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 Post subject: Favourite authors, series and books
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:37 pm 
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It took a bit of effort to start this, since I do not wish to make this post too long, but I have read and enjoyed quite a number of books over the years.

I am half tempted just to go down the bookshelves and jot down authors I have enjoyed as I see them, but that might require a bit more running from room to room than I would like at the moment.

Perhaps an exerpt from an email I once sent someone will do for the present. It certainly does not cover all the authors I enjoy, but it is a start.

I began my interest in Science Fiction with Tar Aiym Krang by Alan Dean Foster in 1972 (by my recollection; it might have been a year later). I collected the standard children's books of that time period (Tom Swift was my favourite and the collection I spent forty years completing), and devoured Arthur C Clarke, Robert A Heinlein, oddly enough no Isaac Asimov until I was in University, and sampled a lot of the Science Fiction writers who were new in the early 1970's. I ran across Fantasy in 1978 when I discovered Fellowship of the Ring in my school library (they did not have the other two books, so I read a few chapters in the city Library every time my family travelled there until I had completed the series). I ran across Raymond Feist in 1983 and have since collected all his published work, and was fortunate enough to get one of them signed.

I did not really start seriously collecting though until I had gotten my first degree and was starting my grad work. I started with my known authors, Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Foster, Frank Herbert, although the only author I managed to collect the complete works of was Alan Dean Foster. I discovered more Fantasy authors during this, and collected David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey, Simon R Green, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Haydon, Mark Anthony, Tanya Huff, Michael Stackpole, Jim Butcher, Christopher Stasheff, Terry Goodkind, Tad Williams, L E Modesitt. I recalled fondly many books I read as a child, so have collected Arthur Ransome, Enid Blyton, Madeleine L'Engle, as well as more recent children's books by Diane Duane. It is a bad time to admit that I have several Robert Asprin books, but was not enthralled by his work. I also have collected most of the Fritz Lieber, H P Lovecraft and Michael Moorcock books, but do not consider them great literature either. In addition, for some years I bought Forgotten Realms and a few Dragonlance books, but other than a few authers, the writing was only passable, so once I found I had little time for pen and paper gaming anymore, my interest in the associated books was reduced (other than the few authors whose work I liked). In other genres I collected most of the Tom Clancy books until I felt his writing had deteriorated, James Rollins, Michael Crichton. Because I found the story and artwork so exceptional, I have collected all but one of the collected comic works of Usagi Yojimbo and more recently, have acquired the collections of the comic PS238. A few hundred of my collection are also my technical library, literature, philosphy, or books acquired for or because of classes I have taken. I must admit to a bias towards Kant, but his books led me to read Kierkegard, whose books led me to Nietzsche.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:33 pm 
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See? I told you he was well read. :P

Xerius, you have an impressive collection of books, and I see that you have named many of my favoites, David Eddings being at the top of my list. You also mention authors I have heard of but never read (and a few I have never heard of).

In subsequent posts, you will have to select a few of your books and discuss why you like or don't like them and what you look for in a fantasy novel. It will be enthralling reading for us as writers, as well as readers, I am sure :)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:21 am 
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Actually, David Eddings is a kind of love-hate relationship of mind. Okay maybe not that strong, but... love-curious-as-to-why-I-love-him relationship. His books are catchy, yes, but it's all because he rely so heavily on cliches.

I read the books pretty early on in my life but if I read them today I would most likely snort and put them away before long, as they have a sort of B-movie feel to them. The set-up is simple: good guys versus bad guys, no in between grey-tones. All of the good guys are cliches out to their fingertips. Nothing really nasty happens but there is a lot of running around trying to 'save the world', generally with some deity in tow who can right whatever mistake they make. Someone has to die so there can be a bit of emotion mixed in, but said deity can always comfort them because the dead person is really very happy anyway. And we all know there will be a happy ending, and everyone get what they want.

It's entertaining, but nothing I will waste sleep over, if you know what I mean? It doesn't raise any questions, there are no difficulties I can worry how they will get out of; there is simply a smooth journey from A to B. Like... Xena the warrior princess with her feisty sidekick. Sheesh. Unrealistic adventures with cheap computer graphics and jokes that make you groan (pardon to the Xena-fans!)!

Yet, I know that this recipe is a good way to cook up a best-seller, cause many people want this kind of entertainment - something where they don't have to rack their brains, or feel emotions, cause life is so horrible and problematic as it is, many times.

See now why I call it love-hate relationship? Damn close. :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:39 am 
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The flip side of that coin though are the writers who seem to believe that by making every second character angst driven, haunted by old nightmares, flawed beyond all repair, but still somehow capable of not only functioning in polite society (with periodic soliloquies on how their lives will never be the same) but also saving the world on alternate Tuesdays, the writing is better than the Eddings style, where things get bad, but always improve at the end, sometimes with a cost to the characters.

And both forms are valid, but equally flawed. I personally prefer the Eddings type of book to the extreme alternative, although I do dislike the way Eddings writes women.

