Wheel of Time and other quest fantasies

Topramesk

Explorer
I read or re-read a sizeable amount of "quest fantasy" books quite recently, while writing Against the Darkmaster, part for research purpose and part for personal enjoyment.

Besides lotr itself, my personal favorites are the Belgariad series by David Eddings, and The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. I think The Belgariad in particular may be the best example of this sub-genre of fantasy out there, in terms of how the author crafted the story and the characters, knowingly using or subverting all the various tropes. Eddings clearly wanted to write a "quest fantasy" series, and did so in a very meticulous manner, in my opinion. It's a bit simplistic, that's true, but I see it as a plus in this particular sub-genre.
Prydain is more YA oriented, but still very enjoyable and has some awesome moments.

I never managed to go past book 3 of the Wheel of Time. The first one was nice, and I love the worldbuilding and the way magic is portrayed, but the series is just too long, and there's only a limited amount of braid-tugging I can stomach.

Shannara has its moments (at least the first three books, I haven't read the others). Sword isn't that bad, despite clearly ripping off lotr in both structure and several scenes, but Song and Elfstones are where the series really shines IMO.

I simply loathed The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant when I re-read them. In fact, I dropped the series about halfway through the first book. Which is strange, because I loved them as a kid! But yeah, I just couldn't bear the protagonist constant whining.

Finally, Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy is IMO a great subversion of the genre, really loved the series!

What are some good Quest Fantasy RPG campaigns? They seem rather thin on the ground. There's Dragonlance of course, and I'm GMing Odyssey of the Dragon Lords which is a Greek-themed Quest Fantasy.

So, hear me out, really: Horror on the Orient Express. You play a party of companions who have to travel through the "wilderness", visit a bunch of different places, find the pieces of the evil MacGuffin and destroy it. All while hunted by the servants of darkness.
 

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There's an unfinished British work that might fit the bill in some respects, though I'm afraid the author's passed away a little while ago and is unlikely to finish his work. Still, it's well regarded, and has a few funny bits.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote...
 


Mercurius

Legend
As a huge fantasy fan, I am almost embarrassed to say this, but I have never read Lord of the Rings. I've tried several times, but I just didn't enjoy it. That said, I do love that style of fantasy. If I were to pick my favorites they would be:
You should be embarrassed. Get out of this thread and go read it!!!! ;)

All joking aside, you're not alone. The writing style is somewhat archaic and more like like a Medieval romance than a 21st century novel. But the real joy of Tolkien, imo, is his unsurpassed world-building. It is a good story, but Middle-earth itself really is the star.

n a way, it is sort of like the anti-Belgariad (or rather, the other way around). Where LotR has incredible world-building and mythic depth, but a more distance prose and characters, the Belgariad has rather bland world-building, but really fun characters and a "cozy" feel to it.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are my all-time favorites books and get re-read every few years. Unfortunately, I doubt they would appeal as much to a younger, more modern audience since Covenant engages in some reprehensible behavior. Regardless, I love The Land and its inhabitants.
Yes, I loved the first two trilogies. I listened to the first of the later trilogy on tape, but didn't enjoy it as much. Don't think I finished it.
The Wheel of Time of course, although I do think it is way longer than it ever should have been. Someone should have reigned Jordan in.

Agreed. I petered out early on in book 8 and from what I've heard, 8-10 should have been one book. I think the series would have been stronger for it. So book 8 "should" have been "WInter's Path of Twilight" (or somesuch) and book 9, Knife of Dreams, with the series completed in 12.
 

Hex08

Adventurer
I never managed to go past book 3 of the Wheel of Time. The first one was nice, and I love the worldbuilding and the way magic is portrayed, but the series is just too long, and there's only a limited amount of braid-tugging I can stomach.
I can see where you are coming from, as I said in an earlier post the series was far too long. Even when I was reading it along with some friends, I would often complain about things like the constant braid tugging, Rand, Matt and Perrin each bemoaning that they weren't as good around girls as each other and many other really repetitive behaviors characters engaged in. Also, with the possible exception of Moiraine none (or very few) of the female characters were very likeable. I considered giving up on the books at one point, but I still wanted to know how it ended and the things I enjoyed were enough to spur me on.

