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Critically acclaimed fantasy novels that you just don't like.


Books

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Alitan said wrote:
A bunch of stuff I can only echo.

The Winter of the World series by Michael Scott Rohan, and Gene Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer quartet.

I found the Torturer series dull and more or less unintelligible. What in gods' names was going on? What happened? Why? And, more importantly, why would I actually care?

The Rohan series had everything going for it. Well written, lots of good ideas (albeit suffering a bit from 'power inflation', which reminds me, can I add "The Saga of Exiles" to my list please?), believable three dimensional bad guys. But it just bored me. I think by the time I read it I'd been reading nothing but sf/f for nearly twenty years and it was fantasy that I was bored with.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

Any series that appears to not have a conclusion or is being kept going indefinitely. This trend as far as I know began with Jordan but contined with The Sword of Truth series and Song of Ice and Fire. All of these authors and series also present a practically infinite amount of characters the better to divide the main story into inumerable sub plots. I joked with a friend once that a 600 page Jordan novel only spend about 50 pages on the main plot. I know this must be a very easy way to keep a story going and continue to get published but if you are going to write hundreds of thousands of pages set in the same world at least divide it up into different stories like Feist or Eddings. It is frustrating to say the least to come to love a story and then have to suffer through hundreds of sub plots and years (or sometimes decades)of waiting to see it play out.


Some comments:
Tolkien: Come on, guys, put it into perspective. He wrote this in the stone-age of fantasy and he´s a linguist. I read it 5+ times, but i started skipping the hobbits after the second time, i have to admit.

Jordan: Plump. Not only one of his favourite adjectives...
Also lots of skipping the second time around, i made it through repeatedly, but it drags, man does it drag...
Anderson changed that a lot btw.

Erikson: Appalling. Not only one of his favourite adjectives...
Some cool characters ( or rather sketches, cool names), but for the rest i wholeheartedly agree with the posters above.


I like LotR, but I've reached the point of skipping the Frodo/Sam/Gollum Angsty-Drama Love Triangle whenever I re-read 'em.


Huh. That's the only part I read!

Qadira

Midnight_Angel wrote:
Wheel of Time series... started off interesting enough (for me, at least), then steadily descends into what I can only describe as drudgery.

Me too. It felt like his writing was meant to totally paint every aspect of the book for you, not allowing even the slightest bit of room to imagine anything. Too overly detailed. I would get through a couple paragraphs about something the author decided to delve into very deeply for details and by the time I was done I forgot what was going on...couldn't keep the characters straight, couldn't keep locations straight, couldn't follow the story through the thick underbrush of details he wrote. It was mind-numbing.


Revelation Space - Alistair Reynolds. Tried hard to like it. Became a chore at times, even got me to nap once or twice. It did have its moments but I don't think I'll continue with the series.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There were many mid-20th century Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors that were big on ideas but short on writing ability.

I'd have to put everything I've read by Philip K. Dick on that list-- great ideas, hack writing.

Same for the E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman stuff.

I wanted to like Robert Heinlein's works (and I did mostly like Stranger in a Strange Land despite the oh-so-dated hippy-dippy free-love stuff), but just about everything else I've read of his left me cold. Worst offender: the misogyny-disguised-as-praise of I will Fear No Evil.

I liked Dune, but really did not like any of its sequels.

I really tried to get through Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter, mainly because of its influence on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, but just couldn't get past the third chapter.

Jumping ahead to stuff published within the last 30 years, all of my friends raved about Guy Gavriel Kay's trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry, but despite the superb writing, the lack of any original idea left me cold. It's a trope from every other fantasy novel thrown into a blender, pureed, and poured into beautiful crystal goblets. Pleasant to behold but ultimately unsatisfying.

There are probably more, but these are the ones that jump to mind.


@Haladir

Ditto Fionavar -- but check out his novel, Tigana; original, wonderful story, great characters, fascinating magic... good stuff.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sunderstone wrote:
Revelation Space - Alistair Reynolds. Tried hard to like it. Became a chore at times, even got me to nap once or twice. It did have its moments but I don't think I'll continue with the series.

I read Revelation Space after Chasm City and a couple of his later books, and I agree--it dragged compared to them. His more recent books--The Prefect, Terminal World, and House of Suns--have been much better, IMHO.


Quote:
Same for the E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman stuff.

Blasphemy!

Sure it's pulpy space opera, but it's good pulpy space opera!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Alitan wrote:
ALL THE CRAP THAT FRANK HERBERT'S SON AUTHORISED FOR DUNE BOOKS

What are you speaking about? There weren't more Dune books after Frank Herbert's death. Not even one.


