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Looking for a new book ... (Recommendations? -Please & TY)

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by TheCatholicCrow, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    I'm having a hard time finding a contemporary author that I really like. I've been disappointed with the last few fantasy books I got (won't name any names) and I'm wondering if the source of my discontent is due to the lack of research into Fantasy subgenres or just a lack of research in general. Whether its a hidden gem, genre staple, or hell, even your own novel - feel free to suggest some books!

    I'm currently reading The Silmarillion but I want to queue up my book list in advance. Any suggestions? And (if you have the patience to read this) what subgenre(s) of Fantasy are best suited for me? To be honest, there's so many books out there I'm a little overwhelmed and I'm not entirely sure where to begin. I *think* the genres I'm looking for are Low Fantasy, Epic Fantasy & Sword & Sorcery/ Medieval / Historical Fantasy (?) IDK I'm new-ish to exploring the genre so I'm pretty much guessing.

    I really like strong world building- whether thinly veiled allusions or completely unique, the more believable and developed the culture the better. I don't mind violence or anything dark (depending on my mood it might actually be a bonus). I'm not concerned w equal representation or other PC qualities (within reason). I love a good morally ambiguous story but I'm also a fan of comics and wouldn't mind occasional cliches w dualistic characters- good vs evil and all that jazz. I don't need a happy ending and I'm neutral about romance (though if it is present I would prefer it NOT be LGBQ or anything done explicitly for shock value- nothing against it - just not my cup of tea). I'm open-minded but I'm also pretty conservative so nothing with Militant Feminism or Erotica either. I'm also not generally a fan of YA (Hunger Games was my only YA guilty pleasure. TBH I don't care for Harry Potter. There are always bound to be exceptions but I have generally a hard time connecting w anything deliberately written for children/teens). I don't need swearing, sex, blood or gore but I would like to read something with a vocabulary that isn't interchangeable w Junie B. Jones (cough Twilight).

    I read quite a bit of Historical Fiction and have a strong preference for anything set in the Medieval era (or something vaguely like it- doesn't have to be Historical per se ... Conan the Barbarian comes to mind). Arthurian Lit's okay but I'm not a fan of fan-fic or using other people's characters/worlds so except for Le Mort I'm not typically drawn to this subgenre. I really liked Song of Roland, Eyrbyggja Saga, and Beowulf (read it at least a dozen times in 3 different translations - the Seamus Heaney version is the ONLY way to go!) I'm also a fan of the Heliand gospel and things of that nature.

    I REALLY like Tolkein's style (more archaic ... where it almost feels like you're reading a medieval text) but the story (while amazing and definitely a classic) is a tad fantasy heavy for me. It definitely works for him but I'd typically prefer to read something a little (or a lot) more human-based. I really enjoyed the lower emphasis on fantasy that George R.R. Martin had in Song of Ice and Fire but (coming from the Medieval stories) I wished there would have been more exposition and less dialogue (and a lot less Bran). I enjoy them both and really can't decide if style or content matter more to me.

    I'm looking for something that is more contemporary (published at least within the last 40-50 years). A bonus if it has an older feel to it. (Nothing written in the first person.)

    Really I'm not picky. I'll read just about anything. I just figured that if I'm asking for recommendations it might help to know my literary tendencies which are by no means exclusive but hopefully give you a feel for what I'm interested in.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
     
  2. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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  3. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Hey there. I have trouble finding contemporary books to read as well. Is this your first time reading The Silmarillion? I'm one of those crazy people who actually loves the Sil the most out of Tolkien's works. Though I'm all little confused about your comment that Tolkien is a little too fantasy heavy for you, since Middle-earth is very much a low-magic setting. But then you comment about wanting something more human-based... does that mean you don't like other races used prominently in fantasy? Just trying to get a clear idea of what you're looking for. I'll recommend a few anyway.

    I highly recommend anything by Roger Zelazny, but in particular his books written in the Amber setting (The Chronicles of Amber) and his Dilvish, the Damned stories.

    Also Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke was written in a more old fashioned style and was truly excellent.

