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Offline necromancer

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pre Tolkien fantasy
« on: January 17, 2006, 04:29:00 PM »
What kind of fantasy was around before Tolken, was it any good. 
« Last Edit: January 18, 2006, 06:04:54 AM by Ancient Gamer »
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Re: pre Tolken fantasy
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2006, 09:13:05 PM »
You don't know what kind of fantasy was around before Tolkien?  :what:
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Offline Pariah

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Re: pre Tolken fantasy
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2006, 09:16:57 PM »
I didn't think the world existed until after Tolken. :shock:  How could they live without Tolken knock-offs?
They were immediately and absolutely recognizable as adventurers... They were hardy and dangerous, lawless, stripped of allegiance or morality, living off their wits, stealing and killing, hiring themselves out to whoever and whatever came. They were inspired by dubious virtues.  China Mieville - Perdido Street Station

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2006, 06:09:27 AM »
Well... You had Robert E. Howard and H.P.Lovecraft, though the latter hardly qualifies as fantasy. In my opinion both these authors had qualities that in many cases exceeded those of Tolkien. But I will admit that Tolkien set the standard and that his craftsmanship is in many ways unparallelled. There were others too, but I leave it to CP to explore those. :p

In many ways the Tolkien knock-offs are our first introduction to fantasy and roleplaying. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, though it is politically incorrect to admit that I ever did that. But I did. A lot. But the wheel of time turns and with time what once intrigued you becomes routine. When that time comes, I am sure you will not only find that life without Tolkien knock-offs is possible. It is enjoyable!
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Offline necromancer

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2006, 01:20:39 PM »
I meant what kind of style was their and i thought tolkien was the source of most fantasy to do with different races and the other cliches that i thought he invented. Could you explain about the different PT pre tolkien fantasy.
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Offline MoonHunter

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2006, 05:22:19 PM »
Some of it was good. Most of what people think of as "fantasy" came from the cliches of Tolkein's work. Some of it was mythical, some of it was like Morte D'Arthur, and some of it was downright pulpish.

The Game of Thrones (D20) has an excellent explanation of "The History of Fantasy". Since I am at work, I do not have access to it, but if you want a good write up (and a darn good game), it might be worth looking at.

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Offline necromancer

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2006, 05:51:01 PM »
Thanks again Moon
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2006, 10:42:48 PM »
Okay... I have some suggestions for you... And you got me all bothered with your question, so it's going to be SUPER ENTHUSIASTIC

-Edgar Allen Poe

-LORD DUNSANY!!!!!!!!- Possibly the originator or one of the originators of fantasy as we know it. Check out THE GODS OF PEGANA

-A.E. Van Vogt... He's actually sci-fi, but it's "Golden Age" sci-fi, so it's like fantasy in space. Check out SLAN

-Edgar Rice Burroughs- Tarzan is fantasy, but take a closer look at JOHN CARTER OF MARS, fine fine fantasy.

-H.P. Lovecraft- my personal favorite. He isn't really "fantasy" or "sci-fi"... He's best called "weird fiction", which is the label he liked. IA CTHULHU!
And if you like Lovecraft, try to dive a little deeper with Clark Ashton Smith (any of his short stories... the HYPERBOREAN and ZOTHIQUE sagas).

-Robert E. Howard- CONAN!

-He may or many not be pre-Tolkien, but Jack Vance! Jack Vance! Jack Vance! The DYING EARTH series.

And that's just a sampling.
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Offline necromancer

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2006, 04:17:48 PM »
What is it with lovecraft and howard that they have allowed others to make new stories out of their work. Besides there should be a new conan movie and with the surge of movies on Fantasy masterpieces then its a real possibility conan will get through.

Thanks that makes it alot clearer, I will check out thoose books.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2006, 04:30:55 PM »
Actually, the Conan movies sucked.
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Offline necromancer

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2006, 05:28:58 PM »
Thats why i suggested a new movie should be made. To be honest I though conan was after tolkien.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2006, 09:21:09 PM »
Most certainly not.  :D

Robert E. Howard wrote the Conan stories in the 1930s... Lord of the Rings was originally published in 1954.

