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Not the Ending, but an Ending.
January 17, 2013 9:32 AM   Subscribe


 
"The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again."
.
posted by Fizz at 9:37 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I didn't read it (because I gave up on the series a long time ago) but, if Sanderson kept to Jordan's style, I'll bet it contained long passages describing how men be all like this, but women be all like this, all of which could have been cut and pasted verbatim from any of the proceeding novels. Also, ridiculous long passages wherein the female characters' dress embroidery is luxuriously described.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:39 AM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Take a drink every time a female character tugs on her braid.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:45 AM on January 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


The ghost of Robert Jordan is crossing his arms under his breasts and tugging at his braid in consternation at your comments, Panjandrum.
posted by curious nu at 9:45 AM on January 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


Actually, Sanderson really improved the series in my opinion; he clearly wanted to bring it to a satisfying end.

I was... less thrilled with the last few scenes in the book, I'm sorry to say, but the book as a whole was satisfying. I'm not going to go all spoileriffic here, for obvious reasons.
posted by ChrisR at 9:46 AM on January 17, 2013


I meant to address Panjandrum's comment about characterization, as well -- it's better. Still weird, but improved.

I made the mistake, a few books back, of reading 1-10 in one go, and by the time I reached the end I wanted to strangle every character in the book. Jordan had managed to make all of them horrifically unlikeable when read that close together. Sanderson has dialed back the stupid on all of them a few notches, and it makes for a much more enjoyable read.
posted by ChrisR at 9:48 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alright. I've been a casual WoT reader, having gone through the books at a measured pace throughout the years. I have to say I'm satisfied with the actual "ending" of the series, and I enjoyed reading about Rand's final confrontation. BUT, the path to the ending in AMoL was just... not that exciting.

Reading this book gave me what I can only describe as battle fatigue. I like reading about battles, but these were just kind of boring. Trollocs just aren't a very compelling enemy, and Myrddral (sp?) are just knock-off ringwraiths. Meanwhile, all the channelers got reduced to little more than artillery.

I think the book would have been improved by moving some of the individual confrontations forward in the book, and emphasize those rather than the earlier massive battle scenes. Then when the "big battle" arrives we haven't already been through 600 pages of "trollocs in the woods, trollocs in the canyon, trollocs on the field!"

Also, stop telling me that the generals (on both sides) are brilliant strategists, and actually show me what makes them so brilliant!
posted by Wulfhere at 9:51 AM on January 17, 2013


It's a Wheel...so go back and start over from Book 1 again.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:52 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know a guy named Rand, apparently after the dragon in the books. 20-odd years later, everyone he talks to thinks he's some kind of uber-libertarian jerk, even though that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Don't pick your kid's name from your favorite fantasy book!
posted by miyabo at 9:54 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


I tried a while back to catch up on this just to be able finish it, but I couldn't hack the Sanderson books. He kept the action moving, which was good, but he was completely cack-handed at the stuff Jordon was good at --- politics and shifting alliances, both on a micro and macro scale. To me it completely took all the satusfaction out of the story ---- confrontations which had been tantalisingly put off for entire goddamn books, and when they came it was a lot less "I think you'll find you are in check yourself" and a lot more "I hate you, and your ass face!"
posted by Diablevert at 9:54 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, most of the really annoying character tics were gone in the Sanderson books (and to be fair, Jordan got the series out of the weird nothing-happens stall in his last book.) I was reasonably happy with how it all ended -- and definitely happy that it ended at all.
posted by asperity at 9:56 AM on January 17, 2013


Tried to start the whole saga after a glowing AskMe recommendation and couldn't get more than a few pages in; it seemed like every fantasy cliche ever. I wonder if I should have forced past that.
posted by fightorflight at 9:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"thank god that's over with", say hundreds of fantasy enthusiasts.
posted by boo_radley at 10:00 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


> Actually, Sanderson really improved the series in my opinion

Reading the reviews it seems that's the consensus. I gave up late in the series but still when Jordan was writing them (around book 9, IIRC). I did so because I thought the books had gotten dreadfully repetitive in their prose, in addition to their sub-glacial pacing, but also because as your other comment notes: all the main characters had morphed into massive jerkwads. By the time I threw up my hands I would have been happy if the Dark One came back and just straight up murdered 90% of the main cast.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:00 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Probably not.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:00 AM on January 17, 2013


I forgot this was coming out.

I stopped reading about three or four books ago, but I've still been buying them in hard cover so that I could reread the whole series when it was finished. I used to start the series over when each book came out and I finally reached my breaking point I guess.

Seems like it's time to head back to Emond's Field, where the old blood sings, one last time.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


*sniff*
posted by eugenen at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Should I read these? I'm kind of sick of epic fantasy. Someone should do a fantasy pastoral or fantasy detective novels akin to Name of The Rose. Fantasy novels where all the epic stuff happens far away and is just a rumor. What do fantasy folk do when there are no lords or ladies getting them killed, that's what I want to know.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:03 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Then don't read these, as the Wheel of Time is the most epic of epic fantasy. Read the Glen Cook Garrett P. I. series instead.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:04 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Myrddral (sp?) are just knock-off ringwraiths

I was trying to remember why I gave up on these books early on and I think this was one of the reasons. The story seemed no so much something new as something pieced together from a lot of sources and perhaps put through a Cuisinart. well... that and even after 3 or 4 books it seemed like he was suffering from not enough serious editing, for length and clarity, and just now I discover his wife did his editing for him? Yeash.

Just finished re-reading The Chronicles of Amber, a long series but nothing like the Wheel of [oh god never-ending] Time. And even given the flaws of Amber I still would rather reread that a dozen more times then another Jordan book. At least Zelazney seemed to change his style with the evolving social morals of the time, Jordan seemed to be just stuck on the wheel, no hope for change just the same stuff copy-paste.
posted by edgeways at 10:06 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


What do fantasy folk do when there are no lords or ladies getting them killed, that's what I want to know.

Filth scavenging and discussing sociopolitical theory, of course.
posted by axiom at 10:07 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Someone should do a fantasy pastoral or fantasy detective novels...

Some of Frank Tuttle's stuff is like that, but has been getting more epic(ish) as of late.
posted by edgeways at 10:08 AM on January 17, 2013


I will read this, because I have to finish it. Some type of masochistic urge, I think. But I haven't bought one of these since about book 9, and will likely give them all away once I have read this last one.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:09 AM on January 17, 2013


Well FINALLY.

I was into this series for the first six books or so, and then he pulled the "this whole book is a flashback" trick that I find so irritating. (see also: The Dark Tower.) Gave up on that when it seemed clear it was more about selling than writing.

I didn't even know about Sanderson and the reaction that he made the series better, but it's just not worth my time to slog through it again to see that for myself.
posted by spinn at 10:10 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem: "Someone should do a fantasy pastoral or fantasy detective novels akin to Name of The Rose."