I enjoyed the Belgariad. I ran across one of the books in the middle of the series in a used book store, picked it up because it looked interesting, then went scrambling for the rest of the series. The Mallorean was even better and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

On the other side though, I enjoyed the Elenium, but found the Tamuli a less attractive series. I still consider it good writing, but Eddings had by that point established himself as a superior writer, and the Tamuli was not superior writing.

High Hunt is not fantasy, so I suppose not viable discussion material for this forum, but I still enjoyed the writing in it, while The Losers, marginally closer to fantasy, never caught my attention.

The Elder Gods was again interesting enough, but not up to the caliber of Eddings' earlier works. The Redemption of Althalus, however, I did enjoy, because it was complex enough to attract my attention. I suspect Eddings was trying a different style and although again his writing of women in that book felt flawed, it was worth the effort to read.

An example on the flip side of that coin though is George R R Martin, whose Game of Thrones (and following) series seemed to follow the 'fatally flawed but still running out to save the world' pattern, which I could not seem to maintain interest in. I will admit though that I had only read the first three books in that series before I gave up on it, so perhaps the series improved after that point.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:04 am 
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George RR Martin's Game of Thrones is something I have yet to read, sadly, but am very curious to do. Yet, in book discussions, I keep coming back to a favourite of mine: Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. For me, it has everything a good book should have. The main characters are bruised from earlier years, but not fatally so. They are capable of both love and hate just like everyone else, no one is purely good or purely evil - everyone has a reason for behaving like they do, and looking at those reasons, you can understand and even sympathize with the villains (up to the point were they do something so nasty that you simply can't justify it any longer). They make mistakes that they take responsibility for, learn and grow from. It's a well balanced story in a fantastic world where you don't know what waits around the corner, and I can't recall that I ever figured out the end before reading it. The characters are alive, and when putting the book down they live their own life inside my head and their problems become my problems, that I want to find a solution for.

Simply... spell-binding.

Another example of books that soon lost their appeal is The Wheel of Time series - set in a fantastic world, true, with an intereresting base for the story, but with so many different characters that it soon becomes a job in itself to keep track of who is who. Plus, they don't learn anything! None of them evolves from the person they were when they first rode out from Two Rivers, or whatever their home village is called, and none of them learns from their mistakes - they just keep on doing the same mistakes over and over! I can't abide it! *screams and runs in circles*

.......

Right. Enough on that. Let's just say that I abhor people that don't seem to evolve.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:56 am 
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Ooh, where to begin... well, I won't touch your discussion of Eddings. I could never get into The Belgariad (I read through the first two books, even, back in college because a friend of mine insisted... they just lost my interest). The three of you can flog me if you will, though I've been meaning to give him another try, it has been over ten years now ;)

Let's see the list! Here's the love, hate, and love/hate I have for these folks...

Alan Dean Foster. What can I say? I love him. Ok, honestly, I've only read the The Spellsinger series (it's the only one my husband has) but his style is captivating. The creativity & his characters (seriously: a Marxist dragon? I love it!) are like nothing I've quite seen before or since. I've only found him recently, too. Though, after Spellsinger, I got distracted with other books & projects & would be interested in what to go buy next.

I'm not opposed to Sci-Fi, I just am leery after having stumbled across some of the very technical and/or political type books (for example, the Red/Green/Blue Mars books). Though when I was very young, I did quite enjoy Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang. I've tried, on a few occasions, to read Dune... I'm told (by my husband & a few others) it really does evolve into a wonderful story once you get past all the political crap (I'm sorry, I hate that stuff) and I did enjoy the more recent movie from the Sci-Fi channel. Perhaps if I find the time, that'd deserve another chance too...

Ok, your fantasy list *cracks knuckles* in the great big paragraph...I'm not sure I caught them all *duck* but let's see, here's the ones I know...

Robert Jordan - I quite like The Wheel of Time series. I wouldn't call it my favorite ever but it captured me for the last 11 books (though I was iffy at 9 :P), which is no small feat. I think it's because there are a couple of characters I love reading about (finding myself impatient... c'mon, man, do another Matt chapter!)

Anne McCaffrey - my mother loves her, lol. I haven't read the Pern books, just the one or two sci-fi things. She's been on my "list" forever.

Mercedes Lackey - ah, my high school & first few post high school years. I had everything the woman wrote at that time. I still have them, they take up almost an entire bookshelf. Her modern-times stuff, the vampire hunter ones, I really disliked so I won't go into that. But Valdemar... that's where I lived for those years. Looking back on them, I find her ham-fisted...or as a friend of mine put it: "the woman never met an adverb she didn't like". And yet the ideas were fresh & original & fun to read. I loved the Heralds & their Companions & the Hawkbrothers & the griffons... etc.

Haydon & Huff - I think I've read one or two each of them, I have the books and the titles & backs of them are familiar but I can't say they've stood out in my memory, I'm sorry.

Tad Williams - I've read Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn & also Tailchaser's Song. Again, since I loved the characters, I could forgive a multitude of sins, though Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn did drag on in places. Tailchaser's Song almost was the 'cat version' of Watership Down...at least, Watership Down was the first 'big girl' book I fell in love with as a kid & it has a special place in my heart. Them calling Tailchaser's Song that did not offend me.

