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imlad

Favorite Characters In Fantasy Literature, Ranked (I did 20)

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Here's a little exercise in seeing what fellow posters tastes in not just characters but also authors and books are. My tastes and preferences will be glaringly obvious, even though I have read many many authors other than those whose characters are included here. 

 

I've been making these ranking lists just for fun lately, and I have a whole slew of them for different categories, but for now let's just talk about favorite Fantasy characters. Perhaps I'll try other lists another time. So for now, how many do you know, do you like? Any you don't know?

 

Here are my Top 20 Favorite* Characters from Fantasy Literature

 

1 Matrim Cauthon - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
2 Jaime Lannister - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)
3 Ary Stark - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)
4 Samwise Gamgee - The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)
5 Sandor Clegane - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)
6 Mara Acoma - Empire Trilogy (Raymond E Feist & Janny Wurts)
7 Thom Merrilin - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
8 Tyrion Lannister - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)
9 Aragorn son of Arathorn - The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)
10 Davos Seaworth - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)
11 Egwene al'Vere - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
12 Aviendha - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
13 Jimmy the Hand - Riftwar Saga (Raymond E Feist)
14 Gollum/Sméagol - The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)
15 Brienne of Tarth - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)
16 Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter - The Deed of Paksenarrion (Elizabeth Moon)
17 Nyneave al'Meara - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
18 Meriadoc ("Merry") Brandybuck - The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)
19 Pug of Crydee aka Milamber - The Riftwar Cycle (Raymond E Feist)
20 Gandalf/Mithrandir/Olórin - The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)

 

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)

Juilin Sandar - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
Raistlin Majere - Dragonlance Chronicles/Legends (Tracy Hickman & Margaret Weiss)
Verin Mathwin - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
Elayne Trakand - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
Kaladin Stormblessed - Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sanderson)
 

* Not necessarily good characters or heroes, can include antagonists.

 

(Coulda beens)
Shallan (Stormlight Archive)
Vin (Mistborn)
Kelsier (Mistoborn)
Boromir (Lord of the Rings)

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This was fun to make, but I have this itching feeling that I'm forgetting someone. The ranking is also very loose, this is what it looks like in my current mood. I followed your format because ... why not?

 

1. Matrim Cauthon - Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

2. Murtagh Morzansson - Inheritance Cycle (Christopher Paolini)

3. Halt O'Carrick - Ranger's Apprentice (John Flanagan)

4. Will Treaty - Ranger's Apprentice (John Flanagan)

5. Horace Altman - Ranger's Apprentice (John Flanagan)

6. Fred and George Weasley - Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

7. Hal Mikkelson - Brotherband Chronicles (John Flanagan)

8. Fflewddur Fflam - Chronicles of Prydain (Lloyd Alexander)

9. Sir Gavinaugh - Kingdom Series (Chuck Black)

10. Remus Lupin - Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

11. Gimli - The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

12. Gurgi - Chronicles of Prydain (Lloyd Alexander)

13. Shasta - Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)

14. Severus Snape - Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

15. Meriadoc Brandybuck - The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

16. Edvin - Brotherband Chronicles (John Flanagan)

17. Talmanes Delovinde - Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

18. Edmund Pevensie - Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)

19. Ferrin - Beyonders (Brandon Mull)

20. Drake - Beyonders (Brandon Mull)

 

Honorable Mentions

Rand al'Thor - Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

Perrin Aybara - Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

Orik - Inheritance Cycle (Christopher Paolini)

Seley el'then - Ranger's Apprentice (John Flanagan)

Kalmar Wingfeather - Wingfeather Saga (Andrew Peterson)

Alyss Mainwaring - Ranger's Apprentice (John Flanagan)

 

(Coulda beens)

Sir Keren (Ranger's Apprentice)

Sir Kendrick (Knights of Arrethtrae)

Galadried Damodred (Wheel of Time)

Rodel Ituralde (Wheel of Time)

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Well, there are some series in there I have never heard of: Ranger's Apprentice, Wingfeather Sagaand, Kinghts of Arrethtrae and the Kingdom series. Will have to look into these.  I haven't read any of the Prydain stuff in more than 30 years (oh god! I'm old!), and only have a dim memory of reading them. Same goes for the Narnia books (even though I had reread them all several times by the time I was 8 when I then finally made it through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and thus began this long journey through Lands Fantastical).

 

I haven't read Paolini, been warned off of it by many, though I have heard lately that the later books after Eragon are actually pretty decent. And, as embarassing as this is to admit: I have never read any Harry Potter stuff. Well, except for the last sentence of the last book, when it first hit the book stores. Don't remember that sentence, but I remember opening the book and reading the last line. I have however seen all eight films and enjoyed them, though I honestly don't remember them all that well. Really could not win a Harry Potter Movie trivia contest, that is for sure! I do know Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor, but I am not one for any form of tribalism. I don't recall my Patronus though (not even sure what the heck that is, to be honest LOL).

 

For the character do actually know, you have some great pics! Gimli son of Gloin was a favorite of mine as a kid, and is handily in my top 50 I would think if I attempted that list, but there were others that just ended up beating him out. (As much as I have always been a fan of Jon Rhys-Davies, I didn't like the way they adapted Gimli to the big screen in Jackson's films, they made him the butt of the joke almost the entire time, something he was not in the books; one of my rare complaints of those movies). Talmanes is one of WoT's greatest side characters in my opinions, and I look forward to seeing how they handle him on the show. Edmund Pevensie is a great character from Narnia, probably one of the best Lewis created for that realm, and one of the few truly flawed characters the Chronicles of Narnia had.

 

But the choice you had for a "Coulda been" of Galad is pretty daring, but awesome as well. Too many people can't stand him, but he is actually, I would now argue, a great character. Daniel Greene has a nice character examination that I just watched recently, that really made me think about Galad all over again. I never actually hated Galad, like some do, but I hadn't really seen his true value as a character, at least not to the point I do now, until I watched that video. Daniel runs a great YouTube channel that has a strong, but not singular, focus on The Wheel of Time. Check him out. And while I am at it, I would also like to suggest Nae'blis' channel, which is growing steadily. His channel is entirely focused on The Wheel of Time. Here he has a great video on what we know about the upcoming show so far.

 

Thank you for playing, King Rodel. Now I have some new books and authors to look up (half the point of me starting this thread in the first place😎)

Edited by imlad

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No problem! I love making lists and stuff.

 

I will tell you that Kingdom Series and Knights of Arrethtrae are very obvious Christian allegory. I am a Christian myself, so that's no problem for me, but if you would be offended by that, be warned.

 

I started by having a neutral opinion of Galad. But after the prologue of Knife of Dreams he started to grow on me. Unfortunately he isn't a major enough character for me to get super into him, but I loved the parts he ended up being in. 

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Posted (edited)

1:  The old man in the cave from Zelda. No, not the one who gives you the sword, the one who says "Let's play money making game" and runs an underground betting house.

 

2: Error, from Zelda II. His name is Error and he whiles away his days letting strangers know that. I love it.

 

3:  The "If all else fails use fire" guy also from Zelda II. Like, can you even imagine how badass he is? Some homeless road dusty murder-hobo barges into his house and all he can be bothered to do is give the guy some advice on how to be a better killer? Dude got balls.

 

3: The sexually ambiguous polymuf majordomo from the Welsh King's court in the Sword of the Spirits trilogy. If youve read the books you know what I'm talking about.

 

4: Those guys in the first Conan movie who were the last guys left on the wheel with him before he got big enough to turn it all by himself. Like, what happened to them, and might one of them had gone on to have a life like his had they been the last turning the wheel?

