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Recommend fantasy books for my wife

RendRend Registered User regular
So for Reasons, my wife is on bed rest for 1-2 months.

In this case, Reasons boils down largely to high blood pressure, and so she's not allowed to move around much and shouldn't be playing a lot of the vidya games. She is, however, a voracious reader and so in order to help get her through this (ideally) incredibly boring next couple of months I have made her a promise that I told myself I'd never make.

She is allowed to request I buy her an unlimited number of books from Barnes & Noble, regardless of bookshelf space.

I know you are already typing to me "but Rend, that is suicide" and yes, I know. But as a devoted husband, if I should need to drown myself in pages for her to be well, then so it shall be done.

So, what I need from you all is recommendations for books!
They should not be particularly heavy books. Nothing so stressful as to raise her blood pressure. Obviously books are books and they typically have conflict, but there's a difference between, say, A Game of Thrones and Dragonlance, for example.

They should be high fantasy or at least fantasy ish. No urban fantasy.
Ideally they should not be super fomulaic, she said specifically that she's looking for books that are not "junk food." In her words: "give my brain something new to chew." This particular stipulation has some wiggle room, but let's try to at least shop on the nice side of the mcdonald's menu for this one.

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    DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Does she Kindle? If she doesn't it might be a real good time to start for you. Lots of libraries loan Kindle books to boot. I never thought I'd switch until I received one as a gift and it really is much better than dead tree books. Kindle books also tend to be a bit cheaper to buy...

    On to recommendations:
    The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham. Vaguely eastern-ish fantasy about a society that can bind concepts into physical forms and bases their economy upon it. Very political, very relationship driven.

    Also possibly Abraham's Spider War series which starts with The Dagger and the Coin. About a young woman who finds herself running a bank in the midst of a continent spanning war. Then things get weird.

    Both of these have strong fantasy elements but the relationships and stories are at the heart. They also have big chunks of ideas buried in them. Dagger and the Coin about economics and the Long Price about how societies cope with generational change.

    They both read fairly well to boot.

    Nod. Get treat. PSN: Quippish
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    dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Agree with a good Kindle.

    Terry Pratchett and David Eddings were both pretty light-but-interesting writers.

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    mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    gentlemen bastards series
    color of magic series.
    honestly anything by VE Scwabb
    both awesome

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    RendRend Registered User regular
    She tried kindle but likes the feel of books, and moreover likes to have thousands of books on shelves, just like her house back in her home town.

    That being said I was considering getting her Pawn of Prophecy, as it was one of the first fantasy books I ever read so why not.
    She's already read a huge amount of pratchett though so I don't think I can go with that one.

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    IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator Mod Emeritus
    Going to back up the kindle as they have gotten much cheaper, and she'll have access to everything without needing to move around.

    I'm going to immediately undermine that recommendation and ask if Comics/Graphic Novels are on the table? They tend to be quicker to consume and aren't going to save you any space, but the change in pace in story telling might add some nice variety.

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    RendRend Registered User regular
    On the table yes, graphic novels and comics should be considered. They may not ultimately be successful but I am willing to experiment!

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    Casual EddyCasual Eddy The Astral PlaneRegistered User regular
    The Baru Cormorant books are really, really good. They are pretty light on fantasy elements until near the end of the second book, and are definitely pretty heavy in some parts, but the masterful world building and characterizations should make up for that. They're also quite cerebral books in many ways - they concern a young woman, a savant, whose homeland is taken over by a colonizing empire. she joins the ranks of the empire in hopes of destroying it from within.

    I also just read the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy, The Fifth Season, and that was astoundingly good. Also pretty heavy, but not quite a slogging depression fest. Really well written overall

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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    The Summoner series by Gail Z Martin is pretty ok

    I'm reading it currently and it definitely has a DragonLancesque feel to it with several caveats

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    SmurphSmurph Registered User regular
    The Riyria Chronicles by Michael J Sullivan are fun, if somewhat standard, fantasy books. I've only ready two, but found them really enjoyable and lighthearted compared to a lot of the stuff that comes out today. It kind feels like a good weekly fantasy TV show where you know the heroes aren't going to get maimed or murdered, but there's still "how do they get out of it this time" drama.

    The Robin Hobb books. Robin Hobb has written 5 different trilogies set in the same universe, but they're all pretty wildly different. There are a lot of dark and traumatic moments in these, but there's also a lot of low stakes slice-of-life stuff in between which I enjoyed. These ended up being some of my all time favorite books.

