Recommend me some epic magic without much fighting

nixie

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#21
Hobb doesn't fire my imagination. Farseer was ok but Fitz really started to annoy me after awhile, couldn't care less what happened to him.I preferred Liveships. Rainwilds I haven't finished the series will eventually but it isn't a must. Soldier Son trilogy the concept was good but again the whinging main charater and slowness of the plot left a sour taste.
 

soulsinging

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#22
From my experience of Elantris and reviews of his other work, Brandon Sanderson might be a good bet. I believe his Alloy trilogy in particular is focused on an interesting magic system and less so on huge armies battling.

The other one that comes to mind is the Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman (yes, of Dragonlance fame). There's a great mystery throughout the series revolving around two different magic disciplines and the mysterious fate of their respective practitioners.
 

Alexa

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#23
I read the first few chapters of the first of the Rain Wild Chronicles, and dipped into the starts of a couple of others, but they didn't appeal for some reason. Maybe I should give her another look.
You started right in the middle. You should start with The Farseer Trilogy. Hobb has a character, Nighteyes which reminds me of Hare.
 

Ursa major

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#24
a well-written adult fantasy where a big role is given to interesting and subtle magic, ideas about the nature of reality, big secrets and mysteries with "wow" moments, and adventurous travels to exciting places -- but which doesn't have a major focus on armies moving about and having intricately described battles.
Perhaps I might suggest the three China Miéville novels set on Bas-Lag, namely: Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council.

To quote Wikipedia:
Bas-Lag is a world where both magic (referred to as "thaumaturgy") and steampunk technology exist, and is home to many intelligent races. It is influenced by the themes and tropes of multiple genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
 

The Big Peat

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#25
Been awhile since I read them but Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana was a beautiful read also his Finovar Tapestry series but can't remember how much magic it contained.
A fair amount, including a lot of subtle stuff, plenty of secrets, travel, a few wow moments... it mostly fits HB's request, save for the amount of military stuff. Which is substantial.

Which I'd also say is a problem with the Eddings and Feist recommendations. Particularly Feist, who otherwise fits rather well. I'm not saying he shouldn't look at them but caveat emptor.

HB, have you read Pratchett's Witches books?
 

The Big Peat

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#28
I haven't, no. I guess that's stretching "epic" a bit, though?
Some, but we're stretching something with all of these recommendations so I thought why not stretch on epic? There's a lot of magic, much of it subtle and metaphysical. There's a decent amount of travelling and strange lands.

And while the tone isn't exactly epic, there are moments that are and he does shift tone just enough for the best execution of them.
 

Overread

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#29
Robin Hobbs books are certainly a slower affair and whilst each trilogy stands on its own there is an order to them and the further along in her saga you go the more bits you miss out if you don't read the series before (rather like Discworld in that regard).

It's sort of hard to think of any big magic focused stories that don't have battles and fights in them as often as not as the magic ramps up the wars often ramp up right alongside them. I'd also say magic focused without big wars often seems to cling closer to the young adult market than the "full adult" market (or at least from my reading experience). Of course young-adult almost means nothing since it can walk the spectrum from very childish to very adult in content and themes and often as not the style of writing can be as big a factor as the content.

You might try Uprooted by Naomi Novik (she of the Napoleonic dragons). It's a stand alone book not set in her world of Temeraire and certainly fits into the mystery and magic aspects.

You could also try The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudy Canavan and I'd also throw Sabriel by Garth Nix into the pot as well.


Although honestly none of those really come close to a Malazan type of approach and are not really what I'd consider full "epic" in scale; more your solid fantasy stories.
 

Kylara

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#30
I will second the Sanders on Mistborn trilogy (Alloy magic stuff) very good.

Also - Killashandra Ree/Crystal Singer trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. Pretty epic, space/fantasy/SF - sort of magic, but lots of politics, battles, lots of humanity, moral/ethical things. It's one of my favourites and I always enjoy it and find something new.

And it's not really epic, but the magic is original and very interesting - Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue. I'd really recommend Fire and Graceling - they stand alone, but work better if you read Graceling first. Very clever, very political - it is a bit YA with a romance, but it doesn't detract and isn't horribly mushy. Fire is excellent, horrifying but brilliantly so.
 

vanye

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#33
Lois McMaster Bujold - The Curse of Chalion - Standalone (I think) fantasy that focuses on a broken man and his goal of earning real redemption. Fantastic ending.
There is a second book: The Hallowed Hunt. And it‘s just as good. Both are easy recommendations. Bujold at her best, although some of her later fantasy is not really my cup of tea.

Fantasy and no battles, but great magic and cool moments - that is a tall order. But here are a few that came to mind ...

Allan Dean Foster‘s Spellsinger series is great fun. Not „serious“ fantasy, lots of laughs.

Maybe less well known: A three-book series by Elizabeth Haydon: Rhapsody, Prophecy and Destiny.

Juliet E. McKenna: Tales of Einarinn. A five-book series

And maybe a bit too YA (but then, Lackey always is): Mercedes Lackey: The Last Herald Mage. I believe the three books that she published first in her Valdemar series. Very much young love and lots of angst, but not as soppy as most of her later stuff.

