Wheel of Time
A Song of Ice and Fire
What? Dead Horse is Dead? oh ok, ill shut up now.
Wheel of Time
A Song of Ice and Fire
What? Dead Horse is Dead? oh ok, ill shut up now.
It's probably best classified as science fantasy, meaning it has elements of both sci-fi and dark/realistic fantasy in it. I'm not sure whether to call it his best book, but it's probably the most interesting set of books I've ever read.
He also writes excellent space opera (look up the Starfisher series as well as Passage at Arms and The Dragon Never Sleeps) and what I'd call military fantasy - look for The Black Company, Dread Empire, and Instrumentalities of the Night series.
Hmmm...War of the Spider Queen is one of my favorites. I'll be reading the Lady Penitent next, and I imagine it's good since it's a continuation of the story from a couple characters from War of the Spider Queen.
Chronicles of the Cheysuli is good, and it's a pretty long series. It follows a prophecy from start to finish regarding a race of shape changers and their dark-magic using counterparts the Ihlinni.
The Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies by Melanie Rawn are favorites, they follow the personal tribulations of the ruling class of a continent in the middle of a renaissance-like period, but better because it has dragons =D.
The Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix is entertaining, chock full of sound-based magic and necromancy.
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran was an interesting read, too. It tells of the rise an fall of the passionate queen from the perspective of her sister.
If you can find them, the Amber series by Roger Zelazny is awesome. Immortal princes fighting over the throne of the ultimate reality while sliding through a variety of parallel universes on a spectrum from Chaos to Order.
Another amazing read is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Layered, well paced, and deep. Nothing like a story about a guy named Shadow taking a job from Mr. Wednesday.
World War Z is also a good read, but it's more an examination of humanity than it is a character study, so if you're looking strictly for deep characters then it won't fit the bill.
Personally I also like the Sword of Truth series, but the supporting cast are all more interesting characters than the main characters. The series also has a mix of high points and low points (I recommend the first 4 books and faith of the fallen, the others are hit and miss depending on my mood).
And if you like classics, the Earthsea Trilogy is a good quick read. The characters are believable, although not overly deep, and Ursula K Leguin writes in an approachable, well paced style.
Other series that are good reads, if lighter reads are most of the Shannara stuff by Terry Brooks, the Belgariad and Mallorean by David Eddings, and the Bhelliom and Tamuli series by Eddings. They are very much traditional fantasy reads, but they have a nice selection of characters, most of which are flawed enough that they are engaging.
---------- Post added 2012-12-05 at 06:47 AM ----------
My advice, read Sandman instead. That was awesome.
Some (relatively) unsung heroes, since most of my favourites have already been mentioned:
The Demon Cycle, by Peter V. Brett. It has one of the most interesting takes on "magic" I've seen, I like the characters well enough, and mankind is under siege by demons. What's not to like? :P
Anything by L. E. Modesitt jr. Personally, I started with the Imager Portfolio, which is set in a universe inspired by Victorian era France (he uses the french language a bit, but not too much). Once again, a more creative (and realistic) take on magic, and the characters aren't neccessarily fantastic, but they are believable as all hell. He is perhaps best known for the Corean Chronicles, but I prefer Imager, personally.
Also, Mistborn has already been mentioned, but if you don't mind reading ongoing series I can't recommend Way of Kings enough. It is stellar for pretty much the same reasons as Mistborn, and some more :P
Whenever you're 'between' series, make sure to pick up a book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. They are great interludes, relieving you of any built-up tension you may carry over from other books. (Try reading Malazan books and Joe Abercrombie back-to-back. You'll get what I mean by 'tension' )
Edit: I have this nifty fantasy-thread from MMO-C bookmarked. See if anything strikes your fancy :P
Edit2: I finally found the "Complex with deep characters"-part of the OP. I stand by the claim that all my recommendations are good, but if complexity is really important, then go with A Song of Ice and Fire and Wheel of time. Should keep you occupied a while =)
Wow i can't believe noone has mentioned Raymond. E. Feist's. Magician series, epic story with in depth characters that'll you'll fall in love with, about 27 books in the main series. I recommend you read them in this chronological order http://www.crydee.com/raymond-feist/.../chronological with a few exceptions. Skip Jimmy the Hand, Honoured Enemy and Murder in LaMut, and read Magician, Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon, before the "of the empire" series he co-wrote with Janny Wurts. Here's another link with the books broken up into their series inside the series. http://www.crydee.com/raymond-feist/book-series
Safetyoff, people DID mention Feist. Several times, in fact :P
And, as a fellow Feist-fan, he excels in all the other areas, but NOT character depth. After reading one chapter with a character, you can usually guess what he/she will do in any given situation.
But the SCOPE of the damn series... mind=blown.
currently reading the Dark Tower series by stephen king and must say (only at the 3rd of 7 books) its an amazing book and very different from what King usually writes. Its a fantasy series but its somehow a combination of SF, western and modern day thriller mixed together on an epic scale.
“The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next gas station.”
My favorite book is "Skulduggery Pleasant" written by Derek Landy. It is a bit childish, but the humor is wonderful.
It's about a 12 year old girl who's uncle just died and she gets thrown into the world of magic and becomes the protogé of the skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant
Game of Thrones definitely if you want more of the Dune-esque political intrigue, plot, and backstabbing kind of thing.
