As part of Fantasy Week on Raggie Writes, I thought I would share my favourite fantasy novels and series. They are all classics and every book on the list is worth reading whether you are young or wise, a lover of fantasy or not. Read on to find out which books shaped my view of all things magical…
1. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
I truly love Sir Phillip Pullman. He is not only one of my favourite authors of all time but The Times voted him one of “The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945” and the BBC named him the eleventh most influential person in British culture. Because he is a LEGEND.
His Dark Materials Trilogy was interestingly named after John Milton’s Paradise Lost and is a loose retelling of the 17th-century epic poem, similarly referencing religion, philosophy and science throughout. Philip Pullman has a magical way of opening up our minds and allowing us to truly think for ourselves and he does this throughout all of his books. His Dark Materials include the novels: Northern Lights (published as the golden compass in North America), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass and took the author a total of seven years to write. I think we can all agree that it was certainly worth it.
“Lyra Belacqua lives half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle – a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armoured bears.”
The Subtle Knife
“Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld – Cittàgazze, where soul-eating Spectres stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies: twelve-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another’s, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.
On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will uncover a deadly secret: an object of extraordinary and devastating power. And with every step, they move closer to an even greater threat – and the shattering truth of their own destiny.”
The Amber Spyglass
“Will and Lyra, whose fates are bound together by powers beyond their own worlds, have been violently separated. But they must find each other, for ahead of them lies the greatest war that has ever been – and a journey to a dark place from which no one has ever returned . . .”
2. La Belle Sauvage: The Book Of Dust by Philip Pullman
I cannot mention Philip Pullman without also bringing up The Book Of Dust Series. La Belle Sauvage is the first novel in the incredible series, published seventeen years after the final His Dark Materials Novel (The Amber Spyglass). The series includes many of the same characters as its predecessor and according to Pullman, can be enjoyed as a companion to His Dark Materials or as a series on its own. One thing is for sure, once you have read La Belle Sauvage, you will be wanting to pick up The Book of Dust Volume 2 (The Secret Commonwealth) immediately.
“Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . .”
3. Fallen Book One By Lauren Kate
I kept seeing this book on bookshop shelves and in charity shops but continued to look past it for years until curiosity got the better of me and I bought myself a dog-eared copy. I am so glad that I did! Whilst a paranormal romance may not usually be my cup of tea, Lauren Kate beautifully put together a novel filled with depth, intelligence, religious references (which I am a sucker for – not that I am religious) and fantasy. I loved this book so much that I have gone on to purchase the second and I cannot wait to give it a read!
I would highly recommend this book for people who loved Twighlight, however, if you were not a fan of that series, please do not be put off by the comparison. I personally did not enjoy Twighlight and I adored Fallen.
“Some angels are destined to fall.
Instant. Intense. Weirdly familiar . . .
The moment Luce looks at Daniel she knows she has never felt like this before. Except she can’t shake the feeling that she has . . . and with him – a boy she doesn’t remember ever setting eyes on.
Will her attempt to find out why enlighten her – or destroy her?”
4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy By J.R.R. Tolkien
What would a fantasy book list be without The Lord of the Rings? I am one of those that would go as far as to say that LOTR is a way of life and not just a book. The world, the characters and the stories are an example of a creative geniuses work and LOTR was the starting point for many fantasy lovers. The Lord of the Rings includes three volumes titled The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
For those of you who have been living under a rock…
“Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as the Ring is entrusted to his care. He must leave his home and make a perilous journey across the realms of Middle-earth to the Crack of Doom, deep inside the territories of the Dark Lord. There he must destroy the Ring forever and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.”
5. The Chronicles of Narnia By C.S. Lewis
It makes sense to include C.S. Lewis alongside The Lord of The Rings, as in life, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien became good friends and were part of an Oxford literary group called the Inklings. The hugely imaginative and talented author is most famous for his fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia.
The series includes a total of seven novels, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle; each worth being included in this list of their own right. When I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a child, it made me realise the power that literature can really have on a person and for the first time in my life, I was transported to another world.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
“Four adventurous siblings―Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie― step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.”
Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
“Narnia . . . where animals talk . . . where trees walk . . . where a battle is about to begin.
A prince denied his rightful throne gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honour between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.”
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
“A king and some unexpected companions embark on a voyage that will take them beyond all known lands. As they sail farther and farther from charted waters, they discover that their quest is more than they imagined and that the world’s end is only the beginning.”
The Silver Chair
“Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, a noble band of friends is sent to rescue a prince held captive. But their mission to Underland brings them face-to-face with an evil more beautiful and more deadly than they ever expected.”
The Horse and His Boy
“On a desperate journey, two runaways meet and join forces. Though they are only looking to escape their harsh and narrow lives, they soon find themselves at the centre of a terrible battle. It is a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself.”
The Magician’s Nephew
“On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible.”
The Last Battle
“During the last days of Narnia, the land faces its fiercest challenge―not an invader from without but an enemy from within. Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear in this, the magnificent ending to The Chronicles of Narnia.”
6. Eragon By Christopher Paolini
Eragon is the first book within the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini and was one of my favourite books during my teenage years. Whilst in my younger years, Eragon was able to teach me about the real world, through Paolini’s fantasy world, as an adult, I still find myself picking up this book when I need to immerse myself in a world filled with dragons, elves, magic and swordplay!
“When poor farm boy Eragon finds a polished stone in the forest, he thinks it’s a lucky discovery. Perhaps, he will be able to buy his family food for the winter.
But, when a baby dragon hatches out of the stone, Eragon realises he’s stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.
His simple life is shattered, and he’s thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic and power. To navigate this dark terrain, and survive his cruel king’s evil ways, he must take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders.
Will he succeed? The fate of the Empire rests in his hands. . .”
What are your favourite fantasy books and series?