The Sword and Laser discussion

Looking For Something (Epic) to Read...

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Andronikos (new)

Andronikos | 9 comments Hello Sword and Laser!

I'm halfway through Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" and loving it! However: I've already begun to think of something to read afterwards, as, despite my addiction to the series, if I read another Wolfe epic after this, my brain would probably explode. Therefore: I've decided to ask ye for your recommendations on something Really Really long, Epic, and Addicting...

To narrow thy search (it's narrowed MINE alot, let me tell you), here are some of my favorite fantasy books/series:

Prince Of Nothing/ Aspect Emperor
Stormlight Archive
Kingkiller Chronicles (go Kvothe!)
The Bartimaes Trilogy (spelled wrong, probably, but really epic)
A Song of Ice and Fire
The Gentleman Bastard's series
The Night Angel Trilogy
Ender's Game (but not the rest: of please God if I have to deal with one more Bean sentence...)
The Lord of the Rings

There's probably others, but you get the picture. In terms of what I'm looking for RIGHT NOW: I'd go for something more Bakker/Sanderson than Locke Lamora, particularly something dark and morally ambivalent...

And yes: I know what you'll recommend:
I can't stand Robert Jordan.
I already tried Elric but couldn't get past Moorcock's tendency to "tell" rather than "show".
I know all about Malazan Book of the Fallen. I've actually read some of it and will probably try it again... later.
Yes: In note the probably Prince of Thorns and Anthony Ryan's Blood Song.
Yes: I've already tried Brent Week's Lightbringer Trilogy and couldn't stand it, though I liked the setting.

Anyway! With my extreme picky-ness in mind... who's in the mood to recommend something! ;)

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Joe Abercrombie's The First Law Trilogy and it's follow up standalone books that take place in that same universe pretty much fit the bill. Given your tastes and what you're looking for, I'm surprised you didn't at least mention those.

message 3: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1154 comments Glen Cook's The Black Company series.

The Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson.

The Scavenger trilogy (1st book Shadow) by KJ Parker.

message 4: by Tara (new)

Tara You didn't leave much to recommend. :).. Have you tried The Dark Tower series by Stephen King? it's not like any of the books you've mentioned but it's quite long and interesting...

message 5: by Wastrel (new)

Wastrel | 184 comments Perhaps you could explain briefly why you didn't like the books you didn't like but did like the ones you did like? It might aid us in pointing you in the right direction?

message 6: by Andronikos (new)

Andronikos | 9 comments Wow: lots of responses... holy crap; someone used to Really Obscure Indie Game Forums doesn't expect four responses in as many hours ;). Joe Abercrombie looks great: I've always wanted to start that and will certainly check it out.

And... OOOOOOH... KJ Parker's stuff looks REALLY COOL... particularly the Fencer Trilogy... Probably going to start with that: if it's possibly to judge a book by it's Amazon description...

Also: to add to the steaming pile of peculiarities I've presented... if I'm going to start some Robin Hobb stuff... what's better: Soldier's Son or Farseer? And is Soldier's Son set in a Medieval-type thing or frontier (there were some allusions in reviews but...).

Also: you asked for the "why": I like Bakker for his writing, his characters, and his world, and the historical setting. Martin's good for his lack of cliche's, his good characters and all that, etc. Rothfuss is good because, aside from being an absolutely hilarious human being and a perfect writer, his main character is absolutely amazing. Bartimaes and the Gentleman Bastard's are really, really funny, Night Angel's too dark NOT to miss (though sometimes the faster-paced writing can leave you stranded at times), and Ender's Game is simply amazing because of... I really don't know why but for some reason it's just really awesome. Oh: and there's Tolkein: you can't really NOT like him. After all, there's so many "Tolkein clones" the original HAS to be really good, which it is.

As for what I DON'T like (and those aren't the only ones, just the ones I know alot of people DO like, and will probably recommend to me), they aren't HORRIBLE, just... arg.

Jordan's a bit too much like Tolkein for me. His apparent "world-building" is really, in my opinion, nothing more than a fantasy writer's OBLIGATION in order to suck in the reader. His characters annoy me: his penchant for Magical Short People makes me snort/sigh (at the same time!)