Terry Pratchett, the ten quintillion or so Myth books by Aspirin, L. Sprague de Camp all come to mind here.
posted by boo_radley at 10:11 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Every Robert Jordan Thread I've Ever Read on the Internet:

Post 1: "I love this guy."
Post 2: "This guy bored me, couldn't get past books 3 or 4."
Post 3: "Isn't this just a rip off of ________ ?"
Post 1: "If you don't like it, don't read it."
Post 2: "Did I mention that he bored me? Pages and pages devoted to the intricate leather-work on a belt."
Post 4: "Who's Robert Jordan?"
posted by Fizz at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I got about halfway through WoT when I realized I had read all this before, in Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean. With borrowed accents from Herbert and LeGuin, among others.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


spinn: "then he pulled the "this whole book is a flashback" trick "

What? Are you serious? I checked out after the book where Rand'al Thor got his elemental war on -- the one after that was just too dense for me to invest time in.
posted by boo_radley at 10:15 AM on January 17, 2013


I couldn't even get through Mallorean, so it should be no surprise that I tapped out midway through Eye of the World. Which is a shame, because I've been tearing through a bunch of Sanderson's stuff lately and would probably find his additions to the series more enjoyable, if nothing else.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:15 AM on January 17, 2013


I got about halfway through WoT when I realized I had read all this before, in Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean.

With far better writing, coherent overall theme, reasonable pacing and infinetily more memorable and likeable characters.

New epic fantasy readers should start with Eddings, and spare themselves from Jordan.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:18 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sanderson is a fine author and world builder who didn't need WoT to further his career or craft. So I just assume he is a real mensch for finishing the series for all of the fans.

Unlike, say, Frank Herbert's son and the king of the movie novelization Kevin J Anderson.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:20 AM on January 17, 2013


Should you read the series? Do you really want to read almost 12,000 pages of epic fantasy?

I think they're a lot more fun if you started reading them young, as nostalgia provides a pleasant filter for the experience. I started re-reading the entire series last year, and I'm only now in book 8. I've been reading on my commute every day, and I agree with Wulfhere, you start getting "battle fatigue." I gave up trying to keep track of all sub-currents between countries and minor characters. Luckily, there are obsessive fans who maintain extensive websites to remind me who's secretively evil and who hates who and why.

But there are still moments that are honestly exciting, though I think I experienced more of that back in books 2-4. The first book started off painfully, as I paid too much attention to the actual writing. But after a few chapters, I started to go numb to the sentence structure, and looked more for the story.

I'm honestly excited to get to Sanderson's books in the series. When I heard that some young punk was tapped to take over the series after Jordan died, I was worried it would get even worse. But after reading his books, 1) I wanted to see a movie adaptation of his Mistborn books, and 2) I had hope for WoT's ending. I'm glad to hear that he did a good job pulling the series out of the mire of thick writing.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:25 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone know where I can find a recap of the first 9 books? I read them in 8th grade, but there's no way I'd tread through them again just to catch the ending..
posted by mafted jacksie at 10:30 AM on January 17, 2013


> "Don't pick your kid's name from your favorite fantasy book!"

I feel very sorry for the poor children named Renesmee.

I'm glad I spared little Frodo Random Rincewind the pain that they will face.
posted by kyrademon at 10:30 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Should I read these? I'm kind of sick of epic fantasy. Someone should do a fantasy pastoral or fantasy detective novels akin to Name of The Rose. Fantasy novels where all the epic stuff happens far away and is just a rumor.

I think the "Empire" books by Janny Wurtz and Raymond Feist were like this. They take place at roughly the same time as the "Magician" series, by Feist, which is front and center epic-y stuff, but they are much more the "You killed my father, prepare to die" while the world ending battles are taking place somewhere else.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


After slugging through Hubbard's Mission Earth book by book as each was published, I promised myself never to start reading an incomplete series. Now is decision time: should I spend the next fourteen weeks or so reading this series? The reviewers are not enthusiastic about all the volumes.
posted by francesca too at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2013


What do fantasy folk do when there are no lords or ladies getting them killed, that's what I want to know.

Wyrd Sisters
posted by DU at 10:35 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


What these books need, 26 years later, is some serious re-editing. Jordan's widow needs to sit it out and bring in someone who can chuck the massive quantities of, let's face it, garbage that line every chapter as it does the streets of Tar Valon under the Amyrlin Seat Elaida a'Roihan. Which we are told EVERY TIME Tar Valon comes up in any way, even in peoples' dreams ffs.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:37 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My experience of the Wheel of Time was like a literary realization of Zeno's paradox: you keep halving the distance to the end, but can never actually get there as the plot slows down exponentially. Nice to know the reaper and Sanderson conspired to play Leibniz to Jordan's Zeno. (But there's no chance I'll actually read it; too many more interesting things on the reading list...)
posted by kaibutsu at 10:39 AM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Goddamnit, I have a pathological desire to finish reading this series, even though I already know that it's only going to disappoint me. I've been stuck somewhere in the middle of Book 6 for the past 5-6 years or so...
posted by schmod at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2013


Should I read these?

No. The series is incredibly long and a lot of the middle of it is boring, plus Jordan is terrible at writing women for the first 9 books. Every woman is exactly the same and it is terrible.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I feel very sorry for the poor children named Renesmee.

My daughter went to preschool with a child named Iluvatar.
posted by KathrynT at 10:43 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Had to quit about the time Nynaeve joined the circus. I foresaw a blizzard of braid-tugging and just couldn't...make...myself...keep...zzzzzz...
posted by Infinity_8 at 10:43 AM on January 17, 2013


I think they're a lot more fun if you started reading them young, as nostalgia provides a pleasant filter for the experience.

I came to this series very late. I've been reading fantasy since I was in my pre-teens but somehow I just missed this series. For the longest time I used to snark on the series (in my teens) on various forums but then I grew up (amazing what a few years & some perspective can do) and realized that it was unfair to put down a work I had not read.

I've only read the first book in the series, so I realize that I cannot speak as someone who is familiar with the entire series but it's very entertaining. As someone who has read all kinds of fantasy, it's interesting to read this older more established works and compare it with other writers who are more current. You start to see influences and connections.

While WoT may not be perfect and at times I found myself frustrated with his plot/writing style, you cannot deny his impact on the genre and for other fantasy writers. I look forward to the various ups & downs of this series as I've been forewarned by several ardent fans.

Like many multi-year creative projects/works there are some good years and some not so good. And it's always a matter of opinion. Cheers.
posted by Fizz at 10:44 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aizkolari - That's not true at all. Nynaeve is way more shrewish than the other women.
posted by Palindromedary at 10:44 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks guys, as you can probably tell aside from LoTR and A Song of Ice and Fire and other random series, like Shanarra. I'm not much of a fantasy reader. My favorite, aside from Tolkien of course, is probably Joe Abercrombie. I sometimes think I missed out not having read many of these series when I was young, but I probably just saved myself a lot of effort.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:47 AM on January 17, 2013


I couldn't even get through Mallorean,

The thing I love about the Mallorean is that the characters themselves sit around talking about how repetitive the stories are. It's a plot point. Way to lampshade, Eddings...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:47 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, on the production side, here's a fun little blog piece on how the physical book was made. If you've ever wanted to see a bazillion books being put together, this link's for you.
posted by Toekneesan at 10:49 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. Maybe Piers Anthony will wrap up the Xanth series next.
posted by GuyZero at 10:53 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Should I read these? I'm kind of sick of epic fantasy. Someone should do a fantasy pastoral or fantasy detective novels akin to Name of The Rose. Fantasy novels where all the epic stuff happens far away and is just a rumor. What do fantasy folk do when there are no lords or ladies getting them killed, that's what I want to know."

You could try the Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, great fun. Swashbuckling thievery with a touch of fantasy in a place a bit like Venice which is also quite amusing (but not in a knowing Discworld funny).
posted by Damienmce at 10:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've been stuck somewhere in the middle of Book 6 for the past 5-6 years or so...

