Same setting, many different stories
Join LibraryThing to post.
There's something immensely appealing to me about big, sprawling series where we see many different protagonists or groups of protagonists in the same setting, each with their own complete goals and story arcs.
The Liaden books that just came up in the September "Where are you in Fantasyland?" topic do this to an extent. Anne McCaffrey's Pern, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover, Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar are all examples, each with dozens of books divided into sub-series. But it doesn't have to be made of trilogies and quartets- L.E. Modesitt's Recluce series is composed mostly of stand-alones, but he lets us see both sides of the Order/Chaos conflict, and Patricia Wrede's Lyra s a shorter series at only five books, but no two books follow the same set of characters.
As an example of what I'm not looking for, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series has a well-realized world and a large cast, and we do see the world through many different points of view, but it's still a single story throughout that has remained on Rand and the others from Two Rivers.
So, what other fantasy (or science fiction) series fit the bill? I'm most specifically interested in created/secondary settings, but I'm not opposed to urban fantasy or portal/crossover fantasy.
Many series that are part of bigger media franchises fit the bill, Star Wars or Star Trek would be obvious examples. Then there are settings for roleplaying games, like the Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance that have inspired their share of novels as well.
Robert Asprin's Thieves' World series or Teri Windling's Borderland are examples of shared universes, in which many authors have written short stories and/or novels.
The Discworld books are a perfect example for a series written by one author, each book featuring a self-contained story in the same settings. Robin Hobb has also written several smaller series in the same setting (Farseer, Liveship Traders, Tawny Man...). Joe Abercrombie has followed up his debut trilogy with several standalone novels in the same world. If you're willing to include graphic novels, the Sandman series features longer arcs and standalone issues. Tolkien set a lot more stories than just The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in Middle Earth.
Those are just a few I thought of immediately, I'm sure there are a lot more series like this.
The Malazan Books of the Fallen certainly seem to fit the "sprawling" bill.
I'm only partway through Gardens of the Moon yet but it keeps piling characters, creatures and power groups on and on. Loving it so far though other people seem to deem this content creep is possibly the major flaw of the series.
I second the Malazan series. I'm about to start book 6 and each has a very different look at the same world. They're wonderful.
In the science-fiction genre, the Alliance-Union universe by C.J. Cherryh also has an impressive collection of places, people and tales to be told.
I third the Malazan series. I've recently finished the fourth book (of ten), nearly 4,000 pages into it so far, and the sense of scale boggles the mind. He's still introducing more continents and races and what they've been up to and motivated by for the last 200,000 years. Forgot to mention the gods and various other immortals that keep stomping all over the landscape. Oh, and the action also takes place on various other planes of existence. I'm not joking or exaggerating. I don't think anyone's ever going to top this with respect to scale.
His ten volume approach is like presenting you with an incredibly detailed world history book and you read from around the start of the American Civil War to the end of World War II, then close it. Except that you're an alien from another planet (i.e. absolutely no context going into it, picking it up as you go along). It really defies all conventions.
The icing on the tasty, tasty cake that is Erikson's sprawling ten-volume Malazan Book of the Fallen, is that there's more set in that setting. You have co-creator Ian C. Esslemont's own Novels of the Malazan Empire series, which fill in some of the gaps and/or pick up teases and dangling threads from Erikson's books. You've got Erikson's Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas (of which there are five written so far, out of nine projected) which take place in the Malazan world and feature two side characters from book three of the main series, but are otherwise unrelated, and allow Erikson to play with different themes and styles in that setting. There's his only-tangentally-related short story "Goats of Glory" in the Swords & Dark Magic anthology. And, of course, there's his prequel trilogy (starting with the just-published Forge of Darkness) that takes place hundreds of thousands of years before the "modern" timeline. And the sequel trilogy that will be coming after that...
Thanks for the recommendations, everyone!
>5 Cherryh's Alliance-Union universe is absolutely spot-on for what I'm looking for! Should have occurred to me, thanks!
