I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy for about 30 years now. In that time, I’ve fallen in love with more than a few stories that I return to, time and time again. Some of the books made my top 5 fantasy books of all time because they are classics that never fail to entertain and some made the list because I have such deep affection for the stories. You may agree with me, you may disagree with me and you may have a few suggestions of your own.
Please note that I’m not putting these books in any particular ranking order in some cases, I love them so much I would never be able to choose between them.
The Unlikely Ones by Mary Brown – Thing, a young girl who hides beneath a mask, and her handicapped companions–a crow, a toad, a goldfish, and a kitten–set off on a desperate quest to find the Dragon of the Black Mountain. The premise sold me on the book, but the tale transported me. I’ve had this book for 23 years and I still read it from time to time.
Daughter of Witches by Patricia C. Wrede – Come .. enter the city of Drinn, if you dare. The entering is easy during Festival time; no guard will stop you, no priest will question you as you shuffle through the gates among the crowds, hiding the glow of forbidden magic beneath your brown pilgrim robes. Yes, entering is easy. The hard part is getting out again. This is the second book in the Drinn series and while I loved all of them, this one really gets to me.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – I was never a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings series because it was hard to read when I was younger. I had to be older to really appreciate it. But I loved the Hobbit. The hobbit-hole in question belongs to one Bilbo Baggins, an upstanding member of a “little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves.” He is, like most of his kind, well off, well fed, and best pleased when sitting by his own fire with a pipe, a glass of good beer, and a meal to look forward to. Certainly this particular hobbit is the last person one would expect to see set off on a hazardous journey; indeed, when Gandalf the Grey stops by one morning, “looking for someone to share in an adventure,” Baggins fervently wishes the wizard elsewhere. No such luck, however; soon 13 fortune-seeking dwarves have arrived on the hobbit’s doorstep in search of a burglar, and before he can even grab his hat or an umbrella, Bilbo Baggins is swept out his door and into a dangerous adventure.
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander – When Disney made this one into a movie, I was all excited. Sadly, it hardly lived up to the tale that was told in this series, but I still love the books and my daughter is now enjoying them too. In the Black Cauldron, Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper of Prydain. Taran, with a band of warriors and friends, is called upon to find and destroy the Black Cauldron, which is being used by the evil Arawn, Lord of the Land of Death, to produce deathless warriors from the bodies of his fallen enemies. Throughout this quest, Taran and his companions learn about sacrifice, honor, and courage.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman – I remember the first time I read this book. I was 11 years old. I was catapulted into a world of dragons, elves, half-elves, kender, dwarves, dark mages and loving warriors. I fell in love with Flint, Tanis, Tasselhoff, Caramon and Raistlin. I even hoped fervently for Kitiara to be saved. No fantasy book comes close to the affection I feel for the original trilogy which I read annually, returning to the Inn of the Last Home for a brief sojourn.
What are you favorite fantasy novels?