Fantastic Omnibustastic!
June 22, 2010 11:31 PM   Subscribe

Going on a holiday with lots of car time, need a decent, massive fantasy omnibus.

So I'm going on an *awesome* holiday come July. There's gonna be a lot of plane catching, waiting, and driving in this trip and as is my usual tradition, I plane on taking three of the biggest books I can fit to last me the three weeks (I usually read one or two books a week based on my regular travel time and limited reading at night).

I've already got a few classics, now I want the biggest (literally) fantasy omnibus if possible to take with me. But I don't really want any shit if possible.

Fantasy authors I enjoy, in no particular order: Robin Hobb, Fritz Leiber, George R R Martin, Jack Vance, Gormenghast trilogy, Walton's Mabinogion trilogy, Steven Brust a bit, the Howard Conan stories, a bit of C.L Moore, China Mieville, some of Poul Anderson, Ursula Le Guin, Diana Wynne Jones, Barry Hughart, etc

Fantasy authors I do _not_ enjoy: Robert Jordan, Stephen Donaldson, David Eddings, the Terries (Brooks and Goodkind), J.V Jones, most of Raymond Feist's work, Piers Anthony, Ian Irvine, _anything_ with messianic stableboys is a real no-no for me, or any kind of messianic boy I suppose. Zelazny's Amber series didn't really ring my bell, either, though I've enjoyed his other work.

That's just a guide, there's a many authors that fall somewhere in between, or are not listed. So, beloved mefites, have you got any ideas? Remember, I'm after an _omnibus_ if possible, paperback especially if possible. I was thinking perhaps Steve Erikson, but am unsure whether he's more of a Robert Jordan (no thanks), or George R. R. Martin (yes please!) Thanks everyone,
posted by smoke to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I have a hunch these are a couple of your in-betweeners, but you might like Fred Saberhagen and Robert Silverberg. I know not what of their omnibi.
posted by fleacircus at 11:55 PM on June 22, 2010

Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a) excellent and b) huge.

Neil Gaiman's American Gods might also fit the bill.
posted by colfax at 12:14 AM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun.
posted by Bodd at 12:17 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: I'm reading Justin Cronin's The Passage at the moment for work, and it's decent as far as it goes. 700+ pages of smaller-than-usual print, keep you busy for a few hours.
posted by Wolof at 12:19 AM on June 23, 2010

Seconding Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun - based on the list of authors you like and dislike, it seems perfect for you.
posted by siskin at 1:33 AM on June 23, 2010

Response by poster: Alas, already read New Sun + Jonathon Strange, dagnabbit I should have added them!
posted by smoke at 1:37 AM on June 23, 2010

I'd recommend John Crowley's Ægypt novels, although they're more 'magical realism' than fantasy as such.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:47 AM on June 23, 2010

Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. Inspired by Gormenghast, one of the inspirations for Song of Ice and Fire, and a ruthless deconstruction of post-Tolkien epic fantasy. Too long for an omnibus, alas.
posted by Paragon at 1:48 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: Okay - how about Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun, then? Not quite as good as the Book of the New Sun, but still very good. And long.

Mary Gentle's Ash : A Secret History is excellent, too.
posted by siskin at 2:02 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: I was thinking perhaps Steve Erikson, but am unsure whether he's more of a Robert Jordan (no thanks), or George R. R. Martin (yes please!)

I put down Wheel of Time at book 4 having got very frustrated with the pace. 'Argh they're sitting around in an Inn again!'

I'm on book 3 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen and am really, really enjoying it.
posted by Ness at 2:28 AM on June 23, 2010

I would definitely class Erikson with GRRM rather than Jordan. He plays around with the genre tropes, sometimes conforming, sometimes not. Hints at, but doesn't always expand upon, backstories, and you never know who's next for the chop.
R Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series is pretty good.
Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle comprises elements of historical fiction, sci fi and fantasy and is a bit of a behemoth in terms of page count, and very enjoyable.
Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy is more of a romp, but a well done one. It may be too recent to find as an omnibus, though.
posted by Jakey at 2:34 AM on June 23, 2010

Have you tried Steph Swainston's The Castle series? I highly, highly recommend it.
posted by rodgerd at 2:53 AM on June 23, 2010

colfax: "Neil Gaiman's American Gods might also fit the bill."

I would second the Gaiman except for that American Gods would probably not last a week. Very quick, engrossing read.
posted by Gordafarin at 3:37 AM on June 23, 2010

Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series is nicely twisty.
posted by gudrun at 3:40 AM on June 23, 2010

I've been enjoying Tim Powers lately. Declare was quite good, and I enjoyed The Anubis Gates. In a nutshell, he writes about real historical events, adding a fantasy component to dial things up.
posted by willpie at 4:02 AM on June 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the great recommendations everyone! Alas I've read a lot of suggestions, and just highlighting I'm looking from _omnibus_ books, or books that are +800 pages, so not really interested in many of the trilogy suggestions, etc. Thanks!
posted by smoke at 4:35 AM on June 23, 2010

I came in to say Tim Powers, too. Last Call is my #2 favorite book of all time. And as always when it comes to fantasy recs, I suggest absolutely everything ever written by Patricia McKillip. She's oldschool but remains brilliant.
posted by Mizu at 4:39 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: I can recommend lots of really good fantasies, and of the kind that you enjoy, but they do not tend to come in the form of massive 800+ page collections. If you absolutely have to have a really long book (and personally, I fail to see why you couldn't read several shorter books instead) I would suggest that you get one or more of the "Best of the Year" anthologies edited by Gardner Dozois. Those are big. And the quality is good.
posted by grizzled at 5:24 AM on June 23, 2010

Seconding Tad Williams. If Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is too long, try The War of the Flowers.
posted by amf at 5:28 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: Most books aren't going to come in massive omnibus editions because of publishing problems. Ever noticed how easily some of the huge fantasy novels fall apart? Yeah.

