Into the Tavern of Good Reads

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Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:40 am

Taking a break so I thought I’d hammer this out on the keyboard
I left my Kindle at home so I can’t quite refer to it now but yeah, had a mini-discussion with Eardrum on this
So yeah, I’m always interested to pick the brains of fellow readers
In keeping to the theme of the guild, I guess fantasy (sword & sorcery) would fit in here

*Although it’s certainly no sin to branch out, mmm maybe graphic novels; I read almost anything non-fiction.
Books were an expensive luxury when I was a kid so this habit comes from scouring used-bookstores and jumble sales.
Westerns (my dad had an obscenely extensive collection of Louis L’amour), sci-fi, humour, romance, life, hey I even went one year tracking down and reading only Pulitzer winners, then Man Bookers the next.
But I was always always hooked on sword & sorcery.
Hooked by my aunt, an English teacher, bless her soul, who would do nothing in the mornings, but sit legs up on the small foot rest.
In that dimly-lit cavernous sitting room of hers, cold enough to appear seemingly damp, and peer at books
Her reading glasses perched atop her tiny head, suspiciously forgotten.
I’m much older now, and can no longer pull all-nighters, riveted to a page-turner. Plus a lot of stuff vie for my attention. Both reading and non- because work demands that I keep up to date, news demands that I keep up to date, and because I’m a hobbyist cook, recipes demand that I … oh you know the rest.
I used to read during commute but I drive now and those two don’t mix unfortunately.
So now that’s reserved to late nights before I sleep but in comes TOS…

I’m currently on Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, and its stuff you can barely put down.
It just got released last month but I only caught wind of it last week.
The sequel to Way of Kings, and it’s proven to be pretty decent continuation piece.
He did suffer from sequel-itis on his previous series – the Mistborn trilogy had a great premise but kinda sputtered out in the end
*Based on individual’s talents to ‘burn’ metals in one’s blood. Different metals confer different abilities (heightened senses, dexterity, strength, telekinesis, etc) which one can top up by drinking small vials of metal flakes. Most are born with only one innate ability to burn one type of metal; Mistborn are able to burn ‘em all. Rebels try to overthrow the evil dictator, supposedly the most powerful almost omniprescient god-like Mistborn.
Btw, you may recognize Sanderson as the fella as the one who received the mandate to finish up Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.
Amazingly prolific though, nothing like ol’ George RR.

I’ll see if I can scrounge up the time to write about my list of reads
As another recommendation, Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles comes to mind

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by larken on Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:49 pm

I wasn't very taken with the Mistborn series, but am in the middle of the Way of Kings. Pretty good stuff, though the length makes the story seem a little meandering. I wasn't a fan of Sanderson until I read one of his shorts, namely The Emperor's Soul, which I found fantastic (which was why I decided to forge on with the Way of Kings).

I had heard many good things about Rothfuss, and decided to check the book out a few months ago. Landed in my did not finish collection; it seemed like a rather extreme wish-fulfillment story with a perfect hero who can do apparently everything in the world. Definitely not to my tastes.

I used to read quite abit of sword and sorcery, or for that matter, high fantasy, but it was quite a while ago. Off the top of my head;

The Belgeriad (David Eddings) - typical Tolkien clone, was entertaining when I was a kid, but suffers from poor writing when I tried reading it in adulthood

The Dark Elf Trilogy (R.A. Salvatore) - pretty good even now. Should definitely check it out. It gets a little draggy later on as the related books span over 16 books by now. The Cleric Quintet is pretty decent too, for a change in characters.

The Sword of Truth (series) (Terry Goodkind) - Decent, but a little overly graphic and sexual. This series used to be compared a lot to the Wheel of Time. Started to get draggy after the fourth book.

There's also the Dragonlance Chronicles, which started off really good, but got ridiculous later (mostly the ones written by authors other than Weis and Hickman)

My childhood was more or less occupied with Enid Blyton (Far Away Tree, Famous Five), Lloyd Alexander, Tamora Pierce (Wild Magic was pretty good; from the point of view of a fourteen year old), and the usual classics that most people would have read before (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, To Kill A Mockingbird), and The Chronicles of Narnia to name a few. Oh, and Terry Prachett's Discworld series is pretty good, if you can stomach his style of writing, which is very confusing to some readers.