>2 Media tie-in fiction hadn't occurred to me, but you're right, it's exactly the kind of thing that I'm thinking of. The Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, etc also definitely fit. It's a shame that there's as much bad writing as good in both of these areas.
Shared-world settings like Thieves' World and Borderland had occurred to me (as well as others like Liavek and Cherryh's Merovingen Nights), but I'm not sure they quite fit the criteria in spirit for me- they (at least all of the examples I've mentioned, to my knowledge) are set in a single city in a single time period following a group of (usually) intertwined characters, which _does_ give different perspectives... but it kind of feels like a distributed story, the same story broken up into multiple pieces, rather than truly different stories. Like, to use Star Trek as an example many people may be familiar with, it would be as if we got entire series of stories following characters on the Enterprise-D under the command of Jean Luc Picard over the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation- we get multiple different perspectives on life on the Enterprise, but we don't see how people in other places in the Federation live, in other parts of the galaxy (Star Trek: Voyager), other ways of life (life on a Federation space station rather than a ship, as in Star Trek: DS9), or other time periods (the original series following Kirk).
Still, it is possible to have discrete stories in the same setting, I guess- to my thinking, Pratchett's Discworld would certainly qualify for what I'm thinking, even though (I believe) most of the stories are set in Ankh-Morpork. I'm having a hard time qualifying why that feels different than the shared-world cities- perhaps because novel-length works have a lot more depth to it?
It is interesting to me that some of the series I mentioned (Darkover, Valdemar, also Andre Norton's Witch World which I hadn't thought about at the time) ended up becoming shared-world settings themselves with anthologies fans could contribute to (Friends of Darkover, Tales of Valdemar, and Tales of the Witch World respectively). I tend to consider Pern in a class with these stories, but interestingly that didn't happen for Pern (though it did have a couple of choose-your-own-adventure tie-ins, Dragonharper and Dragonfire).
I am absolutely willing to include graphic novels, but I have mixed feelings about the Sandman series' inclusion as well, as from the ones I read there was still a core focus on Dream (and to a lesser extent Death). The Death spin-offs push me toward including it, though, because as far as I understand the continuity her story is not a subplot of his or vice-versa (I may be wrong on this because I haven't read all the way through).
As for Middle-Earth... most of the Silmarillion and the Histories of Middle-Earth still focus on the fall of and subsequent war against Melkor/Morgoth, right? (With Sauron being a servant of Morgoth?) The characters' individual plots are always subplots of that larger story- but we do get a diversity of times and settings, so I would probably lean towards including it.
>3,4,6,7 I've heard a lot of good things about the Malazan series, and it sounds like it could fit the bill with the multiple series set in the same universe that saltmanz mentioned. The Book of the Fallen series may not on its own, however, as from what I can tell (please correct me!) it's structured like the Wheel of Time- it has a fleshed out world, but seems to follow one over-arching plot and all of the depth is provided as supplementary backstory rather than as on-screen story in its own right. I'm not just looking for a big, well-developed world with a long history, I'm looking for on-screen, real-time (not flashback or historical summary) plot development of multiple independent stories following different characters, as their own main plots rather than as subplots, that don't come together in the end- I'm not sure that's possible within a single sequential series.
I'm also not sure it would fit my reading taste- I'm under the impressions (perhaps misguided) from what I've heard that a. it's primarily military fantasy and b. there is a dearth of prominent, recurring, sympathetic female point of view characters, and even fewer who aren't subject to rape or the threat of rape. (Both of these are also problems I've heard of in Joe Abercrombie's work mentioned above as well, and most of the other work in the "gritty" subgenre.) Both of these are things that really turn me off- again, I'd love to be corrected!
Other examples that have occurred to me include Catherine Asaro's Skolia, Andre Norton's Witch World that I mentioned above, and Steven Brust's Dragaera.
