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Topic: Ohh, Fantasy! Where Do I Start?

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Subject: Ohh, Fantasy! Where Do I Start?
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 5:52 AM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2007
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I've been a book fiend all of my life, but my reading material has consisted entirely of literary fiction and quality non-fiction. Now, I'd like to try out the fantasy genre. One problem plagues me: Where do I begin? There are so many writers and so many books. Can anyone recommend a starting point for me in fantasy? What writer, book, or series must I read?

Thanks for your suggestions. :)

Date Posted: 1/13/2009 12:07 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
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I'd say Jim Butchers Dresden Files series.  I read all of them in about a month and a half.  They're a mixture of fantasy and mystery.

I also loved Tanya Huffs Summoners series.  There are 3 in the series. 

Simon R Greens  Man with the Golden Torc (Secret Histories Series #1) and Daemons Are Forever (Secret Histories Series #2) are really good.  The 3rd one comes out this year.

Date Posted: 1/13/2009 7:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2008
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You could try some of the World Fantasy Award winners. If you go to


you'll find a list of novel nominees and winners from 1975 to 2008, along with the short stories, novellas, etc.

Date Posted: 1/13/2009 8:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2008
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I agree Jim Butcher's Dresden Files are a good one to start with.  You can go to his website and read some of his work there if you want to sort of "try before you buy' type of thing.  There is such a wide variety of great reading that it is hard to tie it down to a few; I am sure you will get a lot of recommendations!  There is Stephenie Meyers Twilight Series, Cornelia Funke, Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth Series (books are huge though), Katherine Kerr, Susan Cooper, Harry Potter series, and oh so much more.  I love the ones with magicians, wizards, some vampires but not big on aliens or outer space stories so I guess its like anything else you get to wade through and find what you love!  Have fun!

Date Posted: 1/13/2009 9:21 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2008
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I will give you two suggestions:

One that is slightly (ok, lots) off the beaten path, "Burying the Shadow" by Storm Constantine which is what I guess most people would call "dark" fantasy, and one that is more popular/mainstream (it has magic, talking "animals", farmboy-turned-hero, quest-turned-roadtrip, a sequel, etc--but also some very original twists), "Covenants" by Lorna Freeman.  Since you like literary fiction I would think you would like the first one more, and it is well worth tracking down a copy. However, both are excellent reads.

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 6:50 AM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2008
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Most fantasy readers would suggest Tolkien- Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia as classics to try.  If they are a bit long for you to start out, I would suggest a wonderful author who does historical fantasy-Guy Gavriel Kay, he has a few stand alone stories that are easy to read by themselves.  I do love the Dresden Files too, he's a wizard like Harry Potter but that is where the simularity ends. Dresden is a great urban fantasy which usually take place in modern day settings.  Many of the other fantasy series that are popular are based in ancient times or alternate histories.  If you like a little romance with your fantasy, try Patricia Briggs. Her Mercy Thompson series has werewolves, vampires and faeries. If you want lots of dragons there is a series called Dragonlance with multiple authors.  There is so much to choose from and it can get a bit overwhelming. 

I found a great site that has lots of good information on fantasy authors.  On the front page they have a section with their favorite series/authors. Click on the cover of the books to access the information.  Or you can use their great search function and look them up by author or title.


Just take a deep breath and jump in, you will love getting caught up in these wonderful stories.

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 6:58 AM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2007
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Thanks for all of the recommendations so far, everyone!

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 2:17 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 6,143
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I would suggest trying some of the Legends books: http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/details/9780812566635-Legends+1+Short+Novels+by+the+Masters+of+Modern+Fantasy  They're longer than most short stories, maybe around 80 pages each, so that you can get an idea of if you like the authors or not. 

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
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Oh, I second that recommendation about Guy Gavriel Kay - he is definitely one of my favorites, with really interesting characters and intricate plots.  I loved Ysabel because of the tie in to ancient history in France, but you sort of have to read the Fionnavar Tapestry trilogy first, so I would recommend starting with A Song for Arbonne or Tigana first - they are both stand alone books, and great representations of his writing.

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 4:03 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
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Tolkien is a must read for anyone who hasn't read it already.  It's the book that founded an industry, after all.

Guy Gavriel Kay is excellent.  The first book I read of his was Sailing to Sarantium, which is a sort of alternate history of Byzantium.  Really a good book.

I also really enjoy Charles de Lint's works, and Robin Hobbs.

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 10:21 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
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I would suggest Anne Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy or her Tir Alainn Trilogy. Both are fantastic.

I would also add Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy followed by her Fool trilogy, wonderful and heartbreaking.

George R. R. Martin's Songs of Fire and Ice This series is not finished yet -not sure if it ever will be- don't get into it if you are impatient for the next book! I am going crazy waiting.

Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth Series - series complete. He gets a little preachy in a couple of books but the overall story is very good.

Watership Down is a really fascinating book - I forget who wrote it though.

R. A. Salvatore's Drizzt series, starting with Homeland, Exile and Sojurn, very thoughtful books.

I started Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series but after about six books I lost interest - they were good and I will probably go back to them one day though. Maybe after the last book is written.

There are many good books and series that straddle the line between paranormal romance and fantasy - don't be afraid to give these a chance as well.


Date Posted: 1/16/2009 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
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There are so many sub-genres; if you could narrow it down a bit....some I think of are the sword-and-sorcery, like King Arthur tales but set in a fantasy place and with more magical creatures, like Tolkien's trilogy....this seems to be the most popular. George Martin's Fire and Ice series is like this, in an imaginary place in ancient ? times, but the lack of magic/mystical things, was very disappointing to me. But it's a grand tale.

There's urban/contemporary fantasy, with magic taking place in today's real world, like Terri Windling's "Wood Wife" and most of Charles De Lint.