    I also strongly recommend The Night Land, A Story Retold by James Stoddard. It is an incredibly faithful retelling of William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land which is not very well known even though it has immense influence on the fantasy and sci fi genres. This is probably because the prose is about as dense as a mountain. I am no stranger to archaic styles or old fashioned prose (and I've read other works by Hodgson), but even I could not get through The Night Land. What James Stoddard did was keep the story and voice intact while making it readable by the common man, a truly noble work because The Night Land is easily one of the most amazing works of imagination I have ever read. I think every fantasy (or sci fi) author should read either the original or this version. I cannot sing its praises highly enough.
     
  4. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    I don't know what I want and therein lies the problem :cry:

    I don't mind it but given the choice I would probably lean towards something featuring humanoid races. I think the use of different races is still a little foreign for me but I'm sure I'll barely even notice it when I become more familiar with the genre. But, like I said, most of what I've read so far has been fairly limited to humans battling dragons/monsters and an occasional wizard here & there. It's not that I dislike magic or strong fantasy themes it's just still a little foreign to me and I'm looking for some stuff to ease me in.

    It's my first time w The Sil and I love it! It took years of my siblings begging me to read The Hobbit & LoTR (I can be quite stubborn and skeptical of their recommendations) but I loved it. I'm kind of a newb to Fantasy but since I've begun writing my own I've felt immensely guilty that I don't actually read all that much of it. (Which I plan to remedy soon)

    I just got paid & I'm looking forward to working my way through your recommendations (2WayParadox's too!) Thank you!
     
  5. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    Hmm . . . I'm reading Guardians of the Flame right now. Some of the violence might be a bit bloody for your taste, but it hits almost everything else in your extensive list.
     
  6. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    Maybe try the Broken Sword by Poul Anderson or The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers.
     
  7. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Yeah, The Broken Sword is really good, though not "contemporary". It was published the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring, I believe. I recommend this version, which is the original version not the version later revised by the author. It's a little more poetic, more like the old sagas. I enjoyed it immensely.

    Tim Powers is great too. I haven't read The Drawing of the Dark. My husband did and didn't enjoy it as much as his other books. Personally, I highly recommend Powers' The Anubis Gates. It was the book that got me back into writing. I also enjoyed The Stress of Her Regard which is a very interesting take on a sort of lamia/vampire creature preying on English Romantic poets (Byron, Keats, Shelley).
     
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Neverwhen, Neil Gaiman.

    Like you, I have had much trouble finding contemporary fantasy I enjoy (defined here as "within the last 15 years or so"). The market leaders have all bored me.

    Since Mythopoet invoked Poul Anderson, I'll nominate The High Crusade. Pure fun. Not high fantasy, though. For SF that reads like fantasy, you can't go wrong with J.G. Ballard (Drowned World; Crystal World). But I'm getting close to thread hijacking now, so I'll stop.
     
  9. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    The broken Empire trilogy is contemporary, I found it to be a nice mixture of grit, fantasy and post-post-apocalyptic SF.
     
  10. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    Thank you everyone! I hit up the used book store a couple towns over (because my town is a barren waste hole). I got a bunch of random fantasy books for like 75 cents ea.

    I love Neil Gaiman.

    I'm going to look through all of these.
    The only reason I was looking for something more contemporary is so that (when it comes to modern genre conventions) I will have something more recent to gauge my writing off of than Beowulf.

    I keep reading that everyone wants Asian-based fantasy but here I am still in love with swords & dragons in Medieval Europe. LOL am I behind the times or is that just the big companies pushing the genre for diversity? Thanks
     
  11. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Its a bit out of fashion and I wouldn't call them a challenging read but I really like the earlier David [and Leigh] Eddings' books.
    There are two 5 part series [The Belgariad and the Malloreon] that share a common cast and world.
    There are also two 3 part series [The Elenium and The Tamuli] that have a different but similarly shared cast.
    While I love The Belgariad I think the story and characters in The Elenium are better...

