This is the year that Wizards of the Coast goes really big. They are in the midst of launching the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons and to tie-in with that they are releasing a series of linked novels that tell of how all the changes to the D&D settings, such as the Forgotten Realms, end up happening. Each book is written by Wizards’ top talent and links to existing series. Bob Salvatore’s The Companions is the first tale of The Sundering and it is also the latest novel in Dark Elf Drizzt Do’Urden’s epic saga that has lasted for a great number of novels.
Paul S. Kemp’s latest, The Godborn, is the second book in The Sundering and it is also the latest in his Erevis Cale series that has lasted for seven novels thus far and doesn’t look like its going to stop anytime soon. I read the novel last month and it proved to be just as damn good a read as the previous two trilogies. There were a lot of plot threads left open at the end of the Twilight War trilogy, even as Paul provided a very satisfying, but emotional, conclusion. With the new novel, he addresses many of them and creates yet more mysteries, maintaining a healthy balance between the two.
Over at her blog, Helen Lowe has had an interesting discussion taking place of late on the topic of what makes epic fantasy what it is. Its been quite an informative discussion to say the least (more). The descriptions and definitions that people attach to this seemingly simple 2-word phrase have provided a lot of new perspectives, many of which I have never considered before.
And that made me think about how I define “epic fantasy”. What are the components of it? What are the essentials? Like with any other discussion about the definition of genre categories, there are no easy answers here either and that has a lot to do with personal biases and preferences. I’ve seen a lot of books come out in the last few years that have been hailed as epic fantasy but that I wouldn’t necessarily classify as such, since for me there are some basic requirements for a book to be hailed with that genre label.
Which is what this post is about.
As part of my “Top 25 Series To Read In 2013″ reading challenge, I’ve read a fair amount of books this year that can be considered to be classics of science fiction and fantasy, in all their different forms. There is a certain charm to all these novels that has persisted long after they were first published. Whether we talk about Frank Herbert’s space operatic political intrigue epic Dune or Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s true-to-style epic fantasy Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I’ve had a lot of fun with these novels.
And that is my question: are they re-readable? I’ve read Dune and Dragons of Autumn Twilight several times since when I first read them in 2001. I think they are rereadable, but I’m not completely sure. Is the question answerable in part with regard to whether the book is good or not? We shall see.
Just about a year and a half ago, I read my first ever books from Wizards of the Coast: Paul S. Kemp’s excellent The Erevis Cale Trilogy (review). Set in WotC’s highly popular Forgotten Realms setting, these books took me for a great ride through a setting incredibly rich with characters and diversity. It was a… bold new world for me to explore, as someone who had never read any Forgotten Realms novels before, and who was heavily invested in Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy setting. Paul’s books proved to be a great turning point and they inspired me to read more from WotC, and I soon followed up his novels with various others, such as the War of the Spider Queen series and Erin M. Evans’ Brimstone Angels series.
This year, I haven’t read nearly the same number of Forgotten Realms novels sadly, but I’ve started to change that around. I read R. A. Salvatore’s The Companions (review) just last month and a couple weeks ago I finished up Paul’s second Erevis Cale trilogy, Twilight War, constituting the novels Shadowbred, Shadowstorm and Shadowrealm. This trilogy proved to be even better than the first, and I’m really glad that I read it. Now I’m finally caught up with this series, right in preparation for reading Paul’s next Forgotten Realms novel, The Godborn, which is the seventh novel in this series and is the second novel that ties in to the current Forgotten Realms event, The Sundering.
I haven’t done something like this before, but I was thinking of doing this for a while. Thing is, there are so, so many books coming out later this year or just about to be released actually, that I really, really want to read, and doing individual posts for all of them on The Founding Fields would be a bit of chore. So I’m just doing a general bumper post collecting all these covers and details on the books.
Hope you enjoy!
Paul’s Erevis Cale Trilogy was my first introduction to Forgotten Realms, and to Wizards of the Coast, earlier this year, and it’s turned into a fascination with the entire setting that just refuses to go away. I haven’t read as much within it as I’d like, but the stuff I’ve read has been fairly good so this fascination is definitely here to stay. Plus Paul is an excellent writer in my opinion. This is another from-memory review so if I get anything wrong, I do apologise.