Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: Yora on September 25, 2014, 11:57:14 AM

Title: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 25, 2014, 11:57:14 AM
Over the last two or three years, I've come to develop a great interest in the Sword & Sorcery genre. Located somewhere between what's now often reffered to as Heroic Fantasy and Dark Fantasy, it seems to have been fading into the background since a short boom of mostly rather trashy  movies in the early 80s. (Conan the Barbarian being the one noticable exception, and even that one is probably only really good if you know what you're looking for.) Interestingly, it seems to have made a recent comback in videogames. The Witcher, Dark Souls, Dragon Age 2, Skyrim, Bound by Flame and Heavenly Sword, just to name a few. Only after being familair with these did I discover that there's a really good comic series about Conan running since 2003 and still continuing. Four years ago, there was the anthology Swords and Dark Magic, but other than that there seems to be not much current literature that tries to aim at the genre, at least as far as I am aware.

Unlike most fantasy subgenres, Sword & Sorcery is relatively well defined. Fritz Leiber introduced it to refer to his own stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and included the stories of Robert Howards Conan as another great example of the genre, as he was staking it out. I think there's a really good article on what constitutes Sword & Sorcery as a genre here (http://www.blackgate.com/the-demarcation-of-sword-and-sorcery/), and I agree with the three main points made there.
There seems to be a popular notion that Sword & Sorcery needs to be dark, violent, with protagonists who are overall terrible people, but I think in most works this is not actually the case. There tends to be a general abscence of idealism and situations often get quite uncomfortable, but the hero can still be a hero, doing good things and directing his wrath at the actually guilty. Some call it nihilistic, but I think it is rather something quite existentialistic and postmodern. The world is not black and white, try to make the best of it as you can.

I've only read a couple of Sword & Sorcery books and always looking for new recommendations. I think I read all of the original Conan stories by Robert Howard, and while some of them are stronger than others, I think not a single one of them could be called weak. Both the description of the scenes and the pacing, which I consider very important in a story, are very well done and the plots are generally quite interesting as well.
I also read the two collections Swords and Deviltry and Swords against Death of Fritz Leibers Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series, and these ones I can not recommend at all (http://spriggans-den.com/?p=376). Descriptions are noticably lacking, pacing is poor, and the actual stories usually not interesting in any way. It's only two books, but from other people have told me about the others in reply to my criticisms, the other ones are not substentially different in this regard.

I am currently reading Sword and Dark Magic, which is much newer than the others that I mentioned, but I'm still not very far in, so I can't say too much about it yet.

Do you have other recommendations for the genre?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: CameronJohnston on September 25, 2014, 01:08:52 PM
Some suggestions:

-Michael Moorcock's Elric books are definitely worth a look if you want sword & sorcery.
-Glen Cook's The Black Company
-William King's Gotrek and Felix stories are also good S&S, even if you don't like Warhammer
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on September 26, 2014, 12:39:25 AM
This is completely off the wall, but it may work. There was a graphic novel called Cerebus the Aardvark by Dave Sim. Sim was one of the first independent comic publishes. Cerebus went for 300 issues all up, with sets of varying lengths making up the 'books' that composed the entire series. The first 25 issues, titled simply Cerebus the Aardvark are very much sword and sorcery, although relatively funny, well the main character is an aardvark in a standard sword and sorcery world. It started as an homage to Conan and Sim's favourite artist of the comic: Barry Windsor Smith and it became a treatise on existentialism. Setting and tone changed for the second book: High Society (the best run of the entire series IMO), but the opening was very sword and sorcery. You could try and hunt out the Robert Jordan Conan's, and those by other authors. John Jakes wrote an fairly entertaining series about a character called Brak the Barbarian. The early Gor (about the first 5, before he became obsessed by the idea of female slavery) books by John Norman were very sword and sorcery in tone. Jack L. Chalker did a series called River of the Dancing Gods that to a certain extent parodied the sword and sorcery genre.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Doctor_Chill on September 26, 2014, 01:21:07 AM
This is probably going to be a very loose recommendation, but I think you could argue that The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch is a nice off-shoot of the traditional S&S sub-genre.

But I think you'll probably want Elric right now.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on September 26, 2014, 01:32:18 AM
This is probably going to be a very loose recommendation, but I think you could argue that The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch is a nice off-shoot of the traditional S&S sub-genre.

But I think you'll probably want Elric right now.
Lies is a picaresque book in the style of Fritz Leiber, and there's a scene in Swords and Deviltry that very much recalls a similar scene in Lies.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: stevenpoore on September 26, 2014, 09:32:57 AM
Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed, is a fantastic addition to the genre.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DDRRead on September 26, 2014, 01:12:48 PM
Along with Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock; Jack Vance is considered one of the S&S core writers.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 26, 2014, 01:16:40 PM
I think there is an Elric story in the book I am currently reading. Might be a good sample to give me an idea what to expect.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on September 27, 2014, 01:23:58 AM
I think there is an Elric story in the book I am currently reading. Might be a good sample to give me an idea what to expect.
Elric was one of the many characters Sim parodied in Cerebus, he was called Elrond and for reasons known only to the creator of the book (he did take a lot of LSD at one point of the book's creation), he spoke and acted liked Foghorn Leghorn.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Roxxsmom on September 27, 2014, 05:31:09 AM
Now I liked Fritz Leiber's books, but they were originally written as a series of loosely connected shorts, which may be why the pacing feels strange.

There are the Conan books, of course.

Carl Edward Wagner's Kane books are very much in a S&S vein. Never got into them myself, but some people really like them.

I recently ran across a recommendation for something called Jirel of Joirey by CL Moore, which goes a loooong way back. I will disclose that I haven't read them.

Michael Sullivan's Rirya chronicles felt like a sort of return to traditional Sword and Sorcery to me in some ways, though it's got elements of HF as well.

Deborah Chester's books are also sort of halfway between swashbuckling S&S type stuff and HF.

Oh, and the Thieves' World anthologies, edited by Robert Lynn Aspirin has a definite S&S vibe to them. This is the one that started that shared world craze in the 80s, and they do retain that original S&S feel of revolving around a series of shorter stories. Some of the stories were better than others, of course, and you might find yourself skipping some of the authors' offerings.

Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 28, 2014, 10:24:06 PM
I am halfway through Swords & Dark Magic, and there is a painful absence of two rather important and crucial things: Swords and Dark Magic!
I made my displeasure with Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser clear, but at least Leiber delivered on what he had promised: Two guys fighting against a wide range of magical threats. This book calls itself a Sword & Sorcery anthology, but doesn't even seem to know what this genre is. You don't have to slavishly keep walking in the same old tracks as generations of writers have walked before you, but when you are writing for a specific genre, you should st least try to walk in the same general direction. What this book delivers is mostly generic fantasy short stories. Michael Moorcocks Elric story is so far the only one that really seems to grasp the concept fully. Of the other 8 stories, only a single one actually has a group of tough warriors fighting demons, which is almost as good as sorcerers, but seems to be written as comedy, which pulls the overall quality down.
What really surprised me is that Glen Cooks Black Company story is so far the only one that does not even show a single trait that is essential to the genre. The protagonists are grim, but that's about it. A group of official city guards in service to the sorcerer queen, sitting around and talking with no actual fight scenes or dealing with supernatural forces is the polar opposite of Sword & Sorcery. The stakes of the story are that a rival might badmouth the company at their boss, and they "win" this power strugle by having made copies of a document in which the rival wrote something rude about the boss. This is not a fast paced adventure of dangerous encounters with the supernatural.

Very disappointed and I don't expect it to get better with the other half of the book.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on September 29, 2014, 12:44:00 AM
Glen Cook was one of the first people to fully embrace what we now refer to as 'grim dark' with his Black Company books. I haven't read the story you're referencing, but I have read most of the Black Company novels, and they drop you right in the action at the very start. In terms of magic there are regular magic duels between two of the Company's sorcerers who are continually trying to one up each other. I wouldn't call them S&S as such, though. The setting becomes very asian influenced in later books. I think Steven Erikson (Malazan) who was greatly influenced by Cook's work in the Black Company novels, referred to them as military fiction on peyote.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 29, 2014, 09:48:57 PM
Can anyone recommend me any books that have a good amount of fancy action scenes? Something with lots of swordplay, brawling, and bruises? I am trying to get some better understanding on how writers make action work in their stories.

I've read the Dark Elf series by Robert Salvatore some 10 years ago and of course Howards Conan. Any others that could broaden my horizon? I read a story of Abercrombie in an anthology and his style seemed to be quite fitting the bill, but I don't have the slightest idea what else he has written.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Overlord on September 29, 2014, 11:03:47 PM
Can anyone recommend me any books that have a good amount of fancy action scenes? Something with lots of swordplay, brawling, and bruises? I am trying to get some better understanding on how writers make action work in their stories.

I've read the Dark Elf series by Robert Salvatore some 10 years ago and of course Howards Conan. Any others that could broaden my horizon? I read a story of Abercrombie in an anthology and his style seemed to be quite fitting the bill, but I don't have the slightest idea what else he has written.

The thing is that a lot of novels that have 'brawling' in are less of the 'sorcery' nature, because they tend to have magical battles instead. If you want swordplay and brawling you could try Doug Hulick's Among Thieves novels or Sharps by K.J. Parker (both popular).

I'd say that each of these titles fit 'dark, violent, with protagonists who are overall terrible people' (by today's standards). The one thing they do lack though, again, is 'sorcery' in any real quantity.

If not your thing, have you read any books by Richard A. Knaak? They may well interest you… He wrote books based on the Diablo and Warcraft games for starters, but also his own series, Dragonrealm, is very good.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: stevenpoore on September 29, 2014, 11:38:21 PM
I'd like to say Throne of the Crescent Moon again :) - a good mix of both swords and sorcery there. I'll add that I heard about it properly from a podcast with some Black Gate folks, so go check out the Black Gate site - blackgate.com - and search there.

ETA: in fact, try this link. Should go straight to a search. http://www.blackgate.com/?s=%22sword+%26+sorcery%22 (http://www.blackgate.com/?s=%22sword+%26+sorcery%22)
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on September 29, 2014, 11:45:52 PM
If you want lots of sword play I'll second Douglas Hulick's Among Thieves for that. One of the author's hobbies is fencing, only he uses the old style swords, not the ones used in competition these days, and he's put that knowledge to good use when describing the fight scenes in the book.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Eclipse on September 30, 2014, 05:21:27 PM
Would Sam Sykes  Tome of the Undergates fit?

From Goodreads

Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well.

They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out.

Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DDRRead on October 03, 2014, 12:53:55 PM
Can anyone recommend me any books that have a good amount of fancy action scenes? Something with lots of swordplay, brawling, and bruises? I am trying to get some better understanding on how writers make action work in their stories.

