February 27, 2020, 03:37:29 AM

Author Topic: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"  (Read 349 times)

Offline ScarletBea

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Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« on: January 15, 2020, 10:42:52 AM »
So we have another list and article, this time about the books that people who want to read Fantasy should start with:

http://fantasy-faction.com/2020/a-look-at-lists-and-why-so-many-look-the-same


I think it's even more complicated than what Geoff mentions, because are we talking about introducing teenagers to fantasy or older people?
And what kind of fantasy would they like? We can't group all 'fantasy' as a single category, at the very least it'd have to be 'real world' (or 'urban') and 'secondary world' (note: I'm not that keen on the former...)
I read LotR when I was a teenager, but way before I split my reading into genres, it was just a book I enjoyed. I haven't read WoT, and I think if I had started with that I wouldn't be where I am now. And I think that if someone now started with the Belgariad (which I read after several years of reading fantasy), they wouldn't potentially continue with other fantasy, as I found it super simplistic.

Anyway, the more I thought about it, the less I agreed with lists, and ended up with this idea:

Actually, who says there needs to be an "introduction"? Let people just pick up a book, any book, then decide if they like it or not, regardless of genre or 'fantasy level'. Once they have a couple under their belt, with both positive and negative impressions, they can start asking for recommendations based on that.
The world of Fantasy books is like a cloud, not a linear path :)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 10:45:30 AM by ScarletBea »
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Offline Yora

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2020, 11:51:54 AM »
I was surprised to see Belgariad ranked second. I've first heard about probably 20 years ago, but to this day I don't know a single thing about it, other that there is a character called Belgarad. It seems to be famous, but I have no idea what it is famous for. Nobody seems to ever actually talk about it. And still it regularly appears high on these lists.
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Offline NedMarcus

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2020, 12:28:43 PM »
I was surprised to see Belgariad ranked second. I've first heard about probably 20 years ago, but to this day I don't know a single thing about it, other that there is a character called Belgarad. It seems to be famous, but I have no idea what it is famous for. Nobody seems to ever actually talk about it. And still it regularly appears high on these lists.

Lots of people loved it at the time (me too). Of course, the FB group is not the same as the forum here. I don't think it would have ranked so highly if the poll had been here.

Offline NedMarcus

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 12:32:10 PM »
The only book that I still enjoy out of the top five is Magician, although I loved Belgariad when it first came out. I have no idea how I'd react to it today. Not sure I want to try because my memory of the series is so good. I loved Lord of the Rings too, but find it harder to read now.

Offline Peat

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2020, 12:37:26 PM »
I was surprised to see Belgariad ranked second. I've first heard about probably 20 years ago, but to this day I don't know a single thing about it, other that there is a character called Belgarad. It seems to be famous, but I have no idea what it is famous for. Nobody seems to ever actually talk about it. And still it regularly appears high on these lists.

There isn't  :P Belgarath, and Belgarion, but no Belgarad.

I'm a big fan of the series (but also quite critical) because its fun, it's a quick read, it embraces use of the fantasy stereotypes but with little twists (that aren't quite so twisty now)... but for new readers? No. Not unless you know the person likes that sort of thing.

I mean, got to grade this on what it is, a list of things people would recommend as generalities rather than an attempt to be specific about particulars... but even so, wow. Lord of the Rings is great but a product of another time in a way that won't work for everyone, Magician somehow feels even more dated, Wheel of Time is the size of my office block and moves about as quick, and the Belgariad which is... popcorn.

Guess we as a genre really are living in the past.

Offline Yora

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2020, 12:48:21 PM »
Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It takes 10 years to know if something was actually that good to be memorable, and 30 years to know if it deserves to be a classic. The hype of today or last year might soon be forgotten. Just look at old Oscar winners.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

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Offline isos81

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2020, 02:24:23 PM »
I was surprised to see Belgariad ranked second. I've first heard about probably 20 years ago, but to this day I don't know a single thing about it, other that there is a character called Belgarad. It seems to be famous, but I have no idea what it is famous for. Nobody seems to ever actually talk about it. And still it regularly appears high on these lists.
I'm a big fan of the series (but also quite critical) because its fun, it's a quick read, it embraces use of the fantasy stereotypes but with little twists (that aren't quite so twisty now)... but for new readers? No. Not unless you know the person likes that sort of thing.

