September 18, 2019, 03:01:31 PM

Author Topic: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic  (Read 2404 times)

Offline Mellifluous

I hope this is the appropriate subforum for this topic.

As the title states, I am looking for recommendations. My chief concern is a narrow scope. By that, I mean I am more interested in following a few characters than an epic tale sprawling worlds. The actions of characters may have international implications, but I do not want to have to memorize tons of names and locations and refer to a glossary. This also means a trilogy is about the maximum length I'm wiling to read, unless the entries are short like in the Chronicles of Amber.

In terms of prose, authors who I would classify as 'good enough' would include Neil Gaiman, Melina Marchetta, Roger Zelazny, Scott Lynch, Patricia McKillip, Patrick Rothfuss, Sam Bowring, and Mark Lawrence. I can also appreciate Jack Vance and Catherynne Valente, but I am not into the fairy-tale whimsy atmosphere right now. Guy Gavriel Kay is also an author with amazing prose, but I have read all his works already, and am looking for something a bit more fantastical than his alt-history.

I would like a story that also includes an abundance of magic, such as Strange Threads by Sam Bowring. Please do not recommend Sanderson or Butcher because I'm not a fan of either. I would also prefer the recommendation is a book that lends itself to analysis but it isn't a heavy requirement.

Offline aidan

Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2015, 12:33:46 AM »
Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane hits all three of those notes. It's about an aging dragonslayer who's hired by his king to slay a dragon that's menacing the kingdom. It's not all so easy as it sounds, however. There's a lot of magic, limited to two or three major locations and only a handful of characters. Great prose, as long as you're okay with '80s-style high fantasy.

Offline JMack

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Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2015, 12:38:33 AM »
Wow. I think we need a template  ;)

> A few characters
> Lots of magic
> Minimal need for glossary
> Trilogy, max
> Really excellent prose
> No whimsy
> "Lends itself to analysis"
> No Sanderson or Butcher

Well, I'll give it a shot:

Have you read the Ursula LeGuin Earthsea books? Classics of the genre if there were any.

I love Lois McMaster Bujold's writing. Her Chalion series was focused and fascinating. Only two books, I beieve.


Anyone who spends time on this forum will learn how much I enjoyed our own Jen William's (@sennydreadfulCopper Promise. Very focused on a few characters, lots of magic... not so sure about the "analysis" bt, but then I'm not so sure about the analysis bit anyway.  ;)



I quite liked City of Bones by Martha Wells. A one-off, not a series, I believe. Very focused; I thought the writing was quite good.

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Offline Mellifluous

Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2015, 12:57:20 AM »
Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane hits all three of those notes. It's about an aging dragonslayer who's hired by his king to slay a dragon that's menacing the kingdom. It's not all so easy as it sounds, however. There's a lot of magic, limited to two or three major locations and only a handful of characters. Great prose, as long as you're okay with '80s-style high fantasy.
I've not read much '80s style high fantasy, so I have no idea. Is there anywhere I can read an excerpt?
-snip-
Good point about the template. Waffling is one of my bad points. I wouldn't say no whimsy, however. Just not enough to describe the book as whimsical.

As for your recommendations (in order):
  • Earthsea: I have every book, but am taking a break after the third. I think they are very good, but a bit detached? At least, that is how the first three have felt. It is a very beautiful series from content to prose to the covers.
  • Curse of Chalion: I actually finished this the day before yesterday. Loved it.
  • The Copper Promise: I have heard this recommended before and will look into it, but it seems to be more of a 'fun romp'? I'm not against fun, but I have other mediums for that. :P
  • City of Bones: Now this has me very, very intrigued. It looks like exactly what I want.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2015, 12:59:32 AM by Mellifluous »

Offline JMack

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Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2015, 01:06:09 AM »
Quote
I think they are very good, but a bit detached?

Yes, I do think that's true; really good word for it.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline aidan

Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2015, 02:06:07 AM »
I've not read much '80s style high fantasy, so I have no idea. Is there anywhere I can read an excerpt?

Actually, there is an excerpt of Dragonsbane online thanks to Open Road Media, who recently republished it as an eBook! It's very good.

I love Lois McMaster Bujold's writing. Her Chalion series was focused and fascinating. Only two books, I beieve.

Fantastic choice! Since Mellifluous has already read it, perhaps the sequels? Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt also seem to fit the mould (though I've not read them myself, so I can't confirm as much.)

Offline Raptori

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Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2015, 06:19:51 AM »
Funny, sounds like exactly what we want to do with the book we're writing now...  :P

I think something that kinda fits are the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies by Robin Hobb. They're first person, so focus on few characters (one of the few first person stories that I've enjoyed, usually can't stand it for long); there's lots of magic in different forms; definitely no need for a glossary; Hobb's writing is famously high quality; it's a serious series, though not dark or anything like that; and it's definitely no Sanderson or Butcher. I'm not sure whether it'd lend itself to analysis, the main sticking point is that it's two trilogies rather than one - the saving grace is that each trilogy is a complete story, despite following the same characters.

Can't really think of anything else that would fit the bill... which is one of the reasons we want to write something like that!
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2015, 08:00:28 AM »
Yay, a list ;)
> A few characters
> Lots of magic
> Minimal need for glossary
> Trilogy, max
> Really excellent prose
> No whimsy
> "Lends itself to analysis"
> No Sanderson or Butcher

I've got a great suggestion for you that I believe fits all criteria, A. J. Dalton's trilogy that starts with Empire of the Saviours.


Maybe it does have more than an handful of characters, but it's not an 'epic treaty' and definitely no glossary or family trees needed.
And his writing is very good!

If you want something completely different, then try Mary Gentle's Black Opera - a single book with very different magic.



As with everything, do a quick online search and decide if they're to your liking. :)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2015, 08:12:37 AM by ScarletBea »
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Offline JMack

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Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2015, 11:46:41 AM »
The title and that cover of Black Opera totally grab me, @ScarletBea. So happy for cheap used books on Amazon.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Looking for Recommendations: Narrow Scope, Good Prose, and Magic
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2015, 12:05:12 AM »
The title and that cover of Black Opera totally grab me, @ScarletBea. So happy for cheap used books on Amazon.
Black Opera was an interesting book, but Gentle tends to do that, pick concepts other people don't use much and then take them down an unexpected route.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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