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Old 12-23-2007, 11:05 AM   #1
Lalwendë
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1420! Downers' Famous Fantasy Five

Now for a little fun at this festive time of year I thought it might be enjoyable to put together a list of what our favourite fantasy fictions are, and maybe find a Top Five (or Ten).

Rules? We need a few. Here they are:
* Choose anything you like, so long as it can reasonably be argued to be 'fantasy' fiction. This might include graphic novels if you wish, or short stories or collections of the same.
* You may of course choose a Tolkien title. Purely for the fact that I want to see how far any of his works trounce the competition and if anyone doesn't choose him. No, I won't call you a heretic and call for you to be burned.
* You may choose a series/trilogy or whatnot if said is generally accepted as such.
* No more than one book or series per author in your Five, purely to prevent anyone having a list which predictably goes: Lord of the Rings; The Hobbit; The Children of Hurin etc.
* Choose according to sheer entertainment factor or literary quality, being 'influential' or merely having a dual purpose as a handy doorstop, that's up to you.
* Scores will follow the F1 pattern as follows: Number 1 choice = 10 points; 2 = 8 points; 3 = 6 points; 4 = 4 points; 5 = 2 points. Subject to Stewards' Inquiry.
* In case of argument I reserve the right to throw in another rule.

Here are mine:
1. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
2. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
3. Gormenghast - Mervyn Peake
4. The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5. The Sandman Series - Neil Gaiman

That was quite difficult and I shall no doubt regret it in the morning...

We have a very extensive thread listing and discussing all kinds of books here if you seek inspiration: http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?t=1338

What else might you choose? Here are some things to whet your whistle:
The Belgariad; Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; Sword of Shannara; Lyonnesse; The Once and Future King; Little, Big; The Wheel of Time; The Worm Ourobouros; Earthsea; The Weirdstone of Brisingamen; Elric; Chronicles of Narnia; Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell; The Queen of Elfland's Daughter; Shadowmancer; The Dark Is Rising; Discworld; Watership Down; Artemis Fowl; Eragon; Earth's Children; A Song of Ice and Fire; Dune; Sword Of Truth; The Well At The World's End; Conan the Barbarian; Chronicles of Prydain; Lud In The Mist; Phantastes; Weaveworld etc etc................
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Old 12-23-2007, 01:44 PM   #2
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Sounds fun. Alright, here I go.

1. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
2. A Song of Ice and Fire - George RR Martin
3. Dune - Frank Herbert
4. The Wheel of Time - Robert Jordan
5. Earthsea - Ursula K. LeGuin

It was a hard choice. Well, those are my picks. Let's see what everyone else says.
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Old 12-23-2007, 02:31 PM   #3
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Nice thread Lal!

But how do you define fantasy in this one?

If Herbert's Dune is fantasy shouldn't we then count also other sci-fi stuff as well (even the old Edgar Rice Burroughs! )?

Another demarcation line issue: where is the difference between historical fiction or magical realism and fantasy?

I could put forward Tolkien and Holdstock with any definition but after that it gets harder...

Depending on the definiton I could offer Gogol or Marquez; Banks, Simmons or Gibson etc. And how about Jonathan Swift?
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Old 12-23-2007, 02:56 PM   #4
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Good points Nogrod. I like too much magical realism as it is, now I can't make a good choice for my list!

I think by fantasy, it might mean by the simple lines of such genres of high fantasy, and s&s fantasy. Though, hrmm. Now I'm in a tizzy.
As for historical fiction, I don't think that is exactly fantasy in a whole sense. It may be complete fabrication of an author's mind, but it has ties to actual events that took/take place in our own realistic history, not of a fantasy world. Though, no doubt some authors borrow from our history to make compelling fantasy.

The question I guess is, if a work is centered in, or has ties to a myth or fairytale of historical value (things like: Arthurian Legends, Avalon, Atlantis, Grimm Tales, Greek Mythology, etc), is it really and wholly 'fantasy'? Because, let's say someone writes as to what happens after a myth takes place, such as, after King Arthur dies in the Arthurian Legends, and writes on from there. Their work depends amazingly on the bits here and there that are commonly agreed upon as being 'Arthurian', but they are making everything aftrewards in their writing their own design.