Try David Gemmell he wrote Heroic fantasy/Sword & Sorcery with an emphasis on action. Although he writes historical fiction rather than fantasy, Bernard Cornwall writes great action scenes too and good 'warrior' characters. Heroes by Joe Abercrombie tells the story of a three day battle from the pov of various characters on both sides, and both the pacing and action are great (as is his writing in general). In fact all of Joe Abercrombie's books have great fight scenes (especially when Logan Ninefingers is involved). Finally although it's very much standard chosen one/quest hero stuff rather than swords and sorcery Jim Butcher writes great action scenes in his Codex Alera series, and a couple of them (books in the series) are an absolute masterclass on how to build to a dramatic, action packed, climatic ending.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on October 04, 2014, 01:12:15 AM
I don't know that I'd put Heroes in the S&S genre (it does have cannons in it after all), but it's a damned good book. I still think it's the best Abercrombie I've read.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DDRRead on October 04, 2014, 01:21:42 PM
I don't know that I'd put Heroes in the S&S genre (it does have cannons in it after all), but it's a damned good book. I still think it's the best Abercrombie I've read.

Oh, yeah my recommendations go off the S&S safari after Gemmell, but they're very good examples to look at if you want to check some well written action scenes.

Heroes is prolly my fave, but Best Served Cold is a close second. Cant' wait to see what he does after the YA viking trilogy (which is also on my to-read list).
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on October 04, 2014, 04:01:47 PM
Something that might only be borderline Sword & Sorcery but has all the things I love about the genre and I can very much recommend is the webcomic Inverloch (http://inverloch.seraph-inn.com/volume1.html). The characters try very much to avoid violence whenever possible and the world looks mostly way too clean and pretty, but theres quite a lot of unpleasantness under the surface and a good bunch of skeletons in several closets. And I think it has one of the best mystery and conspiracy plots I've ever seen, precisely because it's not about a giant army of evil or demons from hell that leave behind a sea of corpses and nobody is really interested in things devolving to blind bloodshed.
You still get proactive characters with no place in normal society who are fighting against the wrongs done to them and their loved ones, in a plot that revolves around dark magic and scruplous wizards. With a slightly different art style, it could easily pass as Sword & Sorcery in most contexts, and I think it's a really great example of how you can make fantasy stories beyond the stereotypical hero with might thews.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on October 05, 2014, 12:11:08 AM
Terry Pratchett does comic sword and sorcery at times in his Discworld series, generally featuring his grizzled old warrior Cohen the Barbarian.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on October 10, 2014, 02:27:55 PM
Oh, yeah my recommendations go off the S&S safari after Gemmell, but they're very good examples to look at if you want to check some well written action scenes.
I am about halfway through Legend and it's really quite fun to read. Even though I just reached the first big action scene after two vert brief swordfights. The 30 just made it to the fortress, really excited to see what they will unleash when things are going to get really hot.

I am toying around with a couple of ideas for Sword & Sorcery stories, but the big obstacle I am struggling with is character motivation. Almost all the stories that come to my mind are motivated by pride and enjoying the carnage. Which I think are really weak motivations. Going on an adventure because it's cool doesn't seem like a good reason why a sane person would throw himself at swords and monsters on a regular basis.
The one good example I can think of for having good reasons is Geralt in the two Witcher games. The first time he is hunting a sorcerer who stole alchemical secrets from the Witchers, and they see it as their responsibility to prevent him doing great evil with this dangerous knowledge. In the second, he has to help with the hunt for an assassin, since he is regarded as the prime suspect and later that assassin kidnaps his friend. He does not really care about the conspiracy to kill the local kings, but he has to save his friends and himself who got caught up in it.
Do you know any other cases where the protagonist is not after gold and glory, or some kind of destiny?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on October 11, 2014, 12:46:35 AM
I thought of another series that had a very S&S feel to them yesterday. If you can track down the Thieves World shared world anthologies edited by Robert Asprin. They came out mostly in the early to mid '80s', although there was a revival in the early 2000's, which spawned two more books.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on October 12, 2014, 09:24:48 PM
I just finished Legend. Nice book, but not at all what I expected. Instead of a story of action and adventure, it's a book about losing and dying. Quite unique, I think. Unlike anything else I've read before.
But not sure if I would like more than one book like that in a row.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 02, 2014, 10:40:21 PM
I've started Andrzej Sapkowskis The Last Wish a week ago and finished about half the stories in it, and so far I find it remarkably good. I like the character Geralt from the videogames, but that wasn't any indication for the actual style and quality of the original books. But I am very positively surprised by it.
I don't know how close the English translation is to the original text, but the type of storytelling really reminds me a lot of Robert Howard, who I consider the grand master of the genre. What I noticed the most is how Sapkowski manages to give so much personalty and characterization to many of the characters almost entirely with just dialog. It's not only what the characters say, but how they say it, that tells so much about their individual personalty. Everyone has a potty mouth and they are very blunt about what they think without sticking to etiquete, which allows to learn quite a lot about them as people.

In all the three stories I read, there is a monster. But in each case, just sticking a sword through it would only end the current crisis, but not actually solve the original problem. Geralt is a badass who could defeat almost everyone in a fight, and he is technically a mercenary who is in the whole monster hunting business for the money. But the stories are also all about consequences that result from poor descisions, passion, and violence, and Geralt is quite interested in actually fixing things instead of just killing the most troublesome party in the current affair.

Good characters, good stories, and well written. This is exactly the kind of fantasy I am looking for.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Druss on November 03, 2014, 01:02:56 PM
Would the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind fall into this category or are they considered epic fantasy?

Loads of sorcery and swords, evil wizards, dragons, mythical creatures, epic battles. i mean there's 14 books in the series and between them cover almost every fantasy trope at some point so they must hit the 'Swords & Sorcery' mark occasionally.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: CameronJohnston on November 03, 2014, 02:20:44 PM
Would the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind fall into this category or are they considered epic fantasy?

Loads of sorcery and swords, evil wizards, dragons, mythical creatures, epic battles. i mean there's 14 books in the series and between them cover almost every fantasy trope at some point so they must hit the 'Swords & Sorcery' mark occasionally.

The Sword of Truth series is most definitely world-at-stake, country-spanning, morally good vs evil(ish) traditional Epic Fantasy. I would say that something like The Copper Promise embodies the Sword & Sorcery vibe more, even though that also has a high-stakes plot.

Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 03, 2014, 03:07:53 PM
I think high stakes are not necessarily something that is conflicing with the style of the genre. The difference would be that the protagonist would have personally something to lose and join in the fight to safe a specific person or small group of people, rather than the much more abstract concepts of "the country" or "the people".
Conan is removing several tyrants from power, but generally not out of compassion, but because he has a personal score to settle, or as a personal favor to someone he cares for,
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 08, 2014, 08:39:45 PM
Today I made a word count of all the Conan stories written by Robert Howard (http://spriggans-den.com/?p=431), and noticed something quite interesting. The combined word count of all the stories is under 340,000 words, which is about the length of a single book in the Wheel of Time and Song of Ice and Fire series. Or two thirds of The Lord of the Rings.
While Howard wrote a lot more than just Conan, I think it's quite interesting that this popular character with his many adventure only got the equivalent of a single novel, and not a particularly huge one either.

I would tend to say that it feels like there is more than just that, which probably comes from the fact that the format of the story has a significantly higher density of content. It's basically a highlight reel of his 30-year journey through Hyborea. I think if someone where to write down this characters story as a novel series with a single continous narrative today, it would probably be four books easily, if not even six. However, would it really add that much more to the story and would it tell us more about the character and his deeds? I think not much.

I think the format of episodic stories of 10,000 to 20,000 words really should be something that more writers should be aware of as one possible format to tell their stories. Whenever I talk to or hear from people who want to write, they always seem to go with the novel as if it's the only option, often even going for the whole trilogy package on their very first attempt. I agree that writing short format stories is probably not a good way to practice for becoming a novel writer, but why does it always have to be novels? To become popular as a writer and create characters and stories that become cultural icons, other formats can do the job too.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on November 08, 2014, 10:48:03 PM
That can possibly be attributed to what Howard and other writers of his day did and how their stories were published. In most cases they were serialised in magazines over a period of issues. When they were published as novels, they were 'pulp' style novels and those publishers didn't really want huge tomes, harder to produce, market and sell. I know this sounds weird, but in some places I blame the word processor for the verbosity of many current books. Far easier to write more when you're using a word processor rather than a type writer or writing out things long hand.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: AshKB on November 08, 2014, 11:00:12 PM
That can possibly be attributed to what Howard and other writers of his day did and how their stories were published. In most cases they were serialised in magazines over a period of issues. When they were published as novels, they were 'pulp' style novels and those publishers didn't really want huge tomes, harder to produce, market and sell. I know this sounds weird, but in some places I blame the word processor for the verbosity of many current books. Far easier to write more when you're using a word processor rather than a type writer or writing out things long hand.

I'd actually agree with this.

I actually HAVE to use a word-processor due to issues with my hands and handwriting (terrible handwriting that I now have too much RSI to ever correct and writing with a pen/pencil causes my hand to cramp), and normally I hate the 'oh it was so much better when everyone had to handwrite' (although I appreciate you mentioning type-writers). But, agreed.

I was also thinking the other day that the rise of ebooks probably isn't helping much, either, previously unwieldy or unbindable books are now just file sizes. It'll be interesting to see where the trend goes.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on November 09, 2014, 05:33:10 AM
That can possibly be attributed to what Howard and other writers of his day did and how their stories were published. In most cases they were serialised in magazines over a period of issues. When they were published as novels, they were 'pulp' style novels and those publishers didn't really want huge tomes, harder to produce, market and sell. I know this sounds weird, but in some places I blame the word processor for the verbosity of many current books. Far easier to write more when you're using a word processor rather than a type writer or writing out things long hand.

I'd actually agree with this.

I actually HAVE to use a word-processor due to issues with my hands and handwriting (terrible handwriting that I now have too much RSI to ever correct and writing with a pen/pencil causes my hand to cramp), and normally I hate the 'oh it was so much better when everyone had to handwrite' (although I appreciate you mentioning type-writers). But, agreed.

I was also thinking the other day that the rise of ebooks probably isn't helping much, either, previously unwieldy or unbindable books are now just file sizes. It'll be interesting to see where the trend goes.
We're getting off topic, but I also agree about the ebooks to a point. It is much easier to carry your ereader around, especially when travelling, with a bunch of books, rather than the extra space and weight of a few traditional paper books. It's also more convenient to have the latest door stopper epic fantasy on your ereader, rather than lug a book that is the approximate size and weight of the average house brick with you. Then there's the delivery system, books can be downloaded to your ereader in seconds and you never have to leave the house to do it, as opposed to travelling to the bookstore and purchasing it over the counter.
Back to the topic, Howard and his contemporaries tended to be paid by the word when they wrote for the magazines, so I'm sure if they had been allowed to do so they would have written a lot more.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 09, 2014, 11:32:41 AM
I think digital publishing can also be a great thing for shorter types of fiction. You can publish at very low costs, which makes it possible to release stories for very low prices or even completely free. And since it's only a few days of writing at most, instead of months, writers probably would be much less hesitating to even consider that option.
It has an awful smell of microtransactions, but it would be possible for a writer to release a couple of stories for free, and in case you can establish a fanbase, sell future ones for $1 or so each.

