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Highbrow fantasy recommendations

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Showing 26-50 of 64 posts in this discussion
Posted on 27 Jul 2013, 11:30:41 BST
Shanna says:
I have to add a recommendation for Guy Gavriel Kay - for me the outstanding 3 are Tigana, Lions of Alrassan & A Song for Arbonne (in that order).
Julian May is more sci-fi than fantasy, but a fabulous circular read over the course of 7 books.
I'd recommend starting with Intervention, then reading the Galactic Milieu Series, then finishing with the Saga of the Pliocene.
Note, although connected, the Saga of the Pliocene, whilst it eventually links up to complete the circle is a very different story, dealing with very different characters to the Intervention/Galactic Milieu story.

Posted on 28 Jul 2013, 00:49:17 BST
I really enjoyed Ashanti's Quest which is a very well written page turner.

Posted on 28 Jul 2013, 21:47:22 BST
It actually all depends what kind of writing you are looking for. The reality is that the standard of fantasy writing has actually improved - simply because there are so many would-be writers and how tough it is to get published.
A lot of the writers in the fantasy genre are functional writers but actually are very good story tellers - where it is the story that matters rather than sweeping, lyrical prose.
If you are looking for clever writing or grand poetic style then you do limit yourself - people like Rothfuss/Sanderson/Gemmell have great stories worth reading but are not going to inspire you from a purely literature point of view. The obvious person to look at as the inimitable Terry Pratchett. I agree with those who have suggested Gavriel Kay - he is my favourite author - A Song for Arbonne and The Lions of Al Rassan are two books that I, as a would be writer, would loved to have written. Tad Williams writes well although sometimes I think his stories ramble too much. Joe Abercrombie deserves a mention.
As you say you have read Tolkien, people forget that LOTR is 1000 pages or so over three books...yet few would argue that it does not have depth, perspective and sense of history...too many writers now write tomes which eventually dilute the power of the story - George RR Martin for example - the first 3 books of A Game of Thrones are like nothing I have ever read but since then I have lost interest. Steven Eriksen has created something extraordinary but you are likely to find the standard of writing weak over his first few novels.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jul 2013, 22:03:43 BST
Last edited by the author on 28 Jul 2013, 22:04:34 BST
gille liath says:
'People' also forget that LotR was *not* intended as a trilogy. Tolkien was in the fortunate position of not needing to earn a living, and not being concerned about popular success. His book wasn't written to any pre-conceived, will-look-good-on-the-bookshelf plan. It was simply as long as it needed to be, and was split into three at the publisher's request. That's where the exploitative pulp writers who imitate him are - from the reader's point of view, if not their own - getting it wrong.

And Terry Pratchett, highbrow? Really?

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jul 2013, 06:39:27 BST
M. Jolliff says:
By the definition of the OP PTerry meets the requirement. If you wish to argue about thoughtful/thought provoking he would still meet the requirement. *Read any, or did the fact that he has a character called Chrysoprase put you off?*

*Sorry, couldn't resist

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jul 2013, 22:14:30 BST
gille liath says:

Come on, it's not highbrow.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2013, 06:08:41 BST
Duke says:
I would suggest Katherine Kerr, Raymond E Feist, Mary Gentle, Robert Jordan, and Marion Zimmer Bradley, to name but a few. It also doesn't hurt to keep an eye out for new authors. While many of the e-books being published are largely rubbish - poorly written, badly (or not) edited, and lacking in originality - a few good ones are going to appear. Who knows, you may be the first to identify the next bestseller!

Posted on 30 Jul 2013, 06:18:38 BST
Last edited by the author on 30 Jul 2013, 06:19:11 BST
J.Yasimoto says:
Raymond E Feist highbrow? He's even lowerbrow(?) than Terry Pratchett!

But what is highbrow? The OP says "engaging and well-written". My own definition is something well-written but also scholarly. Something I have to pay attention to. I'll give you Mary Gentle though. Not easy reads but worth the effort.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2013, 06:36:13 BST
M. Jolliff says:
Define highbrow.
Does it contain references that require a wide ranging and informed knowledge base to appreciate but which the reader doesn't have to have to enjoy the story. Check
Does it have an underlying theme that is not immediately obvious but may cause the reader to alter his perspective. Check
Does it manipulate established tropes in new and unexpected ways. Check
What else, in addition to being well written and engaging do you require Gille?

Meanwhile back to the OP
Winter's Tale
Louis de Bernieres Box Set of 3 books: The War of Don Emmanuels Nether Parts / Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord / The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman
Parsival, or a Knight's Tale

Posted on 30 Jul 2013, 13:09:28 BST
Spanner says:
I would recommend the Deverry cycles from Katherine Kerr - there are probaly 12 books in all; be prepared to jump back and forth in time and to follow a soul from one lifetime to another. There is a good mix of magic and politics, fantasy and war with some nice twists on the average perception of the more common fae.

