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COMPARISIONS (General Mild Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by ThinkerX, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I don't know if I can do proper justice to this here. I know for certain I'll make mistakes. But you have to start somewhere.

    I recently finished reading 'Magicians End', the concluding book in Fiests lengthy 'Rift War' saga. For a time now, I've been contemplating other long epic fantasy saga's, noting differences and points in common. After reaching the end of 'Rift War'...well, time to write up some of these thoughts.

    First, the series - all of which, at one point or another have been best sellers :

    Elliot, 'Crown of Stars': Seven books. I've read them all.

    Erikson, 'Malazan': Eleven (?) books in the core series, plus more by a collaborator. I've read six of Eriksons, and one of the others.

    Fiest, 'Rift War' : Thirty books over a thirty year period, most solo, a few with co-authors. I might have missed one, but I'm not sure.

    Kerr, 'Devery' : Fourteen books. I might have missed one.

    Martin, 'Song of Ice and Fire' (Game of Thrones) : Five books, plus a few short stories. I have yet to come across a copy of the latest short story, but have read everything else, including some spoiler chapters.

    I might also make the occasional reference to Jordans 'Wheel of Time' (which I've not read, so I'll be going on hearsay), Pratchet 'Diskworld' (which I've read most of but doesn't count as 'epic), and others.

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    Worlds, Worldbuilding, and Historical Sweep:

    All these worlds are developed in depth, with sufficient detail to appear 'real' in the mind of the reader. Each begins or is built around a specific nation, and each has characters who venture substantial distances to other realms, some of which become secondary settings on their own.

    It is worth noting that the starting nations in each of these books is large and soon becomes endangered one way or another:
    'Wendar' in 'Crown of Stars' is a medevial type nation entering into dynastic turmoil;
    Eriksons 'Malazan' is an empire beset by revolt (Seven Cities);
    Fiests 'Kingdom of the Isles' suffers repeated major invasions;
    and 'Westeros' in Song of Ice and Fire' devolves into civil war.
    Kerrs 'Devery' is a bit of an exception, because much of the tale takes place at the perphiary, rather than the core of the nation, but it too endures civil war and unrest.

    A large, problem plagued nation seems to be a good choice for a fantasy epic.

    Likewise, each world comes with substantial history, much of which figures directly into the epic:

    The crisis in 'COS' (Crown of Stars) was initiated in the distant past, and witnessed by a time traveling character. The bulk of the action takes place over about a decade.

    Individual episoded in Eriksons world go back as much as several hundred thousand years...though I note this still leaves huge swaths of 'unknown history'. Most of the activity seems to take place over the span of about a decade, give or take.

    Time traveling characters in the 'Rift War' Saga witness the act of creation itself, and learn key things about their own quests. On a more immediate level, the Kingdom of the Isles has a history going back centuries from the start of the first book, and the series as a whole spans most of two hundred years.

    Kerr's work is built around a repeated cycles of reincarnation, with some of the tales (lives) in these cycles going back most of a thousand years. The core stories are scattered over a period of about a century.

    The world in 'GOT' (Game of Thrones) has at least a sporadic history going back several thousand years. The bulk of the action (apart from the short stories) takes place over just a few years. Worth noting that Martin originally intended to expand this period by five years.

    Lessons here are:

    1) A good epic fantasy world will have history. Detailed, thought out history, that pertains to the plot somehow.

    2) The action within the books will have time to take place. Characters need time to learn. Sometimes this is a couple of years, sometimes a century or more.

    Ancient Realms, Barbarians, City States, and Other Worlds:

    'Wendar' in 'COS' is beset by invading barbarians (roughly fantasy mongol types). It was also once part of Aosta, an older, mostly collapsed empire to the south. Other nations, some also once part of Aosta are also present. There is also a otherworld scheme featuring an isolated planetiod, and a sequence of mystical worlds much like those in Dante's 'Divine Comedy'.

    Eriksons world is steeped in fallen empires. The one which appears to get the most play is Lether, which actually gets conquored twice (?) in the series. There is also an abundance of barbarians on this world. Many of his characters spend a great deal of time in 'Warrens', which are 'worlds' of their own - and the source of most of the worlds magic.

