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RE: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

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  • Croft, Janet B.
    If the multiple races and their political interactions are what appeals to you, try Terry Pratchett. Especially the Ankh-Morpork books! Janet Brennan Croft
    Message 1 of 20 , Mar 16, 2012
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      If the multiple races and their political interactions are what appeals to you, try Terry Pratchett. Especially the Ankh-Morpork books!

       

      Janet Brennan Croft

      Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html

      "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett

       

      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of James Curcio
      Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 9:54 AM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

       

       

      > What I really regret, however, is the lack of true Tolkein imitators. Pastiche and imitation are not great art forms, but I enjoy sitting back with a trashy 'pulp' level novel and enjoying it just for fun. But while most reviews and commentary on Tolkein's

      work claims he was followed by innumerable imitators, I do not really see that. Or, they don't seem to imitate the aspects I would most like to see imitated. Tolkein's world is populated by multiple races with detailed histories and interesting 'political' interactions. Yet it seems that very few fantasy novels have elves and dwarves, or orcs or some simulacrum of them. They tend to be very humancentric worlds. 

       

      Try the Shannara books. Or really anything in any way associated with the D&D / AD&D line (though, as pulpy as they've always been, they've seen a real decline since Hasbro took over.)  There are a ton of Tolkien knock-offs of one kind or another. (And I'm not knocking knock-offs either. They are what they are.)

       

      --------------------------------------------------

      --------------------------------------------------
      Cell: 484-319-7323
      --------------------------------------------------

       



      On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 10:33 AM, Westermeyer GS11 Paul W <paul.westermeyer@...> wrote:

       

      The thread " Re: Kingkiller Chronicles" got me thinking about the fantasy genre as it stands now, and how people feel about it.

      I have my own strong feelings, of course; generally I think the genre is strong and looks good. Though I am a historian by training/profession, on the side I have been writing the book review column for _Knights of the Dinner Table_ magazine for six years now. [ http://www.kenzerco.com/index.php?cPath=22_23 - there is a link to a free sample issue that includes my review of Elizabeth Kostova's _The Historian_.]

      In my column I try to alternate between reviewing older works and new works. There seems no shortage of new works, but one of the things I love about literature is that its ever green; to the new reader, Tolkien's work is just as fresh as it was to any of us when we first cracked the spine. Pointing younger readers to forgotten gems is one of my goals. But I'm not certain we should dismiss new works the way I think some seem to do in the other thread. Certainly, I do not think all or even most YA work is 'pablum.' Joseph Delaney's Spook's Apprentice series is intriguing, for example, and I think we are wrong to dismiss the Twilight series as quickly as so many adults do. Neither is on the same level as Tolkien, IMO but I think both stand up reasonably well to Lewis' Space Trilogy or Narnia, and I am a big fan of Lewis, especially the Space trilogy. Amongst modern writers, Neil Gaimen consciously writes at the same level that Tolkien and Lewis aimed at, how often he hits his mark is upto individual readers but I think he at least comes very, very close.

      What I really regret, however, is the lack of true Tolkein imitators. Pastiche and imitation are not great art forms, but I enjoy sitting back with a trashy 'pulp' level novel and enjoying it just for fun. But while most reviews and commentary on Tolkein's work claims he was followed by innumerable imitators, I do not really see that. Or, they don't seem to imitate the aspects I would most like to see imitated. Tolkein's world is populated by multiple races with detailed histories and interesting 'political' interactions. Yet it seems that very few fantasy novels have elves and dwarves, or orcs or some simulacrum of them. They tend to be very humancentric worlds.

      There are exceptions: Tad William's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, Dennis McKiernan's Mithgar books, or Terry Brook's works but all differ in some significant way from the multi-racial world that so many assume is the 'standard' in the fantasy genre. Dwarves and Elves are, in my opinion truly hard to come by outside RPGs and fiction from RPG settings - and relatively few of those works focus on non-humans.

      I'd welcome suggestions for works of that type, BTW! :)

      Paul Westermeyer
      paul.westermeyer@...

      "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
      J. R. R. Tolkien, _The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring_

       

    • Mike Foster
      The April issue of The Atlantic has a two-page spread on G.R.R. Martin The Game of Thrones, TV & book, that accuses GRRM of being “Tolkienesque” but with
      Message 2 of 20 , Mar 16, 2012
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        The April issue of The Atlantic has a two-page spread on G.R.R. Martin The Game of Thrones, TV & book, that accuses GRRM of being “Tolkienesque” but with more sex and blood.
         
        Well, yeah...
         
        Pratchett is much more fun.
         
        Mike
         
        Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 9:56 AM
        Subject: RE: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?
         
         

        If the multiple races and their political interactions are what appeals to you, try Terry Pratchett. Especially the Ankh-Morpork books!

        Janet Brennan Croft

        Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html

        "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett

        From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of James Curcio
        Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 9:54 AM
        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

         

        > What I really regret, however, is the lack of true Tolkein imitators.

        Pastiche and imitation are not great art forms, but I enjoy sitting back with a trashy 'pulp' level novel and enjoying it just for fun. But while most reviews and commentary on Tolkein's work claims he was followed by innumerable imitators, I do not really see that. Or, they don't seem to imitate the aspects I would most like to see imitated. Tolkein's world is populated by multiple races with detailed histories and interesting 'political' interactions. Yet it seems that very few fantasy novels have elves and dwarves, or orcs or some simulacrum of them. They tend to be very humancentric worlds.

        Try the Shannara books. Or really anything in any way associated with the D&D / AD&D line (though, as pulpy as they've always been, they've seen a real decline since Hasbro took over.)  There are a ton of Tolkien knock-offs of one kind or another. (And I'm not knocking knock-offs either. They are what they are.)