As I recall, the ending of Book 6 is fantastic - as a friend pointed out, the only reason I think Book 6 is good is because of the ending. For me, that is likely the last highpoint of the series, so I encourage you to finish that one and maybe leave it there.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:02 AM on January 17, 2013


Got the book on Monday and finished it last night. I enjoyed it for the most part. I read it in large spurts, hours at a time, and I can't quite dissect my motivation as being one born from enjoyment or simply the prospect of finishing the series.

If someone asked me today if they should read WoT, I would tell them yes...but be prepared for a slog in the middle.

As much as I didn't care for the "20 years later" conclusion to Harry Potter, I actually wouldn't have minded such a thing for this series. Perhaps even a "100 years later" sort of thing.
posted by Atreides at 11:03 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


If someone asked me today if they should read WoT, I would tell them yes...but be prepared for a slog in the middle.

I would suggest to them: read books one through six, read plot summaries for books seven through ten so you know what is going on, then read books eleven through fourteen. That is the Good Parts version of WoT.
posted by mightygodking at 11:06 AM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is also an NPR story about this by one of Metafilter's Own TM.

(I do not know if I'm permitted to link her RL name to her handle, however, so if you do go hunting, please don't post her real-name-MeFi-handle-connection.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:07 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone know where I can find a recap of the first 9 books?

Wikipedia has extensive plot summaries for each book, then there's the interactive WoTSummary.com that provides a few sentances per chapter, and the more detailed Wheel of Time Chapter Summaries which provide the option to filter by major characters, and other fancy HTML trickery.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:09 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


My brother's former wife named her daughter "Bellatrix."
posted by jfwlucy at 11:09 AM on January 17, 2013


Well, to be fair, Bellatrix is an awesome name.
posted by kyrademon at 11:12 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


12 years ago I made the decision to plunge into 'Wheel of Time' and leave 'A Song of Ice and Fire' (which for some reason I thought was similar) for some unspecified time in the future.

I've enjoyed my time in Jordan's universe -- even when the plot ground to a halt, I still got quite a bit of pleasure just exploring the world he created, which you have to admit is detailed and intricately constructed and wonderfully bureaucratic -- but having just started GRRM last month, I regret not doing it the other way around. I realize this isn't exactly an obscure or minority opinion, but 'A Game of Thrones' is just ridiculously good, some of the best fantasy I've ever read. If you've read neither Jordan or Martin, read Martin instead.
posted by eugenen at 11:12 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, if you are sick of epic fantasy these are not the way to go in the least. They are archetypal epic fantasy in every way. The first third or so of the first book was very deliberately patterned after Lord of the Rings - it stops being pastiche by about the middle of the book, but the influence never totally goes away.

I would argue, having read both the entire Wheel of Time and the whole Garion saga including the addenda in the past year, that Jordan was light-years ahead of Eddings in every way but pacing - the unquestioned sexism and gender essentialism in Eddings's stuff is far worse than in Jordan's, because he's not even trying to examine it. The core thesis of the Wheel of Time is that the world works better when men and women work together on an equal footing, and a lot of the characterization problems are, I think, intended to be lampshading that doesn't quite work because the stereotypes are too pervasive.

Not that it's an unflawed series, of course. The pacing problems are pretty dire. I'd highly recommend the Tor.com reread if you want the info without slogging through the whole thing - Butler's analysis is excellent and I find her writing delightful (which is not true of all of Tor's rereads.) I'm looking forward to following the reread of the last book, because it's just dense as all hell.

I think Sanderson did a workmanlike job of wrapping things up. Mostly I'm just glad it we got the ending. I felt a tremendous sense of relief, putting that last book down - I've been carrying these characters and plotlines in the back of my head for twenty years, and it's nice to be able to let them go at last.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:13 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, Sanderson really improved the series in my opinion

Reading the reviews it seems that's the consensus.


I gave up on the Wheel Of Time when one of the main characters spent the entirety of one thick tome in the bath, and immediately adopted the policy of never starting a series before the last episode is released.

Sanderson's writing is definitely as strong as Jordan's was in the earliest books of the series, and just hugely better than the borderline self-parody it became midway through.
posted by mhoye at 11:13 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I couldn't bring myself to read book 2 of these, but I know lots of people for whom this is long-awaited good news.

I recently enjoyed Robin Hobb's Farseer and Liveships trilogies. They aren't exactly pastoral, but generally are somewhat smaller scale than the epic and they do a good job of fleshing out the imaginary world with interesting and pseudo-realistic details. Also interesting, Hobb seems to resist a Colossal Climatic Confrontation in favor of a bunch several different scenes of varying degrees of spectacle followed by appropriate amount of denouement. I thought them well worthwhile.
posted by wobh at 11:14 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Terry Pratchett, the ten quintillion or so Myth books by Aspirin, L. Sprague de Camp all come to mind here.

You cannot just put this list out there for the unwary. Someone might actually attempt to READ a Myth book.
posted by DU at 11:14 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm going to recycle a comment I made in another Wheel of Time thread:

I gave up around six books in, when he might as well have titled most of the books things like:

Braids: The Tuggening
Wool-Headed Men and the Skirt-Smoothing Women Who Love Them
Rand Goes Crazy For Another Couple of Hundred Pages
Character Clothing Descriptions, Volume 1 of 57
Damn, Robert Jordan Rand al'Thor is a Pimp
The Source and its Taint (LOL)

posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:20 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Palindromedary - Nynaeve is way more shrewish that the other woman
(fixed that for you)
posted by deadbilly at 11:20 AM on January 17, 2013


DU: " Someone might actually attempt to READ a Myth book."

Hush.
posted by boo_radley at 11:20 AM on January 17, 2013




oh my jesus

As an early, nerdy teen with terrible taste (hint: I liked the Xanth books) even I couldn't read more than one Myth book. They are the worst thing ever. EVER.
posted by DU at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks to everyone for these fantasy suggestions. After I de-WoT-ify my brain for a while, I'd like to read other takes on (epic) fantasy than Jordan/Sanderson and Pratchett.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2013


Wow. Maybe Piers Anthony will wrap up the Xanth series next.

The last book in the series, The Wizard's Staff Has an Almost Underage Girl On It, is available behind the black curtain in the rear of your second finest local sci-fi bookstore. Please bring ID (preferably fake) as no one under 18 is admitted to the room (which is strange as nobody over 18 is in the book).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:38 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


DU: "oh my jesus

As an early, nerdy teen with terrible taste (hint: I liked the Xanth books) even I couldn't read more than one Myth book. They are the worst thing ever. EVER.
"

Well, I can't drink more than 8 oz. of vermouth at once. Same thing.
posted by boo_radley at 11:42 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd like to read other takes on (epic) fantasy than Jordan/Sanderson and Pratchett

Bit late, but Joe Abercrombie is really good. I'd start with the First Law trilogy, but you don't have to. The single books that followed are all set in different locales within the same setting and advance a world-wide plot, but are enjoyable on their own. I like his trait of using a minor character from a previous book as a POV in the next.

If you do Glen Cook, then Black Company is out in a series of omnibuses.

For smaller fantasy scale, Scott Lynch may actually publish the third book in the Locke Lemora series this year. Locke > Kvothe (from Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles), mainly because I am so freaking sick of Wizard Schools.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:44 AM on January 17, 2013


filthy light thief: " I'd like to read other takes on (epic) fantasy than Jordan/Sanderson and Pratchett."

