77 books like The Shadow of the Torturer

By Gene Wolfe, Don Maitz (illustrator),

Here are 77 books that The Shadow of the Torturer fans have personally recommended if you like The Shadow of the Torturer. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Book of Jhereg

Andy Peloquin Author Of Assassin

From my list on dark assassins and bloody action.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved the darker side of fantasy. While heroes, knights, and handsome kings can occasionally be enjoyable, I want to know the other characters who have suffered, hurt, lost, grieved, and been hardened by grim circumstances and cruel fate. Those characters demonstrate the resilience of human nature and how goodness truly can exist even in the harshest environment. I love using this darkness in my own novels to show that even the tiniest spark can shine immensely bright—a true testament to the indefatigability of our spirits.  

Andy's book list on dark assassins and bloody action

Andy Peloquin Why did Andy love this book?

I love the cunning, wit, and charm of the one-and-only Vlad Taltos. Though he’s an assassin, he’s never cruel or wicked; he merely does what he needs to appease the “mafia-feeling” organization he works for. He’s almost more a swashbuckling rogue than a killer.

In his interactions with his familiar, Loiosh, you see his more nuanced side, the morality beneath the magic and swordplay. And few fantasy worlds I’ve ever visited have been as rich and colorful as those created in the Vlad Taltos series. 

By Steven Brust,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Book of Jhereg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first three fantastical adventures of assassin Vlad Taltos—now in one volume.

A welcome addition to any fantasy fan's library, The Book of Jhereg follows the antics of the wise-cracking Vlad Taltos and his dragon-like companion through their first three adventures—Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla.

There are many ways for a young man with quick wits and a quick sword to advance in the world. Vlad Taltos chose the route of assassin. From his rookie days to his selfless feats of heroism, the dauntless Vlad will hold readers spellbound—and The Book of Jhereg will take its place among the classic compilations…


Book cover of The Deep

Matt Weber Author Of Brimstone Slipstream

From my list on fantasy that reimagines society.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science fiction is rightly famous for experimenting with new and strange social worlds, but fantasy tends to fall back on the usual feudal tropes: the whims of kings, the valor of knights, the always-temporary powerlessness of farm boys, the technicalities of succession. Which is a shame, because fantasy provides just as much opportunity to reimagine what society could look like. That’s what I try to do in my books, and at my job, where I’m working to bring 21st-century data literacy and quantitative reasoning to a state government stuck resolutely in the ’90s. When I think of books that have done what I’m trying to do, these five are at the front of my mind.

Matt's book list on fantasy that reimagines society

Matt Weber Why did Matt love this book?

This book is about how trauma can force you to choose between memory and sanity… and how this problem gets worse when you live in a society of telepaths.

Said telepaths are the mer-person descendants of enslaved Africans who threw themselves off the boats from Africa to the Americas, but the emotional core of the book makes the deep weirdness of the premise pretty much an afterthought. 

By Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson , Jonathan Snipes

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Deep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE LAMBDA LITERARY LGBTQ SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY/HORROR AWARD

The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society-and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award-nominated song "The Deep" from Daveed Diggs's rap group clipping.

Yetu holds the memories for her people-water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners-who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one-the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on…


Book cover of The Last Legends of Earth

Brent Hayward Author Of Filaria

From my list on sci-fi able to stand toe to toe with any genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Canadian science fiction writer who writes very, very slowly. I’m interested in experimental fiction and books that are unique, both thematically and stylistically. I’d like to think my books fall into this category, or at least that’s what I aspire to. I used to read science fiction exclusively, and the five books I’ve listed here were all read during those formative years; they were fundamental stepping-stones for me, as a writer, and each of them left a profound mark on my idea of how good, or effective, novels can be.

Brent's book list on sci-fi able to stand toe to toe with any genre

Brent Hayward Why did Brent love this book?

Attanasio can run hot and cold, but when he’s hot he’s on fire! This book may have the most ambitious plot of any novel I’ve ever read and is almost impossible to describe. It spans galaxies, has a truly bizarre vibe, and yet rings true, with a love story thrown in.  

