For today’s #WyrdAndWonder prompt, in no particular order, a list of fantasy titles I really should have read by now:
Kindred by Octavia Butler:
Simply put, I’ve yet to read ANY Butler yet. I chose this one for the list because it’s reportedly “Fantasy” (in Butler’s own words: “a kind of grim fantasy”), but the reality is, I should have read something from her by now. I picked up Dawn and Imago at a used books sale and they have just been gathering dust ever since. I need to change that!
Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks:
The first book in the Shannara Chronicles. This is one of those books that I feel like I should read just to understand the history of one of my favorite genres. After The Lord of the Rings, Fantasy (with a capital F) was on the map and people were scrounging for similar kinds of stories. Apparently Sword of Shannara was what they found . . .
Problem is, I’ve heard it isn’t great for modern readers. I don’t know. The MTV show has been a guilty pleasure of mine, but I think it’s been updated substantially. I suppose I’ll get to it some day.
Gardens of the Moon by Stevin Erikson:
This is the first book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. It seems to be one of those series that is just EPIC. In scope, complexity, anything. I’ve never read any of it, but it always shows up on fantasy page count lists. Apparently you can buy the complete thing at just over 10,000 pages.
Regardless of whether or not it’s any good, it seems to be something of a notch on the old fantasy reader belt. Not a right of passage necessarily, but definitely a show of commitment to the genre . . . One of which I apparently haven’t completed yet. Some day . . .
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin:
I don’t have a good excuse for not having read this yet. I LOVED the show, and would certainly consider myself a fan of all things GoT. I’ve reviewed a precursor to GoT on this blog, cooked a meat pie from the GoT cookbook, and even waited in a super long line to meet the author and get my copy of this book signed (which I embarrassingly picked up at Target on my way to the signing, and even more embarrassingly, blinked during my photo with GRRM).
But for some reason haven’t read the book . . . Ok. Actually I know the reason. When I first bought the paperback, I wanted to get abs and so I started planking. I could read about two pages in the amount of time I could hold a plank. There are A LOT of pages. Over time I think I’ve developed a bit of a pavlovian response. Whenever I even look at the book, my abs hurt.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman:
Simply put, Neverwhere kind ruined Gaiman for me. All the good things I enjoyed about Good Omens I’ve started just attributing to Terry Pratchett’s influence. This one gets rave reviews from everyone I talk to, and the show seems pretty popular. But alas I’m not very motivated on this one. I know I should be . . . but I’m not.
Dragon Flight by Anne McKaffery:
Dragon Riders of Pern just seems to be one of those series that has influenced nearly everyone under the sun. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so much. Either way, I feel I should have read at least one of these simply because it’s SO pervasive. Time will tell.
Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind:
I feel like I might have been able to lump this one in with the Shannara stuff earlier in the post as this series seems to be one that most people found after reading Tolkien and just wanted more. I put it down here because I think people get the “Terry’s” in fantasy confused enough as it is.
I honestly have no idea what it’s even about, but it seems like one I should have read. Who knows?
Black Company by Glen Cook:
At some point, I feel like I read a short story in the Black Company universe and I remember liking it. It seems pretty popular among people who like Fantasy, and I’ve heard that it is sort of proto Grimdark which . . . could be interesting to read for that aspect alone. It’s on the ever growing TBR.
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny:
This is one that I keep getting told I need to read and a series that I think I might actually enjoy. I’ve read Creatures of Light and Darkness before so Zelazny is on my radar for that reason too. I’ll get there.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman:
I pretty much love everything about the show based off this book that used to be on SYFY channel, and was essentially crushed when it got cancelled (although I suppose it’s probably good that it ended because I personally don’t feel it ever got “bad” as a lot of shows do when they run too long). However, I haven’t approached the books yet. I’ve heard several negative reviews and my love for the show is just soooo much that I don’t want to taint it. But I probably will because I just have to know!
Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber:
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and all their assorted adventures, just seem to be the inspiration for so many fantasy things (I think you could argue all of “low” fantasy, and Sword & Sorcery). I’ve read a few of their stories over the years and enjoy the pair immensely, but I’ve never read the original short story collection. One of these days.
End of post thoughts:
This list could have been SOO much longer, but eventually I got tired. Also, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of these books are older titles. I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t think I should be reading newer things, because there is TONS of great new fantasy coming out all the time. The reason those titles are probably not on the list is because I’ve been trying really hard to keep up (although it’s impossible) and I think I’ve read at least some of the newer stuff. Older stuff is harder to will myself to go back to, because of all the great new stuff.
Anyway hope you enjoyed my listicle. Please let me know which titles you think should be on the list in the comments! Thanks for reading!
I’m with you on Kindred. I haven’t read that one either, but I do plan on changing that sometime this year.
I also loved the tv show based on The Magicians, although I did think the last season was horrible so I’m kind of glad it stopped. I’ve read the books too, but they are very different. I really had to separate the books and the tv show in my mind and see them as different things before I could enjoy the books for what they are. I hope you don’t hate them when/if you pick them up.
Oooh, glad to hear there is another Magicians fan around (I’m also super curious why the last season was horrible to you). I’m sure I won’t hate the books. It’s very hard for me to not find something good in a book, even if it’s not my favorite. Anyway, I’m definitely going to give it a shot. Maybe future me might review Kindred and The Magicians on the blog . . . hmmm.
I’ve tried very hard to forget that last season of The Magicans so I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but I remember thinking it had so many weird developments that didn’t seem “in character” for most of the characters. And I also couldn’t forgive them for killing off Quentin because that was totally unnecessary and the show just didn’t work without him.
Was certainly a bold move killing Q off and I was always wondering if I was gonna be disappointed in some lame excuse they would eventually come up with for resurrecting him, but as you said, we never reached that point (thankfully). Yea perhaps you’re right and it had reached it’s time. Good cast though so I hope to see them in other stuff soon, though maybe without as much of Hale Appleman’s singing (I’m learning that apparently the internet loves his singing so maybe I’m off base here lol)
I think Wizard’s First Rule is the only book where I’ve seen a lot of the internet agree that it’s terrible, so I suggest reading this fun review of it instead https://www.pornokitsch.com/2010/07/underground-reading-wizards-first-rule-by-terry-goodkind.html and guiltlessly crossing it off the TBR.
I’ve only read 3 books by Butler, and those in the past 3 years, but they’ve all been great and held up well to the present day, so strongly rec. giving her a shot. They’re all pretty heavy reads but so worth it.
Hahahha! Wow that review. Amazing. Alright I’m not gonna remove it from this list, but I am almost certainly never gonna read it. A friend of mine HATES fantasy and I feel like 1st Rule appears to be everything she believes fantasy is in one handy book. Yikes. In more of a letterkenny canadian accent instead of shark tank . . . I’m Out. lolol
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