I was surprised to get so many responses already, keep them coming! :D
Charles de Lint sets most of his stories in a fictional city called Newford. Actually, I stopped reading him because I got tired of reading about Newford, but apparently most people are still crazy about it. He's written a couple of things recently that aren't set there.
8> Actually, the majority of Discworld books take place outside of Ank-Morpork or leave it at some point. Tallying it up, around twenty books are primarily not in Ank-Morpork and around ten primarily are.
#8 Malazan books are all about the backstory. Each book so far is about different major characters you meet in book one and focuses on how they got there, who they are and what events in their lives created them.
Altho it does follow an overarching plot, you don't see it in individual books which go back to before the events of book one and bring the characters forward, or perhaps just focuses on a different continent in the world and what is happening there, rather than at the main point of the battle.
It's hard to explain. It's different.
*cough* As much as it pains me to throw this out there, Xanth fits the bill...
For what it's worth, Thieve's World does have a number of spin-off titles that follow known characters into adventures outside Sanctuary, and there were a few books published more recently (Sanctuary, et. al.) that takes place at some future time from the core series.
Some smaller-scale examples that pop to mind:
- Katherine Kurtz's Deryni books... Not as diverse in POV's as others that have been mentioned, but between the various trilogies, the Deryni Tales book of short stories, the "recent" Childe Morgan prequel, and the information in the Codex Derynianus, there's quite a scope of history to the world.
- Martha Wells's Element of Fire, Death of the Necromancer, and Fall of Ile-Rien are nowhere near as sprawling, but cover three different time periods in the same world. Very little relationship between EoF and DotN... more direct connection between DotN and the Ile-Rien trilogy.
Ooh, Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space books fit the bill here. There's a loosely-connected trilogy, a couple of standalones, two novellas, and a short story collection.
>9 I know what you mean, I read a bunch of the Newford books and also got burnt out on them. They're enjoyable, but after a while, the characters all seem the same.
>10 Well, my ignorance is showing! That's interesting, I hadn't realized that about the Discworld books. Do you have a recommendation of where to start? It seems like there are several different sub-series and many different standalones too.
>11 That sounds like an interesting structure on the Malazan books, I might give them a try. Any thoughts about the potential reading taste mismatch problems I mentioned above (heavy focus on the military and lack of prominent female characters who aren't raped or threatened with rape)? I have been bitten by the second issue especially in the other epic war fantasy I have tried (eg A Game of Thrones).
>12 Ouch, Xanth :) Well, I did ask for anything!
Thanks for the clarification about Thieves' World, I have seen Sanctuary on a shelf but didn't realize that it was set in a different time period. I have the first Thieves' World anthology around somewhere so I might give it a try.
I am definitely interested in smaller scale examples. I have looked at the Deryni books before, and have Camber of Culdi that I tried and bounced off of years ago for reasons that escape me now. I suspect that may not have been the best entry into the series.
Martha Wells Ile-Rien books are a good example. It occurs to me that my current read, Barbara Hambly's Stranger at the Wedding would fit along the same lines- it's set in the same world as her Windrose Chronicles starting with The Dark Tower, but the characters don't cross over.
Lots of female characters who are powerful and dedicated in the Malazan books. sometimes you don't even realize what sex they are, particularly the Bridgeburners.
One major 'badguy' is a woman, and Empress. There are quite a few notable females who can kick serious ass and what with magic being so powerful in the world, women can wield it every bit as well as men.
GOT - well, it is set in medieval times equivalent so women are subservient. I still love ASOIAF though.
Virtually all of Paula Volsky's books are set in the same world; the plots are so very standalone though that they aren't even listed as a series on LT.
Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series fits: there are 9 books. The first trilogy follows Phedre, the second trilogy follows a different character a not too many years later, and the third trilogy follows a character a few hundred years later. Also, each book expands further in terms of the geographic areas covered (this is alternate history fantasy, or more accruately, alternate history fantasy erotica).
