Bob’s Books – Shelfie #6: (Cook, LeGuin, Gygax, Hardy, Hendee, Flint, Smith, McKillip)
It’s installment number six in Bob’s Books’ Shelfie series. Combining a couple fantasy shelfies from my Reddit series, and I kick it off with the terrific GLEN COOK.
When I see a fantasy shelfie here in this bookshelf subreddit, there always seems to be the same few authors popping up – Martin, Sanderson, and Rowling. I’m a little surprised I haven’t seen much Tolkien beyond The Hobbit and the Trilogy – not many Silmarillions appear. I’ve got a SERIOUS Tolkien shelfie coming.
When there’s something a little darker, it’s usually Joe Abercrombie, or Stephen Erikson’s Malazan series. The latter is fantastic, and the books that co-creator Ian Esslemont has added, are pretty good too.
I don’t think I’ve seen any Glen Cook yet.
I’ve not read his Dread Empire series, which seems to be rather heavy. And I’ve read a little of his science fiction, though not much.
He has written a couple of other fantasy series’ I haven’t checked out. But Cook has written two SUPERB series’ that I put up with any modern fantasy in the past several decades. Including the ‘big-name’ stuff that gets most of the attention.
His Chronicles of the Black Company tracks a mercenary company across a deep fantasy world. Abercrombie, Lawrence, and the other leading dark fantasy writers are following in Glen Cook’s footsteps (and of course, Michael Moorcock’s).
It’s a tremendous series that I hear is popular with current and former members of the military, for its depiction of the military lifestyle.
What’s amazing to me about Cook, is that he’s got another tremendous series that is completely the opposite in tone and style. Garrett, PI, is a private eye series set in a fantasy world. Cook has successfully combined Philip Marlowe, Nero Wolfe, and Discworld, into one series.
And it’s terrific. Funny, hardboiled private eye fantasy, will never be done better. I wrote about Garrett here. Check that out for a non-spoiler overview.
Garrett PI is the perfect fantasy mystery series.
Glen Cook has written not one, but two of my favorite fantasy series’, totalling about two dozen books. Excellent quality, in totally different writing styles. Cook is amazing. I highly recommend both of these.
I have some books in both series in digital format, so they’re not shown here.
URSULA K LEGUIN
I’m not as crazy about The Earthsea trilogy as a lot of folks. I read it. It was fine. But I like more fighting, magic, ‘stuff.’ I know this is a ‘deeper’ series. That’s fine. Just not something I ever re-read.
I started playing D&D around 1980, I think. Gary Gygax definitely influenced my life. I was reading his Gord the Rogue novels from the start. Then,when he was booted from TSR and D&D, I kept reading the books (minus the ‘Greyhawk Adventures’ tag). I like these.
Lyndon Hardy’s trilogy is one of the most under-appreciated fantasy series’ I’ve read. He developed a thoughtful, workable, system of magic for the books involving Alodar.
But nobody ever seemed to talk about it. I really like it. And I only, just now, as I type this, learned that in 2017 (a mere 29 years after the‘final’ book), he resumed the series, and there are three more. I had NO idea. Yay!!!!!! I highly recommend checking out the first, Master of the Five Magics, for a different, excellent, fantasy series.
BARB & J.C. HENDEE
Barb & husband J.C. Hendee’s series about a group of unexpected heroes who end up battling vampires. This is as D&D-like as any series I’ve read(that wasn’t actually a D&D book). I like it, but I haven’t read all of the books yet. It works, but hasn’t been something I ‘had’ to read. I do like it though.
They also play the Runequest board game (not related to the MMO), which I’ve written about here at Black Gate.
KENNETH C. FLINT
Kenneth C. Flint has written several Irish-legend tinged fantasy novels. This Sidhe trilogy is one of them. I seem to recall I wasn’t crazy about the finale, but it was a really cool series, with the Irish myths.
DAVID C. SMITH
David C. Smith’s Oron is absolutely a must-read for fans of Conan the Barbarian. Smith even wrote a literary biography of Robert E. Howard, a few years ago. Smith is still writing sword and sorcery, and he’s darn good at it. I’ve gotten to know him a bit, and he’s also a really good guy. I’m a Smith fan.
PATRICIA K. MCKILLIP
Patricia K. McKillip’s Riddle Master of Hed series is a fantasy classic. Like Earthsea, it’s not my typical fantasy. But I liked these. I think it’s a stellar example of storytelling.
Shelfie #1 (Sherlock Holmes #1)
Shelfie #2 (Sherlock Holmes #2)
Shelfie #3 (Constitutional Convention of 1787)
What I’ve Been Reading: July 2019 (Clive Cussler, Gabriel Hunt, Tony Hillerman)
What I’ve Been Reading: December 2019 (Scott Oden, Howard Andrew Jones, Norbert Davis, Mycroft Holmes)
What I’ve Been Reading: January 2020 (Glen Cook, John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, Robert R. McCammon, Howard Andrew Jones, Nero Wolfe)
What I’ve Been Reading: September 2020 (Jo Gar, William Baring Gould, The Game’s Afoot, Casablanca, William Bernhardt, Roger Torrey, William Goldman)
What I’ve Been Reading: September 2022 (Cleveland Torso Killer, Columbo, Douglas Adams)
Bob Byrne’s ‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ made its Black Gate debut in 2018 and has returned every summer since.
