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Recommend a Fantasy Series

post #1 of 479
Thread Starter 
I searched but didn't see a pre-existing thread and I apologize if it already exists. The post about Martin's lateness got me thinking. What fantasty novel or fantasy series would you recommend to others? I don't know about you but being a fan of the genre I'm always looking for something new and interesting to pick up. There was a time there a few years ago where I struggled to find something...unique in the fantasy section of my local B&N. Everything read like a bad knock-off of the Dragonlance books (which I admit I enjoyed...when I was 10). These days there seems to be more and more great fantasty novels being released. I'm interested to hear from everyone.

Scott Lynch - The Lies of Locke Lamora - Probably the most fun fantasy novel I've read in years. I recommend this to anyone even remotely interested in the genre. I find this book so hard to describe, its like The Sting taking place in your favoriet Fantasy world. Its funny, very witty, flows extremely well, has great and memorable characters, etc. Pick this up, now. This is (of course) a multi-book series but I'll be damned if it isn't a great self-contained book. The sequel is very good too. Oh, and the sequel throws in Pirates.
post #2 of 479
I smell a bait thread...
post #3 of 479
There's this great duology, called The Bible. Volume 1 is The Old Testament, while Volume 2 is The New Testament. You can really see the growth between the two books; the first one is way more sweeping and epic, but the second one gets this very personal story and has a RASHOMON-like multiple POV thing going on that's pretty avant. What I like is that the POVs don't QUITE match up, so there's a lot left to interpretation.

There's some fanfic for it, most notably the Book of Mormon, but I've never read much of that.
post #4 of 479
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by devincf View Post
There's some fanfic for it, most notably the Book of Mormon, but I've never read much of that.
Isn't that the one that throws in Indians and magic glasses?
post #5 of 479
Yeah. Fans of that one do a lot of cosplay. They wear this specific tie-in underwear.
post #6 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by devincf View Post
There's some fanfic for it, most notably the Book of Mormon, but I've never read much of that.
post #7 of 479
I haven't read much fantasy and so there's not a lot I can recommend. Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun (there's some debate over whether it should be classified as SF due to some obvious technological underpinnings, but I don't subscribe to that viewpoint) is easily the best I've seen. It's dense, highly literate and beautifully written.

Wolfe doesn't believe in spoon-feeding the reader and so you have to pay attention. If you don't you won't have a clue about what's going on.

M. John Harrison's Viriconium omnibus gets quite a good press (I've got it but haven't read it yet). Like Wolfe he is a superb writer who demands that reading be an active rather than passive experience.

Gormenghast? I've not read it but many have and love it.
post #8 of 479
Haven't yet been let down by Brandon Sanderson, although I'm not too thrilled with him spending so much time and energy on finishing Robert Jordan's never-ending Wheel of Time series.

Patrick Rothfuss is also worth a look.

And that Bible thing isn't bad, but its fans make it unbearable.
post #9 of 479
I've only read the first book of "The First Law" trilogy by Joe Abercrombie but it is fantastic with some dark humor sprinkled in.
post #10 of 479
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheCheese View Post
I've only read the first book of "The First Law" trilogy by Joe Abercrombie but it is fantastic with some dark humor sprinkled in.
I think the third book in the series is the best one although many disliked it. Glotka is one of the best fiction characters in years.
post #11 of 479
Glen Cook's The Black Company series. Not your usual high fantasy, read the Book of the North (collection of the first series) at the very least.
post #12 of 479
The BBC recently produced a fascinating three-hour documentary (in three parts) on the Fantasy genre and its cultural impact over the years. It charted its growth from the earliest roots in the soot and grime of the British Industrial Revolution (Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, which had such a profound impact on the nation that it sparked a furious debate in the House of Lords culminating in the prohibition of children working as chimney sweeps), through to the works of Lewis Carroll, who painted his fantasy environments as escapist whilst also being grotesque caricatures of the reality, through to J.M Barry's Peter Pan (which was more of a hit with adults nostalgically seeking a return to their youth than children), through to the works of Edith Nesbitt, who realised that the child hero needed to throw his toys out of the crib occasionally and that magic shouldn't always be a solution to every problem.

