28 August, 2009

Bona Fide's Two Cents: Seven Essential Second-step Fantasies

On 12th of August 2009, The New Yorker posted an online-article about fantasy book recommendations for readers of books like "Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, Twilight, Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, The Dark Is Rising." Of course this list aroused interest and it didn't take long until you could read about it on several blogs. I don't want to bother you with a long list of links. I recommend to read the article by Aidan over at A Dribble of Ink. I mostly agree with him except The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers because it did not work for me.

From the original list I read five books. I didn't read The Scions of Shannara by Terry Brooks and nothing by Guy Gavriel Kay.

That lead me to questions: Am I a fantasy book lover? Am I experienced enough to comment this list? Is it hubris when I try to recommend other books?

As I told you before I'm a fan of Aidan's list but there are still books which I recommend which are not mentioned there. That means I didn't create my own list. I just present you some proposals. Anyhow there are still too many books I have not read so far.....

I start my recommendations with The Last Rune series by Mark Anthony. I don't want to repeat my last post. So please read Bona Fide: Living in a Fantasy World? for more information. I think this series is proper next step for readers of Harry Potter and Narnia. It delivers two worlds and adult heroes.

I'm not a fan of Twilight. But within this year I read a book which shows completely different vampires. I'm talking about Fevre Dream [US] [UK] by George R. R. Martin which has been published first in 1982. I know that Twilight and Fevre Dream are like two sides of coin. That means it is a challenge for Twilight readers.

I liked to read the following two books after Harry Potter - yes I have read all Potter books.

The first one is Un Lun Dun (2007) by China Miéville [US] [UK]. A book with exuberant imagination. You will meet an extraordinary house pet: Curdle, an empty milk carton. Discover the secret life of broken umbrellas and, and, and, ......

The second one is a bit older but still worth reading.
Discover a bizarre realm beneath London and follow Richard Mayhew into a world full of monsters, saints, murderers and angels in Neverwhere (1996), by Neil Gaiman [US] [UK].

Now I want to direct your attention to a historical fantasy book. As I don't know Guy Gavriel Kay I would like to recommend: Midnight Never Come (2008) by Marie Brennan [US] [UK]. This is the first book of The Onyx Court series. The books (so far Marie Brennan has signed a contract for four books) in this historical fantasy series are set in my favorite town, London, and cover different periods of English history. The title of the book is derived from The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlow [Free online read].

"Now hast thou but one hower to live
And then thou must be damned perpetually:
Stand stil you ever moving spheres of heaven
That time may cease, and midnight never come!"

For more information please read my review.

My last recommendation is a real intense book and I know a lot of people will tell me that it is no fantasy from a technical point of view. And it is a big book (more than 900 pages). But when you like an awesome story with a historical background then there is no way out to read Terror (2007) [US] [UK] by Dan Simmons.
He tells the story of the last expedition of John Franklin, who tried to find the Northwest Passage in 1845 with the ships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus. Based on the know facts, Dan Simmons presents an expressive and quite impressive metaphor of the expedition. I felt the cold on nearly every page. Let's not forget the intense description of the feelings of the expedition members. Beside all the obvious fun, the reader gets to learn a lot about the customs and traditions of the Eskimos.
The appendix contains the list of crewmembers, a glossary and explanations of Eskimo terms. I recommend this book warmly to everyone who is interested in Arctic Zones, Explorers, and the depths of the human soul.


Donna (Fantasy Dreamer) said...

I don't believe you had to of read all the books on the list in that article to be able to recommend reads to others. You recommend what you know and what you like!

I need to read Neverwhere!

Harry Markov: daydream said...

The thing with summing up a good fantasy book list is that you must have read each and every single book ever printed in the genre to know which ones are more suitable as introductions to the genre.

To be completely honest I have read only 0.5% of all recommendations, mainly, because I am only twenty and started reading the fairly new titles as a reviewer. It's not that I am handicapped or anything and it certainly doesn't mean I am not a fantasy book lover [I hope to remedy my holes in my classics reading].

Thanks for your recommendations.

ediFanoB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ediFanoB said...

Donna and Harry,

maybe you know this feeling when people are talking about books - many books - and you even don't know the titles and/or the authors.

I agree that it can't be wrong to recommend books which you like and know yourself.
One should take those lists not to serious. Use them as a source for new books.
For books I don't know I do something different. I write about books which I would like to read and explain why I put them on my to read list. An example for this my latest post.
I hope you enjoy Neverwhere as much as I did.

As you know I'm slightly :-) older than you. I read fantasy at your age. I liked them but wasn't a real fantasy book lover. I was a book lover in a more general term. I lot of things changed for me when I started to read books in English.

Dave said...

I have no love for "His Dark Materials" series by Pullman. It started out great, but by the end I almost didn't finish reading. Too corny.

The Shannara books are great, but have become too formulaic in my opinion. I have a few Brooks books on my shelf that are waiting awhile for their turn as a result.

Try "The Armageddon Rag" by George R. R. Martin, you won't regret it if you love mysterious tales + rock&roll!