    South of the 'Kingdom of the Isles' on Fiests 'Midkemia' (Rift War) is the Empire of Great Kesh, a frequently hostile, corrupt and decadent nation which has been around for a long while. The region to the north of the kingdom is the domain of barbarian tribes. Novindus, across the sea, has a large number of barbarian tribes. A great deal of action also takes place on 'Kelewan', another planet altogether, dominated by the Tsurani empire. Likewise, a fair amount of action takes place in realms so bizarre they might as well be heavens or hells.

    South of Devery on Kerrs world is 'Bardek', a large archipegalo ruled by a quasi roman society split into city states. Another, unnamed continent or large island is south of these islands. A large, militant nation of 'Horsekin' (nonhumans) dominates the plains to the north and west of Devery proper. Several key characters are either natives of or spend substantial time in a sort of 'faerie world' (astral construct). A number visit other worlds, including earth.

    Martins world does feature another continent, once the domain of a cruel empire, now under the sway of timid city states and fierce Dothraki barbarians. As yet, there are no other worlds.

    So...

    Each of these worlds features an ancient empire or three (or more).

    Barbarians, often horse riders, are present on each world, but only occasionally present a major menance.

    City States are also found in each world.

    All of the settings but Martins also feature connections with actual other planets and/or 'spirit realms of some sort.

    A fair portion of the epic tale takes place in these...secondary settings.

    That should do for starters (I have much more).

    Should I continue?
     
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  2. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I can see some good in these comparisons. Please, continue.
     
  3. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Ok...minor addendium to my first post (because I can't edit) :

    The ancient, collapsed empire on Kerrs world is elven, destroyed in a 'horsekin' invasion shortly after the Devery (celtic) humans arrival.

    That said:

    Wondrous locations and recent crisis's (prior to the start of the story proper, sometimes covered later on or in other works).

    In 'COS', the wondrous location would be the 'Palace of Coils', apparently a mountain not entirely in the physical realm, requiring much ritual preparation to access. It is an excellent location for divinations. The recent crisis would be a swiftly put down rebellion by the sister of King Henry, ruler of Wendar. Her machinations set a grand collapse into motion. Another event would be the walking away of King Henry's (elf) mistress at about the same time, leaving him with a half breed toddler.

    With Malazan, the closest I know of to a wondrous location would be the Otoral desert, a place of ancient secrets largely devoid of magic...however, there is a great deal of this series I've not read, so perhaps there are other locations. The recent crisis would be the 'Night of Knives', when Malazan's head of intelligence murdered her way to the throne, in the process killing many people needed to keep the empire running smoothly, thus directly leading to revolts.

    In Feists 'Midkemia', the wondrous location would be the 'City of the Gods' - actually two cities, one a necropolis for dead gods, the other a...celestial court nominally atop a mountain. An even more exotic location is the 'City Eternal', a unpopulated construct outside of normal time and space. The recent crisis would be the reign of King Rodrick, an eccentric king sliding into madness with no direct heir.

    In Kerr's 'Devery', the wondrous place would be the dwarf populated isle of Haen Marn, set in a lake populated by 'Loch Ness' type creatures...except sometimes the island is in one world and sometimes another, and distances on the island are often distorted. The recent crisis would be the defection of a half elf magician to a rebel Devery lord, openly using his magic on that lords behalf (magic is kept quiet on this world).

    In Martins world, two locations count as wondrous: the great wall of ice guarding the northlands (hundreds of feet high and hundreds of miles long), and shattered remnants of the old empire, destroyed by a still smoking 'super volcano' and universally regarded as cursed. The recent event would be King Robert Barethons destruction of the old ruling house of Westeros, and his less than competent reign afterwards.

    Lessons here:

    1) An 'epic' ('wondrous') location for an epic series is almost mandatory. It need not be central, but it really should be there.

    2) There is almost always some sort of 'trigger' event years or decades earlier which sets the epic tale in motion. The hurled pebble that starts an avalanche.

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    Spouses, relationships, and children - not babies and not teenagers, but between those ages.

    In 'COS', most of the major characters are married. Most of the soldiers have wives to return to (being essentially well drilled militia), and an unmarried noble is rare. One of the MC's spends a great deal of time trying to avoid a 'evil guy with a good reputation' who time and again throws caution to the winds in his efforts to own her. There are also several charcters who start as children and (sometimes) age to adulthood over the course of the books.

