Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Potential Epic Series 2014

When it comes to the list of books I have read, science fiction dominates by a wide margin.  Aside from Dragonlace getting close to being read 20 years ago, and Lord of the Rings, which I've read twice in the past 10, there are not a lot of epic fantasy series that I have gone through.  I crave that epic fantasy style that stretches across multiple books, but I am also extremely picky.  I have a long-form series I am already reading through(Dresden Files) and I have Discworld if I want to add even more.  Those are different than something like Lord of the Rings.  I shy away from Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones because I hear so many things about "bad books" or "rough patches" along the way, and there's simply too much out there for me to put my time into that.

Anyways, this post is about my potential next series.

Lyonesse and Dying Earth by Jack Vance

I owe a lot to Jack Vance, and if you know me then you know I place an inordinate amount of effort into "getting" or "knowing" influences to things.  The entirety of Dungeon and Dragon's magic system is based upon Jack Vance's magic systems in these two series.  I hear they are wonderful, and since they were more or less developed along with Lord of the Rings, they did not take inspiration from it.  Its like a whole other side of fantasy that would find others melding with Lord of the Rings style stuff to create things like Wheel of Time.

Why I am having second thoughts: The Dying Earth series has a HUGE gap in between the 2nd and 3rd book, decades of a gap.  It is also generally a collection of loosely tied together short stories.  I have a book of short stories on a list that I want to read first, so that kind of takes out Dying Earth.  Next is Lyonesse.  Its Arthorian and Atlantean undertones set in Welsh mythology.  Yes, it also takes place on Earth.  Generally I stay away from Earth based fantasy, but Arthur and Atlantis is of huge interest to me... but... I just finished Elantris, and if you can't tell by the name, is hugely influenced by Atlantis.  None of these detractors are deal breakers... I just think it may be the wrong time.

Dragonriders of Pern by Ann McCaffrey

Dragonriders of Pern is the archetype for human/dragon relations in the fantasy boom of the 1980's and 1990's.  The fans of Pern are some of the most hardcore fans to not have their object of affections burst into the mainstream.  Their devotion lead to "living" campaigns in forums before that was a big thing on the net.  They had a large community in the text only MMO's of their day(M.U.D. variation named M.U.S.H.) and have held large events at Dragon'Con for over two decades.

Second thoughts:  It has gotten to be a very long series with numerous short stories and stand alone novels that I am afraid to invest my time.  Now... to be fair, I had  a stopping point in Dragonlance that I have not went back on, so maybe I'm just thinking of excuses.  I really hope I love them so much I end up reading all the books by Ann and now her Son, but it does make me apprehensive.  I think I've read that the two main trilogies are good enough to not need outside things, in fact they stand apart themselves as well.

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams

I do not know Tad William's books.  I do not know his reputation aside from what I read on the net.  I wanted to read one of his "stand alone" books to see how much I like him(same reason I read Elantris by Sanderson), but his one fantasy novel that fits this bill is about a rocker transported into a new world... a sub-genre that is surprisingly populated.  Unlike the others of the genre, which died out at the end of the 80's, this book about a rockstar turned hero was written in the 2000's.

That said, I think this trilogy could be great.  So much so, that I am hesitant to not read it because I also have a list of epic novels I'd like to share with my girlfriend as we read and discuss them, much like we did with Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Hunger Games.  Seriously, that's the only drawback... it might be too good for my purposes.

The Riddle-master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip

I'm not a fan of riddles.  Its too easy for someone to lord themselves over someone when they know the answer, and it seems like they have a smug satisfaction even though it is not like they came up with the riddle in the first place.  Anyway, that's the detractor and I started with it because I think that's the only bad thing I can say about it.

I once read an article saying Patricia A. McKillip puts many authors to shame because she creates these worlds of fantasy without having to do it with long, drawn out expose'.  She had a book of short stories(mentioned above) that for each one she is said to create a believable world worthy of a series of books each.  I have been intrigued since reading that, and to my surprise she has been honing her skills for decades.  Riddle-master is her original trilogy that put her on the map.  I think that will be what I start this week.

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