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Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby KysenMurrin » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:25 am

A lot of good stuff there, enjoy it. ;)

I thought I'd add, if you're less concerned about sticking to a particular type of fantasy, I've always found I agree pretty strongly with Jeff VanderMeer's recommendations of what is good and worth reading - he put together some enormous lists of fantasy books a while back (both "everything you ever might see regardless of quality" and "best of"), and I found them a great resource for picking out things I hadn't otherwise considered.

http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2008/06/2 ... tasy-list/

Fivelives wrote:At this point, I would say that the protagonist is the seven kingdoms, and the antagonists are the invading forces. That's usually how it goes when you have a political intrigue fantasy series. So who cares (in terms of the main story) how the antagonist got the way they are, unless it holds the key for the protagonist overcoming them in the end - like Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorheis.

You seem to have entirely missed the fact that the series so far is setting Daenerys up to win. She's not the evil invader, she's the rightful queen returning to reclaim her throne from usurpers. And with all the prophecies pointing to the need for dragons when the long winter comes to fight off the Others, she's going to have to be in control of Westeros when that happens.

The antagonists in the series are those who abuse power for personal gain, and would try to use Daenerys for their own schemes (like Euron, to give one example).
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Fivelives » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:35 am

And in the beginning of the series, Eddard Stark was set up as the "good guy", but we saw how THAT ended. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing happen to Daenerys. Every side thinks they're the "good guys" in any conflict. The Empire in Star Wars stood for stability and galactic peace, after all.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Aerron » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:44 am

Fivelives wrote:To use another analogy, the Forsaken (or Chosen, depending) from the Wheel of Time novels. They're effective antagonists and we don't have to know anything about them other than "they're evil, they did something bad, and now we have to kick their asses". We don't have to know shit about them like, how they lost their virginity, or how they had abusive siblings, or anything to accept them as antagonists. Same thing with the Dark One - we don't have to know how often, on average, he washes his hands after taking a piss.


Again, this comes down to personal taste. The above description you give of the villains in that series is the main reason I put it down about 5/6ths of the way through Book 4, and haven't picked it up since.

When I was a kid, there was a cartoon series called (depending on where you lived) Battle of the Planets, G-Force, or Super Science Ninja Squad. Every week, there was some minor new super-villain who served the series Big Bad. And every week, the team would get to kick the snot out of the minor bad guy and the BB would escape untouched.

That's what the Forsaken in Wheel of Time reminded me of. Rinse and Repeat villains who were basically xeroxes of each other with slightly different window dressing. No complexity, no characterization, just cardboard.

Some people dig the complexity of Martin's world with it's broad stage full of characters. Others don't. Some people love Jordan. More power to them, but I just can't get into that series at this time.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Sabindeus » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:00 am

Aerron wrote:When I was a kid, there was a cartoon series called (depending on where you lived) Battle of the Planets, G-Force, or Super Science Ninja Squad.


actual name: Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Belloc » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:45 pm

Well, damn. I was going to recommend the Legend of Drizzt series, but you've obviously got that one covered already :D
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Fivelives » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:59 pm

Ehn, you gave up on the series before the forsaken started getting more of the limelight. It's not to the point where we know everything about them, but they've been featuring somewhat and we now know enough about them to make them powerful villains.

Not saying I'm a huge fan of the series, but I use them as an example of fantasy villains done right. If you know too much about your villains, then you empathize with them and don't get as much satisfaction out of seeing them brought down. Going back to the Star Wars thing, would you have cheered so much for the incomplete Death Star getting blown up if you knew it was populated mostly by innocent construction workers, or if you'd just spent a good 30 minutes of the film watching one of them reminisce about their life?

Probably not.

That's what's going to happen with the invasion from the south - we've already been shown that the Lannisters aren't evil, just greedy and ambitious. They all have redeeming features, and rather believable weaknesses. This makes them an excellent protagonist, but an awful antagonist, because we can identify with them - and with Daenerys. So no matter who wins between Daenerys and the Lannisters (and I rather imagine it'll be the Lannisters), the author loses, because it will drive away fans.

You can have complexity and a broad stage without having to clutter it up. It's like when we're young and see a blank wall - we practically wallpaper it with decorations, but as we get older we learn the difference between quantity and quality. Even when you have a high quantity of high quality decorations, too many of them packed too close together lowers the perceived quality. Right now, that's what we have in Martin's books - I dig his characterization, but he's got too fucking many of them, and it bogs down the story and the enjoyment of it.

So I'll say it again: there is such a thing as too much complexity in a novel.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Kelaan » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:26 pm

Fivelives wrote:If you know too much about your villains, then you empathize with them and don't get as much satisfaction out of seeing them brought down. Going back to the Star Wars thing, would you have cheered so much for the incomplete Death Star getting blown up if you knew it was populated mostly by innocent construction workers, or if you'd just spent a good 30 minutes of the film watching one of them reminisce about their life?

