Recommended Reading

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Recommended Reading

These are the spellbooks with which a GM works his magic.

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It's really astonishing how trendy the fantasy genre can be. If you go to a local used book store and go to the fantasy section you'll see almost an entirely different selection than you would in Borders/Barnes. I thought I'd look at this list and agree with at least half of your picks but tbh I only recognized two or three (shame, I know) despite the fact that I have like 3 book cases crowded with these pulpy monsters.

A few good suggestions that I may eventually get around to. I have not made time to ready any of the Earthsea set but the few films and at least one anime that I know of, based on the world have gotten me really fired up. (But then I get lost in the works of Glen Cook.)

I will say that when I have a dire need for high fantasy Terry Goodkind and the Sword of Truth series can't go wrong. (Poor taste on my part but I even think the TV series Legend of The Seeker isn't bad.)

@Archon I think at one point you mentioned you were reading the Black Company set. How did you cope with the set pieces offered up in those books? Did any find their way into your DMing?

Quite by chance I read Three Hearts and Three Lions whilst I was having a bit of a Danish phase. The novel lead to me thumbing through old books on the Hundred Years War, the Black Prince, which lead to Arthur Conan Doyle's The White Company (a glorious historical-fiction piece; real "boy's own" stuff) which lead to me fishing out Medieval Total War which took me back to thumbing through books on the Crusades and the Siege of Malta.

Yep, before 'gamification' there were fantasy novels; leading us to all sorts of places.

cool I've been wondering what fantasy stuff to read.

Any chance of a list for other genres games?

G/l with Adventurer Conquerer King, I'm backing you.

where the frack is eragon? really,REALLY?
probably the best current fantasy series out there

I read the first book in R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy and thought is was terminally dull, over-wrought and just not that entertaining. But that's just me.

tg851:
where the frack is eragon? really,REALLY?
probably the best current fantasy series out there

By your avatar, I see that you are joking.

tg851:
where the frack is eragon? really,REALLY?
probably the best current fantasy series out there

Listen: I LOVEs me some Eragon. I have really enjoyed that series so far!

But! (Keep in mind that I have not read half of what´s on this list...)

I feel that Robert Jordans "Wheel of Time" should be mentioned before Eragon...

I'm there with you for Anderson, LeGuin, Moorcock, Tolkein and Vance. The others are OK, just not formative for me. I do seem to be missing Roger Zelazny though. Dilvish the Damned, Lord Of Light, the Amber books... can't leave Zelazny out :)

*edit* Oh, and if we want to add more recent authors, don't leave out David Eddings and Glen Cook.

Hello! thanks for the feedback..

r_Chance:
I'm there with you for Anderson, LeGuin, Moorcock, Tolkein and Vance. The others are OK, just not formative for me. I do seem to be missing Roger Zelazny though. Dilvish the Damned, Lord Of Light, the Amber books... can't leave Zelazny out :)

I enjoyed Amber, but the books were not hugely influential on my gaming, so I didn't include them.

Oh, and if we want to add more recent authors, don't leave out David Eddings and Glen Cook.

I've got Glen Cook on the list. I didn't include David Eddings, or Robert Jordan, or R.A. Salvatore, for the same reason I didn't include Zelazny; they weren't inspirational to me. (At one time I'd have included Jordan on the list but he lost my fandom around book 5.)

Zom-B:
I read the first book in R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy and thought is was terminally dull, over-wrought and just not that entertaining. But that's just me.

Sorry you didn't dig it!

kalt_13:
cool I've been wondering what fantasy stuff to read.

Any chance of a list for other genres games?

G/l with Adventurer Conquerer King, I'm backing you.

Thanks for your support!!

Croaker42:
@Archon I think at one point you mentioned you were reading the Black Company set. How did you cope with the set pieces offered up in those books? Did any find their way into your DMing?

I haven't finished reading the Black Company series. It's hard to piece together what the series consists of, all in, and a lot of the books are hard to find...

Archon:
Hello! thanks for the feedback..

I enjoyed Amber, but the books were not hugely influential on my gaming, so I didn't include them.

I've got Glen Cook on the list. I didn't include David Eddings, or Robert Jordan, or R.A. Salvatore, for the same reason I didn't include Zelazny; they weren't inspirational to me. (At one time I'd have included Jordan on the list but he lost my fandom around book 5.)

