June 04, 2020, 04:22:40 PM

Author Topic: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions  (Read 34000 times)

Offline Yora

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #120 on: January 06, 2016, 07:45:57 PM »
I read Kull: Exile of Atlantis by Robert Howard, and I have to say it's not really good. If you have an academic interest in the genre and Robert Howard and want to see what existed before Conan came along (to treat the jeweled thrones of the earth under his sandaled feet) it's worth a look, but the quality isn't anywhere near what he did with Conan.
Some people like Kull more than Conan, but I can't really see why.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #121 on: January 06, 2016, 11:17:18 PM »
I'm expecting to read something of Kane sometime soon, wondering if Night Winds is the first book on him and a good start.
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Offline Yora

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #122 on: January 07, 2016, 11:52:16 AM »
There doesn't seem to be any order to any of the stories. It's about an unaging protagonist who wanders around mostly aimlessly a lot. And apparently he has been doing so for a very long time. Time ceases to matter and the lack of any chronological order really helps to make that point.

Night Winds is probably one of the best books to start with. It seems to have been compiled with the intention of working both as an introduction and providing a range of different perspectives on the different forms Kane stories can take. Maybe not the best of the books, but as an intruduction certainly a good pick.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

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Offline Yora

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #123 on: March 20, 2016, 06:53:39 PM »
I finished Jirel of Joiry by C.L. Moore, and it's really pretty bad. Block God's Kiss and Hellsgarde are pretty interesting stories. The other three are just really bad. There's not much worth calling plot in any of the stories, if there's anything at all; and Jirel doesn't do anything at all except to switch her emotional state between defiant and angry. Whatever made Moore famous, these stories certain weren't it.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Yora

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #124 on: March 31, 2016, 08:02:53 PM »
Has anyone read Elric? He's my one remaining education gap concerning classic Sword & Sorcery, having read Conan, Fafrhd and Gray Mouser, Jirel, Kane, and Hyperborea. I read two relative short stories (might call them longish short stories) and they were okay but pretty unremarkable without any existing knowledge of the character or the greater context of the world and his place in it.
I think at the very least I have to read Elric of Melnibone, even if it's just so that I can explain why I don't think it's good. Is there any specific work that would be great as an introduction point into the greater mythology of the series?
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline DrNefario

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #125 on: April 01, 2016, 01:47:01 PM »
I read them a long time ago, along with some of the other Eternal Champion stuff - Hawkmoon, Count Brass, Corum, etc - as and when I could get hold of it. It's tough to remember which bits are most important and/or most fun.

I think I read it more-or-less in canonical order, but it wasn't written in that order. I'm reasonably sure that the "first" book was written some time after the others (which are mostly collections of shorter pieces).

I think the Hawkmoon books were my real introduction to Moorcock, and I still remember them fondly. Corum is kind of a self-parody, but is still kind of great. Elric might be his most iconic, and maybe coolest, hero, but was maybe not my personal favourite. My goth friend was a big fan. :)

I should mention that it's a very long time since I read any of these books, and they might have turned rubbish while I wasn't looking.

Offline Yora

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #126 on: November 18, 2016, 07:20:50 PM »
Finally made it through Elric by Michael Moorcock. And can't say it's a good book by any stretch. Fafhrd and Gray Mouser are much more annoying characters, but Fritz Leiber knew how to write stuff that is fun and exciting.
At least in this book, Moorcock is showing a severe lack in skill. If you need to quote examples of telling over showing and bad omniscient, this book is full of it. People have complained that the female characters in Elric are awful, but I think that's misrepresenting. All characters except for Elric and Moonglum are one dimensional whisps of nothing with a name tagged to it. Jagreen Lern is made out to be this big villain who would deserve to be shown as a badass sorcerer lord like Thulsa Doom, Saruman, or Darth Vader, but he gets upstaged by any random Generic Soldier #17. The Duke of Chaos Xiombarg, who appears in a single scene in the last ten pages and has only two lines ends up being many times more interesting.

I really don't know how to feel about fate in the book. Most of the time it seems like a deus ex machina when someone comes to Elric and tells him to get this item and kill that demon, and he just shrugs and does it without complained because there's nothing else to do. Only towards the very end do we get Elric reflecting about the absurdity of it all and he just resigns to being a plaything of the universe with no shred of agency or any freedom of choice. But I doubt that Moorcock intended to write a satire on bad fantasy plots when he started writing that fate arc that covers the second half of the stories. It reads more like he realized how flat his plots had been so far and that he had painted himself into a corner. The first clever line comes right after the final battle. Meaning, Elric? Do not seek such, for that way lies madness."

