I want Fantasy books with possible romance and satisfying endings.
January 8, 2020 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I just finished reading T. Kingfisher's Swordheart, and before that I re-read Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor. Last year I read Lois McMaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion series and Penric & Desdemona series. I want more. Please recommend me some fantasy novels with characters who are kind, find love, and end well. A dash of humor is good too, but I've already read (and enjoyed) Discworld.
posted by fings to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 84 users marked this as a favorite
Try the Rivers of London books - they may not be finished, but at the moment the first protagonist had found love and ended well.

Patricia Briggs - I especially like _The Hob’s Bargain_ and the pair starting with _Dragon Bones_.

Barbara Hambly’s early series.

Martha Wells’ _The Wheel of the Infinite_.
posted by clew at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Elizabeth Hunter's Elemental series maybe? I suggest it all the time but it's just so... the characters are great and evolve so much over the series; the world building is so strong and interesting; and the road is not untroubled but the endings are happy.

There are like four books in this series, which is #437 in Contemporary Fantasy and a rabid fan base with 5* Amazon ratings all over the show. There are other series from the same author set in the same world if you want more -- I've read everything several times over.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:11 PM on January 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy Winter Tide and Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys. The romantic subplots are understated but present and lovely, and there are a lot of good found family feels. (These books are reimaginings of/responses to various bits of Lovecraft's writing but a) they are not horror, b) they are pretty explicitly a rejection of everything that is gross (ie the racism, etc) about Lovecraft's writing, and c) it is not necessary to have read Lovecraft to enjoy them.)
posted by darchildre at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Dragons of Doorcastle by Jack Campbell is the first in the Pillars of Reality series is a sweet fantasy romance between two people on opposite sides of a worldwide power struggle. It earns the happy ending over several books, but the romance starts off pretty quickly.

For more of a slow burn, the Heartstrikers series by Rachel Aaron is urban fantasy with some pretty fun characters, one central romance and several other cute and interesting relationships. It also has a sidequel with another little love story.

Both series are about kind people in difficult worlds trying to overcome their social programming and honor their kind natures.
posted by assenav at 5:44 PM on January 8, 2020

I just read both Swordheart and The Goblin Emperor too! I think you’d probably like Kingfisher’s Clocktaur books (there are only two); I found them lighthearted but enjoyably paced and with reasonably high stakes (similar in “feel” to Swordheart). And maybe Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, which has a slightly more Austen-ian tone but also felt a bit more complex than the Kingfisher books.
posted by alleycat01 at 6:11 PM on January 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

This may be a weird recommendation that doesn't quite fit your bill, but I think there is a very satisfying romance building in the Murderbot series. It has not, as yet, come to fruition, but it's there, and it's going to be good.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:18 PM on January 8, 2020

What clew said and also, everything Martha Wells has ever written is just wonderful. I spent the summer reading them and all of them with the possible exception of the murderbot books (which are also excellent,just different} would probably tick your boxes. In older books, Patricia A. McKillip is another one you might like. Peter S. Beagle. Patricia C. Wrede. I will try to come back with more as I think of them!
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:21 PM on January 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this is Martha Wells's emploi - The Cloud Roads is the first book of the Raksura cycle, just got republished and features a great romance between humanoid characters with a fascinating culture. The relationship/s keep developing in further books, too. Some satisfying romances in her Ile-Rien books too, about on a par with the Chalion books.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 6:28 PM on January 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm seeing some likely good suggestions, so keep them coming!
I've read Martha Wells' Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, so I'll definitely give more of her stuff a try. I've also read Ruthanna Emrys' Winter Tide, so yes I should pick up Deep Roots - it's been sitting on my Amazon list for a while.
posted by fings at 6:35 PM on January 8, 2020

Did you read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife series too? I love them! It’s less castles in European-esque settings and more alternate-US.

LMB’s Vorkosigan Saga is also great if/when you’re interested in space opera. (I’m on a Miles Vorkosigan reread kick right now!)

Have you read any fun Connie Willis? Not the dark stuff, but To Say Nothing of the Dog and Crosstalk and some others? They’re often more urban fantasy than swords and horses fantasy, I suppose, but they’re great.

Brandon Sanderson writes pretty epic stuff set in grim worlds but I’ve come to trust him for good characters, some romance, and happy endings. (I’m not a fan of grimdark at all so even though he often sets his stories in wartorn lands, he always includes hope and honor and love.) The Stormlight Archive is probably my favorite of his series so far.