As for Moorcock/Elric... I honestly can't say I DON'T like that series, I just tried it and... it wasn't quite the epicness the description described. In fact, the jacket cover almost made me believe it was the best book ever written... ever. However: Moorcock's "tell don't show" style and deviation from his own description of the book (Elric is conflicted by alot more morals than I though, there's a damsel in distress, the bad guy just doesn't get how to Act Right), kind of turned me off. In fact, I might just try it again, but the whole structure of "lots of short stories quashed together to make a novel" just kind of nauseates me...

Yeah: I'm spoiled, I read the best fantasy first. Anyway: so far you guys have been really helpful with thy reviews... who knows, if this thread goes on long enough, I'll be able to sustain reading list for a long time...

Why haven't I tried outsourcing like this before?

message 7: by Wastrel (new)

Wastrel | 184 comments For Hobb, definitely Farseer. Even most Hobb fans don't seem to like 'Soldier Son'. So start with Farseer.

For some ideas, I've looked at the fan-voted reading list I made some time ago (over here, if you're interested), and gotten a list of the ones that I think may be 'epic':

- Chronicles of the Black Company (Cook)
- Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Donaldson)
- The Empire Trilogy (Feist and Wurts)
- The Farseer and Liveship Traders Trilogies (Hobb)
- Earthsea (Le Guin)
- Narnia (Lewis)
- A Song of Ice and Fire (Martin)
- The Fencer Trilogy (Parker)
- The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)
- The Dying Earth; and Lyonesse (Vance)
- Memory Sorrow and Thorn (Williams)
- Chronicles of Amber (Zelazny)
- First Law (Abercrombie)
- The Long Price Quartet (Abraham)
- Prince of Nothing (Bakker)
- Malazan (Erikson)
- Gentlemen Bastards (Lynch)
- Acts of Caine (Stover)

A few words on a couple of those:
- Black Company is from the early 80s, and is seen as a precursor to modern grimdark and military fantasy, so if you like Martin and Bakker and Lynch you may be interested
- Covenant is certainly dark (the second trilogy in particular makes grimdark seem filled with rainbows - it's a seriously existential, soul-deep ugliness), but is also a bit odd by the standards of modern fantasy (eg you may need a thesaurus; then again, some of what I've seen of Bakker's writing, in its verbosity and tendency toward philosophical rumination, seems quite reminiscent of Donaldson)
- the Empire trilogy are quite different, closer in atmosphere to traditional fantasy, although they're dark in places - they're set in a vaguely japanese/korean world with a female protagonist, and are more political than adventury
- Hobb is fantastic

- nobody can ever seem to decide which Parker trilogy is best, or best to begin with
- 'Dying Earth' is hugely influential, and in particular is the forerunner of BOTNS, so if you liked the Wolfe you may be interested in checking it out
- 'Memory, Sorrow and Thorn' is one of the things that GRRM cites as a direct inspiration for ASOIAF, so if you're an ASOIAF fan you might be interested. Once upon a time, Williams was the third giant of the genre alongside Jordan and Goodkind, but he seems to have faded from view more quickly
- Abercrombie and Lynch used to be mentioned in the same breath a lot when they came out, so if you like Lynch...
- Abraham's "Long Price" is another that fashion hasn't been kind to; I remember everybody raving about it a few years ago, but it was always more critically-acclaimed than blockbuster and people seem to have forgotten about it (and Abraham's moved on to more popularist projects). It's noted for its striking worldbuilding, with a vaguely southeast-asia-inspired culture, iirc.
- Acts of Caine is often cited as the father of modern grimdark, although technically it's SF (it's SF in a world in which entertainment takes the form of actors acting out epic fantasy, iirc, so it's mostly in a fantasy setting but with a framing story)

Going back into the mists of time, there are always the other Feist novels - they're not high literature (Empire is probably the best thing he's written), but a lot of people find them enjoyable. If you don't like 'Magician' (which does have a bunch of cliches in it), you might still like the later 'Serpentwar' books, which are grittier and more experimental (the first one is fantasy retelling of the Dirty Dozen, the second one is about fantasy stock market manipulations, the third one is a sort of fantasy Hitler-invades-Russia scenario). And if you're willing to close down some braincells, there genuinely was some entertaining (if comfortable and cliche-ridden) D&D fiction - the early Drizzt novels by Salvatore, for instance, the early Dragonlance novels, and so on.