Then the whole debate of magical realism, where obviously magical things pop into blalantly realistic scenarios, and I can make the moon come out at noon and the sun appear for a short time during midnight.
The trick I guess with magical realism, is that the whole 'magic' thing has to appear somewhat unforced. That the figures or whatever in the story are pretty comfortable with the 'marvelous reality' of things.

Still, I think the 'fantasy' in this case deals more on the lines of high fantasy or more to do with worlds where there is very little or some ties to real world things (undoubtibly these include ethics, philosophy, 'good' vs. 'evil', etc which appear all the time in fantasy, but were of reality based creation).

Now I have to go think over a list, argh. The choices...

~ Musing Again Ka
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:31 PM   #5
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Nogrod, The Ka - if you can argue for something being 'fantasy' then you go for it! Makes for a more interesting list and we have a lot of genre-bending these days. In any case, I often think of Magic Realism as Fantasy for the Intelligentsia so feel free I reckon for example The House of the Spirits (a marvellous novel) is verging on fantasy, so if you chose that, then this would be OK - and after all, it is not for me to say what is and what is not fantasy, is it, if you could coherently argue for it?

...such pondering might even make for an interesting thread of its own...
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:36 PM   #6
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I don't read very much fantasy nowadays, and many of the books I've read recently have been by some unknown Finnish authors. Apart from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and Robin Hobb books which didn't make it into my top5, I suppose these are all the fantasy books (or, to be more accurate, authors) I could recommend to someone... And I must admit it was a little surprising to notice there were so few of them.

1. The Silmarillion - Tolkien
It was hard to decide whether to place the Silmarillion or the Lord of the Rings on top. But of all Tolkien's works, I love the Silmarillion most. I'm not going to compare the stories of the Lotr and Sil with each other, but the way the Silmarillion is written is something amazingly beautiful.
Another, though quite vague a reason to choose the Silmarillion: Lotr is a book that has to be read through (and I don't know if any others have the same problem, but I've read it so many times that nowadays it takes ages to read it again), but of the Silmarillion it is possible to read only one or a couple of chapters, whatever I feel like at the moment, without reading the whole book, and without the stories losing their grip. That's sometimes more comfortable than reading the whole book.

2. City of Saints and Madmen - Jeff VanderMeer
Again, a problem. Veniss Underground by the same author is a wonderful novel also, but I've grown to love the intensity and the extraordinary ideas of the stories in City of Saints and Madmen. That man is a genius.

3. Earthsea - Ursula LeGuin
It's a while since I read them... And I have only read the first three books; I liked them a lot and don't want to risk losing the image I have by reading the newer ones. Especially as my little brother complained they weren't as good as the original thrilogy.
Generally, I like LeGuin's scifi stories more than fantasy, but Earthsea is an exception. Simple but ah so subtle and beautiful.

4. The Wolf's Bride - Aino Kallas
A werewolf story by a 20th century Finnish author. I'm not sure if this should be classified as fantasy or rather a folktale, but I think I can include it, as there definitely are fantastical elements. I was 8 when I read it for the first time, and fell in love immediately.

5. The Moomin books - Tove Jansson
I've loved them since I was a child of 3 or 4- my mother used to read them to me, and I read them also myself when I learned to read. It's peculiar (but not surprising) how many layers and different aspects I can now see in the same books I read and enjoyed even as a child. And they don't feel childish at all.
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Old 12-23-2007, 04:53 PM   #7
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Ok, briefly...

1) Lord of the Rings

2) Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirlees. Fantastic fairy tale in the English tradition.

3) Time & the Gods by Lord Dunsany. Beautifully written tales of the fantastic, & a whole new mythology pre-Tolkien.

4) The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson. Appeared in the same year as LotR & drawing on the same sources of Norse & Celtic myth.

5) Lyonesse trilogy by Jack Vance. Beautiful, clever, amazingly sharp, smart, funny, & in terms of scale & perfection the next best thing to LotR, yet totally different. ("The single remaining warrior rode pell-mell down into the swale, where the Kaber warriors cut off first his legs, then his arms, then rolled him into the ditch to ponder the sad estate to which his life had come.")

