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Fantasy Recommendations - for the unenlightened

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The Master™

Science fiction fantasy
Apr 7, 2004
I thought it would be good to have a place for folks to see what is recommended by everyone else, rather than keep asking... This is purely fantasy...

Here are my recommendations:

Raymond E Feist
Riftwar Saga
A Darkness at Sethanon
Krondor's Sons
Prince of the Blood
The Kings Buccaneer
Riftwar Stories
Daughter of the Empire
Servant of the Empire
Mistress of the Empire
Serpent War
Shadow of a Dark Queen
Rise of a Merchant Prince
Rage of a Demon King
Shards of a Broken Crown
Riftwar Legacy
Honoured Enemy
Murder in LaMut
Jimmy the Hand
Legends of the Riftwar
Krondor: the Betrayal
Krondor: The Assassins
Krondor: Tear of the Gods
Conclave of the Shadows
Talon of the Silver Hawk
King of Foxes
Exile's Return
Other Titles
Faerie Tale

Mark Anthony
Last Rune Saga
Beyond the Pale
The Keep of Fire
The Dark Remains
Blood of Mystery
The Gates of Winter
The First Stone

L E Modesitt Jnr
Saga of Recluce
The Magic of Recluce
The Towers of Sunset
The Magic Engineer
The Order War
The Death of Chaos
The Fall of Angels
The Chaos Balance
The White Order
Colors of Chaos
Magi'i of Cyador
Scion of Cyador
Wellspring of Chaos

Terry Goodkind
Sword of Truth Series
Wizard's First Rule
Stone of Tears
Blood of the Fold
Temple of the Winds
Soul of the Fire
Faith of the Fallen

Philip Pullman
His Dark Materials
Northern Lights (Golden Compass)
Subtle Knife
Amber Spyglass

Christopher Paolini

These are just a few that I can name off the top of my head... Will look through my collection and add more later... ;)


Mar 21, 2005
**Repost of my current "best modern fantasy" list**

To anyone interested in fantasy series,

You may want to print this, it’s long and detailed. My most comprehensive wrap on my loves of the fantasy genre to date.

Below is a list of my favoured writers in the fantasy genre and ALL very good IN MY HUMBLE OPINION. A lot of the series are what I refer to as EPIC fantasy with characters and history/plot lines on the Cecil B. Demille or Ridley Scott scale. This is what I enjoy the most. Actually I generally go by the standard of writing and found by doing this that over 80% of books/series I’ve purchased over a few decades in fantasy have been in the top bracket. Generally speaking, if the writing is good, then the story tends to be pretty darn good too; at least that’s what I’ve found from my experience...... :eek:

Recommended Reading List

*NB If you’re in the US some of the authors are UK based so it may take longer for you to get a hold of some of these books OR you may order them like some others on this forum have done from the UK rather than waiting The following are not necessarily in the order of best to worst as all those listed are TOP quality High Fantasy mainly on the EPIC scale.

If you need book listings or extra details of any series that particularly takes your fancy THEN PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask, just indicate what region of the real world you're basically from i.e. Europe, US, Australasia etc..

