Agreed that writers like Peake, Eddison, et al. would likely not appeal to readers of contemporary high fantasy looking for a stopgap between GRRM novels. Although they’re extensions of a tradition, most of the epic series we’ve been talking about still have a modern sensibility, whereas the Gormenghast books have a very old-fashioned feel. Leiber and Vance were modern for their time and might still appeal.
I think there’s a difference between epic fantasy and sword and sorcery, though hell if I can articulate it. Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories have an epic feel that I think sets them apart from, say, Howard’s tales of Conan. When I read Leiber, I feel that I’m reading stories that are part of a culture and a saga that are more fleshed out than Howard’s Hyborian Age.
I think some GRRM fans would enjoy Vance — his Lyonnesse books, or the Dying Earth series in particular. But I suspect that a lot of readers looking to satisfy a GOT jones would be put off by his mannered, ironic style. I think Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles would be a good recommendation, though.
YA has some excellent high fantasy that I suspect many of his fans might be intrigued by (and which I know lots of GRRM fans in the YA field also read). Along those lines, a couple of recommendations:
Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Fire – While these are relatively heavy on the magic side of things, the politics is cut-throat in both. I have a feeling that anyone who cheers on Dany or Arya will cheer on Fire and Katsa.
Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia series – I definitely think these fit the bill; the magic is backgrounded, the politics are complicated, and she’s not afraid to maim a beloved character. (The first one of these, The Thief, skews much younger than the books that come after.)
Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books fit the bill, I think, though the series went on long after I stopped reading them. Also, I assume E.R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros has come up …
Having read Worm Ouroboros relatively recently, I have to say that I don’t think it would appeal to GRRM fans. If I had to guess, I’d say most of them would find the language very off-putting (although the opening is a pretty good hook).
In this context The Worm Ouroboros is caviar to the general.
Yeah, good point, Karen. Good thing I didn’t suggest A Fish Dinner in Memison …