Recommend a good Pulp-Adventure Fantasy for me?

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by huntsman79, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. Peat

    Peat Journeyed there and back again

    Ahh. Well. Welcome to the club :)

    How big a thing is the fantastic beasties? Because I can think of plenty of pulpy adventure stuff without too many of them, but with them becomes a bit more difficult. We're very much talking old sword & sorcery here - Robert Howard's Conan, that sort of thing.

    I'll echo Alucard on Theft of Swords and the Dresden Files.

    Also... going by reputation here, look up The Witcher books by Sapowski.
  2. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    I'm a big fan of this series, but it's not a good fit for what he's asking.
    The series is heavy on politics and intrigue as well military and war.
    However, there's one book in the series that is almost a perfect fit for a band of heroes going on an adventure and that's Baptism of Fire (Witcher #5). But you have to get to #5 to get that.

    It's a tricky series to fit in any one box, because the books are all kind of different in approach, plus the fact that the two first books are connected short story collections.
    The series has a merit to be read for what it is, but it's really not something I would recommend with these requirements.
  3. Peat

    Peat Journeyed there and back again

    Ah. Merci. I've been misled by the computer games.
  4. huntsman79

    huntsman79 A Muggle

    Seems like I've "narrowed it down" to these for a good epic quest adventure with monsters, etc:

    Blade Itself
    Theft of Swords
    Dragonbone Chair

    Do these all fit the bill?

    Also, a couple others I've seen out there and wanted to get your thoughts on:
    1. Dragon Wing
    2. Hammer and Blade
    3. Palace Job

    How are these?
  5. Sneaky Burrito

    Sneaky Burrito Crazy Cat Lady Staff Member

    Only one from the second list I've read. This series is OK for one book but it gets old after that. Not sword and sorcery, more of a crime/heist caper book with modern sensibilities (women can be leaders, people of different races can get along, etc.). There's not much risk in reading the first one, it's easy to get through, but don't feel required to pick up any more after that (unless you really like it, in which case #2 and #3 are more of the same).
  6. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    I feel like I've given you some wrong impressions, so bear with me for a bit more:

    Blade Itself
    - not an epic quest adventure with monsters

    It's actually grimdark, which can be argued that it's anti-Tolkien approach to fantasy tropes. I'll leave the link to wiki article on it here. But to put it shortly it's a perversion of the ideas of heroes, quests, bad guys, wizards and their roles in fantasy. The First Law is an excellent example of this.
    Actually, the second book in the series, Before They are Hanged, is an example of subversion of the writing tropes that is fellowship of adventurers and the typical fantasy quest. Sure, this is a quest book, but the heroes are not heroic, the bad guys are not who you expect them to be, and the quest is...well to say the least not what you would expect in the beginning or the end.

    Nonetheless, this is one of the best character driven fantasy there is. Abercrombie is in my personal top 5 favorite fantasy writers for sure.

    Theft of Swords
    - not an epic quest adventure with monsters

    There just isn't enough there to call it epic. At least the first book. No monsters. Just two guys, thieves who are framed for murder of a king trying to get out of sticky situation. They are not noble heroes, they are not nice. They are opportunists.

    - not an epic quest adventure with monsters

    It's not an epic quest. There is no fellowship. Plenty of monsters.
    What it is is Urban Fantasy with a wizard for a main character, who is in fact the shining star of each and every book. There's plenty of action and suspense, traps and monsters, and trying to either get out of deadly situations, one up the baddies, or figure shit out, but nobody is out on an epic quest. Least of all Harry.

    I can't comment on the others as I have not read them. I know this might be overwhelming to you since you haven't read much in the genre. I just don't want you to go into these with wrong expectations and come out disappointed.
  7. huntsman79

    huntsman79 A Muggle

    I'm cool with the Abercrombie books if they're darker and deal with grey areas. Just give me good characters/story and those damn monsters! haha Are these like darker Kings of the Wyld in any way?

    I've heard conflicting reports on the Theft of Swords and that whole Ryiria (sp?) series. Some say it's got monsters and adventure aplenty. Some say not. May have to wait on it.

    Dresden - yeah I mispoke I see for certain these aren't the usual quest adventure stories, but seems like it has many of the ingredients that make those fun. This one is definitely a bit different. Not sure how I feel about modern day fantasy, but I've heard rave reviews and can't argue with that.

    Has anyone here read Dragonbone Chair?
  8. Amaryllis

    Amaryllis Journeyed there and back again

    Well, this really depends on whether or not you use pulp to refer to a certain era of writing, or to the style that era is famous for. I’ve seen it used pretty interchangeably in general. Some writers today even make claims to writing pulp.