I never understood just how popular the Fantasy genre was at that time. Relative sales make those of the Harry Potter generation today seem almost insignificant. The series then moved on to WWI and the seismic impact it had on writers of the day. "It's just not on that daddy sits downstairs with half his face blown off suffering shell shock". C.S. Lewis was one of the first authors who understood that children too were suffering the horrors of war. His characters seek escape from the trauma surrounding them in the real world whilst also functioning as figureheads to teach moral lessons. Then on to Alan Garner's The Owl Service, which was one of the first fantasy novels which plucked its characters from the lower middle-classes and portrayed them as victims more than heroes. Next Roald Dahl, who felt that no story (such as the engaging The BFG) would be too grisly or shocking if it came wrapped in a comfort blanket of comedy. Then on to the counter-culture revolution, Tolkien, Moorcock (I should have included the darkly hilarious Elric series in my recommendations above) etc. and the subsequent strangulation of the genre (and the subsequent marginalization of its followers) by conservative publicists who were only interested in kitsch rehashes of Tolkien and other previously popular works. Finally - rebirth through the likes of Pratchett and his genre-bending Discworld series (another good place to start), the unexpected rise of Fantasy to Literary status (Phillip Pullman's Whitbread award-winning and mind-blowing His Dark Materials trilogy) through to the commercial phenomenon that is J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

There were a number of interesting comments throughout the documentary by Guillermo Del Toro - "If you don’t like Fantasy you are a spiritual senior citizen". Interestingly, the final twenty minutes were devoted to Online Fantasy RPG. GDT seems fascinated by them "Videogames are the future because they offer the opportunity of non-linear narratives". Gamers are now empowered. They are in charge of the narrative. If you want to throw Frodo into Mount Doom you have the opportunity. Fantasy has now reached the point where the line between the suppliers (the writers) and the consumers (the readers) has become impossibly blurred.

It's a great documentary and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Fantasy.
post #13 of 479
I take it's the doc called 'The Worlds of Fantasy'?
I'll definitely try to check it out.
post #14 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham View Post
I take it's the doc called 'The Worlds of Fantasy'?
I'll definitely try to check it out.
You're right. I'd completely forgotten it.
post #15 of 479
Steven Erickson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. And you start with Gardens of the Moon. It doesn't get any better than that.

Also, R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing series, starting with The Darkness That Comes Before.
post #16 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Savage View Post
Steven Erickson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. And you start with Gardens of the Moon. It doesn't get any better than that.

Also, R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing series, starting with The Darkness That Comes Before.
I love the Erickson series, but Gardens of the Moon is by far the weakest novel of the bunch. It takes until about halfway through volume 2 - Deadhouse Gates - to really hook you. If you make it to the end of the Chain of Dogs sequence and remain unmoved, I dont know what to say.

Then you get to Memories of Ice and the OMFG siege of Capustan, which he really never tops in its melding of emotion and action.
post #17 of 479
Got that right. I mention only the first book to start the series, but indeed,The Chain of Dog events were to me the high point so far, and that's a lot considering the next 6 books. And yep, book 3 is EPIC.

Still love Karsa Orlong to hell, after hating the shit out of him at the beginning.
post #18 of 479
the first The Chronicles of Amber series was a favorite when I was a teen.
post #19 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by eenin View Post
the first The Chronicles of Amber series was a favorite when I was a teen.
That's Roger Zelazny, isn't it? I've read a few of his SF books. Lord of Light being the best. Its spin on Hindu mythology with an advanced space fairing civilization impersonating deities in order to extort money from an unwitting middle-age society is hilarious.
post #20 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
That's Roger Zelazny, isn't it? I've read a few of his SF books. Lord of Light being the best. Its spin on Hindu mythology with an advanced space fairing civilization impersonating deities in order to extort money from an unwitting middle-age society is hilarious.
yes he wrote it, but I didn't like the second one as well.
post #21 of 479
For those still following Jordan's The Wheel of Time, there's word out that the final book, being finished by Brandon Sanderson, may not be getting split in two after all.

It may be getting split into three books.

Oh Brandon, not you too.
post #22 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
For those still following Jordan's The Wheel of Time, there's word out that the final book, being finished by Brandon Sanderson, may not be getting split in two after all.

It may be getting split into three books.

Oh Brandon, not you too.
in Brandon defense we are talking about the wheel of time. Just how many loose ends are we talking about 39 or 65?
post #23 of 479
Yeah, and it's official -- the first book comes out later this year. Sanderson has a pretty good explanation for it at his blog, including how Tom Doherty at Tor wanted him to wrap everything up in 250,000 words. Um, Tom, have you even read the series? The only way to pull that off would be to have the first chapter reveal the last nine books were all a dream.
post #24 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster View Post
It's a great documentary and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Fantasy.
No mention of countryman, Gaiman?

Dug up some old threads. There are some good suggestions in here:
Essential fantasy
Most books suck, especially.... (sci-fi and fantasy books).
Universal To Attempt World's Most Boring, Infinite Movie
post #25 of 479
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
Yeah, and it's official -- the first book comes out later this year. Sanderson has a pretty good explanation for it at his blog, including how Tom Doherty at Tor wanted him to wrap everything up in 250,000 words. Um, Tom, have you even read the series? The only way to pull that off would be to have the first chapter reveal the last nine books were all a dream.
I like Sanderson so I'll give him a break here but this really concerns me. I'm only through the first two Mistborn books and I already saw some scary signs in book 2 where he slowed down and seemed to get lost. Not a lot, but enough where I'm afraid he could drink the Jordan kool-aid and never resolve anything if it meant putting out more and more books. With WOT if you cut out 2/3 of the needless two rivers/stout wooden shoes and braid pulling descriptions you could easily trim it up.

Right now I'm 2/3 through R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing series. Good stuff. Heavy, but good.
post #26 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by JudgeSmails View Post
IScott Lynch - The Lies of Locke Lamora - Probably the most fun fantasy novel I've read in years. I recommend this to anyone even remotely interested in the genre. I find this book so hard to describe, its like The Sting taking place in your favoriet Fantasy world. Its funny, very witty, flows extremely well, has great and memorable characters, etc. Pick this up, now. This is (of course) a multi-book series but I'll be damned if it isn't a great self-contained book. The sequel is very good too. Oh, and the sequel throws in Pirates.
I'll go ahead and throw my support to this book. He didn't quite stick the landing (definitely have issues with how everything was so quickly resolved at the end); however, I do give the author points for creating some great characters, an interesting world and not filling the world with loads of fantasy babble. Been awhile since I found a fantasy author able to keep me engrossed enough to stay awake and finish the book. All in all, he's a paperback buy (new) with the potential to be upgraded to a hardcover buy (used).
post #27 of 479
Jo Walton (Tooth and Claw, Farthing series),
Michael Swanwick (any short story collection),
John Crowley (esp. Little, Big),
Mervyn Peake (Gormenghast books),
Dianna Wynne Jones (Howl's Moving Castle and her others if you don't mind kid's books, which I don't)... That's as good enough of a start as any I could give.

EDIT: I'm no fan of Tolkien-esque stories with multiple entires and same-old-same-old creatures. These are a little different than the typical sword-and-sorcery stuff.
post #28 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Savage View Post
Steven Erickson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. And you start with Gardens of the Moon. It doesn't get any better than that.
I just started in on this, and after a somewhat slow beginning, it's definitely picked up quite a bit. Erickson's pretty adept at conjuring up a detailed history with only a few names or pieces of dialog, suggesting a rich background without bogging down the narrative with it.
post #29 of 479
It's his ability to tell tales through so little dialog that's bedazzling. Wait till book 2. First you'll meet new characters you'll need time to warm up to, then, the Chain of Dogs. I haven't seen a more intense and emotional arc in a fiction book since the end of Gates of Fire.

In fact, that's Erickson MO. Starts slow, but by the end you'll weep for more.
post #30 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post
No mention of countryman, Gaiman?
Never read anything of his.

<apologies for the late reply - been busy with work>
post #31 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Savage View Post
It's his ability to tell tales through so little dialog that's bedazzling. Wait till book 2. First you'll meet new characters you'll need time to warm up to, then, the Chain of Dogs. I haven't seen a more intense and emotional arc in a fiction book since the end of Gates of Fire.

