Lose yourself in the fantasy genre

While the rest of us must report to work immediately after New Year’s Day, some of you have a week or two before your employers come calling.

That is time in which you can catch up on much-needed reading. I wanted to highlight some major fantasy fiction releases coming in January, but then thought about it and concluded that some of you need to polish your reading resumes by starting or finishing those fantasy classics every reader must experiment with as they discover their tastes and preferences.

I have heard interesting things about City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer. The novel, which comes out on January 10, follows Ness, a 19-year-old girl living in a city populated by nightmares.

And then there is Queen Among the Dead (January 17) from Lesley Livingston, which follows a pair of magical misfits struggling to survive in a land that just outlawed magic. If that is not enough to whet your appetite, some people expect one of Brandon Sanderson’s secret projects to arrive in January.

But those titles can wait. You are better off jumping back to the mid-2000s and dipping your toes into The First Law Trilogy. First Law is basically Game of Thrones without the unnecessary padding.

You will appreciate Joe Abercrombie’s gritty setting, shocking twists, conflicted characters, and fast-paced action. Forget the sequel trilogy and standalone novels for now. Start with the original trilogy, and see if you like it.

Many people consume First Law within three or four weeks. But if you have months to burn, take the plunge and crack that first Malazan novel open. The Malazan Book of the Fallen is an epic 10-book series from Steven Erikson that even seasoned readers have struggled to read.

And yet, those who have conquered this giant praise Malazan for impeccable writing and complexity. Erikson’s world-building dwarfs Tolkien’s work considerably. The novels feature every type of protagonist, from gods and demons to dragons, sorcerors, knights and assassins. However, don’t feel bad if that first novel challenges you; the journey gets easier once your mind adapts to Erikson’s writing.

If you prefer a lighter read, The Lies of Locke Lamora is one of the funnest and easiest books you will ever read. Scott Lynch has yet to finish the series (Gentleman Bastards), so you only have three books to read. I hated Red Seas Under Red Skies, but The Republic of Thieves is a blast.

I don’t know if I would call Throne of Glass a classic. But Sarah J. Mass is one the biggest YA authors in the world, and if you are tempted to experiment with the genre, Throne of Glass is a decent starting point. The novel follows Calaena, a teenage assassin serving a tyrannical ruler.

You can also try Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. The title refers to the six outcasts Kaz Brekker has recruited to perform a daring heist. You possibly expect me to mention The Lord of the Rings, because I love that world, and you would be right. You may not see the point in reading the books because you have watched Peter Jackson’s trilogy a dozen times.

But I don’t care how many times you have seen the adaptation; you need to read the novels if only to bask in the beauty of Tolkien’s poetic language. And if you read Lord of the Rings, give The Hobbit a go. It is a more innocent story devoid of the grit you see in The Lord of the Rings.

And…that should do it. This is enough to keep you occupied until Easter. You are likely to spend the rest of the year reading Malazan, assuming it does not break you.

Source: The Observer

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