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Author Topic: Must-read portal fantasy  (Read 3285 times)

Offline RandomCamel

Must-read portal fantasy
« on: May 19, 2015, 12:56:13 AM »
I didn't know that portal fantasy was a controversial, for want of a better word, sub-genre of fantasy until I came to this site.
I realised I don't think I've ever actually read any portal fantasy, are there any really great examples that I should read?
Age-rating isn't an issue.

Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2015, 12:59:17 AM »
For adult portal fantasy, three classics come to mind: The Thomas Covenant books by Stephen R. Donaldson, the Amber books by Zelazny, and the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. They all have different takes on the sub-genre and are quite well regarded (though many readers can't stand Covenant as a main character).

Offline Elfy

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Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2015, 01:26:24 AM »
Narnia is one of the best known portal fantasies, but it's been around for a long time and plenty of other books have elements of it. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are effectively portal fantasy, it could be argued that Oz is as well. Harry Potter has elements of portal fantasy in it (Platform 9 and 3 quarters anyone?). Clive Barker's Weaveworld is a portal fantasy (the world is embedded into a carpet), as is Tad Williams' The War of the Flowers. Lev Grossman's The Magicians has elements of it as well.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Raptori

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Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2015, 01:37:02 AM »
Would His Dark Materials class as portal fantasy? Don't think I've read anything even remotely related other than that.
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2015, 01:57:14 AM »
Why do I always forget about The War of the Flowers. I really enjoyed that one (and Tad Williams in general). You could also argue that his Otherland series (though it's science fiction) reads more like a portal fantasy at times.

Isn't The Magicians a portal fantasy, at least in part?

Offline Davis Ashura

Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2015, 02:39:02 AM »
I remember that there used to be a lot more portal fantasies back in the 80s and 90s. There was Jack Chalker's Changewinds series. Joel Rosenberg had his Guardians of the Flame series back then. Stephen Donaldson is most famous for Thomas Covenant but he also had Mordant's Need. And there is also Dave Duncan's Seventh Sword. Even J.V. Jones had a portal fantasy with The Barbed Coil.

And those are just the ones of the top of my head.
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2015, 03:26:46 AM »
Some YA:

DJ MacHale's Pendragon series. Lovely social commentary spanning a ten book series. Kinda dragged on near the end, but I remember it being my second favorite series until I found this site, and the recommendations henceforth.

Suzanne Collins's The Underland Chronicles. Perfect 5 book series about a boy who finds a kingdom underground. (Yes, I read Suzanne Collins before it was cool.) Also my favorite interpretation of prophecy, but do with that what you will.
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Offline ChrisW

Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2015, 08:05:14 AM »
Would Stover's "Acts of Caine" series qualify?

Which reminds me I should really reread and catch up on those books....

Offline Idlewilder

Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2015, 08:28:49 AM »
Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold by Terry Brooks is a huge amount of fun, and definitely one of the best things Brooks has ever written. Wouldn't bother with the sequels, but absolutely read that one.
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Offline ChrisW

Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2015, 09:30:29 AM »
The Paradise War series by Stephen Lawhead is pretty good from what I remember. Lots of Celtic Mythology.

Offline DDRRead

Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2015, 10:43:13 AM »
Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series is a light-hearted take on portal fantasy; and a great read.

Offline xiagan

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Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2015, 11:36:21 AM »
Lev Grossman's Magicians is definitely portal and a very good read.
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Offline JMack

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Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2015, 12:33:59 PM »
In SF, I see times tavel as a form of portal story. Connie Willis's The Domesday Book is wonderful. Dickson (?) had a book about a soldier going in back in time to Roman period; it was quite fun.

Back with F, Stephen Donaldson had a second portal series starting with Through a Mirror Darkly. My daughter couldn't stomach Thomas Covenant, but she loved this duology.

SF writer David Brin had an interesting F book, The Practice Effect, in which objects get more powerful the more they are used.

I have no issue with portal fantasy, or any sub genre really. Tell me  a good story.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Must-read portal fantasy
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2015, 01:19:02 AM »
I'll second Spellsinger and John De Chancie did the Castle series in the '80's which was about a castle that had 1,000's of doors, each one opened onto a different world. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is another classic portal fantasy aimed at younger readers.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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