If you’re okay with YA, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books are good. So are Tamora Pierce’s books - you might like the Trickster’s duology in particular for feeling written for an older audience, though my favorite is the Immortals quartet.

If you’re okay with steampunk London with werewolves and vampires, Gail Carriger’s series are delightful and full of great characters, romance, and fun.

I love Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera. I would like to be friends with most of the (good guy) characters, and it’s a great happy ending for pretty much everyone even though it looks bleak at points.

John Scalzi does mostly sci fi but he’s great at genuinely good/kind characters, a little romance, and good endings.

Drew Hayes does some fun stuff - if urban fantasy is okay, I’d start with the Fred the Vampire Accountant books. I feel like it’s sort of the Brooklyn 99 of fantasy series in terms of good people working together and being kind.
posted by bananacabana at 7:17 PM on January 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Naomi Novik’s other novels are quite fun although I wouldn’t call the characters kind.

I just finished _Spinning Silver_ on a recommendation from the "let's read romance" thread from a few days ago, and I liked it a lot (I also liked _Uprooted_ a lot as well.)! A really nice feature is that for at least one of the main characters, she comes from a loving family, her parents continue to love her and be part of her story as she has adventures, and they don't die. In fact, no major character dies to further the plot except one nasty guy (ok, and the big bad). I recommend it.

(I also second the recommendations for the Codex Alera books (and Cinder Spires, but I think he's given up on that series?), and Goblin Emperor, and Martha Wells (go order the Raksura books right now), and early Hambly fantasy...and I'm looking forward to trying a bunch of these suggestions! I wouldn't put the Rivers of London books in the same category, although they're fun, nor most of what Brandon Sanderson's written (I'm still kind of scarred by the Mistborn series getting so depressing).)
posted by leahwrenn at 8:27 PM on January 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel. Make sure it's the volume comprising of both Crown Duel and Court Duel (the latter is the sequel to the former).
posted by Constance Mirabella at 8:40 PM on January 8, 2020

I also recently read Swordheart and then immediately tried to find something similar. Alas I did not find anything new, so I went back to comfort-reading Ilona Andrew’s Innkeeper series. Light, fun fantasy with a dash of romance. I also loved Cinder Spires.
posted by inevitability at 9:14 PM on January 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thirding (fourthing?) Martha Wells! I've returned to the Raksura books several times now because it's such a pleasant little world - the Raksura's social groups are like big extended families, but the nice kind that are full of support and affection. Plus there's matriarchy and a really lovely central romance. You may also enjoy her standalone book City of Bones.

Mary Robinette Kowal is another author you might enjoy. The Glamourist Histories series can be generally described as "what if a novel of manners, but magic" - in that world, magic is part of a well-rounded upper-class young woman's education, like embroidery or playing an instrument.

If you happen to like urban fantasy, I'll add Seanan McGuire to the list. The October Daye series and Incryptid series are all about kind, loving people finding each other and fighting evil together and exchanging excellent banter. Bonus: Seanan is a spookily productive author so both series are long-running and don't tend to have multi-year breaks between books.
posted by Basil Stag Hare at 10:18 PM on January 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

We seem to like the same things! There are many excellent books listed above (definitely recommending the McKinley Beauty!) You'll probably like most of Grace Draven's stuff. Try Radiance first - it has a nice romance that gets steamy in parts and is a well-written fantasy novel. In The Darkest Midnight is slightly tamer but not as much fun. There's also a duo of stories published in one book called Beneath A Waning Moon - the first story is by Elizabeth Hunter and is a vampire romance which I very much enjoyed for it's lack of the usual histrionics (and no glittering). The second story is a Draven one with a vaguely undead love interest in a Victorian steampunk setting.
posted by ninazer0 at 11:42 PM on January 8, 2020

Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. Romance of the human and dragon sorts, spanning generations. And a satisfying full circle ending of the series. There's a lot of books! I like to read them in chronological order, and she did an interesting trick of writing the same story from several characters perspectives. The history spans an almost feudal era through high tech space travel.
posted by LaBellaStella at 4:39 AM on January 9, 2020

Diana Wynne Jones' YA novels fit your criteria. Start with Howl's Moving Castle. Fire and Hemlock is also terrific, but quite a bit darker.

