Terry Brooks talks about overlooked fantasy genre
October 18, 2001 8:05 PM   Subscribe

Terry Brooks talks about overlooked fantasy genre - am i the only one who thinks he's one the most over rated authors?
posted by jmd82 (37 comments total)
I've been reading novels of fantasy forever, and i can honestly say Terry Brook's Shanarra series is the worst i've ever read. Dragonlance is better. Lord of the Rings is better. Right now, i'm reading the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I just find the Shanarra series incredibly boring and a poor starter series for those starting on the genre (i know i will get flack on this, but oh well =)
posted by jmd82 at 8:09 PM on October 18, 2001

david eddings: i used to love him when i was in high school. then i grew up. i still kind of like the belgariad series of his, but the rest... i could skip
posted by moz at 8:09 PM on October 18, 2001

posted by jcterminal at 8:11 PM on October 18, 2001

I guess I'm not the only one who thought that when looking at Brooks's new entry in the Shannara series. Oddly enough, I thought that before the current scare. "What is he doing, naming books after old bands now?"

I was entirely too much into David Eddings when I was in junior high.

Brooks had some great ideas early in his Landover series, but after the fourth book or so it was not so good. Due to that, I haven't had the courage to pick anything else of his up.

I shouldn't really criticize Brooks and Eddings that much; I read the Wheel of Time, for crying out loud.

If you're looking for fantasy that isn't the typical pseudo-medieval epic stuff that most people think of, Charles de Lint is an excellent author who writes a lot of urban fantasy.
posted by Electric Elf at 8:26 PM on October 18, 2001

moz: "i never wnna grow up, i never wanna' grow up...i'm a toy r' us kid!"
posted by jmd82 at 8:27 PM on October 18, 2001

Whoa, jmd82, are you saying that Brooks is worse than 'stop-plot-for-100-pages-for-pointless-BDSM' Goodkind? Granted, I've only read Brooks' 'Magic Kingdom for Sale' (Landover) books (and that was a couple years back) but they weren't as transcendently awful as Wizard's First Rule.
posted by darukaru at 8:28 PM on October 18, 2001

Though I sometimes feel I've grown out of it, I still like reading fantasy novels from time to time. A while back, I picked up the Rastlin prequels to Dragonlance, and read them with unabashed esapist pleasure.

Lately, when it comes to such indulgences, I've been downloading books to my palm pilot and reading them before bed (my girlfriend retires earlier than I do, and it's nice to be able to read without disturbing her). In an effort to get back into the fantasy world, I downloaded the first of Terry Brooks's Shannara novels.

I couldn't get through it. Never have I read something so painfully simpleminded. Bad guys called "Skull Bearers" and an evil leader called the "Warlock Lord".

In two words: Piss Poor.

Still, he's right about the overlooked fantasy genre. There are some gems out there that are too often overlooked. Anyone have some that they'd like to share?
posted by aladfar at 8:30 PM on October 18, 2001

Robert Jordan is much, much worse. I couldn't even finish his books. At least I could muddle through Brooks' stuff.

But for me, there is really only one fantasy writer: Tolkien.

(Although I have to say that Glen Cook's Black Company series is a good mix of fantasy-meets-Rogue Warrior fun. And David Brin, when he does fantasy, e.g. Glory Season, is good too.)
posted by Poagao at 8:47 PM on October 18, 2001

darukaru, i never found that lull in goodkind books. Rather, i find brook's first 50 pages awesome, the last 50 suspensful and the middle couple hundred, well, filling. Read the first 50 and last 50 of Brook's and you got his book.
posted by jmd82 at 8:56 PM on October 18, 2001

Arg, why the hell do you have to click 'listen to part two' Obviously we would want too, other wise we would have closed the window!
posted by delmoi at 9:15 PM on October 18, 2001

I was pretty into Eddings in Junior High as well (hey, who wasn't). He wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't writing the same damn book over and over and over and over again. And then once or twice more for good measure.

Some people don't like Jack Vance's Lyonesse trilogy, I thought it was pretty good myself.
posted by jaek at 9:18 PM on October 18, 2001

You are all right on. Terry Brooks' books just don't get me there. He doesn't have the magic touch, the ability to wave the magic wand and to elicit what Samuel Taylor Coleridge called "the willing suspension of disbelief." Tolkien, of course, is the master of fantasy, at least in my lifetime. Worthy to follow in his footsteps, IMO, are C.J. Cherryh (her fantasy books), Patricia Wrede, Patricia McKillip, Mercedes Lackey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robin McKinley, Peter S. Beagle, Teresa Edgerton, Orson Scott Card (his fantasy books), Katherine Kurtz, Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurtz, Ursula K. LeGuin, Kathryn Lasky, Melanie Rawn, Tanith Lee, Elizabeth Moon, Anne McCaffrey, Morgan Llewelleyn, Elizabeth A. Lynn, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, Jody Lynn Nye, T.H. White, Bernard Cornwell, Connie Willis only for her "The Doomsday Book," Diana Paxson, Joan D. Vinge, Vonda K. McIntyre, and have you all read any Lord Dunsany or William Blake? *Wow.* But that's just me.
posted by Lynsey at 9:47 PM on October 18, 2001

Lynsey: Like your list, but aren't some of the authors listed sci-fi only? I think modern sci fi has, rightly or wrongly, more of an aura of "respectability" to it than modern fantasy.

