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Fantasy and SF Recommendations: Series

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#1 Datepalm


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Posted 20 May 2009 - 03:37 PM

This is a new thread for recommending series. Read something good? Think more people should read it? This is the place.

To keep it useful and relevant for people trying to find a book to read, I ask that when posting in this thread, you stick to a few points:

- Posts need to contain the name of the series, the name of the author, and a sentence or two of description or opinion.

- Praise and criticism should try to be helpful to someone trying to make their mind what to read, and not context-free subjective opinion: "I thought it had strong characterization, but somewhat unoriginal worldbuilding," is useful. Simply saying "I totally loved it, everyone should read it," - not so much.

- Feel free to post a rec even if someone already has, so long as you're not repeating them word for word. An accumulation of opinion can be useful.

- Differing opinions on books that have been brought up is fine, but don't be the first to post a book you don't recommend at all. We have "worst book" threads for that.

- Rec separate series in separate posts. This will help to eventually consolidate different recs for the same book together.

- Keep things short. Anything longer than a paragraph - find/start a thread for it.

- This is not the place to discuss peoples recs. If someone recs Goodkind, its on their conscience. But go ahead and post a negative opinion, if you like.

- Please don't ask for recommendations in this thread. If it doesn't deliver what you're looking for, have a look in the "What to do before starting a thread asking for recommendations" thread, and then - start a thread.

To keep the thread accessible and clutter free, note that all posts that aren't useful recommendations will be deleted with considerable zeal.

Edited by Datepalm, 04 July 2011 - 07:33 PM.

#2 SkynJay


    Now, what did we learn?

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 09:00 AM

Being the first poster, ill just start with the same series that everyone will ALWAYS post for these. Edit: Now with basic descriptions, by popular demand!

The First Law- Joe Abercrombie - Dark and gritty. Epic. Some of the most popular characters on the board. Some black humor. Two front war. Magic is present, but not common.

The Prince of Nothing- R. Scott Bakker -Dark and philosophical. Follows a core group of people through a holy war. Probably the most recommended series on the board. Not an easy read, but very epic.

The Long Price Quartet- Daniel Abraham - Completely unique. The core characters are taken through an entire lifetime through the four books. A very specific style of magic meeting actual technological advances. A rare series that is truly "finished," no worries about never ending follow ups.

The Gentlemen Bastard- Scott Lynch -Lovable rouges/con-men in a fantasy setting. Dark (seeing a pattern?), but also humorous at times. Truly focuses on only a few characters.

Diskworld- Terry Pratchett - The premium fantasy satirist. If you don't like a book, go to the next one. Almost none of his books need to be read in order, so pick whichever one looks interesting.

Bas Lag- China Mieville -Call it new weird, steampunk, or whatever, just know its highly recommended by all. A completely unique world, with creatures unlike any others in fantasy. Perdido Street Station in particular is considered a modern day classic.

The Engineer Trilogy -KJ Parker- A man starts a war to get back home. Parker writes great military fantasy, with highly entertaining characters.

The Clockwork Century- Cherie Priest - Steampunk meets zombies in a alternative American Civil War.

The Black Company- Glen Cook- A great military fantasy series in a gritty world. Mostly written in the first person from the front lines. The Ten who are Taken are some of the most interesting villains I have personally read about as a group.

Ok, tired. Ill add more descriptions later.

Edited by SkynJay, 21 December 2011 - 08:43 AM.

#3 Jestersinthemoon



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Posted 12 March 2011 - 10:42 PM

Brent Weeks

The Night Angel Trilogy ( The Way of Shadows, Shadows Edge, Beyond the Shadows )

Read this series recently and liked it very much. Fun and quick read. Somewhat cliched, but good action, cool characters, witty and humorous.

The Black Prism ( Lightbringer Series )- Only the first book is out, but this will be a trilogy.

I also really liked this book and can't wait for the next one. Brent Weeks will obviously be one of my new favorite authors. Ingenious magical system based on light and color. Characters can only use magic when they can see their color. Most can only use magic of one or sometimes two colors. Different colors correspond to different types of magic. Very interesting. Good book with nicely fleshed out world and good characters.

Peter V. Brett

The Warded Man and The Desert Spear

Another new series that I read recently and liked. Interesting worldbuilding. Good characters, and overall, very enjoyable.