Madeleine L'Engle is also much beloved from my youth :)

And I have a good few of Lovecraft's, as well. I can't find myself disagreeing with you on him. (He is considered pulp fiction, after all)

I liked the one or two Forgotten Realms books I've read... Songs & Swords was especially amusing & kept my interest quite well but no, I wouldn't call them "great literature" either.

My dad likes Tom Clancy...I can't recall if I've tried any of his, though. Crichton, I liked the two I read really well: Sphere and Jurassic Park (before the movie came out).

And finally, Mr. George R.R. Martin. Him, I both love & hate. The...somehow repetitive feeling I get from the plot lines, the way he kills people (not that he does it, the way he does it, as if it's just for effect sometimes)... but I have found a few of the characters that almost redeem the story by themselves. So, he drives me nuts. Also, the freakin' 5-year breaks (or more) between books :P

And of course, highest on my list are the ones I've done the spur-of-the-moment reviews of here: Robin Hobb (my all-time favorite modern, maybe all-time ever, fantasy author), Jennifer Fallon, and of course, Lawrence Watt-Evans (who began his career doing sci-fi :D). And since you mostly avoided the horror guys (Mr. HP being an exception), I'll leave off of them for now.

I'd be interested in what you think of Tolkien, too. I didn't see him listed. I have some mixed feelings (though mostly good...mostly) about him.

Whew. That was more than I expected to type...especially before I've finished my first cup of coffee. But thanks for starting the discussion!

EDIT: And most of my 'college books' are things like Structural Analysis & Synthesis and Resources of the Earth (I'm a geologist, with a specific interest in geochemistry & mineralogy. Though I don't actually work as one *sigh*). Though, if you want a wonderfully informative, well-written, incredibly interesting other-worldly (yet factual) book, try The Search For Life On Other Planets by Bruce Jakosky (I just did a search...holy crap, he's even got a wiki page!). He's on NASA's panel for Mars missions, a brilliant man. And he was an amazing teacher, that was the coolest class I ever had. It was geared towards all majors, not just science types, actually, as it dealt with the philosophy of life & intelligence as well as the science...I took it as a 'fluff' 400-level science class in my senior year.

(I know what you're thinking: why does a science major not like the technical sci-fi books. It's not that I don't understand them...it's just that they don't take me 'out of reality' the way pure fantasy does, you know? I just don't enjoy it as much).

EDIT 2 (ok, the 2nd one I'm admitting to) - I forgot to point out how in agreement I am with:
Quote:
the writers who seem to believe that by making every second character angst driven, haunted by old nightmares, flawed beyond all repair, but still somehow capable of not only functioning in polite society (with periodic soliloquies on how their lives will never be the same) but also saving the world on alternate Tuesdays

..that drives me nuts. Though, I admit, I'm a fan of dark stories & yes, even a little bit of angst :oops:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:30 pm 
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First, to Dragonsnail.

You pick two rather interesting examples, as I am currently rereading both Goodkind's The Pillars of Creation, and Jordan's The Shadow Rising (also Green's Just Another Judgement Day, Hendee's Child of a Dead God, Huff's Fire Stone and Gleick's Chaos, but we will ignore those for the moment).

It is of some interest to see how varying viewpoints see a writer though, since my own impressions tangent from yours in some ways.

As to Goodkind, I have enjoyed his writing. He does as you say write characters with flaws and assets, villains who have mindsets that render their crimes necessary in their own eyes, and characters indeed have lives before the books began which are referred to or return to affect the character in some way.

Unfortunately, my impression on characters learning does not mirror yours, since it feels to me that a character may have more experience to work with in the later books than the earlier, may have developed skills not present in an earlier book, but seem to be cardboard in other ways. The main character says several times in every book that he does not believe in prophecy, while reading all the prophecy he can find to not believe in. Even a page after fulfilling a prophecy, he has been known to say he does not believe in prophecy and this to the best of my recollection continues through the entire series. Some supporting characters may have learned in (very) later books that their attempts to alter events to fulfil prophecies never work out, since the prophecies always end up being fulfilled in other ways, but they keep trying on the strength of their belief that just because their efforts were counterproductive the last dozen times does not mean that they do not know best this time.

Oddly enough, the only characters in the series who to my eye show development are villains, either to reform, to evolve into a more dangerous form, or to be rendered harmless by events.

It also does not help that I felt that every Goodkind book could have been two hundred pages shorter without losing any storyline.

And unless you want a very lengthy opinion, The Legend of the Seeker is not a good subject to bring up, since it might be watchable if it was not based on a series of books I know well, but it diverges so wildly from the series that it annoys me greatly.

As to Wheel of Time, I found it seven very readable books, and four that wasted a lot of paper.

And oddly enough, my opinion diverges from yours here as well, as I was a bit surprised at the viewpoint that characters did not evolve. As with Eddings, I am very unfond of the way Jordan writes women, but since he writes men equally poorly, I suppose it is hard to criticize. The characters did seem to change over the course of the series though, from a woman who started out the journey just tagging along to keep the rest of the group out of trouble to one who was in the White Tower under protest, as she did not want to be there at all, to one who wanted to learn Healing at all costs, to one who decided eleven books into the series that she might be wrong about something. Not great evolution, but something.

