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  1. #1

    Different cultures

    I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on books that feature social structures or maybe enviros that differ from the normal fantasy model of medieval europe with the lords and the peasants and the cold north/warm south etc.

    Ive yet to find a book which centers upon such societies that reflect the islamic or indian worlds let alone native america (aztecs inca etc) or africa, which i think could be really intriguing and interesting. i know of a few books based on the far east but thats about all i can find.

  2. #2
    Tobias Buckell, Crystal Rain; Ragamuffin (Caribbean/Steampunk/SF)

    Nalo Hopkinson (any of her books) (Caribbean folk magic, contemporary fantasy)

    J.M. McDermott, Last Dragon (vaguely Oriental in the names, but with some western/Jewish elements such as the golem)

    Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, The Shadow Speaker (West Africa, Nigeria, post-apocalyptic, folklore magic)

    Ben Okri, The Famished Road (Nigeria, West African folklore, magic realism)

    Andrzej Sapkowski, Last Wish (Slavic mythology-influenced)

    Emma Bull, Territory (Western crossed with Chinese folk magic)

    Daniel Abraham, Shadow in Summer (some vague Eastern influences)

    Edward Whittemore, (Jerusalem Quartet of novels) (contemporary 19th-20th century cross-genre fiction set in the Middle East)

    Those should do for starters.

  3. #3
    Kate Elliott's Jaran series - nomadic society based on the Mongols.

  4. #4
    R scott Bakkers Prince Of Nothing, Islamic holy war hybrid thingy

    Ian Irvines Three world Cycle. About three different species of Human trapped on the world Of Santhenar, set in the Southen Hemisphere,

  5. #5
    Registered User Murrin's Avatar
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    I would contradict the mention of Prince of Nothing there. The series is heavily based upon the Crusades, and while there is a faction, therefore, based on the Islamic nations, the perspective of the novels is very much within the medieval Christian-based kingdoms of the setting, which is exactly what the OP wanted a break from.

    (I'm sorry I can't offer any suggestions myself, but I'm finding that quite a lot of the fantasy I've read fits in the medieval europe model...)

  6. #6
    Catacomb Kid Power to the J's Avatar
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    The world in The Lies of Locke Lamora is more of a 14th century Venice than Dark Ages Europe, and is very richly done.

    Shadowfall by James Clemens is in a very exotic world. Some of the areas are based upon European places during the Dark Ages, but some of them are very original. The culture is also different, more like Ancient Greece than Europe (it has lots of gods).

  7. #7
    Barry Hugheart's Bridge of Birds - Chinese fantasy/mythology.

  8. #8
    Well, it's based on a pseudo-Japan rather than any of those that you picked out, but Chris Wooding's The Braided Path trilogy is excellent.

    Also, Chaz Brenchley has a series called The Books Of Outremer, which is set largely among desert cultures, and pulls at least some elements from a more Arabic mythology - Djinns, etc - though I don't remember the religion (which features quite heavily) striking me as particularly Islamic.

    Finally, Weis and Hickman have a series called Rose Of The Prophet, which I believe is set on a desert world - though I haven't read it so can't vouch for either content or quality!

  9. #9
    Yobmod Yobmod's Avatar
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    The world in The Lies of Locke Lamora is more of a 14th century Venice than Dark Ages Europe, and is very richly done.

    Shadowfall by James Clemens is in a very exotic world. Some of the areas are based upon European places during the Dark Ages, but some of them are very original. The culture is also different, more like Ancient Greece than Europe (it has lots of gods).
    You know that 14th centurey IS medieval?
    And that Greece is in Europe?


    There are lots of past threads on non-"western" cultures, although polical correctness makes them somewhat complicated to find (should one search for Oriental or Asian or East-asian? Native American or American Indian or Indigenous people of the Americas? )


    Native American fantasy

    African & South African Fantasy and Literature

    (Oriental fantasy
    Oriental Flavoured?
    fantasy book based on Oriental World?)


    Most of the books i would recomend with a non-western setting are magic realism type books, or at most slipsteam/ urban fantasy.

    Epic fantasies are less common, and usually manage to fit a western civilisation in there somewhere (eg, The Outremer series is mostly set in an Arabian style world, but most of the main characters are white visitors from the European-style invaders).

    There are many series in which the enemies of the protagonist's civilisation are arabian / asian types, or feature as secondary characters (eg PoN, WoT, even Feist and Eddings), but the settings remain mostly faux-European.