Posted on 30 Jul 2013, 13:11:37 BST
Spanner says:
I would recommend the Deverry books from Katherine Kerr; be prepared to follow souls from one lifetime to the next, jumping back and forth in time. A good mix of fantasy and war, politics and magic with an interesting twist on some of the better known fae

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2013, 17:01:23 BST
Chris says:
Tad Williams 'Otherland' epics are excellent, also his 'Memory, Sorrow and Thorn' series is engrossing

Posted on 30 Jul 2013, 21:57:12 BST
Thanks everyone. Some really good ideas on here for future reading. To all of you who recommended it, I started Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' series after my last post, and am absolutely loving it. I'm also pleased to have all the other suggestions for what to dip into afterwards.


In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jul 2013, 16:15:48 BST
Fantasy-Fan says:
A quick word of warning - The Wheel of Time is great, but books 8 & 9 are very slow. Don't worry though, as book 10 picks things back up again.

Happy reading!

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jul 2013, 16:57:39 BST
Universal Morning.

Posted on 31 Jul 2013, 17:58:29 BST
Tycoch says:
Have you tried Louise Cooper? I have loved all her fantasy but they are out of print I think.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jul 2013, 18:11:07 BST
J.Yasimoto says:
?! Again I'm mystified. Robert Jordan highbrow? Much as I love his books he can't be described as highbrow. If we include him (and Pratchett, and Feist) we might as well go the whole hog and suggest Eddings, Gemmell, Salvatore and Weis/Hickman.

I'm starting to think the whole highbrow thing is a bit of a red herring. I think what the OP really wanted was good old fashioned fantasy page turners.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jul 2013, 18:45:21 BST
Hi J. Yasimoto.

Thanks for your comments, and I've only read 200 pages or so of Robert Jordan so far, but I think he is certainly in a different category to Feist and Pratchett who I got bored with very quickly and found formulaic (Feist in particular for his characterisation). I'm enjoying both the story and also the quality of Jordan's writing, which is really what I was looking for. Most fantasy in particular I think has poor quality literary style and wooden characters.

I guess it comes down to what you term as highbrow, but I do have an English degree and am educated to post-graduate level, so I feel I do know the difference between what for me is a page-turner (which I generally lose interest in quickly) and something a bit more stimulating. I also would not classify Eddings as highbrow, but the other writers you've listed I'm not familiar with.

Best wishes,


In reply to an earlier post on 1 Aug 2013, 07:25:56 BST
Last edited by the author on 1 Aug 2013, 07:26:49 BST
J.Yasimoto says:
"...for me is a page-turner (which I generally lose interest in quickly)..."

Isn't that an oxymoron? Surely the very definition of page-turner is something you *don't* lose interest in?

I was joking about Eddings and the rest. If you find Feist formulaic, then you'll want to avoid Eddings, Gemmell, Salvatore and Weis/Hickman. But all those authors are popular for more than plot. There's a comforting warmth to their writing. Their worlds are ones you want to live in. And Gemmell is the only author I know who can make me want to jump up and punch the air shouting "yes!"

Jordan is another warm comfort read for me. The first book's a cracker. You're learning about the world, everything is new, and there's a sense of danger. However by around books 4 - 6 everything slows down. The only thing that has kept me going in the quality of the writing. It's a gossipy soapy style where most of the women are braid pulling nags, and most of the men are wayward wool heads who need to be nagged. It's fantastic! But it certainly doesn't stimulate intellectually.

Genuine recommendation now - the only modern fantasy author that has really stimulated me is Steven Erikson (already mentioned this thread but worth a repeat). His Malazan books have had me scratching my head whilst resisting the temptation to throw the book across the room in frustration. A cast of hundreds, poetic (bordering on purple) prose mixed in with philosophical ramblings. He's a genuine one-off.

Posted on 1 Aug 2013, 11:18:46 BST
Michael moorcock is the master. Jerry cornelius series first.

Posted on 2 Aug 2013, 06:16:41 BST
M. Jolliff says:
Thursbitch, Boneland (Weirdstone Trilogy 3)
The Book of Sand and Shakespeare's Memory (Penguin Modern Classics)

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Aug 2013, 08:38:09 BST
Thanks :-)

Posted on 2 Aug 2013, 22:03:56 BST
Last edited by the author on 2 Aug 2013, 22:10:05 BST
M. Jolliff says:
The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber)
Compleat Traveller in Black
The Last Unicorn
The Screwtape Letters: Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil (C. S. Lewis Signature Classic) (C. Lewis Signature Classic)

Posted on 3 Aug 2013, 23:38:09 BST
Katy May says:
I'd suggest Bareback by Kit Whitfield - an interesting take on werewolves, the slant is on difference and discrimination. Also, Replay by Ken Grimwood is a classic. A bit 1980s in places but very thought provoking.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Aug 2013, 17:18:20 BST
Fantasy-Fan says:
I love Replay - It feels more like an alternate history sci-fi when you are reading it (although it's definitely a fantasy due to the mechanism employed).

I know what you mean about the 1980's feel. Really enjoyed it though, and have re-read it a few times which is always the sign of a good book for me.
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Discussion in:  fantasy discussion forum
Participants:  37
Total posts:  64
Initial post:  14 Jul 2013
Latest post:  1 Sep 2013

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