Tag Archives: epic fantasy

Epic Journey Fantasy Novels

When I was in junior high school, I read The Hobbit, and I was absolutely fascinated by the map. The map aided in the journey that Bilbo went through, and it made it quite exciting. I kept thinking about all the places I would be able to see through the eyes of the characters. That is when epic journeys became one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with fantasy.

Since then, I’ve read many fantasy novels with maps, such as Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, and the rest of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, The Lord of the Rings. Some others, such as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels didn’t really do much in the way of travel, opting to stay put in many of them.

What are some great epic journey fantasy novels you’ve read and would recommend? Maps are essential! Let me know in the comments.

Where Are All the Female Epic Fantasy Authors?

When you think of epic fantasy, what authors come to mind? Robert Jordan? George R. R. Martin? J. R. R. Tolkien? Men. It always seems to be male authors. So, where are the female epic fantasy authors?

Here’s a list of them on Reddit. Oh, C. J. Cherryh. C. S. Friedman’s a woman? I didn’t know that. I know Jacqueline Carey and Janny Wurts. There’s Lois McMaster Bujold. N. K. Jemisin is a newer one, and she’s African American, too! And there’s Robin Hobb. Did you know she’s a woman? There are some big names there, but the list is incredibly short.

On Leona Henry’s blog, I found that list, and her post inspired me to write this. It’s unfortunate that female fantasy authors seem to be stereotyped as YA authors or romance authors. It’s a shame that epic fantasy novels written by female authors have romance style covers when there is no romance in the novel.  Sounds like publishers are to blame with that.

I want to see more epic fantasy novels written by female authors. Although not really fantasy, one of my favourite authors is Anne McCaffrey, and she had some wonderful books based on the world of Pern. They are dragon-themed, but it is science fiction. I want more variety in the books I’ve been reading. It just seems I pick up books that look good based on the description and cover, and pass over the ones that look like they’re more romantic. I see the error in that now.

There’s another thing that I’ve been inspired to do. You see at the top of the page, a menu option called Reviews? I’m going to add another page that lists books by the author’s gender. As I tend to read mainly science fiction and fantasy, you’ll get to have a good list of female authors as I read their books. So, if that page isn’t there now, it will be shortly. I’ll get that done within the next hour, I think.

And I think I’m going to try get into using Reddit, especially the fantasy and science fiction sections.

So, I would like to ask you a question. Which female epic fantasy authors would you recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Book Review – Wizard’s First Rule

wizardsfirstruleWizard’s First Rule, the first novel in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, is an epic fantasy story that gave me mixed feelings.

Set in a world where magic is common, the story begins in the Westland, where magic is not permitted or trusted.  The people are protected by a boundary that keeps the magic and people of the Midlands and D’Hara out.  It starts out with Richard Cypher meeting Kahlan Amnell, a woman with a mysterious power. He vows to protect her, and this results in a very interesting relationship between two unusual people.  The main cast is rounded out with Zedd, an eccentric old man who is Richard’s friend, and Chase, a formidable man who patrols the boundary.  Richard turns out to be our hero who has the Sword of Truth, and must try to defeat Darken Rahl, a man who wants to rule the world.

The characters are quite interesting, though I found many of them a bit unbelievable.  Richard is your typical hero in some ways, but he starts out with some pretty strong skills in tracking and surviving in the wilderness.  Kahlan is always secretive with Richard, but the two form a strong relationship, even though they cannot follow through with their feelings with each other.  Zedd comes across as a sometimes senile, but usually brilliant wizard.  I often thought he was a source of comic relief.  Chase isn’t as well developed, but he’s a very dependable character.  On the other side, Darken Rahl proves to be one of the most sadistic and cruel antagonists I’ve ever read.  He is brutal and the way he does things makes the reader want to hate him.  He has no redeemable values.  Denna, a Mord-Sith, is an intriguing character.  Although she is on the side of Rahl, she seems to be a more complete character than him, and shows both good and bad sides.  Queen Milena and Princess Violet show nothing good, and are one-dimensional characters.  There are several other characters, but the cast is fairly large.  I found that the dialogue and interactions between some characters were a bit unnatural.  For a serious epic fantasy, some of it just seemed so goofy and juvenile.  I couldn’t really connect with the characters.

