The title says it all. This post stems from my love of the fantasy genre, and the following list is comprised of my personal favourites, the crème de la crème of my reading experiences – at least for the moment.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
In two words: perfectly executed. At times I really struggle to believe that this is Morgenstern’s first novel, because she writes like someone who has never done anything else. Mysterious and beautiful, this book has the rare quality of being utterly steeped in magic whilst maintaining a level of poignant emotional intensity. It reads like a silk tapestry, and is, in short, one of the loveliest books that I have ever read.
Serpentwar Saga – Raymond. E. Feist
Traditional fantasy from the 80s and 90s can be a little… cheesy. Or at least I find it so. Personally I’ve never had much patience for The Wheel of Time and many of its contemporaries. Controversial perhaps, but even The Belgariad was for me, nothing more than alright. Feist, however, is a different kettle of fish. I can’t really explain it, because truth be told he hasn’t got much that David Eddings lacks, but I like him more. Feist’s world-building is excellent, and whilst I don’t rate all his works so highly, this saga has a diverse mix of characters and a compelling storyline. Of course, as with most of this author’s work, Serpentwar lacks the gritty, real-life nastiness that has become more prevalent in fantasy during the past decade (and which I personally adore), but I still think it offers compelling adventure and escapism.
The Broken Empire – Mark Lawrence
This trilogy fulfilled my lifelong quest to find a well-written fantasy antihero. Original, well-written and delightfully savage, this trilogy delivered on every front. I read Lawrence’s masterpiece quite recently, so if you’d like to know more you can find my full review here.
His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman
Sometimes I wonder if this trilogy is perhaps more sci-fi than fantasy, but it still makes the list, because I love it. If I ever have a daughter I shall call her Lyra, and if I don’t I’ll give the name to my future cat instead. I like this one predominantly because it is so clever. I think this is a work that will end up singled out as a classic in years to come, and deservedly so.
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
Admired and imitated, but never beaten. Sometimes you just have to admit it – the original is the best. Love him or hate him, Tolkien remains the number one name in the fantasy genre, and ten years down the line this work is still at the top of my list. The Hobbit has its own captivating breed of magic, because even now this book has the power to take me away from the real world and on adventures in my mind. It was the book that made me want to be a writer, and I guarantee I’ll still be reading it when I have silver hair.