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Show HN: Top Fantasy Reads – Fantasy books Reddit is reading (topfantasyreads.com)
107 points by sacert 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

I feel like it would be nice to have a "rising" category - most of these are from heavy hitters/already famous.

However, very cool - any thoughts for other categories (SciFi, etc.)?

Yeah totally! Initially just whipped this together as a MVP. Been trying to read more non-technical books so I thought about making a site that'd help me choose one to pick. Aim is to have a top weekly/monthly section as well as you said, different categories!

https://www.reddit.com/r/printSF/ is a sub for SciFi, and has occasional compilation and recommendation threads, and a wiki with some more links in it.

Speculative Fiction, not science fiction.

Fantasy is more than welcome there.

https://4chanlit.fandom.com/wiki/Science_Fiction This is a pretty good list imo

Perhaps a list for ‘obscure and nearly forgotten fantasy books from the last century’ or ‘why is’t Evangeline Walton on this list dammit’?

I read a sci-fi book where three characters were in a punishment squad in some distant (communist?) future.

They were on a planet with incompatible dns, so they couldn't eat anything local. They ended up using some cloning equipment to make "hams" and grafted on extra limbs for travel rations.

Anyone else read this?

Was a bit disappointed to see Malazan Book of the Fallen #1 - Gardens of the Moon so far down. It'd be interesting if they took the series as a whole. One example is The Lies of Locke Lamora, I think it's a good first book but almost everyone I've spoken to/read comments from agrees is bottoms out in book 2 and 3. Personally think the same of Rothfuss' work. Conversely a lot of people say MBotF improves past the first book (I think its excellent from the start), so it's a tough list to base the entire experience on.

Malazan is goddamn amazing, it has world building like no other fantasy series since LOTR. It's a real sleeper, I believe it will become much more popular in the future, perhaps after a grotesque screen adaptation. To my friends who are hesitant to jump in I often liken it to Berserk meets ASOIAF; unrelenting horror with captivating enigmatic lore meets a rich political drama of war and conquest spanning many continents and cultures. The prose isn't as gracefully written as Rothfus stuff and the editing is periodically disappointing, but I can't think of any modern fantasy series that even comes close in terms of the depth and complexity of the world's fantasy lore. Recommendations welcome!

> The Lies of Locke Lamora, I think it's a good first book but almost everyone I've spoken to/read comments from agrees is bottoms out in book 2 and 3. Personally think the same of Rothfuss' work.

Well to add to your data points, I disagree with both statements that the gentlemen bastards and the kingkiller chronicles get worse.

I think they both depart from their source material in the second books but do so necessarily in order to create a standalone story that isn't formulaic.

Especially with regards to Locke, the author made some incredibly bold kill-offs at the end of book one which left the question of how to follow up with a sequel. I'd say his strategy of consolidating the key characters while expanding our knowledge of them through flashbacks is very compelling. I can't get enough of their origin stories and allows me to experience the "dead characters" again, albeit in small quantities. I'm also a huge fan of how powerful wizards are in those books, it seems closer to how unbalanced a mage would be wandering around our world and the fact we follow non-mages really sets the tone for uphill battles.

American Gods and A Game of Thrones were some of the most abandoned books in 2019 as well: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21957798

I had so much trouble getting through American Gods.

On the other hand, his pacing worked well in the short story "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" he published on his blog:


I saw the film Stardust years ago and liked it (didn't love it), and years later I thought I'd give the book a shot.

Although I did finish the book, I thought it was a slog to get through. It wasn't the fact that it was different than the film, but it had to do with Gaiman's writing style.

I'm definitely not rushing out to read his other novels.

That is also included in his collection of short stories, "Fragile Things." Quite an excellent read overall.

While we are on the topic, if I didn't like the "Mistborn" series, is it worth trying other Sanderson books? I felt like he did a really good job finishing the Wheel of Time, so it's not his writing per-se I didn't like, I just couldn't get invested in any of the characters in the series.

I liked the first trilogy of mistborn but lost interest in the sequels. There were parts of the first trilogy that .. well, were better than others.

I think the Stormlight archive is Sanderson at his fantasy best. Characters driving plot in a cohesive, complex world. Stormlight has huge tombs of books covering a story that feels like it is really moving and subplots that tie back and resolve.

I quite liked Mistborn - only read the trilogy.

I'm worried about reading the Stormlight Archive because it's unfinished and ASOIAF and The Kingkiller Chronicle have burned me in that regard.

Does it actually look like he'll finish Stormlight though?

Of all the authors I'm following right now I think Brandon is the most likely to complete his "work". The guy is a machine for writing, he's never let a year pass without a new book.

Of course death/accidents can happen to anybody, but I can't imagine he's going to suddenly drop his output, given how prolific he has been over recent years.

One of his nice tricks is to "relax" by writing different kinds of books, which seems to be working out really well for him.

I conciously avoid reading incomplete series, with only two exceptions and he's one of them. (The other is Steven Brust, who I've been reading for 20+ years. Slowly getting closer to the finish-mark there, the waits between books aren't as bad as with some authors, but they're still annoying!)

I couldn't get into Mistborn either--solid, just didn't grab me. His Reckoner series is my favorite (Steelheart, Firefight, Calamity), though it's YA and more superhero than fantasy. Also Elantris, his first published novel, and its follow-up The Emperor's Soul.

I love how you linked each book into bookstore.org. Any specific reason?

Saw a post about them a few weeks back and was interested in how they support independent bookstores so I thought, why not?


bookstore.org looks like they just sell their own domain name.

Iron Gold is Sci-fi, not fantasy.

Do that genre next!

This is a fine list. I think the algos are probably reasonable and so forth.

The reason I can say that is because it reads pretty much like a greatest hits of fantasy fiction list.

It would be interesting to normalize it in various ways:

Most read book per unit time that has passed since it was released. (Contrast NK Jemisen’s work from last year with Martins work from the 90s with Tolkien etc)

Most commonly read book that is not on the amazon list. (Most surprising book on the list)

Most widely read book that doesn’t have a tv show or movie.

And perhaps other smart variations that you and other readers might think of.

I would have preferred to see some examples of books that are really high quality, but not so well known.

Two Examples:

Daniel Abraham's (co-author of "The Expanse") The Long Price Books, "Shadow and Betrayal" and "Seasons of War".

Also, the truly fabulous and sadly not widely known books by Geoffrey Wilson in which he imagined a Europe ruled by the Indian Empire and their magic: "Land of Hope and Glory", "The Place of Dead Kings" and "The War of The Grail".

From that list: “Senlin Ascends” is a journey up a steampunk Tower of Babel whose main character starts off as a bit of a prat, but over the course of the book (and series) really matures and becomes a great character. I highly recommend it.

Thanks - I'll check it out.

You’re welcome. I hope you enjoy it.

Can you talk a little bit about how you are finding book names in comments and how you are making your ranking?

This is great tool to see what everyone is reading but I would refrain from choosing books solely on the ranking shown here because its always better to choose your own books, movies, music, battles,etc,. rather than aggregators or recommendation systems dictating what is good. I am not saying that this tool is doing the same but as a user we all need to be aware of the bias that naturally comes with these kind of services [0].

In rather harsh words of Arthur Schopenhauer

“The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.”

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17939766

I find the commercial top-n lists not useful.

top fantasy: #1 urban vampires #2 harry potter

top scifi: #1 star wars book #2 star trek book

recommended for you: author(s) you bought before

> recommended for you: author(s) you bought before

They're not going to do better than that. The author is almost the only thing that matters in determining whether or not you'll like a book.

Now, if it's an author you bought before and then you hated the book, there's room for improvement in the recommendation.

> They're not going to do better than that.

I can give you a few examples where there's room for improvement.

If you liked jules verne, maybe you'll like h.g. wells

If you liked isaac asimov, maybe arthur c clarke.

If you liked william gibson, maybe bruce sterling.

If you liked twilight, arrgh!

Grats for shipping something, but my advice would be to give it more social substance since a list of books isn't all that inspiring. I can just go to Amazon's fantasy section for an equally inactionable list.

For example, one idea is to link/embed comments that mention it.

Very true, main goal was to ship something to see if people are interested before I continue working on it.

I haven't been very impressed with any fantasy novels except for the Game Of Thrones series, and even that series has started petering out.

Only other one which I liked was The Sundering series by Jacqueline Carey, and mainly for the dialogue between two of the characters.

neat site and usual suspects are there, would prefer if you could add more books and some filters

I've been mostly reading fantasy books for past 5+ years and /r/Fantasy [1] has been the major source to find books. I like that there are plenty of discussions to focus on different categories, self published, underrated, webserials, etc.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/wiki/lists

This is great. Any plans to add other genres (sci fi, espionage, mystery...)?

Yes please! This is great. Another request for Sci-Fi from me! :)

I have heard good words about The Expanse. I haven't read the books but have seen the show and I think it's fantastic.

The books are quite good as well, but as is common with these things, the books and the show diverge in ways I won't spoil. Expect it and enjoy the books for what they are.

Is there a way to Link back to the HN comments on each book?

Btw I’ve been reading the robin Hobbs books for probably all of 2019 until now. There’s just so much there. Really enjoyable.

This is pretty cool. Is the comment processing restricted to some period of time? Maybe considering linking to Goodreads as well?

Goodreads is a good concept, but it's a dumpster some Amazon bought it.

Can you share a bit about how you implemented?

Seconding this :)

The page title is “Page Title”?

Oof! I'm sorry, but Neil Gaiman's writing is... unpleasant. Purposefully so. A lot of people seem to like this, but I'm definitely not one of them.

What do you mean by that? I just finished Stardust and The Ocean At The End Of The Lane and his writing was quite lovely - but he was going for the fairy tale vibe with those books.

I have a similar, possibly identical complaint about American Gods. Reading American Gods made it clear that Neil Gaiman is very clever (intelligent, tricky plotting) and, independently, a great writer (good with words).

But his tastes are different from mine. There are sections of American Gods that are much too vulgar/crass/obscene/whatever for my taste.

This is also why I never read the sequel to Lies of Locke Lamora.

You find Scott Lynch crass and obscene? It's been a while since I finished those books but that doesn't ring a bell.

Do you mean metaphorically like a crass analogy or like full of swear words? The former would bother me much more than the latter tbh , especially since we're following orphan street urchins - seems in character almost.

In the case of Lies of Locke Lamora, the book is full of swear words.

That's not true of American Gods. The problem is the same, but the details are different.

Hate to break it to you, but life is full of swear words also.

I adore Gaiman's writing.

On the other hand I like Pratchett even more, but did not like Good Omens.

I've heard that a lot of people found "American Gods" tedious, but I've always been into Norse mythology, so it hit a sweet spot for me.

Could you describe what you find unpleasant about it? I'm not the biggest Gaiman fan but that's not the criticism I associate with him.

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