So my other recent foray into fanfic is for "The Wheel of Time". And yeah, I'm disgusted with myself, because Robert Jordan's gender politics want to make me scream. I'm firmly convinced he was a pervy old man, and used WoT to fulfill his fantasies of it being ok for men to have multiple wives (while the only occurrence of polyandry is frowned upon and treated as scandalous), for all young women to be bi-curious (and let's not get into how demeaning the term "pillow-friends" is) though they will all end up with men, and for young (and young-looking) hotties to hook up with old dudes.
But when he was good, he was very good. I stole "Eye of the World" from my brother's bookshelf in 1990, and was hooked. I think it was Moiraine's story about the fall of Manetheren which got me:
"Is this what Aemon's blood has come to?" The Aes Sedai's voice was not loud, but it overwhelmed every other sound. "Little people squabbling for the right to hide like rabbits? You have forgotten who you were, forgotten what you were, but I had hoped some small part was left, some memory in blood and bone. Some shred to steel you for the long night coming."
No one spoke. The two Coplins looked as if they never wanted to open their mouths again.
Bran said, "Forgotten who we were? We are who we always have been. Honest farmers and shepherds and craftsmen. Two Rivers folks."
"To the south," Moiraine said, "lies the river you call the White River, but far to the east of here men call it still by its rightful name. Manetherendrelle. In the Old Tongue, Waters of the Mountain Home. Sparkling waters that once coursed through a land of bravery and beauty. Two thousand years ago, Manetherendrelle flowed by the walls of a mountain city so lovely to behold that Ogier stonemasons came to stare in wonder. Farms and villages covered this region, and that you call the Forest of Shadows, as well, and beyond. But all those folk thought themselves as the people of the Mountain Home, the people of Manetheren.
"Their King was Aemon al Caar al Thorin, Aemon son of Caar son of Thorin, and Eldrene ay Ellan ay Carlan was his Queen. Aemon, a man so fearless that the greatest compliment for courage any could give, even among his enemies, was to say a man had Aemon's heart. Eldrene, so beautiful that it was said that flowers bloomed to make her smile. Bravery and beauty and wisdom and a love that death could not sunder. Weep, if you have a heart, for the loss of them, for the loss of even their memeory. Weep, for the loss of their blood."
She fell silent then, but no one spoke. Rand was as bound as the others in the spell she had created. When she spoke again, he drank it in, and so did the rest.
"For nearly two centuries the Trolloc Wars had ravaged the length and breadth of the world, and wherever battles raged, the Red Eagle banner of Manetheren was in the forefront. The men of Manetheren were a thorn to the Dark One's foot and a bramble to his hand. Sing of Mantheren, that would never bend knee to the Shadow. Sing of Manetheren, the sword that could not be broken."
Oh yeah. Luckily, Moiraine was "killed off" before she could descend into being a shrill harpy like every other female character in the book. And I also recommend New Spring The Novel
which is a prequel about Moiraine and Siuan in the White Tower. It was pretty tightly edited, which was lacking from the later "Wheel of Time" books (perhaps because Robert Jordan was married to his editor.) Anyways, for some reason, I've got this Moiraine/Siuan fic in my head, which needs to get out before I can function like a normal human being again.
BTW, an awesome fantasy series? "A Song of Ice and Fire", by George R R Martin. Strong female characters, both good and evil. Realistic depictions of homosexuality and bisexuality. Will not be writing any ASOIAF fanfic though.