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Favorite Authors: Dark Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery

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  • Favorite Authors: Dark Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery

    Years ago, when I found Moorcock's books I consumed them like a starving man. I did the same for all the other authors I found to be in the same vein. Some of the authors are R.E. Howard, E.R. Burroughs, Karl Edward Wagner, Fritx Leiber and Tolkein. The problem is, I exhausted my list of favorite authors too quickly and have had trouble ever since finding similar books and authors. I was hoping that the type of folks that would like Moorcock might be familiar with other authors that have written in similiar styles. Can you all suggest some other authors and books that are worth a read? What are you favorite Sword & Sorcery/Dark Fantasy authors?

    Added to Original Post
    In order to make some sense of all the suggestions people have submitted I decided to create a complete list. When people have also included specific book titles and descriptions I have included them as well. Any mentions on the list that cannot be found in the Thread were added by me from some of my other personal favorites.

    I started this Thread for selfish reasons. I really wanted to find some good new authors to read that wrote in the same vein as the authors I listed in my first post. It is my thinking that others might find some benefit in this exercise as well. In an attempt to determine the best of the suggestions I took note of how many times authors were recommended. I have indicated the number of mentions in parenthesis in front of the author listing. This is obviously not an accurate poll as I never mentioned I would be rating authors based on the number of mentions in the Thread but I still think it has some value. I will continue to accumulate and tabulate the suggestions people submit for as long as I can keep up with it or people keep posting. If anyone has any suggestions on how the list could be improved or modified let me know and I will look into making the changes. I hope you find the list as helpful as I have.

    Michael Moorcock
    R.E. Howard
    Karl Edward Wagner
    Fritz Leiber
    Edgar Rice Burroughs
    J.R.R. Tolkien

    General S&S/Dark Fantasy Mentions
    (5)Poul Anderson- (Good Fantasy) “Broken Sword & 'Three Hearts and Three Lions'.
    (4)Jack Vance, The Dying Earth Cycle”
    (3)C.L. Moore,“Jirel of Joiry”, “Judgment Night”, & “Northwest Smith stories
    (3)Lord Dunsany, King of Elfland's Daughter, The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth and The Sword of Welleran
    (3)Glen Cook - Dark Fantasy - 'The Black Company', “TunFaire-Garrett” fantasy mysteries starting with “Sweet Silver Blues”, White Rose
    (3)Charles Saunders- none so much dark fantasy, but excellent characters, “Imaro” (an excellent series with an Afro-centric flavor
    (3)Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road.
    (2)HP Lovecraft's“Dreamland” stories are really fantasy adventures, though with his particular cosmic take. “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath”
    (2)Clark Ashton Smith - The End of the Story, The Door to Saturn, A Vintage From Atlantis, Maze of the Enchanter(The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, Vol. 1-4)
    (2)E.R. Eddisons's 'The Worm Ouroborous'. - Earlier stuff in the same vein as Tolkien. Superb fantasy novel
    (2)Steven Erikson- S&S, bundling it and dark humor and epicness, Malazan Book of The Fallen Series
    (2)Joe Abercrombie- S&S, bundling it and dark humor and epicness, The First Law
    (2)Leigh Brackett,Eric John Stark series
    (2)Tanith Lee, the “Flat Earth series” , The “Wars of Vis series” & "Blood Opera"
    (2)Fletcher Pratt, “The Well of the UnicornSuperb fantasy novel
    (2)Mark Chadbourn - very good and I would heartily recommend The Age of Misrule
    (1)Gene Wolfe-'The Book of the New Sun' which starts with 'The Shadow of the Torturer'.
    (1)Lin Carter- Good little adventure yarns
    (1)L. Sprague de Camp- Good little adventure yarns
    (1)Guy Gavriel Kay-Best Tolkien Imitation
    (1)George Macdonald's 'Phantastes' - earlier stuff in the same vein as Tolkien
    (1)Robin Hobb's- Three trilogies (the first is the Farseer Trilogy)
    (1)Raymond E. Feist's Midkemia books- like Tolkein but a bit bloodier
    (1)David Gemmell- none so much dark fantasy, but excellent characters
    (1)Michael Shea- dark, gritty characters & tales
    (1)Glen Cook- dark, gritty characters & tales
    (1)George RR Martin dark, gritty characters & tales.
    (1)Lou Anders
    (1)Jonathan Strahan
    (1)Samuel Delaney, Tales of Neveryon
    (1)Robert W. Chambers , The King in Yellow, and Storm Constantine.
    (1)Fred Saberhagen
    (1)China Mieville,Pick up "The Scar"... then your jaw
    (1)A Merritts Lost Race tales & heroic fantasy: “The Ship of Ishtar
    (1)Joanna Russ and the 'Alyx the Picklock' stories
    (1)Jessica Amanda Salmonson, “Tomoe Gozen” saga
    (1)Roger Zealasney's "Amber" stories
    (1)Andrew J.Offutt - Cormac Mac Art titles
    (1)Graham Joyce's The Tooth Fairy
    (1)Scott Lynch with The Gentlemen Bastards sequence
    (1)Ian Irvine - The View from the Mirror, The Well of Echoes and Song of the Tears
    (1)Stephen King - Dark Tower series
    (1) Frank Yerby
    (1) James Enge, Morlock Ambrosius Stories

    Classic Adventure Pics
    (2)H. Rider Haggard,Eric Brighteyes, King Solomon's Mines,Allan Quatermain, She, Ayesha
    (2)Harold Lamb-Durandal, The Three Palladins
    (2)Raphael Sabatini - Scaramouche, Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk
    (2)Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers series,The Count of Monte Cristo, The Last Cavalier
    (1)Talbot Mundy, King of the Khyber Rifles
    (1) Patrick Ruthfuss, Name of the Wind

    Other Mentions
    (1)Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
    (1)Mark Helprin - Winter's Tale
    (1)Paul Theroux
    Last edited by pcounts; 11-01-2010, 06:04 AM. Reason: Wanted to put the list at the start of the Thread

  • #2
    Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
    Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
    Anything written by Paul Theroux

    Fantasy/S&S is great, but don't limit yourself to that realm only.


    • #3
      Thanks TMP. I read everything!! Just about the only thing I don't read much any more is my first love, which was Dark Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery and the reason why is that I can't find anything worth reading in that genre. That's why I am asking for people's opinions.


      • #4
        You might like C.L. Moore or Leigh Brackett.


        • #5
          As far as straight S&S, you already read the best IMO but Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp could both spin a good little adventure yarn. Poul Anderson didn't write much fantasy but what he did produce is very good. More along the lines of fantasy, Gene Wolfe is good.


          • #6
            Not entirely sure it qualifies as S&S but I've been extremely impressed with Robin Hobb's work, far more than I expected to be. Three trilogies (the first is the Farseer Trilogy); I loved them. Well worth a read, although I can't guarantee you'll like them too. Have you read Stephen King's Dark Tower series? Quite Moorcockian in concept if not style, I felt. Again, really, really enjoyed them.


            • #7
              You might like Roger Zelazny : Amber's saga.


              • #8
                I recently came across Raymond E. Feist's Midkemia books. He tells a pretty good story. More like Tolkein but a bit bloodier. He's not afraid to knock off his characters when called for, it's not all happy ever after.

                Man spends his time on devising a more idiot proof computer. The universe spends its time devising bigger idiots. So far the universe is winning.




                • #9
                  I like the Artesia - Graphic Novels.
                  Papa was a Rolling Stone......


                  • #10
                    If you liked Burroughs you might really like H. Rider Haggard too. Not fantasy, but it's pretty far fetched pulpy adventure. The best Tolkien imitation I've seen is Guy Gavriel Kay. Also, Glen Cook writes a pretty dark fantasy.


                    • #11
                      I commiserate! Nice number of recommendations here so far, though this is the first time I've seen Feist's name in such a list. I'd say he falls more on the Tolkien/Brooks/Jordan side of the heroic genres.

                      CL Moore, Charles Saunders, David Gemmell - none so much dark fantasy, but excellent characters. Michael Shea, Glen Cook, George RR Martin all offer dark, gritty characters & tales. For adventure there's the oldie but goodie Harold Lamb. Newer writers writing S&S, bundling it and dark humor and epicness, are Steven Erikson and Joe Abercrombie.

                      Then of course there are the numerous unsung short story writers laboring in the magazines, anthologies, and online. Have you discovered Black Gate Magazine yet? There you'll find folks like James Enge, John Hocking, Howard Andrew Jones, Steve Goble, Ty Johnston, Michael Ehart, Nathan Meyer and many more. Several of these names I've also had the pleasure of publishing via RBE anthologies of heroic adventure fantasy.

                      There's a huge festering world of S&S that's been threatening to burst upon the scene anew. Perhaps the soon-to-be-released anthology Swords & Dark Magic: The New S&S from Lou Anders & Jonathan Strahan will help burst the dam.

                      I wish you many grand adventures on your coming journeys of discovery!


                      • #12
                        I would also have to recommend Karl Edward Wagner's Kane stories. Kane is as Cain from the Bible. The first murderer cursed by god to wander as an immortal and die a violent death. He is a terrific nihilistic anti-hero who is out for one thing only - himself.

                        His short stories and novellas in particular are superbly well written - check out "Nightwinds" and "Death Angel's Shadow". The novels aren't too shabby either: "Bloodstone", "Darkness Weaves", and "Dark Crusade" (which occurs immediately before the events in the first novella in DAS). The order in which you read them is unimportant as Kane's story weaves across many ages.

                        Wagner's writing is superbly atmospheric and often hints at the dark cosmology rather than explicitly explaining their relationships. His characters are deftly drawn, often with complex and very human motives. His action scenes are vivid and brutal.

                        In case you are wondering, I like them a LOT!

                        The books can be difficult to find as they are usually out of print so check your second hand book stores.
                        Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Groakes View Post
                          I would also have to recommend Karl Edward Wagner's Kane ...
                          Ack!! I would too! How ever did I forget Kane?


                          • #14
                            A few other authors/books that might also be considered are Samuel Delaney (Tales of Neveryon), Robert W. Chambers (The King in Yellow), and Storm Constantine.


                            • #15
                              Fritz Leiber invented the genre-well, not exactly-and is still a benchmark to judge others by.