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Good fantasy reads?

So, I got a hankering to get a D&D fix by reading something. Over the years I've read some Forgotten Realms novels, but...to be perfectly, brutally honest...they're trash. The writing is so bad it's painful. I just re-openend one of them, one that seems to be highly regarded, and I just wince at the sophomoric writing.

Authors/books I have liked:
  • Tolkien. Duh.
  • Bernard Cornwell
  • The "other R.R." (Martin)
  • Nicola Griffith, "Hild" (Historical fiction; I recommend it if you haven't read it.)
  • Ishiguro, "The Buried Giant"
  • The original REH Conan stories. Much less so de Camp and others.
  • Neil Gaiman
Any other recommendations? It doesn't have to be full-on literature (as evidenced by my love for Howard) but neither do I want...Salvatore, for example. (I really don't mean to offend either Salvatore or his fans, but if that would be your recommendation, I'm not sure your advice is exactly what I'm looking for here.)
 

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Nytmare

David Jose
I just read the first Black Company book by Glen Cook, and though it wasn't spectacular, I'm hearing that it gets better with the second. Gritty military/fantasy. Following a mercenary unit of cutthroats and brigands and written from the perspective of the somewhat fish out of water company medic.

I also read The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch last year, and though I enjoyed it, I personally would suggest that you stop after the first book.
 



Do you like it grim and gritty? Then try Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy (or perhaps Best Served Cold, which is one of his stand-alone novels in the same world), or Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, or the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks.

If you enjoyed your Tolkien and Martin, give The Name of the Wind a try, by Patrick Rothfuss, and Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams. Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books are wonderful, and still feel fresh.

And if you fancy something fairly lighthearted but very D&D, there's Goblin Quest and its sequels by Jim C. Hines.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, I got a hankering to get a D&D fix by reading something. Over the years I've read some Forgotten Realms novels, but...to be perfectly, brutally honest...they're trash. The writing is so bad it's painful. I just re-openend one of them, one that seems to be highly regarded, and I just wince at the sophomoric writing.

Authors/books I have liked:
  • Tolkien. Duh.
  • Bernard Cornwell
  • The "other R.R." (Martin)
  • Nicola Griffith, "Hild" (Historical fiction; I recommend it if you haven't read it.)
  • Ishiguro, "The Buried Giant"
  • The original REH Conan stories. Much less so de Camp and others.
  • Neil Gaiman
Any other recommendations? It doesn't have to be full-on literature (as evidenced by my love for Howard) but neither do I want...Salvatore, for example. (I really don't mean to offend either Salvatore or his fans, but if that would be your recommendation, I'm not sure your advice is exactly what I'm looking for here.)
Le Guin, Mercedes Lackey, Saladin Ahmed (especially short stories), Roshani Chokshi, VE Schwab.

wide range of styles, there, but all of its excellent.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Steven Erickson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series.
Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books.
Jim Butcher generally, both the Dresden Files and Codex Alara are great.
Matthew Stover's Cain Black Knife series.
Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards, I didn't stop after the first book and wasn't disappointed (YMMV).
Stephen King's Dark Tower. I'll second the motion for Joe Abercrombie as well.
 



Eilathen

Explorer
If you're like me, and prefer fantasy reads with well developed worlds (deep dives in worldbuilding) than you have to treat yourself to:

Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen (and all other works in that world).
Michelle West's Sun Sword books and the other works in the same setting.
R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect Emperor series.

All three have very well developed settings and all of them, imo, have very complex plot (so not your standard "popcorn" fantasy). All are above average in writting good characters but of the three, I think Michelle is strongest in that regard. She and Kay are the authors that can draw me in through characters like no other authors can.

Be warned though, Erikson can be pretty dark. And Bakker is even darker and sometimes truly bleak. If that's not your cup of tea, then you might want to skip Bakker for sure.

And i second that Guy Gavriel Kay writes really good fantasy as well. Also a big second for Tad Williams and his work in the world of Osten Ard (aka Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series and the new The Last King of Osten Ard series).
 

atanakar

Hero
Reading The Black Company's first three books is a must read. Glen Cook's writing style is unadorned and centred on action and dialogue, which some find too telegraphic, but it is loaded with atypical fantasy ideas that blew my mind. A lot of stuff happens in these three books. A major inspiration for my D&D campaigns. Steven Erikson's Malazan Books are directly inspired by Cook. Green Ronin published a Black Company setting book compatible with the d20 system.

The Dying Earth by Jack Vance is a classic. Which inspired Gene Wolfe to write The Book of the New Sun series as an homage. Which in turn lead to the creation of the Numenera rpg by Monte Cook.

Sword & Deviltry, featuring Fafhrd (barbarian) and the Gray Mouser (thief-mage), by Fritz Leiber. A collection of short stories about the adventures of a duo brought together by misfortune. Dark Fantasy in the famous city of Lankmar in the world of Nehwon. A major inspiration for Gygax. The original printing of Deities & Demi-Gods included the stats of the characters (and creatures) but without permission so they were removed in the second printing. TSR did publish a setting later, with permission.
 
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jasper

Rotten DM
Elisabeth Moon Legend of Paksenarrion
Chris Nuttall schooled in magic/zero books.
Sharon Kay Penman historical fiction of Richard and his family
Fred Sberhagen book of swords trilogy. Avoid the lost sword ones.
Wen Spence Elfhome books
Lawrence Watt-evans Ethshar (maybe a little young for you)
OZ books
Cobweb Bride Trilogy by Vera Nazarian a little dark Russian
Grunts by Mary Gentle a little dark
 

If you're into G.R.R. Martin, I'll concur with the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Erikson recommendations. I think it could've benefited from tighter editing and less of a hurry, but it is truly awe-inspiring in scope, is an inclusive world with diverse main characters, and actually finished.

If you're into Tolkien, LeGuin's Earthsea Cycle gets my vote. It's powerful and deeply thoughtful.

For Neil Gaiman, I'd pair that with N.K. Jemisin - the Dreamblood duology, Broken Earth trilogy, or Inheritance trilogy. You pretty much can't go wrong with anything by her. If I had to pick one of those three, I think I'd go with the Inheritance trilogy.

For historical fantasy, it's a phonebook, but Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is tops. So is Novik's Temeraire series.

For R.E. Howard's Conan, something brawling and raucous, Johnathan French's The Grey Bastards. I can't think of another book that stars a band of half-orcs.
 


Dragonlance by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis
A Dying Earth by Jack Vance
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan (and all subsequent and connecting series)
Any book by Brandon Mull (I'd recommend the Beyonders and 5 Kingdoms)
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
 

Johnny3D3D

Adventurer
So, I got a hankering to get a D&D fix by reading something. Over the years I've read some Forgotten Realms novels, but...to be perfectly, brutally honest...they're trash. The writing is so bad it's painful. I just re-openend one of them, one that seems to be highly regarded, and I just wince at the sophomoric writing.

Authors/books I have liked:
  • Tolkien. Duh.
  • Bernard Cornwell
  • The "other R.R." (Martin)
  • Nicola Griffith, "Hild" (Historical fiction; I recommend it if you haven't read it.)
  • Ishiguro, "The Buried Giant"
  • The original REH Conan stories. Much less so de Camp and others.
  • Neil Gaiman
Any other recommendations? It doesn't have to be full-on literature (as evidenced by my love for Howard) but neither do I want...Salvatore, for example. (I really don't mean to offend either Salvatore or his fans, but if that would be your recommendation, I'm not sure your advice is exactly what I'm looking for here.)

Have you read the original Dragonlance books? On occasion (now that I'm older) some parts of them aren't as good, but, overall, I think they're a good story. Though, tbh, the first book can be a bit rough, as it takes a while to introduce the characters and explain who they are.

It's been a while, but I have fond memories of The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander.

You've mentioned the REH Conan stories. Have you read the Kull stories?
 


Mookus

Explorer
Take a book, leave a book!

I was recommended "The Name of the Wind" years ago but just started reading it while homebound and so far (half), it is a super fun read. Quite apart from the story and characters, I kind of love Rothfuss' writing style. So, I'll leave that.

Yoinking "The Black Company"! That was also recommended years ago at around the same time, the recs here havegiven me the push to finally crack 'em (though I'll likely finish the Rothfuss sequels first).
 

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