By A.A. Attanasio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Legends of Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seven billion years from now, long after the Sun has died and human life has become extinct, alien beings reconstruct homo sapiens from our fossilized DNA drifting as debris in deep space. We are reborn to serve as bait in a battle to the death between the Rimstalker, humankind's re-animator, and the zōtl, horrific creatures who feed vampire-like on the suffering of intelligent lifeforms.

The resurrected children of Earth are told: "You owe no debt to the being that roused you to this second life. Neither must you expect it to guide you or benefit you in any way." Yet,…


Book cover of The Scar

Kim Alexander Author Of The Sand Prince

From my list on fantasy that make you feel like you’ve been there.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer of epic fantasy and paranormal romance, and my obsession is writing about the fashion, food, language, and social politics of the worlds I create. World building is vital if you intend to create a lived-in backdrop for your story, but intricate, elaborate world building will only take you so far. You (the author) must have a cast of characters equally well developed. I’ve tried to take lessons away from every book I’ve read and every author I’ve interviewed and worked to balance characters to fall in love with against places that feel absolutely alive. Their joy/terror/love/hate/experience becomes the readers. It’s that combination that makes a book unforgettable.

Kim's book list on fantasy that make you feel like you’ve been there

Kim Alexander Why did Kim love this book?

Although The Scar is the second book in the Bas Lag series, I prefer it to Perdido Street Station (which is also glorious.) The Scar takes to the seas, a place I always prefer to be, in the form of the floating, roving city of Armada.

We come aboard (as it were) and experience life on Armada—its precincts, villages, towns, secrets, and its people—swordsmen and librarians and vampires and the mysterious pair who run the place—The Lovers (that’s the only name we get) through the eyes of Bellis Coldwine, a prickly, difficult, but fascinating woman who would literally rather be anywhere else.

I get where she’s coming from but I would absolutely book a cruise on Armada!

By China Miéville,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Scar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A human cargo bound for servitude in exile... A pirate city hauled across the oceans... A hidden miracle about be revealed... This is the story of a prisoner's journey. The search for the island of a forgotten people, for the most astonishing beast in the seas, and ultimately for a fabled place - a massive wound in reality, a source of unthinkable power and danger.From the author of Perdido Street Station, another colossal fantasy of incredible diversity and spellbinding imagination, which was acclaimed in The Times Literary Supplement as: 'An astonishing novel, guaranteed to astound and enthral the most jaded…


Book cover of Dhalgren

Blair Austin Author Of Dioramas

From my list on opening strange worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former librarian I have long been fascinated with Borges’s view of books: their metaphysical shape and their tendency to open into the uncanny and the infinite. Illness early in life drove me to books, to their particular isolation. Since then, I’ve found that worlds can open almost anywhere in literature by way of a mood, a patina of language, a vision, a set of images completely beyond the control of the writer. Now, I read these books to remind me of what fiction can do, the places it can go, the worlds it will open.

Blair's book list on opening strange worlds

Blair Austin Why did Blair love this book?

Samuel R. Delaney’s masterpiece, Dhalgren, is set in a city in the Midwest that has been emptied by an unnamed catastrophe.

A sense of freedom, violence and disaster hang everywhere as the hero – Kidd, Kid, or the kid, a man with no memory and of ambiguous race (he remembers his mother was Native American) – gains entry into the subcultures that remain behind: parties, high-rise poetry readings with older white people, gun fights, gangs, graphic sex.

Time and perspective seem fluxive, inconstant, and looping. 

This is beautiful, destabilized world building. Dhalgren answers no questions yet evokes a time, place, and milieu that shifts as you read.

I first found it when I was working as a librarian in a prison out on the plains. I didn’t last in prison.

By Samuel R. Delany,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nebula Award Finalist: Reality unravels in a Midwestern town in this sci-fi epic by the acclaimed author of Babel-17. Includes a foreword by William Gibson.

A young half–Native American known as the Kid has hitchhiked from Mexico to the midwestern city Bellona—only something is wrong there . . . In Bellona, the shattered city, a nameless cataclysm has left reality unhinged. Into this desperate metropolis steps the Kid, his fist wrapped in razor-sharp knives, to write, to love, to wound.
 