Oh, what was that book of swords book?
posted by boo_radley at 11:45 AM on January 17, 2013


Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords/Book of Lost Swords? I'm fond of those, although the Second Book of Swords (pulp dungeon crawl) and the Third Book of Lost Swords (fantasy Sherlock Holmes pastiche) are far and away the best books in the series. (And the First Book of Swords makes ever so much more sense when you know that it was originally written as the worldbuilding for a very early computer RPG that was never made.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:49 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My brother's former wife named her daughter "Bellatrix."

You have to admit that's better than naming her Gamma Orionis.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:50 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad: "First Book of Swords makes ever so much more sense when you know that it was originally written as the worldbuilding for a very early computer RPG that was never made"

Oh my god, yes. yes.
posted by boo_radley at 11:59 AM on January 17, 2013


Always great to see another Jordan thread where a bunch of people feel the need to take the time to write out how much Wheel of Time sucks even when they haven't read it. Really productive additions, those are.

For people that are wondering if you should read it, no. There's no empirical measurement of should-ness. If you enjoy complex plotting and very detailed world building, you may enjoy them. Start at book one and find out for yourself. Ignore the people that just want to communicate their dislike and ignorance at the same time.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:04 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Man I love and hate the kindle. It is so easy to buy half a dozen books without having to search that out of the way back shelf at the bookstore but it is also way to easy to stop reading one and move on if I get bored, leaving me with 6 had read books.

I'm going to give it a shot. Probably after a bunch of other recommendations from this thread.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:06 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, man, I read thousands upon thousands of pages of WoT.

I *earned* my opinion of it, and it sounds like a lot of other folks in this thread did, too.
posted by absalom at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


lazaruslong: "Always great to see another Jordan thread where a bunch of people feel the need to take the time to write out how much Wheel of Time sucks even when they haven't read it. Really productive additions, those are. "

May be confusing "did not read this latest book" with "did not read any of the series"?
posted by boo_radley at 12:10 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I started reading the series a decade ago, but gave up at some point as the pacing slowed to a glacial pace. Now that the series is being wrapped up, I decided to give it a read-through. Those slow books were a bit of a drag, but I wanted to see how the whole plot wrapped up. As I'd heard, Jordan did re-grow his ability to progress the plot towards the end of his life, and Sanderson does a good job at toning down the wool-headed, braid-tugging, "The other gender is just so bizarre and mysterious" tics that had become frustrating.

But I'm disappointed that they're delaying the ebook release by several months, when I timed my re-reading to finish up around the release date of the last book. My Nook has spoiled me, and I don't like carrying around big, hard cover, epic fantasy tomes anymore.
posted by JiBB at 12:13 PM on January 17, 2013


Related-on-the-side: is anyone doing good standalone fantasy? A lot of times I just want a single, self-contained story, NOT a ten-volume (or even three! sick of trilogies) slog. I know McKillip's work although most of its pretty samey, and Discworld is pretty okay in that regard but I've read it all. Short fiction and novellas are fine too.

Also,
Which we are told EVERY TIME Tar Valon comes up in any way

Are you talking about the plan? Walter's plan? Walter's plan to defeat the observers? We have to stick to the plan to defeat the observers. It's Walter's plan. To defeat the observers.
posted by curious nu at 12:15 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sanderson's first book, Elantris, was pretty good and he's shown no signs of wanting to write a sequel.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:18 PM on January 17, 2013


Don't pick your kid's name from your favorite fantasy book!

Damn, I guess F'nor is out.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I started trying to read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant but realized even I had a limit to how dark I like my fantasy. Yikes.

Anyway, I will probably read the rest of WOT eventually. Anyone who has tried: can I just pick up again? Where? 9? 11? Suggestions plz.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:21 PM on January 17, 2013


As an early, nerdy teen with terrible taste (hint: I liked the Xanth books) even I couldn't read more than one Myth book. They are the worst thing ever. EVER.

DU, you and me - we're twinsies! As much as I know realize that the Xanth books were beyond terrible, at least they were readable, unlike WoT.
posted by GuyZero at 12:27 PM on January 17, 2013


I think I got to about book 6 when I tried. I should try to pick it up a bit later, i'll read some summaries and see if it still interests me.

Some other finished trilogies to try, I really enjoyed these:

Jennifer Fallon's Second Sons trilogy
Carol Berg's Rai-Kirah trilogy
Lynn Flewelling's Tamir trilogy
posted by Hazelsmrf at 12:27 PM on January 17, 2013


I think I am one of like two people on MeFi who like Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series.

the First Book of Swords makes ever so much more sense when you know that it was originally written as the worldbuilding for a very early computer RPG that was never made

Now I am sad, because I would play that even now.

the king of the movie novelization Kevin J Anderson

Surely this is still Alan Dean Foster?
posted by adamdschneider at 12:29 PM on January 17, 2013


fantasy detective novels

You could try the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher (lots of books out, centers around a wizard who consults for Chicago police) and the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch (three books out, centers around a London Met copper who gets finds out he can do magic and starts getting yanked into magical cases). Both fall under the urban fantasy umbrella, and there are probably more, these are just the two best known. Happy reading :)

(If you want high fantasy detective novels than I got nothin')
posted by aperturescientist at 12:36 PM on January 17, 2013


Don't pick your kid's name from your favorite fantasy book!

Damn, I guess F'nor is out.

No, you're good -- the Pern books are science fiction.
posted by The Tensor at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2013


[...] I couldn't read more than one Myth book. They are the worst thing ever. EVER.

I have to agree, although I cut Asprin some slack there in that they were always intended to be extremely fluffy fantasy. Also, Asprin died a few years ago, poor guy.
posted by JHarris at 12:43 PM on January 17, 2013


For good standalone fantasy, Joe Abercrombie's 'The Heroes' is the best I've read in years. It's just ridiculously good.

If you like that one then go to 'The Blade Itself', which starts a trilogy set in the same world.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:44 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If nothing else (because I've read all the summaries of how the future books go and have then probably ruined my chances of ever reading and finishing the remaining books), I read the first four books, and had an absolutely grand experience. Thank you Robert Jordan.
posted by SollosQ at 12:54 PM on January 17, 2013


I remember reading the first WoT book in high school and thinking it was going to be Yet Another Epic Fantasy trilogy. Then it went past three, into four, and just kept going. And going. And going.

I don't remember the last WoT book I read. They all kind of blurred together toward the end, and I made the decision I wasn't going to attempt the series until it finished (I said the same of Dark Tower, and broke that promise with ASoIaF). Sanderson's taking over of the series actually piqued my interest in finishing it. Though I have my issues with the Mistborn series, overall I consider it to be fairly good epic fantasy, and my husband read me Alloy of Law in its entirety over the course of many evenings. Having him do voices for Wax and Wayne made that book eminently enjoyable, and at times he'll slip into the Wayne drawl to elicit a giggle.

For the sake of my high school self, I may finish it someday, but WoT is essentially the Dragonball Z of Western epic fantasy. Lots of build up to fights and power levels going over 9000. Not much plot satisfaction. I think some people like that, though, and I say -- hey, whatever floats your angreal, buddy.
posted by offalark at 12:59 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I am one of like two people on MeFi who like Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series.

Three. Cnaiur! The sexism bugs, though.
posted by amber_dale at 1:04 PM on January 17, 2013


Unlike, say, Frank Herbert's son and the king of the movie novelization Kevin J Anderson.