In fact, that's Erickson MO. Starts slow, but by the end you'll weep for more.
I'm a little bothered by how he spends 100+ pages getting you involved in the doings of the Bridgeburners and the wizards, then suddenly leaps away to Darujistan and the various thieves and assassins for the next 100. Not that this part is uninteresting or badly written, or even unnecessary, but it sort of stilled the flow of the story a little for me. I'm sure everything will dovetail together later on, but it feels like all this could have been set up much quicker.
post #32 of 479
Boy, this isn't going to make me popular, but I've done something I hardly ever do.

I've given up on a book halfway through.

I'm 300 pages in to Gardens of the Moon and it has absolutely lost me. Nothing is happening. It's all pieces moving on a game board without any real conflict. Oh, there's plenty of mention of animosities and oppositions, but nobody's acting on them. It's all plot and counterplot and long conversations explaining those counterplots. I'm not saying a book has to be non-stop action, but I just feel like things are completely adrift at this point, and going forward to what I hear is a much faster-paced ending feels like a slog, especially considering I'm still a good 200 pages away from it.
post #33 of 479
Richard, this is why some people will tell you to actually start with Deadhouse Gates, and then go back and re-read Gardens of the Moon.

Deadhouse Gates takes place on an entirely different continent and shares few of the same characters from Gardens of The Moon. There's also a several-year (maybe 10 years?) gap between the writing of the two, and Erickson's prose, plotting, and storytelling all take a massive leap between them.

The main plot threads from Moon get picked up again in book three, Memories of Ice.

So I'd go Deadhouse Gates->Gardens of the Moon->Memories of Ice, then read the rest in order.

I remember finishing Gardens of the Moon and thinking, "That was pretty good. I guess I'll read the next one."

I remember finishing Deadhouse Gates and thinking, "Holy shit, that was amazing, I must have more!" and then ordering the next 3 or 4 books from Amazon.ca (paying a premium to do so) rather than wait for them to be published in the states. I devoured them all in a couple of weeks.

Just FYI, I feel where you're coming from. I gave up on the Sanderson series that you love about 200 pages in. Bored me to tears.
post #34 of 479
It's honestly your loss Richard, but you're not the only one that I know that gave up on it. Erickson's books ain't an easy read, not that it's badly written, but they're so rewarding by the end it's majestic.

All these plots are quite essential to explain the motivations of the characters, and the reason why all the conversations seems uninteresting is because you hardly know the characters (the Bridgeburners and the thieves), yet they're written as there's no introduction for the reader. It's like hanging out for the first time with an old group of friends. All that's been said is actually pretty interesting if I remember.

I'll have to re-read the whole thing once the last book is out.

Eyeball gave you a great tip btw.
post #35 of 479
I think by 300 pages in, I should know the characters, and I still feel like I don't. So many of the Bridgeburners are simply variations on the grizzled veteran archetype that I don't relate to them as individuals. I don't need my hand held, but if you're going to drop readers into a sprawling, unfamiliar world with an intricate plot, it helps to have one or two characters who are our main eyes on that world. But Erickson is juggling so many POV characters that I don't feel like I'm invested in any of them.

I read online that Malazan is based on a setting Erickson created for his GURPS game, and that makes a lot of sense, since a lot times the book feels like "Hey, here's another cool thing I came up with for my game."
post #36 of 479
Whiskeyjack, Kalam and Quick Ben are your reference point to start with.
post #37 of 479
Well, I stopped at a point -- Tattersail just died and we've had sort of a recap of where things stand from Rake and his conversation with Crone -- where I can go back to it after a bit of a break.

Part of this is that I'm looking at the ever-increasing bulk of the books in the series, and reading fairly frequent comments that all his books seem to start slowly. That's bad enough in a 700 page book. When the page count is hitting 1000, I don't know if that's something I want to get into.
post #38 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
I read online that Malazan is based on a setting Erickson created for his GURPS game, and that makes a lot of sense, since a lot times the book feels like "Hey, here's another cool thing I came up with for my game."
Like?

