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Epic fantasy the last 5-6 years, nothing great?


Calibandar
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Ive been wondering whether its because the writing has changed, or because I got more jaded about it, or if the writing quality has really taken a significant downturn in the last 5-7 years or so but I struggle to recall any epic fantasy thats made an impact. Ive sampled quite a few but nothing stuck. I did find lots of new stuff in other genres to my liking.

As such I remain waiting for next releases by the by now old favorites, GRRM, Hobb, Bakker, Kay, JV Jones, Abercrombie. Have you guys read anything new that you would consider top tier stuff?

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I enjoyed The Priory of the Orange Tree.  However, for an 800 page single volume work, it felt rushed.

I’m absolutely enjoying Tad Williams follow up to “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn”… “The Last King of Osten Ard”.

:)

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison
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There is actually some pretty good stuff of late:

1) Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee

2) Founders Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett 

3) Raven’s Mark by Ed McDonald

4) The Bloodsworn Saga by John Gwynne

5) The Band by Nicholas Eames

6) Blacktongue by Christopher Buehlman

7) The Darkwater Legacy by Chris Wooding

8) The Tide Child by R.J. Barker

9) The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

 I would say the first two on these list are the only ones that contend with the authors you listed, but they are all enjoyable.

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It’s probably more my problem than the quality of books being published but I’m much less excited about fantasy series now.  I’ve always loved exploring strange new worlds and societies in works of fantasy, but the repetition in plot and characters brought ennui and it’s rare to find prose that elevates.  I’m almost finished a reread of Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy and, even though the plot and setting sound bog standard, the characters and prose are just head and shoulders above almost anything else in the genre.

So mostly I graze across various different genres, literary fiction and non-fiction, looking for great writing and variety.  I still feel the call to crack open and discover a new fantasy setting, but they usually fade to grey after a dozen chapters.

Edited by Iskaral Pust
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8 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

It’s probably more my problem than the quality of books being published but I’m much less excited about fantasy series now.  I’ve always loved exploring strange new worlds and societies in works of fantasy, but the repetition in plot and characters brought ennui and it’s rare to find prose that elevates.  I’m almost finished a reread of Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy and, even though the plot and setting sound bog standard, the characters and prose are just head and shoulders above almost anything else in the genre.

 

I feel the same way but for me its the characters and worldbuilding in the last couple of years which is just so much less interesting, and thats what I am trying to get at. Is it possibly getting jaded or is there really a big quality gap. Honestly I feel like its the latter, even though I might also have gotten more jaded. I can still pick up Farseer, GOT/ Sword of Shadows and immediately get pulled in, but not at all with the new offerings, I dont even get to page 100. Also agree about Abercrombie's characters standing out way ahead of the pack of new writers. Though even with him I was less enthused about his last trilogy than I was about his earlier work.

I do still find lots of great new reading all the time, just not in this genre anymore, I wonder why.

 

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Could it be that because the Abercrombie/Lynch/Rothfuss premiere boom of the mid 2000s; publishers are casting a wider net hoping for the next big thing and therefore they are publishing more average authors in an attempt to find one great one?  Ultimately making it hard to sort out who really stands out?

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I can't decide if it's me (i.e. smartphone has degraded my attention span) or if it's the books I've been reading, but I've struggled for years to find anything that holds my interest. And this saddens me. I used to cherish my reading time and most books, but especially epic fantasy. I'll be following this thread closely. 

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The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin is probably the biggest success story in "epic fantasy" terms that I can think of for the last 5-7 years. I found a couple of the stylistic elements a bit annoying but once you get past that, there's some good stuff there.

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I think it's a decision by writers to go further afield from yet another "standard" epic fantasy and editors and publishers looking for more than just another Tolkien/GRRM clone. That may mean excellent, well-written work that just happens to be set in a standard Europe-alike fantasy setting has been shut out. Or it may mean that the genre has moved on.

The Broken Earth was good, but prose and stylistically it's very different kind of series to a popular secondary world fantasy, it's aiming more for the literary, Book of the New Sun end of the spectrum.

