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Topic: Serial Writers

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Subject: Serial Writers
Date Posted: 6/3/2010 4:41 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
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This board has been so helpful to me in getting to know the fantasy genre. I have had some great hits (ie George RR Martin) and some misses (Mercedes Lackey).  I read a few Feist novels back in the early 1990s. Most likely I will be revisiting them soon. However, I was wondering what series do you enjoy and what ones did you detest? Some of the authors that I am thinking of purusing our Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and Terry Goodkind. Please share your thoughts. Thanks! 

Date Posted: 6/3/2010 6:11 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2009
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Well, I thought that the first book of Goodkind's was REALLY good. Each one got progressively worse until I could barely finish the last "Sword of Truth" novel, and wasn't even tempted to read "Law of Nines" which is a kind of sequel.  However, Wizards First Rule [first book in Sword of Truth] does very well as a standalone novel. and like I said, the goodness of it took me through all 12 books :-)

Sanderson gets 2 thumbs up from me.  Check out his YA series "Alcatraz and..." for some lighthearted fun.

Date Posted: 6/3/2010 7:35 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Well, I have avoided both Goodkind and Jordan, and the only Sanderson I've read is his standalone Elantris, which was pretty good but not stellar.

In terms of epic fantasy series I have enjoyed. . . Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series (starting with Kushiel's Dart) is very high on my list, though it's pretty far (at least from what I've heard) from those other series you mention; it has plenty of complex plotting and intrigue and a huge cast of characters, and the action travels vast distances over the series, but it's set in only a slightly skewed version of our world, as opposed to an entirely made up one (tracing the parallels is really quite fun); it is told in the first person, rather than jumping between many viewpoing characters, and sex and sexuality is front and center, both in the world-building and in the plot, because the main character of the first three novels is a prostitute. It has a number of things that may squick readers, so I do try to warn them in advance: the sex is on-screen and much of it is sado-masochistic; homosexuality is portrayed as accepted and bisexuality is the norm (as is having multiple sexual partners); prostitution is a sacred calling; and the tone is deliberately archaic, with a fairly high-flown vocabulary. Still, if none of that bothers you, Phedre is a tremendously well-realized narrator (and her narrative voice changes over the course of the books, which is an impressive feat); the political machinations are delightfully complex without descending into charicature; the action is epic, involving gods and angels and the peoples of quite a few countries; and on a practical front, the novels are 600-800 pages long each, there are seven written so far with another being published this month, and Carey has been wonderfully reliable about producing a new novel every year. :)

An epic fantasy series with fewer caveats that I always recommend is Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series (The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, and The Hallowed Hunt); it's only downside is that it's only three books long and while two more were planned neither is in the works at the moment. BUT that's not as bad as it sounds, as Bujold writes novels that stand alone plot-wise, so it's not like you're left dangling wondering what happens next. It's vaguely medieval Spain influenced (a nice change from most modern fantasy which tends to draw from France, Germany, or Ireland), told in a nice lean style with great protagonists and plots that seem to start small and just keep ramping up until the gods and the fabric of the universe is involved. There's no questing, just people who find themselves in untenable situations and have to act the best way they know how to protect those they love. And if you end up liking Bujold's style, she has a romantic fantasy tetralogy finished and an epic (in scope and in number of novels) space opera series called the Vorkosigan Saga that's some of the best SF out there now for my money.

And a third recommendation I'd give you is Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Seven books of very uneven quality, but the fundamental story is fantastic, Roland is a hero for the ages, and the final ending to the series is everything it should have been -- it made me scream and hurl the book from me when first I read it, but on reflection it could have ended no other way. The first, The Gunslinger, is a spare novel, totally different in tone from all the others; I love it best, but many who've read his other books previously find it odd, so if you have trouble with it push on to attempt The Drawing of the Three anyway, because I promise it's entirely different. Of course, if you love The Gunslinger you should still push on -- just be prepared for a fundamental shift in style! It's distinctly American, which again is different from most modern epic fantasy, and you will likely have the Beatles' "Hey Jude" stuck in your head through the entire first novel, but isn't that a good thing? ;)

Good luck!