And I it raised my eyebrow too I guess, but Erickson's writing is above most of the genre's writer. It's not Gene Wolfe, nor Hal Duncan, but it's so better than Jordan and George RR Martin. And that's not counting on the rich world he created.
post #39 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
Part of this is that I'm looking at the ever-increasing bulk of the books in the series, and reading fairly frequent comments that all his books seem to start slowly. That's bad enough in a 700 page book. When the page count is hitting 1000, I don't know if that's something I want to get into.
It starts slow because he introduces either new plot point or new characters, but slows does not equal boring by any means.
post #40 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Savage View Post
Like?
Remember when I mentioned I was liking how he was creating a world by simply mentioning names and events and not delving into detail? Well, after a while, it just started to feel like name-dropping for the sake of name-dropping.
post #41 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Savage View Post
It starts slow because he introduces either new plot point or new characters, but slows does not equal boring by any means.
None of it's badly written, there's just no sense of urgency. Even the characters in this war don't seem to be acting like the war is this very important thing.
post #42 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
Remember when I mentioned I was liking how he was creating a world by simply mentioning names and events and not delving into detail? Well, after a while, it just started to feel like name-dropping for the sake of name-dropping.
Yeah, but here's the thing:

He explores the things. The series ain't linear.

And he mentioned some events, like the Malazan campaign in Assail going badly, but it never got explored, and never will be. Why is he saying it? Because it's a reference that all is not going well for the Empire. Some people may frustrate at the idea of dropping names, but it makes sense because some of these characters are old as fuck. They remember the events, so they talk about it.
post #43 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson
None of it's badly written, there's just no sense of urgency. Even the characters in this war don't seem to be acting like the war is this very important thing.
You've stumbled onto something quite important here.

Also, do you not like Kruppe?
post #44 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
Even the characters in this war don't seem to be acting like the war is this very important thing.
They knows they're on a suicide mission, like all the other ones they've been doing since. They're aware they're being sacrificed. So they do their job.

The lack of urgency is simple: it's an infiltration mission part of a years-long campaign.
post #45 of 479
Martin: Thanks for recommending 'Gates of Fire' to me. I'm about halfway though it and I'm digging it immensely.

I agree, THIS should have been turned into a movie; NOT '300'.
post #46 of 479
Oh wait. It gets better. And yeah, You'll learned to hate 300.

And love Polynikes and Rooster.
post #47 of 479
Am firmly in Richard's camp, I have to say. Gardens of the Moon was a meandering, self-indulgent and often impenetrable mess. I've never got a stronger 'making it up as he goes along' feeling from any other book. But, I'm going to revisit - I've heard so much praise heaped in the subsequent books I have to give them another chance. I just kind of dread reading GOTM again.

Are they done by the way?
post #48 of 479
Next year.
post #49 of 479
Here are a few I haven't seen mentioned:

A Song of Fire and Ice (also known as "the knights who say fuck") - George R.R. Martin - it's a pretty good little series, starts with a book called A Game of Thrones, there are 4 in the series currently with a 5th due out any time now. Gritty, "low" fantasy, lots of politics and backstabbing and sex and such.

The Deepgate Codex - Alan Campbell - there are two books in this series thus far, Scar Night, and Iron Angel. They are SteamPunk fantasy, really atmospheric, Gaimen-esque high fantasy with some gory elements woven in.

The Steel Remains - Richard K. Morgan - he wrote the very good Altered Carbon cyberpunk/noir novel series, and this fantasy novel is a stand-alone one but is really quite good. It is lowest of the low fantasy, but has great characterizations and non-typical fantasy writing for sure. There is rumour that he has a second book coming out in this same setting.

As far as Steve Erikson goes, I am on the third book of Malazan, but I can only digest it in small chunks as a series. My OCD doesn't let me get much further than 10 pages in before I am looking up which character I am reading about or their relations to characters x, y and z in the Cast sections of the books. It's aiiiight. I definitely want to see where he is going with all of this. It's weird though, because now TWO other authors are making Malazan books too...
post #50 of 479
It's actually only one other author, and it's parallel stories to the main one. It's apparently not as good.

Good to know that Morgan still excels. I've been meaning to check out The Steel Remains for a while now. And the next book is due later this year. The Dark Commands if I remember right.
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