#4 howland_reed



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Posted 16 March 2011 - 01:38 PM

Don't know if this is really that obscure, but:

Sara Douglass - Wayfarer Redemption trilogy

Usually surprised this never gets any mention cause I thought it was an engrossing read, and more importantly, very well paced. Unlike other authors, Douglass doesn't get too bogged down or fall overly in love with her characters to the point that her "trilogy" ends up taking more than 3 books.

Also found the ending to be very well done (and bittersweet).

#5 Cylux



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Posted 05 May 2011 - 08:08 PM

I just got done reading Drylor the first artifact by Ryan Tomasella. It was a very good fantasy book, the first of the series. I wasn't expecting much out of it at first but once I started reading it I was pleasently surprised. The author definately has a way with describing things and I will most likely follow all of his work in the future.

#6 LaurenOrtega



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Posted 09 May 2011 - 08:21 PM

Okay, so I'm a newbie here, so I'm not sure if my opinion is worth much(Do I need to be hazed?) But one of the finest series I've ever read was T.C. Rypel's Gonji series. They're extremely obscure(I got mine from my dad) and I think you can only find used copies on Amazon or Ebay. But they're great intelligent reads.

Basically Gonji is a samurai from the east who's traveling across 16th century Europe in search of a thing called the "death wind." Along the way he somehow manages to find himself in magic cities in the Carpathians, battles a strange magic king, gets targeted by the Spanish Inquisition, meets werewolves, and battles demons in France.

It's an odd series, mixing the real realities and different ethnic groups of Europe, with magic that's treated as an everyday thing(no matter how many people want to believe dragons don't exist) and a central character in Gonji(Who's pretty much always a stranger where ever he goes) that comes across as a great mix between Toshiro Mifune, Elric, and Conan.

They're just great well written books, with the same qualities I love in Martin's writing. At the end of the day? It's about character, and Rypel(who seems to be pretty much a ghost in terms of online information) sketches out casts of characters with a wonderful aplomb.

#7 Athelstane



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Posted 03 June 2011 - 06:58 PM

I'm not nearly as deeply read in the typical fantasy as most of you are, but my two recommendations would be Robert E. Howard's Conan collections and John Christopher's The Tripods Trilogy.

Most of you know the Conan collection already, but for those that don't, Howard basically popularized fantasy before Tolkien came around. Granted, Howard's works are more action adventure oriented as opposed to epic "the world is being threatened" work. Still a must read for anyone who wants to read one of the forefathers of modern fantasy. Check out his non-Conan stuff too.

The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher is YA, and I guess more Sci/fi than fantasy, but this series has stuck with me since I was 12. Excellent story, flawed characters, and a world filled with wonders.

#8 The faceless others

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 10:59 PM

Acts of Caine by Matthew Stover anyone? I'm not sure if it can be considered as stand alone too, but more or less it's a series. And this is a real mix of SiFi and fantasy, a combination of quantum physics and magic, and a badass character you might love to hate. It might not be a lot of people's cup of tea because of the violence and profanities crammed in a page, but I'll recommend it anyway.

#9 Ded As Ned

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 03:02 PM

Surprised nobody mentioned the Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman... its up there in my top 10 somewhere, great reads, unique magic in a Gothic setting, great stuff IMO. Grey characters, good plot.

[ETA cuz I can't speel]

Edited by dragonfire613, 08 June 2011 - 03:05 PM.

#10 Contrarius


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Posted 08 June 2011 - 10:57 PM

Surprised nobody mentioned the Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman... its up there in my top 10 somewhere, great reads, unique magic in a Gothic setting, great stuff IMO. Grey characters, good plot.

I've only read the first book in the trilogy, so I can't speak for the whole series. IMHO it had good ideas, mostly interesting characters, and even some good plotting -- but mediocre execution. I really thought it was kinda a waste, because it seemed to me that somebody with better writing skills could have made a really good book out of it. I do plan to read the rest of the trilogy eventually, so maybe I'll like the other books better!

#11 aktarian



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Posted 20 June 2011 - 03:30 AM

Harry Turtledove "Darkness" series. Interesting twist to fantasy genre.

#12 SteveG



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Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:21 AM

It is a bit uneven, but the fantasy trilogy by Alexis A. Gilliland that starts with Wizenbeak is very enjoyable. These are short books, not at all in the modern fantasy tome style, with characters that come across as real people and with believable politics.

These came out in the '80s and are hard to find now, but the author's science fiction trilogy (I don't recall the titles, but they all mention 'Rosinante') is available on Kindle and is also pretty good. In that trilogy the second book covers mostly the same events as the first, but from the viewpoint of the first books villains. Left me a bit confused at first, but it is a technique that readers of ASOIAF may be familiar with.

#13 emberling



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Posted 04 July 2011 - 08:14 PM

Vorkosigan Saga, Lois McMaster Bujold: These absurdly multifaceted books are fast-paced space opera or similar on the surface, but hold a remarkable amount of social commentary and scientific speculation in the background - right where it should be. Character and action are foremost, and what characters! Miles Vorkosigan is one of the best characters in speculative fiction, barely edging out a certain other vertically-challenged snark. The series structure should be the model for all other episodic series, with each book complete, each book vastly different from the last, and each book dramatically changing the situations of the characters for the next. The series has won enough awards to fill a small spaceship.

Magister Trilogy, C. S. Friedman: This is flying under the radar somehow; I can't imagine why. Maybe because it's really hard to put my finger on what makes it so good. Friedman is a great author with a talent for putting her characters in bizarre situations - they're just fun to read, as well as producing all the empathy and pathos you could want. The central idea of the series is the high cost of magic, and what happens when we find a way for someone else to pay it.

Newsflesh Trilogy, Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire): Here be zombies. But these are not really zombie books: they are books with zombies, like A Game of Thrones is a book with swords. They are fast-paced thrillers that sometimes reminded me of Snow Crash, with a focus on what happens when society lives in constant fear. Perhaps unlike many other zombie books, with their horror roots, this is very sci-fi, firmly rooted in "what if?" - what is life like twenty-six years after 'zombie infection' becomes a thing that can happen to you and your family? The first book, Feed, is nominated for a Hugo this year.

Realm of the Elderlings books by Robin Hobb: Farseer trilogy, Liveship Traders trilogy, Tawny Man trilogy, and the Rain Wilds Chronicles
Robin Hobb is the gold standard for character in fantasy, as long as you don't mind a bit of excessive moping. Not much else to say.

#14 Contrarius


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Posted 04 July 2011 - 11:07 PM

I never see anyone talk much about urban fantasy on this board, and I've been reading a lot of that lately, so here's a few recommendations in that subgenre. I've been reading male POV series, so I'll restrict my recs to those for now:

The Joe Pitt series by Charlie Huston -- I like this series in a big way. Gripping series by an accomplished writer of noir/pulp fiction. The style is a combination of Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, and Quentin Tarantino. Do NOT read these if you can't stand grim grimy-ness, fatalism, and gore. The main character is a vampire in NYC, in a vampire-sort-of-mob-underculture. Vivid side characters, most of them also vampires. No fairies, no werewolves, no unicorns or sparkly anything. The series is already completed, so you never have to worry about waiting for the next book to come out. I really enjoyed the narration on these by Scott Brick, so consider the audio version.

The Felix Castor series by Mike Carey -- Right now this may be my second favorite UF series next to the Dresden files. Takes place in and around London. Can also be grim and grimy, but at least two tones lighter than the Joe Pitt series. Darker than the Dresden Files, though. Interestingly, both Charlie Huston and Mike Carey (not to mention Jim Butcher and his graphic novels) have been involved with comic books. The main character is an "exorcist", but not in the sense that we usually think of that term. In fact, he's an atheist. We might think of him more as a medium, with the added power of banishing the spirits when necessary. Interestingly, he uses a tin whistle when summoning or banishing. Good sidekicks here, including a data retrieval specialist who happens to be a zombie, a femme fatale who happens to be a succubus, and a best friend who happens to be possessed by a powerful demon. Some good British humor, but not generally funny books. No fairies, no vampires (one minor background character claims to be a vampire, but nobody believes him), no sparkly anything.

The Rivers of London aka the Peter Grant series, by Ben Aaronovitch. This is his first strictly UF book, but he has written Dr. Who and I think Blake's 7 novels in the past. Sillier in tone than the two series above, lots of British humor in these, but not over-the-top like Pratchett or Adams. This is a new series, with only two in print so far. The main character is a young constable of mixed race (I mention this because the constable himself mentions it many times) on the London police force, who gets roped into the paranormal crimes unit (which consists of one detective/wizard) as the wizard's apprentice after said wizard discovers that the constable has interviewed a ghost who witnessed a crime. Some icky things happen in the books, but the overall tone is *relatively* light. Interesting characters, muddy plotting IMHO. It will be interesting to see how the series progresses.

The Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly. Not exactly "urban" fantasy, because they take place mostly in or around small towns in Washington state. The monsters here are Lovecraftian, not the generic vampire/werewolf/fairy types. The main character is a low level operative in the "Twenty Palace" society, which is an organization of magic users who go around killing magic users. Yes, hypocrites to the bone, but it makes a little more sense in the context of the books. The magic system/systems here are quite interesting, and the monsters are certainly different than average. Pretty grim overall.

Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. I thought the first book in this series, Hounded, read pretty much like a first novel -- which it was. Because of that I really tried to not like the second novel, Hexed, but it was so much fun I finally had to give in and enjoy it. I have good hopes for the third novel, Hammered, which I have not yet read. The main character, Atticus O'Sullivan, is a 2100 year old Druid. Supposedly the last of the druids. The stories are populated by gods of various pantheons, especially Celtic and Norse with some Native American thrown in. Also less "urban" than some series, as they take place so far in Arizona. Lighter in tone than any of the above. Has a dog who can communicate telepathically with Atticus, which I generally find a distasteful idea in books, but there is some fun to be had with it. Vampire and werewolf lawyers and doctors, squishable fairies (not Tinkerbells), witches, and of course the gods. Good humor scattered throughout, especially in the second book where Hearne seemed to relax more. These books are being pushed hard by the publisher.

Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. 'Nuff said. Only three more weeks til Ghost Story is released!


The Remy Chandler series by Tom (?) Sniegoski. I think these are popular with some folks, but I found the first book deadly dull boring. I liked the idea -- an angel who has renounced most of his powers to live like a human -- but I just couldn't wade through the first book of the series. Also has a telepathically-talking dog (yeck).

The President's Vampire series by Christopher Farnsworth. Interesting premise -- a vampire is blood sworn to serve the president and his duly appointed representatives. Unfortunately the caricaturish and stereotyped characters and the dumb plotting ruined it for me, and I couldn't get through the first book.

Enough for now!

#15 Dwarf Penny

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 11:20 AM

Patrick Rothfuss - Kingkiller Chronicle. It's not finished, and it took a long time to put out book 2 for a series that is allegedly already written, but this is the best fantasy around.
Brandon Sanderson - Mistborn. Great storytelling, twists and turns, well thought out system of magic, and finished (although there is a prequel coming out later this year).
Lois McMaster Bujold - I know someone already mentioned the Vorkosigan series, which is great, but her Chalion Series was also fantastic, and fantasy, for those who prefer swords to laser guns (I don't care myself).
Orson Scott Card - Don't read the nonsense he posts on his website (or his standalone novel Empire), but the Ender (SF) and Alvin Maker (Fantasy) series are both great.
Charles Stross - Great writer of SF standalone novels, but his Family Trade series is very smart fantasy. People who love the Bush administration may be turned off by the presentation of some political figures, but I think he was sincerely trying to gauge how a modern US government would deal with this situation and that's who was in power at the time.
Catherine Asaro - Skolia - This is SF/Romance, and I've never felt more like I was buying porn at a crowded 7-11 than bringing some of these book covers up to the register. This is good storytelling, with interesting ideas and characters. Also, if I didn't mention it yet, embarrassing book covers.
David Weber - Honor Harrington - Very good military SF.
Stephen King - Dark Tower - If you can fight your way through the first book, this is one of the best series ever. Like Martin, King would leave readers hanging for 5 year stretches between books, but after a brush with death, buckled down and finished the series. It does feel a little rushed in the 7th (and final) book, but at least he got it done. Don't make us send the van for you, Mr. Martin.
Vernor Vinge - Zones of Thought - Two great novels, with a third on the way later this year. Very imaginative SF.

Previously mentioned:
The First Law- Joe Abercrombie - I also loved this, including the 2nd series with some shared characters.
The Prince of Nothing- R. Scott Bakker - I also enjoyed this series. I like stories without a clear protagonist.
The Gentlemen Bastard- Scott Lynch - This is a great series. Hopefully we get the third book someday.