 

5: I will call SW fantasy and mention the kids from Toshi Station.  Why oh why did they call Luke "Wormy"? Did he once have a date with the black haired girl which ended disapointingly for her and humiliatingly for him? If so it doesn't seem like they were very good friends to dub him Wormy instead of never referring to his shame. Kinda makes you wonder why he wanted to go hang out there so bad. Was he that hard up for friends? 

 

6: Hoggle, from Labyrinth. Public urination is tight.

 

7: The skinny inn-keeper from TEotW. It was from his naughty nature I got my prized catchphrase, "never trust a skinny innkeeper". I say it all the time, even when it doesn't apply to the situation at all.

 

8: The overseer in ancient Egypt who calls your character "Spear Carrier" if you make the choices to end up back there in the Twist-a-Plot novel Horrors of the Haunted Museum. Like, what was that guys life story?

 

9: The crazy old sailor stuck on a deserted carribian island in the same novel. And same question, what was his deal?

 

Well, that's all I can think of now friends, ya'll have a nice day, and like I always say, never trust a skinny innkeeper.

Edited by Zorlon

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On 8/3/2019 at 1:30 PM, Zorlon said:

 

5: I will call SW fantasy and mention the kids from Toshi Station.  Why oh why did they call Luke "Wormy"? Did he once have a date with the black haired girl which ended disapointingly for her and humiliatingly for him? If so it doesn't seem like they were very good friends to dub him Wormy instead of never referring to his shame. Kinda makes you wonder why he wanted to go hang out there so bad. Was he that hard up for friends? 

 

6: Hoggle, from Labyrinth. Public urination is tight.

 

 

Now these I can get behind (well, other than the pissing in public LOL). Hoggle was a pretty neat character (and one hell of a technical feat in animatronics). Labyrinth is one of my top 50 or so movies I would figure (I've only ranked them out to 20, plus some Honorable Mentions). I totally developed a crush on Jennifer Connelly when that movie came out, and still harbor said crush to this day, although it faded for a while after Requiem for a Dream, that film bothered me that much. The dark haired young woman at Tosche Station in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope is Camie Marstrap, girlfriend of the guy who ran Tosche Station (Laze Loneozner, the guy who most likely gave Luke the nickname, as he had a habit of putting friends down with nicknames).

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Very tough, after the top 3 most are not really in any particular order but they all make up my top 20.

 

1. Aeron Aoibhell, Queen of Kelts - The Keltiad (Patricia Kennealy-Morrison)

2. Gwydion Penarvon ap Arawn - The Keltiad (Patricia Kennealy-Morrison)

3. Tyrion Lannister - Game of Thrones (G.R.R. Martin)

4. Rowan - The Talent Series (Anne McCaffrey)

5. Piemur - Pern Series (Anne McCaffrey)

6. The Luggage - The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett)

7. Marquis de Carabas - Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) unusual for being a novelisation of a TV series rather than vice versa

8. Jill - Deverry Cycle (Katherine Kerr)

9. Ebañy aka Salamander - Deverry Cycle (Katherine Kerr)

10. Binbiniqegabenik - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (Tad Williams)

11. Jon Shannow - The Last Guardian (David Gemmell)

12. Beldin - The Belgariad (David Eddings)

13. Hezhi - The Waterborn (Greg Keyes)

14. Sonea - The Black Magician Trilogy (Trudi Canavan)

15. Alv - The Winter of the World Series (Michael Scott Rohan)

16. Kim - The Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay)

17. Matrim Cauthon - Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

18. Verin Mathwin - Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

19. Waylander - Drenai Saga (David Gemmell)

20. Severus Snape - Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Taymist said:

Very tough, after the top 3 most are not really in any particular order but they all make up my top 20.

 

1. Aeron Aoibhell, Queen of Kelts - The Keltiad (Patricia Kennealy-Morrison)

2. Gwydion Penarvon ap Arawn - The Keltiad (Patricia Kennealy-Morrison)

3. Tyrion Lannister - Game of Thrones (G.R.R. Martin)

4. Rowan - The Talent Series (Anne McCaffrey)

5. Piemur - Pern Series (Anne McCaffrey)

6. The Luggage - The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett)

7. Marquis de Carabas - Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) unusual for being a novelisation of a TV series rather than vice versa

8. Jill - Deverry Cycle (Katherine Kerr)

9. Ebañy aka Salamander - Deverry Cycle (Katherine Kerr)

10. Binbiniqegabenik - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (Tad Williams)

11. Jon Shannow - The Last Guardian (David Gemmell)

12. Beldin - The Belgariad (David Eddings)

13. Hezhi - The Waterborn (Greg Keyes)

14. Sonea - The Black Magician Trilogy (Trudi Canavan)

15. Alv - The Winter of the World Series (Michael Scott Rohan)

16. Kim - The Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay)

17. Matrim Cauthon - Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

18. Verin Mathwin - Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

19. Waylander - Drenai Saga (David Gemmell)

20. Severus Snape - Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

 

Very intriguing list. Seems apparent you like historical fiction, or at the least historical fantasy. Several authors on your list I'd never heard of (Kennealy-Morrison, Greg Keyes, Trudi Canavan and Michael Scott Rohan), and a few I am familiar with, having seen their books on the shelves at the libraries or the book stores for pretty much my entire life, and just never got around to reading them. Authors like Prathcett (yeah, i know, "get on that" everyone says), Kerr, and Gemmell (although I'm not sure exactly when I first saw Gemmell's name, it could have been more recently, like the last dozen years or so). And I've still never read Rowling, although I have seen all 8 of the HP movies, but not the spin-offs.

 

Love seeing another fan of Williams though! And Binbiniqegabenik, who you included, and Camaris, who you didn't🤨, just missed out on making it to my Honorable Mentions list, definitely making it in my Top 30.

 

It has been decades, literally, since I read any David Eddings. Does that series hold up when you read it as an adult, or have you always just loved Beldin? I've always kind of seen The Belgariad and The Malloreon as being more for the younger set, along with The Elenium and The Tamuli (my favorite was The Elenium by far; and I never managed to get around to finishing The Tamuli for some reason). I really enjoyed them when I was younger, the were a formative part of my youth along with Raymond E Feist and Tolkien (that was my Fantasy Trinity during my preteens through until I hit 18 and The Wheel of Time came out). There was other stuff I read during that time, but when it came to Fantasy, they were my gods. (The "other stuff included a heck of a lot of Science Fiction, for which I had a whole other set of gods, namely Robert Heinlein, Philip Jose Farmer, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card 😡😠😖🤮 and Frank Herbert).

 

And quite happy to see Tyrion, Verin and Matrim on your list.😎

 

Now off to find some books by those authors I haven't read or even heard of...

Edited by imlad
just to fix stuff

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5 hours ago, imlad said:

 

Very intriguing list. Seems apparent you like historical fiction, or at the least historical fantasy. Several authors on your list I'd never heard of (Kennealy-Morrison, Greg Keyes, Trudi Canavan and Michael Scott Rohan),

 

I do tend towards fantasy that has a solid grounding in history or celtic/Arthurian mythology. I suppose too, being a Scot, I have more of a bias towards UK/Irish authors. Scott Rohan is Scottish, McCaffrey is Irish, Rowling, Gaiman and Pratchett are English. Mary Stewart's, (another Scot), The Crystal Cave series is missing off that list but it'd make my top 25 too.

