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[novels] ISTOMKO: fantasy fiction settings that are thinly-disguised RL regions other than Europe

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
Marie Brennan's Warrior and Witch are set in a somewhat Japanese island. Her Lady Trent series has the character growing up in "England" but traveling to "Africa", "SE Asia", "Polynesia", "the Middle East", and "Tibet".

Bujold's Chalion books are Spain, Germany, and Switzerland, but her Sharing Knife books are kind of the Mississippi river.

Japan has lots and lots, naturally. Dragon Sword and Wind Child is set in early fantasy Japan. The Twelve Kingdoms seem to be twelve copies of old Imperial China run by some god. In non-novel media, Yona of the Dawn is a manga set in "Korea", Seiunkoku Monogatari is "China", Seirei no Moribito is "early Imperial Japan and Ainu".
 

Senex

Gunboat Diplomat
Validated User
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler is set in Fantasy Egypt, albeit the majority of the characters are Fantasy French.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang is set in Fantasy China, specifically Fantasy 1930s China while it's being invaded by Fantasy Japan. Though the overall aesthetic, in terms of technology and looks is more Song Dynasty than 1930s.
 

Snumpus

Registered User
Validated User
Guy Gabriel Kay mostly does thinly-disguised European history (Arbonne is France, Al-Rassan is Spain, Sarantium is Byzantium, etc) but he did two in not-China.
Came here to recommend these too. Under Heaven and River of Stars are the Chinese-inspired ones.
 

junglefowl26

Registered User
Validated User
Seirei no Moribito is "early Imperial Japan and Ainu".
Also worth noting is that the main character seems to be from fantasy Tibet, which gets featured prominently in the sequel, Guardians of the Darkness. I loved it, and you could really tell it was written by an anthropologist.

There are a bunch of novels in the series covering even more locations but I can't find any translations or even good summaries of them, unfortunately.
 

taschoene

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Joel Rosenberg's D'Shai and Hour of the Octopus are set in something like a fantasy China/Japan mashup. It's not an exact match to the OP's request since it takes Japan, China and maybe a bit of India and throws it all into a blender, rather than just filing off the serial numbers, but they are fun stories with interesting characters and thoughtful worldbuilding. Wish he had written the third planned novel.
 

Boris

I am invincible?
Validated User
Gates of Stone by Angus Macallan was a fun recent fantasy novel set in fantasy Indonesia, with involvement by fantasy India, China and Russia. I enjoyed it, particularly one viewpoint character who responds to arranged marriage and dismissal from her father's war council with murder and military adventuring. And the setting is distinctive and plot relevant.
 

PeterM

Registered User
Validated User
Barry Hughart’s version of ancient China is something wonderful.
This would be my first recommendation, too.

The Belisarius series by Eric Flint spends a lot of time in Persia, Africa and India. It’s not fantasy, though, it’s sci fi with opposing forces from the future sending agents into the past to settle their differences in what becomes a World War with anachronistic technology.
 

Ficino

Rascally Rabbit
Validated User
Lloyd Alexander, better known for his Prydain books, wrote some fantasies with non-Western settings: The Iron Ring, which takes place in not-India, and The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, in not-China.
 

Seroster

Miw!
Validated User
Martha Wells' Wheel of the Infinite I think is set in not-Cambodia (but she is not from there)
 

PenguinZero

Wark!
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Barry Hughart’s version of ancient China is something wonderful.
I'm not sure it counts, though. The Master Li novels are actually set in China, even if it's 'China-that-never-was' with fantasy elements. It seemed to me like the OP was asking more about fantasy worlds with thinly-veiled pastiches of real cultures. Something more like how Discworld's Agatean Empire is a China (and Japan) with the serial numbers filed off, or XXXX is Australia, or Genua is New Orleans around Mardi Gras. (Though since Pratchett was a white British man and not native to any of those areas, those don't really meet the second criterion.)
 
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