1. Steven Erikson’s Malazan Empire series (best I’ve ever read!). Canadian writer, UK based. Compared to Homer by some critics for sheer scope and complexity of storyline. Great storytelling especially for his first venture into this genre!!!!
As he deals with Military fantasy on the grand scale he's fairly hard edged as well as being brilliantly conceived and written. As I've told other people Book 1 Gardens Of The Moon is the weakest of the series BUT still very good. You need to persist with this book beyond the first 200 pages, although there's plenty of grittiness up to then. The point is Erikson drops you into his world in the middle of what is obviously an EPIC series but whilst it is not easy to follow early on he does tie most threads by books end. The last 200 pages is action packed, what one critic very aptly put as a 'machine gun finish" I've never read a book that was so packed in those last few hundred pages. WOW!!!! Book 2 Deadhouse Gates and the future books reach a high water mark in fantasy writing that never goes down. Anyone I know who has read Erikson immediately places him at the top of the list ahead of Martin as great as he is. Steven must write 1 book/year as it is part of his contract to do so, so you won't be waiting X years like some authors we could mention... He obviously thought the entire series through extremely well from the beginning. He has a background as an anthropologist and archaeologist and it sure shows in his world building. Epic, gritty, grey characters along the lines of The Black Company, amazing complexity and magic systems!! 10 Books, Book 6 due Feb 2006. He produces approx 1 book/year so very reliable. Books 1,2 already out in US.
2. George RR Martin Song Of Ice and Fire (No 2. in my hit parade of all time). Similar to Erikson in terms of plenty of grey characters and grittiness. Set in a mediaeval type setting like a lot of the so-called High Fantasy/EPIC series seem to be. Book 4 A Feast Of Crows due later this year. US author, after a fast start slowed down a bit in terms of completing the books i.e. waited 2-3 years for Book 4 now BUT do not be put off, very good!!!
3. Greg Keyes Kingdoms Of Thorn and Bone series. Very good series, a level below Martin and Erikson but still well written and on the big scale. I think is intended as a 4 books series, book 3 due by midyear. US author.
4. Glenn Cook The Black Company. Very good, gritty realism along the lines of Erikson. Completed series. Military fantasy. US author.
5. Robert Jordan Wheel Of Time series. I’m sure you’ve heard of these, they have dragged along a bit but the early books are top class. 12 books in this series. Book 11 Knife Of Dreams is due out October 2005, so nearing the end. Vast scope and array of charters along the lines of Erikson and Martin BUT not as well maintained/balanced over the journey as those two. US again…
6. JV Jones Sword Of Shadows Trilogy, Book 3 due later this year. Very well written and quite a bit darker than her earlier stuff. The first of my female authors!! UK Writer. On a par with Keyes.
7. Tad Williams, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. Good stuff, very well written in a medieval setting, more your traditional fantasy like Tolkien than Erikson, Martin, Cook etc.. UK writer.
8. R. Scott Bakker’s Prince Of Nothing trilogy. Canadian writer like Erikson. Very good, Final Book 3 The Thousandfold Thought due later this year. Plenty of philosophy and politics.
9. Kate Elliott Crown Of Stars series. Very good, well written Epic. Great Stuff set like most EPICS in a medieval setting. Book 6 is due midyear. Book 7, which is the final book is due by Feb 2006. US writer. On a par with Keyes. Her and J.V. Jones my top two female fantasy authors aside from Janny Wurts.
10. Jude Fisher - Fools Gold Trilogy Book 3 just out in US, due midyear in UK. Enjoyable read. Her first go as author, an enjoyable read. Not as vast in scope as Erikson, Martin etc.. but has a strong female lead. Nice for a change.
11. Paul Kearney - Monarchies Of God 5 book series. Completed series, only issue here is some of the books out of print, so may have to track down second hand or from local library. From what I’ve read of extracts, review very good, gritty realism and just receiving the series in the post now from friends. Just finished Book 1 of the Sea Bggars, a new series that is very nicely written!!! Erikson places Glen Cook and Kearney in his top 2-3 fantasy authors. Deals with buccaneers/adventurers in wooden ships and distant lands, a bit like the Capt. Horatio Hornblower tales in a fantasy setting.
12. Stephen Donaldson’s – Thomas Covenant series. Don’t’ know if you’re familiar with these. There is two Thomas Covenant series already out. Book 1 Runes Of The Earth of the final t Covenant series out now and I’m reading it YEH!!. Great series but more on the psychological level a study into the human condition. Can be heavy going and not appealing to everyone, as the main character is a leper in real life with a house-sized chip on his shoulder who gets transported to a magical land to fight the baddies. A recognised great of the genre. US author.
13. John Marco - Tyrants and Kings trilogy very good, gritty military fantasy like Erikson. His first series as an author and very good for a first effort. US writer.
14. Robert Silverberg - Majipoor books. Great series of seven books, not the typical fantasy read but enjoyable. One of the recognised great writers of the genre, a writer of great imagination.
15. J.R.R Tolkien Lord Of The Rings. Along with CS Lewis perhaps recognised as the father of modern fantasy. Certainly one of the major pioneers. Couldn’t leave this one out!!
16. Anne Macaffrey Dragons Of Pern series. Another recognised great of the genre. Only read some of her stuff, pretty good. US author.
17. Janny Wurts – Wars Of Light and Shadow. Very good series but can be heavy going and not easy to follow conceptually. Highly intelligent author with a very sophisticated style of writing albeit somewhat stilted in delivery, which I like. Has a personal interest in the metaphysical and books tend to focus on this in terms of concepts discussed etc.. Not your average fantasy read. US author.
18. Mickey Zucker Reichert -Renshai Series. The renshai books follow the trials of a warrior elite swordsman known as Colbey Carlistinsson who battles humans and the Norse gods with some of the action taking place at Valhalla. Heavily immersed in the Norse mythology this series is really enjoyable. It’s a very well written series and a favourite of mine. I know I read somewhere recently that she was planning to write some more Renshai books, as the last one came out in 1998. US Author.

