I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

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I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby jbobsully11 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:30 am

Where should I start? I’ve read The Hobbit and Harry Potter, but not much else (I started The Fellowship of the Ring a really long time ago, but never finished it). The fantasy books/series mentioned in this Wikipedia article seem interesting (also, I really like that album), but I thought I’d check here.
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby IamNotCreepy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:22 pm

I would highly recommend anything by Brandon Sanderson. He has a growing oeuvre of books in a shared universe called the Cosmere. Basically, there are different fantasy series taking place on different planets, with their own magic systems, but there is an over-arching narrative going on in the background (it's not necessary to enjoy the books, but it's fun to see the links to the other books).

I would recommend reading them in this order:

Mistborn -- The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages
Elantris
Warbreaker
The Stormlight Archive -- The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Oathbreaker (which was just released yesterday)

There's also a sequel series to Mistborn (dubbed the Wax and Wayne Series), Mistborn: Secret History, the novella The Emperor's Soul (which takes place on the same planet as Elantris), and various other stories.

Honestly, I cannot recommend these books enough. Sanderson builds up these elaborate worlds, with fleshed-out cultures, internally consistent magic systems, and interesting characters. And just when you think you understand how everything works, he pulls the rug out from under you.
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby cmsellers » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:56 pm

That depends on what you like. I don't like Tolkienesque fantasy (didn't really like it even as a kid) and strongly would recommend Jack Vance's The Dying Earth (he also has three excellent fantasyesque SF novellas: "The Dragon Masters," "The Last Castle," and "The Miracle Workers"), and Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books. You might also consider Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series and L. Sprague De Camp's Enchanter series, the latter of which is a series of novellas you can get in one book from NESFA press.

If you like fantasy with more limited magic, I'd also recommend Katherine Kerr's Deverry Cycle and Mary Stewart's Merlin series.

If you want Tolkienesque fantasy, I read a lot of it as a teenager, and the only authors I enjoyed were Robert Jordan (until he realized he could sell multiple books where nothing happened) and David Eddings (who actually understands pacing). I'll also throw in a good word for Mercedes Lackey whose Valdemar books I'd basically describe as "GRRM with more magic, optimism, and gay sex."

Speaking of stuff I read as a kid, I really enjoyed Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane, Patricia Wrede, Susan Cooper, Monica Furlong, Diana Wynne Jones, and Lloyd Alexander, ordered from most adult-like to most-kidlike among chidren's writers. I'd also recommend Jane Yolen, though her stuff is all over the map in terms of age range, with the Pit Dragon Chronicles being more adult but also borderline science fiction. Which reminds me of Anne McCaffrey, who writes science fiction that looks like fantasy.

If you like short stories, I mostly read them incidentally to reading SF, but can say that "The Man who Bridged the Mist" is one of the greatest stories I've read in any genre (keep in mind my tastes though, it doesn't have dragons). Peter Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn fairly consistently writes stories that make me say "this was pretty good" but don't make me say "this was great," and appears in a lot of anthologies.

Finally but most importantly (after Jack Vance's Dying Earth, that series inspired GRRM, Gene Wolf, and Gary Gygax, anyone whose first name started with "G" he inspired apparently): if you like humor in your reading, give Terry Pratchett a chance, but do not under any circumstances start with A Color of Magic. Start with either the Mort or Guards! Guards! then use the handy chart below.
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby NathanLoiselle » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:32 pm

I can help you with this.

First, you'll want to get yourself a leather gimp suit. Don't skimp on this. Vinyl won't crease and fold the same way and just looks cheap.
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby jbobsully11 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:24 am

cmsellers wrote:I'll also throw in a good word for Mercedes Lackey whose Valdemar books I'd basically describe as "GRRM with more magic, optimism, and gay sex."

I actually follow her account on Quora, but I've never read any of her stuff. So that's... good to know, I guess.

Peter Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn fairly consistently writes stories that make me say "this was pretty good" but don't make me say "this was great," and appears in a lot of anthologies.

I got The Innkeeper's Song a while ago because it inspired this song on the album I mentioned in the first post, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet, since my brain seems resistant to starting more than three books at a time (and also I don't read as often as I should). I really need to spend less time bullshitting on the [non-TCS] internet.
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Crimson847 wrote:In other words, transgender-friendly privacy laws don't molest people, people molest people.

