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Subject: Game of Thrones question (also general "Fantasy" book question) rss

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Dave Lartigue
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I've never heard anyone who talk about this series mention any supernatural elements in it (magic, monsters), but the Amazon description talks about magic and ice vampires and stuff. What is the extent of this material in the books?

And as long as I'm asking, what "fantasy" books are out there that don't have any of this? That is, books with a medieval setting, but obviously not in "our" world (different geography, different history) and zero magic or elves or stuff. Do any come to mind?
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Todd Warnken
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At the start of Game of Thrones magic and the supernatural have been in decline for centuries. As the story progresses magic and supernatural forces start to reappear but it does not dominate the story.
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Justin Sytsma
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Mundane wrote:
At the start of Game of Thrones magic and the supernatural have been in decline for centuries. As the story progresses magic and supernatural forces start to reappear but it does not dominate the story.


Agreed. I read a game of thrones and am half way through a clash of kings (Put on hold to read The Gathering Storm) The "magic" doesn't really start to pick up till the end of A game of thrones. Even then I wouldn't say it's sorcerers and wizards. More along the lines of holy priest representing the gods powers.
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It has been awhile since I've read them but Mary Stewart's King Arthur books were very good, and I don't remember a lot of magic, and definitely no elves. And son of a gun, I had no idea there was a 5th book in the series! I've just now discovered that from the linky.
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Mark Christopher
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Legomancer wrote:
I've never heard anyone who talk about this series mention any supernatural elements in it (magic, monsters), but the Amazon description talks about magic and ice vampires and stuff. What is the extent of this material in the books?

And as long as I'm asking, what "fantasy" books are out there that don't have any of this? That is, books with a medieval setting, but obviously not in "our" world (different geography, different history) and zero magic or elves or stuff. Do any come to mind?


A Song of Ice and Fire seems much more a medieval political story than a fantasy, in a way. As was mentioned, the supernatural makes maybe a handful of appearances in the first book, and though you see more in the later books, it's not by much. In just about all cases, the magic or supernatural elements are creepy or scary or startling; magic isn't the norm for most of the characters.
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Vincent
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There's a GeeksOn interview with him where he explains that he uses fantasy elements as spice. Just a little to add flavor. Even if you decide not to read the series, it's worth a listen just to hear his ideas about writing.

http://www.geekson.com/archives/archiveepisodes/2006/episode...
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Marshall Miller
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The magic elements in the book are quite minimal. I also recommend Melanie Rawn's Exile books. They feel like the feminine counterpart/companion to A Game of Thrones (also sort of low magic).
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Marc P
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I'm reasonably certain that one of the castles will melt into an army of dragons at some point. I really hope that I'm right. There is an order of mystics that appear to have some really, really scary abilities. Most of the capabilities of the main characters, though is measured by their skill with diplomacy, swords, daggers, maces, and poison. Also +1 to the whole ebb and flow of supernatural presence alluded to by Mundane.
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Jesus christ, I wish he'd finish this damn series.

I love the books, but you know. I'd like to find out what happens. It's like watching Carnivale.
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Peter Ferguson
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zorazen wrote:
Jesus christ, I wish he'd finish this damn series.

I love the books, but you know. I'd like to find out what happens. It's like watching Carnivale.


Give him time, the dude's also working on a TV series..

I just hope he doesn't milk the series to death like Robert (Cash Cow) Jordan did.
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Yes, but he's working on a TV series based off of the books that he hasn't finished writing yet and furthermore, the latest book was supposed to come out a year after Feast for Crows.

I'm not trying to be one of those "but what about meeeeeeee?" fans, but I really am looking forward to the next book and I'm sad he hasn't updated his website about that book in a long time.

There's plenty of other books for me to enjoy in the meantime though!
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I, for the most part, hate reading fantasy because magic and elves and faries aren't my thing. The magic/supernatural is so minimal in this series that I ended up loving these books.

