Genre: Fantasy Saga

FANTASY FICTION ARC 2014-2015 Historical, Romantic, and Sagas.  PRIMARY APPEAL: We had nine people respond. All nine had world-building (frame) as an element (8 in the #1 position). Eight listed character as one of the three appeal factors; and seven had storyline. Several people mentioned pacing (the thrill factor0, and Atmosphere or Tone. Several of us had magical or mystical elements which I would designate in the World-Building category.

1.WORLD-BUILDING (FRAME) needs: “to transport the reader to another world despite being fantasy is nonetheless believable;” “logical/consistent magic or physics of the world;” “creating a believable, new world as a setting/character in the story;” and “’Impossible World’ Building…the safe presentation of problems and solutions beyond our ordinary worlds.”

2.CHARACTERS need: “Without good characters, the best setting in the world won’t involve and sustain the reader;”…”I don’t believe this is any different than any other story, but in Fantasy where the characters may not be human, reader empathy/understanding is more important to the experience than it might me reading a mystery or general fiction.”

3.STORYLINE:  Several of us want “the Quest” to drive the story and “to hang created world and good characters.” While “discovering and learning how to handle the unusual phenomena becomes part of the growth of the character,” but “the Quest” should “be more than the world and the cool stuff in it/happening to it; the protagonist (2) must have a larger reason for interacting with the world or a reason for changing themselves in their world.” In other words, I think the storyline has to real within the context of the world but also should stand by itself as a compelling plot line. Often magical and mythical beasts and their dilemmas are metaphorical and the story universal.

The pacing, tone, and literary quality of the writing may vary for individual readers.

Thank you to Jessica Atherton; Eileen Barrett; Michelle Deschene; Diane Giarusso; Louise Goldstein, Nanci Milone Hill; Jan Resnick;  and Jim Riordan.

May 26, 2015
Benchmark: George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

Please read another title in this genre (See below for suggestions.).

Please post Romantic Fantasy & Fantasy Saga second title choices on the RA RT Blog: above at Submit 2nd Title Info.

Appeal to be read for May meeting: Focus on all the appeal factors, but really think about character and frame elements.

Handouts:
FOR SAGAS: Buker, Derek M. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Guide to Cyborgs, Aliens and Sorcerers. ALA, 2002. “The Long and the Longer of it,” p. 118-122.

See Fantasy Historicals & Fantasy Romance for previous Fantasy Handout bibliographies.

Suggestions for Fantasy Saga Fiction: Tip of Saga Iceberg!

Anthony, Piers. A Spell for Chameleon. Xanth series #1

Brooks, Terry. Sword of Shannara. Shannara series #1

Butcher, Jim. Furies of Calderon. Code Alera series #1

Carey, Jacqueline. Kushiel’s Dart. Kushiel’s Legacy series #1

Donaldson, Stephen R. Lord Foul’s Bane. Chronicles of Thomas Covenant #1

Drake, David. Lord of the Isles. Isles series. #1

Eddings, David. Pawn of Prophecy. Belgariad series#1

Elliott, Kate. King’s Dragon. Crown of Stars series. #1

Feist, Raymond E. Magician, Apprentice. Riftwar series #1

Goodkind, Terry. Wizard’s First Rule. Sword of Truth series #1

Haydon, Elizabeth. Rhapsody: Child of Blood. Symphony of Ages:#1

Hobb, Robin. Assassin’s Apprentice. Farseer Trilogy #1

Jemisin, N.K. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Inheritance Trilogy#1

Jordan, Robert. The Eye of the World. The Wheel of Time series#1

Le Guin, Ursula K. A Wizard of Earthsea. Earthsea series #1

McKiernan, Dennis L. The Dark Tide. Mithgar series #1

Miller, Karen. Empress. Godspeaker Trilogy#1

Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind. Kingkiller Chronicles #1

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. Lord of the Ring Trilogy. #1

Weeks, Brent. The Black Prism. Lightbringer series #1

Williams, Tad. The Dragonbone Chair. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Series #1

Elective Titles

Jim Riordan

Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
Appeals: World, Character development, Lots of plot twists.

The great thing about Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora (Book 1 of the Gentlemen Bastards series) is that it incorporates great character development, world building and lots of plot twists. Since I tend to read fantasy saga for world I’ll start with that. The story is set in the city state of Camorr which looks vaguely like 14th century Venice with lots of canals and rivers and a decidedly mercantile frame of mind.

This is a complex and well developed setting with many layers. Camorr was originally built by a people called the Elderen who built the city of a mysterious unbreakable glass called by the current dwellers of Camorr (the Therin) Elderglass. The Therin moved into Camorr long after the Elderen disappeared and build on top of the preexisting city. At one point all the city states of the Therin, including Camorr, were ruled by an emperor. The empire has long since collapsed and the city states are now independent ruled by their own aristocracy.

Into this world steps the main character Locke Lamora. Locke is an orphan and a thief. He is not the usual hansom dashing character. In fact he is small and has a face that is supremely forgettable. He turns this to his advantage though. He and his gang specialize in perpetrating complex con games on the aristocracy of Camorr. This is extremely dangerous not simply because the aristocracy doesn’t like being duped and robbed but also because in the highly complex criminal world of Camorr the first rule is: you can rob anyone except the aristocracy. This is where the plot twists come in. Lamora’s gang is conning the rich, stashing away the money and pretending to be small time crooks to their fellow criminals. This creates complex intertwining plots that leave the reader surprised over and over.

The main story is broken up by a series of interludes which fulfil several purposes. They are on of the main ways of imparting the back story of Lamora and his main lieutenant and friend Jean. These interludes are also one of the places Lynch tells the reader about the history of Camorr. They also provides a nice break in the flow of the story which can get almost too quick at times. While the reader learns about the religious customs of Camorr for example they have time to digest all that happened in the previous chapter.