        --------------------------------------------------

        --------------------------------------------------
        Cell: 484-319-7323
        --------------------------------------------------



        On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 10:33 AM, Westermeyer GS11 Paul W <paul.westermeyer@...> wrote:

         

        The thread " Re: Kingkiller Chronicles" got me thinking about the fantasy genre as it stands now, and how people feel about it.

        I have my own strong feelings, of course; generally I think the genre is strong and looks good. Though I am a historian by training/profession, on the side I have been writing the book review column for _Knights of the Dinner Table_ magazine for six years now. [ http://www.kenzerco.com/index.php?cPath=22_23 - there is a link to a free sample issue that includes my review of Elizabeth Kostova's _The Historian_.]

        In my column I try to alternate between reviewing older works and new works. There seems no shortage of new works, but one of the things I love about literature is that its ever green; to the new reader, Tolkien's work is just as fresh as it was to any of us when we first cracked the spine. Pointing younger readers to forgotten gems is one of my goals. But I'm not certain we should dismiss new works the way I think some seem to do in the other thread. Certainly, I do not think all or even most YA work is 'pablum.' Joseph Delaney's Spook's Apprentice series is intriguing, for example, and I think we are wrong to dismiss the Twilight series as quickly as so many adults do. Neither is on the same level as Tolkien, IMO but I think both stand up reasonably well to Lewis' Space Trilogy or Narnia, and I am a big fan of Lewis, especially the Space trilogy. Amongst modern writers, Neil Gaimen consciously writes at the same level that Tolkien and Lewis aimed at, how often he hits his mark is upto individual readers but I think he at least comes very, very close.

        What I really regret, however, is the lack of true Tolkein imitators. Pastiche and imitation are not great art forms, but I enjoy sitting back with a trashy 'pulp' level novel and enjoying it just for fun. But while most reviews and commentary on Tolkein's work claims he was followed by innumerable imitators, I do not really see that. Or, they don't seem to imitate the aspects I would most like to see imitated. Tolkein's world is populated by multiple races with detailed histories and interesting 'political' interactions. Yet it seems that very few fantasy novels have elves and dwarves, or orcs or some simulacrum of them. They tend to be very humancentric worlds.

        There are exceptions: Tad William's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, Dennis McKiernan's Mithgar books, or Terry Brook's works but all differ in some significant way from the multi-racial world that so many assume is the 'standard' in the fantasy genre. Dwarves and Elves are, in my opinion truly hard to come by outside RPGs and fiction from RPG settings - and relatively few of those works focus on non-humans.

        I'd welcome suggestions for works of that type, BTW! :)

        Paul Westermeyer
        mailto:paul.westermeyer%40usmc.mil

        "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
        J. R. R. Tolkien, _The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring_

      • Alana Joli Abbott
        ... I actually thought a number (not all) of the Eberron books (published post Hasbro) were very strong. I was very surprised how many of the writers, in pulp
        Message 3 of 20 , Mar 16, 2012
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          Try the Shannara books. Or really anything in any way associated with the D&D / AD&D line (though, as pulpy as they've always been, they've seen a real decline since Hasbro took over.)  There are a ton of Tolkien knock-offs of one kind or another. (And I'm not knocking knock-offs either. They are what they are.)

          I actually thought a number (not all) of the Eberron books (published post Hasbro) were very strong. I was very surprised how many of the writers, in pulp fantasy, tried to take on themes of religion and faith (topics I'm always interested in seeing handled in fantasy lit), in various ways, in their stories. Some of them even managed it quite well.

          One of my favorites is one of the pulpiest I've read, because it features an evil freelance writer, which I find hilarious. Of all the villainous careers in the world, I didn't figure mine was one of them!

          -Alana

          --
          Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor (http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
          Contributor to Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror http://tinyurl.com/haunted-aja
          Author of Into the Reach and Departure http://tinyurl.com/aja-ebooks
          Columnist, "The Town with Five Main Streets" http://branford.patch.com/columns/the-town-with-five-main-streets

          --
          For updates on my writings, join my mailing list at http://groups.google.com/group/alanajoliabbottfans

        • John Davis
          Game of Thrones finally made it to DVD in the UK last week, so I got my first peek of it (yes I know, I should have read the books, but so many books, so
          Message 4 of 20 , Mar 19, 2012
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            Game of Thrones finally made it to DVD in the UK last week, so I got my first peek of it (yes I know, I should have read the books, but so many books, so little time...). And to me, it felt about as far from Tolkien as it is possible to get. Where Tolkien focuses on the epic, and the mythic struggle between good and evil personified in characters, Game of Thrones seemed to have transplanted early medieval history into a fantasy environment, with no one either good or ungood, and no cause worth fighting for. Very realistic, no doubt, but worlds away - literally - from Tolkien, where, even in his most grim tales (such as Turin), there is a deep-rooted sense of morality and honour. I like both, but don't see many similarities, Sean Bean aside.
             
            Personally, I find more similarities between, say, War and Peace, or other epic 'real world' novels, and Lord of the Rings, than Lord of the Rings and the newer 'gritty' fantasy novels. I wonder if people see a fantasy secondary reality portrayed and think 'must be Tolkienesque' without looking deeper?
             
            John
             
             
            ----- Original Message -----
            Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 3:47 PM
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

             

            The April issue of The Atlantic has a two-page spread on G.R.R. Martin The Game of Thrones, TV & book, that accuses GRRM of being “Tolkienesque” but with more sex and blood.
             
            Well, yeah...
             
            Pratchett is much more fun.
             
            Mike
             
            Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 9:56 AM
            Subject: RE: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?
             
             

            If the multiple races and their political interactions are what appeals to you, try Terry Pratchett. Especially the Ankh-Morpork books!

