By now, my three readers might be thinking, “Why aren’t any of these ‘major influences’ books? Isn’t A.D. Martin is supposed to be some kind of novelist? This is dumb. I’m un-following that bastard.”
Don’t do it! My influences also includes books and stuff, not the least of which are the fantasy series presented infra (use of this term proves that I’m a lawyer).
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Alright, I’ll admit I didn’t read these books until after I saw the movies. However, watching the films beforehand allowed me to enjoy Tolkien’s work more so than I otherwise would have. Why? Because the first million pages of The Fellowship of the Ring talks about the Hobbits and their way of life, and there’s no frickin’ way I would’ve gotten through that if I didn’t know awesome stuff would eventually happen. Hobbit anthropology aside, I think I actually like the books better than the movies (I’m sorry Mr. Jackson, I am for real).
By the time I watched the Fellowship take on Sauron, however, I was already thoroughly exposed to elves, dwarves, and wizards through other works which drew influence from Tolkien (e.g., The Record of Lodoss War, Neverwinter Nights). However, Peter Jackson did a great job of bringing the Tolkien “originals” to life, and making it fun to watch.
It’s a classic.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (no relation)
Starting with A Game of Thrones in 1996, George R.R. Martin deviated substantially from Tolkien’s rather plain Good VS Evil formula, and also steered clear from the overused Tolkien fantasy races. Similar to The Lord of the Rings, I didn’t read GRRM’s series until after the HBO series was made. However, I’d like to note that I finished five of the novels before watching a single episode of the television series.
With this series, GRRM did some fun things by purposefully breaking cliches: he wanted good guys to lose, he wanted men dressed in black to be heroes, and he wanted pretty blond folks to be jerks. Of course, it all ended up much more complicated than that, but that seems to be the goals he had in mind when he began. There are many factors which comes together to make the series great: morally gray characters, smart intrigue, and masterful work with an ensemble of characters which results in a historical fiction-esque series.
When I started writing the manuscript which I’m currently pitching to agents, I intended to have several POV characters. Not so many as GRRM, but definitely more than a handful. After a few chapters, I gave that up and stuck with two POV characters. Maybe I’ll give an ensemble cast a go when I start another series.
Here’s to you, GRRM, and your ridiculous ability to juggle POV characters. I am seriously opening up a little airline-sized bottle of gin and drinking it. P.S. It’s gross.
The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
No, I did not watch Legend of the Seeker. I finished Goodkind’s fantasy series a few months before I heard it was being adapted by the folks behind Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. Maybe I should’ve gave it a go before it was cancelled. I probably would’ve watched it if it stayed closer to the source material.
Honestly, I don’t think Goodkind’s plot is as good as Tolkien or GRRM’s series. There’s a bit of deus ex machina and conveniently inconsistent character intellect. I also found it funny that the protagonist, Richard, is described as a large man, and then Goodkind brings in another character who is much larger than Richard. After that, you see a bunch of other dudes who are even larger than that dude. I guess all of Darken Rahl’s guards are at NBA Center heights and NFL Defensive Lineman thickness (i.e., ginormous).
What Goodkind does really well is build up tension and provide ridiculously satisfying resolutions. Even the sports game is exciting to read (I was told he was inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Quidditch, I haven’t bothered to verify that story).
Tournament and Tower by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
This is the second book in I guess what might be considered a Young Adult series. The series is called Circle of Magic. I never got around to reading any of the other books, as this was the only one in my sixth grade teacher’s in-class library.
Though I started and ended with book two, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it—well, I won’t forget its basic premise and that I enjoyed it. I actually had to Google what I remembered of the plot to find the title.
Anyway, the novel is about a journeyman wizard who’s not allowed to use magic because, in the first book, he broke some sort of wizarding rule by using a sword. Book two follows him as he journeys to this tower to seek permission to use magic again. Fun times is had by all (except the people who get killed—I think some people die, though I may be mistaken).