100 books like Gideon the Ninth

By Tamsyn Muir,

Here are 100 books that Gideon the Ninth fans have personally recommended if you like Gideon the Ninth. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Sabriel

D.P. Vaughan Author Of Ethereal Malignance

From my list on complex identities.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been engrossed by the complexities of identity, a theme I explore as an Australian speculative fiction writer. My own identity comes with its quirks—I hold a Bachelor of Music in Composition, spent a decade in admin roles, and the better part of another decade teaching English to adult migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. This eclectic background enriches my narratives, which blend supernatural elements with grounded realism and diverse representation. Whether it's exploring loneliness or delving into the lives of victims of bullying, my unique lens makes me well-suited to recommend books that tackle intricate themes of identity.

D.P.'s book list on complex identities

D.P. Vaughan Why did D.P. love this book?

Sabriel by Australian author Garth Nix is a YA dark fantasy that captivated me with its visceral descriptions of Charter magic and the brutal realism of life in the Old Kingdom—where the dead do walk.

The protagonist, Sabriel, is raised in a mundane, magic-less world beyond the Wall but is thrust into a realm teeming with dark magic as she searches for her missing father. This journey forces her to grapple with her identity as she navigates the expectations of others who see her only as her father's successor while she remains steadfast in her determination to find and rescue him.

This struggle for self-definition amidst external pressures is a theme that resonates deeply, making Sabriel a must-read for those who appreciate immersive worlds.

By Garth Nix,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Sabriel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A stunning anniversary gift edition of the second in the bestselling Old Kingdom fantasy series.

Sabriel has spent most of her young life far away from the magical realm of the Old Kingdom, and the Dead that roam it. But then a creature from across the Wall arrives at her all-girls boarding school with a message from her father, the Abhorsen - the magical protector of the realm whose task it is to bind and send back to Death those that won't stay Dead. Sabriel's father has been trapped in Death by a dangerous Free Magic creature.

Armed with her…

Book cover of The Windup Girl

Mal Warwick Author Of Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction

From my list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was twelve years old, my picture appeared in my hometown newspaper. I was holding a huge stack of books from the library, a week’s reading. All science fiction. I’ve read voraciously for the past seventy years—though much more widely as an adult. I’ve also had a life founding several small companies and writing twenty books. But I’ve continued to read science fiction, and, increasingly, dystopian novels. Why? Because, as a history buff, I think about the big trends that shape our lives. I see clearly that climate change, breakthroughs in technology, and unstable politics threaten our children’s future. I want to understand how these trends might play out—for better or for worse.

Mal's book list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”

Mal Warwick Why did Mal love this book?

Climate change aside, what scares me the most about technology today is the capacity for bioengineering to run amok.

What happens when scientists monkey around with deadly viruses—and one escapes from the lab? What if some rogue researcher creates an entirely new lifeform that proves toxic to humans? Or some experimental microbe—an effort to save the world’s butterflies, for instance—proves to kill off bees instead?

This novel, which won major awards, depicts a frightening future world wrought by bioengineering. And you wouldn’t want to live there anymore than I do. 

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Windup Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The Windup Girl is the ground-breaking and visionary modern classic that swept the board for every major science fiction award it its year of publication.

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl - the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko - now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of…

Book cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Jasmine Gower Author Of Moonshine

From my list on fantastical civic design.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having previously worked in the Urban Affairs side of academia and drawing heavily on my own experience living in the city of Portland, OR while writing my book, Moonshine, I’ve become very interested in how fantasy authors find creative ways to incorporate the supernatural elements of the genre with the extremely mundane aspects of urban planning and civics. I find that the most immersive fantasy worlds are the ones that concern themselves with the gritty details of how their societies operate on a basic logistical level, and I think a well-written fantasy city can very much shine as a character in its own right.

Jasmine's book list on fantastical civic design

Jasmine Gower Why did Jasmine love this book?

The world-building in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms explores how the powering of societies can come at a human cost—though in this case, the humans have outsourced that cost to the gods. Enslaved by the Arameri aristocratic family that rules over the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, gods and godlings power the Arameri’s control of the city of Sky, allowing the city to flourish but at the expense of the common people’s or the gods’ agency. Compared to the other books listed here, this tale is more concerned with the structures of class and authority (and less so utility) that help turn the gears of society, but its examinations of these aspects of civics are still insightful and, ultimately, optimistic.

By N. K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After her mother's mysterious death, a young woman is summoned to the floating city of Sky in order to claim a royal inheritance she never knew existed in the first book in this award-winning fantasy trilogy from the NYT bestselling author of The Fifth Season.

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into…

Book cover of A Crown for Cold Silver

Stacey Filak Author Of The Queen Underneath

From my list on led by brutal female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hesitate to call myself an expert on anything, except perhaps how to eat too many Pringles and Twizzlers while trying to plot a novel. But if there’s anything else that I’ve spent my life devoted to, it’s the idea that “strong female characters” don’t all fall into one category or another. Give me a world populated by both Chrisjen Avasarala and Bobbie Draper. Give me smart and calculating and deadly force. Give me brutality in all its forms, because men don’t hold a monopoly on viciousness. For a very long time, the heroines we got were Susan Pevensie and Eowyn, accidental sweethearts in a beautiful gown – and I love those characters, too. But frankly, I’m all for wearing that gorgeous dress while you disembowel your enemies and take over the kingdom from your evil step-uncle.