>14. re: Deryni. Yeah, I'd probably start with the Chronicles of the Deryni. The first book, Deryni Rising, is really pretty slight... maybe only a YA Fantasy's worth of plot in modern fantasy terms, but should give you a feel for whether the rest is of interest.
The Chronicles take place at a point when the kingdom is slowly climbing out of a dark age of intense persecution of the magical Deryni race, and Camber is a legendary historical figure. The Camber books flash back to how that dark age came to pass and how he became so important, so it's probably easier to get into them if you have the context of why you should care. :)
>14. Regarding Discworld, I find this chart a handy guide for where to start: http://www.lspace.org/books/reading-order-guides/the-discworld-reading-order-gui...
Basically, pick the first book in a "theme" that sounds interesting. A book has been published since this chart was created, but it will get you going. The only word against this is people typically recommend to avoid his first two published books as they are not a good indicator to the rest of the series (The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic). I started when a friend gave me Equal Rites and have been enjoying working my way through Discworld ever since.
>7. Erikson is writing prequels??? My Malazan shelf is going to need room :)
#20 I've seen that Discworld reading chart before...very, very useful! Of course, I'm weird about these things and read the series in pub. order instead. But still. Very useful.
For what it's worth... The first time 'round, the Witches subseries was my favorite. But the second time I read the whole series, the Death subseries was my favorite, with the Watch and the Witches tied for second. The Rincewind books are always a bit "meh" for me, except I enjoy The Last Continent, for some reason...might be the dropbears.
>13 I've not read anything by Alastair Reynolds before, but the summary of Revelation Space sounds promising, thanks! It looks like the third book of the trilogy, Absolution Gap, gets mixed reviews though, would you say the series is worth reading overall?
>15 Thanks for your comment, it's good to know that magic is at least relatively equal.
While I don't have a problem with people enjoying ASOIAF (even though I didn't myself), I would heartily disagree with you about "medieval times" being an appropriate justification for the level of problems with women in ASOIAF. That might be valid if this was a historical novel set in medieval Europe, but even though the plot is _loosely_ based on the historical English War of the Roses, GRRM chose to make the setting diverge significantly from Earth in many significant ways, such as winter lasting as long as it does, the dragons, and the notable absence of the Church in politics and society, to name a few examples; another choice he made was to make his feudal society incredibly misogynist.
>16 I had a vague idea that Illusion (which I own) was of the same tone as The Wolf of Winter, The White Tribunal, The Grand Ellipse, and The Gates of Twilight (which I've seen around), but I didn't see anything that made it explicit that they were in the same setting/universe. Do you have any suggestions on how the chronology fits together, and do you know if her earlier works (The Luck of Relian Kru, The Sorcerer's Lady and sequels, The Curse of the Witch-Queen) are in the same setting?
>17 The Kushiel books are definitely on my radar, I didn't know that about the time differences between series though! I'll have to take a look, I keep thinking I've bought Kushiel's Dart but it never made it into my catalog...
>18 I'll keep an eye out for Deryni Rising to start out with. Sounds like that trilogy would definitely help illuminate Camber of Culdi, thanks!
>19,20 Thanks for your suggestions on Discworld! That chart looks really helpful too, Narilka, thanks.
Speaking of linked trilogies, I suspect that Terry McGarry's Eiden Myr books (Illumination, The Binder's Road, Triad) would count, each book seems to follow different characters without a grand meet-up.
Any sci-fi readers have an opinion on whether Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought would fit the bill of different stories in the same setting? A Deepness in the Sky seems to have quite a separation in time from the other two books, but there could be connecting characters.
I thought the ending of Absolution Gap felt a little rushed and out-of-left-field, but enjoyed the book regardless. You don't have to start with the trilogy, though; the other works all stand alone. (If you're feeling really ambitious, you could try reading them all, short stories included, in chronological order.)