    I recommend:


    Bridge of Birds - Barry hughart (Oriental medieval fantasy) 10/10

    Antelope Wife - Louise Erdrich (Native American magic realism, modern setting) 9/10
    Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (Indian magic realism, modern setting) 9/10
    Gospel According to Jesus Christ - Saramago (Arabian / Jewish, Biblical setting) 9/10
    100 Years of Solitude - Marquez (Latin American magic Realism, modern setting) 10/10
    The Famished Road - Ben Okri (African magic realism, modern setting) 8/10
    Empire Trilogy - Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts (Oriental style setting) first 2 books 8/10. third 6/10

    also maybe of interest (i've either not read yet, or it wasn't to my taste):

    Skin Folk - Nalo Hopkinson (Caribean fantasy)
    Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn (Japanese fantasy)

    The Outremer trilogy - Chaz Brenchley (Arabian Fantasy) 7/10
    The Blue Sword, and, The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley (Arabian Fantasy) 6/10
    The Woodwife - Terri Windling (Native American myth, contemporary fantasy) 5/10
    Last edited by Yobmod; February 10th, 2008 at 06:57 AM.

  10. #10
    Registered User Raule's Avatar
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    Judith Berman's Bear Daughter. Focuses on Native American Northwest Coastal culture and mythology. It also happens to be one of those rare female quest novels.

  11. #11
    Catacomb Kid Power to the J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yobmod View Post
    You know that 14th centurey IS medieval?
    And that Greece is in Europe?
    Yeah but I just answered the question based upon my thoughts that it was just non-Dark Ages. Maybe wrong, but that's how I did.

  12. #12
    Registered User Alessan's Avatar
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    The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

    Such a beautiful novel

  13. #13
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Larry Niven - "The Burning City" , "The Burning Tower" - are about Native-American Gods, Aztec and Atlantean legends.
    Gary Jennings - Azteca - I found it way better than Hollywood's pale efforts
    Sean Russell - Initiate Brother - a personal favorite set in the far east [barry hughart is better, but it has already been mentioned]

  14. #14
    Registered User Leiali's Avatar
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    Yobmod I can't believe you gave The Blue Sword 6 out of 10!! I love that book.
    Anyway, I'd add Lion's Blood by Stephen Barnes, set in an alternate universe in Africa where the slave trade is reversed with an irish slave and an african prince developing a friendship. It is set in East Africa with a muslim culture. Can't remember much more about it, other than it being ok but not brilliant.
    Other than that I second Lian Hearne and Ben Okri. There's a lot of magic realism out there worth exploring and my favourite is Lois De Bernieres who wrote a series of novels set in a fictional town in South America, beautifully written and very funny.
    Last edited by Leiali; February 11th, 2008 at 07:45 AM.

  15. #15
    Thanks for all the replies. It seems there are alot out there that i didn't know about. i haver read a couple like The Lions of Al'Rassan and the Tales of the Otori.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yobmod View Post

    Native American fantasy

    African & South African Fantasy and Literature

    (Oriental fantasy
    Oriental Flavoured?
    fantasy book based on Oriental World?)



    I recommend:


    Bridge of Birds - Barry hughart (Oriental medieval fantasy) 10/10

    Antelope Wife - Louise Erdrich (Native American magic realism, modern setting) 9/10
    Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (Indian magic realism, modern setting) 9/10
    Gospel According to Jesus Christ - Saramago (Arabian / Jewish, Biblical setting) 9/10
    100 Years of Solitude - Marquez (Latin American magic Realism, modern setting) 10/10
    The Famished Road - Ben Okri (African magic realism, modern setting) 8/10
    Empire Trilogy - Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts (Oriental style setting) first 2 books 8/10. third 6/10

    also maybe of interest (i've either not read yet, or it wasn't to my taste):

    Skin Folk - Nalo Hopkinson (Caribean fantasy)
    Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn (Japanese fantasy)

    The Outremer trilogy - Chaz Brenchley (Arabian Fantasy) 7/10
    The Blue Sword, and, The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley (Arabian Fantasy) 6/10
    The Woodwife - Terri Windling (Native American myth, contemporary fantasy) 5/10
    thanks for that list Yobmod, i looked through the other forums as well great help. The problem i have with the list is that i can never seem to get into fantasy books with a modern setting.


    I'm wondering if i could narrow it a bit and see if there are any books out there that have distinct african feels maybe like:

    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarion View Post
    Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, The Shadow Speaker (West Africa, Nigeria, post-apocalyptic, folklore magic)

    Ben Okri, The Famished Road (Nigeria, West African folklore, magic realism)
    i recently started reading Chinua Achebe and alan paton and ive developed a taste for african culture.

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