Fantasy series that inspire fan theories like A Song of Ice and Fire?
May 2, 2014 1:43 PM   Subscribe

One of my favorite aspects of ASOIAF is how GRRM drops clues and foreshadowing and his use of unreliable narrators and second-hand information to keep fans guessing and theorizing about what "really" happened. And one of my favorite aspects of ASOIAF fandom is that the word count of fan theorizing seems to now exceed the word count of the actual books by an order of magnitude. What are some other fantasy series that employ similar techniques and have inspired a comparable level of online theorizing? Thanks!
posted by Jacqueline to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
From what I remember, the Wheel of Time series had that kind of flavor, but the series has ended so I doubt there's as much fan activity around speculation now :) (Not sure how strongly I'd recommend the series, I was in high school when I last read the books.)
posted by rivenwanderer at 1:52 PM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. Here is some great online speculation about it.
posted by bove at 1:57 PM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Well, Harry Potter is the recent classic for this; since most of the books are from Harry's perspective you had years of theories as different aspects of the backstory dripped in. (This continues today, particularly as people object to things the author has said after the series was complete.) And of course it really established online fandom as something worth paying attention to and that it wasn't going to go away - a great deal of the current fandom structure used by ASOIAF people was established by HP fandom, carving out techniques of communication and spaces for theory that weren't there before.
posted by Mizu at 1:59 PM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series has a pretty involved mythos (book 15 is out this month) at this point that leads to a decent amount of speculation on future events.
posted by Captain_Science at 2:01 PM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. Extremely unreliable narrator and you can read the books multiple times and still not be sure what happened. Awesome books!
posted by meta87 at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Um.... you have read The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, I hope? That's pretty much the granddaddy of them all, and at least until his son started publishing his father's notes, the canonical corpus was dwarfed (or, as JRRT would spell it, dwarved) by the fanalysis.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:10 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh goodness, Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo.

Dunnett has an obsessive fan base dating back to the 1960s whose analysis continues on the internet today. Her cast of characters is at least as large as Martin's, her plotting as wide-ranging, and her writing as oblique at times, so there's plenty of room for speculation.
posted by torticat at 2:18 PM on May 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

...sorry, just reread the question... Dunnett's books are fiction, not fantasy, though there are supernatural elements.
posted by torticat at 2:19 PM on May 2, 2014

To follow up on Wolfe, theres a lot of fan theorizing here
posted by crocomancer at 2:20 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh goodness, Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo.

Oh, my yes. I was on Dunnetwork for years, and I have fond memories of the days of the GUACT (Grand Unified Adalina Conspiracy Theory) and the endless arguments about the parentage of Kuzum. Plus, you get years of vacation-planning if you want to visit all the places where Lymond or Niccolo got injured ...

As for fantasy, I think Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards sequence supports that kind of analysis. As does Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series.
posted by suelac at 3:08 PM on May 2, 2014

Many years ago I started reading ASOIAF. Soon after that though,I stopped reading the series because I had gotten hooked into Steve Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen. It does everything ASOIAF does, but more and (imo) better. It's not for everyone, but based on your criteria it seems like it's right up your alley.

This introductory post for a re-read of the series gives a good feel for it.

The best part is that it is done and you don't have to worry about something happening to the author...
posted by Midnight Rambler at 3:44 PM on May 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Wheel of Time, yes.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:38 PM on May 2, 2014

Seconding Tolkien.
posted by Poldo at 7:07 PM on May 2, 2014

Nthing the Wheel of Time series, however, I grew to hate those books the further I got into the series. They had a few great mysteries ripe for fan theorizing, but be prepared for a heavy time commitment and drastically diminishing returns.
posted by JimBJ9 at 7:45 PM on May 2, 2014

Oh definitely, the Malazan series. Love it-incredibly complex, well-written, lends itself to re-reading.
posted by purenitrous at 8:15 AM on May 3, 2014

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