So, looking for a good fantasy series to read...

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I've been a fan of fantasy literature since I was a kid, and of late I find that I really like political intrigue in my fantasy. I just finished Martin's excellent A Song of Ice and Fire books, and since I now have to wait for book six, I'm looking for a new good epic fantasy series to read.

I just picked up the first Witcher book (Blood of Elves), but I have to wait for the rest of those to be translated as well, so no go there. :-/ I'm looking for something akin to Ice and Fire- well-written, good prose, political intrigue, interesting characters, grittier setting, etc.

Go nuts if you've got a recommendation. Feel free to love all over a book you enjoy, I'll be sure to take any recommendations into account. :)

EDIT: Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions. I'm definetly going to check out these books, oughta keep me busy for a while. xD Thanks again!

Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders is pretty good.

Has some interesting politics, great character development and some great original lore.

Well of course there's The Lord of the Rings, but that's not particularly similar to A Song of Ice and Fire, despite what people say.
The Inheritance books are pretty good too, although nowhere near as gritty as ASOIAF.
Then you've got the Danilov Quintet, although that's arguably not fantasy and might not be what you're after since it's set in the real world post 1800.
The Gotrek and Felix books were good up until Orcslayer too.
I'll edit more in if I think of any.

If you want a good and long fantasy series, I suggest the 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' series by Steven Erikson. IT's chock-full of interesting characters and has a very gritty setting though it might be a little light on the political intrigue.

SmarterThanYou:
I just picked up the first Witcher book (Blood of Elves), but I have to wait for the rest of those to be translated as well, so no go there. :-/ ...

Go nuts if you've got a recommendation. Feel free to love all over a book you enjoy, I'll be sure to take any recommendations into account. :)

I have two of The Witcher books in english, enjoyed both though read them a while ago. Never managed to get into Song of Ice and Fire. A third of the way through I realised I couldn't empathise with any characters, didn't like the world or care what happened :\ Like you though, I'm a big fan of fantasy writing with plenty to recommend.

There's the obvious "Wheel of Time" series by the late Robert Jordan (last book is being written by Brandon Sanderson, due out this or next year). It's the single mosst epic series in the genre bar none. Characters are great, world is interesting and immersive and there are some great story arcs and developments throughout.

Beyond that, I'm a big fan of Jennifer Fallon and Fiona McIntosh. Fallon's "Second Sons" trilogy is a brilliant twist on epic fantasy (it's basically all about a world without magic, but in which people are still fooled by it. It uses the precept "Anything sufficiently advanced to a primitive people, will be as magic". Dirk is a wonderful protagonist. The "Tide Lords" quartet is phenomenal, probably my favourite series atm. It's a little cheesy at times but the characters are simply brilliant. Cayal in particular is an incredible character, deeply flawed and you just want to hear everything he has to say. He's an immortal Tide Lord, one of about 20 that roam the world, and he's suicidal. The very concept of an immortal desperate to kill himself but unable to do so is simply genius. A real page turner.

For McIntosh, her "Quickening" and "Percharon" sagas are great. The first is classic high fantasy with real despicable villains, an epic love story and some interesting twists. The latter is a fascinating world and a love story to challenge Shakespeare himself. Also full of really evil villains. I guess when McIntosh does a villain, she really pulls out all stops to make them as hated and horrid as possible. I didn't really like her "Valisar" series much. There were very few likeable character and I didn't much care what happened to them, except for one or two who were killed off :\ If you read the last book and ignored the first two, it would be a lot more enjoyable.

Lastly, I will mention Robin Hobb. The "Farseer" and "Tawny Man" trilogies both tell the story of Fitz, a royal bastard and assassin. "Tawny Man" I believe is set about 15 years after the first trilogy IIRC. It's told from the first person which is great in itself, really allowing you into Fitz's mind and thoughts. You will really get to know him so well it's scary. There are some great "set pieces", a lot of mystery, some real tear jerker moments and a great cast of characters.

I could recommend more, but those are my best picks and this post is already immense. If I had to suggest one series, it would be "Tide Lords" but I highly recommend all the above.

Honourable mentions:
Sanderson's "Mistborn" trilogy (because Kelsier is such a great character).
Brent Weeks' "Night Angel" trilogy (currently re-reading). Can be a bit gross, sleazy, graphic and frustrating, but a fun read nonetheless.

I would recommend The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist, as well as anything written by Terry Pratchett.

Well obviously Lord of the Rings if you haven't already. The Inheritance (Eragon) series is really good in my opinion but it might be a bit too simple for experienced readers. Most hardcore fans of fantasy I know absolutely hate the Inheritance series

twistedmic:
If you want a good and long fantasy series, I suggest the 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' series by Steven Erikson. IT's chock-full of interesting characters and has a very gritty setting though it might be a little light on the political intrigue.

