It’s always rewarding to encounter a book that either lives up to the hype or utterly surprises you. The following five books I recommend to spec fic fans of all shapes and sizes.
We all know George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, and Scott Lynch. These guys, however, are laboring under slightly more obscure circumstances. Some are award-winning, but none have the recognition that they rightfully deserve.
Read them and let me know if what you think. (If you have already read them, you can let me know what you think without re-reading them.)
The Horns of Ruin – Tim Akers
This had all I want in a fantasy book. Good characters, some intrigue, a plot that isn’t entirely predictable, a unique setting, and a set up for future happening all add up to a superb story. The best part is the narrative voice. It’s told in third person, and the protagonist’s voice is consistent and distinctive. Reading this as an adult is like reading David Eddings as a child–it’s the same sense of immersion and fun in a new world.
The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi
This book won every major award and it’s easy to see why. I personally have a problem with stories written in the present tense (it bugs me to the point that I won’t read them) but this book transcended it’s wanky tense choice and unfurled a complex, thought-provoking plot with some memorable characters.
Throne of the Crescent Moon – Saladin Ahmed
The characters are great, the prose is good, and the setting is wonderful. It’s Arabian Nights meets, well, I suppose more Arabian Nights. But don’t take my word for it. This book has received glowing reviews from the likes of Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch. It’s a quick read, but a fantastic one.
Nights of Villjamur – Mark Charan Newton
From the beginning, you can tell you are in the hands of a master storyteller. Newton’s prose is assured and the pace is perfect. The world-building is subtle but very carefully constructed. He also deserves kudos for attempting the first albino protagonist since a certain ruler of Melnibone.
Empire in Black and Gold – Adrian Tchaikovsky
The setting and world-building are the most noticeable elements, of course. The tech level is steampunk-y, but there is some magic. The races of bugs, from mantis to dragonfly, from beetle to moth, are plausibly developed and it’s fun to learn about their powers. The characters were both likeable and realistic (you know, for anthropomorphised giant bugs.) There were a few uber-warriors, but also fat scholars, inventors, nobles, mystics, and kids. It’s immersive enough to make for ideal airplane fare.