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Topic: Favorite fantasy author...

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22 NOV 2009 at 9:04am

stophro

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...and why?  Conversely, worst fantasy author and why?  The GRRM thread inspired me to ask this when one of the replies cited Terry Brooks as a shining example of brevity and conciseness in writing.  I hold Tolkien above all others and find that there are two kinds of fantasy authors, those who emulate (and sometimes steal directly from) Tolkien and those who have their own original ideas.            Brooks Shanara series is almost a direct (and poorly conceived) rewrite of LOTR.  I could site several authors (Dennis McKiernan is just the most egregious) who tried to rewrite LOTR with varying levels of (commercial) success, but it would just upset me to realize how much time I had invested in reading that crap.           P.S.  I also realize that there are only a small number of original ideas that have been written and rewritten since the Iliad and the Odyssey, but how they are put together and told makes ALL the difference.  That's why Tolkien rules and Brooks (and his ilk) drool.

 

 

 


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22 NOV 2009 at 9:25am

Schwerpunkt

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^         Best fantasy author:          Gene Wolfe     You don't need a reason....it's Gene Wolfe.         I have two bad fantasy authors:          Jean Rabe     Her Dragonlance books are just terrible writing.         Terry Goodkind     You don't need a reason...it's Terry Goodkind.
"Forty years after a battle it is easy for a non-combatant to reason about how it ought to have been fought. It is another thing personally and under fire to direct the fighting while involved in the obscuring smoke of it."     -Herman Melville

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22 NOV 2009 at 10:00am

Staggerwing

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I don't read a lot of Fantasy so my view is limited. My favorite stuff so far has been from Poul Anderson who is better known for his Sci-fi. His historical fiction includes much mythological fantasy which suits my tastes. I did enjoy Neil Gaimon's American Gods  and Harry Harrison's Hammer and Cross trilogy a great deal. Some may notice a pattern if they have familiarity with the material so I don't even need to add praise for Tolkien here [
] Schwer, I've been meaning to start Wolfe's Torturer trilogy one of these days. The only thing I've read by him was Soldier of the Mists which I though very well done-a terrific literary conceit.

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22 NOV 2009 at 11:13am

stophro

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I have not come across Wolfe before ( I haven't even heard of him before today).  I read many of the Dragonlance books and really only enjoyed Weis and Hickman's originals.  All the rest were good to putrid.  Gaiman's American God's was, I thought, a very original story and well told.           It's been many a year since I read Wizard's First Rule and I remember thinking it was a GREAT read, but I realized it was the first of many and did not read any of the follow ups.  I, too, have a don't read any til the whole series is out rule (which I sometimes mistakenly break much to my chagrin).  However, I thought Goodkind was a good writer.  What is it you don't like about him Schwerpunkt?

 

 

 


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22 NOV 2009 at 11:37am

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Good authors:  1.)  Well as I mentioned in the other thread, Tolkien remains -- and probably always will be -- king.  I've been reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once a year for 14 years now, and it never grows old for me.  I'll be enjoying those books until the day I die.  2.)  Next on my list would be Stephen R. Lawhead.  I know his work is considered by some to be more mythical/historical fiction than true fantasy, but I feel he deserves a mention here anyway.  Probably his best-known and most popular work is/are the Arthurian novels of his epic Pendragon Cycle (including the "post-quel" Avalon).  However, he's written many other excellent books as well, including Byzantium (which was my personal introduction to his work), Patrick: Son of Ireland, and the Celtic Crusades trilogy.  Next on my list is to read his recently-completed King Raven trilogy, which focuses on a re-imagined Robin Hood living in early medieval Wales.  Lawhead's writing does have two main caveats:  First off, his work often carries noticeable religious (Christian) overtones.  Now personally that doesn't really bother me (despite my being agnostic), as I find the religious material is generally used more in forwarding the storyline as opposed to preaching or evangelizing, but of course your mileage may vary.  The other thing is that most of his stories take place in (or at least focus on) Celtic Britain and/or Ireland, which might make some feel like he's a literary one-trick pony.  He writes about those lands and culture(s) so well, however, that I find it's easy to forgive him for it.  Seriously, if you guys like Celtic culture/history/myth/lore at all, you owe it to yourselves to check him out.  I honestly doubt there's many authors out there who writes about it as well as he does.  3.)  Robert Jordan -- yeah, yeah, I know.  [
]  The Wheel of Time series definitely isn't for everyone, but I've enjoyed it well enough.  Even in books 7-10 where the pace begins to flag and you have to slog your way through, I find I'm still locked into the story(ies).  I just hope Sanderson does a good job of closing out the series at last!  As for bad authors....  As much as Martin's writing annoys me, he's only second-worst in my book.  The absolute worst IMO is Robin Hobb (real name Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden).  Dear gods, it's like the woman actively *wants* you to hate her characters....  The only reason I got through her Farseer trilogy at all was because the overall storyline was actually rather interesting, even if all the characters were too irritating to live.  I got maybe 1/3 of the way into the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy before giving up in disgust. 

