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BrainPick To the fantasy readers and writers, recommendations needed

Rich.

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Patron
#1
I'm reading V E Schwab's Shades of Magic series and thoroughly enjoying it. I was hoping that those of you in the know might be able to recommend something similar.

I'm looking for other authors writing character-led commercial fantasy along similar lines to Shades of Magic.

Can anyone help me out?

Thanks!
 
#3
Weirdly, I got the audiobook of the first in the series last night from my library. Glad to hear I made a good choice.

I'd recommend The City of Brass by SA Chakraborty. It's excellent.

And ... um ... Guttersnipe by me. Not that it's published or anything yet.
 

Amber

Benefactor
#5
Weirdly, I got the audiobook of the first in the series last night from my library. Glad to hear I made a good choice.

I'd recommend The City of Brass by SA Chakraborty. It's excellent.

And ... um ... Guttersnipe by me. Not that it's published or anything yet.
Is Me a mononym like Madonna or God? Prince?

Also, I can't help wondering why someone who seems reasonably tech savvy wouldn't edit their posts instead of making a second one. What was it Alice said? "Curiouser and curiouser."
 
#8
Rich, we've had this conversation before, so forgive me if I repeat myself. Did I mention NK Jemison's books before? (Yes, I must have, and Rothfuss, and Cashore, too...) I've come up dry lately at the local library--I've started reading half a dozen books in a row now, and haven't bothered to finish them, so I'm keen to hear what others have found, too.
 

Rich.

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Staff member
Patron
#9
Surely there are more.
I thought so, yes.

What are you going to do with us now that you've found us?
*cackles threateningly while stroking white cat with bejewelled fingers and glancing at the torture chamber*

Well, I thought we might chat about fantasy. :)

Rich, we've had this conversation before, so forgive me if I repeat myself.
We have indeed, and I'm still beating the same path! You did mention NK Jemison (she's amazing), but not Cashore, I think. I'll check her out.

One book that kept cropping up in all of my searches was The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch. I had a go but couldn't get into it – something about the voice and POV. It was clever but I couldn't connect.

Anyway, Shades of Magic, if you haven't, you should. :)
 

Amber

Benefactor
#11
I thought so, yes.


*cackles threateningly while stroking white cat with bejewelled fingers and glancing at the torture chamber*

Well, I thought we might chat about fantasy. :)
Okay dokay. Well then, I have returned today with all my wits about me so I can do just that.

I spent too many hours downloading fantasy books last night and I think it's your fault. You at least started it.

Jemisin is someone on my to be read list.

There's an epic fantasy author you might not have read. I bought her hardbacks back when hardbacks were a big deal and it mattered more that an author was published in hardback rather than only paperback. Her name is Melanie Rawn. I think she's published some some urban fantasy books recently that didn't do very well. Since Jacqueline Carey did the same thing, I can't help wondering if epic fantasy writers are hearing something like the following, "1400 page epic fantasies aren't doing well in the market, why don't you try your hand at an urban fantasy with a kickass heroine." Anyway, here's some info on the series:

Dragon Prince and Dragon Star

If I recall, there's very little dragon stuff going on which was initially disappointing given the name. But I forgave her because I loved the world and the relationships.

Melanie Rawn

The Golden Key is also good and is another book I'm guilty of originally purchasing in hardback. It's a collaboration between three female fantasy authors but is even more unique in terms of collaborations because each author was responsible for their own section. I remember it was very interesting.

I love this author: Maria V Snyder. Although, poor woman, her page looks like a phishing page. Maybe she has her step-sister or second cousin working on it for her. But it means she's writing rather than browsing the internet:

Maria V Snyder's Amazon Page

There might be a theme to the fantasy novels I've read. They're mostly written by women. It started with Anne McCaffrey. I read Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan obsessively at one point but it's fair to say that I thought Terry Goodkind was a woman for longer than I'd care to admit and Robert Jordan caught me unawares. There are metaphysical themes in his books and a lot of discussion about balance which I found intriguing. I was never okay with Brandon Sanderson finishing off that series.

I loathe Salvatore something fierce.

Dune -- How I love Dune. But I always assume every breathing fantasy fan has read Dune. I might be wrong. I was not happy with his son writing books in the series. That wasn't necessary. I also found Dune metaphysical.

Recently I read this book which has gotten mixed reviews. I liked it:

The Sin Eaters Daughter

I also read Chuck Wendig's Blightborn Series.

....and Anne Bishop. Her vampires are different.

What to say about Laurell K Hamilton? I suggest maybe reading a few in her fairy/faerie series if you don't like vampires. I think she and maybe Sherrilyn Kenyon could be said to be responsible for urban fantasy. I don't mean there aren't others because of course there are. But they're the ones I think of.

