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  1. #1
    Moderator Kasierith's Avatar
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    [Books] Top 10 fantasy authors

    So I've wondered for a while, what exactly are some people's lists of their top 10 favorite fantasy authors. Put down your top 10 favorites, and how exactly you're ranking them (world they make, characters, writing style, favorite foods). Obviously you don't need as much detail as I put in (unless you want to!) but I think it will be fairly interesting.


    I've been considering making this list for a while, and finally decided to go ahead and do it. These are my top 10 favorite authors, based not on their contributions and writings per say, but on the authors themselves. It focuses on their writing styles and ability to present their works, as opposed to the works themselves which would result in a significantly different list. Also keep in mind that while I have read a wide variety of works, my "to read" list has 72 books on it, and there are quite a few fantasy novelists I have not read yet.

    10: Margeret Weis/Tracy Hickman - Dragonlance novels
    The "classic" fantasy authors, these two are the craftsmen of some of my favorite books. They are fundamental pillars of modern fantasy, and anyone who claims to appreciate the genre should at least attempt to read their works. Very solid authors, I first read the War of Souls and went backward from there, seeing the darkest and most grim aspect of their world and feeling the desire to see it in its brighter years. Dark or light, they are absolutely amazing authors, and even if I feel there are stronger authors in the genre their works are something I routinely return to and enjoy.

    9: Laurel K. Hamilton - Anita Blake Vampire Hunter, Meredith Gentry
    A very… interesting author, to say the least. She has a way of writing that is dark, gritty, and surreal. She can turn abstract scenes of chaos into powerful, potent descriptions to fill the mind with every detail, every nuance. I will never forget reading about the scene where the main character walked into a room where a massacre occurred, the blood so thick it squished under her feet in the carpet, pieces of the victim lying about in a mess all around her. Laurel K Hamilton essentially has two modes; extreme nymphomaniac or gory sadist, and despite how ridiculous her more erotic works are (freaking lust vampires…), the descriptors of her darker works make up for this in spades, and truly show how powerful an author can be in presenting the darkest depths of fantasy.

    8: J. R. R. Tolkein - Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion
    Some people who have read my views might be surprised that Tolkein is this low on the list. His laurels are many, and the fact that he is essentially the father of modern fantasy makes his place on most top 10 lists solid; were I writing about the top 10 series, the Lord of the Rings would definitely be in the top three. That said, I do not exactly appreciate his writing style. As absolutely wondrous as his world creation skills are, as deep as his lore and as many and varied and real his characters, his writing style has never meshed with me well. Compared to the others on this list, he is not very descriptive, not elaborate, and while I understand that a good author does not show you the story, but leads your mind to it, very often I have difficulty truly imagining what scene it is he is attempting to portray. It could very well amount to my language gap, with the subtleties of the English language escaping my notice, but either way, from my own perspective, I place the writing styles of other authors above his.

    7: Steven Erikson - Malazan Book of the Fallen
    This author is a new discovery for me; I am currently halfway through Gardens of the Moon. And so, I have hesitated and considered whether to consider him in my top 10. In the end, though, I would feel remiss if I were to leave him out, as I already have several hundred pages of his writing style and descriptive ability behind me. He is solid, descriptive, able to truly outline a character and story and bring it shining to the light. From what I can tell, although I have a long way to go, he is right up there with my favorite epic fantasy authors, and I am wondering where, after reading through several of his books, I will place him in comparison to the other epic fantasy authors on this list.

    6: Brandon Sanderson - The Mistborn Series, Wheel of Time final books
    An absolutely stunning and wondrous epic fantasy author, I first read his books when I heard he was doing the final Wheel of Time books. And I must say, Mistborn gripped me from its very first pages. He is an author that excels at the setup, at establishing the scene and then letting the pieces fall into place. I think of him as an architect, mostly. An example is his description of the balls. He describes the setting of the ball, the outside, the inside, the people, the dancing, the comings and goings, and then once he has established the setting with a truly amazing degree of skill allowed the story to dance through it, so that as you read it you can see the scene around them without him having to describe again and again the situation. It makes his books very descriptive and powerful, and yet easy to read considering the detail he puts into his works. That said, I never really enjoyed the world and storyline he set up after the first book, and going through books 2 and 3 of the Mistborn series was quite honestly a headache. His character development is also not exactly at its best, although the Vin portrayed in The Final Empire remains one of my absolute favorite fantasy characters of all time.

