George R.R. Martin is on everyone’s lips because of Game of Thrones. Many people have seen the HBO series, but I’m sure many fewer have read the books. In addition to Martin, Tolkien and J K Rowling are also household names, known way beyond the fantasy genre. These are the mass media darlings, but are they the heart and soul of the fantasy genre. I say no.
The genre has changed over the years. It seems like YA fantasy is very popular, but wasn’t it always that way? Fantasy is one of those literary genres that has always been accessible to readers of all ages. It cracks me up to see the YA fantasy section in the bookstore. It’s just marketing because of the success of Harry Potter.
So if you’ve already read Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, and are waiting for Martin to finish writing Game of Thrones, what should you read? Well since I’m an old dude, I’m going to give you my recommendations for the best fantasy series of the last several decades. (I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones I have read and can recommend)
- Glen Cook – The Chronicles of the Black Company; The Dread Empire.
- Roger Zelazny – The Amber Chronicles.
- Mickey Zucker Reighert – The Renshai Chronicles.
- Michael Moorcook – The Elric Saga.
- Steven Brust – Vlad Taltos Series.
- Dave Duncan – A Man of His Word; A Handful of Men.
- Katherine Kurtz – The Chronicles of the Deryni.
- Terry Pratchett – Discworld Novels.
- Tad Williams – Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
- Janny Wurts – The Cycle of Fire; Daughter of Empire.
- C. S. Friedman – Cold Fire Trilogy.
- Harry Turtledove – The Videssos Cycle.
- Jennifer Roberson – Chronicles of the Cheysuli; Sword Dancer.
- Raymond E. Feist – The Riftwar Saga.
- Louise Cooper – Time Master Trilogy; Books of Indigo.
- Eric Van Lustbader – The Sunset Warrior Trilogy.
- Patricia A. Mckillip – The Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy.
- Lawrence Watt-Evens – The Obsidian Chronicles.
- Angus Wells – The Books of the Kingdom; The God War.
- David Farland – The Runelords.
- L.E. Modesitt Jr. – The Saga of Recluse.
- Steve Bein – The Fated Blades.
- Patrick Ruthfuss – The Kingkiller Chronicle.
- Jim Butcher – The Dresden Files.
I almost feel bad about leaving Wheel of Time off this list because it started out so good, but I couldn’t keep reading it much like Game of Thrones – They both grew into this huge web of story arcs that lost my interest. Anyway, this is my list. I do prefer my fantasy a bit dark and gritty, but they don’t all fit in that category. Many of these books are a bit older, but hey, so am I. Try a couple of these if you haven’t read them already.