Cozy Fantasy?

dwndrgn

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I'm looking for fantasies that fall into the 'cozy' category. If you have read any cozy mysteries you get the idea but let me sum up what I mean by 'cozy'.

A cozy fantasy is one in which the protag is not out to save the world, there is little to no death, dismemberment or blood-spatter and there may be elements of humor or light romance.

A lot of YA books, especially those a decade or so old or older, fit into this category but I'm mostly looking for something a touch older than ya where the protag may be 18 or older.

Any and all suggestions welcome!
 

phileomiomai

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Cozy? that is an interesting distinction that I have not thought about. I am glad you mentioned it though as it has made the category click for something my wife would like.

The reason it struck me is my wife hates murder shows like CSI and its like but we started watching a show called white collar. The preimise being they solve white collar crimes obviously...forgeries, and bank scams for instance so there is little blood and death and she likes it alot.

I digress, as my point is I am going to find some of this cozy stuff as I think she would like it as well!

Now...have I ever read any? hmm...
 

ratsy

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Well most "cozy" I can think of involve saving the world still. Lots of coming of age stuff below. Can be read by YA and adults alike with enjoyment

David Eddings books

Piers Anthony (more humor...no world saving)

Kristin Britain - Green Rider books, good stories, clean fun

Jim Butcher - Codex Alera, big series, large scale with young characters..but very cozy, one of my favorite series of the past few years

Gail Z Martin - read these for some reason...YA'ish and a little "girly"

And just because I cannot help but recommend Brandon Sanderson any chance I get...read the Mistborn books! not what i would call cozy but great
 

J-Sun

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Fantasy's not my strong suit but I've read good stories by Kij Johnson ("26 Monkeys and Also the Abyss") and Megan Lindholm ("Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man") that would probably meet your description. I don't know what their books are like, though - Lindholm is also Robin Hobb and I gather the Hobb books don't meet your specs, but Lindholm might.

You might also like Carol Emshwiller's Carmen Dog. Also Lisa Goldstein's Tourists.
 

dwndrgn

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Well most "cozy" I can think of involve saving the world still. Lots of coming of age stuff below. Can be read by YA and adults alike with enjoyment

David Eddings books

Piers Anthony (more humor...no world saving)

Kristin Britain - Green Rider books, good stories, clean fun

Jim Butcher - Codex Alera, big series, large scale with young characters..but very cozy, one of my favorite series of the past few years

Gail Z Martin - read these for some reason...YA'ish and a little "girly"

And just because I cannot help but recommend Brandon Sanderson any chance I get...read the Mistborn books! not what i would call cozy but great
Thanks Ratsy! I've read all of the above (except Gail Z. Martin, after the first one I just didn't care enough about the characters to continue).
 

dwndrgn

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Fantasy's not my strong suit but I've read good stories by Kij Johnson ("26 Monkeys and Also the Abyss") and Megan Lindholm ("Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man") that would probably meet your description. I don't know what their books are like, though - Lindholm is also Robin Hobb and I gather the Hobb books don't meet your specs, but Lindholm might.

You might also like Carol Emshwiller's Carmen Dog. Also Lisa Goldstein's Tourists.
Thanks J-Sun: Megan Lindholm & Hobb are very familiar to me (I have no trouble reading world ending/blood spatter/death and dismemberment - just looking for the cozy ones for right now.)

The other two I've not heard of so I'll be checking them out!
 

j d worthington

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Depends on what sort of fantasy you are looking for, and if you have limits on period. Lord Dunsany, for example, tends to eschew blood-&-guts violence (though once in a while he can have a quite nasty understated and off-stage sort of thing such as "The Hoard of the Gibbelins"), while William Morris' fantasy novels are almost entirely about exploring the characters and the worlds they inhabit. James Branch Cabell's ironic fantasies are indeed fantastic and richly written and, though he too can surprise you now and again with a bit of grim material, he never dwelt on the violence or death per se.

I'd suggest looking up a list of the old Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, and checking out various of the books which were published in that set; or the Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy series, for that matter. These are older stories (with a few exceptions in the Ballantine), and present a wide range of fantasy, but there is little of the type you seem to be trying to avoid.

