The best books to help deconstruct tropes

Who am I?

I love history and stories. Over the years I realized stories are part history and part character. I still don’t know in which ratio, but a story without characters or history is boring. A world, any world, needs history as much as characters because the story develops from their interaction. As a writer I always ask why. It’s the quintessential question. Any character is there for a reason that must be linked to history in some form. It’s cheap to say, “they’re there because it suits the plot.” And all of these books give us both history and character(s). And then some.


I wrote...

Shattered Dreams

By Ulff Lehmann,

Book cover of Shattered Dreams

What is my book about?

Epic fantasy, grim and dark. No heroes, no villains, only people confronted with the past, with choices they made, and their consequences. As an ancient enemy stirs in the bowels of a ruined elven city, a country attacks its neighbor, and a broken man turns to face his past.

Experience the events through the eyes of many unique characters. Follow disparate paths as they weave together to reveal the grand tapestry that leaves you reeling. Murder, intrigue, war, seen through the eyes of many.

The books I picked & why

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Jackdaws

By Ken Follett,

Book cover of Jackdaws

Why this book?

In history class, we only learned about the abstracts of World War II, and then only from the criminal’s side, with very few lessons being dedicated to the other victims. Not only does this book allow you into the French Resistance against Nazi occupation, its main character is a woman! It’s obviously fiction, and the ending is still the fall of Nazi Germany, but you sweat along with the characters. It’s wonderful to see a completely ruthless female warrior take the fight to a vile enemy. Especially for me as a German, it was a great read.


The Winter King

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of The Winter King

Why this book?

Another era of history. Britain after the Roman occupation, during the Saxon invasion. It’s a retelling of the Arthur myth, from the point of view of an old Briton warrior who recounts the battles Arthur led against the Saxons. Historical fiction at its best, I love this series so much. It depicts an England before it was England, with a people struggling to recover their identity after centuries of Romanization. All the characters are there, Arthur, Merlin, Nimue, but they are all different. And nothing is as you thought. The author shows a world that could have been the origins of the myth that followed.


A Game of Thrones

By George R.R. Martin,

Book cover of A Game of Thrones

Why this book?

I know most people have heard of or watched the TV series, but the books are so much better. When I first read it, the multiple points of view confused, and then fascinated me. And the more I read the more enamored I became. This was unlike any fantasy book I had read before, it was exactly what I craved fantasy books to be like. Realism, shocking reveals and surprises, and everything delivered from different characters so that while the reader knows more than the characters, it’s always uncertain if what a character perceives is actually the truth.


Starship Troopers

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of Starship Troopers

Why this book?

This book has a bad reputation. And maybe I am reading it wrong, or maybe others are. I’m not sure. The movie is unlike the book, a satire of fascism. I love the movie for that. But the book is different. It doesn’t show jarheads, but a society that has evolved. Whether it’s for the better or worse is open to interpretation, and in a time of war (it’s not called Starship Repairmen) it deals with the staple of all sci-fi, alien invaders. To me it’s a thoughtful book, despite the power armor and tactical nuclear grenades.


The Bourne Identity

By Robert Ludlum,

Book cover of The Bourne Identity

Why this book?

So unlike the movie, and so much better. Yes, it’s an older novel, but the previous entry isn’t that fresh either. I love how broken Bourne is, how the stuff he went through virtually destroyed the person he was before he became Bourne, but also the persona he had created for himself. His agony gushes from the page, and it’s a wonder to behold. No James Bond, no gentleman spy, just a broken man trying to put the shards of his life back into some resemblance of normalcy.


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