 

Even the American authors I like such as Kerr or Kennealy-Morrison are very grounded in celtic mythology. Kennealy-Morrison, by the way, is the widow of Jim Morrison of The Doors, just as a point of interest. The love story between Aeron and Gwydion which is central to the books, is actually based on Patricia and Jim's relationship as well. I loved how she blended space travel/sci fi with fantasy mythology. Very similar to McCaffrey in that regard. Canavan is an Australian author iirc.

 

 

5 hours ago, imlad said:

and a few I am familiar with, having seen their books on the shelves at the libraries or the book stores for pretty much my entire life, and just never got around to reading them. Authors like Prathcett (yeah, i know, "get on that" everyone says), Kerr, and Gemmell (although I'm not sure exactly when I first saw Gemmell's name, it could have been more recently, like the last dozen years or so). And I've still never read Rowling, although I have seen all 8 of the HP movies, but not the spin-offs.

 

As far as Rowling's concerned, the books are far superior to the films. They're more detailed and nuanced, as you'd probably expect. Pratchett is a genius. Your life is a desert if you haven't read his work yet. He should have been President of the World. With Gaiman as Vice President.

 

5 hours ago, imlad said:

 

Love seeing another fan of Williams though! And Binbiniqegabenik, who you included, and Camaris, who you didn't🤨, just missed out on making it to my Honorable Mentions list, definitely making it in my Top 30.

 

Left to my own devices I would turn a Top 20 into a Top 60 by making people equal 2nd place and equal 3rd place lol. I had to draw a line. Too many great characters and not enough space. Williams is a great writer, highly entertaining and underrated imho.

 

5 hours ago, imlad said:

 

It has been decades, literally, since I read any David Eddings. Does that series hold up when you read it as an adult, or have you always just loved Beldin? I've always kind of seen The Belgariad and The Malloreon as being more for the younger set, along with The Elenium and The Tamuli (my favorite was The Elenium by far; and I never managed to get around to finishing The Tamuli for some reason). I really enjoyed them when I was younger, the were a formative part of my youth along with Raymond E Feist and Tolkien (that was my Fantasy Trinity during my preteens through until I hit 18 and The Wheel of Time came out). There was other stuff I read during that time, but when it came to Fantasy, they were my gods. (The "other stuff included a heck of a lot of Science Fiction, for which I had a whole other set of gods, namely Robert Heinlein, Philip Jose Farmer, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card 😡😠😖🤮 and Frank Herbert).

 

It's definitely childish reading them now. I just always loved Beldin and probably because I was so young when I read all of the books (about 15 when I started them), the characters have remained a very fond memory.

My preteen reading consisted of the Narnia series, Le Guin's Earthsea books, Susan Cooper's Over Sea Under Stone series, and, of course, the Prydain Chronicles (more celtic myth). I read The Hobbit in my early teens but didn't get to LotR until my mid 20's. It never grabbed me, (although I love Legolas), the way WoT did (which I also started when I was 18).

 

5 hours ago, imlad said:

And quite happy to see Tyrion, Verin and Matrim on your list.😎

 

 

Game of Thrones is actually my second favourite fantasy series after The Keltiad. I prefer it over WoT from a writing point of view as I find it more realistic and gritty. Many of Martin's choices challenged me as a reader which makes me value the story and the characters more. WoT is pure escapism, it never made me sad, except for two occasions; when Hopper died and when Verin died. But strangely I've invested more in terms of time (coming on 30 years soon) and being a fan with WoT because of DM and the friends I've made here.

 

Good luck with the book hunt and thanks for this thread. Intriguing to see other people's lists and a fun way to get inspiration for new reads. :)

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Interesting and cool thread, let me add some of my favourite characters in fantasy fiction. 

 

Here is my top 20 ranking (somewhat loose after my top 2 though):

 

1. Al'Lan Mandragoran - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan) 

2. Aragorn (Elessar) - The Lord of the Rings (J RR Tolkien)

 

3. Sparhawk - The Elenium (David Eddings)

4. Aditu no'e-Sa'onserei - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (Tad Williams)

5. Saltheart Foamfollower – The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Stephen R Donaldson)

6. Gandalf - The Lord of the Rings (J RR Tolkien)

7. Rand al'Thor - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

8. Moiraine Damodred - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

9. Daenerys Targaryen - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

10. Tyrion Lannister - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

11. Egwene al'Vere - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

12. Jiriki i-Sa'onserei - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (Tad Williams)

13. Lanfear - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

14. Pug - The Riftwar Saga (Raymond E Feist)

15. Kahlan Amnell - The Sword of Truth (Terry Goodkind)

16. Richard Rahl  - The Sword of Truth (Terry Goodkind)

17. Allanon - The Shannara books (Terry Brooks)

18. Tasslehoff Burrfoot – Dragonlance Chronicles (Tracy Hickman & Margaret Weiss)

19. Legolas - The Lord of the Rings (J RR Tolkien)

20. Matrim Cauthon - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

 

 

Honourable mentions (among many):

 

Simon - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (Tad Williams)

Arya Stark - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

Eddard Stark - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

Elayne Trakand - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

Nyneave al'Meara - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

 

 

 

My favourite fantasy books of all time are:

 

1. The Lord of the Rings (my first fantasy-read, and to this day my favourite - prose and poetry = magic for me)

2. The Wheel of Time [WoT] (love it, wonderful characters that I care about and lots of magic which I love)

3. A Song of Ice and Fire (love this too, but I rank the WoT slightly higher, it is a bit more 'special' to me)

 

but all those books mentioned with characters above are ones I have enjoyed a lot through the years

 

 

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3 hours ago, Elessar said:

5. Saltheart Foamfollower – The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Stephen R Donaldson)

 

 

You know, in spite of being aware of this series for decades, it's one I've never picked up. Worth a read even now would you say?

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6 hours ago, Taymist said:

 

You know, in spite of being aware of this series for decades, it's one I've never picked up. Worth a read even now would you say?

 

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is the most atypical fantasy story I have ever read. If you thought A Song of Ice and Fire dark, this is REALLY dark. This is not pure escapism but a psychological drama set in a possible fantasy world setting (or in the main character's mind, depending how you look at it) where the anti-heroes struggle with their inner demons. So this is heavy stuff BUT if you find the premise interesting and like the thought of being challenged by the author to think, at the same time being transported into a 'world' with fascinating beings (including the aforementioned Saltheart Foamfollower, one of the cheeerful lights in the darkness, a wonderful Giant who endears himself to the anti-hero), then this might be for you.

 

I am not trying to put you off, but it is important to go into this series (there are 10 books in all, in 3 series of Thomas Covenant) with the right mindset. This is not escapism-fantasy for everyone, quite a few people out there will find this dark fantasy too dark and gloomy and heavy and will opt for 'lighter fare', but for those who are willing to take the journey and appreciate Stephen R Donaldson's attempt to study the human psyche (loss, shame, fear, inadequacy but also joy, hope and redemption) projected in a fascinating fantasy-world, his wanting to make his readers think and dwell on important choices,  then this is a worthwhile endeavour. There are lights in the darkness and, in my opinion, wonderful moments there and I really enjoyed it and would recommend reading it, but only on the premise mentioned above.

 

Let me emphasize again that I hope I have not put off all new readers from this, in many ways, classy work of dark fantasy fiction by an eminent writer, but it IS something unusual in the fantasy fiction universe, a heavier darker-realism style which demands something of its reader, and which though many might steer clear of it (as mentioned those who prefer pure escapism and lighter fare) some will find very rewarding.