    The Dagger and the Coin as mentioned above is a good, inoffensive easy read. It unique in that it's kinda about fighting evil with economics.

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    IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator Mod Emeritus
    edited July 2019
    Very few of the comics I go for are fantasy, I realized in trying to think of recommendations. Here are the only 4 that meet your criteria on my shelf:


    Finished stories:

    Rice Boy: https://www.amazon.com/Rice-Boy-Evan-Dahm/dp/1945820101

    Older web comic that is a nice long adventure. Its art makes it a bit surreal and interesting. Its still all up online if you want to read a bit into it before hand.

    Bone: https://www.amazon.com/Bone-Complete-Cartoon-Epic-One/dp/188896314X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2QRWYTNAECIEO&keywords=bone+comic&qid=1563295630&s=books&sprefix=bone+com,stripbooks,162&sr=1-1

    A bit old and dated now, but fun to read through. I read bone mostly for the context of it being one of the first big graphic novels. Its weird mix of news paper comic strip character designs and high fantasy are sorta unique now, not many people approach comics this way now. The inking is amazing, the story is only alright, in my opinion. Still crushed the whole thing over three days.



    Ongoing:

    Vattu
    1: https://topatoco.com/collections/evan-dahm/products/ed-vattu-tnatm
    2: https://topatoco.com/collections/evan-dahm/products/ed-vattu-tsats

    It might be clear that I really like this dudes stuff. Same universe as Rice Boy, but a much more interesting and complex story than just one hero journey. Setting is interesting. Also all online if that's your preference.

    Head Lopper:
    1: https://www.amazon.com/Head-Lopper-Island-Plague-Beasts/dp/1632158868
    2: https://www.amazon.com/Head-Lopper-Crimson-Tower/dp/1534305084

    Violent, but cartoony. More of a fantasy romp than a deep or detailed story, as the name sort of implies.


    Not being urban fantasy will knock out a decent amount of popular fantasy comics, such as The Wicked and The Divine, but if she likes comics in general it might be worth testing the waters in her down time.

    I can suggest a wider net of comics if other genres become an option, too.

    Iruka on
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    OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    Can you list some of the books she's already read, and some of what you are and aren't looking for? Like, you mentioned avoiding junk fantasy, but also suggested that Dragonlance was more on target than Game of Thrones. She's read a lot of Pratchett, but a lot of Discworld is the epitome of urban fantasy.

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    mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    i would also just recomend making a list and going to the library

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    RendRend Registered User regular
    She's also read a lot of urban fantasy, and likes a lot of different sorts of books; the stipulations I've provided are for this particular time period, where she wants something that's going to be sufficiently distracting without being overly stressful.

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    RendRend Registered User regular
    mts wrote: »
    i would also just recomend making a list and going to the library

    This is of course a very good idea and one I would be fully on board for (and she has been known to spend quite a bit of time at the library) but I am hoping that the nature of giving these books as gifts will help to keep her mood up.

    There's an element of theater to this maneuver, since I normally have to limit how many books she's allowed to go buy or else our house will overflow with the things instantaneously. So for me to suddenly open the floodgates, I kind of want it to feel a bit like she's a kid in a candy store, if that makes any sense. It's all in service to making sure she's comfortable, happy, and relaxed for the next 3-6 weeks.

    Obviously I will continue to adjust as necessary but that's a big part of why I'm doing this.

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    OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    Raymond Feist's first four Riftwar books (Magician Apprentice, Magician Master, Silverthorn, A Darkness at Sethanon) are reasonably fluffy high fantasy. They get kind of drearier as they go on, so I'd stick with those four.

    Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising cycle are young adult fantasy, but I don't think they're junk.

    I liked Gregory Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series. Somewhat dark, but I don't think it's Games of Thrones heavy.

    Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is a fun Indian-themed sci-fi fantasy.

    Steven Brust's The Phoenix Guards is a sword and sorcery Three Musketeers, and pretty lighthearted. The sequel less so. There's a bunch of urban fantasy set in the same universe, which later gets into high fantasy, but there's a bit near the beginning which isn't much fun to read.

    Ursula Le Guin's original Earthsea trilogy is a good read.

    I think Terry Brooks' Shannara books are kind of junk, but a lot of people like them.

    The Wheel of Time? I can say I liked it better than Eddings, at least. But there are a lot of verbal tics to put up with, and the pacing issues are legendary.