As for Dragonlance: such nostalgia. But you do have to wonder about a supposedly moralistic, D&D series (all this alignment stuff is so limiting, fictionally, IMHO) whose breakout character is the bad protagonist.
posted by Charmian at 9:58 PM on October 18, 2001

Gems I've read recently include
The Fox Woman, by Kij Johnson;
When the King Comes Home, by Caroline Stevermer;
Nina Kiriki Hoffman's series, beginning with A Red Heart of Memories....
Those are the current ones I'm recommending to all my friends.
Also check second-hand bookstores for anything by Phyllis Ann Karr---*remarkable* writing!
posted by realjanetkagan at 10:06 PM on October 18, 2001

Ok, I'm just going to poo out a bunch of terrible geekiness here:

a) I haven't read them for +10 years now, but I remember LOVING the Dragonlance series.

b) I still love LOTR

Anyhow - I've always though Pratchett's work was amateurish fantasy writing disguised by amateurish Douglas Adams imitation.
posted by GriffX at 10:15 PM on October 18, 2001

I second many of Lynsey's recommendations, and add Robin Hobb, George R. R. Martin, and Paula Volsky.

The genre's focus from a publishing standpoint seems to be on the warmed over Tolkien and Arthurian legends that Brooks, Jordan, D&D franchises and their ilk produce continuously. The publishers don't take a risk marketing the more unusual stuff (with the exception of maybe your Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett types, who have rabid fanbases thanks mainly to word-of-mouth), thus it doesn't sell.

As an added bonus, the covers are generally horrible...
posted by fujikosmurf at 10:39 PM on October 18, 2001

Raymond E. Feist!

I have read Eddings, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, Tolkien, Orson Scott Card (yes, I know he is more Sci-Fi) and on and on...

But I always return to Feist and his Riftwar Saga and all the follow-up books...

Basically, it depends on the reader as well.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman rock as well. Not only have they expanded on Raistlin Majere, but their new series: The Sovereign Stone Trilogy breaks them away from the Dragonlance world and creates a new world with new people, power, places, stories, etc... Hooked already.
posted by da5id at 5:37 AM on October 19, 2001

Raymond E. Feist rocks! His original Riftwar saga is good .. but the newer ones he seems to have lost his touch ..
posted by loong at 6:19 AM on October 19, 2001

I know Lynsey already mentioned Patricia McKillop (sp?) but I have to mention her The Book of Atrix Wolfe novel - it will enchant you into another world simply by her masterful use of the written word. Ahhhh. ;-) And thanks for the tipoff about Weis and Hickman - I started off with Dragonlance and enjoyed the DeathGate series, so I'll look up their new one.

On the other hand, I'm more and more convinced that Robert Jordan simply doesn't know HOW to draw anything in to a conclusion (although I stopped reading them a while ago - is he done yet?) and will have to echo most of the other sentiments here about David Eddings and Terry Brooks (who's first three Shannara books I read just after reading LOTR for the first time and wondered if that kind of copying was legal - LOL).
posted by thunder at 6:53 AM on October 19, 2001

um, the stone and the flute by hans bemmann, the chronicles of thomas covenant, unbeliever by stephen r. donaldson (abridged :) and lord valentine's castle by robert silverberg.
posted by kliuless at 7:05 AM on October 19, 2001

"Terry Brook's Shanarra series is the worst i've ever read"

I don't know how old you are, but if you're older than 18 and reading that series, then you are looking for love in all the wrong places. I have been a voracious reader of Sci-Fi/Fantasy for most of my life, and I remember reading the Shanarra series back when I was like 15 and crying through parts of it. I'm sure the book would not have that effect today.

Point is, it's a great series for young adults. You might be better served by reading something made for adults.
posted by eas98 at 7:10 AM on October 19, 2001

George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice And Fire" series is really amazing. Some really fantastic characters and highly original plotting. I'm eagerly awaiting the third coming out in paperback, cuz I'm not lugging that behemoth around in hardcover!

Also I like Guy Gavriel Kay's "Tigana," "Song for Arbonne," and "Lions of Al-Rassan." Interesting how he takes an actual historical period, changes the names, adds a few hints of magic and comes up with some really great stuff. His most recent "Sarantine Mosaic" books, however, show that formula getting perhaps a tad old.

Ann Marston has two "Rune Blade" trilogies, which are pure brain candy for the Celtic/Neo-pagan fantasy inclined, complete with kilts, magic swords, and Scottish accents - yet I was hooked in spite of myself.
posted by dnash at 7:35 AM on October 19, 2001

Anyone here care for Stephen Lawhead?
There's the Pendragon Cycle, Song of Albion trilogy, and more, but I remember really enjoying these as a young teen.
posted by razorwriter at 7:43 AM on October 19, 2001

I don't know how old you are, but if you're older than 18 and reading that series, then you are looking for love in all the wrong places. I have been a voracious reader of Sci-Fi/Fantasy for most of my life, and I remember reading the Shanarra series back when I was like 15 and crying through parts of it. I'm sure the book would not have that effect today.

