The best Trad Published epic fantasy authors who got their start in the past 4 years?

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#41
Would Sanderson, Abercrombie, Martin, Jordan, Rothfuss, Erikson, etc. have failed to publish their first books successfully in today's publishing world? Or would they publish with rubbish sales numbers and fail to follow through on book 2? I'm skeptical. I think the high end is probably safe from the publishing chaos. At the margins, the least confident gambles made by publishers, publisher economics are probably devastating.
How do they know the high end is before its gone and proven it though? How do they know which authors to be confident in and which ones are a gamble?

Song of Ice and Fire didn't move that fast to begin with. Gardens of the Moon was picked up with the request "Write some more of the series while you're at it" - that virtually never happens these days. I think it is possible neither series would take off today. Or that they tell them that they don't need more Epic Fantasy and that they don't want to confuse the market by pushing a guy as EF when he's known for vampires.

Another is that since the 90s and early 2000s, the sheer quality of epic fantasy has improved considerably (imo). Gone are the days of easy, cheesy epic fantasy, with 100% recycled/"borrowed" tropes, homogeneous casts, romanticized medieval Europe, and pseudo-biblical Evil as a personified force. Not that weren't plenty of top-notch books, but I think there were tons more mediocre books than today, or at least they were published and marketed more successfully. Each new innovative book carves away at the limited pool of ideas that readers might be interested in exploring, making it harder and harder to find something unique and interesting to write about. Many of the low-hanging fruit of good ideas wrt world building, characterization, and magic systems are already picked. I think these trends are probably more impactful at the high end than the economic struggles of publishing companies. We'll still see works of 10+ years of part-time dedication published to great acclaim; authors who did most of the work on their own then got snatched up by publishers who immediately recognize the brilliance of the submitted work.
I disagree with most of this paragraph. I think most of the current market is taken up with a slightly different set of stock characters and situations in a romanticised grimy Renaissance Europe in which a flawed hero takes down the giant douchebag. Innovation is about as common now as it was then i.e. we're giving old ideas a fresh twist, or the "same but different" beloved of Hollywood. And given how much innovation is required for a mass market bestseller, I don't think the genre or its leading authors have a problem there.

Aaand... yeah, we'll still see great first books from the publishers that get immediate acclaim. Because they have the biggest marketing machines. But is it something to gamble on as an author? Maybe, but its certainly not the only game in town and the big rewards are still available from other career paths. And is the current situation favourable to new authors? Not as much as it was, no.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#42
"I think most of the current market is taken up with a slightly different set of stock characters and situations in a romanticised grimy Renaissance Europe in which a flawed hero takes down the giant douchebag."

I don't agree with this sentence, but I do love it :D
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#43
I said a couple years ago that we were in the golden age of epic fantasy writing and it's only gotten better, with more excellent new talents than ever before. The only folks who don't see it are obviously not well read these days and are out of touch, or who can't see beyond the nose on their face because they are focused on themselves.
 

TomTB

The Master Tweeter
Staff member
#44
The only folks who don't see it are obviously not well read these days and are out of touch, or who can't see beyond the nose on their face because they are focused on themselves.
That's a bit harsh Ken, these folk could just as easily be more discerning than you, or just less easily pleased/excitable?

In my opinion, we're on the downward slope sliding out of the golden age. We're just seeing regurgitations of tried and tested formulae, for the most part. There'll be exceptions for sure, but generally I honestly believe this to be the case.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#45
"I think most of the current market is taken up with a slightly different set of stock characters and situations in a romanticised grimy Renaissance Europe in which a flawed hero takes down the giant douchebag."

I don't agree with this sentence, but I do love it :D
Well I can only call them as I see them! And that is what I see. At least it amused you :D

Another, perhaps more pertinent point, that only occurred to me when re-reading it... if you're saying its improved since around the year 2000 and that those were the days of cheesy fantasy, you're saying its improved since Martin, Erikson and Hobb started and that they're part of the cheesy wave. And that strikes me as a pretty big statement.
 

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#46
There is certainly an abundance of talent in the epic fantasy genre, both new and old( as in established) - far more than there ever was, in fact.

The problem is that it doesn't always turn out for the best with many of those folks, or that we are in the middle of many authors' quality slumps/middle of series disasters/recently finished series/haven't published a book in a decade or haven't started a new series recently period of their careers.

Haven't published a book in 10 years: Martin, Rothfuss, Lynch

End of series: Robin Hoob, Peter V. Brett, Miles Cameron, Daniel Abraham

Middle of series disasters: Brent Weeks, Michael J. Sullivan

Haven't started a new series recently: Brian Stavely, Lev Grossman

There are just too many people not producing at the level/speed required to keep the fantasy genre more lively than it currently is.