    Eriksons 'Malazan' is almost the opposite: neither the current Empress or her predecessor appears to have been married, and I've come across no mention of offspring, which is downright bizarre for imperial rulers. This also applies more generally: the series boasts a cast of a hundred or more, and while there is plenty of (implied) sex, very few of these characters have spouses. Likewise, children appear to be mentioned only in passing. Then again, there are many books in this series I've yet to get to.

    In Fiests 'Rift War', most of the characters are married, become married, or were married (sometimes with disasterous results). Some characters here are not exactly faithful, and there are some odd romances. In the first part of the series - the first four books plus the 'Kelewan' trilogy - children do turn up often enough, some with important roles (such as the very young princess wondering alound about her possible future husband). Later on, though, these types of characters 'fade out'.

    Dynastic marriage is also important in Kerrs world - it helps define ones place. Most of the charactrers appear to be faithful, though there are a few widowers and widows with straying eyes, so to speak. The most remarkable child character is that of the deposed former royal family, caught in an horrific unwinnable situation.

    I've seen it commented elsewhere that Martins 'GOT' is all about sex, often of a twisted nature. It was an affair gone wrong which prompted Roberts Rebellion, and his unfaithful wifes romance after he took the throne which set a catastrophe in motion (though Robert was a heavy womanizer himself, with many bastards). Dany uses sexual politics to reign in her Dothraki husband. And so on. And as there is much sex, there are many children in this tale, often with distinct personalities.


    Races...of the nonhuman variety:

    COS boasts the 'Aoi', who count as elves in a strange sideways sort of way. Wendar is plagued by the 'Eika' a scaled race dragonmen who behave much like viking marauders. A large tribe on the eastern plains are centaurs, whose shamen are among the most powerful wizards on this planet. All three of these races are described in some detail, and have one or more characters playing significant plot roles. Making brief appearances are a race of ocean dwelling merfolk and another group....somewhat resembling dwarves.

    Erikson's work boasts the 'Tiste' peoples - essentially savage versions of Tolkien style elves (immortal); a race of supposedly extinct lizardmen (KChain CheMalle, if I remember right); and a related collection of very tall very strong humaniod races I'm inclined too term 'ogres'. Of these, the green skinned Jhagut (Ogre Mages?) are particularly reknown for their sorcery. All the 'ogre' groups appear to be in decline, though notable members of each exist. Additionally, Erikson has the Tlan Imas, a race (related to the ogres?) which chose undead status for the sake of vengeance.

    Midkemia boasts elves and dwarves, much like the classical AD&D versions, though there are few notable characters of these races in the series. In many of the later books, elves and dwarves are not even mentioned. Goblins are a persistent problem, but not really detailed. Giants and Trolls make a few appearances, but they are just that: appearances, with no real mention of their societies. Kelewan boasts a race of centaur type creatures and another of fearsome giant insect warriors. Later in the series, a group of giant lizardmen make an appearance.

    Elves and Dwarves are also found in Devery; the former mostly refugees from their fallen nation, living as nomadic herdsmen on the plains, the later ensconsed in partly underground cities. Elven characters are central to much of the action in the Devery books. For the early books, only a single (exiled) dwarf appears, but later books involve visits to large cities where most of the dwarves dwell underground and many of their females never see the sun. In terms of lifespan and outlook, both races are of the AD&D model. In the later books, Kerr introduces a third race, the so called 'horse-kin' a race of savages slowly becoming civilized.

    With the possible exception of the Wraiths beyond the Wall, there are no sapient nonhuman races in Martins world.

    So...what to draw from this? To me, it appears the number of nonhuman races should be limited. Elliot goes into detail on only three of her five nonhuman races - over seven books. Erikson goes into some detail about the Tiste Edur, the Tlan Imass, and a couple of the 'Ogre' races (that I know of). Fiest focuses first on the elves and dwarves, then later on the insect warriors, and finally the lizardmen, but doesn't really go into great detail. Kerr goes into the most depth with her trio of races. I have read series, epic and otherwise, with large numbers of nonhuman races, but unless done very well, the result is a muddle: keeping the various races straight becomes difficult.

    And Dragons:

    In 'COS' the dragons are...present but difficult to describe. 'Creatures from an etheric realm', perhaps, as much (magical) energy as physical.

    Dragons do appear occasionally in the Malazan books, usually in the Warrens, and sometimes cited as the source of magic and / or the warrens.