The story itself was fine.  It’s fun to read, and quite engaging.  I became more and more involved in the story as it went on, and I couldn’t stop reading toward the end.  The beginning started off slowly like most epic fantasy stories, but it became more interesting as it continued.  The whole episode involving Denna was a surprise to me, and contributed to the story in a big way.

The world is very interesting.  It consists of Westland, Richard’s homeland, Midlands, a broad and rather undeveloped land, and D’Hara, Darken Rahl’s land.  I found that there were a lot of interesting places, such as the Mud People’s land, but it was overall fairly standard fare.  I’m hoping to see more chances to explore the land in future books.

Despite the lighthearted mood in parts of the book, there were very dark periods.  One aspect is that the torture and rape of young children is present, though never described.  This may turn off some people.  Another thing I found detracted from the story is that some of the people were very one-dimensional.  There were some characters that were completely good, and some that were completely evil.  I like to see more grey area than that.  Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd were all in the grey area, but just barely.

The title, Wizard’s First Rule, is explained very plainly in the book.  At first, I thought it was going to be about some wizard who rules the land, but I was wrong.  It’s about an actual rule that wizards have.  When I read what it was, I was dumbfounded.  I couldn’t figure out if it was stupid or brilliant.  My thoughts where this: “What the?  You have got to be kidding!”  It was that big of a surprise.

Overall, I found this to be a fun story with decent world-building.  I wasn’t able to feel most of the characters, which is a shame.  It could’ve been a top rated book.  So, I must give it a 4 out of 5 star rating.

Book Review – The Great Hunt

thegreathuntThe Great Hunt is the second novel of The Wheel of Time epic fantasy series by Robert Jordan.  I’ve previous reviewed book 1 of the series, The Eye of the World, and this book is a continuation of the story.

Coming off a rather predictable beginning to the series, I was hoping for something deeper and less predictable.  That’s exactly what I got.  The story continues where the first one left off, with Rand al’Thor struggling to come to terms with who he is, and a beginning of another journey for him and his friends.  This time, they’re to deliver the Horn of Valere, but of course, their plans don’t exactly happen the way they hoped.  While the first book was a fairly straightforward and simple story about a reluctant hero, this one is a much more complex and compelling story about a hero who hates what he is.  He hates it so much, he denies it to himself, his friends, and all others.  His friends Mat and Perrin have their own troubles they have to come to terms with, as well.  In the first book, they were great friends, but now they all have psychological issues to deal with, and things are no longer cheery for them.  Add in Egwene and Nynaeve with their new quest to become Aes Sedai, and more mysterious actions by Moiraine, and we have a story with multiple subplots.  One great thing is that we get to see what goes on in the lives of the Aes Sedai.  My, what a lovely dysfunctional family they seem to be.  Jordan did a great job with the story in this book, and developed the characters very well.

The world in this series continues to reveal itself, and I’m very intrigued about every part of it.  I love fantasy worlds, and this one seems so well done with many different kinds of people and cultures.  Tar Valon, the Aes Sedai city, was very interesting.  I want to see more of it.  Cairhien proved to be a paranoid city that I would not want to live in.  The Aiel made an appearance, which I was waiting for.  I’m wondering if we’ll see much of them in future installments.  But the coming of the Seanchan provides another enemy to focus on, not just for Rand, but also for the Aes Sedai.  We’ve got a rich variety of people and places.

Being a continuation of a series, there’s a big overall story, but each book needs to have a complete story itself.  The Great Hunt does well at having a good self-contained story, but also to be only one piece of the greater picture.  The final battle of this book was a surprise.  I wasn’t expecting that at all.  It’s going to be interesting to see how things go from here.

The Great Hunt was pretty good.  I think it was better than the first book.  Anyone who gave up halfway through The Eye of the World should try again, and then read this book.  I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.  It’s worth it!

I’d give this a full 5 out of 5 stars.  Great read!

