Have you read...can you recommend...

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Impenitent
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Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Impenitent »

Amazon sends me recommendations of books, most of which I've never heard of, by writers I don't know. I read through some of the reviews, but I could really spend all day sifting through them and even then, I've made the mistake of downloading (and paying for, even if the price is low) something that turns out to be a disappointment.

I suspect I'm not the only one.

Now, most Halofiriens are readers; and taken as a group, we probably read quite broadly. I thought we could pick each others' brains here.

I'll start:

Amazon's Science Fiction and Fantasy newsletter recommends:

The Belial Library (The Belial Series Book 2) by R.D. Brady, currently for $0.99 on kindle.
It has many of reviews, most of which are positive.
Anyone here read it/heard of it/willing to recommend it (the series)/yearning to flame it?

The Complete Conan Saga by Robert E. Howard.
A collection of the original 18 Conan stories written in the 1930s, with original artwork and map etc
Is this Conan the Barbarian? Because I'm not sure I'm into Conan the Barbarian - though I'm willing to give it a chance if a Halofirien demonstrates enthusiasm for it. (I quite like some of those old pulp fiction books like Bradbury).

The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One by Patrick Rothfuss
This has squillions of positive reviews, and is described as a modern masterpiece, and it's also available in library binding, hardback, paperback, audio CD/mp3 etc which indicate that the publishers have invested in it, but I'm wondering whether it's a Harry Potter wannabe.
Can anyone comment on it?

That'll do to begin with. ;)
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Inanna
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Inanna »

The kingkiller chronicles are fantastic. Just be warned that book 1 & 2 are out and there is no sign of the 3rd. It's so bloody annoying.


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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Frelga »

I never read any of the Conan books. Shouldn't they be in the public domain by now?

Rothfuss is definite a rising fantasy star. He is original if he is anything, and there is certainly no hint of Harry Potter. Even if there is a school of magic, it's as different from Hogwarts as Unseen University and the school in the Earthsea books are all different from each other. I found his second book to be better than the first. Overall, I think he is worth a try.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
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Primula Baggins
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Primula Baggins »

This is a great idea for a thread, Impy!

I'm wary of Kindle books by unknowns up for 99 cents when it's not a sale price. Pretty much anyone can sell anything they write that way. And there's quite a community of new writers trying to break in by that route, so I would assume they give each other approving reviews (as a number of people here did for my books! and I'm grateful :love: , but they aren't objective reviews). If I can't see the first chapter, I won't buy it.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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Impenitent
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Impenitent »

Prim, I know what you mean about judging by the first chapter - and, as you know, most kindle books do allow downloading a sample. I do that, but I still find it a tedious way of sifting through the many recommendations that Amazon sends, even if I research first via reviews.

And...my reviews your books may not have been objective, but they were completely true! :thumbsup:

Inanna and Frelga, thanks for the feedback re Kingkiller. After posting about it, I read quite a few reviews, and (contrary to my usual process of confining myself to the more moderate 2-4 star reviews) even glanced at the 1-star reviews. Not surprisingly, they were very off-putting! Many mentions of Mary-Sues and one-dimensional supporting cast, plodding pace, no effective storyline, etc. Inanna, you did not find it so?
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Inanna »

Really? Not at all - I totally loved the books. I could not tear myself away from No. 2, and am really disappointed that No. 3 is not out yet.


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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Frelga »

Hehe, I got into a friendly debate on the subject of whether Kvothe is a Mary Sue. I argued that he's not. :D

He's sort of the opposite of Harry Potter in that sense. Harry doesn't really have much in terms of special talents, except perhaps flying, but he is generally equal to whatever the plot throws at him. Kvothe does have lots of talents, which I think is what people are complaining about, but they aren't enough to keep him out of trouble.