Amongst recent-ish good secondary world fantasies are Chris Wooding's Ember Blade (the sequel should finally be out this year) and Kamer Hurley's now-complete Worldbreaker Saga, although even that is kind of avant garde in places, reading like Erikson after dropping some acid (but more coherent in story and consistent in quality). The Williams sequel series is also very good, but more of a continuation of a legacy series than a new thing. Sanderson's Stormlight Archive also continues, though I'm much more interested in the next book being done so he can write the next Mistborn trilogy, which I find more intriguing (Stormlight is very much a case of diminishing returns).

We do have a new Daniel Abraham fantasy trilogy starting this year, KJ Parker is continuing to publish books (mostly stand-alones or duologies these days) and there's a new Kay standalone. It does sound like Hobb might not be publishing any more, certainly not long series, due to health issues. Erikson's The God is Not Willing was a splendid return to form so hopefully that will continue with the sequel, although that sounds like a late 2023 book at the earliest.

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I feel mostly the same. The only two recent epic fantasy books/series I have really enjoyed are:

Christopher Buehlman's "The Blacktongue Thief"

Robert V. Reddick's "Master Assassins" -- Yes I know he's not exactly new to fantasy, but I liked this so, so much better than his earlier work.

Of course, Jemison's "The Fifth Season" is an utter masterpiece, but I don't see it as fitting into the same category as the other two above.

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On 1/24/2022 at 8:17 AM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I enjoyed The Priory of the Orange Tree.  However, for an 800 page single volume work, it felt rushed.

 

Is that it?  It seemed rushed?  Maybe that's the way to represent the story, because I came away from it feeling...I don't know what I was feeling, but I don't think I liked it as much as you seemed to.  Though the cover was a treat.

 

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4 minutes ago, Jaxom 1974 said:

Is that it?  It seemed rushed?  Maybe that's the way to represent the story, because I came away from it feeling...I don't know what I was feeling, but I don't think I liked it as much as you seemed to.  Though the cover was a treat.

 

It felt like a complete story told too quickly.  The characters felt under developed as a result.  I would probably have enjoyed it more as a trilogy or even a duology.  There was so much to explore.

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27 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

It felt like a complete story told too quickly.  The characters felt under developed as a result.  I would probably have enjoyed it more as a trilogy or even a duology.  There was so much to explore.

I can certainly agree with that.  Though that's probably why I didn't take away the same amount of enjoyment as you seem to have.  

Though perhaps this is something along the lines of what's being discussed?  Priory of the Orange Tree ended up being put together in a single novel, rather than the two it might have needed to breathe better because of editorial reasons?  The publishers didn't want to risk another long delay from an author they believed in with a debut novel and they decreed one book, not too and it suffered in the narrative as a result?  I'm totally riffing in speculation there...

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1 hour ago, Derfel Cadarn said:

My newly finished fantasy novel was sent to my agent 2 weeks ago. Assuming it gets published, feel free to make it the next big thing

This is the one set in the same world as Thorns of a Black Rose?  

I certainly have high hopes for it, as well for the third book in your Glasgow series. 

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Another series not mentioned in the thread so far that I liked a lot was S.A. Chakraborty's Daevabad trilogy.

4 hours ago, Werthead said:

We do have a new Daniel Abraham fantasy trilogy starting this year.

I think it's out next month? I'm definitely interested to see how it turns out, I think The Long Price Quartet is one of the best fantasy series of the 21st Century so far and The Dagger and the Coin was good as well so it's good to see him go back to epic fantasy.

3 hours ago, Jaxom 1974 said:

Though perhaps this is something along the lines of what's being discussed?  Priory of the Orange Tree ended up being put together in a single novel, rather than the two it might have needed to breathe better because of editorial reasons?  The publishers didn't want to risk another long delay from an author they believed in with a debut novel and they decreed one book, not too and it suffered in the narrative as a result?  I'm totally riffing in speculation there...

It's not a debut, Shannon previously had a YA fantasy series. I did enjoy the book although I agree it felt like a trilogy's worth of material squeezed into one, admittedly long, novel.

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