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  1. #1

    Sword, Sorcery, Likes, Dislikes and Recommendations

    I thought Joe Abercrombie's trilogy ruled. I can't get into Song of Ice and Fire - I just can't stomach the Dothraki and I don't like his names, although I think Martin's Fevre Dream is perhaps the best vampire novel I've ever read. I love Robert Howard's Conan stories. I thought the tone of Rothfuss's Name of the Wind was too smug - Kvothe seemed like a dick - and so I didn't enjoy that. I love Moorcock's Elric saga. I think Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser tales are the greatest fantasy stories ever written, bar none (and that includes LOTR, which I love and put at #2). I cannot abide any story with names like "Shadowborn" or "Kingkiller" in it. I think R Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy was a masterwork of genius and the best fantasy work of the new(ish) millenium. I did not like Wizard's First Rule. I loved Curse of Chalion. I did not love Bitterwood. I thought Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian trilogy (Winter King etc) was amazing, and recommend it to fantasy fans though it is more of a dark-age adventure novel (and perhaps the best one ever written, along with Frans Bengtsson's The Long Ships and Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road) . I loved Tanith Lee's Dreams of Dark and Light. I think Robert Jordan was overrated. I love Neil Gaiman. I loved the first four books of the Dark Tower series. I loved Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle. The works of Tim Powers - especially Anubis Gates, Drawing of the Dark, On Stranger Tides and Declare - I recommend wholeheartedly, especially to fans of high-quality, very literate fantasy. They are EXCELLENT. And Thomas Ligotti out-Lovecrafts Lovecraft, for anyone who likes their Weird weird and their horror profound.

    So, I ask you, apart from Brandon Sanderson and Scott Lynch, what can you guys recommend?
    Last edited by Paul Lamontagne; January 29th, 2009 at 01:40 PM.

  2. #2
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Let's see...for Sword and Sorcery you can always go back to Karl Edward Wagner, though I suspect you probably knew that.

    Matthew Stover is superb, he mixes equal dashes of physics, sword & sorcery and heroic fantasy in his Acts of Caine saga; Heroes Die, Blade of Tyshalle, and Caine Black Knife.

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    Mod Lady Moderator Eldanuumea's Avatar
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    I didn't realize there was a third Caine book! I will put it at the top of my to-buy list.

    If you love Neil Gaiman and Tanith Lee, I would suggest Robert de Lint. The first thing by him that I read was Spirit in the Wires, and I was so impressed I bought several more of his books.

    I agree with you about Martin's Fevre Dream. It is not well-known among lovers of the contemporary onslaught of vamp fiction, which is a shame because it is an extraordinary story, unlike any other vampire novel I've read.

  4. #4
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Nicely read list, Paul. Welcome!

    I'm going to suggest two: one people round here tend to think I do a lot and the other I rarely do. But as a fan with that list, I think these'll work.

    The one every knows I like: ASH A Secret History by Mary Gentle. That's the omnibus edition if you can get it.

    Actually not too much in the way of Sword and Sorcery there, though it is in there if you read it. One of my favourite reads ever.

    The second is one which I think is underrated: the Morgaine Series by CJ Cherryh:

    1. Gate of Ivrel (1976)
    2. Well of Shiuan (1978)
    3. Fires of Azeroth (1979) (I have these in an omnibus, Chronicles of Morgaine (omnibus) (1985)) and
    4. Exile's Gate (1988)

    If you like Moorcock's Multiverses I think you'll like these.

    Mark
    Mark

  5. #5
    Registered User Zsinj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Nicely read list, Paul. Welcome!

    I'm going to suggest two: one people round here tend to think I do a lot and the other I rarely do. But as a fan with that list, I think these'll work.

    The one every knows I like: ASH A Secret History by Mary Gentle. That's the omnibus edition if you can get it.

    Actually not too much in the way of Sword and Sorcery there, though it is in there if you read it. One of my favourite reads ever.

    The second is one which I think is underrated: the Morgaine Series by CJ Cherryh:

    1. Gate of Ivrel (1976)
    2. Well of Shiuan (1978)
    3. Fires of Azeroth (1979) (I have these in an omnibus, Chronicles of Morgaine (omnibus) (1985)) and
    4. Exile's Gate (1988)

    If you like Moorcock's Multiverses I think you'll like these.

    Mark

    Hobbit, I've always heard that Cherryh's Morgaine Series takes a more sociological angle than straight up sword and sorcery.
    My personal recommendations would be "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by R.A. Salvatore; Robert E. Howard's sagas of Conan the Cimmerian, Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane, and Bran Mak Morn; Weis & Hickman's "Draoglance Chronicles Trilogy" and "Dragonlance Legends Trilogy", and David Gemmell's "Legend", "The King Beyond the Gate," and "Waylander".