            Janet Brennan Croft

            Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html

            "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett

            From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of James Curcio
            Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 9:54 AM
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

             

            > What I really regret, however, is the lack of true Tolkein imitators. Pastiche and imitation are not great art forms, but I enjoy sitting back with a trashy 'pulp' level novel and enjoying it just for fun. But while most reviews and commentary on Tolkein's work claims he was followed by innumerable imitators, I do not really see that. Or, they don't seem to imitate the aspects I would most like to see imitated. Tolkein's world is populated by multiple races with detailed histories and interesting 'political' interactions. Yet it seems that very few fantasy novels have elves and dwarves, or orcs or some simulacrum of them. They tend to be very humancentric worlds.

            Try the Shannara books. Or really anything in any way associated with the D&D / AD&D line (though, as pulpy as they've always been, they've seen a real decline since Hasbro took over.)  There are a ton of Tolkien knock-offs of one kind or another. (And I'm not knocking knock-offs either. They are what they are.)

            --------------------------------------------------

            --------------------------------------------------
            Cell: 484-319-7323
            --------------------------------------------------



            On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 10:33 AM, Westermeyer GS11 Paul W <paul.westermeyer@...> wrote:

             

            The thread " Re: Kingkiller Chronicles" got me thinking about the fantasy genre as it stands now, and how people feel about it.

            I have my own strong feelings, of course; generally I think the genre is strong and looks good. Though I am a historian by training/profession, on the side I have been writing the book review column for _Knights of the Dinner Table_ magazine for six years now. [ http://www.kenzerco.com/index.php?cPath=22_23 - there is a link to a free sample issue that includes my review of Elizabeth Kostova's _The Historian_.]

            In my column I try to alternate between reviewing older works and new works. There seems no shortage of new works, but one of the things I love about literature is that its ever green; to the new reader, Tolkien's work is just as fresh as it was to any of us when we first cracked the spine. Pointing younger readers to forgotten gems is one of my goals. But I'm not certain we should dismiss new works the way I think some seem to do in the other thread. Certainly, I do not think all or even most YA work is 'pablum.' Joseph Delaney's Spook's Apprentice series is intriguing, for example, and I think we are wrong to dismiss the Twilight series as quickly as so many adults do. Neither is on the same level as Tolkien, IMO but I think both stand up reasonably well to Lewis' Space Trilogy or Narnia, and I am a big fan of Lewis, especially the Space trilogy. Amongst modern writers, Neil Gaimen consciously writes at the same level that Tolkien and Lewis aimed at, how often he hits his mark is upto individual readers but I think he at least comes very, very close.

            What I really regret, however, is the lack of true Tolkein imitators. Pastiche and imitation are not great art forms, but I enjoy sitting back with a trashy 'pulp' level novel and enjoying it just for fun. But while most reviews and commentary on Tolkein's work claims he was followed by innumerable imitators, I do not really see that. Or, they don't seem to imitate the aspects I would most like to see imitated. Tolkein's world is populated by multiple races with detailed histories and interesting 'political' interactions. Yet it seems that very few fantasy novels have elves and dwarves, or orcs or some simulacrum of them. They tend to be very humancentric worlds.

            There are exceptions: Tad William's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, Dennis McKiernan's Mithgar books, or Terry Brook's works but all differ in some significant way from the multi-racial world that so many assume is the 'standard' in the fantasy genre. Dwarves and Elves are, in my opinion truly hard to come by outside RPGs and fiction from RPG settings - and relatively few of those works focus on non-humans.

            I'd welcome suggestions for works of that type, BTW! :)

            Paul Westermeyer
            mailto:paul.westermeyer%40usmc.mil

            "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
            J. R. R. Tolkien, _The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring_

          • WendellWag@aol.com
            I managed to force myself to read the first 117 pages of A Game of Thrones (since we were reading it in January for our local Mythopoeic group), and I didn t
            Message 5 of 20 , Mar 19, 2012
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              I managed to force myself to read the first 117 pages of A Game of Thrones (since we were reading it in January for our local Mythopoeic group), and I didn't find it to be particularly good at all, let alone not very close to Tolkien.  And this is the most popular of the big fantasy series that have come out over the past ten or so years.  Are there any of the big fantasy series that people can recommend as being really first-rate?
               
              Wendell Wagner
               
              In a message dated 3/19/2012 5:33:29 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, john@... writes:
              Game of Thrones finally made it to DVD in the UK last week, so I got my first peek of it (yes I know, I should have read the books, but so many books, so little time...). And to me, it felt about as far from Tolkien as it is possible to get. Where Tolkien focuses on the epic, and the mythic struggle between good and evil personified in characters, Game of Thrones seemed to have transplanted early medieval history into a fantasy environment, with no one either good or ungood, and no cause worth fighting for. Very realistic, no doubt, but worlds away - literally - from Tolkien, where, even in his most grim tales (such as Turin), there is a deep-rooted sense of morality and honour. I like both, but don't see many similarities, Sean Bean aside.
               
              Personally, I find more similarities between, say, War and Peace, or other epic 'real world' novels, and Lord of the Rings, than Lord of the Rings and the newer 'gritty' fantasy novels. I wonder if people see a fantasy secondary reality portrayed and think 'must be Tolkienesque' without looking deeper?
            • Morgan Thomsen
              It obviously depends on your personal preferences, but for first-rate series I can recommend Gene Wolfe s The Book of the New Sun series, and Jack Vance s
              Message 6 of 20 , Mar 19, 2012
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                It obviously depends on your personal preferences, but for first-rate series I can recommend Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun series, and Jack Vance's Dying Earth series and Lyonesse trilogy (while all series can be labelled as fantasy/sci-fi, they are not directly reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings, though).

                Robert Holdstock's Ryhope Wood series appears to increasingly be considered "first-rate"; I personally more enjoy reading Wolfe and Vance (although I found moments of grandeur in Holdstocks' Mythago Wood and Lavondyss). 

