Most Unique Fantasy Novels You've Read

BAYLOR

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That made me laugh!

I think that Tolkien would have despised it.

The Thomas Covenant series is pretty grim stuff but, It's a greats series and a fantasy Classic . Stephen R Donaldson is a terrific writer:)

Tolkien would be put off by its darkness. I suspect that Tolkien would also dislike most of the Fantasy writers of our era.
 
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paranoid marvin

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I think it's actually very Tolkienian except in the nature of the main character/s. Very few of the other characters are "grey": they all either stand for beauty and service to the Land, or they attack it in despite. Donaldson even doubles down on Tolkien's sub-theme of threat to nature. I was very struck with his idea of Earthpower, and his description of Andelain (far more than say Tolkien's Lothlorien). I think it could be called one of the very first environmental fantasies.


Yes, the stories are very much centred on those trying to despoil and those trying to defend nature and their world. Which is very similar to LOTR, with the industrialised Sauron and Saruman and their creation of orcs, and the other races (especially the elves) who are much more in harmony with Middle-earth. The 'Sunbane' which appears in the 'Second Chronicies' is an astonishingly creative transformation of nature into a weapon to be used against the inhabitants of 'the Land'.

Whereas Tolkien's world is filled with hope, love and a real feel-good factor, Donaldson's is full of hate, despair and even when (sometimes) things work out right, you never feel (or at least I didn't) any feeling of satisfaction. The protagonists such as Hile Troy, Linden Avery and Covenant himself are (at best) dislikable characters, and a world away from the likes of Aragorn, Boromir, Gandalf and Sam. Perhaps Donaldson's characters are more true to life than Tolkien's heroes, but it doesn't make them necessarily 'better'.
 

BAYLOR

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Yes, the stories are very much centred on those trying to despoil and those trying to defend nature and their world. Which is very similar to LOTR, with the industrialised Sauron and Saruman and their creation of orcs, and the other races (especially the elves) who are much more in harmony with Middle-earth. The 'Sunbane' which appears in the 'Second Chronicies' is an astonishingly creative transformation of nature into a weapon to be used against the inhabitants of 'the Land'.

Whereas Tolkien's world is filled with hope, love and a real feel-good factor, Donaldson's is full of hate, despair and even when (sometimes) things work out right, you never feel (or at least I didn't) any feeling of satisfaction. The protagonists such as Hile Troy, Linden Avery and Covenant himself are (at best) dislikable characters, and a world away from the likes of Aragorn, Boromir, Gandalf and Sam. Perhaps Donaldson's characters are more true to life than Tolkien's heroes, but it doesn't make them necessarily 'better'.
He's a little too grim and that can put readers off.
 

paranoid marvin

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He's a little too grim and that can put readers off.


I also think that his writing style doesn't make it easy to read.

Strangely enough, this discussion of the stories is making me want to go back and read them. Not for the characters, who I care little for, but for the scope, imagination and creativity went in to creating the Land and the things that happen there.

There's never been a story which I've hated and loved in almost equal measure. Probably the closes thing in that respect is the Dark Tower series, which also features largely dislikable characters on an epic adventure.
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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"Rats and Gargoyles" by Mary Gentle. It strays from the medieval mold by being based on Renaissance mystery cults and their ideas about alchemy and magic. Set in a city where the compass has five points, the aristocracy are all giant rats, and the Gods are living sphinx statues hidden away in a titanic cathedral. The descriptions are pungent and expressionistic - never known a book to describe smells so much. I've never read anything quite like it, not even in the rest of her output.
 

therapist

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"Rats and Gargoyles" by Mary Gentle. It strays from the medieval mold by being based on Renaissance mystery cults and their ideas about alchemy and magic. Set in a city where the compass has five points, the aristocracy are all giant rats, and the Gods are living sphinx statues hidden away in a titanic cathedral. The descriptions are pungent and expressionistic - never known a book to describe smells so much. I've never read anything quite like it, not even in the rest of her output.
You just sold me on that book. Sounds intriguing.
 

AllanR

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While technically science fiction, I quite liked the world of David Brin's The Practice Effect --in that world entropy runs in reverse.

Want an axe? Just haphazardly fasten some iron to a stick and start chopping, over time it takes form and improves. The king's slaves wear rags until they become exquisite court clothing. To make the city walls, take a mound of dirt and keep attacking it until it become stronger and stronger.
 

Guttersnipe

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Here are some more, though I haven't read them:

The Vorrh by B. Catling: Takes place right after WWI in a magical African forest.
Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down by Ishmael Reed: A Western satire with supernatural stylings.
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers: Self-explanatory, starring the blue bear of the German author's strips.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: Takes place in an almost infinitely large House; hard to explain.
Insomnia by Stephen King: A man who hasn't slept starts seeing auras and little men.
The Narrator by Michael Cisco: The protagonist is forced to face off against "blackbirds," who have lighter-than-air armor.
When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill: In the 50s, women are mysteriously turning into dragons.
Vicious by V.E. Schwab: Two friends learn to create superpowers and later become nemeses.
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree: Nearly a typical fantasy, only an orc woman tries to run a café.
 
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hitmouse

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Here are some more, though I haven't read them:

The Vorrh by B. Catling: Takes place right after WWI in a magical African forest.
Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down by Ishmael Reed: A Western satire with supernatural stylings.
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers: Self-explanatory, starring the blue bear of the German author's strips.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: Takes place in an almost infinitely large House; hard to explain.
Insomnia by Stephen King: A man who hasn't slept starts seeing auras and little men.
The Narrator by Michael Cisco: The protagonist is forced to face off against "blackbirds," who have lighter-than-air armor.
When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill: In the 50s, women are mysteriously turning into dragons.
Vicious by V.E. Schwab: Two friends learn to create superpowers and later become nemeses.
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree: Nearly a typical fantasy, only an orc woman tries to run a café.
I got bogged down in The Vorrh. OK, but certainly not sui generis unique: influences are fairly clear.

Captain Bluebear is fantastic and belongs on this list. I have read it several times, notably with my kids as bed time story when they were younger. Anything by Moers is worth reading. He is not that well known outside Germany.
 

Guttersnipe

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Undesired Princess by L. Sprague de Camp. A man descends to another plane with the laws of Aristotlelian logic, where shapes and colors are quite limited. I suppose it's otherwise a Medieval-esque fable.
 
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BAYLOR

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The Dark World by Henry Kuttner A fantasy novel with a most usual protagonist
 

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