Recommended Reading?

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rust
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby rust » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:05 am

Prime_Evil wrote: Have you tried any of the works that Fletcher Pratt wrote with L. Sprague de Camp? The Incompleat Enchanter series are probably the best of these, if only for the treatment of magic as a branch of formal logic...
While I did read them, they did not influence my campaigns, because
at the time I tended towards rather dark themes (it was my "Cthulhoid
age") and found them a bit too lighthearted - very nice to read, but in
my view at the time not "heroic" enough for roleplaying. :lol:

However, they may have influenced my roleplaying in an indirect way,
because not long after reading them I began to play with pseudo-histo-
rical instead of purely fantastic settings, and one of the stories made me
read the Kalevala, a source of many ideas used in later and less "dark"
campaigns.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby strega » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:14 am

I read Eddison's Worm Ouroborous and various of his other works plus some Dunsany and Machen plus a lot of Moorcock, Leiber and de Camp. Even some, and I'm almost ashamed to say, Gor, but it was the sixties. Most of the Howard material I read was the pastiches by various authors current at the time as the late sixties didn't have the wealth of reprints that came in the late seventies and eighties. Later came Lovecraft and the other horror pulp writers.
My Getting started with Legend file including a suggested starting adventure.

My Romano-British Game setting.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:40 am

strega wrote:I read Eddison's Worm Ouroborous and various of his other works plus some Dunsany and Machen plus a lot of Moorcock, Leiber and de Camp. Even some, and I'm almost ashamed to say, Gor, but it was the sixties. Most of the Howard material I read was the pastiches by various authors current at the time as the late sixties didn't have the wealth of reprints that came in the late seventies and eighties. Later came Lovecraft and the other horror pulp writers.
It's funny...the Gor novels started out as straightforward imitations of Edgar Rice Burroughs and then took a turn into...um...strangeness. If you haven't seen it already you already read it, you really need to read the hilarious "Houseplants of Gor":

http://www.rdrop.com/~wyvern/data/houseplants.html
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby rust » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:52 am

Prime_Evil wrote: It's funny...the Gor novels started out as straightforward imitations of Edgar Rice Burroughs and then took a turn into...um...strangeness.
Well, the author is a professor of philosophy who loves Nietzsche,
so a descent into ... um ... strangeness was to be expected ... 8)
If you haven't seen it already you already read it, you really need to read the hilarious "Houseplants of Gor":
Thank you very much for the link. :lol:
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:04 pm

As part of this discussion, I thought that I'd start sharing a few obscure but classic works of fantasy each week that people may or may not be familiar with - wherever possible I've chosen works that are available in ebook format and have provided links to Amazon and / or Barnes & Noble. Here are my first choices :

Hiero's Journey and The Unforsaken Hiero by Sterling E. Lanier: Awesome post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure in a world where psionics takes the place of magic. These novels tell the story of a scholar-priest named Hiero Desteen who travels across a wilderness haunted by strange mutant creatures in search of ancient ruins containing the lost secrets of computer science. Along the way, Hiero gathers a small band of human and animal companions, encounters the sinister forces of the Unclean, and faces a malign alien intelligence spawned from mutant fungi. Although these books sound more like science fiction, they are actually swords and sorcery novels with a feel reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Phillip Jose Farmer. Long out of print, they wre released in a new ebook edition back in 2010. The ebook edition suffers from some poor editing in places, but even this can't detract from the sheer joy of these novels - they provide a quick dose of raw pulp adventure. Sadly, Sterling Lanier died in 2007 before completing the final volume of the trilogy but the completed volumes do stand up well on their own.

Throne of Bones by Brian McNaughton: Definitely not for the squeamish, this collection of short stories won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology in 1998. Heavily influenced by H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, this book contains sympathetic depictions of cannabilistic ghouls and demonic cults and necromancers in a decadent world of dark fantasy. Many of the stories are highly atmospheric, if a little gruesome in places. Although not everyone's cup of tea, they straddle the border between dark fantasy and horror. Some of the stories are told from the point of view of the monster, but others are lightened by an infectious sense of black humour. Highly recommended if you like that kind of thing...but if you are easily offended it may be best to stay away.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Bifford » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:46 am

Stonehenge. By Bernard Cornwell.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stonehenge-Nove ... 538&sr=1-2

"The oxen were goaded again, and, finger's breadth by finger's breadth, the huge stone eased forward until half of it was poised and then the oxen tugged once more and Saban was shouting at the beasts' drivers to halt the animals because the stone was tipping at last. For a heartbeat, it seemed to balance on the ramp's edge, then its leading half crashed down onto the timbers, then the great boulder slid down the ramp to lodge against the hole's face."