There's other series I have read in the past, which I won't mention as they weren't really good enough to warrant mentioning. A few that started off great but really disappointed me in the end (Brent Weeks' Night Angel Trilogy comes to mind)

I've moved away from multi-book series in the recent years (a little sad about it Sad but like you, I have less time nowadays to keep up with my reading), and also away from sword and sorcery/high fantasy.

A few series I'm currently reading:

The Dresden Files - by Jim Butcher. Highly entertaining, though without literary merit (not that it matters to me). First person urban fantasy, which reads as a noir-detective mystery story - but the protagonist is also a wizard who lives in modern day Chicago. Multiple references to urban monsters and legends. Imo, the best Urban Fantasy series that's ongoing right now. Butcher also wrote a high-fantasy series (The Codex Alera) on a bet that he couldn't write one that incorporates the elements of pokemon (not my cup of tea, but some people seemed to like it)

Neil Gaiman has written a few of my favorite books - Neverwhere (a little simplistic, but still good), American Gods, Anansi Boys and Good Omens are also worth reading.

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:19 pm

Wow thanks for taking the time to type that out
With what time on my hands and work, forcing me to concentrate on corporate-speak, I tend to favour 'junk' now aka distractions

I've oddly covered all you mentioned, which makes me suspect I'm more or less the same age as you lol
There must be some standard course for sword & sorcery that you must cover if you are X years old

The first book of the Mistborn was great imho, the rest unfortunately draggy when they captured the city and tried to 'run' it
You're right, some haven't quite stood the test of time. The Belgariad, the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (a leper as a hero, that seemed so cool!), even the Shannara series; I had loved going through every page every detail when I was a kid. But now, they simply come across as rather amateurish.

I would also recommend Salvatore's Drizzt series. Oddly, my first encounter was through the game Baldur's Gate, from which I went looking for info and subsequently the books.

You're absolutely spot on for the Dragonlance Chronicles. They were actually the first that got me started. I distinctly remember the red trimmed cover, oh when my aunt passed the book to me, and I caressed its spine lovingly... but umm yeah, iirc the next series focusing only on Raistlin and Cameron wasn't too shabby. Twin Chronicles
I think at about hte same time, my uncle had me on all the old Conan series, even their spin-offs by L.Sprague de Camp et al; which come to think of it was so appropriate for a young kid back then.

Neverwhere's somewhere (pun intended) in my bookcase too, assessment's the same as mine. Simplistic but a great ride nonetheless. The first few books of the Sword of Truth were excellent (and oddly my then partner fell in love watching the tv show) but sequel-itis hit as well and they petered off.

I've a boatload of Walter Mosley crime noir novels. Terming them as 'junk' would be a huge disservice. They were indeed the kind that keeps you going. Easy to read, the plot moved at a perfect pace. Hugely recommended for those times you want to just, well, read. Close to that would be anything by Alan Furst, which in a pretty shallow and embarrassing admission, I first purchased because the cover looked pretty damn cool ala photography + film noir style.

The Malayan Emergency was a previous diversion:
That famous guerrilla jungle warfare book - The Jungle is Neutral, F Spencer Chapman
A Face Like A Chicken Backside is still on my nightstand, but who can fault me for hunting and picking that up, in all places, a church bookstore
Ma-Rai-Ee, The War of the Running Dogs (who comes up with these titles?!) are on my list

I also had a Murakami phase, which coincided with a lot more. Considering I never got through any of David Lynch's movies, I'm not sure why I bought into the whole surrealism behind them. But I did, and though I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what in the world they were about now, I can tell you the warms feelings of mystery and contentment

Indian authors: Rabindranath Tagore (I ask myself why now), Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghosh, RK Narayan, VS Naipaul, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; I found the sub-culture unique, and oddly most of the authors were educated abroad so they somehow imparted an outsider rediscovering/looking in view which resonated with me when I was studying abroad. Which also led me to following Jewish authors for some time, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon, Englander; similar overarching themes of the diaspora going back and how they survived elsewhere.

*I used to buy every book I read, hoping to build a private library. They're sitting behind me now as I type but I've long abandoned such plans. Alas for a small house... and a spouse who has delivered a stiff verboten on purchasing non-digital editions.

