pretty superb set of fantasy books where the actual magic bit has been taking a good back-seat to the heist and crime portions of the story.

Also worth a very warm recommendation are The Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies by Robin Hobb. I actually read the Tawny Man trilogy first, and Farseer second, which I feel worked out impressively well due to the nature of how those stories are told.

#36 Posted by sir_gunblade (120 posts) -

Terry Pratchett's Discworld books- specifically anything with Sam Vimes as the main character. I had never had any book make me laugh out loud while reading- but every Discworld book makes me. I cannot recommend them all more highly.

#37 Edited by Guesty_01 (339 posts) -

I don't read half as much as I would like to, but my absolute favorite is A Song of Ice and Fire. If I were presse to pick an individual book, it would be either;

A Game of Thrones - The very first book in a series always holds a special place. I didn't quite know what I was getting into beforehand.

By the time I'd read Brans first chapter I knew it was going to be good.

By the time I'd got to "The things I do or love", I knew it was special.

A Storm of Swords - The high point in the series as far as twists and turns and drama goes. So much excitement I could barely keep myself together.

Others I've really enjoyed - everything by Joe Abercrombie. He easily writes my favorite and most likeable characters. Loved all his work so far.

The Lord of the Rings/The hobbit -the grandfathers of fantasy.

The Gotrek and Felix saga from GamesWorkshop - just hella fun.

#38 Posted by Tajasaurus (796 posts) -

Is The Dark Tower fantasy? Because if it is then The Dark Tower.

#39 Posted by Scampbell (492 posts) -

@aegon: Ah. Googling now, thanks.

To clarify, I don't reject fantastical stuff as a general rule. I would be way into a story where magic is an acknowledged presence in the world, but that it's treated merely as medieval artillery, and doesn't end up with some wizard trying to unleash the ancient evil so go stop him.

When that stuff comprises the entire endgame of the plot, as it often does in fantasy, it can lead to developments that I personally find uninteresting. But then maybe I'm just reading shitty fantasy.

I would really recommend Robin Hobb, to me she is the only other fantasy writer which have captured me to the same degree as George R.R. Martin. I have only read the books that takes place in the Realm of the Elderlings and not all of them. In a way it is a series of trilogies, connected by its characters. First (chronologically) is The Farseer Trilogy which is only told through the perspective of Fitz or FitzChivalry Farseer, the bastard child of the crown prince. He is born with the ability to connect with animals, especially dogs and wolves, something that is surrounded my superstitious fear in the Six Duchies. Political intrigue is certainly a thing, but because of the perspective you might not necessarily learn about it. I think I felt more emotionally invested than I did in a Song of Ice and Fire, which is to say, while it isn't as graphically violent, but it got to me more than it did in a Song of Ice and Fire.

The second trilogy, The Liveship Traders Trilogy takes place in a different place in the same world and with a completely different set of characters. These books are told in the same way as A Song of Ice and Fire with shifting perspective. I is a very nautical focused which I haven't experienced in any other fantasy series I've read. It is focused around Bingtown, a tradition bound trading community, with the added aspect that with the help of some ancient knowledge their ships are actually sentient. It might sound silly, but it really isn't. There is plenty of political intrigue, but in a smaller scale. Certain parts where really powerfully written, I haven't really experienced anything like it before. I can't really say anything more specific without spoiling anything.

The Third and Fourth you could say is like a second Fitz and a Second Bingtown trilogy, but at the same time they are still a chronological continuation of same story of the previous books. I especially enjoyed The Tawny Man Trilogy.

While Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books aren't necessarily Fantasy, to me the first two books are still some of the best Fantasy books I have ever read. Simple amazing.

#40 Edited by Mechanical_Ape (242 posts) -

The first ones that spring to mind would be Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, and Slyvie and Bruno. While I'd say they are all fantasy, they aren't high fantasy and probably not exactly what you were thinking when you asked the question. I haven't really read much of that in the last few years besides some Terry Prachett, which is always good. Even the last Terry Prachett book I read, Dodger, isn't even fantasy.

#41 Posted by adam1808 (1381 posts) -
#42 Edited by The_Ruiner (1018 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@the_ruiner said:
But David Gaider is a talented writer

What.

I mean, huh? This is the guy that gave us Dragon Age II.

