Author Topic: Good Books  (Read 26487 times)

Fenrir

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Good Books
« on: October 16, 2009, 01:35:41 AM »
I feel like reading some good medieval-fantasy literature. Can anyone recommend anything? The only book of the genre I've ever read was Tolkien's "The Hobbit" a long while ago, but I found it a bit bland. I'll read his other works if they're worth it, but, if it's more of the same, seeing the movies was enough.

Perdurabo

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2009, 09:07:18 AM »
George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, without a doubt.

Brigand

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2009, 12:32:03 PM »
I second Perdurabo suggestion....Martin's series is superb...Though I will say the man seems to be stuck in a rut; after the first 4 books came out like clockwork, the most recent is 3 or 4 years late now, with no publish date in site.


My personal suggestion, if you care for historical fiction at all, is to read Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories or Warlord Chronicles. The first is set during the height of the Viking invasions of 'England' when Alfred the Great has come to power, and (ultimately) begins to push back the Danes. The second series is a realistic treament of the Arthurian legend, set right after the Roman withdrawal from Briton, when the Saxons seem unstoppable, and the native Briton tribes can't seem to get along. No (real) magic in either book (Merlin is a Druid, and his magic tends to be circumstance and deception), and both are set against real characters and events. (The Arthurian books are a little more tenuous just because there is so little written information about that period, but the main characters, such as the protagonists Aelle and Cerdic, are believed to have lived.) Really, really good reads.


As far as your specific request for medieval fantasy... been a while, but the Elric stories (Michael Moorcock) are interesting, at least the first books before the Eternal Warrior starts appearing in other times and places - these books are definitely not 'bland', or 'more of the same'. In fact, they get to be pretty damn trippy in parts.

 It's a bit low-brow, more for teenagers, but I enjoyed reading the Raymond Feist books when I was a kid. Nothing particularly mind blowing there, but the books he wrote with Janny Wurts from the perspective of the antagonists in the first few books stand out as really good.

Just my $0.02. But I have to say Perdurabo stole my thunder. The Ice and Fire books are the best fantasy books I have read in a long time, and I have long since quit reading this genre. Too much of the same old, same old. Martin's book are dark, gritty, and violent. I'll just warn you - Martin has no qualms about killing off your favorite, central to the story character at any point. There's none of this 'it's just a flesh wound - I'll be back' crap in these books.

Fenrir

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2009, 01:56:16 PM »
George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, without a doubt.
I'll just warn you - Martin has no qualms about killing off your favorite, central to the story character at any point. There's none of this 'it's just a flesh wound - I'll be back' crap in these books.
Good. I will definitely read this one. (minor edit: clarity)
Really, really good reads.

[...]

...these books are definitely not 'bland', or 'more of the same'.
I'll give 'em a try.

Thanks for the suggestions, guys!

EDIT: Just to clarify, it's not the setting I find 'bland'. Elves, dwarfs, and the suchlike are fine, but I want to read something with depth.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2009, 06:58:41 PM by Fenrir »

Krice

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2009, 04:33:39 PM »
Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, it's a true classic and almost written in medieval times itself (first published in 1819).

Anvilfolk

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2009, 06:04:52 PM »
Oh, God, the Ice and Fire Series. There is just no way to describe them. Go. Go NOW!

I recently read a very quick review of the Scar Night series, and the overall theme seemed pretty awesome. I think I'm going to go ahead and buy the first books. Any thoughts?
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Karzack

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2009, 10:37:09 PM »
I don't read a whole lot of books, but I like the Shannara series.  They are authored by Terry Brooks.  There is also The Magic Kingdom of Landover series.  This is also by Terry Brooks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_brooks

I think I will look into the Ice and Fire books though.  Along with other suggestions that get posted here.

Perdurabo

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2009, 12:49:58 AM »
I don't read a whole lot of books, but I like the Shannara series.  They are authored by Terry Brooks.  There is also The Magic Kingdom of Landover series.  This is also by Terry Brooks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_brooks

I think I will look into the Ice and Fire books though.  Along with other suggestions that get posted here.


Don't forget the Wheel of Time.

Book 12 is due out in just over a week.

Krice

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2009, 06:42:17 AM »
Oh, God, the Ice and Fire Series. There is just no way to describe them. Go. Go NOW!

Judging from the first book I can describe them as bulk fantasy, like books by Eddings and Jordan. In fact I didn't even read the first book more than halfway, because it was boring. I really hate fantasy series with 30 books or so, and they can't get to the point. In the first book of Ice and Fire nothing really happens, they just introduce the vast amount of characters and that takes 600 pages. It's got bulk written all over it, but I guess someone likes it. When I was younger I also was able to read bulk fantasy.

Vanguard

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2009, 07:56:22 AM »
Don't forget the Wheel of Time.

Book 12 is due out in just over a week.

