J.R.R. Tolkien discussion

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message 1: by Dorothy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Dorothy | 2 comments Who are your non-Tolkien favorites? Mine are Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, Peter S. Beagle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Patricia A. McKillip, and Catherynne M. Valente.

message 2: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:07PM) (new)

Carl | 11 comments I have to heartily second Gene Wolfe and Ursula LeGuin. I'm still a beginner with Beagle and McKillip, but am impressed so far. Other favorites: Stone and Flute by Hans Bemman (originally in German, but 800 pages is too much for me, so I did the english translation), Winters Tale by Mark Helprin (if that counts as fantasy), CS Lewis has always been a favorite, and I've enjoyed the little of George MacDonald that I've read. Stephen Lawhead has been a favorite ever since I read his original Pendragon cycle (when it was a trilogy. I haven't kept up with his recent work). Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World trilogy has been a favorite since 6th grade, though it took 6 years to finally collect all three parts. I loved Wangerin's Book of the Dun Cow as a kid-- I really need to reread that (it's probably been at least 15 years). If I want to read some of the originals (which in my field is Norse saga and myth), I go for Snorri's Edda (Faulkes has a good translation), Poetic Edda (Larrington's translation is good), Arrow-Odd's saga, and Grettir's saga. And Beowulf if I feel like reading an English story about a Swedish hero. I think there are probably a ton of other books that I will regret not mentioning, but as they are not coming to mind at the moment, they have none but themselves to blame for their absence.

message 3: by Poppy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

Poppy | 3 comments For authors who created secondary worlds: Ursula LeGuin, Patricia McKillip and, er...can I put Terry Pratchett on the list?

message 4: by Kes (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:12PM) (new)

Kes | 1 comments Phillip Pullman yall.

message 5: by Merrin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:12PM) (new)

Merrin | 1 comments Sharon Shinn, Patricia McKillip, Neil Gaiman, Robin McKinley, CS Lewis, and Tamora Pierce. I'd say Beagle, but I've only read The Last Unicorn so I'm not sure I can. I also read this really awesome trilogy by Lian Hearn that was amazing.

message 6: by Joe (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Joe | 6 comments What about Robert Jordan? I lot of people have reccomended his Wheel of Time series, but I fear they might just make me angry that he's ripping off Tolkein. Is this a legitimate fear or should I read them?

message 7: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Carl | 11 comments They aren't as much like Tolkien as 60% of what's out there-- but there is certainly a strong influence (how can there not be in epic fantasy?) There is also some influence from Dune, I think (maybe more than from LOTR in some ways), and probably from a dozen other books. I enjoyed them when I read them back in High School and college. I thought I'd wait til the series is finished before rereading. Is it finished? I haven't heard anything for a while.

message 8: by Joe (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:14PM) (new)

Joe | 6 comments No clue if it's finished. I heard that the author had some rare disease. People have told me that they are a great story and very addicting.

message 9: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:37PM) (new)

Carl | 11 comments And lo and behold, nearly 20 days after we discussed the possibility Jordan died of a rare disease. Argh. Let's keep our mouth's shut about anyone else's rare diseases.

message 10: by Joe (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:37PM) (new)

Joe | 6 comments I know! It's pretty predictable though, I bet he left behind enough notes for someone to finish his series. I think he planned ahead.

message 11: by Darin (new)

Darin (darindickey) | 1 comments I haven't found any books that are as satisfying as Tolkien's LOTR series. His books are so rich--filled with imagery of a fairy-tale world that might have been. He spent so much of his life pouring his heart into the creation of this epoch tale, his own sub-creation. It is difficult to find another brilliant author that has done so. Having said that, there are some other authors that have similar works:

C.S. Lewis is good, but not as deep. His Narnia series is engaging and easy enough for me to read to my young children. He relies heavily on allegory, a writing style that Professor Tolkien 'cordially disliked.' But it works for Lewis.

