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Fantasy books


steph
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I've always heard of the Dernyi series but never got around to reading them - will have to correct that.

 

Already mentioned, but Fritz Leiber is in my mind the swords & sorcery writer par excellence - the very best!  Try to find Ill Met in Lankhmar and see if it doesn't convince you this is an actual, extant fantasy city somewhere.

 

It may not belong in a discussion of 'serious' fantasy but I grew up with L. Frank Baum's Oz books and still occasionally re-read them.  He succeeded brilliantly at creating an American-flavored fairytale mythos; I would say Wonderful Wizard of Oz is not even his best work, the following 13 volumes are the real classics.

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 The over sexism was weird, and I am not a very liberal person. But it seemed the only point of women was to be naked or minimally dressed while waiting to be rescued from danger. 

Odd, I've read The Dying Earth many times but don't remember Vance ever really describing female clothing, or nudity...not one of his preoccupations. Could be wrong, but if a character happened to be nude, I don't think it's an important part of what makes the book.

 

Vance is not to everyone's taste, that's for sure, though. The writing is stylised and elliptical, and lacks some of the features that are taken for granted in much of more recent, mainstream fantasy.

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Dying Earth confuses me. Everyone says it is great (99% of people who have read it) but to me it rad more like a teenage boys fantasies. The over sexism was weird, and I am not a very liberal person. But it seemed the only point of women was to be naked or minimally dressed while waiting to be rescued from danger. I only rad the first book, but that was my impression. Overall I would say it is a two or three start book, not the five stars people often give it.

The first Dying Earth book/collection is a bit haphazard and doesn't really fit in well with the style of the others. And after all, the second novel came out 15 years later! "The Dying Earth" is still pretty much swords & planets & sorcery literature, and even the stylistic elements of the later works are only barely there (the thesaurus-heavy prose, creatures known only by their names). And, yes, probably not the most feminist book, this being 1950 and mostly part of a genre that, well, has some issues. Although I thought the whole T'Someone vs. T'SomeoneElse deal (no time to google their names) was quite interesting. But I'll have to include myself amongst those for whom it's been a while. I think the last time I reread the series, I skipped straight to the great part.

 

So I think when people praise TDE, it's mostly about the two middle books, i.e. the ones featuring Cugel the "Clever". Those are definitely worth reading and rather different from the first book. The fourth one is stylistically not that different, but features a different main character and raises the power level a bit too much for me (it's all about archmagicians). Cugel himself is a great character, basically the anti-Conan (more so than Elric). Although that's a frequent source of complaints: He's not exactly a lovable rogue, and people often shy away from books (or movies/TV shows) where they can't cheer for at least one character. Then again, Seinfeld ran 10 seasons...

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If you don't mind reading from electronic devices, there's quite a bit of public domain fantasy literature out there.

 

Some examples can be found here: https://muleabides.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/fantasy-fiction-sword-sorcery-in-the-public-domain/

 

A few minutes with Google will turn up a bunch more.

 

I'm tempted to link to a copy of The Eye of Argon, but won't.

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A couple others

 

Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy.  I don''t care for some of his other stuff, but MSaT was good.

 

Dennis L. McKiernan’s Mithgar series is also good.  Somewhere around 15 books all together.  His first books were heavily influenced by LotR's.  At the time many people thought they were too heavily influenced.  But later as he gained his stride the books became very good. 

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I'm tempted to link to a copy of The Eye of Argon, but won't.

My hazel orbs flash with wrath and disgust! "Know ye, that amongst my people, mercy is considered a vice, a wisdmo you "civilized" pigs forgot long ago!", shriekst I.

 

If we're doing YA stuff, too, you got to read at least a few books of the Chronicles of Prydain. It seems I'm one of the few fans of the Disney movie, but the books are so much better. Also serves as a good entry for reading the Mabdingbob..., Mabonigoney... that Welsh myth book.

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If we're doing YA stuff, too, you got to read at least a few books of the Chronicles of Prydain. It seems I'm one of the few fans of the Disney movie, but the books are so much better. Also serves as a good entry for reading the Mabdingbob..., Mabonigoney... that Welsh myth book.

 

Chronicles of Prydain.  That brings back memories.  I had compelely forgot that one.  Read it way back when I was in junior high.  A looooooong time ago ;)

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Some oldies and some things not mentioned:

 

Empire of the East  by Fred Saberhagen.