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Interesting. That makes it sound more worth my time than any of the actual write ups did. It's rare, I find, that an author has that ability to challenge. Le Guin and Gemmell do it, Gaiman's a master at it (thinking American Gods), and the Malazan Empire writers do to a point, each in their own distinctive styles. I'll add that one to my list to get hold of now, thank you.

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Posted (edited)

You are welcome, it is worth having a go at and see if it is something for you or not.

 

It will always be somewhat subjective how one perceives a book(-series) and my description is how I found it best to describe it (without giving too much away plot wise). I have also read some of those old write ups.  Let me add though that I have read all 10 books that comprise the full story and my perception may be somewhat coloured by that, not everything I wrote will come to mind (appear) right away in book 1, “Lord Foul’s Bane”, things will evolve along the way in this huge story as it usually does in such larger works of fiction.

 

In my country we separate written fiction into 2 categories: popular fiction and for lack of a better English term, serious fiction. In category 1 the author is mainly out to entertain, it is ‘lighter fare’, be it in a world of fantasy, crime or elsewhere, while in category 2 the author goes much deeper and handles harder, often brutal human concepts and themes (violence, brutality, rape, murder, suicide, shame, outcasts, mental scars and illnesses etc.) inside a fictional universe. Most authors of fantasy in my experience are in one way or another in category 1 here, whereas I would put the Thomas Covenant books in category 2 (though it does not deal with all those destructive themes of course). It is heavier stuff indeed, but perhaps also therefore even rarer and challenging (as you also touched upon) and ultimately rewarding (as long as one can ‘handle’ the dark parts).

 

This was, in fact, one of the earlier fantasy books I read (the first Thomas Covenant series). After The Lord of the Rings books which endeared me to fantasy forever, I had a go at the first Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks, the first book which was almost a copy of The Lord of the Rings but since I loved the original I was far from unhappy. I also read the Dragonlance Chronicles around that time which though more for youngsters had its charm and was easy reading fun, I thought. After this I wanted to try something different in the fantasy genre, something a little more challenging, and I was recommended Thomas Covenant which certainly had a different, darker more intricate style but which I also enjoyed. There are occasions in these Thomas Covenant books when it goes a bit too dark also for me, but then again there are times in the Wheel of Time books when things go too slow/descriptive for me also, so no book is perfect.

 

As for the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen series which you mention. I love huge epic fantasy stories and had a go at the first Malazan book, but something - I am not quite sure what - put me off in that book and made me think that this was not a series for me and my book taste. Perhaps it was the way it was written, or the multitude of characters that I struggled with (though I have not struggled with the hundreds and hundreds of characters in The Wheel of Time and A Song Of Ice And Fire) and the many storylines, I don’t know. Anyway, I read through the first book and though I found parts interesting it did not appeal to me on a level of following the series.

 

Same happened to me with Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive book 1. I really wanted to like it, I read the first half of the book but though he writes well with some interesting innovations the book did not sit well with me somehow.. there I thought the plot did not move forwards enough and I got tired of some of the characters doing the same things over and over again (figuratively, I can only watch so many times a person 'getting out of a ditch').. and I could not see myself keeping interest for 10 novels thick as bricks in the same style, so I gave up on it. I see others loving it (and its sequels) which is great, Brandon did imo a great job finishing the Wheel of Time saga and I will always feel indebted to him for that and wish him success.

 

Book taste is subjective and thankfully there is something great to read for everyone out there.

Edited by Elessar

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5 hours ago, Elessar said:

In my country we separate written fiction into 2 categories: popular fiction and for lack of a better English term, serious fiction. 

 

We do the same in the UK. My academic background is in Literature/Language so there's always an element of analytical thought in my approach to reading choices. Whilst I enjoy some lighthearted escapism sometimes, I inevitably come back to needing more substantial fare. If books don't make me think,  I get bored. And if it makes me a literary snob, as my dear Souvra is so fond of telling me, then I'm ok with that.:laugh:

 

5 hours ago, Elessar said:

...I had a go at the first Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks, the first book which was almost a copy of The Lord of the Rings but since I loved the original I was far from unhappy. I also read the Dragonlance Chronicles ...

 

I only ever read 2 of the Shannara books. Someone recommended them but I think I came to them when I was too old to enjoy them without criticism. Very childish and a bit too derivative for me. Dragonlance bypassed me completely although I was aware of them. I read the Drizzt books in the Forgotten Realms D&D series instead.

 

5 hours ago, Elessar said:

 As for the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen series which you mention. I love huge epic fantasy stories and had a go at the first Malazan book, but something - I am not quite sure what - put me off in that book and made me think that this was not a series for me and my book taste.

 

Funnily enough, I had a similar issue. It took me a while to get into the series, it has a very slow start, but I loved the first 4 books as a complete story arc. After that I never went any further as the story line and most of the characters changed, despite being in the same world, and that annoyed me. Possibly the drawback of having different writers. Hence why it's not on my Top 20 list. I don't like having my immersion interrupted quite that completely. Challenge me, yes, but don't spoil the experience.

 

5 hours ago, Elessar said:

Same happened to me with Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive book 1. I really wanted to like it, I read the first half of the book but though he writes well with some interesting innovations the book did not sit well with me somehow.

 

 

Yes, I felt the same about the Mistborn books. I persevered through the first trilogy and enjoyed them well enough but then for some reason never had the impetus to read the follow ups. I haven't tried the Stormlight set but did read, and liked, Warbreaker. Brandon's style isn't really for me though. He did very well finishing up WoT but I put that down to the copious amount of material RJ left. I don't personally feel that Sanderson is a good enough writer to have done that entirely by himself, judging by his own work. Again, the reason nothing of his makes my top 20. 

 

As you say, a very subjective thing, this reading! Fascinating how we can all react so differently to the same books.

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57 minutes ago, Taymist said:

I read the Drizzt books in the Forgotten Realms D&D series instead.

Came here to say

<3 Drizzt.

With all the stories that authors done with Drizzt, I almost wish he'd done a 'what if' Drizzt choose the Sorcere school, over the Melee-Magthere. They basically hinted that he was equally gifted due to his strange birth.... something that hasn't really been brought up again?

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10 minutes ago, SinisterDeath said:

Came here to say

❤️ Drizzt.

 

Totes. :happy: Wonderful character. Not sure how I managed to miss him off my Top 20 but also not sure who I'd replace! Sparhawk really should have been on there too looking at Elessar's list.

The "what if" would have been very cool to explore, yes, it was definitely strongly suggested and plausible.

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On 8/21/2019 at 7:42 PM, Taymist said:

 

We do the same in the UK. My academic background is in Literature/Language so there's always an element of analytical thought in my approach to reading choices. Whilst I enjoy some lighthearted escapism sometimes, I inevitably come back to needing more substantial fare. If books don't make me think,  I get bored. And if it makes me a literary snob, as my dear Souvra is so fond of telling me, then I'm ok with that.:laugh:

 

I like both types: books that are delicious escapism and those who demand more of its reader, depending on my mood. Most often I have to admit my main purpose is to be entertained with stories, but I have become more critical in later years as to what I consider quality and worth reading. As for literary snobs, fantasy literature - even of the quality kind - is frowned upon by the book establishment over here same as in most countries I guess. But then again so is much popular fiction. I wonder if that will ever change. 

 

Quote

 

I only ever read 2 of the Shannara books. Someone recommended them but I think I came to them when I was too old to enjoy them without criticism. Very childish and a bit too derivative for me. Dragonlance bypassed me completely although I was aware of them. I read the Drizzt books in the Forgotten Realms D&D series instead.

