I have a confession to make: I hate fantasy literature. This might seem odd considering I run a blog about tabletop RPGs that focuses (at the moment) exclusively on the fantasy genre, but it's true. Aside from a handful of books, I loathe fantasy. Maybe I've just read the wrong books. Maybe it's because I went to school for literature and am a snob. I don't know.
However, this year I have set out to change this. I feel like I can't own funny-sided dice and toy soldiers that I've painted, lovingly, without enjoying a fantasy book or two. Last year I read A Game of Thrones after catching a few episodes of the show. I wasn't impressed. Or rather, the experience wasn't compelling enough that I felt obligated to devour the books in the way so many other people have. I have a theory: if I can find someone reading a book on any subway line during any given day of the week, there is no way it is good. Yeah, I'm definitely a snob.
Still, against my better judgement, I dove into A Clash of Kings earlier this year. I enjoyed this one a lot more. I still have issues with GRRM, but I actually felt tempted to dig right into his next book, A Storm of Swords, which I'm currently struggling to finish. I think he crafts brilliant characters who speak with razor-sharp wit. It's everything in between the dialogue that I don't enjoy. I had almost given up on the book, but found myself plowing through a few chapters this week. It seems, after 700+ pages, that I'm committed. I'll likely even read the whole series, because I'm a masochist and don't know when to quit.
When DCC RPG showed up on my radar in April, it was the first time I heard the term "Appendix N." After doing a little research, I discovered I was familiar with some of those authors. Two exactly: Tolkien and Lovecraft. I know it's sacrosanct to say, but I hate their books. Tolkien's magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings is a series I've never been able to finish. It's really the first 100 pages of The Fellowship that kill me every time I attempt to read it. The Hobbit, on the other hand, is one of those rare fantasy books I actually enjoyed. Lovecraft has the exact opposite problem of GRRM for me. Absolutely haunting descriptions, but flat characters with boring dialogue. I think I liked two of his stories (I read 400+ pages of them), "The Colour from Out of Space" and "Pickman's Model."
It's really the other authors, whom I had never even heard of, that caught my eye, particularly Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard. I've slowly been collecting their books or putting them on hold at the library, hoping that they will provide me with better experiences than other fantasy authors have in the past. After I finish A Storm of Swords, I'm going to dive right into Swords Against Deviltry.
I end this post with two questions and a request: am I missing something in the works of GRRM, Tolkien, and Lovecraft? In some cases, it's been years since I've read their work, should I go back and re-read them? Lastly, what do you recommend to someone looking to make fantasy a "project"?