Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!
This week our topic is …
ALL TIME FAVORITE FANTASY BOOKS
10. DRAGONLANCE: CHRONICLES
This is my first pick for two reasons: sentimental and influence. If I was picking this list solely on whether I enjoy a given fantasy right now, today, the original Dragonlance trilogy would not make the top ten, but since I’m picking all-time favorite fantasy books I feel I have to show my appreciation to this trilogy by Weis and Hickman, because it cemented my adoration for fantasy after I first feel in love with the genre after reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Truthfully, if not for Dragonlance: Chronicles, I might not have hung around to read so many great books.
9. THE BELGARIAD
Another tribute to my long past teenage years, which would not make a list of my current fantasy favorites. Where Dragonlance: Chronicles appealed to my Dungeon & Dragon cravings, Eddings straightforward fantasy tale spoke to my kid at heart. You know, the one who wanted to wake up one day to discover he was something more than he thought he was and who wanted to skip school to go off on epic adventures. Personally, I like to think of The Belgariad as my time periods Harry Potter . . . except it wasn’t as popular, wasn’t as successful, didn’t have any movies, or its own theme park, but — except for all those things — it was totally like old Harry.
I first read this when I was a teenager in the 1980s. Back then, it was pure testosterone drugs for a hormonal, teenage boy. I loved it! It was one of my all-time favorites for years. But I never re-read it . . .until a few weeks ago, that is. I was surprised as anyone that it held up after all that time. The writing might not have been as stupendous as I recalled or the theme as grand, but it was still an emotional, pulse-pounding heroic fantasy unlike any other, one which had characters whose heroism truly inspired me.
7. THOMAS COVENANT (FIRST CHRONICLE)
Donaldson’s anti-hero Covenant was my first real experience with following along behind a character I despised . . . or, at least, despised most of the time. Coming from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, this was a bitter pill to swallow, especially since I was accustom to my heroes being classic good guys and the bad guys being evil. To find my hero almost as bad as his adversary was pretty earth shattering to my teenage self, but it was a good learning experience, preparing me for even worse protagonists.
6. PRINCE OF THORNS
Yeah, I am saying Jorg Ancrath is worse than Covenant. And, no, I don’t like him most of the time. But, be that as it may, Mark Lawrence’s seminal masterpiece of grimdark always ends up on my “Best Of” lists. Yeah, I really, really struggle with overlooking Jorg’s nature, but I always do so, because this book changed my expectations about the fantasy genre, showed me exactly how powerful a grimdark could be. Sure, A Game of Thrones might have affected me along those same lines, but Thorns‘ influence is nearly as powerful, which means it rightly deserves a spot on here– even if I can’t put it higher.
I loved this fantasy story about a world overrun by the return of The Dark and a wizard’s quest to somehow save a remnant of his people. The fact it mixed in sci-fi elements, mystery, and creepy, man-eating monsters only made it that much cooler when I first read it. Now, when I revisit it, it is pure reading enjoyment, as Barbara Hambly crafts an effortless fantasy story which draws you in and keeps you flipping the pages as a post-apocalyptic fantasy takes shape before your eyes.
4. THE EYE OF THE WORLD
When I list this book here, I am only talking about this book. The rest of the series (that I have actually read) was up-and-down; great for a few books, then steadily declining in my opinion until I jumped ship. Yes, I know it got better and ended on a high note with Brandon Sanderson, but I haven’t experienced the conclusion yet. However, I do know this was a novel that I loved when I first read it, believing I had found the next best thing to Tolkien returning to life and penning another Lord of the Rings. That is still how I view this one book.
3. A GAME OF THRONES
I really don’t know what I can say about this book and series: everything has already been said. What I can add I suppose is my absolute amazement when I finished reading this fantasy for grown ups. Yeah, that sounds like a criticism of everything else I had read up to that point, but it is exactly how I felt after experiencing the brutality and realism of Martin’s Westeros. His vision for a new kind of fantasy overwhelmed me. Still does, even after all these years.
2. THE BLACK COMPANY
Lady. Croaker. The Ten Who Were Taken. The White Rose. The Dominator. The Black Company. The series which I grew up with. The series which I always mention as influencing my fantasy reading habits more than almost any other. Glen Cook, probably, my favorite fantasy author. His stories capturing the essence of what fantasy should be for me personally. After all that gushing, you most likely wonder what series could beat out this one.
1. LORD OF THE RINGS
The book/trilogy which made me into a fantasy fan. The basis for the movies which kept my love for fantasy alive in young adulthood when I had practically written off fantasy as a phase I went through when I was in my teens and twenties. Someday, a book might bump Tolkien from his perch at the top of my all-time fantasy list, but I’m not really betting on it.