(Presumably, the only way to stop a bad guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law is a good guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law, and thus transgender-friendly privacy law rights need to be enshrined in the Constitution as well)
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby cmsellers » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:16 am

jbobsully11 wrote:I got The Innkeeper's Song a while ago because it inspired this song on the album I mentioned in the first post, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet, since my brain seems resistant to starting more than three books at a time (and also I don't read as often as I should). I really need to spend less time bullshitting on the [non-TCS] internet.

I only mentioned Beagle because I like short stories but don't have too many fantasy short stories to recommend. If you get a fantasy anthology which has his work, it's likely to be pretty good. I read The Last Unicorn and it was enjoyable but not particularly memorable. If you're going to start with novels, I probably wouldn't start with Beagle.

Oh, two other fantasy short stories I really liked: "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees" by E. Lily Yu and "Paper Menagerie" by Ken Liu. Both of them have fairly limited magic, though I guess "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" did too.

Something that just occurred to me is that the two names you singled out of my long rambling post (from which the takeaway should really be Dying Earth and Terry Pratchett) do both traditional and urban fantasy. Most of Beagle's short stories are urban fantasy, at least the ones I've read, but Lackey's are novels which I could never get into. Though they remind me of Phillip Pullman. His Dark Materials are probably the best novels I'd call "urban fantasy" that I've ever read, though I'm not sure if people would necessarily agree with that classification. Diane Duane is the best unequivocally urban fantasy I've read, but she writes young adult books.
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby tinyrick » Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:29 pm

If you're just getting into fantasy, I'd recommend you stay away from the massive epics like Wheel of Time or Sword of Truth. Those 10+ 1000 page book epics have a tendency to start off strong, then slow down to a meandering pace in the middle. In the case of the Wheel of Time, the story manages to have a somewhat satisfying end. I've never read past book four in Sword of Truth, but I hear the author ham-fistedly shoves his Libertarian political beliefs into it.

Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga was one of the earliest fantasy series I read. There's lots of books that take place in the world of Midkemia, but there are multiple series. So if you read the first four novels, you get a sense of closure with the 4th novel, so you don't feel an obligation to read every book Feist ever wrote. Kinda like how you're aware of the Star Wars expanded universe, but you can just watch the first three films and be satisfied with it.

Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy is one of my favorites. It contains Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin Quest. Like Feist there are more books that take place in that universe, but you get a sense of closure with each 3-4 book series. The Farseer Trilogy, though interesting, doesn't actually have a whole lot of assassinations, so it's kind of like how the movie Drive is about a getaway driver, but doesn't have a whole lot of chase scenes, but is still a good movie.

If you like the idea of reading about a magical assassin, but want a little more action, go with Brent Weeks "The Way of Shadows."
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby Marcuse » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:09 pm

If you're gonna go Robin Hobb, I would personally recommend the Liveship Traders series of books. As much as it's a continuation from the Farseer trilogy, and the entire universe is heavily indebted to A Song of Ice and Fire (seriously? Six Duchies?) the characters and plots in LST are more interesting and engaging (to me) than the ones in Farseer.
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby LegionofShrooms » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:53 am

I'm a particular fan of Neil Gaiman myself. He's more urban fantasy-a world we're largely familiar with because it's ours, but with fantastical, otherworldly undercurrents running underneath it. Personally I'd start with Neverwhere if you decide to give him a try, as it's probably the easiest point to break into his works.

If you're looking for something more along the lines of fantastical settings and sweeping epics, try giving Earthsea a look. The characters are fairly engaging and the prose is well written.

And while I know that everyone and their mother on this site is going to suggest him... Seriously, give Pratchett a try. When the man is good, he is just. So. Damned. Good. I read Hogfather every year around Christmas myself. It has a delightfully "The Nightmare Before Christmas"-esque premise, but goes way further down the rabbit hole into the ideas behind holidays and how they reflect on the human condition.