I really liked the RPG for this reason too. Combat was intense. If you got hit with a sword it wasn't like you lost some hit points and some other party member could heal you or you could just drink a potion. Someone just sliced into you with a big freakin piece of metal and you may very well fall into shock and die right there.

If anyone is interested, though its is a long long way off, the special guest for Miscon, our local convention here in Missoula, in 2012 is George R R Martin...though, I'm not supposed to know that or tell anyone...
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Ed Sherman
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Bernard Cornwell's "The Winter King" is a good book without elves and whatnot. It's a retelling of the Arthur myth -- or rather, what could have happened realistically that would have evolved through legend to become the Arthur myth. I'd put it into the realm of "historical fiction" instead of "fantasy" but it seems to me that (fantasy) - (elves + magic) = (historical fiction)
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A good non-magical fantasy is The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison. The intro says that it is a dream the author had about people living on the planet Mercury, but that's just a thin cover for a pretty good story. It's from the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, so sometimes the language is a bit stilted, but still a good read. It's been a good 20 years since I read it, but I don't recall any magic at all, and there are certainly no elves. If you like it, there are three more books in this series, although I've never read them.

Another elf-free fantasy is Silverlock by John Myers Myers. There is a little bit of magic (a brief encounter with Circe, and later one character drinks a potion that turns him into a donkey) but it is minimal for such a good book.

If you want to try some techno-fantasy, read In the Net of Dreams by Wm. Mark Simmons (personal friend of mine). It follows the former chief programmer for a virtual immersion fantasy game as he has to dive back into his game and rescue some foreign diplomats that have become trapped by sabotage. The game is set in a fantasy world, but it's all a computer simulation. Sort of like actually entering the realm of WoW.

A similar book is Rounded with Sleep by Rob Chilson ( another personal friend). In this book the continent of Africa has been cleared of inhabitants so that people around the world can engage in virtual adventures, except that these avatars are actual bodies that are operated by the players from other continents. There are tiny cameras covering nearly the entire continent, and people can use their TVs to watch the adventures of their favorite players, and follow them for years (if they survive that long). You are following one of the most successful and popular players, who has been doing this for over a hundred years, and now wants to retire. There is no "real" magic and no elves or dwarves as I recall.

Another great fantasy book by Chilson is The Shores of Kansas. It's set in modern times, but the protagonist is a time-traveller. He is one of a handful of humans who have the ability to focus on electrical patterns in the air to "walk" back in time. This guy is the only one who is able to go back to prehistoric times, and he takes home movies of dinosaurs, brings back eggs, and so forth. I consider this a fantasy because the time travel does not involve a machine, but is purely a mental power.

Edit: Speaking of using mental powers, I can't believe I forgot Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny. "Amber" is the only 'true' city in the 'true' world, and all other worlds that exist (including ours) are merely "shadows" of Amber. You follow the adventures of Corwin, a member of the royal house of Amber, all of whom have the ability to "walk in Shadow" and travel to these other worlds. Again, no magic, elves, or any of the trappings of "high fantasy", but a damn good read. The first book in a series, Zelazny started another series about other characters from Amber, but died before he could complete it.
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Marshall Miller
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claymore_57 wrote:

Edit: Speaking of using mental powers, I can't believe I forgot Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny.


This is one of the series that I really loved when I was younger. I think one summer I read all the books in about a week (instead of playing at the beach). This series should really be a miniseries or a film trilogy.
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Dave Lartigue
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Here is the reason I am asking. I know someone who has written a book (two, actually, set in the same world). The setting is medieval -- horses, kings, castles, etc. -- but the geography and history is not "our" world. There is no magic or supernatural beings in the books either. The book focuses on relationships -- personal and political -- and not on finding the magical whatzit or defending the white people from the dark whozits or such.

The books are really good, but this person is having trouble with feedback from test readers who are thrown off by the fact that it's a fantasy book without the fantasy. (These are people who are used to reading more solidly genre works.)