 

 

As mentioned, the first Shannara book was a copycat The Lord of The Rings, even the author has mentioned unabashedly that he was more than inspired by Tolkien's work (today I presume the book would have been stopped for plagiarism). The sequel, 'The Elfstones of Shannara' (maybe you read that one?), was a separate story and many consider it the best of the earlier Shannara books. They are a bit generic and simpler in style than better quality fantasy fiction, but I still enjoyed them back in the day and if I want an easy (re)read I could read it again. As for Drizzt, see below.

 

Quote

 

Funnily enough, I had a similar issue. It took me a while to get into the series, it has a very slow start, but I loved the first 4 books as a complete story arc. After that I never went any further as the story line and most of the characters changed, despite being in the same world, and that annoyed me. Possibly the drawback of having different writers. Hence why it's not on my Top 20 list. I don't like having my immersion interrupted quite that completely. Challenge me, yes, but don't spoil the experience.

 

 

The points you make also makes me doubtful if the Malazan series is something I should invest time in. Loads of readers seem to love those books which is great, but as mentioned book taste is subjective and not eveything will appeal to everyone.

 

Quote

 

Yes, I felt the same about the Mistborn books. I persevered through the first trilogy and enjoyed them well enough but then for some reason never had the impetus to read the follow ups. I haven't tried the Stormlight set but did read, and liked, Warbreaker. Brandon's style isn't really for me though. He did very well finishing up WoT but I put that down to the copious amount of material RJ left. I don't personally feel that Sanderson is a good enough writer to have done that entirely by himself, judging by his own work. Again, the reason nothing of his makes my top 20. 

 

As you say, a very subjective thing, this reading! Fascinating how we can all react so differently to the same books.

 

 

I never got around to reading his Mistborn books but I have observed that many like them. He is a good writer but as you mentioned he has his writing style which some will like and others not (as much). Same was the case with Robert Jordan, I thought he wrote very well but I came across people on the internet who were less impressed. Stephen Donaldson is an interesting example in this regard. In the Thomas Covenant books he writes in what some have called an old-fashioned style and uses many unusual words/vocabulary which some have problems with, but I found it interesting and rewarding. Donaldson is imo one of the greatest quality literary fantasy writers out there (regardless of what one thinks of his stories). I have personally found that what I struggle the most with is authors who write in the first person ("I") instead of the more traditional third person ("He"). I know some readers even prefer that, but it just does not sit well with me somehow, it does not feel natural to me and so I usually choose the more traditionally written books instead.

 

Quote

 

Totes. :happy: Wonderful character. Not sure how I managed to miss him off my Top 20 but also not sure who I'd replace! Sparhawk really should have been on there too looking at Elessar's list.

The "what if" would have been very cool to explore, yes, it was definitely strongly suggested and plausible.

 

 

I heard some others mentioning Drizzt in a fantasy book discussion on the internet, never got around to reading books with that character, perhaps I should some time. Sparhawk, yeah. I love that David Eddings character, his kind of dry wit combined with a cool 'kick badguy ass'- mentality makes me grin every time. Loved his foul-tempered horse too, Faran 😁 (there are some truly hilarious small scenes between the two of them 🤣).

 

---

 

PS. Talking of characters and books, I don't know if you every got around to reading Melanie Rawn's Exile books, first was "The Ruins of Ambrai".  I really enjoyed that fantasy-story, it has many interesting characters and a good story I thought, but I have read that some readers found her "wordy" (probably many of the same who criticized Robert Jordan of the same). The book got a sequel but sadly the last book in the trilogy has not been written in the past 20 years (author had serious personal issues and after a long break went on to write other books) so it is not for those readers who prefer to have the book series finished before they invest time in it (highly uncertain if that third book will ever be written).

 

Another interesting fantasy trilogy is Robin Hobb's "The Liveship Traders", ever had a look at that? A well written kind of low-fantasy seaborn-series, character-based with a few magical aspects interspersed. I enjoyed that too, though it was somewhat different from much of the (more high) fantasy books I read at the time.

 

 

Edited by Elessar

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On 8/20/2019 at 11:37 AM, Taymist said:

 

I do tend towards fantasy that has a solid grounding in history or celtic/Arthurian mythology. I suppose too, being a Scot, I have more of a bias towards UK/Irish authors. Scott Rohan is Scottish, McCaffrey is Irish, Rowling, Gaiman and Pratchett are English. Mary Stewart's, (another Scot), The Crystal Cave series is missing off that list but it'd make my top 25 too.

 

Even the American authors I like such as Kerr or Kennealy-Morrison are very grounded in celtic mythology. Kennealy-Morrison, by the way, is the widow of Jim Morrison of The Doors, just as a point of interest. The love story between Aeron and Gwydion which is central to the books, is actually based on Patricia and Jim's relationship as well. I loved how she blended space travel/sci fi with fantasy mythology. Very similar to McCaffrey in that regard. Canavan is an Australian author iirc.

 

 

 

As far as Rowling's concerned, the books are far superior to the films. They're more detailed and nuanced, as you'd probably expect. Pratchett is a genius. Your life is a desert if you haven't read his work yet. He should have been President of the World. With Gaiman as Vice President.

 

 

Left to my own devices I would turn a Top 20 into a Top 60 by making people equal 2nd place and equal 3rd place lol. I had to draw a line. Too many great characters and not enough space. Williams is a great writer, highly entertaining and underrated imho.

 

 

It's definitely childish reading them now. I just always loved Beldin and probably because I was so young when I read all of the books (about 15 when I started them), the characters have remained a very fond memory.

My preteen reading consisted of the Narnia series, Le Guin's Earthsea books, Susan Cooper's Over Sea Under Stone series, and, of course, the Prydain Chronicles (more celtic myth). I read The Hobbit in my early teens but didn't get to LotR until my mid 20's. It never grabbed me, (although I love Legolas), the way WoT did (which I also started when I was 18).

 

 

Game of Thrones is actually my second favourite fantasy series after The Keltiad. I prefer it over WoT from a writing point of view as I find it more realistic and gritty. Many of Martin's choices challenged me as a reader which makes me value the story and the characters more. WoT is pure escapism, it never made me sad, except for two occasions; when Hopper died and when Verin died. But strangely I've invested more in terms of time (coming on 30 years soon) and being a fan with WoT because of DM and the friends I've made here.

 

Good luck with the book hunt and thanks for this thread. Intriguing to see other people's lists and a fun way to get inspiration for new reads. 🙂

 

You're a Scot? I never would have guessed 😉

 

I firmly believe that, while not my favorite series, the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy is the most beautifully written fantasy I have ever read. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever comes a close second (see more on that series below). I'll be starting another thread similar to this one soon, but all about favorite book series (I have a Top 20 for that one as well).

 

On 8/20/2019 at 5:23 PM, Elessar said:

Interesting and cool thread, let me add some of my favourite characters in fantasy fiction. 