George MacDonald's books are more deep, but not as interesting. But it is very easy to see how the members of the "Inklings" were deeply affected by MacDonald's writings.

If you like to read old English, get the original copy of Beowulf and do a side-by-side comparison of the original version and Tolkien's translation. You may also want to read the Professor's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Both offer insights into Tolkien’s careful tendancy to preserving the 'spirit' of the original.

Also, I liked the following books because they each reminded me of Tolkien in different ways:

-Paradise Lost by John Milton (an epoch story of the fall and redemption--to me, one of the main themes is good striving against evil in this fallen world--middle earth)

-Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. This is the anti-LOTR story about an evil man who spends his life doing evil and self-serving acts, only to be rewarded by death and hell in the end. An angel even offers some form of salvation if he will only repent. Whereas Frodo strives to be/do good/kind (even to Gollum) all his life, goes through many trials, and even though he gives in to the power of the ring at mount doom-“where all other powers are subdued”-he passes the test and is awarded passage on the last ship sailing into the west(eternal life by my interpretation.)

-The Princess Bride by William Goldman: This is one of the funniest books every written, with a funny movie to accompany it.

-Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling: I know I am going to get roasted for this, but I like some of her books: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, although certainly not at the level of LOTR

-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Whoa, what? Yes, she reminded me of Tolkien too. What caused Sauron, Saruman, Gollum, Morgoth, Boromir, Denethor to fall/fail? Pride.

-Don Quixote (Frodo and Sam, Don Quixote and Sancho? A great and funny book about accomplishing the impossible, even if the 'giants' you face are windmills or exist only in your own mind. They are real to you--and should be defeated.)

There are lots of other books like Tolkeins, but none(in my mind) that approach his quality. You can do a search for Tolkien-like books and get a return like:

Hans Bremmann - The Stone and the Flute
Kristen Britain - Green Rider
Mary Brown - The Unlikely Ones
Allan Cole - The Far Kingdoms
Charles de Lint - The Little Country
Edward Dunsany - The King of Elfland's Daughter
Neil Gaiman - Stardust
William Goldman - The Princess Bride
Guy Gavriel Kay - A Song for Arbonne
Katherine Kerr - The Bristling Wood
Patricia McKillip - The Riddle-Master
Yves Meynard - A Book of Knights
Lawrence Watt-Evans - Dragon Weathe

Terry Brooks - Shannara series
Chris Bunch - The Anteros trilogy
Hugh Cook - The Chronicles of an Age of Darkness
David Drake - Lord of the Isles series
Dave Duncan - Tales of the King's Blades
David Eddings - Belgariad series
Raymond E. Feist - Riftwar series
Peter Garrison - The Changeling Saga
Terry Goodkind - Sword of Truth series
Elizabeth Haydon - The Rhapsody trilogy
Robin Hobb - Farseer trilogy
Robert Jordan - The Wheel of Time series
Katherine Kurtz - Deyrni Chronicles
Stephen Lawhead - Song of Albion series
Ursula Le Guin - The Earthsea series
Fritz Leiber - Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series
C. S. Lewis - Chronicles of Narnia
John Marco - Tyrants and Kings series
George R. R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire series
Anne McCaffrey - Pern series
Dennis McKiernan - The Iron Tower trilogy
L. E. Modesitt - Recluse series
Sean Russell - The Swans' War series
Marc Sebanc - The Talamadh series
Jack Vance - Lyonesse series
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman - Death Gate Cycle
Jack Reeves White - The Archives of Anthropos
Tad Williams - Memory, Sorrow, Thorn trilogy

But I have read very few of these and so I can't personally recommend them.

I personally like Orson Scott Card for fantasy/sci-fi (Seventh Son series and Ender's Game series)

Good luck, let me know if you find anything else that is similar.


Darin Dickey

message 12: by Richard (last edited Feb 08, 2008 10:46PM) (new)

Richard | 1 comments I am going to have to go with Orson Scott Card and his Ender series. I think these books are some of the most original stories written recently.

