GRRM: Similar authors

Brian G Turner

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So you've read the existing books in A Song of Fire and Ice and don't know what to read yet?

I thought I'd dedicate a thread where other authors can be recommended who may be of particular interest to GRRM readers, not least because their fantasy is more towards realism in fantasy, perhaps more focused on politics rather than magic, for mature audiences, even grim, as opposed to twee elves, etc.

The first couple of authors who come to mind are:

Joe Abercrombie
http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/joe-abercrombie/

Guy Gavriel Kay
http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/guy-gavriel-kay/


Any other suggestions, or general comments, welcome. :)
 

Boaz

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Just started The Finonavar Tapestry last night. It's starting off (I only read the first two chapters) a bit C.S.Lewis-esque, i.e. taking a person from our world, our time, and putting him in a fantasy world, e.g. The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space (or Ransom) Trilogy. I know it's early, but I've one complaint... in the first chapter, Lorenzo Marcus, aka Loren Silvercloak, a world famous speaker (and recluse) sneaks out the back door of a convention, of which he is the guest of honor, instead of heading off to the reception where he will be toasted by hundreds... people have travelled the globe to get a glimpse of him... after a block, one of his companions notices that they are being followed... and the companions think this is strange.

Hello? If the Beatles or Elvis slipped out, people would follow! "Elvis has left the building!" means "You groupies and fans can leave now, follow him, or go home, but he's not here... So shut up and leave." Lorenzo and his people think it's immediately strange he's being followed? Even a talentless hack like The Situation or a moronic bimbo like Snooki get followed everywhere they go.

The characters in the book immediately jump to the conclusion that there is something dark and sinister out there. Well, maybe publicists could be considered dark and sinister... "We has a book signing, precioussss." Or maybe fans of paganism might be considered dark and sinister.... "Top of the morning, guv. Will you and the missus attend afternoon tea at Stonehenge?" Or maybe the Canadian convention director who shelled out ten grand to get Lorenzo to podium and to the reception is now upset.... "Hey, hoser. D'ye know how much back bacon and beer I could've bought with that money. You get to the reception now or I'll call the mounties." Or maybe just one of the five thousand fans there might want an autograph... "Excuse me, Dr. Marcus? Could you sign my rack? Tee hee!"

But no, they leap to the conclusion that a Nazgul must be living in Toronto. From what I've heard, Toronto bears a striking resemblence to Minas Morgul... always under threat from big nasty Americans... err, I mean Spiders... and still trying to distance themselves from their Gondorian... err, British heritage.

Whenever I walk home from the supermarket after dark, I think "Where the weiner dog howls, there the Girl Scout prowls" and I have to run for my life.

In all fairness, the character Paul has just had his senses awakened to the supernatural and the otherworldly, but I still thought it was a bit of a stretch.

As for Brian's topic, I felt that GRRM has taken the political adventure to a place that I had only enjoyed in Shogun by James Clavell, The (neverending) Riftwar Saga by Raymond Feist, the Empire Trilogy by Feist and Janny Wurts, the overarching political story in the Conan stories of Robert E. Howard, the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, the Deryni novels of Katherine Kurtz, the Fitzroy stories of Robin Hobb, and the Dune series by Frank Herbert. But for my tastes, ASOIAF is better than all of them.

I've read a lot, and quit a lot, of fantasy series that seem to be in the same vein, but could not quite find the balance of fantasy, politics, and adventure... for me. You might like them... Acacia by David Anthony Durham, Across the Face of the World by Russell Kirkpatrick, Terra Incognita by Kevin J. Anderson, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams, The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, and David Drake's The Lord of the Isles.

Personally, I loved Ilium (the first part) and enjoyed Olympos (the conclusion) by Dan Simmons. Historians, Greek mythology, political strife, divine plots, sci-fi, Shakespearean tragedy, litte green men on Mars, the philosophy of Marcel Proust, cyborgs from Jupiter's moons, Odysseus lost in time, and fate of humanity's future, all tied together by the Trojan War made for the most ambitious story I've ever read. Not the best story, but there are so many levels of theology, philosophy, history, mythology, intrigue, love, vengeance, and trust... that it is the most fun I've had reading in the last twelve years, i.e. since I read A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords back to back to back.