 

Here is my top 20 ranking (somewhat loose after my top 2 though):

 

1. Al'Lan Mandragoran - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan) 

2. Aragorn (Elessar) - The Lord of the Rings (J RR Tolkien)

 

3. Sparhawk - The Elenium (David Eddings)

4. Aditu no'e-Sa'onserei - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (Tad Williams)

5. Saltheart Foamfollower – The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Stephen R Donaldson)

6. Gandalf - The Lord of the Rings (J RR Tolkien)

7. Rand al'Thor - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

8. Moiraine Damodred - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

9. Daenerys Targaryen - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

10. Tyrion Lannister - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

11. Egwene al'Vere - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

12. Jiriki i-Sa'onserei - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (Tad Williams)

13. Lanfear - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

14. Pug - The Riftwar Saga (Raymond E Feist)

15. Kahlan Amnell - The Sword of Truth (Terry Goodkind)

16. Richard Rahl  - The Sword of Truth (Terry Goodkind)

17. Allanon - The Shannara books (Terry Brooks)

18. Tasslehoff Burrfoot – Dragonlance Chronicles (Tracy Hickman & Margaret Weiss)

19. Legolas - The Lord of the Rings (J RR Tolkien)

20. Matrim Cauthon - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

 

 

Honourable mentions (among many):

 

Simon - Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (Tad Williams)

Arya Stark - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

Eddard Stark - A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

Elayne Trakand - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

Nyneave al'Meara - The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

 

 

 

My favourite fantasy books of all time are:

 

1. The Lord of the Rings (my first fantasy-read, and to this day my favourite - prose and poetry = magic for me)

2. The Wheel of Time [WoT] (love it, wonderful characters that I care about and lots of magic which I love)

3. A Song of Ice and Fire (love this too, but I rank the WoT slightly higher, it is a bit more 'special' to me)

 

but all those books mentioned with characters above are ones I have enjoyed a lot through the years

 

 

 

This is the only one I've seen so far in which I've actually read all the series the characters come from, although in some cases only one book (Sword of Truth) or a long long time ago (The Elenium). For the most part I would say some awesome characters on this list, I really like it! Some of your Top 20 just missed making mine, and would definitely be in my Top 50 if the list was extended that long.

 

On 8/20/2019 at 8:51 PM, Taymist said:

 

You know, in spite of being aware of this series for decades, it's one I've never picked up. Worth a read even now would you say?

 

I would say yes, but with a caveat, see below.

 

On 8/21/2019 at 3:40 AM, Elessar said:

 

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is the most atypical fantasy story I have ever read. If you thought A Song of Ice and Fire dark, this is REALLY dark. This is not pure escapism but a psychological drama set in a possible fantasy world setting (or in the main character's mind, depending how you look at it) where the anti-heroes struggle with their inner demons. So this is heavy stuff BUT if you find the premise interesting and like the thought of being challenged by the author to think, at the same time being transported into a 'world' with fascinating beings (including the aforementioned Saltheart Foamfollower, one of the cheeerful lights in the darkness, a wonderful Giant who endears himself to the anti-hero), then this might be for you.

 

I am not trying to put you off, but it is important to go into this series (there are 10 books in all, in 3 series of Thomas Covenant) with the right mindset. This is not escapism-fantasy for everyone, quite a few people out there will find this dark fantasy too dark and gloomy and heavy and will opt for 'lighter fare', but for those who are willing to take the journey and appreciate Stephen R Donaldson's attempt to study the human psyche (loss, shame, fear, inadequacy but also joy, hope and redemption) projected in a fascinating fantasy-world, his wanting to make his readers think and dwell on important choices,  then this is a worthwhile endeavour. There are lights in the darkness and, in my opinion, wonderful moments there and I really enjoyed it and would recommend reading it, but only on the premise mentioned above.

 

Let me emphasize again that I hope I have not put off all new readers from this, in many ways, classy work of dark fantasy fiction by an eminent writer, but it IS something unusual in the fantasy fiction universe, a heavier darker-realism style which demands something of its reader, and which though many might steer clear of it (as mentioned those who prefer pure escapism and lighter fare) some will find very rewarding.

 

I think The Land is one of the more beautiful fantasy realms I have read, which is pretty ironic considering that the Covenant stuff is some of the earliest dark fantasy. I wouldn't call it grimdark, at least not until the Second Chronicles (I haven't finished the final four books yet, but those were seeming pretty dark as well).

 

On 8/21/2019 at 7:50 AM, Elessar said:

You are welcome, it is worth having a go at and see if it is something for you or not.

 

It will always be somewhat subjective how one perceives a book(-series) and my description is how I found it best to describe it (without giving too much away plot wise). I have also read some of those old write ups.  Let me add though that I have read all 10 books that comprise the full story and my perception may be somewhat coloured by that, not everything I wrote will come to mind (appear) right away in book 1, “Lord Foul’s Bane”, things will evolve along the way in this huge story as it usually does in such larger works of fiction.

 

In my country we separate written fiction into 2 categories: popular fiction and for lack of a better English term, serious fiction. In category 1 the author is mainly out to entertain, it is ‘lighter fare’, be it in a world of fantasy, crime or elsewhere, while in category 2 the author goes much deeper and handles harder, often brutal human concepts and themes (violence, brutality, rape, murder, suicide, shame, outcasts, mental scars and illnesses etc.) inside a fictional universe. Most authors of fantasy in my experience are in one way or another in category 1 here, whereas I would put the Thomas Covenant books in category 2 (though it does not deal with all those destructive themes of course). It is heavier stuff indeed, but perhaps also therefore even rarer and challenging (as you also touched upon) and ultimately rewarding (as long as one can ‘handle’ the dark parts).

 

This was, in fact, one of the earlier fantasy books I read (the first Thomas Covenant series). After The Lord of the Rings books which endeared me to fantasy forever, I had a go at the first Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks, the first book which was almost a copy of The Lord of the Rings but since I loved the original I was far from unhappy. I also read the Dragonlance Chronicles around that time which though more for youngsters had its charm and was easy reading fun, I thought. After this I wanted to try something different in the fantasy genre, something a little more challenging, and I was recommended Thomas Covenant which certainly had a different, darker more intricate style but which I also enjoyed. There are occasions in these Thomas Covenant books when it goes a bit too dark also for me, but then again there are times in the Wheel of Time books when things go too slow/descriptive for me also, so no book is perfect.

 

As for the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen series which you mention. I love huge epic fantasy stories and had a go at the first Malazan book, but something - I am not quite sure what - put me off in that book and made me think that this was not a series for me and my book taste. Perhaps it was the way it was written, or the multitude of characters that I struggled with (though I have not struggled with the hundreds and hundreds of characters in The Wheel of Time and A Song Of Ice And Fire) and the many storylines, I don’t know. Anyway, I read through the first book and though I found parts interesting it did not appeal to me on a level of following the series.

 

Same happened to me with Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive book 1. I really wanted to like it, I read the first half of the book but though he writes well with some interesting innovations the book did not sit well with me somehow.. there I thought the plot did not move forwards enough and I got tired of some of the characters doing the same things over and over again (figuratively, I can only watch so many times a person 'getting out of a ditch').. and I could not see myself keeping interest for 10 novels thick as bricks in the same style, so I gave up on it. I see others loving it (and its sequels) which is great, Brandon did imo a great job finishing the Wheel of Time saga and I will always feel indebted to him for that and wish him success.

 

Book taste is subjective and thankfully there is something great to read for everyone out there.

 

I agree with everything Ellesar says about the Covenant books. They are definitely not for everyone. And they were definitely not for the 13 year old me who first read them. I reread the original six when I was in early to mid 30s and enjoyed them much more, and understood them much more as well, and that includes Donaldson's eccentric vocabulary (I first read my mother's copy which had dozens of words written in the back cover, words she found in the book that she didn't know and had to look up; I had to do the same). The man has a massive vocabulary and uses words that 99.99999999% of the populace have never seen before and probably will never see again outside of his books.

