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What is it?

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xiaotien
Reader
Location: southern cali
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Postby xiaotien » Thu September 4th, 2008, 7:39 pm

margaret, i've got the silk road, but
haven't read it yet. i'm not sure i will
until my novel comes out? it's one of those
things...afraid i'll compare with my own novel.

and i don't even know if there is similarity
at all!

i did read bridge of birds by hughart. he
called it the "china that never was".

i do incorporate some chinese myth in
my novel--but i also make up quite a lot
as well. i'd call my novel fantasy first, for certain.
SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia
greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09

cindypon.com

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LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Postby LoveHistory » Fri September 5th, 2008, 7:46 pm

When I see or hear Fantasy I think of things that have to do with magic. Elves. Faeries. Wizards. Dwarves. Gnomes. Trolls. That kind of thing.

Now Historical Fantasy throws a curve. For one thing, almost all of my fantasies are historical, so it seems nearly redundant to me. Second, is it really historical if it has characters like those I just listed? Basically in to the question "what is it?" my answer is: I don't know.

I wish we had more generally accepted genres so that we could sort out the Invented History (who would buy something with that designation?) from the Historical Fantasy, from the regular (real) Historical Fiction.

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xiaotien
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Location: southern cali
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Postby xiaotien » Fri September 5th, 2008, 7:57 pm

LH, if your books are based on
a real time and place in history with
magic and elves, etc thrown in,
yes, it's historical fantasy.

if you say invented history, do you mean
alternate history? isn't chabon's yiddish policemen
alternate history? i've got it to read--and
it's done quite well.
SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia

greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09



cindypon.com

Belili
Scribbler

Postby Belili » Thu January 8th, 2009, 12:39 am

"xiaotien" wrote:yes. as i mentioned before, i thought i wrote
a historical fantasy until i realized i didn't
base it on an actual time or place. so it
really just pulls a lot on the chinese culture,
tradition and feel. as one editor told me :
"how is this fantasy? it reads like crouching tiger,
hidden dragon and amy tan." =O

like it was a bad thing.


That sounds... awesome, lol. I don't dig fantasy normally, but I read a historical fantasy a few years ago that sounds similar to what you are describing. And it's one of my favorite books ever. It's called The Secrets of Jin-Shei, by Alma Alexander. It's set in a nation that is very much like China but not quite China, with a neighboring culture that is very much like Russia but not quite Russia. Their religion is a hybrid between Taoism and Chinese folk religion, and their clothing is, you know, just like traditional Chinese clothing. There is a secret written language that is only known by women, passed down from mother-to-daughter, like there used to be in China.

One of the main characters is clearly based on Empress Wu. I think that the author didn't set it in China proper because she didn't want to confine herself to one time. The fantasy element is strictly alchemy (the kind that actually works) and a bit of magic. It's not in the forefront.

That was sort of a long spiel, but yeah, everyone should read it. :)

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xiaotien
Reader
Location: southern cali
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Postby xiaotien » Thu January 8th, 2009, 12:42 am

yes, i read secrets of jin-shei.

mine is definitely more fantastic and
more of a straight forward heroine's journey.

i'm giving away three ARCs (advanced reader copy)
on my blog if you want to try and win a copy? =)

http://cindypon.blogspot.com/2009/01/im-so-excited-silver-phoenix-arc.html
SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia

greenwillow / harpercollins summer '09



cindypon.com

Belili
Scribbler

Postby Belili » Thu January 8th, 2009, 2:51 am

"xiaotien" wrote:yes, i read secrets of jin-shei.

mine is definitely more fantastic and
more of a straight forward heroine's journey.

i'm giving away three ARCs (advanced reader copy)
on my blog if you want to try and win a copy? =)

http://cindypon.blogspot.com/2009/01/im-so-excited-silver-phoenix-arc.html


Sure thing, will do! It sounds like a cool premise. But how does one pick a favorite Chinese dish? That's almost like asking me which of my dogs I love the best.