    That said, I do agree that Immortal Treachery is nowhere in the realm of pulp. It's not exactly grimdark (despite some advertisement to that degree), but it's definitely closer to the Germ/Joe Abercrombie end of the spectrum. I have never read Red Knight at all, so I have no opinion on it.

    Anyway, onto the topic:

    If you want something new, Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia basically fits almost exactly. It does have some politics, but is mostly about a dude with a magic sword slashing his way through monsters and bad guys.

    There’s a few other things I wouldn’t consider ‘pulp,’ but which might tickle your fancy if you like fun adventure stories.

    Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera and The Cinder Spires series. They are fast paced, fun to read, have a lot of well-written action scenes in them. They do feature politics though. They are also kind of ‘trope-y,’ but this likely doesn’t matter if you’re not widely read in the genre anyway.

    Brandon Sanderson’s books might work for you, but I think he’s at the point where he’s getting outside of your realm of preference (he’s somewhere between Jim Butcher and Robert Jordan, and you didn’t like Wheel of Time).

    Dave Dalgish is an author I’ve only read a few books by, but he also has the same ‘fun’ writing style, with lots of battles and adventures. He deals more with thieves and assassins though, which necessarily involves politics (but not to the degree of something like George R.R. Martin). I've only read the first few Shadowdance books, so I can't comment on him in general, unfortunately. He might be too dark, depending on your threshold, but he is really only YA dark.

    Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind. Don't listen to the haters. This isn't a bad book. It's fun. Most people who bash it have never even picked it up. This is also very cliche-ridden (but again, may not matter). You can read the second book in the first 'arc' (Stone of Tears), but I wouldn't go past that, because Goodkind drops off precipitously after this.

    Here’s some more traditional pulp stuff:

    Robert E. Howard – any of the Conan books. Actually, basically anything by him. Guy was a titan for the genre in his short life.

    Edgar Rice Burroughs – John Carter of Mars

    L. Sprague de Camp – Lest Darkness Fall

    Poul Anderson – The Broken Sword and Three Hearts, Three Lions

    Jack Vance – Anything in the Dying Earth series

    C.L. Moore – Jirel of Joiry

    Michael Moorcock – Elric of Melnibone (STICK TO THE FIRST 5-6 PUBLISHED; like Goodkind, this also drops off as Moorcock becomes more interested in 'subverting' the genre than he is in telling fun and interesting stories)

    Fritz Lieber – Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser

    E.R. Eddison – The Worm Ooroboros

    Henry Kuttner – The Dark World

    Roger Zelazny – The Chronicles of Amber (this one might be questionable, but I think it fits, particularly if you read and like The Dark World)
  9. Amaryllis

    Amaryllis Journeyed there and back again

    The Dragonbone Chair is GREAT. But it's a very slow start. I had been a Stephen King reader for many years prior to picking this up, so it didn't bother me. The story eventually gets really good, but it's a slow boil to get there. I wouldn't consider it close to pulp. It does fit the classic 'adventure' though.

    Dresden...never read, but I did just recommend the author's other books, so this may also work for you.
  10. Peat

    Peat Journeyed there and back again

    Another book that's roughly in the right area for what you want is Hammers of Ulric by Dan Abnett.

    On the First Law... I think a lot of the first two books are pretty much straight up quest fantasy. The whole grimdark/subverted tropes doesn't stop it feeling like a Quest Fantasy to me. There's quite a lot of politics in there as well, but its mostly centered around Glokta and he's brilliant, so worth a punt anyway.
  11. GreyMouser

    GreyMouser Journeyed there and back again

    As many others have suggested, Robert E Howard's Conan books, Moorcock's Elric Saga, and Fritz Lieber's Fhafrd and the Gray Mouser books are the most well known of the swords and scorcery genre.

    I would also recommend my personal favorite, Karl Edward Wagner's Kane books. Another series that IMO would fit what you're looking for is the Death Dealer by James Silke. The Death Dealer character was created by my favorite fantasy artist, Frank Frazetta. It's full of awesome creatures and action. The first book is Prisoner of the Horned Helmet.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  12. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    I think the Codex Alera series suggestion is excellent based on the criteria you laid out. I just cannot remember it being heavy on politics. Book one is OK but after that it gets really good.

    Did we mention the Deathgate Cycle? Those you may really like too. I believe theyk have a good pulp quality to them. The Fionovar Tapestry is another. You may really like the Shadowmarch series. All kinds of stuff going on in those.