                Just my two pennies' worth,

                Morgan Thomsen

                On Mar 19, 2012 12:26 WendellWag@... wrote:

                Are there any of the big fantasy series that people can recommend as being
                really first-rate?
                Wendell Wagner



                In a message dated 3/19/2012 5:33:29 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                john@... writes:

                > Game of Thrones finally made it to DVD in the UK last week, so I got
                > my first peek of it (yes I know, I should have read the books, but so
                > many books, so little time...). And to me, it felt about as far from
                > Tolkien as it is possible to get. Where Tolkien focuses on the epic,
                > and the mythic struggle between good and evil personified in
                > characters, Game of Thrones seemed to have transplanted early medieval
                > history into a fantasy environment, with no one either good or ungood,
                > and no cause worth fighting for. Very realistic, no doubt, but worlds
                > away - literally - from Tolkien, where, even in his most grim tales
                > (such as Turin), there is a deep-rooted sense of morality and honour.
                > I like both, but don't see many similarities, Sean Bean aside.
                >
                >
                >
                > Personally, I find more similarities between, say, War and Peace, or
                > other epic 'real world' novels, and Lord of the Rings, than Lord of
                > the Rings and the newer 'gritty' fantasy novels. I wonder if people
                > see a fantasy secondary reality portrayed and think 'must be
                > Tolkienesque' without looking deeper?



              • Alana Joli Abbott
                I would have thought the most popular of the big fantasy series was still The Wheel of Time; Game of Thrones tends to leave people very divided, and some of my
                Message 7 of 20 , Mar 19, 2012
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                  I would have thought the most popular of the big fantasy series was still The Wheel of Time; Game of Thrones tends to leave people very divided, and some of my fantasy-reader friends did what Wendell did and gave up midway through book one. I've not been inspired to give them a try, either in print or on screen.

                  I mentioned the Mistborn books (Brandon Sanderson) before -- they're one of the hot new fantasy series, and they've gotten a big thumbs up from the majority of fantasy readers in my circle. Rothfuss is the other one I hear recommended all the time. Both hit the New York Times bestseller list, which I think qualifies them as "big."

                  The big (again as in NYT bestselling) series I'm currently reading that I recommend the most highly for aspects I find to be like the Inklings isn't really a fantasy series at all, it's a science fiction series that feels like high fantasy with political intrigue. It's David Weber's Safehold series, and once you get past about the first thirty to sixty pages of of the first book -- the set up -- it largely leaves the SF feel behind in favor of having a much more fantasy-like flair.

                  I also think Sherwood Smith's Inda series is phenomenal and hasn't gotten nearly the "big" attention it deserves.

                  -Alana

                  On Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 7:26 AM, <WendellWag@...> wrote:
                   

                  I managed to force myself to read the first 117 pages of A Game of Thrones (since we were reading it in January for our local Mythopoeic group), and I didn't find it to be particularly good at all, let alone not very close to Tolkien.  And this is the most popular of the big fantasy series that have come out over the past ten or so years.  Are there any of the big fantasy series that people can recommend as being really first-rate?
                   
                  Wendell Wagner
                   


                  --
                  Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor (http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
                  Contributor to Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror http://tinyurl.com/haunted-aja
                  Author of Into the Reach and Departure http://tinyurl.com/aja-ebooks
                  Columnist, "The Town with Five Main Streets" http://branford.patch.com/columns/the-town-with-five-main-streets

                  --
                  For updates on my writings, join my mailing list at http://groups.google.com/group/alanajoliabbottfans

                • Mike Foster
                  We preferred Robert Holdstock’s dynamic duo (MYTHAGO WOOD the better) to GRRM et alia. Mike From: Alana Joli Abbott Sent: Monday, March 19, 2012 8:23 AM To:
                  Message 8 of 20 , Mar 19, 2012
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                    We preferred Robert Holdstock’s dynamic duo (MYTHAGO WOOD the better) to GRRM et alia.
                     
                    Mike
                     
                    Sent: Monday, March 19, 2012 8:23 AM
                    Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?
                     
                     

                    I would have thought the most popular of the big fantasy series was still The Wheel of Time; Game of Thrones tends to leave people very divided, and some of my fantasy-reader friends did what Wendell did and gave up midway through book one. I've not been inspired to give them a try, either in print or on screen.

                     
                    I mentioned the Mistborn books (Brandon Sanderson) before -- they're one of the hot new fantasy series, and they've gotten a big thumbs up from the majority of fantasy readers in my circle. Rothfuss is the other one I hear recommended all the time. Both hit the New York Times bestseller list, which I think qualifies them as "big."
                     
                    The big (again as in NYT bestselling) series I'm currently reading that I recommend the most highly for aspects I find to be like the Inklings isn't really a fantasy series at all, it's a science fiction series that feels like high fantasy with political intrigue. It's David Weber's Safehold series, and once you get past about the first thirty to sixty pages of of the first book -- the set up -- it largely leaves the SF feel behind in favor of having a much more fantasy-like flair.
                     
                    I also think Sherwood Smith's Inda series is phenomenal and hasn't gotten nearly the "big" attention it deserves.
                     
                    -Alana

                    On Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 7:26 AM, <WendellWag@...> wrote:
                     

                    I managed to force myself to read the first 117 pages of A Game of Thrones (since we were reading it in January for our local Mythopoeic group), and I didn't find it to be particularly good at all, let alone not very close to Tolkien.  And this is the most popular of the big fantasy series that have come out over the past ten or so years.  Are there any of the big fantasy series that people can recommend as being really first-rate?
                     