 

Riddle of Stars series and Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip.

 

A Man of His Word series by Dave Duncan.

 

The Dresden Files and Codex Alera  by Jim Butcher.

 

Saga Of Pliocene Exile by Julian May. (Science-Fantasy but well worth it)

 

and seconds to

 

Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust.

 

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

 

Black Company series by Glen Cook.

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I'll "ditto" the Prydain series. An excellent YA series whose story grows up with its protagonist.

 

I'll also recommend the Kingkiller "series" by Patrick Rothfuss. I put "series" in quotes because so far it's just two books and a separately published novella and short story. The third book isn't out yet (and God knows when it'll come out, because Rothfuss takes his time.) The series might be subtitled "The Making and Unmaking of a Hero." Nothing in this story is exactly what it first seems, so I don't know what else I can tell about the series without giving a false impression.

 

The series consists of the novels The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. The novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things is about a supporting character in the series and should not be read until you've read at least the first book. There's a short story about another supporting character in the anthology Rogues edited by George R. R. Martin.

 

EDIT: Okay, I can think of one other thing to say: These books have superlative magic. There's a well-developed logical, quasi-scientific magic called Sympathy, with subsidiary/affiliated  arts of Sygaldry, Alchemy and Artificing, taught at a University. And there's a deeper, primordial magic of Naming that is the University's true reason for existence. Series protagonist Kvothe is learning both, with varying degrees of success.

 

Dean Shomshak

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The absolute best fantasy novel is The Conquering Sword of Conan, which is the third book in the three book collection of Conan stories Del Rey recently published that contains Howard's original stories, with none of the later edit by Sprague and DuCamp.  While all three books are worth reading. Conquering Sword is the best because it contains the two stories every fantasy GM must read:  "Beyond the Black River" and "Red Nails."  Between these two stories you have the two most basic plots of all great fantasy adventure.  

 

In "Beyond the Black River" you see the terrors of the wild, with barbarian savages, forest demons, and a primitive sorcerer who controls the beasts themselves.  The quintessential Wilderness Adventure.  Then in "Red Nails," you've got the other gaming classic:  The lost city, with the once-glorious civilization fallen into degeneracy, dark sorcery, and all manner of wicked evil. 

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A bit late to the party, but didn't see either of these listed:

 

Katherine Kerr - the Deverry Series (Books 1-8, at least). It's been a long time since I read them, but they left a lasting impression. The magic system was well thought out (the Celtic feel was a nice touch) and her description of elves was unique and far more interesting to me than most "standard" fantasy novels. I've often tweaked fantasy games I've run by making the elves more like those in her novels rather than LotR or D&D (my current Fantasy Hero game is a combination of the Yrth (Banestorm) setting where elves are not the ideal).

 

C.S. Friedman - Black Sun Rising (Coldfire Series #1). I read these a long time ago but thought the magic system was interesting and played in at least one campaign based on the books=)

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Let's see:

 

Definitely read Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen (if you haven't already...i saw it was recommended to you). In my book the best fantasy out there atm. Big, sweeping epic, with unbeatable worldbuilding (ok, Tolkien is still king, but his world is very different than Steven's) and very complex. Don't read it when you're tired/on a train/otherwise distracted ;)

 

Another fantastic author (and i haven't seen him mentioned in this thread) is Scott R. Bakker and his Prince of Nothing trilogy. It is followed by the Aspect Emperor trilogy (third book not out yet). Also a very well and deeply developed world, with above average prose (imho). But it is really dark at times and very explicit (violence and sex etc. ). So if that is not your cup of tea, then keep away at all cost  :winkgrin:

 

Last but not least, i think Michelle West is a very much underrated Author. Her Sun Sword books (6 books) is very well written. Again, deep worldbuilding and very well drawn characters. She writes in a very own voice and she is not what i would call fast paced. If you decide to give her a try, i recommend starting with the Sacred Hunt books (a duology set in the same world as the Sun Sword). While not quite as good as her Sun Sword, they introduce you to the world and its powers. FYI : you can start with the Sun Sword if you want, the author and most fans agree that you don't need the Sacred Hunt books.

 

I also second Tad Williams' MS&T books and George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire.

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