D&D General The ENWorld Summer Reading List - Nomination Thread


Limit Break Dancing
So I thought it would be fun to put together a summer reading list for those of us at ENWorld: a list of 12-20 books, each highly recommended by the staff and members of ENWorld. Something that would let folks add their favorites to a list (each book in its own thread), and let folks vote for their favorites.

I asked for nominations, and you guys really came through with over a hundred of them! As you recommended your favorites, and upvoted/downvoted the rest, several titles floated to the top of the list and some sank to the bottom. And after things quieted down for a week, I picked the top vote.

But this isn't over! One book does not a Sumer Reading List make! (And I think I finally got a handle on how to do this "choose a book from the list" thing, using the Question feature of the software. I know it's not a perfect system, previously I was going to compile a short list from this larger list, but that had its own problems. Anyway...) Pretend you are browsing a bookshelf at the library. "Hmm...this book looks interesting...this one too...this one doesn't really look interesting...ooh I love this book!...ugh, this one looks boring...this one looks good..."

We will be reading "The Book of Three" by Lloyd Alexander first, beginning on Friday April 30th. This list here will still be active, and people are still invited (encouraged, even) to recommend more books, and upvote/downvote the books already nominated. Perhaps you decide that Lloyd Alexander is the bee's knees and you want to recommend more of his work? Maybe it changed your mind about a different book? Maybe you didn't care for his work all that much, and don't want to read more? Use those up/down arrows to inform the list.

Another book will float to the top, and it will be the next one selected...probably around the second weekend of May.

Here's the rules:
  • Nominate a fantasy fiction book you would recommend to a stranger. It should be something that might inspire Game Masters and players alike, in whatever tabletop roleplaying game they are running. It can be classic fantasy fiction ala Tolkien, it can be space opera ala Star Wars, it can be dark fantasy, gritty fantasy, fantasy horror, modern fantasy, whatever you like.
  • Please list only one book per post. This includes trilogies and series! Don't put "All of the books in the Xhaslafqagrgg series, by Famous J. Author." Post each book in its own comment, even if it means creating 20 different posts. Please and thank you. Don't force everyone to downvote an entire catalog just because of one single book.
  • Tell us a little bit about it. You nominated it for a reason, so sell it to us! It's helpful to include a link to the book's website, some reviews, or maybe some cover art. Not everyone is going to automatically recognize your book on name alone, especially if it's recently-published...help your nomination get the votes it deserves.
  • Please don't duplicate any nominees. If you see your favorite book already listed, don't make another post for it! Just click the up-arrow and recommend another book instead. UPDATE: Check the "Current List of Nominees," below, to see if your book has already been nominated.
  • Remember the goal. The goal here is to create a list of fantasy novels, each highly recommended by the good people of ENWorld, from a variety of genres. We're looking for books that will inspire and spark the imaginations of players and GMs alike, giving us fodder for adventure. And who doesn't love a good book? This isn't just a popularity contest, there aren't any winners, this isn't a bookworm's humble-brag, and there's no prize for "best book" or whatever.
Thanks in advance!

