Fantasy and Sci-Fi Novels
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 2:44 am 
 

I can't recall this ever being discussed in too much detail on the forums, but I am sure many of us have read the same Fantasy/Sci-Fi novels.  I am curious what some of your favorites are.  (Let's leave Lord of the Rings as a given.)

My absolute favorite fantasy series is the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (both the 1st & 2nd trilogies). Stephen R. Donaldson created one of the most unique and involved worlds with this fantastic series. . . and the quality of writing is among the best you will find.  If anyone hasn't read these books I HIGHLY recommend them -- but be ready for something far beyond the "modern day pulp fantasy" novels that are all too common.  

I have often thought that "The Land" would make an interesting campaign/RPG setting -- I wonder what a Sandgorgon's stats would be in D&D terms?

Donaldson also wrote one of my favorite sci-fi series -- the "Gap" books.  These five books absolutely amazed me. . . they weave intricate ideological and emotional concepts with innovative and spectacularly involved plot lines (and some damn cool science fiction as well!).

The Gap series is only rivalved by Dan Simmons Hyperion & Fall of Hyperion and the ensuing two book series Endymion & The Rise of Endymion.  Perhaps the most well written books of this genre I have read -- the stories "Canterbury" style tales of Hyperion are all superior and manage to capture you attention each and every time.  As a whole, the series left me feeling that I have never read anything better.

Of course, there are many great fantasy reads out there as well. . . some of my early favorites were the Belgariad & the Rift War Saga.  I used to like Robert Jordan's books. . . but there seem to be no end to them.  I think I finished up around book 6 and have never managed to get the rest read.   Not that I have a problem with long series, but the books now have the feel as if he is writing them for the sake of creating the longest, most drawn out saga ever. . .


The Chronicles of Narnia started it all for me, but the next series I read was the Chronicles of Prydain which I recommend much more highly to any young adult (you know, the Book of Three, the High King, Hen Wen, Fflewddur Fflam and Eilonwy).


I have read almost none of the RPG books out there and the few I have attempted I have put down before finishing.  Too many of them, too poorly written and too "forced" by the parent companies.


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:41 am 
 

I'm with you on the Thomas Covenant novels. I just finished the brand new one (Runes of the Earth) and the final series looks to be as good as the first two series were.

One of my personal favourites is Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarion trilogy (Deed of Paksenarrion is the trade paperback containing all three) and the two follow-ups. The second book in the trilogy has a lot in common with module T1. She also does the best characterization of a paladin that I've ever read.

Sadly, you're right about many of the novels inspired by RPG's. With a few exceptions (TSR's Azure Bonds series comes to mind), most of them aren't worth the effort. I will say that some of WOTC's recent efforts (esp. "The Forsaken House") seem to be raising the bar.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:51 am 
 

Zander. . . you are my new favorite person!  I have been so out of it lately (new baby, job, ebay, etc.) that I had no idea there was a new Covernant novel.

And I'm headed to Barnes & Noble for "children's storytime" in just 30 minutes!

Sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I even insisted on getting a White Gold wedding ring)  8)


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:53 am 
 

Just to make you even happier, Runes of the Earth is the first in a series of four novels.

amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0399152326/ ... 48-3976966

  


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 10:26 am 
 

My faves:

Fritz Lieber
Jack Vance
Clark Ashton Smith.

  


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:34 am 
 

Though it's not 100% fantasy, I highly recommend Stephen King's Dark Tower series (he quickly finished them after his nearly fatal accident). I still need to read the final books, but what I remember from the beginning when I read them some time ago, this is great material. Thinking about it, I'll order the missing novels right now on Amazon. Want to know what finally happened to Roland the Gunslinger.


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:58 am 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:I can't recall this ever being discussed in too much detail on the forums, but I am sure many of us have read the same Fantasy/Sci-Fi novels.  I am curious what some of your favorites are.  (Let's leave Lord of the Rings as a given.)

.


I promised to start the Jordan Wheel of Time series when he finished it, so I could read them all in a row...that was what, ten years ago? LOL.  I'll have something to do in retirement it looks like.