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:34 pm

In order of last read (and included for worthiness):
Joe Abercrombie - Red Country. Surprisingly good for a mish-mash between spag western and fantasy. Not sure how but the elements weaved together well; my mind would imagine the desert plains, wagons rolling out on to the frontiers, natives collecting scalps ... and then the protagonist wielding a battleaxe hmmm

Cassie Alexander - Nightshifted. Definitely falls into the junk almost-slanted-to-female-readers kinda book. Nurse, who not unlike the Lost Girl TV series, can see and tends to the sub-underworld of fae creatures in a hospital ICU. I blame liking this on my past experience working in a hospital.

SJ Watson - Before I Go To Sleep. Just when I thought the premise has been done to death, this Memento/Groundhog Day/insert-other-amnesiac-recurring-day-story-here yarn is a pretty damn good one. Written in a first person pov, it's one heckuva thriller, confusing because the heroine's confused lol. I think it's been picked up for a movie... oh darn

Peter Cline - The Ex series. Zombie apocalypse + superheroes done campy style. Can't quite pinpoint the reason why but I enjoyed it immensely. Hey if it also made me chase down the rest of the series and download them straight off Amazon bypassing the rest on my reading list, it's gotta count for something.

Lev Grossman - Magicians, The Magician Kings. I had wanted to dismiss this as trying to capitalise on the old Harry Potter bunch of kids in magic school formula but I did like it, enough to follow on for the second as per the above. It grew dark in places, and odd too, in an anything-can-happen you-shan't-be-surprised-if-toads-can-talk kinda way. A worthwhile distraction nonetheless.

Not a book but one I've read many times and rediscovered in my old harddisk just before I sent it for scrap. The Planescape Torment game written out in prose. Possibly the best computer game I've ever played, reading it is just as awesome.

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by larken on Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:19 pm

lol. my first encounter with Drizzt was similarly through Baldur's Gate. He butchered my party when I decided to attack him for Frostbrand and Twinkle.

You're probably right about us being of similar age. I never did read Murakami, although I keep hearing good things about his/her (?) books.

If you find Cassie Alexander readable, please do check out Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. I've read alot of the Urban Fantasy series out there (beginning with Anita Blake (it sure got crappy into the fourth book and so on), Mike Carey's Felix Caster, a bunch of female writers of that genre, most of which I didn't finish), and nothing quite compared to Butcher's series in terms of wit and pace. It was one of those books I started reading in Kino while waiting for a friend who was late, and ended up spending another hour there to finish it, after which I bought all the available books on the shelf. Trashy, but entertaining.

Shannara was one I had read, but it really didn't stand the test of time either.

For actual detective genre books, I favor Robert B. Parker's Spencer series. Never quite got into Agatha Christie, though I did enjoy And then there were none.

Lev Grossman was enjoyable, but I'd agree that its a distraction at best.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is worth checking out, though its not 'great'. Another series that's pretty well received is Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, but there comes a point when I just get so sick of having children as protagonists of stories, where they end up becoming the 'chosen one' to save or destroy the world.

Also, if you're interested in a fantasy story featuring Indian mythology, check out The Immortals of Meluha.

I've been reading older books as of late; really enjoyed a few of Vonnegut's works like Breakfast for Champions, Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five.

Having the same problem here; more books than I have the shelf space for. I'm slowing going into e-reading, but buying from amazon was an annoying affair, having to set up proxies to do so.









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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Kalvis on Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:25 pm

Its funny that all You guys list ones of my facourites books Smile Actually Terry Goodking was one of my first fantasy authors ever read. After Sword of truth I embarked on the great journey Razz such a shame I have almost no time for reading. But currebtly Im reading Halflings Ruby (My translation Smile) By Salvatore. And the whole story is slightly getting boring :/
But yeah, Good to know we have such a good-taste readers Razz
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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Eardrum73 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:36 am

Stop calling Caramon - Cameron!

You guys know that Chronicles was a novelised version of a series of Dungeons and Dragons modules by Tracy Hickman right?
The Dragonlance world was basically a setting created so the D&D players can have a unique fantasy setting to play in.
(So is Forgotten Realms series)

The fact that the adventure isn’t based on any single character as a protagonist really hit it off with me. It’s the classic D&D party where ever class plays their part. The party is the protagonist not the individual.  
The added punch with the chronicles was Magaret Weiss’s emotive writing, she’s was able to make the characters relate to the readers at an emotional level. Her characterisation of female characters is 2nd to none in the fantasy genre (Laurana in the 2nd book is a good example). Many of her female characters expresses an emotional psyche that is not found in other novels.

