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Wilderness Based Fantasy


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May 8, 2010, 8:47am Top

I'm looking for a good gritty wilderness based fantasy/fantasy series.

No George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, or Terry Brooks.



May 8, 2010, 9:36am Top

Do you have some examples of authors/books you are looking for? I'm not really understanding what wilderness-based fantasy would look like from your post, I'm afraid. ^-^;

I'm stuck on the idea of Tarzan and Mowgli where there's no cultivated land to speak of. (Apart from when they come into contact with said cultivated land, of course.)

May 8, 2010, 10:05am Top

Well absolutley no fantasy connected with the 'real' world, so no Tarzan I'm afraid.

Nothing Fae/Faery.

I like the Weathertop scenes from LOTR.

I'd like to feel the wilderness is almost a character in the book, along with the weather.

Old School quest based fantasy is fine. I don't mind the odd stop at the nearest Inn ;-)

Good character interaction is a plus.

As far as authors go the last fantasy stuff I really enjoyed were the earlier 'Black Company' Books by Glen Cook.

I have been reading a great deal of Warhammer Fantasy stuff the last few years because I enjoy the setting (though the writing is variable)

I also have read a great deal of Forgotten Realms in the past.

I read Karavans by Justina Robson a while back, which I thought was very bland and boring.

May 8, 2010, 10:35am Top

You might want to try some of David Gemmell's books (The Drenai books comes to mind).

Edited: May 8, 2010, 11:27am Top

I've read a chunk of Gemmell's books years ago including 'Legend'. They were okay, but not something I want to go back to.

I read 'The Last Wish' and 'Blood of Elves' by Andrzej Sapkowski recently, which were very good, though Orbit are taking their sweet time to translate the next volume, which isn't coming for another 12 months.

May 8, 2010, 9:32pm Top

J. V. Jones' Sword of Shadows series starting with A Cavern of Black Ice is very wilderness-y.

Edited: May 9, 2010, 4:37am Top

There are only two I can think of at the moment.

Green Rider, the majority of which is a quest through the "wilderness".

The other is Jane Lindskold's Wolf series, which has a feral female protagonist. The first volume is Through Wolf's Eyes.

May 9, 2010, 1:22pm Top

Oh, I didn't mean the books themselves, more the kind of setting. ^-^ (As compared to, say, that of ASoIaF.) Give people a kind of reference ast to how you want the wilderness to feature in the books and perhaps also the kind of wilderness you want.

I'm quite tempted to recommend you Moonheart by Charles de Lint. I think it's definitely worth checking out because the wilderness/natural world you get is just stunning, but there's also a fairly large section of things you said you're not interested in. (Like fey. They're de Lint's own invention and based on native American beliefs, but even so.) And it takes a while to get to the wilderness. It won't be a complete match for what you're looking for, but I still feel it's worth at least trying to borrow it from a library. ^-^

There's also the Cygnet duology by Patricia McKillip, but especially the second book. (They're both stand-alones.) The second book takes place largely in a desert.

Seaward by Susan Cooper also had a very high presence of the environment and you have several books by her already. It's also, though, out of print and possibly hard to find. Again, it won't match precisely with what I'm gathering you're looking for. Sorry. :(

I actually have only a few books that I'd consider wilderness-based by those definitions. It's odd how many of them I've got that take place in more cultivated areas. I never would've guessed that. :/

I'll leave you with an inquiry into other campaign/game based novels. Have you looked at those? Like the new Dragon Age ones. I haven't read them, I should stress that, but since you seem to enjoy the Warhammer/Forgotten Realms books maybe they're worth looking into too.

May 9, 2010, 2:54pm Top

If you are willing to include sci-fi, then Rider at the gate by CJ Cherryh is a book where the ecology of an alien world might be considered a character in the book.

The Kencyrath books by P C Hodgell also have a very strong feeling of environment, though this only builds gradually during the series.

May 14, 2010, 7:04am Top

Tad Williams Dragonbone Chair series was very adventurous, with a lot of moving through the land on a quest.

