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How is Historical Fantasy faring these days?

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SarahWoodbury
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Post by SarahWoodbury » Wed November 9th, 2011, 12:53 am

I would agree that the sense among traditional publishers is that historical fantasy is not a big money-maker. Well, more than a sense since editors told me that as they rejected each one of my books in turn :) At the same time, I'm making a nice living off of my books as an indie author. But then, I don't have their overhead ...

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marklord
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Post by marklord » Wed November 9th, 2011, 10:54 am

[quote=""Ash""]While I don't think those books are related to War of Roses much, they do evoke a time and place that is eerily familiar. Enough so that people will wait years for his books. Well, maybe not now..his last two books really were not good.)[/quote]

Apparently Martin mentioned a few times that there is a loose association with the War of the Roses - see http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011 ... act_miller for instance. I'm not sure how close it is though - a bloody civil war is a bloody civil war?

Regarding Abercrombie, I think it's interesting that Manda mentioned him as a historical fantasy author - although I think he bases his setting on history, is it strictly historical if he completely changes the names? I've noticed that a few authors do this nowadays rather than create much of a fully-realized constructed world, and although I really like Abercrombie, there's part of me that's not quite comfortable with just taking bits and pieces of history and changing the names and then calling fantasy.
Editor of Alt Hist, the new magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History.

Writer of Historical Fantasy, visit my site for more details.

Latest novels:
Hell has its Demons (Historical Fantasy)
By the Sword's Edge (Volume 1 of a serialized novel - Medieval Action and Adventure)

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Leyland
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Post by Leyland » Wed November 9th, 2011, 2:46 pm

I've been following this thread with interest as I've become more interested in Hist Fantasy. I've read and enjoyed Ysabel (GG Kay), Twelve by J Kent and have read some of Strange/Norell (must finish!). I've enjoyed a good bit of Gaiman, as well.

I've got Harkness's A Discovery of Witches coming any day now and have ordered Mary Gentle's Ash and A Sundial in a Grave .

The inclusion of myth and legend into historical fiction is so interesting to me, having grown up loving vampire/werewolf movies and devouring Edith Hamilton's Greek mythology. Since these myths and legends were reality to many historic and prehistoric cultures and were significant parts of daily life, it seems natural to write them into a sort of hist fict on a tangent.

Three more novels that really got me interested in the genre were Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon, The Wolf Hunt by Gillian Bradshaw (based on the lai Bisclavret, Marie de France) and The Terror by Dan Simmons.

I hope Hist Fantasy continues to fare onward!
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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Wed November 9th, 2011, 3:38 pm

[quote=""Leyland""]have ordered Mary Gentle's Ash and A Sundial in a Grave .

[/quote]

I loved A Sundial in a Grave. It's also an unconventional love story (which some readers may or may not take to) as well as a rollicking swashbuckler. Hopefully, you ordered the four-books-in-one UK edition of Ash. It's a big, doorstopper of a book. I believe the story was published in four volumes here in the US and is OOP. Better to buy one book containing it all than scrounge around for all four of the US editions.

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marklord
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Post by marklord » Wed November 9th, 2011, 3:47 pm

[quote=""Leyland""]

I've got Harkness's A Discovery of Witches coming any day now and have ordered Mary Gentle's Ash and A Sundial in a Grave .

Three more novels that really got me interested in the genre were Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon, The Wolf Hunt by Gillian Bradshaw (based on the lai Bisclavret, Marie de France) and The Terror by Dan Simmons.
[/quote]

Some books here I haven't come across, so thanks for sharing your favourites - in particular the Bradshaw book looks really interesting, as I've written my own short story based on the same lai by Marie de France - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0041KL4BO.

I'm sure Bradshaw's novel is much better than my effort - I'm annoyed with myself for not knowing about it! :(
Editor of Alt Hist, the new magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History.

Writer of Historical Fantasy, visit my site for more details.

Latest novels:
Hell has its Demons (Historical Fantasy)
By the Sword's Edge (Volume 1 of a serialized novel - Medieval Action and Adventure)

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SarahWoodbury
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Post by SarahWoodbury » Wed November 9th, 2011, 8:57 pm

By the way, there is a historical fantasy list at Amazon. Maybe you can find something there you'd like: http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/di ... c_3_5_last

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parthianbow
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Post by parthianbow » Thu November 10th, 2011, 1:37 pm

[quote=""marklord""]And I forgot - anything by Joe Abercrombie is basically Historical Fantasy but with the names changed - think Jacobite era England and Scotland, but with limited use of gunpowder.[/quote]

I'd have to disagree with you and Manda there. In my opinion, and gunpowder aside, Abercrombie is pure fantasy. There are huge differences between his world and Jacobite England and Scotland. The Gurkhuls are one people who spring to mind instantly. So too are the 'Flatheads' and other peoples. It may have similarities with the time period you refer to, but I don't think it can be classed as historical fantasy at all.
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Post by SGM » Thu November 10th, 2011, 8:15 pm

Is alternative history the same thing as historical fantasy? And where does Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle fit into all this?

Ultimately, I am not sure if the answer is important. I just have to enjoy it and I do.
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annis
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Post by annis » Fri November 11th, 2011, 1:46 am

I'm with Ben on Abercrombie- I don't see how his books (and I love them) can be called anything but straight fantasy. Brian Ruckley's Godless World series could at a pinch be onsidered influenced by history as it owes quite a lot to the world of the the Anglo-Saxon warrior, though I'd still call it fantasy rather than historical fantasy.

A while ago Carla Nayland wrote a post on historical fantasy which I think pretty helpful when trying to categorise various sub-genres:
http://www.carlanayland.org/essays/hist ... antasy.htm

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marklord
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Post by marklord » Fri November 11th, 2011, 11:56 am

[quote=""annis""]I'm with Ben on Abercrombie- I don't see how his books (and I love them) can be called anything but straight fantasy.[/quote]

I don't think I'd position Abercrombie as Historical Fantasy, but I do believe there is a whole slew of fantasy writers who don't work out a detailed secondary world. For me Historical Fantasy has to actually have a firm setting in history, but his writing does borrow historical settings and reinterpret them - for instance the main country is called Angland. And then there's the North, which is Scotland etc etc.

GRR Martin does it as well.

It's interesting to note that some fantasy books - such as those from Richard Morgan for instance, are categorized as historical fantasy by the likes of Amazon. Like Abercrombie and Martin though his books aren't historical, but they borrow from history in the same way.

Tolkien started the whole thing, but I think he really did work out a secondary fantasy world. Some of his background is just taken from history - so you have Harad which is a Middle Eastern-type country, and you could say that Gondor is perhaps Roman/Byzantine, but he worked out such a deep mythology and history for his world, that comparisons with history are much more tenuous.
Editor of Alt Hist, the new magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History.

Writer of Historical Fantasy, visit my site for more details.

Latest novels:
Hell has its Demons (Historical Fantasy)
By the Sword's Edge (Volume 1 of a serialized novel - Medieval Action and Adventure)

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