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Fantasy novels worth reading as an adult?

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by dusty, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic Senior member

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    I loved fantasy as a kid, and recently made an effort to find some stuff I could actually read without cringing, I've had to give up a lot of books as they are so badly written.

    Some of these are Sci Fi, but I strongly recommend:

    Gene Wolf's book of the New Sun
    Anything by Philip K. Dick or William Gibson


    Some new / current authors in the genre - all well written and page turners:

    China Mieville's series starting with Perdido Street Station
    Scott Lynch's the Lies of Locke Lamora
    Joe Abercrombie's First Law series

    I've not read George R. Martin, but he seems to get universally praised, I'm going to try him soon myself.
     
  2. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Senior member

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    I like the History Monks.

    His and Neal Gaiman's Good Omens is another great one.

    As is Gaiman's Neverwhere.


    b
     
  3. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Senior member

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    There's an author named Barry Hughart who wrote a series of three books set in "an ancient China that never was." They are very fun reads.


    The first is Bridge of Birds, followed by Story of the Stone, and finally there is Eight Skilled Gentlemen.

    Oh, and I just checked Amazon.com and there was supposed to be a new omnibus edition out on Oct. 31. But it still says it's not yet out. Don't know what's up with that.

    b
     
  4. Zandros

    Zandros Senior member

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    I like the History Monks. His and Neal Gaiman's Good Omens is another great one. As is Gaiman's Neverwhere. b
    I would say American Gods is Gaiman's best work to date. As mentioned, the A Song of Ice and Fire series is a must-read. Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen series is highly recommended by a friend, but I haven't read it yet. My personal recommendation is Tad William's The War of the Flowers.
     
  5. NorCal

    NorCal Senior member

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    Michael Moorcock's "Elric of Melnibone" series (6 books total, then some tangent ones featuring other characters like Hawkmoon, Corum etc)
    + 1 on that, excellent for whiling away the hours. As is Harry Potter. I had a bit of an attitude about the series but once you get over it they are good escapist fun. I also would second the song of fire and ice series, not that great but again, escapist. Also check out the Wizard of Earthsea books. An classic in every sense. Lastly read H.P. Lovecraft. BTW, GetSmart Have you ever read the Corneliuls Chronicles, also by Moorcock? They're a bit fractured, but its basically Elric multiverse strangeness meets 1970's rocking London, pretty goofy really, but kind of stylish and fun.
     
  6. landho

    landho Senior member

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    The Golden Compass, Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass weren't bad.

    The His Dark Materials trilogy is fantastic. The writing and the story are both great. Also worth noting that Pullman wrote this series as a corrective to the conservative ideas presented in Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia.

    I personally love the Dragonlance "Chronicles" Trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Then you can move on to the "Twins" trilogy which follows, as someone already suggested. Also, the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is good as well.

    Read those countless times in my youth (although the second series is actually called Legends). Am very fond of them. If nothing else, fun and adventurous.

    The first five books of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is probably as good as contemporary traditional epic fantasy can get. Then the wheels fell off the series. Then he died.

    Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber--the first five novels, which compose the Corwin cycle--are superlative. My highest recommendations. (The first five books are Nine Princes in Amber, Guns of Avalon, Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon, and The Courts of Chaos. They are printed these days in a gigantic omnibus comprising ten novels.)

    T. H. White's The Once and Future King is at once hilarious and sad and awesome. A retelling of the traditional Arthurian myths. Disney's cartoon The Sword in the Stone is based on the first part of this book. (Was originally published in four volumes, now commonly available as one book.)

    Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music isn't really fantasy but rather soft science fiction or perhaps "science fantasy." Still great, though, a weird sci-fi noir featuring talking animals and copious amounts of drugs. Lethem has since won a MacArthur Grant and has been writing "serious" fiction of late.

    Likewise, Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon is a nice excursion into genre. A little self-conscious, perhaps, in its evocation of generic elements (Chabon is a writer of literary fiction who loves genre rather than the other way around), but still very good, especially if you're familiar at all with the works of Moorcock (mentioned above) and especially Fritz Leiber. Originally published serially in the New York Times Magazine. Also, Yiddish Policemen's Union by Chabon is one of the best books written in the recent past; it's fantasy, but it may not be the kind of fantasy you're looking for.

    Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami is not only a bizarre and ingenious excursion into the world of imagination but also the best starting point for delving into Murakami's oeuvre.

    So much more, of course, but this is off the top of my head. Have a good winter!
     
  7. landho

    landho Senior member

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    As a footnote, the Elric books are long out of print. I managed to find the six books by scrounging around the mass-market paperback section in used-book stores. Should not be hard to find, but you will have to go to some effort to find them. The writing and the stories are strange, but from what I've read he cranked out the books in two weeks each (!). Chabon dedicated Gentlemen of the Road to Moorcock, and it's considered to be a landmark in fantastic fiction, given its singularly antiheroic themes. (Moorcock would follow this up more explicitly in his essay "Epic Pooh.")
     
  8. JohnRov

    JohnRov Well-Known Member

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    Gene Wolf's book of the New Sun
    Anything by Philip K. Dick or William Gibson


    I have to endorse these. Wolf is by far the best little-known fantasy author. It's not easy reading, but is on a level far above your average fare.

    George R.R. Martin is good, Jordan was good but that series should have been 5-6 books long.

    I don't think of Feist as adult reading, although it was good when I was younger.
     
  9. dusty

    dusty Senior member

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    Wow, thanks for all the suggestions guys. I'll bring this list with me to the library later. I was especially curious about Wheel of Time -- I know it's incredibly popular but I wanted to hear opinions from people who uh, don't read only fantasy novels.
     
