Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fantasy novels from overseas

Lately I have been on a foreign authors kick.
I still have some American/British authors and stories I am reading....

But, lately I have strayed into new territory, with several books.

Sergei Lukyanenko and the "Watch" series started me on this track.
A set of books set in modern times where certain individuals have magical powers, called the "Others". There destiny is set for them based on the decisions they make with these powers, and can belong to Good or Evil.
The "Others" can also be Vampires, Werewolves...etc.

Of course Good and Evil is not well defined here, and it leaves some decisions up to the readers.
There is of course a neutral group called the Inquisition, and they try to keep the sides in balance.
All "Others" must be registered, and must use their powers accordingly.

The writing is not prose like a lot of high end authors tend to go for (Tolkien, Donaldson, Goodkind to name a few...), but is instead more conversational.
Meaning the reader is caught up in the lives of the players instead of descriptive text going for paragraphs at a time.
A Russian author, I came upon the books after watching the movie, and loved the setting. Vampires, Werewolves, witches, etc. I found the text printed in English translation, and loved the style. I have actually put aside some books to read this work.
Now, that I am back to the basic American/English titles, I find them hard to swallow with their flourish of language.

By the way...the book is WAY different than the movies, and it is quite fun to watch the movie AND read the books, as each had different stories to tell.

I wanted to know this world and their peoples. The setting is in Russia, so the fact you are in this world, and the writing discusses varying facts that detail Russia, both before and after Communism...it is like a history lesson...without the lesson.
I FEEL like I am in Russia, and their old world ways.
I am enamored, and it made me go in search of more titles.

Thanks to a video game, the next book I read was based on the best selling PC game, The Witcher. the book is called Last Wish.
A little promo someone created for the novel with scenes from the game below.

A Polish author this time. Andrzej Sapkowski. This book is a collection of short stories which follow a timeline (very cool idea). Basically like one off adventures of this hero, an introduction to him, and what he is about.
The visual style is very good here, and again, it gives hints of the Old World as it may have existed, without a history lesson.

The characters all exists in a gray setting, meaning AGAIN, it is hard to discern Good and Evil. So few authors do this, and instead dilenate the lines of the Good and Evil. We know this guy is the hero, and this one the villian. Not so in these books.

Action abounds in these stories, and great characters. What is highly amusing is some of the characters may even be familiar.
Hints of Snow White and Prince Charming exists in these stories, which plays well with the fact that the main character seems to be dreaming of his past history while injured, and who is to say that he is not delusional...we are unsure.

The only issue here is the translation is off, and characters may change their attributes like a Duke becomes a Prince, then back to a Duke within one story..

But, the setting and characters make up for this.

A new novel is being translated, and hopefully this will be better.

So, now, having read these, I have been slightly spoiled, and would like to see if other authors or stories exists.

I will point out one which really caught my attention.

I found another Russian author, who seems to be QUITE controversial.

His name is Nick Perumov. I just found out he moved recently to North Carolina (my home state right now), so it perked my interest even more.

One book stands out, which is the only title I found in English.
It is a collaboration with another author, Allan Cole.
The name of the book is Lords of Terror.

Ready for this synopsis?
"What if a demonic cabal altered history to feed off a hatred that could never end?"
"The story starts in the 30th century. The Cold War of the 1950’s between Russia and the USA was restarted following the joint assassination of George Bush and Vladimir Putin at the 2004 Olympics, and has therefore been deepening for about a century."

Yup. Talk about a touchy subject. And the story gets wilder with machines being run by gremlins, a spacecraft with an alien race coming back to Earth, demons walking among us all.
Alternative Fantasy at its best.

Upon hearing this author was so controversial, I went in search of why, and found this little bit of history.

Perumov's "Elven Blade".
"Three hundred years have passed since the War of the Rings. The Dark Lord's fortress lies in ruins, peace and prosperty has not left the free lands of Middle-Earth. The last remnants of wizards and mighty kings have grown weak from abundances of luxury and turn a deaf ear to the powerful omens prophesizing great evil. Suspicious wanderers have been seen in the inns of Shire and in Folko the Hobbit's hands glows with an uneasy blue fire THE ELVEN BLADE."

You are reading that correctly. After reading the LOTR Trilogy, he did not want the story to end, so based on various texts and his own ability to recall the originals in great detail, he CONTINUED Tolkien's masterpiece. (lol)
Now, of course, there is no English translation of this story. Yet.
Seems this gentleman translates his own texts, so, hopefully this could be released..

I doubt it.

Anyways, I plan to continue going in search of these oddities. I am really hard pressed to read these days, and I am treating them just like my MMO's.

In need of change.

If it is unique, then I will be there.

Can you recall any Fantasy books that do not follow the norm, and try to be different? Let me know (ps: Not a Sci-Fi fan, unless it mixes Fantasy, like Nightwatch being set in today's world, but has Fantasy based creatures like Vampires, etc.)



Crimson Starfire said...

I recently read Night Watch and Day Watch. I loved Night Watch, but didn't think Day Watch was as good. I didn't bother with Twilight Watch. I didn't think the movies were all that great either. They didn't really follow the books all that well, and didn't have enough magic in them for my liking ;)

My favorite fantasy books of all time are The Dark Elf Trilogy. They fall under the Forgotten Realms D&D curtain though. Wish I could give more advice, but I don't step outside D&D books all that often. I was planning on reading the Guild Wars books, once they are published. Not sure when that will be...

Openedge1 said...

I think this is where I differed.

I did NOT like the Dark Elf trilogy as it felt bland.
The mechanics were too much in the forefront, and I did not feel for the character..
I found my mind straying as I tried to read it.
Yet, the low magics of the "Watch" series struck me as realistic Fantasy.
I felt for the characters.

As to Daywatch, a lot of people were weirded out over the fact that the first story (each book had two small novels) was so "dry" and dealt with a real story in the persons life, and was not full of the fantastical, that it threw a lot of readers off.
Yet, the second story was played off of that story, and needed to be done as one character was trying to bring about the second coming of Christ...lol..

Yea...VERY weird.

Maybe this is another issue, as Russian authors are willing to touch on taboo subjects like Christianity in their Fantasy, and maybe some take offense..I am unsure.


Maybe it is true that I am finally done with "Elven" based fantasy (Orcs, Dwarves, etc...)of my past, and moving into a new phase of literature and gaming.

Well, variety is key...eh?

(PS: Guild Wars novel...oh I hope it is good...as I read an Everquest and WoW novel, and hated them both...lol..)