So begins Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany’s masterwork, which in 1975 opened a new door for what science fiction could mean.…


Book cover of Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said

Phil Giunta Author Of Testing the Prisoner

From my list on ordinary people thrown into bizarre and extraordinary circumstances.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two themes run through my book recommendations. First is the lone protagonist against impossible odds. Don’t we all feel this way from time to time in our lives? I’m no exception and still have the scars to prove it, which is why my first novel was intended to promote awareness and prevention of child abuse and domestic violence. Secondly, I’ve had an affinity for speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal) since I was a child so it only stands to reason that I would be inspired by the likes of Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Philip José Farmer, Philip K. Dick, and other masters of these genres.

Phil's book list on ordinary people thrown into bizarre and extraordinary circumstances

Phil Giunta Why did Phil love this book?

Following an attack by a jilted lover, renowned TV variety show host Jason Taverner awakens in a cheap motel and discovers that he’s unknown to the world. Neither his current girlfriend nor his lawyer recognizes him when he calls. Further, all records of his identity have been erased.

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is an exciting, fast-paced story with a protagonist both capable and mysterious. I’m a sucker for the theme of the “lone hero against impossible odds” and as usual with Philip K. Dick, the antagonist is not merely a single character, such as the unethical police general or his drug-dealing sibling/spouse. Rather, the enemy is the corrupt state, the totalitarian government, and the decaying society.

It’s easy to see why Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said earned the John W. Campbell award as well as nominations for a Hugo and Nebula.

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jason Taverner has a glittering TV career, millions of fans, great wealth and something close to eternal youth. He is one of a handful of brilliant, beautiful people, the product of top-secret government experiments forty years earlier. But suddenly, all records of him vanish. He becomes a man with no identity, in a police state where everyone us closely monitored. Can he ever be rich and famous again? Or was that life just an illusion?


Book cover of Winterlong

Brent Hayward Author Of Filaria

From my list on sci-fi able to stand toe to toe with any genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Canadian science fiction writer who writes very, very slowly. I’m interested in experimental fiction and books that are unique, both thematically and stylistically. I’d like to think my books fall into this category, or at least that’s what I aspire to. I used to read science fiction exclusively, and the five books I’ve listed here were all read during those formative years; they were fundamental stepping-stones for me, as a writer, and each of them left a profound mark on my idea of how good, or effective, novels can be.

Brent's book list on sci-fi able to stand toe to toe with any genre

Brent Hayward Why did Brent love this book?

Hand’s sentences are always beautiful, and this novel, her first, is dense with new ideas and original imagery. She evokes a bizarre future in a post-apocalyptic city where twins go on a hallucinogenic quest. Reads like a somewhat disturbing mythology. Gods and talking animals, autistic prophets, feral children, and death is personified. Unforgettable.

By Elizabeth Hand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The “sensuous and evocative” debut of the Nebula Award–winning author of Waking the Moon: A dystopian journey through a world unburdened by moral taboos (Library Journal).
 Set in the surreal, post-apocalyptic City of Trees, Winterlong centers on Wendy Wanders, a girl who can tap into the dreams and emotions of the people around her, and her long-lost twin brother, Raphael, a seductive, sacred courtesan to the City’s decadent elite. During their voyage, they encounter man-made and godlike monstrosities—both hideous and gorgeous—in their effort to stop an ancient power from consuming all. Blending science fiction and fantasy, Winterlong is a dark…


Book cover of Awakening

Matt Weber Author Of Brimstone Slipstream

From my list on fantasy that reimagines society.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science fiction is rightly famous for experimenting with new and strange social worlds, but fantasy tends to fall back on the usual feudal tropes: the whims of kings, the valor of knights, the always-temporary powerlessness of farm boys, the technicalities of succession. Which is a shame, because fantasy provides just as much opportunity to reimagine what society could look like. That’s what I try to do in my books, and at my job, where I’m working to bring 21st-century data literacy and quantitative reasoning to a state government stuck resolutely in the ’90s. When I think of books that have done what I’m trying to do, these five are at the front of my mind.

Matt's book list on fantasy that reimagines society

Matt Weber Why did Matt love this book?

Monstress is an awful lot of things: An epic fantasy that confronts the horrors of modern war; a work of fusion that marries Western and Eastern aesthetics and the epic scale of George R. R. Martin with the cosmic and body horror of Junji Ito; an incredible trove of beautiful visual art; a stage for women of all kinds, young and old, beautiful and monstrous, weak and powerful, with and without shark heads; and a story about a girl coming to grips with a dark family legacy and what it means for her place in a bloody, painful world.