                    Wendell Wagner
                     
                     
                     
                    --
                    Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor (http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
                    Contributor to Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror http://tinyurl.com/haunted-aja
                    Author of Into the Reach and Departure http://tinyurl.com/aja-ebooks
                    Columnist, "The Town with Five Main Streets" http://branford.patch.com/columns/the-town-with-five-main-streets

                    --
                    For updates on my writings, join my mailing list at http://groups.google.com/group/alanajoliabbottfans
                     
                  • WendellWag@aol.com
                    Thanks to all those who replied. I should have said that I was particularly interested in learning more about the big fantasy series of the past ten years
                    Message 9 of 20 , Mar 19, 2012
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                      Thanks to all those who replied.  I should have said that I was particularly interested in learning more about the big fantasy series of the past ten years (or so).  I've been told much about The Book of the New Sun, The Dying Earth, Lyonesse, and Ryhope Wood, but I know little about the dozen or so big adult fantasy series which have come out over the past ten years (or so), although I know and have read some of the children's fantasy series for this period.  I hardly even recognize the names and the names of the authors for the adult fantasy series.
                       
                      Wendell Wagner
                       
                      In a message dated 3/19/2012 9:23:57 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, morgan@... writes:
                       

                      It obviously depends on your personal preferences, but for first-rate series I can recommend Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun series, and Jack Vance's Dying Earth series and Lyonesse trilogy (while all series can be labelled as fantasy/sci-fi, they are not directly reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings, though).

                      Robert Holdstock's Ryhope Wood series appears to increasingly be considered "first-rate"; I personally more enjoy reading Wolfe and Vance (although I found moments of grandeur in Holdstocks' Mythago Wood and Lavondyss). 

                      Just my two pennies' worth,

                      Morgan Thomsen

                      On Mar 19, 2012 12:26 WendellWag@... wrote:

                      Are there any of the big fantasy series that people can recommend as being
                      really first-rate?
                      Wendell Wagner



                      In a message dated 3/19/2012 5:33:29 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                      john@... writes:

                      > Game of Thrones finally made it to DVD in the UK last week, so I got
                      > my first peek of it (yes I know, I should have read the books, but so
                      > many books, so little time...). And to me, it felt about as far from
                      > Tolkien as it is possible to get. Where Tolkien focuses on the epic,
                      > and the mythic struggle between good and evil personified in
                      > characters, Game of Thrones seemed to have transplanted early medieval
                      > history into a fantasy environment, with no one either good or ungood,
                      > and no cause worth fighting for. Very realistic, no doubt, but worlds
                      > away - literally - from Tolkien, where, even in his most grim tales
                      > (such as Turin), there is a deep-rooted sense of morality and honour.
                      > I like both, but don't see many similarities, Sean Bean aside.>
                      >
                      >
                      > Personally, I find more similarities between, say, War and Peace, or
                      > other epic 'real world' novels, and Lord of the Rings, than Lord of
                      > the Rings and the newer 'gritty' fantasy novels. I wonder if people
                      > see a fantasy secondary reality portrayed and think 'must be
                      > Tolkienesque' without looking deeper?



                    • David Emerson
                      It may not be a big series (in the sense of media attention), but I m rather fond of Sharon Shinn s Twelve Houses Series: Mystic and Rider The Thirteenth
                      Message 10 of 20 , Mar 20, 2012
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                        It may not be a "big" series (in the sense of media attention), but I'm rather fond of Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses Series:
                            Mystic and Rider
                            The Thirteenth House
                            Dark Moon Defender
                            Reader and Raelynx
                        And the series coda, Fortune and Fate.  The first four books comprise a single story arc, although each is a story in itself but builds on what has gone before.  The fifth book, set after the fourth ends (and thus contains spoilers) isn't necessary to the major arc, but is a nice way to revisit that universe and some of the characters.

                        Shinn has a couple of other series, too.  I've read one of her Samaria (angel) series and it was also good.

                        David Emerson
                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: WendellWag@...
                        Sent: Mar 19, 2012 9:57 PM
                        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

                        ...I was particularly interested in learning more about the big fantasy series of the past ten years (or so).  I've been told much about The Book of the New Sun, The Dying Earth, Lyonesse, and Ryhope Wood, but I know little about the dozen or so big adult fantasy series which have come out over the past ten years (or so), although I know and have read some of the children's fantasy series for this period.  I hardly even recognize the names and the names of the authors for the adult fantasy series.
                        
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                      • David Emerson
                        Also having received a lot of attention is the recent pair of books by Lev Grossman, The Magicians and The Magician King . Kind of a post-modern take on the
                        Message 11 of 20 , Mar 20, 2012
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                          Also having received a lot of attention is the recent pair of books by Lev Grossman, The Magicians and The Magician King.  Kind of a post-modern take on the fantasy genre itself, commenting very darkly on both Harry Potter and Narnia.  I haven't heard if there's going to be a third book.  The end of the second could be taken either as an end or as a setup for a third.

                          David Emerson
                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: WendellWag@...
                          Sent: Mar 19, 2012 9:57 PM
                          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

                          ...I was particularly interested in learning more about the big fantasy series of the past ten years (or so). 
                          
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                        • Nancy Marie Brown
                          If you re interested in fantasy worlds that include other races like Tolkien s orcs, I d recommend my friend Kate Elliot s Crown of Stars series (8 books).
                          Message 12 of 20 , Mar 21, 2012
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                            If you're interested in fantasy worlds that include other races like Tolkien's orcs, I'd recommend my friend Kate Elliot's "Crown of Stars" series (8 books). She has a wonderful race of wolvish-dragonish stone creatures that act like Vikings. Her more recent "Cold Magic" trilogy ("Cold Fire" is the second book) also has a cool race of lizard people in a steam-punk sort of world.

                            Nancy
                            Nancy Marie Brown
                            nancymariebrown@...
                            nancymariebrown.com

                            Visit my blog at www.nancymariebrown.blogspot.com


                          • Westermeyer GS11 Paul W
                            ... Well, I did mention Brook s books. But all his characters are really humans. Mutated humans, but humans. The elves are different, in theory, but they are
                            Message 13 of 20 , Mar 22, 2012
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                              > Posted by: "James Curcio" jamescurcio@... agent139
                              > Date: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:54 am ((PDT))
                              >
                              > Try the Shannara books. Or really anything in any way associated with the
                              > D&D / AD&D line (though, as pulpy as they've always been, they've seen a
                              > real decline since Hasbro took over.)