Stacey's book list on led by brutal female characters

Stacey Filak Why did Stacey love this book?

There is not a thing about this book that I don’t love.

Marshall (a pseudonym for Jesse Bullington) tells the story of Zosia – Cold Cobalt, The Banshee with a Blade, First Villain – who is just a few steps past her prime. Twenty-some years have passed since she led her notorious band of generals – The Five Villains – in a war that put her on the throne. A throne she walked away from.

She was done with it all until fate and mistake shattered her retirement, drawing her back into the world and war. Marshall does some really cool things with gender norms, looks aging right in the face with an unvarnished mirror, and gives readers a cold religion, bug-drugs, and all the violence you could want.

But he also gives readers the sort of anti-heroes that you can’t help but cheer for, a cast of minor and…

By Alex Marshall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Crown for Cold Silver as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of Joe Abercrombie, Robert E. Howard and Scott Lynch comes a diverse and action-packed tale of a warrior out for revenge, from a bold new voice in the fantasy genre. Readers will fall in love with the Red Sonja-like Zosia and her Five Villains. Kameron Hurley says 'an epic fantasy that will surprise you . . . if you think you know what's coming, think again.'

Cold Cobalt, the Banshee with a Blade, First Among Villains . . .
When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, the warrior queen Zosia faked…

Book cover of Graceling

Melissa Marr Author Of The Hidden Dragon

From my list on if you want to go on a magical adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on fairy tales and folklore in the Appalachian Mountains. Stories of adventure and dusty fairy tale books in my grandmother’s attic were my entertainment. The library trips we took “into town” added to my reading. I discovered that the step from fairy tales to classics wasn’t as wide as folks argue. Years later, when I went off to college, I became an English major, then a graduate student, and then started teaching literature at college. From childhood to adulthood, magic and fiction were my life... which led to selling a book of my own. Over the last 17 years, I’ve been writing fantasy.

Melissa's book list on if you want to go on a magical adventure

Melissa Marr Why did Melissa love this book?

I loved this book since before it was published.

I gave a quote for the cover of the first printing of it, in fact. Fifteen years later, it still remains a book that can carry me away to a world where magic is not a gift but a challenge to overcome.

Kristen had a fresh idea here, but it still folded into my love of adventure and magic and finding out who we are inside.

That’s a story that will always get my attention, and the writing in this one is also lush enough to make me want to pause and re-read lines.

By Kristin Cashore,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Graceling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Discover the Graceling Realm in this unforgettable, award-winning novel from bestselling author Kristin Cashore.

A New York Times bestseller
ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature Winner
Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal,Booklist, and BCCB Best Book of the Year

"Rageful, exhilarating, wistful in turns" (The New York Times Book Review) with "a knee weakening romance" (LA Times). Graceling is a thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure that will resonate deeply with anyone trying to find their way in the world.

Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, who is smart and beautiful and lives in the…

Book cover of Best Served Cold

Lee Hunt Author Of Bed of Rose and Thorns

From my list on fantasy with the most beautiful endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first two lessons as a geophysicist were confusing opposites. My supervisor told me that I must carry my investigations to professional conclusions, while the very best physicists showed me that good scientists are the most parsimonious about what they conclude. It's a battle between humility and the need to tell a story. We human beings crave a nice, neat ending, and we often only get one in fantasy, for the real world is complex. It was this insight that led me to start every story I ever wrote with at least a concept for the ending. If we are going to go anywhere with our narratives, we better first consider where that is.

Lee's book list on fantasy with the most beautiful endings

Lee Hunt Why did Lee love this book?

Who doesn’t want to right the wrongs committed against them? I try to be a grown up and move on with my life when someone antagonizes me, but sometimes I wish there was justice in the world. Who doesn’t, even if sometimes we know we are not being mature? Revenge is the ultimate ending, and Abercrombie’s clever stand-alone novel examines just how cold it really can be. It turns out, not at all. Monza has been screwed over bad. She has every reason to want to get even—which means everyone who tried to kill her needs to end up dead. The bodies certainly pile up but when she reaches victory, Monza finds it more absurd than cold. Entertaining, thought-provoking, and more than a little darkly humorous. Take it with a shadowy laugh.

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Best Served Cold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories…

Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Sara Jo Easton Author Of A Dream of Light

From my list on LGBTQ+ to annoy the people trying to ban them.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Sara Jo Easton, and I’m the bisexual author of the Zarder novels, a fantasy series where a race of dragon-like creatures called Onizards learns to get past their prejudices. When I was at a book signing for my third book, The Blood of Senbralni, a strange man loudly declared I was part of an agenda to turn people to homosexuality and Satan with my evil dragons. To be clear, I am not and will never be affiliated with Satan. I made a vow that every book I wrote from that point forward would have at least one LGBTQ+ romance with a happy ending to annoy people like that man.