I don't know what you could be talking about. Are you implying Brian Herbert shat on everything his father did and wrote super shitty books with a writer whose books are barely fit to be toilet paper? That's clearly ridiculous and would never happen.
posted by kmz at 1:04 PM on January 17, 2013


WoT is essentially the Dragonball Z of Western epic fantasy. Lots of build up to fights and power levels going over 9000.

... Do you think I'd like DBZ?
posted by asperity at 1:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing about Jordan and the Wheel of Time series is this: when it first came out, epic fantasy as a genre the way we know it now, didn't quite exist yet. There was Tolkien of course and his imitators like Terry Brooks and the Sword of Shannanana or David Eddings with his intermitable series of heroes not being challenged very much, quite a few odds and sods here and there, but for better or worse Jordan set the template for every epic fantasy series (extruded fantasy product to some) that came after it.

What Jordan did that Tolkien also did, is create a vast story and an even bigger world you wanted to stay lost in forever.

I still remember the first time I came across The Eye of the World, back in the Middelburg public library, taking a punt on anything that had that little worm squiggle that meant fantasy or science fiction on its spine. I didn't expect too much of it, hadn't heard of the author, while the cover art was Sweet but awful, but I started to read the first few pages and within less than two Jordan had me. I was there, with Rand and his father, moving through the woods from their farm to Emond's Field, sensing something watching me from the shadows. I took it home, read it cover to cover almost in one sitting, then came back to the library to discover they had the sequel as well...

From there on I was hooked. I must've read the first books a dozen times or more, rereading in lieu of a new sequel, then rereading them in anticipation of it; back when I was pretending to be a student, there would be days were I'd wake up, grab the first book, then only notice it was dark again when I'd finished it.

Course, by about book seven I was heartily sick of the whole series, dropped them cold turkery and didn't reread them until the news of Jordan's death came. Rereading them then, as well as reading a Path of Daggers for the first, proved to me that while all the criticism of the series is right on, that experience of getting right into the story still trumps it for me.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:10 PM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Related-on-the-side: is anyone doing good standalone fantasy?

This is basically Guy Gavriel Kay's entire career.
posted by mightygodking at 1:11 PM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Cnaiur!

Nothing like screaming WHO WILL MURDER ME in your mind to fire yourself up.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:12 PM on January 17, 2013


Fionavar Tapestry is fantastic.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:13 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fionavar Tapestry is fantastic.

It really is, although since it's a trilogy (only one of two works of Kay's that go longer than a single book) it's not really "standalone." The Fionavar Tapestry is so fucking good it puts most other high fantasy to utter shame (including practically everything that has been suggested in this thread so far).
posted by mightygodking at 1:15 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, you're good -- the Pern books are science fiction.

I'm actually well aware--I just couldn't think of a funny enough name from the Heralds of Valdemar. How bout Skif? Does Skif work?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:20 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Go for Wintersky. Pronounce it like it's Polish. Done.
posted by offalark at 1:21 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


OH MY GOD. Maybe I can pick these back up again and reread them, knowing there's AN END. (I stopped around book 8, because I was so frustrated.)
posted by devinemissk at 1:22 PM on January 17, 2013


> ... Do you think I'd like DBZ?

Depends. Do you like a poorly animated fight between people with changing hairstyles to take fifteen 30 minute episodes to complete? IF SO....
posted by offalark at 1:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I met at least one child at sf conventions whose parents had named Kerowyn or Kethryvaris. Which...is still better than Renesmee.
posted by offalark at 1:24 PM on January 17, 2013


I think I am one of like two people on MeFi who like Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series.

Three. Cnaiur!


Four. The fact that the antagonists (actual aliens!) have a well-defined, coherent and valid motivation to be doing what they're doing, even though it's mentioned in maybe five sentences over the course of the whole text, that's really remarkable.
posted by mhoye at 1:29 PM on January 17, 2013


It's no "Scott Bakula's Dune (with forward by Dakota Fanning)".
posted by blue_beetle at 1:49 PM on January 17, 2013


Jo Walton's The King's Peace (review) /The King's Name (review) is a duology (and there's an additional novel (review) set in the same world too), but it's brilliant, a histoire à clef where she takes Arthurian Britain and changes things.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:57 PM on January 17, 2013


is anyone doing good standalone fantasy?

Peter S. Beagle is still writing.

posted by RussHy at 1:58 PM on January 17, 2013


I'm not entirely sure I buy into the Jordan as Tolkien's direct successor idea. Le Guin, Zelazney, Donaldson, Anthony, Leiber, McKillip, Bradley, Brooks, Williams, and others have written what I'd call long form high fantasy before Jordan (and yeah there are issues with each one and some are clearly much better writers than others... man did Anthony lose his limited spark or what), and since we are talking Jordan I don't think you can say, "you can't count this person because they ripped off Tolkien" and then not directly admit, yeah well so did Jordan. His main achievement was to make it so friggen big it looks impressive just because of size.
posted by edgeways at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ugh. I started reading this series in 1990 when only Eye of the World was published. I thought it was a fairly standard, Tolkienesque romp with an interesting new magic system. The Great Hunt really hooked me in. By the time The Dragon Reborn and The Shadow Rising came out, I though Jordan was going to write the definitive modern American fantasy series. And then...

Well, if you're reading this thread, you probably know what happened. The story got away from Jordan. He became afraid of advancing the plot. I remember the moment I gave up on the series (and think about what a fall that was from how I felt about it during Books 3 and 4!) was when I opened The Path of Daggers and it was a narrow strip of text with huge font and wide margins, as if Jordan had become some guilty college sophomore trying to get up to a particular page count. I read it (the first book it took me several days to get through) and put it in the closet, and never bought another book in the series. Oh, I know the series, by all accounts, improved even before Jordan's death, but I just couldn't get interested in it again.

It is this sad tale that gave me a cold feeling when I read Martin's two last Ice and Fire books. The same meandering journeys, the same inability to bring major characters together, the same introduction of new (!) major characters five books in, the same lack of advancement of, what I used to assume must be the main plot, the fight against the Others, etc., etc.

Yes, I've got that old familiar bad feeling about this...
posted by Palquito at 2:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Most of the writers you name, clearly aren't in the same line of epic fantasy as Tolkien and Jordan; Brooks is, yes, but he was so godawful in a way Jordan never was.

Jordan did start out with a conscious imitation of Tolkien, but unlike a Brooks he moved beyond that.

Commercially, while fantasy was a decent selling genre before him, it only became NYT bestseller territory after him and it's quite clear the whole epic fantasy boom of the nineties and beyond wouldn't have happened without him.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:10 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fionavar Tapestry is fantastic.

It really is, although since it's a trilogy (only one of two works of Kay's that go longer than a single book) it's not really "standalone." The Fionavar Tapestry is so fucking good it puts most other high fantasy to utter shame (including practically everything that has been suggested in this thread so far).


Guy Gavriel Kay! I haven't read anything of his since Song for Arbonne (not because it was bad, but more I just stopped reading fantasy for a while.)

Fionavar Tapestry is wonderful and Tigana is a great stand alone novel, or at least my teenage self thought so. How are his later works, mightygodking? Recommendations?

And yes, like many people in this thread I started reading WoT when it first came out and gave up at book 6? 7? I still consider the first two books to be shining examples of EPIC FANTASY.