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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    Orogogus wrote: »
    Raymond Feist's first four Riftwar books (Magician Apprentice, Magician Master, Silverthorn, A Darkness at Sethanon) are reasonably fluffy high fantasy. They get kind of drearier as they go on, so I'd stick with those four.

    Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising cycle are young adult fantasy, but I don't think they're junk.

    I liked Gregory Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series. Somewhat dark, but I don't think it's Games of Thrones heavy.

    Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is a fun Indian-themed sci-fi fantasy.

    Steven Brust's The Phoenix Guards is a sword and sorcery Three Musketeers, and pretty lighthearted. The sequel less so. There's a bunch of urban fantasy set in the same universe, which later gets into high fantasy, but there's a bit near the beginning which isn't much fun to read.

    Ursula Le Guin's original Earthsea trilogy is a good read.

    I think Terry Brooks' Shannara books are kind of junk, but a lot of people like them.

    The Wheel of Time? I can say I liked it better than Eddings, at least. But there are a lot of verbal tics to put up with, and the pacing issues are legendary.

    woah, hey, he's got to get the blood pressure down to normal, not comatose!

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    BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    I just finished the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy. https://www.marthawells.com/ilerien.htm

    I liked it, its not super heavy, has some decent twists. Stakes are high, but its never GoT level of apoplexy.

    IIRC, the Dragonlance writers had a series that was a little less high fantasy, but still very fantasy based. The Deathgate Cycle. Its 7 books, and honestly, I haven't read them in ~15 years, but I recall enjoying them.

    Mistborn series is good, its definitely high stakes, but never feels quite as soul crushing as GoT. Any set of novellas by Sanderson would probably be great.

    Patrick Rothfuss's unfinished trilogy is great, if unfinished.

    I've read at least one of Robin Hobb's series, and it was perfectly acceptable fantasy. Not a whole lot of wizards iirc.

    "I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood."

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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited July 2019
    Brody wrote: »
    I just finished the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy. https://www.marthawells.com/ilerien.htm

    I liked it, its not super heavy, has some decent twists. Stakes are high, but its never GoT level of apoplexy.

    IIRC, the Dragonlance writers had a series that was a little less high fantasy, but still very fantasy based. The Deathgate Cycle. Its 7 books, and honestly, I haven't read them in ~15 years, but I recall enjoying them.

    Mistborn series is good, its definitely high stakes, but never feels quite as soul crushing as GoT. Any set of novellas by Sanderson would probably be great.

    Patrick Rothfuss's unfinished trilogy is great, if unfinished.

    I've read at least one of Robin Hobb's series, and it was perfectly acceptable fantasy. Not a whole lot of wizards iirc.

    they also did a great trilogy (rose of the prophet I think?)

    edit: holy crap I was right!

    Xaquin on
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    ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    The Mistborn Trilogy and Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

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    LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    I’m currently reading the light bringer series by Brent Weeks and would recommend (note: I’m just finishing up the second book now).

    His books are kind of fun in that his heroes are regularly very flawed or just straight up not good people.

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    DirtmuncherDirtmuncher Registered User regular
    Obvious but maybe not so obvious:
    Lord of the rings
    Dune

    Other:
    The kingkiller chronicles
    Hex

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    EchoEcho ski-bap ba-dapModerator mod
    edited July 2019
    Rend wrote: »
    She's also read a lot of urban fantasy, and likes a lot of different sorts of books; the stipulations I've provided are for this particular time period, where she wants something that's going to be sufficiently distracting without being overly stressful.

    Urban Fantasy, eh? Max Gladstone, Three Parts Dead.
    A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

    Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

    Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

    Sounds a bit silly, but I really liked the world-building in it and the sequels.

    edit: it's actual fantasy urban fantasy though, not "our world but magic" urban fantasy.

    Echo on
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    BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    City of Stairs was definitely an interesting read.

    "I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood."

    The Monster Baru Cormorant - Seth Dickinson

    Steam: Korvalain
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    ShadowhopeShadowhope Baa. Registered User regular
    edited July 2019
    I definitely agree very strongly with The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham. IMO, it’s a top ten all time series.

    Guy Gavriel Kay’s got a fairly substantial body of work; I’d recommend Under Heaven and The Sarantine Mosaic. Under Heaven is set in a tweaked version of Tang China, The Sarantine Mosaic is in a tweaked version of Byzantine history under Justinian and Theodora. The Lions of Al-Rassan, in a version of Spain at the start of the Reconquista, is also great. His books tend to be fairly bittersweet tragedies.