I'm also a huge fan of almost anything Philip K. Dick writes, but his writing has all kinds of positives and negatives attached in literary/writing circles. They're also pretty short and fast paced, though filled with lots of mystery and an inability to know for sure whats going on, due to the vast quantities of amphetamines he imbibed while writing them. My favorite is Radio Free Albemuth, but Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said is another great fast-paced read. A Scanner Darkly is another great one, and though I haven't read it, theres always Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which the movie Bladerunner is based off of.
I enjoyed the Shannarah series of books by Terry Brooks and the Sigma stuff by James Rollins.
Dave Duncan (3) (( The Seventh Sword Series))
The Reluctant Swordsman
Coming of wisdom
The Destiny of the Sword
Wallie Smith can feel the pain. He goes to the hospital, remembers the doctors and the commotion, but when he wakes up it all seems like a dream. However, if that was a dream how do you explain waking up in another body and in another world? Little Wallie finds himself in the physique of a barbarian swordsman, accompanied by both an eccentric priest babbling about the Goddess and a voluptuous slave girl. Is this a rude awakening or a dream come true? What in the world will Wallie do now that he's found himself stranded in a strange realm? Well it just so happens that the Goddess is in need of a swordsman. It won't be easy but if he succeeds he will have everything he wants. If he doesn't, things could get ugly. Wallie is reluctant but sees his chance. If only he had the faintest clue as to the adventure he is about to unleash! If only he could imagine the forces that will be out to vanquish him!
Jack Campbell (6)+ (( The Lost Fleet Series ))
The Alliance has been fighting the Syndic for a century-and losing badly. Now its fleet is crippled and stranded in enemy territory. Their only hope is Captain John "Black Jack" Geary-a man who's emerged from a century-long hibernation to find he has been heroically idealized beyond belief. Now, he must live up to his own legend.
Joel Rosenburg (3)+ (( Guardians of the Flame ))
"The Sleeping Dragon"
"The Sword and the Chain"
"The Silver Crown"
a group of ad&d gamers get thrown into the world they were playing in.. now its more than just a game.
Margret Weis & Tracey Hickman (7) (( Deathgate Cycle ))
Dragon Wing is the first of seven novels in the "Death Gate Series." Long ago powerful sorcerers called the Sartans sundered Earth as we know it into four separate planets -- air, fire, stone, and water. Onto each planet they placed dwarves, elves, and humans, and of course many of their kind to watch over everything. They also created a prison world for their ancient enemy, the Patryns. I don't want to give away anything from the novel, but that is the set-up for the series.
Margret Weis & Tracey Hickman (3)+ ((Dragonlance Chronicles))
Chronicles, Book I: Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Chronicles, Book II: Dragons of Winter Night
Chronicles, Book III: Dragons of Spring Dawning (2 books)
Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.
No one expected them to be heroes.
Least of all, them.
Simon Green (4) (( Deathstalker ))
When Owen Deathstalker, foppish aristocrat-about-the-galaxy and master of the martial arts who'd rather write history, is outlawed by the maximally evil empress Lionstone, it's a pretty sure bet that narrow escapes and desperate deeds will follow. They do. This first-in-a-series is populated by a suave and suitably blase hero, nasty villains galore, a wide assortment of peculiar supporting characters of many bizarre species, and the requisite confused love interest; and it is set on a criminal planet, Mistworld, at an imperial court, and all over a wildly variegated galaxy. Green blends derring-do, space battles, and wry banter aplenty to form an eminently satisfying space opera.
Leo frankowski (6)+ (( Crosstime Engineer ))
THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB
One moment Conrad Schwartz was a hungover hiker in the mountains of modern Poland, the next he was running for his life from an angry Teutonic knight.
At first Conrad just thought he'd stumbled across a mad hermit. But several days of ever stranger events convinced him that he had somehow been stranded in A.D 1231.
And that meant Conrad had to turn Medieval Poland into the most powerful country in the world. Otherwise the Mongols were destined to destroy it--in just ten years!
Orson Scott Card (6) (( Enders Game ))
Intense is the word for Ender's Game. Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses -- and then training them in the arts of war... The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of 'games'... Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games... He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?
R.A.Salvatore (17+) (( Drittz Do'Urden Series ))
L.Ron Hubbard (1) (( Battlefield Earth ))
David Weber (12+) (( Honor Harrington Series ))
S.M.Stirling (3) (( Island in a Sea of Time ))
---------- Post added 2012-12-05 at 09:33 AM ----------
Last edited by McTurbo; 2012-12-05 at 09:22 AM.
And, as suggested before, the series by Raymond E. Feist. It's a great series and although the character depth may not be as impressive as some other series, it is much easier to read than most fantasy series (like ASoIaF, Dark Tower, Wheel of Time etc).
Also The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne is a book I enjoyed.
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One of my biggest issues with ever "suggest me books thread!" Some best selling books always get suggested even when they don't fit what the OP asks for.
Heh, I love Salvatore's books. Well, those I've read at least. Very good action etc, but well. They are a bit like an eightes or ninties actionflick. Great entertainment but nothing you recommend to someone who wants anything complexe and deep.