It is this sad tale that gave me a cold feeling when I read Martin's two last Ice and Fire books. The same meandering journeys, the same inability to bring major characters together, the same introduction of new (!) major characters five books in, the same lack of advancement of, what I used to assume must be the main plot, the fight against the Others, etc., etc.

Palquito, I had exactly the same feeling reading those. It hasn't quite degenerated to WoT levels but it's definitely heading in that direction. I am quite intrigued to see how the TV series handles the deteriorating narrative of the later books.
posted by Frank Exchange Of Views at 2:21 PM on January 17, 2013


On the plus side, WOT contains a lot more spanking than is usually found in epic fantasy.

If you're into that.
posted by steambadger at 2:33 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


In the naming department I went through an unfortunate phase as a kid of naming all my pets from whatever fantasy novel I was reading at the time. This was fine for Sophie the guinea pig named for Doctor Dolittle. It worked less well reading Tailchaser's Song when I adopted an adorably poofy gray fluffball kitten, Lord Grizraz Hearteater.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:50 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I felt like ASoIaF was starting to tighten back up by the last third of the fifth book, actually. There is no doubt that the narrative got really loose in the middle, to a really flawed degree, but I do feel like the narrative arc is starting to bend back to earth.

(Also, for fans of the series, go back and read Bran's very first dream with the three-eyed crow, way back in Game of Thrones. When I re-read the books and got to that point, I suddenly had a much greater sense of comfort that Martin knew where the story was headed overall.)
posted by KathrynT at 3:02 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


As an early, nerdy teen with terrible taste (hint: I liked the Xanth books) even I couldn't read more than one Myth book. They are the worst thing ever. EVER.

'An unkempt and very odd-looking old man who can't seem to stop staring at my breasts and cackling manically claims he has an appointment with you, D. Says his name is John Norman-- shall I send him in?'
posted by jamjam at 3:08 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I felt like ASoIaF was starting to tighten back up by the last third of the fifth book, actually. There is no doubt that the narrative got really loose in the middle, to a really flawed degree, but I do feel like the narrative arc is starting to bend back to earth.

God, I hope so. Feast and Dance are huge messes but if The Winds of Winter is as tight as the first three books were, I imagine all will be forgiven. It would be interesting to see someone do a "Phantom Edit" on them, trimming out the extraneous plots to create one book.

Sanderson's first book, Elantris, was pretty good and he's shown no signs of wanting to write a sequel.

He's writing a sequel and hoping to have it out by 2015 to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Elantris' publication.
posted by greenland at 3:10 PM on January 17, 2013


Sanderson's first book, Elantris, was pretty good and he's shown no signs of wanting to write a sequel.

Heh. All of Sanderson's books are one big meta-series, and Elantris has already had one direct (sorta) sequel published, with two more on the way.
posted by rodii at 4:13 PM on January 17, 2013


If you like that one then go to 'The Blade Itself', which starts a trilogy set in the same world.


Abercrombie in The Blade Itself does a wonderful lampooning of the Tolkein meme. Aged and August wizard assembles a disparate group of heroes to quest to distant lands in search of a magical talisman, and after trials and tribulations, loss of boon companions and disfiguring injuries....everything gets flipped on it's head. Pure Awesome.
posted by prodigalsun at 4:58 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing about Jordan and the Wheel of Time series is this: when it first came out, epic fantasy as a genre the way we know it now, didn't quite exist yet. There was Tolkien of course and his imitators like Terry Brooks and the Sword of Shannanana or David Eddings with his intermitable series of heroes not being challenged very much, quite a few odds and sods here and there, but for better or worse Jordan set the template for every epic fantasy series (extruded fantasy product to some) that came after it.

Extraordinary claims, and all that.
How has Jordan changed/created "extruded fantasy product". What people are doing now seems to be pretty much what they have always done (and I like your Feist, Brooks and Eddings - and I'm still reading books from two of that triad).

Stodgy fantasy with all the tropes seems to have been locked in by the late 1980s, so much so I could recognise them in The Belgariad, and I'd only ever read Earthsea before that in terms of fantasy.

The only major change I can see with Jordan (and Goodkind) is that they took the old standard trilogy and made them never-ending series (well, obviously WOT is finished now) that started well, and then gradually started circling the drain in an effort to hook people in to buying just one more book.

These days I can't bring myself to finish Jordan (even in a machete order sort of way), because even reading the summaries I have forgotten too much. And I don't care.

(I burned out on both about a decade ago, and have not felt the need to finish off either series. The books are unsellable. No one wants them at second-hand stores, or in cheap postage-only lots on eBay.)
posted by Mezentian at 5:04 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


A few years ago I read about 50 pages of the first book. It was mildly intriguing, not bad at all, but it didn't really grab my attention. I think I was intimidated with taking on the rest of the books...it's a big investment. And I'm more of a SF guy anyway. And I always see comments about WOT like "yah, I read the first ten books but got bored after that..." A lot of people jumping ship on this series. Not like Song of Fire and Ice, which people (myself included) are literally begging Martin to write more books, dammit!

I'm actually on the verge of finishing my first Discworld book (The Color of Magic). This is another series I started with a few chapters then stopped and years later, just recently, picked it up and gave it another shot. The Color of Magic starts out a bit slowly and it has some strange editing and pacing, but I can see the appeal. I think I'm on board with Discworld, finally. WOT...I dunno. Someone talk me into it.
posted by zardoz at 5:24 PM on January 17, 2013


WOT...I dunno. Someone talk me into it.

Pretty much this entire thread is people trying to talk you out of it.

But, stick with Discworld. Pterry finds his voice a few books in (not sure where, I've always skipped about the series and that works for me).
posted by Mezentian at 5:28 PM on January 17, 2013


Wyrd Sisters is the first Discworld book that really works for me, but reading in strict publication order doesn't add much to the series anyway.

And I wouldn't talk anyone into reading Jordan, really. Either you love longwinded epic fantasy and so you're already on board, or you don't and you're not.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:43 PM on January 17, 2013


Either you love longwinded epic fantasy and so you're already on board, or you don't and you're not.

Yeah, Wheel of Time is one of those series where the reasons to read it are exactly the same as the reasons to avoid it.
posted by KathrynT at 5:53 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thing about Jordan and the Wheel of Time series is this: when it first came out, epic fantasy as a genre the way we know it now, didn't quite exist yet.

Eh, I gotta disagree with you here Martin. The first WoT novel was published in 1990. You can't really handwave away Brooks and company as somehow proto-epic fantasy, in my opinion, but even if you do that leaves a lot of clearly epic fantasy out there by 1990! Brooks had completed his first Shannara cycle. Donaldson had finished both the first and second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant almost a decade earlier. Both the Belgariad and the Mallorean were completed. Tad Williams had already published The Dragonbone Chair. The first Dragonlance trilogy was written in the early 80s. Kay's Fionavar Tapestry was years finished. Etc, etc.

Yeah, WoT was massively popular compared to its predecessors, but so is Twilight and it wouldn't be fair to say the urban fantasy or fangfucker excuse me paranormal romance genres didn't exist before Meyer.
posted by Justinian at 6:28 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feist! I forgot Feist! Thanks, Zardoz.
posted by Justinian at 6:28 PM on January 17, 2013


Don't pick your kid's name from your favorite fantasy book!

Or comic book, I guess, because I was reminded of Shazam Wil-Wheaton Dowden-Patel.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:30 PM on January 17, 2013


Abercrombie in The Blade Itself does a wonderful lampooning of the Tolkein meme.

