Monday, August 27, 2007

Good Recent Swords-n-Sorcery?

So, now that I've uncovered my treasure trove of lost D&D stuff, I'm all in the mood for some swords and sorcery books. Although I dig the genre in some ways, I've always thought that most of it far too sucktastic for words. I loved LOTR (natch) and the Earthsea trilogy, liked Fafherd (sp?) and the Grey Mouser stuff o.k., HATED Terry Brooks...but haven't read anything newer than that.

Any suggestions about recent stuff?


Blogger Random Michelle K said...

Oh! I can answer this one! Me! Me! Pick me!

"The Phoenix Guards" by Steven Brust
"King's Peace" and "The King's Name" by Jo Walton
"Sabriel" by Garth Nix
"The Initiate Brother" and "Gatherer of Clouds" by Sean Russell
"Swordsoint" by Ellen Kushner
"Assassin's Apprentice" by Robin Hobb
"Her Majesty's Dragon" by Naomi Novak
"The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch
"Across the Nightingale Floor" by Lian Hearn
"Nightwatch" by Sergei Lukyanenko

Heck, I've got a whole website for this:

8:05 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Crimeny! You DO have a whole website about this!

And thanks for the list. Any two or three of these stand out as really, really the best?

8:51 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I really do read a lot.

"Phoenix Guards" is one of my all time favorite books. It's got swords and sorcery and witty dialog and everything.

"Swordspoint" is another all time favorite, but it only has swords, no sorcery. Plus, boy kissing scenes, which might be a turn off for some.

If you don't mind reading about a teenage girl, then pick up "Sabriel". (No sex, no foul language, just an excellent story. Plus Mogget.))

If you want something modern, pick up "Nightwatch", which is set in Russia.

If you'd like something set in Asia, then pick "Across the Nightingale Floor" (or "The Initiate Brother")

But my husband and I both love everything on my list I made, so you might want to do your selecting based upon setting.

And as a bonus, at least for the versions I have, all those have decent covers--nothing you'd be too embarrassed to read in public. (I own some books that I refuse to take out in public, because the covers are just horrible.)

9:40 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I know what you mean about sci-fi/fantasy covers. Sometimes I check them out in the bookstore just for some morbid jollies.

I got no problem with teenage girl heroines. I'm totally egalitarian in that respect. Heck, Buffy's like my favorite ever.

I got no problem with boys kissing...though it doesn't really have the same oomph as, oh, I dunno, say girls kissing...but beggars can't be choosers...

Thanks for the advice!

10:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

My favorite sci-fi author, Robert Silverberg, turned to fantasy around 1980 with "Lord Valentine's Castle," which won the Hugo. That turned into a whole new generation of work and fans, a trilogy then some followup stuff, all loosely called "Majipoor" after the immense techno-archaic planet it's based on.

Considered classic now, I think.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

Let me second Tom's recommendation for "Lord Valentine's Castle", as well as Michelle K's recommendation of "Swordspoint."

Another winner (sorcery but no swordplay) is "Thomas the Rhymer", also by Ellen Kushner.

Wow -- I just discovered (thank you, Google) that Kushner has two new novels out in the same setting as Swordspoint:
One, The Fall of the Kings is co-written with Delia Sherman (2003), the other , The Privilege of the Sword (2007) lists only Kushner as the author.

Well, I'll just have to get them now, won't I! ;-)

11:56 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

Well, if you don't mind girl heroines, then you should definitely read "Sabriel". I've loaned it to people that weren't fantasy readers, and they loved it.

I also had my grandmother (who prefers science fiction, mystery, and romance to fantasy) read "Her Majesty's Dragon" and she really enjoyed it and read the rest of the series and is waiting impatiently with us for the fourth book.

And I didn't think you'd have a problem with hot boys kissing, but it's always best to warn people. (i.e. when loaning "Six Feet Under" to my parents.)

And I actually own a cloth book cover, for those books with the half-nekkid wimmin with big swords and blonde hair--THOSE types of covers. Slightly less embarrassing that way.


"The Fall of the Kings" is good, though nowhere near as good as "Swordspoint". But I loved "The Privilege of the Sword". I pre-ordered it, and wasn't disappointed when it arrived.

And "Thomas the Rhymer" is also very good, but of the lot, "Swordspoint" is my favorite.

And my husband likes the Majipoor books, but I've never gotten around to reading them.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Thirding Sabriel. I read it during my impressionable high school years and I remember it being very good.

So is the entire readership of this blog fantasy / D&D nerds?

9:53 AM  
Blogger Myca said...


You have to read George R. R. Martin's magnificent Song of Ice and Fire series. The first is 'A Game of Thrones.'

The whole thing is more or less a fantasy retelling of the War of the Roses, with the 'Starks' and 'Lannisters' for the 'Yorks' and 'Lancasters,' but it also serves as both a traditional fantasy novel and a commentary on the inherent falsehood and romanticization of brutality in traditional fantasy novels.

That is, it presents the shining armor, snapping pennants, and chivalry of medieval fantasy while simultaneously asking, "wait a second . . . aren't these guys all hired damn killers?"


5:23 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...




7:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I will second the Game of Thrones rec -- I've read the first three (of a projected seven, I think?) books, and they're wonderful low fantasy, full of moral ambiguity, political machination, and a refreshingly brutal approach to protagonist mortality.

I've also enjoyed the Phoenix Guard stuff by Brust; it's a Dumas pastiche, and while somewhat hobbled by an overly-complex metaphysics and backstory, the series winds up being very very fun.

(I should say that while I used to devour fantasy novels In My Youth, these days I read almost none of it, so the above are books that I believe appeal to people who generally don't read much fantasy. Seems to me that's what you're looking for, but thought I'd include the caveat).

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, they're not all recent, but I enjoyed the DragonLance books quite a bit.

Start with the Chronicles Trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman - "Dragons of Autumn Twilight", "Dragons of Winter Night", and "Dragons of Spring Dawning". (Don't read "Dragons of Summer Flame" yet, though!) Then go on to the Legends Trilogy (also by Weis and Hickman) - "Time of the Twins", "War of the Twins", and "Test of the Twins". At this point, you can branch off pretty much anywhere you want, book-wise.

2:40 PM  

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