This! (Don't forget the tie-ins by Esslemont)

Then there's Matthew Stover's Acts of Caine. Simply stunning. Easily one of the best series I've ever read -- an instant classic. Nobody does action better than Stover.

Also try Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. This one's gritty.

R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing is awesome as well. It's to the Crusades what ASoIaF is to the War of the Roses. Really amazing.

There's also the Gentlemen Bastard sequence by Scott Lynch. Good stuff.

Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn isn't particularly dark or gritty but it's a good one too.

Finally, I second Jennifer Fallon's The Second Sons trilogy. Sci-fi dressed up as fantasy done right.

// edit
Oh yeah, I totally forgot Richard Morgan's A Land Fit for Heroes. Probably not recommended for the homophobic but this series is excellent as well.

Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It's absolutely full of win.

Xhoyl:
Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It's absolutely full of win.

Thought about that too, of course. Decided against mentioning it because quite a few people hate Goodkind for this series. His books are filled to the brim with Objectivism and then some (*hint* Faith of the Fallen *hint*). The first book -- Wizard's First Rule -- is easily the best so there's that.

Anyways, Greg Keyes' The Kingdom of Thorn and Bone is also very good. You may also enjoy some of K. J. Parker's trilogies but Parker is a hate/love thingy. I liked his/her Devices and Desires trilogy the most. Oh, don't forget Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle.

All these books should keep you reading for a while.

DugMachine:
The Inheritance (Eragon) series is really good in my opinion but it might be a bit too simple for experienced readers. Most hardcore fans of fantasy I know absolutely hate the Inheritance series

I wouldn't call myself "hardcore", though for all I know I may well be the dictionary definition of the term, but I detested it. I don't know what it was that drove me to read the whole thing...maybe because I'd started so figured I ought to finish.

Paolini isn't a bad writer per sť, but he's a terrible story teller. The characters were lifeless and bland, the "love story" was abysmally told and all I could think of was that Eragon was a stupid child who simply didn't learn anything at any point. The villains were so stupidly powerful, along the lines of Superman, that even the battle scenes were tedious to read.

The thing that really got the bit between my teeth (and this is a MAJOR SPOILER for anyone who plans to read it) is when whatshername leading the Varden is captured and imprisoned by Galbatorix. He decides to physically torture her, despite that by his own admission he could "rip" anything he wanted straight from her mind. This was the most ridiculous thing in the whole series, making no sense whatsoever. Nothing of the little we knew of the character would suggest he would have done that and all it served was to make him more evil to the reader. Why didn't he just cook babies for cyring out loud? Oh and of course he dressed entirely in black, because that's clearly what villains do. The most powerful man in the world and undisputed leader of the mankind, with the ability to simply pluck thoughts from peoples' minds would not resort to petty physical torture, especially not when an army is at his city's gates, especially not with his lofty plans and goals, especially not with his timetable, especially not when considering *any* of his previous motivations until that point.

Sorry, I went on a rant there. It could have been great high fantasy. The farmboy becomes dragon rider, chased out of village by nazgul...errr...insect people, whatever, is unoriginal but I can live with that. But the characters were all wooden and uninteresting, couldn't have cared less what happened to any of them. The end was pretty atrocious too and completely unsatisfying, though in fairness to Paolini he kinda painted himself into a corner with that. Tedious, infuriating, boring, unsatisfying. The nicest things I can say about Eragon.

Xhoyl:
Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It's absolutely full of win.

It's pretty good, though I would skip books 4/5-8. They add nothing to the story and aren't particularly interesting either. Not badly written, but even skipping them they wouldn't add much to the story. Except for "Faith of the Fallen". That and "Wizard's First Rule", and the last in the series "Confessor" are all bloody brilliant.

That sports match in the last book is some of the best written action I've ever read. That whole scene and the chapters either side of it are simply superb and Goodkind's finest. Also, Nicci is totally hot and she'd totally get it. :-) The whole thing with the sculpture in "Faith of the Fallen" also was really amazing storytelling.

JCD2k4:

Xhoyl:
Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It's absolutely full of win.

Thought about that too, of course. Decided against mentioning it because quite a few people hate Goodkind for this series. His books are filled to the brim with Objectivism and then some (*hint* Faith of the Fallen *hint*). The first book -- Wizard's First Rule -- is easily the best so there's that.