Probably not.


I don't know on this. The Honor Harrington series does this BRILLIANTLY. There are two factions (star empires?) at war with one another; there are heroes and villains on BOTH sides. You get to empathize with the people of both, even while you watch the political machinations. For me, it made for a rich tapestry of fiction that I devoured and want more, more, Moar of. You eventually get to see the heroes on each side shine, even when it's sometimes to the detriment of a hero on the other side. I like it because you can truly mourn the losses on both sides, of what we (as readers) can see as an ever-fruitless war for both sides.

SPOILERS... Later on, you find out that Other Villains have manipulated both sides into it, and I'm really looking forward to the books where the two star empires team up to kick their asses. Imagine if WW2.5 were between the US and the USSR, and then we found out that in reality, it was all orchestrated by China.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby KysenMurrin » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:44 pm

Why the fixation on the idea that you need villains? It's a concept that's unnecessary and limiting. The characters are all human, they all have their motivations.

If you try to see ASoIaF as a heroes vs villains thing, you'll not get far.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Fivelives » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:45 pm

My bad, I was using the term villain and antagonist interchangeably. I just got kind of tired of typing "antagonist" constantly.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Arnock » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:52 pm

There's a reason why the mooks in so many films, novels, and games always wear some sort of mask over their faces.


also:

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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby tinalt » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:43 pm

KysenMurrin wrote:Why the fixation on the idea that you need villains? It's a concept that's unnecessary and limiting. The characters are all human, they all have their motivations.

If you try to see ASoIaF as a heroes vs villains thing, you'll not get far.


This is exactly what I did, and why I really don't like this series. (granted I only got through book 1)
The series introduces us to the Stark family, and they seem like great characters, great people. I immediately think they will be the heroes fighting back against the evil Lannisters. (who doesn't think of them as evil after their intro?) Then all sorts of bad things happen to just about every Stark, meanwhile the Lannisters (who still seem pretty evil) are sitting high and dry.

It just went so far from where I wanted it to go, that I gave up. I don't want to know what happens next, because I know it will be more of the characters I like getting crapped on. I don't get any enjoyment out of watching them suffer.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby KysenMurrin » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:32 am

One thing worth noticing is that the omens and prophecies Martin puts into ASoIaF all come true. So the book opening with a direwolf killed by a stag? Yeah, the Starks are gonna get it, right from the start.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Melathys » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:22 am

I've intend to write a book where the bad guy wins.

one thing I found interesting about Shardik and Maia. There is one character who is central to both books, that we as a reader never meet.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Dazhbog » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:28 pm

*deftly steps around the SoIaF conversation*

Your list missed the Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey, which is some of the better fantasy/alternate earth reading I've encountered. The first three books (Kushiel's Dart, Chosen, and Avatar) follow the main character Phedre through court intrigues, foreign plots, and power struggles between supernatural entities. The next three books (Kushiel's Scion, Justice, and Mercy) follow her adopted son Imriel, and continue the epic level of story.

And yes, there's a lot of sex =P some of it quite graphic. Not to give too much away, but Phedre is the first anguisette (Kushiel's chosen, able to transmute pain into pleasure to a degree above others) in "a hundred years." The series comes with a trigger warning, but (one of) the main messages is that sex is Okay, and Love is Good ("Love as Thou Wilt" is the oath/motto of the country where the stories are set).

Right, other books.

These are sci-fi, but I would highly, highly recommend the work of Charles Stross, in particular the book Accelerando and the Laundry Files series (Atrocity Archives being the first book). Accelerando features a look at human civilization as we achieve and go beyond the technological singularity, while the Laundry Files books feature Bob Howard, a computer hacker and self-professed geek working in the depths of British bureaucracy... in a world where Turing's last theorem was invoked, demons can be summoned through the solving of NP complete problems, and the many tentacled ones lurk at the bottom of the Mandelbrot Set.
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Re: Recommended Reading?(Fantasy)

Postby Brekkie » Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:35 am

And yes, there's a lot of sex =P some of it quite graphic. Not to give too much away, but Phedre is the first anguisette (Kushiel's chosen, able to transmute pain into pleasure to a degree above others) in "a hundred years." The series comes with a trigger warning, but (one of) the main messages is that sex is Okay, and Love is Good ("Love as Thou Wilt" is the oath/motto of the country where the stories are set).


I always wonder what it must be like for authors who write books like this to go on dates, or to a formal event or business interview.
If the other party is in any way familiar with their work, it must be weird as all hell. Like if you found out your golf buddy was a famous porn star.
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