New Poll: Which Fantasy Writer Should I Read?

My readers have defended the fantasy genre so well from my unreasonable attacks that I decided to give it a try. Now I have to select a fantasy writer I should read. I can’t make this decision on my own, so I am going to conduct a poll. Please look at the poll located in the right-hand panel of the blog (just scroll down) and vote for the writer I should read.

Please don’t vote if you have no idea who any of these writers are. I want a real result. Then, I will read a novel by the author we choose collectively and report my impressions on this blog.

Thank you!

37 thoughts on “New Poll: Which Fantasy Writer Should I Read?

  1. Clarissa,

    Just a heads up. The poll allows voters to vote for more than one author (I voted for four of them). My apologies if you only wanted folks to vote for one author. You have so many good choices! πŸ˜‰


  2. You know my vote – Patrick Rothfuss is such a fantastic writer! I’ve been reading his books twice now (and will read them many more times), and each time I read them, I discover a new level of amazingness. Like in all scenes with a particular type of character, everyone speaks in verse. But you don’t realize its in verse, because the prose is written in paragraph form. So you only find the verse if you start to read it aloud, and then you notice the rhythm and rhyme. And then there’s the languages. And the story. And the backstory. And the depth and complexity of the world and the rules that govern it. OK, I admit, I’m hugely biased here (especially because I’ve only read a few of the authors on that list), but Rothfuss is a fantastic writer and I hope he wins. (And if he doesn’t, I hope that whichever author wins, you decide you like, thus redeeming the “good fantasy” genre for you, and prompting you to try another one of these authors.)


  3. Why did you settle on these for your poll? I would recommend The Etched City by K. J. Bishop and Titus Groan and Gormenghast by I can’t remember who. If you like Austen I would also strongly recommend Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark.


  4. Douglas N. Adams. His Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a five book “trilogy,” is masterfully humorous. It deals with how the Earth, an insignificant blue-green planet in a far off sector of an unpopular corner of the universe, was created and eventually destroyed before its mission as the greatest computer ever, in past and future history, had been completed.

    The Earth was created to resolve a problem created by Deep Thought, the second greatest computer ever. Deep Thought’s mission had been to provide the answer to “life, the universe and everything.” Unfortunately for the mice who had created Deep Thought, it took ten million years for it to provide a somewhat unsatisfactory answer — “42.” The actual question to which that had been the answer was needed. Then, billions of years after the mice had commissioned creation of the Earth as The Greatest Computer Ever, when the question was about to be revealed, the Earth was mistakenly destroyed to make room for a hyperspace bypass.

    Adams’ favorite work, however, was not fiction. Last Chance to See is about his trips with a biologist to see various highly endangered species in Indonesia, New Zealand, China, Zaire and Mauritius. It is simultaneously sad and funny.


    1. Adams may be a little too much to begin with – not only is it sci-fi, but it has significant amounts of British Humour, which is an acquired taste, to say the least. And when Adam’s wrote the original book, he was in a depressed state, and the humour is somewhat of a black British humour, an even more selective taste.


    2. Adams and Terry Pritchett are both wonderful – Pritchett is more accessible, Adams more experimental – but it really hellps to already have a good grasp of sci-fi and fantasy tropes and mechanics to get a lot of the humor and plotting, which is unlikely until you actually read all the genre stuff that’s been done in earnest.

      Although if you read Adams at least you’ll have an idea of why nerds love answering questions by screaming “42!!!!”


      1. I *hated* Terry Prachett. Books with author comments drive me up the wall sideways. I hate it when the author interrupts the story and says random stuff, even if it is funny. Douglass Adams is fun, but after about book 3, they started dragging.


      2. I loved Terry Pratchett, but I think it makes a big difference in the humor if you’ve read other fantasy writers.


  5. Chiang and Vonarberg both have excellent short stories, and Vonarberg is a Quebecois writer. (sorry, no cedille – forgot the keystroke combo)


  6. If you have an audible account, I just noticed that they have Rothfuss’ first book Name of the Wind on sale for $5. I think you will like Rothfuss considering that in many respects it is a character based story that is only incidentally fantasy. It also has a lot of academic humor as the main character spends much of the novel trying to cover tuition expenses at the university. Pratchett has my unofficial vote. He makes fun of fantasy along with organized religion, politics and just about everything else you can think of. If you like Jane Austin style wit then go for Jonathan Strange.