                              Well, I did mention Brook's books. But all his characters are really humans. Mutated humans, but humans. The elves are different, in theory, but they are treated no differently than the various human and human-mutant groups. Their lifespans, language, even their culture is essentially the same.

                              The AD&D books are different in this regard, and I too prefer the earlier ones. Some writers handle elves very well, Elaine Cunningham for example, and I treasure those novels. But most AD&D novels still seem to be focused on humans, and the non-humans are exotic oddities.

                              > There are a ton of Tolkien
                              > knock-offs of one kind or another. (And I'm not knocking knock-offs either.
                              > They are what they are.)

                              My point is, people say this in many surveys of fantasy literature or book reviews but I don't believe it is true. There is Brook's first book, and Dennis McKiernan's early Mithgar books but really that is it. Beyond that, people seem to call any fantasy novel a Tolkien pastiche even when all it might have in common with LOTR is a pseudo-medieval setting and magic. By that measure Howard's Conan is a Tolkien pastiche - despite coming first!

                              I actually hope in this learned group folks will prove me wrong. I'd love to read some actual Tolkien imitators. :)

                              > Posted by: "Croft, Janet B." jbcroft@... jbcroft73019
                              > Date: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:57 am ((PDT))
                              >
                              > If the multiple races and their political interactions are what appeals
                              > to you, try Terry Pratchett. Especially the Ankh-Morpork books!

                              Isn't his work broad parody/comedy? I've had his work recommended to me often, but I'm just not a fan of parody/comedy in literature, I prefer that in theater or film.


                              > The April issue of The Atlantic has a two-page spread on G.R.R. Martin
                              > The Game of Thrones, TV & book, that accuses GRRM of being
                              > “Tolkienesque” but with more sex and blood.

                              A perfect example of people calling something 'Tolkienesque' when it actually has almost nothing to do with Tolkien. :(

                              > Posted by: "John Davis" john@... mcxg46
                              > Date: Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:33 am ((PDT))
                              >
                              > Game of Thrones finally made it to DVD in the UK last week, so I got my
                              > first peek of it (yes I know, I should have read the books, but so many
                              > books, so little time...). And to me, it felt about as far from Tolkien
                              > as it is possible to get. Where Tolkien focuses on the epic, and the
                              > mythic struggle between good and evil personified in characters, Game
                              > of Thrones seemed to have transplanted early medieval history into a
                              > fantasy environment, with no one either good or ungood, and no cause
                              > worth fighting for. Very realistic, no doubt, but worlds away -
                              > literally - from Tolkien, where, even in his most grim tales (such as
                              > Turin), there is a deep-rooted sense of morality and honour. I like
                              > both, but don't see many similarities, Sean Bean aside.
                              >
                              > Personally, I find more similarities between, say, War and Peace, or
                              > other epic 'real world' novels, and Lord of the Rings, than Lord of the
                              > Rings and the newer 'gritty' fantasy novels. I wonder if people see a
                              > fantasy secondary reality portrayed and think 'must be Tolkienesque'
                              > without looking deeper?

                              All very true, IMO. I couldn't finish the first novel, because I just couldn't really care about the characters. I tried to get into the TV series, hoping it might be more palatable in TV form and no dice their either. It is well acted and well done, and I dare say the novels are well written, just not to my taste. The author has said it is modeled on the War of the Roses, I think that is an accurate comparison.

                              > Posted by: "WendellWag@..." WendellWag@... wendell_wagner
                              > Date: Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:57 pm ((PDT))
                              >
                              > Thanks to all those who replied. I should have said that I was
                              > particularly interested in learning more about the big fantasy series of the past ten
                              > years (or so). I've been told much about The Book of the New Sun, The
                              > Dying Earth, Lyonesse, and Ryhope Wood, but I know little about the dozen or
                              > so big adult fantasy series which have come out over the past ten years (or
                              > so), although I know and have read some of the children's fantasy series
                              > for this period. I hardly even recognize the names and the names of the
                              > authors for the adult fantasy series.

                              Well, you said you've read some of the children's books. For my money, the best of those are JK Rowlings "Harry Potter" books, which I think will stand the test of time as classics. The captivated me like no other book had done since Tolkien when I first read them. I also find Joseph Delaney's Spook's Apprentice books to be truly excellent.

                              As for adult books of the past ten years, I recommend:
                              _Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell_ by Susanna Clarke
                              _The Historian_ by Elizabeth Kostova
                              _The Dresden Files_ by Jim Butcher
                              _Peter & Max_ by Bill Willingham (a novel about characters from his _Fables_ comic book series, which is very good as well.)
                              _Johannes Cabal: the Necromancer_ by Jonathan L. Howard

                              Some folks like _The Magicians_ by Lev Grossman, it is well written, but very odd IMO. I reviewed it last March in KODT and started the review like this:

                              ""Wake up!" Alice said. "This isn't a story! It's just one fucking thing after another!"

                              Two thirds of the way through Lev Grossman’s fantasy novel the only truly appealing character in the novel screeches out the novel’s strengths and flaws in one shrill, profane statement. It isn’t a story, not really. It’s just one thing after another."
                            • Croft, Janet B.
                              ... Isn t his work broad parody/comedy? I ve had his work recommended to me often, but I m just not a fan of parody/comedy in literature, I prefer that in
                              Message 14 of 20 , Mar 22, 2012
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                                > Posted by: "Croft, Janet B."

                                jbcroft@... jbcroft73019
                                > Date: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:57 am ((PDT))
                                >
                                > If the multiple races and their political interactions are what appeals
                                > to you, try Terry Pratchett. Especially the Ankh-Morpork books!

