My very first fantasy read was The Hobbit. And I immediately fell in love with the book. I was probably twelve at the time. Next came The Lord of The Rings, which really opened the world of fantasy books before me. I was still a youngster back then, and I struggled slightly with the multitude of characters and plots.
Anyhow, what I want to talk to you is one’s change in the like and dislike of certain authors and sub-genres of the fantasy world, and how my own perception of the literary works changed over time, most likely caused by the inevitable aging and arguable mental maturity gently settling upon my shoulders. So what gives?
In my late teens, I was a great fan of huge, epic fantasy series like The Sword of Truth and The Wheel of Time, which are rather similar, if you think about it. Believe it or not, I also had quite a bit of patience and forgiving for David Eddings’ works. Terry Brooks was there, as well as dozens of other authors, most of whom you probably have never heard of, and if I need to update my Goodreads library, I will have to walk over to the bookshelf and remember the names.
My next breakthrough was Paul Kearney, a man who has redefined gritty. J. V. Jones was there, too. In my twenties, George Martin was the next Toklien, and he set the bar still higher. And roughly at that time, I began to realize that my great patience was dwindling, and my infatuation with supremely long but slow plots, naive heroic characters and terrible speeches the likes of Richard Rahl was wearing thin. Rather than consuming fantasy in ever greater heaps, I found myself narrowing down.
I also learned that fantasy can be fun. Terry Pratchett, here I come, all of the Discworld books. Fun, dark, why not both. Humor does not mean you laugh, but someone, somewhere does.
Perhaps this also reflects my own penchant for the dark fantasy. I started writing The Betrayed back in 2007, and I guess my taste has solidified since. I favor character development and human interaction, and I do not really care about the world, the lore or magic. Which makes Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie my new darlings. Terry Pratchett still rules. Martin is there too, and I wish he finishes his series before the next century.
Now and then, I grab a classic book and try to see whether I can develop new love for old works. But I find myself often disappointed. David Gemmell’s Drenai, Brendan Sanderson’s Mistborn, to name a few, while I did read these and found them ok, the magic of delight that I once had as a child is gone. And that many of these authors have also grown themselves. Just compare J. V. Jones’ early work with her Sword of Shadows fantasy. Not unlike my old shelved manuscripts versus my published works. Which means the hunt for new authors, probably with character development and drama as their focus, will remain my primary interest in the coming years.
But The Hobbit, it still remains golden. First loves never die.