  7. I missed this before, and the post about fantasy. H’mmm, what to recommend a literary fiction loving Tolkeinite out of that list?
    I think Jordan would irritate you (he meanders and promulgates gender-essentialism), and G.R.R.M’s main schtick is that nobody is safe, which is novel at least in a genre filled with predictable tropes, but again, I think you might get bored once you are several books in. I haven’t read much of some of the authors (Orakafore, Vonarberg, Morris, Bishop) so can’t in good conscience comment.
    Salvatore varies wildly between book to book for me. McKinley is one of the faerie tale greats, but to at least some extent whether you grok her depends upon your background knowledge of mythos (rather like Gaiman) and for that reason I suspect you wouldn’t enjoy her. She is also decidedly not high fantasy, so sits a little oddly in this list.
    Chiang and Wolfe I suspect might be a little inaccessible. Boils it down to Sanderson and Rothfuss, and of the two, I think Rothfuss is the better writer, so that is where my vote went.


    1. You mean the ones co-written by Sanderson? That would not surprise me. However, I still think Clarissa would probably be irritated by having to read the first 11 to get to that point.


  8. Given what we have in common (I’m a feminist academic Hispanist), I hope you’ll consider starting with George R. R. Martin, my favorite. His style and plots are complex and compelling, incredibly rich and fully-imagined. He’s a beautiful writer who make a skeptic like me believe in the world he creates. I also think you might find stimulating the sorts of cultures and ideologies he represents. Book 4 is not ideally edited and slower than the rest, but absolutely worth getting through, in my opinion.


    1. I’m kind of hoping that Martin doesn’t win this poll because after everything people have shared, I don’t think I will like his books. But, of course, I’ll keep my promise and read the winning author. And Nnedi.


  9. For what it’s worth, I just posed the question to my sister, who reads about 4x as much fantasy as I do. She also votes for Rothfuss, because although his books are long, they’re the best written. Thanks for prompting an entertaining discussion between me and my sister. After a fairly lengthy converstion, we came down to Martin vs. Rothfuss (just as it currently looks like your poll is saying).

    Here’s what she had to say: “I would probably vote for Rothfuss. Even though it’s long, if she liked Tolkien, she might be willing through the whole thing. My thoughts on Martin are that, his books are fantastic, but not quite total fantasy – you don’t really get into magic and such until the later books. Rothfuss and Martin both have the same depth of world that makes Tolkien so engaging, so push Rothfuss, and if she gets converted, point her toward Martin.”


  10. Liked the definition in “More on the Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy” –

    Terry Pratchett writes science fiction because his discworld (borne through space by a mythical turtle) has something called progress. People are waking, rising up. George Martin’s depressing Game of Thrones saga has very little magic in it, but it consigns the peasants to endless, endless, endless misery and feudal oppression, with absolutely no hope of progress. It is part of the longer/older tradition stretching back to Homer. It is fantasy.


  11. So, Clarissa, it’s been a couple of weeks now, and it looks like Rothfuss is winning (!!!) – shall that be the one you decide to read? Quite honestly, I’d love to hear your opinion on the book(s) once you’ve read it, regardless of positive or negative comments. Of course, I’m heavily biased, and I’m hoping that you thoroughly enjoy it and find it a worthwhile use of your time and energy. πŸ™‚ Happy Fantasy Reading!

    p.s. They come in kindle form, and I know how much you love your kindle. (me too!!! – well I love MY kindle, obviously, I’ve never met your kindle.) I read them on mine. πŸ™‚


    1. Yes, I think Rothfuss had won. I’m glad he defeated Martin because after everything people said about Martin I was not looking forward to reading him. πŸ™‚

      I already have a sample of Rothfuss on Kindle and the writing is quite good.


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