Focus on the Fantastic, Part 2
In my last entry I commented on four pieces of fantasy literature which still excite me. Time for some more!
- The Dark Tower Series (Stephen King)
Really, at its heart, the Dark Tower Series is about a questing band of knights. Only with a Wild West ethos on top of that, and guns rather than swords. And with lots of crossovers from our world. Really, I just find this really cool. Sure, it has it’s problems (Stephen King himself as a guest character being the main one, and the impression that the author was bored with it all by the end of the last book being another one) but the wonder, and number of really cool scenes and ideas more than makes up for it. It may soon be time for a reread.
- Various Fantasy Works of Michael Moorcock
Michael Moorcock was absolutely hugely prolific, and key to my take on fantasy (and many others) with the concepts of Law and Chaos, and the infinite planes of the multiverse. And the books are fast exciting reads. Key reads from my youth- the series based on Elric, Hawkmoon, Corum, and the Dancers at the End of Time- all breezy fast exciting reads, and ones which capture what I want from swords and sorcery. And my goodness, was he prolific- how many novels did he put out in the 70s? I almost don’t want to know. It’s a pity I don’t like his more recent works (from the 1980s onwards really) nearly as much.
- The Broken Sword (Paul Anderson)
Now this is the business- a gloomy saga involving the hidden war between the elves and trolls amidst dark ages Europe, and a doomed changeling hero. It’s a really good take on a slice of mostly Norse mythology in the form of a novel. One of my favourite books in fact, for all its doomy angst. Okay, I like doomy angst sometimes when it’s done well. This is one of those times.
- The Warlord Chronicles (Bernard Cornwell)
This is closer to historic fiction than fantasy, but I’d definitely put it in the fantasy camp. It’s Bernard Cornwell doing King Arthur, complete with subtle magic which is not necessarily magic, and as much taken from the Welsh myths as is taken from any historic sources. And it’s a King Arthur in the Dark Ages rather than faux-Medieval romance. Heck, Cornwell’s King Arthur isn’t a king, but a warleader, and a compelling fictional character.
It’s also the main fictional inspiration for the Age of Arthur roleplaying game.
- The Discworld Novels (Terry Pratchett)
This is the last for now of my great fantasy loves, unless I move onto talking about urban fantasy at a future date (which tempts me). I’ve read all the Discworld books, and at their best, they manage to be both funny and moving, as well as both parodying modern society and saying things about human nature. Not to mention introducing some fine fictional characters. Reading a Discworld book gives me the same sort of warm glow as eating a fine meal accompanied by a couple of glasses of wine, with a cigar at the end of the meal.
And that’s me done with this for now. Though at some point in the future I might write about urban fantasy, the Mabinogion, or Homer.