                                Isn't his work broad parody/comedy? I've had his work recommended to me often, but I'm just not a fan of parody/comedy in literature, I prefer that in theater or film.

                                 

                                ***The early books are pretty much just parody/comedy. The later books have a great deal more depth, though they are also still in places very, very funny. You might try starting with a fairly late book, _Making Money_ – while you’ll miss some nuances and some character history by not having read the earlier books, it stands alone fairly well. It’s got a good mix of the races of the Discworld, plus you see the process of trying to figure out a relatively new race, the golems. The comedy in his mature work comes more from character and situation than slapstick and pastiche. (Not that there’s NO slapstick, of course.)

                                 

                                And if you DO prefer your comedy and parody on film, I can highly recommend the adaptation of his “Christmas” book, _Hogfather_. The other adaptations, not so much, though I haven’t seen _Making Money_ yet.

                                 

                                Janet Brennan Croft

                                Associate Professor
                                Head of Access Services
                                University of Oklahoma Libraries
                                Bizzell 106NW
                                Norman OK 73019
                                405-325-1918
                                Fax 405-325-7618
                                jbcroft@...
                                http://ou.academia.edu/JanetCroft

                                http://libraries.ou.edu/
                                Editor of Mythlore
                                http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html

                                Book Review Editor of Oklahoma Librarian http://www.oklibs.org/oklibrarian/current/index.html

                                "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett

                                 

                              • Alana Joli Abbott
                                ... I agree with Janet, but I would have suggested starting with *Small Gods* (which is an earlier stand-alone and was my first experience with a Pratchett
                                Message 15 of 20 , Mar 22, 2012
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                                  ***The early books are pretty much just parody/comedy. The later books have a great deal more depth, though they are also still in places very, very funny. You might try starting with a fairly late book, _Making Money_ – while you’ll miss some nuances and some character history by not having read the earlier books, it stands alone fairly well. It’s got a good mix of the races of the Discworld, plus you see the process of trying to figure out a relatively new race, the golems. The comedy in his mature work comes more from character and situation than slapstick and pastiche. (Not that there’s NO slapstick, of course.)


                                  I agree with Janet, but I would have suggested starting with Small Gods (which is an earlier stand-alone and was my first experience with a Pratchett title) or maybe Night Watch (which is part of an arc, but does introduce the characters). Monstrous Regiment is also one of the meatier recent stand-alones, though familiar characters from earlier books do make appearances. Some of the books are quite zany (any of them about Rincewind tend to be sillier than the rest; they're not my favorites). Several of the other arcs do have elements of zany comedy, but the later books in each arc are definitely deeper. I'd say that Pratchett makes good use of the absurd to create satire in a fantasy setting, but that the works go beyond satire and into mythopoeia (as I define it) quite often.

                                  As far as imitators go, I think the Eragon books (YA series) are very imitative of bits of Tolkien and bits of the Wheel of Time books. I make no judgment on the value of the series, but of all of the books that I think have been called pastiche by reviewers, the Eragon books seem to best deserve the label. (I read a few of the books but could only stand to watch the first fifteen minutes or so of the film, which was also pastiche -- I swear they lifted an exact positioning of the hero looking at the sunset from Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.)

                                  -Alana

                                  --
                                  Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor (http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
                                  Contributor to Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror http://tinyurl.com/haunted-aja
                                  Author of Into the Reach and Departure http://tinyurl.com/aja-ebooks
                                  Columnist, "The Town with Five Main Streets" http://branford.patch.com/columns/the-town-with-five-main-streets

                                  --
                                  For updates on my writings, join my mailing list at http://groups.google.com/group/alanajoliabbottfans

                                • tuhonbillmcg
                                  ... Part of the problem is they are comparing apples with oranges. Martin s Game of Thrones falls more into the category of Sword and Sorcery (and
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Mar 22, 2012
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                                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Foster" <mafoster@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > The April issue of The Atlantic has a two-page spread on G.R.R. Martin The Game of Thrones, TV & book, that accuses GRRM of being “Tolkienesque” but with more sex and blood.
                                    >

                                    Part of the problem is they are comparing apples with oranges. Martin's "Game of Thrones" falls more into the category of "Sword and Sorcery" (and therefore should be compared with Howard's "Conan the Barbarian") rather than the High Fantasy genre Tolkien is known for.

                                    A useful book to help understand the High Fantasy novels of Tolkien and his friend C. S. Lewis (and to a large extent modern works like the Harry Potter series), is C. S. Lewis' "The Discarded Image," in which he describes what he calls "The Medieval Model."

                                    http://www.amazon.com/Discarded-Image-Introduction-Renaissance-Literature/dp/0521477352

                                    This model is a worldview found in the literature of Western Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is a worldview influenced by both the classical writings of pagan Greeks and Romans as much as the Bible and written works of the early church fathers. When I hear professors of medieval literature cite the novels of Lewis and Tolkien as excellent introductions to medieval literature for modern readers, it is this worldview, this "Medieval Model" that they are recognizing. When we use the term "knight" it is often tied to another word which defines the expected behavior of this type of warrior. Hence we often think of chivalrous knights as warriors who fought in a certain way and believed in certain things and were held to a higher ideal than merely being soldiers on horseback.

                                    I am writing a series of blog posts on the subject which can be found here:

                                    http://theswordoffire.wordpress.com/

                                    The series began in December with this post:
                                    http://theswordoffire.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/high_fantasy_medieval_model/

                                    I hope you will drop by, read a post or two and leave a comment.

