Favorite fantasy books
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16-06-2017, 11:21 AM
RE: Favorite fantasy books
(16-06-2017 10:19 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  It's hard to outclass The Silmarillion. My personal favorite of all of that work is the excerpted story The Children of Húrin. Any fantasy fan should own the edition that was illustrated by Alan Lee. It still moves me every time I read it, and Lee does such a great job of capturing some of the epic imagery in the story.

I loved Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksennarion trilogy. She's an ex-Marine, and writes from a more "realistic" (for a world of monsters and magic) point of view than most fantasy books, including Tolkien. She also delves into secular motivations for honor and moral behavior, even though there are gods loosely involved in the story-- Paks goes from farmgirl to mercenary soldier to Paladin. I think that D&D players shouldn't be allowed to play the Paladin class unless they have read and understood this book.

If you have not read them, I think Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series are worth the effort... there's a lot of seemingly trivial stuff in the middle books, but in the end it turns out that every single thread is woven together in the final battle, and it's worth the payoff. As excellent as I think the Game of Thrones books are, Jordan wins hands down in my opinion, and Sanderson does a good job of writing the final three books from Jordan's notes, in the wake of Jordan's premature death. It's a lot to read, but I really enjoyed most of the characters, and consider the time I spent reading it well invested.

Finally, I'd recommend the relatively new series by Joe Abercrombie, the only one of which I have thus far read is The Heroes (which actually refers to a set of standing stones akin to Stonehenge, on the battlefield where the story primarily takes place, not to the soldiers upon it... indeed, the story's point is to kind of poke holes in the notion of a "hero" on something as awful as a blood-soaked battlefield), but I'm informed by other fantasy fans that the others are just as interesting.

Great list, and I agree. Or, well, I got lost somewhere in the middle of the Wheel of Time and stopped. Or I stopped reading, but the Wheel of Time just went on and on - seemingly forever. But the others - great.

The Deed of Paksenarrion was one that was recommended by a colleague. I was skeptical, because "heroic female soldier" and "big military movements" and "fantasy world" usually ends up being something that I want to throw against a wall as being too stupid and uninformed to live. But when the moving army stopped and the first detail was formed to dig latrine trenches, I grinned. Hah! An author who actually understands the military!

3 more for consideration:
Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicles even though the author has seeming caught GeorgeRRMartinitis virus that has delayed the third book.

Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy

Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel Trilogy - which takes place in a medieval Europe where the French actually are (rather than just in their own minds) descended from angels.
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16-06-2017, 11:31 AM
RE: Favorite fantasy books
(16-06-2017 11:21 AM)Rockblossom Wrote:  
(16-06-2017 10:19 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  It's hard to outclass The Silmarillion. My personal favorite of all of that work is the excerpted story The Children of Húrin. Any fantasy fan should own the edition that was illustrated by Alan Lee. It still moves me every time I read it, and Lee does such a great job of capturing some of the epic imagery in the story.

I loved Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksennarion trilogy. She's an ex-Marine, and writes from a more "realistic" (for a world of monsters and magic) point of view than most fantasy books, including Tolkien. She also delves into secular motivations for honor and moral behavior, even though there are gods loosely involved in the story-- Paks goes from farmgirl to mercenary soldier to Paladin. I think that D&D players shouldn't be allowed to play the Paladin class unless they have read and understood this book.

If you have not read them, I think Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series are worth the effort... there's a lot of seemingly trivial stuff in the middle books, but in the end it turns out that every single thread is woven together in the final battle, and it's worth the payoff. As excellent as I think the Game of Thrones books are, Jordan wins hands down in my opinion, and Sanderson does a good job of writing the final three books from Jordan's notes, in the wake of Jordan's premature death. It's a lot to read, but I really enjoyed most of the characters, and consider the time I spent reading it well invested.

Finally, I'd recommend the relatively new series by Joe Abercrombie, the only one of which I have thus far read is The Heroes (which actually refers to a set of standing stones akin to Stonehenge, on the battlefield where the story primarily takes place, not to the soldiers upon it... indeed, the story's point is to kind of poke holes in the notion of a "hero" on something as awful as a blood-soaked battlefield), but I'm informed by other fantasy fans that the others are just as interesting.

Great list, and I agree. Or, well, I got lost somewhere in the middle of the Wheel of Time and stopped. Or I stopped reading, but the Wheel of Time just went on and on - seemingly forever. But the others - great.

The Deed of Paksenarrion was one that was recommended by a colleague. I was skeptical, because "heroic female soldier" and "big military movements" and "fantasy world" usually ends up being something that I want to throw against a wall as being too stupid and uninformed to live. But when the moving army stopped and the first detail was formed to dig latrine trenches, I grinned. Hah! An author who actually understands the military!

3 more for consideration:
Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicles even though the author has seeming caught GeorgeRRMartinitis virus that has delayed the third book.

Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy

Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel Trilogy - which takes place in a medieval Europe where the French actually are (rather than just in their own minds) descended from angels.

Already read Carey Kushiel Trilogy. Was much better than books that came next that is trilogy about Imriel. Also her Sundering is interesting twist on Tolkien works, definitely worth reading.

I would also recommend Celia Friedman The Coldfire Trilogy and Glen Cook The Black Company.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

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16-06-2017, 11:46 AM
RE: Favorite fantasy books
(16-06-2017 11:21 AM)Rockblossom Wrote:  The Deed of Paksenarrion was one that was recommended by a colleague. I was skeptical, because "heroic female soldier" and "big military movements" and "fantasy world" usually ends up being something that I want to throw against a wall as being too stupid and uninformed to live. But when the moving army stopped and the first detail was formed to dig latrine trenches, I grinned. Hah! An author who actually understands the military!

That was what did it for me, too. I also liked the breakdown of how chain of command works, and how an honorable officer handles things-- even when it's a raw female recruit making the charges against a friend of that officer's, who is seemingly beyond reproach. I would recommend this book be required reading at military colleges, for the right way to handle such accusations via chain of command (our military has something of a problem with this right now, to put it as mildly as I can). But in most respects, the way Moon takes a raw farmgirl recruit and shows how she is turned into a seasoned veteran BEFORE turning her into an adventurer-hero was a breath of fresh air, to me.

(16-06-2017 11:21 AM)Rockblossom Wrote:  Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel Trilogy - which takes place in a medieval Europe where the French actually are (rather than just in their own minds) descended from angels.

That reminds me. Since I know Szuchow loves history, he might enjoy the historical fiction of Bernard Cornwell, in particular the books Agincourt and the Grail Quest trilogy, The Archer's Tale, Vagabond, and Heretic, for an interesting look at the culture of late medieval Europe.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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16-06-2017, 11:48 AM
RE: Favorite fantasy books
(16-06-2017 09:23 AM)julep Wrote:  C.S. Lewis (condescending and overly allegorical) neither of Tolkien's quality.

Cheers! [Image: cinema.julep_.yalis_.1.2.gif]

I detest Lewis with every fibre of my being. Read Narnia while still religulous (sic), though, an adult,and found them so painfully pedestrian.

Was a huge Tolkien fan, wrote a couple of papers in uni (incl. my thesis paper, on beauty) partly on him... have only been able to reread him once after I deconverted. Still have a soft spot for him, but have been unable to appreciate fantasy since I stopped believing in silly little things likes souls and supernatural monsters... Nowadays science fiction (and science) hold immeasurably more fascination for me than anything "supernatural" ever can.

Will, to my dying day, though, love Astrid Lindgren's (children's) fantasy book The Brothers Lionheart (also, Mio, my Mio (Christian Bale's first role is in the movie based on it; haven't seen it) and Ronya, the Robber's Daughter, though not as very much). Michael Ende's Momo is also wonderful.

"“But I can't kill anyone,' said Jonathan, 'you know that Orvar!'

'Not even if it means your life?' asked Orvar.

'No, not even then,' said Jonathan.

Orvar couldn't understand this and Mattias hardly could, either.

'If everyone were like you,' said Orvar, 'then evil would rule for all eternity!'

But then I said that if everyone were like Jonathan, then there would be no evil.”"


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16-06-2017, 11:55 AM
RE: Favorite fantasy books
(16-06-2017 11:48 AM)Vera Wrote:  Michael Ende's Momo is also wonderful.

I knew I recognized that name, so I looked him up... he's the author of The Neverending Story. How wonderful! Looks like a great book concept, too. I'll be getting that for my son as soon as possible. I've been trying to warn him about people who try to influence him, especially along commercialism lines, so this is perfect.

Thanks, Vera! Smile

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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16-06-2017, 12:05 PM
RE: Favorite fantasy books
(16-06-2017 11:46 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  That reminds me. Since I know Szuchow loves history, he might enjoy the historical fiction of Bernard Cornwell, in particular the books Agincourt and the Grail Quest trilogy, The Archer's Tale, Vagabond, and Heretic, for an interesting look at the culture of late medieval Europe.

Another books to check it seems. To make this even I would recommend Andrzej Sapkowski The Hussite Trilogy. Seems that it is translated to German so maybe English version already is or at least is in plans.

Sad part of language barrier is that I can't recommend much. Most of my favorite fantasy writers aren't translated, Sapkowski being exception. There are numerous interesting works like the one mentioned in OP about Inquisition in world when Christ didn't die on the cross. Sadly they're unfamiliar to wider public.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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16-06-2017, 12:12 PM (This post was last modified: 16-06-2017 12:15 PM by Vera.)
RE: Favorite fantasy books
You definitely should, Rocket. I only - sadly - read The Neverending Story as an adult; liked it a lot, but you experience books (and the world) differently as a child.

Momo is wonderful (also, funny thing, in the book, she's trying to escape the time thieves and cannot seem to move... until she starts walking backwards. I sometimes - totally unrelatedly (I think) - dream like I cannot move and when I start walking backwards I'm no longer stuck. Must be something universal. Or a nifty coincidence)

And if you have *any* book by Astrid Lindgren (preferably with the stunning original illustrations) I can't recommend them strongly enough. To me she is by far the greatest children's writer that ever lived and such a wonderful, wonderful human being; I was so sad when she passed away (she is also one of the reason why chose Sweden for my Master's)

Also, Tove Jansson's Moomins are great, and can be appreciated as an adult, too.

“The hemulen woke up slowly and recognised himself and wished he had been someone he didn't know.”

"But Whomper felt worried. All the things around him were false. Their pretty colours were a sham, and everything he touched was made of paper or wood or plaster. The flowers were paper flowers. The fiddles had no strings and the boxes no bottoms, and the books couldn’t even be opened.
Troubled in his honest heart, Whomper pondered over the meaning of it all, but found no meaning. ‘I wish I were just a tiny bit more clever’, he thought. ‘Or a few weeks older’."

“‘They’re all so very unlike me’, he thought. ‘They have feelings and they see colours and hear sounds and whirl around, but WHAT they feel and see and hear, and WHY they whirl, doesn’t concern them in the least.’”


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Little My (pronounced Mew) is the best!

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16-06-2017, 12:18 PM (This post was last modified: 16-06-2017 12:24 PM by RocketSurgeon76.)
RE: Favorite fantasy books
Ahh! Ah!! I forgot my favorite non-Tolkien fantasy author, David Gemmell. His stuff is mostly Young Adult, but pretty advanced for that genre, and definitely enjoyable by grownups.

I think his best work was his swansong Troy trilogy... but I'd recommend starting with Waylander, of the outstanding Drenai Series. The first book I read of his was Quest for Lost Heroes, which contained a pair of characters that remain some of my favorite fantasy characters to this day: a pair of forest rangers (in the classic Tolkien sense) who may or may not be a gay couple... Gemmell never quite says, but when one is tortured and killed, and the other absolutely loses his shit and starts taking out the badguys in classic Sacred Band of Thebes style, I knew I was hooked. I've read everything of his I could get my grubby mitts on.

Edit to Add: Minor spoiler alert... it takes place in an alternate dimension/parallel version of Earth, which is accessible through portals controlled by Druids and other types of shaman, which were built by an ancient race... and only later in the series do you learn that it's actually not magic, but technological wizardry that the "mages" of that world employ, though they don't know by then it's what they're doing, and that the "demons" are simply extradimensional beings which can be summoned through such portals by nefarious humans who use that "magic" (one of the heroes in one of the last books stumbles upon the powerplant and satellite communications arrays which power these phenomenon, and there are hints that it may have been the downfall of those who developed the technology), or else they are the result of genetic experiments resulting in animal-human hybrids who face both discrimination and exploitation as the "monsters" of that world. It's fascinating to see how he makes things seem magical and then explains they are nothing of the sort. I love this sort of writing.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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16-06-2017, 12:21 PM
RE: Favorite fantasy books
Let's see... Genesis, Exodus, Acts, Revelations, those are at the top of my fantasy book list.
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16-06-2017, 12:38 PM
RE: Favorite fantasy books
(16-06-2017 11:46 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  
(16-06-2017 11:21 AM)Rockblossom Wrote:  The Deed of Paksenarrion was one that was recommended by a colleague. I was skeptical, because "heroic female soldier" and "big military movements" and "fantasy world" usually ends up being something that I want to throw against a wall as being too stupid and uninformed to live. But when the moving army stopped and the first detail was formed to dig latrine trenches, I grinned. Hah! An author who actually understands the military!

That was what did it for me, too. I also liked the breakdown of how chain of command works, and how an honorable officer handles things-- even when it's a raw female recruit making the charges against a friend of that officer's, who is seemingly beyond reproach. I would recommend this book be required reading at military colleges, for the right way to handle such accusations via chain of command (our military has something of a problem with this right now, to put it as mildly as I can). But in most respects, the way Moon takes a raw farmgirl recruit and shows how she is turned into a seasoned veteran BEFORE turning her into an adventurer-hero was a breath of fresh air, to me.

(16-06-2017 11:21 AM)Rockblossom Wrote:  Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel Trilogy - which takes place in a medieval Europe where the French actually are (rather than just in their own minds) descended from angels.

That reminds me. Since I know Szuchow loves history, he might enjoy the historical fiction of Bernard Cornwell, in particular the books Agincourt and the Grail Quest trilogy, The Archer's Tale, Vagabond, and Heretic, for an interesting look at the culture of late medieval Europe.

Have you read Moon's SF books? (I prefer them to her fantasies; they are also inside-military-feeling with strong and interesting female protagonists) Just finished the latest one, Cold Welcome--good story until about the last 15 pages, when unfortunately it fizzles out to make room for part two.
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