Eddings is one of the worst IMO for female characterisation. If you revisit Belgariad, you’d know what I’m talking about. Baring Polgara (which is like a motherly figure where every boy can relate) his portray of the female psyche is just so fake. Although I must admit, male authors rarely ever get the female psyche right.
In later writings Eddings does less of that, and the adventure is more focused on the quest rather than the character’s psychology. I was never a big fan of Eddings in general anyway. So I never did really progress beyond Belgariad and Sparhawk. So maybe my criticism of him is flawed.

In anycase I digress……

Basically Hickman was the world creator while Margaret was the writer.
The biggest problem with Weiss and Hickman is that they could never really end their stories properly. Most of their work ends in an abrupt or disjointed ending that feels totally out of character with the storyline that led up to it. (Sovereign Stone trilogy being a good example)
Which is why they were never really considered as mainstream fantasy authors unlike Fiest, Robert Jordan, Eddings etc… but they are considered to be very influential in gaming fiction.


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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Eardrum73 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:00 am

Salvatore is another one of those Gaming fiction writers.

His stories are pretty much the fantasy hack and slash variety.
While his stories are an interesting read, my main criticism is that his main characters are more like super heroes!
While this is okay (or even preferred) if you are part of the cult following (reading Drizzt just for the pleasure of reading him) but for a casual fantasy reader, the sense of danger is removed because you just know that the heroes will never truly die.
In the Streams of Silver, Bruenor (the dwarf if you forgot) was practically ripped apart by the dragon and had a mountain fall on top of him….. yet he survives lol.


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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by larken on Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:22 am

If you think that the characters are invincible now, think again :p

Streams of Silver was a pretty old volume, loads more where that came from. The newer volume of the Drizzt series has him all alone after an apocalyptic event which killed of all of the Companions except for Drizzt. Of course, those characters are still sprinkled throughout those books through flashbacks.

But you're right about the companions never ever truly dying..... I won't spoil the books, but they do 'come back' after they're dead in the latest series.

Then again, not many writers dare to kill of their main characters - which is why R. R. Martin's works are so.... 'captivating', since you never know who's going to die next.

Oh, for sci-fi lovers - do check out Hugh Howey's Wool series. I'm not a fan of the genre in general, but he does excellent writing.

I'd agree that Eddings is just a pretty bad writer in retrospect - but as a kid, it was alright. Female characterisation aside, the interaction between all of the characters were just weird. Garion, who seemed intelligent at times, acts like a buffoon when it comes to the important things. Ce'Nedra is somehow the most annoying whiny brat ever. Silk was probably the most entertaining character to me, with his glibness, but even that kinda slips into the other characters at times; almost seeming like Eddings just wants his characters to make as many wisecracks as possible, forgetting to keep them in character at the expense of doing it.

There's also E. Feist, Hobb, and something much much older - Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Fantasy is something different if you can stomach the pace.

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Eardrum73 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:14 am

It’s not so much invincibility as the “dilution” of the sense of danger.
You don’t have to kill off the main characters - but when a character gets practically torn apart by an ancient wrym and having a mountain collapse on top of him it’s just a bit far fetch for the casual fantasy reader.
I mean if he had a regeneration factor or something… at least that makes it more plausible…. But he was just a dwarf (albeit a kickass one but still a dwarf - not Wolverine!)
If you don’t want to kill him off, don’t make the situation so extreme lol.
By doing so, the sense of danger is removed…. If these things cannot kill him, what else can?

I haven’t read much fantasy lately (ASOFAI and the Slayer Chronicles being the exceptions) but im not a big fan of the whole resurrection concept either, whatever form it takes.
Again it goes back to diluting the sense of danger.
It’s like superman and captain America dying. DC and Marvel kills them off and they remain dead for a short time.
Eventually, the fans goes up in arms, many letters are written to DC blah blah….. due to fan pressure and ultimately the $$$ they could make with a superman or Cap return they cave in and bring them back to life.
When you read their stories the next time you just know that no matter what dangers they face, they will somehow survive it.
It’s not so bad if the excitement is centred around the plot but if the excitement is centred around the character itself (where the character faces a threat that’s super dangerous) you just know that they will survive it or get resurrected.
It gets boring real quick and in the long run it just weakens their brand.
This “heroes always coming back” concept is  why I tend to stay away from superhero comics. Better are the Vertigo or alternative titles.    
Another analogy would be like playing D2 in “Hardcore mode”… if you die, you’re dead for good. When you are low on health your palms become sweaty, you start to fear for the worst, It’s just a different feeling altogether.  The threat of death is there.