There is one good quality about the book that makes it interesting and that is the magic, including the monsters. There are some really interesting ideas there, but Moorcock seems to not have had the skill to write a good story around them. And credit has to be given for the demon sword Stormbringer. Making an inanimate and mute object appear actively like a cunning clever bastard is kind of brilliant. I really liked that.
Spoiler for Hiden:
The first time Elric truly realizes that the sword is cursed and will torment him every moment he keeps it he goes through a hard menta struggle to abandon the power it gives him and accept a life of being weak and sick but free, he trows it over the side of the ship to banish the evil artifact to the bottom of the ocean. And that damn thing just sticks in the surface of the water and waits for him to pull it out again.
At that moment, right in the first story, I realized that he will never be free of the sword and it will be his end eventually.
I somewhere saw someone calling Stormbringer the biggest troll in fantasy. And I have to agree. The One Ring looks very anemic compared to Stormbringer in being actively evil. (Though I guess the whole point of the One Ring is that its unspoken promises only tempt the evil already in people.)
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Lanko

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Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #127 on: November 18, 2016, 07:33:53 PM »
I read Night Winds by Karl Edward Wagner and found it amazing, despite a convuluted beginning. It has a quote I would use as a signature if wasn't too long.

What do you think of this guy's thoughts about Elric? Made me curious some time ago. But I think it's a different book than the one you read.

Elric of Melniboné
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Offline Yora

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #128 on: November 18, 2016, 08:32:18 PM »
Night Winds is awesome. The Half-Men rank at the very top of my monster list for being something much worse than you first expect, and the sudden realization about the Peace Bringer had me turn down my book and go "Woah!".

The "Elric" collection is the original main storyline from 1961-64 and became book 5 and 6 of the complete series. Which Moorcock wrote in his early 20s, so it's not too surprising that it's still rather rough. And you can see the progress going through the book. Towards the end it gets quite respectable. The novel "Elric of Melnibone" takes place earlier and is from 72.

Having read that article (seems less like a book review) I think I am very much in agreement. Characters and the delivery of ideas are weak, but the worldbuilding is very imaginative and unique. It's not history and geography, but the whole system of supernatural forces, including gods, monsters, and magic. And yes, the world really isn't Earth countries with the names written over like the majority of fantasy settings. (Even the Hyborian Age of Conan.) It's its own thing with its own rules and logic and hints of society.

An interesting thing about Elric is that it single handedly slaps down the purist definitions of what can be called Sword & Sorcery or can't. Elric is not amoral and selfish, the world has a good number of nonhuman civilizations (Melniboneans, Winged Men, Mermen), and the story is all about epic world changing events and a plot about a cosmic struggle between supernatural forces.
Not sure if it's as bad with literature discussions, but when you bring up Sword & Sorcery in an RPG context it will take less than ten minutes for two or three people who say that everything with a noble hero, nonhumans, and saving the world is automatically disqualified by default. Well, Elric does it all and is one of the three works that established the genre.

Now what to read next? Still have only read the first part of Copper Promise and have more Kane and Witcher lying around. And Black Company, which I've often seen called an example of multi-character Sword & Sorcery.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #129 on: November 18, 2016, 08:37:18 PM »
Night Winds is awesome. The Half-Men rank at the very top of my monster list for being something much worse than you first expect, and the sudden realization about the Peace Bringer had me turn down my book and go "Woah!".

Lynortis, right? Awesome story and I had the same reaction, "OMG", even if I should have totally see that was coming.
That conversation between Kane and the poet in one of the stories was such an amazing quote as well.

Black Company is the "big series" (more than 3 books) that I plan to read next year. Also heard a lot about it. I read Copper Promise and enjoyed it very much, the sequel Iron Ghost even more.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #130 on: November 18, 2016, 10:17:21 PM »
I love the black company but its more military fantasy then S&S to me
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Otto Von Chriek

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Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #131 on: November 21, 2016, 07:17:59 PM »
I wonder if The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox would fall under Sword and Sorcery... It had plenty of the elements, protagonists that rely on their skills and brains to deal with anything that happens.

They do always get a little something out of their adventures, even if it is just for a moment of time.

 

Online Peat

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #132 on: November 23, 2016, 04:52:31 PM »
It has the ingredients, but not the taste imo.
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Offline Yora

Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #133 on: November 23, 2016, 04:58:37 PM »
Chinese fantasy tends to be very similar to Sword & Sorcery in most cases that I am aware of. Which seems to have developed completely independently.

Master Li seems to borrow elements from that, but apparently does something different with them.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Otto Von Chriek

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Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
« Reply #134 on: November 23, 2016, 05:34:01 PM »
Not hugely in the first one. It is just a retelling of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd, achinese love story.

Even in the second and third one he pulls strongly on the traditional form of Chinese myths and tales as well as story form.