Off-Topic: Books

Beyond Dominia: The Rumor Mill: Off-Topic: Books

By Moose on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 07:18 pm:

I'm not bing into reading, but I need to for book reports in my english class. I have to read, so I figured some of the BDers would know of some quality books. I was kind of thinking about some kind of fantasy titles. So, what fantasy books would you recomend?


By Psycho, the Horned God (Psycho) on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 07:26 pm:

Lords of the Ring is a classic of course.
Personally, I love 1984 although that's ot strictly fantasy.

By Shadow (Shadow) on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 03:38 pm:

Fantasy titles? Sure, here's a list of popular ones that I can recall (most of these are series). What I'd recommend would depend on what sort of books you usually like, which is a tough call to make if you don't do a lot of reading. So I've put a few notes about each one on there.

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
These are pretty universally popular among fantasy fans. They're about the adventures of unlikely heroes. The world is sort of dreamy and romantic, and is described in detail by the author. They take a while to read, but there's a very high probability you'd like them.

The Shanara series by Terry Brooks
Haven't read these, so I can't say much, but I hear Sword of Shanara was some kind of pivotal book in fantasy writing.

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
I've only read the first, but it was quite good. Very traditional sort of fantasy, long and epic-scale, but exquisitely written.

The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
These take place in a magic-infused present day. They're extremely engaging, and rather well written. Darker than you'd expect too, given their popularity among young children.

The Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind
These are a lot like the Wheel of Time books, except they're not as good, IMO. They are, however, terrific page-turners, being notably shorter than the Wheel of Time bks.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Wow, it's been a long time since I've read these, but I loved them when I was a little kid. They're about a sort of parallel world to the Earth. They're different from traditional fantasy, directed towards a somewhat younger audience, but I thought I'd list them anyway.

The Amber books by Roger Zelazney
Only read the first one. Sort of punk/fantasy hybrids. They're written in first person about the hero, Corwin, who kicks ass.

The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
Actually, I only recommend the 2nd book in the series, the Dark is Rising. As you might expect, it's pretty dark, but it's a great book. Sort of a mysterious environment.

The Dragonlance books by uhhh Weis, I think
These were possibly the first pulp fantasy books. The first trilogy is based off of an actual Dungeons & Dragons adventure. They're a whole lot of fun, but only the first (D.Lance Chronicles) and the second (D.Lance Legends) are notably good, of the ones I've read.

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
These are also directed towards a younger audience, but I just remember them because I loved them when I as a bit younger. About young Taran, a very unlikely hero. Actually, they're sort of remniscent of Tolkein in the story-structure.

The Elric series by Michael Morcock
Moody and psychological books about a really depressing sort of hero with a sword that sucks out people's souls. Morcock is an eerily good writer, and they're really friggin short books. He's written other fantasy stuff too, these are just the best-known.

Imajica by Clive Barker
I haven't read these yet, but they've been on my reading list for some time. I know they have something to do with parallel earth's.

grah; there are more, but those are the big ones I can remember for the moment.

By ETP on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 04:37 pm:

wow, shadow.. damn good list.

everything i would have mentioned is there.. and a whole bunch of books i didnt even think of.

By Silver Dragon (Silverd) on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 05:22 pm:

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I really enjoyed it. In my opinion however, the second book was not as good.


By mathusalem on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 06:41 pm:

the Culture cycle by Iain M. Banks :Five books to this day : Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons, Excession, Look to Windwards. They are GREAT.Even if your not into Sci-fi. You'll be overwhelmed.

By Krichaiushii, the Chaosbringer (Krichaiushii) on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 10:23 pm:

Though by no means classic, the recent WoTC "Greyhawk" series of books, effectively novelizations of the original D&D modules published waaaaaaaaay back when are entertaining, quick reads. So are some (by no means all!) of the Forgotten Realms books.

Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" stories are generally collected into thin collections, as are the works of H.P. Lovecraft - though his horror is more modern-day.

Saberhagen's "Book of Swords" trilogy is a bit more substantial than Jack Vance's works, but you should be able to knock out all three in a weekend of dedicated reading.

Vardeman's "Cenotaph Road" series (I forget the proper series name, "Cenotaph Road" is just the first in this series) is fun, if you can find them.

Glen Cook's "Chronicles of the Black Company" is an outstanding military-fantasy series.

