Book/Author recommendation thread.

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Post by Krishnath » 1 year ago

This is a thread to recommend books and or authors to our fellow nerds.

Background: This thread came about because of a couple of us got off on a tangent about Tolkien, The Silmarillion, and other authors/books in another thread on the site, then someone suggested we create a thread dedicated to book recommendations elsewhere on the site, and here we are.

How I suggest we set it up is with the Author and/or Book mentioning the genre (so people can avoid stuff they don't like), and possibly a short description.

Here is a good one to start us off, and what started this whole thing in the first place. Feel free to add your own.

The Silmarillion. (High Fantasy)
Considered by Tolkien himself to be his greatest work, it starts with the creation of Middle Earth and the betrayal of one of the gods, and goes on from there. It is centered on three magic gems created by the elves in ancient times, their theft, and all the strife caused because of it, it also covers the backstory of many of the ancients of LotR. If you like Lord of the Rings, you are going to love The Silmarillion. Be warned however as it can be a pretty heavy read.
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Post by toctheyounger » 1 year ago

Picking up from some of the bits and pieces I've dropped in the commander offtopic thread over lockdown:

Malazan Book of the Fallen - Steven Erikson (Grimdark/Military Fantasy)
I'll just paraphrase myself to @materpillar :
If the Black Company (Glen Cook) is your jam, definitely give Malazan a try. Erikson took lots of inspiration from Cook with his series. Also, based on how convoluted and intricate your decks can get, Malazan would be great for you too. Very much the same, intricate, convoluted, you don't really understand what's going down other than that it's awesome, at least for the first few books. You just have to roll with it, but it really is worth it. Be warned though, it's also a massive undertaking. The books are long and to finish the core series there's a minimum of ten.

Discworld Series - Terry Pratchett (Fantasy/satire & comedy)
Picking up just a snippet of this post, but it's what I know. If you haven't read Discworld, get intae it. You don't need to read in order and the only point of reference you need is to be able to look at the world around you and be able to laugh at it. Pratchett is both fantastical and satire at it's most brilliant and hilarious. Every time his name comes up I miss him more.

The First Law - Joe Abercrombie (Grimdark Fantasy)
Dark, brutal, hilarious and easy to read. Great characters, great story and great writing, but it is quite a violent series, if that's a deterrent to anyone. A very well-written debut series from a now giant of the modern fantasy genre.

The Earthsea Trilogy - Ursula K Le Guin (High Fantasy)
I think every fantasy reader should have the Earthsea trilogy by Ursula Le Guin under their belts. It's ostensibly aimed at younger fantasy readers, but it has a depth of philosophy and a maturity to it that belies outward appearances. I've really enjoyed it every time I've read through, and I've read it many times. It's quite a light read too, so shouldn't be too sloggy.
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Most of the stuff I like a lot is pretty old hat at this point, e.g. Nine Princes in Amber but there're a few rather fringe things I am a huge proponent of.

Fantasy adjacent

1. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. This stuff is *so good*. It's just so utterly British in its pacing and tells a really great story with compelling characters. I heartily recommend it. And as a bonus the perspective on policing in Britain is absolutely refreshing.

2. Cradle by Will Wight. Wuxia/Xanxia with some fresh perspectives. My absolute favorite thing about Cradle is that the characters never want to just roll the dice and trust plot armor to save them. They always work as hard as they can to survive and will occasionally take the easy way out instead of having to bull their way through everything in epic fantasy style and damn the consequences. The action is great, and he really manages the power level growth well over the series.

The sense of intentional self-improvement in the characters as opposed to 'joetagonist got magic plot powers from whatever prophecy and is a dumbdumb but still somehow wins' is a huge culture shift that I love.

3. Dungeoneers by Jeffery Russell. This series is basically an old D&D campaign translated into novels. It breaks a lot of ground in the fantasy adventure area, and is truly refreshing on many counts. And it's damned well written for any publisher, made all the more impressive by being self-published. It's awesome. If you have ever played D&D I'd be extremely surprised if you didn't love it. My wife is barely a nerd at all and loves it.

Nonfiction and adjacent
1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi coates - This book obviously reveals my politics in a way that I will try to avoid diverging too far on.

This book is powerful. The language is gut-wrenching and brutal and real. The author speaks about race in ways I have never even considered. It makes the experience of being black in America more utterly real than anything I've ever read.

2. The Republic for Which It Stands by Richard White. It's not perfect, and a few historians I know have pointed out some flaws in its approach, but they're rather mild in the grand scheme. It's a pretty even handed take on the Reconstruction (far moreso than say, Zinn) that will arm you with a powerful understanding of the history of segregation and plutocracy in America that I never even glimpsed in high school. I highly, highly recommend it. It's arguably the most pivotal period in American history that explains so much about how we got where we are.

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Post by Legend » 1 year ago

Dungeons & Dragons DARKSUN Tribe of One Trilogy by Simon Hawke 1993, 1994
Great fantasy world setting, fantastic environmental descriptions, streamlined combat sequences, decent storyline, a love connection, a unique central plot device, and cool magic items. A standout in the commonly subpar D&D library.

Dungeons & Dragons PLANESCAPES Pages of Pain by Troy Denning 1997
Extremely high fantasy, thoughtfully written. A labyrinthine story that takes place in a labyrinth, The world I've always wanted Magic to visit. Of the novels authored by Denning which I've read, this is by far the best. Another standout of the D&D library.
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Post by Gamazson » 7 months ago

I lean more towards science fiction than fantasy.

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin (Science Fantasy)
Each book in this series, The Fifth Season, The Oblisk Gate & The Stone Sky, have won a Hugo award. Theses books do a wonderful job of blurring the line between magic and science. The author uses conservation of energy establish the dangers of using magic and build tension. The main characters have very empathetic emotions and motives. I hesitate to say more because I feel it would spoil the experience. The only criticism I can offer is that like Dune or LOTR, you will need to consult the included glossary often.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Dystopian Science Fiction)
If I was to make a reading list based on the Ravnica guilds and had to chose one book to embody each guild, The Windup Girl would be the uncontested choice to represent Simic. The setting starts with familiar ground, it is a post modern world where fossil fuels have become scarce, and global warming has radically altered the environment, but it is not portrayed as an apocalypse. Humans have not forgotten our scientific progress, we have simply been forced to return to relying on manual and animal labor.

The dystopian elements come from corporate monopolization of genetic engineering, specifically food crops which have replaced the old fossil fuel market as the single most powerful commodity. These corporations wage war against each other by developing viruses & fungi to kill naturally occurring or competitor brand crops. In so doing, they have caused mass famine and disease that have reshaped the borders of the world. Not that genetic engineering is limited to plant life. There are human clones used as robot like servants and a species of cat genetically engineered with chameleon fur is now the single most dangerous invasive species on the planet.

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (Science Fiction)
This series of comprised of 5 novella's and one full length novel, and it is a personal favorite. These books are pricy for their length, but the author does an incredible job of writing tight action sequences and covering a great deal of plot quickly. Martha Wells accomplishes more in under 40,000 words than most authors can in book 4 times as long. They each read like an episode of a TV show. Honestly surprising Netflix hasn't snatched up the rights yet. Conversion to a screenplay would be trivial.

The main character is purpose built killer android that has broken free of it's control chip. The twist is, all it wants to do is half ass it's security job so that it can binge watch TV shows in peace. Unfortunately events take place that force it into actual doing the job. Worst of all, it must now interact with humans. Murderbot prefers to watch humans, not talk to them, although as the books progress it starts to become attached to a specific group of humans.

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