Then you get into the whole paranormal scene, with vampires, werewolves, etc., which I generally do not consider fantasy, but many people do.

Ditto for science fiction-fantasy.

Some fantasy are my most treasured "keep forever" books---but I really disliked the Dresden Files, which is an unusual reaction.

Last Edited on: 1/16/09 5:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/16/2009 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2005
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Megan Whalen Turner's Thief series.  It starts with The Thief, then The Queen of Attolia and then the King of Attolia.  You have to read them in order.

Date Posted: 1/17/2009 12:06 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
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Tamora Pierce  has a couple of  series that are connected. Generally considered YA . 

My first fantasy authors were C. S. Lewis, Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony. My favorite authors are Terry Goodkind, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey and Anne Bishop. I guess I like the arthurian legend, medieval times, dragons, goblins, elves ect.

I have read the Mercy Thompson series by Briggs and really enjoyed that(so far).I'm trying to get the Dresden Files or at least the first book in the series to see if that's something I'd like. I never watched the tv show.


Date Posted: 2/2/2009 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,718
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I was first introduced to the scifi/fantasy genre with Anne McCaffrey's Pern books (there are a LOT of them now) and Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy (which I believe is now 6 or 7 books long). I went from there to Tolkien, Piers Anthony, CS Lewis, and Terry Brooks.

If you want a book to cross over from lit to fantasy, many academic circles consider Gulliver's Travels to be the "father" of fantasy fiction.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2009
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For an easy read with fantastic content I would suggest Meredith Ann Pierce and her Darkangel Series.  It's got everything Fantasy, Vampires, Witches, Gods, in a variety of settings.  It's an Epic Adventure and Romance.  This more of a YA read but even 13 years later from when I first read this book, I still love it to death.

I also second

Anne Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy
Robin Hobb Farseer Trilogy /Fool Trilogy

I would beware of George RR Martin's song of fire and ice.  It's VERY good but, VERY depressing!

Good Classic Fantasy would be Tolkien's The Hobbit. If you can get used to his writing style you can try The Lord of the Rings trilogy but keep in mind his writing style is very detailed which can be beautiful or really boring which makes his books very long!  I still love the series to death but don't know if I would re-read, haha.

Someone mentioned Watership Down by Richard Adams.  It's an awesome story that features rabbits as the main characters.  If you like animals you can try the Redwall Series by Brian Jacques.

Harry Potter is always a fun.

I highly recommend Jacqueline Carey Kushiel's Dart for a more mature read.

If you'd like to try some more sci-fi I would defintiely recommend the hitchhikkers guide to the galaxy.


Good luck! :)

Subject: Fantasy
Date Posted: 2/9/2009 9:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 1,417
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My first fantasy author was Terry Brooks.  He deals with magic, witches, druids, trolls etc.  I would start with the The Shannara Series.  I did not care for his Landover series.  He is well worth reading.  If you like romance with your fantasy, Christine Feehan has the Dark Series which are carpathians who turn into vampires if the are not saved - they are more paranormal books than fantasy.  R.A. Salvatore is good but I would describe his Drizzt series as dark but a great read also.  I did not care for Robert Jordan after the fifth or sixth book in his Wheel of Time series, the same with Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series.  Both of them got old, finish the tale already type books.  I liked Christopher Paolini books, Eragon, Eldest and Brisinger, they are about magic and dragons, but he needs to finish the series and move on.  Tad Williams has written some good books, I read The Dragonbone Chair in the Memory, Sorrow and  Thorn series and liked it very much.  Good luck!

Date Posted: 2/10/2009 11:18 AM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
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In my eyes, every fantasy reader must read Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.  They're classics and were the inspiration for a lot of later fantasy.  I would definitely start there.  Especially if your background is literary fiction, I'd stick with fantasy books that have stood the test of time and good critics rather than what's popular today.  I find that quite a bit of popular fantasy is very pulp-fictiony with little to chew on.  Kind of like eating marshmallows - light and fluffy fun, but in the end not very satisfying.  Some of the recommendations on this thread I believe fit into that category (like the Dresden series) - light and fun, but not very satisfying.


Date Posted: 2/10/2009 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2008
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I can second Robin Hobb as a suggestion - but only her Liveship Traders trilogy - Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, and Ship of Destiny.


Date Posted: 2/14/2009 10:29 PM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2008
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I'd start with David Eddings' The Belgariad

Date Posted: 3/2/2009 11:46 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
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I'd suggetst you start with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, seeing as they were both rather outspoken Christians. The Chronicles of Narnia has a lot of explicit Christian allegory, and The Lord of the Rings is an excellent morality tale. If you want to move past those, I'd suggest Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. I'd suggest The Silmarillion, but that would almost be throwing you to the wolves. Another one I'd suggest would be The Knight by Gene Wolfe. It's excellent epic fantasy.
Date Posted: 3/3/2009 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2009
Posts: 30
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Ah! I love David Eddings, he would be a great start too.  Very entertaining. :)

Date Posted: 3/4/2009 1:16 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
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What do you like?  Male characters or female characters.  This does make a difference!

Date Posted: 3/30/2009 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2009
Posts: 16
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If you are unsure whether or not you even like fantasy as a genre (vs Sci Fi) I suggest reading Julian May's Pliocene Epoch. This is a great example of the blending of fantay and sci-fi. Afterward, think about the books and see what elements you liked most... the fantasy parts? or the sci-fi parts??

I ended up liking the fantasy parts...

After you read those and still interested I suggest Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana. Solid fantasy with an Italian backdrop so the world and pronunciations make sense!


Date Posted: 5/21/2009 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 4/1/2009
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two words, The Hobbit