Just my two cents...
 

svalbard

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Sharon K Penman is a historical writer, but her novelThe Sunne in Splendour dealing with Richard III and the Wars of the Roses would fit well with anyone who is an avid Martin fan.

R.Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series should also appeal. His series is set in a world that is reminiscent of The First Crusade. His prose is excellent, the characters are as bloody minded as any you would find in Westeros and although the plot is somewhat more linear is just as absorbing.
 

Boaz

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sval, thanks. That's the kind of recommendation I need to hear... more history, less farmboy magic.
 

Culhwch

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Martin is a big fan of historical fiction author Bernard Cornwell, and I'd definitely suggest his Arthurian saga, the Warlord Chronicles (The Winter King, The Enemy of God and Excalibur) as quite similar to aSoIaF in terms of realism and grittiness.
 

biodroid

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R.Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series should also appeal. His series is set in a world that is reminiscent of The First Crusade. His prose is excellent, the characters are as bloody minded as any you would find in Westeros and although the plot is somewhat more linear is just as absorbing.
Thats if you can get through the pronunciations of the characters names:D
 

Eulalia

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Boaz. Chill, babe! My avatar was from Toronto!:)

Canadians, generally, are a little more low key about celebrities, (and not expecting it--unlike some places like Los Angeles),where you went to school, and little bigger about personal space and privacy. Also, that series was written some years ago. I would say, enjoy it for what it is, if you can.

I read Heaven by Kay not long ago. It was slow and lyrical. Lots of references to Chinese mythology.
 

Boaz

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Eulalia, Chill? But criticizing comes soooo easily... Ah, but Teddy Roosevelt was right.

Yeah, I got sixty pages in and I don't think I'm getting further. I've got nothing against Canada, but the switching of point of view from sentence to sentence is makes The Summer Tree like playing a game of Three Card Monte. Over here... start, stop, now it's here... start, stop, now it's here... start, stop, over here... I dont' need chapter by chapter points of view or even continual pages of points of view, but how about a paragraph or two. Three points of view in one paragraph left me disconcerted. Instead of adding to the overall picture and individual character development, I found it irritating. I think I need something of Kay's that is written later in his career, something more polished.
 

Brian G Turner

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Have started reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman and good so far.

Also have Bernard Cromwell's Harlequin as well, as it's about a longbowman in the army of Henry V, which seems appropriate. :)
 

chopper

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Paul Kearney's more available series are worth a good look - 5 books collected into two volumes - Hawkwood & the Kings, and Century of the Soldier - that riff on alternate Constantinople and Columbus scenarios (with added beasties); and a recent trilogy that riffs on ancient Greek wars (The Ten Thousand, Corvus, and Lords of the Morning [may have title wrong; haven't checked it.]). Kearney is brutal towards his characters, but the writing is much tighter.
 
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Well, I haven't read them, but those friends of mine who lige ASOIAF usually think that Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind and the stories of Geralt of Rivia by Andrzej Sapkowski. Some people here may also like The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan, which is slightly like ASOIAF.
 

Boaz

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Nero, The Name of the Wind was a real page turner for me. I've not picked up the sequel, yet.
 

Anne Lyle

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I'd like to recommend The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham - not as grim as GRRM, and with a Chinese/Japanese-inspired setting rather than European, but heavy on the politics and low on the magic. Beautifully written, too.

Re GGK, The Fionavar Tapestry is his first trilogy and is clearly heavily inspired by his work with Christopher Tolkien in publishing JRRT's Middle-Earth notes. His later works are very different and much better: A Song for Arbonne, The Lions of Al-Rassan, etc.

Another novel in a similar vein is The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold - again, not so dark as GRRM by a long chalk, it's based on late medieval Spain and is a blend of political intrigue and magic with a dash of troubadour romance (the hero is in love with a girl far above him socially and devotes his life to protecting her from a rich but loathsome suitor).