Here are some eclectic type writers  that RPGers might be interested in, some of the off the beaten path stuff besides the typical Jordan/Eddings/Brooks/Salvatore fantasy stuff:

David Gemmell:  Master of Dark fantasy, his stories very much remind me of D&D "quest" type adventures.  His usual formula is:  A hero, usually disgraced, old or broken, takes upon himself to complete a quest. He gathers a group of misfit, outcast loners or old companions, they form an unlikely but capable band, and the quest is undertaken.  It's what happens afterwards that is typically why I enjoy Gemmell so much.  The characterizations are incredible, the plots and action are violent, interesting and very readable, and the endings are very unpredictable but satisfying even if they aren't the typical "happy" ending one is used to.  Sometimes the hero and his companions die, sometimes one or more lives, sometimes the triumph at the end barely qualifies as a triumph...but whether or not anyone survives there is usually redemption involved. My only complaint would be his series are very loosely woven, and a book will takes place years and sometimes generations after another in the series, leaving a confusing gap.  But they all pack a punch.  I would recommend the fantasy classic "Legend" first, then any of the Druss novels (Chronicles of Druss the Legend, Legend of Deathwalker), or the Waylander trilogy,(Waylander, In the Realm of the Wolf, Hero in the Shadows) then go from there.

Glen Cook:  I have a lot of problems with his long and drawn out Black Company series, not the least of which is technically I don't think he's  a very skilled writer, but the plot and setting are quite interesting.  Surprisingly for someone who spends a lot of time on characters he isn't very good at character development, but it's interesting enough to give it a read.

Karl Edward Wagner:  Anyone who hasn't read the Kane series is seriously depriving themselves of some of the best fantasy novels ever written. That's right, ever written.  No one writes like Wagner:  He takes the definition of anti-hero and makes him the focal point of his stories, and then if he doesn't make you care about what happens to the bastard and everyone around him, as doomed as they usually are (hanging around Kane does not guarantee anything close to a long uneventful life).  Wagner did it all well: characterization, plot, description, everything.  I think he was the closest to what Howard would have been if he'd lived and wrote into the 70's.  His short story "Misericorde" is my vote for best fantasy story ever written...yep, he's that good.

Matthew Woodring Stover:  Criticism for him revolves around his "modernizing" slang (particularly cursewords) in his Barra novels and others.  I found myself liking these a lot, actually laughing at some of the humor, and getting caught up in the very violent and deadly plots concerning Barra and her pals.  These take place after the Trojan war and while I'm not certain they are historically accurate they have a good feel and that's all you want out of a fantasy novel.. These aren't for everyone but I'd at aleast try them or his more ambitious other series about the Earth using a technologically undeveloped fantasy type world as a TV show for actors/adventurers who have to blend into the fantasy world's population.  

Anyway, just some suggestions.

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:59 pm 
 

The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan are great reading. I wished that I had waited until the series is finished. Waiting a year or two between books gets real old. He even wrote a prequel before the original series was complete. :x

BTW: The Gord the Rogue books and the first two Greyhawk Adventures novels are good reading. Alot of info about Greyhawk.

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 4:11 pm 
 

Yes, I should revise my statement about RPG books:  I did read the Gord novels by Gygax.  Not the most talented writing ever, but still pretty decent.  Loved the feel of Greyhawk - especially in the very first book.


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 4:16 pm 
 

It is bad form for me to bash other people's favoites, but alas I cannot resist today...

Chronicles of Thomas Covenant - I hate a main character that is indecisive. It has been a good 15 years since I read the first series, and I never did pick up the second series.

Paksennarion trilogy - Plot spoiler I agree, a very well written and great charaterzation, but the salvation through rape/torture at the end was a bit much.

My favorites:

Glenn Cook - Mike is right there is little to no character growth through out the 9 book Black Company series but I loved the dark humor.  His Dread Empire series is also a good read.

Robert Jordan -  True the last book left the characters in the exact place they were at the start of the book, but the convoluted plot keeps me coming back for more.

George RR Martin - Has a frustrating tendency to kill off main characters, but The Song of Ice and Fire series is well written.  Might want to put off starting this one until it is complete as well, he has not put out a new book in the series in 4 years.