Then again, ask me tomorrow & I might come up with a different list...
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Old 12-23-2007, 06:02 PM   #8
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In the spirit of Davem "ask me tomorrow & I might come up with a different list..." And I have tried to stay with the "more easily seen as a fantasy" -stuff.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Silmarillion
- That's just amazing what he came up with after a long study and years and years of creating. You know it and I don't need to explain further.

Iain M. Banks: The Culture novels (Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons, Against a Dark Background, Excession, Look to Windward)
- If this is not fantasy then what is? Even if Banks' world isn't quite as minutely constructed it's believable and fascinating in its own right. And just look at the characters! The newest, Algebraist, even if not a Culture novel was a really enjoyable read as well!

Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels
- Not so much the lilliputs (or whatever they are in English, those little people) but fex. the island of the Horses... One of the first fantasy novels ever. Voltaire's Mikromegas if fun too... Well, depending on what you count as one.

Robert Holdstock: Mythago Wood and the two first sequels to it (Lavondyss, The Hollowing)
- I lost count in one moment or another whether a novel or another still was to be counted in - and they were not so good any more. Also there has been time since I read them so I'm not sure how I would react to them now. But to myself around 20 they were really fascinating.

Dan Simmons: Ilium
Sci-fi, Shakespeare, Proust and Greek myths collide. Sounds banal and stupid but isn't. Even if I strongly dislike the undercurrent of "prepare to fight" morality it's just an astonishing feat! I mean I really started looking for the maps of Mars while reading it just to find the places...
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Old 12-25-2007, 12:07 AM   #9
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Thumbs up

Sorry about that previous post, I became swept up in a wind of ponder.
Ugh, the choices. There are far too many books I could put that I have read continously or have found recently and enjoy so much, but I'll try to settle with five I really prefer.

1. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

~ This for me, and probably many others, was my first Tolkien experience. Needless to say, I kept on reading! Still, it holds a special place in my heart, and the barrel incident, and all the riddles as well.
My 11 year old mind (and the questionable one now) thought Bilbo a genius of wit and love for travel/learning, with a good balance of being reasonable. Basically, a model mind to take inspiration from. No doubt I do really love Lord of The Rings, especially the first book, and all chapters involving Ents, but I would have to say that The Hobbit was what first had me hooked.

2. The Farthest Shore - Ursula K. Le Guin

~ First of all, I love the works of Le Guin absolutely, and am very glad my friend one day decided to lend the first in the series to me, or I'd never have known about it at ten years old or later.
I love this one the most out of the series, even though it isn't well known as the others. Mostly because, this isn't the typical Ged or his battles. There is so much taking place in the 'grey' that it keeps you wrapped in the story, there is no 'evil' or completely 'good' (which I adore in a story), but it is a wonderful development of fantasy writing. Plus, geography wise, there is far more shown at the rich cultures Le Guin created for all of the islands (and those that lived at the mercy of the open sea). Yes of course Ged is much different than earlier books, but the story shows that even if you are very young or old in years, matters of understanding self and wisdom can come at any age to anyone.

3. The Discworld Series - Terry Pratchett

~ Pratchett is a genius. Simple as that.
I've only come upon his works awhile ago, but now I am pretty much engulfed in it. Plus, Pratchett's works were the ones to finally win over my brother so he'd keep up with the act of reading just because you can, and want to. Something of which I have been trying for a long time to cause, with many works/authors. Another reason why he is a genius. Plus, no one makes a more convincing character of Death, a real triumph.
It seems very likely and believable that Pratchett's works are something that anyone can pick from to enjoy, or at least learn and get a good laugh out of.

4. Stardust - Neil Gaiman

~ Gaiman makes fairytales and pre-Tolkien something odd but new and yet he also makes it seem as if fairytales are supposed to be written like Stardust. All the 'traditional' elements are honored, but they are as believable as magical. In short, it is near impossible to imagine someone not laughing, but also impossible not to be drawn in so much that you realize the work is a category and honor of its own. I was a little upset at its treatment cinema-wise, but I definately recommend the work to be read and re-read again for good health.