But there's certainly an abundance of proven talent. And I am like not that well-read at all, compared to many other people, so I am probably missing 2/3 of the prominent authors who deserve a spot in the list above.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#47
if you're saying its improved since around the year 2000 and that those were the days of cheesy fantasy, you're saying its improved since Martin, Erikson and Hobb started and that they're part of the cheesy wave. And that strikes me as a pretty big statement.
Darwin said:
Another is that since the 90s and early 2000s, the sheer quality of epic fantasy has improved considerably (imo).
"Since the 90s and early 2000s... has improved" is not what I intended to say. I meant to say "Beginning in the 90s and early 2000s... has improved." I did intend to include them; they are the start of this trend, and I see them as the bar-raising authors that are responsible for the improved quality throughout the genre. Jordan too; he managed to reach the pinnacle of what is possible for a Tolkien-clone and was a primary influence for Sanderson and others. And, though I implied it previously, it's not just epic fantasy that has improved; imo the quality across fantasy lit as whole has considerably improved thanks to these same influences. The 90s was still awash with successful garbage like The Sword of Truth and its sequels, but the change was beginning.

http://bestfantasybooks.com/best-fantasy-books-of-the-80s
http://bestfantasybooks.com/best-fantasy-books-of-the-90s

Just looking at these lists reinforces my belief in this. Think about the books on each list in terms of influence on the genre in the 2000s and today. (I'm not calling these 80s books cheesy, fwiw. This list contains the works that best hold up to today's standards and leaves out stuff like Terry Brooks.)

I hope we see another wave of innovation from authors inspired and influenced by Abercrombie, Rothfuss, Sanderson, etc. I don't really think we will, though. Didn't science fiction sort of plateau after going through a similar revolution?
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#48
"Since the 90s and early 2000s... has improved" is not what I intended to say. I meant to say "Beginning in the 90s and early 2000s... has improved." I did intend to include them; they are the start of this trend, and I see them as the bar-raising authors that are responsible for the improved quality throughout the genre. Jordan too; he managed to reach the pinnacle of what is possible for a Tolkien-clone and was a primary influence for Sanderson and others. And, though I implied it previously, it's not just epic fantasy that has improved; imo the quality across fantasy lit as whole has considerably improved thanks to these same influences. The 90s was still awash with successful garbage like The Sword of Truth and its sequels, but the change was beginning.

http://bestfantasybooks.com/best-fantasy-books-of-the-80s
http://bestfantasybooks.com/best-fantasy-books-of-the-90s

Just looking at these lists reinforces my belief in this. Think about the books on each list in terms of influence on the genre in the 2000s and today. (I'm not calling these 80s books cheesy, fwiw. This list contains the works that best hold up to today's standards and leaves out stuff like Terry Brooks.)

I hope we see another wave of innovation from authors inspired and influenced by Abercrombie, Rothfuss, Sanderson, etc. I don't really think we will, though. Didn't science fiction sort of plateau after going through a similar revolution?
Ah! With you. In retrospect, I should have made it clear that I thought you had more likely made a booboo than deliberately included them.

I shall have to consider your post in more detail later but, in general, I do look at the books coming out and see the years around 2000 as a very fruitful time.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#49
"Since the 90s and early 2000s... has improved" is not what I intended to say. I meant to say "Beginning in the 90s and early 2000s... has improved." I did intend to include them; they are the start of this trend, and I see them as the bar-raising authors that are responsible for the improved quality throughout the genre. Jordan too; he managed to reach the pinnacle of what is possible for a Tolkien-clone and was a primary influence for Sanderson and others. And, though I implied it previously, it's not just epic fantasy that has improved; imo the quality across fantasy lit as whole has considerably improved thanks to these same influences. The 90s was still awash with successful garbage like The Sword of Truth and its sequels, but the change was beginning.

http://bestfantasybooks.com/best-fantasy-books-of-the-80s
http://bestfantasybooks.com/best-fantasy-books-of-the-90s

Just looking at these lists reinforces my belief in this. Think about the books on each list in terms of influence on the genre in the 2000s and today. (I'm not calling these 80s books cheesy, fwiw. This list contains the works that best hold up to today's standards and leaves out stuff like Terry Brooks.)

I hope we see another wave of innovation from authors inspired and influenced by Abercrombie, Rothfuss, Sanderson, etc. I don't really think we will, though. Didn't science fiction sort of plateau after going through a similar revolution?
Considered thoughts

- At the risk of being that person, we're talking Epic Fantasy. Mythago Wood, Fevre Dream, Bridge of Birds, Colour of Magic... are those Epic? Once you start whittling it down to the actual genre stuff, I think you do start seeing the sort of stuff that I think you're referring to - Eddings, Feist, Brooks and so on - quite high on most people's lists. They're the books people think of when thinking of 80s fantasy. I look at that list and think of 90s fantasy as something of a wasteland for new authors, albeit with some incredible highs.

