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The most complex lore?

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message 1: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new)

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1673 comments Mod
I was having a discussion with the SO last night about GoT (which he is now currently reading), and it lead him to mention that he was surprised by how many people on Twitter complain about how complex the lore is for this series.

This made me think about what other book series and authors have *more* complex lore than A Song of Fice and Ire (too insidery?). Off the top of my head. I thought of Tolkien (natch), Terry Brooks, Wheel of Time, and most Neal Stephenson books.

What other fantasy / sci-fi books would you argue have a more complex world and lore?


message 2: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6203 comments Peter F. Hamilton ftw.


message 3: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments I believe The Guin Saga blows everything else out of the water just based upon length. Per Wikipedia:

The Guin Saga (グイン・サーガ Guin Sāga?) is the title of a best-selling heroic fantasy novel series by the Japanese author Kaoru Kurimoto, in continuous publication since 1979. A record 100 volumes were originally planned, but the final total stands at 130 volumes, the last four published posthumously, with 21 side-story novels. She was working on the 130th volume of Guin Saga up until 23 May 2009, after which point she became too ill to write.

And people wonder why I mock Martin for taking five years to write one book.


message 4: by Kris (new)

Kris (kvolk) Feist because of the changing cast of characters and I think Dune is also pretty complex. S.M Stirling's Die's the Fire is another series with soime political intrigue and complexity.


message 5: by aldenoneil (last edited Jul 05, 2011 11:55AM) (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments Star Wars immediately comes to mind, though it originated as a movie (which you may have heard of). It has a huge, detailed world and history simply because of all the authors and media involved, and I used to know it all! Or some. A lot, anyway.


message 6: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments Well I have not started the Song of Fice and Ire series yet (hoping to soon though!) I agree with the Wheel Of Time lore complexity. As the series progresses he just delves deeper and deeper into that lore. I actually think its the main reason there are so many books. He let the back story grow way to much.

Another series with fairly complex lore is the Belgariad and Malorean series by David Eddings. When you read the back stories of Belgarath and Polgara you see how much is actually involved in the world he created.


message 7: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6203 comments The Song of Lice and Tires?


message 8: by aldenoneil (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments Vice and Sires.


message 9: by Skip (last edited Jul 07, 2011 08:18AM) (new)

Skip | 517 comments The Dresden Files deserves a mention for the shear multitude of creatures. There are three types of vampires, four types of were-creature, winter and summer fae, non-aligned spirits, outsider spirits, trolls, gods, demons, and fallen angels just off the top of my head.

The lore of The Game of Thrones isn’t so much thin as it is being parceled out in very small increments. Because we are largely dealing with POVs of characters that are educated and relatively powerful in the time and place they exist. This means any long bit of lore would be largely out of place. The Wheel of Time books get away with a lot of lore because you have main characters that are untrained yokels at the beginning.

Also, the number of books makes a big difference. Tolkien’s lunch orders have all been published at this point, Goodreads lists 22 books on Middle Earth. The Wheel of Time runs about 10,000 pages. Shannara is currently 24 books. By comparison the Game of Thrones just hasn’t had the space to develop comparable lore.


message 10: by Halbot42 (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments Robin Hobb, Raymond Feist, Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter (lore encompasses the birth-death of the universe), Roger Zelazney, Terry Pratchett, Vernor Vinge, Tim Powers


message 11: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6203 comments Tim Powers just strings 20 weird true things together. :)


message 12: by Halbot42 (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments Speaking of Tim Powers, did you realize that the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie is based on his book On Stranger Tides, which was published years ago, pretty funny, cool, ironic, interesting, sad, depending on your view of Hollywood and 4-part franchises.


message 13: by Robert (new)

Robert M (rfmdevil73) | 12 comments I'm not big into fantasy books as others are here, but I do enjoy the genre. I wouldn't complain about a fantasy material being too complex unless they were short & left too many unanswered questions. For me, it's those questions that draw me wanting to reading more. Much like the RPGs quests draw you in. Maybe the level of detail is too much? At times I find myself going back over what I read. I couldn't begin to tell you what's too complex or not because I believe it depends mostly on the preferences of the reader & what they can/want to handle.


message 14: by Halbot42 (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments I dont think the comment was really meant to be about too much lore, but rather who does it well...


message 15: by aldenoneil (last edited Jul 06, 2011 11:02AM) (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments I've always been curious why it is we (OK, I) get so caught up in fictional lore when our real, actual history is ripe with drama, and serves as the basis for any fictional lore out there. E.g., I'd have been somewhat better served in high school learning about battleship classes than types of TIE Fighters, but real-world stuff didn't interest me as much.

