I make a sincere effort to look at the grown-up science fiction and fantasy section of the bookstore. And then I go off an buy a middle grade or YA book. But I am trying, this year, to crossover into the adult realm a little more, and it is hard for me because I have never liked a single book in which the female character is shown on the cover wearing a tank top and holding a weapon (although, on reflection, I don't think I've never actually read such a book).
Earlier this week I wrote about the reason why I put down, unfinished, my first adult book of the year- City of Dark Magic. Lots of folks kindly left recommendations, and I thought it would be fun (and maybe useful, to others who share my reading tastes) to make a list of relatively current fantasy books published for adults that are the sort of thing that adults who turn to kids' fantasy for their own reading pleasure (I know for a fact there are at least ten of us) would enjoy.
In my mind, these sorts of book are strong on character, and the characters are smart, often witty, and (if they are central characters) likable. They are welcome to have hot and steamy romances, although subtle smoldering is preferred. These books are strong on setting, with lots of lovely details about place, and/or fascinating twists of world building (such as alternate histories) that really make the territory of the book an undiscovered country.
I'll start with some recommendations of my own, with the "relatively current" caveat meaning I'm not going to mention Diana Wynne Jones. I'm not going to mention Ursula Le Guin either, although Lavinia is, as was noted in the comments, fairly recent and utterly worth reading (note cunning mention of both of them). If anyone wants a list of older books, Rachel Neumier has a nice one here.
Contemporary books I'd Recommend:
House of Shadows, by Rachel Neumier
Anything by Patricia McKillip, perhaps The Alphabet of Thorn, or Ombria in Shadow, to start with.
Resenting the Hero, by Moira J. Moore (I have Angie to thank for introducing me to this lovely series!)
Among Others by Jo Walton (though I found it too depressing for my personal taste) (recommended also by Jessmonster)
Cold Magic, by Kate Elliott, is almost one I can recommend, but it didn't quite work for me personally--my review)
Ok. This is why I need help if I am ever going to read any current adult fantasy. That is all I can think of that's on my own shelves.
The recommendations I got on my first post:
Wearing the Cape, by Marion G. Harmon
The Iron Butterfly, Chandra Hahn
Dignity, and Fealty, by Eva Caye
The Demon's Librarian, Lillith Saintcrow
The Ladies of Mandrigyn, Barbara Hambly
Deborah Harkness' Discovery of Witches
Patricia C. Wrede's adult fantasy novels, the Lyra books, with particular mention of The Raven Ring.
The Silvered, by Tanya Huff (and here's her review of it)
Naomi Novik's Temeraire books
Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear (agreed--these are good ones)
Coronet of Steel, by Sherwood Smith
Mercedes Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms series
New Recommendations from the comments to this post (thank you all very much!)
From Ana: Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (and I can second this from my own experience-I started reading these last year, with great enjoyment)
From Melissa: Neil Gaiman--Neverwhere and Stardust. (I have not read these. Yet. But I did read Anansi Boys, and enjoyed it).
From Monica: Good Omens, which nicely combines the two authors above! (another that's on my tbr pile already....)
Maureen suggests several authors--
Sharon Shinn (agreed)
Leona Wisoker (a new one for me)
Ellen Kusthner (Swordspoint in particular)
Midnight Riot and sequels, by Ben Aaronovitch
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
Martha Wells, in particular the Wheel of the Infinite
Sylvia Kelso's Amberlight
Theodora Goss's short fiction, also Catherynne Valente's
Aurora Celeste suggests Jacqueline Carey
Deva Fagan suggests The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold, the Sevenwaters series, by Juliet Marillier, and Kristen Britain's Green Rider series, and brings up Brandon Sanderson...
who is seconded by KT, who also recommends the Riyria Revelations by Michael Sullivan
Maria recommends Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, and his subsequent books would also count as well, which reminds me I am behind on him too. Plus The Wheel of Time series, but I think that ship may have sailed without me (though Becky recommends it too...).
Maria's just reviewed and recommends Wool, by Hugh Howey (her review), also that seems more sci fi, and she also suggests Sherri Tepper, an author I love (except when I don't), although she's more sci fi than fantasy, which segues neatly into....
Suggestions beyond fantasy, qua fantasy--
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
Redshirts, and Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
James Schmitz' collections and his novel, Witches of Karres.
Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series
And more recommendations--
Small Review-- Jane Lindskold's Wolf series, and James Clemens' Banned and the Banished series
Kristen Evey-- Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study series
Anamaria -- The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Beth--Wen Spencer: A Brother's Price for a stand alone, and two series-
Alien Taste and her Tinker books.
And on my own tbr pile, I have The Magicians, by Lev Grossman (which I've started), Norse Code, by Greg van Eekhout, and The Accidental Sorcerer, by K.E. Mills. And A Game of Thrones. I am curious, though trepidatious, about that one.
(If I do end up reading Norse Code, it will be my first ever book whose cover shows a woman wearing a tank top and holding a weapon!)
And speaking of which, Rachel also suggests the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, with the caveat that Mercy more often is holding a wrench....
There are more recommendations in the comments for older books, which is nice too, but having decided to read Contemporary, I'm not putting those in this list. Once I've read all of these, I can go back and make a list of the older ones....
SO--THANK YOU all for stopping by (so very nice to see so many blog friends!) Thanks to your recommendations, I have now become determined to read, or at least make a good faith try to read, 1 contemporary adult speculative fiction novel a week during 2013. Starting with the ones already in the house.