I’ve always loved fantasy novels… they are my favorite genre. I’ve read many fantasy books over the years, so I thought that I’d make a list of some of my favorite fantasy novels. Some of these novels are relative unknowns, while others are books that nearly everybody has read. Fantasy is defined as ‘the free play of creative imagination.’ What does this mean? That some brilliant authors have created entire fascinating worlds, and we get to read about them! There are many, many more fantasy novels besides the ones I have listed here, but these are just a few that fit under the category of excellent fantasy exceptionally well.
The Wheel of Time: Robert Jordan
To my mind, The Wheel of Time is one of the most brilliant series ever written. It basically centers on the story of a shepherd boy who discovers that it will be his fate to fight the Dark One at the Last Battle. However, no summary can do justice to this series- one can easily recognize the fact that it was inspired by the convoluted novel War and Peace. There are currently eleven books in print, ranging from 600 to 1000 pages in length. The final book is currently being completed by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s sad death. There is also a prequel, entitled New Spring. Though the series is huge, it is well worth the time it takes to read.
Warriors: Erin Hunter
There are currently three Warriors series: Warriors; Warriors: The New Prophecy; and Warriors: Power of Three. All of these series revolve around the lives of cats who live in Clans in the wild. Warriors is told from the point of view of Firestar, a domesticated cat who enters the wild and undergoes many struggles for his new clan. He eventually leads a battle against his evil nemesis, Tigerstar. Warriors: A New Prophecy is about Firestar’s daughter Squirrelpaw, Tigerstar’s son Brambleclaw, and some of their friends. They journey to find a new home for their Clans as humans destroy their old forest. Warriors: Power of Three revolves around the children of Squirrelpaw and Brambleclaw.
Redwall: Brian Jacques
Nearly everyone has heard of Redwall, but just in case you haven’t: All Redwall books are exceptional. There are nearly twenty of them, and while one doesn’t need to read all of them, they tie together in interesting ways. They may be all about animals, but this series definitely isn’t just for kids! It’s chock-full of everything a good fantasy story needs. They tell the story of mice, badgers, hares, otters, and many other woodland creatures who fight for justice against armies of evil vermin such as rats and foxes. The good creatures are banded together under the tales of their most legendary warrior, Martin. His tale can be read about in Martin the Warrior. Don’t miss these beautiful stories!
The Deed of Paksenarrion: Elizabeth Moon
Most people haven’t heard of this book, but I found it a wonderful read. It’s the only fantasy book I’ve ever found where a single main character is female. This book, which was originally three separate novels, chronicles the tale of a girl named Paksenarrion (Paks) who runs away from home to become a soldier, and eventually becomes much, much more. I found this book to be both a thrilling action story and fascinating character study.
The Great Book of Amber: Roger Zelazny
This is another large novel, a very unique one. I found it to be different from many fantasy books, but certainly no less enjoyable. The story starts with the main character waking up with no recollection of who or where he is. He eventually figures out that he is actually a prince of Amber, an alternate universe to Earth. The first half of the novel tells of his journey to claim the throne that is rightfully his. The second half of this novel deals with the troubles of his son. This novel was originally ten shorter books, but has since been combined together.
The Lord of the Rings: J.R.R. Tolkien
Everyone has heard of the Lord of the Rings- it’s one of the most famous stories known today. It centers on a hobbit named Frodo who has been given the task of destroying a ring before it causes the destruction of all intelligent races. The journey is perilous, and along the way the ring starts to take over Frodo’s mind. This is a classic that no one should miss. There is also a prequel called The Hobbit. This book centers on the adventures of Frodo’s uncle, Bilbo Baggins.
Dragonlance: Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
There are many spin-offs of the Dragonlance series not written by the original authors. Some are excellent and some are mediocre, but the original Dragonlance books are considered by many fans to be the ideal of high fantasy. A group of friends gather together in an inn one night, only to find themselves on the start of a new adventure as they meet a barbarian lady wielding a strange staff in the Dragonlance Chronicles. Many other mini-series tell what happened to these characters at other points in their lives. These include Dragonlance: Preludes, which are not written by the original authors, and Dragonlance: Legends, which are.
The Inheritance Cycle: Christopher Paolini
Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr are the three published books in the Inheritance Cycle. Eventually, there will be a total of four books. This series is about a farm boy who discovers a mysterious egg in the wilderness. Soon, his world spins out of control as strangers come searching for the egg, bent on killing him. This is a wonderful adventure about a boy and his dragon.
Talion: Revenant: Michael A. Stackpole
Talion: Revenant is an interesting tale that switches back and forth between the main character’s point of view as an adult and as a boy. This makes for some startling plot twists. This fantasy book is a good adventure story. This is the only book by Michael A. Stackpole that I’ve read, but I know that many of his books are considered to be excellent by fantasy fans. He is most famous for his science fiction Star Wars books.
Harry Potter: J.K. Rowling
This is yet another series that everyone has heard of, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be read. It’s different from many high fantasy series, but it was written brilliantly. It tells the story of young Harry Potter, who discovers that he is a wizard. Throughout the series he confronts the dark wizard Lord Voldemort several times, leading up to an incredible, climatic finish in book seven. J.K. Rowling recently wrote The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which is a collection of wizard fairy tales mentioned in the Harry Potter series. One of the tales has great significance in the seventh book.
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman: Brian Jacques
This is another series by Brian Jacques, but it is vastly different from his Redwall series. These books stem from the historic legend of the ever-sailing ship, the Flying Dutchman. Ben is a mute boy who is forced to work on the Flying Dutchman. When the ship is cursed by an angel as punishment for the evil crew, Ben is given the gift of a voice and everlasting life. He and his dog, Ned, travel around the world to help those in need. There are currently three books in this series: Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, The Angel’s Command, and Voyage of Slaves.
The Chronicles of Narnia: C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia are loved by the young and old alike. These books don’t need to be read in order, but they may make more sense if they are. They all revolve around the story of children who fall into the world of Narnia from the real world. Once there, they must save Narnia from the forces of evil that threaten to overcome it. They also meet Aslan, the awe-inspiring lion who created and rules over Narnia. This series is a brilliant analogy written by one of the best Christian authors of all time. Don’t miss this series, especially if you are a Christian!
Mistborn: Brandon Sanderson
This is another well-loved fantasy series. It is unique in the fact that power is not gained through magic, but through some people’s abilities to ‘burn’ metal and gain abilities from it. This trilogy starts off with a bang, and the action never stops as the plotline continually becomes more and more complex and mysterious. A twist in the storyline packages up the loose ends nicely and reveals a surprising ending.