Arguably not in the same league as above but still not bad:

1. Weiss & Hickmann - Death Gate Cycle I’ve read all of Weiss and Hickman’s work and in my humble opinion their best work. Dragonlance series worth a look.
2. Raymond E Feist – Magician A classic of the genre.
3. Guy Gavriel Kay - Finovar Tapestry Trilogy. Unusual series.
4. Terry Brooks – Shannara series. Read everything he's written. I think his recent series Voyage Of The Jerle Shannara is his best since Sword Of Shannara although I feel his Demon trilogy is his best work. Tolkien-like with dwarves, elves etc.. US author.
5. Tad Williams Otherland series. Unusual cyberspace come virtual reality epic.
6. Cecilia Dart-Thornton - Bitterbynde Trilogy. Female Aussie author, definitely available in US, nice writing style.
7. Ian Irvine - View From The Mirror and Well Of Echoes Quartets. View From The Mirror is really good. He’s an Aussie author from my neck of the woods. If you like engineering gadgets/concepts you’ll revel in this one. But very good storyline, as you get further into the series, not sure on availability in the US??
8. RA Salvatore’s Icewind Dale trilogy and Dark Elf Trilogy. Features the incomparable drow elf Drizzt Do’Urden the kick butt sword fighter extraordinaire!! Salvatore of course is well known for his fight sequences/scenes. Dark Elf is his best series in my humble opinion!! featuring our hero once again. Quite good with exciting stories and lots of action!!. In fact for any budding authors out there you could do worse than study Salvatore for his battle sequences, especially the sword sequences between Drizzt and his arch nemesis and near equal Artemis Entreri.
9. Sara Douglas - Axis Trilogy. Interesting storyline. Aussie author.

Authors I’ve known of but currently investigating

1. Roger Zelazny Amber Series. Considered as a “classic” in this genre, from the late ‘60’s through to the 90's*. Considered a great of the genre.
2. Gene Wolfe- Book Of The New Sun duology. Considered by several critics as one of the best literary writers in modern America full stop never mind just fantasy. Definitely on my list of books to read. Also considered one of the greats of this genre. Maybe more SCI-FI than fantasy but apparently good stuff. Have also heard good things about the current duology Wizard Knight.

My Must Read List of 2005/early 2006

I include this so you can see the stuff I’m currently into/hanging out for and maybe use it as some sort of a guide for current series.

Books marked with an “*” are basically the concluding books in that specific series/story arc.

Straken*, by Terry Brooks (Aug/Sep 2005)
Knife of Dreams, by Robert Jordan (Oct 2005)
In the Ruins, by Kate Elliott. Book 6 of Crown Of Stars series. (June 2005)
Crown Of Stars*, by Kate Elliott. Book 7 of Crown Of Stars series. (Feb 2006)
The Blood Knight, by Greg Keyes (Aug 2005)
A Feast For Crows, by George RR Martin (approx Sep 2005, a guess.)
The Thousandfold Thought*, by R Scott Bakker (Sep 2005)
Sword of Angels* by John Marco (May 2005)
A Sword from Red Ice* by J.V. Jones (fingers crossed by end of 2005)
Shadow Roads* by Sean Russell (May 2005)
Rose Of The World* by Jude Fischer (out now in States, mid year in OZ).
The Bonehunters, by Steven Erikson (Feb 2006)

And hopefully sooner rather than later…

The Sea Beggars II by Paul Kearney (2006?)
Book 2 of the Last T. Covenant quartet, by Stephen Donaldson’s (2006?)
Book 2 of the Shadowmarch trilogy, by Tad Williams (along the lines of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn mentioned in above lists but not quite as good).

Anyway I hope these lists are of some use.... :cool:

Enjoy. :D :D


Science fiction fantasy
Jun 17, 2005
Pandora's Box
I think I will have a look at your number 1 pick and the aussie author from your neck of the woods. BTW where in melb is your neck of the woods?