Laurell K Hamilton is a great writer who's written entire books consisting primarily of metaphysical sex. These books are like heroin so maybe she's made a deal with the devil, if you believe in that sort of thing. The original covers of the books in both of her series were works of art. But they changed them.

Speaking of Sherrilyn Kenyon... Yes, she does have a lot of shirtless men on the covers of her books and they are romances. But I loved Acheron. I'm guilty of buying her books more than reading them. I saw her speak at a conference once and I never forgot the things she said. But that's a different post.

Also, Anne Rice. She's considered a horror author but I wasn't scared for a second. I think we forget how laughable the idea of a vampire who didn't tear out a victim's throat in the typical B movie fashion before Anne Rice. She did/does extensive historical research for all of her books and a lot of them aren't about vampires at all. Her witch series is about a family of witches. Of course there's more to it. But it's worth reading. One of my favorites is a book about a castrati, which...perhaps didn't do well for all of the obvious reasons. It's called Cry to Heaven. It's not fantasy at all I suppose. It's a surprisingly sensual book.

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series and Avalon series are very good. There's a standalone called: The Firebrand which retells the story of The Iliad and The Odyssey from the point of view of Cassandra. Well, at least the Trojan War -- if i recall. It does continue after... ANYWAY,

I'm in the middle of listening to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere on audiobook. I like it. It will take a while for me to finish because I listen to it in my car.

I have:

Kendare Blake
Sarah Prineas
Fran Wilde
Victoria Aveyard
Maggie Stiefvater and lots of others that I'd like to read but haven't yet.
 

Rich.

Guardian
Staff member
Patron
#12
... I can recommend Ed McDonald's Blackwing, published by Gollancz.
I've heard of that, but I haven't read it. I'll stick it on the list...

And anything by Brandon Sanderson
Is Sanderson really character led? I've read The Way of Kings, and I found it a bit meh, entertaining, but... meh. He's very imaginative in a computer-game kind of way. I don't know. Perhaps I should give him another go. Where would you start?

--

I spent too many hours downloading fantasy books last night and I think it's your fault. You at least started it.
Wow, Amber, you've given me so many books here to think about. I'm going to need to process your post before I have anything useful to say. I'm not nearly as well-read in fantasy as I should be, given that I harbour pretentions of being a fantasy author. I've also forgotten a great many books that I've read – a decade's worth, probably. And then I spent a long time reading all manner of history, pop-science and such. It's only in the last few years that I've returned to fantasy with a passion.

Partly, I'm looking for good books to read, period – and partly I'm researching the market, trying to see where I fit.

I have read Dune though. So I'm not a completely lost cause. :)
 

Amber

Benefactor
#13
I have read Dune though. So I'm not a completely lost cause. :)
Well... I think technically Dune is science fiction anyway .... although.... I'm a little torn... I think officially it's science fiction. And I don't know if I'm well read ... most of the books are older and I didn't realize until now that the fantasy I read is mostly by women authors and the science fiction I read is mostly by male authors. Weird.

As far as market research .... my thinking is that the epic fantasies we used to enjoy would do better if they were broken into sections of about 60k. There was a time when speculative fiction writers got started by writing serialized fiction and publishing them in magazines like Amazing Stories. I think new authors would do well to do it that way again... with or without the publication in Amazing Stories. But that's only my theory.
 

Rich.

Guardian
Staff member
Patron
#15
Well... I think technically Dune is science fiction anyway .... although.... I'm a little torn... I think officially it's science fiction.
I think you're right, but maybe these days it would be called science-fantasy, like Jemison's Fifth Season. I think of it as science-fantasy.

And I don't know if I'm well read ... most of the books are older and I didn't realize until now that the fantasy I read is mostly by women authors and the science fiction I read is mostly by male authors. Weird.
Weird maybe. Interesting. I wonder why.

As far as market research .... my thinking is that the epic fantasies we used to enjoy would do better if they were broken into sections of about 60k. There was a time when speculative fiction writers got started by writing serialized fiction and publishing them in magazines like Amazing Stories. I think new authors would do well to do it that way again... with or without the publication in Amazing Stories. But that's only my theory.
It's a good theory – at least it strikes me as good. And if you broke the sections at 40k and combined two sections at a time, you might also sell them to a traditional publisher as a novel. Food for thought.

--

Brent Weeks indeed. On the list. The list is getting long – though I might put the Lightbringer series near the top. He made the New York Times bestseller list, right? So I guess reading him certainly qualifies as market research.
 

Amber

Benefactor
#17
Brent Weeks indeed. On the list. The list is getting long – though I might put the Lightbringer series near the top. He made the New York Times bestseller list, right? So I guess reading him certainly qualifies as market research.
You like his books then? I can't tell.
 
#19
Patrick Rothfuss. I love his work, but... but. I got the very uncomfortable feeling that the stories were written as if sketched from a Oblivion or Skyrim gaming session.

