Technically I’m supposed to identify my top 10 books… problem is I couldn’t narrow it down to my top 100. What I can do is write down the first ten that spring to mind, and explain why. Of course, if I did this again in a month, we’d probably have a completely different list. There’s the rub…
- A Rustle in the Grass – Robin Hawdon
- Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
- Lord of the Rings – like you don’t know who wrote this
- The Wars of Light and Shadow series – Janny Wurts
- Dresden Files – Jim Butcher
- Wizards First Rule – Terry Goodkind
- Malazan Books of the Fallen – Steven Erikson
- American Gods – Neil Gaiman
- Mindstar Rising – Peter F. Hamilton
- The Broken Empire series – Mark Lawrence
#1 As a child this book both traumatised me and opened my eyes to a new way of seeing the world. I would recommend it to anyone of any age. It is both epically awesome and terribly intimate.
#2 Snow Crash, cyberpunk in its earlier forms. So much of this book deals with far deeper concepts than simple technology development. Amazing how a book published in ’92 can be simultaneously dated, prescient, and timeless.
#3 Lord of the Rings. I first read this when I found it in my primary school library when I was 10 or 12. The starting point of modern fantasy, with all its inherent problems of sexism, racism, and yet makes the real world all the duller when you are forced to return to it. I re-read this every few years, but I confess I no longer read the hobbit chapters. I’m in this for the world, not the characters.
#4 Fantasy got complicated here, there was no good/bad line, and antagonist had motivation and justifications. The writing was dense, the politics Machiavellian, and the magic was awesome. Even the SF elements that crept in couldn’t derail this story for me. It also hammered home the fact that perception is often far more important than reality.
#5 Dresden Files. My guilty pleasure, these are the penny dreadful’s of modern fantasy offerings. Easy to read, a great way to pass the time and a bit of humour thrown in. These are books you walk away from thinking ‘what a rush’ without needing to sit down on the couch for the rest of the day to process some deeper meaning. The Dresden Files do what so many other books, even the good ones, don’t. They entertain.
#6 I enjoyed this on my first read, it was light, fluffy and didn’t fill you up between meals. There were moments when I wanted to reach into the novel and slap some sense into the characters, and that’s really what stuck with me all these years. When a book makes you mutter ‘you dumb mother %#@%er’ every few pages it leaves a mark… possibly a bruise. Then I read it again and realised this book wasn’t just frustrating, it was bad, very, very bad. A plot with no originality and no surprises, a cast of characters so 2 dimensional they’d cut you if you shook hands with them. Bad dialogue, worse pacing, and the ultimate magic was the power of being stupid. I still re-read Goodkind books occasionally, simply to harvest the elemental rage they generate.
PS I’m a huge fan of the TV show, Tabrett Bethell absolutely rocks.
#7 Now this is a world and mythology to lose yourself in. To be honest I a little astonished it got published given the style, but man I’m glad it did.
#8 I admit to my heresy, I’m not overly a Neil Gaiman fan. This book, however… downright awesome.
#9 Another heresy, I like his earlier work more than his later works.
#10 Lots of writers have done the anti-hero and done it well, Moorcock gave us Elric of Melniboné, even Pratchett gave us Havelock Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. Lawrence gives us a character that is no way likeable, but is very understandable. You want him to win even more than you want him to get a comeuppance. Consider the anti-hero nailed.