I don't understand. What do you mean Dune books?
Dune was brilliant, but it stood alone. A sequel would have just been silly.


thejeff wrote:

I don't understand. What do you mean Dune books?

Dune was brilliant, but it stood alone. A sequel would have just been silly.

OK, when *I* say 'Dune Books,' I mean:

Dune
Dune Messiah*
Children of Dune*
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse: Dune

* Sadly, these two are kind of a hard read... should have been a single book. But whatever.

I specifically exclude the steaming load of cr@p that followed Frank Herbert's death... the above six are the ONLY Dune books.

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.

In the beginning, there were authors of fantasy. Some were good, some were bad. Overall, life was good. Then D&D came, and some of the authors found RPGs. Life was still pretty good. Then some kids who played RPGs became authors. And, unfortunately, their RPG experiences tended to dominate their fantasy books. Ever since, fantasy has has tended to be garbage.

I personally don't read much fantasy anymore. The old fantasy from my youth seems jaded and old. The newer fantasy by those brought up on RPGs (whether pencil and paper or video) seems utterly derivative. Life is no longer good, at least in the realm of fantasy books for me. Oh well. :)


Howie, I think you're just not looking very hard; fair enough, you're disillusioned about fantasy, so naturally you wouldn't. But there's lots of great fantasy still being produced.

Read Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Read Sabriel, by Garth Nix.

Read Orphans of Chaos, by John C. Wright.

To name a few.

But seriously, read Tigana. Poignant, tragic, heroic fantasy, in a unique setting, with fascinating characters and magic; it might restore your faith in the genre.

Andoran

Yeah, probably true, Alitan, and thanks for the recommendations. It isn't a matter of not looking hard enough....I'm not looking at all these days. :)


Quote:
OK, when *I* say 'Dune Books,' I mean:

I think that was a reference to the fact that a lot of people who like DUNE actually hate Frank Herbert's five sequels, as well as the Anderson Atrocities. I think they're okay (reaching a nadir with GOD-EMPEROR, which was way too long considering almost nothing happens in it).

Quote:
The newer fantasy by those brought up on RPGs (whether pencil and paper or video) seems utterly derivative.

I'd recommend Steven Erikson, Scott Bakker, Scott Lynch or Joe Abercrombie. All have been influenced by RPGs to some extent, but are hugely different in the types of story they are trying to tell.


I, too, love Joe Abercrombie, though I haven't read any of those other guys. There's a video kicking around here somewhere of him, Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss and a couple of others I didn't recognize playing D&D at some con. It's like 3 minutes long and amusing to watch.

Anyway, I think there has always been a ratio of well-written books to artless pablum--and of course, half the fun is arguing about which is which. It's the same as in any other genre of literature, including "literature", or, for that matter, any genre of art.

I read a comment somewhere by Michael Moorcock saying that he was grateful to Gary Gygax for doubling his readership. I think what RPGs did was explode the size of our particular niche of geekdom. Also, fantasy/sci-fi books are like heavy metal--there aren't, statistically, a lot of heavy metal fans, but heavy metal fans ARE REALLY INTO heavy metal and buy a disproportionate amount of albums (and with that, I reveal myself as hopelessly old-fashioned and out-of-touch).

As for Dune, I read the first three and enjoyed them immensely. There were even times when they were great. But, for whatever reason, at the end of the third one I just decided to call it quits on a relatively high note.

Also, I would like to see more flamewars about Guy Gavriel Kay. Please, for me? Last time this thread was active, I saw some talk about his books and I picked up a bunch at yo olde usede booke store but I haven't read them yet.

What else? Hmm, I haven't read as much as Dick as I should, but the writing didn't strike me as hackish.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm going to have to agree with many here - the first book of Jordan's wheel of time is one of the very few books I've ever just given up on and never returned to - I felt like I had read four hundred pages in which the main character barely gets out of bed and crosses his bedroom floor to get to the door.

Painful and pointless, to my mind.

Reggie.


Burgomeister of Troll Town wrote:
As for Dune, I read the first three and enjoyed them immensely. There were even times when they were great. But, for whatever reason, at the end of the third one I just decided to call it quits on a relatively high note.

Good call! I wish I had quit after the first three (except that I enjoyed reading the first book a second time).

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This seems like an appropriate place to include what has a reasonable chance of actually being a quote from Frank Herbert:

"I'm still against the idea of sequels in principle, because it's
like watering down your wine all the time until you're left with just
water."

(Even as we speak, the person who quoted Herbert on net.sf-lovers, some 27 years ago, is trying to identify where he got it from.)

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