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  1. #1

    Good 1st Person fantasy novels?

    I've recently gotten my wife hooked on reading fantasy books, however she has the interesting quirk of only liking 1st person novels - to the point that it is her main criteria, and if it's third person, she just won't read it.

    Being such, I'm finding it fairly hard to find more books - preferably books published in ebook format - for her to read, as it seems that most sf and f is written in 3rd person.

    So far she has read (and liked) Jim Butcher's Dresden series, Richelle Mead's Georgia Kincaid series (currently reading), Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series, and Mary Stewart's Merlin books. She's also read and enjoyed the Twilight series and the Percy Jackson series.

    It's an odd primary preference to have, but does anyone know of any good fantasy books that are written in first person that my wife might enjoy? Thanks for any recommendations you can give!

  2. #2
    You might consider offering up Drood, though its catagorization as fantasy is perhaps questionable, its an excellent read and in the 1st person. I purchased it because it was in the fantasy section at Waterstones and there is a fantasy element - it concerns Charles Dickens, is told by Wilkie Collins, and features hypnosis, Egyptian gods, and an evil murderous spectre known only as Drood.

  3. #3
    As far as I know, Robin Hobb writes exclusively from a first-person perspective. However, I've only read two of her series, The Farseer Trilogy and Soldier's Son series.

    Here's the deal though: I am not a big Hobb fan. I recognize her as a good writer. Hell, I believe she is a 'masterful' writer. I know, that's a big word and a big compliment. But I believe it's true, however, she is just not my taste. I think perhaps my taste are just not refined enough to properly enjoy Hobb's narratives.

    This is what I've come to believe about Hobb's narratives and some others who utilize the first-person perspective: (1) The stories tend to be overweighted with misery and tragedy due to the narrative perspective--we don't just see and hear the protagonists' harships and shame, but we are sometimes forced to dwell on them with the character; and (2) the first-person perspective automatically limits an author's breadth and depth of vision and awareness, obviously; which can have dramatic consequences for world-building, tone and other vital elements used to construct beguiling narratives; finally (3) I'm of the 'show-me-don't-tell-me' school of storytelling, and the first person POV sometimes lends itself more readily to 'telling' us a story rather than 'showing' us; we're stuck in a single perspective and just being told what is happening to and around the narrator.

    I don't know. You were just asking for some suggestions, and I went off on a rant. Sorry 'bout that. Your wife likes what she likes, and that's cool. The first person approach provides some unique narrative tools too, I will admit. Again, the only author I'm really familiar with who uses it regularly is Hobb, and she has this uncanny ability to create a sense of overwhelming urgency for her protagonists through the use of first person. Every conflict is more consequential, every challenge is more demanding and every foe is scarier, simply because we are stuck within the concentrated perspective of a first-person narrator and the isolated awareness of that single voice; preferences become overwhelming desires; personal longings become absolute needs; and simple fears escalate to near maddening paranoia when seen solely through the perspective of one person.

    LOL . . . So, what I'm trying to say is maybe your wife would enjoy Robin Hobb, despite my personal opinion that her narratives tend to suffer somewhat from a lack of depth and breadth in perspective.

  4. #4
    lol...thanks for the suggestions, and Hobb I actually have buried in my ebook reading queue, so that's something I can hand her right away. I also see and agree with what you say about 1st person stories in general. I think for the most part they seem to move a bit faster than 3rd person stories of a similar nature, and I know my wife feels like she can connect with the character more if it's in first person. They can be fun reads, and I certainly find Jim Butcher's Dresden Files to be a fun read, but my personal top 10 books are all 3rd person.

    I like the show rather than tell methodology of writing as well, and my sticking point within 3rd person is that I tend not to care much for omnicient voice. Moving from the thoughts of one character to another and back in the same story section can be confusing, and can be done better. I like me some limited 3rd person best, and personally I think C.J. Cherryh is one of the best out there in writing clean limited 3rd person where you are shown rather than told what is going on. Again, off on a tangent, and thanks again for the book suggestions!

  5. #5
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    One contemporary urban fantasy that I've found entertaining is Mike Carey's Felix Castor series. It is definitely first person, and on more than occasion I've heard it compared favorably to Butcher's Dresden series (though I have not yet gotten around to reading Butcher myself).

    The initial volume in this series is called The Devil You Know and the following is the publisher's description:

    Description: Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. At a time when the supernatural world is in upheaval and spilling over into the mundane reality of the living, his skills have never been more in demand. A good exorcist can charge what he likes — and enjoy a hell of a lifestyle — but there’s a risk: sooner or later he’s going to take on a spirit that’s too strong for him.