As one final suggestion, however (I always make this suggestion but I'm not sure anyone has ever followed it...) - Ash: A Secret History. It's an epic fantasy-science-fiction-alternative-history-historical-fiction-etc novel - only one book not a series, but it's supposedly the longest single-volume fantasy novel ever published. You can get it in four volumes if you prefer. Remains the most convincing depiction of a mediaeval setting that I've read.

message 8: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3909 comments I am going to second the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. First series is great, the second series has great moments and a great ending.

Consider going SF. Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space is epic, and dark. Actually, he pretty much lifted the epic parts from Niven's Known Space books, but Reynolds does a good job with it.

message 9: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8291 comments Well, I don't know how anyone can top what's already been mentioned, because wow... this should be part of an old-school FAQ someplace.

Speaking of old school, I don't know if this will fit within the parameters, but I think it's an important series to check out, and that's Katherine Kurtz's Deryni Chronicles. (That's a wiki link which gives a nice overview.)

A lot of the stuff I read in Martin's Song of Ice and Fire sounded kinda-sorta familiar to me, and then one day it dawned on me that his series was following the trail left by Kurtz. Her books aren't as overtly sexual and violent, but she has scenes and plot twists that seem to have inspired Martin's Red Wedding and the like. There are battles and inquisitions and double-crosses and triple-crosses... just a lot of serious mayhem and political intrigue set in a very cool world over a number of generations.

message 10: by Kristina (new)

Kristina | 588 comments If you liked Night Angel, maybe try Lightbringer also by Brent Weeks.

message 11: by Kevin (new)

Kevin | 701 comments Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman and its 2 sequels fits what you're looking for.

message 12: by kvon (new)

kvon | 562 comments You've already got space opera in your list, so I'll add Lois Bujold--start with Warrior's Apprentice.

Also the Taltos series by Stephen Brust, starting with Jhereg.

And definitely skip the Soldiers Son.

message 13: by Ethan (new)

Ethan | 38 comments I'll throw in a recommendation for The Thousand Names by Django Wexler. You seem to have fairly similar tastes to me so I think you might dig it! It's fantasy set in a more Civil-War era world. The first book focuses around a military campaign, and the second is a very interesting political thriller.

message 14: by Barak (new)

Barak Raguan (shiningheart) | 40 comments I just finished reading two of Guy Gavriel Kay's fantastic novels: Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan. They're both epic fantasy stand-alone novels, with an Italian and Iberian penninsula taste, respectively. And they are both superb. They are artfully crafted, intruiging and moving, and I read them both with bated breath (is that a thing people say? Whatever).

message 15: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2254 comments Has anyone mentioned the Kane books by Karl Edward Wagner? Darkness Weaves would be a good place to start ... Three novels and two short-story collections, all currently available in eBook after being out of print for way, way too long ...

And if you want to just dip your toe into a bunch of different options, there are some anthologies that might be worth investigating -- Legends, edited by Robert Silverberg, which came out a good few years ago, and more recently, Epic: Legends of Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams. Both feature an assortment of medium-long stories by well-known epic fantasy authors.

message 16: by Tokio (new)

Tokio Myers (tokibear) | 30 comments Dune

message 17: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4132 comments I haven't read the books but have you tried Tad Williams' Shadowmarch or Otherland or other series? I know our Supreme Sword loves Mr. Williams and I think more books will be coming in on of them but my Google-fu fails me on my phone right now...

Though I think you should try the Lightbringer books again.

message 18: by Aeryn98 (new)

Aeryn98 | 175 comments I put off reading Tad Williams for the longest time and just started reading the Otherland series (on second volume). Now I can't put it down. I haven't read Shadowmarch, but at least Otherland I can recommend.

message 19: by Thane (new)

Thane | 476 comments I second The Chronicles of Amber: Volume I. Of course, I always second that one. Or sometimes "first" it. I picked that particular edition to link to because it's the cover I always think of, the edition I first read. Besides, you like backstabby families, right?

The Chronicles of Amber Volume I (Amber #1-2) by Roger Zelazny

message 20: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments I second (or third) the Chronicles of Amber, Farseer and Earthsea. I also remember liking the Deryni Chronicles but read them too long ago to know whether I'd recommend them now. Thomas Covenant is really well written and very epic but I hated the main character too much to fully enjoy the trilogy. If you like morally ambiguous, it should be really up your alley.

I'd also suggest The Curse of Chalion, which was a group pick a few months ago. Also, judging by the books you've liked and disliked, you may enjoy The Incomplete Enchanter.

back to top