 

The first book in the series, Lord Foul's Bane, can also be problematic for some; fairly early in the book, the main character (I am leary of calling him a protagonist as he is in many ways more of an anti-hero) does something BAD that could trigger some readers. I know several people that stopped reading at that point, and I fully understand their reasons and reactions.

 

As to the Malazan books, I read the first two and about 1/3 of the third novel and just had  to stop. I don't know if it was my mental health state at the time or what, but I just couldn't do it, I couldn't take the series at that point in my life. I've promised my friend, who is a huge fan of the series, that I would go back and finish it some day, but it is fairly far down my list of TBRs. I had a similar problem with The Stormlight Archive when I first picked it up. I took me several weeks to finish The Way of Kings, a book that normally I would have finished in a little less than a week. I just had to force my way through it. I've read it twice now, and have become a massive fan of that series, and of Sanderson in general.

 

On 8/21/2019 at 1:42 PM, Taymist said:

 

We do the same in the UK. My academic background is in Literature/Language so there's always an element of analytical thought in my approach to reading choices. Whilst I enjoy some lighthearted escapism sometimes, I inevitably come back to needing more substantial fare. If books don't make me think,  I get bored. And if it makes me a literary snob, as my dear Souvra is so fond of telling me, then I'm ok with that.:laugh:

 

 

I only ever read 2 of the Shannara books. Someone recommended them but I think I came to them when I was too old to enjoy them without criticism. Very childish and a bit too derivative for me. Dragonlance bypassed me completely although I was aware of them. I read the Drizzt books in the Forgotten Realms D&D series instead.

 

 

Funnily enough, I had a similar issue. It took me a while to get into the series, it has a very slow start, but I loved the first 4 books as a complete story arc. After that I never went any further as the story line and most of the characters changed, despite being in the same world, and that annoyed me. Possibly the drawback of having different writers. Hence why it's not on my Top 20 list. I don't like having my immersion interrupted quite that completely. Challenge me, yes, but don't spoil the experience.

 

 

Yes, I felt the same about the Mistborn books. I persevered through the first trilogy and enjoyed them well enough but then for some reason never had the impetus to read the follow ups. I haven't tried the Stormlight set but did read, and liked, Warbreaker. Brandon's style isn't really for me though. He did very well finishing up WoT but I put that down to the copious amount of material RJ left. I don't personally feel that Sanderson is a good enough writer to have done that entirely by himself, judging by his own work. Again, the reason nothing of his makes my top 20. 

 

As you say, a very subjective thing, this reading! Fascinating how we can all react so differently to the same books.

 

I devoured the original six Dragonlance books by Hickman and Weiss (and they're the first books to ever make me tear up and be sad at a character's death, and they did it twice). And I read the first three Drizzt books, but that's it. Only ever read a handful of other D&D based licensed novels (one set in the Greyhawk setting, a few in the Forgotten Realms setting, and a few others in the Dragonlance setting). They were pure escapism for me, which is what they were written to be. Light, I don't even remember the names of those other books!

 

2 hours ago, Elessar said:

 

I like both types: books that are delicious escapism and those who demand more of its reader, depending on my mood. Most often I have to admit my main purpose is to be entertained with stories, but I have become more critical in later years as to what I consider quality and worth reading. As for literary snobs, fantasy literature - even of the quality kind - is frowned upon by the book establishment over here same as in most countries I guess. But then again so is much popular fiction. I wonder if that will ever change. 

 

 

As mentioned, the first Shannara book was a copycat The Lord of The Rings, even the author has mentioned unabashedly that he was more than inspired by Tolkien's work (today I presume the book would have been stopped for plagiarism). The sequel, 'The Elfstones of Shannara' (maybe you read that one?), was a separate story and many consider it the best of the earlier Shannara books. They are a bit generic and simpler in style than better quality fantasy fiction, but I still enjoyed them back in the day and if I want an easy (re)read I could read it again. As for Drizzt, see below.

 

 

The points you make also makes me doubtful if the Malazan series is something I should invest time in. Loads of readers seem to love those books which is great, but as mentioned book taste is subjective and not eveything will appeal to everyone.

 

 

I never got around to reading his Mistborn books but I have observed that many like them. He is a good writer but as you mentioned he has his writing style which some will like and others not (as much). Same was the case with Robert Jordan, I thought he wrote very well but I came across people on the internet who were less impressed. Stephen Donaldson is an interesting example in this regard. In the Thomas Covenant books he writes in what some have called an old-fashioned style and uses many unusual words/vocabulary which some have problems with, but I found it interesting and rewarding. Donaldson is imo one of the greatest quality literary fantasy writers out there (regardless of what one thinks of his stories). I have personally found that what I struggle the most with is authors who write in the first person ("I") instead of the more traditional third person ("He"). I know some readers even prefer that, but it just does not sit well with me somehow, it does not feel natural to me and so I usually choose the more traditionally written books instead.

 

 

I heard some others mentioning Drizzt in a fantasy book discussion on the internet, never got around to reading books with that character, perhaps I should some time. Sparhawk, yeah. I love that David Eddings character, his kind of dry wit combined with a cool 'kick badguy ass'- mentality makes me grin every time. Loved his foul-tempered horse too, Faran 😁 (there are some truly hilarious small scenes between the two of them 🤣).

 

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PS. Talking of characters and books, I don't know if you every got around to reading Melanie Rawn's Exile books, first was "The Ruins of Ambrai".  I really enjoyed that fantasy-story, it has many interesting characters and a good story I thought, but I have read that some readers found her "wordy" (probably many of the same who criticized Robert Jordan of the same). The book got a sequel but sadly the last book in the trilogy has not been written in the past 20 years (author had serious personal issues and after a long break went on to write other books) so it is not for those readers who prefer to have the book series finished before they invest time in it (highly uncertain if that third book will ever be written).

 

Another interesting fantasy trilogy is Robin Hobb's "The Liveship Traders", ever had a look at that? A well written kind of low-fantasy seaborn-series, character-based with a few magical aspects interspersed. I enjoyed that too, though it was somewhat different from much of the (more high) fantasy books I read at the time.

 

 

 

I've always hated the "literati" out there, the Literature Snobs who look down on all genre lit as being worthless. This has gone so far as to the point of me hating the books they push, including the Trolloc dung they teach in school, most of which I absolutely despised and hated (The Great Gatsby I'm looking at you!). Until I started getting into some non-fiction and into Historical Fiction I've pretty much been a genre snob, the opposite of the "literati." Basically, 99.99% of what I have read in my life has been either Fantasy or Science Fiction. Some for pure escapism, some for deeper thought. And both of these genres is ripe with both categories thankfully.

 

I enjoyed the first Shannara trilogy (at least it was a trilogy at the time I read it, looks like it has expanded a great deal since I last read anything set in that world), and plan to go back at some point. Same with the Drizzt books, I'm planning on re-reading the original three and then continuing on with all the myriad others that have been written.

 

The only Melanie Rawn I've read was called Dragon Prince or something, but I never went past that for some reason. Is it worth reading more in that series? How about her other stuff (aside from the Exile stuff)?

 

Read a trilogy by Hobb about a character named Fitz-something. Barely remember it. Far-Seer or something? He was a bastard and an assassin I believe. Not very memorable (thought it was nearly 30 years ago).

 

 

Glad everyone is enjoying this thread! 😎😀 I'll be posting a "sequel" soon! 

Edited by imlad

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1 hour ago, imlad said:

 

I firmly believe that, while not my favorite series, the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy is the most beautifully written fantasy I have ever read. 

