For the last couple months, I've been meaning to bring some books to your attention. I would think to myself: "Self, you should really mention this book to people your blog."
But then I'd get busy. Or some time-sensitive piece of news would come up, like a book signing or making the New York Times list. Or I'd be distracted by something shiny, or edible, or both.
So, without further ado, here are some authors that you might not be aware of.
David Keck - In The Eye of Heaven.
I read David Keck's book couple years back and really enjoyed it, but there is a caveat: This is not your typical fantasy novel.
We all know most fantasy novels are set in fairly generic medieval settings. The world Keck creates is different. His world is dark ages. Mankind is not on the top of the food chain, and the world is full of dangerous, mythic forces that are not to be fucked with.
At the same time the story remains very realistic. I don't think I've ever read another book that does a better job of depicting the real hardships of a mercenary knight in the dark ages. His description of an injured knight going to a dentist was delightfully spot-on.
Keck's writing style is unique as well. His descriptions are brief, almost poetic in places. Very different than the long, ponderous description that is common with so many fantasy novels these days. To use an artistic analogy: this book is more like a Monet painting than a photograph.
Because of this, the story feels almost dreamlike at times, as the main character moves back and forth between the harsh realities of tournament combat and strange dealings with otherworldly powers. I think this element of Keck's writing caught a lot of readers unprepared, and let to some unfair reviews of his work. You don't bitch because a Monet painting is blurry. It's supposed to be that way, that's the effect the artist was trying to achieve....
The second book in Keck's series came out fairly recently (In a Time of Treason). But starting a series with the second book is not civilized behavior, and people who do it go to the special hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater.
Anyway, I really enjoyed liked it. But be warned: This is not your typical fantasy novel.
Anton Strout - Dead to Me.
As a fellow fantasy author and one of the founding members of the League of Reluctant Adults, you would think that Anton Strout would be my friend. In fact, it would be reasonable for you to assume that he has my respect and admiration.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Strout is, among other things, my mortal enemy. The sordid details of our long-standing feud are multifarious, and I cannot in good conscience list them in a blog that children might read.
Suffice to say that I have many worthwhile reasons to scorn the man, none of which have to do with the fact that he seems to have more luck with the ladies than I do. Nevertheless, I am a gentleman, so I'll mention his book here. Just to show that I am the better person.
I have not read his first book myself, for obvious reasons, but I've heard others say good things. They say that it's urban fantasy with a strong comic twist. Charline Harris gave him a glowing blurb, so if you like her stuff, you might like his too.
Jim Hines - Goblin Quest.
One of my favorite things is when fantasy authors play with the conventions of the genre. Joss Whedon, of course, is the champion of this. The whole premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer starts with the question, "What if that ditsy, helpless blond who gets killed in the horror movie actually kicked some ass instead of running away then falling down?"
Hines is good at playing this game too, except he asks a different question: "What do Goblins do when they're not getting killed by adventurers?"
These are fun books. They're lighthearted, humorous, and have some good storytelling to boot. Best of all, Hines takes the time to actually create a well-developed world for the stories to take place in, complete with a fresh cosmology, and a unique goblin culture.
Added bonus? Hines has written the next two books in the series: Goblin Hero and Goblin War. They're already in print, so you don't have to wait to read the rest of the series, unlike... um... some other authors. Who will remain nameless.
I think I'll stop at three. If you want more, you can always check out my previous recommendations by clicking on the "recommendations" label down below. Elegant in its simplicity, isn't it?