Page 1 of 11 1234567891011 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 255

Thread: "High Fantasy" recommendations?

  1. #1
    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    West of Worcester (Western Massachusetts)
    Posts
    513

    "High Fantasy" recommendations?

    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 had read White's "Once and Future King" about ten years ago and this would seem to fall under the heading of "romantic heroism", another description I see for similar works. I am extremely fortunate to have a great used book store right here in the village of Florence MA (where I have been able to amass quite a collection of Vance's SF work as well as pretty much everything written by Fritz Leiber, whose Sword & Sorcery works I assume do not fall into this "category" but I loved nonetheless) and last week the owner, learning of my new passion, suggested the following (all of which I bought on the spot):

    Three Hearts and Three Lions- Poul Anderson
    Judgement Night-C.L. Moore (whose "Northwest of Earth-the Complete Northwest Smith" I just found in a cool used store in NYC, great stuff)
    The Well of the Unicorn-Fletcher Pratt
    The Mezentian Gate-E.R. Eddison (guess I should pick up the trilogy which precedes this...the Worm Ouroboros, Mistress of Mistresses and A Fish Dinner in Memison)

    I also ordered up the two volumes comprising Gene Wolf's "New Sun" quadrilogy, though this is described by Neil Gaiman on the cover as "the best SF novel of the past century".

    Right now, I'm several hundred pages into Vance's collected "Dying Earth" writings but am eager for recommendations for more "High Fantasy" or "Romantic heroism". Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member hippypants's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Tyler, Tx
    Posts
    781
    Have you read any of the Elric series (Storm Bringer) by Michael Moorcock several books in the series, Corum too.

    The Gunslinger/Dark Tower--Stephen King

    Neil Gaiman is good too.

  3. #3
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    305
    Not High Fantasy but Stephen King's The Dark Tower series is probably my favorite although, granted, its a mix of fantasy and sci-fi.......If you read other King books, you will discover all kinds of references to The Dark Tower in most of the books and short stories as King's fictional universe entirely revolves around the Dark Tower....its fun finding these Easter Eggs

    As far as High Fantasy that I have read and liked is Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series...its a chore to read aand, at times, long-winded ( he will often follow in the Stephen King tradition of spending three pages to describe one blade of grass), but they are overall a great epic.

    Im also partial (although I havent read all of them) to R.A. Salvatore's "Forgotten Realms" (the central character, Drizzt, is an exceptional character. Salvatore develops the character extremely well)

    As a side-note, there is a Juvenile Fiction series called the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. To be honest, Im not sure why its considered juvenile fiction....... Sure, The first book, Gregor The Overlander, is a little Mickey Mouse-ish to me and I almost stopped there as I thought it was kiddie fiction: Im glad I didn't. The second through fifth books got better and better and more serious and certainly adult. It culminates in Book 5 (Gregor and the Code of Claw) which was fantastic to say the least. There are excellent characters developed in the Series and I was sad to get to the last book (There may be a Book 6 coming out)

  4. #4
    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    West of Worcester (Western Massachusetts)
    Posts
    513
    I forgot to mention that I read and vastly enjoyed the two volumes (so far) of Patrick Rothfuss' "Kingkiller Chronicles" and have of course read Tolkien and George RR Martin's "Song of Fire and Ice" series...

  5. #5
    Member wideopenears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    450
    Gene Wolfe's stuff -the New Sun Books, as well as the Urth book. and the Long Sun books--are some of the best High Fantasy stuff out there....with some Sci Fi elements, as well. The prose is on par with Tolkien's, as well...something I can't say about Robert Jordan's work, or even that of George R R Martin, though I love the latter. I've read all of both....

    Of course, you have to read Tolkien.

    Eddison is also great, but that is some turgid prose. Beautiful, in it's way, but not a easy read.

    Beagle's "Last Unicorn" is a quick read, and a good one.

  6. #6
    Member wideopenears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    450
    Oh, and Alfred Lord Dunsany, the Grandpa of them all....

  7. #7
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    305
    Quote Originally Posted by wideopenears View Post
    prose is on par with Tolkien's, as well...something I can't say about Robert Jordan's work
    Yeah, I'll actually agree with that....Im not crazy about Jordan's writing......I still thought that "Wheel" (for the most part) was good

  8. #8
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    2,006
    The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber were entertaining, back in the day.
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
    -- Aristotle
    Nostalgia, you know, ain't what it used to be. Furthermore, they tells me, it never was.
    A Man Who Does Not Read Has No Appreciable Advantage Over the Man Who Cannot Read - Unknown

  9. #9
    'aang 'hoot' Don Arnold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Victoria, BC
    Posts
    105
    I'd recommend Stephen Lawhead's "Song of Albion" 3 book series. At least I found the series to be highly captivating reading. Though for anyone trying this out, the first 70 odd pages of the first volume are a bit dry and devoid of action. But then it kicks into gear.

    Another series of his that I enjoyed was "The Pendragon Cycle", based on King Arthur, Merlin and company.

