Duncan's Picks

The place to check for most things fantasy and sci-fi!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765387561
Availability: Backordered
Published: Tor Books - October 6th, 2020

Mistborn Boxed Set I: Mistborn, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250267177
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Fantasy - March 31st, 2020

My one sentence review: A series full of interesting magic, espionage, rebels, and growth.

One of the best fantasies ever written. Brandon Sanderson is endlessly inventive with his magic systems, and his world building is extensive. But enough about him, and more about the series:

This story follows our main character Vin as she evolves from street-bound small time thief, to a force of nature in the form of one of the exceptionally powerful Mistborn. She is recruited by Kelsier, the leader a unique band of thieves and con-men whose goal is to overthrow the Lord Ruler, an emporer with the powers of a god. She must learn to disguise herself as nobility and traverse the courts spreading rumours while gathering intelligence. This series is both an action/adventure and a spy thriller. As a Mistborn, Vin has the ability to use all the powers known under the blanket term 'Allomancy,' which is the ability to ingest certain metals and 'burn' them for various effects. Some are subtle, such as influencing emotions, while others are completely the opposite, with the ability to push and pull metals used to launch coins as weapons and propel oneself through the air. And those are just two of the very simple applications, Sanderson creates nuances and other uses that blow your mind with their inventiveness. 

There is a reason this series sits at the top of my staff picks, and I encourage you to read all of his other books as well. You will not be disappointed. 

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250313188
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tordotcom - July 14th, 2020

A one sentence review: Endless, horror filled, irreverant, nonstop fun!

I mean you can't get much better than the review given by Charlie Stross: "Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!" 

This book is a wonder, it manages to have irreverant humor, heartfelt moments, and true horror elements all throughout. It is an excellent example of Science Fantasy as well, rather than just Science Fiction. It's full of swordfighting, necromancy, and interesting characters. Definitely a good choice for anyone who's not afraid of a unique adventure, wandering the halls of an ancient castle, raising the dead, and a few laughs along the way. 

One of my favorite recent reads!

Assassin's Apprentice: The Farseer Trilogy Book 1 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553573398
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Spectra - March 1st, 1996

One sentence review: A sober fantasy, chronicling a young boy's transformation from bastard to royal assassin. 

Robin Hobb knocks it out of the park with every book that she writes, and this is no exception. This book is full of twists and turns that will keep you coming back for more after every book. 

The bastard Fitz is completely ignored by the nobility, except for his grandfather, King Shrewd. The king sees an advantage in having a royal bastard as an agent for the kingdom, and therefor has Fitz train under the royal poison master. As Fitz is part royal, he has the ability to access the Skill, a power which allows for communication and control over long distances. However, unknown to most except for the stablemaster who raised him, he also has the ability to communicate with not only other people, but with animals as well. This is known as the Wit, and it is reviled throughout the kingdom, with practitioners hiding away their abilities and living as hermits to avoid being persecuted. The magic in this story is not something that is used without a second thought, it is not flashy. It has a cost, and requires a mental fortitude that goes beyond simple concentration. 

One of my constant rereads!

A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel (Shades of Magic #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765376466
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - January 19th, 2016

A one sentence review: A dimension hopping adventure of a royal smuggler trying to stop an infectious magic from breaking the world. 

V. E. Schwab is a store favorite for a reason, her writing is beautiful, serious, and addictive. This book tracks the story of Kell, a wizard adopted by the Royal Family of Red London, a version of London full of magic and wonders, where the Thames is so full of magic it literally glows red. He is one of the few Antari, wizards with one black eye, with the ability to travel between worlds. On a routine trip to Grey and White London, one without magic, one controlled by it, he is asked by a normal citizen to deliver something across worlds, which is forbidden. His decision to say yes results in a power struggle between worlds, and he is forced to his limits in both magic and trust. 

An absolute treat to read, one of my favorite authors!

Staff Pick Badge
Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451457813
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Roc - April 1st, 2000

One sentence review: A wizard private detective who didn't sign up for any of this and can't catch a break. 

Jim Butcher is essentially the current godfather of Urban Fantasy. His writing is emminently relatable, interesting, and doesn't always take itself too seriously. This is just the beginning of the series, so if you start this one, be prepared to have quite a bit to catch up on. 

Harry Dresden is a wizard private detective. The only one in Chicago in fact. Most people that acquire his services don't believe the wizard part, but there are some things that can't just be explained without the use of magic. For instance, this time he's been called in by Chicago PD to try and help explain an illicit rendezvous turned black magic double homicide. Dresden is sarcastic, witty, and a pain in the neck for anyone trying to get away from him. After all, he specializes in finding things and people. This series has an excellent cast of returning characters, all of whom you get to know better and care for throughout the years. 

I reread all of Jim Butcher's book every time he releases a new one, they're all just that good! 

Foundryside: A Novel (The Founders Trilogy #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525573845
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - May 21st, 2019

A one sentence review: Thievery and corporate espionage where magic is fully dictated by logic.

Magic usually allows characters to bend the laws of nature to their advantage. However, in this world the magic has just as many laws as the natural world. Sancia, a highly skilled thief is hired to steal an artifact of unknown, immense power. Soon after, the merchant guilds want her hunted down, and she is forced to gather her allies and prevent the guilds from seizing a nearly unimaginable source of power. 

This entire book is very solid, but one of its shining points is the magic and its integration with the rest of the world. Once you learn some of the basics of it, you begin to see how structured and organized it is, meaning that every clever application makes sense, and never feels cheap. One of my favorite magic systems in a long time!

Cold Iron (Masters & Mages #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316399319
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Orbit - October 23rd, 2018

The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765365279
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Fantasy - May 24th, 2011

Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812550702
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Science Fiction - July 15th, 1994

Dune Cover Image
ISBN: 9780441172719
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ace - September 1st, 1990

Vicious (Villains #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250183507
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - May 29th, 2018

The Emperor's Blades: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, Book I Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765336439
Availability: Backordered
Published: Tor Books - August 26th, 2014

The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316274074
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Orbit - May 9th, 2017

Kings of the Wyld (The Band) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316362474
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Orbit - February 21st, 2017

The Night Circus Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307744432
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - July 3rd, 2012

Eragon: Book I (The Inheritance Cycle #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375826696
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - April 26th, 2005

The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon Cycle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345518705
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey - March 23rd, 2010

Six of Crows Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250076960
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Square Fish - February 6th, 2018

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635574043
Availability: Backordered
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - March 3rd, 2020

This Is How You Lose the Time War Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781534431003
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Gallery / Saga Press - July 16th, 2019

Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book One Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345522474
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey - May 3rd, 2011