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Old 06-02-2009, 07:04 AM   #1
sirbruce
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Looking for a contemporary high or epic fantasy recommendation

Okay, so I'm currrently working on a fantasy novel that is the usual Hero's Journey type plot. For inspiration I would like to be reading a similar sort of tale as I write, something involving quests, coming-of-age, mysterious mentors, and that sort of thing. I've already had several good recommendations:

Riftwar Saga - Raymond Feist
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Shanarra Series - Terry Brooks
The Sword of Truth - Terry Goodkind
The Belgariad - David Eddings
The Crystal Shard - R.A. Salvatore

etc.

I'm not interested in The Wheel of Time. I had been reading Robib Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice series, but it's not quite in the right tone.

Many of the above books are older as well. I'm hoping for something more contemporary. I'm also vaguely wondering if there are any STAND ALONE novels of high fantasy anymore, as nearly everything is the start of a series, and I don't want to get drawn into a series I don't have time to finish right now. But I welcome all suggestions, even if they are part of a series.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:19 AM   #2
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Tad Williams - Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series is very very good.

Stand alone you could do much worse than Mercades Lackey's Burning Brightly part of the Valdemar universe, but the rest aren't required reading.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:42 AM   #3
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Perhaps the "Mistborn" trilogy by Brandon Sanderson? It's definitely a coming of age tale, though it's a bit gritty for High fantasy, still very enjoyable.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:44 AM   #4
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Patricia McKillips's Riddle Series is a reall good one for the mysterous mentor type of read.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:38 AM   #5
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You definitely need to add the Earthsea Series by Ursula LeGuin to that list if you haven't read it already.

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Old 06-02-2009, 11:26 AM   #6
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Read Earthsea a long time ago, but it would certainly qualify, yes.
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Old 06-02-2009, 12:19 PM   #7
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But I welcome all suggestions, even if they are part of a series.
I don't have any recommendations, but I will say that I had great luck at goodreads.com for recommendations. I joined a SF/F bookclub there, and people are very open to giving suggestions. When I joined last summer I was out of things to read, and now my TBR list is 100+ and keeps growing no matter how many books I finish.
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Old 06-02-2009, 12:29 PM   #8
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I suggest reading the Thomas Covenant books by Stephen R. Donaldson. When I found the first series, I devoured them. It's one of those series you star reading, look up and realize how much you've read without realizing.

Thomas Covenant
1. Lord Foul's Bane
2. The Illearth War
3. The Power That Preserves

Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
1. The Wounded Land
2. The One Tree
3. White Gold Wielder

Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
1. The Runes of the Earth
2. Fatal Reverent
3. Against All Things Ending (2010)

The Last Chronicles is supposed to be 4 books total. I've read the first and have the second on my reader.
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:21 PM   #9
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I read the original Covenant. It's an amazing series, but pretty much a deconstruction of the standard fantasy plots rather than a celebration of it. Good recommendation, though.
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Old 06-02-2009, 02:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirbruce View Post
Okay, so I'm currrently working on a fantasy novel that is the usual Hero's Journey type plot.

Riftwar Saga - Raymond Feist
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Shanarra Series - Terry Brooks
The Sword of Truth - Terry Goodkind
The Belgariad - David Eddings
The Crystal Shard - R.A. Salvatore
The three Warcraft Vol1-3
Day of the Dragon (Hero is a wizard) Richard Knaak
Lord of the Clan (Hero is an Orc) Christie Golden
Last Guardian (Hero is a wizard) Jeff Grubb

The books are not sequels they only relation is they are in the Warcraft world. They are self contained stories written by different authors and different characters.

The best of the lot was Lord of the Clan, this book was really good. The hero here is an Orc and the sequel to this books is "Rise of the Horde", got it but haven't read it yet.

The Last Guardian was okay but I included it because it fits your bill the best.

The Crystal Shard is good but I would not recommend it for what you looking for there is no real Hero/Mentor relationship. I'd go for the first book in the Legend series titled "Homeland" by R.A. Salvatore. It's the same author and same character in this book.

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Old 06-02-2009, 06:50 PM   #11
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If you're not afraid of feminine characters, you could try "The Barbed Coil" by J.V. Jones, where two "weak" females make their destiny !
"The Second Sons Trilogy" by Jennifer Fallon is interesting too, for the maturing of the characters.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirbruce View Post
Many of the above books are older as well. I'm hoping for something more contemporary. I'm also vaguely wondering if there are any STAND ALONE novels of high fantasy anymore, as nearly everything is the start of a series, and I don't want to get drawn into a series I don't have time to finish right now. But I welcome all suggestions, even if they are part of a series.
Charles de Lint has a standalone "sorta" urban fantasy but it's not swords and sorcery exactly, very good - "The Little Country"

CJ Cherryh has 2 standalones that might fit the above, "The Paladin" is just great. Might consider "The Goblin Mirror" as well. If you can find them. Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" too. All good stories. I'd rate "The Paladin" as the best of those. I know she's known for her sci/fi mostly and although I don't really dig all of her fantasy stuff, she's written so many that it happens 4 or 5 of them are primo stuff, not just "read it, like it, forget about it", and her fantasy is more to the tune of the pre-D&D age, high fantasy styles stuff.