I think you'd also like the Seraphina duology by Rachel Hartman. Like DWJ's books, it reads more like adult fantasy than YA. The characters are delightful, and her dragons are my favorite dragons in all of fantasy literature.

Finally, I think you would like Patricia McKillip's novels - they tend toward coziness, with a dreamy fairy tale feel and satisfying endings.
posted by toastedcheese at 4:44 AM on January 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

While ostensibly "YA", I think both of Sarah J. Maas's series could fit the bill here. They have struggles to overcome (including war, but fantasy war) but the ensemble of characters are generally kind, good-hearted, and end well. High fantasy with Faeries and magic.

I also really liked Kate Elliott's Court of Fives series, which is also characterized as YA but is quite sophisticated. It has (I think) an interesting premise and the magic tends to be a little more low-key, but clearly fantasy in being a totally different world (and the world building is a lot of fun).
posted by CiaoMela at 9:29 AM on January 9, 2020

Sharon Shinn’s Mystic and Rider and its sequels. Lovely story, strong characters...just grabbed my heart and made me very happy.
posted by purenitrous at 9:41 AM on January 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

Lots of good recommendations above.

Thirding selected Barbara Hambly. Bride of the Rat God in particular is one of my comfort reads.
posted by gudrun at 11:50 AM on January 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have read and enjoyed all the books you listed, and recent book I've been reading slot right in there: Melissa McShane's Company of Strangers series. The overall series isn't finished yet, but it's close--IIRC, one of her newsletters said the series would be wrapping up this year.
posted by telophase at 12:33 PM on January 9, 2020

Came in to recommend Sharon Shinn, both for her Twelve Houses series (Mystic and Rider is book 1) and for her Elemental series (Troubled Waters is the first book). Excellent world-building, fantastic characters, believable romances. You mentioned you want kind characters - there are lots of decent and normal people in her series, which is something I miss in others', where everyone seems to be divided into good guys, bad guys and dispensable commoners.

If you'd like the romance part to get a lot hotter, I'd recommend the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel's Dart is book 1)!
posted by widdershins at 1:59 PM on January 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Anything by Illona Andrews.
posted by Coaticass at 2:27 PM on January 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you've read Swordheart, have you gone into Kingfisher/Vernon's backlog? Bryony and Roses is an entirely charming retelling of Beauty and the Beast, for instance. She's very good.

I read That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston last week, and it was a pretty charming SFnal romance. And she also wrote The Afterward, which is a fantasy novel about what happens after the team of heroes saves the world from the mad evil sorcerer (also includes a romance).

Melissa Scott and Jo Graham have an interesting series called The Order of the Air, starting with Lost Things, in which well-meaning pilots in the inter-war years fight off the forces of evil through some cool ancient magic rituals. It's quite fun and there's at least one slow-burning romance in it. (It's basically the team from Stargate SG-1/Stargate Atlantis mapped onto the premise, but it works and the characters are sympathetic.)
posted by suelac at 4:39 PM on January 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I picked up Genevieve Cogman's The Invisible Library as my christmas read and enjoyed it so much I subsequently devoured the entire 6 book series. Has fantasy, romance and humour as well as original world and myth building.
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:47 PM on January 11, 2020

“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik fits all your criteria I think.
posted by pharm at 12:52 AM on January 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just a quick update, I've read the first Raksura book by Martha Wells, which I had a bit harder time getting into. It wasn't bad, and I may try the second at some point, but I'm checking out other things on the list before getting back to that.

I loved Barbara Hambly's Bride of the Rat God. I will definitely be reading more of her works.

I've been reading a few other things (my local book club has me reading the first Bryant & May mystery) but I will update "best answers" as I read and enjoy things. Thanks all!
posted by fings at 7:16 PM on March 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy absolutely fits here. The romance is similar to how Vernon writes them, if a little more prickly of personalities, and there’s some beautiful depictions of Medieval Russia.
posted by zinful at 9:18 AM on April 29, 2020

Another update, I've been working my way through T. Kingfisher's other works, mostly her recent stuff.

So far I've read The Seventh Bride (good), Minor Mage (good), A Wizard's Guide To Defensive Baking (very good), the Clocktaur War duology (very good), and currently am reading Paladin's Grace. So I can confirm that her books hit the sweet spot that I was aiming for here.
posted by fings at 9:30 PM on August 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

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