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General Discussion => Books 'n Readin' => Topic started by: Jinto on February 09, 2007, 10:56:53 PM

Title: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Jinto on February 09, 2007, 10:56:53 PM
This thread is for you to list your choice of the number one, absolute best Fantasy novel or series that you've ever read. No honorable mentions, no "this author has also written...", and no ties for first. If necessary, pretend you're going to be stranded in space by your evil mad-scientist boss(es) and you only get to grab one book (or series) to take with you. So think hard, and choose wisely. Oh, and try to say a little something about it, too.

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My own choice for number one would be George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series (even though it's not yet complete). Anyone who has read this series will possibly agree with me when I say that it's hard to talk about this series without giving away anything. The story is so intricately woven between all the characters and events, that talking about anything concerning one, may give away something concerning another. I'll try to describe it as best I can though with that restriction in mind.

The setting of this series is a medieval world that experiences the seasons of summer and winter in terms of years, not months, and the current setting begins with an extraordinary summer that has already lasted nine years. Also, it is a "low-magic" fantasy setting, with magic being a rare and often feared thing. The author does not dwell much on these facts however. The series is very character driven, to the point that each major character (most of which are of noble blood to some degree) gets a majority of their story told in character specific chapters, that tell the story from their points of view. It should also be noted that there are many major characters as well, and yet the author still brilliantly juggles the story between them and the story does not suffer from it in the least. Furthermore, the author writes the characters so well, that you'll often find yourself torn between cheering for them or cursing them with a passion, because few characters can be strictly classified as the "truly good guys" or the "truly evil guys". To me, it brought a sense of realism and believability to a medieval setting, where kings, queens, and nobles fight to survive and prosper in deadly political intrigue, and even wars, in what is known as the greatest game of all: the Game of Thrones. And in the midst of all the intrigue, other dangerous forces exist in the world that threaten everyone.

"A Game of Thrones" is the title of the first book in the series, and I highly recommend this series. Be warned however, that the story will rarely unfold as you expect, and can be gruesome and heart-pounding at times, but that's just another aspect that makes it so great. The author never pulls any punches. It will likely keep you up well past your bedtime on many occasions, so be warned of that as well.  :D
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Brak on February 10, 2007, 09:54:41 AM
Mine would have to be The Earthsoul Prophecies by Greg Park. It isnt complete yet but he has the first two book out.  The first book is called Veil of Darkness. It's an underdog hero type of story with a normal farmer boy who doesnt feel like he is anything special, but he truly is. I dont want to give anything away, so i wont. What i can say though is that I like this story a lot.  I'm not great for words but i highly reccomend this book.  It's a pretty good read. Not too long or too short.  I compare him to Robert Jordan a little bit, but he has a greater story. I really hope he doesnt turn into Robert Jordan and make the last books of the series really crappy and just stretched out.  So anyway there ya go
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Trufire on February 10, 2007, 11:29:29 AM
I guess my favorite fantasy series would have to be the Myth Series by Robert Lynn Asprin. Of course he incoporate Comedy and Sci-Fi in the story as well and it truely blends together perfectly. An outstanding series that had me hooked from the first book. As far as I know, he still creates books from time to time to add to the series. Great plots, funny, mature and overall a book that anyone can enjoy. That is, ages 12 and up ;)
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: sarcasm_made_Easy on February 10, 2007, 11:33:16 AM
Pratchet ;)
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Tyrant on February 10, 2007, 02:07:35 PM

   Michael Ende's "The Neverending Story". I used to like the movie better, but as I grew up/matured, I learned to appreciate the novel way more.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: sarcasm_made_Easy on February 10, 2007, 02:22:25 PM
So what the hell is her name anyways?
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Jinto on February 10, 2007, 04:31:23 PM
Pratchet ;)

That's an author, not a book, and not even the full author name at that! Plus there's no description. Sorry, but you get a D minus for effort. :P

Also, I kind of intended 'series' to mean "a series of books with a continuous story", and not "a bunch of different tales set in the same universe", but I suppose that's my fault for leaving the definition wide-open like that (well, I suppose it's the standard definition of 'series' for books as well, so I can't really complain).