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22 NOV 2009 at 12:51pm

JP Falcon

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I hold Terry Brooks at a higher level than some here, but you must remember that when Shannara was first published, it was a breath of fresh air. Had it been published today, it might not have done as well...         I enjoyed Brian Lumley's NECROSCOPE series and am amazed that with all of the Vampire shit that has hit the TV & Movie industry, no one has picked up on his unusual slant on the Vampyhri...         Harry Turtledove's quasi historical-fantasy books have always been very good!         Terry Goodkind is nothing more than a Robert Jordan wannabee and there have been articles written about his Sword of Truth series which highlights all of the plots and ideas which were lifted from the Wheel of Time...I read the first 4 books of Goodkind's bloated Sword of Truth, and cursed myself for having gone that far.....         I have mixed feelings about Robert Jordan. The first 7 books of WoT were excellent, but then it became obvious that he was padding the story in order to sell more books. He had every right to make as much money as he could, but we the readers suffered for it. His death prompted me to revisit WoT and I am now on Book 10 which has to be the WORST fantasy book I have ever read. There is so little advancement of plot and it is filled with so much boring minutia that it has been a tedious read. I understand Book 11 is much better, and I have so far avoided reading anything about the newly released Book 12 in order to avoid spoilers.         So for me it will always fall back to Tolkien as the best!

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22 NOV 2009 at 1:18pm

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It's interesting, because around the time that I was a teenager, there was a huge explosion of formulaic pulp fantasy books.  Having loved LoTR, I was in heaven. Terry Brooks was perhaps the progenitor of this genre, but it had disciples in spade.  Those included David Eddings' Belgariad, Dennis L. McKiernan, the million Dragonlance novels by a third as many authors, Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, Jordan's writings, and numerous others.  I loved them as a teenager, but when I see them all on bookshelf stores now, I just find myself thinking, "Been there, done that."  The ingredients are so stock, and the manner in which those stock ingredients are reassembled in varying combinations but pure rote fashion, leaves me utterly uninspired. I am sad that nobody has mentioned Guy Gavriel's Kay The Tapestry of Fionovar series.  If you haven't already read it, please stop what you are doing and go out to buy The Summer Tree.  Seriously, Kay rocks.  The 3-book Fionovar series weaves together a myriad of the fantasy and mythological archetypes in a breath-takingly skillful fashion.  Tigana is also excellent, as are many of his later works, but nothing compares to those first three. I've recently been intrigued by Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion (and various sequels--I think Paladin of Souls won a Hugo) as using an original and intriguing setting, although I've only read two of those books. I also profoundly enjoyed Stephen R. Donaldson's original Unbeliever Chronicles.  Lord Foul's Bane was among the most innovative titles I've run across in a long time.  His bad guys are evil--a more apt embodiement of evil in the modern world than even Sauron himself.  While there were times that I wanted to throttle the protagonist for his particular brand of anti-heroism, by the end of that first trilogy, I understood the literary merit of it.

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22 NOV 2009 at 1:30pm

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David Eddings for grand sweeping fantasy and very interesting cultures through which everyone travels.  Great stories with a good bit of entertaining humor here and there, too. Fred Saberhagen for putting just enough familiar backstory into his stories to make it familiar, while pulling it all in completely different directions. Robert Asprin for making you laugh 'til it hurts. David Drake's first Lord of the Isles book (and most of 2d) for creating an interesting mythos that doesn't overwhelm a great story about people trying to get by. Lawhead was already mentioned, but I gotta admit that Byzantium is my fave and it's not really a fantasy book. Elaine Cunningham's TSR novels in The Harpers series were very good.  Her Drow books weren't as good, but The Harpers books were among the best of the fiction that TSR published. I also like William H Keith's Battletech books, but they're pretty hard to find these days, and (obviously) sci-fi rather than fantasy.

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22 NOV 2009 at 1:48pm

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Despite all the writers in this area of literature, J. R. R. Tolkien remains my favorite fantasy author. I suspect that most--if not all--of today's fantasy authors were influenced by Tolkien's works. There are many other authors whose books I enjoy but most of them have already been mentioned in this thread. So I won't duplicate others' posts.

