Fun books: Heroic fantasy or space operas?

Between audio development, songwriting and a computer science day job, sometimes, there is a need for going to another dimension, escape to another reality. I think that is what books are for. And I found several series that are more than fun: they are addictive, and I can’t wait to read the next installment.

Heroic fantasy

I like heroic fantasy. I like the fact that you are in a place that is completely different from our own world, with different physics rules (because there is usually magic in them), and if it is written right, it’s just impossible to put a book down.

I started some time ago reading the Farseer Trilogy (from Robin Hobb) after my brother’s wife told me about it. It’s a sad story, seriously, about a bastard that get recognized by his actual father, only to see him dying in the first few pages of the first book of the trilogy. He’s then trained to be an assassin for his grand father, leaving in the shadows, finding love but having to letting it go… The magic is not really important here (although it does shape some important parts of Fitz’s life), it’s mainly the emotion behind the characters, how everything can unravel so fast, how you can lose everything in an eye blink even with he best support around you. And yet Fitz doesn’t change, he’s not becoming a bad man. The first trilogy was fascinating, the second one with the same main character adds focus to a secondary character of the first trilogy (and he also got the main part in yet another trilogy, but never could finish it, I missed Fitz imprint on the story).
The quality of the writing with the fantastic story makes it sure that you can’t let go of the books. It’s just not possible to start reading the first one and not finish the two trilogies.

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There is another heroic fantasy series that I’m addicted to. This one is not over, and there are a new book every year at the moment. The story may be paralleled with Harry Potter. It’s the story of a simple man in a land without magic that wants to protect one day a woman held prisoner. After that, everything goes to hell for him, and he discovers things about him that he wouldn’t have dreamt of.
The first book is self-contained, then the next ones are built on top of it. It sometimes seems that the author, Terry Goodkind, added elements after witnessing the success of his books. At the beginning, the new additions feel kind of artificial sometimes, before the books manage to follow the same thread after a couple of installments.
Still, the story of Richard and Kahlan is just amazing, even if it starts, as I’ve said, with the usual “a random average guy is actually not your random average guy, but the most powerful human being, meeting the most powerful woman on Earth”. Well, it’s not Earth, and there are some pretty gruesome pages, with main characters dying at war as you would expect from an actual war. I’m looking forward to reading the next book, with the new arc of their story. It’s not as captivating (emotionally speaking) than the Farseer Trilogy, but it’s damn close.

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The new arc:
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Space opera

There are not that many space stories that I really enjoy. I was a Star Wars fan when I was young, but it’s over. The stories are not consistent, the universe too wide, with too many styles. But there is one author whose (quite rare books) I remember from my childhood. Edmond Hamilton wrote novels several decades ago, but I was amazed by the setup of his stories. The Star Kings and Return to the stars are also books I could not let go, they are so timeless, it seems they were written yesterday.

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The current space opera I’m following is the story of Black Jack Geary (from Jack Campbell), a survivor of the beginning of a war, found in survival sleep after a century where he was pictured as a legend, who ends up being the admiral of a fleet deep in enemy lines, bound to be destroyed by their enemies. Contrary to the other series here, the focus is on space and less romantic involvement of the characters. There is something in that regard in all books, but the main parts are about action, strategy and the big picture. Also, from a scientific point of view, it’s almost sound, so why not?
In the first series, we follow Geary as he tries to go back to his side, discovering new allies, enemies he didn’t suspect (of course). In the second series, he is sent pursuing new relations with these allies and enemies, with quite interesting twists. There is also a series about some of these allies which is really different (less spacey, more earthy) and yet as interesting.

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Wrapping up

I read other series (Seven son, Hunger games…), but these are really well written with solid stories. And if you have your own series that you like, I would be really interested to know about them and read them!

5 thoughts on “Fun books: Heroic fantasy or space operas?

  1. Not a book, but are you familiar with the Schlock Mercenary web comic? It is a Space Opera comic that has been updating daily for over 15 years. Over this time it has developed a really intricate universe and interesting with a lot of interesting characters. There are lots of plot twists, several major wars, and species of genocidal koalas. And it has maintained a pretty good continuity (in fact events from the very beginning of the comic just played a role in events a couple days ago). The artwork isn’t great to start off but if you look at the current comics it has improved a lot. If you like space operas, definitely check it out.

    Even if comics are not your thing, the author reads a lot of fantasy and space opera novels, and posts reviews of them on the blog that appears below the comic, so at the very least you may be able to find some ideas for books to read.

    If you like that, a couple others I have liked:
    Starslip Crisis – More comedy (finished)
    Terra – Gritty and violent
    Galaxion – More classic Star Trek style
    Star Power – A superhero/space opera mix

    And some Heroic Fantasy Ones:
    Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire – Seems silly at the beginning but gets much more serious. Heroic fantasy, but the hero is not the typical sort.
    Digger – I would call this a heroic fantasy, but not everyone would necessarily agree. The hero is not much of a fighter, but it is an amzing story with an incredible universe.
    Amya – a pretty classic high-fantasy story
    Gaia – also pretty classic high-fantasy story
    Wake the Sleepers – same
    Jikashi – pretty standard “person transported to another dimension” fantasy story
    Snow by Night – Very different, takes places in a fantasy setting more similar to colonial Canada back when the French and British were still fighting over it.

    And one kind of in-between:
    Wayward Sons – Puts a space opera basis for a fantasy story

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