I don't buy the claim that "young adult" fiction must be poorly written. In fact, the best fantasy works I've read this year are Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy and Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books. In fact the Lord of the Rings is also young adult fiction and very readable as an adult (although I don't engage in the cult of worship of Tolkein most do.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:46 AM on October 19, 2001

i'm surprised no one (or not many) here have mentioned ray bradbury, robert e. howard, robert heinlein, and of course: phillip k. dick.
posted by moz at 8:12 AM on October 19, 2001

I used to be really into this genre, then got to a point of feeling like, in general, I was rereading the same story over and over again, regardless of author. Now I read it when I find myself especially optimistic. While I've never really like Terry Brooks' stuff, I am most partial to epic fantasy (is that a subgenre?).

My top three picks:
Guy Gavriel Kay (Tigana, especially).
Tad Williams Memory Sorrow and Thorn series.
Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy (better than her current series).

I'm reading George R. R. Martin right now, but though it's reasonably well-written but I don't know how much more slaughter and horror I can stand.
posted by annekef at 8:18 AM on October 19, 2001

has anyone read The Worm Ouroboros? Awesome, awesome book I've only met one person who'd heard of.... And I was surprised just now to see Amazon had it in stock -- first time since I'd looked for it a few years ago.
posted by mattpfeff at 8:18 AM on October 19, 2001

Or Stephen Donaldson. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, is one of the great fantasy series of all time. The second trilogy is not nearly as good as the first though.

Oh wait. kliuless did, and with a great link too.
posted by boaz at 8:19 AM on October 19, 2001

hey thanks :)

for me it started with piers anthony and terry brooks, so like they can't be overrated. and besides they're fantasy writers!

as an aside check out the brouhaha after piers anthony mistakenly proclaims stephen r. donaldson dead.

btw, raistlin rules! oh and the weapons master was soooo cool :)
posted by kliuless at 8:50 AM on October 19, 2001

Feist? You have got to be kidding me. I read one of his, and it made sure I'd never read any of his again.

Emma Bull, if only she wrote more.

Gaiman's latest is awesome.
posted by kindall at 9:22 AM on October 19, 2001

Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series I couldn't get into -- I guess I'm just not looking for anti-heroes when I pick up a fantasy novel.

Maybe it's narrow of me, but I guess I'm looking for a certain kind of fix when I pick up a fantasy novel. Not that these novels can't be serious or have a point to make, but I realize on writing this that I have expectations for these books, simply because they're this genre.
posted by annekef at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2001

Timothy Powers? Jonathan Carroll? My man Jack Vance?
Yeah, yeah--Leguin and Wolfe as well...

Or is this the Hack Fantasy Potboilers Authors list we're tallking about?
posted by y2karl at 10:39 AM on October 19, 2001

Thanks for reminding me about Tad Williams annekef... It has been about 2-4 years since I read the Memory Sorrow and Thorn series, but it was a good one. Although very lengthy :-)
posted by da5id at 11:19 AM on October 19, 2001

hahahahaha! i am so glad that I came into this topic and it was nothing but shit-talking. I can't recall actually enjoying any new fantasy novels I've read since high school. Maybe if people were writing something more than romance novels for nerds, they'd get a little more respect. There's plenty of respectable and respected science fiction out there, but I bet it doesn't rake in the dough like book 247 of the wheel of time series. And it's pretty damn hard to write bestselling fantasy that's not trash, because the majority of the fantasy audience wants just that: trash.

Anyway, I've heard a lot of good things about George R. R. Martin, but I wasn't able to get past the slow start of the book I tried to read. maybe I'll have to go back and try again.

I've been reading some pretty incredible scifi lately though... I highly reccomend the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons - they struck me as being very dune-esque, and just packed with awesome concepts and characters. I'm reading Iain M. Banks now, and he's been entertaining.
posted by chrisege at 11:28 AM on October 19, 2001

Yeah, definitely Tim Powers.

If you like sci-fi epics, check out Tony Daniel's Metaplanetary.
posted by kindall at 12:26 PM on October 19, 2001

Pretty much the only fantasy I've read since HS has been Cornwell's arthurian trilogy. Dennis McKiernan writes some great stuff, though his first series is LOTR rewritten. CS Friedman and another CS, CS Lewis are great writers on the edges of the genre. If you like Tolkein you should try the reading some of the Icelandic sagas which were his biggest influences and some of the earliest fantasy novels. Egil's saga is shockingly good.
posted by euphorb at 12:50 PM on October 19, 2001

I plowed through three of the Shannara books before giving up. Anyone want them? I'll give them away.

Love Donaldson. He's got some other stuff out, there is a sci-fi epic that starts slow but I was completely sucked in by the 4th book.

Silverberg's books are often good too. Something different about them.

Hmm, I've got some free time tonight, I just might make a trip to the library...
posted by mutagen at 3:51 PM on October 19, 2001

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