Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fantasy Worth Reading, Part One

As any prolific reader knows, one of the biggest challenges of reading is finding the next good book among the thousands of mediocre to bad ones out there. Sadly, in the science fiction and fantasy market, things are no different. Walk into your local library or bookstore and venture into the science fiction/fantasy section, and without something to guide you, you are likely to be disappointed with whatever you walk out with.

So today, I want to offer you a glimpse of some of my favorite authors. Naturally, this is no guarantee that what you like in fantasy will be what I like. But I will say that the ones that I am highlighting today are ones that are beloved by many other fans, and most of them make multiple appearances on those numerous "Best Fantasy Authors" lists that can be found everywhere online. So here are ten of my favorite, in no particular order.

1. Brandon Sanderson

For those who regularly read my blog, the fact that Brandon Sanderson is at the top of my list should come as no surprise. Sanderson is probably one of the more successful and prolific fantasy authors in the market right now. The fact that he gives back to the writing community through teaching creative writing classes and through his Hugo-nominated podcast Writing Excuses is just icing on the cake. Seriously, if you haven't read any of his work, stop reading this right now and go pick one up. You won't regret it.

My Favorite Sanderson Book: The Way of Kings

2. Guy Gavriel Kay

I only recently discovered Kay's work, but I was delighted when I did. Kay is perhaps best known for his historical fantasy, wherein he takes a real-world time and place, coverts it to a fantasy world, and then sets a compelling story there. Also of note is that Kay usually writes stand-alone works, rather than the multi-volume series that are so typical now in fantasy. If you're a fan of rich, detailed settings with a strong basis in reality, you'll love much of Kay's work.

My Favorite Kay Book: A Song for Arbonne

3. Robin Hobb

Another great author in the genre is Robin Hobb. While this author has also published under a different pseudonym, I am only familiar with those written under this particular pen name. What I love best about her work is the larger world-story that is going on through the progression of each series. While it certainly isn't blatant, by the time you've finished all the works of her The Realm of the Elderlings series, you realize the story is so much bigger than simply the character you are reading about. This is another author who you simply must read if you want to understand the fantasy genre.

My Favorite Hobb Book: Fool's Fate

4. Jim Butcher

I only recently discovered Jim Butcher, and have been pleasantly surprised by his work, much of which is urban fantasy, of which I am not typically a fan. But this work, known as The Dresden Files, is quite good, and even spawned a short-lived TV series on Sci-Fi of the same name. He also has a more traditional fantasy series known as Codex Alera, a series he wrote after being challenged to write a story combining the Lost Roman Legion with Pokemon. I'll let you be the judge, but I find his work quite enjoyable.

My Favorite Butcher Book: Ghost Story

5. Stephen Lawhead

Stephen Lawhead is probably the least well known on my list, but one whose work has probably had the biggest mark on me as a fantasy writer. It was through his book In the Hall of the Dragon King that I was first introduced to fantasy. In fact, my mom actually picked this book up at the grocery store and gave it to me! Lawhead is an expert in Celtic history, and this expertise is displayed throughout many of his works. Lawhead is also remarkable to me in that he writes from a noticeably Christian perspective yet still presents his ideas in a way that is consistent with the fantasy genre. Definitely check him out!

My Favorite Lawhead Book: Byzantium


So that's it for today. Next Thursday, I'll finish up my list of ten of my favorite fantasy authors. Thanks for reading. Now get off the Internet and go read a good book! See you next time.

You can find Part Two here.

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