    5: Karen Chance - Cassandra Palmer series
    A name that I doubt many here are familiar with, she is a stunning modern fantasy author. Similar to Rowling in that she is a pseudo-urban fantasy author, where the magical world touches on reality but for the most part does not mingle, her writing compels you onward, forward and forward until there is no book left to read and leaving you wanting more. If she does have a failing, for me it is the time-projection aspect, but even with this aspect I have thoroughly enjoyed every book she has presented.

    4: Brian Jacques - Redwall
    I recognize that Brian Jacques stands out quite a bit from the other authors on this list. He is a solid children's/young teens author, while the most childish works of the other authors on this list is The Hobbit, by Tolkein, which despite its lightheartedness is still a fairly mature and detailed book. That said, Brian Jacques is quite simply a phenomenal author. He is solid in every way; world creation, characters, inner artwork, his writing style… and the world he creates is truly descriptive and powerful. Every scene is brought to life, every detail being touched on, and he has an ability to both paint a scene for the mind and let your own mind wonder, leaving you to fill in the pieces as you please. The only time I have ever, ever cried over a book, was in Martin the Warrior, in the climax of a book that was so powerful that I felt my heart trembling from the sorrow. There are quite a few people who say his works are childish, linear, and so based on Christian values that it is suffocating; but I have always disagreed. He is like the traditional Disney movies on paper; lighthearted, cheerful, bright, but beneath that color are lines of darkness and seriousness, a grave and dire world seen through the eyes of a child. I think, sometimes, the world would be better if we could occasionally see the world in such a light.

    3: R.A. Salvatore - Various novels, Drizzt Do'urden.
    I consider R.A. Salvatore to be the person who introduced me to fantasy, the author who truly drew me in and change it from an occasional interest to a passion. In a way, my fascination with his books even enhanced my interest in English, which in the end means his books were an influencing factor in my decision to come to the States. He is a far cry from the epic fantasy authors in this list because he is not an epic novelist, he is not a master of grandiose themes that rock the entire world, but is instead gritty, down to earth, and focused on the most minute details that a story could provide. He has a way, a unique way that I have never seen in other authors, of bringing every action, every decision to light. For those that tire of Robert Jordan's constant "tugs on her braid and folds her arms under her bosom," Salvatore is the opposite of this. Every single line is significant in its own way. And while this detail limits him from doing epics on the level of Robert Jordan or Tolkein, it makes each of his works a spectacular experience. There are failings in his works; his characters tend to be fairly linear, for example, and sometimes he gets so focused in the details that I feel other parts of the story do not get the attention they deserve. But to this day, I still look forward to each new book that comes out.

    2: Robert Jordan - Wheel of Time, Conan the Barbarian
    Without a doubt my favorite epic fantasy author. He is simply spectacular in that he doesn't just make a world.. he brings the entire world to spectacular, shining light. His descriptive powers are unmatched, if one has the patience to absorb and digest what he is giving you, and you can get lost in the world he paints around you. My greatest difficulty in reading his books now is not that I get bored, but that every 10 minutes I must put my book down and take a walk, because I feel absolutely compelled to let my mind wander freely, imagining myself in the world he has developed, with the characters. The hours I have spent imagining myself as an Aes Sedai, or a female warder, or even a darkfriend…. Even as the most basic and gritty details go, typically the (relative) bane of epic fantasy authors, he is consistently able to pull the scene from the pages into reality. Even as his weaknesses go, and there are weaknesses, I believe he has elements that balance it out. He is often criticized for his character development, for example… but even as women go, there are others that are simply astounding. If you give me Nynaeve, I will raise you Moraine. If you give me Egwene, I will raise you Siuan. Another fascinating thing about Robert Jordan is how absolutely novel the world he creates is. Many of the other novelists on this list have their roots in Tolkein and other classical works, in a sense… they are reworkings of existing elements in fantasy. His world is, by comparison, extremely novel and unique, and for every element that I see tying him to Tolkein, I see two that send him off in a completely different direction.

    1: Kim Harrison - The Hollows
    I have thought long and hard about who I want to put at the top. There are three obvious candidates for #1 in this list; Robert Jordan for the epic fantasy authors, R. A. Salvatore for general fantasy, and Kim Harrison for the urban fantasy. But in the end, I decided that of all the authors I have read, I enjoy Kim Harrison's books the most. Her works are far from the high themes and ideals of Robert Jordan, or the violent descriptive literary might of R.A. Salvatore, but in her relative simplicity lies a myriad of details and images that leaves the mind wondering. You do not read her books; you float through them, letting it flow freely through your imagination. I read through her first five books in the space of two weeks, because I simply could not put them down, and it took that long only because I often found myself backtracking, rereading entire sections of a book because I enjoyed the experience so immensely. Even if I have felt her latest books have been a little bit off, I feel no guilt in placing her as my absolute favorite fantasy author.


    Those that didn't make the top 10:
    J.K. Rowling - As wonderful as she is, and as descriptive and fundamental her writing… she's ultimately one long, long derivative. I see very little originality in her works, and found that when she did stray away from paths already trod her writing suffered. That is not to say that she wasn't enjoyable; far from it, the Harry Potter series was one of my favorites. But I never really felt anything special for them; they were nice to read through the first time, maybe again when a new book came out, but after reading through her last book for the first time I have never felt the desire to go back and read her works again.
    George R. R. Martin - I do not like this author, at all, and it is only due to his prevalence among top author lists that I even mention him.
    Mercedes Lackey - Wonderful, powerful author, her work Gwenhwyfar is among my absolute favorites, as is her Valdemar universe. She came very close, but in direct comparison to other authors I felt her lagging behind slightly.
    Marion Zimmer Bradley - amazing author, but I can't think of any of her works that truly stick out as an epic piece of literature.
    Terry Brooks - I've always enjoyed the Shannara books on a superficial level, but never been truly fascinated by them.
    Last edited by Kasierith; 2012-12-31 at 10:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Robert Jordan writing Conan the Barbarian? Since when? It's Robert E Howard traditionally who I might add is a writer worth of mention.

    By the time your done with Steven Erikson he will be higher than number 7 on your list for sure.

  3. #3
    Moderator Kasierith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomhyde1986 View Post
    Robert Jordan writing Conan the Barbarian? Since when? It's Robert E Howard traditionally who I might add is a writer worth of mention.

    By the time your done with Steven Erikson he will be higher than number 7 on your list for sure.
    I never liked Robert E Howard's style, really. And Robert Jordan wrote a number of Conan novels before writing the Wheel of Time.

    And I certainly hope so! His style is wondrous so far, but considering the extent that I've read everyone else's works on the list compared to half a book of his, I feel a little guilty even having him on there at all.
    Last edited by Kasierith; 2012-12-31 at 10:21 PM.

  4. #4
    No.Just.NO.

    Margeret Weis/Tracy Hickman - Dragonlance? I read their books when I was 13 and I found them without them depth even in that age. R.A. Salvatore? Dark Elf trilogy was ok. All others were below good. The Icewind Dale Trilogy was a COMPLETLY rip-off of Lord of the Rings. Wait, it had a twist. Instead of the Ring, there was a CRYSTAL SCEPTER. Fuck me right?!

    No G.R.R Martin? He is the biggest breakthrough since Tolkien! Before him there was no place for political schemes and raw sex or violence. G.R.R.M proved that elves and dwarves are not need to make a book epic. Humans psycology have enough complexity to keep the readers interested.

    No ROBIN HOBB!! That is just madness. She is solid cold in a bag full with copper, her Farseer Trilogy a jewel in a sea of sparkling vampires and matcho beardless men that their only motive was to get the girl, with zero complexity and character depth.

    Finally, it's a shame that you rated Tolkien so low. One of the greatest writers of all time.
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  5. #5
    Moderator Kasierith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalamitis View Post
    No.Just.NO.