Mar 21, 2005
I like your style of homer OOPS humour... :D

I'm from Blackburn (Near Box Hill).

How about you? :confused:


Mad Scientist
Jun 21, 2005
Michigan, US... exact location varies by season
Most of my list is on the Master's list, and a lot more besides. Only have a couple of things to add:

Stephen R. Donaldson
The First and Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
1. Lord Foul's Bane
2. The Illearth War
3. The Power that Preserves
4. The Wounded Land
5. The One Tree
6. White Gold Wielder

Larry Niven
The Magic Goes Away universe
The Magic Goes Away
More Magic (short stories)
The Magic May Return (short stories)
The Burning City
Burning Tower

Both of them are sort of non-traditional fantasy: Donaldson's because of the totally anti-heroic title character, and Niven's because he writes his fantasy like he writes his science fiction. I've heard it called "hard fantasy": he treats magic like it's the addition of a few new laws of physics, and then writes it as if it were science fiction in a different world. Still quite decent fantasy though...


Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2005
Best modern fantasy:
The Very Best:

Steven Erikson - A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen (ongoing series)
Gardens of the Moon
Deadhouse Gates
Memories of Ice
House of Chains
Midnight Tides

George RR Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords

China Mieville - New Crobuzon books
Perdido Street Station
The Scar

R Scott Bakker - The Prince of Nothing series
The Darkness that Comes Before

Not quite as good, but still excellent:

Raymond E Feist - The Riftwar Saga and Empire series
A Darkness at Sethanon

(cowritten with Janny Wurts):
Daughter of the Empire
Servant of the Empire
Mistress of the Empire

Fritz Leiber - Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser tales
Swords and Deviltry
Swords Against Death
Swords in the Mist
Swords Against Wizardry

Gene Wolfe - the Book of the New Sun
Shadow of the Torturer
Claw of the Conciliator

JV Jones - Sword of Shadows
A Cavern of Black Ice
A Fortress of Grey Ice

Glen Cook - the Black Company
The Black Company

Greg Keyes - A Kingdom of Thorn and Bone series
The Briar King
The Charnel Prince

Still good, but not as high quality as those listed above:

Robin Hobb - The Farseer trilogy
Assassin's Apprentice
Royal Assassin
Assassin's Quest

Stephen Donaldson - Thomas Covenant series
Lord Foul's Bane
The Illearth War
The Power that Preserves
The Wounded Land
The White Tree

JRR Tolkien
The Silmarillion
The Lord of the Rings (Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, the Return of the King)
The Hobbit

(A common misconception - Tolkien did not invent the fantasy genre. There were also lots of other almost equally important authors involved in the early modern fantasy genre - ER Eddison, Lord Dunsany, Mervyn Peake, Michael Moorcock and Fritz Leiber, to name a few)


Well-Known Member
Dec 27, 2004
I've done too many lists recently, so here is my official "please read these authors and at least the majority of there works before expecting me to regard your recommendations or opinions about fantasy with any weight list":) -

1. Mervyn Peake
2. M. John Harrison
3. Gene Wolfe
4. Fritz Leiber
5. Franz Kafka
6. Italo Calvino
7. Gabriel Garcia Marquez
8. Michael Moorcock
9. Mikhail Bulgakov
10. Jonathan Carroll
11. Edward Whittemore
12. China Mieville
13. Tim Powers
14. Michael Swanwick
15. Mary Gentle
16. Angela Carter
17. Robert E. Howard
18. JG Ballard
19. Ursula Leguin
20 Roger Zelazny
21. Brooks Hansen
22. Jorge Luis Borges
23. A.S. Byatt
24. Jeff VanderMeer
25. Jeffrey Ford

On the non-fantasy tip it would be nice to know Philip K. Dick, Arthur Machen, Ian. M Banks, and HP Lovecraft, and tons of othwr SF authors, because as much as some for some reason don't get it - it's all interconnected.

For my 101 list look - HERE

For my extension of that list to 200 look HERE

Rane Longfox

Red Rane
Jul 30, 2004
I'm afraid I can only re-iterate many of the authors mentioned above. As usual, I have nothing new to add:rolleyes:


Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2005
Looks like I've got a lot of reading to do Ainulindale. I've only read 4 of the authors on that list (Gene Wolfe, Fritz Leiber, China Mieville, Usula Leguin) and I have books by four of the other authors, which I'm getting around to reading.

