Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Favorite Fantasy Novels

In light of our review of Game of Thrones this week (and because of our AWESOME GAME OF THRONES GIVEAWAY!), Alex and I are discussing our favorite fantasy novel today.

Now, I've read about a million and one fantasy novels.  I was on a big kick when I was in high school and read more that is reasonable healthy for a human being.  And not all of them stood the test of time.  A lot of them, I went back and read them and I didn't think much of them.

Also, I was going to put The Golden Compass here (because that trilogy is pretty much fantastic), but I've already talked about that one.  So I'm going to pick a different one that is near and dear to my heart.

The Chronicles of Narnia is such a great, fun, wonderful series (Oddly enough, it's the antithesis of His Dark Materials.  Pullman wrote the His Dark Materials series to be in contrast to the more religion over-toned Narnia tales that Lewis wrote.)
Ok, so the book does have a lot of religious overtones.  And in some books they're really noticeable (the first Narnia book is basically Lewis's version of the creationist story) and others are much less obvious (A Horse and His Boy and Caspian, you don't notice the religious tones or lessons nearly as much.)  But Lewis manages to give you characters you love and adore all throughout the seven books.  Now, granted, the Pevensies are our main characters, and they make at least a cameo appearance in all but one book (maybe two.  I can't remember if they're in The Silver Chair.)  But you get so invested in them!  
And despite the wide array of characters, you hold all of them dear to your heart.  You smile with them, laugh with them, cry with them and worry about all of them.  
The final book was my favorite, though easily the saddest, but Lewis's writing is just so... magical.  It's so easy to get pull into and trapped in the worlds that he creates.

And the best part is, it's children's literature!  Lewis meant for this books to be for his goddaughter, though inevitable, by the time the last one came out, she was really too old for them.  He had three little girls come to stay with him during the war, and the tales were inspired by them.

Honestly, you just can't help but fall in love with these books.  So... go read them.  Now.

Honestly, my favorite fantasy is the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman (which appears to cover several of my favorites, doesn't it?) but I'll be discussing another of my favorites, but still by Neil Gaiman: American Gods.

Shadow is released from prison to find that the life he left behind is not the one waiting for him. He meets up with some strange men who turn out to be gods, and they have a bit of an adventure. One of his constant companions is Mr. Wednesday (who is actually Odin the All-Father). Gods (and other supernatural beings) were brought to America with the people who believed in them, and many have been abandoned to die, unbelieved-in. New gods have rolled in, created by those who worship technology, business, media, and drugs. Shadow's task is to help Mr. Wednesday rally the old gods to fight the new.

Many of the settings are real-life places in America, the weird, obscure tourist traps that make America what it is. One of these is the House on the Rock - a true marvel of architecture and weirdness - which is a real place where Gaiman now has Halloween parties because of how many fans associate it with this book.

It's well-researched, well-written, and quite funny at the appropriate times. All of the characters, no matter how brief their stay in the narrative, are deep and complex. It has a companion book (kind of like a sequel or a prequel but you don't have to read them "in order" or even read both of them) called Anansi Boys, which I am also extremely fond of. (My favorite character is the lime.)


  1. Well Cassy, I hate to be a downer, but I'm afraid I must disagree. I did not like "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" or "The Golden Compass" although the latter was not bad, more like "eh." I do not like CS Lewis' stuff because of the religious, and specifically Christian overtones, of which I felt uncomfortable, and out of the target audience. Pullman's book was just ok. Not the worst, but not great. I did not read past the first book in each series because of my dislike for the first ones.

    My favorite would be "The Princess Bride" followed by the Harry Potter series. I also enjoyed "The Looking Glass Wars" although I only read the first in that series also.

    1. It's ok that you don't agree! If everyone agreed with us all the time, we'd start to get big heads. ;) I could understand why you would be put off by Lewis. If you don't have a frame of reference for all the Christianity stuff, then it won't be enjoyable. And, TBH, the first book in that series is the WORST. It's really obvious that it's a retelling of creationism. Not that TLWW is any better. Aslan being Jesus, and all.

      But, to be fair, you could make the same arguments about HP. I mean, I'm not sure if Rowling INTENDED it, but Harry TOTALLY because a Jesus figure at the end of the book. With such blatant similarities, I have a hard time believing that Rowling didn't do it on purpose.

  2. I have American Gods on my list to read. Hopefully I'll get to it this year.

    A recent favorite of mine in the fantasy realm are "Wild Seed" by Octavia Butler. "The Scorpio Races" and "The Raven Boys" by Maggie Steifvater.

    1. I LOVE WILD SEED!!!! Pretty much I feel like no one has heard of Octavia Butler. I took an entire course on her in college and loved it.

      (Though... to be fair, the second two books in that series don't seem to match up with the first. The first two were easily the best.)

    2. Yeah I regret not reading her books sooner, I haven't read the subsequent books as of yet. They're on the list though. Awesome college course though!