I would have liked Paolini's Eragon series more if it weren't such a rip-off of other great writers. However, I must admit, I think the kid does have some talent.

Jonathan Stroud's Bartimeus series is also worth a read. Written for kids, but I loved it.

I also must list Rowling, Herbert and Asmiov. (Please don't hate me for listing JK in the same sentence as Frank and Isaac, but I believe that time will prove her to be one of the most innovative and influential writers of this century.) The Dune and Foundation series are both worth the time it will take to get through them.

Well...enough for now.


message 13: by Mountainman91 (last edited Feb 10, 2008 04:20PM) (new)

Mountainman91 | 6 comments Yeah, the Foundation series was good--except for that last book where the main character sleeps around with anything that's not inanimate. Sorry, I hate it when authors, especially pretty good ones like Asimov, pull that dirty trick on me.

message 14: by Meirav (new)

Meirav Rath | 2 comments I agree with Johnathan; though the existance of a sexuality always helps to make a character complete, overdoing it is annoying. Sex is a very distracting plot tool and, though it's not really a 'dirty' thing to do, it somehow tends to flatten a plot.

message 15: by Mountainman91 (new)

Mountainman91 | 6 comments Whoops! did I say 'dirty?' More like unnecessary for a book and sometimes wrong for the audience.

message 16: by Joro (new)

Joro I think the only fantasy author I have read and his books immersed me as much as LotR and the Silmarillion was George Martin and his A Song of Ice and Fire saga. The world and the characters are not the totally typical fantasy archetypes and the books are filled with unexpected turns (and I can`t say such a thing even about many of the classics in the genre)

message 17: by Keegan Fink (new)

Keegan Fink | 1 comments I second Fritz Leiber and George Martin as great suggestions.

An author that has yet to be mentioned is Lord Dunsany, who was a fantasy writer pre-dating Tolkien and subsequently influenced elements of his writing.

message 18: by Rose (new)

Rose (daskaea) | 2 comments James Clemens' series "The Banned and the Bannished" is my favorite fantasy series, and then Tad Williams' "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" and David Eddings' "Belgariad" come up close behind.

message 19: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 19 comments I can't resist these "who are your favorite" questions. It's fascinating (and surprising at times) to see what others are reading (and finding out you're not alone :-)

Before I bore anyone with my personal list, I do want to observe that I think Tolkien is in a class all by himself in terms of creating worlds, and I'm not sure we live in a world where anyone could (or would want to) do what he did: Devote nearly his whole life to creating a new mythos (what the Anglo-Saxons would have accomplished if not for those damnable Norman French!). The man was writing of Beren and Luthien as a young man in the First World War and was revising and polishing the material up to his death 60 years later.

But I digress. Some of my favorites:

1. Steven Erikson, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. A far cry from Tolkien's Middle Earth but a brilliantly conceived and well written series.

2. R. Scott Bakker, The Prince of Nothing series. Another very distant relative of Middle Earth. The third book was a bit disappointing and hopefully he'll recover in the subsequent books of the series but still worth reading.

3. Ursula Le Guin. Pretty much anything this woman writes is worth reading. ("Pretty much"? Heck, EVERYTHING)

4. Fritz Lieber (see #3 above)

5. Glen Cook, The Books of the Black Company, especially the original three.

6. Tad Williams, in particular I'm thinking of the Memory, Sorrow, Thorn trilogy. I'm particularly struck by his treatment of Fairy; it really seems like you're dealing with a nonhuman society.

7. C.J. Cherryh's Books of Morgaine

8. Jack Vance. His style and way with names alone make his stuff worth reading.

9. Michael Moorcock. Yes, yes, there's Elric of Melnibone but, personally, I would recommend Gloriana, an alternate history of the Elizabethan Age.

10. Jessica Salmondson, The Swordswoman

11. Stephen Donaldson. It took me until college to grasp how good the original Covenant books were but once I did, I couldn't resist him.

