3 Fantasy masterpieces you probably haven't heard about

3 Fantasy masterpieces you probably haven't heard about

I don't know about you, but when something hits the mainstream I quickly lose interest. Game of Thrones was my first epic fantasy book except Lord of the Rings 10 years ago and now I can't stand the fandom. That's why I put together a list of the top 5 fantasy books that aren't mainstream* - yet - and are masterpieces at the same time.

If you haven't read even just one book from the list, you absolutely must do it! 

*Meaning that there aren't millions of people already talking about them and there is a big chance that if you bring these books up in a conversation, your conversation partner haven't read them yet.

- All links to Amazon are affiliate links, meaning that if you buy the books after reading this guide I get paid. I'll get around $0.60, so consider it buying me coffee / cheap beer as a thanks for a good tip. - 


The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

There are 2 books out from the 3 planned yet - The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. 

After I read The Name of the Wind - and I kid you not - I ran into the nearest book store and bought the second one IMMEDIATELY. I didn't care it was freezing outside and the shop was almost closed, I just HAD to start reading it then and now. That's how fucking good this books are.

The Kingkiller Chronicle is a story about Kvothe, who ends up an inkeeper that likes to tell stories. Well, he tells only one story - a story about how a lone child became the most famous hero of their world - a sorcerer, an alchemist, a fighter and a bard. Maybe it was him and maybe it wasn't. At least that's what he tries to tell others.

But, if he was the hero from the story, why is he hiding in an old inn? If he was so powerful, why isn't he anymore?

This is probably why I loved these books. They deal with 2 storylines - the majority of the plot happens during Kvothe's life where we can watch him learn, love, train and systematically "level up" in all professions he takes on during his life until he becomes what he becomes. The second storyline deals with him now being almost nobody, telling his story to "the Chronicler" whose sole purpose is to debunk myths and legends. One con about this series is that until Patrick Rothfuss publishes the third book, we won't know what is real and what isn't.

The thing is - the storylines are so well-written and intriguing and certainly not your standard fantasy trope display that thousands of people already fell in love with his work and I'm sure you will too.


You will LOVE IT if:

- you're a fan of beautiful writing

- you like the feeling of leveling up

- you like stories where you really root for the hero and watch him prevail against the odds

You will HATE IT if:

- you don't like medieval fantasy setting

- you don't like magic, fairies and good stories



Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch

I'm a big fan of con or mind-games series, movies and animes. Now You See Me, Code Geass, Death Note, Catch Me If You Can or Danny's Eleven - I love them very much and they are popular for a reason.

I'm not surprised though. Isn't it a kind of a mental orgasm when you realize how the protagonist REALLY did do that and how you thought it was like this and then a plot twist happens and then he gets into a sticky situation which looks completely hopeless, but then you realize he planned it all along and DAMN THAT FELT SO GOOD?

Because for me it is.

Gentleman Bastard series conveys the story of Locke Lamora and his sidekick - friend Jean (not Valjean). These 2 guys are professional con-artists, thieves and rogues. Locke is the smart, charismatic and dexterous one, Jean is the big, strong, slightly less smart, but still a smart one. Together they plan heists, cons and thefts which often escalate into very big reveals and plot twists.

The whole "fantasy thieves" theme is totally original, completely awesome and I loved reading each and every page of the books.  There are 3 books out and more on the way.

Like one of my friends I've recommended this book to said:

"The action of LLL is part heist, part swashbuckling adventure, part orphan tale. Like a Venitian Ocean's Eleven, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Oliver Twist all rolled into one. The tone is quippy and cavalier, but also contains a dose of nastiness and torture (night that I mind). The dialog is full of zingers -- many hit, some miss. And often it sounds oddly modern. The plot is easy enough to follow but has a certain byzantine quality -- and more than its share of deus ex machina -- but essentially it all works. The action is fast, furious, and easy to follow. A dizzying mix, but one that works well."

You will LOVE IT if:

- you're a fan of "mindfucks" and con stories

- you like thieves in action

You will HATE IT if:

- you want more story and less action

- you think stealing is wrong



The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Not all fantasy books are hugs and kisses. Some are serious, with a potential to break your heart. 

I think it might be because this trilogy was written by a woman. We always get the male perspective on things and while there certainly is some variation, in the end most male fantasy authors share some similiarities. This story is completely different than anything I've ever read.

It's...I don't know. I think I'd say it's very surprising and there are almost no clichés / pulled punches. You will root for the main character FitzChivalry, who has been secretly trained as the King's Assassin while there's magic people of their world fear (Beast - druidic magic called the Skill) running in his blood. You will root for him and when he finally prevails against a particular difficulty, the author will hit him again and again with a heavier caliber of something sinister happening to him. 

When he finally gets a breathing room - BAM - and he's back in action.

The main topic of the books is bonding. Parents, animals, friends, lovers - and how it impacts us. There is action and sometimes nicely bloody (there are some really nasty berserk sequences), but FitzChivalry won't be shooting fireballs here and there and he won't be hiding in the shadows waiting for backstabs on skeletons. This series is for a fantasy reader who knows how to read and comprehend.

The Farseer trilogy is a masterpiece of a new fantasy definition and if you're a fan of the genre, you simply must read it - even the author of Game of Thrones acknowledges it.

“Fantasy as it ought to be written . . . Robin Hobb’s books are diamonds in a sea of zircons.” — George R. R. Martin

You will LOVE IT if:

- you're bored with standard fantasy stories and want to experience something new

- you like emotionally heavy stories with more emphasis on the protagonist's inner world

You will HATE IT if:

- you just want to read about fireballs, backstabs, blood and exploding heads (there is little bit of this in the books though)

- you don't like savoring the (sometimes sad and emotionally heavy) experience while reading


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