A century ago, the medium demanded that stories stay within 15-25,000 words, but I think the writers of the time developed a type of storytelling format that makes the most of these limitations, and actually discovered some benefits that come from it, which 100,000+ word books don't have. Ten, twenty years ago, you might have had some good stories of 30,000 words, but who would have published it? It was probably pretty much unsellable. Too long for a collection, too short for a novel.
I think it's not just the medium that set the limitation, which now no longer exists. There surely must also be an audience that would love to get fiction of that size. I often think about getting some of the popular fantasy books, but then notice it's actually a 4 million word series, which also might not actually be a kind of story I enjoy. There probably are a lot of people who would love to be able to read fantasy that can be read in small, but self-contained chunks. If you completed a story after 20,000 words and think it was bad, it's no big deal. Much better than picking up the third 300,000 word novel in a series and realizing that all the claims of "it gets better in the later books" don't work for you.

Isn't there something like fanfiction.net for original fiction?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on November 09, 2014, 10:39:02 PM
I was recently reading some books (E.E Smith's Skylark series) that were originally published as serials in the old magazines and while I know that some magazines do still serialise or publish shorter work, it's not as prevalent as it once was. It would be wonderful if there were something online like that, move the medium with the times. You could even set it up with two sections. The free section which gives the reader teasers and tastes of what is contained within, and the pay section, where for a fee the reader gets greater access if they liked what they saw elsewhere. I was even wondering if F-F could set something up like this. The forums and the articles would remain free things, with some selected fiction also available for free, but have a subscription portal which publishes the fiction and even the occasional essay or article. It could help offset the costs of keeping the forum and the website running. This thread is showing that there is some interest in the idea of seeing shorter work in maybe an older style.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 10, 2014, 12:51:45 PM
There is Fantasy Scroll (http://fantasyscrollmag.com/past-issues/), which aims at 4 issues per year and at $3 is dirt-cheap. It appears these things tend to have a life expectancy of only two to four years, but this one looks quite well done. Might be worth a look.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on November 10, 2014, 09:44:30 PM
There is Fantasy Scroll (http://fantasyscrollmag.com/past-issues/), which aims at 4 issues per year and at $3 is dirt-cheap. It appears these things tend to have a life expectancy of only two to four years, but this one looks quite well done. Might be worth a look.
Thanks Yora. I'll have a look at that. To be honest if you look at the history of the old 'pulp' magazines they generally weren't financial successes at the time.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: fantasyscroll on November 11, 2014, 02:42:18 AM
Thank you for suggesting Fantasy Scroll. I just wanted to add that in 2015 there will be 6 issues, and, hopefully, we will become monthly in 2016.

Here's a 33% off coupon that applies to purchases from the site directly: 33PERCENT (expires Nov 30).

Enjoy!

Iulian
Editor-in-Chief
http://fantasyscrollmag.com (http://fantasyscrollmag.com)
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 02, 2014, 09:25:33 PM
I pretty much by accident discovered the Kormak series by William King. The story The Guardian of the Dawn (http://www.williamking.me/2012/04/18/the-guardian-of-the-dawn/) and the book Stealer of Flesh (http://www.williamking.me/stealer-of-flesh-free/) are on his website. I've read the first two stories so far, and they are mostly quite good. He directly mentions Howard, Moorcock, Leiber, and Smith, so he is clearly seeing himself as writing specifically in the Sword & Sorcery genre. While based on the stories so far, the elements are clearly there, I am so far missing the passion and exciting action I am expecting to see. The action scenes have been few and very brief, and Kormak tends to be almost a bit whiny about how hard and depressing his lot as a fighter of evil is. This might be n influence from grimdark, though I think Elric wasn't immune to that either.

I'll still clearly be reading the other three stories from Stealer of Flesh, but I'll wait until I've finished those before I decide about getting more of the books or not. I do recommend taking a look at them, though. I think aside from my genre expectations, King is writing quite well.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 05, 2014, 09:53:05 AM
I read Stealer of Flesh and was quite pleased with it. I wrote a review of it here (http://spriggans-den.com/?p=456).
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on December 05, 2014, 05:46:25 PM
I posted on Yora's review of Stealer of Flesh, and he suggested I join in the conversation here.

Like the rest of you, I cut my S&S teeth on Conan, especially any of the volumes published in th 70s with Frank Frazetta covers, because, well, the women.  This was also my huge Edgar Rice Burroughs period.  (I went back a re-read The Mad King as few years ago just for chuckles).

A bit from left field, maybe, but C.j. cherryh' Morgaine series is excellent, and earned her membership in the informal and now-long-defunct "Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America" (thank you, Wikipedia).  That SAGA page on Wiki is worth a look, since it lists the original 8 authors who self-identified as S&S along with 7 more.  I call b.s. on inclusion of Kurtz, as much as I enjoyed Deryni.

The discussion of story length is interesting.  As I've now written ad nauseum in other posts, F-F has prompted me to finish my first story in very many years, even if only 1,500 words (though that's damn hard to do well!).  I like the idea of using a short novel or long story form to explore dramatic and scene structure without the sword of 50,000 words+ hanging over my head.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on December 05, 2014, 06:21:18 PM
OK, I guess I just don't want to do much work today.

I've been thinking about the motivation question raised earlier, and I think S&S is not alone in having outsiders who wander from place to place working out their own priorities.  Think Louis L'amour, Shane and western novel after western novel.  Think Jack Reacher, in the Lee Child books (not the movie, though it was suprisingly okay, given that Tom Cruise is my height and the Jack Reacher character would have trouble fitting in most cars).  Put a sword in Jack's hand, throw some magic around, and you've a great S&S hero. If you don't know Jack  ;), he wanders the U.S. because he spent so many years overseas growing up on military bases and then serving in uniform that he feels he has no idea what he was protecting all that time.  Absolutely follows his own honor system, works outside the police even when working with them, etc.

I can think of many motivating structures for a hero: revenge; a prolonged and now almost irrelevant mission;  protecting a loved one; boredom vs. adrenalin high; curse; running from a serious doom.  And of course, sex and money.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 05, 2014, 06:26:03 PM
I believe Robert Howard actually made most of his money with western, his fantasy writing is just what he is most remembered for. The influence of western stories on early Sword & Sorcery is probably quite significant.

I've been refining my concept for a S&S protagonist over the last days and now I actually love her a lot more than my original idea for my "main" duo.

While I still want to do something with those characters, their basic concept is really that of controlled professionals who are cautious, collected, and introspective. Yes, this kind of works quite well for Geralt of Rivia, but at this point I really have no idea how to make them actually interesting and exciting.

This new character is a lot easier. More like an Indiana Jones type. Good of heart, but in the end after her own goals. Not taking unnecessary risk, but taking very long shots when she sees an opportunity. Not a fool, but with a tendency for rash descisions. Fights more practical than pretty, and is always very ready to turn around and run away when things get hot.
It may not be a paragon of battle prowres like most Sword & Sorcery protagonist, but I think this character can very easily be put into situation that are exiting and fun, without being comedy, while belivably encountering a lot of failure and hurt without getting grimdark. Once I have an idea for a short plot, I'll go writing.

I think things like these are the reason why I still keep reading Leiber. I really don't think his writing is great or his plots good, but his stories are fun and exciting, just like Howard. And that is why so much of more recent stories leave a rather disappointed. They all have the ingredients, but there is no passion and excitement. After 30 years of developments in fantasy, writers should be able to do new interesting things with Sword & Sorcery, but it seems like somehow they didn't get what is the real essence of this very specific genre:

Quote
Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Here, in the first story of Conan, Howard all but spells it out for us. The great discovery of literary alchemy he has made and presents to the world: Action and Passion!
You can write Heroic Fantasy about a wandering warrior who fights evil and darkness in a world that has no sympythy for him and always treats him as a stranger. But those are the two secret ingredients that make Sword & Sorcery stand out from the much wider field of Heroic Fantasy. A larger than life character who does incredible things can take many different forms. But if there is no fire in the eyes of the hero, then the whole thing just doesn't feel the same.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on December 05, 2014, 09:40:18 PM
OK, I guess I just don't want to do much work today.

I've been thinking about the motivation question raised earlier, and I think S&S is not alone in having outsiders who wander from place to place working out their own priorities.  Think Louis L'amour, Shane and western novel after western novel.  Think Jack Reacher, in the Lee Child books (not the movie, though it was suprisingly okay, given that Tom Cruise is my height and the Jack Reacher character would have trouble fitting in most cars).  Put a sword in Jack's hand, throw some magic around, and you've a great S&S hero. If you don't know Jack  ;), he wanders the U.S. because he spent so many years overseas growing up on military bases and then serving in uniform that he feels he has no idea what he was protecting all that time.  Absolutely follows his own honor system, works outside the police even when working with them, etc.

I can think of many motivating structures for a hero: revenge; a prolonged and now almost irrelevant mission;  protecting a loved one; boredom vs. adrenalin high; curse; running from a serious doom.  And of course, sex and money.
They're in no way S&S, but Chuck Wendig's Miriam Black books have that air of person wandering from place to place, causing havoc and then moving on. In part it's because of Miriam's 'gift' and in part because of her nature. The restless soul often seems to be a good protagonist in various types of fiction.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 08, 2014, 01:07:30 PM
I stumbled upon this article (http://www.blackgate.com/2010/06/23/a-review-of-swords-dark-magic-the-new-sword-sorcery/), which in the second half is a review of a specific anthology, but starts with a quite elaborate discussion of "What is Sword & Sorcery". (I've read the book myself and it made me check each of the stories for their actual S&S-content as well.)
There are some very bold statements, but I find myself to very much agree with them. However, in the comments (and there's plenty of them), some people very much disagreed, which might make it worthy for discussion.

Another attempt at defining Sword & Sorcery is this older article (http://www.blackgate.com/the-demarcation-of-sword-and-sorcery/), which I had linked to in the first post of this thread.