Sara's book list on LGBTQ+ to annoy the people trying to ban them

Sara Jo Easton Why did Sara love this book?

If you’re like me, you are a sucker for stories about an outsider finding themselves in a new society and having to struggle and adapt to circumstances they don’t fully understand.

Genly Ai is a man who is sent to the planet Gethen to convince the people there to join a planetary alliance. The problem is Genly is so fixated on his manhood and personal identity that he can’t adapt culturally in a world where everyone is genderfluid.

Genly’s political mistakes get him into a lot of trouble that his lone ally Estraven tries to save him from, and it is only by learning to accept differences and listen to Estraven that Genly finally succeeds in his quest.

You can’t go wrong with the engrossing worldbuilding in this book, and as a bonus the people trying to ban LGBTQ+ books will be extremely annoyed if you read a book where…

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Left Hand of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction-winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants' gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an…

Book cover of The Bear and the Nightingale

Jelena Dunato Author Of Dark Woods, Deep Water

From my list on folklore and fairy-tale inspired fantasy for dark winter nights.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an art historian, curator, and speculative fiction writer from Croatia, and I’ve always been in love with folklore, mythology, and all things ancient. In my work, I always try to blend real historical details with magic, and I adore secondary worlds that are immersive and solid enough to walk into yet different from our own.

Jelena's book list on folklore and fairy-tale inspired fantasy for dark winter nights

Jelena Dunato Why did Jelena love this book?

This is a perfect wintry read for me: a book set in the dark, snow-laden forests filled with dangerous creatures who stepped right out of the Russian folk tales.

I love the main protagonist, Vasya, a brave, stubborn girl who fights to protect her family. I found the story immersive and unputdownable, filled with darkness and enchanting beauty, and I wholeheartedly recommend it, as well as its two sequels in the Winternight Trilogy.

By Katherine Arden,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Bear and the Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beware the evil in the woods...

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods. . .

Atmospheric and enchanting,…

Book cover of Leviathan Wakes

Jean Gilbert Author Of Shifters

From my list on science fiction books that suck you into their world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have prosopagnosia, Face Blindness. I can’t recognize my face, let alone anyone else. Not being able to remember people makes for a lonely existence. Ever since I was little, I created worlds inside my head. These were places where I could control what happened when the real world felt lonely and out of control. Discovering books that created worlds I could immerse myself in was life-changing for me. It was like finding my lost tribe. Science fiction became a comfortable home, becoming a science fiction writer was a natural progression. I still get excited when I find a book that sucks me into its world.

Jean's book list on science fiction books that suck you into their world

Jean Gilbert Why did Jean love this book?

The possibility of terraforming Mars and mankind moving further away from Earth has always intrigued me. Besides the politics, how it affected humanity felt based on reality.

Human nature doesn’t change. We all know that. I am not big on reading mysteries. However, I fell in love with the idea behind the mystery that was the foundation for the whole series and how its discovery affected everyone. Would I make the same hard choices as they had to do? I still don’t have an answer to that.

By James S. A. Corey,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Leviathan Wakes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Humanity has colonized the planets - interstellar travel is still beyond our reach, but the solar system has become a dense network of colonies. But there are tensions - the mineral-rich outer planets resent their dependence on Earth and Mars and the political and military clout they wield over the Belt and beyond. Now, when Captain Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the…

Book cover of All Systems Red

Julia Huni Author Of The Vacuum of Space

From my list on Science Fiction books to make you smile.

Why am I passionate about this?

My tagline is “sci-fi with heart and humor,” and that’s the core of who I am. Making others smile is my reason for being—whether that’s through the books I write, the silly things I say, or the crazy things I do. I’ve written twenty-eight books so far, and the purpose of every one of them is to make you giggle. I’ve written funny sci-fi, cheerful space opera, and a series of terrestrial romantic comedies set in a kitschy, over-the-top small town. 

Julia's book list on Science Fiction books to make you smile

Julia Huni Why did Julia love this book?

I heard so many people rave about the Murderbot Diaries (this is book 1) that I launched my own one-person boycott—until someone gave me a copy. Then, I wondered why I had resisted for so long. It’s fantastic! I love Murderbot’s dry delivery—very similar to my own style of humor. The story is fabulous—full of action, technology, and danger—and Murderbot slowly reveals its backstory and personality as it carries you through the story.

I loved that the built-to-work-tirelessly Murderbot is instinctively lazy, prefers to watch soap operas over doing its job, and cleverly hides those “failings” from the people it is supposed to be serving. The satisfying ending made me pick up book 2 almost immediately. 

By Martha Wells,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked All Systems Red as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Systems Red by Martha Wells begins The Murderbot Diaries, a new science fiction action and adventure series that tackles questions of the ethics of sentient robotics. It appeals to fans of Westworld, Ex Machina, Ann Leckie's Imperial Raadch series, or lain M. Banks' Culture novels. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans. In a corporate dominated s pa cef a ring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by…

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