I do think it'd be better to pick a specific book out of that type of series. Maybe I should have said "a single novel or series encompassing a consistent, cohesive story-line" or something like that. I guess it's too late now. Doh! Oh well, no big deal really.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: SaucyRossy on February 10, 2007, 07:08:28 PM
Easy enough--Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  Not hard to understand why, I don't think. 
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: mrbasehart on February 10, 2007, 08:03:39 PM
I'm not a big fantasy reader, but the Dragonlance Chronicles really struck me when I was younger.  Howeverr, I haven't read Lord of the Rings, so I might be promoting an inferior rip-off.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Jinto on February 10, 2007, 08:19:53 PM
I'm not a big fantasy reader, but the Dragonlance Chronicles really struck me when I was younger.  Howeverr, I haven't read Lord of the Rings, so I might be promoting an inferior rip-off.

In my opinion, you are indeed promoting an inferior rip-off. Many would disagree with me of course, but I found Dragonlance to be incredibly dull and lifeless writing. Oddly enough, the authors responsible for Dragonlance (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman), did a much better job on a different series called "The Death Gate Cycle".
If you liked those authors due to Dragonlance, then it'd probably be worthwhile to check out the Death Gate Cycle. First book is "Dragon Wing". Should probably do yourself a favor and read Lord of the Rings first though. Or watch the extended versions of the movies I guess, they were pretty faithful overall.

Anyway, back to the #1's people! :D
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Trilaan on February 11, 2007, 05:31:21 AM
I've mentioned it else where but I'll do it again.  Gordon R. Dickson's The Dragon Knight.  The Dragon Knight series is the story of James Eckert.  James was an assistant college professor and professional volleyball player looking for a house to share with his fiancÚ, Angela(a teaching assistant) whom, in an astral/mental projection experiment conducted by a brilliant but disreputable scientist, is actually teleported back in time to an alternate medieval history.  James, reasonably upset, makes the scientist sent his mind out to tell her what to do so they can retrieve her.  Of course, something goes wrong and he immediately finds himself as a dragon.  His consciousness had projected into the dragon's mind and subplanted it.

James' wife is taken by another dragon working for the forces of evil, know simply as the Dark Powers, which are forces that seek to upset the cosmic balance between Chance and History.  In short, James, as the dragon Gorbash, chases after his love and picks up some friends along the way.  A knight named Sir Brian Neville-Smythe whom James originally persuades to his side by claiming to be a Baron from across the sea magicked into dragon form; the master wizard A. Carolinus, Aragh, a proud English wolf; Dafydd, a master Welsh bowman; Danielle o' the Wold, bandit's daughter and also master bowperson and Secoh, a dragon whose species' growth has been stunted by the evil emenating from the Dark Powers-controlled Loathly Tower.

Eventually James' body is brought over completely and they(him and Angela) decide to stay and make a home in this alternate medieval setting.  During the course of the books he gains a castle, becomes a baron, discovers a side-effect to his adventures that gives him the natural ability to change into dragon form, is taught magick by Carolinus, battles the undead, rescues Prince Edward the Black, becomes the leader of the local dragons, battles bandits, rogues, sorcerers, pirates, invaders, a monstrous squid, sea serpents, ogres, evil Djinni, helps a troll pretend to be a knight, becomes an orphan's guardian, fights in the mythical undersea land of Lyoness alongside King Arthur and defends himself, his friends and everyone he loves from the Dark Powers. *pant, pant, pant, pant, pant*

All-in-all it's an 8 book series.  Unfortunately Gordon R. Dickson died before he could complete it.  That may still only be temporary as lots of authors these days are taking notes left behind by authors and completing unfinished works.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Fuzzy Necromancer on February 21, 2007, 05:44:25 AM
Abarat. It is the most fantastic of fantasy I have read. High fantasy, true fantasy, packed from cover to cover with miracles and wonders. Sure, some of it's characters are "stock"ish, as in, the pure evil Lord of Midnight Christopher Carrion, the ruthless buisnessman Rojo Pixler, but if so, they're in a kind of ultimate stock approaching originality. They are the platonic ideals, multifaceted and in-depth. Carrion is what every james bond villain, each evil wizard and mad scientist wishes it could be. He's totally evil, and yet he has the capacity for a range of human emotions, and he's the only blacker than black villain I've seen to actually inspire my pity and sympathy. Rojo Pixler seems to unite all the most insidious traits of the bland Walt Disney Empire, sucking away true magic and creativity under the relentlessly cheerful face of a one-dimensional cartoon mascot, combined with several fantastic flourishes.