    Dragons are also found in Midkemia, with a large flight making an appearance at the end of the first set of books, and isolated members of the race turning up afterwards. As with much of the rest of Fiests work, these are very much like the AD&D versions, though possessed of unique magics.

    Dragons appear in Kerrs world as well, dwelling in dormant volcanoes in the far north.

    And dragons are part and parcel of the history of Westeros, and presumably linked to the magic of Martins world.

    It would seem that where there are dragons, there is also magic.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
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  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Don't know if anybody is still reading, but I still have things to cover, so...

    Character Classes...for want of a better term. I'm going to use a bit of AD&D terminology here, since two of the series in my sample (Eriksons and Fiests) began as games of that stripe, and at least one other (Kerr's) was almost certainly influenced by it. This is general only, ways of labeling, not a venture into hit points, levels, and the rest. To start with:

    Warriors, barbarians, knights, mercenaries, soldiers, and rangers - and are any of them female?

    Wendar, in 'COS' is suffering from a barbarian invasion, hence there are several prominent barbarian characters. There are also more than a few knights running around, the most prominent being a very tough bunch called 'the Kings Dragons', noble bastard born warriors sworn to the kings service (One of the MC's is their captain). Mercenaries are present...but not all that common. With the war, a great many men are being pressed into service. I don't recollect any prominent ranger or hunter types. Women are almost unknown in military service on any of the sides.

    Male and female soldiers are both present in Malazan's legions, as are male and female mercenaries. I'm uncertain if this is true of other nations. Barbarian tribes, and hence barbarian warriors are found throughout Erikson's world, though their realms appear to be shrinking. While there is plenty of cavalry, knights as such seem to be unknown, as are rangers. Worth noting that some of Malazans soldiers are starting to employ simple explosive devices.

    Over the course of Fiests books, the 'Kingdom of the Isles' makes a transition from the classic 'knights supported by a peasant levy' to a professional standing army, supported by a militia (though knights are still present). Kesh has legions roughly patterned after the old roman model. Barbarians are mentioned, but not really gone into. Rangers are mentioned occasionally in his works, and there is one major ranger character. A few mercenary bands are found in Kesh and the Kingdom of the Isles, but they are vastly more common on a continent across the sea, dominated in the early books by feuding city states. Woman warriors are present all around, but are the exception rather than the rule.

    Devery, being a feudal society, has knights of a sort, who in turn rely on peasant levys. Bardek has small, but well drilled city militias. The elves, to all intents and purposes could be counted as rangers. Mercenaries outside of Bardek are rare, and operate individually or in small groups. The most (in)famous of these are 'Silver Daggers', many of whom are disgraced former nobles. Apart from a few mercenaries and the rare knight, female warriors are unknown.

    Knights abound in Martins 'Westeros'. Most lords keep a number of professional soldiers supplemented by a large militia if needed. Mercenary companies abound, especially in the Free Cities across the sea from Westeros. Also worthy of note is the 'Nights Watch', a force drawn from across Westeros, charged with keeping an eye on the lands beyond the (ice) wall. Many of their number could be termed rangers. Barbarians are common, both in Westeros and across the sea - the Dothraki horsemen being of particular note here. However, while individual woman warriors turn up now and again in all these groups, they are rare.

    Worth noting that knights in some form appear in each of these epics save that of Malazan (and I might be wrong there). Peasant militias are common in all these series, and barbarians are not unknown in any of them. Rangers are almost unknown, and woman warriors are far and few between, save for Malazan. Also, the military technology level in each of these worlds, barring the grenado's of the Malazan forces, is surprisingly uniform: swords and spears, bows and arrows, that sort of thing.

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    Magicians and their Magic (Sources, Destructive, Divinations and Scrying, Healing, Illusions, Shapeshifting and Transport) :

    Magic in COS comes from a hodgepodge of sources: some from within the caster, some from knowledge of names, some from the etheric realms, and much of unclear origin. Apart from the ritual which decimated a continent (as a side effect!) magic is not generally destructive here, though there are quirks such as the woman whom it is fatal to gaze upon. Many characters can 'see through fire', catching glimpses of far off peoples or future events, and other forms of divination are present as well. Healing magic is present, but with tight limits - however there was at least one example of what might be termed a 'resurrection'. A couple of characters work large complex illusions. True shapeshifting is unknown, though illusionary semblances are not. Rings of standing stones spaced throughout the continent allow rapid 'teleport' like transit if one knows how to use them. For the person making the venture, the trip is mere minutes...but months or even years can pass in the outside world. A 'stasis effect' is also possible with the stone circles. I don't recollect any magical weapons in this world offhand.