By the way, I must note that you don't *have* to have elves, dwarves, and dark lords to make it fantasy... Conan had none of these things (well, maybe budging a little on dark lords) and is still considered fantasy. Just so you know. ;) Tolkien did create Ye Olde Fantasye Cliches, which the fantasy community has been slow in shaking loose from, due to the enormity of "the shadow of Tolkien"... It's sort of like nuclear fallout- think of Lord of the Rings as a nuclear bomb that exploded right in the middle of Fantasy Writing, and Tolkien's cliches are the disfiguring and deadly radiation that remains to pollute the land for millions of years.

Oh, you might also want to try these Pre-Tolkiens:
-E.R. Eddison, often called "Ireland's Tolkien"... THE WORM OUROBOUROS was his magnum opus (I actually have a circa-1960 copy of that which I treasure, even though the cover's falling off; I got it from my grandpa :D)

-Mervyn Peake... His GORMENGHAST novels are bizarre but intriguing.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2006, 09:24:46 PM by CaptainPenguin »
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2006, 09:27:56 PM »
Quote from Wikipedia:

"China Mieville, a modern fantasy writer, criticised Tolkien's works as "reactionary." Mieville is also a detractor of later fantasy which draws heavily upon Tolkien's work, based on the idea that such work is cliché."

Maybe that's why I like China Mieville so much.  :D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Rings#Criticism
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Offline Ria Hawk

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2006, 11:13:01 PM »
About derivative works: Lovecraft created a set of "Great Old Ones" and "Elder Gods," as well as a host of other things, including the towns of Arkham, Innsmouth, Kingsport, and the Miskatonic Valley/University.  His writing was mostly on the theme of the "unknown," and he didn't seem to have much problem with other writers borrowing his settings and evil creepy-crawlies.  And, of course, a great many of the derivative works were written after his death, and the "Cthulhu Mythos" kind of took on a life of it's own.
No idea about Howard.
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Offline MoonHunter

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2006, 12:30:08 AM »
Be scared, this is going to be long.

Fantasy and Science Fiction are part of the same overarching genre of speculative fiction. The division between the two is pretty fuzzy between science fantasy and fantasy with science ficiton elements. Fantasy is mostly defined as "has to happen in another world" while science fiction is defined as "could happen in our world". This is not a lock on the definition, but it serves in most cases.

Fantasy stories tend to have one to three elements: Fantastic characters (characters that have some aspect that makes him or her stand apart from the mundane), magic and the supernatural, and the other world (which could be mostly historical, enchanted (real world plus magic), alternate, invented world).

Horror does overlap some with fantasy and sci fi. However, horror is much more about powerlessness and the protagonists are "victims" of the horror; while science fiction/ fantasy is about empowering the protagonists to overcome the dramatic conflict.


Lots of different kinds of fantasy
historic fantasy
gothic fantasy  Walpoles "The Castle of Otranto" 1764
horror fantasy (it is a messy category)
science fantasy, which includes futuristic fantasies (Pern, Darkover)
and more modern versions
Romantic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Magi-punk.

The roots of fantasy come from the ancient epochs when myth and faith were intertwined.  You can go back to Gilgamesh as the first fantasy story. (And we complain about a couple of books, that was a huge set of 12 tablets). There were a number of Greek Fantasies (Odyssey and Iliad come most to mind, but there are others). There were the Roman version of the said, with other additions (Metamorphasis 12 AD)  Beowulf is said to be the first English fantasy piece (though it is from a Norse source...)  Speaking of Germanic and Norse sourcess, there was Der Ring des Nibelungen sometime in the 12th century and reproduced a couple of dozen times since.  Ireland produced a huge amount of literature that mixed myth, fantasy, and faith, in the prechristian era. Dante's Divine Comedy is classic fantasy published in 1290.