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22 NOV 2009 at 2:31pm

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Tolkien - same reasons as the others           Heinlien - Great action.  Moon is a harsh mistress is an all time favorite.           Roger Zelazny - The Amber Series is the best alternate world series ever written.            S.M. Sterling - Excellent alternate world series.           Jim Butcher - Both his fantasy and his Chicago based wizard series are great.           Neil Gaimon - some of his books are really good.           H. Beam Piper - anything but the Fuzy series.           Jerry Pournelle           David Drake, John Ringo, - some excellent work but not as good as the others.

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22 NOV 2009 at 3:15pm

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I'm largely out of practice reading fantasy.  Most recently I was majorly digging all the D&
gaming fiction.  Of that group...hmmm.  I had restricted my reading to the Forgotten Realms series, mostly because I liked the setting. Eberron broke something for me, and DragonLance was just too...something. First listing has to go to Ed Greenwood, who created the universe.  I particularly enjoyed his Annotated Notes of Elminster.  R.A. Salvatore has some great work about Drizzt.  Later books saw me lose some interest.  I'm not sure if it was me or him, but after a certain point it just got old.  I will also say that the Cleric Quintet was fine, fine writing.  A definite read for those into the genre if you haven't made it to it yet. Outside of those two I have run across a good number of fine reads, but frankly can't remember most of the authors.  I gave away many of my books after reading them to the guys in Iraq (had heard fantasy novels were hard to come by over there).  The one Forgotten Realms author who I remember and enjoy really well is Richard Lee Byers.  He has several multi volume series including The Year of Rogue Dragons which I enjoyed immensely.

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22 NOV 2009 at 3:44pm

DA 1775

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Howard/Burroughs/Niven & Pournelle/Heinlein/Joe 'Forever War' Haldeman/ Kieth 'artificially intelligent superheavy Bolo tank' Laumer...         On the Gripping Hand, John Carter is more Gallant, but Conan could take several radium rifle slugs and still come out on top.  Somewhere among the starry vastness of space on a battle-torn planet, a lone Bolo sentinnel is on guard and expecting me to return.  Dynachrome Brigade.  The forest has grown over him and little children play on his melted armor.  Power levels are low and THREAT activity has been identified.  Bolo will have to fight without me this time.           Worst:  Something written in a language I cannot understand.  If someone would translate it, I would find something I like.
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22 NOV 2009 at 3:51pm

stophro

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Martok:         I spent many years rereading LOTR each year.  The movies have some glaring problems, but, on the whole, they brought to life something I thought I would never see.         Try The Camber series by Katherine Kerr.  I've not read Lawhead, but Christianity is used to base the story in and it's set in "Wales".        
The absolute worst IMO is Robin Hobb (real name Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden).  Dear gods, it's like the woman actively *wants* you to hate her characters...
        Truer words have never been spoken!!!!  I didn't know the author was a woman before I read the Assassin series, but I sussed it out after the first book.  Rarely have I read a series without any kind of pay off AT ALL!          FarAway Sooner:         I was coming into my own reading choices in the early 80's.  I read Brooks, Rosenberg, Anthony, McKiernan (I'll never have THAT time spent back), Eddings, et al and I agree that they used very similar ingredients.  I would turn younger readers on to them now, but I would not go back.         I also agree on Doladson's Thomas Covenant trilogy.  The second three I thought were awful.  They dragged on fffffooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeevvvvvvvvvvveeeeeer.         Airboy45:         I agree about the Amber books.  Zelazny writes in a style I don't normally encounter which makes it more interesting to me.         Longblade:         I didn't read the Cleric Quintet, but I read the first Drizz't books, starting with Streams of Silver I believe.  I had no interest in reading the Underdark books.  And are you of an age to remember Ed Greenwood's Elminster "interviews" in Dragon Magazine?  There was a lot of Forgotten Realms back history in those old Dragon's.

 

 

 


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22 NOV 2009 at 5:24pm

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Based only on those of whom I have actually read at least a large sampling:           The Great:     Tolkien     Eddison     LeGuin     Peake     Moorcock     Leiber     Dunsany           The Good:     DeCamp     Anderson     Donaldson     Kay     Brust     Cook     Saberhagen     Gemmel           The Bad:     Brooks     Jordan     Goodkind

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22 NOV 2009 at 6:42pm

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I second FarAway's recommendation re Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry. It is a great read. I especially liked the use of Arthur Pendragon and Lancelot, probably because I am a big fan of the Arthurian Mythos. My favorite author for rousing heroic fantasy is David Gemmell's The Drenai Saga. Needless to say I was greatly saddened by his recent unexpected passing. I am surprised that Raymond Feist hasn't been mentioned yet. The Riftwar novels are among my favorites. Tad Williams' Dragonbone Chair trilogy (actually 4 books in paperback since the last book had to be published in 2 parts due to its length!) is a bit predictable but still kept me enthralled for the better part of a summer.