I'm one of the haters, and I'd recommend reading Wizard's First Rule - it's moderately entertaining - and skipping the rest. Terry Goodkind is full of crap. After his initial success he seemed to decide that he couldn't write another book without beating the reader over the head with objectivist bollocks.

I'm with JCD on Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. And Brandon Sanderson too, Mists and his new one. Hmm, Robin Hobb's Assassin trilogy (err, that wasn't its name, but the main character's name is Fitz! You should be able to find it) had its fair share of politics too.

CJ Cherryh's Fortress books (Fortress of Owls might have been the first one?) is very politics heavy, loooots of dialogue.

Oh oh oh and when you get tired of the more traditional fantasy, check out China Mieville. He does toss in some of his political leanings, but the imagination of the man is. . .well, it leaves me speechless. Perdido Street Station is the first book out of the fantasy trilogy, but many argue The Scar is where it's at. Personally I've enjoyed every book he's written, faults and all.

ms_sunlight:

JCD2k4:

Xhoyl:
Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It's absolutely full of win.

Thought about that too, of course. Decided against mentioning it because quite a few people hate Goodkind for this series. His books are filled to the brim with Objectivism and then some (*hint* Faith of the Fallen *hint*). The first book -- Wizard's First Rule -- is easily the best so there's that.

I'm one of the haters, and I'd recommend reading Wizard's First Rule - it's moderately entertaining - and skipping the rest. Terry Goodkind is full of crap. After his initial success he seemed to decide that he couldn't write another book without beating the reader over the head with objectivist bollocks.

Bioshock was basically entirely about Objectivism, and I still really enjoyed it. A writer can preach all he/she wants on a subject, as long as they tell a good story I could care less.

KingsGambit:

SmarterThanYou:
I just picked up the first Witcher book (Blood of Elves), but I have to wait for the rest of those to be translated as well, so no go there. :-/ ...

Go nuts if you've got a recommendation. Feel free to love all over a book you enjoy, I'll be sure to take any recommendations into account. :)

I have two of The Witcher books in english, enjoyed both though read them a while ago. Never managed to get into Song of Ice and Fire. A third of the way through I realised I couldn't empathise with any characters, didn't like the world or care what happened :\ Like you though, I'm a big fan of fantasy writing with plenty to recommend.

.

READ THEM AGAI... lol, no, just kidding. xD There's always that series that you just can't get in to. I could see that happening for some people with Ice and Fire.

Thanks for the recommendations. I've heard good things about Wheel of Time, I'll probably check it out soon enough.

DugMachine:
Well obviously Lord of the Rings if you haven't already. The Inheritance (Eragon) series is really good in my opinion but it might be a bit too simple for experienced readers. Most hardcore fans of fantasy I know absolutely hate the Inheritance series

It's funny, I read those books when I was in middle school (waaaay back when the second book came out). I remember loking them then, but I couldn't bring myself to reread them. I started to notice quite a few part where he cribbed from other sources, and the main plot (I think) is pretty forgettable. Doesn't help that I managed to predict how the series would end almost wholesale once Book 4 came out.

I think it's very impressive that he got a book published at such a young age, it's very lucky for him (and rather inspiring for my younger self). I do think his writing matures as the books go on, so hopefully if he starts a new series it'll be a little more original.

littlewisp:
[...]Hmm, Robin Hobb's Assassin trilogy (err, that wasn't its name, but the main character's name is Fitz! You should be able to find it) had its fair share of politics too.[...]

The Faarseer trilogy and The Tawny Man trilogy. Didn't read the others but these two are brilliant.

JCD2k4:

littlewisp:
[...]Hmm, Robin Hobb's Assassin trilogy (err, that wasn't its name, but the main character's name is Fitz! You should be able to find it) had its fair share of politics too.[...]

The Faarseer trilogy and The Tawny Man trilogy. Didn't read the others but these two are brilliant.

Ahhh, thank you! Yes, both of those put me through the full run of emotions.

Liveship was. . .different, but I enjoyed it very much at the time (some of the characters irritated me very much).

Soldier Son trilogy was amazing for its take on clashing cultures (civilization vs savagery), as well as socially acceptable beauty standards (fat vs fit) . . .but I didn't actually finish the last book (I got frustrated with how she was choosing to get her point across in the last one).

I have not read the latest, and I'm not sure I want to.

Daystar Clarion:
Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders is pretty good.

Has some interesting politics, great character development and some great original lore.

This is a good suggestion, i'd also recommend all the other books in the series though. (Farseer trilogy and Tawny man trilogy)

Another recommendation would be the Dragonriders of Pern series, very good books in my opinion.

More horror/ urban fantasy than proper fantasy, but Sergie Lukyanenko's (hope i spelled that right)'Night Watch' series is pretty good.

