QotD: Today’s Top 5 – Books

Top Five Books — this is actually pretty easy.  We were just comparing lists at work on this very topic.

The Killer Angels: Michael Shaara

I first had to read this book in college (under duress naturally — actually the night before a history final…) but ended up really enjoying it.  A few years ago, I decided to re-read it.  I loved it even more.  I know it’s a novelization of events, but it really seems to come alive in a very true manner.

The Illearth War
The Power That Preserves:
Stephen R. Donaldson

The final two books of Donaldson’s anti-hero Thomas Covenant trilogy (the first one).  Gripping and bitter, full of despair and exultation.  It’s amazing when you realize this entire trilogy would probably be one book in a modern series (you know the type — they're the ones where editors can’t seem to say “no” apparently).

A Game of Thrones: George R.R. Martin

First book of Martin’s Ice and Fire Series.  Gritty, scary, and complex.  Much much different than your standard fantasy fare. The best part is that he seemingly has no hesitation to kill major characters, so it really keeps you guessing.  The 2nd book (A Clash of Kings) is nearly as good, though the pacing has fallen off a bit on the last two books of what I believe is supposed to be a 7 book set.

We Were the Mulvaneys: Joyce Carol Oates

I like Oates’ novels – I think better than anyone, she captures the inertia of everyday life, and the secret-selves that we hold inside, even that which we hide from our loved ones. I think “Mulvaneys” is her best: it conveys the hopes and heartbreaks of life and how random events can knock the vector of people’s lives way out of whack.

A Wizard of Earthsea
The Tombs of Atuan:
Ursula K. LeGuin

First two (of four) of the Earthsea series.  Incredibly simple storyline of life, growth, consequences – maybe in a way they are fantasy parables.  Beautifully written.  These books are incredibly “visual” in their storytelling.  You could probably finish one on a lazy rainy weekend afternoon.  Stop after the 3rd though – the 4th one, “Tehanu”, written a couple of decades later, was really disappointing.

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2 thoughts on “QotD: Today’s Top 5 – Books

  1. Nice to see Thomas Covenant and a Song of Ice and Fire represented here. I've read both Covenant trilogies twice now and love them to death. I actually prefer the second chronicles to the first and found the whole concept of the sunbane and what can happen when natural law breaks to be fascinating. I also found that the juxtaposition of Linden and Covenant revealed a lot more about Covenant's character. I have not read any of the third series of Covenant books as I prefer not to have to wait for the next book. I guess I'm going to have to wait though for the Ice and Fire series. I got into it before I realised it wasn't done yet. D'oh! I'm currently quarter-way through the third one (A Storm of Swords) and actually enjoying it more than I did the first two.I remember waiting years ago for the final book of the second Belgariad series (the Mallorean? – the book was called the Seeress of Kell, whatever the series was called) and it drove me crazy! I got the hardback the day it came out and read it in a day. Must've been 1990/91 or thereabouts. I'll keep the Earthsea series in mind for the future. Just as a matter of interest, did you ever read any of the Gormenghast series?

  2. I wish Vox would notify me of replies to comments. I had missed this reply. Yeah, Gormenghast is certainly worth going back to, at least the first two books (the third is notorious, apparently and I never read it). The writing is perhaps even more literary than Donaldson's and it pays to read them slowly and take in the language. I have meant to go back to them and read them for a second time, perhaps even getting into the third book this time, but just never found the time. Maybe I should seek them out on audiobook — never thought of that!

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