I used to like that series, but it just kept getting more and more drawn out and kept adding more and more unnecessary characters, and it spent more and more time describing less and less important events, until it got to the point where fewer meaningful things happened in an entire book in one of the later entries than would happen in one or two chapters in the earlier ones.

I think the downfall started after the third one.

I personally think CS Lewis's "Til We Have Faces" is an underrated book.  It's a Greek mythology setting rather than a medieval pure fantasy setting, but is that close enough?

The basic gist of it is that it's supposed to be an autobiography of the sister of Psyche from the myth of Eros and Psyche.

As with just about anything written by Lewis, it covers themes of morality, and Christianity, which may or may not diminish your interest in it, but they're far more subtle than what you would find in, say, Narnia.

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2009, 02:11:26 PM »
I hardly read fantasy/sf at all, but I'll chime in with a reminder that Ursula K. LeGuin ("Earthsea", "Left Hand of Darkness", etc) is a great author, regardless of genre. And don't forget the "classics". I spent some time this summer rereading scattered stories in One Thousand and One Nights. It's really a multifaceted collection, containing some great stuff. Also, if you haven't read it yet Fenrir, you'll surely love Voluspá, seeing as how you're one of the main characters in it.

As always,
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Fenrir

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2009, 03:23:55 PM »
Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, it's a true classic and almost written in medieval times itself (first published in 1819).
I think I have that one around here somewhere.
Oh, God, the Ice and Fire Series. There is just no way to describe them. Go. Go NOW!
In fact I didn't even read the first book more than halfway, because it was boring.
Hmmm... Interestink. Ah, well, I'll give it a try.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_brooks
I'll give this a look.
I personally think CS Lewis's "Til We Have Faces" is an underrated book.  It's a Greek mythology setting rather than a medieval pure fantasy setting, but is that close enough?
Yeah, that's close enough. I read the whole Narnia series when I was younger. I don't remember a word of them.
I hardly read fantasy/sf at all, but I'll chime in with a reminder that Ursula K. LeGuin ("Earthsea", "Left Hand of Darkness", etc) is a great author, regardless of genre.
I'll have a look.
Quote
And don't forget the "classics". I spent some time this summer rereading scattered stories in One Thousand and One Nights. It's really a multifaceted collection, containing some great stuff.
I'll try that one too.
Quote
Also, if you haven't read it yet Fenrir, you'll surely love Voluspá, seeing as how you're one of the main characters in it.
I own a translation of the Poetic Edda. Good stuff. It didn't end well for me, though.

If I had four-hundred dollars I could spend, I'd have The Complete Sagas of the Icelanders by now, but I don't, so I don't.

I've been thinking about lending my pen to the genre. I wrote a little something back in an old Dwarf-Fortress Let's Play thread that I didn't think was too bad. I'll go fetch it, if you want to see.

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys.

I have enough fantasy here to chew on for a while, so feel free to discuss other genres if you want. I've never read any of his work, but Lovecraft seems to be popular on teh intarwebs, at least the places I go. Hel, I know Cthulhu. His name used to be Muffles, but that's another story. Anyway, worth reading?

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2009, 03:53:32 PM »
Lovecraft

Lovecraft's work is wacky, cheesy and hateful of everything. Definitely worth reading :D I think I read his collected short stories in my teens. A personal favourite would be "The Dunwich Horror". It's a great effort of the imagination, where Lovecraft goes straight to the core of his misanthropic mythology.

As always,
Minotauros
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Anvilfolk

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2009, 12:07:23 PM »
I'll agree that the Ice and Fire series' last book had little happening. I hope that trend stops. But I love they way it's set up, with a character for each chapter. There's a dozen main storylines that all touch each other.

I hate regular fantasy because it's stupidly simple. I remember a couple of series with Drizzt do'Urden or whatever it was. What a bore. You could almost expect the author to write something along the lines. "with the last slash, he killed the <big bad monster here>. He levelled up.". Stuff like Dragonlance was also along those lines. So one member of them is "evil"... how different... you still have the stereotypical barbarian, thief, etc... it's all the same.

Martin's world is low-magic, and that makes it pretty credible. The characters are extremely well wrought, with one or two exceptions, and it's usually very easy to believe in their changes throughout the story. It's almost certainly more complex than anything you've ever read in fantasy. The first book may take a while to introduce all the characters (I still loved the beginning), but then their stories break apart and come back together in really interesting ways. He makes use of the full breadth of both characters and geography.

By this I mean that if you don't read it first, I will find you and beat you up :D
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jim

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Re: Good Books
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2009, 02:14:12 AM »
I love a lot of the stories posted here.

One of my favorites in the old-school vein is "Ill Met in Lankhmar." It predates a lot of the codifying aspects of the fantasy genre, the ones that can suck out some of the life from the escapist experience. More swords than sorcery, and not so much of the modernist bent that we see in so many medieval characters nowadays.