Back to females in Malazan: The world is permeated with magic, and Erikson and Esslemont have intentionally used the pervasiveness and accessibility of magic to effectively eliminate gender imbalance, at least on a cultural level. I can, however, probably list half a dozen female characters who experience rape at some point in the MBotF; that said, I think Erikson deals with each instance individually and honestly, and the way each characters deals with her situation uniquely impacts the entire series, even if said character only appears in a book or two (and a lot of the characters in the MBotF only appear in a book or two.) Also, there are a handful of male characters raped as well (by women.)
>23 Thanks for the timeline! I might look to pick up Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days first as it looks like both of the stories it contains are standalone, and both together are half the size of Revelation Space.
Thanks also for your comments about Malazan. Such appears to be about par for the course among that particular subgenre. I may still give it a try eventually. I hope there are also a significant number, hopefully a vast majority, of female characters that _aren't_ raped, at least? (I assume there are many more male characters that don't get raped than that do, so if this is truly a society where gender imbalance is supposed to have been eliminated, I would expect a roughly equal number of male and female characters and roughly equal proportions who have been raped as well... but that may be too much to hope for, unfortunately.)
Honestly, I'd lean more toward the Incarnations of Immortality if you're considering Piers Anthony for this type work. It's better written and a much tighter plot through the seven books. (I don't recommend any of his self published works that "extend" this series.)
*still racking my brains for other good series.*
@24: Well, I did say gender balance was eliminated culturally. By which I meant, that while magic levels the proverbial playing field overall, men are still generally physically stronger on an individual basis, and more likely (and able) to force themselves on a woman than the other way around. (That being said, there are numerous physically-strong female characters perfectly capable of taking out any man.) And yes, there are a vast number of female characters who are not raped; this is a series with a cast of hundreds, if not thousands. They're all basically supporting characters; there are maybe half a dozen that you could have an argument toward calling a main character: one in particular shows up in 6 of the 10 books (which is quite remarkable) and another is a strong female who's never suffers physical abuse.
Diamond Dogs is an excellent choice; though it borders on horror more than most of the stories set in that universe, it's one of my favorites.
^22 Re: Kushiel's Dart -- the first three books are immediately sequential, and there aren't many years between that trilogy and the next, plus characters from the first trilogy remain in a more peripheral role.
If you read the first six, you'll know by then whether you like the flavor enough to leap a few hundred years to the last trilogy. There was no question in my mind that I'd go along for another ride!
>25 Given the quality of some of the Piers Anthony that does get published, I'd hate to see the things he couldn't get published! :) Recommendation duly noted, the central conceit (though hardly the style) reminds me a bit of Gaiman's Sandman with the personification of the various forces.
>26 I get where you're coming from, but I believe rape has a cultural basis that matters at least as much the physical aspect, and that the rape of women perpetuated by men is deeply rooted in the long history of women being seen as less than human (a history that still continues into the present among some people: witness pick-up artists, for example).
Besides that, most fantasy characters are skilled in the use of weapons or martial arts, and it's illogical to think that the training of women wouldn't have accounted for the fact that 50% of their opponents are men. Also, in many fantasy worlds magic is a stronger form of personal self-defense that makes the difference in physical strength completely irrelevant. (I can't speak to the details of the Malazan books, of course, but based on a cursory reading about the magic system it seems that physical enhancements through magic are a common form of it.) If magic is distributed evenly among all humanity (and whatever other sentient species are in play) with equal strength and frequency, I would not expect this kind of inequality in who is raped (unless the rapes happen to always perpetuated by magically/martially stronger men on weaker women, in which I really start to wonder about authorial choice in writing.)
The Malazan books seem like a work that is truly epic in scope, but many (arguably most) fantasy writers are prone to incorporating unquestioned assumptions like "women are more vulnerable to rape" from the real world into their plotting and worldbuilding, even if these assumptions don't make sense in their created world. Audience expectations also play into this- readers of epic fantasy are focused on whether the magic system, the history, or perhaps the military strategy make sense, not whether the gender roles make sense. (The opposite may be true in other subgenres, such as fantasy of manners or stories with significant romance plots between men and women, where social norms and relationships are at the forefront of what's driving the plot.)
