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Epic Fantasy

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Just read the first few sections in Darujhistan, so will hopefully be on more solid ground.

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I don't think anyone has mentioned David Gemmell, (surprised he didn't come up when "insane battle scenes" were being discussed. Unlike a good many lesser authors, Gemmell knows what happens when you hit someone in full armor variously with a broadsword, war hammer, and axe... There are profound differences, but the end result is pretty much the same. Also, unlike some silly-ass twits that will remain nameless, he doesn't have his warriors stabbing people with a broadsword.

 

Now to go a little old-school, may I suggest Fritz Leiber's series of tales about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? Debuted the characters way back in 1939 and fifty years later they were still growing and changing as people. Another blast from the past, Lin Carter assembled four volumes of novellas under the titles of Flashing Swords 1-4. The first two are the best, but all four are worth your attention. There's one story set in Jack Vance's world of the Dying Earth, and if that's your first experience with Vance, then so be it, go out and pick up anything that implies it's tied to the Dying Earth; you'll be glad that you did.

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I'm a really big fan of Gemmell. I have all of his books as far as I know, which took quite a while since he has more than 30. The Drenai books are my favourite (Druss is an all-time great character) but most of his work was pretty solid and it was a real shame that he died so young. I know his wife is writing now and she was supposedly quite involved in his process so I might try her book and see how it is.

 

Really enjoying Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series so far, it's his most "epic" series yet, although I think he could stand to slim the books down a bit. You don't need to write the max size every time. I don't mind it that much because the books are still good and I'm getting a lot for my money but I think if you can tell a tighter story in 2/3rds the words you probably should.

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Boy have I ever been sleeping on this thread!
 

I went on a major binge over the past 16 months, finished purchasing the rest of the Malazan, Wheel of Time, First Law Trilogy, Stormlight Archive, The Traitor Son Cycle, The Kingkiller Chronicles, and the entire Shannara series. So now I need to start somewhere! 

I got through the first Esslemont book alright, actually found it easier to digest than the first Erikson book. However, I've been stuck on Deadhouse Gates for the past three years and just finding it dragging along. Any advice on wanting to pick it back up, since I do own the rest of the series and would like to read it in this lifetime. Almost contemplating just starting over and forcing myself to keep going, would the wiki help? Or some kind of helpful notes until I can familiarize myself with the massive amounts of things going on?

Agree on the praise for Stormlight Archive, really enjoying The Way of Kings, about 25% through so far. I like how slow-paced the characters are introduced and doesn't bounce between stories so much. Easy to digest stuff I'd say.

Read the first Rothfuss book. HUGE fan. I've been having staring contests with The Wise Man's Fear on my shelf for months, but I don't wanna start it until Book #3 has a release date.

Reading The Wheel of Time for the first time, I'm enjoying the first book but I can see the comparisons to Tolkien's stuff with all the walking scenes, leading to.. walking scenes. However I'm finding the action and change of pace occasionally satisfying enough.

I'll stop here, but I'm quite glad I found this thread! Cheers!

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I really enjoyed the Chain of Dogs parts of Deadhouse Gates and the rest I'd use wiki or get a summary if I couldn't make it through, but I'd definetly make an effort to read the Chain of Dogs parts.

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Deadhouse Gates was probably the hardest of the series for me to get through, but House of Chains is so good that it was worth it. 

 

I'm still very slowly banging out the series.  Had to take a break for a few months there.  Currently about midway through with Toll of Hounds and really enjoying it.  I've liked all the books, but once you finally get the characters and places down, it does get more enjoyable.  It's just a tough road to get there.

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Actually finished the main Malazan series some months ago and loved it, but have had series burnout ever since. What are some good fantasy novels that stand on their own? I'm looking for something less than a series and more than a collection, but I don't mind if it's still a shared world or anything like that.

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Reading Glen Cook for the first time and I refuse to imagine Raven as anything but the spitting image of Raven.

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It's kind of fascinating to me that Mistborn, Lies of Locke Lamora, and Name of the Wind all came out in a one year period. Talk about a zeitgeist. 

