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I’ve always had a soft spot for fantasy fiction, but since reading and re-reading George R R Martin’s magisterial Song of Ice and Fire series (or indeed what has been released of it) I’ve entered something of a fantasy hiatus. Since Christmas, though, a number of “firsts” have appeared on my radar.

A word about each. Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon is the first in an epic series of Big Tomes of fantasy, apparently with a myriad of characters and complicated plot sequences. I haven’t read it yet. The Lie of Locke Lamora I am also not worthy to comment on having not read it either. Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind was solid and enjoyable, if not entirely satisfying as it is not a stand alone novel and the author (like George Martin himself) seems to take his time in writing sequels. My attention never waned though, and I will definitely read the sequels when released. Peter Brett’s The Painted Man I am 2/3rds of the way through, and a review should be forthcoming. I have mixed thoughts on this, but I should wait until I’ve finished it before commenting further.

Fantasy more than anything is light relief, an escapist page-turner that, if lucky, has believable characters, an immersive world and an interesting plot concept. It’s rare that all of these things occur together. When they have, the result has been, well, George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, of which the best books are the first two- Game of Thrones and Clash of Kings. If your interest has been piqued by reading this and not turned away by prejudice or disinterest in the fantasy genre, these are must-reads, guaranteed page turners of great complexity, in both story, world and characterisation. Their “USP” is the character point-of-view chapter structure, by which you move back and forth between several characters chapters throughout each book. They are superb novels in their own right, independent of genre categorisation.