There are also great works of fantasy in other lands, but I am not verse in the Indian or Chinese traditions well enough to really mention them in any other way that "they existed".

A personal favorite is Le Morte D'Arthur 1469. The tales of King Arthur create a new mythology of honor, chivalry, and courtly grace in the English of the period. The first published work about Robin Hood was an epic poem in 1510, but there had been folk tales since the 1160s. However, the tales of Arthur is what makes King Arthur loom in our cultural landscape and the history of fantasy.

King Arthur and related works such as the Fairy Queene and The Idylls of the King idealized certain aspects of English Chivalry and mythology. They did a number of a guy who wrote a huge number of fantasy stories in the late 1500s. What was his name? Oh yah. Shakespeare. 

This man was prolific. Only a handful of his works survive to this day (If he wrote them at all, it could of been Lord Bacon or others). Those few works are enshrined as fine works in the English Language. Many of them are truly fantasy tales by modern estimations. 

There are dozens of others before the Victorian age, but the highlights are:  Milton, Swift, Walpole, Gothe, and so on.  I wonder why fantasy is so panned by the of a literary bent. It would seem that many of The Greats wrote fantasy.


Victorians, boy were they prolific. Dumas wrote action adventure classics, but other works with fantasy elememnts (Coriscan brothers, Castle eppstien, The Vampire, and so on). Willliam Morris, Henry Haggard (KIng solomon's mines and Allan Quartermain, both fantasy and served as the foundation for pulps of the Indian Jones mold).  And Americans of the same period also got into the act.. Mark Twain being the most famous. (Screwtap papers are hugely fun and Connecticut Yanke in King Arthur's Court.)  Lord Dunsany was another famous one, who wrote a great deal about the faerie other world and invented so many fantasy world that he created the foundation for Lovecraft, Howard, CS Lewis, and Tolkien.

You know there are others in the related field of works that could be fantasy: let us not forget the people writing fairytales and folkelore, Lang and Grimms. Alice is considered a childrend story, but it is classic fantasy by Lewis Caroll. The Oz series is the same vein, by Frank Baum. Peter Pan and Mary Poppins were penned by people in this era, but I don't know by who.

If you are looking for Fantasy that might be more appealing to a 21st century personage, then you need things from the pulp era (1910 to 1940). Pulps are cheap magazines the churned out stories the way a meat grinder turns out hamburger. It is fast, it is ugly, but sometimes it is just wonderful. I am not going to identify indibidual works... just some authors of fantasy: Burroughs, Robert E Howard, HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith. These are The (fantasy) Greats of the period. They created all the cliches we know in fantasy today (besides those done by Tolkien), they just did them first.

Pre Tolkien a couple of great works do slip in between pulps and Tolkien. 

The Once and Future King by White. Arthur strikes again. I think I prefer it to the original tales. Given a modern writer it resonates more with modern folk.

Gormenghast by Peake is obviously the inspiration for Castle Marrash at Skotos. Interesting indeed.

The Worm Ouroboros by Eddison. Interesting but hard, really hard, to read.

CS Lewis did Narnia. This tale shows that Christianity and Fantasy can live hand in hand. It expounds Christian ideals without being preachy or right wing... showing the error in many sects of Christianity. And it is coming to theatre near you soon.

In the 40s and 50s are LotR, science fiction ruled. However, pulish masters such as Leiber (Grey Mouser series), Pratt, and Sprague de Camp did a number of works. 

In the 60s and 70s, fantasy took off again. Poul Anderson, Moorcock (favorite), Andrea Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradly, Jack Vance, Le Guin, McCaffrey (personal favorite) and Zalazny (recommended reading) round off the field. These people had a unique voice and did not follow Tolkien cliches.

In the 80s and 90s fantasy and science fiction took a back seat to horror and ran neck to neck.
Lots of Tolkien inspired fantsy spewed forth, in reaction to DnD and the Hobbit/ LotR animated movie a few years earlier.

Kurtz's Deryni nobels, set in a world similar to our medieval England, but with magic using people who came through gates.

Terry Brooks (Shannara) Yest this is Tolkienesk, but it is so darn good.

Pern series (mostly published in the 80s) by McCaffry

Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series by Donaldson is a classic. I prefer THe Mirror of Her Dreams and its partner A Man Rides Through, but I am in the minority.

Bradley did a lot of King Arthur inspired work with the women's view, The Mist of Avalon and all those.

Mercedes Lackey who produced dozens of book and defined an entire fantasy subgenre of Romantic Fantasy.

Charles DeLint who produced dozens of books and defined an entire fantasy subgenre, urban fantasy... classic fantasy creatures co-existing or visiting the modern realm.

There are more and others can add them, but there we go.  A few minutes of Google, a few more searching my bookshelf, and the rest is just typing.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2006, 01:24:54 AM »
The Worm Ouroboros by Eddison. Interesting but hard, really hard, to read.

Indeed. It took me four tries to finish it. What a slog. But I love it. :D
 
Quote
Jack Vance
Woops, my mistake, thought he was pre-Tolkien. But you still should read Dying Earth, Nec.

Quote
Terry Brooks (Shannara) Yest this is Tolkienesk, but it is so darn good.
God, no, I hate Shannara. What a waste of time and money and paper for all involved.

Quote
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series by Donaldson is a classic. I prefer THe Mirror of Her Dreams and its partner A Man Rides Through, but I am in the minority.
Definitely a great writer. I recommend the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant... They are more interesting than the first. Also try his sci-fi.
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Offline necromancer

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2006, 08:32:25 AM »
And there was I thinking that Fantasy was crap before tolkien and that he was one of the only good ones. Oh well at least i won't be short of books anytime in the future.

I suppose I considered the early works of fantasy as kind of legends. However eddison and Brooks are both, I find perdictable. However the one thing i find annoying in fantasy more than anything else is easy to beat bad guys. Tolkien made the quest seem impossible and the even though the free peoples won there was costs to be paid, Frodo leaving the shire, huge deaths among the Drawves and elves and the scouring of the shire which is really sad let me tell you. However in robert jordan, eddings and shannara you really want the bad guys to pull their act together, stop getting the crap kicked out of them. I accualy feel sorry for the villeins, they just never win.

The victorian ones I find are more like fairy tales, sorry are fairy tales but then again Narnia was more like a fairy tale and that is going to be the source of seven films.

However to be fair there is still alot of good fantasy writen now.

Oh and moon what kind of Irish fantasy is there, most fantasy in Ireland is imported and I can't find anything if i don't know any names.

CP I would not exactly describe tolkien's work as an atomic bomb, seeing as fantasy would just not be fantasy with out him and if people copy tolkien thats there own fault.

finally on SF and horror. I find SF is close to Star wars as F is close to Tolkien and SF is based more on action and special effects than fantasy. And dark fantasy is a better name than horrior and the describes the genre better.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2006, 10:14:40 PM »
Quote
CP I would not exactly describe tolkien's work as an atomic bomb, seeing as fantasy would just not be fantasy with out him and if people copy tolkien thats there own fault.
I think you kind of missed my point... I'm not saying he destroyed fantasy (though atomic bombs do, indeed, destroy s**t), I'm saying that his impact on fantasy was AS GREAT as the impact of an atomic bomb. Of course, I chose the analogy of atomic bombs and radiation because I consider the lasting cliches to be ABSOLUTE GARBAGE, no reflection on Tolkien himself. Tolkien did it right, everybody else just does it weakly.

Quote
finally on SF and horror. I find SF is close to Star wars as F is close to Tolkien and SF is based more on action and special effects than fantasy. And dark fantasy is a better name than horrior and the describes the genre better.
I think you're very wrong there.
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Offline necromancer

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2006, 08:26:03 AM »
Thanks for clearing that up CP and I think your right about tolkien.

