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Monday 29 March 2004

Fantasy must read shortlist [slim]

The sci fi must read shortlist is prolly my fave blog of all time, I'm still working through the books featured in it, and have enjoyed most of them immensely. So I want to give some back. Here's my fantasy must read shortlist for those who like sweaty barbarians in leather as much as shiney space ships and lasers...

  • Lord Of the Rings - Naturally, a fantasy list wouldn't be complete without this, although I could probalby just leave it off and assume folks who like fantasy have read it. Better just include the Hobbit and Silmarilion here too please, ta.
  • Magician - Fiests Magician is simply awsome. Damn shame that he kind of lost it later on, you'd be excused for just reading Magician and nothing else. I gave up after the third riftwar book, are any of the later ones worth picking up on?
  • Elric - Morecock rocks. He also wrote fairly skinny books, so it's fab that the publisher released em all in huge omnibus editions featuring a whole series of books. Elric is by far Morecocks best, a dark and brooding anti-hero that genuinely surprises and shocks. Buy the Elric 'eternal champ' tome and be lost for weeks.
  • Discworld - Again, I'm cheating. There's too many to list, and they're too different to pick a fave. The earlier ones concentrate more on the world, the later ones on the characters. If you're going to start, start at the beginning with 'Colour of Magic'. There's not a stinker amoung em though, they're top.
  • chronicles of Thomas Covenant - A bit like magician where the first three books are classics, but the rest get a bit stinky. This is dark, self depreciating stuff but a good read all the same.
  • Dragonriders of Pern - The Pern books are some of my fave fantasy, and I love the way they have a smattering of Sci-Fi in there too, which comes as a bit of a surprise if you're not expecting it. A must if you're into dragons naturally. Quite tricky to read these in order though, as (like Fiest) she's written some pre-history later in the series.
  • Shinara - Yet again, a superb and classic first trilogy of books starting with 'Sword of Shinara' that decends into generic pap with the fourth and subsequent books. The first three are brilliant though, must read for epic quest lovers.

I'm sure I've missed some, I'll add more as I think of them. I'm also thinking my list is a bit mainstream, anyone got any more reccomendations?


  1. Some of the Dragonlance stuff is quite good if you want fantasy romp. I'd also give a big thumbs up to the Shannara series, and agree with the first three being the best. Some people rave over the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time stuff, but I've had trouble getting into his stuff. Seems overly tedious and drawn out. The Pern books that I've tried to read have been oddly structured text that really is a bind to read. I never managed to get into the flow with them, spending too much time trying to dechiper McCaffery's jarring prose.

  2. I should read some fantasy. I've read bugger all really, just LOTR and Magician on your list but so long ago I've forgotten everything about them. OK I've read a few Discworlds too but that's more fantasy comedy. Oh... I read Thomas Covenant too, I read everything Donaldson writes - but his SF owned that imo.
    Ahh thought of something else and probably what put me off Fantasy. The David Eddings stuff. I kinda forced my way through some of those boring tombs and then read SF, was vastly more enthused and didn't look back. There's a LOT of fantasy in the book shops though innit, any good modern/british authors? Fantasy fans?

  3. I've read a lot of Eddings, but kinda regretted it. It's really shit quest type fare, and an utter rip off how the second series of books were just a mirror romp again of the first.
    I've avoided stuff like Dragonlance, well any licensed stuff really. Kinda felt like reading those trashy Star Trek or Buffy books you see. Surprised to hear someone reccomend em, are they really ok?I get what you're saying about Pern too Ian, it can be hard going, and some books aren't as great as others. I made the effort though, and am glad I did, it's an interesting world she's created, which is what Fantasy is all about for me.

  4. The magician series does get better and better. You should pick up the tsurani series - daughter/servant/mistress of the empire - that he did with janny wurts. They are fantastically well written.

  5. Oddly enough, I'll recommend the Dragonlance stuff as well. But stick to the original Chronicles and Legends stuff, the rest of it was a bit fetid. The Weiss/Hickman stuff was some of the finest fantasy I have read though, especially the Twins trilogy in Legends.
    I revisited it again last year after a 15 year absence, and was surprised by how well it stood up to re-reading as a grownup.
    I also picked up the new Weiss and Hickman trilogy (Dragons Of Summer Flame, Dragons of Winter Moon etc) and found them to be a pleasant diversion, though hardly compelling stuff. It was all a bit contrived and the characters were all a little bit too familiar.

  6. Oh, one I forgot was A game of Thrones by George R R Martin. Very very epic fantasy, kinda a bit like Fiests stuff a bit, but very good as well. Enjoyable if you like large scale stuff.