Honestly speaking… I find Eddings.. very very predictable. You just knew who was going to live and who was going to die and how the story would turn out. I felt like I wasted my time reading the books when I finished the last Belgariad book.
He tried to make it “feel” dangerous by killing off some accessory characters, characters that were specifically written so that they could be killed in the final battle. (Im talking about the big battle near the end of the Balgariad series). Anyone with an ounce of intelligence could see right through it. I found it annoying to say the least.
Not wanting to be disappointed further, I stop short of reading his stuff past the first Sparhawk book.

JRR Martin is very good, for the very reasons you mentioned and more.
ASOFAI is less of a high fantasy story and more of a political drama set in a fantasy world. It’s still nevertheless a very captivating read.
His latest book however - A Dance with Dragon…. was a bit disjointed. I get a feeling that he’s deviated from the main plot a bit or maybe he’s just fallen in love with the world he created. But either way it’s starting to feel like Robert Jordan padding.
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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:04 pm

Cardamon sorry
But oh yes, Raymond E Feist was one of the first series I encountered (and part of the mystique of shopping at used book stores), oddly I began at Darkness at Sethanon (funny how I can still remember the title), then waiting years before I stumbled upon Silverthorn and Magician. I don't remember those outside the Riftwar trilogy to be any good though.

I was going to write about Robin Hobb; it was the last series my aunt passed to me before she umm passed on. Actually, this was the first one that came into my mind when you called for titles - naming after the Fool. I may have only stopped at the Farseer trilogy I think.

I've also read Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy back when I was a wee kid. That was extremely dry stuff, can't figure out how I got through it. My dad somehow inherited this really cool set, the books were placed in a nice cardboard binder/holder; gimmicky but drew me in. I revisited this when I was much older, to find that I could finally truly appreciate Naming (a vehicle many have copied since, but one she has managed to come up with that long ago)

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Kalvis on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:40 am

What a spoiler... Apoclyptic what? Larken! I wont read your posts anymore... they are full of spoilers.
But According to your point of view I cant agree Larken. I felt a bit scared when Bruenor was falling down. Though I knew he has Drizzts sword, he could be smashed by dragons body.
Anyway Take Harry Potter for instance (Yeah I read whole Saga and Im proud of it) Very Happy When i was reading 6th tome i was really disapointed due to Dumbledors Death. But I was completely sure that no one from Invincible Trio is gonna die.
So Imo Salvatore's still pretty cliffhanging (or engrossing :/ had to check out in dicctionary)
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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Kalvis on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:43 am

Lol Pinky same here Razz My dad recomender mu Ursula a few times. Hes a big fan of her. I read the first tome... Damn, he was sailibg in some boat for half of a book :/ trying to catch some ghost. It was horribly boring
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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by larken on Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:34 am

Kalvis wrote:What a spoiler... Apoclyptic what? Larken! I wont read your posts anymore... they are full of spoilers.
But According to your point of view I cant agree Larken. I felt a bit scared when Bruenor was falling down. Though I knew he has Drizzts sword, he could be smashed by dragons body.
Anyway Take Harry Potter for instance (Yeah I read whole Saga and Im proud of it) :DWhen i was reading 6th tome i was really disapointed due to Dumbledors Death. But I was completely sure that no one from Invincible Trio is gonna die.
So Imo Salvatore's still pretty cliffhanging (or engrossing :/ had to check out in dicctionary)

Ursula's pace in those stories are .... non-existent. But it's something different at least.

It's not much of a spoiler, Kalvis. It's pretty much stated in the first paragraph of the book with no explanation how it happened (which is the Hook) - you'd have to continue reading to find out what exactly happened. The previous book in the series had everyone still alive and fine, and boom. I'd admit it made me go, huh? for a moment, but insofar as the story is concerned, its not spoilerific.

I'm confused about which point do you not agree with. I'm guessing you're referring to Eardrum's post instead with the reference about Bruenor's fall?

