The best fantasy books that are off the beaten path

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been passionate about Fantasy ever since I found a used copy of the Dragonlance Chronicles in a second-hand book store in India. I was 10 years old and immediately fell in love with the idea of fantasy worlds with magic and dragons. Soon after I read Terry Brooks, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, RA Salvatore, Edgar Burroughs, and a host of other writers from the 1980s. What I like about the books I've chosen is that these characters are memorable. They are stories that can be re-read because the plot doesn't feel like rehashed tropes. The uniqueness of the settings, the challenges they face, and the solutions they engineer are what make them worth reading.


I wrote...

Keep Calm and Go Crazy: A Guide to Finding Your Inner Hero

By Rohan Monteiro,

Book cover of Keep Calm and Go Crazy: A Guide to Finding Your Inner Hero

What is my book about?

He had it all: a spot on the couch, a bunch of friends, and a semi-decent-paying job... What more could anyone want? But when an unexpected offer took him to Dubai, Rohan realized he was completely clueless about how to survive. And when he found the girl of his dreams, survival was no longer an option. He needed to discover the hero within him, and he was buried way too deep. In a journey across mountains, rivers, and jungles, with half-baked plans and misadventures, Rohan reinvents himself in the pursuit of true love and along the way inspires us to discover our true selves.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Name of the Wind

Rohan Monteiro Why did I love this book?

This is by far the most well-written book I’ve ever read. Not only is the story rich and exciting, he has a way of describing the scene that helps paint a vivid image in your mind of what is happening as if you are present and part of the plot at the time.

By Patrick Rothfuss,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Name of the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The lyrical fantasy masterpiece about stories, legends and how they change the world. The Name of the Wind is an absolute must-read for any fan of fantasy fiction.

'This is a magnificent book' Anne McCaffrey

'I was reminded of Ursula K. Le Guin, George R. R. Martin, and J. R. R. Tolkein, but never felt that Rothfuss was imitating anyone' THE TIMES

'I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University…


Book cover of Waylander

Rohan Monteiro Why did I love this book?

Gemmel is still the only author who writes heroic fantasy in a way that inspires you. His style is unmatched, his heroes are all larger than life and their battle scenes are exquisite. He has an attention to detail that allows you to bond with the character and care for each of them.

By David Gemmell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Waylander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE HARD-BITTEN CHAMPION OF BRITISH HEROIC FANTASY' - Joe Abercrombie

'HEROISM AND HEARTBREAK . . . GEMMELL IS ADRENALINE WITH SOUL' - Brent Weeks

The Drenai King is dead - murdered by a ruthless assassin. Enemy troops swarm into Drenai lands. Their orders are simple - kill every man, woman and child.

But there is hope.

Stalked by men who act like beasts and beasts that walk like men, the warrior Waylander must journey into the shadow-haunted lands of the Nadir to find the legendary Armour of Bronze. With this he can turn the tide. But can he be trusted?…


Book cover of The Lies of Locke Lamora

Rohan Monteiro Why did I love this book?

These are the character you would like to be. They are tricksters, rogues, assassins, and thieves, all rolled into one. The Gentlemen bastards is a series of heists (and one rigged election) in a world where your enemies are mages and all you have to rely on are your wits.

By Scott Lynch,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Lies of Locke Lamora as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of my top ten books ever. Maybe top five. If you haven't read it, you should' Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind

'Fresh, original and engrossing' George R.R. Martin, the phenomenon behind A Game of Thrones

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he's part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.

Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the…


Book cover of Empire in Black and Gold

Rohan Monteiro Why did I love this book?

Ten glorious books about deceitful spiders, brave dragonflies, and steadfast beetles. In a world where people possess the traits of different insects, the wasps are expanding their empire. One lone beetle decides to challenge them. Shadows of the Apt turns traditional fantasy on its head by bringing together a whole new set of protagonists - Mantis who are skilled swordsmen beyond compare, Spiders who can craft deceitful webs of intrigue, Ants who can operate within a hive mind, and the like. The storytelling is unique for never before have there been characters like this, on a scale as massive as the insect kingdom.

By Adrian Tchaikovsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Empire in Black and Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Empire in Black and Gold is the first instalment in the critically-acclaimed fantasy series Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The days of peace are over . . .

The Lowlands' city states have lived in peace for decades, hailed as bastions of civilization. Yet that peace is about to end. A distant empire has been conquering neighbours with highly trained soldiers and sophisticated combat techniques. And the city states are its desirable new prize.

Only the ageing Stenwold Maker - spymaster, artificer and statesman - foresees the threat, as the empires' armies march ever closer. So it falls…


Book cover of Mistress of the Empire

Rohan Monteiro Why did I love this book?

In a magical world, based in Japan, a young girl needs to rely on her wits to survive. A highly political intrigue-filled thriller. This book is easily one of the best examples of Asian fantasy done right. What I like about the book is the way the characters are brought to life. The female lead Mara of the Acoma starts the story in a desperately vulnerable position and finds a way to work within the rigidly hierarchical and misogynistic system she is part of to effect change from within. The challenges she faces don't appear contrived in any way and her solutions are masterfully implemented. 

By Raymond E. Feist, Janny Wurts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mistress of the Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The world on the other side of the rift:  Kelewan, a land seething with political intrigue and deadly conspiracies.  Following the opulent panoply of Daughter Of The Empire and the dazzling pageantry of Servant Of The Empire comes the resounding conclusion to the Empire trilogy.

Besieged by spies and rival houses, stalked by a secret and merciless brotherhood of assassins, the brilliant Lady Mara of the Acoma faces the most deadly challenge she has ever known.  The fearsome Black Robes see Mara as the ultimate threat to their ancient power.  In search of allies who will join her against them,…


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Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

Book cover of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

Sam Baldwin Author Of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Englishman who fell in love with a 300-year-old former sausage curing hut on the side of a Slovenian mountain in 2007. After years of visits spent renovating the place, I moved to Slovenia, where I lived and worked for many years, exploring the country, customs, and culture, learning some of the language, and visiting its most beautiful places. I continue to be enamored with Slovenia, and you will regularly find me at my cabin, making repairs and splitting firewood.

Sam's book list on books about Slovenia

What is my book about?

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house, but what was meant as a pitstop becomes life-changing when he decides to stay. Along the way, he meets a colourful cross-section of Slovene society: from dormouse hunters, moonshine makers, beekeepers, and bitcoin miners, to a man who swam the Amazon, and a hilltop matriarch who…

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

What is this book about?

'Charming, funny, insightful, and moving. The perfect book for any Slovenophile' - Noah Charney, BBC presenter

'A rollicking and very affectionate tour' - Steve Fallon, author of Lonely Planet Slovenia

'Delivers discovery and adventure...captivating!' - Bartosz Stefaniak, editor, 3 Seas Europe

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house but what was meant as…


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