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Thread: Where did all the Belgariads go?
January 18th, 2015, 08:53 AM #1
Where did all the Belgariads go?
Recently, David Eddings' The Belgariad saga became available as an ebook, and I was excited to see it. There was also recent discount on Magic Casement by Dave Duncan, and it got me thinking about where books like that have gone. Where's the fun, adventurous fantasy novels geared for teenage boys? Sure, there's grim dark, and it's certainly popular in almost all avenues of entertainment, but what about the sheer fun, like Guardians of the Galaxy or The Lego Movie? Where's the fantasy version of that, especially ones geared toward boys?
And I don't mean from indie authors (many of whom would be massive bestsellers by any standards by utilizing these elements), but from the traditional publishers? I know Rick Riordan and Michael Scott, and possibly John Flanagan write in this vein, but I'm talking more about secondary world fantasy; series that take a light-hearted approach to fantasy and is easily accessible by anyone from 12 onward.
January 18th, 2015, 09:28 AM #2
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It's a good point, Davis. It's why I keep reading old pulp SF: that sense of enthusiasm and excitement, a sense of wonder that defies most laws of science....
....and I can't think of a recent Fantasy equivalent. There are the Spooks novels by Delaney that are popular (that I know of), and the Golem/Bartameleus series but that's it.
Perhaps the boy's interests have been taken up by games and the games franchises: Games Workshop's Black Library, for example, though much of that is SF.
Hopefully others can help out!Mark
January 18th, 2015, 08:46 PM #3
Really? You all aren't even going to wander over to YA to look before pronouncing an entire type of fiction dead?
Fine. You're lucky I like you, Davis. Here you go to start, mainly in YA:
Garth Nix, Old Kingdom series
Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials
Christopher Paolini, The Inheritance Cycle
Alison Goodman, Eon series
Jonathan Stroud, Heroes of the Valley
Cornelia Funke, Mirrorworld series
Clive Barker, Abarat series
Morgan Rhodes, Falling Kingdoms series
Brandon Sanderson, Rithmatist series
Sherwood Smith, Inda series
John Connelly, The Book of Lost Things
Ursula Le Guin, Gifts
Catherine Fisher, Incarceron series
Terry Pratchett, Nation
Morgan Whalen Turner, The Queen's Thief series
China Mieville, Railsea
Kenneth Oppel, Matt Cruse series
William Nicholson, Wind on Fire
Darren Shan, The Thin Executioner
Cinda Williams Chima, The Heir Chronicles
James Patterson & Jill Dembowski, Witch & Wizard series
Joseph Delaney, Seventh Son series (this one is due out soon as a movie)
And of course all the classic YA series are still in print. And there are a lot of books in the adult market that fit the parameters, but this list is mainly YA.
Last edited by KatG; January 21st, 2015 at 05:08 PM.
January 19th, 2015, 07:37 AM #4
I knew I could count on you to come through, Kat.
Sounds like I need to hie myself over to the YA section of ye olde Barnes and Noble.
January 19th, 2015, 10:37 AM #5
Michael J. Sullivan's The Riyria Revelations series. I think it's a good example of a modern series written in that spirit.
Since you mentioned John Flanagan, I'd also recommend him. His Ranger's Apprentice series is an excellent choice to turn boys into readers.
January 21st, 2015, 09:48 AM #6
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I see the Inda series by Sherwood Smith on your list, as well...I've had my eye on these books for a while, but also didn't realize they were considered YA (not that it really matters). Do you think these are worth reading? I prefer books with strong character development above all else, if that helps you gauge my tastes.
January 21st, 2015, 11:54 AM #7
January 21st, 2015, 02:51 PM #8
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January 21st, 2015, 05:07 PM #9
The Belgriad series and the Shannara series are not YA -- they were not published in the YA market and not by YA publishers. At the time that they came out, YA was not the set of publishers that the authors would logically go to in marketing their stuff. There are thousands of fantasy titles published each year, particularly in secondary world fantasy, with teen protagonists. It is a long tradition in fantasy fiction. While the protagonist is usually a teen for the YA publishers, there is no age requirement in the adult market. Many books are cross-marketed, meaning you'll see promotion for them in more than one market at a time and sometimes book placement as well. The Belgriad has been cross-marketed sometimes in reissues to the YA market, but its publisher is Del Rey in the States, where it started. It is and has always been part of the adult category fantasy market, which was started in the 1960's.
Many titles in YA deal frankly with homosexuality and sex, prostitution, drug use, physical abuse, murder, torture, rape, etc. These are not unusual topics for titles coming out of YA publishers. Sherwood Smith's series Inda is in the adult category fantasy market, coming from DAW. Smith writes adult fantasy, YA fantasy and tie-in novels. Because she has a large teen following from her YA work, particularly for her Wren series, the Inda series is being cross-marketed to the YA market as well as the adult market, so I threw it in. There are a few more like that -- Terry Pratchett's Nation is in adult fantasy, but was heavily cross-marketed to YA and he's had several YA series too. Barker's Arabat is adult fantasy/horror but was cross-marketed to YA. China Mieville's Railsea was marketed as both adult, where he had his main fanbase, and YA. Ursula LeGuin's Gifts is a YA/kids that was also cross-marketed to the adult market. So I'll adjust my post to "mainly YA" to make it less confusing.
But to put it simply, there are plenty of fantasy novels everywhere for teenage boys, including the grimdark novels which contain very little that they haven't already seen, including in YA titles. I'd say that two novels at least (possibly higher) out of every five secondary world novels has a teen protagonist (and that doesn't exclude grimdark titles.) And it's also popular in historical fantasy. Contemporary fantasy tends to have detective characters who are older, but the teens show up maybe ten percent of the time and certainly are popular as supporting main characters. But teen readers don't necessarily limit themselves to books with teen protagonists. In any case, YA itself is alive and well and catering to teens of all genders.
January 22nd, 2015, 08:45 AM #10
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Just to toss in another perspective, there is a long history of works originally written for and aimed at adults over time and as mores change becoming early reading. By the time I was in grade school we read Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," Poe, Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Steinbeck's uOf Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, The Bell Jar, Animal Farm ...
I think a lot of parents would find The Belgariad acceptable reading for their kids, but you can say that about many of novels with minimal sex and violence that were first aimed at an adult market. Given some of the controversies over YA titles in the last 10-15 years, my impression is similar to what KatG said, a good deal of it is tackling subject matter that might be uncomfortable for adults but that young readers find interesting and want to understand and are responding to positively. ("Positively" at least in the sense of buying the books and reading them.)