I wouldn't call it a lampoon, exactly, it's more like what Unforgiven is to traditional westerns. In fact (and I love this) all of Abercrombie's works are commentaries or pseudo-deconstructions of different genres. The First Law trilogy is a response to epic fantasy. Best Served Cold is a Dumasesque revenge novel. The Heroes is a focused retelling of a very Gettysburgesque three day battle and the events surrounding it. Red Country is a western which reads like Unforgiven meets The Searchers.

Abercrombie's first book or two are his weakest, but I'm very glad I stuck it out through the whole First Law trilogy. Now I look forward to his novels greatly and can't wait to see what subgenre he takes on next. Hardboiled detective? Spy novel? Who knows.
posted by Justinian at 6:34 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feist! I forgot Feist! Thanks, Zardoz.
*humpf*

Feist still has his moments, but I find myself wishing he'd stopped with Shards of a Broken Crown, and moved onto something else. His Faerie Tale was quite a solid 'urban horror' read. I feel like for the past decade he's been in a rut and writing progressively thinner stories over multiple volumes. Still, I am hanging out for Magician's End so the circle can be completed. As far as Big Thick Fantasy goes, I am part of the problem.

Hell, I purchased the Eddings' Elder Gods/Dreams series and I look and... cringe at the thought of reading it.

I am taking notes in this thread for stuff I might like to read, which is nice until I remember that I was recommended Eye of the World by uni friends as "the best fantasy since Tolkien.
posted by Mezentian at 6:37 PM on January 17, 2013


Oh gods, the Elder Gods series. I read the first two sitting in bookstores and finally gave up when I realized that not only were they recycling characters, they were recycling entire conversations. Stop reading Eddings after the Sparhawk books, is my advice.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:39 PM on January 17, 2013


not only were they recycling characters, they were recycling entire conversations.

This makes me sad, but not unsurprised.
I had the same feeling when reading that Redemption book.

I did enjoy the Rivan Codex. A surprisingly fun read.
The Belgarath/Polgara books were jolly reads, but... yeah. Sparhawk was probably a good jumping off point. And now they are dead.
posted by Mezentian at 6:43 PM on January 17, 2013


Yeah, Fionavar Tapestry isn't standalone, my bad. Really though, the trilogy is so good that once you read the first one you will wish it was longer than three. If anyone is reading this thread, likes fantasy, and has not read it.....run don't walk. Really. It's great.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:44 PM on January 17, 2013


Also, since we're in the world of recommendations, I'd suggest the Deathgate Cycle for folks that like longer series that are completed. It's Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (if you've ever read a TSR / old school AD&D book you know these names) but a little more......something. It's more innovative I guess? Not the typical D&D setting thing. Not quite a fully "mature" level either, but engaging and surprising and different.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:47 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Fionavar Tapestry has one of the few scenes that makes me cry every single time I read it. Every. Single. Time.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:47 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I hear you there. It's a couple of firsts for me. It's the first fantasy series that starts on "Earth" and links an external world that I've ever enjoyed. It's the first that weaves together multiple mythologies that I've ever found elegant. And it's the first that ever spoke to me about sexual assault in a fantasy setting that felt real and that I could identify with. That fantasy trilogy is probably only second to the original Dragonlance trilogy in its impact on me from that world of literature, and that's only because Dragons of Autumn Twilight and so on hit me young and first. Fionavar is really a masterwork.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:00 PM on January 17, 2013


I'm a little surprised that Steven Erikson's name hasn't come up in this thread. For big-ass fantasy series, the Malazan books can hardly be beat. Weight-class wise, at least, they're pretty close to WoT, and in terms of the size and depth of the world and complexity of the storyline they surpass it pretty drastically. Not for everyone, but if you like chewy, bloody-minded fantasy, they're excellent.
posted by rodii at 7:02 PM on January 17, 2013


It's the first fantasy series that starts on "Earth" and links an external world that I've ever enjoyed.

Have you ever read Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant? It does that world-crossing thing well. Fionavar felt very reminiscent of it to me--the party gets separated, one finds his identity with nomadic horse riders, etc. I love Fionavar, but, like a lot of Kay's work, it comes pretty close to mawkishness at times. Tigana is both better and worse in that respect, I think, but somehow a better book all in all. And it has one of the greatest last lines of all time.
posted by rodii at 7:07 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't! Thanks for the recommendation, jotting that down now. I also didn't know what the word mawkishness meant. Now I do! Though I disagree. =)
posted by lazaruslong at 7:12 PM on January 17, 2013


It just occurred to me to be tangentially thrilled by the recent "Learn Korean in 15 Minutes" MeFi post because The Guin Saga by Kaoru Kurimoto (circa 1979!) will probably never be fully translated into English, but I bet it has been translated into Korean. All 130-novels-plus-21-sidestory-collections of it.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:31 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Learning Korean to read 151 novels of Japanese fantasy from the late 70's is like, the final boss level of something that I want to train for.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:35 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I read each book as it came out starting in 1990. I've enjoyed most of them, including the last volume. At this point, however, I'm mostly just glad to be done. I've been reading these books for 22 years.

When I was a kid, I thought Jordan brought something fresh to the epic fantasy genre. Maybe it was just that he writes better than Brooks and his world building and depiction of politics are more interesting than Eddings.
posted by Area Man at 8:31 PM on January 17, 2013


I'm a little surprised that Steven Erikson's name hasn't come up in this thread. For big-ass fantasy series, the Malazan books can hardly be beat. Weight-class wise, at least, they're pretty close to WoT, and in terms of the size and depth of the world and complexity of the storyline they surpass it pretty drastically. Not for everyone, but if you like chewy, bloody-minded fantasy, they're excellent.

Rodii, do they get better after Memories of Ice? Because I gave up near the end of that one: I just didn't care about the characters. The world building in the series is fantastic though.
posted by Frank Exchange Of Views at 8:32 PM on January 17, 2013


I think the series kind of goes every which way in the first few. Deadhouse Gates is great though, and much of House of Chains. Halfway through, with Midnight Tides, it really kicks in and from that point on it's great, though it has quite a few completely WTF sections. In ten thousand pages there are bound to be some longeurs, much like WoT; unlike WoT, there aren't hundreds of pages in the middle that are totally insipid. And like a lot of series, the early books become retrospectively better as you read the later ones. It might be better re-read than it is the first time through.
posted by rodii at 8:39 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have two main objections to Malazan: 1) He doesn't stick the ending. I'm sorry, it was ambitious and he tried, but it just fell totally flat for me. And there are more outrigger novels coming out to try to tie up some of the randomly flailing plotlines, and I just can't be arsed. Mostly because b) good god is the series rapey. The first three books are pretty good - Deadhouse Gates is fantastic - but it just became increasingly winceworthy until the totally gratuitous judiciary gangrape execution in I think the ninth book. That lost me to the point where I can't even enjoy the earlier books any more. So, you know, if that's a problem for you, I'd say skip it.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:04 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a little surprised that Steven Erikson's name hasn't come up in this thread. For big-ass fantasy series, the Malazan books can hardly be beat.

I read part of the first book (this seems to be my recurring theme with fantasy books) and thought to myself "this reads like the novelization of a Magic-the-Gathering-type of card game". He didn't literally write things like "Gornoff has plus three charisma and plus one strength," but it certainly felt very very close to that.