Another example is a male character who started out coming along on the trip because his friends were there. He wanted to leave the village he grew up in simply because he was bored there, but had no desire to see much beyond his immediate area, only to have the world open up to him when he saw cities and crowds, evolving into a fairly self centred character who wanted to have fun and gamble and watch women, finally evolving into a character who not only took responsibility for his own life, but the lives of the army that followed him.

You are quite correct though in that any character not currently 'on stage' turns into cardboard and with so many characters in play, a lot of them never get a chance to develop. Far too many supporting characters in that series are bound by their gender, their profession, or their social standing. The moment you hear a character's job, you can almost predict their reaction to anything and they seem to have nothing outside of their rigid mold (the most extreme case being the Aes Sedai, who are defined so rigidly by their Ajah that they literally are cookie cutter creatures, outside of the two or three who get more than a couple pages of dialogue over the course of the books).

Still, both writers I have enjoyed and do enjoy, in spite of their flaws.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:03 pm 
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And to Kallysti (nothing like coming home and writing a small novel before dinner).

Alan Dean Foster's signature work has generally been considered his Flinx series. It is Science Fiction, not Fantasy, so it may not be to your tastes, and it was written simply enough to suit children, which also might be a negative, but I have enjoyed them over the years. Spellsinger and the following books I have certain read and reread.

Back to Wheel of Time, I would love to say I enjoyed them thoroughly, or I suppose could say they were all worthless (it has become popular to hold that viewpoint in the last few years), but I found the first six books quite good, the seventh to tenth books I spent hoping that something would happen, and the eleventh book where the writer seemed to realize that nothing had happened in the previous four books, so he stuffed four books worth of events and actions into the eleventh book, which was fortunately massive enough to hold it all (more or less).

To Lackey, Valdemar's Arrows series hooked me on that world, then several of the books subsequently written in that world turned me off that subject again. 'Ham Fisted' might be the reason, although at the time I felt she was trying to shove her personal morality down my throat with a large hammer, which did not suit me. I have enjoyed most of her other work though and would probably reread some of the Valdemar books if I could find time or interest.

And yes, Tailchaser's Song I enjoyed, but I am rather fond of cats, so it would probably suit me even if more poorly written. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn took a lot of effort to read. I would plod through the first book, read half the second book, then realize a month later I had not picked up the book, give up, and do the same thing a couple years later. It was certainly good writing, but sometimes the plot moved so slowly.

I have read only the Assassin books from Hobb, so cannot really give an adequate viewpoint on his writing as a whole. I can see where his work would be enjoyable, but my taste for books where nothing can ever get better unless it gets far worse afterwards is not high, so I have held off from obtaining his more recent books.

Watt-Evens is another who I have gotten many pleasant hours from. His humour is understated, and I consider The Blood of a Dragon, With a Single Spell and The Misenchanted Sword to be his signature pieces for me.

If you like Watt-Evens though, perhaps Elizabeth Boyer would suit you as well, since I found her sense of humour very similar, although her books tend to run to the 'everything gets steadily worse until the last three chapters' mold. For reasons unknown, I also put Patricia Wrede into the same catagory as Watt-Evens and Boyer, even though her books are nothing like theirs. Pleasant reading though.

Horror is not really to my tastes I suppose. I have two Steven King books (Nightmares and Dreamscapes, and Snake Eyes), one Bachman book (oddly enough, called the Bachman Books), and some fringe fantasy that might be considered horror on some level, but it is not a genre I spend a lot of time on. Oh yes, and I picked up a book called Necroscope when a friend recommended it to me, but so far it sits low on my 'to read' pile and periodically gets put lower in the pile when I buy a new book. I will get around to it, but not today.

*laughs* And I did list Tolkien, as Lord of the Rings was what got me into read Fantasy in the first place. I have read it quite a few times, although not recently. You cannot easily fault his writing, but more modern Fantasy is faster paced and that seems to be in favour, both with the general audience and with me.

As to my technical library, about the only one within your area of expertise is my Geology for Engineers, in which required class I got a fifty one percent thank you very much. *g* I was a Physicist and later an Engineering Physicist, and am also not currently working in my field.

Any more in this post and somebody will want to publish it, so I had best stop while I am only slightly behind.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:30 pm 
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I did enjoy The Wheel of Time books, first four or five or so, but then realized that the characters just didn't seem to learn from their mistakes - AND then there was the books were nothing happened, which totally turned me off. So I simply stopped reading them. I recently borrowed book ten from a friend of mine as I had nothing to read, but it was just as slow as I had feared. Maybe I should try book eleven so I finally get to know when Matt will marry his Daughter of the nine moons, or whatever she's called...

Madeleine L'Engle. Now that's something I had a hard time recalling - I was very young when reading A wrinkle in time (I actually had to google the name and read the whole plot in the wiki to realize I did read it). But I do recall it was good, and I have even thought about the ending solution every now and then long after I forgot which book it came from.