                                    Regards,
                                    Bill McGrath
                                  • John Davis
                                    I sometimes feel that Tolkien was the last of the medieval fantasy writers (if you ll forgive me using the term backwards), not the first of the modern ones.
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Mar 23, 2012
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                                      I sometimes feel that Tolkien was the last of the medieval 'fantasy' writers (if you'll forgive me using the term backwards), not the first of the modern ones. Certainly when I went in search of Tolkien-like books, I found myself looking back to works that influenced him, rather than forwards to books that were allegedly influenced by him.
                                       
                                      Perhaps his influence is not so much in tone or style, as in the fact that he created an audience for epic fantasy once more.
                                       
                                      John
                                       
                                      ----- Original Message -----
                                      Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:23 PM
                                      Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Modern Fantasy Genre - All seems lost?

                                       



                                      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Foster" <mafoster@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > The April issue of The Atlantic has a two-page spread on G.R.R. Martin The Game of Thrones, TV & book, that accuses GRRM of being “Tolkienesque” but with more sex and blood.
                                      >

                                      Part of the problem is they are comparing apples with oranges. Martin's "Game of Thrones" falls more into the category of "Sword and Sorcery" (and therefore should be compared with Howard's "Conan the Barbarian") rather than the High Fantasy genre Tolkien is known for.

                                      A useful book to help understand the High Fantasy novels of Tolkien and his friend C. S. Lewis (and to a large extent modern works like the Harry Potter series), is C. S. Lewis' "The Discarded Image," in which he describes what he calls "The Medieval Model."

                                      http://www.amazon.com/Discarded-Image-Introduction-Renaissance-Literature/dp/0521477352

                                      This model is a worldview found in the literature of Western Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is a worldview influenced by both the classical writings of pagan Greeks and Romans as much as the Bible and written works of the early church fathers. When I hear professors of medieval literature cite the novels of Lewis and Tolkien as excellent introductions to medieval literature for modern readers, it is this worldview, this "Medieval Model" that they are recognizing. When we use the term "knight" it is often tied to another word which defines the expected behavior of this type of warrior. Hence we often think of chivalrous knights as warriors who fought in a certain way and believed in certain things and were held to a higher ideal than merely being soldiers on horseback.

                                      I am writing a series of blog posts on the subject which can be found here:

                                      http://theswordoffire.wordpress.com/

                                      The series began in December with this post:
                                      http://theswordoffire.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/high_fantasy_medieval_model/

                                      I hope you will drop by, read a post or two and leave a comment.

                                      Regards,
                                      Bill McGrath

                                    • scribbler@scribblerworks.us
                                      I ve been very interested in this discussion, because as a writer of fantasy, I do consider myself writing in the tradition of Tolkien . But since I have yet
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Mar 23, 2012
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                                        I've been very interested in this discussion, because as a writer of
                                        fantasy, I do consider myself "writing in the tradition of Tolkien". But
                                        since I have yet to get the thing finished and out (hoping to do that
                                        soon, though), it's hard to feel justified in speaking about "where I'm
                                        coming from". But here goes anyway.

                                        I think one of the things about Tolkien that makes his work so
                                        exceptional, and why so few works seem to measure up to it, no matter how
                                        massive they are, is that there is such a depth to his world building.

                                        I doubt there will be another writer of his skill who has also the skills
                                        he had in creating new languages. So let us not us "invented language" as
                                        a criterion for evaluation.

                                        But beyond that, there are the geneologies, the histories, the stories and
                                        poetry that he created. The poetry of the dwarves is not like that of the
                                        elves - that sort of thing. Just in the matter of poetry alone, Tolkien
                                        far outstrips his imitators, because he was good enough to write poetry
                                        for different peoples that really FELT that it came from a different
                                        sensibility. I say as a poet myself, that is not easy to do.

                                        I've been reading Erikson's first volume -- it is massive and an
                                        incredible amount of world-building went into it. But though his prose is
                                        very good, and he creates interesting characters, the STORY itself is
                                        amazingly unfocused, and no character stands out strongly as the MAIN
                                        character. Let alone, I don't really "get" what the heart of the main
                                        conflict is ABOUT.

                                        These are things that Tolkien is very clear on.

                                        Beyond all that, I think another thing that gives Tolkien's work greater
                                        power and endurance is that he built the mythology of his subcreation upon
                                        the base of the theology he himself believed. By doing this, the issues
                                        his characters faced became even more crucial to him.

                                        Many of Tolkien's imitators are content with a pseudo-medieval setting and
                                        a rushing adventure story. They don't want to take the time with history,
                                        unless it can be turned into a plowed field for future "cultivation" (read
                                        "more books and series"). And they certainly cannot take the time to
                                        create the literature of their invented realms.

                                        Tolkien created a long STORY, not a never-ending on-going sword-swinging
                                        soap opera. His imitators, by and large, cannot bring themselves to close
                                        off a story. Me, I want to tell stories. They happen to take place in the
                                        same sub-created world, but I have no intention of writing volume after
                                        volume with no real resolution to that particular story. Bleh.

                                        I would hope that my work will be judged (Yes! I want it judged, because
                                        that would mean I had finished it! :D ) as being "Tolkienesque" - in the
                                        best way.

                                        But I agree, most of the fantasy I've read in the last several years,
                                        doesn't quite come up to the measure of Tolkien.

                                        Added thought: I will recommend David Anthony Durham's ACACIA. I've only
                                        read the first volume (which happily DOES have sufficient resolution to be
                                        read just for itself!). It is very dense, for his world-building is quite
                                        remarkable and vivid, and he has a lot of story going on. But the
                                        characters are clear and the conflict unmuddled.


                                        > I sometimes feel that Tolkien was the last of the medieval 'fantasy'
                                        > writers (if you'll forgive me using the term backwards), not the first of
                                        > the modern ones. Certainly when I went in search of Tolkien-like books, I
                                        > found myself looking back to works that influenced him, rather than
                                        > forwards to books that were allegedly influenced by him.
                                        >
                                        > Perhaps his influence is not so much in tone or style, as in the fact that
                                        > he created an audience for epic fantasy once more.
                                        >
                                        > John
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