5. The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley

~ Found a copy of it in the bookcase after my dad picked it up in New Mexico of all places (geographically, complete opposite of the mystical and wet Avalon...). At first I was a little deterred by the Arthurian aspect, since all the myths I had encountered before seemed to be much the same, this book showed the falsehood in assuming by cover. I loved it, mostly because I couldn't wholly 'hate' or 'love' any character in the book, it showed a side to the story that I hadn't pondered before, and gave a philosophical lesson as well concerning the nature of state, tradition and religion. Plus, no two characters are marginalized together or into the background, and character development is shown to the fullest, for either good or bad reasons. It's hard to say that there are a wealth of 'supporting characters', which is good.

Okay, that is it for my rambles. I'm going to look at everyone else's recommendations to boost my library up a bit, because it needs it. There are never enough books...

~ Literally, Literary Ka
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Old 12-25-2007, 10:24 AM   #10
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Neat idea:
1- LOTR by JRRT. No explaination needed.

2- CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT THE UNBELIEVER - especially the original three. One of the few fantasies with - at least a few scenes - worthy of the genre that Tolkien made famous.

3- THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING by White. Great book that is worth it if only for the story of the embryos. But there is so much more.

4 - ELRIC series by Michael Moorcock - somebody told me to read these after I read a lot of Robert E. Howard in my 20's and Moorcock was like Howard on acid. Some of the most amazing images I have ever read.

5- Gregory Maguires series of books starting with WICKED. And I freely admit that the tremendous musical play helps influence my decision to put this on the list.
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Old 12-28-2007, 06:15 PM   #11
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Well, if fantasy means something that is made up, but well written. Then these are my top five!

1. The Hobbit
It’s got dwarves! Lots and lots of dwarves!

2. Iliad
Even though this book is over three thousand years old, it’s still a classic. Homer does a wonderful job of depicting the battles and inward struggles that the Greek’s faced.
It’s got Ajax, and he’s almost like a dwarf (a really big dwarf)!

3. The Lord of the Rings
I love what Tolkien does to all his books. He goes into the very specific with each of the characters and makes you feel as if you are actually living the story.
It’s got Gimli!

4. Homer’s Odyssey
Not as good as the Iliad, but still a classic read.

5. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
The best book out of all the Chronicles of Narnia series. Lewis has a lot more obvious story line and doesn’t give you that kind of feeling that Tolkien gives. Still, another classic.
It’s got dwarves! Very little puny dwarves that couldn’t lift a real battle axe, but dwarves nonetheless.
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Old 12-28-2007, 08:29 PM   #12
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This will be tough for me, I don't read much fantasy...but I'll try it.

1. Favoritest and bestest of all is the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Wonderful books that I have enjoyed for as long as I can possibly remember. I never complain when Pop offers to read them aloud, and I have more than once rented a book or two on tape from the library. (Of course, his Space Trilogy is exceptional, too, but Lal said only one series or book from each author.)

2. Running a very, very, very close second, if not tied, is The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. Marvelous book...but I don't know if it'll ever be able to hold the same place as the Chronicles do.

3. The Lost Princess or The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald. Both very good books. The Lost Princess is another old favorite.

4. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. Is it fantasy? Well...mayhap not, but I highly doubt it's entirely historically correct.

And I don't know ifI have another favorite. As I said I haven't read much fantasy - the only other stuff I can think of is the trilogy His Dark Materials which I read the first of but so abhored that I did not continue, and Harry Potter, which I thought...I won't say...and Mom banned it, so I can't very well read more than I have, which is only the first.

So in the fifth place, I will put a few other favorite books by the author's listed above: The Silmarillion (supurbly awesome), The Space Trilogy (by Lewis), and Phantastes (by MacDonald).
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Old 12-28-2007, 08:54 PM   #13
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1. The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel
The fourth book in the Earth children's series. This is one of my favorite books. I love this whole series but the relationships and strange customs shared over a long winter in the time of mammoths and saber tooth tigers, is just (I find) enthralling. But beware this series is not for the young. It has very explicit content in some parts.

2. Ender's shadow by Orson Scott Card, the parallel novel to Ender's game.
Again this series is all super wicked, but this one book has it all for me. It follows the story of a genetically engineered infant, as he fights for his life on the streets, then to be 'found' and sent to a military training space station to to train to fight the "Buggers" (aliens). You would think this is totally a "guy" book, but the story of Bean is touching.