    Starless and Kushiel's Dart by Jaqueline Carey. Starless is a stand-alone book with a genderfluid main character, and is a fun coming-of-age epic quest book. Kushiel’s Dart is the first book in what is currently a nine book series covering generations, but the quality of the series varies like a sine wave in my opinion. It starts well, drops down for a while, recovers, and then drops again. Kushiel’s Dart is an epic fantasy about a heroic prostitute and her bodyguard, which may or may not be at all what’s being looked for - there’s a lot of sex in the book, not all of which can be considered consensual.

    Red Sister, Grey Sister and Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence was interesting. It straddles the line of science fiction and fantasy in some aspects. I’m not normally a fan of Lawrence, but I enjoyed those three books.


    Shadowhope on
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    SilverWindSilverWind Registered User regular
    Seconding Guy Gavriel Kay, particularly Tigana, set in fantasy renaissance Italy

    Sooooo good

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    CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    The Temeraire books by Naomi Novik?

    The Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons. Reads like a Patrick O'Brien novel... but with dragons. Swashbuckling and adventure on the high seas skies. The plots can have high stakes, but the tone is generally light. The dragons are fully realized characters, and the stories revolve heavily around the evolving relationships between the human and dragon characters.

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    JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    Eddings is still actually pretty good- it's a bit wordy in points, but at the same time, it's entertaining- plus there are several points in the second set of books where the team realizes exactly what's going on...

    I'd... hesitate to recommend Joel Rosenberg's "Guardians of the Flame" series. I like most of the books, I like the premise- college gaming group sent to the game world finds out it's a whole hell of a lot harder and harsher to survive there- but the one thing I hate about it is a couple of situations that are outright used for shock value to press how harsh the world is (trigger warning, seriously):
    The group's thief is killed outright (overactive thief tendencies), and after the team is caught by slavers, the two women of the party end up gang-raped by said slaver and his cronies within hearing distance of the rest of the group. One of them ends up catatonic (she ends up functioning years later) and the other one is apparently able to move past it and start a family with one of the other party members.

    Oh, and slaver-guy ends up toasted by a dragon, so there's at least that. Fucking late-70s fantasy, man...

    I usually just read the first few chapters of the first book, and then scoot to the start of the second, because the series as a whole has some pretty damn memorable characters- especially Walter, the group's smartass thief who seems to have a personal law for every situation- two of my favorites: On saying goodbye to a friend: "When saying goodbye to a friend, assume that one of you is going to die before you ever get to see one another again. If you want to leave something unsaid, fine... but be prepared to leave it unsaid forever." And on what to do with life?: "Involve yourself with the world. Reach out. Touch. Taste. Live. Trust me on this one, if nothing else."

    If she's fine with Dragonlance and other fantasy, you might have luck tapping into the immense library that is TSR fiction. Some of the books might be hard to find, but if she hasn't tried Dragonlance yet, grab her the Chronicles Trilogy- Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter's Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning. If those click, find more- but try to find sets or standalone books. If not, there are a number of different settings they have, or if she's looking for a new franchise, you could buy some of the Pathfinder novels right from Paizo's site and put them on an e-reader, or even the Pathfinder comic in the same way.

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    chromdomchromdom Who? Where?Registered User regular
    I just started Gentleman Bastards (only about 40 pages in to Lies of Locke Lemora), and it is refreshingly skillful, flavorful in ways that the last decade of George RR Martin had kind of killed off in me. I can't say that it's good, just that it's been recommended, and I am enjoying it so far.

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    dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited July 2019
    CJ Cherryh "The Morgaine Cycle" was a pretty good trilogy. It's got a drip of sci-fi but is more about the female protagonist travelling through gates to ruined worlds while tracking down some "other" who has done wrong. It's adult enough, and the books are from the viewpoint of her companion.

    Cherryh in general has some interesting works, but some definitely give a more science fiction vibe than fantasy. The Morgaine Cycle was sort of originally a trilogy but there are other books in the universe and she even released a fourth book at some point, so it's not technically a trilogy anymore?

    I had an 18 hour train ride and made it through all of them. Passed the time quite well.

    dispatch.o on
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    mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    edited July 2019
    chromdom wrote: »
    I just started Gentleman Bastards (only about 40 pages in to Lies of Locke Lemora), and it is refreshingly skillful, flavorful in ways that the last decade of George RR Martin had kind of killed off in me. I can't say that it's good, just that it's been recommended, and I am enjoying it so far.