For me, Zelazny's best fantasy is Dilvish the Damned. Excellent DM material, especially the short stories (although the Changing Land novel was excellent as well). If you haven't read them, there is a lot of inspiration to be had. The Amber books were fun, but Dilvish is superb. I missed Cook? Sorry. The Black Company books were sxcellent but the Garrett novels are a great read for urban fantasy noire. As for Eddings the Diamond Throne trilogy. Sparhawk. Excellent characterization. Jordan was fairly good (although I agree it was stretched out too far), I never really got into Salvatore. He was OK, but not a great read or inspiration for me.

*edit* Good list btw. Be interesting to see a science fiction list...

Really like this list, I've been looking for some good Fantasy novels and this is just what I needed.

I've been meaning to get into Moorcock for a while now, but I've no damn clue where to start reading the Elric books. What order do I read them, which books and/or stories outside of it should I also read?

Jenx:
I've been meaning to get into Moorcock for a while now, but I've no damn clue where to start reading the Elric books. What order do I read them, which books and/or stories outside of it should I also read?

Moorcock's multiverse and cross-referencing already comes into play in the second book, "Sailor on the Seas of Fate," where it is heavily featured in the first half of the book.
"Elric of Melnibone," the first book, is good as a standalone and a starting place.

As for series I'd mention Glen Cook's "The Black Company," a grim and gritty book with a similar point of view as the adventuring party.

While Christopher Stasheff's series "The Rogue Wizard" is not exactly exemplary fantasy material, with science fictional undertones, is a worthwhile read for those who are interested in worldbuilding, DM's mainly.

I think that there are 2 significant things missing from the list. The first is Beowulf, the granddaddy of them all, not only the earliest piece of Anglo Saxon literature but the first appearance of trolls and dragons as part of the written word in proto-english. In short no Beowulf, no Tolkien.

The second is Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory, the canon work for Arthurian legend. Ok its a collation of existing stories but its the bench mark for the high romance style that heavily influenced everyone since. His Arthur could easily fit into Moorcock's multiverse.

However, I recognize that its the the works that influenced you, rather than me but if you haven't read them take a look.

On the Adventurer Conquerer King front,I hope all goes well. Could report back to us all the how things went at Gen Con. I would be interested to see how your ideas evolve after letting the general pubic at them. Also, as wild stab in the dark is the title influenced by Argrath's saga form runequest?

albino boo:
I think that there are 2 significant things missing from the list. The first is Beowulf, the granddaddy of them all, not only the earliest piece of Anglo Saxon literature but the first appearance of trolls and dragons as part of the written word in proto-english. In short no Beowulf, no Tolkien.

The second is Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory, the canon work for Arthurian legend. Ok its a collation of existing stories but its the bench mark for the high romance style that heavily influenced everyone since. His Arthur could easily fit into Moorcock's multiverse.

However, I recognize that its the the works that influenced you, rather than me but if you haven't read them take a look.

Albino, I totally agree with you! And those works did influence me. However, I didn't include any legendary, mythic, or historic sources in my list. If I did, these would be others I'd add:

Robin Lane Fox - Alexander the Great
Seamus Heaney - Beowulf: A New Translation
Homer - The Iliad
Polybius - Rise of the Roman Empire
Mary Renault - Fire from Heaven, Funeral Games, et. al

On the Adventurer Conquerer King front,I hope all goes well. Could report back to us all the how things went at Gen Con. I would be interested to see how your ideas evolve after letting the general pubic at them. Also, as wild stab in the dark is the title influenced by Argrath's saga form runequest?

No, I'm not familiar with Argrath's saga form runequest, I'm afraid. The title was influenced by Conan - "Conan the Adventurer," "Conan the Conqueror" and "King Conan".

Great list. Can't wait to see the science fiction selections.

Personally, I'll throw my recommendation in for Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series. He definitely took Vance as a starting point, but tossed out the pulp magazine sensibility for something far weirder. Weird extends not only to the flora and fauna, but to the basic mindset of the characters who convincingly embody the mores of a society alien to our present and Western European past. Wolfe also does some interesting things with narrative.

I think for the purpose of an RPG Vance is enough, and I was glad to see him on this list. Still, I felt like mentioning that Wolfe forced me to reconsider the literary value of speculative fiction, and I'm glad I did.

Stein Inge:
I feel that Robert Jordans "Wheel of Time" should be mentioned before Eragon...

The whole time, I was thinking, "Wheel of TIme...Wheel of Time...WHEEL OF TIME...WHERE IS IT?"
I am disappoint. Oh well.