  6. #6
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Hobbit, I've always heard that Cherryh's Morgaine Series takes a more sociological angle than straight up sword and sorcery.
    OK: I can see that; but I found them an interesting variant from Moorcock.

    Neither of my choices I would say are 'straight-up sword and sorcery': I think the Leiber and the Moorcock, not to mention Conan cover those.

    Mark
    Mark

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Nicely read list, Paul. Welcome!

    I'm going to suggest two: one people round here tend to think I do a lot and the other I rarely do. But as a fan with that list, I think these'll work.

    The one every knows I like: ASH A Secret History by Mary Gentle. That's the omnibus edition if you can get it.

    Actually not too much in the way of Sword and Sorcery there, though it is in there if you read it. One of my favourite reads ever.

    The second is one which I think is underrated: the Morgaine Series by CJ Cherryh:

    1. Gate of Ivrel (1976)
    2. Well of Shiuan (1978)
    3. Fires of Azeroth (1979) (I have these in an omnibus, Chronicles of Morgaine (omnibus) (1985)) and
    4. Exile's Gate (1988)

    If you like Moorcock's Multiverses I think you'll like these.

    Mark
    Thanks, Mark. I believe I've read a number of your reviews here (I've been visiting the site for a while but just started on the forums) and appreciate your opinion.

    Also, I have to ask - have you guys gotten an advance copy of the upcoming Bakker novel The Judging Eye?

  8. #8
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Thank you, Paul for your very kind comments.

    I think sometimes knowing a little about the reviewer's tastes can steer readers towards their own personal tastes. Always happy to pass on likes: it's what we're here for, after all! I'd be interested to read what you think about any of those above.

    Also, I have to ask - have you guys gotten an advance copy of the upcoming Bakker novel The Judging Eye?
    At the moment I think both Rob Bedford and myself have copies. I could be wrong, but I think Rob's doing that review.

    Having had a read of the first few pages myself, (couldn't resist!) it looks good, though. And perhaps a bit more straight forward than the previous books.

    Which for some will be good.

    Mark
    Mark

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Lamontagne View Post
    Also, I have to ask - have you guys gotten an advance copy of the upcoming Bakker novel The Judging Eye?

    It's out in Canada in trade paperback, since January 20. Very good read, if a bit slow in the action category (no really huge battles take place in this one), although it ends with a bang. I would say it's more accessible as Bakker cut down a bit on the philosophy and the seed-drenched sex scenes.

    The story cuts between three main storylines. The progress of the Great Ordeal moving north, the imperial/palace intrigues with Esmenet, her children (those who haven't gone with Kellhus and the Ordeal), and public dissent/simmering revolution, and Achamian's own personal struggles.

    Anyways, needless to say it's highly recommended to anyone interested in this ongoing tale.

  10. #10
    Since you apparently enjoy Howard & Lovecraft, I'd suggest the third of the Weird Tales triumvirate, Clark Ashton Smith. It might be hard to find, but the collection Zothique could be considered proto-S&S. The stories take place as the sun grows dimmer and life on Earth is waning, when Magic has reentered the world and necromancers are rife. The stories are short on battle and derring-do, but long and strong on exoticism, weirdness and atmosphere. Smith brings to the tales a strong sense of irony and a sense of impending doom that sometimes plays out and sometimes doesn't, so the stories do not become predictable.

    Have you read C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry stories? Moore was a contemporary of the above trio, though rather younger. The Jirel stories were reissued not too long ago by Gollanz (sp?) and back in the '80s by Ace. I've only read one or two, but the young Moore was a writer with a distinctive, emotive prose style and a vivid imagination for setting and event. I'm not sure I'd advise reading one right after the other -- I did that with her Northwest Smith stories and found myself noting too many similarities in style and phrasing, which probably decreased my enjoyment -- but a couple at a time might well be satisfying.

    Brian MacNaughton's The Throne of Bones might also interest you. This showed up in the mid- to late '90s. Again, a story collection, one that ranges from pretty close to standard S&S to stories that verge more on horror, and again with a sense of irony, this one more likely to provoke a chuckle than the grimmer irony of Smith. The suite of stories that make up the titular story are extremely well-done. One of the few books I know of that makes extensive and varied use of ghouls, and that is one of its main strengths.


    Randy M.
    Last edited by Randy M.; January 29th, 2009 at 04:20 PM.