I simply loathed The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant when I re-read them. In fact, I dropped the series about halfway through the first book. Which is strange, because I loved them as a kid! But yeah, I just couldn't bear the protagonist constant whining.
I don't think you are alone in this complaint and for as much as I still love these books, I can understand it. Covenant isn't a very likable character, which is fairly common in some of Donaldson's other work as well (The Gap series, for example), but I think it's intentional on the part of Donaldson. The author is, as was mentioned upthread, trying to subvert Tolkien but that probably doesn't make Covenant any more tolerable to those who dislike him. I've re-read the books many times and, for me, Covenant is less important to me than The Land and its inhabitants. Bannor, Mhoram, Foamfollower, Sunder and Hollian, Brinn and Cail and the members of The Search are the real reasons I go back to those books.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I liked the Elenium, although not as much. I also felt like the Mallorean was sort of a re-tread of the Belgariad, although still enjoyable.
Hah! The Mallorean even admitted during the series that it was a retread. Belgarion identified that the same formula of events was happening all over again and they figure out that this repeat had been happening for millennia and kept getting closer and closer together until the final meeting.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I was a huge Eddings fan until I learned what a monster he and his wife were in real life.

I never understood all the hate towards Brooks. If Brooks ripped off Tolkien, then Tolkien ripped off existing folklore himself. So why the double standard? Because most people are familiar with Tolkien compared to Brooks, but most aren’t aware of the Eddas or Finnish stories (for example) so they just don’t know how much Tolkien took from existing folklore?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I was a huge Eddings fan until I learned what a monster he and his wife were in real life.

I never understood all the hate towards Brooks. If Brooks ripped off Tolkien, then Tolkien ripped off existing folklore himself. So why the double standard? Because most people are familiar with Tolkien compared to Brooks, but most aren’t aware of the Eddas or Finnish stories (for example) so they just don’t know how much Tolkien took from existing folklore?
Well, Tolkien was a better writer than Brooks.

I'm hesitant to ask about the Eddings...
 

Hex08

Adventurer
I was a huge Eddings fan until I learned what a monster he and his wife were in real life.
This thread probably isn't where we should be discussing Eddings' history, but I just looked it up and... wow...

To not sidetrack the thread...

I also really enjoyed The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemsin. She addresses a lot of modern social/cultural issues and engages in a ton of world building, especially in the second book.
 
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Mercurius

Legend
I was a huge Eddings fan until I learned what a monster he and his wife were in real life.
The Eddings' spent time in jail in 1970 and lived almost four decades after. While what they did was monstrous, it is quite possible that they weren't the same people for the next four decades. Sometimes people do awful things, and as awful as they were in the late 60s doesn't mean they should be deemed "monsters" for lives of 70ish years.
 


It's been a bit since I read the series (though I have read it multiple times prior), and I totally get that Thomas Covenant can be a deal-breaker for readers. He's a man in pain, suffering and bitter. In the beginning, he is not a good person, and the story explores how that changes, how his faith and disbelief struggle, how the consequences of his actions come back to haunt him and The Land. But it takes its time in getting there and the reader is stuck on this journey with a person that they don't like, that doesn't even like himself very much.

I don't think you are alone in this complaint and for as much as I still love these books, I can understand it. Covenant isn't a very likable character, which is fairly common in some of Donaldson's other work as well (The Gap series, for example), but I think it's intentional on the part of Donaldson. The author is, as was mentioned upthread, trying to subvert Tolkien but that probably doesn't make Covenant any more tolerable to those who dislike him. I've re-read the books many times and, for me, Covenant is less important to me than The Land and its inhabitants. Bannor, Mhoram, Foamfollower, Sunder and Hollian, Brinn and Cail and the members of The Search are the real reasons I go back to those books.
 

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