Roundtable: While GRRM Fans Wait for Book Six…

Carolyn Cushman

I’d add Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books to the YA recommendations — the Song of the Lioness and Protector of the Small series in particular feature knights-in-training and politics. They’re nowhere near as dense as GRRM’s stuff, of course.

I can’t think of many works as “Neo-Arthurian” (there’s a label to ponder — where does Mists of Avalon stand?) as GRRM’s series, but there are plenty of hefty fantasy series full of courtly intrigues, such as Feist’s Riftwar books. Zelazny’s Amber series might be of interest, with its courtly intrigues, though the tone is rather drastically different. R. Scott Bakker’s trilogy The Prince of Nothing has the heft, dense plot, and intrigue with a somewhat more Eastern flavor, and very dark in tone. Robin Hobb’s various related series starting with The Farseer are full of intrigues and feature some really different dragons. Tad Williams has a number of hefty fantasies that might be of interest for those wanting the immersive experience. (Not Tailchaser’s Song, so much — the cat-ness of it all is too hard to get away from: that scene where the queen licks her butt in court has stayed with me a long, long time.)

As has been mentioned, so much depends on what each reader is responding to in Martin’s works — and whether they’ve read any other fantasy before. The Legends anthology edited by Robert Silverberg is a good sampler of some of the authors mentioned working in their best-known worlds (Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, Le Guin’s Earthsea, not to mention GRRM’s novella “The Hedge Knight”) plus a few more (Stephen King’s Dark Tower, Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker, Robert Silverberg’s Majipoor). The Feist and McCaffrey entries are relatively weak, but otherwise this is a great introduction.

Stefan Dziemianowicz

It seems strange, but–I think anyone who likes Peake or Eddison would like Tolkien. And I think folks who like Tolkien would like GRRM. So why do I think very few people  who like Peake and Eddison would like GRRM?

I see that Liz mentioned Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels. Those of you who remember the old Ballantine Adult Fantasy line may remember that it included Peake, Eddison, Tolkien, AND Kurtz.

Russell Letson

This looks like a job for Venn diagrams. Jeeves! My pie plates!

But serially–Carolyn’s second paragraph, teasing out some of the elements and appeals available from various series, indicates why it’s not a simply a matter of “If you like X, you’ll like Y”: X and Y are not, like cheese, simple in structure and uniform in texture. They’re more like the array of ice creams in a fancy creamery–do you like peanut butter or cookie dough in your chocolate, or do you avoid chocolate but love anything with berries?

The late Scott Imes of Uncle Hugo’s was a brilliant what-to-read-next recommender, but his method tended toward the Socratic rather than the theoretical-taxonomic (though there was certainly a wonderfully detailed scheme in his head, combining taxonomy and audience demographics).

Cecelia Holland

Possibly also the analogy breaks down because cheese ideally should taste pretty much the same (better, maybe, alas, sometimes worse) from one eating to the next, while each story should be a new experience. writers who try to replicate the previous cheese will end up satisfying nobody.

Incidentally I love Peake, Eddison, Tolkein and GRRM.

Paul Witcover

If only that were true!  But a trip to the local bookstore is all it takes to disprove this notion.  In fact, evidence points toward the opposite conclusion.  Cheese replicators may produce stinky wares but there is no shortage of customers for them.

8 thoughts on “Roundtable: While GRRM Fans Wait for Book Six…

  • July 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

    For that historical feeling with more than a touch of the fantastic, I do recommend Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint-Germain novels (including the Olivia Clemens trilogy). Often harsh and always unflinching in its portrayal , this is an excellent counterpoint to Anne Rice on one hand and the saccharine feminized histories of recent prodigy on the other.

  • July 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I would recommend the trilogy by Daniel Fox (Chaz Brenchley): Dragon in Chains, Jade Man’s Skin and Hidden Cities

  • July 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Peter Orullion’s “The Unremembered” is very much in feel like Jordan’s “Wheel Of Time” and up there with Ken Scholes’ “Psalms of Isak” as the best fantasy I’ve ready in the past two years. Both are highly recommended as epic fantasy.

  • July 13, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I’d recommend Sherwood Smith’s Inda series and Kate Elliott’s Spirit Gate books. Both of those series are finished, too.

  • July 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    You guys know there’s and app for this right? If I use Novelist (on my Public Library’s web-site), and look at the appeal factors for SOIAF, then pick Epic and Fantasy from the genre, go with intricately plotted from the storyline, and gritty for the writing style I get these recommendations: Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson (all 3 trilogies), Chronicles of Siala by Alexei Pekhov, and Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook. You can play around and pick different factors. But those are pretty good suggestions. Personally, I also think Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, and R Scott Bakker are also really good suggestions. I love Watership Down, but I’m not sure I would hand it to someone jonesing for more GRRM.

  • July 14, 2011 at 3:47 am

    I think Vance’s Lyonesse trilogy deserves wider appreciation, so I’d recommend it to anyone. Certainly Vance was merciless with some of his seemingly important characters, as is GRRM’s wont. I suppose some Catholics might take umbrage at Umphred, though.

  • July 16, 2011 at 10:12 am

    And what about David Gemmell? I haven’t read much of his work (and it was a long time ago), so I’m not going to make any recommendations, but it seems to be well suited to GRRM fans.


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