Why does it matter? One of the commenters said:
Quote
[...] it’s marketers and publicists who create genre labels, NOT writers. And why create genre labels at all? To SELL BOOKS! I, for one, am so very glad that all “sword-and-sorcery” writers do not stick to such a narrow definition as the one given here.
I can understand the reasoning behind that oppinion, and in some contexts I very much disagree. Sword & Sorcery being one.
The term "Sword & Sorcery" was created by Fritz Leiber in a letter to Michael Moorcock as part of a discussion about how they might be able to identify stories that are similar to the special kind of Heroic Fantasy they were both writing. And Leiber also said that Robert Howard should also definitly also be included in this new category. It was not a lable created by publishers, but one created by the writers. Specifically two of the three people who are still regarded as the three giants and granddaddies of the genre. Also, as a reader, I want that lable as well. There are lots of Heroic Fantasy stories around, but I don't want just "Heroic Fantasy". I want a special kind of Heroic Fantasy. Both as reader and writer, I want to be able to say what I want and what I am offering to people.

Let's compare it to ice cream. I like chocolate ice cream, and I aknowledge the presence of other ice creams and that not all people like chocolate as much as I do. Nothing wrong with experimenting with other flavors. Also nothing wrong with experimenting with different kinds of chocolate. Trying out some new ingredients, changing the amounts of ingredients, experimenting with the procedure, and so on.
But when I want to have chocolate ice cream, I want it to be chocolate! Don't give me straciatella, or white chocolate, or mocca. Those are all also nice and have their fans, and sometimes I might want to have some of it to. But when I order chocolate, I want only chocolate and nothing else.
And you can't simply take elements of an established genre and change them and add new elements as you like and still call it Sword & Sorcery with the reasoning that genres evolve and writers need to spice things up and make changes with the time. If someone wants to take elements from Sword & Sorcery and do new things with them, that's no problem at all. But when it no longer captures the essence of the genre, it's no longer of the genre, but something else.

In the older article, Sword & Sorcery was condensed down to heroes who are "all self-motivated, outsiders, of heroic stature". Which I agree with, but these are just the most prominent building blocks. It may actually be much more important what kind of story you build from these blocks.

And interestingly, the review turns to the same quote I posted just a few days ago:
Quote
The most famous lines of description in all of sword and sorcery—

“sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet”

—describe far more than the character of Howard’s Conan. It is the epitome of S&S. Nothing that does not deliver these same foundational attributes has the right to the title. Nothing that is not hard, fast, action of might and mind, exaggerated, over-the-top mano-a-mano swashbuckling entertainment can be deemed sword and sorcery.
And the author goes even further:
Quote
Keeping the following Lin Carter description of sword and sorcery (Robert E. Howard’s sword and sorcery—for in the end there is no other kind) in mind, let us see.
That is a very big statement. But yet, I find myself agreeing.

When I pick up a story of Sword & Sorcery, I am doing that to see a big badass barbarian do something. I want to see someone larger than life doing spectacular action with passion and fury and fire in his eyes! Swashbuckling with monsters! Passion and action are the cacao and sugar of this genre. You can change and experiment with everything, but if you do not stick to these two key ingredients, it just won't be chocolate. Glorious, furious, and roaring chocolate!
Howard defined what the key ingredients are. Sure, everyone can experiment with it and do various different things with it. But without the spirit that was already in Howards stories, I think it just isn't Sword & Sorcery.

I am dabbling in writing Sword & Sorcery and I want to know what makes the genre tick. Not to pander to an audience and make the work more marketable, because I want to understand what is actually in those stories that I love. Just knowing what it looks like when you see it is not the same as knowing how to build it.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DrNefario on December 08, 2014, 02:13:02 PM
Chocolate ice cream? Are you mad?  ;)

Seriously, until fairly recently, without having thought much about it, I would have said Sword & Sorcery was just another name for Fantasy. I guess I wouldn't even have drawn what seems to be a common distinction now between Heroic and Epic. Or between High and Low, which I don't even really understand. I've only been reading for 30-odd years. At what point do I become an expert? :)

If I really think about it, I can see that there is a kind of useful distinction between Heroic and Epic, in terms of the kinds of stories they tell. But isn't Sword and Sorcery mostly the same as Heroic Fantasy? Is sword and sorcery just short-form fantasy?

Is it a definition that is worth making?

I've read pretty happily from every branch of the field, without really caring to divide it into boxes. Sure, sometimes the old farmboy-made-good fighting ultimate evil seems like a long haul, and I want something that hits the ground running, but surely the individual blurb is more useful than a finely-grained subgenre distinction at that point?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DDRRead on December 09, 2014, 12:29:26 PM
I've posted this before, but it's worth posting again, and is pertinent to this discussion. It's a link to the archives of Flashing Swords . . .

FS Archive (http://web.archive.org/web/20080104174539/http://flashingswords.sfreader.com/fs-previous.htm)

Some great S&S fiction. The original editor wanted to try and recapture the spirit of the pulp era S&S but in a modern format (although this was pre e-reader).

I think one of the problems for short form pulp is that the audience it served in the 30's-50's gets its fill of story from TV, and someone who in the 30's would have been selling to the pulps is more likely to look to TV if he wants a steady(ish) writing job.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 09, 2014, 01:10:03 PM
I think ereaders really could make a huge impact on the genre. Now you can sell single stories for 50 cents each, and don't have to worry about filling a whole book or relying on magazines or anthologies, which really don't sell well either.
At the same time, it's a format that Sword & Sorcery has always been working with, that writers are used to and it is relatively well understood how to make the most of it effectively. If digital short stories become a market niche, S&S would be at a major advantage over other genres.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on December 09, 2014, 03:58:43 PM
As I schedule out what I want to work on, I'm going to add a S&S short story to the list.  I've been working on an idea, but it won't fit all Yora's criteria.  More like the Western trope of the tired gunslinger who still has to save the day.  Which in itself is a bit more like Elric the depressive than Conan the BARBARIAN!
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on December 09, 2014, 11:05:37 PM
As I schedule out what I want to work on, I'm going to add a S&S short story to the list.  I've been working on an idea, but it won't fit all Yora's criteria.  More like the Western trope of the tired gunslinger who still has to save the day.  Which in itself is a bit more like Elric the depressive than Conan the BARBARIAN!
Your comments about Elric and Conan made me think of Cerebus the Aardvark. It's a graphic novel that started as parody of Conan and became something very different by the end of it's 300 issues. The author Dave Sim also had an Elric character in it, he was called Elrod the Albino and he was a boasting incompetent who for some reason known only to the author himself spoke like Foghorn Leghorn.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DDRRead on December 12, 2014, 10:30:56 AM
I think ereaders really could make a huge impact on the genre. Now you can sell single stories for 50 cents each, and don't have to worry about filling a whole book or relying on magazines or anthologies, which really don't sell well either.
At the same time, it's a format that Sword & Sorcery has always been working with, that writers are used to and it is relatively well understood how to make the most of it effectively. If digital short stories become a market niche, S&S would be at a major advantage over other genres.

I hoped that ereaders would revitalise the S&S short story market. Not sure about the experiences of other writers, but my five stories which are all between 7-13k haven't done that well. A few sales in all the European & North American amazon markets, some good reviews (a lot of which are along the lines of 'I'd love a novel about these characters) but very few sales and plenty of downloads when they're available free. Then again I don't really market or promote so there is that, but it seems to me that the amazon ereader fantasy market favours novel length fiction,  over short stories from self-pubbed writers.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 12, 2014, 10:51:04 AM
I think it's too early to say how things will actually develop in the long term. Things like kindles are too limited in their uses, ipads and android tablets are still too expensive, and smartphones are too small. I've been wanting a tablet for 15 years when they were on Star Trek, and only bought one this year because the prices always kept me away. I personally know only two other people who also have something comparable.
I think it will probably still be another 10 years or so until they are common enough to really tell how well the selling of short fiction will work.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on December 12, 2014, 06:01:35 PM
Tried to start a "true" S&S story last night.  It was "heroic fantasy" within a few words.  I think there is ra eleasing of societal mind sets necessary in this.  Will be trying again with the same character, but a different approach.  There's a part of me that just wants to try my character dropped into a Conan plot to see what it takes to do this.

So, Yora, are you willing to apply the Yora S&S test to something in a few days/weeks?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 12, 2014, 06:13:02 PM
How do you mean that?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on December 12, 2014, 09:53:46 PM
In fun, jest and friendship.  Simply that you want exciting S&S that carries the passion we find in Howard.  It would be great to be able to write that, wouldn't it?  So, I'm going to take a shot at it and see what you and others think.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 12, 2014, 11:53:39 PM
I got a few hundred words for the start of a story down, but since I only wrote perhaps two or three thousand words of fiction and that was over ten years ago, I am not having very high aspirations with this one right now.   ;D
Big barbarian smash monster, har! Also, that barbarian happens to be a lizardman.

Well, just have this as a first sample:
On a hill covered by trees deep in the jungles of the south stood Kalak. Mightiest of the lizardmen of the Roklag tribe and slayer of ferocious beasts and evil sorcerers. With a head and tail like a crocodile and arms like a gorilla, he towered over every warrior of both humans and elves and few even of his own kind could reach the hight of his stature. Around his barrel like chest he wore a breast plate made from scales carved from the bones of whales and laced together with wooden fibres of palm trees, and around his waist wrapped a sturdy skirt of crocodile hide. On a belt made from the skin of a python hung a tarnished bronze machete, and in his hand rested his huge axe that could rival a halberd in size. Its bronze blade, almost two handspans in length, reached beyond the end of the wooden handle and was sharpened on both sides like the blade of a spear, while the even longer lower tip formed a long hook that had pulled more than one heavily armored rider from his mount.

Dressed for battle like this, Kalak watched out from the hill over the jungles below him. For almost a month there had been rumors among the lizardmen clans about a terrible beast roaming these forests, as large as an elephant and more demon than animal. During the last three days of his hunt he had come across two villages that had been entirely destroyed, their bamboo huts broken into piles of splinters and the smashed bodies of the inhabitants covering the jungle floor. Only a few small fires had broken out and broken pots and baskets full of fruit and grain were strewn among the rubble, which had convinced Kalak that this was the work of a beast and not hostile tribesmen. One day ago he had come upon a group of about a half dozen elves, whose broken bodies had been ripped limb from limb. No beast of the jungles would be capable of such destruction and slaughter. Perhaps a dragon would be able to match the amount of devastation, but there had been no trees and grass scortched by fire.
Very basic, but I think for practice it's not too bad. Better than The Eye of Argon, and I bet I can do better dialogs than Star Wars.  ;)

I also finally got around to finish reading The Last Wish and write a review (http://spriggans-den.com/?p=472). I really like that one and think it's a great example of what modern Sword & Sorcery could be. Much more than Swords & Dark Magic, which calls itself "the New Sword & Sorcery".
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DDRRead on December 13, 2014, 01:13:20 PM
I've made my short stories free for next week (14th - 18th), so if anyone wants to check it out gratis my Sword & Sorcery story is called Born of Evil (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005ISCYLM). It's a straight up traditional monster story and is about 11k words long.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on December 14, 2014, 09:17:54 PM
Re-reading Conan stories in order of publication.  What do I find?