Melanie Rawn - Dragon Prince & Dragon Star trilogies, I enjoyed these although the ending was trite.

Feist & Wurts - Daughter of the Empire series is so much better than the Riftwar saga.  Feist is a decent writer and Wurts is a so-so writer, but together they are damn good.

If I did not bash your favorite author, please let me know and I will try and come up with something :twisted:

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 08, 2005 2:25 am 
 

Here is a quick run down of my faves....

Raymond E. Feist - Riftwar and Serpentwar Sagas.  His book Faerie Tale is an interesting modern fantasy.

Robert Jordan - I have all the Wheel of Time books (only read six so far) and his Conan books are great too.

C.S. Friedman - Cold Fire Trilogy.  Nice blend of fantasy and sci-fi.

Terry Brooks - Magic Kingdom series.

Eric Van Lustbader - Sunset Warrior, Shallows of Night, Dai-San.  A bit strange when I first read them.  Samurais, mysticism, and monsters in a post apocalyptic world.

Louise Cooper - The Time Master Trilogy.

Dennis L. McKiernan - The Iron Tower Trilogy.  Total 'Lord of the Rings' knockoff but is still a decent read.

Michael Moorcock - Stormbringer.  :twisted:

And a smattering of stuff by William Gibson, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Orson Scott Card and others.  I also dig some of the books TSR put out in the 80's.  I thought the first two Dragonlance trilogies were great and a few of the Forgotten Realms books were decent but most of the others were crap.  I do have all the Gord books but I really didnt think they were that well written and I had a hard time staying interested.  I had also attempted reading the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and just had a heck of a time keeping interest.  And since I am more of a sci-fi reader than fantasy, I picked up a couple of the "gap" books and had the same problem.  It may just be his style and pacing that makes me want to put his books down.  One of these days I am going to have to try and read them again and see if I cant retrain myself how to read....or something like that.  :D

  

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 08, 2005 3:37 am 
 

McDuff wrote:It is bad form for me to bash other people's favoites, but alas I cannot resist today...

Chronicles of Thomas Covenant - I hate a main character that is indecisive. It has been a good 15 years since I read the first series, and I never did pick up the second series.:


I think the beauty of the Covenant series is the fact that the main character is a self-centered, self pitying pain in the ass, he raises the term anti-hero to a new level...how many "Hero" characters participate in a rape during the first few chapters (extenuating circumstances are present, as anyone who has read these knows, but still...) Then there is the guys unhealthy (to me) relationship with his daughter, his constant refusal to act like a true fantasy hero, his continual whining.  But as anyone will tell you, it's exactly this that made the character stick out in my mind still, nearly 20 years later.  He's like nothing else in fantasy fiction before or since.  But you have to throw all fantasy expectations aside; you're supposed to start out hating the guy, Donaldson did that on purpose, so that his redemption at the end is just that much sweeter.  Plus, The Land is such a well developed fantasy world, it would have indeed made a great FRP setting.

My favorites:

Glenn Cook - Mike is right there is little to no character growth through out the 9 book Black Company series but I loved the dark humor.  His Dread Empire series is also a good read.:
 

I really liked the first trilogy; I enjoyed a few of the later books, but the series was probably a book too long.  Plus, I hate the way Cook kills off main characters that's he's spent tons and tons of time on with a casual sentence or two when they perish ( I think he did this at least twice).  I haven't figured out if he does this on purpose to prove a point or if he doesn't have a clue.....

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 08, 2005 7:41 pm 
 

Favorite books & Authors:

Lawrence Watt-Evans - The Misenchanted Sword from the Ethshar series.

R.A. Salvatore - Who doesn't like the Drizzt books! & The Crimson Shadow series.

David Eddings - The Belgariad series, The Malloreon series, The Elenium series.

Terry Brooks - The Magic Kingdom series & the Shannara books.

Robert Jordan - Wheel of Time books - Agree with previous posts.

Fred Saberhagen - The Books of Swords Trilogy or The Complete Book of Swords, The Books of Lost Swords [8], An Armory of Swords.

