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Old 11-14-2017, 12:06 PM   #1
treadlightly
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Scale of "Darkness" in Fantasy

Sometimes I'm in the mood for darker fantasy themes, other times not. I hate spoilers and therefore don't want to start reading reviews. I was hoping someone could help me by ordering some fantasy series on my TBR list based on level of "darkness" which I will define as extended descriptions of captivity, torture, abuse, rape, or murder. Big bad guys are fine, but the tone of the writing and time (quantity of words?) spent describing the evil parts often affects my perception of how dark a book is. I have placed some of the series I've read and enjoyed on a darkness scale. Can you suggest where the other series would fall? Or place some of your own favourites?

Light - His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Mists of Avalon, The Seven Kennings (reading this now and loving it)

Dim - Mistborn, Lord of the Rings

Dark - Stormlight Archive, Farseer Trilogy, Kingkiller Chronicle

Black - Game of Thrones

To be sorted:
Gentlemen Bastard, Belgariad, Wizard of Earthsea, Malazan, The First Law, Curse of Chalion, Demon Cycle, Broken Empire, Deed of Paksenarrion, anything by Guy Gavriel Kay, Anthony Ryan
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Old 11-14-2017, 12:25 PM   #2
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I don't read enough fantasy to be able to contribute much, but it's an interesting question.
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Old 11-14-2017, 12:35 PM   #3
HarryT
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If you consider GoT as "black", where are you going to put Joe Abercrombie's "First Law" trology, which makes GoT look like kiddies' entertainment?
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Old 11-14-2017, 12:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treadlightly View Post
I was hoping someone could help me by ordering some fantasy series on my TBR list based on level of "darkness" which I will define as extended descriptions of captivity, torture, abuse, rape, or murder. Big bad guys are fine, but the tone of the writing and time (quantity of words?) spent describing the evil parts often affects my perception of how dark a book is.
I've read a few of the series on your list, and I would rate as shown below. I tossed in a few others that I read and enjoyed.

Light - Wizard of Earthsea, Chalion, Covenant of Muirwood, Legends of Muirwood

Dim - Uprooted (stand-alone, but good read), Kingfountain, Wheel of Time

Dark - Malazan (lots of rape), Farseer Trilogy (Book 2 has sex, rape, and zombie-eating-people)

Black - Deeds of Paksenarrion (First two books weren't bad, but book #3 has extended graphic torture and rape scenes so much so that I rated it 2 stars)

Last edited by kansaskyle; 11-14-2017 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 11-14-2017, 12:45 PM   #5
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If you consider GoT as "black", where are you going to put Joe Abercrombie's "First Law" trology, which makes GoT look like kiddies' entertainment?
I don't know, I haven't read it Where would you put them?
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Old 11-14-2017, 12:49 PM   #6
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I don't know, I haven't read it Where would you put them?
At whatever limit you put on your scale. It contains the most graphic and detailed scenes of torture of any book I've ever read (one of the book's main characters is a torturer). Puts "Paks" in the shade, and I do agree that the torture scenes in the final book of the Paks trilogy are disturbing.

(Spoiler tag added for the squeamish - you have been warned!)
Spoiler:

Of course, some people way well consider that questioning a prisoner by working your way up his hands with a meat cleaver a quarter of an inch at a time (with detailed descriptions of the process and the results) is light entertainment...

Last edited by HarryT; 11-14-2017 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
At whatever limit you put on your scale. It contains the most graphic and detailed scenes of torture of any book I've ever read (one of the book's main characters is a torturer). Puts "Paks" in the shade, and I do agree that the torture scenes in the final book of the Paks trilogy are disturbing.
Spoiler:
Of course, some people way well consider that questioning a prisoner by working your way up his hands with a meat cleaver a quarter of an inch at a time (with detailed descriptions of the process and the results) is light entertainment...
How do I unsee that?
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:30 PM   #8
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Hence my comment that whatever limit you put on your scale of darkness, the "First Law" trilogy should be at it. Definitely not a "cosy" read.
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Old 11-14-2017, 03:22 PM   #9
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Gentlemen Bastard I would put as DIM but I have only read the first book.

Malazan and First Law are both definitely BLACK.

Deed of Paks is DIM/DARK for the first two but definitely strays into the BLACK in book 3 for one extended time period and its lasting effect on the character.

Haven't read the others.
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