117 Recommendations, Alphabetical by Author

(last updated: 4/30/2021)
Aaron, Rachel. "Nice Dragons Finish Last."
Aaronvitch, Ben. "Rivers of London."
Abercrombie, Joe. "A Little Hatred."
Akers, Tim. "Knight Watch"
Alexander, Lloyd. "The Black Cauldron."
Alexander, Lloyd. "The Book of Three." (Currently reading, April 30-May 14)
Anderson, Poul. "The Broken Sword."
Anderson, Poul. "The High Crusade."
Arden, Katherine. "The Bear and the Nightingale."
Asprin, Robert Lynn. "Another Fine Myth."
Bardugo, Leigh. "Six of Crows."
Bear, Elizabeth. "Karen Memory."
Bester, Alfred. "The Stars My Destination"
Behrsin, Chris. "A Cat's Guide to Bonding with Dragons"
Boyett, Steven R. "Ariel."
Brennan, Marie. "A Natural History of Dragons."
Brett, Peter V. "The Warded Man"
Brooks, Terry. "The Scions of Shannara"
Brooks, Terry. "The First King of Shannara."
Brust, Steven. "The Phoenix Guards."
Bujold, Lois. "The Curse of Chalion"
Bujold, Lois. "Penric's Progress."
Bujold, Lois. "The Sharing Knife" Trilogy
Bull, Emma. "The War for the Oaks."
Bunn, Cullen and Owen Gieni, "Harrow County: Countless Haints."
Butcher, Jim. "Furies of Calderon"
Butcher, Jim. "Summer Knight."
Butler, D.J. "Witchy Eye"
Carey, M.R. "The Girl With All the Gifts."
Catling, Brian. "The Vorrh"
Cherryh, C.J. "The Dreaming Tree."
Cherryh, C.J. "Fortress in the Eye of Time."
Cho, Zen. "The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water."
Chupeco, Rin. "The Bone Witch."
Clark, Susanna. "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell."
Clarke, Susanna. "Piranesi"
Cole, Nice and Jason Anspach. "Forgotten Ruin."
Cook, Glen. "The Black Company."
Cook, Glen. "Old Tin Sorrows."
Cook, Glen. "Sweet Silver Blues."
Cook, Glen. "The Tower of Fear."
Corey, S.A. "Leviathan Wakes."
Correia, Larry. "Destroyer of Worlds."
Crowley, John. "Little, Big."
Dickson, Gordon R. "The Dragon and the George."
Eisenstein, Phyllis. "Sorcerer's Son."
Emrys, Ruthanna. "Winter Tide."
Reikson, Steven. "Gardens of the Moon."
Flint, Eric and Walter H. Hunt. "Council of Fire."
Freer, Dave. "TOM."
Gaimen, Neil. "The Ocean at the End of the Lane."
Gerrold, David. "Legend."
Greenwood, Ed. "Grand History of the Realms."
Hobb, Robin. "Assassin's Apprentice."
Hughart, Barry. "Bridge of Birds."
Ireland, Justina. "Dread Nation."
Ishiguro, Kazuo. "The Buried Giant."
Jackson, D.B. "Time's Children."
Jacques, Brian. "Redwall"
Jemisin, N.K. "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms."
Jordon, Robert. "The Eye of the World."
Kay, Guy Gavriel. "Tigana."
Koontz, Dean. "Odd Thomas"
Lawrence, Mark. "Prince of Thorns."
Leckie, Ann. "Ancillary Justice."
Leckie, Ann. "The Raven Tower."
Lee, Fonda. "Jade City."
LeGuin, Ursula K. "Gifts"
LeGuin, Ursala K. "A Wizard of Earthsea."
Lockwood, Todd. "The Summer Dragon."
Lynch, Scott. "The Lies of Locke Lamora."
McGuire, Seanan. "Every Heart a Doorway."
McGuire, Seanan. "Middlegame."
McGuire, Seanan. "Rosemary and Rue"
McKillip, Patricia A. "The Riddle-Master of Hed"
McNeil, Carla Speed. "Sin-Eater."
Meiville, China. "Perdido Street Station."
Moers, Walter. "The City of Dreaming Books."
Moon, Elizabeth. "The Deed of Paksenarrion."
Muir, Tamsyn. "Gideon the Ninth."
Nazarian, Vera. "Cobweb Bride"
Nix, Garth. "Sabriel."
Norton, Andre. "Quag Keep."
Norton, Andre. "Witch World."
Novik, Naomi. "Spinning Silver"
Novik, Naomi. "Uprooted."
Nuttall, Christopher G. "Schooled in Magic."
Okorafor, Nnedi. "Akata Witch."
Ostertag, Molly Knox. "The Witch Boy."
Pratt, Brian S. "The Unsuspecting Mage."
Priest, Cherie. "Boneshaker."
Pullman, Philip. "The Golden Compass"
Rajaniemi, Hannu. "The Quantum Thief."
Rice, Morgan. "Realm of Dragons"
Ringo, John. "There Will Be Dragons."
Rosenberg, Joel. "The Sleeping Dragon."
Rowley, Christopher. "Bazil Broketail."
Saberhagen, Fred. "The Second Book of Swords."
Salvatore, R.A. "Archmage."
Salvatore, R.A. "Hero."
Salvatore, R.A. "Maestro."
Sanderson, Brandon. "The Hero of Ages."
Sanderson, Brandon. "Mistborn"
Sanderson, Brandon. "The Way of Kings."
Sanderson, Brandon. "The Well of Ascention"
Scarborough, Elizabeth Ann. "The Healer's War"
Schwab, V.E. "A Darker Shade of Magic."
Shannon, Samantha. "The Priority of the Orange Tree."
Spencer, Wen. "Tinker."
Stevenson, Noelle. "Nimona."
Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Fellowship of the Ring."
VanderMeer, Jeff. "Annihilation."
Watt-Evans, Lawrence. "The Lure of the Basilisk."
Wheeler, Jeff. "The Queen's Poisoner"
Williams, Tad. "The Dragonbone Chair."
Wooding, Chris. "Retribution Falls."
Zelaney, Roger. "Jack of Shadows."
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Rotten DM
Tinker by Wen Spencer Inventor, girl genius Tinker lives in a near-future Pittsburgh which now exists mostly in the land of the elves.

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"The Scions of Shannara," by Terry Brooks. Book One of the four-book "Heritgage of Shannara" series, which happens to be my favorite series by this author.

Don't get me wrong, the "Sword of Shannara" series is pretty good also, and probably the best-known book by this author. But I can't get over what MTV did to it with their "Shannara" TV show. Oof.