Quote
then came Yara, versed in dark knowledge handed down through the days of barbarism, since before Atlantis sank.

Yora... Yara?   ;)
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 14, 2014, 09:21:19 PM
No, pure coincidence. Yesterday I was playing the old Thief game and came upon a monastery of St. Yora.  :o
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on January 06, 2015, 05:56:53 PM
Has anyone read Wagner's Kane stories? What info I've found sounds quite interesting, but also rather odd.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Puntificator on January 07, 2015, 07:13:21 AM
For me. the best current writers of Swords and Sorcery are James Enge, Chris Willrich, Richard Parks, and Howard Andrew Jones.

James Enge has written a series of S&S stories featuring his protagonist Morlock Ambrosius, aka Morlock the Maker. Besides short stories, there are five novels (Blood of Ambrose; This Crooked Way [this actually includes several of his short stories as episodes]; The Wolf Age; Wrath-Bearing Tree; andA Guile of Dragons) and a sixth one coming in February (The Wide World's End).

Chris Willrich has been writing about his unusual and romantically involved pair, the poet Persimmon Gaunt and the cursed, non-aging thief Imago Bone. There are several short stories and a trilogy. Two of the trilogy's novels have been published—The Scroll of Years and The Silk Map—and the third, The Chart of Tomorrows, is scheduled for July, 2015.

Richard Parks has been writing what I would call historical Japanese S&S, starring his troubled nobleman, Yamada no Goji. So far there are two novels, Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter (which makes episodic use of several of his short stories) and Yamada Monogatari: To Break the Demon Gate, with more to come.

Howard Andrew Jones has been writing about the adventures of the swordsman Asim and his wily companion the scholar Dabar. There are two novels, The Desert of Souls and The Bones of the Old Ones. Most of their short stories can be found in The Waters of Eternity.

I will also mention Greg James' Khale the Wanderer series (two books so far: Under A Colder Sun and Lost Is The Night), which really capture the spirit of Karl Edward Wagner's Kane stories. The narratives are really good, but Greg self-publishes and the books are in terrible need of proofreading and editing. If a publisher like Saga picked them up and edited them properly, they'd be exceptional, and probably still are for those who don't care about purchasing fiction that has misspellings, bad grammar, poor punctuation, and so on.     
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on January 10, 2015, 12:59:17 PM
I made my way about halfway through The Sword & Sorcery Anthology, and I think it's an okay book. Not a great book, but much better than the other recent anthologies I've read.
I was kind of hoping to see a Best Of Sword & Sorcery, but it's more an overview of average Sword & Sorcery. Yes, all the big names are presents, but the stories that were picked are merely average and not good examples of how good they could write.

In a sense, it does live up to the pretentious title The Sword & Sorcery Anthology. But it's a collection that provides a good impression of what Sword & Sorcery generally is. Not what it can be when it is at it's best.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on January 11, 2015, 11:21:00 PM
Oh! Wow! Gasp!  :o

I think I just stumbled upon one of the sources that very strongly inspired Andrzej Sapkowskis Witcher series. Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted to Defeat by Glen Cook has a lot of the same plot elements as The Lesser Evil and The Edge of the World.
Anyone else read these three stories and seeing it as well? They are quite different stories, but individual elements seem strikingly similar.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on January 27, 2015, 09:02:27 PM
I mostly finished The Sword & Sorcery Anthology now and the experience can be summed up in this picture.
(http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/1/1/7/9/1/0/1/webimg/513573755_o.jpg)

Why are Sword & Sorcery collections so unbelievably terrible? Isn't it supposed to be a genre about over the top adventure with monsters and evil sorcerers? Instead we get pretentious bumbling about angst and grief, with no swords and barely any sorcerers in sight. Stop abusing the name Sword & Sorcery as a genric title for disconnected snippets of medievalesque outbursts of micro-fiction!
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on February 12, 2015, 02:51:16 AM
I just read the Sword and Sorcery bingo section of the main F-F page and I think Conan would score about a 2.  Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser wouldn't be up there very far either.  Elric?  Not even close. 

I'm not sure which S&S books are meant in that bingo genre game.  None I ever read.  And the books I've read that resemble the criteria for S&S don't strkie me as S&S.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on February 12, 2015, 06:16:02 AM
It was probably assumed Sword & Sorcery means the same thing as Fantasy. Happens from time to time.

Like Superhero comics being classified as science fiction.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on April 06, 2015, 07:36:09 PM
I'm almost through Karl Wagners Death Angels Shadow, and it's really quite good. Quite slow and even more grim and broody, but I really like reading it. The "craftsmanship" of the writing is nothing special, but the thoughts expressed in the stories are very interesting and also very well handled. I'd say Wagner was a man of simple words, but deep thoughts.
What surprises and fascinates me the most is that the Kane stories deal with quite complex situations of morality, but Wagner never gets to anything near being preachy. He just tells the things as they happen and what the characters are thinking without taking any sides or making any judgements about it. And he doesn't even imply which characters the readers should be rooting for. When you read Howard, Conan is doing plenty of very questionable things, but Howard clearly thinks that Conan is totally cool and that the readers should obviously also think it's cool and cheer for it. I already got Bloodstone to read later.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on April 06, 2015, 07:58:31 PM
I'm almost through Karl Wagners Death Angels Shadow, and it's really quite good. Quite slow and even more grim and broody, but I really like reading it. The "craftsmanship" of the writing is nothing special, but the thoughts expressed in the stories are very interesting and also very well handled. I'd say Wagner was a man of simple words, but deep thoughts.
What surprises and fascinates me the most is that the Kane stories deal with quite complex situations of morality, but Wagner never gets to anything near being preachy. He just tells the things as they happen and what the characters are thinking without taking any sides or making any judgements about it. And he doesn't even imply which characters the readers should be rooting for. When you read Howard, Conan is doing plenty of very questionable things, but Howard clearly thinks that Conan is totally cool and that the readers should obviously also think it's cool and cheer for it. I already got Bloodstone to read later.
Something to add to my TBR.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JamesLatimer on April 07, 2015, 05:15:29 PM
Interesting to see this exploration of S&S evolve.  Still can't believe there's no love for Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, but perhaps because the fighting isn't as important as the adventure.  I have read some of the other short stories that the OP liked (Conan, William King's Cormack [have you tried his Gotrek & Felix Warhammer books?], Glen Cook's "Empire Unacquainted with Defeat" [Black Company is not in this sub-genre], the first Witcher set), and enjoyed them...but not as much as Leiber or Moorcock.  And I can't really think of anything else off the top of my head, but, as others mention, Jen Williams and Sam Sykes might be good places to look.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on April 07, 2015, 06:22:14 PM
My relationship to Leibers books is a complicated one. I really wouldn't call them good, but I do often come back to them.

I think reading Leiber is like watching Schwarzenegger.  ;D

It is stupid, with one-dimensional characters, and terrible dialogues. But it's really fun. And I think you can really feel how fun seems to be the most important thing for Leiber in his stories. Fafhrd and Mouser are both stupid idiots, but they have the gigantic mirth of Conan, and even surpass him. Many of the other writers I've read seem to have almost entirely forgotten that aspect and are all doom and gloom. Moorcock does it and King, and as much as I love Kane, Wagner too. They all seem to take themselves and their stories way too seriously and try to be highbrow art, forgetting about the fun in the process. Leiber also tries to be funny, which doesn't really appeal to me so much, but like Howard there is some real joy in his stories which many others just don't have. The only other writer I can think of whose stories are fun is Sapkowski.

And in that aspect I think Leiber stories are like Schwarzenegger movies. They acknowledge that they are silly and are content with it, and from that base give it all they have. And it's fun!
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on April 08, 2015, 01:17:21 AM
We do need to give Leiber some credit, though, he not only wrote sword and sorcery, he actually coined the term. It was in response to a letter that Michael Moorcock wrote to a fanzine demanding that Howard's brand of fiction be given some sort of name. I can see a fair bit of sword and sorcery influence in Jen Williams' The Copper Promise, too. Although it plays around with a number of tropes and subgenres, so may not be to the OP's taste.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: sennydreadful on April 08, 2015, 10:23:15 AM
We do need to give Leiber some credit, though, he not only wrote sword and sorcery, he actually coined the term. It was in response to a letter that Michael Moorcock wrote to a fanzine demanding that Howard's brand of fiction be given some sort of name. I can see a fair bit of sword and sorcery influence in Jen Williams' The Copper Promise, too. Although it plays around with a number of tropes and subgenres, so may not be to the OP's taste.

TCP is, in many ways, a bit of a love letter to Leiber, even if it deliberately messes around with tropes a lot. The Gray Mouser/The Copper Cat, etc  :D
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on April 08, 2015, 12:36:07 PM
I read Swords and Devilty (which I thought was quite bad), Swords Against Darkness (which was much better), and halfway through Swords in the Mist, which was also quite okay I think.
Would you recommend picking up another one, or is this as good as it gets?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on April 09, 2015, 12:42:39 AM
We do need to give Leiber some credit, though, he not only wrote sword and sorcery, he actually coined the term. It was in response to a letter that Michael Moorcock wrote to a fanzine demanding that Howard's brand of fiction be given some sort of name. I can see a fair bit of sword and sorcery influence in Jen Williams' The Copper Promise, too. Although it plays around with a number of tropes and subgenres, so may not be to the OP's taste.

TCP is, in many ways, a bit of a love letter to Leiber, even if it deliberately messes around with tropes a lot. The Gray Mouser/The Copper Cat, etc  :D
I can definitely see that, Jen, and it's a not a bad thing at all. I'm still reading it, but really thoroughly enjoying it. The Lies of Locke Lamora is also heavily influenced by Leiber.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: sennydreadful on April 09, 2015, 09:43:32 AM
We do need to give Leiber some credit, though, he not only wrote sword and sorcery, he actually coined the term. It was in response to a letter that Michael Moorcock wrote to a fanzine demanding that Howard's brand of fiction be given some sort of name. I can see a fair bit of sword and sorcery influence in Jen Williams' The Copper Promise, too. Although it plays around with a number of tropes and subgenres, so may not be to the OP's taste.

TCP is, in many ways, a bit of a love letter to Leiber, even if it deliberately messes around with tropes a lot. The Gray Mouser/The Copper Cat, etc  :D
I can definitely see that, Jen, and it's a not a bad thing at all. I'm still reading it, but really thoroughly enjoying it. The Lies of Locke Lamora is also heavily influenced by Leiber.

I love that book!  :D I'm currently reading The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes (one of the main writers on the video game Dragon Age) and it's a sort of fantasy heist with a strong Lamora feel - but with lots more magic!
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Elfy on April 09, 2015, 11:59:23 PM
We do need to give Leiber some credit, though, he not only wrote sword and sorcery, he actually coined the term. It was in response to a letter that Michael Moorcock wrote to a fanzine demanding that Howard's brand of fiction be given some sort of name. I can see a fair bit of sword and sorcery influence in Jen Williams' The Copper Promise, too. Although it plays around with a number of tropes and subgenres, so may not be to the OP's taste.

