Probably all been mentioned, but these get my gold seal of approval: The First Law Trilogy (Joe Abercrombie) - Great characterization. Lots of morally grey characters and a solid plot. Has kind of a Conan meets Pulp Fiction feel. The Dark Tower Series (Steven King) - Solid main characters, and a good plot. This series traverses just about every genre and there are some really clever and surrealistic moments. A few good stories: The Lies of Loch Lamora (Scott Lynch) - A few good characters and the book had style, but wasn't interested enough to read the second one. Ender's Game (Card) - It's a classic. Orson Scott Card is obviously a good writer and the concept of Ender's Game is brilliant, but I think Card lacks style. Ender, (and none of the kids in the book for that matter,) don't feel at all childlike. Despite factoring into the story, when reading his child characters, I get the distinct feeling Card does not know much about the minds of children. Still, I enjoyed the first book enough to finish it, if not continue the series. Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson) - I've only read the first one of the series, but Sanderson does magic systems well and his imagery is fantastic. His overall writing style has its flaws and he has a somewhat naive and/or innocent style of PG13 storytelling reminiscent of his influences, (Card, Robert Jordan, etc.) I prefer to think of these stories like fast food; I realize they aren't all that good, nourishing, and are sometimes talentlessly made, but I still enjoyed them for one reason or another... (get your tomatoes ready to throw, I'll try to duck): The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan) - After reading the series, looking at the story (minus the last book) it is a good story as a whole. The whole is much better than its parts. There are a few good characters, there are emotional moments and moments of badassery, the magic system is fantastic, and the books are absolutely FULL of (sometimes not so obvious) parallels to everything from King Arthur to Taoism and Norse mythology. The problem is that several of the characters are the same character on a very 2 dimensional level, the emotional moments are somewhat ruined by a lack of chemistry in a lot of the relationships, moments of badassery are absolutely ruined by an old magic lady threatening to spank the main BA character SEVERAL TIMES!! and the really obvious parallels start to seem like cheap inspiration at times. That said, I enjoyed The Wheel of Time. If you like fantasy you should definitely read it. But it is the epitome of what is a classic but is not the peak of the genre. The Sword of Truth (Terry Goodkind) - This book had some really cool ideas and some nice battle scenes. A few of the characters were solid. The overall plot was pretty weak and, most infuriatingly, there were a few times when one of the main characters did something COMPLETELY out of character and just left me going "WTF? (S)he wouldn't have done that." Overall I still enjoyed the series. Legend of Drizzt (RA Salvatore) - The epitome of fast food quality entertainment, but sometimes you want a fucking Big Mac. <shrugs> Drizzt is pretty two dimensional, but the character has serious style. If I'd read these when I was 12 I'd have thought they were the best thing since McDonalds. Semi-relatedly, I just finished Kingdoms of Amalur (video game that RA Salvatore was involved in.) It was actually better than his books.