Here, There be a Writer

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fantasy Readers! Topn 10 Fantasy Series to Read....

It's been a long and quiet week in my world. Part of this weekend was planned for some of the bigger blogs that I have planned. What do they normally say: the best laid plans of Mice and Men? Well, it's true...I haven't really been focused this weekend. Not really sure why either. Maybe my brain wanted to be turned off this weekend, maybe I was bone dry in the creative department, or maybe I just didn't have much to say. So, whatever the reason, his head or his, oops, wrong train of thought. I am still very much dedicated to this blog and bringing you fascinating things to read.

While wracking my bleary eyed brain for an idea that wanted to be written I recalled that I had a list that I wanted to post on. I figured since nothing else was popping into my head, I would go with that. This week we are looking at some of my favourite series, these are all fantasy series, as I tend to live in a fantasy world. It's part learning more about me and a recommended reading list.

My top 10 recommended (favourite) Fantasy Series!

Honourable Mentions: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix

Hitchhikers is a challenge to read and full of English wit, but well worth
it to read.

Abhorsen series is a different kind of fantasy, but quite a fun and engaging to read.

Garth Nix Abhorsen Trology

Number #10: The Mage Wars Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon

This series I read in college. It has to be one of the first mainstream fantasy series I read outside of Lord of the Rings. I was and still am a Dragon Lover at heart, but a close second is the Gryphon (my preferred spelling). The Mage Wars has everything I could want in a series a broken Hero, fantastical beast, magic, and the ability to keep me interested. Mercedes Lackey's Valdamar world is quite the fascinating one that weaves between the different series, but each series also stands well on their own.  It helps to read each series (Last Herald-Mage, or Mage Storms), but the Mage Wars stands well on it's own. It's also the 'beginning of the series.

Number #9: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Okay, so some people will probably take offense to Harry being so low on the list, but I need to point out the I only read the WHOLE series when book 7 had come out, so I could read each book, back to back. I do love the fact that you see harry get to grow up, despite all of the crap that happens to him. It's not higher up because I have already a number of series that are further on the list, some a which I think are better written than Harry. I do number a number of points about the Potter series: the use of Severus Snape, the survival of Harry during book 7, and some really awesome characters Tonks, Lupin, Fred, and George to name a few. It's just not high on the list, sorry Potterheads!

Number #8 The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey art (not mine)
So, some of you are aware of my love for all thing Anne McCaffrey and Dragons. You might be  wondering why I have put Pern only at #8. Okay, yes it's lower, yes, but I still find the stories engaging and very easy to read. That trait is why I have ranked it lower. I do love a challenge when reading and the Pern novels (all of them) are easy in story plot compared to, say, Lord of the Rings or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but I still enjoy them. The characters are what sell me on Pern. They are very real and relate-able, oh and the Dragons don't hurt anything either. Robinton was my first storybook crush, still is in many ways.

Number #7: Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle

These books are unique from my perspective as they use both science and faith as a plot driven. It's not often that you can find a book that utilizes both and still keeps the reader engaged. I had to read "Winkle in Time" is school. It was one of a FEW books that I enjoyed cover to cover. The high fantasy is definitely a selling point with me. The real Meg Murry was and still is a reason for my continued reading of these books. She is a very whining and obnoxious character that you feels less sympathetic, but I guess for me I can see the reality in her character flaws and that makes for good storytelling when she learns a lesson, even if it takes most of the book for her to do so. That brings me to a point, good storytelling has to have GREAT characters: Meg, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Aunt Beast these are characters you feel vested in. Madeleine L'Engle is also a Christian writer, but yet I don't feel that it's being shoved down my throat, her use of Bible verses in a nice touch to prove a point in her stories. Being of pagan-faith, one could say that that would potentially turn me off, but no so, I actually see how they add to the story. It's the macrocosm that Madeleine creates that makes me feel that sometimes the world has more than one answer to any one problem.

The subsequent books are just as good and continue the story of Meg Murry, Charles Wallace, and Peter O'Keefe, and later their children.

Order to be read in: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, An Acceptable Time

Number #6: The Oz Books by L. Frank Baum

There are 14 books in Baum's series alone. I will not be evaluating all pf them, even though they are worth. The Oz books are an endearing series that I should note that the first book (based on the movie) is only the tip of the Oz Iceberg. While each book is technically an east read, when you look at the whole plot of the Oz series, you realize that Baum was a very detailed writer, who including many points in his stories and world. There is a bit of continuity with small points, such as the colour of Dorothy's kitten, but in the grand scheme of things Baum wrote 14 stories about Oz, I think a few minor story oops are forgivable. Why put Wizard of Oz on the list higher than Harry Potter, because, that why!

Number #5: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Almost any Fantasy nerd would have this on their list (I said, almost). The writing in not the easiest, and the plot is sometimes WAY over the top, but it is really brilliantly written. The love and care the Tolkien gave to his stories shows. It's also what many other series base their concepts of elves, dwarves, wizards, and baddies on. It is worth the time to read them. I highly recommend any reader (specifically fantasy) to pick them up and read them, at least one in your life.

Number #4: His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman

No quite the standard series, but it is unique and that is the primary reason it made the top 4. One doesn't always expect such a series to pop up into the world. The darker subject matter was certainly a draw. I was recommended this series by my friend Jane and I haven't regretted it. I am going to be re-reading the Golden Compass again soon, as I am going to do a side-by-side comparison of the book and movie (yes, I know what I am getting into. Remember the Eragon review?).

Number #3: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Here is a another case of an easier to read series ranking high, but there's a reason. While it is easier to read, it also has quite the plot going on with epic battles and travels to the end of the world. It's on par epically as Lord of the Rings is, just that it was written for children. I also will point out the Lewis was a Christian writer (well he started off as an atheist first), but this is not a deterrent to the story. There are also some really great characters, like Reepicheep or the Pevensie Children.

Number #2: The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

A lesser known series that uses Celtic mythologies. It's more of a challenge, but very worth it. Susan Copper takes a number of Arthurian and Celtic legends and spins them in a new way. There is some great character develpoment here and an engaging story plot. While it is much less known, I will still recommend it to anyone looking for something new, something different. Start with "Over Sea, Under Stone", then "The Darkn is Rising", "Greenwitch", "The Grey King", and "Silver on the Tree".

Number #1: Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica by James A. Owen

This is a case of pure surprise and delight. This series will leave you guessing and there is always a surprise at practically every chapter. It's a labour of love for Owen and there is much to be proud of. i really can't say much more about this series, except, you NEED to read it, especially if you love an AWESOME high fantasy epic, with some truly memorable and lovable characters: Tummler, Unca, and Fred. An incredibly well crafted story that you should check out now. The last book is due out this November.

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