Any Fantasy Recommendations?

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Sammael
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Post by Sammael » Fri Feb 25, 2005 1:27 am

I'm not Alatar, but I loved the Pullman books. Very thought provoking and mature. I wouldn't say there is an anti-Christian slant per se, more like a criticism of an authority structure. Here is a quote from the author:

"It isn`t as if I've tried to keep this quiet. Anyone who read a piece I published in the Guardian on 6 November, (Read 'THE WAR ON WORDS'?) on the subject of theocracy and reading, will have seen very clearly that my main quarrel has always been with the literalist, fundamentalist nature of absolute power, whether it's manifested in the religious police state of Saudi Arabia or the atheist police state of Soviet Russia. The difference between those powers on the one hand, and the democratic powers of the human imagination on the other, are at the very heart of His Dark Materials - and to understand this, you need exactly the sort of intelligence that can grasp the nature of imagery."

The entire posting by Pullman is interesting as the comment above is taken from a response he wrote about the upcoming film and whether or not the themes of his books would be altered:

http://www.hisdarkmaterials.org/article605.html

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Post by Alatar » Fri Feb 25, 2005 9:34 am

I was going to mention the religious issue in my post, and in my usual befuddled manner didn't get around to it. The reason I should have mentioned it is because a number of Christians will be upset by it. Some won't. There was a stage in the second book when I thought that it was plain anti-Christian, but it resolved itself into something a little more mild. From memory the main attack was on organised religion. All the old debates about who has the power to interpret what the Truth is, and how this Truth is imposed. I'm sure you are familiar with them.

I can't promise that you'll like the author's point of view. If you are worried about a book that is set at least partly in our world and contradicts the Christian idea of God's nature avoid it. I can however promise the book will provide food for thought.
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Post by milomorai » Sun Mar 06, 2005 11:00 am

One of the best series I've read lately is George R.R. Marin's Song of Fire and Ice, beginning with A Game of Thrones. Great characters. Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series is also good, especiall the first trilogy. (Have a dictionary handy though.) Another great one - that nobody I know has read - is Paul Kearney's Monarchies of God. Umm . . . have you tried Katherine Kurtz?

Good reading to you!

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Post by theHermit » Mon Mar 07, 2005 1:03 am

I couldn't agree more about the Song of Ice and Fire series. I just wish he'd hurry up with the next book!

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Post by Alatar » Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:18 am

I've deliberately not read any of the George RR Martin series because although everything I have heard about it has been good, I already have enough unfinished series that I am waiting for (notably Katherine Kerr and %$#%^$ Robert Jordan).

Stephen Donaldson for me has got better as he has gone on. I read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant when I was a teenager though, which may have been a mistake. Did I mention that my wedding ring is made of white gold? Donaldson's books are good, but pretty heavy going emotionally.
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Post by milomorai » Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:41 pm

Cool . . . my wife and I got white gold too.

As for Jordan (and Goodkind), I have tried to read the first books at least and just couldn't make it through them. Several students (I teach high school) have told me that they start off good but get sort of repetitive, so I haven't bothered to try again. I've read the firt book in Russell's Swan War series and it was quite good. Luckily it's only a three part read - the last book just came out in hardback. Anymore, I try to avoid stories that are longer than five books (each volume longer that LotR, no less) and that the author is still churning one out every two or three years.

Let's face it -- there's just too much stuff to read out there!

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Post by FredProgGH » Mon Mar 07, 2005 11:29 pm

All I remember about Thomas Covenant was that he basically wound up in a fantasy world for no reason, raped an innocent girl the moment he got there and then whined with self loathing and made people miserable for 6 books.

Maybe I should try again?? (I read them as a teen too).
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Post by Guest » Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:26 am

FredProgGH wrote:All I remember about Thomas Covenant was that he basically wound up in a fantasy world for no reason, raped an innocent girl the moment he got there and then whined with self loathing and made people miserable for 6 books.

Maybe I should try again?? (I read them as a teen too).


Umm . . . that's basically what happened.

I think what I like best about them -- the first trilogy anyway -- was how different Covenant was. He is like the ultimate unlikely hero. But also, I couldn't help feel for him because he lived in a world where nobody believed in him, where he was nothing. Through the course of the stories, he did overcome the despair and bitterness that the "real world" had crammed down his throat. It's easy to see why he didn't believe in the Land. Nothing he does or whines about is excusable, but he does learn and grow from his experiences.

Or maybe Donaldson was showing the necessity of "the fantastic" in our lives. Maybe without it, we become bitter, heartless, unimaginative, shells of the people we should be.

A new Covenant series is coming out by-the-way. First book's out.

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Post by milomorai » Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:07 pm

Anonymous wrote:
FredProgGH wrote:All I remember about Thomas Covenant was that he basically wound up in a fantasy world for no reason, raped an innocent girl the moment he got there and then whined with self loathing and made people miserable for 6 books.

Maybe I should try again?? (I read them as a teen too).


