Deepest History in a Fantasy series???

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What series do you all consider to have the deepest and richest history? Obviously Tolkien, but let's take him out of the equation.

I think the Malazan books have a pretty rich history that's been created. The Wheel of Time books too. What are some others?
 

Werthead

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The history in A Song of Ice and Fire is very well-realised, with the gradual shift from mythology and fairy stories to a much more realistic-feeling history the closer it comes to the 'present day'.

Otherwise Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing Trilogy features a tremendously well-realised backstory and history.
 

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Thanks Werthead, I've recently picked up the Bakker and it's sitting in my pile. I'll hopefully get into it soon.

I wasn't able to get into Martin, at least not as much as most people. Not sure why, but I gave up half-way through book 2. I'll need to pick that up again.
 

williamjm

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I read a book called "The Chosen" by Ricardo Pinto a few years ago which did have an impressively detailed world with its own languages and a huge amount of historical and cultural detail. I hated that actual story, but the world-building was undeniably impressive.

Another series with detailed world-building was Anthony Swithin's "Perilous Quest For Lyonesse" series which again had its own languages worked out and detailed descriptions of the many different countries on Swithin's fictional continent of Rockall (basically, the premise of the world was that it was medieval Earth with a new continent added mid-Atlantic). It was quite a good series overall, although Swithin did sometimes go a bit overboard with the digressions about linguistics.
 

GOLLUM

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Yep I would say Erikson's Malazan is easily the best example of worldbuilding in terms of sheer depth I have seen since Tolkien.

I'll second Pinto's books. It's a trilogy with the first 2 books already published. Speaking to Ricardo, I understand that Book 3 is expected out sometime next year. I actually liked the story.
 

hodor

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Yep I would say Erikson's Malazan is easily the best example of worldbuilding in terms of sheer depth I have seen since Tolkien.

I'll second Pinto's books. It's a trilogy with the first 2 books already published. Speaking to Ricardo, I understand that Book 3 is expected out sometime next year. I actually liked the story.

Ill once again agree with this... recently been a "GRRM is God" man but nowly converted to Erikson. However, ASoFaI is another good example of richly developed world history IMHO. I was almost willing to say Tad Williams can do a decent job but when put in perspective of Tolkien and Erikson I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
 

Rane Longfox

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Another vote for Erikson;) The detail in the world, and the half-mentioned history about randomly obscure details of the world hints at a truly vast amount of history he can call on. Which is a big part of what makes the books so good. He's fairly unrivaled in fantasy writing, I would say, but there are a number of sci-fi writers who are probably as good. Peter Hamilton, for one.
 

K. Riehl

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Initiate Brother and Gatherer of Clouds by Sean Russell. A China that never was.

Mirror of her Dreams and A Man Rides Through by Stephan R. Donaldson. A different world and world view. Top-flight intrigue.

For Science Fiction I would recommend the Chanur series by C.J. Cherryh. 5 different alien races and their history all told from an alien viewpoint.
 

Connavar

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I vote for Eriksons Malazan too.

I find the deep history of the world so interesting that i think its what i like most in the series. When i didnt enjoy the first book i enjoyed the history and the world.

Its far superior worldbuilding to other modern fantasy i have read.

I find Feist,GRRM worlds soo generic and unoriginal and was annoyed with the lack of original worlds that i was glad to see the world and its history in Malazan.


P.S Fiest i didnt mean Kelewan and Tsurani people i like that much more than his Mikdemia.

If Erikson prose was alittle better, Malazan was would beyond amazing. He reminds about S.King in that. Interesting characters,worlds but the way he writes alittle....
 

Werthead

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I find the worldbuilding in Erikson is impressive in its breadth, but lacks true depth. We never feel the vast echoing passage of time in the Malazan novels that you do whilst standing in Moria in Lord of the Rings or in the Nightfort in ASoIaF, in Shadar Logoth in The Eye of the World, or descending into Golgotterath with Seswatha in the flashbacks in Prince of Nothing. Erikson hurls numbers around - this event happened 300,000 years ago, Kallor is over 100,000 years old - but it never feels real. It's just numbers on a page.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a great, swashbuckling, high-magic series which is structurally ingenious, has an impressive breadth and intriguing ideas. It's also inherently unrealistic (this planet should have been reduced to dust aeons ago given the powers these races and individuals wield) and fundamentally unbelievable, which reduces its impact, as does its mild similarities to Dungeons and Dragons.

