alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (Default)
[personal profile] alias_sqbr
[ profile] warpwind asked me on twitter on behalf of asinglestarwar and it was easier to compile them here. Extra recs very much appreciated!

The actual request was for an epic fantasy series not about straight white people, so this rec list is a mix of epic and second world fantasies. Leaning very much towards lgbtia since that's something I seek out more avidly, and specifically lgb because that's all I tend to be able to find. I added an asterix if the author isn't straight and white to the best of my knowledge. Also note: I am really lazy about reading sequels to things, it's not an insult to the book :)

Straight forward rec:

*Fire Logic by Laurie J Marks: Straight up "rag tag band must survive and fight against war by invading country in complex secondary world, also there is smooches" with multi ethnic f/f. Loved it! I have not read the sequels but hear they are very good.

*The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jemisin: slightly overblown but engaging story of an African-coded minor princess in the Big Weird Fantasy Capital dealing with gods, secrets, love, and her Destiny. I have not read the sequels but mean to.

*The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono Is a Japanese writer cheating? Best "teenage girl falls into secondary world, discovers she has a Destiny" story ever, really gets into how difficult it would be for an ordinary girl to cope with that situation and has some great Ancient China inspired worldbuilding. I watched the anime instead of reading further but there's a long and complex plot with lots of characters.

Alt-Europe (usually more elegant than epic but there's sword fighting):

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher Very enjoyable f/f retelling of the Snow Queen. Standalone.

*Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones: Princess and female bodyguard in alt!19th century Europe dealing with magic and danger. A little dry and strange but good. I have not read the sequel but just bought it.

*Sword of the Guardian by Merry Shannon: Similar premise but 1000% cheesier. Have not read the sequels.

*Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner: Intrigue and elegant sword fights and m/m in alt!France. The only other book in the series I have read is "The Privilege of the Sword" which is a SUPER FUN book about a bi crossdressing female swordsmith, I hear some of the others are depressing.

Misc other recs that may not be the right sort of thing:

*The Second Mango by Shira Glassman Very fluffy fairytale-ish road trip with a lesbian protagonist (who has cealiacs!) in an ethnically diverse fantasy world where everyone appears to be Jewish. Middling quality and did not feel very epic. Have not read the rest of the series yet but apparently there is some trans representation.

The Craft Sequence A world where necromancers have unseated the gods and capitalism wars with tradition. I read and loved the first three books of this, then my socialist bones got a bit annoyed by there not being any options except for "capitalism" and "tradition". Epic in scope but very modern in tone. Main characters are mostly POC, some are lgbt, including a trans woman.

*Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler the complex relationship between two African immortals over the centuries: a compassionate shapeshifting woman and a sociopathic mind hopping man. Epic but set in our world and kinda scifi-ish. I tried some of the sequels but they were too depressing, also they're straight up science fiction.

*Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho Great fluffy fantasy about two POC magicians in alt!19th century England.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch Young black policeman in modern London gets dragged into the secret world of magicians. Kinda epic. Have not read the later books but they're apparently pretty good. A bit heteronormative.

Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore Iddy and sometimes patchy YA fantasy about badass women saving fantasy kingdoms. I actually read the whole series! The first book has a background m/m couple, books 2 and 3 have POC protagonists.

Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce Middle grade fantasy about a group of kids who form a magical found family and Save The Day, ethnically diverse with some minor queerness. Author is a well meaning old straight white woman and this sometimes shows. I never got around to book 4.

*Captive Prince series by C S Pacat Original slash about a prince being betrayed and ending up a slave for a prince from a rival country. Very fanficcy enemies to lovers with lots of intrigue and battles and angst etc. Starts out with a LOT of triggery content, but that largely peters out, and it turns into a fairly conventional and effective fantasy series. I've only read the first two books (because they were free at the time ;))

Others have liked but I didn't get into:

*The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin: apparently very good but also depressing, with bad things happening to children.

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan Grimdark fantasy with queer protags. Was too grimdark for me.

*Kushiel's Dart the bi heroine uses her magical sub powers as a courtesan in sexy alt!France. Apparently has a very involving plot once it gets going, start is a bit slow and too sexy for me.

Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling Original slash in generic fantasy setting with elves etc. I kinda enjoyed the first but found the sequel so sexist and badly written I had to stop, other people love them.

*Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff I was recced this as typical 90s fantasy with bi and poly characters and that's exactly what it was. Which turned out to be too 90s fantasy for me (cheesy, moustache twirling villains etc) but it was free on iBooks and other people love them. The protagonist is a bi poly princess who was only allowed to become a bard if she never became pregnant and...oops.