OK, I‘ll stop here and leave some more work for the others. But sure have some more ideas if you want them. :)
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#34
I second TJ's recommendation of the Carol Berg books, although as much as I like those two series I would recommend her Collegia Magica books more, if you've never read them. Lots of mysteries (in both senses of the world), plenty of magic (but not of the fireball-flinging sort), a world you can fall into. Not so much in the way of travel, although there is more of that by the third book in the trilogy. Intricate politics involving magic, religion, and royal courts. Very intense, as are all Berg's books, but the series does not take place in a time of war, so even though small troops do move about a bit and there are a few armed clashes, there is not much focus on that sort of thing.

I'd also agree with SilentRoamer and vanye about The Curse of Chalion, and (though Chalion is my personal favorite because I love the characters) the two other books in that series. Only a little bit about armies. Not much travel there, either, in the first two books except within a limited area, though the world does open up by the third book (which is The Hallowed Hunt, not a sequel, but set in the same world though a different era and a different country—so you could read it as a stand-alone—and you might quite like that one because it involves shamanism and animal spirits.). Interesting theologies, mythologies, histories, and great characters.

If you haven't read Tanith Lee's Flat Earth books they might be exactly what you are looking for. They are rather episodic though. But the writing is gorgeous. Or her Vis books, where there are battles but they are definitely not the focus.

A rather obscure book (which never got the recognition I think it deserved) is The Eye of Night by Pauline J. Alama. It starts out like it is going to be a light-hearted adventure story but grows more serious as it goes on, and deeper into the nature of the gods, religion, reality. The characters are pretty constantly travelling.
 

BAYLOR

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#35
Silverlock by John Myers Myers Ive recommended this now quite a bit , Its about selfish Socialite named Shandon Silverlock who lands on an island call The Commonwealth which is populated by all the haters of Myth and literature. he gets int on halos misadventure after another. If you never read this book, your really missing a wonderful comic fantasy novel . It is a glorious romp and you will not be able to put it down once you turn the first page .(y):cool:
 

The Big Peat

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#36
If you haven't read Tanith Lee's Flat Earth books they might be exactly what you are looking for. They are rather episodic though. But the writing is gorgeous. Or her Vis books, where there are battles but they are definitely not the focus.
I can't believe I forgot Tanith Lee. I've only read Night's Master from that series but I feel like its maybe the closest recommendation to what HB wants out of everything mentioned so far. Like someone crossed Arabian Nights with Moorcock sans-lots of battles.
 

vanye

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#37
I'd also agree with SilentRoamer and vanye about The Curse of Chalion, and (though Chalion is my personal favorite because I love the characters) the two other books in that series. Only a little bit about armies. Not much travel there, either, in the first two books except within a limited area, though the world does open up by the third book (which is The Hallowed Hunt, not a sequel, but set in the same world though a different era and a different country—so you could read it as a stand-alone—and you might quite like that one because it involves shamanism and animal spirits.). Interesting theologies, mythologies, histories, and great characters.
Sorry, you are right, of course. The second book is Paladin of Souls. The Hallowed Hunt is a prequel. Serves me right, depending on memory instead of looking it up.

While I am at it, though, another three-book series by Alan Dean Foster that might fit @HareBrain‘s search parameters: The Journeys of the Catechist
 

williamjm

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#38
I really liked Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet has an interesting and subtle magic system and very little violence (only one battle in four books).

I enjoyed The Shadow of the Apt series -- at least those I read of it, as I'm missing a couple -- by Adrian Tchaikovsky. There are battles, but they're not the main focus of the books. I'm not sure about "nature of reality" but there is magic and there is travel to different places. Off the top off my head I can't recall any great mysteries.
I like the series and I think it meets all the criteria except the lack of battles, it varies but some of the books have a lot of battles in them - The Air War for example is basically a steampunk Battle of Britain.

Chris Woodings's The Braided Path -- if it were better -- has many of the things I'm after, but I appreciate that's a very obscure reference. I'll be sure to check out some of the recommendations so far. Keep 'em coming.
I'm 2/3 of the way through N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy and in some ways it reminds me a bit of The Braided Path but is significantly better. No real battles, although I wouldn't describe it as 'uplifting' (except in a geological sense).

Other potential hits would be The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone and The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett.
I think these are both good recommendations.

I'd also agree with SilentRoamer and vanye about The Curse of Chalion, and (though Chalion is my personal favorite because I love the characters) the two other books in that series. Only a little bit about armies. Not much travel there, either, in the first two books except within a limited area, though the world does open up by the third book (which is The Hallowed Hunt, not a sequel, but set in the same world though a different era and a different country—so you could read it as a stand-alone—and you might quite like that one because it involves shamanism and animal spirits.). Interesting theologies, mythologies, histories, and great characters.
This is another good suggestion, the Penric and Desdemona short stories in the same world are also entertaining, and I think they're a nice contrast to some of the grimmer fantasies out there.
 

HareBrain

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#39
I can't believe I forgot Tanith Lee. I've only read Night's Master from that series but I feel like its maybe the closest recommendation to what HB wants out of everything mentioned so far. Like someone crossed Arabian Nights with Moorcock sans-lots of battles.
And by coincidence, a 5* review of Night's Master has just come up on my Twitter timeline (from the Fantasy Literature site). I enjoyed Lee's The Birthgrave when I read it a few years ago, so this has definitely been added to my TBR list (along with Three parts Dead, which I've just bought on Kindle).
 

Mouse

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#40
I was gonna say Soldier Son (yeah, Nevare is depressing but you might like the tree stuff), the Sabriel books and the Black Magician Trudi Canavan ones that've already been mentioned. Not epic, exactly, and also not a series, but how about The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman? Can't think of anything else as 'epic' and 'series' aren't really my bag, man.
 

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