I never thought that the companions 'never dying' was a problem in that particular universe. 99% of writers never ever kill off their major characters - if they did, they might have no story, but that certainly doesn't make them fall into superheroes category. If I simply said that at the start of the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter is definitely going to grow up and defeat the Dark Lord, would it make the series any worse? Its a logical guess - and given that its a children's storybook - its likely going to be a happy ending - so you KNOW that Harry's probably invincible (come on, he's the title character). But a good writer always makes that happy ending a bittersweet one - by killing off a multitude of like-able but relatively unimportant characters.

And in several cases in the Forgotten Realsm, it is literally the act of a God that brings back a character from death (this one happens pretty early on, so I'm guessing everyone know who I'm referring to). Its not implausible, especially given that the Gods literally walk the earth in that world.

The Drizzt novels imo, while a fantasy novel, is not primarily concerned with what happens, or who kills what - but why?

Why do people go to war; for the dark elves, it would be for revenge against their surface cousins, aside from their own malicious nature? The issues of racial prejudice, bigotry, the finding of religion, and a well meaning mentor - all of which is touched on in Drizzt's journey - and mirrored in actual life. Then you'd have those who look past the color of his skin (Bruenor, gruff but fair), Cattie-brie (who's innocent as a child to not see it), and Wulfgar, who learns to respect people by their deeds and not just their exteriors. Then there's the themes of loss, self-sacrifice - among many others.

All of these are not simply mentioned in passing too - you can see that Salvatore structures the stories around these themes. The Cleric Quintet focuses on religion and the strength of belief. The sword-fighting, death-defying and dragon-slaying are simply the fluff of the piece - especially since you know they're not going to die. And no reason for them to - given that the novel is pretty much about the characters.

In a way, the books are more about intra/interpersonal drama and growth, using parallels of real world themes, rather than adventure/action, which is actually the backdrop of the piece. Dismissing it as superhero fiction would be would be missing the salient themes that the stories are about, though in that respect, I would say that if heart-thumping, action adventure is all you're after, with a chance that the characters die, the Drizzt novels aren't that kind of thing. Although I think ASOIAF is probably the only one that keeps killing major characters off.

On an unrelated note: I'm not a fan of superhero comics either, for other reasons. (mostly, the incoherence of the multiverse annoys me to no end, and the whole 'ret-con' concept is just irritating). Vertigo's Sandman was one that I read several times. Awesome stuff by Gaiman.

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:37 am

Hahaha yes, oh I remember the mind-numbing sailing! The sailing and sailing and sailing and sailing... to practically the end of the world... and then turn back for more sailing.

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:53 am

larken wrote:Why do people go to war; for the dark elves, it would be for revenge against their surface cousins, aside from their own malicious nature? The issues of racial prejudice, bigotry, the finding of religion, and a well meaning mentor - all of which is touched on in Drizzt's journey - and mirrored in actual life. Then you'd have those who look past the color of his skin (Bruenor, gruff but fair), Cattie-brie (who's innocent as a child to not see it), and Wulfgar, who learns to respect people by their deeds and not just their exteriors. Then there's the themes of loss, self-sacrifice - among many others.

All of these are not simply mentioned in passing too - you can see that Salvatore structures the stories around these themes. The Cleric Quintet focuses on religion and the strength of belief. The sword-fighting, death-defying and dragon-slaying are simply the fluff of the piece - especially since you know they're not going to die. And no reason for them to - given that the novel is pretty much about the characters.

True that, the 'real' action hack-n-slash pieces are secondary to the overall plot of the books. You've put it succinctly, that its modern life set in a fantasy realm. How he, and the other central characters for that matter, deals with racial prejudice and bigotry, romance (love, jealousy), loss (death, friendship, 'family') is what makes the entire series. My female friend once mentioned that the best parts are Drizzt's diaries - his musings, emotions, thoughts (or ahem, personal blog laid bare).

The Time of Troubles were an amazing series, partly because I sought that out after playing BD, Icewind Dale, etc (was never immersed into D&D lore). I found the whole 'thrown out into the mortal world' premise to be pretty darn cool. Started with Book 2, took me a few years to track the rest down... which you'll realise is a recurring subject in my reading pursuits. It's probably one of the stronger Forgotten Realms series to have remained in my peripheral memory after all these years.
Though similarly I've stumbled upon Pratchett's version of things - requiring faith and devotee(s) to keep a god alive - in all places, a totally off-tangent reference to my recommended reading in my uni lit class I can't quite remember the title now though.

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by larken on Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:59 am

You're referring to Small Gods, perhaps?