Green Rider is very wilderness based, but the next two have at least 3/4 based in a city/camp.

May 14, 2010, 8:09am Top

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley takes place in a desert, and a few of the Outlanders feel a pull toward the hills that is pretty much irresistible. No fairies, and no connection with the real world (though there are hints of British colonialism).

May 14, 2010, 10:38am Top

Janny Wurts seems ideal here - either her standalone to ride hell's chasm which starts off in a town but rapidly moves into superb mountains, or curse of the mistwraith and sequels - lots of travelling through eloquent countryside.

Maybe ill made mute though there is a bit of the faery in there too. Not much though.

May 15, 2010, 1:59am Top

barrenlands by Doranna Durgin, and The sharing knife books by Lois McMaster Bujold also have a strong sense of wilderness, but I suspect they will not be gritty enough for your tastes.

May 15, 2010, 4:32am Top

I just thought of Queen of the Orcs: King's Property, the first in a trilogy having a different take on the orcs.

May 15, 2010, 11:21am Top

The Ill-made Mute doesn't have too much of faery in it, no, but the other two books in the trilogy do. I don't recall it being a good stand-alone, but it's been too long since I've read it to know for sure.

May 17, 2010, 6:41am Top

Thanks for all the suggestions, maybe I'll take a look at 'Green Rider'

Feb 17, 2012, 1:13pm Top

If the landscape of Dune isn't a wilderness, I don't know what is.

Feb 17, 2012, 3:52pm Top

These probably aren't as "gritty" as you're looking for, but:

The Whitefire Crossing seems to have been generally well-liked, and a sizable chunk of the book involves crossing a mountain range and the difficulties encountered.

One of the main characters of Greg Keyes' "Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone" series is a woodsman, and his sections are fairly wilderness-y. (Proviso: Series quality drops a fair bit in the later books, imo, but the first one is worth at least a look.)

And actually, now that I think of it, Keyes' The Waterborn also has a wilderness-y vibe.

Edited: Feb 17, 2012, 5:16pm Top

C J Cherryh's Hammerfall was a really good scifi/fantasy novel. Most of the book is centered around a group of people making a trek across this huge, unforgiving desert, a really good read and different from what's usually associated with the genre.

Feb 17, 2012, 10:25pm Top

I second the idea of *some* of Charles De Lint's stuff, esp. the ones with a strong North American/Native American myth theme.
Perhaps some of Midori Snyder's stuff -- her The Flight of Michael McBride is a fascinating blend of Celtic, Mexican & Native American myth, and takes place in the desert Southwest. Also the Queen's Quarter series starting with New Moon.
Speaking of the North American wilderness, going cross-genre but keeping a sense of adventure & wonder, the wildlife expert & adventurer Craig Childs has written some great wilderness books. The Animal Dialogues (eye-to-eye with a cougar, among other episodes) and The Secret Knowledge of Water (searching for water holes and avoiding flash floods in the desert, in various chapters) have as much magic & excitement as any fantasy.

And I believe Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World series, a really good fantasy epic, involves some wilderness travels. The first volume is The Anvil of Ice .

Feb 17, 2012, 11:21pm Top

You might like The Deed of Paksenarrion, by Elizabeth Moon. It's a trilogy about a young woman who becomes a mercenary soldier, and there's a lot of fighting and traveling through the wilderness. I'd say it's fairly gritty, although elves do make an occasional appearance.

Feb 20, 2012, 2:26pm Top

I'm only 4 chapters in, so take my recommendation with a grain of salt, but I think Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov might fit your bill. I'm definitely getting some good LOTR vibes from it and it is also reminiscent of some of the better portions of the Dragonlance books (but much more well written).

It WILL be a series... I think the 2nd book comes out soon. This guy is going to be a very successful fantasy author, I predict.

Just noticed this is a resurrected thread. You still out there cosmicdolphin?

Feb 20, 2012, 3:45pm Top

@22: cosmicdolphin has been cataloguing books as recently as yesterday.

I'll second the The Whitefire Crossing. I really enjoyed it, and it looks like we have similar tastes.

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