The amount of fantasy I've read is sorely lacking, but even if I read more, it would be hard to top my enjoyment of The Hobbit.

He wrote a lot of the Dragon Age lore. And being a writer, he had very little to do with repetitive dungeons and poorly designed combat scenarios. The writing in DA 2 was not the problem. Not to me anyway. Hell it wasn't even a terrible game...it was just a terrible, lackluster, disappointing sequel to one of the greatest games of all time...

@gtcknight Manga totally counts...I'm glad someone brought it up. Most of the manga I like is Sci Fi though.

I'm really glad i posted this. I have a bunch of potential series to get into now.

#43 Posted by Guesty_01 (339 posts) -

Shit, how did I ever forget the Farseer trilogy??? Great great great stuff, hope one day to find time for another of Hobbs series.

#44 Edited by Encephalon (1240 posts) -

Shout out to everyone who suggested a series to me. I've got a lot of reading to do, it seems.

#45 Posted by BaneFireLord (2913 posts) -

Hard to pick just one...American Gods, Going Postal, Thud!, the last two books in the Codex Alera series and any given Dresden Files title are all worthy contenders.

#46 Edited by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

I'll go favorite single standalone book here. Series is a whole different animal:

and... just taking a look at my shelves here, it's pretty slim pickings for the strictly single novel category in this particular genre. There's a couple I remember fondly but don't have any particular that book was so awesome nostalgia attached; Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny for instance. The Scar by China Mieville, too.

Best novel that was long so it was released in two parts: The Sarantine Mosaic, which is comprised of Book 1: Sailing To Sarantium, and Book 2: Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Best single book within a larger series: Deadhouse Gates by Stephen Erikson

If you're a fantasy fan and have not read the Sarantine Mosaic, you should. It's very very good. Very. And definitely check out Zelazny. He's... unique. :D

Can anyone recommend a mature, well-written series that takes place in a fantastical world, but doesn't let that stuff become the crux of the story?

I am extra double plus recommending Guy Gavriel Kay to you.

#47 Posted by Brodehouse (9624 posts) -

@hailinel: The characters Gaider wrote for 2 were alright. Gaider wrote Anders in Awakening, and Jennifer Hepler wrote Anders in 2, and the difference has upset a lot of people.

I haven't read The Stolen Throne, but I read The Calling and Asunder, and they're alright. They are a little light, they do tend towards larger-than-life archetypes for characters, almost comic book style, but the setting is so good it almost doesn't matter. The Thedas setting is probably the greatest strength of Dragon Age; I could care less about fighting another ogre or dragon, but I want to see the pristine architecture of Val Royeaux, the citystates of Antiva, the lush jungles of Seheron and the grim peaks of the Anderfels. I want to meet their people and understand how and why their cultures work for them, to see how they are similar and different to their real world historical counterparts. If they throw in some fun party members, that's even better.

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#48 Posted by Elyhaym (192 posts) -

It's been a good long while since I've read Fantasy, got sidetracked by Sci-Fi instead. I do however have fond memories reading the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends books while growing up. And there are the classics as a lot of people have already mentioned, Lord of the Rings, Discworld and so forth.

#49 Edited by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

@razzdrazz: The complete Dune series is good, although quite... different, in the last three books. I am refering to Frank Herbert's original six books. Do steer clear of the books Brian Herbert wrote after Frank died, though.

#50 Posted by The_Ruiner (1018 posts) -

@hailinel: The characters Gaider wrote for 2 were alright. Gaider wrote Anders in Awakening, and Jennifer Hepler wrote Anders in 2, and the difference has upset a lot of people.

I haven't read The Stolen Throne, but I read The Calling and Asunder, and they're alright. They are a little light, they do tend towards larger-than-life archetypes for characters, almost comic book style, but the setting is so good it almost doesn't matter. The Thedas setting is probably the greatest strength of Dragon Age; I could care less about fighting another ogre or dragon, but I want to see the pristine architecture of Val Royeaux, the citystates of Antiva, the lush jungles of Seheron and the grim peaks of the Anderfels. I want to meet their people and understand how and why their cultures work for them, to see how they are similar and different to their real world historical counterparts. If they throw in some fun party members, that's even better.

You're missing the best book.