What can I say but these books are neat.  I've used variations of the sword in campaigns.  Shieldbreaker is the unbelievable!  Here's a brief interpretation of it:

Shieldbreaker, Sword of Force.

Symbol: Hammer, Sound: Slow thudding, speeds up in combat

Shieldbreaker has been called the ultimate weapon. One person using Shieldbreaker can defeat an army. It will defeat any weapon, physical or not, mundane or magical. Spells cast at the wielder count as weapons, as do a creature's natural weapons, and demons. If someone attacks with a weapon, Shieldbreaker shatters the weapon, and then immediately kills the opponent. In the case of ranged weapons, like arrows or spells, the Sword will destroy the missile (like an arrow), but not the archer if he is out of reach. No weapon, magical or not, can survive. Any pieces of the weapon shattered will not harm the wielder.

The downside is that Shieldbreaker cannot be dropped while in battle, and draws the user's own energy to power its abilities. The Sword is essentially glued to the wielder's hand, and attacks on its own, ignoring any attempt by the user to control it. A man could defeat an army, but be mortally drained at the end. Also, an unarmed opponent cannot be harmed by Shieldbreaker. The Sword will pass through him as though he wasn't there, leaving no mark. All of the other Swords are useless against Shieldbreaker; Wayfinder won't find him. Farslayer would shatter upon hitting him, causing no injury, etc.

D&D rules: Artifact, always strikes its target regardless of wielder's skill, except unarmed combatants, as above. The special abilities offer no saving throw. When going up against Shieldbreaker, your party should really have a Monk.

Reference: The Book of Swords Trilogy and The Lost Swords.

Based on the previous responses I'll have to give Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series another chance.  I started on it a while ago but didn't connect with it at the time.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 10:00 am 
 

dbartman wrote:Lawrence Watt-Evans - The Misenchanted Sword from the Ethshar series.


What an interesting choice.  You know, I decided to go out and buy this book after reading a review of it in a Dragon magazine.  Usually, fantasy books that have a "humorous" theme turn me off, but this was quite a witty and enjoyable read.  

With A Single Spell was pretty good too. .  If I remember correctly. . . it has probably been 15 years since I read either of them.


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 1:47 am 
 

Damn skippy.
 
-Convenant rules.
-R.A. Salvatore and the Dark Elf epic.
-Moorcock and Elric--with the Michael Whelan cover art of course.
-Ursula K Leguin-Earthsea Trilogy--a must.
-Robert Jordan-the Wheel of Time epic.
-Terry Goodkind simply kicks ass.
-David Eddings and the Belgariad.
-Terry Brooks and the Shannara epic.
-Robert E. Howard's Conan.  'nuff said.
-Piers Anthony and the Xanth series.  Way cool.
So many great authors, so little time.

  

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Post Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:50 am 
 

one of my favorites, and hard to get hold of:

The Richard Blade series by Jeffrey Lord

Tons o' sex and violence.


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 4:28 am 
 

Speaking of hard to find favorites...as well as more than their share of sex and violence...John Normans Gor series.

  

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Post Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:37 pm 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:
dbartman wrote:Lawrence Watt-Evans - The Misenchanted Sword from the Ethshar series.


What an interesting choice.  You know, I decided to go out and buy this book after reading a review of it in a Dragon magazine.  Usually, fantasy books that have a "humorous" theme turn me off, but this was quite a witty and enjoyable read.  

With A Single Spell was pretty good too. .  If I remember correctly. . . it has probably been 15 years since I read either of them.


I agree.  It was pretty good too.

  

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Post Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 4:43 pm 
 

Hi

Mrs Malcolm is somewhat into this genre, and reckons that the best thing shes read in the last 20 years are the Game of Thrones books by George RR Martin.

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Post Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:58 pm 
 

Marlith wrote:Speaking of hard to find favorites...as well as more than their share of sex and violence...John Normans Gor series.

The first ten as well as book 26 are available though World of Gor - Home .

There was a long discussion on Collecting General regarding the Gor series.  It's a favorite of mine, but I'm also biased as I happen to roleplay online on that world.  If you can get past the excruciating writing, there is much to recommend.



  
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