- Can you see their influence today? Its very difficult to judge influence. Abercrombie reads like he *loves* David Gemmell but I've never seen him acknowledge any debt or an obvious call out. Ditto Lynch and Butcher's Codex Alera with David Eddings. We know that SoIaF was a big influence on Abercrombie and Lawrence - we also know Gormenghast was an influence on Lawrence, but how many people would recognise that without him saying so? Similarly, I'd imagine you'd lump Eddings in with the Tolkien clones, but by the man's own words, he's more influenced by Dunsany and Malory, and the most obvious homage in his work is to Leiber. I feel reasonably confident in guessing Lynch is a Leiber fan too, so maybe that's that.

- Personally the best fantasy authors wear heavy out of genre influences - whether that's Abercrombie's love of the western, Tolkien's career in academia, Jordan's time in Vietnam, or whatever. Books that have clearly been inspired most by other fantasy books can be a lot of fun to read, but imo they age the worse and have the least re-read value. So for me, I don't think we're going to see a new wave of innovation from guys overly influenced by Abercrombie, Rothfuss and Sanderson, particularly the last two who I feel bring little new to the genre.

- Again being that guy, but if we're talking Epic Fantasy, then most of the more interesting developments in the wider Fantasy genre aren't shared with Epic. I think people are doing some awesome things with the fairy tale tradition, but little of it seems to be Epic. I think Max Gladstone has written one of the best debuts I've ever read, but he's not Epic. Although I think there's plenty of chances for other authors to steal what makes them great and bring it to Epic.

- Ultimately... its all a matter of taste, but to mine, current Epic Fantasy doesn't excite me. I don't think we've kicked on as far as you think we've kicked on, and I don't think today's authors have learned the right lessons from Martin, Hobb and Erikson. Or at least not to my taste. The current trend for massive amounts of PoVs and sprawling plots to me is like looking at a burger and deciding the way to improve it is by having lots and lots of lettuce with a meat paste on top.

But I guess most importantly, the big name authors just don't write in a way I want to read and don't create characters that I love. Maybe that's tiredness with the genre... but I don't think so.

edit: p.s. - For me, great writing isn't really about originality, its about execution. X-thousand years of writing and the habit of people to see things in patterns makes originality a complex thing at the best of times; but cooking the ingredients just perfectly is always an option.
 
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Maark Abbott

Journeyed there and back again
#50
The length of book puts publishers off as it's a risk
This came up in GDFRAW recently. I was absolutely gobsmacked to learn that the industry standard length for a book is 80k-120k words. Especially when, to me, a standard length is 200k, maybe up to 220k.
 

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#51
I don't think we're going to see a new wave of innovation from guys overly influenced by Abercrombie, Rothfuss and Sanderson, particularly the last two who I feel bring little new to the genre.
Hmm...

I don't want to be Sanderson's advocate or anything, but the guy practically carries the whole genre on his shoulders for the past 10 or so years. Non-medieval Europe world-building, well-developed magic systems, more linear plot-structure - you can trace them all those influences down to him.

Rothfuss, while not having brought anything ground-breaking to the genre, have brought the literary to the well-developed fantasy world/story.And more importantly - he have brought the fantasy-transcends-genre effect, where he manages to attract young-adult and adult readers toward the genre, simply because many people consider his work a greatly-written story before they consider it to be fantasy.

I could even argue that Abercrombie has nothing on them both, because all he did was take G. R. R. Martin's concept of grey characters and add more dynamic plots and a little bit more gore to the story.

In my opinion the fantasy as a whole is in a great place right now. Let's not pretend as if the old influencing fantasy stories have aged well at all. Each generation makes the best of its circumstances, being influenced by the old one, and then comes the new wave, and they extrapolate on the works of the previous ones.
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#52
This came up in GDFRAW recently. I was absolutely gobsmacked to learn that the industry standard length for a book is 80k-120k words. Especially when, to me, a standard length is 200k, maybe up to 220k.
That's the industry standard - but for both epic fantasy and Space Opera you can go to 120-150k
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#53
Hmm...

I don't want to be Sanderson's advocate or anything, but the guy practically carries the whole genre on his shoulders for the past 10 or so years. Non-medieval Europe world-building, well-developed magic systems, more linear plot-structure - you can trace them all those influences down to him.

Rothfuss, while not having brought anything ground-breaking to the genre, have brought the literary to the well-developed fantasy world/story.And more importantly - he have brought the fantasy-transcends-genre effect, where he manages to attract young-adult and adult readers toward the genre, simply because many people consider his work a greatly-written story before they consider it to be fantasy.