Turns out that Steven Erikson (and a partner, I believe) originally wrote these stories to flesh out a..wait for it...card game like Magic. Kind of took the polish off the books for me.
posted by zardoz at 9:35 PM on January 17, 2013


High fantasy detective stories: try the Eddie LaCrosse series by Alex Bledsoe. It follows the life of Eddie LaCrosse, a mercenary swordsman, as he is hired to solve various mysteries. It does a good job of getting big, story-wise, without getting big, plot-arc wise.
posted by zug at 3:59 AM on January 18, 2013


@zardoz: not a card game, but an RPG campaign (just like Feist and the Riftwar books).
posted by rodii at 6:09 AM on January 18, 2013


"this reads like the novelization of a Magic-the-Gathering-type of card game". He didn't literally write things like "Gornoff has plus three charisma and plus one strength," but it certainly felt very very close to that.

IMPOSTOR DETECTED
posted by adamdschneider at 8:19 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm glad the series is over. I'm glad it had an ending. The ending was satisfying to me, even if I felt there were still some plot points I wish had been explored more. There were certainly places where it could have been done - a lot of the glacial pacing in middle books could have been reduced, which would have left room for expanding on the stuff I'm still left tantalized by! See, the problem with worldbuilding is you have to, you know, build an entire world - and when you start doing so, and you start bringing in characters from all over this world, you get readers intrigued at how much they are still missing. As an author it must be difficult to reign in the urge to actually show the readers everything. Hence the expansion of one book's worth of happenings into three or four book's worth of writing. I'd rather have had four books where more stuff happened, and less detail about the individual steps in the action.

Anyway, I'm also happy the series is finished because it introduced me to Sanderson, and I like his work. My older brother introduced me to the Wheel of Time series and now I keep asking him if he's read Mistborn yet. Given that it's supposed to end up a trilogy of trilogies, I figure I owe him that much.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:31 AM on January 18, 2013


I agree with Justinian that Abercrombie's First Law trilogy gets progressively better. His prose isn't anything to write home about and the first book is a bit generic initially, but he does quite interesting things with characterisation once he gets the space to stretch his legs and there is a scene that is just brilliant.

Fionavar Tapestry is fantastic.

I thought it was his weakest and it showed he had helped Christopher Tolkien to edit The Silmarillion. The main antagonist is 'Rakoth Maugrim [...] Jealous of the Weaver's creation, he broke into Fionavar just as the Weaver had completed his work'. Why, hello Morgoth! Maugrim sounds familiar too. There are quite a few parallels although later on you can see glimpses of GG Kay as an author. These middle parts might be worth a read, but why not read Tigana, A Song for Arbonne or The Lions of Al-Rassan where he has already shed JRR's influence?

How are his later works, mightygodking? Recommendations?

The Lions of Al-Rassan which is based on the last days of the Moors. There is a lot of politics and even though he seems to stick closer to history, I'd even say he has perfected the voice and the themes he was exploring in Tigana and Arbonne. Even though you know how it ends if you know the Spanish history of the era, I'd certainly recommend it. I've heard good things about Sarantium too, but I haven't read it yet.

... Do you think I'd like DBZ?


Ha. If you think you'd do, go with DB Kai, a remastered and edited 20th-aniversary remake.
posted by ersatz at 9:54 AM on January 18, 2013


ersatz: "I thought it was his weakest and it showed he had helped Christopher Tolkien to edit The Silmarillion. The main antagonist is 'Rakoth Maugrim [...] Jealous of the Weaver's creation, he broke into Fionavar just as the Weaver had completed his work'. Why, hello Morgoth! Maugrim sounds familiar too. There are quite a few parallels although later on you can see glimpses of GG Kay as an author. These middle parts might be worth a read, but why not read Tigana, A Song for Arbonne or The Lions of Al-Rassan where he has already shed JRR's influence? "

Your opinion is INCORRECT
posted by lazaruslong at 4:13 PM on January 18, 2013


Naw. It's clearly his least mature work in terms of his writing. He slathers the emotion on with a bucket where his later work achieves the same effect with an artist's brush.
posted by Justinian at 4:50 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would argue, having read both the entire Wheel of Time and the whole Garion saga including the addenda in the past year, that Jordan was light-years ahead of Eddings in every way but pacing - the unquestioned sexism and gender essentialism in Eddings's stuff is far worse than in Jordan's, because he's not even trying to examine it.

What? Eddings is not going to win any awards for insightful characterization of women in fantasy, hewing as he does to the men are like this, women are like that genre conventions, but he's miles ahead of Jordan despite having written decades earlier. Polgara, despite her cliched aspects, is a case in point when opposed to her Jordan doppelganger Moiraine.

Also, if the Seanchan were Jordan attempting to "examine" gender politics, than the series might as well have been finished by John Ringo.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:39 PM on January 18, 2013


Polgara, despite her cliched aspects, is a case in point when opposed to her Jordan doppelganger Moiraine.

Yeah, we're going to have to agree to disagree there. Ms. "I'm 2000 years old and all this time all I ever wanted was to be a good housewife and have my own babies" escapes most of the worst of it in the main series by being basically a cipher, but she's the best of a very bad lot. And don't get me started about Polgara the Sorceress.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:45 PM on January 18, 2013


Fair enough. I have only faint memories of the one-offs, but seem to recall most of the women in the trilogies being less cliched than Jordan's. Perhaps that was because they were more thinly characterized, as you suggest, and so there was less to notice. Also I was younger (though not by much.) In the end, for whatever reason Eddings' women didn't gall me from the moment I started reading; Jordan's did.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:52 PM on January 18, 2013


And now I want to reread LeGuins's Earthsea and compare. Also, Jennifer Roberson's Tiger and Dell books, which I didn't realize when I read them were in part a commentary on gender politics in fantasy, though I'm sure they'd feel dated now.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:57 PM on January 18, 2013


Yeah, Eddings's sexism irritates me much more for being totally unconscious - their books are actually trying very hard to be modern and anti-sexist, by having women in active roles and doing important things, but the attempt is totally undercut by the fundamental assumption that women are intended to get married, settle down, and have lots of babies. (And there are a couple of really egregious instances of "hot sexually-aware women exists solely to be a prize for a man.")

Whereas Jordan's sexism is very surface - all the sniffing and braid-tugging and repeating of tired sexist cliches (which, as I mentioned, I think was intended as lampshading and/or irony) but all of the women have goals and desires completely unrelated to their gender, and the plot thread about women in combat (whether or not they need to be "protected") was sharp and very much welcome. (It was sort of infinitely belabored, of course, but... it's the Wheel of Time. Brevity is not the point.) I don't think it's perfect at all, but it got quite a bit further than "women are allowed to come on the quest as long as they do the cooking."
posted by restless_nomad at 8:05 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


And now I want to reread LeGuins's Earthsea and compare.

I just completed my Earthsea books.
I am going to have to go back and read stuff I read 30 years ago, but I am pretty sure ULG'd gender politics are vastly different.
Polgara was The Mother, C'Nerdra was The Good Wife.
Did Eddings' have other female characters?
posted by Mezentian at 8:17 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was the "Serpent Queen," some random nymphs, all the various women the main characters eventually got paired up with, always unwillingly (like the blind fanatic guy). A horrendous compilation of shrewish cliches and mother-in-law jokes. I think Eddings probably wrote those books on cocktail napkins.
posted by rodii at 1:42 PM on January 19, 2013


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