No. of Recommendations: 12
Does anyone else out there feel like modern day fantasy novels are lacking something from the older choices?

I think this question has multiple facets, which I will try to address independently. I am not sure where you think the cut off happened, perhaps some of these books I consider "modern" you would consider "old school"

1) As an individual, you are older, know more, and have a different life experience which you are bringing to bear on fantasy. Many of the themes of the fantasy novel (coming of age, discovering great powers in oneself, reclaiming ones inherent sanctity and value through forces greater than oneself) simply resonate less. At a teen, those themes resonated a lot. I just went back and read "The Belgariad" (a fantasy I adored at the time) and found it honestly- kind of weak. Now, at nearly the same age you are, the notion of finding external affirmation to prove self worth simply does not mean as much as it did. This is the main theme of a broad set of fantasy.

2) Expectation has changed. I recently reread the first of Ann MccAffreys novels about dragon riding, and couldn't believe how badly drawn some of the characters were. It might not have helped I was reading it a loud and we kept simply just laughing at the characters (if you read it to yourself you don't have the luxury of laughing out loud at the writer). However, I clearly remember reading this the first time and thinking it was the bomb, I loved the book, the world, and the themes. My expectation of what is possible in fantasy has risen. In actuality, I (recently) loved "The Game of Thrones" and personally think it raised the bar of expectation for world creation and consistency. It totally blows away Pern- which has a number of silly and inconsistent things if looked at slightly rationally. Other books I have read that raised the bar were the series "RuneLords" by David Farland and "Farseer" by Robin Hobb, which reminds me I need to go and read "The Tawny Man" because I expect it will be excellent.

3) Fantasy has become mainstream enough it has become commoditized. Some authors are actually able to make a living off of writing. If you consider a "best selling" book may only sell 10,000 copies, and they are making a buck or two off each book- that is quite an achievement. If they are going to be anything above poverty level, they have to commoditize the product, and not do it purely for "love of the creative act". This means, necessarily, that authors churn out a ton of books in a series which weakens the ability to make strong plot lines, character development, and world creation. In other words- it is expensive for a modern author to create a new world- if it takes a year of work to create a new world, that is costing the author $40,000 bucks. Would you constantly author new worlds, or get the money together for your kids braces? Hense, we have Goodkind, Jordan, and others spinning out books endlessly. I don't blame them, but it limits their ability to create excellence. When historically an author did it for the love of the craft and spun out just a couple of books in a series before beginning a new one, there was less shlock. And of course, there are the endless series which are of much lower calibre than Goodkind and Jordan, all the D&D session reports essentially. So this introduces a ton of what I would consider lower quality books which have to be sifted through. Before fantasy was popular, these books simply didn't exist, or at least in far fewer numbers.

Incidentally, I would be curious which of the early series you considered excellent. Here are some that I did:

Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

Single books of excellence with a downward spiral after the first:

Dune by Frank Herbert
A Spell for Chamelon by Piers Anthony

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