One I can recommend, and whom I've just remembered, is Scott Lynch and his Locke Lamora sequence. Very high standard of fantasy... with a Baroque sensitivity. Almost achingly beautiful and atmospheric.
 
#21
Re: Dune, I agree with you Amber it became very metaphysical. But I think it blurred the boundaries between Science Fiction and Fantasy, and so the metaphysical is really only half-a-step away. As for his son... well, I suspect he felt he could be as successful as Christopher Tolkien.... But having read some of Brian Herbert and Kevin J Andersen's conclusion to the Dune cycle, I found their collaborations felt little more than luke-warm treatments rather than full novels (despite their word counts). Given my dissatisfaction with Hunters of-, and Sandworms of Dune. I haven't bothered to consider any of the other myriad spin offs.
 

Amber

Benefactor
#22
Patrick Rothfuss. I love his work, but... but. I got the very uncomfortable feeling that the stories were written as if sketched from a Oblivion or Skyrim gaming session.

One I can recommend, and whom I've just remembered, is Scott Lynch and his Locke Lamora sequence. Very high standard of fantasy... with a Baroque sensitivity. Almost achingly beautiful and atmospheric.
Oh that sounds good...
 

Amber

Benefactor
#23
Re: Dune, I agree with you Amber it became very metaphysical. But I think it blurred the boundaries between Science Fiction and Fantasy, and so the metaphysical is really only half-a-step away. As for his son... well, I suspect he felt he could be as successful as Christopher Tolkien.... But having read some of Brian Herbert and Kevin J Andersen's conclusion to the Dune cycle, I found their collaborations felt little more than luke-warm treatments rather than full novels (despite their word counts). Given my dissatisfaction with Hunters of-, and Sandworms of Dune. I haven't bothered to consider any of the other myriad spin offs.
I didn't give them any more attention than what was needed to complain about them.
 

Rich.

Guardian
Staff member
Patron
#24
Patrick Rothfuss. I love his work, but... but. I got the very uncomfortable feeling that the stories were written as if sketched from a Oblivion or Skyrim gaming session.
I also love Rothfuss. If I put my critique hat on, sure, I can moan, but... no, I love what he does. Though I do wish he'd pull his finger out and write the third instalment. What's it been? Six years? More?

One I can recommend, and whom I've just remembered, is Scott Lynch and his Locke Lamora sequence. Very high standard of fantasy... with a Baroque sensitivity. Almost achingly beautiful and atmospheric.
You see, now I wish I could agree with you. I really do. Recommendations for this kept popping up everywhere, so I dutifully bought myself a copy, and then... well... I don't know. I wanted to like it. I'd heard so many good things.

I put it down less than a quarter through. I don't know. I just couldn't connect to any of the characters. It all felt horribly disjointed. It was clever, for sure. Well written. But cold. Empty.

Having said all that, one of these days I might try again. I did buy it after all.

--

Dune ... conclusion to the Dune cycle ... spin offs.
I didn't give them any more attention than what was needed to complain about them.
I've only read the original. I'm inclined to leave it there. :)

--

What about His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman? Kids books. But then they said that about Tolkien and CS (controversial) Lewis. I love Dark Materials. Thematically, it's very much the kind of thing that floats my boat.
 
#25
I'm a fan of fantasy, but couldn't name anything specific that has the same feel as "Shades of Magic". But my favourite writer is David Gemmell, as his world creation is vast and the variety of characters all connect throughout the various types of novels.

I do like "The Redemption of Althalus", and though there seems to be no dire threat, it is a great journey which brings many people together and a fresh look at presenting characters.
 
#26
Like you and scott lynch, i found pullman's work similarly cold. i found myself, not bored per se, but uninterested and never finished his first. (excuse the lack of capitalisation. typing one handed here)
 

Rich.

Guardian
Staff member
Patron
#27
I do like "The Redemption of Althalus", and though there seems to be no dire threat, it is a great journey which brings many people together and a fresh look at presenting characters.
Don't know that one. I'll have a nose around. Thanks for joining the conversation. :)

--

Like you and scott lynch, i found pullman's work similarly cold. i found myself, not bored per se, but uninterested and never finished his first. (excuse the lack of capitalisation. typing one handed here)
It just goes to show how many different kinds of successful there are, doesn't it? Which is part of the reason I started this thread in the first place – trying as much to figure out what I like as where my writing fits. The genre's so damn big it's easy to get swamped (as a reader and a writer).
 
#30
Don't know that one. I'll have a nose around. Thanks for joining the conversation. :)

--


It just goes to show how many different kinds of successful there are, doesn't it? Which is part of the reason I started this thread in the first place – trying as much to figure out what I like as where my writing fits. The genre's so damn big it's easy to get swamped (as a reader and a writer).
Ah and look what happened to Swamp Thing...
 
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