…if you enjoyed Book of Yeshua
To be completely honest, these are the books that everybody should read. These are the books that inspired me to write, and if I can convince someone to read one of these books then I will consider myself to have done a good deed on the advent of the festive season, content in the knowledge that the reader’s life will have been significantly enriched.
The Darkness That Comes Before by R Scott Bakker
The most obscure book on this list, The Darkness That Comes Before is the first in the Prince of Nothing trilogy. Bakker is a philosophy professor, and his books are packed, as you might imagine, with philosophising. But I give you my solemn promise that it is never, ever dry. Bakker’s world building, character development, and complex and logical magical systems make for a world that is truly immersive. Every single page makes you feel. Despite the fact that everything in Prince of Nothing is fantastical, it is, at its heart, an exposition on humanity.
The Prince of Nothing chronicles the rise of a false prophet, whose superior intellect and breeding (the monastic sect from which he hails has been secluded and uses selective breeding for traits of intellectual and physical superiority) is mistaken for divinity, The Prince of Nothing is one of the most ambitious series ever written, and the execution is magnificent.
A quick word of warning before you rush to buy it (which you should) – Bakker’s work is dark. Really dark. Cannibalsm, incest, rape, and slaughter are not merely alluded to do, but described in graphic detail, and not fleetingly.
“I am my thoughts, but the sources of my thoughts exceed me. I do not own myself, because the darkness comes before me.”
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
When Patrolman Mancuso attempts, and fails, to arrest Ignatius J Reilly outside of a New Orleans department store, a series of events are set in motion that culminate in the necessity of Reilly, a work-shy, gluttonous intellectual seeking employment after years of inertia.
While the supporting cast of characters, nearly all of whom could be described as “long-suffering”, are brilliant, the novel’s protagonist (although one could debate the appropriateness of such a term) steals the show. Ignatius J Reilly is, quite simply, the funniest character ever written. He was not made for this world, but is forced to live, if not function, in it anyway. This larger-than-life character (a phrase that is used to describe many fictional characters, but is never more appropriate than when applied to Ignatius) tears through small pockets of New Orleans, leaving destruction in his wake.
Ignatius’ insight, narcassim, and total lack of self-awareness is sad, funny, and even beautiful, such is the perfection of his construction.
A Confederacy of Dunces is not the only book that has amused me, but it is the only book that has caused me to actually laugh aloud. Which I did on a number of occasions. It is the only book that compelled me to read whole sections aloud for the (I hope) benefit of others.
“You can always tell employees of the government by the total vacancy which occupies the space where most other people have faces.”
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
Bakker is brilliant becuase of his world, Toole because of his characters. Stephen King’s genius lies in his extraordinary plots, and The Gunslinger, and the entire Dark Tower series represents his greatest masterpiece. Never have I felt a greater compulsion to continue reading a book, to find out “what happens next.”
Everything in the entire series is laid out beautifully. There are no twists, that are without foundation, there is no subverting the audience’s expectations merely for the sake of it. Every single detail has been thought about, and woven into an extraordinary tapestry, every part of which is intricate, and an integral part of the whole.
It’s Lord of the Rings without Tom Bombadill and unkillable wizards. It’s Game of Thrones with a proper ending, and guns. It transcends genre, being more than both a fantasy series, and a series of thrillers. It’s one of the best things you’ll ever read, and if you haven’t done so already, go buy it. Now.
“Shall there be truth between us, as two men? Not as friends, but as equals? There is an offer you will get rarely, Roland. Only equals speak the truth, that’s my thought on’t. Friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of regard. How tiresome!”