Gene Wolfe's Long Sun books are currently printed in two volumes of 550 and 650 pages. They're also much slower reads than your typical fantasy novel, so if you're looking for something to occupy your time, they could be perfect.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen books are huge, single volumes. They're also slower than (for example) GRRM. More advanced language, more densely written.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:42 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: If short fiction is good for you, most of the volumes of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror are both excellent and huge.
posted by various at 5:46 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: I just finished reading all four of Glen Cook's Black Company (spoilers there) omnibus'. 10 novels now collected in 4 books, starting with Chronicles of the Black Company. I enjoyed the series quite a bit, and I generally agree with your author preferences, so maybe this series will be good for you.
posted by toddje at 6:17 AM on June 23, 2010

Roger Zelazny's Great Book of Amber. If you haven't read the Amber books it's really worth it. Brust's stuff is a direct descendant of it, Gaimen loved Zelazny. 1284 pages
posted by edgeways at 6:49 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: I think I have the perfect book for you. The Black Jewels Trilogy, by Anne Bishop. It's available as a paperback omnibus, and is fantastic fantasy, although a bit dark in places.
posted by valoius at 7:00 AM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Harlan Ellison is hard to categorize and maybe doesn't exactly fit what you've described, but I like him quite a bit and there's a 1200+ page collection that might keep you entertained.
posted by doctord at 7:22 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: How do you feel about urban fantasy? The Dresden Files comes in omnibus form.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:24 AM on June 23, 2010

The new Neal Stephenson book, "Anathem," is over 800 pages, if I remember right, and that's a great ride - alternately reminiscent of LeGuin, Clarke, and previous Stephenson, which is all to the good... It's sort of on the sci-fi/fantasy border.

If I can talk you out of the omnibi - you should try K J Parker's "Engineer Trilogy." They rock and roll.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 9:13 AM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you looked to see what's available at the science fiction book club? They often have omnibus editions you can't find elsewhere (e. g. the first three books of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series as a single book).
posted by leahwrenn at 9:21 AM on June 23, 2010

Best answer: I enjoyed reading The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon. I appear to have read none of your disliked authors, and only a few of your liked authors, so I'll just say that this reminds me of D&D. I'm not sure what authors she is like, but I will say that her SciFi is nothing like her fantasy (in that I like the latter but the former not as much). It is epic and full of quests, but also spends a fair bit of time getting to know places. And the omnibus is a collection of three books (though I think they really are better as a collection -- I can't imagine reading them separately) which totals 1040 pages.

I'll second Neal Stephenson's Anathem and add that if you haven't read the Baroque cycle, that fits the bill as well. It is eight books generally published in three volumes of 800-1000 pages each. (Okay, it's less fantasy and more history of science literature, but there are some fantasy elements in it.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:46 AM on June 23, 2010

The Tim Powers trilogy you want is Last Call, Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather, in that order. You're not going to be able to find them in one volume but they are definitely, definitely fantastic and worth reading. Really well written urban fantasy; I think if you like Mieville you'll like Powers - I do, and we seem to have sort of the same taste. If you haven't read McKillip, her 70s trilogy is Riddle Master, which is three books in one. It's not all that long, alas, but it is wonderful and I highly recommend it. What about Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle? It's more historical than fantasy but I adored it. However, they seem to be three of those books that people either love or hate, no in between. Melanie Rawn's dragon books are good and there are six of them. Katherine Kerr's Deverry books are great and there are 12 or 14 of those. Another shorter, older (might be hard to find) 3 book series I liked a lot was Wilhelmina Baird's Crashcourse series - more SF than fantasy, though. And finally, there's Sean McMullen's Moonworlds saga, a whole lot of fun.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:49 AM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan books are available in omnibus form. They're good. (I like four of the authors on your 'enjoy' list, am neutral about some and haven't read the rest; I still like one of the authors on your 'don't enjoy' list, haven't read one of them, and don't like the others).
posted by Lebannen at 3:24 PM on June 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Do you see yourself enjoying ornate, Jacobean throwback fantasy? Zimiamvia collects E.R. Eddison's Mistress of Mistresses, A Fish Dinner in Memison, and The Mezentian Gate in 985 pages.
posted by Iridic at 3:25 PM on June 23, 2010

Clive Barker's Imajica. Weird, engaging, and long. (despite his other work, also not horror)
posted by libraryhead at 3:38 PM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Imajica is good, and the Castle series, which I recommended earlier, have an omnibus edition.
posted by rodgerd at 1:36 AM on June 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks so much, guys! I've read many of the suggestions, but got a tonne of new ones, too. Books purchased, holiday waiting, yay!
posted by smoke at 7:39 PM on June 24, 2010

Response by poster: Follow up: I got back last night, thanks for the suggestions everyone. In the end I went with:

Ash: A secret history (so, so. One of those fantasy books where everybody body "grins". They even "grinning", whilst talking at the same time.)

The Black Company Omnibus (roads too bumpy in Namibia, so this remains unread)

The Godstalker Chroncles, by PC Hodgell (this was pretty good!)
posted by smoke at 6:00 PM on August 4, 2010

Response by poster: Follow up follow up: Now I've read the Glen Cook book and I thought it was terrific. Thanks to posters for putting me on to a great writer!
posted by smoke at 8:02 PM on May 13, 2011

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