Umm . . . that's basically what happened.

I think what I like best about them -- the first trilogy anyway -- was how different Covenant was. He is like the ultimate unlikely hero. But also, I couldn't help feel for him because he lived in a world where nobody believed in him, where he was nothing. Through the course of the stories, he did overcome the despair and bitterness that the "real world" had crammed down his throat. It's easy to see why he didn't believe in the Land. Nothing he does or whines about is excusable, but he does learn and grow from his experiences.

Or maybe Donaldson was showing the necessity of "the fantastic" in our lives. Maybe without it, we become bitter, heartless, unimaginative, shells of the people we should be.

A new Covenant series is coming out by-the-way. First book's out.


Hmm . . . wasn't logged in when I posted. Sorry. :?
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Post by theHermit » Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:13 pm

I had mixed feelings about the Covenant series when it first came out. Like Fred, I read it as a teen. On the one hand I felt sorry for TC in our world as he contracts leprosy and loses just about everything that he loves as a result, including his wife.

When he wakes up in the Land he is confronted with being some sort of reincarnated hero, which he thinks is rubbish, coming from his world's perspective. As I recall, the rape doesn't occur until midway through the first series, but then the daughter that results from this plays an important role in the Land so there are interesting plot developments that evolve from this event.

On the other hand, I didn't like the character of TC throughout the first series for some of the reasons stated above. I don't remember the second series. Anyone offer a quick recap?

I'm undecided on whether or not to read the new TC novel.

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Post by SuperTed » Tue Mar 08, 2005 3:31 pm

Swerving back to Philip Pullman for a second...

I read the "His Dark Materials" trilogy and I'm afraid I found the series progressively less entertaining. The first book was a very good read; it set the scene for the remainder of the series, introduced characters very well and was very well-crafted. The remainder of the trilogy, however, descended into a bit of a diatribe against a Church depicted therein that was to all intents and purposes Catholicism. In addition, I felt the quality of the writing suffered as the work went on - almost as if he got fed up writing it! An analogy may be drawn with the Matrix movies i.e. one good film stretched over three movies.

I've read pieces by Pullman where he castigates authoritarianism and dogma and exhorts everyone to follow their own paths etc. but his attitude to religion is well-documented also. To quote his own FAQ

His Dark Materials seems to be against organised religion. Do you believe in God?
I don't know whether there's a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say. I think it's perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don't know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away.

Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it's because he's ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they're responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I'd want nothing to do with them.


And, the cardinal sin in my book :wink: is his dismissal of CS Lewis. I can put my cards on the table and state that I'm not a Christian but I can appreciate the works of the man and the innate sense of joy behind most of them. Pullman sees things slightly differently...

http://www.crlamppost.org/pullanno.htm

The guy strikes me as a bit of a miserable sod and the trilogy is a bit too "Emperor's New Clothes" for me.
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Post by MayorOfLongview » Tue Mar 08, 2005 4:00 pm

Wow! That's what I had read. If that quote is accurate, I think I'll stay away from it.
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Post by Rumpska » Tue Mar 08, 2005 5:29 pm

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Post by Sam Gamgee » Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:42 pm

Uh... I guses that's a good book... I guess you could *kind of* consider it fantasy, but I don't really think that's what he meant... :lol:
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Some fantasyish reads

Post by Peter the High King » Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:26 pm

I must admit to not reading much fantasy any more. My main fiction preferences now are early to mid-twentieth century English and Irish novels. (esp. Evelyn Waugh, James Joyce, Iris Murdoch, and others) I'll post re: that to the other thread.

That said, here are some old fantasy favorites of mine. Some are juvenilia, some for adults.

Madeleine L'Engle, "A Wrinkle in Time," "A Wind in the Door," "A Swiftly Tilting Planet," "Many Waters." (AKA the Time Quartet) Juvenilia.

John Christopher, "The White Mountains," "The City of Gold and Lead," "The Pool of Fire." (AKA The Tripods Trilogy) Juvenilia.

C.S. Lewis, "Out of the Silent Planet," "Perelandra," "That Hideous Strength." (AKA, The Space Trilogy) These sometimes are incorrectly classified as Science Fiction, but they are quasi-futuristic space fantasy.

C.S. Lewis, "The Dark Tower" Unfinished short story.

Robert Silverberg, "Lord Valentine's Castle"

Michael Moorcock, The Chronicles of Corum; The Runestaff Series (starring Dorian Hawkmoon); The Elric Series. (Too many volumes to list them all) Mediocre writing; far-out ideas. Uber Dungeons and Dragons lit. the best there is of this sub-genre.

G.K. Chesterton, "The Napoleon of Notting Hill." (Even better--indeed, his best--is "The Man Who Was Thursday," although this is not fantasy, per se.

Umberto Eco, "Foucault's Pendulum." (fantastic, though stretching a bit to classify it as fantasy. Also "The Name of the Rose," which is really historical fiction.)

Hope this helps,

Peter the High King

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