#16 Errant Bard

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 09:14 AM

Some classic Fantasy, they tend to be forgotten because they're so obvious (I'll skip ASOIAF by GRRM, though):
  • JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (and the Hobbit, Silmarillion, unfinished tales...): Is there a need to present Tolkien? Even if he didn't invent Fantasy, he shaped it in the form we know now. Reading Fantasy without having read some of his work is unfathomable.
  • Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time: Without Jordan, there would be no Song of Ice and fire. I don't actually like the series, but it's one pillar of modern Fantasy, with millions of fans throughout the world, so a Fantasy fan has to check it out someday, better sooner than later.
  • Ann McCaffrey, PERN: A long series of almost stand-alone books, about dragon riders protecting a world from lethal rains of parasites. Actually focuses more on personal interactions and politics. And romance. I loved the harper hall trilogy when I was young, because of the musician Mary Sue. In the history of the genre, the first books at least, even if they have many haters.
  • Fritz Leiber, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser : To know what pulp actually meant. Short stories, but a remarkably enduring worldbuilding and hero duo.
  • Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun: A strange journey in an old world. Wolfe manages to make feel alien things that should not, and his highly unreliable narrator doesn't arrange things.
  • JK Rowlings, Harry Potter: As basic as you can get, it actually kickstarted interest in Fantasy for a lot of people (didn't it?). Even if you feel that it is a bit simplistic and childish, it's worth looking at even if it's just to know what other people are talking about.
  • Michael Moorcock, The Eternal Champion: Anti-Tolkien wannabe perhaps, but his multiverse exploration is nice and original for the time, and he's really as seminal as a Leiber. Stormbringer must be the best known sword next to Excalibur.
  • Roger Zelazny, Amber: Sibling gods battling it out for the mastery over the root of the universe. Multiple dimensions, magic, armies, and one grizzled protagonist. Zelazny was GRRM's mentor.
  • Robin Hobb, the Farseer, Liveship Traders, Tawny Man trilogies: Actually part, more or less, of one single story. A long-winded (too much for some) character-driven story, with protagonists some don't hesitate to qualify as "whiny". Still a good yarn for all that, and a genre classic.
  • Stephen Donadson, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the unbeliever: In a nutshell: "Asshole leper hero". It's Donaldson's thing.

#17 The faceless others

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 08:26 AM

One of my favorites is Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt. A steam punk fantasy with insectoid humans, or humans with insect like abilities is more appropriate. Basically the story goes like, The wasp empire is trying to expand, and a spymaster and his students try to foil the attempt by urging the divided nations to unite. Great read, great characterization, and the world building is breath taking. The series isn't finished though, and it has currently 6 books.

#18 stups74



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Posted 11 July 2011 - 08:16 PM

Don't know if this is really that obscure, but:

Sara Douglass - Wayfarer Redemption trilogy

Usually surprised this never gets any mention cause I thought it was an engrossing read, and more importantly, very well paced. Unlike other authors, Douglass doesn't get too bogged down or fall overly in love with her characters to the point that her "trilogy" ends up taking more than 3 books.

Also found the ending to be very well done (and bittersweet).

The WRT(and the following trilogy) had potential to be really good but it ended up being kind of a disappointment for me. The world that Douglass created, while not too original, was fairly engrossing at first. She just failed to deliver whenever she had any momentum going. There are a lot of moments in the first trilogy that really leaves you scratching your head (or simply laughing at). The battles were a big disappointment, poorly done...The main bad guy was cliche and shallow. The plot was predictable. The highlight of the first trilogy was the character Azure. She was well developed I thought and her story was well done. The other two main characters (Axis and Faraday) had their moments but became predictable as the story went on. Honestly the second trilogy in the WR series was better. The first trilogy sets the background but I think you can jump right into Sinner (first book in second trilogy) and not be too lost.

#19 Mr.S.Tooth



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Posted 13 July 2011 - 12:43 AM

The Amtrak Wars by Patrick Tilley. Set about 900 years after a nuclear holocaust, certain elements of mankind are coming back to the Earth's surface to find a new world.

#20 Kolwynia



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Posted 20 July 2011 - 08:17 AM

Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen--the books of the Old Kingdom trilogy, also called the Abhorsen trilogy, by Garth Nix. Its heroine is a kind of anti-necromancer who is responsible for putting down the undead, and dealing with necromancers. A cool series, with one of my favorite talking cat characters ever.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind--a seven volume series of graphic novels by Hayao Miyazaki. This is a graphic series as good as most fantasy books. The young princess of a small kingdom finds herself in the middle of a war between two great nations in a post-apocalyptic fantasy epic. Features an encroaching jungle of poisonous plants and giant mutant insects. Princess Nausicaa herself is a mythic heroine on a kind of messianic journey to save the world. (Science fiction that reads like fantasy, with warring kingdoms, prophecy, princesses and psychic abilities that come off like magic.) Nausicaa is one of my favorite heroines.

Edited by Kolwynia, 20 July 2011 - 09:31 AM.