View Full Version : Fantasy recs for Refried.

09-07-2004, 01:11 PM

I promised I would offer a short list. This isn't as short as I wanted, but it's still pretty restrained. I'm leaving out contemporary fantasy altogether, for no reason other than to minimize the amount of typing in this post.

Let's start with two from board regulars:

Knight's Wyrd, by Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald (http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/kw_head.htm). It's YA fantasy, but nobody's bothered by that label anymore (I hope). It's good work, starting off very realistic and becoming increasingly wild, without losing the realism. It's quite an achievement in tone and a great yarn.

The Burning Land, by Victoria Strauss. (http://www.sff.net/people/VictoriaStrauss/burningland.html) This is a thoughtful book. Smart reading, though a little cool and reserved. It's about religion and heresy, and it's good stuff.

Okay, here are two oldies but goodies:

The Phoenix and The Mirror, by Avram Davidson. (http://www.avramdavidson.org/) He's a writer's writer. Beautiful prose, wonderful stories, no readership. He died penniless, after creating some wonderful books. Also check out The Boss in the Wall, one of the strangest horror "novels" I've ever read.

Swords Against Death, by Fritz Lieber. (http://www.lankhmar.demon.co.uk/) No, wait! Make that Conjure Wife. On second thought, make that Our Lady Of Darkness. Hmm, those last two are contemporary fantasy (contemporary to the author, at least.) Actually, let's go back to Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Swords Against Death is a collection of short fiction. Strange and fun. There have been several collections of these stories, and Swords of Lankmar is a full-length novel. I'm always on the lookout for it.

Lawrence Watt-Evans (see below) has called Lieber one of the five best fantasy writers of the twentieth century.

Now for some modern writers:

A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin (http://www.georgerrmartin.com/) this is epic work. Seriously epic. A massive cast of characters, more plot threads than my socks have real threads, wide ranging setting. The prolog is not promising, but keep going. It (and the sequels) are addictive. While reading these books, I have lain in bed at night worrying about the characters. The books are that good.

Newton's Cannon, by J. Gregory Keyes, (http://www.randomhouse.com/delrey/author/keyes/newtonscannon.html) European and American history, if alchemy were true and physics were myth. Fun. Weird. Not perfect, but definitely different.

Dragon Weather, by Lawrence Watt-Evans (http://www.watt-evans.com/dragonweather.html) Essentially, The Count of Monte Cristo with dragons. But that's only the essentials. It's a much deeper, more troubled book. Very grim. It is a more "traditional" fantasy and also has a nice twist at the end that sets up two more books. Good stuff from a good writer.

Cripes, how many is that? Okay, last one:

Men At Arms, by Terry Pratchett. (http://www.harpercollins.com/catalog/pratchett/site/books/description.asp?isbn=0061092193) In Mr. Pratchett's own words: "Welcome to the Discworld. It started out as a parody of all the fantasy that was around in the big boom of the early '80s, then turned into a satire on just about everything, and even I don't know what it is now."

This is a satire, and it is damn funny. Pratchett was also named one of the five best in the 20th century. He writes well, his characters are wonderful, and he's laugh out loud funny. Don't read him at work or at funerals. Frankly, I think humor is underrated.

There. The end. If this was October, I'd probably have thrown Steven Brust on the list, but he's still in my to-read pile. He's also a writer who gets raves from his fans. But I still haven't read any of his work myself, so whatever.

Hope this is helpful.

09-07-2004, 02:49 PM
Damn. And I thought I had lots of books already. I've read Lieber, and Davidson--long ago.

Thanks for the list, HConn. :)

09-07-2004, 05:45 PM
Thanks for the list HConn. Very helpful!

09-07-2004, 08:54 PM
Thing is, there are still so many wonderful books out there I haven't read. These are just the ones I've managed to get my mitts on.

09-07-2004, 11:45 PM
Thanks for the recommendations, HConn. Much appreciated!

In exchange, for anyone who hasn't read 'em, I'd recommend the ones I mentioned in the other thread: Moorcock's Elric novels; Orson Scott Card's Tales of Alvin Maker (set in an alternate early America where magic is commonplace; a nice break from all the medieval European fantasy); Le Guin's Earthsea novels; and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy.

aka eraser
09-08-2004, 12:16 AM
I'll echo HConn's recommendation of Martin's Game of Thrones. In fact, the first book in the series is probably in my top 10 best reads ever. Not quite as enthusiastic about the succeeding books but still avidly reading.

I beat poor old Tad Williams' horse to death a few times on this board but the man amazes me. His first trilogy, "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" is a already a classic in traditional epic fantasy.

His second, the "Otherland" series, is another multi-volumed masterpiece. This one is set in a near tomorrow of virtual (or is it?) reality. His imagination and ability to populate his books with fully-realistic, three-dimensional characters awes me.

I'm reading his latest now, a standalone called "The War of the Flowers" and am thoroughly enjoying it.

If you're looking for a dark, but extremely well-written and oft-overlooked gem, check out Stephan Grundy's "Rhinegold." It's based on Norse mythology (which I've loved since the Thor comics of the 60s). Not for the squeamish though.

This should take you to Williams' books, starting with the first volume of "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn." His own comments, which come below each of the pages, offer nifty insights into his writing process.

www.tadwilliams.com/drago...chair.html (http://www.tadwilliams.com/dragonbone_chair.html)

09-08-2004, 07:22 AM
Now for some modern writers:

HConn, are you trying to say that Doyle and MacDonald, and Victoria Strauss aren't "modern" writers? :eek

And I loved Dragon Weather. If you're into humourous fantasy, you might also like With a Single Spell and The Misenchanted Sword by the same author.

09-08-2004, 07:27 AM
James and Victoria were shelved under "board regulars." When I was done recommending older writers, I wasn't going to write out "And now for some modern writers who aren't members of the Absolute Write message board." :) Too much typing.

The Misenchanted Sword is on my to-buy list.

09-08-2004, 08:16 AM
I wasn't going to write out "And now for some modern writers who aren't members of the Absolute Write message board.

:lol Good one...

No spoilers, but I just love the way Watt-Evans can make a powerful magic item and show its problem side. He does the reverse in "With a Single Spell," showing the uses of even the simplest magic.

Great books, both of them.

09-08-2004, 09:24 AM
I found him through his newsgroup:

Warning! This will open your newsreader. (http://news://news.sff.net:1119/sff.people.lwe)

He posted smart, so I started buying his books. Lucky me.

11-09-2004, 07:46 AM
Bump for Adam.