    Again, I'm trying to stick with books that I think meet what I THINK you're looking for. There were some awesome series mentioned but I'm not sure they are the droids you are looking for whether pulp or not.
  13. Anti_Quated

    Anti_Quated Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    Conan's had plenty of mention; @Amaryllis noted that Howard wrote more than just the brooding Cimmerian of great mirth and great sorrow. Howard's Bran Mak Morn as the last heroic King of the Picts is an excellent read, if a bit short, and the other characters are equally well-versed in adventure and knife-edge desperate quests at times. Once you're done with Conan I highly recommend Howard's other pulp fantasy works; I've got Gollancz black leather hardbacks of both the Conan Chronciles and Conan's Brethren, though I've only briefly delved into the latter on one or two stories. Hoping to pick it up properly soon.
  14. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    I missed this earlier but Dragon Wing is the first book of The Deathgate Cycle (comic relief too when needed) which I mentioned earlier. Dresden is a good idea too. I liked it but not as much as others. Neither have "quests" though. However, I think they offer the fun you seek. Everyone including me mentioned Conan. Dragone Bone Chair from MSAT is one of my favorite all time serues byt I don't think it is what you asked for. I haven't read the others but all good series I'm sure. You may find you love them even if they are new to you. IMO, they are a step up from what you've read so far but maybe you don't want that. Everyone has their own tastes.

    Oh, the Wizards First Rule book. I read that first book only. No desire to read further but I'm glad. I thought it had some real strengths as well as weaknesses but many say it goes downhill after the first couple books. Based on examples given I cannot argue. Killer chickens and preaching aren't my thing. Still, others will die defending the series so to each his own. If you asked me personally, based on one book, I would tell you there is MUCH better out there so don't bother. Just one mans opinion.

    Anyhow, good luck!
  15. MorteTorment

    MorteTorment Knows Who John Uskglass Is

    What a coincidence. I'm looking for the exact same thing. When I'm more awake I plan to read through this topic.

    Anyways, here's some recommendations:

    Firs of all, there's Azure Bonds. It's a fun, lighthearted fantasy story about an adventurer who wakes up after who knows how long with mysterious magical tattoo and meets up with a bunch of other adventurers as they figure out where the tatoo comes from. There's a lot of awesome thngs about this book, such as several dragon fights, and a lizardman creature who doesn't say a word, and yet in many ways steals the show! It's the first of a trilogy, but it's a self contained story, and the next book in the series is about a completely different character.

    Oh, and the main character is female, which I find pretty damn cool!

    And then there's something technically isn't pulp, but I think it's worth a look because it feels like one. A Dance of Cloaks. It feels like a grindhouse adventure. In every chapter(and there's a LOT of chapters) aomeone gets killed off. As I said in my review, it's the type of medievil fantasy that I thrive on, as it's NEVER boring! The sequels that I've read are great too(read the first 3), but they're less pulpy.

    Then there's Blackbirds, super dark urban fantasy pulp. It's about a hitchhiking woman who knows when someone is going to die, and loots their corpses.
  16. ExTended

    ExTended Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    I was so excited of the prospect of recommending you this, but... erm! Erm! :p

    The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan. It's 10/10 for banter, fun, satisfying ending, adventures, exploring, characterization.

    The next best thing - The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. It's awesome on the things it tries to be awesome in - characterization, friendships and loyalties and love interests and intrigues. And there's plenty of exploring - 3 or 4 of the 5 books have lots of it, 2 or 3 of them are all about journeying and spreading mighty mischief so that no one would feel left out from the party. Also - there's just the right amount of appropriated greek mythology/culture, but unless you search for it, you won't notice it, so don't let that to sway your decision, in case you are not big on re-imagined ancient culture sprinkled lightly into the world-building.

    Okay - adventures... Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw. I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. Very. It's full of adventures, and traveling, and trekking, and coming-of-age awesomeness. The world-building offers something fresh to the reader, not unusual, but fresh and easy to devour.

    The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks is also somewhat close to what you want. Not quite, though. Somewhat dark and intrigue-ish, but a fun ride from beginning to end. I highly recommend it.

    The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss is an obvious one. Although it's a little bit more serious in tone.

    The Blood Song by Anthony Ryan - this one probably has too much wandering about, if you ask me... but hey, adventures, right? :)
  17. hamnida

    hamnida Killed in the battle against the Mad King

    You could try either the Cradle or the Traveler's Gate Series by Will Wight. There are definitely lots of monsters, tombs and wandering about, but it's the very definition of pulp with its focus on combat and rather simple characters and prose. It is also more reminiscent of anime than classical sword and sorcery. The action is great however and the books are not too expensive.

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