Recommended reads

I’m very hesitant about making reading suggestions to other people. We’ve all been on the receiving end of well-meant advice: ‘You’d love this one, it’s wonderful!’ they say chirpily, or ‘You must read this, I enjoyed it so much!’. Er, no thanks. Or a book may be drowning in five star reviews, and you just can’t understand why. Reading tastes are very personal. So this page is no more than a short list of my favourite fantasy works. You may like them too. Or not.

The Healers’ Road by S E Robertson: For anyone who wondered what literary fantasy would look like, this is it. Virtually no action, just wonderful characters and their interactions, in a world with great depth. My review. The next book in the series is now out – The Healers’ Home.

Twiceborn by Marina Finlayson: Werewolves and shifters and dragons – in Sydney, Australia. It sounds very ho-hum, but the difference is that the heroine is the mother of a young boy, recently deceased. A ton of action, and some glorious dry Aussie humour. My review. The trilogy is complete but beware of spoilers: my reviews of Twiceborn Queen and Twiceborn Endgame.

White Blood by Angela Holder: The first fantasy novel I’ve ever read to acknowledge the importance of that unsung heroine of the aristocratic world, the wet-nurse. An interesting magic system, too. My review. The author also has a more conventional four-part fantasy. My review of The Fuller’s Apprentice.

The Light of Kerrindryr by H Anthe Davis: A truly exceptional debut fantasy, with complex characters, awesome world-building and a pacy plot that twists and turns in a million unpredictable ways. Vividly written, with lots of humour and some genuinely spine-chilling moments of horror. My review. This will eventually be a five part series. My reviews of The Splintered Eye and The Living Throne.

The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham: Highly trained poets have the ability to create andat, the literal embodiment of an idea. Quite the finest fantasy series I’ve read to date. A four book series, now republished in two-book omnibus form. The series has an original setting, a brilliantly simple magic system, great characters and a plot that derives entirely from these elements. It is one of those rare books where the prologue is not simply relevant, but the crux of later events. My reviews of:   Shadow and Betrayal   Seasons of War

Stormlord Trilogy by Glenda Larke: In a land desperately short of water, the stormlords have the power to move water from the oceans to create rain. But only one remains. Another work with an original setting, a brilliantly simple magic system, and a tight, character-driven plot, with an elegantly understated writing style. A terrific, readable series, exactly what fantasy should be. My reviews of:     The Last Stormlord   Stormlord Rising   Stormlord’s Exile

The Medair Duology by Andrea K Höst: In the midst of war, a woman sets out to find a magic gizmo to achieve victory, but when she returns, five hundred years have passed and the enemy is now the establishment. Not a high-action story, but deeply introspective and absorbing, with a mass of unpredictable twists. Quirky, original, intelligent and thought-provoking, a truly character-driven story. My reviews of:    The Silence of Medair    Voice of the Lost

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells: Moon is a Raksura, a shapeshifter alternating between humanoid and winged reptilian forms, and has been in hiding since his family were killed. When he meets others of his own kind, both sides find it hard to adjust. A fine story built entirely around non-human characters. First part of a completed trilogy. My review.

The Demon of Cliffside by Nathan Fierro: A stunningly original world, and a compelling alchemypunk story featuring a non-human protagonist. My review.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani: A retelling of the fairytale of the goosegirl, this is an unusually thought-provoking YA book with an unexpectedly mature ending. My review.

Champion of the Rose by Andrea K Höst: Featuring a magically evil rose bush with an agenda of its own, this is a highly original character-driven story. My review.

Cloak of Magic by Sue Rule: A clash of cultures between an egalitarian society of communal farmers and a militaristic hierarchical empire, with a brilliantly charismatic main character. First part of a completed trilogy. My review.

The Wandering Tale by Tristan Gregory: A linked series of four short stories, each one perfectly formed  but even better when read as a series. My review.

Havenstar by Glenda Larke: A stunningly original world with islands of stability separated by ever-changing areas of chaos, where the skills of mapmakers are essential to make travel possible. Wonderful characters in a story that twists and turns as unpredictably as the setting. My review.

Some of these are self-published, but for those still wondering about the quality of such books, author Michael J Sullivan has compiled a list of 20 best-sellers for The Ranting Dragon blog here.

And here’s my list of self-published gems of 2013, and my list of the best self-published gems for 2014 and my list of self-published gems for 2015.


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