He also lacks an eye for detail. After appearing as a major character in four books we only found out how tall Karsa was when someone asked Erikson in an interview. His timeline makes almost no sense. Whilst the little details can be avoided I think even the casual reader may be pondering why it took a group of characters over a year to travel about five hundred miles across easy, open terrain without major obstacles.

Erikson is one of the better epic fantasy writers out there, but in terms of evoking a true sense of a time abyss (to use a Clutism) or bringing his cultures to real life, he comes painfully far behind Tolkien, GRRM, Bakker and even Jordan (whilst still way ahead of Brooks, Goodkind, Eddings or Feist, naturally).
 

Connavar

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Hehe i dont see the point in talking about realisim in a fantasy story.

There can be realistic characters but there are no realistic fantasty worlds.

I always feel like laughing when i see people talk about how realistic fantasy by Erikson,GRRM etc is. Like its the new way of giving praise to good modern epic fantasy.
 

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I would argue Erikson's world does have good depth as well as breadth and does bring his characters to life very much so for me. Obviously it's nothing like LOTR. I'm not sure if the latter will ever be surpassed.
 

Werthead

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'Realism' obviously in the sense that the storyline is plausible and the world and characters are believable enough to immerse you in the storyline, or to put it like Tolkien does, the fantasy world does not need to conform to real-life laws but it must have total internal consistency and I don't get that with Erikson (and he admits to many of the inconsistencies himself). I enjoy Erikson in the same way I enjoy a good superhero movie: it's entertaining, it's got kick-ass fights between unbelievably powerful beings and moments that make you go "Cool!" The second you start analysing it on any deeper level its foundations start looking seriously unstable.

I enjoy the series - and ironically just gave out a rec for it on another forum - but for me its flaws are almost as numerous as its good points.
 

kauldron26

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by far the deepest history i have come across in fantasy is in Tad Williams Memory Sorry and Thorn. My God... History itself is the core of the world itself... the concept of history in the novels are so profound that you can see the effects of it in the races and nations get together. remnants of genocide, politics, oppression, discrimination, indentured servitude, racism, power, privilege, culture, royalty, government, classism, religion, numerous languages, blood feuds.... i was expecting th trilogy to be old fashioned fantasy, but i was very surprised with the issues that arise. Highly recommended.
 

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Yeah, I forgot about Williams. Just the labyrinth underneath the Hayholt itself reeks of history.

Like Werthead said, it's one thing to tell you how many years old something is, but quite another to "show" you.
 

Thadlerian

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Well, you just can't go wrong with China Miéville's Bas-Lag novels. Unfortunately, there's only three so far, but the world is wonderfully promising. It's slightly reminiscent of steampunk, but takes a lot of stuff in new direction, and with a strong emphasis on seafaring.

The only thing lacking is a sense of joy. The universe is very dark, and I have never been able to re-read them - knowing what is going to happen, I ask myself, 'why should I read this stuff?'

But anyone who likes Malazan should easily be able to fall in love with Bas-Lag.
 

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Any more ideas for a series with a really well-realized and deep history? I read fantasy more than sci-fi because I was a history major, and the evidence of a vivid past in a book really excites me. Walking in Moria, Shadar Logoth, underneath the Hayholt, etc just can't be beat in my book...
 

j d worthington

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Not on the same level -- certainly not thought out over the same length of time -- but I'd say Howard's Hyborian Age tales have more to their history than is realized. Howard himself (being intensely interested in history) had a genuine feel for such abysses of time... in fact, this was one of the strengths of his work that H. P. Lovecraft noted more than once. Though one doesn't spend nearly as much time with large amounts of text about it, it's there, and it's (largely) self-consistent, and when it does come into the tales, it makes you feel you're wandering through a very old world indeed, and that the current civilizations of the tales are only the thinnest veneer on the whole....
 

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