Some rec lists I found by briefly googling

8 Queer High Fantasy Books For Your Epic Sword-Wielding Needs

Fantasy series with black protagonists?

Story Bundle of Queer books on sale right now includes sequel to "Daughter of Mystery" for as little as $5.

You didn't say it had to be an epic BOOK series:

*Dragon Age: A really fun fantasy RPG series set in not!Tolkein not!Europe with a mildly diverse cast and the chance to play as and romance both men and women. You can also make your character dark skinned though the support for this (how your family looks etc) is patchy.

Date: 2017-06-09 05:54 am (UTC)
aris_tgd: Deu from Raging Phoenix, training (Deu practicing)
From: [personal profile] aris_tgd
I'll drop a rec to Grace of Kings and Wall of Storms by Ken Liu--epic fantasy in an alt!Polynesian-ish setting, heavily inspired by Chinese classical novels. There are some queer characters and at least one genderqueer god, though most of the main characters are pretty coded straight. Also, it's a big bloody violent fantasy epic, so gird loins for that.

Date: 2017-06-11 10:07 pm (UTC)
aris_tgd: A black and white spiral on a Go board (Pi spiral)
From: [personal profile] aris_tgd
Hunh, on average I didn't really see it, but I could think of a couple of upsetting scenes in the first one? I thought it was counterbalanced really well, and also most of the people who have agency and drive the plot in the second book are women.

The first book is definitely more of the "Epic Heroes of Yore" style, and so while there are definitely cool women they tend to be of the "wives and mothers" or "defying gender, ass-kicking warrior" style. And the number of active women versus men is definitely smaller. I guess... go in braced, and there may be stuff that just didn't bother me which would bother someone else.

Or skip the first book altogether! The second book is a new political reality, and while What Came Before is definitely important, there's an entirely new generation of characters who are way more interested in the present day.

Date: 2017-06-09 07:53 am (UTC)
lea_hazel: Don't make me look up from my book (Basic: Reading)
From: [personal profile] lea_hazel
Epic fantasy in particular can be hard to come by. I think almost all these books either I read, or decided not to read for specific reasons, or are already on my queue (e.g. Daughter of Mystery which sounds like it might be exactly my thing).

Date: 2017-06-09 09:13 am (UTC)
pedanther: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pedanther
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson: secondary world fantasy drawing inspiration from Africa rather than Europe. Epic feel, but not epic length. The protagonist and his love interest are neither white nor straight.

There are other stories set in the same world, including A Taste of Honey which is on this year's Hugo shortlist, but I haven't read those. Yet.

Date: 2017-06-11 02:28 pm (UTC)
pedanther: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pedanther
That's not inaccurate.

Date: 2017-06-11 10:42 pm (UTC)
aris_tgd: A black and white spiral on a Go board (Pi spiral)
From: [personal profile] aris_tgd
Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is definitely a downer ending. A Taste of Honey has a pretty happy ending, but contains a good deal of prejudice and sadness in the middle.

Date: 2017-06-09 10:02 am (UTC)
kiezh: Tree and birds reflected in water (Default)
From: [personal profile] kiezh
Fires of the Faithful and Turning the Storm by Naomi Kritzer. An epic fantasy duology about lesbian violinist revolutionaries! With complex worldbuilding, interesting magic, and an unusually nuanced treatment of religion.

I love the Circle of Magic books and recommend them from the beginning if you like worldbuilding and interesting magic systems, but if you want to jump to the part with more than incidental queerness, Will of the Empress is set when the kids are 18 and one of them figuring out that she's queer and having her first romance is a major subplot.

Date: 2017-06-09 12:24 pm (UTC)
skygiants: the aunts from Pushing Daisies reading and sipping wine on a couch (wine and books)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
The second Tanya Huff Quarters book is still one of the most amazingly over-the-top books I've ever read. TRAGIC INCESTUOUS ASSASSIN has to SHARE A BODY with her BROTHER that she's IN LOVE WITH after her body is STOLEN but then she falls in love with the BODY-STEALER instead, who is being PURSUED by the ZOMBIE MASTER who's in love with HIM, and EVERYTHING IS INCREDIBLY AWKWARD FOR EVERYONE.

Anyway, for Big Fat Epic Fantasy in specific I would toss into the ring:

Sherwood Smith's Inda books, military fantasy with tons of queer characters
Michelle West's Sun Sword chronicles, which have a Cast of Thousands only about half of which are from European-coded cultures (Michelle West is Japanese-American); also, the plots are largely driven by women, though it's been so long that I don't remember whether there are many canonically queer characters (romance as I recall is not a huge part of those books)

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