Last week was Fantasy and Science Fiction week on Goodreads, and I thoroughly celebrated by reading Fantasy and Science Fiction. I read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig with definite science fiction vibes, what with alternative lives and universes, and I started Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard on Sunday, dipping into the new fantastical universe with the sun streaming down on me in the garden.
I absolutely love these genres. They are my stars in the darkness, keeping my imagination wild and vibrant, and while I can’t always share all my favourite books, I wanted to share my top three fantasy series that I absolutely love, and would read again and again. Fantasy and Science Week might be over for some, but for me it’s every day.
So without further ado, here are my top three fantasy series.
- Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
Synopsis of Alanna: The First Adventure, Book One
Denying her magical powers and disguised as a boy, Alanna strives to achieve her ultimate ambition. To become a knight. Her determination wins her powerful friends in the palace. But court life holds unexpected dangers. Something about the powerful magician, Duke Roger of Conté, terrifies Alanna. Soon she will face a challenge to test all her skills…
Why I Love It
I’d dipped into fantasy quite a bit as a kid, though mainly it was as a result of Enid Blyton and her Faraway Tree books, Brian Jacques’ Redwall, and then later, Harry Potter at age 11. But until Tamora Pierce, I hadn’t really read any fantasy books about knights and warring realms. It peaked my interest at age 14, after I was recommended the books by a friend. Soon I’d purchased a copy of ‘Alanna: The First Adventure’, book one of the ‘Song of the Lioness’ series and once I’d read the first chapter I was hooked.
Alanna herself is a powerful character, even at a young age (only 12 at the start of the series) determined to go against the will of her father and swap places with her twin brother, all so she can become a knight, something no girl has done in many generations.
There are ups and downs of her adventures over the four books. For the first two books she has to disguise herself completely, up until she goes through the trials to become a knight at age 18 at the end of book two. She has a multitude of friends in the shape of brotherly camaraderie, from fellow students to the thief George, as well as lovers throughout the books. But there are enemies also. There are battles to be fought, a talking cat, and there is also magic in Alanna’s hands that in the beginning she’d rather forgo. She gets through her frustrations and neglectful magical studies, and becomes – not just a knight – but a magic wielding one too.
I love the series so much. The writing is easy to dip into, written rather in a young-adult style, even if only the first two books have the main character in that age-group. The characters are vibrant and memorable. I loved George from the outset, but there are other characters too that are just as important and vivid.
If you’re just starting your dip into the fantasy genre, or even an avid reader already and haven’t read this series yet, I say do. You’ll be missing out on a rare gem otherwise.
- The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett
Synopsis: The Colour of Magic, Book One
On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE on the planet…
Why I Love It
Ok, ok, so this may be a series, but honestly you can probably dip in and out of any book in the series as a starting point. There are mini series amongst the Discworld books, with characters coming in and out at different stages. There’s obviously the list of books when they were published, which is a good start to begin reading, but truly you can delve into this fantastic series at any point and get sucked in.
But let’s start with The Colour of Magic, the first book written in the Discworld Series. It brings you into a world on top of four elephants, who themselves are on top of a giant turtle, swimming through space. This is a world filled with magic, gods, and awesome characters. In this book you meet the wizard Rincewind, who isn’t very good at magic as a whole and who therefore has been expelled from the Unseen University. My favourite character had to be the luggage, which is very much alive and very temperamental, swallowing people whole if they don’t much like them – sending them to whereabouts unknown.
The book itself starts where a tourist visits Ankh Morpork and hires Rincewind as his guide, and both head off to explore parts of the Discworld. They get into all sorts of scrapes, encountering dragons, meeting age-old heroes, and finally reaching the edge of the Discworld itself. This is a book gleaming with hilarity, and is just the start of a comedic fantasy series, filled with brilliant characters and twists on old tales and seemingly commonplace industries – until Terry Pratchett decides to write about them. From music to the post office, there’s nothing that escapes his comedic genius.
Like I said, you can dip in and out at any point of the series, but I implore you to start with The Colour of Magic. You won’t be disappointed.
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor
Synopsis: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book One
Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
Why I Love It
Oh wow, I can’t tell you enough about how much I loved this book, and the series as a whole. The characters, the plot, the twists and turns, it just pulled me in and never let me go.
The book begins with the character of Karou, a seventeen-year-old art student, who spends most of her time either drawing and sketching, or embarking on strange tasks given to her by her guardian, Brimstone, a strange and otherworldly creature who requests the strangest of things. Hers is a life filled with teeth and bones, magic and wishes, and the sense that something in her life is missing.
Enter the angel Akiva, and a story of a war-torn world and a forbidden love appears. For Brimstone and his kind are chimaera, enemies of the angels of the world of Elsewhere, and Karou begins to realise her life is twisted up with the happenings of this strangely familiar world.
The series as a whole is about Karou finding out who she really is, trying to stop the war between angels and chimaera, all the while attempting to break free from the horrors of the past. It is not just Karou’s tale though, as Akiva delves into his own past. This is a story that blends fantasy and realism together deftly, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Those are my top three fantasy series!
But here are five other fantasy and science fiction series to keep you going, if you’ve already read the ones above.
- Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments
- Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars
- Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn
- Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- Amie Kaufman’s The Illuminae Files
Kate @ Kandid Chronicles x