Here are three that I read, which are the all the first book in series or trilogies. Each was a fabulous read and each had me aching for the next in the series. Each had me thinking about it afterwards - not the sort of sugar fix where the effect doesn't last. These books stay with you...
Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost
Feast of Souls by Celia Friedman (C.S.Friedman)
More about them individually in a minute.
These days I am much pickier than I used to be, and there aren't that many books that I can lose myself inside, especially when it comes to fantasy. Instead, I often find myself thinking about the way the book was constructed instead, asking myself why they did something that way or thinking of how I would have done it.
These three were definitely books where all thought of the writing process went out of my head as I was reading. All I could think about was the story and what was going to happen next.
Spirit Gate is the first in a saga (Crossroads), so don't expect a quick end to this one. And don't wait for the last book either, before you begin. The journey is the thing with this one, not the destination. The second book, Shadow Gate, is already out, and is on the top of my TBR pile. I was so anxious to get it that I ended up with an Orbit trade paperback, so it doesn't match the US mass paperback I have of Spirit Gate. But who cares? The story's the thing!
This series is set in a complex world with numerous cultures, always a difficult thing to bring off successfully, let alone brilliantly, as here. The intricacies of the plot - the cultures, the stories, the characters - entwine and separate and come back together - leaving me in awe. I was involved every inch of the way, I guess because I was so rooting for the main protagonists, both male and female. Hey, who couldn't like a hero who rides an eagle?
Who is this book not for? I guess you wouldn't like it if you want that quick sugar fix. It is for readers who love a long involvement with people and a world that will stay with you.
Shadowbridge: great story. And an intriguing mystery too. Draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. Fascinating world - more bridge than land, a strange construction where peopel live and surreal things keep happening. The main character is a shadow puppeteer, which in itself is intriguing.
And every now and then you learn a tiny bit more about the mysteries of the world and the characters and whatever it is that threatens them. Trouble is, every bit you learn seems to ask another question... Definitely one of those reads where the sense of mystery pervades everything and the reader learns the answers along with the equally puzzled main protagonist as the story progresses.
This is only a duology, so you don't have to wait long for all the answers. The second book, Lord Tophet, is already out in the USA.
Feast of Souls: I have read Friedman's sf and fantasy books and loved them all. This is the first in The Magister trilogy, and the second book is out in February, so not long to wait. She's a masterful writer who asks difficult questions and fashions an un-put-downable story around those questions. In this case: what would you risk for power and a very long healthy life - as long as you wanted to live, in fact? More to the point: what would you be prepared to pay, or have another pay? How much, in fact, do you care about someone you've never heard of?
The second book, Wings of Wrath, is out in February. Great stuff.