Zom-B:
I read the first book in R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy and thought is was terminally dull, over-wrought and just not that entertaining. But that's just me.

tg851:
where the frack is eragon? really,REALLY?
probably the best current fantasy series out there

By your avatar, I see that you are joking.

not in the least! yes i may be a troll but eragon is some of te best current fantasy series I've seen, kicks harry potters ass any time

Glad David Gemmell got a mention as he's often overlooked where fantasy inspiration lists are concerned yet has been a major inspiration for many of my greatest rpg campaigns and some of my more memorable charactors over the years, its just a shame he died before we ever got to see what he had planned once he finished the Troy trilogy :(

somonels:

Jenx:
I've been meaning to get into Moorcock for a while now, but I've no damn clue where to start reading the Elric books. What order do I read them, which books and/or stories outside of it should I also read?

Moorcock's multiverse and cross-referencing already comes into play in the second book, "Sailor on the Seas of Fate," where it is heavily featured in the first half of the book.
"Elric of Melnibone," the first book, is good as a standalone and a starting place.

As for series I'd mention Glen Cook's "The Black Company," a grim and gritty book with a similar point of view as the adventuring party.

Soooo....your advice is to basically "read everything"? I could have figured as much myself, thank you.

I'd also recommend The Black Company. I really like those books, though at times it gets a bit hard to move forward with the story. Sorry Murgen, but old Croaker is still the better Annalist to me.

Jenx:

I'd also recommend The Black Company. I really like those books, though at times it gets a bit hard to move forward with the story. Sorry Murgen, but old Croaker is still the better Annalist to me.

I completly agree with you. I had beome so attached to Croaker and The Lady that it took me a while to get through the Murgen set. Though once you do its so worth it.

tg851:
not in the least! yes i may be a troll but eragon is some of te best current fantasy series I've seen, kicks harry potters ass any time

I have read Harry Potter, and while it wasn't really my cup of tea, it at least was fresh and interesting. The books in the Eragon series are derivative and near plagiarism. I realize it's a matter of taste, but after having read literally hundreds of fantasy novels, as I have, something as trite and hackneyed as Eragon doesn't even get a look in.

Fritz Leiber: the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories are some of the best sword & sorcery ever. Every fantasy city owes a debt to Lankhmar, and Leiber probably invented the fantasy Thieves' Guild.

Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books rarely end up on lists like this. I love the early books, they're like hard-boiled noirish crime dramas set in a D&D world. Brust even explores how things like commonly-available enchanted weapons, teleportation and resurrection magic would impact such a setting.

Apologies for double post.

Shame that you feel the need to keep all your inspiration genre-specific.
Anything can be hacked apart to fit into any setting if you stop to think about it, and cross-pollination genres is how you stop all your games being predictable streams of trope and cliche.

Zelazny should be there. He is one of the Great Old Ones.

Fritz Leiber should be there. Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are simply too good for any aspiring GM to pass. His books are a joy to read.

Finally, despite what many think, Pratchett's Discworld is so jarringly creative, offering so much food for thought, that it should be mandatory for any serious fantasy fan. If someone dismisses it as simple comedy, I'll go to our house and shove 10 cans of Spam down your ear. Just read the prologue in The Colour of Magic... It is so many things at the same time.

I would also recommend Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear. Probably also the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks.

Good list - very pleased with the addition of GRRM.
I've been meaning to read some Conan and Bakker stuff.
I'm intrigued by the descriptions of Guy Gavriel Kay's work and Paksenarion.
I tried reading the first Malazan book - eh... couldn't get into it.
And I want to read the Earthsea stuff to just be able to say to Harry Potter fans "this came out way earlier!"

StrixMaxima:
Zelazny should be there. He is one of the Great Old Ones.

Fritz Leiber should be there. Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are simply too good for any aspiring GM to pass. His books are a joy to read.

Finally, despite what many think, Pratchett's Discworld is so jarringly creative, offering so much food for thought, that it should be mandatory for any serious fantasy fan. If someone dismisses it as simple comedy, I'll go to our house and shove 10 cans of Spam down your ear. Just read the prologue in The Colour of Magic... It is so many things at the same time.

I haven't personally read much by either Leiber or Pratchett, so I can't recommend them to others! I have no doubt that they are great, but it wouldn't be genuine to include them in a list of my personal recommendations.

SL33TBL1ND:
I would also recommend Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear. Probably also the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks.

I am not familiar with them!

I was getting ready to raise a real ruckus if Vance wasn't on this list, but he is.

I am appeased.

Archon:

SL33TBL1ND:
I would also recommend Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear. Probably also the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks.

I am not familiar with them!

Definitely worth checking out, Patrick Rothfuss' books are the sorts of books you wear out in a month from repeated reading. Brent Weeks' stuff less so, but still good.

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