Another example: Every time I read about a fictional people having a race-defining characteristic that would be seen as a racist in their real-world counterpart, I think, "I could be learning about the actual history of these people, and where this stereotype comes from, enriching my life, etc." Anyone else?


message 16: by aldenoneil (last edited Jul 06, 2011 11:07AM) (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments By the way, the Interceptor (the best option for dealing with faster Alliance craft like the A-wing) has always been my fav'.




message 17: by Kris (new)

Kris (kvolk) aldenoneil wrote: "I've always been curious why it is we (OK, I) get so caught up in fictional lore when our real, actual history is ripe with drama, and serves as the basis for any fictional lore out there. E.g., I'..."

Well only speaking for myself I have found that it takes finding the right author for my nonfiction interests which had the side benefit of defining my interest further then I also think that school did an associative thing to me so that I equate "real" stuff with boring but that is not true just my association. When I broke it down then I could make choices based on my interest and judge authors on their skill and writing. JMTS


message 18: by Don (new)

Don (dethblooms) | 13 comments I agree with the WoT being complex, but at least it has quite a few books to explain it. What about Dan Simmons' Hyperion series? Ive only gotten through the first 2 books and I find it extremely complex to the point where Im not sure I will finish the series. On a side note, is his new book Flashback based on the drug from the Hyperion series that does the same thing?


message 19: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments aldenoneil wrote: "By the way, the Interceptor (the best option for dealing with faster Alliance craft like the A-wing) has always been my fav'."

TIE Defender all the way.



With one of these babies, you can take out a squadron of A-wings and still be able to polish of a Mon Calamari Cruiser. (TIE Fighter -- best space combat game ever.)


message 20: by Dan (new)

Dan (daniel-san) | 101 comments There are many ways a story can be complex. GoT doesn't have any mindbending ideas so much as it's a bookkeeping exercise of who is doing what since there are so many characters to keep track of.

If you want complex ideas rather than a fairly straightforward story with many threads, I can think of a lot of examples. I would say Frank Herbert, Philip K. Dick, Peter F. Hamilton, Gene Wolfe, and Neal Stephenson have a plethora of novels with compelling complex ideas going on in them.


message 21: by aldenoneil (last edited Jul 06, 2011 12:11PM) (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments Sean wrote: "TIE Fighter -- best space combat game ever."

Self-evident, this is.


message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary (valentinew) | 118 comments Raymond Feist, The Belgariad, The Elenium, Mercedes Lackey's books on Valdemar.

I think any series develops a complex history/lore/mythology as it continues. The trick for the author becomes making sure that it doesn't contradict itself. The difference with Tolkien's work is that the lore, languages & cultures were all completely developed, right down to the myths & histories, before he ever wrote a word of The Lord of the Rings.

Yes, Star Wars lore is extensive. Skywalker Ranch has a department devoted solely to keeping track of the Extended Universe & making sure that new work fits into the universe that is now Star Wars. However (and it's a BIG however), anything in Star Wars lore is subject to the whim of its creator. Midichlorians rise & fall at the whim of Lucas....


message 23: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (new)

Jlawrence | 960 comments Mod
aldenoneil wrote: "I've always been curious why it is we (OK, I) get so caught up in fictional lore when our real, actual history is ripe with drama, and serves as the basis for any fictional lore out there. E.g., I'..."

I think it's rooted in a story grabbing you, and then you wanting to absorb everything else about that story that you can. I'm interested in history and slip non-fiction books into my reading queue with moderate frequency, but well-crafted fictional worlds (usually meaning interesting world-building + good story + good writing/directing/whatever) have always had a deeper draw for me. I've bought Planescape campaign sourcebooks, even though I've never used them for an actual tabletop RPG session, just because I became fascinated with that world thanks to the excellent PC game Planescape: Torment. Sometimes if the world-building is creative enough, I don't even need a story to be fascinated by the fictional world. The best example of that for me is the Codex Seraphinianus.