Tad Williams - Memory, sorrow and thorn. Uh. Slow books. I read them cause my fiance insisted, but found them amazingly slow. I remember the cover on Green Angel Tower, though... one of my favorites from that artist! ;) His Otherland series was interesting as well but equally slow. Or almost, at least.

Now, Hobb is something I love to discuss. Her books are (the ones I have read) something extra special. I read the Assassin's trilogy, found it heavy but very good, I read the Liveship Traders trilogy, found it brilliant, fast-paced and with an amazing plot and started re-reading the moment I put down the last book, I read the Tawny Man trilogy and found it calm, contemplative and satisfyingly intriguant, bringing together all the nine books in a way I had never expected. Fantastic, and worth a big applause! I can't recommend her enough. :D

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:18 pm 
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Hm, I will look into these Flinx books then...I love Foster's style & it being sci-fi will not deter me! (edit: my husband just told me the premise with the little mini-dragon guy, I love it!) Truly, I'll read any style or author if I love the characters & he has proven to me already to be one who writes ones I love. And I'm not opposed to reading YA fiction...I get many recommendations from my mother, who was an 8th grade reading teacher for many years & is now the school's librarian. She reads them so she can talk to the kids & has found some good ones over the years. Heck, she first introduced me to Harry Potter before it was big! The thread I wrote about the Pellinor books (The Naming thread) is thanks to her, too. Those are fabulous & I almost hesitate to call them YA but I believe that's how they're classified.

And I agree DS, I love the art on To Green Angel Tower as well as the other Tad Williams books. I started in on Otherworld and it really didn't catch my attention too well, I'm afraid.

As for Hobb: I was not quite as enamored of the Liveship books although the idea of the sentient wood that is quickened after three generations dies on its deck is amazingly creative & its storyline was, as I'd expect of her, intriguing & nicely paced. I think I just wasn't quite as in love with the characters (though tragic Paragon was my favorite, I think) as I was in both the Farseer (Assassin books) & Tawny Man trilogies. I haven't bought her latest series yet, I'm waiting until they're all out in paperback first. Just in case ;)

Xerius, don't get me started on Stephen King, lol. Like Ms. Lackey, I devoured him back in high school (I was "that kid" in the back corner of the lunch room with her nose in a book whilst eating a peanut butter sandwich. Heh.) I like a few of his well enough, still, though his "Deus Ex Machina" endings really annoy me, especially in books like The Stand, that I thoroughly enjoyed otherwise. Eyes of the Dragon you might want to check into, it's not horror and it's probably my favorite of his, not to mention one that has withstood the test of time for me.

Horror'ish types I might recommend: F. Paul Wilson's horror & cyber-punk both (don't go by the movie version of The Keep, it's 99% non-book material) and anything by Robert McCammon. McCammon actually started out horror and evolved into more of a (slightly) Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides, Lords of Discipline) feel in his later novels. I love just about all of his...I read them in my teen years & recently rediscovered them & unlike the King stuff, I found them to be even better now that I'm in my 30s ;) For horror try The Wolf's Hour, about a Russian werewolf spy during WWII (it's not quite as weird as it sounds, lol); Stinger, a sort of alien invasion story that takes place in Arizona; Mystery Walk, about a Native American kid who talks to the dead; or Swan Song, a post-apocolyptic story (& my very favorite of his). For his slightly fantastical not-exactly-horror, Boy's Life (kind of a murder mystery but much, much more, too) is excellent and I also quite enjoyed Gone South (about a 'Nam vet who goes crazy & kills someone).

Also worth mentioning might be Clive Barker. I love his shorter stories. Weird as they might be, sometimes, I did get a kick out of The Thief of Always and his Books of Blood. His longer stories, such as Weave World confused the hell out of me, though admittedly, I was younger when I read them, too so *shrug*. Still, it's left that impression: fond of his shorter ones, not so much of his longer.

(P.S. I love this thread & look forward to more discussion. You're reawakening my old longing for intelligent literary conversations. I'm not very likely to find them in the town where I live, aside from my husband & his folks. ;))

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:00 pm 
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Jeez, you three have run away with the thread while I was out slaying dragons - okay, not quite :P

I can't begin to address everything you three book devourers have talked about so I am going to only address the ones I want to (so there! :P)

I guess I am more an emotional reader than one who is primarily guided by style. Terry Goodkind is a case in point. I never noticed anything about his characters growing or not growing. At first, I enjoyed the story (can't remember which first one of his I bought), but then I realized that in every story it was all about pain and suffering...and it never got any better. I can't stand a lot of pain and suffering, so I stopped reading Terry Goodkind.

Another Terry--Terry Brooks--is another case in point. I enjoyed the Shannara series up to a point (although his first book, The Sword of Shannara, was so amateurishly written that I couldn't believe it had been on the NY Times Bestseller List--there's a case where style doesn't count nearly as much as story and characterization. To his credit, he learned from the first book and improved dramatically from then on).

The point in the Shannara series when I said enough is enough--beyond the fact of such terrible suffering and angst by the main druid, who caused so much of his own problems because he didn't communicate to the people he was manipulating to carry out his own ends--I believe was in The Druid of Shannara where the guy's arm turned to rock and to save his life he had to saw off his own arm. Having noticed that Brooks got gloomier and gloomier with each progressive book, I decided this was a good place to quit...and I did.