TCP is, in many ways, a bit of a love letter to Leiber, even if it deliberately messes around with tropes a lot. The Gray Mouser/The Copper Cat, etc  :D
I can definitely see that, Jen, and it's a not a bad thing at all. I'm still reading it, but really thoroughly enjoying it. The Lies of Locke Lamora is also heavily influenced by Leiber.

I love that book!  :D I'm currently reading The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes (one of the main writers on the video game Dragon Age) and it's a sort of fantasy heist with a strong Lamora feel - but with lots more magic!
Lie is my favourite book of all time, any genre. It was a huge buzz to meet Scott Lynch at Worldcon last year and get him to sign my battered old paperback copy of it. I'll have to keep an eye out for The Palace Job with that positive recommendation. I love heist/caper type stories.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on April 10, 2015, 03:31:36 PM
I started reading Bloodstone, and I am surprised on how good it is. Like all the stories by Wagner, that I've read so far, it's pretty simple, without any bells and whistles or any attempts to be artsy, and again, it uses the cheap trick of creating mystery by not telling us things that all the characters know. Having a conversation between two characters and then in the middle basically saying "and now he explains everything to her so they are both on the same page, but I won't be telling you" and then the scene resumes with having the two characters talk about what they are thinking of the reveal and the plan, which of course is highly dramatic. And of course we are meant to think "oh, this is so exciting, I wonder what they just have been talking about. So mysterious, I hope they will reveal it to us soon". That really is the lowest of low as a writer can get and there is no narrative excuse for it. It's just plain cheating, and not the first time I've seen Wagner doing it. But so far it has not been harming the story too much and I still find it highly enjoyable to read. It seems that the explanation for what was talked about is revealed right in the next chapter, but now I can't ever again be sure that there won't be a Deus Ex Machina poping out at the end of the story and everything that will happen until that point could very well be a disguised lie.
However, another thing he does at the same time, which I find really interesting, is that almost all the scenes have the main character Kane in them, but only half the time are they written from Kanes perspective. The other half you have other characters looking at Kane, not knowing what to make of him. They observe him and try to pick up clues that tell them more about him, and of course in all the stories that I have read details about Kanes past are very sketchy. Which is why I can to some degree excuse the withholding of information in scenes in which we are present, as it is integrated in the overall style of the story. It's still cheating, but not as an attempt to be clever, but to support the overall atmosphere of the writing. And of course, when Kane shares the information withheld information in the next chapter with another character, it is pretty exciting when he explains his plan, even though it's actually a big load of exposition.
While the language and scenes are really very simple, I think there are some truly interesting depths behind them.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on April 19, 2015, 07:02:44 PM
I just got pointed out that voting for this years Gemmell Awards has been opened (http://www.gemmellawards.com/award-voting/). Not sure how long it will go.

Unfortunately, I haven't read anything on those lists, so I don't have any votes to cast.

I didn't know that Blood of Elves got the first Legend award in 2009, though. Quite impressive.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on May 07, 2015, 09:49:16 PM
I just stumbled upon a very interesting interpretation of Elric (which sadly is not elaborated on): "A former colonial master ina post-colonial world".

Moorcock first published an Elric story in Britain back in 1961, only 14 years after the independence of India and just after Britain granted independence to Nigeria, Siera Leone, Tanzania, and Somalia, and most of the remaining colonies only staying under British control for less than four more years. Even though he seems like a guy who probably was fully behind that development, it still must have affected how he perceived the world as a young man.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: mesmithcity on May 08, 2015, 04:02:51 PM
I really loved Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion books... they veered into "epic" territory, but they were, at base, the story of one soldier and what happened.

Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on May 08, 2015, 04:33:31 PM
I really loved Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion books... they veered into "epic" territory, but they were, at base, the story of one soldier and what happened.
Yup, loved them. It was a great series to share with my daughter.
I never got to the Gird (?) prequel(s). If you did, were they as good?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: ScarletBea on May 08, 2015, 04:40:34 PM
I was recommended that series once here when I asked for ideas (different people then), but I never got to read them.
Knowing what I like, would you say they're for me?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on May 08, 2015, 04:52:42 PM
I was recommended that series once here when I asked for ideas (different people then), but I never got to read them.
Knowing what I like, would you say they're for me?
As @mesmithcity (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40344) says, they have a leaning to the epic side, but they're way far away from the Belgariad or LOTR. I think, give them a shot.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: mesmithcity on May 08, 2015, 05:13:59 PM
I was recommended that series once here when I asked for ideas (different people then), but I never got to read them.
Knowing what I like, would you say they're for me?

They are very straightforward swords-and-sorcery. She didn't go around upsetting genre apple carts, and she does have orcs (mainly offstage...but it was a convenient shorthand, I think) and they aren't a tired ripoff of Tolkien.

The military stuff is really good, very believable.

But they hold you, all the way through. Okay: they held me, anyway.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: mesmithcity on May 08, 2015, 05:17:36 PM

Yup, loved them. It was a great series to share with my daughter.
I never got to the Gird (?) prequel(s). If you did, were they as good?
[/quote]

I felt that some of the followups were a little weaker (no Paks!) but generally, I liked the Gird one more than the Luap one. On the other hand, the new series is shaping up really well.

I like her space-opera stuff as well...
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on May 10, 2015, 01:49:30 PM
Is there any Moorcock worth reading besides Elric? I read two Elric stories but thought they are merely okay and not something I'd give priority over other things I plan to read.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on May 11, 2015, 03:25:58 AM
Is there any Moorcock worth reading besides Elric? I read two Elric stories but thought they are merely okay and not something I'd give priority over other things I plan to read.
I liked the Count Brass series. Don't remember them that well, but they were fun.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on May 11, 2015, 08:27:34 PM
I must admit I never heard of that one before. But it's also the Eternal Champion series like Elric, isn't it?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on May 11, 2015, 09:33:56 PM
I must admit I never heard of that one before. But it's also the Eternal Champion series like Elric, isn't it?
Yes. I just remember them being less dark and more fun pulpy. But I'm old  ;D. Memory ain't what it was.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Corvus on May 16, 2015, 03:05:39 AM
I'm a huge fan of the sword and sorcery style of stories.  In fact, it was the reading of the Conan stories that marked the turning point when I dumped epic fantasy and the bloat that was accompanying it and started reading short fiction and sword and sorcery.  Less on the world threatening dooms and more on action and adventure.

I've also been working on a series of s&s short fiction stories of my own which will one day get to be seen.  They do owe a lot to Howard and Leiber admittedly at times.  So far I've written 16 stories totalling over 166000 words.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Annomander Matt on May 16, 2015, 04:08:25 AM
Like Roxx mentioned, I'd recommend Ryria (to anyone, but it fits here). A little more leaning toward the "sword", but of the series I've read this fits the genre pretty well.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on May 19, 2015, 01:18:41 PM
Sounds good enough to me. I'll might give the first one a try once I cleared out some of the unfinished collections I am still working through.
I've also been working on a series of s&s short fiction stories of my own which will one day get to be seen.  They do owe a lot to Howard and Leiber admittedly at times.  So far I've written 16 stories totalling over 166000 words.
That sounds like more than enough to release some of them. No sense in hugging them all up for yourself.  :D
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Corvus on May 21, 2015, 04:44:19 AM
I'm planning on doing so soonish - they need a bit of an edit first before I'm satisfied with them.  I'm working through a large back collection of (mostly) fantasy short fiction to get it up to scratch and have started to display some on one of my blogs, though haven't got up to the s&s stories yet.

When I get to them I'll make some kind of announcement.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on May 29, 2015, 09:18:07 PM
I finished Bloodstone (http://spriggans-den.com/?p=2110) today, and it was a pretty fun read. I wouldn't recommend to people who want to give Kane a try for the first time. It's a good story, but I feel like it probably was one of Wagners first and the level of skill is noticably lower than in Death Angel's Shadow.
It's good and fun, but does not yet have many of the elements that make me love the series so much. While the plot is pretty good with nice twists and revelations, the writing is a bit simplistic and doesn't really bring to life those aspects that make Kane so very fascinating and intriguing.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Corvus on August 13, 2015, 10:32:43 AM
I've also been working on a series of s&s short fiction stories of my own which will one day get to be seen.  They do owe a lot to Howard and Leiber admittedly at times.  So far I've written 16 stories totalling over 166000 words.
That sounds like more than enough to release some of them. No sense in hugging them all up for yourself.  :D

Due to popular demand (well, not really), I've started to release them.  I'm doing so as webfiction.  The first one is complete, a 11750 word story  - there isn't any sorcery in it, but that does start in the second one, which is a bit over 17500 words.  If interested you can heck them out here (http://talesfromathousandworlds.com/the-deeds-of-peregrine-and-blade/).
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: m3mnoch on August 13, 2015, 02:50:26 PM
Due to popular demand (well, not really), I've started to release them.  I'm doing so as webfiction.  The first one is complete, a 11750 word story  - there isn't any sorcery in it, but that does start in the second one, which is a bit over 17500 words.  If interested you can heck them out here (http://talesfromathousandworlds.com/the-deeds-of-peregrine-and-blade/).

this is great!  (well, not necessarily the stories as i haven't read them yet...)  i love the idea of a bunch of linked short stories and i love the idea of posting them on your site.  it's like peanut butter and chocolate!  it's like reese's peanut butter cups!
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 14, 2015, 06:08:13 PM
I am about to finish Blood of Elves and after two Witchers in a row, I am feeling like reading something else.

Anyone read Imaro? I heard a lot of praise for it and I had it on my list for some time, but I don't actually know anything about its content. The setting has an African style and the hero is called Imaro. That's pretty much it.
What's its style like and what's the theme of the story?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Eclipse on September 15, 2015, 11:52:52 AM
How about Sam Sykes books Aeon series
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 15, 2015, 12:39:27 PM
I don't know. I've never heard of it. What can you tell us about it?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Eclipse on September 15, 2015, 05:47:09 PM
@Overlord (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1) Review of Tome of the Undergates (Aeons' Gate #1) by Sam Sykes

I first heard of ‘Tome of the Undergates’ via Twitter. I had seen the rather interesting ‘@SamSykesSwears’ tweeter shouting out about Fantasy and generally interacting with users and causing a bit of chaos. I must admit, I actually hadn’t heard of the book until I clicked this ‘@SamSykesSwears’ profile button and found that he was in-fact an author.

I quickly read the synthesis of his book:

‘The name never uttered without scorn, they are long loathed for their knowledge of nothing beyond violence and greed and their utter disregard for human life, least of all their own.