Anyway. To get the ball rolling, I nominate Book 1 of the Heritage of Shannara series, "The Scions of Shannara." It takes place long after the events of the first trilogy.

View attachment 133836

"The Book of Three," by Lloyd Alexander. Book One of the "Chronicles of Prydain" series. One of the finest kid-lit fantasy novels I can remember (and probably first one I ever read.)

I'd nominate the whole series, honestly, but I'll just put the first book up for the sake of brevity. The most famous book in this series is probably "The Black Cauldron" (Book 2), since it was made into a Disney cartoon.

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Two of your first 3 posts are two of my most favorite books/authors of all time. I greatly approve :)


The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi


Great blend of classic heist story with very prescient sci-fi.


@Sacrosanct Terry Brooks and Lloyd Alexander are the biggest influences on my D&D games, I think. I hope they get enough upvotes to make the final Summer Reading List. (I'll be re-reading them anyway, but it would be cool to do it as part of a group also.)
I admit I get a bit defensive over Terry Brooks. Not just because he was one of my earliest authors I read, and not because he's a genuine great guy, but every time I hear "he just ripped off Tolkien", I always feel the need to mention how yes, but no more than Tolkien ripped off existing myth and folklore ;) In both cases, such a statement woefully understates each's accomplishments.


I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet, so I'll nominate The DragonBone Chair by Tad Williams. Great book (and series). Characters written so you actually care what they are doing and what happens to them. He has a really great take on a fantasy world as well.



Limit Break Dancing
That's a bit dubious, give that you can also downvote in this poll.
Yeah, there will always be people who see everything as a contest, and need to WIN.
At least here, people can't vote for their own nominations...that's a big help.

We've been fortunate so far; most of the votes have been upward, and most of the posts have been book nominations. Which reminds me, I need to update the list soon; it's been a few days.


The EN World kitten
Another surprise it hasn't been mentioned, pick any Dresden File book. Summer Knight is a great choice if you don't want to start at the beginning. It's campy. It's modern supernatural. And it's a must read if you like the fey and that folklore at all.
Slight tangent: a while back I went looking for some "serial numbers filed off"-versions of game stats for the fey matriarchs of the Summer and Winter courts. To my mild surprise I found them, in the form of templates for Pathfinder 1E, over in Call to Arms: Mantles of Power (affiliate link) from Fat Goblin Games. There were even listings for Spring and Autumn courts as well, and all sorts of lesser servitors for all of them (including Knights). It was truly impressive.


Swamp Cryptid
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

I haven't read it yet, but a good friend has and highly recommended it.

From the publisher's website:
A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction--but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.



Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

I started this one as an audiobook before realizing I really wanted to read it on the page, and just haven't gotten around to it again yet. Also highly recommended by a friend.

From the author's website:
When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice

View attachment 134317
This one was already posted.

I admit I get a bit defensive over Terry Brooks. Not just because he was one of my earliest authors I read, and not because he's a genuine great guy, but every time I hear "he just ripped off Tolkien", I always feel the need to mention how yes, but no more than Tolkien ripped off existing myth and folklore ;) In both cases, such a statement woefully understates each's accomplishments.
This isn't the thread for a detailed discussion but that's rather unfair to Tolkien, no? :p Tolkien spent decades analyzing and synthesising myth and folklore with a specific goal in mind. Terry Brooks did a pretty basic Tolkien-derivative which was partly inspired by a common-in-the-1960s misunderstanding of LotR (that being that it was distantly post-apocalyptic and set on Earth). I have no objection to Brooks (who seems terribly nice indeed!) or his presence of this list, though he does have the dubious distinction of being the very first fantasy author whose writing made me give up on a book (one of the Shannara sequels). I remember intentionally leaving it behind in an airport when I was 14 or 15. Of course another Terry, that being Goodkind was the even more dubious distinction of being the first author I read whose book was so awful I literally tried to throw it out the window in disgust (I missed).

I support your Tad Williams recommendation. He's also very, very Tolkien-derivative, but I feel like he modernizes and broadens things a lot more, and it's more like a mash-up of Tolkien, TH White and anthropology stuff.

My top recommendation would have been Gideon the Ninth. It's a crime that I'm the first person to upvote it, as it's an absolutely amazing book and a wonderful combination of fantasy, SF, murder mystery, and so on, and extremely funny but also grounded enough to be taken seriously. As that's taken though:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:

It's basically a heist novel set in a fantasy Amsterdam/London in a sort of 1800s-ish but very much not "Victorian" or "Steampunk" setting. It's almost like a cyberpunk novel in a lot of ways, but the main this is it's really good. If you read a blurb about or heard it summarized you might go "Oh god sounds generic...". I know I did. But a friend said it was actually extremely good, and it is. It has a single sequel so you're not committing to a huge multi-book narrative or something too. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who liked say The Lies of Locke Lamora (this actually, I daresay, a bit better than that).

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