I quite liked Trudi Canarvan's books as well, although i would say read either the 'Black Magician' series or the 'Priestess of White' series, but not both because they are the same story. Seriously, same mechanics for the magic, cut and paste protagonists etc. Either one is good, but i felt cheated after reading both.

I can also heartily recommend the first trilogy of Stan Nicholls 'Orcs' series.

I'd recommend the Warhammer books, particularly Caledor. I've never played the table top game but the books are an excellent read.

Xhoyl:

Bioshock was basically entirely about Objectivism, and I still really enjoyed it. A writer can preach all he/she wants on a subject, as long as they tell a good story I could care less.

BioShock was about objectivism. That's not the same thing as promoting objectivism - if anything BioShock is a cautionary tale, whereas Goodkind's books eventually turn into little more than thinly-veiled propaganda.

ClockworkPenguin:
I quite liked Trudi Canarvan's books as well, although i would say read either the 'Black Magician' series or the 'Priestess of White' series, but not both because they are the same story. Seriously, same mechanics for the magic, cut and paste protagonists etc. Either one is good, but i felt cheated after reading both.

I had thought to mention Canavan, but decided against it. Sonea and whatever her name is in Priestess of the White are interesting enough characters, but noone else in the series' is of any interest whatsoever. The magic seems like something out of a kids book, the robe/mage school thing as well is just a little naf. She's a bloody good writer, and a very good storyteller, but she's told uninsteresting stories.

The latest series follows Sonea's son's adventures with a side-plot of thieves guild shennanigans. Neither are interesting and the plot seems forced. Many decisions made simply don't make sense in context but they're made anyway. At any given time, I probably only really cared about one character and the rest was just tedious. I would go so far as to call her son a bit of a pr**k and certainly not protagonist material. Not a scratch on Hobb, Fallon or McIntosh's characters.

I would have happily read a plot summary of the entire book and skipped reading it myself. I actually cannot name any characters in the book except for Sonea and Ceri, that's how forgettable and uninteresting they are. Take Jordan's Wheel of Time characters however, and I could tell you every characters backstory with about 75% accuracy, along with Eddings, Goodkind and Hobb.

ms_sunlight:
BioShock was about objectivism. That's not the same thing as promoting objectivism - if anything BioShock is a cautionary tale, whereas Goodkind's books eventually turn into little more than thinly-veiled propaganda.

Wholeheartedly agree here. While Richard Cypher/Rahl's opposition to everything branded "destiny" (this in spite of the fact that he's observably fulfilled it at every step of the way) and constant yammering about free will, right to choose, etc got old, fast. Goodkind was browbeating us with philosophical nonsense that BioShock handly superbly. Ryan makes a point, Ryan even gives up his life to make it. And when it's made, it's a shock and sets the tone for the player's actions and that's the end of it.

SoT doesn't stop. I have actually come to detest the word "prophecy" in any form simply because of how frequently it is used in SoT (and again in Omen Machine). I have no trouble with author projection, or using his works to promote his personal philosophy to a small degree, but the constant, unceasing browbeating was hard to bear. The saving grace was that there was enough stuff of interest going on that one could forget (if not forgive) the philosophical nonsense.

I have to admit though the people and attitude of the Old World never sat right with me. It was simply hard to believe but we had to go along with it for the story to make sense.

It's a comic instead of a novel, and it's not fantasy in the sense of most of the stories in this thread, but Fables is fantastic, and I recommend it to everyone. It's about how all the characters of fairy tales and fables and mythology all get driven from their mythical homelands and have to live in secrecy in New York. It's got interesting spins on a lot of established characters, like how Prince Charming gets into bed with every girl he meets and then takes advantage of them until he gets bored, or how Cinderella is a poor shopowner by day and a secret agent by night, or how the Big Bad Wolf is sheriff of Fabletown. It's got great characters and great villains, and the art is fantastic. The story starts running out of steam after the first great conflict is resolved about 80 issues in, but it's definitely worth a read.

Not really in the same vein as the fantasy mentioned here, but Terry Pratchetts Discworld novels have a lot going for them.

Shocksplicer:
Not really in the same vein as the fantasy mentioned here, but Terry Pratchetts Discworld novels have a lot going for them.

This. This right here. The Discworld novels are some of the funniest things I have ever read, and have done a real number on my view of the world of fantasy. Out of curiosity, which one did you start out with?

LoathsomePete:

Shocksplicer:
Not really in the same vein as the fantasy mentioned here, but Terry Pratchetts Discworld novels have a lot going for them.