    Most of the magic in the world of Malazan appears to come from the Warrens, though some comes from within and some is drawn from powerful beings. There are multiple examples of powerful destructive magic, most notably that of the 'force from the sky' used by the Letheri mages, which impressed even the Malazans. The most common means of divinations is via the tarot like 'Deck of Dragons', which actually changes as the warrens and powers beyond do. Healing magic is well known and extensively used, though apparently stopping short of true resurrection. Illusions are frequently employed. Shapeshifting is apparently the province of a select few wizardly types - 'Soletaken' and 'Divers', many of whom regard themselves as demigods. It is possible to use the warrens to effect very rapid transit from one part of the world to another, though time still passes in both places. Magical weapons appear to be almost common in the Malazan setting.

    In Fiests worlds, magic is split between the 'Greater' (mental) and 'Lesser' (technical) paths of magic, with members of the one finding it very hard to use the magics of the other. Elves, in turn, practice magic of their own. A powerful enough wizard in Fiests world, greater or lesser path, is quite capable of destroying a small city. Divinations and scrying is mentioned, and at one point a powerful prophet type character is sought out. However, the rule is, seers cannot know their own futures. Healing magic is present, though limited. (Fiest 'cheats' here a couple times with a regeneration spell, apparently breaking his own rules). There is minor use of illusions. True shapeshifting is difficult, something only the most powerful of magicians can use.
    Teleport spells exist in two forms: the first being a 'line of sight' (maximum distance of a few miles) used by talented lesser path mages), and the second identical to the AD&D teleport spell...though much less certain and more difficult to master - some very powerful wizards are incapable of employing it. Enchanted weapons are scarce on Fiests worlds, and tend to loose their enchantments over time.

    Magicians in Devery keep quiet about their abilities. Here, magic originates as natural psionic power, with trained magicians tapping into near mindless elemental spirits dwelling in the etheric realm: salamanders for fire effects, syliphs for influencing the weather, undines for water spells, and gnomes for earth magic. All these beings hold strong allegiance to powerful astral entities. Large scale destructive magics are only theoretically possible here. Divinations are known, but generally frowned upon, though scrying is acceptable. Healing magic is rudimentary, relying mostly on herbal remedies. Illusionary magic is possible, though deemed 'showy' and 'pointless' by many wizards. Being able to shift into bird form is a sign of mastery among Devery's magicians, though other shapeshifting is either unknown or very rare. Competent wizards can open 'roads' through the etheric realm, effectively mimicing 'teleport' spells. However, such roads attract the attention of the etheric realms inhabitants. Worth mentioning are the 'rote' magics of the dwarves used in creating enchanted objects, as well as quite a number of people with odd talents ranging from summoning frogs to charming people or animals.

    Magic is scarce in Martins world, and true magicians are few and far between. Roughly, magic is split between 'Greenmagic' a sort of nature magic, and 'Fire Magic'. Also present is shadow magic. It is possible that uncontrolled magic of both sorts resulted in the menace beyond the wall of ice and in the destruction of the ancient empire. Dreams and visions of peoples distant in space and/or time abound here. Healing magic is at best rudimentary...though a bizarre form of resurrection does occur. One or two wizard characters demonstrate powerful illusion ability. Shapeshifting, as such, does not appear to exist; instead 'green' magicians can 'possess' animals and even humans with whom they have a bond. Teleport magics do not exist...apparently. Oddly, the nobles of westeros between them have as many as a thousand enchanted weapons from the old empire.

    Worth noting here that there is more than one source or type of magic present in each of these series. Its also worth noting that the number of differing magics is kept limited. Powerful destructive magics are a bit of a hit or miss thing. Divination and Scrying is common throughout. Healing magic, apart from Malazan, is limited. Illusions are present in each setting. Shapeshifting, even in the series it occurs, is regarded as something difficult. Teleport type effects are either limited or altered. Apart from Malazan and Martins worlds, magical weapons are very scarce.