Funnily enough, I loved Brooks' Magic Kingdom series. They did touch on the gloomy side, but the chamberlain-turned-dog by the klutzy court magician and the living breathing castle that nurtured its occupants, amongst others, were enough to keep me happy.

Alan Dean Foster is another favorite. I loved his Flinx series, and especially his idea of the two totally different races having to work together to make the worlds go round delights me. The story is very simple and written almost primitively, but the whole effect is great. I also read the entire Spellsinger series and loved the idea. He wrote the animal characters very well, and I loved the trouble Jon-Tom always got into because of his songs. I was a little disappointed with the writing in this series though. It seemed somewhat amateurish in places. His Icerigger is a good book too, with the cool cat people in it.

I loved Diane Duane's Support Your Local Wizard and other books in that series - bought most of them. Also thoroughly enjoyed Madeleine L'Engle's earlier books.

Elizabeth Haydon's first three books--Rhapsody: Child of Blood, Prophecy: Child of Earth, and Destiny: Child of the Sky--were just outstanding. They had unique characters, a storyline that dazzled, and goals that were eminently pursuable. After that, though, I wondered if she was just forcing herself to write. The characters were still great, but...they didn't hold my interest anymore. Perhaps it was because they had grown so enormously much in the first three books and didn't seem to grow that much after that.

I am much into the trappings of royalty and grand books, or royalty undiscovered (maybe why I liked The Belgariad, etc.), but one of my favorite all-time series was written by Mary Stewart. The Crystal Cave is the first in a quintet of novels covering the Arthurian legend from Merlin's point of view, starting out in Merlin's childhood. It is followed by The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked Day, and The Prince and the Pilgrim. I recommend at least the first three books highly. (Actually, I don't remember the last two, so I either haven't read them or they weren't memorable. hmmmmm - will have to see if I can find them.)

I have to admit I am a Harry Potter fan. The series captivated me, from the plight of a small orphan boy to the mortal danger of the nearly grown man. I admire J.K. Rowling for her persistance and for tuning into what kids (and apparently adults) enjoy reading. I wrote Witchcanery before I even knew about Harry Potter, but I am glad that I have added to the wonderful escapism of witches and wizards.

I grew up on the science fiction of Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein. I LOVED Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and was even reprimanded for quoting it so much :P I guess this was in the days when universal love was being much lauded and this book gave me the FEELING of how it might work. Asimov's R. Daneel Olivaw was a masterpiece in my mind and I loved the robot stories he spun (long long before the I, ROBOT movie ever came out).

My very very first love, however, was L. Frank Baum and the Oz stories. My grandfather had a writer friend, Maggie Clark, who wrote for The Toronto Telegram for many years. She had the entire collection of Baum's stories and many of his successor in writing the Oz stories, Ruth Plumly Thompson. I spent one whole summer when I was about eight years old lost in the Land of Oz and the magic escape it provided me. That was what started me on the road to writing fantasy. To this day, I will read (or at this point reread) an Oz story and love it.

I'm about run dry for now (but not finished - never finished! :P) Nice thread, guys.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:40 pm 
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And the thread grows.

A last stab at Jordan, since it sounds like you (Dragonsnail) missed two of the three books I enjoyed the most in his Wheel of Time series, the first book, which actually covered enough time that things of note happened, the sixth book, which may or may not have been great, but the ending made it my favourite of the books in the series so far (so I am a sucker for that style of ending), and the eleventh book, which may have been good only because things finally started moving again.

It turns out I had read more Hobb than I realized, since I do have Ship of Magic/Mad Ship/Ship of Destiny in my collection. Actually, appears I have two Ship of Destiny. Guess I have to find somebody to give the second one to (regrettably, a side effect of having that many books; I periodically discover that I have already bought a book when I bring a second, or in one case a third copy of it home).

And appears part of my last post was in error as well, since upon looking, the second Stephen King book I had was Eyes of the Dragon, not Snake Eyes (which is an Alan Dean Foster short story in the Flinx universe).

I have nothing particularly against Cyberpunk and own Neuromancer and following books, as well as Lackey's version of Cyberpunk (Born to Run, Wheels of Fire, Chrome Circle). Morgan's Altered Carbon and the book that followed it were decent enough reading, although I stopped collecting them at that point. Too many books, not enough time, certainly not enough cash.

I do have The Wolf's Hour, although I did not really consider that straight horror. Somewhere in the pile of books I call my house, I have another similar book written from the opposite side of the same war with a similar storyline, written in the late 1970's. The name, however, escapes me.

I have so far avoided Clive Barker, since he is generally hyped as straight horror, but I will have to find one of his books that could be considered an archtype of his style and try it.

Terry Brooks is a complicated one for me. His Magic Kingdom for Sale series was certainly readable, although I cannot say I have reread them all that often.