Oh and about my comment on the SF, I was just thinking aloud and I know nothing about SF accept for Star Wars. However I do think that Horror in a fantasy world is called dark fantasy.

Also i just thought of an idea for another post : :hyper:
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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2006, 02:02:49 AM »
Quote from: necromancer
And there was I thinking that Fantasy was crap before tolkien and that he was one of the only good ones.
There are a number of authors that I, personally, like way more than Tolkien. For me Tolkien was a pioneer and a highly skilled author, and he is "the curriculum of Fantasy 101" (you know what I mean), but there are more advanced (and rewarding) subjects to attend.

Often the ladder of fantasy reading goes like this:
Tolkien
DnD litterature: The Dragonlance series and the Drizzt Do'Urden books (and whatever new stuff they are publishing nowadays)
Robert Jordan, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Pratchett, LeGuin, etc...
Niche or old school authors (Like my reading of Steven Erikson, CP's intense studies of Lovecraft and Howards and so on)

Today it seems that the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Narnia might be most influential on the new cadre of gamers that are springing forth. It will be interesting to see the results of that.
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Offline c0nflikt

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2006, 03:47:20 PM »
Cs Lewis was pre tolkien or i've heard they were actually friends and helped each other on their novels so same time, And the chronicles of narnia are so different from most conventional fantasy we are used to.

Offline CaptainPenguin

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2006, 06:43:24 PM »
I hate the Chronicles of Narnia, frankly.
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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2006, 12:37:05 AM »
I've never read the Chronicles of Narnia, myself.  Or seen any of the movies.
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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2006, 03:45:16 AM »
Yes, Lewis and Tolkein were friends. I just read a book by Lewis published in the 40s which contained a number of minor references to "Numinor (sic), the True West" (the context was that Merlin and other such people were meant to be the last holders of ancient lore that had come from Numinor, before its destruction). The book had a footnote saying "Any readers wishing for more information about Numinor will have to wait for the publication of the manuscript that my good friend JRR Tolkein is currently working on."
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Offline DragonRhapsody

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Re: pre Tolkien fantasy
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2006, 10:33:05 AM »
Wow! How did I miss this topic? ¬__¬ Whoops....

I have to say that I've read two whole books of Tolkien and found it very hard to get into. I love Robert Jordan, though, just amazing! XD I love the character depth. Also, I have to agree that Anne McCaffery is a definately winner, despite her lack of wanting fanfic's or anyone to take any of her ideas. {I think more on terms of, why is it wrong for someone to use the same "naming system" or "bonding of dragons" etc? I'm sure she wasn't the FIRST to think of it...}

I really enjoyed the way CS Lewis wrote the Chronicals of Narnia, just amazing. I like how he includes little aspects of characters.. "..when he was much older, he would say that she was the most beautiful woman he ever saw..." etc.

I dunno if I can add any other fantasy/sci-fi novels that may or may not be included in 'good works,' but some of the other authors and series I've read, and really really enjoyed have been:

- "Soul Rider" Series, by Jack L. Chalker
The first two books are really amazing, the last three get really sci-fi and complicated and kinda....weird. LOL It was originally written in 1984, and it has a great undertones of 'a perfect race' and 'perfect system,' etc.

- "Daggerspell" and all the books that come after it, by Katharine Kerr
I really liked the whole 'reincarnation' part of the series, and how each lifetime was a sort of Karma from the one before. It has a really good fantasy theme to it, it does get a little redundant at points, though, and some of the novels are specifically about a few characters {I think the books around, The Bristling Wood and on are about how one man/reincarnation shapes the world, etc...}

- "The Witches of Eileanan" by Kate Forsyth
Has a good start and now that I think of it, it has a lot of under tones from other stories, like the "Wheel of Time" Series by Robert Jordan, and some of the concepts are overused.

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