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

Knivesout no more
Nov 11, 2003
Bangalore, India
Funny how these things go. I'd actively recommend against drivel like NoGoodkind, and paint-by-numbers fare like Eddings and the likes.

For a good grounding in fantasy, don't stop at Tolkien - try some Arthur Machen (The Great God Pan, The Three Impostors), Lord Dunsany, ER Eddisson (The Worm Ouroboros) and Mervyn Peake, not to mention CS Lewis and Hope Mirrlees.

Ground yourself in the Weird Tales fantasists too - Robert E Howard and Clark Ashton SMith, in particular. HP Lovecraft is more horror, but worth a read anyway. Always. Then see what two of the most inventive writes in the genre did with sword and sorcery archetype - Michael Moorcock with his anti-Conan, Elric, and Fritz Leiber with Fafhrd and Grey Mouser. Follow their other works too.

Moving forward, pickings can get a bit thin as the primal wilderness of the imagination is pruned and domesticated to produce what one commentator calls 'extruded fantasy product', which owes more Tolkeinesque aspirations and an immersion in RPGs than original vision.

Still, Stephen Donaldson's books are good, if very grim, and LE Modessit has his moments even if his books are all rather similar. Mary Gentle is rated very highly although I've yet to be impressed by the few books of hers I've read. For humour in fantasy, it doesn't really get better than Terry Pratchett, although Piers Anthony's silly puns can be amusing in small doses. Ursula Le Guin's Eathsea novels are among the best things ever written for younger readers in the genre.

Tim Powers and Jonathan Carroll write fiction that is squarely fantastic, with magic and immense forces at work, and yet are grounded in the real world. Truly excellent stuff. Neil Gaiman's novels fit in with the works of these two. Michael Di Larrabeti's tales of the Borribles fit in with this style too.

The immediate present offers a variety of exciting, fresh voices in the fantasy genre. I'll repeat the names of China Mieville, Jeff VanderMeer, Jeffrey Ford, KJ Bishop, Kelly Link, Ray Vuvkevich and others. Writers like Steven Erikson, George RR Martin (who personally I find rather ponderous) and Mathew Stover work in a more traditional vein than these writers, but are all doing new and interesting things with the genre rather than simply writing Big Fat Fantasy by-the-numbers.

I hope this rather opinionated and grumpy overview is of use to some.


Well-Known Member
Dec 27, 2004
For humour in fantasy, it doesn't really get better than Terry Pratchett, although Piers Anthony's silly puns can be amusing in small doses
To add on to this though very briefly by Knivesout, I would recommend Thorne Smith (who is widely and I irresposibliy forgotten by too many) and his Nightlife of Gods.


Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2005
Ainulindale said:
To add on to this though very briefly by Knivesout, I would recommend Thorne Smith (who is widely and I irresposibliy forgotten by too many) and his Nightlife of Gods.
And to keep adding to humour in fantasy - certain stories by Fritz Leiber were far more comical than Pratchett's usual writing, as are certain moments in Steven Erikson, but then they aren't always comical. Still, the Prince of Pain Ease, Bazaar of the Bizarre and Lean Times in Lankhmar (from Swords Against Death and Swords in the Mist) were all incredibly funny .


Scrofulous Fig-Merchant
Oct 3, 2003
Eric van Lustbader is good sf-fantasy cross-over. His Ring of Five Dragons books (or what I read of them) were entertaining and explosion-filled. Plus they had technomancers.

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

Knivesout no more
Nov 11, 2003
Bangalore, India
Argh. I forgot M John Harrison's Viriconium sequence. Rarely has a set of tales deconstructed itself - and the genre it belongs to - with so much verve and style. There's everything from Moorcockian swords and sorcery to passages whch would nto be out of place in a Borges book. And Harrison's prose is among the very finest.


Young at Heart
Mar 23, 2005
Northern California, USA
Master and Gollum named almost all my reads, but I will have to add Marion Zimmer Bradley to the list. She wrote over 120 books, of which I won't name them all, but here's my favorite series:
Avalon Series:
The Mists of Avalon (1979)
The Forest House (1993) (with Diana L Paxson)
Lady of Avalon (1997) (with Diana L Paxson)
The Forests of Avalon (1998)
Priestess of Avalon (2000) (with Diana L Paxson)
The Ancestors of Avalon (2004) (with Diana L Paxson)
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