And Lenk, a young man with a sword in his hand and a voice in his head, counts them as his closest company.

Charged with retrieving the Tome of the Undergates, a written key to a world long forgotten by mankind and home to creatures determined to return, Lenk is sent after ancient evangelical demons, psychotic warrior women and abominations lost to myth. Against them, he has but two weapons: a piece of steel and five companions as eager to kill each other as they are to help him.

---

Seemed like my kind of thing and over the weeks I grew to enjoy the Tweets that came over Twitter so I picked it up. I’m pretty glad I did because whether or not it will be to every-ones tastes or not – it is certainly doing something fairly unique and there is nothing else like it out there.

Essentially ‘Adventurers’ are based on our easily recognisable ‘Fantasy Party’. We have the swordsman, the thief, the ranger, the priestess and the Dragonman. They have been sent on a mission to retrieve an object and in order to retrieve it they are going to have to kill pirates, demons and generally realise their destinies.

But wait... this doesn’t sound very unique right? Well no... I think that is the beauty of the book and Sam Sykes as an author. He doesn’t try to make the ‘fantasy’ side of things different. OK, we know what Fantasy is... Sykes could create new races and new settings and things like that, but he doesn’t for good reason. Within about 10 pages you feel sufficiently orientated. You know roughly who does what and the kind of story you would expect.

So... the uniqueness... it’s all in ‘the voice’. Sam Sykes writes like almost nobody else. I guess if I had to liken him to someone it would be Joe Abercrombie, but even that is a fairly thin comparison. The third person narrative in Tomes of the Undergates is done in what is called ‘Third Person – Free Indirect Discourse’. Basically the story is told in third person perspective but through the language and mind of the character the narration is focusing on. This in itself even is not that new – but the constant and rapid shift from character to character is. One minute you could be in a Priest’s head – then the next a Frogman’s as he is slain and the next you could find yourself with the main character looking at the death of the Frogman from the perspective of an outsider. It is at time dizzying, but in an enjoyable way and a way you will quickly come to appreciate.

The next element of ‘uniqueness’ I’d like to focus on is the argumentative characters. Most often we see minor arguments of characters in novels, but essentially they agree and go together or separate and do their own thing. The characters in Tomes are far more realistic than that... like friends / colleagues of everyday life, they bicker, they argue and tend to hate each other throughout most of the day. A few people in the blogging community have commented that this arguing made the book hard to read – but I think in the main part it adds to the style and enjoyable nature of the book. The arguments tend to be amusing and the outcomes move the story / relationships between the characters forwards.

So... the story? Is it worth reading? I must say that it is. Although I think the ending to the story could be guessed upon reading the back of the book (Five adventurers set out on a quest to retrieve a Holy item!) I think readers will be happy with the in-betweens. There is an amazingly well done 200 page skirmish – that shifts between a certain win to a certain defeat and back again and again. There are meetings with beings that extend beyond our comprehension. And generally the characters do develop. In-fact, I think that the last 100 pages of the book show that this story has a lot, lot more to it. Sam Sykes reveals a few hidden secrets to the story that will no doubt be very, very important in any following volumes.

I would like to explain now why I think Sam Sykes is someone to watch out for. For me, I think there is a lot, lot more of Sam to come. This book is probably only going to be embraced by a set group of people. I see Sam Sykes has written a book that he wanted to write – something he would have liked to read. Because I’m quite a similar age, have similar interests (women, epic battles, pirates, cool demons, fantasy races, gritty battle talk and banter) – I love it. Generally I have described the many fantasies of a fantasy fan and Tomes will meet the traditional / D&D fanboys head on. The majority of people I have seen slate the book have been people who were expecting a huge and epic story with multiple threads and complicated back stories, etc. Sam Sykes himself will tell you ‘Tomes of the Undergates’ is what it is. It is a cool adventure book!

That being said; the description in Sam’s book, the narrative style and the single ‘emotional scene’ that quite frankly nearly had me in tears (I don’t cry... ever!!!) shows that Sam Sykes is a fantastic writer and capable of doing pretty much whatever he wants. I think Tome of the Undergates would be a very, very good book to pick up today and a promise of even greater things to come.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 24, 2015, 05:12:57 PM
I often see comments that S&S is seen as outdated and has become obsolete by failing to stay in touch with tbe times. And given that the classics of the genre tend to be from the 60s and older, and a bunch or trashy movies from the 80s (and one good one), it's not exactly hard to see why that perception would exist.

That Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock still have fans and are names that a large number of fantasy readers recognizes is a strong indication that the style can't be completely obsolete and does have at least some aspect that are still relevant to a good number of modern readers.
There's also still people who write it, but few get a lot of fame from it. (Glenn Cook maybe.)

What are your feelings about this? Did Sword & Sorcery fail at growing and evolving with the rest of fantasy to stay relevant? Are there conventions writers stick to that have become more of a burden than an asset? And are there any aspects of fantasy fiction that contemporary readers have a need for that does not usually get fulfilled?

An obvious issue might be the violence. But I think that can be ruled out given how well received George Martin is these days.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Overlord on September 30, 2015, 01:30:05 PM
@Eclipse (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=9661): Sam's new series (which carries on after his first, but doesn't require you to have read it) is another step up for him as a writer. I was really impressed with it. His imagination and willingness to throw in all kinds of ideas, races, powers and so on is something I think a lot of fantasy today is missing... The Grey/Grim/Gritty stuff is good, but it does feel sometimes like 'historical fantasy with a twist', so having an author like Sam around whose stories are so obviously D&D influenced Fantasy is a refreshing change :-)

---

@Yora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=35236): I don't think Sam's work (as an example) is too far away from some of the authors you mentioned. There certainly seems to be evidence to suggest S&S has become more 'sword' than 'sorcery' and this fact means that many of the 'sorcery' related elements - magic systems, magical creatures, magical worlds, etc - have disappeared whilst the 'sword' elements have become more prevalent - recognisable militaries, recognisable weapons, combat and violence. There has also been a marked shift in the way war is reported upon, it is no longer something to celebrate and cheer, but something horrific, the results of which we are exposed to.

That said, I'm not sure if what has happened is that S&S hasn't stuck with the times. You could argue that it has done quite the opposite and that is why it is no longer as common in a way comparable to the authors you mention. S&S seems to have split off into that gritty/grey fantasy that resembles historical events and urban fantasy which seems to be influenced by PI novels of the 1930s and the world we live in today.

What seems to have gone are the strange and unfamiliar worlds full of unique creatures and strange experiences. I'm not so sure that this is because people aren't writing that kind of fantasy so much as it not being picked up by publishers. I kind of imagine that when a novel hits an Editors desk they think: 'oh, that is too much like Tolkien, Moorcock, Howard, etc'. Essentially, it is hard to create unique races / worlds / experiences today. That said, I think, by looking at the books being Self Pubbed right now, you can see that a lot of writers are trying to write Martin-esque and Abercrombie-esque books.

I think that this is why Sanderson is doing so well (worth remembering though that he REALLY struggled to get his work signed in the early days - agents saying his work was too niche and weird), he continually comes up with worlds, magic systems and species that are unique to him and readers flock to his works. Similarly, I think Sam Sykes has such a large following because he is writing in a niche sub-genre that there isn't a great deal of.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 30, 2015, 01:46:53 PM
I have not made it very far into Tome of the Undergates yet, but once the sea monsters started showing up I instantly got a lot more interested. It's also about the time where the dragon man starts to be revealed instead of just being mentioned.
The pirates just bored me though I still have great doubt about the heroes, the sea monsters were a very pleasant encounter. Which is why I still have not entirely dismised it and plan to give it a couple more chapters at least.

I feel like the Weird being quite essential to the genre. Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock all included it in quite different ways, but it was always there. Once you go to grim swordsmen fighting human evil, it does fork off to become something else.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Overlord on September 30, 2015, 01:58:14 PM
I have not made it very far into Tome of the Undergates yet, but once the sea monsters started showing up I instantly got a lot more interested. It's also about the time where the dragon man starts to be revealed instead of just being mentioned.
The pirates just bored me though I still have great doubt about the heroes, the sea monsters were a very pleasant encounter. Which is why I still have not entirely dismised it and plan to give it a couple more chapters at least.

I feel like the Weird being quite essential to the genre. Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock all included it in quite different ways, but it was always there. Once you go to grim swordsmen fighting human evil, it does fork off to become something else.

I mean in his new series there are Dragonmen, Demons that come to our world from within a human and have to tear themselves out, merchant portraits (they have like screens for heads and a humanoid body), a kind of telepathic means of communication for one species, multiple forms of magic such as pyromancy, ability to summon creatures, healing / destruction through use of a demonic arm. Its just full to the brim of stuff you have to try and picture and I really like that. It also doesn't take itself to seriously. I love that too.

There is no doubt the first scene in Sam's first book is very long. It picks up, but the second series is - as I say - even better and flows far better too (you'll also appreciate the more intricate plot-threads, I think).

Totally agree with your last comment.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 05, 2015, 08:55:03 PM
Does anyone know if there's a list for all the books that have been nominated for the Gemmell Awards? Wikipedia only has the past winners and the terrible official website not even those.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: ScarletBea on November 05, 2015, 10:08:17 PM
Does anyone know if there's a list for all the books that have been nominated for the Gemmell Awards? Wikipedia only has the past winners and the terrible official website not even those.

Is this what you're looking for?
http://gemmellaward.com/page/nominees-to-date (http://gemmellaward.com/page/nominees-to-date)
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 05, 2015, 10:14:51 PM
Not pretty and lacking any order, but it should do the job. Thaks.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DrNefario on November 05, 2015, 10:26:51 PM
https://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_legend_index.asp if you want a pretty version. There's a page for the Morningstar, too.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 05, 2015, 10:28:39 PM
Oh nice. That is exactly what I was hoping for.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: ScarletBea on November 06, 2015, 10:37:04 AM
Isn't it funny how brains work differently?
For me, a complete book list sorted alphabetically by author's name works much better than the 'pretty version' that DrNefario gave you, if I was looking for reading suggestions hehe
(I've read only 9%: 34 of 370...)
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 06, 2015, 11:05:16 AM
I think mostly a matter of purpose.

I want to use it to go looking for new books that I might want to read. Having a list of the books that made it into the final round seems more likely to get me to find something great quickly than a list of all the books that have ever been suggested for an award. At least for the first run.
Looking up every book on the complete list might take some time...  ;D
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Drae on November 13, 2015, 09:10:14 AM
I read The Copper Promise by Jen Williams last year. It skyrocketed to my favourite book and is definitely a sword and sorcery. This is it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Copper-Promise-complete-novel-Cat-ebook/dp/B00F0LV2PQ/).
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: JMack on November 13, 2015, 11:07:51 AM
I read The Copper Promise by Jen Williams last year. It skyrocketed to my favourite book and is definitely a sword and sorcery. This is it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Copper-Promise-complete-novel-Cat-ebook/dp/B00F0LV2PQ/).