    Margeret Weis/Tracy Hickman - Dragonlance? I read their books when I was 13 and I found them without them depth even in that age. R.A. Salvatore? Dark Elf trilogy was ok. All others were below good. The Icewind Dale Trilogy was a COMPLETLY rip-off of Lord of the Rings. Wait, it had a twist. Instead of the Ring, there was a CRYSTAL SCEPTER. Fuck me right?!

    No G.R.R Martin? He is the biggest breakthrough since Tolkien! Before him there was no place for political schemes and raw sex or violence. G.R.R.M proved that elves and dwarves are not need to make a book epic. Humans psycology have enough complexity to keep the readers interested.

    No ROBIN HOBB!! That is just madness. She is solid cold in a bag full with copper, her Farseer Trilogy a jewel in a sea of sparkling vampires and matcho beardless men that their only motive was to get the girl, with zero complexity and character depth.

    Finally, it's a shame that you rated Tolkien so low. One of the greatest writers of all time.
    I heard that personal opinions are personal, and I noticed I said at the beginning that I was basing the list on their literary ability, not the series. If I were writing about the fantasy series themselves, Tolkein would be.... hmm... probably #2, on the list after Robert Jordan.

    Robin Hobb is boring. I'd put her in the 20s, at the highest. And yes, I've read the Farseer Trilogy. Speaking of "Sparkling vampires," did you see Twilight on my list? No? Than pipe down.

    George R. R. Martin has one outstanding talent, and that's shock value. When you realize that the only point of his series is to deify the villains, and show how evil people can be, the entire series becomes rather bland.

    Your interpretation of the Icewind Dale trilogy leads me to believe that you have never, in fact, read the series for yourself.

  6. #6
    I only have time for one, but I totally agree that Steven Erikson will climb on your list, since it definitely shows he was less experienced while writing Gardens than subsequent books. Easily number one in my book right now. Memories of Ice might be the best fantasy novel I have ever read still to this date!

    Also, while it's always subjective, I feel liek it's easy to sort of rate the fave writers from different standpoints. Tolkien for me, is for example a highly mediocre writer, but the way he made such an impactful and extensive setting is very impressive, especially since it was 'back then'.
    Last edited by Stormykitten; 2012-12-31 at 10:09 PM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasierith View Post
    I heard that personal opinions are personal, and I noticed I said at the beginning that I was basing the list on their literary ability, not the series. If I were writing about the fantasy series themselves, Tolkein would be.... hmm... probably #2, on the list after Robert Jordan.

    Robin Hobb is boring. I'd put her in the 20s, at the highest. And yes, I've read the Farseer Trilogy. Speaking of "Sparkling vampires," did you see Twilight on my list? No? Than pipe down.

    George R. R. Martin has one outstanding talent, and that's shock value. When you realize that the only point of his series is to deify the villains, and show how evil people can be, the entire series becomes rather bland.

    Your interpretation of the Icewind Dale trilogy leads me to believe that you have never, in fact, read the series for yourself.
    The writers that I have mention are more deep and serious than most of your list. They are more mature and for an older audience. If you are young, even in your teens, I would agree that R.A. Salvatore and Dragonlance are better for that age. As far as Icewind Dale, the first book is a complete rip off. Scepter=Ring, can only be destroyed by dragon's fire (same was said about the Ring), the scepter is talking to his owner, pushing them to do evil, both Scepter and Ring will give the power to create etc. He even said by himself that LotR was the book that inspired him.

    As for Robert Jordan, his books are good, but not as deep as I would like. Conversations and motives are usually random and generic.

    Try to compare a conversation between Rand and Egwene with one of Ned and Catelyn. You'll see a difference bigger the writers. One can bring innovation (Martin), the other does the old same thing (Jordan). Moiraine=Gandalf, Lan=Aragorn (that was hilariously obvious), Dark One =Saouron. They start as a group, they get separated. A protective figure stays behind to let the others to escape (Thom Merrilin) and is presumed dead.

    Put ALL of Jordan's and Salvatore's characters and get me one with the complexity and depth of Tyrion Lannister or even FitzChivalry
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  8. #8
    Fluffy Kitten Dyra's Avatar
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    I agree with many of your choices. Well of those I have actually read anyway. ^_^ Though I would never have Kim Harrison that high, let alone number 1. She's good, but not that good. Though, in all honestly, I'm not sure who I would have in that illustrious top spot. I'm not entirely sure I could form a top 10, I love all my series of books I own.

