Looking for book suggestions

Specifically, epic/secondary world fantasies set in a city. I’ve read Lies of Locke Lamora, Perdido Street Station and Nights of Villjamur anyway, but I’m just wondering what else is out there and who does it well and what they’ve done so I can avoid attracting comparisons (had a hard-enough time of it just being a Gollancz debut at the same time as Scott Lynch anyway!)since I’m reducing the scale for my new book and am curious about how others have approached it. Any thoughts?

44 thoughts on “Looking for book suggestions

  1. Well yes, but Terry P’s style and approach is not quite the same as mine, though I guess structurally some of the more recent ones are useful comparisons. have got pretty much the lot of those and re-read them more often than any other author’s work, so that’s easily done!

    Fritz Leiber I’ve actually just listened to an audiobook of his – mostly because I was trying out Audible to see how I liked audiobooks on my journey back from work when I’ve drunk too much to bother reading. I found the story a bit odd, might have been the new medium but something about it didn’t work so well for me.

    As for Song of Ice and Fire, they’re rather more sprawling than I need. Twilight Herald was centred on one city and people seemed to like that aspect of it, so hopefully I’ve not got to adjust my sights too much, but mostly ole George and I have been more expansive than I’m intending now – this time round I want all the action to be in one place.

    1. scraping out the remainder of my knowledge of fantasy

      Leiber is pretty old; he was contemporary with Lovecraft (though somewhat younger and also did not die). So that could be a factor.

      As for George you’re very right that he sprawls, but it was what came to mind.

      Kim Newman/Jack Yeovil (who you might have met for all I know!) wrote a couple of solid if not revolution-inspiring books which seem to fit your purposes. They would be “Beasts in Velvet” (Yeovil), which is a Warhammer book but set almost entirely in the capital city, and “Anno Dracula” which is set in a fictionalized Victorian London. (Spoilers: It contains draculas.)

      1. Re: scraping out the remainder of my knowledge of fantasy

        Aha, that’s a really good reminder actually. Beasts in Velvet is one I really do want to buy – dammit, just ordered some classics off Watersones website, but I can’t justify buying another today when my Game of Thrones slipcase edition has just turned up….

        I have met Kim briefly, and actually mentioned Beast as I used to be a Warhammer fan when I was a kid and the feature they did on the story in their magazine – basic plot and character profiles – stuck with me to the point that one of the first short stories I wrote is called Beast in Velvet. But I never got around to reading the actual book and finding out what happened….

  2. Well yes, but Terry P’s style and approach is not quite the same as mine, though I guess structurally some of the more recent ones are useful comparisons. have got pretty much the lot of those and re-read them more often than any other author’s work, so that’s easily done!

    Fritz Leiber I’ve actually just listened to an audiobook of his – mostly because I was trying out Audible to see how I liked audiobooks on my journey back from work when I’ve drunk too much to bother reading. I found the story a bit odd, might have been the new medium but something about it didn’t work so well for me.

    As for Song of Ice and Fire, they’re rather more sprawling than I need. Twilight Herald was centred on one city and people seemed to like that aspect of it, so hopefully I’ve not got to adjust my sights too much, but mostly ole George and I have been more expansive than I’m intending now – this time round I want all the action to be in one place.

    1. scraping out the remainder of my knowledge of fantasy

      Leiber is pretty old; he was contemporary with Lovecraft (though somewhat younger and also did not die). So that could be a factor.

      As for George you’re very right that he sprawls, but it was what came to mind.

      Kim Newman/Jack Yeovil (who you might have met for all I know!) wrote a couple of solid if not revolution-inspiring books which seem to fit your purposes. They would be “Beasts in Velvet” (Yeovil), which is a Warhammer book but set almost entirely in the capital city, and “Anno Dracula” which is set in a fictionalized Victorian London. (Spoilers: It contains draculas.)

      1. Re: scraping out the remainder of my knowledge of fantasy

        Aha, that’s a really good reminder actually. Beasts in Velvet is one I really do want to buy – dammit, just ordered some classics off Watersones website, but I can’t justify buying another today when my Game of Thrones slipcase edition has just turned up….

        I have met Kim briefly, and actually mentioned Beast as I used to be a Warhammer fan when I was a kid and the feature they did on the story in their magazine – basic plot and character profiles – stuck with me to the point that one of the first short stories I wrote is called Beast in Velvet. But I never got around to reading the actual book and finding out what happened….

  3. You and your specifics! ;p Does it have to be a whole book set in a city? All I can think of are the aforementioned Gentlemen Bastards and PTerry’s Watch series.

