How Good Are Goodreads Recommendations: Fantasy #1

For some reason, I decided that my TBR shelf wasn’t big enough. I am doing a cleanup of my oldest added books, but as I did this, I realized that I was very stingy in what I added to my shelf. I used to walk into the bookstore or library and pick up whatever looked interesting. It may have ended in some DNFs or terrible reviews, but it broadened my horizons. I miss having that sense of exploration. I get lots of recommendations from YouTube and other bloggers, but I thought I’d give Goodreads a try.

I clicked on the Recommendations tab and looked at the first five books listed based on one of my particular shelves. I’ll read the synopsis and decide if it is worth adding to my TBR. One thing to note is that the books first recommended are different whether you view them on desktop or mobile. Since I write on my laptop, I’ll be using the desktop version. They also update based on reviews (star ratings), setting favorite genres, and clicking “not interested.” Since I might make this into a recurring series, I’ll be sticking with my tried and true genre first: Fantasy.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

15790883The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.
It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king…
Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.
Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.
But when gods are involved…
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…

As I read, I thought, hmm, okay not bad. And then he hit me with “when gods are involved” and you’ve hooked me. I think we all know I’m a sucker for anything with a mythology.

Add it to the TBR!

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

29396For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal.
But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.
Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.
Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury – one that could turn the tides of war.

Despite its high rating, nothing from this synopsis feels particularly new or compelling to me. Some reviews mentioned that it was Rome meets Pokemon, which sounds awesome, but many others mention it didn’t really fulfill that expectation.

Not Interested!

Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

47956The Dark Kingdom is preparing itself for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy–the arrival of a new Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But this new ruler is young, and very susceptible to influence and corruption; whoever controls her controls the Darkness. And now, three sworn enemies begin a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, and the destiny of an entire world is at stake.

I’ll admit that the synopsis sounds very intriguing, and I noted that it had a high rating (4.12 at the time). But as I read the first few of them, they talk about how laughably bad the characters and worldbuilding are. It almost made me want to read it just for that. But then I saw words like “trashy,” “redundant,” and “child molesters.” I think I’ll pass.

Not Interested!

Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr

498214Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he’d righted that wrong-and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness. . . and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago. Here in this newly revised edition comes the incredible novel that began one of the best-loved fantasy seers in recent years–a tale of bold adventure and timeless love, perilous battle and pure magic.

I’m a little confused by this synopsis. Is she reincarnated? I could be into that. It definitely has that classic fantasy vibe going for it, which makes sense because it was published in 1986. I wasn’t exactly feeling this one, but then I saw Mark Lawrence gave it five stars, so maybe I’ll add it to the list and sit on it for a bit.

Add it to the TBR!

Shadow of a Dark Queen by Raymond E. Feist

43908A dread darkness is descending upon a great land called Midkemia—a powerful and malevolent race of monsters that has slipped through a hole in the dimensions. And two unlikely young heroes—a bastard heir denied his birthright and an irrepressible scoundrel with a penchant for thievery—must take up arms in the struggle to protect their besieged world…two friends chosen by Destiny to stand at the fore of the battle that is to come against the gargantuan reptile army of the terrible Emerald Queen.

He lost me at “dimensions.” That gives me a sci-fi vibe, and I really don’t like mixing my genres! I have read the first book of Feist’s other series, The Riftwar Saga, and it was alright. I gave it three stars. I own the other two books in the series and have yet to get around to them. This is set in the same world, albeit in a different area. However, if I am going to read Feist, it will be to finish Riftwar.

Not Interested!

Separator

I’d say Goodreads didn’t fare too terribly with the recommendations. I think it is complicated by the way my shelves are set up. I have an “owned-to-read” shelf that mostly contains classics and classic fantasy (think Dragonlance). Because I have also tagged these books with genres, I can tell that the “fantasy” tag it is pulling from includes these unread books. I see the influence in the books published in the early 90’s and 80’s. However, two out of five isn’t bad for a first try. I’ll make my updates, and I’ll be curious to see what they give me next time.

Have you read any of these novels? Should I change my mind about my choices?

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