Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #27: Fantasy Inspired By Middle Eastern Culture

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, previously posted every other Friday but now a little more occasionally! It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: fantasy inspired by Middle Eastern culture.

It has always bugged me that so many of the fantasy books I read are clearly inspired by Western culture. For example, many novels take inspiration from Scandinavian countries, because their history, culture, architecture and ancient religions provide some pretty wonderful inspiration. But this works well for so many other countries, so why aren’t we seeing their influence?

Actually, Middle Eastern culture does have a lot of influence on fantasy fiction. But very rarely are the heroes and heroines from this background. It seems to mostly be used as an inspiration for the ‘enemy’ culture, to represent barbarians and people of a ‘less developed’ civilisation, for example the Dothraki in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, who are initially shown as very violent and cruel. This got me thinking about books where this is not the case, and where the main civilisation represented in the book is actually inspired by the Middle East. I was pleased to find quite a selection during my research, and would love to hear about some more if you can share any!

Rebel of the Sands Twelve Kings The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett

  • Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton – a Persian inspired fantasy that seemed to me like an ‘Eastern Western’ e.g. lots of gun slinging.
  • Twelve Kings (The Song of the Shattered Sands #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu – the first in an epic fantasy series with political corruptness, assassins and immortal kings.
  • The Desert Spear (The Demon Cycle #2) by Peter V. Brett – whilst the culture is perhaps shown as barbaric at first, POV chapters open up the reader’s eyes to why Jardir’s world is the way it is.

Throne of the Crescent Moon Desert of Souls Lions of Al-Rassan

  • Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms #1) by Saladin Ahmed – I’ve not read this one, but it was very highly recommended when I was searching for books for this post, and seems to be inspired by Arabian Nights.
  • The Desert of Souls (The Chronicles of Sword and Sand #1) by Howard Andrew Jones – unlike most of the books on this list, this one is actually set in our world, but with a fantasy twist.
  • The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay – this was one of the Books of the Month for Dragons & Jetpacks but I STILL haven’t read it (story of my life).

The Golem and the Jinni The Will of the Wanderer In the Night Garden

  • The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker – yet another Dragons & Jetpacks Book of the Month that I still haven’t read! I do remember members of the group commenting on how beautiful this book was though.
  • The Will of the Wanderer (Rose of the Prophet #1) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman – one of the older books on this list, this tells the story of a battle between many gods.
  • In the Night Garden (The Orphan’s Tales #1) by Catherynne M. Valente – the description of this book of short stories sounds more than enough to convince me: ‘A book of wonders for grown-up readers’!

Do you have any other recommendations?

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Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #15: Fantasy ‘Pick & Mix’

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to recommend fantasy novels, depending on what element you would like to read about.

I’ve chosen a selection of fantasy books, picked out some of the main themes or features of each, and then divided them accordingly. The idea is that you can pick one or more elements you’d like to read about, and pick a book from that category. Even better if a book crosses several different categories – which is where the ‘pick & mix’ comes in! When it comes to series I’ve generally only included the first book from each, unless the sequels contain elements that the previous books do not.

The categories are: Assassins, Dark, Dragons, Dwarves & Elves, Historical, Magic, Monsters, Political, Quest, Royalty and Thieves.

Assassins
Assassins
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Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas; Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore; The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers; Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Pyramids (Discworld #7) by Terry Pratchett.

Dark Theme
Dark

A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie; The Left Hand Of God (The Left Hand of God #1) by Paul Hoffman; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; Low Town (Low Town #1) by Daniel Polansky; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence.

Dragons
Dragons

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire by J.K. Rowling; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman; The Red Knight (The Traitor Son Cycle #1) by Miles Cameron; A Natural History of Dragons (Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan; A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin; Dragonflight (Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey; Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8) by Terry Pratchett.

ffdwarvesandelves
Dwarves & Elves

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; Men At Arms (Discworld #15) by Terry Pratchett; The Dwarves (The Dwarves #1) by Markus Heitz; Homeland (Legend of Drizzt #1) by R.A. Salvatore; Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini; Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven #1) by James Barclay.

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Historical

*By historical I mean the book is either based on a historical period, takes place in a historical period but has fantastical elements, or is an alternate history.

Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers; Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; In Camelot’s Shadow (The Paths to Camelot #1) by Sarah Zettel.

Magic
Magic
Magic
Magic

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling; The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss; Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor; The Magicians’ Guild (The Black Magician Trilogy #1) by Trudi Canavan; Elantris by Brandon Sanderson; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson; The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire #1) by William Nicholson; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan; Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo; Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin; The Colour Of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett; Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven #1) by James Barclay; Low Town (Low Town #1) by Daniel Polansky.

Monsters
Monsters

*By monsters I mean a wide variety of things: zombies, centaurs, orcs, goblins, demons etc. Not necessarily all evil!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling; Fire (Graceling #2) by Kristin Cashore; Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts.

Politics
Politics

The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; The Left Hand Of God (The Left Hand of God #1) by Paul Hoffman; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder.

Quest
Quest
Quest

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; Red Country by Joe Abercrombie; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire #1) by William Nicholson; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; The Princess Bridge by William Goldman; A Natural History of Dragons (Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts; Dragonflight (Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey.

Royalty
Royalty
Royalty

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas; Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Desert Spear (The Demon Cycle #2) by Peter V. Brett; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; Elantris by Brandon Sanderson; The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Princess Bride by William Goldman; Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman; Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan.

Thieves
Thieves

Bitterblue (Graceling #3) by Kristin Cashore; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; The Princess Bride by William Goldman; Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan.

I hope this ‘pick and mix’ list helps you to find some new reads! 🙂