And although he's technically science fiction-although he stretches that term so far past it's breaking point it meets itself coming around the other side-give Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy a try. The "scifi" elements are merely a backdrop for odd stories, jokes (sometimes entire books or even multiple books in the making) and satire. If a bumbling Englishman traveling the galaxy searching for a cup of tea and an android with a paranoid personality disorder and severe depression that's technically twice as old as the universe itself sound interesting to you, it may be right up your part of the Milky Way.
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby IamNotCreepy » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:59 pm

tinyrick wrote:If you're just getting into fantasy, I'd recommend you stay away from the massive epics like Wheel of Time or Sword of Truth. Those 10+ 1000 page book epics have a tendency to start off strong, then slow down to a meandering pace in the middle. In the case of the Wheel of Time, the story manages to have a somewhat satisfying end.


I really like Wheel of Time, but it does start to drag around book 9 or so. After Robert Jordan died, Brandon Sanderson (see my above post) finished the last 3 books based on Jordan's notes, and did a damn fine job of it.

If you like the idea of reading about a magical assassin, but want a little more action, go with Brent Weeks "The Way of Shadows."


I feel like The Way of Shadows was kind of all over the place. I liked it, but his new series (Lightbringer, starting with The Black Prism) is much better.
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby jbobsully11 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:47 pm

NathanLoiselle wrote:I can help you with this.

First, you'll want to get yourself a leather gimp suit. Don't skimp on this. Vinyl won't crease and fold the same way and just looks cheap.

Your mom told me all about that a while ago.



I'm not sure why; I was just wondering what time it was.

Anyway, my brother recently showed me a sci fi/fantasy website called Unbound Worlds. It looks pretty interesting.
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Crimson847 wrote:In other words, transgender-friendly privacy laws don't molest people, people molest people.

(Presumably, the only way to stop a bad guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law is a good guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law, and thus transgender-friendly privacy law rights need to be enshrined in the Constitution as well)
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby jbobsully11 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:12 am

cmsellers wrote:Though they remind me of Phillip Pullman. His Dark Materials are probably the best novels I'd call "urban fantasy" that I've ever read, though I'm not sure if people would necessarily agree with that classification.

I forgot until quite a while after you posted this that I read those books about ten years ago. They were pretty good, as I recall.

I finished most of The Line Between. My favorite story from that book was "A Dance for Emilia," though there weren't any that I didn't like. The only ones I haven't read yet are "Two Hearts," which is a sequel to The Last Unicorn, and "Quarry," a prequel to The Innkeeper's Song. I want to read those books first. I started The Innkeeper's Song today.
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Crimson847 wrote:In other words, transgender-friendly privacy laws don't molest people, people molest people.

(Presumably, the only way to stop a bad guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law is a good guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law, and thus transgender-friendly privacy law rights need to be enshrined in the Constitution as well)
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Re: I’m thinking of getting into fantasy...

Postby LaoWai » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:01 pm

I'll make some recommendations for children's books, because I got into the fantasy genre by reading children's books. By children's books, for the record, I mean that they're short enough that you can read them in a day or two if you've got time off, they're basically optimistic (as in, good wins, even if violent or horrifying stuff does happen), and that children would be able to relate to the main characters. (Light vs heavy fantasy is about how many names you have to keep track of and how odd the names are, rather than how much sorcery is involved).

Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain" were probably my favorite books all through elementary school. They have a good mix of humor and horror, enchanted items and an oracular pig--sort of light fantasy, with a lot of elements drawn from Welsh mythology.

Stephen R. Lawhead's "Dragon King Trilogy" was also an elementary school favorite, though a much heavier fantasy; Well, just read an excerpt: http://www.stephenlawhead.com/the-dragon-king-trilogy/in-the-hall-of-the-dragon-king/read-an-extract. "Empyrion" was also great, but more sci-fi/fantasy.

I'll put Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" in this list, too, just because it can be a one-day read, and I'd consider it appropriate enough for children, even if it does have some more adult elements (a curse word and a somewhat graphic sex scene). Relatively light fantasy.

Terry Pratchett's "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" is Pratchett in excellent form and readable in a day. It's not his best, in my opinion, but is a good way to sample his work. Very light fantasy.

Stephen R. Donaldson's "Mordant's Need" (2 books) is somewhat heavier fantasy--magic mirrors--and it's probably the one on this list with the most adult themes. My parent's thought it was fine for me when I was ten, though, so I'll throw it in there. (Huh, I guess you should name sons Stephen R. something if you want them to write fantasy for a living.)
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