    After a year spent in ‘retirement’ Castor is reluctantly drawn back to the life he rejected and accepts a seemingly simple exorcism case — just to pay the bills, you understand. Trouble is, the more he discovers about the ghost haunting the archive, the more things don’t add up. What should have been a perfectly straightforward exorcism is rapidly turning into the Who Can Kill Castor First Show, with demons, were-beings and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize.

    But that’s OK, Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It’s the living who piss him off…

  6. #6
    Harry Potter.

    Dont get turned off by it being a kids novel, it is simply amazing! I cant remember if it is 1st person thoug....

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    I would suggest The Name of the Wind by Rothfuss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pajak View Post
    Harry Potter.

    Dont get turned off by it being a kids novel, it is simply amazing! I cant remember if it is 1st person thoug....
    It's not

  9. #9
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Just tell her to keep reading contemporary fantasy, as about half of it is in first person. Also Stephen Brust's Vlad Taltos series, the first trilogy in Glen Cook's Black Company series and his Garrett P.I. series. There are more of them, but I'm going to bed.

  10. #10
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Juliet Marillier - Sevenwaters series: I've only read the first three books

    Lois McMaster Bujold - Chalion books are fantasy, as is the lighter Sharing Knife. Miles Vorkossigan is space opera

    Jennifer Robertson - Tiger and Dell series

    Patricia McKillip - Winter Rose

  11. #11
    Registered User BrightStar's Avatar
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    You might want to check out Carol Berg. She writes exclusively in first person. I'd particularly recommend her Rai-Kirah trilogy, and also Song of the Beast. Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether her books are available in Ebook format. It'd be a big shame if they're not.

    I was also going to recommend The Fade, by Chris Wooding. It's a very good first person, although unfortunately not available as an Ebook right now. Maybe one to keep an eye on, in case it ever does get released in Ebook.

  12. #12
    As CatG's mentioned, a lot of contemporary fantasy is written in first person, especially the paranormal private investigator kind of series -- basically if it's in any way like Butcher and Bryggs and them the odds are it's in first. I'll third [or fourth, or whatever] Mike Carey's Felix books: slightly meaner but still darkly funny Butcher-esque stories of an exorcist in London. For whatever reason the series doesn't seem to have sold very well in North America, so only the first three books are available here if that's where you are. The remainder of the series -- currently two more books -- is UK only right now. I've also recently gotten hooked on Seanan McGuire's October Day books, which are first-person stories about a half-faerie changeling P.I living in San Fransisco. Some of the banter grates on me now and then in the first couple, but the character's really engaging and the world, which is a blend of nursery rhyme and mythic nightmare trip, is pretty awesome too. First book is Rosemary and Rue, second is A Local Habitation. If near-future sci-fi is an option too, McGuire's written a zombie novel called Feed under the name Mira Grant, which is probably the best single book of her's I've read so far. Lots more of urban stuff like this to be found.

    Note about The Name of the Wind: I saw someone recommended this and I second wholeheartedly but there's something you should know: The book is the first-person recollections of a character telling the story of his past, and while the overwhelming majority is in first person there are third-person bits which introduce and comment on the action, and one of the longest of these is right at the beginning. Don't be fooled: most of it really is first-person.
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    Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 02:54 AM.

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    You should check out Kushiels Dart by Jacqueline Carey. I'm surprised no one else suggested it. It's the first book of a series but is also great as a stand alone novel. It is the best 1st person book I have read and on top of that has a female lead. My Fiance doesn't like fantasy at all but I got her to read this book and she loved it!

  14. #14
    Registered User BrightStar's Avatar
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    You could try Sarah Monette's Melusine. Whilst not a favorite of mine, a lot of people here do love it. It's book one in a series of I can't recall how many. I just checked and there's a Kindle edition of book one. There are some rather graphic parts to it though, so might want to beware of that.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjolnir View Post
    I'll third [or fourth, or whatever] Mike Carey's Felix books: slightly meaner but still darkly funny Butcher-esque stories of an exorcist in London. For whatever reason the series doesn't seem to have sold very well in North America, so only the first three books are available here if that's where you are. The remainder of the series -- currently two more books -- is UK only right now.
    Hi mjolnir,

    I'm always glad to see a fellow Mike Carey fan. I don't know much about ebooks, but if the original poster decides to try the series and likes it enough to want to continue beyond the initial 3 that are available in that format, then books 4 and 5 can be obtained in the U.S. in print version. Unfortunately not everywhere, but Book Depository carries them. Amazon too has intermittently had them in stock, and is currently listing both as available.

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