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Elves


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42 replies to this topic

#1 Switchback

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:21 PM

I got sort of worn out on Elves in fantasy several years back, when it seemed like I was reading nothing but typical medieval fantasy with Elves as you would expect them, in the tradition of Tolkien. So in the meantime I've steered well clear of them in my fantasy.

Though poking through a few books recently I've come to the conclusion that I'd like some good old Elf-heavy stories again. Is there anything being put out relatively recently (say, last 10 - 15 years) that features an interesting take on Elves? I'm not into the D&D stories really, though I've only read a handful of them so I'm probably not qualified to say I'm not into the entire spectrum of them. And I don't mind the traditional Tolkien-style Elf, because as I say it's been a while since I've read one, but would like maybe something at least a little different.

Stand alones are fine, but I'm a series junky at heart. Thanks.

#2 Prince of the North

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:32 PM

Well, maybe some tales of Drizzt (the dark elf)? Especially the Dark-Elf Trilogy? It's in that trilogy that you get his origins and a good look at life amongst the Drow and in the Underdark. I suppose it's pretty typical D&D fair, as you say, but I found it interesting when I read it long ago because, yes, it's elves but it's evil elves (but, of course, the protagonist is good /wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />)

#3 Winterz

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:58 PM

I've had this passion for Elves too, literature or cinema, sure gotta love them but some portrayals are just so different that makes one wonder. Tolkien's elves are supposedly the perfect beings but in some pieces of literature (especially the oldest), elves are small and exquisite little workers who have little beauty to speak of.

#4 Rhom

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:10 PM

You know, it didn't get much play around here; but I thought The Godless World trilogy by Ruckley really took an interesting take on "elves."

#5 sologdin

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:28 PM

tolkien's elves are just very optimistic variants of swift's struldbruggs, from book III of gulliver's travels. so start there. might track that back to ovid's cumaean sybil and the tithonus myth. might as well read the relevant sections of the elder edda, too.

then the fun begins: track forward to RSB's cunuroi as a restoration of swift, but updated for neuroscience, to allow for sorcery as a component of procedural memory, even in the presence of retrograde and anterograde amnesia. the critique of tolkien's elves therein is thereby total.

Edited by sologdin, 27 June 2013 - 06:14 AM.


#6 Serious Callers Only

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:33 PM

Tinker probably (if you can get over the 'romance' and sexual violence themes later on).

Oh yeah! The Seanan McGuire October Daye series is ok as a 'masquerade' urban fantasy setting, if you don't mind her tendency to mix in relatively uninspired 'detective novel' element on most books (that seems to be abating, thank zeus). About faires in general though. And the distressing romance element is gaining promience (much displeasing me).

Errr. There is a species that is suspiciously elf-like (in harmony + perfect memory + a added thing: a pack instinct) on the Trial of Blood and Steel series being targeted for genocide.


The sun sword and descendant books had ok 'eldritch' elves that are a bit removed from material considerations. Book are a lot rambling and 'view' events from many angles to the point that even on the same series many scenes are just rehashes of stuff you already know about. Only for patient people who enjoy her writing. They're only really secondary characters so you probably don't want this.

The crown of vengeance series approaches being ok, with it's societal examination on the first few books. Now it's just a banal story about evil vs 'good'. Not good enough probably, i liked it but the villains are ultra generic evil demons.

Edited by Serious Callers Only, 27 June 2013 - 10:54 AM.


#7 RedEyedGhost

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:34 PM

The books sure aren't perfect, but Malazan Book of the Fallen's take on elves would likely be of interest to you.

Robin Hobb's take on elves in her Soldier Son trilogy was really interesting (unfortunately, that was probably the only interesting thing about the books).

The Folk in Felix Gilman's The Half-Made World and The Rise of Ransom City are cool, but they don't feature all that prominently (although these are by a very large margin the best books that I've listed).

#8 SkynJay

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:46 PM

Pratchett had Lords and Ladies for an interesting take on them with a bit of humor

#9 shortstark

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 07:45 PM

JV Jones Sword of Shadows series has a race named the Sull that has elf like elements to them.. excellent series by the way..

#10 polishgenius

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 08:08 PM

Sologdin mentioned it, but since he did it very vaguely and without even un-acronymising the author's name, R Scott Bakker has a really twisted take on them in his Second Apocalypse series (makes sense, since the whole thing is part tribute, part brutalisation of Middle Earth).

The Dwenda in Richard Morgan's A Land Fit for Heroes are also a twist on the fairy/elf archetype.


The Folk in Felix Gilman's The Half-Made World and The Rise of Ransom City are cool, but they don't feature all that prominently (although these are by a very large margin the best books that I've listed).


Tbh, in all three of the fantasy westerns that came out last year- Rise of Ransom City, Pratchett/Baxter's Long Earth, and Abercrombie's Red Country- it really annoyed me that they took the route of making the natives a homogenous elfen race rather than putting some thought into what Native American cultures might actually have been like, especially since all three put rather more effort into depicting the frontier folk.

All three books are very, very good mind you, that was about the only thing in them that underwhelmed me, and all three could probably fit the TC's request because of it...

#11 wolverine

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 10:19 PM

Okay, who are the "elves" in the Second Apocalypse?

I assume the Tiste are the "elves" in Malazan, but I never thought of them that way.

#12 Tarant

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 01:35 AM

There were elves in A Red Country?

#13 House Balstroko

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 01:36 AM

I assume the Tiste are the "elves" in Malazan, but I never thought of them that way.


They have some aspects that follow the traditional elf archetype, such as long lifespans, taller/stronger than humans and they have experienced a sundering in the distant past , although in many ways they are also very different, so I agree with you that they aren't really elves.

#14 thecryptile

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 02:05 AM

There were elves in A Red Country?

No, there were no elves in Red Country, only humans. I guess they're talking about the Dragon people, but they were humans and so were the Ghost tribes.

#15 Roose Boltons Pet Leech

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 02:17 AM

There's The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson. It came out the same year as LOTR, so obviously isn't Tolkienesque. Anderson's Elves are amoral in a way that'd make Feanor himself cringe.

#16 lynxx

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 03:32 AM

If you can slog through Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norell, you will encounter the unusual gentleman with the thistledown hair as well as John Uskglass, the Raven King.

Edited by lynxx, 27 June 2013 - 03:52 AM.


#17 Deedles

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 05:38 AM

I quite enjoyed the Godslayer and Banewreaker duology by Jacqueline Carey.

A take on Tolkien, but from the other side.

#18 polishgenius

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 05:57 AM

No, there were no elves in Red Country, only humans. I guess they're talking about the Dragon people, but they were humans and so were the Ghost tribes.

Yeah, I did Abercrombie a slight disservice there (it was three in the morning, sorry...). They were given an elfen aspect especially by the outsider's view, but they were people.



Okay, who are the "elves" in the Second Apocalypse?

I assume the Tiste are the "elves" in Malazan, but I never thought of them that way.


The Nonmen are the elves in Second Apocalypse.

The Tiste aren't that similar to Tolkien's elves if you compare directly, but if you trace forward through later versions in various books and gaming scenarios, particularly in terms of light and dark elves and also certain personality traits that became associated with elves that the Tiste are riffing on, they're definitely of that lineage.

#19 Rhom

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 05:58 AM

Okay, who are the "elves" in the Second Apocalypse?


The non-men.

#20 sologdin

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 06:17 AM

Bakker has a really twisted take on them in his Second Apocalypse series (makes sense, since the whole thing is part tribute, part brutalisation of Middle Earth

i'd argue that tolkien twisted, and bakker untwisted them.