Christmas is coming and you’re likely looking for a great gift to pick up for that good friend, sibling or yourself. With that in mind I took a look at my bookshelf and selected my top 5 fantasy books of all time. It was tough narrowing it down to only 5 titles, after all I’ve enjoyed most (if not all) of the fantasy novels I’ve read over the years.
I quickly realized that I could stretch the list to 10, 15, 20 books or more very easily. With that in mind I needed to define my criteria for selection. I decided the book had to have had a large impact on me. It had to be a book I had read more than once over the years. Finally, the book had to take the genre in a different direction for me.
Presented below are my top 5 fantasy books of all time in no particular order.
J.R.R. Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings
Perhaps no explanations are needed or perhaps you’re thinking that this was an obvious choice. Perhaps you’d be right. However, Lord of the Rings has a special place in my catalogue because it was my first. I was introduced to this book in grade 5 and it was my introduction to fantasy literature. From that point on, there was no looking back. I can imagine that many others have similar stories. Tolkien was an innovator and without his writing much of our hobby might not exist in its current format.
Michael Moorcock – The Swords of Corum
Most people single out Elric as the #1 most identifiable Moorcock character, but the way Corum deals with his handicaps and then seeks revenge only to find it an empty desire was very satisfying. It was also my introduction to Moorcock’s writing and that is why it ranks above Elric on my list, though I must say I enjoy all of Moorcock’s work and recommend it.
David Gemmell – Legend
David Gemmell is the king of heroic fantasy. Sadly he passed away on July 28, 2006. Legend was the first book written to feature Druss, heroic fantasy at it’s finest. I remember finding this book in the university book store in Durham, England while on vacation. It was a good find and I haven’t looked back since. Legend has been read many times over. My thoughts on Druss are that he does the kind of things we only wish our PCs could do.
Glen Cook – The Black Company
Gritty, dark fantasy at its best. The Black Company will change the way you look at fantasy literature. The story revolves around characters in a mercenary company. Cook’s use of language, imagery and the departure from high fantasy makes it a welcome change to the norms of the genre.
Guy Gabriel Kay – The Fionavar Tapestry
And so it came to pass that I read The Fionavar Tapestry. Perhaps it’s because Kay is a fellow Canadian, and that this series begins on the University of Toronto campus (a place Kay studied). Perhaps, it’s his ability to to merge myth and legend together that makes this series so compelling. Personally, it’s a blend of all of these, combined with his pacing, character development and original idea’s that made this series such a refreshing and enjoyable read.
Now I know I’m not the only one who has a top 5 list of fantasy novels. I’m always looking for something new to read, and I want to hear what 5 books you would select for your list.