This. This right here. The Discworld novels are some of the funniest things I have ever read, and have done a real number on my view of the world of fantasy. Out of curiosity, which one did you start out with?

Thief Of Time. I've read several of them since, but that's probably still my favourite, or maybe Night Watch.

David Dalgish is a very prolific Fantasy Author. All his stuff is great, really well done combat and characters that you care about. It can get pretty darn dark but I like that.

The ShadowDance series is probably the best one being about badass assasins. But the Half Orcs is great too. The Paladins series really gets good when it gets into its stride.

KingsGambit:

The thing that really got the bit between my teeth (and this is a MAJOR SPOILER for anyone who plans to read it) is when whatshername leading the Varden is captured and imprisoned by Galbatorix. He decides to physically torture her, despite that by his own admission he could "rip" anything he wanted straight from her mind. This was the most ridiculous thing in the whole series, making no sense whatsoever. Nothing of the little we knew of the character would suggest he would have done that and all it served was to make him more evil to the reader. Why didn't he just cook babies for cyring out loud? Oh and of course he dressed entirely in black, because that's clearly what villains do. The most powerful man in the world and undisputed leader of the mankind, with the ability to simply pluck thoughts from peoples' minds would not resort to petty physical torture, especially not when an army is at his city's gates, especially not with his lofty plans and goals, especially not with his timetable, especially not when considering *any* of his previous motivations until that point.

Sorry, I went on a rant there. It could have been great high fantasy. The farmboy becomes dragon rider, chased out of village by nazgul...errr...insect people, whatever, is unoriginal but I can live with that. But the characters were all wooden and uninteresting, couldn't have cared less what happened to any of them. The end was pretty atrocious too and completely unsatisfying, though in fairness to Paolini he kinda painted himself into a corner with that. Tedious, infuriating, boring, unsatisfying. The nicest things I can say about Eragon.

It's established in Eldest that the elves prefer to do things (especially tedious labor) by hand rather than with magic, because that would make it too easy and the task would lose all meaning. Galbatorix dressed in black and rode a black dragon because, yes, it's what villains do. Remember Darth Vader? Villains are just doomed to rock the darker hues. Who the hell would take an antagonist seriously if he wore bright pink and rode into battle on a sparkly Twilight vampire?

Also couldn't disagree more about the ending. Wrapped up as well, if not better than any series that comes to mind at the moment. I mean, what were you hoping for? Even if it was a little predictable, it's still better than Mass Effect 3.

SmarterThanYou:
I've been a fan of fantasy literature since I was a kid, and of late I find that I really like political intrigue in my fantasy. I just finished Martin's excellent A Song of Ice and Fire books, and since I now have to wait for book six, I'm looking for a new good epic fantasy series to read.

I just picked up the first Witcher book (Blood of Elves), but I have to wait for the rest of those to be translated as well, so no go there. :-/ I'm looking for something akin to Ice and Fire- well-written, good prose, political intrigue, interesting characters, grittier setting, etc.

Go nuts if you've got a recommendation. Feel free to love all over a book you enjoy, I'll be sure to take any recommendations into account. :)

EDIT: Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions. I'm definetly going to check out these books, oughta keep me busy for a while. xD Thanks again!

The wheel of time. So badass it murdered its own author and kept going

Shocksplicer:

LoathsomePete:

Shocksplicer:
Not really in the same vein as the fantasy mentioned here, but Terry Pratchetts Discworld novels have a lot going for them.

This. This right here. The Discworld novels are some of the funniest things I have ever read, and have done a real number on my view of the world of fantasy. Out of curiosity, which one did you start out with?

Thief Of Time. I've read several of them since, but that's probably still my favourite, or maybe Night Watch.

I can only agree with this sentiment, and that if the first book doesn't do it for you, skip forward and try something, say, 'Men of Arms' or after.

Personally I think Jingo is one of the finest books about the stupidity of war I've read. (I admit I've not read any other books about the stupidity of war, but, but, oh leave me alone.)

There was a point where he moved from just parodying the stale fantasy genre to using satire to reflect our own world in the discworld. At that point I found his books far more enjoyable.

I'll throw in Chronicles/Legends of The Raven, by James Barclay. Thoroughly enjoyed them all.

Also, if any of you happen to run across Mr G RR Martin at some event, for the love of god please ask him when there will be a follow up to Tuf Voyaging, thanks :)

Can't recommend the Wheel of Time series enough. The cultures and societies of the world are remarkably well fleshed out. The characters are probably the major selling point, with some of the best realized female characters in fantasy.

The first couple of books are fairly down to earth though the wizz-bang-magic-wahay does start to ramp up as things go on. Certainly worth checking out.

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