- The Lord of the Rings-JRR Tolkien
I am assuming most people know the plot by now, so I will not be including a synopsis. I was ten years old when the first Lord of the Rings movie debuted. My mother would not let my brothers and I see the film until we had read the books. I read all three in about four days. I saw The Two Towers and The Return of the King in theaters. Since then, I have re-read the books and appreciated the nuance I missed on the first rush reading. This trilogy is the right mix of high literature and solid storytelling. Tolkien managed to create a fantastical world that continues to captivate and fascination years after publication. Many authors have set out to be the next Tolkien and few have succeeded. The Lord of the Rings is a great read and all fantasy fans should flip through it at least once.
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
- The Kingkiller Chronicle-Patrick Rothfuss
Follow the adventures of Kvothe the famous adventurer, magician, and musician. He is the hero and villain of a thousand tales and this is his autobiography. The books have two sections, the modern interlude and the past. The “modern” parts are told in the third person and the “past” sections are done in first person. The narrative is rich in description and characterization. Each book peels back a new layer on the characters. There is adventure, mystery, murders, fae folk, doomed romance, and magic weaved throughout the narrative. I think this trilogy is one of the better fantasy books to be written/published in recent years. Rothfuss just published a novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, which explores the back-story of one of the secondary characters. I am desperately awaiting the publication of book 3.
The Name of the Wind
A Wise Man’s Fear
The Doors of Stone (working title)
- The Song of Albion-Stephen R Lawhead
This trilogy follows Simon and Lewis as they unwittingly tumble into a parallel universe. Everybody has a destiny and sometimes that destiny is tied to a different world. Through a combination of Celtic mythology and fantasy, Lawhead creates a compelling narrative about two college students in a fantastical realm. This trilogy remains one of Lawhead’s most popular works and for good reason. The narrative moves quickly and the characters are highly relatable. Each installment builds upon the next and leaves you craving more. Lawhead is one of my favorite fantasy authors because his stories seem to jump off the page. You feel like you are walking side-by-side with the hero and fighting his battles. Even if you never read another one of his books, The Song of Albion is worth reading.
The Paradise War
The Silver Hand
The Endless Knot
- Mistborn: the Original Trilogy –Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is a wonderful writer; I have thoroughly enjoyed every book he has written. The Original Mistborn Trilogy is imaginative, highly enjoyable, and a great stoey. The series takes place in the Final Empire located in the Scadrial. About one thousand years before the first book begins, the king of the Final Empire gained access to a divine power at the Well of Ascension. Utilizing this power, he remade the world and everything in it and this is the state of things when the first book begins. This trilogy has elements of the steampunk genre influencing parts of the narrative. However, this adds some exotic flair to the story and sets it apart from more traditional fantasy narratives. Sanderson calls this a “trilogy of trilogies” and plans of writing more stories set in this world.
The Final Empire
The Well of Ascension
The Hero of Ages
- The Sevenwaters Trilogy-Juliet Marillier
This is a historical fantasy series set in 9th century Britain and Ireland. The original trilogy mainly takes place in ancient Ireland. The series follows several generations of the Sevenwaters family, who enjoy a special relationship with the Otherworld. Each book focuses on battles between the Irish Celts and the Britons, internal conflicts between neighboring landholders, and interference from members of the Otherworld. Each books also carries a strong romance arc. This is expected since a female member of the family narrates each book. The first installment, Daughter of the Forest, is a retelling of the The Six Swans, a classic fairytale. Marillier captures the tone of 9th century Ireland by weaving in the conflict between Celtic paganism and early Irish Christianity. While the books tend to focus more on romance than fantasy, the trilogy is a modern folktale filled with appealing and powerful characters. Marillier has expanded the original trilogy to include the stories of the women of the next generation.
Daughter of the Forest
Son of the Shadows
Child of the Prophecy