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22 NOV 2009 at 6:48pm

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Great thread for someone like me who has not read a lot of fantasy at all. Glad to see Neil Gaiman mentioned more than once too. If you haven't read his Neverwhere, go to your library or book shop right now and grab it. One of my favorite books ever. Can we sticky this thread for future reference?

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22 NOV 2009 at 8:16pm

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Another vote for Tolkien. To be honest I just have not gotten into any other authors after reading JRR's work.         These are some really good suggestions, though, for expanding my world.         A great thread.

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22 NOV 2009 at 8:25pm

John_in_VA

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Originally Posted By DA 1775
        Howard/Burroughs/Niven & Pournelle/Heinlein/Joe 'Forever War' Haldeman/ Kieth 'artificially intelligent superheavy Bolo tank' Laumer...        
        I'm really surprised (or "surprized," as Howard would have spelled it) that Robert E. Howard wasn't one of the first mentioned, given Conan, Kull, Cormac, El Borak, et al. Just this March Gollancz released a complete collected hardcover Conan Chronicles for $25, which was a pretty good deal. (http://tinyurl.com/ycqozm5) And Burroughs, with the Tarzan and the Carter series, also. I'm not sure exactly where HP Lovecraft would fit in here, but a lot of the Cthulu mythos influenced later fantasy writers.           A lot of nice references in this thread!

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23 NOV 2009 at 6:50pm

stophro

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Tolkien's greatness stems from his history (for me).  The Appendices at the end of Return Of the King are as interesting to me as Frodo, Gandalf, et al.  You could cross reference any of the citations throughout the trilogy and glean a little (or sometimes a lot) more information from the three Ages.  When I finally stumbled across The Silmarillion, I was in HEAVEN!!!  That is why I have dug Tolkien to this day.           Conversely, the writers of today who pay homage (or pay nothing at all) have very little historical consistency.  Sure, they give bits and pieces of what came before, but it's mostly filler and usually just exists in a vacuum.  I am not suggesting that each writer should spend decades developing a world or milieu, but if you want to emulate the master, give us a consistent and rich history, not just story filler and isolated bits.           A couple of shout outs to earlier posts: Feist's Riftwar is actually a D&
campaign that the author and his friends roleplayed.  And I have to say it is one of my favorites ("There's a party at mother's.  A good time will be had by all").  Moorcock's Elric books are dark and a little disturbing, but well worth the read.  I just wish I had a chance to read some of the other Eternal Champion books.  I have never come across any of the others in a book store or used shop.  Someone else kicked in with Lord Dunsany and E.R. Eddison (both of whom Tolkien acknowledged as influences) and I own a copy of King Of Elflands Daughter (Dunsany) as well as a copy of Worm Ourobouros (sp?(Eddison)), but I have read neither.  Finally, I just read an omnibus of three of Saberhagen's Swords books and the writing style is very different than what I am used to reading.  For most of the three, I could not be sure if I liked it or not.

 

 

 


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23 NOV 2009 at 7:00pm

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Favorite Fantasy Author ...           ... without a doubt, it's got to be the guy that made up the Forum letters in Penthouse.  Really, whom among us has not been whisked away from our dull, mundane existence by the words "Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me, but ...".           In an unsolicited yet related topic, my award for Favorite Fantasy Photographer is a tie between Bob Guccione and Suze Randall.  Granted, Suze has shown much more diversity in her portfolio - but when you can wipe a bit of pink gel on the camera lens and somehow make that work like Bob G, who needs diversity.

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23 NOV 2009 at 7:03pm

GDS Starfury

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I like those folks who write into Penthouse and Hustler.     thats some great fantasy writing!

