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Your Favourite Fantasy Setting: What and why?
Timothy Maguire
Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 9:47 AM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272


(I originally posted this in World and Setting, but no-one seems to have noticed it, so I'm moving it to here. There's also an SF one in the Science Fiction section)

We try to create memorable worlds to set our stories in, but what are the ones that stick in your head? The ones that you want to revisit and the ones that inspire your own writing?

Here's a few of mine:

Carna
Where can I see it: Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series(about the only series where the book's titles are spoilers)

The Setting: Alera. A strange fantasy world dominated by the Alerans, a Roman-influenced nation where every citizen has the power to manipulate at least one 'fury', beings of the six elements: Water, Fire, Earth, Air, Wood and Metal. They're bordered by the Marat (animal-bonded savages), Icemen (yeti-like primitives who can, strangely enough, manipulate ice) and the Canim (Very large wolfmen with some very creepy blood magic).

Why I like it: Firstly, it's an elemental based magic setting where there's no real dominance of power (Fire, for once, seems like the most useless power). Each of the Elements gets treated as just as powerful as any other. Secondly, it's also a distinctly non-traditional fantasy world. The military is very much based on the Roman Legion and there's at least a modicum of advancement available to the average person. Finally, it's full of larger than life escapades with some highly inventive abuses of magic and physics. Best of all, the whole thing started with a bet.

Where to start: Furies of Calderon

Quote: 'there's something broken in your brain. You do all your thinking sideways.'

The Discworld
Where can I see it: Terry Pratchett's very large Discworld series of novels. Also three video games (Discworld, Discworld 2 and Discworld Noir) and several made-for-TV film adaptations. There's also a TV series in the pipes.

The Setting: A disc of land riding on the back of four gigantic elephants, who are in turn riding upon the back of an inconcievably huge turtle swimming through space, the Discworld is unashamedly impossible. The world runs on narativium, the force which propels stories to their proper conclusion. As a result, things tend to be very strange, very often. It all tends to be watched over by Death, who seems to be strangely on our side.

Why I like it: Pratchett manages to juggle two very different themes with irritating aplomb. Firstly, the books are laugh out loud funny, chock full of engagingly insane storylines (seriously, the man managed to make banking fun once). And secondly, he manages to write about very large, very complex issues in remarkably relatable ways (see banking). Of course, what truly makes the books is the fact that you really have no idea what you're getting into until you've finished them.

Where to start: Technically, I should suggest The Colour of Magic, as it is the first book, but many of the books manage to stand alone very well. I'd recommend Thief of Time (what happens when you make a clock too well?), The Truth (Starting the Disc's first newspaper goes 'well'), Going Postal (a conman is 'volunteered' to fix the Post office) and Small Gods (possibly the most interesting meditation on religion I've ever read).

Quote: 'Better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness' or '+++Out Of Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot+++'

So, those are some of my favourite settings. What are yours?

Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 11:09 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356


Bumping up so people can see this.

RJBlain
Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 1:20 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 224


I have always loved Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar; it was the world that enamored me with writing and made me want to create my own world.

However, the one that stuck out to me the most was Robin McKinley's Damar and Anne McCaffrey's Pern. Pern made me want to bring mystical beasties to life, and give them life in such a way where disbelief was suspended, not because of faith in the writer, but the way there was nothing all that _special_ about the existence of them in the world -- which made it all the more real.

As for McKinley, I was attracted to the rich culture of the people rather than the actual worldbuilding mechanics.

There are a lot of creative worlds out there, though.

I haven't really gotten into Pratchett yet. I own a copy of The Colour of Magic, but I haven't been able to really get into it. I think I'm going to ask my friend if I can borrow Guards, Guards! though, since that one seems to be one of the best in the series.
Timothy Maguire
Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 7:33 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272


I've not read all of the Valdemar series (that should be more considered 'I haven't read enough Mercedes Lackey full-stop'), but I do like what I have read. It's a wonderful demonstration of how to make a very standard fantasy very original feeling with just a few original touches. Pern is very similar, except that being me, I read the prequel novel first, so I went into it knowing that everything has a 'scientific' reason behind it. I've not seen MckKinley's Damar series, so I'll have to take a look at it.

If you're looking to get into Pratchett and you like Pern, I think you'll find Guards Guards! a good choice. It revolves around dragons quite a bit and I think the justaposition between the two types might appeal to you.


Sneaky Burrito
Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012 9:26 AM
Joined: 5/28/2012
Posts: 43


I always liked the Land from Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books.  Terrible, uncreative name, I suppose.  (But then, Donaldson also gave us "Lord Kevin" and "Lord Foul" so perhaps names were not his strong suit.)

Now, maybe it's Donaldson's evocative language, but the Land (especially Andelain) just seems like a place I might actually want to visit, to see the Wraiths and the Ranyhyn (don't know if I spelled that one right), to taste aliantha, to meet some Giants, etc.  (Whereas I have absolutely no desire to visit the dirty cities featured in a lot of fantasy novels lately.)  You actually care what happens to the Land, and to the people who make their homes there.

I also like that we see the Land at different points in its history, from what might be considered a high point in terms of learning in the first chronicles, through the horror of the changing suns and the Clave, to the havoc of the caesures in the later books.


Timothy Maguire
Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012 6:36 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272


I think the suns are what stuck with me the most from that series. The image of the entire land re-writing itself at random was incredible. The fact that the 'fertility' one was, in many ways, the worst, was just that added level of creepy.

CRThompson
Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012 12:48 PM
Joined: 8/7/2012
Posts: 2


One of my favorite fantasy worlds is the world in Pat Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles. Yes, it's a very Standard Medieval Europe Fantasy world, but it's so nuanced and lovingly created that I can't help but love it. I particularly enjoy how Rothfuss understands the power of myth, and how myths evolve and change through time, and how they impact their cultures.

Alexander Hollins
Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013 5:01 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416


Aspirin's Myth Series, because I like me some parallel worlds, mass grouping stuff. 

Midkemia, because, well, it's gritty but still FUN. 


 

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