Pratchett and Gaiman are probably two of my favorite writers, but Pratchett can be hard to stomach due to his writing style (and those foot notes). The discworld books with Sam Vimes as the main character are probably the ones I like best - and more readable imo.

But others, like 'Making Money', 'The Thief of Time' are also rather entertaining (and educational, as Making Money deals with the concept of banking and minting money; and the shenanigans that comes with the concepts). Pretty interesting that Pratchett ends up in a recommended reading list of any course though, lol.



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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Eardrum73 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:46 pm

I never thought that the companions 'never dying' was a problem in that particular universe. 99% of writers never ever kill off their major characters - if they did, they might have no story, but that certainly doesn't make them fall into superheroes category. If I simply said that at the start of the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter is definitely going to grow up and defeat the Dark Lord, would it make the series any worse? Its a logical guess - and given that its a children's storybook - its likely going to be a happy ending - so you KNOW that Harry's probably invincible (come on, he's the title character). 


I get this. 

I get that main characters aren't fodder. 
And protagonist do generally last at least till the end of the book.
My point being that Salvatore puts his guys through some really impossible situations which would kill a normal guy. 

I didn't read Harry Potter but I saw some of the movies and while we all know that Harry will survive to fight the dark lord, i never got the feeling that he was in a situation where he would have died. Like he didnt have a building falling on him or harry being ripped apart by a gryphon and still be alive.
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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:12 pm

We need more people in here
Plus I can't type out lengthy replies the way larken can

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Kalvis on Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:07 pm

either do I Razz I can not write so long Posts Razz
Anyway Had anyone read the The 'Malazan Book of the Fallen'
There are a lot of Ascendants and thats really interesting. I recomend u that one. Its not so well known book btw. Its worth som time Razz (11 tomes i suppose)
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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Eardrum73 on Thu May 08, 2014 6:13 am

Really Cool Graphic Novels. – MUST READS!

Sandman
This Neil Gaiman piece is a bit dated now, but still nevertheless a classic. I can always go back and read this after a long absence and the stories would still feel fresh.
The protagonist is Dream of the Endless. A godlike entity that rules over the dream realm of human consciousness and how he sometimes intervenes in people lives. Very often the stories are not about him but of people’s lives and how they relate to it on a psychological perspective.
The stories range from the supernatural to the mundane, from teenagers who run away from home, to people with terminal cancer, serial killers and even forgotten gods.  
Because the stories are based on the DC universe. It did feature some superheroes early in the piece.
Not all of the stories in the Sandman series are gems, but those that shine really shine brightly.
10 volumes in total.

Elf Quest
Don’t know if you can still get this in the shops. But the stories are based on a clan of elves called the Wolfriders. The elves eventually venture out of their forest to discover the world around them. In the process they discover other elves, their ancestral home and the role they would play in the harsh new world.  
There are literally less than a hundred elves left in the world and every death is a loss and sorrow. The great thing about this series is (apart from the awesome adventures) that authors (Wendi and Richard Pini) are able to portray the characters on a very personal and emotional level that the audience can relate too. This touching tale of adventure, betrayal and discovery is simply a superb read.
The first 8 volumes come highly recommended.


The League of Extraordinary Gentleman
This is a brilliant series because it manages to capture the look and feel of the Victorian Era while keeping the story relevant and exciting.  
The tale is based on famous Victorian era characters, for example: you have your Alan Quartermains, Mina Harkers, Sherlock Holmes, Mr Hydes etc.  
The personality of the “heroes” are varied and far from the typical cardboard characterisation that you get in many superhero comics.
The team dynamics and tension between the characters makes for a compelling read.
The subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) reference to everything Victorian simply adds to period atmosphere and polishes this piece off as a truly awesome piece of work.

TLEG doesn’t pull any punches either. It has its fair share of violence, danger and sexual tension (as you would expect from a period piece)
It’s one of the first comics that depicts a male to male rape scene that’s somewhat of an eye opener to say the least.  
I consider this Alan Moore’s best work to date. (The original two books anyway. Even the spin offs are good. But it starts to go downhill when it moves to the modern era)


Top 10
Another one of Alan Moore’s masterpieces. It’s set in a world where everyone is a superhero. Like literally everyone has a power.
On the surface it’s about a police precinct (Precinct 10) and the lives of cops that get dispatched to investigate various cases. Very much like NYPD Blue.
But as with most of Alan Moore’s work it deals with team dynamics and tensions between the members of the squad, this adds to the already colourful nature of the setting.
There are also controversial issues explored such as homosexuality, bestiality (the squad captain is a dog in a humanoid cyborg body and has a relationship with a human female) and also child abuse.
In some ways Moore challenges and pushes the boundaries on what is acceptable by contemporary society of the aforementioned topics.