TOP 21 LONGEST FANTASY SERIES

I thought this was a pretty good list, and quite helpful for me to add the first books on Goodreads. I wonder how long it took to research and compile this list. I’d like to add that Malazan isn’t just written by Erikson, but some were written by Ian Cameron Esslemont, the co-creator of the world of Malazan.

Longest

Every one of you has done it: fallen in love with an epic, fantasy series that goes on and on forever. The ones that begin so grandly then morph into multi-volume nightmares that never seem to end. Even the authors know they are bloated beasts, for example take Tad Williams, writer of the “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” series, who labeled that trilogy “The Bloated Epic.”

Having gone through this horror myself more than once, I wondered what fantasy series in my life (I was born in 1970) were the longest and most bloated. Not “bloated” in the sense that they were terrible reads (though there are some that were horrid) but rather that the author had contracted “Herbert’s Syndrome”, in which he is overwhelmed by the temptation to keep expanding his popular universe. (I’ve read that the Fantasy Review came up with the label “Herbert’s Syndrome” when Dune creator Frank…

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Book Review – The Silmarillion

silmarillionThe Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is an epic fantasy book based in the world of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It was published after Tolkien’s death and edited by his son Christopher.  What this isn’t is a novel.  It’s the history of Middle-Earth and Valinor from the creation of the world, and mostly about the First Age.

In this book, there are several tales: Ainulindale, the creation story; Valaquenta, the story about the Valar and Maiar; Quenta Silmarillion, the main story in this book about the Silmarils and the First Age of Middle-Earth and Valinor; Akallabeth, the story about Numenor; and Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, which is self-explanatory.  Some familiar characters from Lord of the Rings appear, such as Sauron, Galadriel, and Elrond.  There’s a bit about Gandalf, and a very short bit about the Hobbits, naming only Frodo.  Basically, Tolkien considered The Silmarillion to be his most important work.

I went into this book knowing that it does not read like a novel.  It reads like a holy book and history book combined.  Tolkien used language that was poetic, as well as very descriptive.  This can turn some people off, so just be aware of this.

It’s difficult to describe the characters in the book, as they’re written as historic figures, so we don’t get a detailed account of what happens.  However, we do get to know their personalities and thoughts.  There is a lot of sadness and grief for many of them, as there’s a large amount of destruction and death.  It features all of the races from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, though only touches on the Hobbits and Gollum’s people.  There’s a vast number of characters, which can be hard to keep straight.  However, the genealogical tables and index really help.

Tolkien painted a vivid picture of Middle-Earth, Valinor, and Numenor in this book.  The history was extremely detailed and developed very well.  He developed languages for it, as he was a philologist and was very talented linguistically.  Included in this book are maps and a section on languages and pronunciation.  It’s packed with information.

I found this review a bit difficult to write, as it’s completely different than any other book I’ve read.  However, I thought it was beautifully done and absolutely fascinating.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s a Tolkien fan or really enjoys world building.

This gets a full 5 stars.  Great stuff!

The age of the protagonist

I’ve read plenty of fantasy novels where the main character is usually a teenager who goes on a journey, discovers themself, and becomes an adult.  This is a very common theme of epic fantasy stories.  I’ve read some in which the main character is an adult, as well.  However, a lot of fantasy stories are about self-discovery, and it’s usually teenagers that go through this process, both in literature and in reality.  Teenaged characters may also appeal more to younger readers.

So, this is what I’m wondering, how old do people prefer to have their protagonist? For me, it depends on the story.  Young characters are often needed, especially for self-discovery stories.  Adults can go through this, too.  But adults are usually less adaptable and more set in their ways. The two fantasy novels I’m reading right now are quite different.  “A Game of Thrones” has an ensemble cast of characters of many different ages.  There’s no particular lead character, as the point of view changes between several adult, teenage, and child characters. The other is an eBook I’m reading called “Voidhawk” where all characters are adults. But usually, I read fantasy novels with a teenaged lead character.

As for my planned trilogy, the main character starts out as a teenager for reasons I won’t get into now.  However, he is nearly an adult.

What age do you prefer protagonists to be?