October 30, 2020, 01:45:04 AM

Author Topic: Favourite Silk Road novels  (Read 404 times)

Offline eclipse

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Favourite Silk Road novels
« on: September 16, 2020, 07:03:10 PM »
I quite like Dreamblood by N.K Jesmin

What’s your favourite?


http://bestfantasybooks.com/silk-road-fantasy.html

Silk Road means

The Most general definition of Silk Road Fantasy is fantasy set outside the Great Wall of Europe. But, the name Silk Road evokes a deeper definition, one that calls upon the historical significance of the Silk Road. These are grand and beautiful stories often about the interactions between cultures and politics. The Silk Road Fantasy tales are therefore stories that can incorporate Asian and middle eastern influences to draw a unique and intoxicating tale.
The Silk Road is a real, historical place, or rather series of connected places. It is an ancient network of trade routes that were central to commerce and cultural interaction throughout the various regions of the Asian continent. The name comes from the lucrative silk trade that was carried throughout its network. The Silk Road’s historical significance is due to its influence on the development of civilizations—the long-distance relations (economic, political, cultural) that developed between the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa, and Arabia. With all the connections and exchanges, this is a place ripe for storytelling.


Arabian fantasy

What is Arabian Fantasy?

Arabian Fantasy is an often romanticized sub-genre that many mediums, including literature, draw upon. For example, music, visual arts, and film all have works portraying elements of Arabian Fantasy. It is an old and traditional sub-genre that has seen a resurgence in the modern era. It is a sub-genre steeped in history and if not always mythic, then at least fable-like—which makes it an incredibly rich sub-genre. Indeed, Arabian Fantasy stories value and employ the use of spectacle, while drawing on the deeply rooted history and mythology of an ancient setting—the Middle East. The balance of history and myth, of magic and religion, of character and setting make-up the richness of the sub-genre.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 09:52:58 AM by eclipse »
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

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Offline bdcharles

Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2020, 08:10:42 PM »
Funny, I was looking into Silk Road oriented novels recently. It seems like a fascinatng, epic area/time. Something about the name suggests something very exotic.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2020, 01:08:55 AM »
I love the Dreamblood duology, but I think it's Egyptian. "Silk Road" makes me think more of central Eurasian / Istanbul-to-Beijing sort of territory - but more particularly of a period of history a bit later than the ancient-Egypt evoked in Dreamblood.

In terms of Silk Road, the first thing that leaps to mind is Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road which is a rollicking adventure tale set in Khazaria (around the Black and Caspian seas) around 950AD. There's also a lot of that sort of Eurasian feel in Elizabeth Bear's Eternal Sky trilogy (first book Range of Ghosts) which is a fantasy take on Mongol history.

I'm honestly astonished that Guy Gavriel Kay hasn't written an explicit Silk Road book, though he touches on the occidental end in some books (I'm thinking less the Sarantine Mosaic and more Children of Earth and Sky) and the oriental end in Under Heaven and River of Stars.

And of course, I'm currently reading SA Chakraborty's City of Brass, which has magical-being kingdoms from Africa through to India and central Asia. It's very Silk Road, if one of spirituality and folklore more than trade - but the wonderful thing about roads is they carry all the things of humanity along them!

Offline bdcharles

Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2020, 08:43:23 AM »

And of course, I'm currently reading SA Chakraborty's City of Brass, which has magical-being kingdoms from Africa through to India and central Asia. It's very Silk Road, if one of spirituality and folklore more than trade - but the wonderful thing about roads is they carry all the things of humanity along them!

Gah! That's the one I was trying to think of. Thank you - onto the TBR it goes :)
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Offline isos81

Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2020, 09:04:35 AM »
Can you please explain what "Silk Road" is?
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 eclipse

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Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2020, 09:58:40 AM »
This  is from the website bestfantasybooks

Howard Andrew Jones, The Desert of Souls. The first book in The Chronicles of Sword and Sand series, brings a bit of Sword and Sorcery to ancient Arabia. A fast-paced story where the mysterious and mythic are encountered.

 Saladin Ahmed, Throne of the Crescent Moon. This award winning debut novel starts the Crescent Moon Kingdoms series with supernatural murders. A magical and adventurous story, both dark and beautiful. This is one of our favorite Silk Road Fantasy books and channels the essense and magic of some of the classics like A Thousand and One Nights, made into a modern fantasy Tale.

Amanda  Downum, The Drowning City. The drowning city is Symir, it is a place populated by exiles, expatriates, pirates, smugglers, and revolutionaries. The protagonist is a necromancer-spy-rebel in a city full of political intrigue. Elizabeth Bear, Eternal Sky. A trilogy whose world is filled with depth, detail, and richness—as all Epics are. The world is inspired by Central Asia and the Silk Road and by the kingdoms of China, Tibet, the Mongolian steppe, Turkey, and Iran.

Mazarkis Williams, Tower and Knife. This trilogy begins with a plague, one wrought by an invisible, and evil intelligence. In the Cerani Empire lurks conspiracy, paranoia, assassination, and romance.

Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs. The story begins with a murder mystery and evolves into a fantasy story of grand magic. The resurrection of gods combined with a shifting political scene are the basis for a complex story.

 Richard Parks, Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter. Yamada no Goji is a demon hunter for hire. This anthology of short stories is set in ancient Japan; it’s an example of the broader definition of Silk Road Fantasy, set outside of Europe, in Asia.

N.K. Jemisin, Dreamblood. This series of novels are set in a world inspired by ancient Egypt and Nubia. Dream magic, scheming deities, and complicated politics make up the peaceful city of Gujaareh.

Bradley P. Beaulieu, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. A magnificent silk road fantasy released in 2015 and the book that topped our Best Fantasy Books of 2015 list! Absolutely read this one if you want one of the best examples of Silk Fantasy today! Sharakhai is a great desert city, a center of commerce and culture. It is ruled by 12 immortal and ruthless kings—but there are secrets to their rule.

 Susan Schwartz, Silk Roads and Shadows. The beloved sister to the dying Emperor of Byzantium must journey to the mysterious Empire of Chi’in in order to smuggle silk worms. A Historical Fantasy novel as much as a Silk Road Fantasy novel.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 10:01:22 AM by eclipse »
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline cupiscent

Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2020, 11:48:39 AM »
Can you please explain what "Silk Road" is?

Yes, of course! The "Silk Road" is less a single road, more a conceptual trade route running between Europe and Asia - so called because it's how silk (and then the means of making silk) came to Europe, but many things travelled in both directions. Some "Silk Road" routes would go from Palestine/Egypt through India into southern China or even south-east Asia, or through Russia into northern Europe, but the more classical notion of the Silk Road encompasses central Asia - through cities like Tashkent and Samarkand, with Istanbul at one end and Xi'an at the other. It's probably how Marco Polo did his travelling (if he did, and didn't just pilfer the stories of other travellers, I have no horse in that race and I don't know the current state of wisdom on the topic!).

Read more about it on the Britannica encyclopedia website or I cannot recommend highly enough the "Very Short Introduction" book on the Silk Road.

Eclipse is drawing his list from over here, and I'm having a lot of conflicting feelings about their definition of "Silk Road fantasy":
Quote
There are fantastic worlds outside Europe. Wonderful, beautiful, mythic lands. Lands with djinns, dragons, caliphates, palaces, deserts, plains, steppes, and oh so much more! Silk Road Fantasy takes fantasy out of the European setting and instead draws upon the geography, history, myth, and lore of Asia. There is something fantastic and nostalgic about this place, and what a great place to go off on a fantasy adventure.

Quite often, Silk Road Fantasy is that fantasy that does not strictly fall into the traditional oriental landscape. It's can be set in the Far East (i.e. an ancient China, Japan, or some mythical landscape that draws from these influences) but more often than not 'Silk Road Fantasy' is set in areas outside the Far East, in those areas that border it. This can mean Central Asia or those areas that blend together the oriental culture with the middle eastern.
On the one hand, I appreciate the broader category, acknowledging that there's more to non-European fantasy than "Chinese or Japanese Asian setting" or "Arabian fantasy in a sandy desert". On the other hand, it's such a huge category by this definition, and you can sort of lump "everything that isn't Euro-fantasy" in there and that just feels a little bit exoticising. Especially when they then have Jemisin's novels - which are very Ancient Egypt, not even Roman-era Egypt - in there.

I also feel like for a book to be labelled "Silk Road" fantasy, I want to see that central long-history-of-trade-and-exchange-of-culture concept in there. So while Amanda Downum's books don't really take place in a central-Eurasian sort of setting (Drowned City in particular felt very south-east Asia to me) there IS that interaction of cultures going on. Robert Jackson Bennett is probably a fantastic example of that, albeit considerably later in time period (but people still write about "China's new Silk Road" in the 21st century).

I'm not so into the inclusion of stories like Jones and Ahmed, because they felt very Arabian to me, not much of a wider focus or push and pull of interaction there. (Then again, I only read about fifty pages of Jones before I rage-quit, so maybe I missed some development!) If those, then why not Mike (et al) Carey's City of Silk and Steel (aka The Steel Seraglio - which I'd disqualify for being northern-African rather than Eurasian, but is very Arabian-esque) or G Willow Wilson's Alif the Unseen?

But that's me! I apparently have a lot of strong opinions about the Silk Road! :D

The Silk Roads and Shadows book sounds interesting! I'm going to go look that one up. (Everything else on that list I've either read or tried and failed at, except the Parks, which is a wild no for me for various reasons.)

Offline Peat

Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2020, 01:43:41 PM »
I love the Dreamblood duology, but I think it's Egyptian. "Silk Road" makes me think more of central Eurasian / Istanbul-to-Beijing sort of territory - but more particularly of a period of history a bit later than the ancient-Egypt evoked in Dreamblood.


Despite knowing it's meant to be Egyptian, I always get more of an Indian to Afghan vibe from it - not quite Silk Road though.

Tbh, I don't think I've ever really a fantasy book that made me think of the Silk Road, which seems a borderline crime. People tend to stick to one end or the other.
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Offline Alex Hormann

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Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2020, 04:20:40 PM »
If Beaulieu's Song of the Shattered Sands counts, then definitely that one. Properly epic in scope, but still focused on the one city.

There's also Ausma Zenehat Kahn's Khorasan Archives trilogy, which is based explicitly on the Khorasan highway. I couldn't get into it, but it's definitely a silk road novel.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2020, 12:24:36 AM »
There's also Ausma Zenehat Kahn's Khorasan Archives trilogy, which is based explicitly on the Khorasan highway. I couldn't get into it, but it's definitely a silk road novel.

LOL, I went, "oooh! Sounds great!" and went to GoodReads only to find it's already on my to-read list. ;D

Offline Elfy

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Re: Favourite Silk Road novels
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2020, 01:30:28 AM »
Going by the list I’d call a lot of that Arabian Nights fantasy. Especially Throne of the Crescent Moon
I will expand your TBR pile.

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