It’s a refreshing look and what a world would be like if everybody had a superpower and the dynamics of society in such a world. In this case we get to see how law and order are handled from a police perspective.
The chick with many faces is a receptionist. So she can pick up more phone calls etc. (lol) The woman with telepathy is a detective, the fellow with voice control is a negotiator, the dude with voodoo powers are called in to deal with supernatural cases and so on.


The Preacher
Sex, drugs, Violence, conspiracy theories, vampires, religious maniacs and supernatural beings and what Preacher is about.
It’s a super awesome read. Nothing very meaningful and it doesn’t pull any punches. The unexpected twists and shock value of the storyline keeps me coming back for more.
This is Garth Ennis at his very best.  
It’s about a preacher who takes up a personal quest to seek out God and ultimately to kill him. (lol)
9 volumes in total.


Ghost World
There are no supernatural forces or larger than life characters here.
It is instead set in a fictitious small town (in the USA) and centres around two teenage girls who are social misfits.
They are best friends when the story begins, but as they discover  the role their lives play in society, they are doomed to drift apart as they get older.
The story is great in the sense that it shows contemporary society from the view of an adolescent teenager.
The haves, the have nots and how they deal with life and people general, and the almost irrelevant objectivity of how the regard society and other people.  
It has an almost surreal and touching ending, ambiguous to say the least but deliberately done so. It’s up to reader to decide what finally became of Enid.
A very fine piece of work.
1 volume only.  


Honorary Mentions:

Fables
This steals a page from the TLEG in the sense that it uses famous fairytale characters that everyone knows well. Snow White, Cinderalla, big bad wolf, prince charming etc.
The stories are about a bunch of fairy-tale characters who try to co-exist secretly in the modern human world in a place called Fabletown. The story culminates in a war against the Emperor who exile the fables out of their homeland.
The story is still continuing. But has lost some of its gloss after the emperor was defeated.  
20+ volumes and counting.


Maus
It tells the story of the author’s father in a Nazi occupied Germany and what life was like for a Jew during the third Reich.
The author (Art Spegelman) draws Jews as mice, Polish as pigs and Germans as cats.
The insights into life under the Nazi regime is very well portrayed.


Last edited by Eardrum73 on Thu May 08, 2014 8:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Thu May 08, 2014 7:06 am

I've done Preacher and I'm surprised you have Maus on your list. That one's err not as common. I'll see if I can type out mine...

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Eardrum73 on Thu May 08, 2014 8:00 am

pink_dreamery wrote:I've done Preacher and I'm surprised you have Maus on your list. That one's err not as common. I'll see if I can type out mine...

No, you're right, Maus is abit of an underground thing.....
Its technically not on my list as it’s a honorary mention.
Its abit too depressing to be on my all time favs list….

So you have read Preacher, but have you not done the rest??????
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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by pink_dreamery on Thu May 08, 2014 5:01 pm

Oddly I stumbled upon Preacher, the entire set, at some store's discount corner
Their loss, my gain
You gotta remember books, especially graphic novels were pricey and hard to get hold of back then
I'm reading Saga now:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saga_(comic_book)

Maus was on my list but I could never find the whole series at one particular store
Not buying anymore physical books has well kinda put a stop to me reading these except maybe on cbr?
Never got in to that
I've had a few Sandman lone issues (I was a pure collector back then, wash hands thoroughly to get rid of oils, read once with care then in they go into mylar bags and acid-free backing boards) but I did have a phase ... and it's always a phase ... Locas (Maggie and Hopey), Blankets, Jimmy Corrigan, Persepolis, Epileptic

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Re: Into the Tavern of Good Reads

Post by Eardrum73 on Fri May 09, 2014 3:22 am

Saga by Brian K Vaugh sounds interesting.
Could be on my next GN hit list.....

I’ve read Brian K Vaugh’s “The last man” and found it to be good but not super great, especially towards the end. It got monotonous after a while.
His other title “Pride of Bagdad” was much better IMO. Based on a true story of escaped lions in Bagdad.
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