You know, the best Chinese food I have ever had was at a restaurant in Thessaloniki, Greece, where I lived for a short while. It was owned by Japanese-Italians and Chinese-Italians. No joke! They had the best kung pao chicken ever. We communicated in a broken Italian-English pidgin, since I knew no Greek and they knew a little English and I a little Italian. I still have dreams about that restaurant. If I ever make it back there, that's the first place I'm going. I went to traditional tavernas on the sea and fancy $50-a-plate restaurants in Athens, and that Chinese restaurant remains the best food I had in Greece. For serious.

/OT

Back to HF - not sure if I can really determine what historical fantasy is; I'd like to read more of it, but I prefer emphasis on the historical/cultural rather than the fantasy. I *really* wish that HF got its own section in the bookstore.

I sometimes think that there should be a distinction between HF that is more like narrative biography and HF that is a traditional story that can only be told in a historical setting. Basically, between HF that primarily concerns people that actually existed, and HF that has fictional characters. The difference between SKP/Weir/McCullough and Lisa See/Geraldine Brooks/(mostly) Tracy Chevalier. I enjoy them both, but in different ways and for different reasons. For some reason I find that distinction more useful than the historical fiction/romance/fantasy distinctions that we have now. I usually find myself in the mood for one or the other (fictional in a historical setting or biographical), and whether it has fantastical or romantic elements is immaterial to that.

I find them very different reading experiences, and they fill different intellectual demands. I tend to be on the lookout for good HF with fictional characters at all times--have been for my entire life--and I get in moods for biographical HF and will read 15 books of that nature in a row. In fact, because of this, I only realized that I tend to pursue HF above all other genres a year or two ago, and I've always been a big reader.

Okay, that was off-topic, too. Please forgive my rambling!

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Volgadon
Compulsive Reader
Location: Israel
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Postby Volgadon » Thu January 8th, 2009, 8:35 am

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel is an excellent historical fantasy. The setting is regency England where magic is rediscovered and gradually reintroduced.

chuck
Bibliophile
Location: Ciinaminson NJ

Postby chuck » Thu January 8th, 2009, 4:46 pm

A fan of Cecilia Holland's HF novels...Especially "Jerusalem".....I have read her Viking's series....Starting with "Soul Thief " she weaves the magic and some of her characters have mystical powers....I think she keeps it pretty well balanced in this series....but I for one don't like a lot of mystical experiences in HF.........BTW Margaret, a very interesting post......"Into the Mystic" (great song)is a good thing...like anything it must have some mythic base that relates to the story.....I liked Mary Stewart's approach in her Arthur/Merlin trilogy, well "balanced" story....Alas! I'm babbling on again......
Last edited by chuck on Thu January 8th, 2009, 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
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Postby Margaret » Fri January 9th, 2009, 5:53 am

Mary Stewart's "Merlin" books are old favorites of mine. I don't really consider them to be fantasy, though some would. I guess it comes down to whether one believes people can be clairvoyant or not. Except for Merlin's prophetic abilities, these novels resemble novels like Mary Renault's The King Must Die, which take fantastical legends and try to imagine what the real history might have been that over time was distorted into legends full of magical events.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is great! It took me a few chapters to really get into the story, and the first time I started reading it I didn't finish. I was very glad I picked it up again the second time. It's full of wry humor. The "footnotes" are wonderful. It's really a very elegant spoof of the sort of quasi-academic history books written in earlier centuries by clerics with a fascination for local history and too much time on their hands, except that it's also a great story. It has to be classified as fantasy, because it's full of magic - stones that speak, ships conjured out of nothing, etc. - but the literary tone is like no fantasy novel you've ever read.
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Volgadon
Compulsive Reader
Location: Israel
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Postby Volgadon » Fri January 9th, 2009, 10:26 am

What really impressed me is that characters in the book act like they are in 18xx. The author doesn't use the excuse of it is fantasy so they can behave as they like but they are true to their times.


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