Same here, I love them, too. I would recommend The Belgariad series (along with Dark Elf Trilogy) to people who are new to fantasy. They are very easy and fun to read. The second series (The Malloreon) is pretty much repetitive, though.
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline Bender

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2020, 04:23:52 PM »
Anyone who recommends WoT or Malazan for fantasy beginners would need to get their sanity checked. For me I'd just classify by mature content.

Such lists should have common appeal over a variety of audience.

Low Mature Content, Lots of magic, action and adventure:

Bartimaeus Trilogy (Jonathan Stroud)
Book of Ancestor (Mark Lawrence)
Magician (Raymond E Feist)
Eli Monpress (Rachel Aaron)
Black Magician (Trudi Canavan)
Discworld (Terry Pratchett)
Riyria (Michael Sullivan)
Eragorn (Christopher Paolini)
Harry Potter (JK Rowling)
Divine Cities (Robert J Bennett)

Steampunk:
Aeronaut's Windlass (Jim Butcher)
Ketty Jay (Chirs Wooding)

Medium mature content, lots of magic:
Farseer (Robin Hobb)
Dresden (Jim Butcher)

High mature content, low magic:
ASOIAF (GRR Martin)
First Law (Joe Abercrombie)
Prince of thorns (Mark Lawrence)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 04:26:03 PM by Bender »
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Offline The Sword in the Tome

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2020, 06:36:08 PM »
Having just read Magician, I can say with certainty that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. 
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Offline Peat

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2020, 10:14:07 PM »
Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It takes 10 years to know if something was actually that good to be memorable, and 30 years to know if it deserves to be a classic. The hype of today or last year might soon be forgotten. Just look at old Oscar winners.

Fair, but those aren't classics. Or at least shouldn't be.

Now that I'm thinking about it, the absence of A Wizard of Earthsea from the top 5 seems weird to me.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2020, 02:27:12 AM »
Now that I'm thinking about it, the absence of A Wizard of Earthsea from the top 5 seems weird to me.

WORD. I mean, it was the intro for so many people. It was English-class reading for half of the grade-eight classes at my high school. (Not mine, I had to read some bloody Gary Crew I'd read two years ago already, so in a fit of pique I went out and bought the Earthsea Quartet for myself anyway.) Not to mention it's really good.

But yes, the question on what to introduce people to fantasy with is always about where they're coming from already. My mother has been powering her way through the Peter Grant books while she's been staying with us for the holidays, but I would never suggest she try Magician or The Eye of the World. That wouldn't be her cup of tea at all, but she watched The Bill religiously for most of my life, so I was pretty sure Peter Grant would be a winner... :)

Offline Elfy

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Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2020, 04:22:19 AM »
I found the list far too short and very narrowly focused. With the exception of Harry Potter, they're all epic (and an argument can be mounted for HP on that score, too). I think the majority of people have a grounding in fantasy anyway. Nearly everyone has read or heard of fairy tales or myths and legends, and they often form the basis for what becomes the fantasy genre. @ScarletBea and @Bender were on the right track when they said that more questions need to be asked before even starting to compile any list of this type.
Bea is also correct when she says 'does there even need to be an introduction?' Its a wide genre and what may interest one person, won't interest another and that runs the risk of turning a reader away from the entire genre because of one bad experience. If I used that list I'd think fantasy was confined to epic/high fantasy, and it's not, it's so much broader than that.
I have this little book called '100 Must Read Fantasy Books'. I hate calling anything must read, but it did have a fantastic cross section of the genre and tried to include something from everywhere. I read through about half the books in it, before they just got too hard to find. I liked some, loved others and wouldn't touch some of them ever again, but it opened me up to a number of authors and areas of the genre I may not have otherwise explored. It also recommended similar writers and works if one of them took your fancy.
That list was also quite modern. Everything (LotR aside) was published within the last 50 years, and if you want to see how the genre has evolved and where the ideas came from then you need to go back further than that.
If you really want to know the genre then you have to be adventurous in your choices and take a few chances. The newest shiniest thing on the shelf is not always the best.

Offline Yora

Re: Article on main site - "Fantasy start reading list"
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2020, 09:52:17 AM »
It seems Epic is the name of the game these days. Or Grimdark, but with very little inbetween.

When I see "princess" or "fate of the kingdom", I'm immediately running away to search for something else. And never finding anything.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor