Thursday, 20 November 2008

Fantasy - now there's a thing

I just noticed that on my most recent "What I'm reading" list there were two fantasy novels. Not strange in itself but I'd given up on fantasy about 20 years ago, finding that - with very few exceptions - most of what was out there was derivative and predictable. I know I'm probably generalising to some (a large) extent but after devouring tome after tome in my teens and early twenties I suddenly became very dissatisfied with what I was reading and moved on to other things.
Over the years since, I'd dip into the genre occasionally but, with the notable exception of Stephen Donaldson, never got more than my toes wet...until recently.

On the recommendation of a friend whose opinion I respect, I began to read Steven Erikson and became totally immersed in his uncompromising, huge-in-scope-but-not-forgetting-the-characters Malazan Book of the Fallen series. His refusal to pander to the reader and explain everything as he went along but preferring to drop the him in the middle of the story and letting him swim for himself made a refreshing change. The stories are richly textured, well written and I have at least six more massive volumes to go. Yippeee!
The other fantasy novel I've just finished is the Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert Redick. I was intrigued by the book's setting - a gigantic ship - more than anything else and when I spotted a copy in my local library, I picked it up more in hope than expectation. Despite some predictable elements, the setting and pace of the novel kept me engaged all the way through to the (inevitable) "continued in Part 2" bit.
Maybe all is not yet lost in the fantasy world.

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