  10. EnglishGent

    EnglishGent Senior member

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    I remember enjoying the books by David Eddings, but that was several years ago.
     
  11. Full Canvas

    Full Canvas Senior member

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  12. landho

    landho Senior member

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    Wow, thanks for all the suggestions guys. I'll bring this list with me to the library later. I was especially curious about Wheel of Time -- I know it's incredibly popular but I wanted to hear opinions from people who uh, don't read only fantasy novels.
    I read the first eight or nine books of the Wheel of Time and then I said enough was enough. The series really began to drag, and my friend who continued to plug away at it said the same. The first five books, though, gripped me like no other books had, but it's been maybe a dozen years since I read them. So I can't accurately say how they compare with some of the best fiction I've read in recent years. But they are huge and fun and read quickly, so that should be enough. Recently, I had a case of both nostalgia and the desire to study genre more deeply, so I went and picked up a bunch of books I read years ago from used-book stores and read them some of them. They held up pretty well. While I am a more discerning reader right now, I'm also more broad-minded (I think) and better able to take books, movies, and music "for what they are"; that is to say, I don't think Robert Jordan was trying to channel Proust when he was writing the Wheel of Time. So if my response to the books is any indication, I'm sure the Wheel of Time will hold up very well. He is very good at creating suspense and wonder.
     
  13. dusty

    dusty Senior member

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    That is exactly the sort of guidance I'm looking for, thanks.
     
  14. Jumbie

    Jumbie Senior member

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    A friend of mine recommends David Gemmell.

    I haven't read much of his stuff except for Lion of Macedon and its sequel Dark Prince but I really enjoyed them. I'd call it a historical fantasy as it takes Greek history/mythology and spins a pretty awesome tale out of it.
     
  15. Get Smart

    Get Smart Senior member

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    Have you ever read the Corneliuls Chronicles, also by Moorcock? They're a bit fractured, but its basically Elric multiverse strangeness meets 1970's rocking London, pretty goofy really, but kind of stylish and fun.
    yes I have, back when I was reading Elric I got really caught up in his various "Eternal Champion incarnations" and read most of the tangent series, tho I hardly remember them now I do know that I loved them back in the day
     
  16. Jumbie

    Jumbie Senior member

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    I read the first eight or nine books of the Wheel of Time and then I said enough was enough. The series really began to drag, and my friend who continued to plug away at it said the same. The first five books, though, gripped me like no other books had, but it's been maybe a dozen years since I read them. So I can't accurately say how they compare with some of the best fiction I've read in recent years. But they are huge and fun and read quickly, so that should be enough.

    Recently, I had a case of both nostalgia and the desire to study genre more deeply, so I went and picked up a bunch of books I read years ago from used-book stores and read them some of them. They held up pretty well. While I am a more discerning reader right now, I'm also more broad-minded (I think) and better able to take books, movies, and music "for what they are"; that is to say, I don't think Robert Jordan was trying to channel Proust when he was writing the Wheel of Time. So if my response to the books is any indication, I'm sure the Wheel of Time will hold up very well. He is very good at creating suspense and wonder.


    Like others, I really enjoyed this series initially. Jordan creates an extremely detailed world; sometimes too detailed. However, they really do drag on with pretty much the same formula in every book. Nothing for the first 550 pages culminating in a big event/battle.

    I also dislike the "boys against the girls" attitude in the books. It's very juvenile IMO.

    I still read the series because I want to know how it ends. The last book was really quite fast-paced and advanced the plot quite a bit. However, as another posted said, Jordan died and while he left enough notes to finish the story (in addition to telling it), it's not going to be the same as it's his world and I don't think anyone is going to be able to capture his vision. The plot is also a convoluted mess at this point. There are too many loose ends for me to envision a satisfactory resolution.
     
  17. Jekyll

    Jekyll Senior member

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    +1 on both Pratchett and Gaiman. Good Omens is a good place to start with both of them.

    +1 on The Man Who was Thursday.

    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is really good.

    If you like Douglas Adams, his Dirk Gently books are good.

    Lewis Carroll's books, obviously, and maybe his epic poem, The Hunting of the Snark, too.

    Maybe Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz as well.
     
  18. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic Senior member

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    I'd advise against wheel of time too - very generic, not very well written and way too long.

    There was a review on Amazon listing the number of classic books you could read in the time you were wasting reading that junk, and that made me stop.

    I like Moorcock's ideas a lot - I've not read him since I was a kid and they all blend into each other a lot - I think I remember liking Von Bek, Hawkmoon, Elric and the end of time stories best though.

    With Neil Gaiman I'd say read Sandman which is one of the best things I've ever read. His novels don't nearly live up to this in my opinion.

    Full canvas's mention of Illuminatus! is a great suggestion, if not exactly sword and sorcery stuff... by quite a long long way. I've not heard of Steven Millhauser, but will look into that seeing your other recommendations.

    David Gemmel is pretty good - most of his books are in the Conan mold and he has a definite formula, but its a good one, and again he can write fairly well.
     
  19. Mute

    Mute Senior member

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    My personal favorite after Lord of the Rings:

    Roger Zelazny - Chronicles of Amber. The first five books starting with Nine Princes in Amber and ending with The Courts of Chaos.
     
  20. The Deacon

    The Deacon Senior member

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    for Arthurian legend:
    The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead
    1.Taliesin
    2. Merlin
    etc.
    Also Mysts of Avalon from Marion Zimmer Bradley
     

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