 

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23 NOV 2009 at 8:50pm

JasonPratt

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No 'wargaming' type fantasy works come to mind that haven't been already mentioned. But in defense of Dragonlance titles beyond W and H's two original trilogies (Chronicles and Legends), I will add _The Legend of Huma_ which I think is widely regarded by DL readers as one of (or even _the_) best of the expansion novels. For a focused dense thematically meaningful work, it even beats individual books from the original series IMO.         Also, in defense of Robert Jordan: I don't believe he was intentionally padding out the storyline. I think he fell prey to an extended version of that old gaming rule -- NEVER SPLIT THE PARTY! He loaded up on plot details, and 'split' his 'party' up to take advantage of them, and then was stuck in high plot density and low gear for several books. (With, yes, Crossroads of Twilight, Book 10, notorious as the worst; and Winter's Heart, Book 9, only just behind it. But things really started gearing down in plot bog at Book 7, I think A Crown of Swords--though even it wasn't as bad as Book 8, and 8 wasn't as bad as 9 and 10.)         By all accounts, Books 11 (Knife of Dreams) and 12 (the beginning of the final trilogy, being pulled together by Sanderson), improve the story again dramatically. If word-of-mouth stays high I'll certainly be getting back on board for the final book (14) a couple of years from now, having gotten off after slogging through the plot 'drifts' of Winter's Heart. {rimshot!}             I've heard for a long time that the _Malazon_ series is very good. Anyone want to chime in on that? (Was it mentioned and I missed it?)             It's sad (in a way--mainly because I haven't had time to read fantasy in years), but the best 'party-based / strat-tac' fantasy I've read this year so far has been web comic spoofs of 'party-based /strat-tac' D&
gaming. But hey, they're free, and a great time sink for anyone who hasn't read them yet!         http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=612         That one is "DM of the Ring", wherein the author uses screenshots from the LotR films to demonstrate why, ironically, LotR despite having inspired a huge amount of the original D&
would make a lousy D&
campaign! The premise is that an egotistical DM (who has invented all the LotR plot in a world where the books were never released) railroads a hapless group of teenaged hack-n-slash rpgers through the events of the three movies (mostly following Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas); I was laughing so hard I was crying sometimes.         That webcomic (which is now completed) spawned an arguably even better attempt here for the Star Wars movies:         http://darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0001.html         The premise for this webcomic (written by a group, unlike DM of the Rings), is that a GM decided to port a D&
-like fantasy role-playing system over to sci-fi tropes as something different for his crew to play. The result is the generation of the story of the Star Wars movies (repesenetd by stills from the films) as the lenient GM scrambles to keep ahead of his highly imaginative and willfully creative players.         GM: the droids fire at you...         Qui-Gon: I block with my laser sword.         Obi-Wan: What?         GM: What?!         Obi-Wan: No, wait; that would totally work.         The characterizations are great, with lots of heart from all the players. Currently the team is about 2/3 of the way through _Attack of the Clones_, at the point where Anakin and Padme have just fallen into the droid factory while trying to rescue Obi-Wan.             Finally, I recommend the webcomic spoof "The Order of the Stick" -- a more traditional (if often goofy) D&
3.5 edition adventure series which has recently started its fifth story arc. (Unlike the others, this one can be bought in bound volumes, too--there are currently six, four main arcs and two prequels.) As riotously funny as the others, and (like Darths and Droids) also loaded with heart and surprisingly sophisticated plotlines.         The wiki page for that series can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Order_of_the_Stick. It contains links to the webcomic's page.         BEHOLD! HOURS AND HOURS OF FREE, HUGELY ENTERTAINING QUALITY FANTASY!!         You're welcome. {g}             (ahem, oh and my own book won the CSPA's 2007 Novel of the Year retailer vote; and has more than a little relation to tactical and strategic plotting, etc., plug plug, hardcover, dustjacket, 154Kwords. [sm=00000289.gif])

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23 NOV 2009 at 8:59pm

GDS Starfury

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if you want military fantasy then read David Drake or something along those lines.

 

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23 NOV 2009 at 9:15pm

John_in_VA

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Tolkien is always much-vaunted for how detailed and complete his world is, but one thing that always does stand out is the complete absence of religion and sex (and hence, romance). After you get past the grand sweep depicted, at some point you start wondering what everyone is fighting about.

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24 NOV 2009 at 1:41am

Martok

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Originally Posted By JasonPratt
By all accounts, Books 11 (Knife of Dreams) and 12 (the beginning of the final trilogy, being pulled together by Sanderson), improve the story again dramatically. If word-of-mouth stays high I'll certainly be getting back on board for the final book (14) a couple of years from now, having gotten off after slogging through the plot 'drifts' of Winter's Heart. {rimshot!}
FWIW, I can confirm that Knife of Dreams does in fact pick up the pace in a big way.  I don't know if it was because he (finally!) realized the previous 3-4 books had been bogging down in details, and/or if he realized he wasn't long for this Earth and was trying to hurry up and finish the series, but either way, things do finally get moving in Book 11.  I can't personally vouch for the newest volume (The Gathering Storm), but a couple of my friends have said it keeps the the story(ies) going at a good clip.  Indeed, if anything, they feel it's moving at an even somewhat brisker pace than before. 

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