I may get shot from a distance for my views on Shannara though. I would disagree to some point on the first book in the Shannara series being all that amateur, since it was to me just Lord of the Rings with the serial numbers half filed off. I have admittedly only read it twice, but it gave me the impression of plagarism from the first chapter to the end, and that made the series hard to read even after it diverged from its origin.

The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara books, though, were better, although I certainly share your annoyance at characters who assume they know best to the point where they railroad the characters into the book into doing what he wanted, when it seemed so much simpler just to have allowed them to come to the same conclusions as his by giving them information to work with.

But then, I can say that about a lot of other writers, Eddings, Jordan and Feist among them.

Diane Duane's Young Wizards series is one I have collected and enjoyed to varying degrees. I am certain I would have enjoyed them thirty years ago to a greater extent than I do now, but such is the passage of time.

Haydon's two trilogies were pretty much as described. The first three books had a completely unique premise, starting out with the main characters crawling through the earth for several decades is most certainly something I have not read often. I became leary of her books as I went through the first trilogy though, since they were responsible more than once in my looking at the clock to decide if I should head to bed, only to find I needed to get up for work in two hours. Dangerous books. The second trilogy started out with a book that drew me in equally dangerously, but the next two books were just well written.

Mary Stewart is a writer I have not run across yet. Another to add to the list.

Harry Potter is another one with contraversy and I do have them and enjoyed them, but it is hard to write that many books bound by the same worldset, and I grew less fond of the books as they progressed. It may have been the abundance of teen angst though which irritated me, as I am not overfond of that outside of literature.

I have most of Heinlein's books from two of his three modes. He wrote children's books, which I have, he wrote adult science fiction, which I also have, and he wrote very strange books, which I generally do not. His philosophy of the future was sufficiently at odds with my own that I found I did not really enjoy reading those books. My loss.

I had at one point virtually the entire series of Oz books, but I gave those to my baby sister while I was in University, and I assume she either still has them or lost them over the years.

And since it seems to be formula today to add one new author to the mix with every post, I will toss James Barclay's Chronicles of the Raven and Legacy of the Raven series in at this point (largely because most of the authors so far today have come from the first bookcase to the left as I walk into my library, so I had might as well continue in that bookcase). They are lengthy books, very dense prose and fairly hard reading, but there is a lot in them and I found myself reading a chapter and sitting back to digest it, then reading another. Time wasting books, but certainly worth the time.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:14 am 
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Haha! Another thing in regards to Mr. Arthur C. Clark? His name will come right after mine when my books are on those shelves...with C.J. Cherryh on the other side ;) (at least, in my local bookstore, anyway)

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the second Stephen King book I had was Eyes of the Dragon, not Snake Eyes

You know, in retrospect, when I read my post over (I do that a lot), I thought that's what you might have meant.

And no, I don't think I'd quite put much of McCammon's books in with true horror. Closest is probably They Thirst (his vampire story) or maybe Night Boat (about a shipwreck scavenger who finds a cursed sunken Nazi U-Boat... I never read this one, I just know the premise). Wolf's Hour I'd almost call action-thriller. Stinger & Swan Song have more horror aspects to them but I wouldn't quite classify them that way either. F. Paul Wilson I'd call pretty close (well, The Keep & its sequels). For Clive Barker, I'd say go for his short stories for the scary stuff...that Weave World one was just...convoluted & weird. Extremely confusing (again, however, I was in high school when I read it). The Hellraiser movies are based on a short story - more than one? - from the Books of Blood ("We are each of us a book of blood. Open us and we're red.") I'd call that horror, lol.

Raya, I do have those Mary Stewart books on my shelves but I'm ashamed to admit I've never read them *blush* I'll put them in "the pile" & maybe get to 'em by next year. Something else I have on my shelves that I'm ashamed to admit I've tried to read (years ago) is The Mists of Avalon. It just bored me when I was younger but I've changed a lot in the last ten years or so! So maybe that, too. I hear good things...

I really liked the Shannara series despite its obvious rip-off feeling in the first one, especially the Heritage line & Walker Boh (the druid guy with the one arm) is probably my favorite character. Though you know how greatly we differ on the subject of dark stories, Raya ;) The Magic Kingdom books were a hoot to read, too, lots of fun but I do think I've only read them once or twice, though I have read them all.

And I think I'll have to look into that earlier Haydon series...it's probably the later "meh" ones that I read before then.

Allow me to add another name to our list! Another dark stories author (at least, the two series I read from her were rather dark), Louise Cooper. She is very prolific though not a huge name and she also has written a good few children & YA stories. The idea on her Books of Indigo was a very interesting one (arrogant princess sets loose evils upon the world & is not allowed to die until she sets it right) but the ending mildly disappointed me, too. I enjoyed her Time Master series when I was in high school...that's actually my next set to (re)read once I'm done in Pellinor :D (that or The Unwilling Warlord by Watt-Evans)

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Hrrm, Louise Cooper is another one I have not run into before.

Another for the list, and happy that the list is shorter than it used to be. I went on a spree a couple years back and picked up one book from half the authors on my list, used each book as a touchstone to decide whether I would continue to collect that author or not, and pared my list down considerably. Likely unfair to the authors, since even picking their best reviewed book is no guarantee that I will like it personally, but there are limits to what I can buy.