On what series have the most complex lore -- I think the winners would likely be decade-long franchises whose lore built up largely unplanned by sheer accretion. Take Star Wars which Alden mentioned - if you just stick to the movies and their novelizations, well, there's a good amount of content there but it's not *so* complex. But if you include all the spin-off novels, comic-book, rpg sourcebooks, etc. (not to mention video games like the awesome Tie Fighter one mentioned above), you not only have a complex tangle of lore, but the additional task of deciding what's canon and not, what contradictions you will overlook or hope will be retconned, etc.

For more consistent and directed complex lore, Herbert's Dune and Wolfe's New Sun are the two most familiar to me, and Tolkien certainly for his great breadth and originality in world-building (it's hard to sense that originality now that his world has been used as a high-fantasy template for a bajillion other works). There's a number of authors listed in posts above that I've been meaning to read, too.


message 24: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments Tamahome wrote: "Tim Powers just strings 20 weird true things together. :)"

I'm listening to Last Call now. Like most of Powers' books, it makes my head hurt. Declare is probably his best, but takes the most brain power. My favorite was the audiobook of On Stranger Tides, Bronson Pinchot seemed to have so much fun narrating it that it was a lot of fun to listen too.

I honestly can't think of another writer who's more complex than Tim Powers. Neal Stephenson is a close second.


message 25: by Anne (new)

Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 830 comments Now you all made me want to read Tim Powers. Any suggestions where to start? (I know it's slightly off-topic, but you started it anyway.)


message 26: by Halbot42 (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments He has one called The Anubis Gates which features a cool mix of magic, mummies and cabalism i think. There is a great trilogy starting with Last Call( i just learned it was a trilogy halfway through book 3 and i missed book 1 so now im backtracking) in which ghosts are everywhere, often trapped in mechanical or electrical contraptions created by a few wise people. Book 2 Expiration Date strongly features the ghost of Thomas Edison which everyone is madly pursuing, zany funny cool magic. Give him a try. And, as i mentioned previously, apparently the new Pirates movie is based on a book he wrote years ago, and based on the previous post apparently Balki tears it up on the audio.


message 27: by Kev (new)

Kev (sporadicreviews) | 639 comments The Dragonlance series has tons of lore as well.


message 28: by Tamahome (last edited Jul 07, 2011 03:16PM) (new)

Tamahome | 6203 comments I've listened to On Stranger Tides on audio. But you have to really pay attention, because almost everyone has multiple names, and there's some strange vocabulary that might not have an obvious spelling. :)


message 29: by Aeryn98 (new)

Aeryn98 | 175 comments Just finished the Fall of Hyperion and I agree this series falls into the heading of complex. Just like Peter F. Hamilton's creations.

Personally, as far as fantasy goes, Steven Erikson's Malazan series has the most complex world structure and lore. Old gods, new gods, all the different realms to keep track of. I adored it and I can't wait to see what Ian Esslemont (another writer who has been writing about that same world.

As far as I am concerned, the more complex, the better. Give me a large glossary at the back of a book, and website encyclopedias and I'm a happy girl. It turns reading into an experience rather than just a story.


message 30: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments Anne wrote: "Now you all made me want to read Tim Powers. Any suggestions where to start? (I know it's slightly off-topic, but you started it anyway.)"

I think Declare is his best book. However, it's really, really difficult to get through. It's so dense. I'd say his most accessible book is Three Days to Never. It's the most straight-forward narrative. On Stranger Tides is beyond fun to listen to in audio. I think Bronson Pinchot is the perfect narrator for it and it would have lost a lot in print.


message 31: by Nick (new)

Nick (whyzen) | 1295 comments Sort of a mix between video games and books made about it but the whole World of Warcraft lore is pretty complex.
They have over ten books relating to the universe now I believe. I think a few of the authors are the same that work on the Dragonlance series.


message 32: by Micah (last edited Jul 08, 2011 06:41PM) (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments Sean wrote: "aldenoneil wrote: "By the way, the Interceptor (the best option for dealing with faster Alliance craft like the A-wing) has always been my fav'."

TIE Defender all the way. With one of these bab..."


I spent so many hours on that game!!! 8 floppies and a 3 hour install. Every time my dad would reformat the computer I would lose everything. That is still my benchmark when it comes to any space game.


message 33: by aldenoneil (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments Micah wrote: "8 floppies and a 3 hour install."

The bootdisk. THE BOOTDISK!


message 34: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments aldenoneil wrote: "Micah wrote: "8 floppies and a 3 hour install."

The bootdisk. THE BOOTDISK!"


ha! ha! I think its cracked. Its cracked! oh wait thats just jelly! Thank god.


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