Reading has long been a passion of mine, but years of schooling had a habit of killing my will to do it. Maybe it was the long nights spent reading heavy, stilted philosophy essays. Perhaps it was all the times I felt forced to read a particular novel or short story because some ancient and withered scholar had deemed it a classic. When I was a kid, I lived to read as much as I lived to play new video games, and its a huge reason why I enjoy writing today. Now that college is behind me, I have recently began to rekindle my love of reading.
Typically, I am a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy novels. I mentioned in a previous post my intent to read every novel that has ever won a Hugo Award before, but that doesn’t really cover my fantasy leanings. Like most fans of the genre, I began with Tolkien and graduated to more derivative works that related to my early gaming leanings. I particularly loved any Dragonlance novels, but truthfully I’d give most anything Dungeons & Dragons-based a shot (even the dreadful novelization of Baldur’s Gate). As I grew older, my tastes became more discerning and I was no longer content with simple save the world plots and retreads of Tolkien’s now tired and cliched creations.
Fast forward to only a couple years ago, however, and you would have found me a man who doesn’t read fantasy anymore. In my mind, the entire genre could be boiled down to unpronounceable names, meandering characters arcs, and a Chex Mix of typical fantasy races and themes. It felt stagnate and dull and without creativity. Some of that may have been my own ignorance or my own biases or my lack of doing a ton of reading. All I know is that anything I tried to read quickly became an exercise in futility. Something reawakened in me when I saw the first season of Game of Thrones.
I had attempted to read the first book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series long ago when I was a little younger. The first few chapters were an impenetrable snooze with a parade of characters I couldn’t keep up with. The onslaught of characters often meant introductions to vast and detailed family and cultural histories, as well. If I am not grabbed immediately by something, then it is a hard sale for me to finish. If I am grabbed, then I will overcome most any peculiarity or oddity. In the case of Game of Thrones, the television show grabbed me with the very first episode, and naturally led back to me reading the books which I now love.
Ever since, I have been reading more and more. Recent ventures have included Peter V. Brett’s first three books in The Demon Cycle series which I got into because John Smedley of SOE (and Everquest) fame mentioned them on Twitter. With keeping such a close eye on Kickstarters, Project Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenara, I have also seen a few more noted fantasy authors get mentioned as contributors. One name floated around specifically, Patrick Rothfuss, led me to reading the first book in his own series, The Kingkiller Chronicles, which was an excellent read.
Returning to reading has been a huge boon for me. Given the sudden drop in quality JRPGs and the amount of time it takes to make a new Elder Scrolls game, I am thankful to all three authors for giving me a fantasy hit to satiate my newly revived addiction. I intend on writing some opinions on each specific book so stay tuned for that. However, if you do have something to recommend, please do so in the comments. My GoodReads list is already gigantic, why not make it a little bigger?