  10. #10
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Coastal California
    Posts
    773
    The Gormenghast Novels by Melvyn Peake are very worthy - though I should say I've only read the first one in the trilogy so far (Titus Groan) which was amazing, and worth the price of the collected books: intense, intelligent, humorous, and darkly byzantine in the best possible way. People put him up there with Tolkien and Wolfe, and I won't argue.

    I'm a big Lord Dunsany fan too. The King of Elfland's Daughter is a excellent companion to Neil Gaiman's Stardust, as you can read them both taking stabs at traveling to and from fairyland. Any collection of his short stories will serve as a fine introduction to these delicious high-fantasy bon bons. He's old-timey wordy though, so be prepared for a style more akin to the King James Bible than anything else.

    Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea novels are also essential reading - again I read the first three, written in the '70s, and not any of the follow-ups written much later. Le Guin set out to do a non-European world of dragons and magic, and did a superlative job.

    Patricia McKillip's The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a wonderful novel, written in a very spare style (the opposite of Dunsany's verbosity). It's worth reading just for the sheer breadth of vision in such an economy of words.

    Other personal favorites & deep cuts:

    A Rendezvous in Averoinge by Clark Ashton Smith is a collection of some of his short fiction by Arkham House. It may be released in paperback by another publisher as far as I know. It does contain his best fantasy stories though, which I immensely enjoy. If that is too costly to track down, it appears Penguin has a collection entitled The Dark Eidolon which looks pretty good.

    The Elfin Ship & The Disappearing Dwarf by James P. Blaylock are two crackingly funny fantasies, though I think they are only available new on a POD site. Kick down for used copies (or e-copies) on Amazon. They are pure delight.

    Also, if you like the straight-up heroic thing, I also enjoyed Tros of Samothrace by Talbot Mundy - adventure writer of a bygone era. I've only read the first of these, but it looks like the whole series is available electronically. A quick looks shows that the book I've read has found its way back into print too. Nice. Fritz Leiber got a lot of his vibe from these books, though Leiber was a much more inventive fantasy writer. These are straight-up adventure books set at the time of the Roman Empire.

    I'm also a Terry Pratchett fan, but it is probably best that you read a bit more in high fantasy before reading the epic spoof that is the Discworld novels. Loads and loads of fun, though.
    Last edited by notallwhowander; 02-17-2014 at 07:55 PM.
    Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by wideopenears View Post
    Eddison is also great, but that is some turgid prose. Beautiful, in it's way, but not a easy read.
    I am a huge fan of The Worm Ouroboros. Yes, the writing style is very dense and excessively stylized, plus there's a mess of "unfortunate implications" on account of Eddison's dated world view. But the writing is quite lovely once you get used to it, and if you like character-driven works, this book is loaded with extremely memorable ones. I find his other works get bogged down too much by navel-gazing, but if you liked TWO, you'll want to read the others anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by notallwhowander View Post
    The Gormenghast Novels by Melvyn Peake are very worthy - though I should say I've only read the first one in the trilogy so far (Titus Groan) which was amazing, and worth the price of the collected books: intense, intelligent, humorous, and darkly byzantine in the best possible way. People put him up there with Tolkien and Wolfe, and I won't argue.
    The first two are superb. The second had at least one scene that, quite literally, made me cry. Still can't bring myself to read Titus Alone, after all the horror stories.

    Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea novels are also essential reading - again I read the first three, written in the '70s, and not any of the follow-ups written much later. Le Guin set out to do a non-European world of dragons and magic, and did a superlative job.
    I agree, a good one, and I too only read the original novels (I understand the later books are some kind of attempt at retroactive continuity, rarely a good idea).

    Patricia McKillip's The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a wonderful novel, written in a very spare style (the opposite of Dunsany's verbosity). It's worth reading just for the sheer breadth of vision in such an economy of words.
    Everything I've read by her is good. She's sort of the anti-Robert Jordan in that the bulk of her work consists of one-off short novels. I think the Riddle Master series was her only serial work.

    If you like Vance (and I love his stuff), try Jo Clayton, she is another who operates in his "anything goes" writing style. Some science fiction elements creep into her work. The Blue Magic series is my personally most-liked, but much of it's good. Much of these are deeply weird, sometimes I get the feeling that she was "chemically enhanced" when coming up with ideas.

    Speaking of which, Roger Zelazny likewise has that "anything goes" attitude in a lot of his writing. Lord of Light, a sort of sci-fi retelling of Hindu legend, is a good example.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  12. #12
    Re: the later Earthsea novels - what's different about them is that they aren't YA books, they are adult novels with adult themes. I recommend them highly.
    Maka ki ecela tehani yanke lo!

  13. #13
    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    West of Worcester (Western Massachusetts)
    Posts
    513
    I have read all of LeGuin's EarthSea works. Rothfuss' "The Name of the Wind" and the subsequent "A Wise man's Fears" seem heavily indebted to these...but i enjoyed them all. I have read anything and everything by Leiber I have been able to find and very much enjoyed the humor in the Farfhard/grey Mouser series. I explored some "humorous fantasy" after reading White's seminal "Once and Future King", including Peter David's trilogy of King Arthur in a modern setting, a few of Aspirin's "Myth-Adventures" series and yes,a couple of Discworld books as well. I'm intrigued by the recommendations for Dunsany, Blaylock, Clayton and Peake...