3.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling
I liked the whole series, but I love that Rowling pulled it all together at the end and gave everyone what they wanted.

4. The story of Luthien and Beren by J.R.R Tolkien
Don't get me wrong, I love the LOTR but I loved this story, I wish it had been longer...perhaps if they made it it's own book..

5. Vitorrio by Anne Rice
I think her world of Vampires is the only one. There are so many stories, from Anne and they all fit in together quite nicely. This one is a story in it's own about love, revenge, and well Angels...It's a good one.

I tend to like whole series and like to read all the series from the same writers. I broke it down though and just picked one book out of the series.
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Old 12-28-2007, 11:23 PM   #14
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Groin! Homer is NOT fantasy! All that stuff actually happened. Especially the magic parts.
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Old 12-28-2007, 11:25 PM   #15
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I have found this thread really helpful. I have been trying to find some other fantasy books to read (though I feel guilty having not completely mastered Middle-earth yet...) and I've found some good suggestions here. Thanks folks.
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Old 12-28-2007, 11:30 PM   #16
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Anytime. Even if none of my picks helped your choice.
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Old 12-29-2007, 01:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groin Redbeard View Post

1. The Hobbit
It’s got dwarves! Lots and lots of dwarves!

...And their hats. Plus, Dwarves in barrels.

~ Don't forget... Ka
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Old 12-29-2007, 03:58 PM   #18
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In no particular order ...

"The Children of Hurin" ... for me the single most striking story in the whole mythology

The History of Danish Dreams Peter Hoeg

The Christmas Mystery Jostein Gaarder - nearly the Solitaire Mystery but this is enchanting.

The life of Pi Yann Martell


I suppose these are ones which stretch the fantasy definition but I don't read a lot of true fantasy. I enjoyed the Potter books but I am still sorting my enjoyment from the hype. Narnia, I loved as a child and found it heartbreakingly dreadful rereading it as an adult. I stopped before I got to the Silver Chair lest I discover I no longer loved Marshwiggles.

. I thought Northern Lights, one of the best written books I had ever read but one of the bleakest, The Subtle Knife was not as good and I actively loathed The Amber Spyglass, so that is out.

So for my final selection, even though for me his appeal is that he satirizes our world through discworld and so I hardly classify him as fantasy (though I know that sounds weird and Boromir88's sig would suggest that the great man would not agree with me), has to be Terry Pratchett, probably Maskerade as I love opera and Agnes is a heroine I can relate to - but it could easily be Hogfather .... especially at this time when some of us are liable to be worshipping "Bilious"
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Old 12-29-2007, 04:57 PM   #19
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Groin! Homer is NOT fantasy! All that stuff actually happened. Especially the magic parts.
What are you talking about Gwathagor? Do you call the Greek Gods real? Do you believe in Cyclopes'? That stuff is no more real than Lord of the Rings. Trojan war may have been real, but not all the Gods, magic, and monsters that Homer puts in his book.

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Plus, Dwarves in barrels.
That part was one of the funniest parts in the books. Thanks for bringing that up Ka.
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:42 AM   #20
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Thumbs up

The Steward comes out of the errr...place where Stewards hang out...

1. You can have Greek myths if you like. They were the only 'fantasy' for many centuries so that's OK by me!

2. If you put two things by one author down I will have to leave the second out of the count - this applies to Groin Redbeard who was naughty and chose two Tolkiens.

3. Specify your order, please, and that one's for Mithalwen.

4. I have to ask Folwren - going by the rules then, you do have just the four, yes?

5. I will do some scores when I feel less peaky.

Some tasty choices here! Keep 'em coming!
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Old 12-31-2007, 12:16 PM   #21
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3. Specify your order, please, and that one's for Mithalwen.

Objectively, subjectively or pretentiously?
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Old 12-31-2007, 12:26 PM   #22
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4. I have to ask Folwren - going by the rules then, you do have just the four, yes?
We are getting scored? Perhaps I should find a 5th, then. But, yes, going by the rules, I have just four, as of now.

EDIT: I will add a fifth favorite... I don't know if you'd count it fantasy, but it certainly isn't very realistic. Mom calls it fantasy.

5. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

Does it count? *hopeful grin*

Edit #2: If it counts, I'll have to re-arrange the order, since you're also particular about that.
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Old 12-31-2007, 12:50 PM   #23
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under sufferance

Pretentiously:

Life of Pi, History of Danish Dreams, The Christmas Mystery, Children of Hurin, Maskerade

Subjectively: CoH, M, CM, HoDD, LoP

Objectively: CM, CoH,M, HoDD, LoP
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Old 12-31-2007, 01:37 PM   #24
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Folwren - if you could defend it as fantasy then it is OK. This is simply for fun, to find what our faves are, and it could make for a decent list of recommended reading too. You don't have to have five, but you cannot have six (or more!). And yes, I'll score them when I get the chance, but I need a clear head for even the most basic of Maths and I don't feel well today

Mithalwen - I'll take pretentiously shall moi?*




*geddit? Eh? Eh?
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Old 12-31-2007, 03:43 PM   #25
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cos of course Booker Prize winners and Scandinavian philosophers form such a high percentage of my reading matter .... they are there partly because I read so little that could be classed as fantasy... and I did resist including an Umberto Eco...

Of course if you had gone for romances you would have exposed my weakness for Isabell Wolff and Maeve Binchy...
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:26 PM   #26
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If you put two things by one author down I will have to leave the second out of the count - this applies to Groin Redbeard who was naughty and chose two Tolkiens.
Then I guess the Odyssey should also be taken out, since Homer also wrote that book as well as the Iliad.

I don’t read fantasy that much and I don’t know of any other good fantasy books.

1. The Hobbit
2. Iliad
3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
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Old 01-05-2008, 12:12 PM   #27
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It took me quite a lot to make up my mind about my choices and the order in which I should put them, but here they are at last:

1. "The Lord of the Rings", in my opinion the best book ever, and surely the one that had the greatest impact on me.


2. The "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling. I was really hooked on these books. I'm sorry they're finished, really, as there'll be nothing to wait for with so much excitement from now on.

3. "Something wicked this way comes" by Ray Bradbury. It's an impressive book, very very well-written. I read it in only one day, I just couldn't put it down.

4. "The Neverending story" by Michael Ende. This book held once the place that LOTR now has in my heart. I remember reading it over and over again. I was very fond of the characters, especially of Bastian, and I still identify with him, being an avid reader myself.

5. "The wonderful adventures of Nils Holgersson" by Selma Lagerlof. I was really small when I read it, and it was the first book that had a great impact on me, and for this, it still has a special place in my heart.
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Old 01-05-2008, 06:04 PM   #28
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Lord of the Rings. (not surprising)
The Belgariad - David Eddings
The Pern books - Anne McCaffry
Time Enough for Love - Robert Hienlen.
I Robot - Issac Asimov
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Old 01-06-2008, 06:19 PM   #29
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especially at this time when some of us are liable to be worshipping "Bilious"
~ Mith

The Oh-Great-god indeed. The Hogfather is amazing, as of so far, it is one of two I've enjoyed the most out of the series, but I have much more to read. I'm particularly fond of the Death series.

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Objectively, subjectively or pretentiously?
~ Mith

Oops, I didn't consider that. Must have been slighted by Bilious then. So, I guess for the majority of the later choices, they are pretentious to inspire curiousity and hopefully a good read.

So, to be specific about Discworld, of the ones I have come across so far, I am really enjoying Mort. I greatly enjoy the escapades of Death and Binky.

~ An acknowledging Ka
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:40 AM   #30
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My Famous Fantasy Five? Here it comes...

1. The Lord of The Rings / The Silmarillion
The problem is, I really can't choose. Sometimes I like one better, sometimes the other. In a way, I like The Silmarillion more, all the great tales and the strong feelings it creates, but LotR, well, it is kind of a second home to me, so I can not choose.

2. The Earthsea books by Ursula Le Guin
I reread these a year or two ago and I was astonished. Le Guin is a true master of stroytelling and world-creating and there is a lot of depth to her books. Her world is believable, intriguing and personal, one of the few fantasy universes that has seemed really real to me, like Middle-Earth. Le Guin's storytelling is something many fantasy authors could learn from: she manages to say the important without horribly long decorative phrases and her books (my Finnish copies of the first three books are 200+ pages each) are more complicated and breathtaking adventures than many 1000-page mammoths by various mainstream fantasy authors. There's something rough in Le Guin's style of writing and I like it very much. She also writes subtly and everytime you reread her books you find new things in them. Of her Earthsea books, the first three are certainly better than the latter ones (although they are far better than "average" fantasy as well) and The Tombs of Atuan remains a particular favourite of mine with it's original atmosphere and mystical world that it's totally its own...

3. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

My absolute favourites of "lighter" fantasy. Hobb has said that the Farseer Trilogy was born when she thought of the most common fantasy clichés and decided to try if anything good could be made out of them. I must say she succeeded very well. When reading the books, none of the cliché-elements really bothered me, they were turned into somethign interesting enough and just fit the story perfectly. Hobb tells the story smoothly and her characters are excellent. I will probably remain awed for the rest of my life for how Hobb writes her main character who is also the narrator. In my opinion, it is a very difficult task to create a typical fantasy main character and still be able to make him a personality of his own and make him seem real. I think many fantasy protagonists even by good authors are haunted by a certain hollowness or simplicity that often totally lacks from the same author's side characters. This is not true in Hobb's case. Also, I must say Hobb is the author that had made me cry the most (after Tolkien, of course). Her books make me too sentimental. But when I first read The Farseer Series it was just amazing, for whatever mistake the protagonist did, I knew it was stupid, but I knew that I would have done the same in his situation as well. After a few reareads and growing up a bit I'm not so sure. Anyway, The Farseer Series are worth reading, like the trilogies that followed it (The Liveship Traders and The Tawny Man).

4. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
I actually like Kay's alternative history novels (especially The Lions of Al-Rassan and A Song for Arbonne) more than his fantasy ones. Tigana, however, is almost the same level as those two I mentioned. It's the perfect book for anyone who looks for epic fantasy mixed with tragedy, political plotting, adventure and relationship drama.

5. ?

Now this is a place the holder of which depends on what I've been reading lately. Currently, I feel like nominating George R.R. Martin's to-be-megalomaniac epic fantasy series The Song of Ice and Fire. Now that I think of it, it seems I have a soft spot for well-written epic fantasy with intriguing characters and lots of political plotting...
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Old 01-07-2008, 01:50 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Groin Redbeard View Post
What are you talking about Gwathagor? Do you call the Greek Gods real? Do you believe in Cyclopes'? That stuff is no more real than Lord of the Rings. Trojan war may have been real, but not all the Gods, magic, and monsters that Homer puts in his book.
OF COURSE IT'S REAL! Do you think Homer just MAKES STUFF UP? Why are gods, magic, and monsters no longer plausible? What happened to us? Why COULDN'T there have been giants on the earth? What reason do you have to not believe "that stuff" existed?

Fate was God, the gods were demons, magic was magic, and the monsters were dinosaurs (and demons). It's fairly straightforward.

EDIT: Wildcats of Kilkenny? Why did I put that in there?
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Old 01-09-2008, 12:02 AM   #32
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OF COURSE IT'S REAL! Do you think Homer just MAKES STUFF UP? Why are gods, magic, and monsters no longer plausible? What happened to us? Why COULDN'T there have been giants on the earth? What reason do you have to not believe "that stuff" existed?

Fate was God, the gods were demons, magic was magic, and the monsters were dinosaurs (and demons). It's fairly straightforward.

EDIT: Wildcats of Kilkenny? Why did I put that in there?
I like how you say these things Gwathagor! Demons, demons, and even more demons! Being a Christian I do believe in Demons, but some people don't! And yes I do believe in Demons and Dragons too!( yes I did say dragons)


Anyway,I don't read much fantasy except for Tolkien... there is a bunch of newer fantasy out now that seems nockoffish(I make up words) well from what I've heard!

1: Lord of the Rings... I LOVE hobbits... well and for other reasons too! That is why I'm on the Barrow-Downs people!

2: The Chronicles of Narnia: I remember when I was like five or so my mom read them to me and in the last book I got freaked out because of the one God thing Tash (I think that was his name) anyway the picture in our book scared the living daylights out of me! I think I should read them again...


Well as I said I don't read much fantasy, but Harry Potter was banned by my mom (because it had witch craft in it or something) otherwise I would have probably read it...