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And you have now reminded me that I need to pick up the latest two books of Mistborn to have come out. I didn't even realize they came out so close together. I thought I was only one behind.

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Okay, maybe it's just me, but I bounce off of Sanderson HARD. 

To be fair he is technically a better writer than I am in almost every way that you can imagine and I don't give that up easy. For one, I couldn't write a multi-volume series if my life depended on it and he seems to be able to juggle two or three at a time with no problem. So why don't I enjoy his work? Technically he's flawless, sharp, well-drawn characters, excellent pacing, tight plotting, attention to detail, in short he must be freakishly organized. However, the end result seems oddly soul-less to me, there's just something missing, something that seems artificial and robotic about the whole thing. I make the same complaint about Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, which some consider classics and I consider two of the worst books ever written. Just far too calculating and bloody obvious about it. Sanderson is a far better writer than Robert Jordan ever dreamed of being, but I find him equally unreadable (for entirely different reasons), Jordan was an awful writer who wrote drivel, Sanderson is a technically gifted writer who produces "product". I'll take David Gemmell with his occasional mis-steps over Sanderson any day of the week. Reading Sanderson for me is much like watching Wade Boggs batting, yes, he's very good at it but at the end of the day, it just isn't very interesting, just more of the same.

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Anyone read Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky?  

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7 hours ago, OSJ said:

Okay, maybe it's just me, but I bounce off of Sanderson HARD. 

To be fair he is technically a better writer than I am in almost every way that you can imagine and I don't give that up easy. For one, I couldn't write a multi-volume series if my life depended on it and he seems to be able to juggle two or three at a time with no problem. So why don't I enjoy his work? Technically he's flawless, sharp, well-drawn characters, excellent pacing, tight plotting, attention to detail, in short he must be freakishly organized. However, the end result seems oddly soul-less to me, there's just something missing, something that seems artificial and robotic about the whole thing. I make the same complaint about Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, which some consider classics and I consider two of the worst books ever written. Just far too calculating and bloody obvious about it. Sanderson is a far better writer than Robert Jordan ever dreamed of being, but I find him equally unreadable (for entirely different reasons), Jordan was an awful writer who wrote drivel, Sanderson is a technically gifted writer who produces "product". I'll take David Gemmell with his occasional mis-steps over Sanderson any day of the week. Reading Sanderson for me is much like watching Wade Boggs batting, yes, he's very good at it but at the end of the day, it just isn't very interesting, just more of the same.

My biggest problem with Sanderson was what I call the Peter David Dilemma. I had gotten into the habit of reading his annotations and blog pieces on writing so regularly that I became too familiar with his personal voice. I started to see it in everything he wrote and couldn't suspend my disbelief and let go. I was seeing the author writing at every moment, and while on a small scale that was interesting, it became very distracting on a scale of multiple books, especially because it led to diminishing returns. 

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I hate unpacking.  I finally got to the last box of books that I moved from my apartment to my new house and there is the paperback millionth re-issue copy of The Worm Ouroboros that I have had snce college.  Now I have to read it again.  Still hard to believe that the original print date was 1922.

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3 hours ago, J.T. said:

I hate unpacking.  I finally got to the last box of books that I moved from my apartment to my new house and there is the paperback millionth re-issue copy of The Worm Ouroboros that I have had snce college.  Now I have to read it again.  Still hard to believe that the original print date was 1922.

Excellent novel, the only flaws being the narrator (who is conveniently dropped after the first chapter IIRC), and the rather jarring and unimaginative names of the various races (Demons, Witches, Goblins, etc.) a lazy ploy described as "mytholatry" by James Blish, the same sort of thing ruined Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness. The problem being when you utilize such a familiar term you drag along all the associations with said term. Other than the horns, Lords Juss, Spitfire, Goldry, and Brandoch Daha were hardly "demonic" nor was there anything about the clever and articulate Lord Gro that would suggest any goblin-like characteristics. 

As far as the publication date, the 1920s was really a mini golden age of heroic fantasy what with the likes of James Branch Cabell's Figures of Earth, The Silver Stallion, Jurgen and other installments in the Biography of Manuel, Lord Dunsany's first six collections of fantasies had appeared the previous decade and the 1920s saw publication of what many consider his masterpiece, The King of Elfland's Daughter as well as The Chronicles of Rodriguez. Of course, you also had Howard Pyle's King Arthur books and Brooks' The Story of Siegfried to say nothing of Leslie Barringer's Neustrian cycle (Gerfalcon, Joris of the Rock, & Shy Leopardess.

All things considered, the 1920s was probably the best decade for epic fantasy until the Sword & Sorcery boom of the 1960s. Lots of good stuff, most of which has held up remarkably well.

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Original creator intent be damned: At this stage I have way more faith in John Rogers and Miranda to work on the Name of the Wind stuff for TV/Movie adaptations than I have in Rothfuss for working on the world he created. (I'm sure he'll be involved mind you).

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I just would like to put this here:
 

 

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Amazon is fond of recommending things I might like BUT I'm apprehensive about actually buying until I get a recommendation.Are The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb worth my time? It is the recommendation that pops up the most often along with stuff by Sanderson, Brent Weeks and Brian Staveley. I need somethign to sink my teeth into before I try another stab at the denseness of the Malazan stuff

James

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Well, if you like Megan Lindholm, you'll like Robin Hobb! ;-) (They're the same person.) I haven't read the Farseer stuff, but her novel Wizard of the Pigeons is a highwater mark of urban fantasy on a level with the best of Charles de Lint. So, I can't see anything by her as being less than competent. Maybe I'm just a cranky old bastard (that's rhetorical, no need to rush to agree), but as I re-read Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser stories (preparatory to writing an introduction to a new edition of Swords Against Wizardry), I can't help but marvel at how much better Leiber was than 99% of the current crop of epic fantasy authors. 

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20 minutes ago, J.H. said:

Amazon is fond of recommending things I might like BUT I'm apprehensive about actually buying until I get a recommendation.Are The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb worth my time? It is the recommendation that pops up the most often along with stuff by Sanderson, Brent Weeks and Brian Staveley. I need somethign to sink my teeth into before I try another stab at the denseness of the Malazan stuff

James

I hate that trilogy. More later.  It is terrible though.  Maybe the worst fantasy I have read not written by a 15 year-old.

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22 minutes ago, J.H. said:

Amazon is fond of recommending things I might like BUT I'm apprehensive about actually buying until I get a recommendation.Are The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb worth my time? It is the recommendation that pops up the most often along with stuff by Sanderson, Brent Weeks and Brian Staveley. I need somethign to sink my teeth into before I try another stab at the denseness of the Malazan stuff

James

I liked the Farseer Trilogy a lot, just know that it's one of those series where you're rooting for an underdog and the world is literally against him.  He and everyone he loves gets shat on over and over again, by people who range from horrible to evil incarnate.  If you are one of those people who wants a story that lets you see the light at the end of the tunnel, this series may not be for you.  I don't mind fighting through the darkness, but I know a lot of people don't enjoy reading heroes who feel hopeless.  

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On second thought, Eragon might have actually been better.

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3 hours ago, Matt D said:

On second thought, Eragon might have actually been better.

Okay, your virulent dislike of the Farseer books intrigues me. I haven't read them, probably won't, but because I consider Megan Lindholm at least capable of producing one great novel, I'm inclined to think anything she does would at least be readable. What is so awful about the series? I'm genuinely interested as I respect your opinions on the genre.

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The first book is okay. Not great but okay enough. After that though, it 

devolves into a weirdly repetitive cacophony of isolation where he leaves people behind in the same way in multiple settings and misery, which, if I thought was some sort of statement on human nature, I guess I could get behind, but it's not how it's packaged or how people seem to take to it. It's also full of weirdly thin characters that often are only about as interesting as their powers, which are also fairly repetitive.

I'd liken it to Terry Brooks, in that, at a certain point in the early 90s, it was basically all a lot of us had and thus became a fairly formative book for certain people. People don't realize how lucky they have it now.

I think that Hobb is capable of better things, but people should maybe lean towards the Fool books instead, or if they want an unsympathetic lead in a book full of wretchedness, should just go for the quality sort and read Thomas Covenant. 

 

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