So I'm trying to help the author by finding other books that fit this niche and help prove that having a book set in a make-believe medieval country and NOT including elves and shit isn't a deal-breaker.
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Sean Todd
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zorazen wrote:
... and furthermore, the latest book was supposed to come out a year after Feast for Crows. ...


The latest book was supposed to be A Feast for Crows. Supposedly he was almost done, but the book was so big they split it into two parts so they could publish half right away (right away as in many years late) and the other half a couple months later (since it was very nearly done).

Years go by...continents shift...

Frankly I think there's about a 5% chance he'll live long enough to complete the series.
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Marshall Miller
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Legomancer wrote:
Here is the reason I am asking.


Many science fiction short stories are like this. They are set on a different planet with a different history and level of advancement. I would check out the science fiction section instead of the fantasy section.
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John So-And-So
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The lack of magic and wizards was actually something that really turned me on to the series when I started reading it. The story really just plays like an alternate-earth middle ages for a very long time. By the time Martin started to introduce those elements (reintroduce them, in the story's mythology), I was already deep enough into the characters that I was willing to tolerate it.

Tell your friend that there are a lot of people who would read fantasy if it didn't have so many damn elves and wizards. I like alternate worlds a lot, I just hate that fantasy books are always set in Middle earth.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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There are some children/tween books by Cynthia Voigt like that and even have a map on the inside covers:

From the ever-popular Wikipedia

Kingdom Series

The vast majority of Voigt's work is marked by a contemporary or historical setting and a realistic style. The "Kingdom" books break from the former, being set in an unspecified but apparently invented region in a circa-medieval period of historical development. While the world is invented, however, it remains realistic in its construction, and resembles in most respects a historically faithful period setting, rather than a sword and sorcerer fairyland. What myths are present in the Kingdom are usually seen to have historical basis; the first novel, Jackaroo, deals with such a myth—a Robin Hood-like figure who is really just an archetype whose guise is donned by various nobles and commoners through the years.

The Kingdom books are connected by history and geography rather than the lifespan of any one character or family; though characters in later novels are sometimes descended from characters in earlier novels, their adventures are usually the stuff of myth or distant memory.

* 1985 Jackaroo
* 1990 On Fortune's Wheel
* 1993 The Wings of a Falcon
* 1999 Elske
(I added the bolding)

I've read them and highly recommend them. No magic, no elves.


Oh, and not to disappoint you...............BACON! bacon
 
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Mystery McMysteryface
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Dave!!! I found some more bacon books for you!!!!

1) First up is the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner (also childrens/tween books)

Very little magic, no elves.
The books are:
The Thief (The Queen's Thief, Book 1)
The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, Book 2)
The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, Book 3)

Excerpt from the Wikipedia page for The Queen of Attolia:

The books are set in a Byzantine-like imaginary landscape, reminiscent of ancient Greece and other territories around the Mediterranean. The action takes place in the countries of Eddis, Attolia, and Sounis. The characters’ names are also Greek, and references are made to actual Greek authors, but this is fantasy, not historical fiction. The gods of Turner’s pantheon, ruled by the Great Goddess Hephestia, are her own, and her world possesses such items as guns and pocket watches.

2) Second is Lavinia the latest by Ursula LeGuin. Excerpt from Amazon page:

This novel takes a minor character from Vergil's Aeneid and creates a thoughtful, moving tale of prophecy, myth, and self-fulfillment. Lavinia is the teen princess of Latium, a small but important kingdom in pre-Roman Italy. Best known for her works of fantasy, Le Guin takes a more historical approach here by toning down the magical elements; gods and prophecies have a vital role in the protagonist's life, but they are presented as concepts and rituals, not as deities playing petty games with the lives of mortals. The author's language and style are complex, making this a title for sophisticated teens.


I hope this is what you were looking for!

kiss
 
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