    I am pleased by the inclusion of Brian Jacques on the list though. Talanted fantasy authors aren't necessary limited to just adult fiction. :3

    And a couple of the posts has sent my Mod senses a tingling. Even though this isn't my forums I think it's my duty to at the least remind you that these are the OP's OPINIONS and if they do differ from your own, don't be insulting about it. Civil discussion. Yes. Agreeing to disagree. Yes. Flat out saying people are wrong. No.

    For my own part, I am saddened by the lack of Robin Hobb. I know you said you consider her boring, but in terms of writing talent I do consider her right up there with the greats. The cultures and world of The Six Duchies, The Out Islands, Bingtown and Jhaampe are varied, rich in detail and a joy to read. I will admit, I'm not a fan of The Soldier's Son trilogy, but it's still well written.

    A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.

  9. #9
    Moderator Kasierith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalamitis View Post
    -snipped-
    The vehemence and condescension dripping from your post pretty much push me towards not taking any part of your opinion seriously. If you can't present an argument objectively and constructively, than I'm honestly not surprised that you didn't thoroughly read how I structured the list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dyra View Post

    For my own part, I am saddened by the lack of Robin Hobb. I know you said you consider her boring, but in terms of writing talent I do consider her right up there with the greats. The cultures and world of The Six Duchies, The Out Islands, Bingtown and Jhaampe are varied, rich in detail and a joy to read. I will admit, I'm not a fan of The Soldier's Son trilogy, but it's still well written.
    I was hasty in my description of Robin Hobb, due to the hostility of the other poster; I did read through the entire Farseer Trilogy after all, which means I enjoyed her books to an extent. I merely did not find anything particularly gripping or fascinating about her works that brought her into consideration. As epic fantasy series go, though, I'm always happy to suggest her works to other who are looking for series, because even though I don't place her on the same level as, say, Brandon Sanderson or Erikson, there were many aspects of her books that I found rich and intriguing.

    As for Kim Harrison, what can I say... this isn't so much a comparison according to how good they are objectively, but how gripping and fascinating I feel their writing. If I were listing the series, The Hollows might be 9 or 10, or even not on the list at all.. but I suppose I have a weak spot for her style ^_^
    Last edited by Kasierith; 2012-12-31 at 10:23 PM.

  10. #10
    Moderator Endus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kasierith View Post
    10: Margeret Weis/Tracy Hickman - Dragonlance novels

    3: R.A. Salvatore - Various novels, Drizzt Do'urden.
    As decent as those works may be, this is kind of like saying "Michael Bay is the best film director EVER". These two are at the tops of their games for writing RPG fiction, but that's not a hugely impressive genre at the best of times.


    8: J. R. R. Tolkein - Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion
    Tolkien was a godawful writer. His sense of pacing is absolutely terrible. His strengths were linguistics and mythology, and his purpose with his books was to reframe Teutonic and Celtic mythological themes and tropes into a "modern" form, so they wouldn't be lost. Aragorn is the Lost King as with Arthur and others. Tom Bombadil is the Green Man mythos. Dwarves and elves and such are straight from the mythologies, to the extent that he even kept some of the names. Orcs aren't even unique.

    If you're going to dismiss writers like Rowling for being "derivative", you need to acknowledge that Tolkien was explicitly and deliberately derivative for pretty much everything. Even his Elven language carries strong characteristics from Gaelic.

    Tolkien didn't invent anything. Epic fantasy was around for centuries before he wrote LotR. None of the characters or entities in his books were invented by Tolkien. It's ALL derivative. Which is fine; he's important for other, valuable reasons. And every author is derivative to a pretty significant extent. But people act like he invented dwarves and elves and orcs, and the fact is, he didn't. He pillaged mythologies for them.


