The Lord of the Rings

The monolithic forefather of high fantasy, a huge tale that picks a thread of a larger history, beautifully told in Tolkein’s stately, literary prose.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen

Complex and rewarding, grown up fantasy. Think Conan the Barbarian crossed with Elric of Melniboné crossed with Alien, with the tone of Apocalypse Now!

The Brothers Karamazov

A rambling religio-philosophical study of men and their fathers, with flashes of sublime writing and insight.

The Riddle of the Sands

This grandfather of the spy thriller is still sprightly – an engaging tone, intriguing plot and compelling setting.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Spanish Civil War tragedy told in Hemmingway’s classic sparse style.

The Wheel of Time

A flawed masterpiece that scales the highest heights of fantasy, a vast cast centred on one man who stands as the balance between good and evil, creation and annihilation.

A Song of Ice and Fire

Warring aristocratic families tear their country apart, while monsters lurk on the edge of the kingdom.

Tigana

Beautifully written and highly emotive political and epic fantasy.

Deverry Series

Celtic mythscape where you’re swept on strange, magical, vividly imagined journeys through mystical hinterlands

The Warlord Chronicles

Arthurian romance set in Dark Ages Britain, with the romance tempered by gritty battlefield action and brutal violence.

Aubrey-Maturin Series

Utterly absorbing, immaculately written nautical novels set during the Napoleonic Wars. Magnificent.

The Martian

Hard sci-fi written like a white-knuckle thriller. Knowledgeable, thoughtful, foul-mouthed fun.

The Name of the Rose

A beautifully executed historical murder-mystery, rich and convincing in religious and philosophical detail.