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Subject: Fantasy topic, continued. rss

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Thought I'd branch out from the buzzfeed topic with my own question.

I've only read 4 fantasy series in my entire life; Conan(Howard only), Middle-Earth, Game of Thrones, and Elric.

What if any do you think is must read to be included in the above pantheon? What would round out the fantasy experience that isn't covered by the worlds I have already read?
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Stephen Dunne
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Dude. That's it? Kind of mind boggling to me that those are the only fantasy books you have read.

Read Brandon Sanderson. Any of his books - they are fantastic. And as much as people bitch about The Wheel of Time, there were some incredible books in the series. You could probably skip books 8,9 and 10, but the series is solid.

Hell, go get the rest of the Eternal Champion stuff by Moorcock. All good books. And if you want to go dig into some old fantasy stuff I have a series from the 70's called the Horse Clans that you can check out.
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Rob
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I find your lack of Zelazny disturbing.
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Start with Discworld , move over to Black Company & Thieves World...hop across to Dragonlance & Drizzt stuff then straight on ahead to Dresden Files and end at ERB.


None of those books should clock in at much more than 350 pages.


If you are going to do Black Company....just buy the big omnibus size ones. It will save you time going back to the bookstore every 4 days.
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David Debien
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I actually prefer alternative history style fiction over straight up fantasy, but there are a few favorites.

Jack Vance's Lyoness Trilogy is place on the same level as Tolien's LotR. It is simply superb in every way. It is told in the style of an old fashioned fairy tail and at times is violet, profound, heart breaking maddening and completely surprising.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Joe Abercrombie is probably the modern master of dark, gritty fantasy. Completely lacking in the good guy vs bad guy tropes all too common in fantasy. Incredibly violent, humorous and filled with interesting 3 dimensional characters. His First Law Trilogy is pretty good, but the 3 stand alone novels he has since written using the same world setting are utterly fantastic.

If you want to go back a little more, Thomas Covenant is pretty damn good, just stop after the first trilogy. Glen Cook's Black Company, I believe, was Abercrombie's inspiration but is not as good IMO. Finally, Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber are a fun read.
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Stephen Dunne
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Sinister Dexter wrote:
I find your lack of Zelazny disturbing.


Damn, those too. Great books.
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Stay away, far away in fact, from anything from the D&D writers. They are uniformly awful. Also avoid Cook, Rothfuss, Donaldson and Jordan like the plague (or leprosy in the case of Donaldson). I would suggest these:

Discworld - Funny, well-written and much more than meets the eye. Start with Guards, Guards
Joe Abercrombie - Start with the First Law Trilogy
Steven Erikson - The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Ten book of dense, complicated, confusing but oh so satisfying fantasy


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Harry Potter.

The first book feels like juvenile lit but the rest are good. The last few could have used a good editor to yank out about a quarter of the extraneous crap and get to the point.

Overall though, pretty good and a fun read.

Also missing is "A Wizard of Earthsea" it's been a few decades since I read it but it certainly is a classic.

I'd also recommend the first 4 books from ERB's "Tarzan". The rest are readable but nothing but a retread of the prior one.
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Getting some good views here. I am going to add one requirement. Comedy. I don't like comedy in my fiction, besides the occasional comic relief. No farcical element, not world that is shaped like florida, NO PUNS!

Also, I am looking for epic world building. A series.

Carry on, good stuff so far.

And I would like recommendations to be at the same level with names like Tolkien, Howard, etc. In your mind, this guy belongs on your shortest of lists. Cause I am not looking for casual Fantasy reading. I am looking for the very minimal set that I can die and say, I hit the big ones.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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Hmmm...

Zelazny
Bartimaeus Trilogy--very different with lots of sarcastic humor
Wizard of Earthsea and the excellent Tombs of Atuan
Annals of the Western Shore trilogy is my favorite Le Guin fantasy series
Harry Potter.........oh, yes!
The Stone and the Flute - it is a trilogy of 3 books
Burroughs' Tarzan and Barsoom books are entertaining and imaginative

Sorry, we cross-posted. I've adjusted my recommends, although Bartimaeus is the comic relief in an otherwise dark fantasy/magic series.
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So far, I think these suggestions hit the interest mark:

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
 
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Rob
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MWChapel wrote:
I am not looking for casual Fantasy reading.


Dang, I was just about to suggest some Harlequin Romance, especially the ones with Fabio on the cover.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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MWChapel wrote:
So far, I think these suggestions hit the interest mark:

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie


I gave up on Abercrombie past the halfway point of the book. Definitely nowhere near Tolkien, Howard, etc. Writing and character development are weak. Avoid Pratchett if you don't want comedy, although i found some to be really well-written and interesting.

Harry Potter also is very witty and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Except the 5th book, which is very dark in tone and mood.
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Rob
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EgorjLileli wrote:
Bartimaeus Trilogy--very different with lots of sarcastic humor


Actually, I would definitely put the Bartimaeus Trilogy back on the list. What humor is does have is very grim, not comical farce. But it probably fails on some of Chapel's other points - there is no world-building, it's just an alternate-history Earth. Also, the author is not one of the giants of fantasy. The middle book is a bit of a slog but worth it in the end. But, still, a very well-done series.
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Sinister Dexter wrote:
EgorjLileli wrote:
Bartimaeus Trilogy--very different with lots of sarcastic humor


Actually, I would definitely put the Bartimaeus Trilogy back on the list. What humor is does have is very grim, not comical farce. But it probably fails on some of Chapel's other points - there is no world-building, it's just an alternate-history Earth. Also, the author is not one of the giants of fantasy. The middle book is a bit of a slog but worth it in the end. But, still, a very well-done series.


You're right, of course. BTW, the latest book--the prequel--was excellent.

It could be a "maybe" for him, perhaps?
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David Debien
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MWChapel wrote:
So far, I think these suggestions hit the interest mark:

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie


There is humor in Abercrombie's works, but it usually just the way he voices things not because of any slapstick or cheesy jokes. Also, the First Law trilogy is not particularly inventive. It trods on a lot of common ground. It does have some interesting characterizations and the fact that there really are no good guys is rather refreshing. However, Abercrombie gets better with each book he writes and his 4th book, Best Served Cold - a stand alone in the same world as the First Law trilogy, he is firing on all 12 cylinders. The next one, The Heroes, probably cracked my top 5 favorite novels. I just finished Red Country, his 3rd stand alone and I am still haunted by it.
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EgorjLileli wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
So far, I think these suggestions hit the interest mark:

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie


I gave up on Abercrombie past the halfway point of the book. Definitely nowhere near Tolkien, Howard, etc. Writing and character development are weak. Avoid Pratchett if you don't want comedy, although i found some to be really well-written and interesting.
.


So you think The Blade Itself is derivative to the Black Company? Is it worth adding Abercrombie to the list at all?
 
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Mystery McMysteryface
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MWChapel wrote:
EgorjLileli wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
So far, I think these suggestions hit the interest mark:

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie


I gave up on Abercrombie past the halfway point of the book. Definitely nowhere near Tolkien, Howard, etc. Writing and character development are weak. Avoid Pratchett if you don't want comedy, although i found some to be really well-written and interesting.
.


So you think The Blade Itself is derivative to the Black Company? Is it worth adding Abercrombie to the list at all?


Not sure why you quoted me? I haven't read Black Company, but might be interested now...
 
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My problem with fantasy is that its never been quite able to shed its own Tolkienesque tropes. Even attempts to shed them inevitably seem to reference them in the degree to which they try to shy away from them.

Still, any D&D fan will find themselves enjoying Homeland-Exile-Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore, if you just embrace the cliches as part of a D&D world and let the story do its work. I don't know if they will withstand the test of time the way those titles you've noted in your original post will, but it's at least noteworthy as a trilogy that captures the spirit, flavor, and excitement of a good Dungeons & Dragons experience.

Off the beaten path fantasy:

Zelazny has already been mentioned and I second it. Chronicles of Amber is a must-read, especially in the way that it both inverts, subverts, and embraces the fantasy tropes, and turns itself into a work of metafiction. It will undoubtedly withstand the test of time.

Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub. Dense, epic, one-shot story that is well-told and troubling.

Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King - his lone foray into classic fantasy. An exceptionally well-told story that really could have been set anywhere.

I'd also recommend the Gunslinger books, but was so gravely disappointed by the ending of them that I'd actually say avoid them.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson. These are oddly unique in that the protagonist is an unlikeable ass hole. Lots of interesting world-building.