But really, even beyond the logic of whether it makes sense in context, the truth is that rape is often used as a cheap shortcut for "gritty, unpleasant truths" these days, as it has been used in the past as a cheap shortcut to explain why women became warriors (the many "rape and revenge" stories) against their supposed biologic "kind and loving nature". Even if the scenes in Malazan are executed with sensitivity and not written to be titillating, it's part of a trend of authorial choice that should not go unexamined or unquestioned. And from a personal taste standpoint, I find it really, really tiresome to say the very least when fantasy writers routinely choose to subject one, many, most, or all of the characters that share my gender to sexual degradation in order to further the plot through their revenge (or often the revenge of a male lover/relative, see: manpain) or to characterize villains or antiheroes or society as morally bankrupt. There are other ways to do the same thing.
Tangentially related, Jane Fletcher's Lyremouth chronicles are set in a world where the author has really thought through implications of randomly distributed magic, on gender equality on other things. I see that they're tagged romance, and they do have a prominent romance subplot, but the main plots are mysteries grounded in the rules of magic laid out in that world. There's a lot of speculation on how equal distribution of magic between men and women would play out, or unequal distribution of magic, for that matter- the first book starts off on a group of islands where women have access to a potion that enhances their physical strength beyond that of the men. I'll just say that Fletcher does not buy into the essentialist "women are naturally kinder and gentler than men" trope, and unlike most "discrimiflip" stories, the protagonist is not an oppressed man but a woman that doesn't fit society's ideal and is marginalized by it, and the plot is not about overthrowing the unequal society to restore justice- she leaves. They're not really epic fantasy along the lines of Malazan, but they take on many issues of how non-hereditary, randomly-distributed magic would actually shake out more thoroughly than other series I've read, and they don't shy away from the difficult questions.
Laurie J. Marks' Elemental Logic series is a good example of a world that feels truly gender-neutral.
>27 I enjoy series where we get to see POV characters from one book from outside their perspective in different books. I'll have to see whatever happened to that theoretical copy of Kushiel's Dart....
As far as other series, I think Diana Pharaoh Francis' Crosspointe books may fit, but it seems like they were building to a grand conclusion before the series was, unfortunately, dropped by the publisher.
Re.> I'm looking for on-screen, real-time (not flashback or historical summary) plot development of multiple independent stories following different characters, as their own main plots rather than as subplots, that don't come together in the end.
Well, that's embarassing. You've described Malazan better than I did, and I'm the one who's trying to recommend it to you. I may have mis-characterized it with my history book metaphor.
The Wheel of Time is ultimately Rand's story, with tied-in assistance from everyone else. Malazan ... I couldn't begin to tell you whose story it is, I've really no idea. It's entirely debatable. There's certain characters that figure more than others, for sure, but it's not at all clear who is meant to be the focus. The reader is free to pick and choose. The author has said in interviews he's often surprised by who people opt to root for.
Re.> I'm also not sure it would fit my reading taste- I'm under the impressions (perhaps misguided) from what I've heard that a. it's primarily military fantasy and b. there is a dearth of prominent, recurring, sympathetic female point of view characters, and even fewer who aren't subject to rape or the threat of rape. (Both of these are also problems I've heard of in Joe Abercrombie's work mentioned above as well, and most of the other work in the "gritty" subgenre.) Both of these are things that really turn me off- again, I'd love to be corrected!
I'd heard the same thing beforehand re "military fantasy". For sure Malazan features a lot of epic battle scenes, often as the set pieces being built up to by the rest of the plot. If that's always going to be a slog for you, then you might be right that this isn't your thing. But its a far cry from describing everything that's going on. It would be tantamount to saying real world history has been nothing but war.
I'm not on any kind of firm ground to judge whether you would feel women are depicted justly in this series. I can tell you it does include a large cast of women. Some of the female characters are very, very powerful and/or dangerous (and it's nothing to do with vengeance against a rapist) and rank among my favourites. Besides key individuals, women also compose a large proportion of the armies. It's an equal opportunity world. There are incidents of rape (I can think of three by the end of the fourth volume; plus there's some "the town was raped and pillaged" general descriptions), although I find it's miles away from being a case of "uh oh, female character, I know what's going to happen." I do not think any men have been subjected to rape, that I recall, or feel they are risking that danger.
>30 Thank you for your long and thoughtful post, between you and saltmanz you've pretty much addressed the issues I was worried about. That "uh oh, female character" feeling is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.
You've all convinced me to pick up Gardens of the Moon the next time I see it at the library- I'll give it a try and let you know what I think!
In sci-fi, the Culture series by Iain M Banks is one. The common element is the society itself and the many-layered schemes you begin to expect from its espionage/military organisation. The novels themselves are spread over hundreds of years. A few characters reoccur, very much with that 'POV characters seen from the outside', but not many. More common is a new perspective on earlier events, earlier enemy societies or earlier innovations.
>32 :) I still admit to a probably unreasonable bias against it based on other experiences with really popular epic fantasy where I got burned (The Game of Thrones as I mentioned above, for example), but what's reading for, especially reading speculative fiction, if not to go beyond one's comfort zone once in a while and seek out works different from what one normally reads?
(edit so as not to double-post)
>33 I had wondered about the Culture series. I have heard many good things about it, but also that the quality and tone can be variable among Banks' work. Do you have any recommendations for a good starting point? I've heard that The Player of Games is good, and also Consider Phlebas that you linked.
>22: Re: Paula Volsky's books - if you look at the map in The grand ellipse, you will see all the countries on it in which the other novels take place, including the Sorcerer's Lady trilogy. I can't remember if Relian Kru or Witch Queen also take place there, but you are right that the tone they all share is unmistakeable. I believe there is a reference to the revolution from Illusion made in The gates of twilight, but I wouldn't say there's a need to read them in any order.
>34: I love the Culture series, and would second the recommendation to start with The Player of Games. I began with Consider Phlebas and was hooked, but Player is a better book.
>34 The Culture series as a whole would certainly fit your bill, though you may want to avoid Use of Weapons as it's heavily military-themed, and of the three somewhat prominent female figures one is mostly an observer, and the other two don't exactly play a very active or uplifting part either.
Though it isn't an instance of routine narrative exploitation of female weakness and abuse, but the result of the nature of the narrator they interact with. Sorry if that's not exceedingly clear, trying to avoid spoilers.
@34: Totally understand. Just keep in mind that one of the MBotF's overarching themes is, in Erikson's own words, a "plea for compassion." I've only read the first book of ASoIaF, but that seems a far cry from GRRM's agenda.
>35 After looking around, I found a blog post on the publisher's site from 2010 that says that all ten of Volsky's novels are set in the same universe. http://suvudu.com/2010/06/25-years-of-spectra-the-grand-ellipse-2000-by-paula-vo... The trilogy she recently published under the pen name Paula Brandon (starting with The Traitor's Daughter) could be separate though, they were published after that article was written. I'll probably start with Illusion.
>35,36 Thanks for the info on the Culture series! I appreciate your notes, Jarandel, it sounds like Use of Weapons could be a book I might go on to read if I really enjoy the others, but definitely not a good starting place for me. The reason I tend to avoid military sf/fantasy is because I prefer my "Other" characters sympathetic rather than implacably out to get "us".
>37 Well, that sounds like a good motivation to start from, and while I haven't read around enough to know GRRM's thoughts on ASoIaF, would agree that it's very likely his agenda is not along those lines.
So, more series... How about some urban fantasy? It seems like Kelly Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld could count, although it looks like everyone's plots might come together in Thirteen. Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series has a spinoff, Outcast Season, and I know the latter spins off from the former, but does it diverge? There's also at least one sidestory to Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series, Gunmetal Magic, would it fit the bill?