I've started the Basil Broketail series, and so far they are alright, though I have yet to get the second one.

Lieber's "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser" and Robert E. Howard's "Conan" (and "Kull", "Bran Mac Morn", and "Solomon Kane") books are solid fantasy.

Lewis Carrol's "Through the Looking Glass" and "Alice in Wonderland" are fantasy stories that might actually be considered quality literature by your instructor.

Jacques' "Redwall", Pullman's "Golden Compass" (again, not the proper series title), and Piers Anthony has a humorous (though many likely have another adjective describing it) approach in his Xanth novels. But beware puns in the last set of books.

There is more, but that is all I can think of off the top of my head.

Do tell us what book(s) you settle on.

By Burning Ice, the Elementalist (Burningice) on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 11:13 pm:

I've enjoyed all the David Eddings books, but specifically the Belgariad and Mallorean series.

By Rakso, Patriarch & Rules Ayatollah (Rakso) on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 11:34 pm:

Shadow's list is pretty good.

I'd advise, though, that you focus on the human drama and vicarious dilemmas in the books and not the plots themselves. Some of them have symbolisms that are made striking because of the fantasy setting.

A good story involves more than mages and knights killing some demon. :)

By Shadow (Shadow) on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 02:54 pm:

It ought to be a good list, seeing as how I work at a library. =p I was going to mention Golden Compass, but forgot somehow. Those are awesome books, and they'd probably be fun to write reviews of.

Rakso, Tolkein said he prefered history to allegory. I don't think that loading a story with symbolism makes it a better story. Symbols can be used in intersting fashions in some cases, but I've been thinking lately about what makes books interesting to the majority of people and this is a rough sketch of my thoughts so far:

People like to read about characters that either remind them somehow of themselves, or that they wish they knew in real life. Reading about the former can be sort of like finding a kindred spirit, these are usually the sorts of characters that will make people fall in love with a book. Sometimes, there are characters that you simply wish you knew in real life, because they are tremendously cool in some way. People don't like to read stories where they hate all of the characters, or where none of the characters is particularly interesting.

To keep a reader engaged, you have to make them ask questions about what's going to happen next. Throw out little bits of information that pique the reader's interest and make him/her want to learn more. This is why English teachers are always going on and on about foreshadowing; you have to give the reader a reason to go on to the next chapter, or the next paragraph for that matter.

Most people don't like wasted words. Three paragraphs describing the bushes outside your childhood home is too much. They don't mind being told why you like those bushes, so you long as you make it brief. That doesn't mean you can skimp on the worthwhile details, just that it is possible to go overboard with details as easily as it is to lack enough of them.

The ending is very important. You can't just end the story, it has to seem as though it has a proper ending. I'm not really sure what I mean by this, but if I ever figure it out, I'll mention something.

The actual plot itself is tricky. Because there's been so much written already, it can be hard to keep things feeling original. A lot of people like a story to show them some aspect of life from a perspective they hadn't thought about before. I suppose the trick is to make the story seem somehow significant. Like the thing with the ending, I'm not really sure what I mean by this, but then, if I did, perhaps I would be a bestselling author. Oh well.

By Shadow (Shadow) on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 02:58 pm:

Oh, and as for other fantasy books, there's always the various Arthurian stories that have been written. The Once and Future King is supposed to be pretty good, though I haven't gotten around to reading it. There's The Mists of Avalon which is from Morgan's perspective, Mary Stewart's Merlin books, and there's always the originals by uhhh, dammit, can't ever remember Sir's name. Mallory, maybe.

By Silver Dragon (Silverd) on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 03:02 pm:

Your alot more interesting then my old library teacher!


By Shadow (Shadow) on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 09:49 pm:

Yes I am infinitely cool. Go me.

By Rakso, Patriarch & Rules Ayatollah (Rakso) on Saturday, November 24, 2001 - 03:39 am:


Rakso, Tolkein said he prefered history to allegory. I don't think that loading a story with symbolism makes it a better story. Symbols can be used in intersting fashions in some cases, but I've been thinking lately about what makes books interesting to the majority of people and this is a rough sketch of my thoughts so far:

Shadow: I disliked the Lord of the Rings compared to Eddings and Jordan myself.

I merely said that the human drama in a good story can mirror real existential questions that are highlighted only when removed from real life.

Kinda like Star Trek sometimes. :)

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