Series that are OK but overrated: Jordan's Wheel of Times series (which is being finished [finally!:] by Brandon Sanderson) and Brook's Shannara series.

Authors to avoid at all costs (IMHO): David Eddings, Terry Goodkind, Dennis McKiernan.

message 20: by Senda (last edited Jun 08, 2008 02:24PM) (new)

Senda (ombria) | 3 comments Patricia McKillip is my absolute favorite; there are no other current fantasy authors who have the descriptive skills that she does. I commonly describe finishing one of her books like waking up from a dream--vivid images linger in the back of your mind, you are elated yet sad because it's over.
Robin McKinley is a close second, especially for Sunshine.
After that is Tad Williams, and after that I peter off into reading people that I enjoy, but I won't list them here because they really couldn't be classified as favorite. These three are the only ones that make me really excited when a new book is coming out.

I am not a fan of Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, or Robert Jordan.

message 21: by Mountainman91 (new)

Mountainman91 | 6 comments why do we need to avoid these authors(Terry Goodkind and comapny) at all costs? please elaborate.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Terry Goodkind shouldn't be avoided... he should be read.

Goodkind put together a very good (and long) series involving complex characters, new character types (aka not the typical "oh here's a dragon"), etc.

His major problem, however, is twofold:
a) he reintroduces the characters in every book. always.
b) in the middle of the series, he gets lost for about two books- they are terrible. but if you push through them, and read the whole series, most people say they appreciate it.


message 23: by Senda (last edited Jun 15, 2008 02:27PM) (new)

Senda (ombria) | 3 comments I'm sorry to say that I didn't really enjoy his books enough to slog my way through anything worse than the first three, which seemed like a pretty fair chance to give him. His plot may be original, but in the hunt for fantasy books that disprove the stereotype of the genre--cheap, simple to read paperbacks--his series, to me, is not it. Admittedly, I've also read worse. Far worse. The last two books of David Eddings' Elder Gods quartet, for example. Depressing, since I always thought he was a decent author (although you'll notice that Terrence disagrees and always thought he was awful. ;) ).

message 24: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 19 comments In response to Johnathan's comment:

McKiernan: I tried to read his first novel (I forget its title) but it was such a blatant rip off of The Lord of the Rings (even worse than the Sword of Shannara) that I stopped reading it in disgust. He may have improved with time & experience and I'm certainly willing to take a second look if anyone can convince me it's worth it.

Goodkind: I struggled through his first book and sort of shook my head, thinking "Is this it?" And haven't been motivated to change my opinion yet.

Eddings: I simply found Eddings to be boring. I tried to get through his first novel several times but couldn't do it.

And I hope no one thinks I'm impugning their tastes in reading when I offer my own opinions. My friend loathes Mick Farren's Protectorate. Even after 20+ years since we both first read it, I can get a rise out of him simply by saying, "Protectorate." I, on the other hand, found it to be one of the best SF novels I've ever read.

So don't let me stop anyone from trying a new author. It's all a matter of personal taste. Some people can read Goodkind and find a great deal to like; I'm just not one of them.

And McKillip wrote the Riddlemaster of Hed series, didn't she? I remember reading them back in high school and enjoying them. Perhaps I should take a stroll down memory lane and get reacquainted with her.

message 25: by Eli (new)

Eli I am not very well read on fantasy, I tend to stick to Tolkien.

However, I do like CS Lewis very very much, and in a totally different style, as Poppy D said, Terry Pratchett.

Although these two authors are extremely different, they both can either be taken lightly, as a fun story, or can be very thought provoking. Pratchett in particular has some very interesting philosophy if anyone cares to look for it.

message 26: by Coalbanks (new)

Coalbanks | 8 comments Thanks for the lists. Some new, some old, some I like, some not so much. To each his own.

Larry Niven " Ringworld" "Man-Kzin" series.