  14. #14
    Member hippypants's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Tyler, Tx
    Posts
    781
    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.

  15. #15
    I would recommend the first trilogy of the Chronicles of Thomas Convenant the Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson. There is nothing like them in the fantasy realm. I also loved the work of Kathryn Kurtz and her Deryni series.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  16. #16
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Coastal California
    Posts
    773
    Quote Originally Posted by hippypants View Post
    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.
    I'm ambivalent about Howard. He's important, but very problematic. I read through all the Conan stories a few years ago, which turned into a kind of guilty pleasure. They are just as cheesy, misogynist, and racist as you would imagine them to be. On the other hand, the guy could write, had a good number of inventive premises, some great atmospheres, and I have yet to read his equal for a combat sequence. Still, any time a woman enters the story it is downright embarrassing, and I found the homo-eroticism around Conan and all the other manly men a bit much. Sometimes I just wanted to yell, "Put your pants back on Bob!" But his vision of the barbarian, embodied in Conan, is a compelling one for a blood-soaked fantasy adventure: made to purpose you might say.
    Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

  17. #17
    facetious maximus Yves's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    1,518
    Quote Originally Posted by Dana5140 View Post
    I would recommend the first trilogy of the Chronicles of Thomas Convenant the Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson. There is nothing like them in the fantasy realm. .
    I feel you have to read them in order to get the superior 2nd and 3rd Chronicles. But they are not your typical high fantasy for sure.

    One series I never see get mentionned is Tad Williams "Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn". Sure, it borrows freely from the masters in the genre, but you'll find that most high fantasy basically tells the same tales of coming-of-age against an apocalyptic good-vs-evil backdrop. I think this is why I tired on the genre.
    "Corn Flakes pissed in. You ranted. Mission accomplished. Thread closed."

    -Cozy 3:16-

  18. #18
    Member BobM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    388
    Trying not to repeat some of what was recommended above (I agree with most of it), so

    Belgariad Series - David Eddings
    Majipoor Cycle - Robert Silverberg
    Amber Series - Roger Zalazny
    Sword of Shannara Series - Terry Brooks (plus many extensions)
    Dark Elf Trilogy - R.A. Salvatore (plus many extensions)
    Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay (well, damn near everything this guy writes is awesome)
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A gentleman is defined as someone who knows how to play the accordion, and doesn't.

  19. #19
    I would recommend Guy Gavriel Kay's "Fionavar Tapestry" trilogy as well as David Coe's "Winds of the Forelands" series.

    One of my favorite SF/Fantasy novels is "Nightwings" by Robert Silverberg.

  20. #20
    I really like Robin Hobb. I'd recommend her first trilogy, Assassin's Apprentice, and if you like that the others are also quite good.

    Bill

  21. #21
    I cannot tell you seriously enough to avoid Terry Brooks and R.A. Salvatore.

    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.

    Salvatore writes Dungeons And Dragons tie-in books. I guess they're OK for what they are, but they are in no wise "high" fantasy.

    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.

    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.

    A number of things mentioned (Burroughs, Howard, Leiber's "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser" stories) are not high fantasy but sword and sorcery, a very different genre.

    Re: Mervyn Peake. The first two books of the "Gormenghast" series are high points in high fantasy. The third falls a bit in quality, largely because Peake was dying a very painful death as he wrote it. There's a fourth book written from his notes by his wife; I have yet to read it.

    Silverberg's "Majipoor" series is another science-fantasy series, but very good light reading.

    Yes, Robin Hobb is good. The narrator of the "Assassin's Apprentice" trilogy has a voice that sucked me right in and kept me reading to the last page.
    Maka ki ecela tehani yanke lo!

  22. #22
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Coastal California
    Posts
    773
    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    A number of things mentioned (Burroughs, Howard, Leiber's "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser" stories) are not high fantasy but sword and sorcery, a very different genre.
    Point well made.

    On that note, Clark Ashton Smith is mainly categorized as weird fiction ( la H.P. Lovecraft), and his fantasies are dark fantasies. Still, "The Dark Eidolon" and a few others stories do really hit a high fantasy note for me, even if they aren't in a strict sense.

    Re: E. R. Eddison
    I really enjoyed The Worm Ouroboros too. My suggestion is that if you like Dunsany, then try some Eddison. If you think Dunsany is too overwrought, Eddison will be quite frustrating. I like the challenge, and the reward, of reading these guys.
    Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

  23. #23
    Member wideopenears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    450
    Count me as a fan of overwrought.

  24. #24
    Leper, outcast, unclean!

    What happens when you find you can feel again?
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  25. #25
    Member BobM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    388
    Granted, some of the authors and books mentioned are fall into the "adult" fantasy category, while others are more appropriate for a younger reader. That doesn't make them any less viable, but more a soft vs hard read on the genre. For example, you are probably not going to let your 13 year old daughter read Joe Abercrombie or many others who are taking George Martin's gristly style to new levels. But the Shannara or Belgariad series or even Jordan are very appropriate reads.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A gentleman is defined as someone who knows how to play the accordion, and doesn't.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •