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Thread: "High Fantasy" recommendations?

  1. #26
    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the recommendations. I love haunting used book stores searching this stuff out...

  2. #27
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy is very good, especially at upsetting every fantasy stereotype and trope with utter malice and forethought. It is not for those who like their fantasy free of grit and wretchedness however.

    Daniel Abraham has one completed series, the Long Price Quartet (available in two omnibus editions). Far more character driven than most fantasies and is set in a pseudo-Asia, as opposed to the usual pseudo-medieval Europe and has a very unique system of magic. Some may feel it moves too slow but the conclusion is so very satisfying. Now he's three books into another series, The Dagger and the Coin that is far more traditional in its setting but no less well written. One of his main characters is building into a Dark Lord but his insight into how that character stumbled into this and continues down this path is fascinating.

    Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards series is another unique vision. Picture conmen working in a fantastical version of 16th century Italy. I think the best synopsis of it I read as "a fantasy Ocean's Eleven meeting Pirates of the Caribbean with much darker stakes". As it stands, the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, is the best. Between the second and the third the author went into a spiral of clinical depression, managed to stagger to the finish line with the third book and is now ready to pursue this with a vengeance. The third book seemed to suffer from a lack of serious consequences but everything our heroes gained in the end got lost, a serious nemesis has arisen, nothing is as it once seemed, and war is brewing. So I am taking the third book as a transition piece to set it all into place and now the real fun begins.

    Ditto on Robin Hobb - her books are real wicked reads.
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  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    Brooks began his career with The Sword of Shannara, which is a (nearly) scene-by-scene ripoff of The Lord of the Rings. I am told he has gotten better since, but I'm not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
    Meh. Sometimes you just want “junk food” fantasy, just like sometimes you just want “junk food” sympho-prog. Mind you, you can do way better than the mega-predictable and derivative Shannara series. Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, mentioned up-thread, for example. Hardly original, but well-written and featuring vibrant, memorable characters. Sometimes, that’s all you want, or need, really.

    You can also do far, far worse. Terry Goodkind, anyone?
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  4. #29
    facetious maximus Yves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    Meh. Sometimes you just want “junk food” fantasy, just like sometimes you just want “junk food” sympho-prog. Mind you, you can do way better than the mega-predictable and derivative Shannara series. Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, mentioned up-thread, for example. Hardly original, but well-written and featuring vibrant, memorable characters. Sometimes, that’s all you want, or need, really.

    You can also do far, far worse. Terry Goodkind, anyone?
    Another one I'd lump into that category is J.V. Jones' "The Baker's Boy" (not sure if that's the name of the series or just book 1 of it). It had some interesting political back-stabbing in a Martin vein...
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  5. #30
    Member BobM's Avatar
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    Mark Lawrence's "Pince of Thorns" & "King of Thorns" & "Emperor of Thorns" is very reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie's gritty/gruesome style of fantasy. An enjoyable quick read if you've embraced that style.
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  6. #31
    Member bill g's Avatar
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    Pamela Dean's 'The Secret Country' trilogy can be a young adult, or older adult read and are unique and quite interesting. Cleverly written with subtle humor throughout.

    1. The Secret Country
    2. The Hidden Land
    3. The Whim of the Dragon

  7. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Yves View Post
    Another one I'd lump into that category is J.V. Jones' "The Baker's Boy" (not sure if that's the name of the series or just book 1 of it). It had some interesting political back-stabbing in a Martin vein...
    I’ve seen some nice words for this one and its follow-ups. Supposedly her more recent work is better, though.

    After all the glowing praise for Rothfuss (mentioned up-thread), I think I’ll need to finally break down and get The Name of the Wind. Here’s hoping it lives up to the hype.
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  8. #33
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    My "wife" Marcia (together for 20 years but haven't done the deed) is more of a high fantasy fan than myself, being more of an SF reader and having been brought up on the joys of Lieber, Moorcock, etc. Oh, and if anyone thinks RE Howard was a mysogynist then they obviously never read any of John Norman's "Gor" books. Whoo-eee!

    But anyways, she likes David Eddings and reads it as comfort food. And since he has about a bazillion books in the same series that takes quite a while.

    Tad Williams is a bit of the same, but his stuff is superior IMO. She also turned me onto the Guy Gavriel Kay stuff and it's even better, though less high fantasy and bordering on historical fiction. She's also a big fan of the "Pern" books by Anne McCaffrey.

    I've read the Stephen R Donaldson books. They're intense and hard to get into at first but ultimately rewarding.

    I'd also recommend the Robert Silverberg "Majipoor Chronicles" books, at least the first couple. Lots of fun (but beware of his other books).

    I never could get into the Robert Jordan stuff (like chewing on a tree root), or the Earthsea books (a bit too fey for moi).

    Happy reading!

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  9. #34
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    The kids got out of school on June 12th.

    Got my daughter (now 9 years old) - "The Chronicles of Narnia" as a gift for her good grades . . . she was a bit intimidated at first: this is the gigantic (750 page) version where all the separate volumes are contained in one. She hunkered down and just finished it yesterday - - - loved it.
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  10. #35
    Member BobM's Avatar
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    Here's a few others that are great reads:

    Patrick Rothfuss - The Name of the Wind, Wise Man's Fear (3rd book in the Kingkiller Chronicles is not out yet)
    Scott Lynch - Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard Series)
    Mark Lawrence - Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire series) - this is one of those gritty ones
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  11. #36
    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
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    To update my progress, based on the recommendation so kindly offered in this thread:

    I have read both volumes of the Rothfuss series and eagerly anticipate the third ( read these before starting this thread, found them reminiscent of LeGuin's EarthSea series, which is a great thing!)

    I read as recommended here Gene Wolfe's New Sun (original) series, which I enjoyed tremendously as it seemed to take place in the same realm as Vance's Dying Sun books (which I loved). I also found a used copy of Wolfe's "the Wizard Knight" (two volumes in one nice sized book!) which looks great.

    I picked up Fletcher Pratt's "Well of the Unicorn", enjoyed it but found it a bit heavy on philosophy.

    I am delightedly devouring Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels (found used in one volume) and have the posthumous 4th work waiting for me.

    I have Robin Hobbs' Assassin's Apprentice series waiting (found two used), as are Blaylock's Disappearing Dwarf and Elvin Ship (both found used).

    I picked up some Jo Clayton and C.M. Moore, which I look forward to (still reading Moore's "Northwest of Earth" collected compilation, but that's SF)

    I'm loving my forays into this genre so thanks again!

  12. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post

    Re: Stephen R. Donaldson. The main character, Thomas Covenant, starts the series as an utter prick. By chapter four he does something completely loathsome. Yet I hold that the whole "Covenant" series (ten books in all) are the most important work of true high fantasy since Tolkien.

    I agree with this.

    A hero that is hard to root for.


    Re: Gene Wolfe and The Book of the New Sun. You really can't go wrong with anything by Wolfe, but he has written very little high fantasy (the exception being the duology The Wizard Knight). New Sun is science fiction with a fantasy feel, or "science fantasy." It is also possibly the best science fiction series of the twentieth century.
    Mostly agree.

    The best science fiction series of the 20th century is Dan Simmons' "Hyperion Cantos".


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  13. #38
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simon moon View Post
    The best science fiction series of the 20th century is Dan Simmons' "Hyperion Cantos".
    We're getting off topic but I had to also put in a plug for the "Hyperion" series. Like all series, the later books aren't always as tight but they still hold up. Interested readers should be aware, though, that Simmons' background is in horror and there's a strong undercurrent of this running through the series (which makes it even better, IMO).
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  14. #39
    Kathryn Kurtz- her Deryni series is excellent.
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  15. #40
    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
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    I'm sure many here (since we are the intelligentsia) read the interview with George RR Martin in a recent (6/15/14) New York Times Arts & Leisure Sunday section. Here's a link to the sidebar article on other current, recommended High Fantasy. I've read none of these works or authors. Sounds like some of you like the Abercrombie, but would love to hear your thoughts on these.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/ar...pgtype=article

  16. #41
    facetious maximus Yves's Avatar
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    Though I swore I was through with this genre with the exception of Martin's series, I find myself currently reading Book 3 of Daniel Abraham's "The Coin & The Dagger" series. Mr Abraham (one half of the writing team known as James S.A. Corey) was savvy enough to include the entire first book of this series as a freebie with book 1 of the James S.A. Corey "The Expanse" series (Leviathan Wakes). I thought this SF series was decent enough to continue on with, but when a lull in books appeared and I was left with nothing to read, I decided to start "The Coin & The Dagger". Now, book 4 of The Expanse is available but I'm too wrapped up in The Coin & The Dagger to download it!