    It gets better as you get into it more

    Third (fourth?) mistborn. Nice take on powers/magic I have read most of Sanderson 's stuff. Besides the mistborn stuff I enjoyed the firefight stuff. Also words of radiance. Did not care for elantris or his airforce type one

    mts on
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    Blameless ClericBlameless Cleric An angel made of sapphires each more flawlessly cut than the last Registered User regular
    edited July 2019
    omg how has no one said this yet

    The EARTHSEA series by Ursula K LeGuin

    a gorgeous huge collected illustrated edition just came out so it'd be beautiful on your shelf as well (and the latest editions of the individual books if you don't want something physically large all have great forewards)

    also - Dianna Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle

    Stardust by Neil Gaiman is a romp

    Blameless Cleric on
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    one flower ring to rule them all and in the sunlightness bind them

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    OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    omg how has no one said this yet

    I feel like I only ever see this when someone's already said the thing.

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    FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon is good:
    Sheepfarmer's daughter/Divided Allegiance/Oath of Gold

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    Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    So I know the request was specifically for fantasy, but given your wife's situation I thought I'd recommend something light and fun (and laugh-out-loud hilarious) that might be a good chance of pace: John Scalzi's The Android's Dream

    If she's at all open to science fiction then I'd highly recommend the book as a pick-me-up. Scalzi in general has a lot of good stuff but some of it can be more "serious" than others, and The Android's Dream is one of those books I like to recommend because it keeps you interested while making you laugh the entire time.

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    EchoEcho ski-bap ba-dapModerator mod
    Shadowhope wrote: »
    Red Sister, Grey Sister and Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence was interesting. It straddles the line of science fiction and fantasy in some aspects. I’m not normally a fan of Lawrence, but I enjoyed those three books.

    Was just going to mention these. Good stuff.

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    GrisloGrislo Registered User regular
    If she hasn't read it, get her Bridge of Birds.

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    Satanic JesusSatanic Jesus Hi, I'm Liam! with broken glassesRegistered User regular
    Has she read any Tamora Pierce books?

    my backloggery 3DS: 0533-5338-5186 steam: porcelain_cow goodreads
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    HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    Eddings (Belgariod/Mallorean) and Brooks (Shannara) I think are both protoforms of the modern young adult genre fantasy. Coming of age stories, easy to read, not a lot of depth.

    I would use this opportunity to get your wife into the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I would start with Guards! Guards! which is the 8th in the Discworld universe, but kicks off the City Watch storyline. If she likes that, you can continue in that story line or start chronologically. Pratchett's works are very easy to read, but contain a lot of overt and subtle humor. He has a unique way of looking at the world that has strongly influenced my own world view.

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    mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    actually hopefully she already read this but THHGTTG ro Dirk Gently

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    djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    Oh, yes, Bridge of Birds is _so_ _good_. (I honestly think the porcupine sequence might be my favorite bit of writing of all time)

    The Brandon Sanderson books people have recommended are pretty great but you do need to pay attention to avoid getting lost (maybe that's just me?). On the other hand, tor.com has a whole bunch of read-along blogs where people treat reading a book the same way that people do episode summaries of TV series, and the extra annotation/commentary can be very helpful to keep up.


    Others that haven't shown up yet, I think (these are winding back in time a while to when I still had time to read whole series of books, so they're not particularly new, but they're ones I remember finishing and enjoying, at least)

    Fly By Night / Twilight Robbery by Frances Hardinge (and I'm going to guess her other ones are good, but Fly By Night just blew me away. Seriously, everyone else in this thread, go read it)

    Lois McMaster Bujold's Sharing Knife series is okay, though the (very definitely SF) Vorkosigan series is imo better.

    The Dragonbone Chair series by Tad Williams -- nothing super surprising in here but well crafted.

    The Drenai series by David Gemmel (start with the first one, if she likes that, there's a lot more in that world but the first one is my favorite)

    The Books Of Swords by Fred Saberhagen (each book is about a particular sword, each sword has a particular power, hijinks ensue)

    The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance (pop quiz: see if you can spot how much of D&D mechanics is taken pretty much verbatim from these books. Also, I really like his writing style. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magazine/19Vance-t.html covers it very nicely)

    Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series (classics; there's some bits which feel not quite okay nowadays, but they're super influential for a reason)

    The Lords of Dus series by Lawrence Watt-Evans. (much overlooked, but I remember the plots being a lot of fun in ways I hadn't expected)

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