But if you call the Illiad fantasy, I've never read it, but I've seen many adaptations of it... Of course I'm still young and I can take some books off of this book list! They probably would be good reads!

~TGEW
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Old 01-10-2008, 01:05 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwathagor
OF COURSE IT'S REAL! Do you think Homer just MAKES STUFF UP?
Well, if you look at it from the Aristotle perspective of literary critique, that could be easily supported. Considering that Homer was said to be 'blind', which symbolistically gives of the impression of a developed 'inner eye/sight', Aristotle's method could argue on the behalf of his poetics and epics by saying they emphasis the 'universal' (nature of everything, human nature...) which is seen as something nearer to the 'ideal' of Greek philosophy (according to only Aristotle, of course). So, unlike Plato, he's fine with showing the flaws of heros and gods, as long as it furthers the underlying message of character improvement and polishing the coal into diamond, etc.
Sort of like this: "writers of great dignity imitated the noble actions of noble heroes; the less dignified sort of writers imitated the actions of inferior men."

On the other hand, if you had Plato take a gander at it, he might take Homer's works and stomp them into oblivion because poetic works are the 'flit of imagination' and thus the threat of a 'state and ideal completely of logic morality and reason'. As long as the poets 'behave' and celebrate only the completely falseless of the Platonic state of reason, then Plato seems okay.


Sorry, I have a slight amusement in playing devil's advocate.

Though, that is a good topic to bring up reguarding familiar works.
Particularly though, The Odyssey is an amazing work. Lovely use of puns and development, plus the wit. I admire the Cyclops scene most of all, and the brief adventures of 'Nobody'.

~ Ramble for rambling Ka
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Old 01-10-2008, 01:13 AM   #34
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Plato was grumpy.

However, I could have fun with the idea that imagination is essential to morality and reason, as well as the preservation of the state.
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Old 01-10-2008, 11:13 AM   #35
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Thumbs up

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OF COURSE IT'S REAL! Do you think Homer just MAKES STUFF UP? Why are gods, magic, and monsters no longer plausible? What happened to us? Why COULDN'T there have been giants on the earth? What reason do you have to not believe "that stuff" existed?

Fate was God, the gods were demons, magic was magic, and the monsters were dinosaurs (and demons). It's fairly straightforward.
Thank you Gwathagor! I've never thought about it like that before, thanks for proving me wrong!
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Old 01-10-2008, 11:58 AM   #36
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1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
3. The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore
4. The Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini
5. Forgotten Realms books from the early 1990's and

No explanation yet...need to check my Tribal Wars account!!!

*Not very groundbreaking, but they were some of the first fantasy novels I ever read. They're a bit close to me, although most are far from a masterpiece.
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Old 01-10-2008, 04:21 PM   #37
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OF COURSE IT'S REAL! Do you think Homer just MAKES STUFF UP?
*walks in, whistling* It's very probable Homer did not even exist... *walks away, whistling*

Anyway, to be on-topic, does SF count? Probably not, but just to be sure. (There are things however, that are SF, but in fact are better classificated as fantasy among my picks, but I am asking about pure SF here.)
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Old 01-10-2008, 10:43 PM   #38
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Regardless...
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:51 PM   #39
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1. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
This is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Psyche's older sister.

2. Descent into Hell by Charles Williams
This book by the second inkling on the list is a theological fantasy that deals with the themes of redemption and condemnation through the use of supernatural elements such as dopplegangers and ghosts. Certain concepts from Zoroastrianism and some images from Dante weave their way through the entire story.

3. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
The third inkling in the top three spots. I do not need to explain this book.

4. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson.
This series is also fairly well-known so I don't need to explain here either.

and Finally,

5. The Voyage of St. Brendan the Abbot
This is a medieval journey tale about an Irish monk who searched for the land promised to the saints. His journeys around the Atlantic have such elements as having easter dinner on the back of a whale, a monk being taken by a demon and bursting into flames, and Judas Iscariot sitting on an Iceberg so that he could be released from his punishment one day each year. Some, like me, consider the story to be a fantastic retelling of actual events. Although maybe not as much a fantasy as the others, I would still classify it under this genre.
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