    TC&TD is similar to Martin in writing style but has it's own unique world history. There is very sparse magic in it, and the power itself is nuanced. Book 4 is about to be released and the author has promised that the story ends at Book 5.
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  17. #42
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickawakeman View Post
    I'm sure many here (since we are the intelligentsia) read the interview with George RR Martin in a recent (6/15/14) New York Times Arts & Leisure Sunday section. Here's a link to the sidebar article on other current, recommended High Fantasy. I've read none of these works or authors. Sounds like some of you like the Abercrombie, but would love to hear your thoughts on these.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/ar...pgtype=article
    The only one I haven't read is Sanderson but he is well respected among genre fans. He's a Mormon, so you won't find the sex and swearing you would in any of Abercrombie or Martin's work but some might find that a relief.

    Richard K Morgan came over from science fiction where he wrote the devastating Takeshi Kovacs series. The fantasy series is utterly bizarre and at times I have a hard time following where the fuck this is all going. But Morgan writes an action scene as well as anyone and his characters are fantastic. Some might be put off by the gay lead character and his penchant for the buttsecks, but Morgan could give a fuck.

    I love Lynch but the last book, Republic of Thieves, suffered as a transition between the first two books and the coming war that will take up the rest of the series. Lynch had a severe bout of depression that delayed publication by a few years but he's back to writing furiously and has a better handle on things. I expect this series will be finished in grand style.

    Abercrombie is a dark wicked soul. That first trilogy takes every major trope in fantasy and by the end cruelly twists them into something beastly. The rest of his books are standalone but set in the same universe. At times he makes Martin look like Pollyanna.

    Daniel Abraham is one of the best things in fantasy right now - I'm just plowing through the third book in The Dagger and the Coin right now. A unique vision.
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  18. #43
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hippypants View Post
    Edgar Rice Burroughs--some don't care for him, but he was certainly influential. John Carter of Mars, and some of his others are more in the fantasy realm. I prefer his Tarzan stuff best though, or more to my taste. Some of this one shot stories are worthwhile as well, like The Mucker.

    I guess the same could be said for R. E. Howard. I enjoy his Conan stuff, but some of his other stories are worthwhile. If you can find an anthology of his work, that would be a good starting point. His sailor Steve Corrigan stories are fun to read.

    The above sort of folds in with the pulps and if you enjoy that sort of thing, you'd want to look at some Doc Savage, The Shadow, or The Spider. They're pretty high in action sequences, and fun reads, plus you can run across them sometimes in used book stores from time to time.
    We like a lot of the same stuff! I loved the Elric and Corum books, and also Burrough' Mars books, loved the Earths ' Core trilogy. And I've also read a lot of Doc Savage.

  19. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by rickawakeman View Post
    I have been primarily a reader of SF and only recently "discovered" Jack Vance's "Lyonesse" trilogy (which I found used in a complete hardcover edition), which has been described as a work of "High Fantasy". I must admit being unfamiliar with that term, but was so enthralled by "Lyonesse" that I have been seeking out similar works.
    I have finished reading Lyonesse earlier this year (thanks to this Forum recommendation) and now I ordered the single-volume edition for my library. Also looking for more in the same vein.

    Quote Originally Posted by the winter tree View Post
    I would recommend Guy Gavriel Kay's "Fionavar Tapestry" trilogy
    I tried but could not get through more than ~50 pages... not sure if I want to give it a second chance... maybe Kay's books are not for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    Re: Stephen R. Donaldson. The main character, Thomas Covenant, starts the series as an utter prick. By chapter four he does something completely loathsome. Yet I hold that the whole "Covenant" series (ten books in all) are the most important work of true high fantasy since Tolkien.
    I am halfway through the 1st book now - you are right, the main character is not very sympathetic, and I definitely could live without some "dirty" scenes (same could be applied to Lyonesse as well, but the humor of Vance is truly redeeming). But the world is highly detailed and original so I enjoy the book in spite of the protagonist.

    Also, Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight cycle caught my attention, so this is what I am planning to read next.
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  20. #45
    facetious maximus Yves's Avatar
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    You have to read through the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant in order to get to the best in the series: The Second Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant. One of the best I have ever read!

    I'm currently reading The Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch. About a third of the way through the first book and so far I am enjoying it. It borrows almost as much from Dickens as it does from the fantasy genre.
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  21. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    Meh. Sometimes you just want “junk food” fantasy ... Mind you, you can do way better than the mega-predictable and derivative Shannara series. Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, mentioned up-thread, for example. Hardly original, but well-written and featuring vibrant, memorable characters.
    I wouldn't call MS&T junk food by any means. Even paint-by-numbers plots can avoid that label if the writing & characters are done well enough, and I'd argue that even if some of the framework is timeworn, that series has enough detail and twists and turns that it doesn't feel like paint-by-numbers at all. His Shadowmarch series is even better (and less obviously conventional where story tropes are concerned).