Date Posted: 6/3/2010 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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1. My judgment of Terry Goodkind:     Goodkind is Jordan-lite. That makes him far ahead of most. The whole thing is set up and unfolds in such a similar manner that I wonder if the two know each other and compare notes. Then about five books into the series,  Goodkind starts cheating. It seems that all he can think of to do is get the hero's lady captured and more of less held hostage. In order to do this, he throws in a new form of magic that will trump earlier ones until the hero learns how to circumvent it. I got tired of this and quit reading midway through the 5th or 6th book. I will get all the rest and read them, though. What else is there to do with Jordan dead.

2. Robert Jordan was in a class all by himself. Rand al-Thor is a hero straight out of Joseph Campbell. To fully grasp and appreciate what Jordan is writing you need to read The Hero With A Thousand Faces. It would require about ten pages to explain all of what I am talking about. Jordan carefully introduces three major male characters and at least four female characters. That their fates will always be interwoven has already been prophesied, already written. And then the hero's background, his quest, is unfolded most adroitly. The hero must do something very significant, necessary even, for his tribe. And he must pay. (Jesus is the most famous example of heroes). At the time Jordan passed, the extent of the price Rand al Thor would pay was unknown. Quite possibly, even to Jordan. To me, the deph of this series far exceeds anything else of its kind. Likewise Jordan's ability to create eight major players in the drama, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and humanity.



Last Edited on: 6/3/10 8:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/3/2010 9:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/18/2009
Posts: 110
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I would also recommend Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and Stephen King's Dark Tower.  I would add C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, although they may seem more of a children's series.

I have tried Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series and did not care for it.  I started David Edding's Malloreon series; it was alright, but didn't get me interested enough to continue.  L. E. Modesitt's Saga of Recluse was also alright, but I didn't stick with it either.

Date Posted: 6/3/2010 11:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I liked the begining of Jordan's series, but to me it felt like the plot just started meandering all over the place once you got past book 5 or 6.  

I'd agree with calling Goodkind Jordan-lite.  I read both series in the same summer, and they're incredibly similar.  John, you might disagree with this, but my thoughts at the time was that maybe by book 5 he'd perhaps caught up to what Jordan had written plot-wise and had to start making up his own plots.  Very uncharitable of me, I know.

I've only read the first 2 of the Chalion series so far, but I've loved both books.

I'll plug Tad Williams's epic fantay series Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.  While the plot might not be all that original, I liked the characters and the world building is good.

Amy
Date Posted: 6/4/2010 5:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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I have to second the recommendation of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series, as it is absolutely brilliant.

Date Posted: 6/4/2010 6:42 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Thieves World series.. just liked that it was written by several different authors and from different view points. Having the different authors made the character very individual and not the same old ones with just different hair color :) It was based on a RPG.

Date Posted: 6/6/2010 3:18 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
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Great to see another plug for King's Dark Tower, I have recommended it before too, I loved it.  I second Tad Williams, The Belgariad and Mallorian group and add Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series.  They are all heavy on the good characters growing through adversity scenarios. Haven't read Jordan because it's not done yet and hated Goodkind - waaay to much awful cruelties and goriness for me, couldn't stomach the second one and ended it there.  Too many good series too little time to endure what you don't like.

 

I find many of the YA series are amazingly good, Percy Jackson, Erin Hunter's Cat series, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and anything by Diana Wynne Jones to name a few.  Too many good series too little time, eh?

 

Margaret

Date Posted: 6/6/2010 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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Thanks everyone for the well thought out responses.  Before coming to this board all I knew about fantasy fiction was The Chronicles of Narnia, Mercedes Lackey (and that was only from eavesdropping on someone's conversation on the train) and Raymond Feist (who I read when I was in Junior High). Since then I have truly enjoyed the recommendations  to explore the works of George RR Martin, Philip Pullman, Stephen Hunt and now I am reading Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion.

Date Posted: 6/10/2010 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2010
Posts: 100
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If you're looking for other recommendations and enjoy authors like George RR Martin, then you might also want to look into Robin Hobb's work. The "Farseer" and "Tawny Man" triologies are a great place to start. I'm currently in the middle of her "Soldier's Son" triology, and I'm finding her writing and story concepts to be refreshingly original. There's a lot of great thought behind her writing, as well a just a good well-written story :-)