The Blade Itself: Joe Abercrombie
This book has such a fantastic and realistic array of characters that are multidimensional and fascinating, that it often inspires comparisons to the ever lauded Game of Thrones. What I truly love about The Blade Itself (a title derived from Homer, by the way), is where it wholly differs from GoT. There is plenty of bleak, bloody, violent beauty but, whereas GoT is drenched in angst, I found Blade light hearted and humorous. It’s a book that never takes its violence too seriously, a fact which I found very refreshing. Follow a down on his luck barbarian, an arrogant military officer, and a once glorious war hero turned crippled torturer for a truly enjoyable read.
The Lies of Locke Lamora: Scott Lynch
Personally, it’s the well executed, succinct sarcasm that gets me. The main character, Locke, is hilarious, dangerously intelligent, and leads the reader on a wild and twisting ride. Just when you think you’ve got your finger on him, he does something that genuinely surprises and delights you. The ending will have you reeling and there is never a dull moment.
Gardens of the Moon: Steven Erikson
This book requires a pretty steep learning curve and is the first of a ten book series. Don’t let that scare you off though! His world is brilliant, sheer artistic, epic, brilliance. It is a book full of history, mystery, murder, death, intrigue and powerful, interesting magic. Erikson gets you right down into the trenches with his characters; from the all-powerful gods to the lowliest foot-soldiers. You often share their confusion as Erikson encompasses an entire world that spans thousands of miles, but his writing style keeps you in the character’s heads and you often understand only so much as they do.
The Name of the Wind (and The Wise Man’s Fear): Patrick Rotherfuss
A two book series so far that has a great deal of people singing its praises. It’s funny, it’s dramatic, it’s magic and political systems are brilliant and well executed. The protagonist, Kvothe, tells his story from the general ambiguity of a small village inn years after achieving his notoriety. His tale shapes and stems away from the rumors and tales told about him as he endeavors to set the story straight and shed light on the reality of his circumstances. Brilliant, graceful writing full of wit and enlightenment will keep you turning.