    I can do sections, though! How about the Darujhistan (sp?) chapters in the Malazan books? A lot of Gardens of the Moon takes place there, if I recall correctly. Oh, and the Lether chapters are also really, really awesome – although I don’t know if that’s down to the Tehol/Bugg dynamic (features mainly in Mightnight Tides and Reaper’s Gale, if memory serves).

    Hm. Maybe Academ’s Fury from the Codex Alera? (Alera’s my favourite city in epic fantasy.) Or hey, Elantris! If you want a cursed city, that is. :)

    1. DAmn – just managed to wipe my reply… anyways, assume it was as witty and clever as I remember! (but too long to re-write..)

      For the constraints of a city, I meant just that it needs to be within a reasonable boundary – thus far I’ve travelled hundreds of miles in my books and had events take place in several cities at once – now I want to keep to one major location and go within that. Haven’t read Elantris no, but I have read the first Mistborn and that’d qualify as mostly taking place in one city if memory serves. Erikson, like me, can’t keep to one place for very long however!

      Not read the Codex Alera for some reason, I enjoyed a few Dresden books but was never grabbed by his epics when I read the blurbs.

      1. I came back to add Steven Brust, but I see people have done that already. :)

        Regarding Butcher, I’m the opposite. Loved the Codex, but the Dresden file blurbs read too much like paranormal/urban fantasy type stuff, which isn’t for me.

        1. The Dresden books are very standard paranormal urban fantasy, but they were almost the first ones of that sort I’d read when I got to about 3 in the series, so that didn’t worry me much. Haven’t been inspired to read any further though – at one point he was riding an undead dinosaur through the streets if memory serves. Which, as amused by it as I was at the time, kinda stalled any future reading of the series.

          1. Post-google-fu-deployment: Apparently it’s in Dead Beat (the 7th book), and it’s called Sue. SUE. My Dresden book namesake is an undead dinosaur, which, according to Wikipedia, “mows down zombies”.

            This is the best thing I’ve ever heard. I’m so reading this. Thank you! :)

          2. heh, my pleasure! clearly wasn’t paying much attention while I read it, I thought I’d missed out one or something but clearly I’d read books 1, 2 then 7…

  4. You and your specifics! ;p Does it have to be a whole book set in a city? All I can think of are the aforementioned Gentlemen Bastards and PTerry’s Watch series.

    I can do sections, though! How about the Darujhistan (sp?) chapters in the Malazan books? A lot of Gardens of the Moon takes place there, if I recall correctly. Oh, and the Lether chapters are also really, really awesome – although I don’t know if that’s down to the Tehol/Bugg dynamic (features mainly in Mightnight Tides and Reaper’s Gale, if memory serves).

    Hm. Maybe Academ’s Fury from the Codex Alera? (Alera’s my favourite city in epic fantasy.) Or hey, Elantris! If you want a cursed city, that is. :)

    1. DAmn – just managed to wipe my reply… anyways, assume it was as witty and clever as I remember! (but too long to re-write..)

      For the constraints of a city, I meant just that it needs to be within a reasonable boundary – thus far I’ve travelled hundreds of miles in my books and had events take place in several cities at once – now I want to keep to one major location and go within that. Haven’t read Elantris no, but I have read the first Mistborn and that’d qualify as mostly taking place in one city if memory serves. Erikson, like me, can’t keep to one place for very long however!

      Not read the Codex Alera for some reason, I enjoyed a few Dresden books but was never grabbed by his epics when I read the blurbs.

      1. I came back to add Steven Brust, but I see people have done that already. :)

        Regarding Butcher, I’m the opposite. Loved the Codex, but the Dresden file blurbs read too much like paranormal/urban fantasy type stuff, which isn’t for me.

        1. The Dresden books are very standard paranormal urban fantasy, but they were almost the first ones of that sort I’d read when I got to about 3 in the series, so that didn’t worry me much. Haven’t been inspired to read any further though – at one point he was riding an undead dinosaur through the streets if memory serves. Which, as amused by it as I was at the time, kinda stalled any future reading of the series.

          1. Post-google-fu-deployment: Apparently it’s in Dead Beat (the 7th book), and it’s called Sue. SUE. My Dresden book namesake is an undead dinosaur, which, according to Wikipedia, “mows down zombies”.

            This is the best thing I’ve ever heard. I’m so reading this. Thank you! :)

          2. heh, my pleasure! clearly wasn’t paying much attention while I read it, I thought I’d missed out one or something but clearly I’d read books 1, 2 then 7…

  5. Have you read Ellen Kushner’s Riverside books? Swordspoint is the first one. Wonderful book, although I don’t think of it as epic fantasy. Also would recommend Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos books– though they don’t always stay in the city, the earlier ones especially are largely set there. Also, they’re great books.

  6. Have you read Ellen Kushner’s Riverside books? Swordspoint is the first one. Wonderful book, although I don’t think of it as epic fantasy. Also would recommend Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos books– though they don’t always stay in the city, the earlier ones especially are largely set there. Also, they’re great books.

