Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval

  • 7 Replies
  • 157 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

*

No One of Consequence

  • Journeyman
  • ***
  • 109
    • View Profile
Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval
« on: June 13, 2017, 12:57:54 AM »
So folks - what's your favourite non-medieval fantasy. Point us to some good authors and books. And tell us all why.

My favourite by far is Brian McClellan's Powder Mage Trilogy (The Promise of Blood; The Crimson Campaign; The Autumn Republic). It's a fantasy world, with French Revolution/Napoleonic Wars level technology and a culture similar to Europe at that time. Except that it's a pagan world where each major nation has their own god; there are two forms of magic, one elemental and one derived from black powder; and an incipient democracy movement trying to negotiate a revolutionary path to post monarchical society.

Other good examples are:
Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars. Ignore the Disney movie, they butchered the story and the setting. Mars as Barsoom is a fascinating setting, though the writing style is very early 20th century; it's not like modern novels.

Michael Moorcock's History of the Runestaff saga. It's four books, all short by modern standards; The Jewel in the Skull; The Mad God's Amulet; The Sword of the Dawn; and The Runestaff. The story looks at first like it's set in an alternate, medieval Europe, but it soon turns out that it's long after a nuclear war (the aftermath period of their history is called the Tragic Millennium); science and sorcery are completely merged. The evil bad guys, the Gran Bretanians are one of the best villainous societies ever written, IMHO.

Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms Series: The Demon King; The Exiled Queen; The Gray Wolf Throne; & The Crimson Crown. On one level it's a fairly typical teenage princess coming of age story, and in a pretty typical medieval setting; but the magic use is handled well and the main nation has an internal, ethnic minority based on North American native culture that makes for some fascinating interactions between characters and cultures.

I've also not read, but many people rave about, Perdido Street Station by China Mieville.

*

Sheepy-Pie

  • Mistress of Death
  • Global Moderator
  • Master
  • *****
  • 1196
  • It lasted forever, And ended so soon.
    • View Profile
Re: Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 09:30:16 AM »
I know of a few series which have excellent worlds that aren't medieval, and one which is extremely rich in it's worldbuilding.

Michelle Paver - The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness (a 7 book series), it's most familiar by the first book Wolf Brother. She is the author with the rich worldbuilding, and did extensive research into the areas which she wrote about, even down to really small things like the food and materials used in clothing. Her series is more of a historical fantasy, but it almost feels like it could be so real. I really adore this series. It's about a boy who has been separate from nearly everybody his whole life finding his way and fighting against the evils of the land who turn on him, when they realise what he is. 

Trudi Canavan - Every book she has written. They all have their own worlds and one series switches to multiple worlds, all feeling real and yet fantastical. Lots of magic involved in her works. Personally I love the world of Ithania best, as each area is both familiar and different, and goes along perfect with her created people, including mermaid-esque people and flying people.

Jay Kristoff - Nevernight. I wrote a review on here about it, I really love this book so much. It does have that slight medieval flair, as in you can imagine it being around those times but it is never written in a medieval time. If that makes sense. I suppose it is hard to break away from the medieval cliche when as soon as you mention armour and swords your mind immediately goes there. But it's about a girl who is on a revenge path.

*

Jedi Knight Muse

  • A muse that's a Jedi
  • Administrator
  • Master
  • *****
  • 2630
    • View Profile
Re: Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 09:56:57 AM »
Hm. Technically the only books I've read that didn't take place in a medieval setting were the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. They take place on modern day earth, with Greek gods and goddesses running around.

I was going to say that I've read what's technically historical fiction, the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, but apparently it takes place during 9th century Ireland...so that's still technically medieval, I think.

I'm super unlikely to read anything that doesn't take place in a medieval setting, though (the Percy Jackson books being the exception), so... :-\
Storms of Magic - Draft 1 FINISHED


*

SecretRock

  • Apprentice
  • **
  • 75
    • View Profile
Re: Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 10:29:44 AM »
Lockwood and Co by Jonathan Stroud is a great book. Probably aimed at a younger audience than most of you, but my friends and I all love the series. It follows a small London ghost hunting company in a world where ghosts and extremely common and extremely dangerous. It's light on the fantasy element, more of a mystery for most of it, but its still very good(I've already pre-ordered the fifth book).

The WTNV Novel, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, is a good fantasy. It doesn't really focus on the magical parts of the world, everything there is just accepted as normal, so it's really a story about two women trying to sort out their problems in their lives in this fantastical and wacky setting. The fantasy element does play some part in it though. I imagine the sequel coming out soon, It Devours, will be just as good.

The Invisible Library series has a different setting for each book, and varying levels of magic involved as well. The first one is set in a steampunk-ish London for example, the second in a Venice always in Carnival, etc. The series is by Genevieve Cogman.

Then there's the Dresden Files, which I think everyone has heard about. I tried to read the first one, but after all the sexism and the second comparison to a cheerleader I gave up. It might be better after that, I don't know.

*

Tyrannohotep

  • Master
  • *****
  • 711
    • View Profile
    • My Wordpress
Re: Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2017, 11:59:24 AM »
I'm personally fond of the work of Charles R. Saunders. He specializes in sword & sorcery fantasy with African themes. Works of his include the Imaro  and Dossouye books, and more recently Abengoni.

In addition I recommend the anthologies Griots and Sisters of the Spear if you're interested in short stories of the same African cultural flavor.

Moving on to something rather different, there's Orishadaon by my DeviantArt friend Brandon Bowling, which has Celtic-esque tribal people, dinosaurs, lizardfolk, and plant-people.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 12:01:41 PM by Tyrannohotep »
My big art thread

Also the author of the entire Dinosaurs & Dames anthology

*

ScribblerKat

  • Journeyman
  • ***
  • 128
    • View Profile
    • Kathy Ann Trueman - fantasy writer
Re: Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2017, 12:24:42 PM »
The only ones I can think of, off the top of my head, are Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series and Kane series. Also Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl stories.
All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost

*

Amblygon

  • Apprentice
  • **
  • 53
  • Kris
    • View Profile
Re: Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2017, 05:06:05 PM »
Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori are set in a feudal Japan inspired fantasy setting (I guess it's medieval, but it's non-European medieval).

Kameron Hurley's Worldbreaker Saga is described as fantasy, but I think it blurs the line between fantasy and sci-fi a bit. Otherwise it's so complex I have no idea how to describe the setting.

Robert Jackson Bennett's Divine Cities trilogy is described as fantasy (but I think blurs with sci-fi as well?). There's gods and loads of cool stuff.

Arguably Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive is set in a non-medieval world, but it's difficult to describe. At least it's definitely not traditional medieval fantasy.

Also some really interesting suggestions above - will definitely be looking into those!

*

Sandy

  • Apprentice
  • **
  • 88
  • probably haunting you right now
    • View Profile
    • My Artblog
Re: Fantasy - it doesn't have to be medieval
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 05:15:15 PM »
Oh man, I need to dig through my bookshelf to find some of the stuff I really like to put into this thread, but off of the top of my head, The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke is a fun light/romance fantasy adventure that goes through a few different 'regions', but definitely has some strong 'Arabic Fantasy Setting' vibes.