Kenneth Grahame "Wind in the Willows" &
J M Barrie "Peter Pan"
classics which rank with the others mentioned above, IMHO.

message 27: by Jarl Erik (new)

Jarl Erik (jarlerik) | 5 comments I for my part want to suggest David Gemmell. It's very different from Tolkien in my opinion. If you look into it, you should read the Rigante series (again in my opinion :P). The first book of the Drenai Saga "Legend" is often recommended.

message 28: by Evan (new)

Evan Edwards (sire166) | 1 comments I think you guys are really, really missing out on a lot of stuff. A great list to look at for really good fantasy books is http://www.bestfantasybooks.com/top25...
There are a lot of new authors who are really revitalizing the whole genre and doing things with it that have never been done before. Tolkein was great but dont get stuck on him forever is my personal opinion. Anyone who is interested should really look at Brent Weeks, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Peter V. Brett, Brandon Sanderson, and Joe Abercrombie. You absolutely need to give these a try especially Patrick Rothfuss. Sorry if I offended anyone by saying that you should move on but that is how I feel.

message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael | 454 comments Mod
No offence taken, and I think we probably all read other authors, but I think you're preaching to the wrong congregation. Tolkien is Lord!


message 30: by Lianne (new)

Lianne (eclecticreading) | 16 comments Dorothy wrote: "Who are your non-Tolkien favorites?"

My favourite non-Tolkien fantasy authors include Tad Williams, Brandon Sanderson, Terry Pratchett and George R.R. Martin. I haven't read the second volume yet but I enjoyed Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind and I imagine I'd add his name to the list once I read the second volume. Same with Daniel Abraham =)

message 31: by Paolo (new)

Paolo | 18 comments I'd definitely add Rothfuss to the list for the King Killer Chronicles so far.

message 32: by Paolo (new)

Paolo | 18 comments Robert Jordan's Eye of the World series is good, as is George RR Martin's Game of Thrones series, although with both series they have tended to get bogged down in the later books, to the point of the story development becoming turgid.

I think that Tolkien left the fantasy genre with high expectations of world building and historical background. The trouble many authors seem to have is that they do the work to build a world, but then feel the need to tell the reader every scrap of detail or they think their effort is wasted.

What makes Tolkien's work so great is that the mythology is there when it's needed, but the Hobbit and LOTR don't try to force it in at the expense of the story. The history is more effectively communicated in the appendices, the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and so on, where it IS the story.

message 33: by Nocturnal (new)

Nocturnal (enkokasumi) My second favorite fantasy author (really REALLY close second) is Steven Erikson. I'm in love with his Malazan saga.

The third one would be David Gaider, because I'm a hardcore Dragon Age fan.

And the fourth one, even though I only started his The Steel Remains franchise, is Richard Morgan. His writing is so different from everything I've read so far.

message 34: by L (new)

L | 132 comments (As a huge fan of fantasy genre, this list might be quite long. so, i have tried to make it as short as possible & only name those great authors whom i love most!)...

* JK Rowling - Harry Potter series & the casual vacancy
* C.S Lewis - Narnia
* Kate Elliot - Crown of Stars series and crossroads
* Terry Brooks -Shannara and other works
* David Farland - the Runelords series (9 books)
* Brian Ruckley - the godless world trilogy
* Robert Newcombe - the chronicles of blood and stone
* Raymond E Feist - Serpentwar Saga and other works
* MD Lachlan (wolves) trilogy
* Gene Wolfe - the Kinght and the wizard Knight
* Robin Hobb - the farseer trilogy and the Liveship traiders
* Anne McCaffrey - Moreta Dragonlady of Pern
* George RR Martin - series, a song of ice and fire
* Stephen Donaldson - the runes of the earth (similar to Tolkien in many ways)
* Gail Z Martin - the chronicles of the necromancer (4 books)
* Chris Evans - The Iron Elves trilogy
* Robert Jordan - the wheel of time series (9 books)
* The night angel trilogy by Brent Weeks
* Sean Russell - the swans war trilogy
* Greg Keyes - trilogy, the kingdoms of thorn and bone
* Emily Gee - the sentinel mage (book 1)
* Terry Goodkind - the sword of truth series (who could not love it?!)
* James Barclay - the chronicles of the raven
* Janny Wurts - (series) the wars of light and shadow
*Steven Erikson - the Malazan book of the fallen