I could even argue that Abercrombie has nothing on them both, because all he did was take G. R. R. Martin's concept of grey characters and add more dynamic plots and a little bit more gore to the story.

In my opinion the fantasy as a whole is in a great place right now. Let's not pretend as if the old influencing fantasy stories have aged well at all. Each generation makes the best of its circumstances, being influenced by the old one, and then comes the new wave, and they extrapolate on the works of the previous ones.
I like this whole post, except the part about Abercrombie. It's easy to have characters motivated by their own self-interest or whims, the way GRRM does. Abercrombie manages to wrap that into ideas and themes that only become obvious once the plot is essentially done (so no preaching during the plot!). Religion and money are separately but equally effectively used to control populations and governments, by freaking wizards; these are the real powers in the world, stronger than magic. Jezal's final confrontation with Bayaz show us how inconsequential regal bloodlines really are, unlike how such things are treated by the vast majority of the epic fantasy genre. ASoIaF is much more sophisticated in many other ways, but I don't think its fair to suggest Abercrombie wasn't innovative.
 

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#54
I like this whole post, except the part about Abercrombie. It's easy to have characters motivated by their own self-interest or whims, the way GRRM does. Abercrombie manages to wrap that into ideas and themes that only become obvious once the plot is essentially done (so no preaching during the plot!). Religion and money are separately but equally effectively used to control populations and governments, by freaking wizards; these are the real powers in the world, stronger than magic. Jezal's final confrontation with Bayaz show us how inconsequential regal bloodlines really are, unlike how such things are treated by the vast majority of the epic fantasy genre. ASoIaF is much more sophisticated in many other ways, but I don't think its fair to suggest Abercrombie wasn't innovative.
I concur. I didn't mean to say that Abercrombie wasn't innovative, more in the lines of how he manages to refine the known tropes through more realistic events/motivations, rather than counting on going into the more fantastical route.
 

Maark Abbott

Journeyed there and back again
#55
That's the industry standard - but for both epic fantasy and Space Opera you can go to 120-150k
I've pretty much rejected the industry on this basis, hence why I decided to go it alone. Epic fantasy, to me, is typified by 200k+ - brevity detracts from it being epic to me. Even 150k is incredibly short for a fantasy novel, and whilst the content is obviously of greater importance than the length, I still wind up feeling a bit cheated when I reach the end and feel like I should have had another few weeks of reading out of it.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#56
Ew, 120-150k words per book cuts out most epic fantasy that I like. A lot of the good stuff is like 400k+.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#57
I don't know about word count but from my experience fantasy genres and even age of the book is hugely relevant to book size.
I never saw UF book the size of one of the Malazan's book.
Or an older book from 80s and 90s that's the size of Martin's books.

Good size for me
epic fantasy 700-800 pages for the first book, sequels can be longer.
urban fantasy 350-450 pages for the first book, sequels can be longer.
genre benders - anything goes really. Depends on the story
YA fantasy 300-400 pages for the first book.

According to GR my average page count is 375 pages for this year.

I'd appreciate it if you can tell me how much that is in word count, assuming I listed paperback page count. I was always curious.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#59
Hmm, I found this here
As a publisher who has laid out dozens of books for printing—a 50,000 word manuscript should end up somewhere between 180 and 220 pages.The typical book's words-per-page count tends to range between 225 and 275—an average of 250.
So, 250 words x let's say 750 pages for epic fantasy comes at 187k.
That sounds reasonable enough for me. I guess there can be variants if a book has a lot of dialogue or if it's a dense text.

@Maark Abbott
Your 200k book according to this guy would be anywhere around 720 to 880 pages, which sounds reasonable to me as far as epic fantasy goes.
 

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#60
Those numbers are quite arbitrary, even from the publishers' POV.

If your book isn't compelling enough to command "F*** it, we'll do it" factor, then you'd have a more prolonged adventure hunting for a publisher, that's true, but if you have a decent chance at success, and the editor realizes that, then you are named Patrick Rothfuss and they make an exception for you.

It's the same way in every genre, really. They have 5-10k$ advance ceiling rule, unless they really like your stuff and give you 50-100k or even more for it. They don't like longer books, unless they think the book is a good bet, then they like it very much.

Printing a paperback book costs 0.80$ when it's all said and done. Adding 5 or 10 more cents to that isn't a big deal, they just prefer not to do it on regular basis and take the additional risk for every single author. Spreading of risk and such.

But if you are Anthony Ryans and you've successfully self-published Blood's Song, then when someone comes knocking, he comes bearing gifts and lots of money, and cares not for the pages count, because you have a proven thing and the risks are quite diminished.

That being said, Brandon did try to push The Stormlight Archive after Elantris, instead of Mistborn, but he wasn't successful enough with Elantris to warrant an arrangement for 400k+ book.