More than anything else, it’s about what happens when people use each other. For my money, the best epic fantasy currently being published in any form.

By Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda (artist),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Awakening as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

2018 Eisner Award winner, Best Writer
2018 Eisner Award winner, Best Painter/Multimedia Artist
2018 Eisner Award winner, Best Continuing Series
2018 Eisner Award winner, Best Publication for Teens
2018 Eisner Award winner, Best Cover Artist
2018 Harvey Award winner, Book of the Year
2018 Hugo Award winner, Best Graphic Story
2018 British Fantasy Award winner, Best Comic/Graphic Novel
2018, 2016, 2015 Entertainment Weekly's The Best Comic Books of the Year
2018, Newsweek's Best Comic Books of the Year
2018, The Washington Post's 10 Best Graphic Novels of the Year
2018, Barnes & Noble's Best Books of the Year
2018, YALSA's…


Book cover of Torture and Democracy

Andreas Killen Author Of Nervous Systems: Brain Science in the Early Cold War

From my list on the history of torture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by this topic ever since the first newspaper stories exposing American involvement in torture began to appear in the early years of the so-called War on Terror. This fascination has persisted up to the present, as it remains clear – given recent accounts of Ron DeSantis’ time at Guantanamo – that this story refuses to die. Equally fascinating to me have been accounts revealing the extent to which this story can be traced back to the origins of the Cold War, to the birth of the National Security State, and to the alliance between that state and the professions (psychology and behavioral science) that spawned “enhanced interrogation.”

Andreas' book list on the history of torture

Andreas Killen Why did Andreas love this book?

In many ways the best account of the history of modern torture.

As Rejali shows, this has all too often been mis-remembered as the history of Soviet and Nazi torture. Torture, in his account, has been widely practiced by modern democracies.

He identifies the French (in the context of the Algerian War of Independence) as the real innovators in the field of modern “stealth” or invisible torture, ie. torture designed not to leave marks: waterboarding and electro-torture.

I particularly like this for the way it explodes many of the myths surrounding the history of modern torture.

By Darius Rejali,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the most comprehensive, and most comprehensively chilling, study of modern torture yet written. Darius Rejali, one of the world's leading experts on torture, takes the reader from the late nineteenth century to the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, from slavery and the electric chair to electrotorture in American inner cities, and from French and British colonial prison cells and the Spanish-American War to the fields of Vietnam, the wars of the Middle East, and the new democracies of Latin America and Europe. As Rejali traces the development and application of one torture technique after another in these settings, he…


Book cover of I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Mona Kabbani Author Of The Bell Chime

From my list on take you on a psychological nightmare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied psychology in college and am fascinated with the human mind. The psyche holds so many joys, wonders, and the deepest horrors imaginable, all compact and functioning within our skulls. My love for psychology grew into the horror realm, where I read and watched anything revolving around the character study of an individual driven to the brink. Now, I write stories about the morality of actions taken by those who have found themselves in a peculiar position. I believe there is more to the clean-cut view of right versus wrong regarding the decision-making of one’s self-preservation.

Mona's book list on take you on a psychological nightmare

Mona Kabbani Why did Mona love this book?

I could not predict this book. I love how dark and disturbing it was. It led me down a path of psychological vertigo. By the end, I had exhausted all possible predictions and guessed wrong.

The shock of the twist wrung me out dry. I’m a big fan of books that can take you on a turbulent journey and then deposit you onto uneven ground, leaving you to question your own reality. Was it all real, or was it a part of some awful, waking dream?

By Iain Reid,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked I'm Thinking of Ending Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM DIRECTED BY CHARLIE KAUFMAN
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. Iain Reid has crafted a tight, ferocious little book, with a persistent tenor of suspense that tightens and mounts toward its visionary, harrowing final pages” (Scott Heim, award-winning author of Mysterious Skin and We Disappear).

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in torture, hell, and artificial intelligence?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about torture, hell, and artificial intelligence.

Torture Explore 41 books about torture
Hell Explore 72 books about hell
Artificial Intelligence Explore 293 books about artificial intelligence