Otherwise, I'd recommend Gene Wolfe and China Mieville here, but I know how that will be received already.
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I would say avoid Thomas Covenant series unless you really like an anti-hero. I hated the series. I also echo the sentiment to avoid D&D writers - really awful.

From my collection of over 500 fantasy books, these are my recommendations.

Harry Potter - absolutely. Early books aren't overly long.
The Belgariad and The Mallorean series by David and Leigh Eddings are great and the books aren't overly long. Each series has 5 books. Lots of humor, but of the sarcastic variety and lots of snarkiness.
A Man of His Word is also pretty good with fairly small books.
Discworld is also fine series - maybe too ridiculous for you.
Possibly The Deathgate Cycle, but not quite as good.
Diana Wynne Jones has some interesting fantasy books. Almost, but not quite, like Harry Potter, but written as alternative universes and written long before Harry Potter was written.

While I love the Saga of Recluce and Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, the books in these series are fairly long. Many people like The Wheel of Time, but the series is long with long books.


PS. Almost forgot these:

Ghatti's Tale
by Gayle Greeno
The Dragon Prince Melanie Rawn
Initiate Brother, Moontide and Magic Rise, and The River into Darkness are also good novels by Sean Russell, but very unusual fantasy books.

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CrankyPants wrote:

Also missing is "A Wizard of Earthsea" it's been a few decades since I read it but it certainly is a classic.


Yupp that one of the moore important series, although it is a YA book, it don't feels like that. It also is quite noteworthy for breking conventions of the genre when it was written and someones still are.

Which showed in that absolute abuse that was the mini-series or what that total abuse of ground material was.
 
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MWChapel wrote:
Getting some good views here. I am going to add one requirement. Comedy. I don't like comedy in my fiction, besides the occasional comic relief. No farcical element, not world that is shaped like florida, NO PUNS!

Also, I am looking for epic world building. A series.

Carry on, good stuff so far.

And I would like recommendations to be at the same level with names like Tolkien, Howard, etc. In your mind, this guy belongs on your shortest of lists. Cause I am not looking for casual Fantasy reading. I am looking for the very minimal set that I can die and say, I hit the big ones.


Damn I read that wrong, I thought you wanted humor, but you should try late Pratchett anyway, considering you want away from the farcial, the later Discworld stuff is better. Books such as Soul Music and Unseen Academicals holds a good view and tells the story of there fandoms and stars well (The first one is music the second is sports, but mostly european football.)

As for the other stuff, I think it is good to read Lord Dunsay for his influence of the genre, which can be forgotten there behind Tolkien.

I also personally love Kathrine Kerrs Deverry series, but I seen that peoples opinion on this varies wildly.
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mileser wrote:
I would say avoid Thomas Covenant series unless you really like an anti-hero. I hated the series.


I just re-read the first six and am reading the first book of the last series. You just have to be OK with unrelenting angst, self-doubt, and nothing ever working out.

Quote:
The Belgariad and The Mallorean series by David and Leigh Eddings are great and the books aren't overly long. Each series has 5 books. Lots of humor, but of the sarcastic variety and lots of snarkiness.


I hated these. I read the first series as the books came out hoping it would get better, but I couldn't get past the formulaic plot and shallow world (IMO of course).
 
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rshipley wrote:
mileser wrote:
I would say avoid Thomas Covenant series unless you really like an anti-hero. I hated the series.


I just re-read the first six and am reading the first book of the last series. You just have to be OK with unrelenting angst, self-doubt, and nothing ever working out.

Quote:
The Belgariad and The Mallorean series by David and Leigh Eddings are great and the books aren't overly long. Each series has 5 books. Lots of humor, but of the sarcastic variety and lots of snarkiness.


I hated these. I read the first series as the books came out hoping it would get better, but I couldn't get past the formulaic plot and shallow world (IMO of course).


I liked it when I was 13, I hated it when I was 16, I really hated it when I learned it was writeing just to cash in on the genre with no respects for the fans. (See 'The Rivan Codex'). It is really formalistic crap. I also heard a critic how it defines a moral code for characthers that then break them and have no thoughts or effects of it.

Thinking back, it is rather Deus Ex Machina in somethings
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I loved the humor of Eddings' books. Although agree with you re: the Rivan Codex. It's definitely not serious fantasy and really takes jabs at the entire fantasy genre.
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