ETA: I see no-one's mentioned K J Parker yet - haven't ready any yet, but I'm planning on getting Sharps when it comes out. From what I hear they're low-magic, high-intrigue books and often on the dark side...
 

Boaz

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Anne, I agree wholeheartedly on The Curse of Chalion. A great stand alone story. I loved the fact that her hero was not another prophesied teenager. And yet she did not give us Gran Torino or Unforgiven either. If you liked the vulnerability of the hero, then you might like GRRM's collaboration with Lisa Tuttle, Windhaven. I enjoyed how the story does not follow all the cliches, and I basically read straight through, but I did not resonate with the main character... even though I'm comparing her to Chalion's protagonist, who I did like... mayhaps it's a gender issue.
 

Clansman

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Boaz, I think you would enjoy The Lions of Al-Rassan and Tigana much more than The Fionavar Tapestry. Kay explores a bunch of fantasy tropes in his first major work, for the sake of doing so, and that annoys some. His later works are much more contained, flowing, and lyrical. You might want to check out The Sarantine Mosaic. Lots of politics there.
 

Coragem

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First, you've picked my top three, I,Brian. Within fantasy, at least, GRRM, Joe Abercrombie and GGK are my favourite authors.

If I had to pick one it'd be GRRM – to a degree I see him as a compromise between the other two. For example, Joe Abercombie's prose isn't literary, GGK's is very literary, GRRM is an all rounder.

I read A Song of Ice and Fire long before it was famous, and honestly it's the only thing I've read as an adult that's made me feel a little like a child again. The world and characters came alive for me in a way they never have in other books.

That said, The Lions of Al-Rassan and Song for Arbonne are masterpieces, and I think Joe Abercrombie deserves more credit than he gets for his genius with character interplay and character asides.

Paul Kearney's more available series are worth a good look -
I agree.

I'd like to recommend The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham

Another novel in a similar vein is The Curse of Chalion
My wife just read The Long Price and really liked it. She also likes Lois McMaster Bjold, although she much preferred The Sharing Knife to the Chalion books.

Off hand my only other suggestions diverge from historical fantasy. I'd recommend Neal Stephenson's baroque trilogy. For something dark and gritty and well written (and sci-fi!) I'd recommend Kameron Hurley's God's War. And for writing quality approaching that of GRRM I'd recommend Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders trilogy.

Coragem.
 

svalbard

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Have started reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman and good so far.

Also have Bernard Cromwell's Harlequin as well, as it's about a longbowman in the army of Henry V, which seems appropriate. :)
Let us know how you get along with The Sunne in Splendour. I would be very interested to hear your comments :)

Generally I enjoy most of Cornwell's stories, but the whole Harlequin series left me a bit cold. Still read it though and found it better than most HF out there. It was just the characters and storyline felt rushed and paper thin.
 

Brian G Turner

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Let us know how you get along with The Sunne in Splendour. I would be very interested to hear your comments :)
It's an omniscient POV which can be quite confusing when she head hops in the same scene, specially when a couple of people have the same first name.

However, it otherwise seems well written and very evocative of the period.

Btw, I know Anne Lyle isn't grim like GRRM, but it's a nice low magic piece with a lot of realism. Tudor period, so a bit more removed from the mediaeval, and simpler plot, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. :)
 

svalbard

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Yes, the head hopping between characters can be off putting, but she is quite strict on authenticity when it comes to historical characters and spells out all her deviations in her historical notes. It might seem annoying to the casual reader, yet her storytelling and the empathy she has for all of her characters tells true at the end. It is one of the traits of her writing that attracted me.

Yeah, I follow Anne's posts and will at some stage pick up on her stories.
 

Symphinity

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I have recently been reading Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos and think that it is similar in the fact that it is an epic story that has many unexpected twists in the story line. The first book especially tells the story in a POV fashion from 6 main characters, and is one of my favorite books of all time.
 
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