Hi, @Drae (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=32659): CP is a favorite of mine, too.
See this thread: http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/love-letter-to-jen-williams-spoiler-free-copper-promise/

And let Jen know what you think!
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 16, 2015, 05:00:14 PM
This looks pretty long. With such a convenient way to access it, I will certainly give it a try soon.

William King's Stealer of Flesh (http://www.williamking.me/stealer-of-flesh-free/) is also online. I thought it was pretty good.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Pwibble on November 16, 2015, 08:52:34 PM
I enjoyed Duncan Hamilton's Society of the Sword books. Not perhaps everyone's interpretation of Sword and Sorcery in that they aren't D+D quests or anything like that but lots of focus on the swords and fighting but with less sorcery perhaps. Not the most complex challenging stories but I really enjoyed them.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 21, 2015, 09:46:55 PM
I am about a third into Night Winds now and Kane is as amazing as ever. Better than in Bloodstone I would actually say.

It really surprises me that I had never really heard of Wagner until a year ago. I think he has no problem standing right next to Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock, and I think he's actually considerably better than the later two. Maybe he was just writing at the wrong time. Entering the Sword & Sorcery game just a bit too late at the end of its boom, but also much too early before its next resurgence. Or perhaps a bit too slow paced and brainy for the audience of the time, though I did get a similar impression from the few Elric stories I've read.
But I feel like he should be a big name in the genre. Currently he's clearly one of my three favorite writers after Howard and Sapkowski.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 24, 2015, 08:04:56 PM
I've often seen mention of Clarke Ashton Smith as some kind of proto-Sword & Sorcery. But I don't really know anything about his work. Does anyone know what I could read as a good introduction and example?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on November 25, 2015, 11:59:25 PM
I started reading the Hyperborea stories. There's also Avergoine, which is more conventional medieval, and Zothique, which takes place in the final days of the planet Earth with the last few remnants of humanity awaiting their end. Hyperborea is set on Greenland before the Ice Age.

And the family resemblance to Sword & Sorcery is very clearly visible. Smith wrote the first story just a few months after Howard's first Kull story had been published in the magazine they were both writing for, so he seems to have actually picked up the idea from Howards rather than the other way around. The world is certainly very S&S and the encounters with supernatural things are also very S&S. But the structure of the stories is very different. They are not action packed adventure stories but also not mystery investigations like Lovecraft wrote. They are artistic expressions from an artist who also did a lot of poetry, painting, and sculpting. It's not about the narrative but really all about atmosphere and mood.
And yes, it's true what people say, they are also quite funny. Not as obviously comedic as Leiber's stories, but The Tale of Satampra Zeiros and The Door to Saturn are full of jokes which you probably won't all spot on the first pass. It's not people doing funny things but a certain absurdity in many sentences. The Testament of Athammaus is not a funny story, but that absurdity is still there when you're looking out for it. Things happen that are kind of funny, but only when they don't happen to you. For the protagonist they are ideed horrifying.

The Hyperborea stories are not long and there's only 10 of them, but despite Smith's extensive vocabulary, I've found them very easy to read so far. I recommend taking a look at them. Their influence on Leiber is very noticable and you can also spot the Lovecraft crossovers.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 12, 2015, 11:29:49 PM
I've been reading the three Kull stories that Robert Howard managed to sell and I have to say I can see why they never took off at the time. The Shadow Kingdom is okay, but The Mirrors and Kings of the Night really weren't good. I'll keep reading the other stories that were published decades later, but so far I am not feeling the love. Even the weakest Conan stories easily reach the same level of quality.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on December 20, 2015, 07:56:01 PM
I finished Night Winds (http://spriggans-den.com/?p=3186), which I really enjoyed a lot. Even more than the other Kane books I've read this one has very little action and has the strongest horror influences, which is what Wagner at the time used to be best known for. Kane also often plays very minor roles while someone else is really the star of the show. But since Kane is being Kane, having him around or simply knowing that he is going to enter the picture at some point is enough to have him have a major impact on each of them.
Lynortis Reprise is possibly my favorite story out of the book. It's by far the most grim and horrific because there isn't really any supernatural involvement. It's all human made horror. And has one of the nicest and most surprising twists I've yet seen in a book. There are plenty of clues which you might all dismiss, until you suddenly make the connections, remember the things you thought insignificant a few pages back, and then woah!  :D

I also started reading Time of Contempt, the fourth Witcher book. Feels like a very good start.

And something that I noticed, which makes both the Witcher stories but also many Conan tales feel more natural than many other fantasy books, is that almost all minor characters are treated as if they are complete people with their own full backstory. I sometimes see it in Kane stories as well. It's very rarely just an inkeeper, a thug, or a guard, but very often these are people who have names and know the protagonist or are known to him. This creates an impression that all these adventurer and bandit types are living in their own close society where everyone is somehow related or has a history. Maybe not entirely plausible, but within the telling of a story it does often feel very natural.
And it's not a technique that is particularly difficult to use.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora 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.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Lanko 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.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora 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.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora 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.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora 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?
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: DrNefario 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.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora 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.
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.)
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Lanko 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 (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245324277)
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora 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.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Lanko 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.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Eclipse on November 18, 2016, 10:17:21 PM
I love the black company but its more military fantasy then S&S to me
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Otto Von Chriek 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.

 
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Peat on November 23, 2016, 04:52:31 PM
It has the ingredients, but not the taste imo.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora 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.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Otto Von Chriek 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.   
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Eclipse on April 25, 2017, 08:24:07 PM
Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine #1) by Matthew Woodring Stover

Reading it now, its quite a strange one but to me its a Grimdark s&s book with a character called Caine ,I wonder if the author was inspired by Solomon Kane.

To be honest I've not got into the story that much as I'm  not a big fan of S&S of what I've read so far (still time through as I'm still pretty much at the beginning)

I defiantly think S&S fans should check it out through.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Yora on September 09, 2017, 11:16:18 AM
I've been reading about half of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique stories these last weeks and I have to say the experience left me rather underwhelmed. I really quite like his Hyperborea stories and expected something similar, but they are actually quite different.

There are a couple of almost throw-away lines that imply that Zothique is the Earth in it's last era before the death of the Sun, which of course has reverted back to medieval societies with lots of magic and monsters. For some reason this concept used to be pretty common in fantasy back in the day. One explanation I've heard is that using the far future (or an Earth man landing on another planet) allowed the writers to claim their work is science fiction when publishers didn't want to hire fantasy writers and once they had their first installment published they would simply continue the series as straightforward fantasy.
But in this case I fail to see anything that would make this world stand out as a dying planet. It all just looks very much like a generic Arabian desert setting to me with all the standard elements.

I don't remember the same thing from Hyperborea, but with Zothique there is not a single paragraph in all the stories that doesn't include a word I have never heard of before. Most of the time you can kind of guess its meaning from the context or you recognize a closely related word that has some degree of common use, but even for stories from the 30s I think Smith is really overdoing it a lot with the antiquated (or possibly made up) words.

But that's all just surface stuff that doesn't really harm the stories in any way. The problem I am having with them is the structure and plot. Because there is no plot. And no characterization. Pretty much every story consists of a blank slate character stumbling upon a supernatural sight and simply watches on as a passive observer, never actually doing or saying anything relevant that would count as taking an action. And then everyone is dead. And I mean every story. I've only read half of them, but among them was not a single exception.
The strange sights are really very evocative which makes it not actually a chore to read through the stories. But nothing happens. Nobody does anything. In his later years Smith stopped writing stories and focused entirely on poetry. When you read Zothique stories it's easy to see that this is very much in line with his talents.

I've heard a lot of praise about Empire of the Necromancers or The Charnel God, but they really are not doing anything for me.
Yet somehow I can't actually say that the stories are bad. I was flipping through the pages at a good pace and never felt actually bored. But nothing ever happens and there are no characters with even a smidge of personality, and by now I don't expect this to change later on if I keep reading. I much rather read something else. Like rereading Hyperborea stories for example.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Eclipse on October 19, 2017, 08:01:00 AM
I’ve just tried to read Malus Darkblade from the warhammer universe it’s too dark for me and the character is completely evil fighting other evil guys. It’s totally over the top and I found the writing weak. I’ve got no idea why this is so popular, apparently this character is the second biggest seller in the warhammer universe. I won’t be reading any more warhammer stuff.

The only person who I know who could possibly like this dark grimdark sword and sorcery is @Lanko as he liked beyond redemption

Malus is like an anti drizzt from forgotten realms
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Alex Hormann on October 19, 2017, 11:23:58 AM
I’ve just tried to read Malus Darkblade from the warhammer universe it’s too dark for me and the character is completely evil fighting other evil guys. It’s totally over the top and I found the writing weak. I’ve got no idea why this is so popular, apparently this character is the second biggest seller in the warhammer universe. I won’t be reading any more warhammer stuff.

The only person who I know who could possibly like this dark grimdark sword and sorcery is @Lanko as he liked beyond redemption

Malus is like an anti drizzt from forgotten realms

Malus Darkblade was my introduction to Warhammer, and I loved it enough to keep reading the franchise for five years. I like the over-the-topness of it. Yes it's dark, but the OTT violence and gallows humour stops it from being oppressive. At least it did for me.
I think part of the issue with the writing is that it's adapted from a comic strip, and they've tried to keep the same punchiness, which doesn't always work in its favour.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Lanko on October 19, 2017, 03:45:45 PM
I’ve just tried to read Malus Darkblade from the warhammer universe it’s too dark for me and the character is completely evil fighting other evil guys. It’s totally over the top and I found the writing weak. I’ve got no idea why this is so popular, apparently this character is the second biggest seller in the warhammer universe. I won’t be reading any more warhammer stuff.

The only person who I know who could possibly like this dark grimdark sword and sorcery is @Lanko as he liked beyond redemption

Malus is like an anti drizzt from forgotten realms

I found Beyond Redemption is nowhere as dark, bleak or depressing as Prince of Thorns, Fifth Season or Farseer and people love them...
I saw one or two people giving it up and not seeing the rest of the story because of a secondary character who never appears again mentions she uses mirror shards for her pleasure at some point (which is not even described in any way) and that was somehow too much grimdark for them, but a scene in another book that meticulously and graphically shows a boy breaking three legs of a dog with a hammer then setting it on fire is perfectly fine for a 5* star from the same people.

¯\_(?)_/¯

Anyway, did you try reading Karl Edward Wagner's Kane? He's like an anti-hero Conan, I think it might be more your style.
Title: Re: Sword & Sorcery - Recommendations and Opinions
Post by: Eclipse on October 19, 2017, 04:17:15 PM
I don’t think S&S is for me, even the light hearted ones.