... i could metion more, but i have already nearly filled the shelves for this genre! No one can however compare to Tolkien who is so distinctively unique & unmatchable.

message 35: by Beth (new)

Beth | 23 comments Senda wrote: "Patricia McKillip is my absolute favorite; there are no other current fantasy authors who have the descriptive skills that she does. I commonly describe finishing one of her books like waking up from a dream--vivid images linger in the back of your mind, you are elated yet sad because it's over.
Robin McKinley is a close second, especially for Sunshine."

I've read a few Patricia McKillip books. I read the Riddle-master books when I was younger but they seem a little bit generic in retrospect. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld was good, but I didn't love it. I later read The Bell At Sealey Head but found the ending a little disappointing. In my old review of it I said (view spoiler) but I don't really remember the details now. I might try McKillip again though.

I like every Robin McKinley I've tried except Sunshine. It's something about the writing style that just rubs me the wrong way. Spindle's End is my favorite McKinley, a Sleeping Beauty retelling. I like it for the writing style (whimsical, with long, meandering sentences), the very detailed fantasy setting, and some great characters. It makes some very clever changes to the original fairytale. Have you read this one, Senda?

Deerskin is another good McKinley book, a retelling of the fairytale "Donkeyskin" and definitely her darkest work. I have mixed feelings about some aspects of the ending, but it's a very powerful book.

message 36: by Hyarrowen (last edited Aug 04, 2015 02:28PM) (new)

Hyarrowen | 65 comments Dorothy wrote: "Who are your non-Tolkien favorites? Mine are Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, Peter S. Beagle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Patricia A. McKillip, and Catherynne M. Valente."

Seconding Narnia (I kind of read this with my critical facilities turned off) and Ursula LeGuin - most especially the Earthsea books, which are wonderful adventures and pretty thought-provoking too. But my go-to Tolkien substitute is Michael Scott Rohan's "Winter of the World" trilogy, which I see someone else has recced. It's a riff on the story of Wayland the Smith and has very deep worldbuilding: set during an interglacial period, with the main characters going up against the powers of the Ice.

I'd also rec Diana Wynne Jones - she was one of Tolkien's students at Oxford but has produced fantasy ideas of her own that are like a mountain stream, if I may use a poetic simile - sparkling and deep by turns. The Chrestomanci series is a good place to start.

message 37: by Lariela (last edited Aug 04, 2015 07:35PM) (new)

Lariela | 14 comments Sharon Shinn (Twelve Houses series), Juliet Marillier (Sevenwaters series), Kate Forsyth, Guy Gavriel Kay, Garth Nix and Naomi Novik.

message 38: by Beth (new)

Beth | 23 comments Ursula LeGuin - most especially the Earthsea books, which are wonderful adventures and pretty thought-provoking too.

I read 4 of the 5 Earthsea books when I was younger and liked them ok, but it wasn't until later when I read The Left Hand of Darkness that I really became interested in LeGuin. That's one of my favorite books. It's sf but there's a mythic aspect that I think would appeal to many fantasy readers. She also has some excellent short stories.

message 39: by L (last edited Aug 31, 2015 07:46AM) (new)

L | 132 comments I was given a totally awesome suggestion recently of "The stone and the flute" by Hans Bemmann! The Stone and the Flute

The blurb sounds interesting and I can't wait to read it..

[didn't cost an arm and a leg either - result! Despite my local libraries not having copies?! Just plain weird!]

I'm always keen to seek out new authors and not so well known fictional works [or poetry etc.].

*amended - as I've just found a fab Quote!

“Verstehen braucht seine Zeit. Daran solltest du immer denken.” Quote love!!

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