Here's the Wiki article on the Ballantine series, with a list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballantine_Adult_Fantasy_series

ditto for the Newcastle:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newcastle_Forgotten_Fantasy_Library

If you've not read them before, I would also suggest Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time series which, though often having quite serious points, are generally quite genial and light in tone, wildly imaginative, and simply a great deal of fun:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancers_at_the_End_of_Time

L. Sprague de Camp (both with and without his wife Catherine) wrote quite a lot of humorous fantasy, and the series of stories he did with Fletcher Pratt about Harold Shea are (rightly) considered classics in this particular field. (The Carnelian Cube is rather less successful, though still interesting, and Land of Unreason is an absolute gem; especially if you can find one of the reprints with the original Edd Cartier illustrations.) Some of Avram Davidson's fantasies also fall into this category. And then there's The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders, by Isidore Haiblum, which is a rather unique sort of thing itself....
 

Randy M.

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I'm not sure there's all that much in fantasy that equates with cozy mysteries. I would strongly second J.D.'s suggestion of the de Camp/Pratt Harold Shea stories. At their best they are screw-ball comedy of a high quality.

Possibly Thorne Smith's work, like Topper and Night Life of the Gods. I haven't read them, but people whose taste I trust love them. More contemporary and possibly more antic would be Christopher Moore; not exactly cozy though.

Anthony Boucher's collection The Compleat Boucher probably contains stories that would apply. Certainly, "The Compleat Werewolf" fits. Your wife should probably skip "They Bite," though, since it's a horror story, and really the only one I can think of in that collection. (Great story, though.)

Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place might fit, too, as would many of his short stories. (I'm tempted to suggest his novella "Lila, the Werewolf," but while it's a romp for a good portion of its length, it does have a serious turn near the end. No blood and guts, though.)

Not really fantasy, but maybe Henry Kuttner's Gallegher stories would also be fun for her. And you, too, for that matter.


Randy M.
 

j d worthington

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For that matter, dwny, if you're open to shorter works (as several of the pieces I've mentioned above are collections of short stories as well), and to things outside the usually perceived parameters of "fantasy", you might want to look at the two Blackwater anthologies edited by Alberto Manguel, as well as A Treasury of Modern Fantasy, edited by Terry Carr and Martin Harry Greenberg. Other anthologies, both old and new, might give you even more suggestions on authors to follow up on....

(Not all of the pieces in the above are light; but, again, they tend to eschew violence, gore, and death which are either gratuitous or particularly graphic.)

And by the way... very good to see you around!
 

dwndrgn

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Thank you j.d.! It might take a while to get through checking out your lovely suggestions. I do think I might have read the Harold Shea but must have been many a moon ago, may want to revisit. You hit the nail on the head there - humor is a key element. However, humor is a difficult thing - with Christopher Moore, I've only found two that I could actually get through (Dirty Job and Practical Demonkeeping) and the others were just weird and convoluted and not funny to me even the much lauded Lamb. And, it is good to see and be seen! I visit periodically but rarely comment these days, I just don't have much to contribute ;-)

Extollager - I've not heard of that book so will check it out, thanks!

Nixie - I've read the Morganville books and while I enjoyed all of them, I think they fall too far into the YA/angst category. These days there is so much of this out there that I'm heartily sick of lovesick teens and their drama!

I'm actually listening to the audio book of Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid at the moment and really enjoying it.

Thanks everyone, I've lots of research to do!
 

Ursa major

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This doesn't quite fit the definition given by dwndrgn in the first post, but the SF writer and commentator, Brian Aldiss, has described some of John Wyndham's works - in particular, Day of the Triffids - as cosy catastrophes.

To be fair, Wiki points out:
The critic L. J. Hurst dismissed Aldiss's accusations, pointing out that in Triffids the main character witnesses several murders, suicides, and misadventures, and is frequently in mortal danger himself
 

j d worthington

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dwny: The Harold Shea books have their serious moments as well; and some very engaging characters (not to mention some completely bonkers ones here and there); but the humor is as often of a dry, satirical sort as it is the more broad kind, though each is present. At any rate, they are intelligently written, clever, and well-researched. (I recall having a conversation with the de Camps and Sprague commenting sourly on how he hated reading the entirety of The Faerie Queene, though he did quite enjoy the Orlando Furioso; while Pratt, being an historian, was very interested in the actualities of the societies depicted.)

