Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good Fantasy


This isn't a real post, because its not about a book, and because I intend to come back and keep editing it as I think of stuff. But it is about books, and I want to write it down so I can keep track...

So here's the thing: I've always identified myself as a science fiction and fantasy fan, but I don't actually like most fantasy. I finally came to that realisation the other day when I tried to make a list of good fantasy for someone and couldn't. So I'm going to try to remember fantasy I have really liked, and make a list. (For a given definition of "fantasy".)

Epic Fantasy - pretty much anything with swords and sorcerers in it.

The Vlad Taltos series - Stephen Brust
Some better than others, but generally awesome. I love his twisting political plots, and the way his gods are plotting bastards in the good ole Grecian style.
The Phoenix Guard series - Stephen Brust
Done in the style of Dumas' 3 musketeers. Not as compelling as Taltos, but damn good and dryly funny.
The Black Company series - Glen Cook
Gritty mercenaries in a magic world. Some in the middle of the series lose it a bit, but they're all good and the first couple are gold.
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
I am not one of those fawning Tolkien-worshippers who think the old man could do no wrong - he could damn well use an editor in places, for one - but he definitely gets a mention. I love the depth of the world he has created, and some of his descriptions.
The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny
A fantastic view of alternate universes. The first series is still damn good, but somewhat dated. The second series has a very different feel but is also excellent. Again with the twisted political plots - I wonder if thats a theme here?
The Earthsea series - Ursula K. LeGuinn
Ursula totally rocks. This series is not my favorite of her stuff (that would be her science fiction) but thats like saying "This Rembrandt isn't worth as much as some..." Got a little mystical in the last book, but the Tombs of Atuan is particularly beautiful.
The Dragonrider trilogy - Anne McCaffrey
The Harper Hall trilogy - Anna McCaffrey
...lumped together to separate them from all of the vomitous dross which she followed them with. (Well ok, I stopped reading after a couple; maybe they weren't ALL terrible.) I _loved_ these books, but she really needed to stop as far as I could tell.
The Liveship Traders - Robin Hobb
Cool and novel and interesting; I very much liked.
The Farseer Trilogy - Robin Hobb
Not quite so cool or novel I thought, but still interesting. The third trilogy she did in the same world I didn't care for much.
The Deeds of Paksennarion - Elizabeth Moon
Which I've already blogged about here. Not compellingly brilliant, like some of the above, but gritty and believable in a way that most fantasy isn't.
Perdido Street Station - China Mieville
The Scar - China Mieville
Iron Council - China Mieville
Not quite swords and sorcery, but definitely epic - and a very cool and different world.
The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch
Unusual setting, good characters, good story. Kind of Ocean's 11 conman story set in a fantasy world.
The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
Take a plot summary of Harry Potter, but strip it of all the cutesy identifying details and hand it to someone who can write to (re)fill in the blanks.

Tempted to add Moorcock's Elric and Leiber's Fafhard and Mouser here, but as I havent read them since high school I'm going to hold back...

Urban Fantasy - Fantasy set in the modern world.

Memories and Dreams - Charles deLint
Of course, heaps of deLints stuff is good, and a fair bit _really_ good, but I'm not going to try to list them all. This one was definitely my favorite.
King Rat - China Mieville
A great story, and also notable for describing a type of music I don't really care for much in a way that made me want to listen to it...
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
Gaiman has a gift for creating myths; this one is set in London Below.

Starting to look like I am a fantasy fan after all, though very little of what I've listed there was written in the last 20 years...