    2: Robert Jordan - Wheel of Time, Conan the Barbarian
    See everything I just wrote about Tolkien, but remove the value, and add whopping amounts of really godawful writing. If you don't want to dig up Jordan's corpse and slap it silly by the time you're three books in and yet another girl has pulled her braid to show that she's angry, you're a better man than I. Not to mention the whole "I want three girlfriends and I want them all to be cool with it" garbage. "Everyone decides it's awesome" is not a way to resolve a love triangle (or in this case, square or whatever), unless you're writing a Letter to Penthouse or something.


    Critical authors you passed over;
    George R.R. Martin. While it's not to everyone's taste, his stuff's tightly plotted and is having huge effects on the genre.

    Neil Gaiman. Arguably one of the best authors working today. His stuff's gone from straight novels, to graphic works that revolutionized that industry (Sandman), to some of the best TV episodes being written, and stretches from fairly adult and serious works, to children's lit like Coraline and Stardust. Hugely varied and talented.

    Lewis Carroll/C.S. Lewis/Frank L. Baum. If you're going to dig up Tolkien, then Narnia and Alice and Oz all deserve mention, as they've been just as (if not in some ways more) influential.

    Jim Butcher. You mentioned urban fantasy, with Kim Harrison. Butcher's Dresden Files have been going longer, and are popular enough they made a TV show out of it. I'm a fan of Harrison myself, but I'd rank Butcher ahead of her.

    Those are just what stand out from a straight literary point of view. If I were to add personal choices as well, I'd be bringing in C.E. Murphy, David Eddings, C.S. Friedman, Brent Weeks, Lev Grossman, etc.
    Last edited by Endus; 2012-12-31 at 10:35 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Endus View Post
    Neil Gaiman. Arguably one of the best authors working today. His stuff's gone from straight novels, to graphic works that revolutionized that industry (Sandman), to some of the best TV episodes being written, and stretches from fairly adult and serious works, to children's lit like Coraline and Stardust. Hugely varied and talented.
    I agree 100% about Neil Gaiman. One of the best authors ever. Really looking forward for a good Sandman movie.
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  12. #12
    Moderator Kasierith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Endus View Post
    -snipped-
    Jim Butcher is one that I debated back and forth for quite a bit, actually. I'd be hard pressed as to whether I'd put his world or Kim Harrison's first, although ultimately I'd probably go with his... but his writing style was never particularly gripping for me, at least in comparison to other authors.

    C.S. Lewis was a later find for me (English is not my first language, and so my reading of famous English works tends to be chronologically sporadic), and I believe finding his works later in my life essentially spoiled the experience.

    Neil Gaiman.... I don't believe I've heard of him before. Another thing to add to my list.

    As for the rest... I'd have to say that I disagree with your assertion of Tolkein as derivative in that way. While I acknowledge that his work is based on the conglomeration of fairy tales and legends, he played a massively influential factor in uniting these and establishing modern fantasy as a more unified form. One really can't deny the massive contribution that his works made to the genre overall. That aside.. I agree with everything else that you've said about him, at least in comparison to the other authors on this list.

    With Robert Jordan, it's always interesting to see exactly where people fall. Even among very critical readers, people tend to either heartily dislike or love his books. I happen to be the latter, and even if I find some aspects of his books and writing incredibly annoying, since I started reading his books I've been quite enamored with them.


    I would also like to assert, again, that were I to write a list based on the objective weight of the books themselves, and not how gripping their writing style was, I would have a substantially different list all together. This was never meant to be a critical analysis of how fantasy authors are ranked, but a personal gut reaction to their style and presentation.
    Last edited by Kasierith; 2012-12-31 at 10:58 PM.

  13. #13
    Moderator Endus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kasierith View Post
    As for the rest... I'd have to say that I disagree with your assertion of Tolkein as derivative in that way. While I acknowledge that his work is based on the conglomeration of fairy tales and legends, he played a massively influential factor in uniting these and establishing modern fantasy as a more unified form. One really can't deny the massive contribution that his works made to the genre overall. That aside.. I agree with everything else that you've said about him.
    I guarantee that if you mention pretty much anything you think Tolkien brought to the genre, I could point out where it was done before. Tolkien's an important author, but he's important as a linguist and mythologian more than a fantasy author. His stuff also helped reignite popular interest in fantasy fiction, which had become perceived more as either stuff for children (such as Carroll's Alice books, and fairy tales in general), or stuff for the pulps (like Howard's Conan stories).

    He's important, but he wasn't the creative genius people claim he was. Typically, I think it's people who haven't read a great deal of the prior material who give Tolkien more credit than he's due.

    With Robert Jordan, it's always interesting to see exactly where people fall. Even among very critical readers, people tend to either heartily dislike or love his books. I happen to be the latter, and even if I find some aspects of his books and writing incredibly annoying, since I started reading his books I've been quite enamored with them.
    I started out liking Jordan; I took the first 4 books with me when I went backpacking through Europe. But as early as the third book, he starts losing track of plot threads, and repeating tropes like the braid-tugging because he's just not that imaginative an author. Most of his characters were wooden and lacked development, which became more obvious as the series went on and the continued to remain stagnant. Plus, most of his actual creative elements were blatantly stolen from other authors or from mythology; the bad guy is Satan, for instance. Calling it "Shaitan" doesn't change that, especially since that's his name in Arabic. Ogier are ogres. And so on. Changing a few letters like that is both lazy and pretentious. You're suggesting that your concept is unique enough that you can't just call it an "ogre". But you're not willing to call it something truly unique, like a Muernling, and let it stand on its own. It's like if you decided to call all the swords in your world "swerds". That just looks silly. It's the antithesis of good writing, since it's both not different enough to be a unique concept (they're still swords, dammit), and yet different enough to trip up the reader's suspension of disbelief.

    The Wheel of Time could've been a strong contender for some of the best epic fantasy around if it had been 6 books long and written by someone who both understood characterization and wasn't a raging misogynist.

    I read a lot (like, a LOT), and as a consequence I read a lot of crap. I can accept popcorn fiction for what it is. I stopped buying Wheel of Time books because they were too excruciating to waste my time with. They were too poorly written to be good epic fantasy, and not fun enough to be good popcorn fiction.



    Again; a lot of people love him, but I think a lot of the people who do just haven't read much else. Same reason some people LOVE Dan Brown, who's a terrible author despite having huge bestsellers like the Davinci Code. Another example; Terry Goodkind. The first few books of Sword of Truth were good. Every subsequent one lacks any kind of further character development, and their plots basically amount to Goodkind yelling "COMMUNISM IS BAD, LIKE SERIOUSLY", with whopping amounts of rape, senseless brutality, and slavery to reinforce that because he couldn't actually describe why he thinks communism is bad.
    Last edited by Endus; 2012-12-31 at 11:18 PM.

  14. #14
    RJ is for me a good example that you don't need to have an absolute masterful command of writing to write worthwhile reading. He's certainly not the best at pacing, nor characterization (there are only handsome+ people in his world, generalized, for example), but I still haven't regretted reading it. It is my thought that you can take criticism a little too far on a technical level, at least when you're discussing readability and favourites. Few people attain favourites on purely technical points, yet some do - it's subjective as always

  15. #15
    Moderator Endus's Avatar
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    Heck. Here's some books people should read if they really think Jordan is awesomecakes;

    George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Just as epic. Better characterization. No "you're the Chosen One" BS (well, more that everyone thinks they're "the chosen one").

    Scott Lynch's books, particularly the first, The Lies of Locke Lamora, though Red Seas Under Red Skies is a really strong sequel. Excellent characterization, the magic is prevalent enough that it's clearly fantasy but not so much it becomes "normal" and thus pedestrian.

    Anything by Gaiman. I was gonna pick one, but I can't. Seriously, it's all great.

    C.S. Friedman's Coldfire trilogy. Epic. Not stupidly long. Some of the best work on the nature of evil that I've seen done in fantasy fiction.

    If you want worldbuilding, Le Guin's Earthsea books are must-reads.

    Some of that stuff's new, some of it's older, but they'll all show clear strengths in areas that Jordan's writing is just seriously lacking. If it were just weak in one area, I'd let it go; David Eddings is a personal favorite, though his plots are a bit meh, but his characters are worth it. Jordan, though, is just bad all around, and it shows more and more the deeper the series ran.