Sorry, nothing more modern comes to mind. Y'all have used up all my usual favorites that are unfortunately part of trilogies or such. The best of the series starts I'd call Feist's "Magician" (Riftwar Saga) and Tad Williams' "The Dragonbone Chair" (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn) and David Edding's "Pawn of Prophecy" (The Belgariad).

Last edited by wayspooled; 06-03-2009 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:19 PM   #13
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I'll also recommend the following...


Dragonlance: Chronicles (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman)

1. Dragons of Autumn Twilight (1984)
Quote:
Creatures of legend, the dragons have returned to Krynn. Now, the darkness of war threatens to engulf the land. Then hope appears -- a blue crystal staff in the hands of a beautiful bar barian woman. The promise of this hope forces a group of long-time friends into the unlikely roles of heroes: Tanis Half-Elven, their leader, a skilled warrior who detests fighting and is tormented by love for two women; Sturm Brightblade, Knight of Solamnia, driven to restore the honor of the knighthood; Raistlin Majere, the powerful and unsettling magic-user, whose hourglass-shaped eyes conceal dark mysteries; Caramon, Raistlin's twin, a genial giant both loved and feared by his brother; Flint Fireforge, the gruff old dwarven fighter, almost a father to them all; and Tasselhoff Burrfoot, a kender, the nuisance race of Krynn, immune to fear and followed by trouble wherever he goes.
2. Dragons of Winter Night (1985)
Quote:
Now the people know that the dragon minions of Takhisis, Queen of Dragons, have returned. The people of all nations prepare to fight to save their homes, their lives, and their freedom. But the races have long been divided by hatred and prejudice. Elven warriors and human knights fight among themselves. It seems the battle has been lost before it begins.

The companions are separated, torn apart by war. A full season will pass before they meet again--if they meet again. As the darkness deepens, a disgraced knight, a pampered elfmaiden, and a rattle-brained kender stand alone in the pale winter sunlight.

Not much in the way of heroes.
3. Dragons of Spring Dawning (1985)
Quote:
With the dragon orbs and newly forged dragonlances, the forces of good finally stand a chance against the minions of the Queen of Darkness. Then a new darkness -- one from within -- threatens the Companions.

Old loves and new treacheries will shake the Companions' faith in one another. All that they have fought for is about to fall into endless night, and it may already be too late to save one of the Companions from his doom.
4. Dragons of Summer Flame (1995)
Quote:
Summer has come to Krynn, a summer unlike any before. The sun bears down on land and sea, searing the world with relentless light and heat. Clouds and rain are nowhere to be found, and even the darkness of night brings little relief from the strange and oppressive day.

Meanwhile, those who commune regularly with their gods are uneasy. Every day, their deities become more distant, more difficult to reach. Clerics' prayers go unanswered, and magic goes awry. As the tension on Ansalon builds, estranged cousins Palin Majere and Steel Brightblade search for an explanation. It soon becomes evident that more than just magic is at stake.

The fate of all Krynn hangs in the balance
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:28 PM   #14
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Would Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry count? If not, perhaps even less so would Nancy Springer's Book of the Isle series. Sorry, just grasping at memory, after the more popular ones have already been noted. I don't believe either of the above would be considered "contemporary" either. I'll shut up now.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:50 AM   #15
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I have three recommendations:

1. David Drake's series starts with Lord of the Isles. I think of it as classic high fantasy, and I think he just finished the last book in the series about a year ago? My problem with this series is that they all feel the same, mostly formulaic in structure. The characters are progressing throughout the series, but each book feels repetitious when I read them in a streak.

2. Lois McMaster Bujold has two fantasy series - her older one is more "high fantasy", while her latest four-book series is more personal - everything is at stake for the protagonists, but the world (probably) won't end if they fail. If you want one single book, I would try the third book in her "5 gods" series, The Hallowed Hunt. It's richer if you know the material from the other two, but it is earlier in the world's history, so specific details aren't required. (this series starts with The Curse of Chalion) And Lois wins LOTS of awards, so she sets a good example.


3. Now for something off the wall: John Ringo has a series that follows Clarke's Law (any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic). The technology is still there, but due to a fight between those who control it, most people can no longer access it. There Will Be Dragons is the first book, where the war starts. I think the series is fun (especially the second book, Emerald Sea - dragons as the strike force on sailing aircraft carriers?) but it might not match your requirements for research
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