    Agree about Terry Goodkind also; a decent premise ruined by cartoony convolutions and soap-opera melodrama. I enjoyed him and David Eddings in middle/high school, but they became downright embarrassing once I learned what good writing was. I suppose Eddings could be good for breezy mindless cotton candy if it fits the right mood. (It doesn't matter if you pick up the Belgariad or the Malloreon; they're carbon copies of the same story.)

    Gene Wolfe's New Sun may be the most frustrating read I've ever slogged through in the genre. If I squint I can almost sort-of maybe get a vague glimmer of why they're so highly praised, but holy shit, is it ever a chore. I spent the whole time wondering if the characters were even human beings. They go through the most bizarre unimaginable things and have no believable or emotional reactions whatsoever. I remember it having all the impenetrability of any Samuel R. Delany book but with even less sense.

    Ok, enough negatives for now. Stephen Donaldson and Thomas Covenant do indeed deserve every bit of praise they've gotten in this thread. Dennis McKiernan has done some very good things in the genre, well worth looking into if you ignore his early Tolkien rehashes and the later fairy-tale adaptions. Robert Jordan may have spent five whole books of his series to move the plot barely an inch, but I'll praise his world-building, picturesque language and feel for speech as among the finest I've read.

    Thanks to everyone that mentioned Daniel Abraham. He looks mighty interesting--think I have to go dig further.

  22. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    After all the glowing praise for Rothfuss (mentioned up-thread), I think I’ll need to finally break down and get The Name of the Wind. Here’s hoping it lives up to the hype.
    Glad someone took the time to bump up this thread! I have now read both of the books in this series, and can happily say that they do indeed live up to the hype! I anxiously await further developments in this series (yes, I know about the novella about a tangential character).
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  23. #48
    Member BobM's Avatar
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    I'm taking a break from the fantasy style and catching up on Arthur C Clark's "Rama" series. Never read them before and enjoying it. Currently on the 3rd one.
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  24. #49
    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
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    I'm the OP....What I've been devouring:

    Robin Hobbs' second Fitz/Fool trilogy, since I already have the first of the newest triology waiting...
    Gavriel Guy Kay's "Tigana" (really loved this, also enjoyed his Fianavar Tapestry trilogy); to Azal- if you liked Lyonesse, you might like Kay's Tigana. It's a single but dense volume.
    China Mieville's (sp?) "Perdido Street Station" (loved this modern high fantasy, will explore this universe further...)

    Taking a break right now from the High Fantasy to read Jack Vance's Arminata Station, first of his Cadwal trilogy. It was Vance's high fantasy masterpiece Lyonesse that started my now 1.5 year foray into High Fantasy. I've got quite a stack waiting, having found many of the works recommended in this thread used. Looking forward to Lawhead's Arthurian series, Moorecock's Gloriana...

  25. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by rickawakeman View Post
    I'm the OP....What I've been devouring:

    Robin Hobbs' second Fitz/Fool trilogy, since I already have the first of the newest triology waiting...
    Cool, glad you liked the Hobb! I recommended the first Farseer trilogy eariler in the thread, which it appears you read and must have enjoyed. Coincidentally I just finished Book III of her Rain Wilds series, and I really liked the first three of those. The pacing is a bit slower, but I really like the characters and how things develop organically. I'm taking a break before jumping into Book IV of that series, but I'm really looking forward to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by rickawakeman View Post
    China Mieville's (sp?) "Perdido Street Station" (loved this modern high fantasy, will explore this universe further...)
    Another of my modern favorites, I actually got turned onto him here and now have all his stuff. My highest recommendations go to City and the City, Embassytown, and Kraken. Railsea and King Rat I also really liked. The two follow-ups to Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The Scar, I was a bit less fond of, though each have strong moments. If you like his other stuff, I'd say go for these, you may well like them more than I did - and I probably need to give The Scar another shot. Actually, looks like he has a new one out called This Census-Taker... autobuy for me.

    I assume you caught the Yes reference in Perdido Street Station?

    Lot's of other cool suggestions in this thread. I've backed away from Sci-Fi/Fantasy a bit and have been reading a lot of history and anthropology of late. But it's always good to hear what folks are enjoying, and like I say, I discovered Meiville in a thread like this and he's one I now follow consistently.

    Bill

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