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  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Cont;

    Priests, their Gods, and reality...along with demons:

    A powerful monotheistic religion much like christianity (complete with a christ like figure) holds great sway in Wendar and neighboring realms, though pagan faiths abound elsewhere. In a reversal of the normal situation, only females can attain high ecclasistical rank. However, the priestly assertions appear to be flawed, as the afterworld here consists of a number of astral/etheric 'spheres' or 'worlds' under the sway of strange spiritual beings who fall short of true divinity. Certain of these beings are occasionally conjured by mortal wizards, and regarded as 'demons'. (Apologies, I just cannot do proper justice to this system). Some priests do have a bit of expertise at magic, though the vast majority do not. A few of the most powerful of these 'near-gods' turn up in the mortal world.

    In Eriksons world, divinity is something of a divine office, tied in with the warrens. Apparently, ruling a warren makes one a diety - for as long as the position can be held. In a sense, then, Eriksons world has powerful beings and not true gods. Demons are also present, though they may be more physical than supernatural. The various deities do appear to impart their priests with a modicum of power, as it pertains to their warren. Eriksons gods are constantly meddling in the mortal world.

    Fiests worlds sport classic pagan style pantheons...at first glance. In actuality, the gods are largely the creations of their worshippers, and way in the background are superpowerful 'controller gods', though they too are trapped by their roles. Priests here are spellcasters, able to work magic seen as the province of their god. A few characters do encounter the gods now and again. Fairly classical Demons play a major role in the later books.

    The inhabitants of Devery also worship a fairly standard Celtic style pantheon of Gods, attended to by largely hereditary priest groups. These deities though, appear to be mostly 'false', or weaker phantasmal versions of Fiests gods. Demons apparently exist, but are not much gone into. A few priests seem to have quasi-magical abilities, mostly pertaining to divinations.

    A number of competing religions exist in Martins world: the seven gods of westeros, the tree cult of the north, a dualistic faith across the sea. Which is 'real' - if any - is unclear. At least some of the fire priests have magical abilities, though.

    The trend here, is apart from very 'distant' (energy?) entities, Gods either do not truly exist, or are actually 'imposters' of one sort or another. It is worth noting that at least a few priests in each of these settings have a modicum of magical ability (which they may believe comes from their God).

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    Rogues: Assassins, Bandits, Bards, and Thieves:

    Bandit bands plague much of Wendar and the surrounding realms. Assassins, as such, appear to be unknown (though murderous thugs abound). Bards and traveling musicians are present. City type thieves are scarce...because actual cities are few and small.

    Malazan was built on the knives of assassins, and assassination is common on the other continents. A few assassins appear to have magical abilities. Bandits, often deserters, are also present. Strangely, though, bards appear to be nearly unknown, though there are an abundance of chants and epic poems in these works. City type thieves are also present, though few are prominent in the books (that I've read).

    A guild of assassins which somehow survives multiple attempts at eradication is a major thorn in the side of the rulers of the Kingdom of the Isles. Likewise, other assassin groups wreak havoc on Kelewan. Heavy patrols keep the main roads free of bandits, though they haunt other routes. Fiest does have one prominent bard type character early on in his series...but they are barely mentioned afterwards. Gangs (guilds) of thieves are found in the larger cities.

    The evil magicians of Bardek in Kerrs world control a group of assassins, some of whom have minor magical abilities. They apparently vanish later on in the series. Bandits are a persistent, but minor menace. Bards and wandering musicians are common, and a few of the former might be capable of rudimentary magic. Interestingly, the larger cities do support small gangs of thieves.

    Several groups of assassins are found in Martins world, the most feared being the 'Faceless Men' of Bravos - some of whom possess magical abilities. Bandits abound, as do bards. Thieves are present, but none appear to be of note.

    Ok...organized groups of assassins are found in four of the five series here, and three of those are capable of at least some magic use. Bandits are universally present. Bards are a bit of a mix. Presumably there are thieves in all these settings, but most appear to be unorganized.

    Ughh...

    I do have more...but is anybody interested?

    Comments, additions, or corrections?
     
  6. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Aren't Kerr's books called the Chronicles of the Deryni?
     
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    No...The 'Deryni' series (also epic) is by Katherine Kurtz. This series is long enough, and at one time popular enough for me to include, but I've only read a few of them.
     