I can't guarantee that you will love the books, but they are definitely worth giving a chance. As far as I can tell, it's the most original new voice in fantasy that isn't aimed at younger readers.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
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Impenitent
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Impenitent »

Okay, am convinced it's worth a try :D
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Inanna
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Inanna »

Can someone please explain the Mary Sue thing to me?


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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Frelga »

In general? It is the term for a character, usually in fan-fiction but sometimes in published books and in the movies, who is perfect in every way. Beautiful, graceful, with unique talents, gorgeous hair, genius intelligence, and lovely singing voice.

As applied to Kvothe? See above. ;)

Except that - without spoiling Impish - I don't think it's fair, based on where that takes Kvothe and where, we find out at the beginning of the first book, he ends up.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
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Primula Baggins
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Primula Baggins »

The joke with Mary Sues (or their male cousins Gary Stus) is that the perfect character is a wish-fulfillment projection of the writer. Back in the old old days of Star Trek fanfic, lots of Mary Sues ended up making Spock fall in love with them—they were just so extraordinary in every way that not even a Vulcan could resist them.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Maria »

"The Name of the Wind" held position as my favorite book ever for a couple of years.... until I read "The Way of Kings" by Brandon Sanderson. Well, I didn't exactly *read* them. I'm still hooked on audiobook format.

It's really, really good. We named our very awesome dog "Denna" after one of the Name of the Wind characters. :love: We are just glad she doesn't disappear regularly.....
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Inanna
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Inanna »

Thanks Frelga. I see now about Kvothe being Mary Sue/Gary Stu. I can see the two sides of the argument...


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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Impenitent »

Name of the Wind is on my Kindle now, and is about fifth on my to-read list; there are a few books in front of it. :D
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Primula Baggins »

I've got it, too, but have some homework reads to get through first.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by WampusCat »

And now I have the audiobook of Name of the Wind. I was just looking for my next read. :)
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Impenitent »

Excellent! We'll all be able to share our opinions of the book afterwards.
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Maria »

Nick Pohdel is now one of my favorite readers. He's got a very good range of voices, and his pacing is perfect. If I see him as the reader for an audiobook I don't even listen to the audio sample first... and we are kind of picky about our readers. Some are so slow we have to speed up their narration and others are so grating we end up abandoning the book because of the reader. Nick Pohdel is just right. Of course, we heard him as Kvothe first, so there's always a moment of disorientation when we first hear him in a new role.
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by Impenitent »

Well, I've read the two Kingkiller Chronicles books and enjoyed them very much.

I can see why some killjoys would describe the lead character as having some Gary Stu characteristics, but really, so far he seems to have gotten hold of the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

Well-written in the form of a life journey which is told retrospectively over the course of three books, only two of which have been published so far.

I await the third of the trilogy (and hope very much that the author doesn't spin it out further).

Now I'm reading James Corey's The Expanse series - and they are terrific! Tight, suspenseful noir, and yes, horror, as Prim warned but it's not overwhelming.

It occasionally makes me think of Firefly - a similar melding of old/new technology, old/new sensibilities, old/new culture.

The books are episodic - I'm reading the third at the moment, so at the end of each, one episode of the adventure is complete while the longer story arc becomes more complex and each character changes with it.

Am very much enjoying it.
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Re: Have you read...can you recommend...

Post by axordil »

Rothfuss is less interested in pacing than in character development, which translates to a somewhat episodic approach to storytelling: he sort of rotates between the major plot lines, as I recall, advancing each a bit as he figures out different ways to put the screws to his protagonist, while using the framing device to hint at things yet to come. It works more often than it doesn't, but I do admit to a bit of impatience.

As others have said, Kvothe gets screwed over, or screws himself over, far too much to be a Gary Stu. It's not merely enough to have a character who's gifted: the character has to be so gifted *and successful* as to suck any sort of tension or suspense (or need for other characters) out of the story.

If memory serves, Rothfuss is a professor; I wonder if there are personal elements from that sphere, perhaps satirical, in the "academic" setting.
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