I've been thinking about doing one of these for a while - and I'm going to need to keep thinking, because I go through so many books every year that I can't immediately pick out my favourites. You may have noticed: there's a lot of good fantasy out there. So, without further ado, here is part one (in no particular order):
Guy Gavriel Kay
I could recommend just about anything from Guy Gavriel Kay for this list, but Tigana is something special - even for Kay. Set in the Peninsula of the Palm, a quasi-Italian mass of feuding city-states, the tyrant Brandin - driven by grief at his son, Stevan's death in battle - obliterates the name of a nation: Tigana. At the novel's core is the conflict around this identity, and the importance of it - and Tigana is told in almost lyrical prose, telling the tale of a tragedy through interwoven plotlines that are never black, nor white, but Kay's masterful grey.
Amazon page: Tigana
The Name of the Wind
One of my more recent choices, The Name of the Wind is, soimply put, a masterfully-told tale. The first page captured my imagination: "...the patient, cut flower sound of a man who is waiting to die", and Rothfuss' prose was equally enrapturing throughout Kvothe's tale. The magic is logical, well explained, and - in this spirit - less of a Deux-Ex-Machina than a well savoured device for the reader. The tale of a man, Kvothe, who became a legend, and now tends the bar in the Wayside Inn, is cleverly divided between the tale itself, and Kvothe's telling of it - in the quieter, more dangerous world that he left behind. Rothfuss' second novel (The Wise Man's Fear) has unfortunately been delayed, but I eagerly anticipate its release (predicted sometime in 2010).
Amazon link: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1)
Gardens of the Moon
One of the most controversial series in modern fantasy, the Malazan Book of the Fallen is either on your bookcase in its entirety - or equally entirely absent. High page counts, devilishly complex plotting across volumes, and lengthy philosophical passages make Erikson's work a love-or-hate series. But I find Erikson's inter-volume plotting and "grey" morality enormously refreshing in the context of the epic fantasy - and make no mistake about it, the Malazan Book of the Fallen is certainly an epic fantasy. Spanning (in points) thousands of years, the series entwines seldom-understood, but rule-bidden magic, and a world so breathtaking in its entirety that even after nine volumes, very, very little is - yet- uncovered. Erikson's prose, like Kay's, has an almost lyrical factor to it, and the omniscient narrator's views blend effortlessly the viewpoints of very different characters, in effortless (albeit philosophical) transition. Erikson is a must-read.
Amazon page: Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen)
And that's it for today! I'll be continuing my (lengthy) list later this week, as well as my reviews of Dust of Dreams and Into the Nightside. Thank you for reading. :)
So long, and thanks for all the books
2 years ago