  8. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    OK....time to wrap this up....if anybody is still interested.

    First, a minor addendia: I recently obtained and spent the last couple days reading Eriksons 'Toll the Hounds'. As a result, I must conclude that he does occasionally include both child characters and bards, contrary to my previous statements. (the risks of making comments before reading the bulk of a series).

    That said, this time I intend to focus on overall Quality:

    Do the books maintain a coherent focus through out the series? Are there too many subplots, or too many books?

    'COS' was apparently concieved and executed as a single continuous tale from the start. The action does shift between POC characters, but by and large these arcs link together fairly well. Initially 'COS' was supposed to be six books, rather than seven, but the 'wrap-up' proved to involved to fit into a single tome.

    'Malazan', now, seems to lack overall focus. The later books, from what I've seen, seem to include plot threads, subplots, and characters not directly relevant to the tale at hand. Some of these subplots would probably have worked much better as separate books: for example Karsa Orlongs tale, insteaded of being threaded into the others, might have worked better as a stand alone novel. Likewise, did Mappo Runts attempts to be reunited with his old partner contribute much to 'Toll the Hounds'?

    In years past, I found the first four books of the 'Rift War' saga to be outstanding - some of the best epic fantasy ever. The 'Kelewan' trilogy, in its own way was also dang good. The next half dozen books were well written logical continuations of what came before. Then it fell apart. The 'Rift War Flashbacks' were not well done. Most of the books pushing the series forward kept recycling the same ideas, rather than introducing new ones. In short, of the thirty books in the series, probably at least ten were not well done, and show a lack of overall focus. In places, he appears to break is own rules, such as introducing vampires.

    The 'Devery' series is a bit harder to judge. By and large, it consists of novella's and short novels (each featuring a separate 'past life') linked by a common narrative. Possibly some of them could have been dispensed with...but then again, there are other incarnations whose tales I am most curious about. The series is character focused, rather than event focused.

    Martins series was also originally supposed to be six books (and is now slated to be seven). Judging from the commentary thus far, and ...likely decisions about the television version...he probably should have stuck to six books. His work does maintain its overall focus, though.

    Yet...all these books sold, and sold well...as did not so good tomes in other lengthy series, such as Jordans 'Wheel of Time'. Authors just starting out can't really get away with this sort of thing, but these people, being established 'names', can.


    Allies, enemies, and changing sides:

    In 'COS', the Wendars initial allies are feudal neighbors attempting to band together against the reptilian 'Eika' marauders and barbarian invaders. Later on, the 'Eika' start cooperating with certain human factions, and some of the barbarians become enemies. There is also a continuous problem with scheming clerics and fence sitting aristocrats. Almost none of these factions are able to accept the warnings of the upcoming cataclasm or the reasons behind it, until it happens.

    In the 'Malazan' series, the Malazan forces are initially engaged in heavy battle against an alliance including the formidable Anamander Rake...yet later on this character allies with a not-quite rogue Malazan army against another foe. Likewise, there are multiple examples of high ranking Malazan commanders turning rogue 'for real', and joining up with the empires enemies.

    In Fiests works, the Kindgoms initial enemy is the Tsurani invaders, coming to Midkemia via a rift. By the end of the first few books, these invaders become quasi allies, and the foes shift to the demons standing behind the Pantathian serpent priests, who orchestrate additional invasions of the Kingdom of the Isles. Also worth mentioning are the various political machinations of the Kingdoms nobles, including characters who gets themselves justly exiled in one book and return a book or too later as heroes of sorts.

    In Kerrs work, the chief enemies of most of the characters shift from the evil wizards and their flunkies in Bardek to the 'Horsekin' of the far north and west. In turn, some Horsekin ally themselves with Devery's humans. (I find it annoying that Bardek just vanishes from the series in the later books). However, it is shifts among Devery's own aristocrats which really influences matters: the domains of many lords have serious problems, but the lords do not wish to admit this.

    And in Martins world...grand alliances and despicable betrayals are all part and parcel of the Game of Thrones...at least for the mortal lords. Most of these mortals appear oblivious to the hazard forming beyond the wall, and somewhat disbelieving of the dragons overseas.

    So...enemies becoming allies, and major enemies or catastrophes lurking behind the scenes appear to be common elements.

    Ok...I think I'll call this quits.

    Comments?
     

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