  7. Jhereg, by Steven Brust. Other books in the series are also set in the same city, but not all of them are. The first book is, though, and should be enough for you to decide if you like it well enough to read on.

    I’d also recommend a certain Thief’s Covenant, but it’s not out yet. *cough*

  8. Jhereg, by Steven Brust. Other books in the series are also set in the same city, but not all of them are. The first book is, though, and should be enough for you to decide if you like it well enough to read on.

    I’d also recommend a certain Thief’s Covenant, but it’s not out yet. *cough*

  9. My immediate thought was Daniel Abraham’s LONG PRICE novels. Each of the first two (of four) takes place entirely within a radically different city to one another, though the latter two books sprawl a bit more.

    Your label-mate Stephen Deas has a book set mostly in one city, THE THIEF-TAKER’S APPRENTICE. Dan Abnett’s TRIUMFF takes place in a semi-fantasised, steampunk, alt-history London, which is a lot of fun but maybe not what you are after. Jeff VanderMeer’s Ambergis books come to mind (starting with CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN), as does M. John Harrison’s VIRICONIUM stories (I’m not a huge fan, but Viriconium is usually immediately mentioned in these kind of discussions).

    A good recent one is Alan Campbell’s SCAR NIGHT, which is set in the highly memorable city of Deepgate (the sequels are not as good). Ian Esslemont’s contributions to the MALAZAN series may be worth a look: NIGHT OF KNIVES is set entirely in Malaz City, whilst RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD proceeds simultaneously in several different cities.

    1. Ah, I knew you’d remind me of books I’d forgotten about! City of Saints and Madmen is certainly one I should have read by now. Still unsure what I thought about Scar Night really. I read it a few years ago now and didn’t quite connect with it, but for no real reason I could discern – not sure it was a flaw in the book that was the problem!

  10. My immediate thought was Daniel Abraham’s LONG PRICE novels. Each of the first two (of four) takes place entirely within a radically different city to one another, though the latter two books sprawl a bit more.

    Your label-mate Stephen Deas has a book set mostly in one city, THE THIEF-TAKER’S APPRENTICE. Dan Abnett’s TRIUMFF takes place in a semi-fantasised, steampunk, alt-history London, which is a lot of fun but maybe not what you are after. Jeff VanderMeer’s Ambergis books come to mind (starting with CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN), as does M. John Harrison’s VIRICONIUM stories (I’m not a huge fan, but Viriconium is usually immediately mentioned in these kind of discussions).

    A good recent one is Alan Campbell’s SCAR NIGHT, which is set in the highly memorable city of Deepgate (the sequels are not as good). Ian Esslemont’s contributions to the MALAZAN series may be worth a look: NIGHT OF KNIVES is set entirely in Malaz City, whilst RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD proceeds simultaneously in several different cities.

    1. Ah, I knew you’d remind me of books I’d forgotten about! City of Saints and Madmen is certainly one I should have read by now. Still unsure what I thought about Scar Night really. I read it a few years ago now and didn’t quite connect with it, but for no real reason I could discern – not sure it was a flaw in the book that was the problem!

  11. And reading the blurb of Among Thieves makes it look far more interesting than the standard thief-assasssin story I’d assumed it was from the artwork! In fact, a bit too similar to the first book of a later series I’d wanted to write, so I better go read it so I can avoid getting too close to the idea!

  12. And reading the blurb of Among Thieves makes it look far more interesting than the standard thief-assasssin story I’d assumed it was from the artwork! In fact, a bit too similar to the first book of a later series I’d wanted to write, so I better go read it so I can avoid getting too close to the idea!

  13. epic fantasy series

    One of my favourite epic fantasies is the ten (yes, 10) volume series by Steven Erikson know as the Mallazan Book of the Fallen. The first novel in the series is called Gardens of the Moon. The setting varies from urban to desert and focuses on the everyday soldier. However, the overarching theme is conflict between the Gods — old and new.

    1. Re: epic fantasy series

      Yup, an all-time favourite of mine too. Not really one to use for comparison here though – actually, trying to emulate it too much is liable to give an author a headache, they’re so complex…

  14. epic fantasy series

    One of my favourite epic fantasies is the ten (yes, 10) volume series by Steven Erikson know as the Mallazan Book of the Fallen. The first novel in the series is called Gardens of the Moon. The setting varies from urban to desert and focuses on the everyday soldier. However, the overarching theme is conflict between the Gods — old and new.

    1. Re: epic fantasy series

      Yup, an all-time favourite of mine too. Not really one to use for comparison here though – actually, trying to emulate it too much is liable to give an author a headache, they’re so complex…

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