    The Belgariad series
    Pawn of Prophecy (1982), Queen of Sorcery (1982), Magician's Gambit (1983), Castle of Wizardry (1984), Enchanters' End Game (1984)

    The Malloreon series
    Guardians of the West (1987), King of the Murgos (1988), Demon Lord of Karanda (1988), Sorceress of Darshiva (1989), The Seeress of Kell (1991)

    The Elenium series
    The Diamond Throne (1989), The Ruby Knight (1990), The Sapphire Rose (1991)

    The Tamuli series
    Domes of Fire (1992), The Shining Ones (1993), The Hidden City (1994)

    The later book series [The Dreamers] are possibly worth avoiding, I was a great fan of D&LE until then and I can't stand those four books...
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  12. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Series. Classic epic fantasy, more humans than not, 4 large books, very well written (it starts off a tad slowish, but well worth hanging around with). The first book is called The Dragonbone Chair. Highly recommended.
     
  13. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    4 books? I thought it was just a trilogy. I've read the first two, haven't been able to track down the third one yet.
     
  14. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I'm pretty sure it is a trilogy. Though the 3rd volume is certainly big enough to be at least two books, maybe three. Honestly, I never finished the third volume because it got so tediously boring.
     
  15. BronzeOracle

    BronzeOracle Sage

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    Memory, Sorry and Thorn was a trilogy in hardback and the third volume To Green Angel Tower was split into two for the paperback release: Storm and Siege.

    I loved some of the characters (Simon, Miriamele, Binabik) and hated some too. The ending was worth it and quite poignant, it built on and enriched the themes of Tolkein to explore the legacy of violence and why the Big Bad became bad. But I agree the third volume was very tedious in parts and I finished it more out of stubbornness as I'd already invested so much time into it. It probably helped that it was in two parts for the paperback.
     
  16. BronzeOracle

    BronzeOracle Sage

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    I second Thomas Covenant - there are three trilogies, I have read the first two. The Illearth War in the first trilogy is one of the best fantasy books I've read. It has moral ambiguity and a heavily conflicted protagonist.
     
  17. BronzeOracle

    BronzeOracle Sage

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    I also loved the Silmarillion the most! It is a magnificent book in my opinion, though I was left at the end feeling an incredible sense of loss. The land beneath the waves. Tol Morwen. Such powerful themes.

    One series I loved but haven't read for a while is the Lyonesse series by Jack Vance, written in the 1980s. It is set in the mythical Elder Isles south of Britain and has a King Arthur / faerie feel to it. Lots of politics, sorcery, fantastic creatures, good solid characters and tough challenges for them.

    Another series is the first trilogy of The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E Feist: Magician, Silverthorn and Darkness at Sethanon. Its more a YA audience but I loved reading it in my teens, it was a great foundation to move into other stories like Thomas Covenant. Great politics, coming of age for two boys, clash between medieval and oriental civilisations, fantastic magic.

    If you want a series that goes on forever you could try The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan - I think there are 14 books in the series. I only read the first: Eye of the World. I loved the magic system and social order and there are engaging characters both male and female. From what I have read on the web the story becomes very epic as it unfolds.
     
  18. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    Yes, the Tad Williams series is 3 or 4 books depending on which format. Its one of my all time favs, was never bored for a moment. The strong writing and lovely details go a long way for me.

    But speaking of the lengths of series, the more recent Covenant series is 4 books, not 3. Ten in all.

    Put me down as a major Silmarillion fan as well, though I can see how some wouldn't enjoy it. I second Lyonesse as well, but Wheel of Time, not so much.
     
  19. Gabcy

    Gabcy Dreamer

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    The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellen is a fun read.

    Flintlock-fantasy with gun-powder snorting mages and white-gloved sorcerers.

    It has favorable reviews from what I've seen and I really enjoyed it.
     
  20. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I'm reading a book which, until further notice, is being held captive by my siblings. (The ransom is Toblerone) Anyway it's terrific and I'm only seven chapters in...maybe an eighth of the book's thickness. It's called "The Palace Job" by Patrick Weekes. I'm trying to think of titles to compare it to but there's no single title or mesh that comes close.

    If you've seen Leverage then think that plus "Game of Thrones" plus "Enchanted Forest Chronicles".....yeah that's close. honestly so far it's an action packed, hilarious thriller set in an incredible world dished to you in a narrative that will keep you thinking, rooting and reading.
     
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