  11. #11
    First, I'd like to thank you all for your responses. Very thoughtful and I will look into everything I'm not familiar with. Secondly, I just want to point out that I didn't mean to suggest I only like Sword & Sorcery-type fantasy, though I lean in that direction, I only used the term because I like it more. I'm definitely open to high fantasy, dark, epic, heroic, urban - what have you. And I wrote that rambling list to both give an idea of what has struck my fancy, and to make suggestions to anyone who hasn't read any of those I mentioned. And once again, I IMPLORE anyone who hasn't read Fritz Lieber to do so - when I put him in the same league as Tolkien (though they are very different stylistically) I do not do so lightly. His work is that good, and is grossly overlooked and, I fear, fading fast. Every time I go to the bookstore I make sure to take Lieber's Fafhrd & Gray Mouser books and turn them face out, as though they were new releases, to help catch someone's eye.



    Quote Originally Posted by Randy M. View Post
    Since you apparently enjoy Howard & Lovecraft, I'd suggest the third of the Weird Tales triumvirate, Clark Ashton Smith. It might be hard to find, but the collection Zothique could be considered proto-S&S. The stories take place as the sun grows dimmer and life on Earth is waning, when Magic has reentered the world and necromancers are rife. The stories are short on battle and derring-do, but long and strong on exoticism, weirdness and atmosphere. Smith brings to the tales a strong sense of irony and a sense of impending doom that sometimes plays out and sometimes doesn't, so the stories do not become predictable.
    I just took the first two volumes of the new five-volume Smith collection out of the library (one is called The Door to Saturn and the other is The End of the Story)! I absolutely love them. They go in chronological order according to when they were written, though, and so contain no Zothique tales. But did you know that all of Smith's work is available for free online?

    http://www.eldritchdark.com/


    I haven't read the Jirel of Joiry stuff but I've read ABOUT them, and can never find them. And I'd never heard of Throne of Bones but it looks AWESOME. thanks!

  12. #12
    and I like to party. Seak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Lamontagne View Post
    And once again, I IMPLORE anyone who hasn't read Fritz Lieber to do so - when I put him in the same league as Tolkien (though they are very different stylistically) I do not do so lightly. His work is that good, and is grossly overlooked and, I fear, fading fast. Every time I go to the bookstore I make sure to take Lieber's Fafhrd & Gray Mouser books and turn them face out, as though they were new releases, to help catch someone's eye.
    They are now the brand new additions to my "to-read" list along with Tim Powers and Ash (from Hobbit). Thanks guys.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Lamontagne View Post
    [...]

    I just took the first two volumes of the new five-volume Smith collection out of the library (one is called The Door to Saturn and the other is The End of the Story)! I absolutely love them. They go in chronological order according to when they were written, though, and so contain no Zothique tales. But did you know that all of Smith's work is available for free online?

    http://www.eldritchdark.com/
    Actually, I forget this constantly, darn it. On the other hand, I find reading serious fiction on a computer screen about as appealing as slurping soup through my sleeve.

    I haven't read the Jirel of Joiry stuff but I've read ABOUT them, and can never find them. And I'd never heard of Throne of Bones but it looks AWESOME. thanks!
    Try ordering through one of the big box bookstores; that's how I got Martin's Fevre Dream a couple of years before it was rereleased by Ballantine in the U.S.

    Y'know, I've read quite a bit of Leiber, 3 or 4 novels, a bushel of short stories -- he's every bit as influential as a writer of horror as he was with fantasy, and maybe only a jot less influential as an s.f. writer; amazing versatility -- but I have yet to read a single Fahfred and Mouser story. I should remedy that this summer.


    A couple more titles came to mind:
    The Bone key by Sarah Monette. Not really S&S, but Weird Tales-like stories. Do a search through the forum for my name and you may find a review. I think others have talked about it, too.

    Nifft the Lean by Michael Shea. I haven't read this yet, but it has received enthusiastic praise from many readers and, as I recall, won the World Fantasy Award once upon a time. It was reissued in the '90s by Baen, I believe.


    Randy M.
    Last edited by Randy M.; January 31st, 2009 at 11:58 AM.

  14. #14
    being a noob here i want to apologize to hobbit et al for a noobish breach of the rules in posting this request for recommendations. i didn't realize it should have gone in the recommendation thread. then, i think, i did the same thing with my recommendation of thomas ligotti in a thread. sorry

    and while i'm here i wanted to ask (i posted this in the correct forum as well): someone here hipped me to a book and i found it on amazon and i forgot the thread and the title now but i remember the cover illustration is a far-off shot of a number of (what look like) knights crossing a bridge with pennons flying from spear-tips into (i think) a castle

    fairly recent novel i think

    thanks everybody

  15. #15
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Paul, don't worry about it. Your thread would have been closed if we felt it was too similar to other recommendation threads. There wasn't "sword & sorcery" recommendation thread before and it is a broad enough sub genre to deserve its own.

    As for Ligotti---just take a look around and you'll see plenty of single-author discussion threads.

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