1. Shuvam Das
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    Shuvam Das Member

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    Books every fantasy author should read

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Shuvam Das, Jul 28, 2015.

    Okay, so the thing is, that I want to write fantasy novels. Actually, I already do. I've been writing for two years already. But, I've not written much that I can be proud of. And I have a feeling that this is because I haven't read much at all. I hated reading as a kid, so you could say I started reading a few months before I started writing.

    So, can you please suggest me some books that I should read to grow as an author? Fantasy and Science Fiction only, please. And yeah, I write YA Fantasy, so how about suggesting YA Fantasy books too?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If you write YA fantasy, you can't go wrong with taking a look at Kristin Cashore's books Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue. And of course there are other authors to look at: Charles de Lint, Susan Cooper, Robin McKinley, Patricia Wrede. If you are more on the paranormal romance side of YA, probably P.C. and Kristin Cast or C.C. Hunter. For more general fiction, maybe Lauren Oliver or Alyson Noel (I think reading outside of genre is useful for fantasy writers).
     
  3. Oister
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    Oister New Member

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    The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. Anything by Brandon Sanderson is YA fantasy gold really. More random authors I can think of off the top of my head... Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Pretchett, Susan Cooper, Scott Lynch.
     
  4. tasjess
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    Robin Hobb - start with Assassin's Apprentice
    Mark Lawrence (can be a bit dark) start with Prince of Thorns
    Orson Scott Card - start with Ender's Game
    J R R Tolkin - start with The Hobbit
    George R R Martin - Game of Thrones
    Madeleine L'Engle -Wrinkle in Time
    J K Rowling - Harry Potter
    Catherynne M. Valente - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
    Lois Lowry - The Giver
    Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
    Isaac Asimov - I, Robot
    Anthologies of short stories edited by George R R Martin and Gardener Dozois have short stories by stacks of fantastic fantasy/sci-fi writers (Dangerous Women and Rogues are brilliant colletions)


    I will second Patrick Rothfuss and Terry Pratchett in a big way
     
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  5. tasjess
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    Oh, Neil Gaiman - Coraline is fantastic too
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're looking to study the works suggested to provide you with examples of characterization, pacing, dialogue, series writing, etc. it might be helpful to know the POV you hope to write in. That may help you focus more effectively.
     
  7. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Dresden Files

    Plots: the villains are truly memorable, their plans and schemes are never boring, and Harry Dresden's creativity is the stuff of legends among creatures who are the stuff of legends:
    • A dark wizard once conjured a circle of energy to protect him from magical attacks while he strengthened the demon that he'd summoned. Dresden threw an empty Cola can into the force-field so that the energy of the circle would blow up in the dark wizard's face :rofl:
    • Another dark wizard once tried to achieve immortality by surrounding himself with a mystical vortex that mortals could not penetrate safely without being surrounded by necromantic energy, and the courts of the wizards' community would execute Dresden if he committed human necromancy (even to save the world). Dresden then charged into battle atop a zombified fossil Tyrannosaurus in a stunt that even the villains of later books speak of with amazement
    • Dresden once had to evacuate a boatful of hostages who were in the middle of Lake (Michigan?). Does he conjure an ice sheet across the lake using ice magic so that the hostages can walk to shore? Of course not, he conjured an ice sheet using fire magic.
    Characterization: Harry Dresden is a fantastically sarcastic first-person narrator, and the books are very clear on his personal flaws.

    Apparently, amateur writers often use "excessive loyalty towards friends and paranoia towards authority" as ways of claiming the character is flawed without actually hindering him/her (as these traits are Shown to be good despite our being Told they are bad). In Dresden's case, these same traits legitimately cloud his judgement to the point of creating extra problems that he has to clean up while simultaneously dealing with the main threat from the original villain.

    Setting: Starts extremely down-to-earth, but the threats eventually grow from "Dark Wizards and Vampire Lords Bent on Taking Over Chicago" to "Eldritch Abominations From Between the Universes," and it changes so gradually that you don't realize anything is happening until it's too late :twisted:

    Most importantly: Jim Butcher pulled off a NECROMANTIC ZOMBIE TYRANNOSAURUS in book 7
    [​IMG]
    and kept escalating the coolness from there.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  8. Lea`Brooks
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    Kelley Armstrong books (YA) are mostly urban fantasy, and they have slightly annoying love stories. But she has some fantastic imagery in her books that really suck you into the story. Some of the books (like The Summoning, about a girl who can raise the dead) actually scared me and left me on edge for a while. lol

    There's an old series called Sweep by Cate Tiernan about witches. It's a good take on modern witches and magic.

    L.J. Smith is another YA author with a lot of good stories. The Dark Visions trilogy has some interesting characters and magic, twisting modern psychic powers to make them different and interesting.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Daughter of Hounds, by Caitlin R. Kiernan is also worth checking out.
     
  10. Shuvam Das
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. :) I'll be reading them.
     
  11. Shuvam Das
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    Actually, since I intend to write till death, I'm pretty sure I want to explore all types of POVs, except for maybe epistolary and weird stuff like second person future tense. :D
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Shuvam Das you want a fairly recent epistolary fantasy novel, check out Freedom and Necessity, a collaboration by Steven Brust and Emma Bull. Great fun.
     
