Monday, March 11, 2013

George R. R. Martin's Appendix N (of sorts)

The other day on his blog, the much esteemed writer of A Song of Ice and Fire posted his recommendations for fantasy reading. Check it out:
For some readers I like to draw attention to the classics of our genre. It never ceases to amaze me to discover that some of my own fans have never heard of all the great fantasists who came before me, without whom A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE could never have been written... without whom, in truth, there might not be a fantasy genre at all. If you have enjoyed my own fantasy novels, you owe it to yourself to read J.R.R. Tolkien (LORD OF THE RINGS), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Cimmerian, Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane), C.L. Moore (Jirel of Joiry), Jack Vance (THE DYING EARTH, Lyonesse, Cugel the Clever, and so much more), Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser), Richard Adams (WATERSHIP DOWN, SHARDIK, MAIA), Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea, the original trilogy), Mervyn Peake (GORMENGHAST), T.H. White (THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING), Rosemary Sutcliffe, Alan Garner, H.P. Lovecraft (more horror than fantasy, admittedly), Clark Ashton Smith, and... well, the list is long. But those writers should keep you busy for quite a while. You won't like all of them, perhaps... some wrote quite a long time ago, and neither their prose nor their attitudes are tailored for modern attention spans and sensibilities... but they were all important, and each, in his or her own way, was a great storyteller who helped make fantasy what it is today.

Maybe you've read all the fantasy classics, however. I have lots of readers for whom that is true as well. Those I like to point at some of my contemporaries. As great as Tolkien, Leiber, Vance, REH, and those others were, THIS is the golden age of epic fantasy. There have never been as many terrific writers working in the genre as there are right now. Actually, there has never been so much epic fantasy published than right now, which means a lot of mediocre and downright terrible books as well, since Sturgeon's Law still applies. But I prefer to talk about the good stuff, and there's a lot of that. Just for starts, check out Daniel Abraham (THE LONG PRICE QUARTET, THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, Scott Lynch (the Locke Lamora series), Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie (especially BEST SERVED COLD and THE HEROES)... they will keep you turning pages for a good long while, I promise...
He goes on to make several other recommendations, including Maurice Druon's Accursed Kings series, which are being rereleased in hardcover in the UK with a nice little tagline on the cover by Martin himself. On the whole, it's a pretty nice list and I like the mix of classics and modern day works. I did notice that he left out Robert Jordan and the Wheel of Time series. Hmm. I'm sure fans of Howard, Leiber, Moore, Vance and others will be pleased as punch to know that Martin reads those works too.

So what do you think? Are these recommendations good?


  1. Shardik - (almost) forgotten masterpiece. I must blog about that one day.

  2. Gotta say I lost interest in Ice and Fire halfway through book 3. or was it 4? At any rate, I am currently reading The Dragon Bone Chair by Tadd Williams. Haven't read anything by him yet, but hoping this will be good.



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