It is the story of Saban, made architect against his will; of his brothers Lengar, the aspiring conqueror and Camaban, the cripple-turned-magician. It is the story of Derrewynn, princess-turned-witch, and Aurenna, sacrifice-turned-priestess queen. Stonehenge is an epic tale of people as smart as us, inventing religion and mythology and forcing their wills on the world and each other. --Roz Kaveney


As suggested to me by other folk on here when I announced the setting for my RPG "Ancient Stones".
A very worthy read for anyone wanting to run anything set in ancient England or any ancient culture.

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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby The Wolf » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:42 am

soltakss wrote:
Prime_Evil wrote:Hmmm...perhaps a book outlining how to run modern paranormal romance using Legend or RQ 6 might be fun :P
Twilight of Legend!

Sounds good :D
On it (once I have finished SGB)...

I kid... or do I?

I would also like to add that as a writer of fantasy fiction, mostly short stories. I prefer interesting mythology and history over things like Game of Thrones and Hollywood recycled cookie-cutter fantasy. I'm not going to dismiss them however - not at all. I'm not a great David Eddings fan, or a Rowling fan. I like a lot of David Gemmell (Waylander for example) and I can see there's a lot of snobbery in fantasy writing circles still from reading certain posts in this thread. I feel sorry for any author who writes anything these days in any media from rpgs, computer games, tv shows, films and so - the internet has given a voice to a thousand condemnations.

I also love the Witcher books (and games), having been introduced to them by the computer game itself I fell in love with the Witcher's world. Yes there are elves, and dwarves and monsters but I like the book's take on those a lot. The elves are a far cry from the Middle Earth style of elf and I am still amused (to this day) how the one scene involving the elves and stolen weapons turned out in the first Witcher game.

It wasn't something I expected, but knowing the Squirrels as I do now, I should have.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:53 pm

Bifford wrote:Stonehenge. By Bernard Cornwell.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stonehenge-Nove ... 538&sr=1-2
Bernard Cornwell gets a lot of love around here because he is one of the best authors of historical fiction active at the moment. In addition to Stonehenge, some of his medieval novels are good to - the Arthurian series, the Saxon series, and the Grail Quest series are all great!

Incidentally, if you like good historical fiction, a number of classic works by Rosemary Sutcliffe are due to be released in ebook format over the next week or so - here are a few highlights:
  • The Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles: The classic trilogy of novels set in Roman Britain at different points in its history, from the early period of Roman rule right through to the abandonment of the province to the encroaching Saxons. The Eagle of the Ninth is a brilliant read that still stands up as well now as when it was first published in 1954, telling the story of a secret mission behind enemy lines to recover the lost standard of the doomed ninth legion. The Silver Branch is set during the period of instability after the high point of Roman rule, when the first signs of a slow decline are starting to appear. It's a decent novel, but not as good as its predecessor. However, the third novel - the Lantern Bearers - is a powerful story about the final downfall of Roman Britain and the aftermath of the final withdrawal...
  • Sword at Sunset: One of Rosemary Sutcliffe's best works, this is a haunting retelling of the Arthurian myth as a plausible historical narrative set immediately after the collapse of Roman Britain. Although many other authors have tried to write about the figure behind the myth of King Arthur, this remains one of the best treatments of the subject.
  • The Shining Company: A retelling of the Gododdin - the early medieval poem about the defeat of northern British tribes from Dun Eidin (Edinburgh) by the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria. A grim and moody tale, this story climaxes with the desperate but doomed defense of Catteractonium (Catterick) by the against the forces of the Northumbrian King Aethelfrith. Very powerful stuff.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby The Wolf » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:01 pm

Nice. Those are on my list now Prime_Evil!
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby jux » Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:07 pm

jux wrote:Correct. I don't bash Tolkien and his works but the popularity of it. Middle Earth was inspired by Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Germanic mythologies, but still it was Tolkien's own creation. Sad thing is that this is what other fantasy stories are influenced rather than the real mythologies and folklore.

For people that find Eastern Europe folklore interesting, I would recommend our national treasure, Andrus Kivirähk. His works have not been translated to English yet, but for people who know French, „L`homme qui savait la langue des serpents“ (Man Who Knew the Snake Words) will certainly find it to be quite fresh read. It is great that it is becoming quite popular in France, so English translation cannot be far away.
And as it happens, this novel is now available in English if anyone is interested:
http://bookriot.com/2015/11/03/5-books- ... ovember-2/
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby alex_greene » Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:55 pm

It's why I avoid fantasy books these days, as much as possible, to the extent of turning and walking away when I see someone even talking about the latest GoT or Warhammer, or some new incarnation of Warcraft, Assassin's Creed or Skyrim.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby -Daniel- » Sun Nov 08, 2015 7:12 pm

alex_greene wrote:It's why I avoid fantasy books these days, as much as possible, to the extent of turning and walking away when I see someone even talking about the latest GoT or Warhammer, or some new incarnation of Warcraft, Assassin's Creed or Skyrim.
This is how I felt about the pile of junk books being pumped out by WotC for a while. Either excuses to push their latest splat books or they were drizzit stories. It was too hard to dig through the junk to get to the few worth reading.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:58 am

alex_greene wrote:It's why I avoid fantasy books these days, as much as possible, to the extent of turning and walking away when I see someone even talking about the latest GoT or Warhammer, or some new incarnation of Warcraft, Assassin's Creed or Skyrim.
Like all popular genres, fantasy goes occasionally through the doldrums where there is little interesting work being produced. The last decade was a fallow period where the crass commercialism of the big fantasy blockbusters of the 80's and 90's finally played out.

However, recently there has been an surge of non-traditional fantasy that pushes the boundaries of the genre.

Unfortunately, a lot of this work is not widely known and deserves a wider audience.

ere are a few recent recommendations if you are looking for some interesting fantasy:
  • Beaulieu, Bradley P. - Twelve Kings in Sharakhai Published as just as "Twleve Kings" in the UK (A fantasy novel set with a unique setting based upon the Middle East and Central Asia of the Silk Road, rather than familiar European cultural models.)
  • Liu, Ken - The Grace of Kings (Epic fantasy with steampunk elements set in a world based upon Chinese, Arab, and Polynesian mythology. Astonishingly well-written, but that's not surprising considering Ken's award-winning SF work).
  • Gladstone, Max - The Craft Sequence: Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, et al ( Some of the most amazing worldbuilding in recent years, but difficult to describe. The first novel is a steampunk legal thriller involving an investigation into the murder of a god by a junior member of a firm of necromancers. Wonderful stuff).
  • Polansky, Daniel - Low Town Trilogy (Noir fantasy, like a Raymond Chandler / Dashell Hammett novel set in Lankhmar, with a backstory involving a brutal conflict modelled on WWI. If you want a taste of the setting, try the short story "A Drink Before We Die", available in ebook format).
  • Polansky, Daniel - The Builders (Someone described this as Redwall meets Unforgiven. It's a spaghetti western with anthropomorphic animals in a gritty medieval setting. It's an unusual premise, but it works well and applies a grimdark sensibility to target the sentimentalism underlying works such as Watership Down).
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby soltakss » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:06 am

Prime_Evil wrote:Like all popular genres, fantasy goes occasionally through the doldrums where there is little interesting work being produced. The last decade was a fallow period where the crass commercialism of the big fantasy blockbusters of the 80's and 90's finally played out.
I find that even bad fantasy can spark ideas and drive scenarios.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby alex_greene » Tue Nov 10, 2015 1:02 pm

A friend of mine once said "They've mined the Kalevala for ideas and themes for decades. You never heard of the Moomins?"
I find that even bad fantasy can spark ideas and drive scenarios.
*holds up The Hunger Games* See this? *holds up a Twilight book* And this? *holds up some Harry Potter books* And these? *hurls them across the room as far as they can go* I have an idea. Let's do something that is NOT that!

This is going to sound dreadfully heretical, but if you want to create original fantasy, you are going to have to throw the fantasy books away. All of them. Including the mythologies. Indonesian, Japanese, Finnish, Australian Aboriginal, Italian, Russian, Dutch - whichever nation you pick, there's some Disney executive sitting in a library somewhere, snapping pics of pages upon pages of that nation's myths and legends.

Expect a Brave 2 set in Ireland next time, a Frozen 2 set in the Caribbean, a Baba Yaga set on the Russian Steppe ... you think of it, and they'll end up doing a segment of Once Upon A Time or a Disney movie out of it.

You want to create. Create. Drop the mediaeval tropes. Set your stories off the Earth. Tell stories of a place called Land's End, where there's a cliff nobody goes to - a place where the world falls away to infinity. Go to your dreams. If you dreamed of an ancient city flying in the sky, have your characters try and seek it out by travelling the world in sputtering old vintage automobiles.

Do you want a post-apocalypse Legend? Let the End of The World look completely different to the Mad Max scenario you might be familiar with. What would the End of the World look like to the ancient Minoans? Archaeologists know what it looked like - fifty years of pillaging by Peloponnesian Greeks until there was little or nothing left of them. What about setting the End of The World at the time of the fall of the Indus Valley civilisation, only in this historical time frame, there are no other humans left anywhere on the planet. A fungus would do the trick; one to which the characters and their tribe are immune, as would a handful of tribes across the globe.

Use your imaginations, build your own worlds and throw away every single book that has a sword, crossbow or the words "Enchanter," "Sorcerer," "Apprentice," "Assassin" or "Daughter" on the cover. And anything with a picture of some hooded individual out of a video game; consign the book to a fire, with prejudice. You'll learn nothing from these, only dry and dusty fourth-hand rehashes of other people's faded dreams.
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Re: Recommended Reading?

Postby The Wolf » Sun Dec 06, 2015 2:37 pm

Hear hear, it's why my fantasy (I say that loosely) novel is set on another world, that's most definitely not Earth.
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