Abarat is a device, a story by which a plethora of creations, imaginations, and illustrations that each represent a peice of hand-painted high art, tied together by a narrative thread of silk, spun uranium, and moonbeams.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: pwndabear on February 21, 2007, 09:59:05 AM
Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga.  Its what got me into fantasy novels!
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: anubis on February 21, 2007, 01:22:17 PM
My all-time favorite was always Lord of the Rings, and it still is, but a really close second is The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. The story is told in the first person voice, which I've always felt is a really powerful way to draw the reader into the narrative. It follows the tale of FistzChivalry Farseer, a royal bastard who has two magics: the Wit and the Skill. The Wit is cosidered "low" beast magic that allows you to bond with animals and "speak" with them and share their senses, and the Skill is a higher magic that is kind of like the Force in some ways. I just started reading the follow up trilogy that takes place years later and is told once again in first person by Fitz. It's called The Tawny Man trilogy, and in some ways it's even better than the first trilogy. There's the usual high fantasy stuff -- dragons, magic, and lots of descriptions of foliage and food. ;) Sometimes I get the feeling you've got to be a botanist to write high fantasy.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: MarkAndrew on February 22, 2007, 10:13:00 AM
Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga.  Its what got me into fantasy novels!

Wow. You should read Tolkien, from whom Feist stole most of his ideas (not to mention cribbing wholesale from Tolkien's invented languages).  Surprised the estate never went after this guy.

95% of all fantasy writers have stolen from Tolkien, it doesn't mean it isn't a good read.  I enjoyed Feist's early work as well.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: sarcasm_made_Easy on February 22, 2007, 12:42:32 PM
sword of shanara is still offensive to me.  and i read it over 10 years ago.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: msmpls on February 22, 2007, 02:23:30 PM
Seeing as how I'm a "Room-Of-One's-Own-Thumping-Uber-Feminist" (not my words, but semi-appropriate none the less) I have to put in my vote for Octavia Butler's Kindred for a couple of reasons:
1) Butler was one of the few pioneering women in a literary genre dominated by men.
2) It illustrates the many themes of "traditional sci-fi" without all the rayguns and spaceships (don't get me wrong, I dig rayguns and spaceships too!)
3) It is a history lesson in the dynamics and expectations of men and women blacks and whites, and the grey areas that reside between these polarities in the antebellum south.
Even though Kindred is usually shelved under "African-American Literature" I definitely consider it my #1 sci-fi read...

RIP Octavia Butler
6/22/1947 - 2/24/2006
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: sarcasm_made_Easy on February 22, 2007, 02:28:16 PM
as a feminist what do you think of anne mcaffreys work?
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: msmpls on February 22, 2007, 03:30:14 PM
I haven't read too many of her books, although I did enjoy The Rowan and Stich in Snow (even though the latter is usually classified "romance"). My 10-year-old niece just started the Pegasus series so I was thinking about reading the trilogy along with her.

(And I'm not really a feminist, just a female that studied way too much feminist literary criticism ;))
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: sarcasm_made_Easy on February 22, 2007, 05:48:28 PM
ah well thats much less annoying ;)

I liked macfreys stuff, although my favorite series of hers is the dragon song trilogy which is pretty light stuff. Granted it seems to think you already know a bit about the whole dragon world she has already made.
Title: Re: Your #1 pick in the Fantasy genre
Post by: Jinto on February 24, 2007, 05:51:24 PM
Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga.  Its what got me into fantasy novels!

Wow. You should read Tolkien, from whom Feist stole most of his ideas (not to mention cribbing wholesale from Tolkien's invented languages).  Surprised the estate never went after this guy.

95% of all fantasy writers have stolen from Tolkien, it doesn't mean it isn't a good read.  I enjoyed Feist's early work as well.

Feist's Riftwar Saga trilogy + Janny Wurts' Kelewan Trilogy that tells the other side of the story for the Riftwar Saga, are both excellent reading. Good story pacing, not too long, not overly descriptive and generally easy reading. They're debatably a better pair of series to introduce a new reader to the Fantasy genre than Tolkien's stuff. That doesn't mean they're better as literature necessarily, just that they're really good as introductory series', at least in my opinion.