 

 

I really enjoyed Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. As you saw from my favourite characters list, I especially loved the Zida'ya, the Dawn Children, the almost otherwordly elvish people in Tad Williams' fascinating world, and the female character Aditu was just wonderful in all her alluring alienness I thought. I have that trilogy in my top 7 I think.

 

To my everlasting disappointment I was so displeased by the first book in the new 'sequel' trilogy which was released in 2017 that I have more or less given up on the 'sequel'-series. I don't want to give any spoilers for those who intend to read it, but there were several things that went in an other direction than I wanted and which bugged me in that book (many fans love it though it seems which is great, again it shows how subjective book taste and what appeals to a person is). This saddens me since I never ever expected to be taken on another journey into Osten Ard, but for now I will stick to the original trilogy

 

I find it a bit difficult to choose what I believe is the most beautifully written fantasy I have read. Many have impressed me and the authors have shown true craftmanship (Stephen Donaldson and George RR Martin are high on that list for me). I must say a few words about David Eddings though. His Elenium books (trilogy) are perhaps the most easily flowing quality fantasy work I have ever read, I went through those books in record time and was in awe at times at how pleasurably easy-flowing (while keeping some intricacy and detail for adult fantasy-readers) and fun reading they were.

 

 

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This is the only one I've seen so far in which I've actually read all the series the characters come from, although in some cases only one book (Sword of Truth) or a long long time ago (The Elenium). For the most part I would say some awesome characters on this list, I really like it! Some of your Top 20 just missed making mine, and would definitely be in my Top 50 if the list was extended that long.

 

 

Cool. Several of those characters on your list would be in my top 30, too.

 

I enjoyed the Sword of Truth book series even if it sometimes felt like a copycat of the Wheel of Time. Parts are kinda generic but then Terry Goodkind comes up with an innovation which is  very cool. I like the two main characters which are on my list above and there are also a few more great ones there. My main objection to this book series is twofold. Main thing I disliked was that Goodkind projected his political views on the reader, letting his main character Richard hold long ideological speeches (in this case against socialism, but it's the principle I don't like; I would have had the same opinion had the speech been against capitalism - I don't like using politics this way). Also, the book series had imo an awful ending; after a build-up in the style of the Wheel of Time the whole ending fizzled out into nothing really. Some may criticize the way the Last Battle ended in A Memory of Light (how it was written, spread out over 80 pages or so) but I tell you it was way way better than the ending of the Sword of Truth which at least for me was a major letdown. That said though, the book series is in my top 8.

 

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I agree with everything Ellesar says about the Covenant books. They are definitely not for everyone. And they were definitely not for the 13 year old me who first read them. I reread the original six when I was in early to mid 30s and enjoyed them much more, and understood them much more as well, and that includes Donaldson's eccentric vocabulary (I first read my mother's copy which had dozens of words written in the back cover, words she found in the book that she didn't know and had to look up; I had to do the same). The man has a massive vocabulary and uses words that 99.99999999% of the populace have never seen before and probably will never see again outside of his books.

 

The first book in the series, Lord Foul's Bane, can also be problematic for some; fairly early in the book, the main character (I am leary of calling him a protagonist as he is in many ways more of an anti-hero) does something BAD that could trigger some readers. I know several people that stopped reading at that point, and I fully understand their reasons and reactions. 

 

 

Cool that we agree. Perception is always in the eyes of the beholder, but I think we both have touched upon the essence of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant books. Stephen Donaldson has mentioned himself that he never intended those books to be read by youth/young people, but that he has come to understand that many have done so (with conflicting results). I read the first two series in my early twenties, can well imagine that one would not be up for it in the early to mid teens. Yeah, I too mentioned the vocabulary which is pretty unusual (and I thought fascinating). As you say, the man has a massive vocabulary and also a massive knowledge of the English language. I stand by my previous comment, that he is one of the best writers in fantasy literature (writing/literary competence) over the years.

 

Yeah, that episode in 'Lord Foul's Bane' is a 'walk into darkness' which some readers will struggle to return from. Don't want to spoil it for anyone intending to read these books, but it is a tough 'hurdle' one has to cross if one is to enjoy these books. As we have both emphasized (not without reason), these books are not for everyone - but for those who manage the 'hurdles' and 'challenges' and intricate 'pathways' internal as well as external it is very rewarding, in many ways unique, and also important I would say with a view to how Donaldson tackles/describes humanity in its many moments of light and darkness.

 

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I devoured the original six Dragonlance books by Hickman and Weiss (and they're the first books to ever make me tear up and be sad at a character's death, and they did it twice). 

 

 

Yeah, I too thought it (the two main trilogies) was a fun easy read, with joy (Tas.. one of the most charming characters I ever read in fantasy!), fun (Fizban, who we also know is another important character, often cracked me up) and also sadness (I know of what and who you think, I agree..). These books may be simple and aimed at youngsters, but I sure enjoyed them!

 

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I've always hated the "literati" out there, the Literature Snobs who look down on all genre lit as being worthless. 

 

I agree with you. "Literati" is a good way of describing them. They are everywhere, book critics, many 'serious' authors, others in the book publishing industry. Stephen Donaldson mentioned it too in an interview at one time I think, how fantasy (and science fiction) literature was almost sneered at at University and among the "literati" regardless of the quality of the author or written work.

 

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The only Melanie Rawn I've read was called Dragon Prince or something, but I never went past that for some reason. Is it worth reading more in that series? How about her other stuff (aside from the Exile stuff)?

 

 

I think the Dragon Prince books were some of her first ones. I never read them but seems those books also have their fans on the internet. After her first trilogy she wrote something called Dragon Star I think which I think could be in the same fictional world somewhere.. The two Exile books are the only ones I have read by her. I do think she is a good writer, but I also hope she either finishes the third Exile book one day or lets someone else do so (if she is unable to do so herself), it would mean much to her many fans who have waited 20 years so far and, as ever, it is always good to get an ending to a story.

 

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Read a trilogy by Hobb about a character named Fitz-something. Barely remember it. Far-Seer or something? He was a bastard and an assassin I believe. Not very memorable (thought it was nearly 30 years ago).

 

 

Yes, I think those books were called Farseer Trilogy, though I have not read them myself. They were popular too but again, book taste will vary among readers. Several of her books are written in first person style, I think, and as I mentioned before, I am not keen on that and have looked elsewhere. The Liveship Trader trilogy though interested me when I read about the concept (I wonder if that story is set somewhere else in that Farseer-world, could well be..) and it is written in the third person which I prefer. 

 

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Glad everyone is enjoying this thread! 😎😀 I'll be posting a "sequel" soon! 

 

 

Speaking for myself, I am indeed enjoying the thread, reading and participating! Perhaps I am going slightly off-topic on books instead of characters, but it is part of the same 'universe' and fun to exchange thoughts about 😁

 

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Posted (edited)

I may as well add my list, in no particular Order.

 

1. Kvothe - King Killer Chronicles.

2. Vin - Mistborn

3. Perrin Aybara & Faile Aybara

4. Matrim Cauthon

5. Duncan Idaho - Dune

6. Logen Ninefingers - First Law Trilogy

7. Sand dan Glokta - First Law Trilogy

8. The Mule - Foundation Series

9. Tyrion Lannister - Song of Ice and Fire

10. Arya Stark - Song of Ice and Fire

11. Drizzt Du'Urden - Forgotten Realms

12. Jarlaxle - Forgotten Realms

13. Artemis Entreri - Forgotten Realm

 

 

... Can't think of anymore off the top of my head.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by SinisterDeath

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