If we are on the subject of Dark Literature though, I have to add Simon R Green to the list, since he writes very dark books that include a subtle humour that I really enjoy. His Tales of the Nightside series has been quite satisfying so far, with the exception of the most recent book, which felt thrown together. I get paranoid about such things, since too many authors stopped trying as hard once they became well enough known that people began buying their books just from name recognition. Still, I reread two of his Hawk and Fisher books last week and found them as enjoyable as I did the last time I read them a couple years ago. I will admit I am not as fond of Deathstalker, but you cannot like everything, and in spite of my best efforts to date, I have not been able to locate a copy of Shadows Fall.

Mark Anthony's The Last Rune series fits into somewhat dark literature as well, or at least some of the books in the series do. Some of the subject matter within the book felt 'stapled in' to me, as if the book was written, then added to, and the seams show, but I again found that series dangerously addicting and I certainly did not start one of his books too late in the evening, since even I need some sleep.


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I am surprised that none of us has mentioned the late Terry Pratchett. I especially love his humor in his Discworld series. It is sheer genius to have a dwarf corporal named Carrot, who incidentally is tall for his age and race, i.e., 6 feet tall. That alone makes me laugh out loud. And that is just one memorable character. Or how about Death, who is living in the world to learn how to do his job right. He speaks all in stylized caps and is actually a nice guy. He worked at an elderly lady's farm as a farmhand for a while and grew quite fond of her. Just memorable stuff.

The Wheel of Time series was...I dunno how to explain it. Each story was too long for the book. It's like he went on way too long. I have only read part way through one of his books. I admired the man personally, but found it hard to read his writing.

I can't even begin to comment on the horror novels and dark writing you guys are discussing. I hate horror (except I like Jack Nomad :P) and won't read it or watch it on TV or at the movies. If I am somehow coerced into watching a horror movie, I will generally watch most of it with my eyes closed (not an easy feat, I can assure you). I have asked people (the writers) here to keep the writing above terribly gory scenes and extreme violence. It has caused confusion, because I was not precise enough. Unfortunately, I don't know how to be precise about these things. Some things are too terrifying to read, but I can't tell until I read them. My husband thinks I am a wimp. He thinks "Night of the Living Dead" was a comedy. I couldn't watch it except through my fingers and behind closed eyelids. I have never willingly read a Stephen King novel or watched a Stephen King horror movie.

I guess I am a romantic. I love happy endings, although I can appreciate the artistry of certain unhappy endings. Kallysti's ending in Gilded Shadows made me sad but I understood why it had to be that way. Sare's ending in Disavowed 2 was almost expected and rather poetic in a cruel, violent way. The only sad ending I have ever written (that I can recall) was a short story entitled Till Death Do Us Part, and it won first prize in the Saskatoon Writers Club annual Wordsmith contest for best short story. So go figure. (It wasn't a fantasy story btw.)

I love Raymond Feist and everything he has written. I have read most of his books to date, starting with the Riftwar Saga.

I also was quite fond of Piers Anthony's Xanth series, at least until I read his autobiography. He came out looking like an arrogant, self-absorbed monster. However, I read another article about him recently that showed him as a dedicated husband, who has not enough time to write as much as he wants because his wife is disabled and requires a great deal of his attention. He does all the cooking and cleaning in the house as well. I decided to give Xanth another try.

They really are quite clever books, adult fairy tales, in a land where every person born there has a magical quality unique to themselves. It can be as small as being able to put dots on anything, large or small, to changing anything into anything else. The latter is magician class magic and highly prized for status and power. The stories are clever, funny, and often have a fun plot with engaging characters. The first book in the series is A Spell for Chameleon. He writes them chronologically, so it's good to start with the first one.

Oh, I would love to have a full collection of the Oz books. How fortunate your sister was! I had quite a few at one time, but somehow in all the moving they got lost and I don't have one left. I had the old style ones too. They would probably be collector's items today. I mourn the loss of the happy hours I spent with my Oz books.

C.J. Cherryh? Man, I LOVE her books. Her The Paladin is just a classic story of passing on wisdom and training from a master to a student. It is all about intense motivation and immense inner discipline, conquering odds and yet being nurtured at the same time. It is also about a beautiful friendship that lasts beyond the bounds of time and space. I LOVED that book. (It is also a great book for gamers--EQ and others--because it is so graphic in how the fighting is done and how to become better at it--great stuff!).

Okay, mentioning a new book -- I also loved a book called The Wiz Biz by Rick Cook. It is slightly reminiscent of the first Spellsinger book, in that a person of our times is summoned by a powerful wizard into another world in order to "save that world." However, the hero of Wiz Biz, unlilke the one in Spellsinger, is a computer programmer who has zero, zilch, de nada, no magic. The evil wizards on this world are getting stronger, and the good wizards desperately need help to keep the evil wizards at bay. And they just lost their most powerful wizard, who died bringing Walter "Wiz" Zumwalt to this alternate world. How a computer geek helps the people of the world and wins the heart of the luscious hedge witch Moira is a wonderfully funny, entertaining and geeky story.

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