  13. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    The Bastard Gentlemen series by Scott Lynch.
    First book is Lies of Locke Lamora.

    Amazing fantasy setting. Unique and just detailed and big enough to merit its existence without ever taking center stage.
    Even G.R.R. Martin quoted for the book :3
    It's simply perfect.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I like Scott Lynch.

    If you want world-building in modern fantasy, I don't think anyone can beat Steven Erikson at this point.
     
  15. A.M.P.
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    Modern?
    Must be a series I didn't read yet.
    One I'm reading is like D&D style
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Might I suggest The Elder Edda, too?
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I just meant to distinguish Erikson from authors like Tolkien. Erikson's Malazan series started in 1999. Guy is an anthropologist and archaeologist, and it shows in his world-building.
     
  18. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Oooh,
    I get it now.
     
  19. TWErvin2
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    I figured as you're starting out, focusing on one POV first, for example, might be beneficial. But I get your point about keeping the door open to all and learn about all. Sometimes it depends on the story to be told that determines the proper POV used to tell it.

    I think that there are some solid authors to look at:
    Roger Zelazny (Chronicles of Amber--mainly the first 5 books that focus on Corwin). Solid 1st person POV, with a large cast of complex characters. Separate stories that have an overall story arc.

    Stephen R. Donaldson (Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, the first trilogy: Lord Foul's Bane, The Illearth War, The Power that Preserves). A good study in epic fantasy, in a fantasy world that rivals JRR Tolkien's, and is very much unlike it (no elves, dwarves, etc.) Also a protagonist that is one many readers dislike.

    Steven Brust (The Vlad Taltos series). Witty dialogue and action that propels the story forward. He does a little experimentation with storytelling and structure from one book to another. Some efforts work better than others--but that might depend on who's reading.

    A relative newcomer I would say is Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles). He switches first person POVs in the later novels. There is excellent character development over the series...and there are multiple story arcs (within each novel/novellas) but also across several novels, with bridge novels, and there is an overall story arc that will be completed with the 9th novel. Also the way he blends elements of traditional fantasy with urban fantasy, and the way he incorporates multiple pantheons. Handles a number of characters, with seeds planted that later flower.

    This is sort of a wild card, depending on what you hope to write. Laurel K. Hamilton (Anita Blake series). This urban fantasy started out more action than romance with elements of erotica (or what some would call it), but transitions to far more sexual content and tied into the plot as the series continues (at least as I see it and why I stopped reading). But, her descriptions and action sequences, and the ability to end a chapter in such a way that the reader wants to continue onto the next to see what happens. A growing cast of characters.

    As was said, reading outside the genre can be good. Consider Harry Turtledove (World War series). He's good at alternate history stories. This series is SF, where an alien race invades Earth during early World War II. What can be learned from this is how to have a large cast of characters, scattered across the globe, often never knowing or encountering each other, but sometimes do. They come from all levels, from a peasant prisoner of the aliens, to influential spies and soldiers whose decisions have huge impacts, and several aliens themselves. The mosaic combines to tell the story of the invasion and resistance.

    Just a few thoughts.
     
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  20. Aaron DC
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    @TWErvin2 did that come straight from your head? Amazingly helpful!

    I am confident I will never be able to remember such detail of names, titles and content precis.

    Is that going to impact my writing ability?
     
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  21. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aaron DC,
    Yes, that came from my head. I don't read a lot of novels, but I do re-read the novels I've enjoyed, and I do study how those authors accomplished things so that I can apply those techniques to my writing, based upon my style and the story told.

    Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. Remembering certain details won't doom your writing ability. I can say that if you write a series, keeping track of things (making lists or files) might help you, especially if you don't remember such details well. That and have good beta readers.
     
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  22. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Oh for sure. I will be tracking all that info electronically, no question :D
     
  23. Greenwood
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    I am a tad suprised (no pun intended) that nobody has mentioned Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series here.

    Since your audience will be YA's, I highly suggest you read these books for an impression as how not to write your own book.

    Okay, don't get me wrong. MS&T is a brilliant fantasy series, even G.R.R.M said that it inspired him to write ASOIAF. It features very strong character development, a huge amount of worldbuilding, strong dialogue and powerful scenes, but it is also chucked full with long sentences , full of description, and metaphors that sometimes come across as a bit far fetched.

    The first book starts off very slowly. The first 250 pages, might I say, are downright boring (Unless you like reading about a guy doing chores in the kitchen and cleaning hallways with a broom), but after that, there opens a world that is very rich and very developed, and one realizes this snail-paced intro was necessary for readers to get a good perception of everything that is going on in Osten Ard (the world the story takes place in).

    Obviously this requires quite the attention span, which I doubt a lot of YA's will have these days. Nevertheless, I feel it is a series mandatory for every fantasy author to have read, as it is a strong example of brilliant world-building and character-development.
     
  24. jannert
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    In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker. This is exceedingly original fantasy (and a very very good read), that doesn't just copy what other people have done.

    Anything by Joe Abercrombie, who knows how to spin a tale, and who lets the genre breathe. His take on stock fantasy characters is an eye-opener, when it comes to what can be done if you're willing to break out of the box a bit.
     

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