  16. #16
    Moderator Kasierith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Endus View Post
    Some of that stuff's new, some of it's older, but they'll all show clear strengths in areas that Jordan's writing is just seriously lacking. If it were just weak in one area, I'd let it go; David Eddings is a personal favorite, though his plots are a bit meh, but his characters are worth it. Jordan, though, is just bad all around, and it shows more and more the deeper the series ran.
    I agree that the first five books were the strongest, and that books 8-10 could easily have had superfluous plot removed from them and formed a single book far more coherent in its presentation, but what can I say.... perhaps it is the ignorance of youth, but I significantly enjoy Robert Jordan's works despite their many, many failings. While on the other hand, I put down A Clash of Kings near the end because it had become so tedious that I found myself unable to proceed (yes, I read books before I dismiss them. Even with Twilight... ugh..). You could say that the series is objectively horrible all you want, and you have plenty of points to draw such observations from, but I have a differing perspective based on reading all the books that are out, and my experiences led me to putting his writing at the top of my list.

    Thanks for putting some favored books of your own down, though! That's more what I was trying to get at with this thread.

  17. #17
    Bloodsail Admiral Memory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Endus View Post
    Tolkien was a godawful writer.
    You must be kidding. Or: exaggerating. He was a fairly good writer, but you also have to consider the specificities of the genres he works with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Endus View Post
    His strengths were linguistics and mythology, and his purpose with his books was to reframe Teutonic and Celtic mythological themes and tropes into a "modern" form, so they wouldn't be lost.
    Actually his purpose (better: one of his purposes) was to imagine some sort of English mythology. The idea that he only wanted to reframe German and Celtic mythology is a common misconception (or simplification). In fact, one of his sources was Finnish mythology, which is neither German nor Celtic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Endus View Post
    Tolkien didn't invent anything. Epic fantasy was around for centuries before he wrote LotR.
    If you would as much as mention the "epic fantasy" books that were around for centuries, we could probably realize they were not "epic fantasy" books, for they were something else; you can't just tag them with a specific modern label, because of certain (honestly marginal) similarities.

  18. #18
    Moderator Endus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Memory View Post
    You must be kidding. Or: exaggerating. He was a fairly good writer, but you also have to consider the specificities of the genres he works with.
    He did things like pause the flight from the Nazgul so the hobbits could sing songs. Or spend a dozen pages describing leafs and such. I stand by my statement.

    Actually his purpose (better: one of his purposes) was to imagine some sort of English mythology. The idea that he only wanted to reframe German and Celtic mythology is a common misconception (or simplification). In fact, one of his sources was Finnish mythology, which is neither German nor Celtic.
    I said "teutonic" for a reason; it includes Scandinavian cultures. I didn't want to use "Norse" or "Scandinavian", since the one is too culturally narrow, and the other too geographically so.

    If you would as much as mention the "epic fantasy" books that were around for centuries, we could probably realize they were not "epic fantasy" books, for they were something else; you can't just tag them with a specific modern label, because of certain (honestly marginal) similarities.
    20th Century epic fantasy that predates Tolkien? The Worm Ouroboros, by Eddison.

    Even older? The Arthurian romances and myths, as an example (by no means the only one).

    Older still? Actual mythologies, particularly those which deal with worlds other than our own, such as Norse and Celtic myth. Even the Epic of Gilgamesh arguably counts, and that's one of the oldest stories we still know.

    Tolkien didn't "invent" high fantasy.

  19. #19
    Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. That is all.

    I guess Tolkien and George Martin can have an honorary mention.
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  20. #20
    Bloodsail Admiral Rendia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Endus View Post
    Tolkien didn't "invent" high fantasy.
    No, but he is credited with being the father of "modern fantasy", and with good reason. His writing, meaning plot driven story, wasn't the best. His grasp of history and making a fully believable and deep world was amazing.

    That doesn't make him a great author, it makes him a great researcher, for lack of a better word.
    "There is no teacher but the enemy. No one but the enemy will tell you what the enemy is going to do. No one but the enemy will ever teach you how to destroy and conquer. Only the enemy shows you where you are weak. Only the enemy tells you where he is strong. And the rules of the game are what you can do to him and what you can stop him from doing to you." -Mazer Rackham - Ender's Game Orson Scott Card

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