>38: Thanks for posting that link. Volsky went totally silent after publishing The grand ellipse and I had tried in vain to find out what she was up to. I found the new trilogy recently by accident, so will try and get to the first one soon. I think the setting is different, but the few pages I've read certainly seem to maintain her familiar narrative style.
Myself I'm a chronological reader, so I would always start with Consider Phlebas, as the first on written anyway. In some senses I actually also think it's a better starting point. It's written from a viewpoint outside of the Culture and has quite a wide scope. Like the others I did enjoy The Player of Games more, but it's a more focused book, and I possibly enjoyed it because I already had a sense of context and enjoyed now seeing the Culture from the inside.
You might want to read Use of Weapons because it does introduce one of the few recurring characters. Although that's not a big deal - the character does recur, but not for several books, which was many years as they were published, and it's almost just an easter-egg bonus for those readers who notice this is the same character.
I like Look to Windward. Many people seem to particularly like Excession. But again - I would read them in order. With some of the Culture books that actually makes sense other than just my preference, because of the way Banks sometimes takes something that was introduced in an earlier book and finds a new perspective on it, for which you somewhat have to have read the earlier book.
38> There are currently six books set in Kate Daniel's world, but five of them follow Kate. Gunmetal Magic is really the only one with a different protagonist and story arch, though I think there are some short stories. The world may develop into more of what you are looking for - it depends if the authors stay with the world after finishing Kate's story arch (which will have seven books). All of the books have been set in the same city, but in the next one will be in Europe.
Oooh I wanted to post the chart Nerilka did! *Beat me to it*
I have been suggesting it for years to potential new Discworld readers. I started Discworld with Thief of Time at the age of 14 and it still ranks as one my favourite books of all time with a beautifully subtle love story.
If you scroll down to the bibliography section in this wiki ( http://discworld.wikia.com/wiki/Discworld_%28series%29 ) you will see the themes that are associated with each book and what Pratchett was satirising. There was a more nicely formatted list but I have lost it. :(
And by the way, I love this topic! I have often wondered why authors go to all the trouble of creating a whole new gorgeous world and then only use it once or twice with only one story to tell.
That being said, I think all the storylines tie together in the Liaden books by the time you are atGhost Ship. Which is fine... But... meh
On the topic of Urban Fantasy:
Ilona Andrews Kate books are very much set in the same world with the same characters. I think the authors are, however, looking ahead with a new short story not set in Atlanta with Saiman's cousin. It is very far from being a sprawling universe at this point although it probably will develop in that direction as the authors write fast. BTW, Dali from Magic Strikes (#3) and Jim have got an already published novella and an upcoming novel! (And Dali is awesome being Indonesian! - yay diversity*, a magic user, and loads of fun.)
THIS IS SPOILERY: I was intrigued by Karen Chance's novella in the On the Prowl anthology because the world seemed promising and a lot of fun. I recently picked up her first book set in this world and it left me completely underwhelmed. I *hate* vampires. And I THOROUGHLY disliked the fact that the one main male character in the book who was not European (he was half Incan -- that could have been explored so well!) ended up being evil and not the love interest like I thought he would be. It irritated the hell out of me. Who isn't tired of some member of the Dracula family being the lead? She has three separate sets of characters so her books do fit this bill for this thread. I will probably read a couple more and let you know how they turn out. It is such a shame because her novella was delightful and I just basically wanted further development of that.
Elizabeth Vaughan also fits the bill since she has the Warprize series as well as the Palins series. Her books are quick and easy to read but her writing style suffers from some of the purplest prose I have ever seen. Where she wins is the very realistic depiction of a clash of cultures as medieval fantasy meets nomadic war tribes, they stop fighting and attempt to merge their cultures. And this does not become a one-way merge with medieval fantasy taking over the nomadic culture.
I will add more as I think of them. :)
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.