When people hear the words “fantasy stories,” their thoughts leap to J.R.R. Tolkien and his works. These may be among the most popular fantasy books, but there’s a lot more out there than Tolkien (and his imitators). Here, in no particular order, are some of my personal favorite fantasy books:
- Bleach – I’ll admit it: I’m a manga/anime fan. This is one I enjoy a lot.
- War in Heaven – Charles Williams is probably the least known of the Inklings, the group that also included Tokien and C.S. Lewis. To be honest, even though I like Tolkien a lot, Williams is probably my favorite. War in Heaven is a modern-day Grail romance/murder story. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you give it a try. $0.99 on Kindle, what have you got to lose?
- Animal Farm – This is truly a classic. A cautionary tale about what happens when a class of citizens gets greedy for power and “stuff.” Not a children’s tale, but one every adult should read at least once.
- Xanth – Start with A Spell for Chameleon, and then just keep going. A funny (punny?) but seriously good fantasy series set in an analogue of Florida, where magic works.
- The Worm Ouroboros – A strange story, and a precursor to Tolkien. Anthony Boucher considered it to be one of the greatest imaginative works of the 20th century. I would have to agree.
- Rhinegold – If you like the northern myths, then you’ll enjoy Stephan Grundy’s retelling of the Volsunga Saga. It’s out of print, but you may find it in a library or a used bookstore. If you do, grab it!
- Troll: A Love Story – Here’s an odd one: Johanna Sinisalo tells the story of a man who finds a young troll near his apartment and takes it into his life. I enjoyed this book quite a lot.
- A Princess of Mars – The first of Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars series. It seems a little dated today, but it is a classic and a must read for any fantasy fan. It’s also much better than the recent movie.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Not a book, but an excellent movie, that easily qualifies as a modern classic. This is the film that popularized fantastic martial arts in the USA. If you like fantasy films, you’ve got to watch this one!