Big Bear: I'm afraid that quote in particular indicates to me a complete missing of what Aldiss (and others, for that matter) was saying; it isn't that there is no danger to the protagonists, nor that things are all light and comfy; but rather that, at the end of the day, things reach a "comfortable" new equilibrium, and not much changes on a fundamental level. Yes, the incidentals change; there is a shift in the way people live on the technological (and, to some degree, the societal) level; but darned little of their basic attitudes change in the way one would expect from such a supposedly world-altering series of events. This isn't true, for instance, with George R. Stewart's Earth Abides, where everything changes, and there's no going back. The future societies are entirely their own thing, and what little Ish attempts to bring from ours into theirs is more of a hindrance than a help.
 

Ursa major

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Big Bear: I'm afraid that quote in particular indicates to me a complete missing of what Aldiss (and others, for that matter) was saying; it isn't that there is no danger to the protagonists, nor that things are all light and comfy; but rather that, at the end of the day, things reach a "comfortable" new equilibrium, and not much changes on a fundamental level. Yes, the incidentals change; there is a shift in the way people live on the technological (and, to some degree, the societal) level; but darned little of their basic attitudes change in the way one would expect from such a supposedly world-altering series of events. This isn't true, for instance, with George R. Stewart's Earth Abides, where everything changes, and there's no going back. The future societies are entirely their own thing, and what little Ish attempts to bring from ours into theirs is more of a hindrance than a help.
My being fair was not directed at Aldiss's comment or that rebuttal (accurate or otherwise), but to my first response to the original poster, who had said:
A cozy fantasy is one in which the protag is not out to save the world, there is little to no death, dismemberment or blood-spatter and there may be elements of humor or light romance
whereas I'd said 'cosy catastrophes' didn't quite meet those criteria (which is like saying that committing the mass murder of innocents doesn't quite meet the criteria of doing a good deed).
 

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I can't think of much fantasy where there isn't a degree of saving something, thought it may not always be at the level of saving the world.

Tanya Huff "Summon the Keeper" is a modern fantasy set in a boarding house in Canada with a Hellmouth in the basement. Certainly has humour and romance. Not entirely violence free, but it doesn't have big pitched battles or gory sword wounds.

One of my re-read books.

You might also try Stealing the Elf King's Roses - there is world saving, and a degree of violence at one point (but not gory), romance, and maybe a touch of humour. It is another modern setting fantasy. (So again, no swords, big battles etc).

In general, if you want genre cozy read and not just fantasy cozy read, I'd suggest the Liaden books by Lee and Miller. Again not entirely violence free, but on the light end for nasty stuff. Most are space opera with romance and the people getting into trouble and misunderstandings when out trading in the galaxy.
 

Extollager

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.... it isn't that there is no danger to the protagonists, nor that things are all light and comfy; but rather that, at the end of the day, things reach a "comfortable" new equilibrium, and not much changes on a fundamental level. Yes, the incidentals change; there is a shift in the way people live on the technological (and, to some degree, the societal) level; but darned little of their basic attitudes change in the way one would expect from such a supposedly world-altering series of events.

Are there any cosy catastrophes in that Cthulhu's Reign collection?
 

Toby Frost

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"No, no! You cannot have cozy fantasy! Fantasy is about men beating each other's yellow teeth out in a pile of mud, of women being married off to lunatics and getting the cheerfulness battered out of them chapter by lengthy chapter, of peasants dying of bottom-rot! There is no other sort, and if your novel has a happy ending and doesn't involve someone decaying from an STD or radiation poisoning, it's not proper fantasy, dammit!"

It's hard to recommend fantasy that's cozy in the way that Agatha Christie is and Raymond Chandler isn't, because you're always going to run into a certain amount of fighting and drinking (and possibly wenching) in an adventure story. However, moving back a few years, there was quite a lot of fantasy that didn't feel the need to fulfill the dreary criteria set out above. Eddings and Feist were large-scale, but quite gentle in a way (although I wouldn't say Eddings was a great prose writer!). If you don't mind serious issues while avoiding carnage, Dune by Frank Herbert (ok, technically SF) or Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels might be of interest (although they are both quite heavy-duty). John Steinbeck's Acts of King Arthur and Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood are very good indeed, but might be a bit earthy and violent to qualify.

For me, Tad Williams' Memory, Sorry and Thorn quartet strikes a good note between feeling possible and wallowing in squalor, and is well-written. It sags a bit at points, but is generally pretty engrossing. Then there's Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd stories, which involve a fair bit of battle and wenching but are fairly jolly overall.
 

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