His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017. And he irregularly posts on Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective in ‘Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone.’ He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded www.SolarPons.com (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.
He organized Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series, as well as the award-winning ‘Hither Came Conan’ series. Which is now part of THE DEFINITIVE guide to Conan.
He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI and XXI.
He has written introductions for Steeger Books, and appeared in several magazines, including Black Mask, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and Sherlock Magazine.
I read a good chunk of the Hendee books (maybe the first 8-10 of them) back in the day, and keep meaning to revisit the series, but it’s another one where at this point I’d have to just as well start over from the beginning.
I’m fond of the Gord the Rogue books although they’re flawed, especially the final couple of volumes, which seem to have been written as a giant, “EFF YOU!” to TSR. I’d be very happy to see them get an eBook rerelease, but I have no idea what the rights situation is.
And yeah, Glen Cook is a giant of the field.
I have the next couple Hendee books. I will get around to them at some point, I think.
I do think the Gord books tailed off after he left TSR.
I have/had the first two Greyhawk Adventures written by Rose Estes when she replaced Gygax in the series, but they didn’t do anything for me.
I think Sea of Dust (the first novel he published with New Infinities) might be my favorite of the bunch but yeah, they definitely tailed off after that.
I haven’t read much of Cook’s Black Company and probably won’t read his Garrett, PI, either, for the same reason I haven’t read Jim Butchers’ work — not wanting to be unduly influenced because both are doing the “Philip Marlowe in a fantasy setting” type of thing I’ve been doing with my Mad Shadows series. Are you going to do a full review of Cook’s Garret, PI? I remember reading one of Randall Garrett’s books, Too Many Magicians, I think, but it was a bit too dry for me, too stylized. Cook’s writing has a gritty realism that might go well with this series. When I finish my fourth and final Mad Shadows book, I’ll probably check out Cook’s series, and maybe turn to Butcher, too. Thanks for the info!
I love those Hendee books! I was reading those avidly about 15 years ago.
From nothing in particular, just a vibe from this mishmash of authors, you might like EE Knight’s stuff. He did a series called “Vampire Earth” which was billed as “Red Badge of Courage but with futuristic vampires” and he also wrote more traditional fantasy with his Dragon Champion series. He has also been a guest writer here at Black Gate. Not sure what he is up to these days but I sure wish he would write more!
I haven’t read Knight, but I do know of him – and yeah, he has written some stuff here.
I have some of P.N. Elrod’s Prohibition Era vampire books on another shelf. I do like those. Another series I’d like to continue on and finish some time.
how dar you stack books upon other books, for shame… FO SHAME :p
i really missed when piazo released the gygax stuff and all the other planet stories series, i need to hit a convention and try to find te whole series.
Bob, the author’s name is Patricia A. McKillip for The Riddle-Master of Hed series. One of my favorite series, with The Harpist in the Wind as my favorite endings ever written.
Oops. Thanks. Didn’t pay enough attention. That’s another series I’d like to re-read some day.
I’m enjoying seeing your book collection, Bob. Thanks. I really enjoyed the Cook Black Company books although some were quite grim. It wouldn’t be much or a stretch to learn that Abercrombie was influenced by them. Although I had more empathy for the characters in the Black Company books than the characters in the First Law books (it seemed Abercrombie went out of his way to make them unsympathetic). Thanks for the tip about the Garrett series – another set of books to put on my “to find” list. I really enjoyed the McKillip books when I read them in the 80’s and also enjoyed the first Hardy book. I wasn’t impressed with Gygax’s first book and didn’t read any others. Looking forward to your next shelfie.
Yeah – The Black Company gets downright depressing at points. But what a terrific series. And it contrasts nicely with the humor in Garrett PI. Cook is just an extremely talented writer.
I’ve never read the Amber books, but I’ve heard a lot about the logic and depth of the system of magic. That’s how I felt about Hardy. He tackled magic in a thorough and different way from all the other fantasy I read.
Master of the Five Magics, oh Man! I’d forgotten all about those books. Loved them back in the day. Big thanks for giving my memory a poke. Off to download the first and give it another go!
Yeah – they’re neat, right?? I liked the cool covers, too.
I was excited to discover that he wrote new ones in the series. But they’re sci-fi, with a female ‘wizard’ That doesn’t do much for me.
You got me to order the first garret p I novel.
Also, are you books not shelved in order?!
No Swordbearer or Dread Empire! Having said that I have yet to obtain the latter Cook work. Swordbearer is a great stand alone early work. I enjoyed it. Lyndon Hardy has been covered here at Black Gate. I loved his books, still have the Corgi editions with the cool Geoff Taylor covers. Still reckon his concepts of magic should have been used for a RPG magic system.
A single shelf is no longer sufficient to contain my Glen Cook collection.