I’d recommend this book to someone who doesn’t normally like fantasy sagas. Lynch manages to pack a ton of stuff into his book without the reader really noticing it so you can read a fantasy saga without feeling like you are reading a fantasy saga. Similarly I’d recommend it to someone new to the genre who is a little intimidated by series like Game of Thrones.

Leane Ellis

The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Christensen
Appeal Factors: Intriguing primary & Secondary CHARACTERS/FRAME—Excellent World-building/Quick PACE

I could not put this book down, and it has been awhile since a Fantasy has gripped me like this one did. The Queen of the Tearling stars a refreshing female protagonist and is a well-conceived coming-of-age tale. Johansen makes an impressive debut with this ambitious fantasy adventure, which takes place several centuries from now following the collapse of civilization and mass migration to a newly discovered continent. The resultant society resembles medieval Europe, with modern technology all but forgotten, and magic is subtly present. Finally come of age, 19-year-old Kelsea must evade assassins and her uncle’s murder attempts in order to take her place as rightful queen of the nation known as the Tearling. Her first acts as ruler break a treaty with neighboring country and anger is+ sorceress called the Red Queen. Johansen starts strongly, with a forceful, memorable heroine immediately thrust into a series of intense situations and forced to make dynamic, if overly idealistic, decisions. If one of the hallmarks of Fantasy Sagas is the good vs evil fight, then those themes eloquently ring true here. While the intriguing backstory could stand further explanation and exploration, this trilogy launch is still an engaging page-turner. The second title, “The Invasion of the Tearling,” is due in June, and a movie is in development starring Emma Watson.  I think readers who enjoyed the Fantasy Sagas of Jim Butcher, “The Furies of Calderon” for its COA fantasy elements, and Robin Hobb series for the strong female protagonists would also enjoy this series, as  well as adult fans of Kristin Cashore (Graceling) should also consider picking it up.

Jan Resnick

Eragon – Christopher Paolini
Appeal Factors: Pace:  Leisurely paced; Character:  Well-developed, Heroic, Large Cast of Characters; Storyline:  Intricately plotted, World-building; Tone: Strong sense of place; Writing Style: Engaging, Stylistically complex; Frame:  Alagesia

Fifteen year old Eragon, ‘son of none’, lives in the village of Carvahall with his uncle and cousin and frequently wanders and hunts The Spine.  He finds a charismatic blue stone which hatches Saphira, who grows into a fierce blue dragon, long after all the dragons are feared to have disappeared.  The evil king Galbatorix, rules violently and ruthlessly and wants Saphira for his own.  The other peoples (elves, dwarves, the Varden, etc.) unite to fight Galbatorix and save the only dragon not under his control.  Eragon has learned strong values from his uncle, loyalty from his cousin, and is mentored by Brom, the village storyteller who may have a secret past.  This first book in the Inheritance Cycle tells the story of Eragon as he learns of his past and the skills he will need for his future.  (Inheritance Cycle:  Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance.)  The recordings from Listening Library are excellent for the story and the pronunciation of the many dialects, but miss the maps and the glossaries of the print editions.

Winner of at least 15, mostly teen, book awards.
Similar authors, titles:  Trudi Canavan – Priestess of the White (Age of the Five Trilogy); John Flanagan – The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice); Tamora Pierce – Terrier (Beka Cooper); T.A. Barron – The Lost Years of Merlin; Ursula Le Guin – Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea; Jasper Fforde – The Last Dragonslayer; Robin McKinley – The Hero and the Crown; Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles; Jane Yolen – A Sending of Dragons

Jessica Atherton

Eye of the World – Robert Jordan

Teenage farmer, Rand al’Thor, never thinks about leaving his sleepy village until a man in black appears.  The stranger brings destruction to his home, and death follows Rand as he flees the Trollocks and their evil masters.  Terrifying dreams reveal that Rand and his friends have been chosen by Ba’alzamon, a powerful dark entity.  Not knowing who to trust or where to turn, Rand struggles to escape his fate before the wheel of time crushes his hopes and dreams.

Robert Jordan’s fantasy uses the plot trope of the Quest to quickly develop the world’s magic, history, and politics.  The story focuses on Rand, but also includes strong female characters like Moiraine, a sorceress capable of takedowns of magic and wit.  This book mixes the world building of Lord of the Rings, a touch of the satiric self awareness of Gormenghast, some of the political intrigue of Game of Thrones, and centers the tale on a darker take of the Boy Who Lived.  Jordan creates a rich story that rewards readers with a universe of possibility.

Eileen Barrett

The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson
Appeal Factors: The world of Roshar, sparce, harsh, violent, a character in its own right. This world is spectacular and alien. Plenty of magic, battles, and a little romance.

The Way of the Kings is said to be one of the best fantasy books by those in the know (which does not include me).  It is the first in the fantasy series, “Stormlight”.  In The Way of the Kings author Brandon sets up the world of Roshar.  It is a world abandoned by the Knights Radiant who for centuries were on earth battling against and amongst mortals. When they deserted, they left behind their armor, or shardplates, and their shardblades – both give ordinary men nearly invincible power and protection.   In Roshar, kingdoms are conquered and men murdered for these mystical weapons.  It is a dangerous, violent, and harsh world. In this first book we are introduced to many characters, but three main ones, Kaladin – a surgeon’s son with his own medical aspirations, but forced to take up the sword to protect his brother;  Dalinar – Alethi High Prince, a warrior who follows the ancient Alethi Codes of War, and Shallan – a young woman who is trying to save her family from ruin and with mystical powers of her own.  Meanwhile, and the wars rage, the heads roll, and much blood is shed.

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