With the movie “The Hobbit” coming to movie theatres near you, the library has experienced a surge of people wanting to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s book.(M) This tale of high fantasy, magical creatures and worlds, heroes, quests, combined with the battle of good versus evil, sweeps the reader away. Common Sense Media has suggested that children as young as 8 yrs can be read the novel and those 10 yrs and up can read it independently. While I am one of those on the list waiting for it, I started to think about other books that might quench readers’ fantasy thirst.
For Children :
Redwall (M) by Brian Jacques is a series of fantasy novels that is primarily aimed at older children but has fans of all ages. The heroes of these novels are anthropomorphic animals of some sort; mostly mice. There is very little magic in the series but there is the ghost of Martin the Warrior present through the series. A typical book will detail a particular period of Redwall Abbey. Jacques combined action, poetry, songs, courage and vivid description to bring these tales to life. Like the other series in this blog, there have been other forms of other than print for these tales. What surprised me the most was that Redwall was even produced as an opera by Opera Delaware which has toured Europe.
The Chronicles of Narnia (M) by C.S. Lewis is a series of seven novels that are considered classics of children’s literature. They have sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages and have been adapted to radio, television, the stage and film and even computer games. This magical world, Narnia, is populated by magical beast, talking animals, and runaway children who are transported from the real world. They are called upon by a lion, Aslan, to protect Narnia from evil. Lewis adapted his novel in traditional Christian themes.
There is a marked difference between the world of Narnia and Phillip Pullman’s world. His Dark Materials (M) by Phillip Pullman has retold John Milton’s Paradise Lost. This award winning trilogy features the coming of age story of Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry. The children’s adventure spans through a number of parallel universes in their quests. Along this quest they encounter humans who are accompanied by their daemons (beloved animal representations of their souls), witches and armoured polar bears. Even though these novels are classified as children’s literature the ideas within are pulled from physics, philosophy and theology. Thus it is an epic that adults also can sink their teeth into.
I would recommend reading The Lord of the Rings and all other Tolkiens’ works (M) and also the following:
The Song of Ice and Fire series (M) (aka The Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin. I know, I know this is the third (or so) time that I have recommended these books but they really are that good! Fantasy lands, evil queen, quests for power, magical creatures, plots that twist and turn at even possible way, characters who are killed (and sometimes re-born) – what more could you want! But beware, as Tolkien may have a G or GP rating, Martin’s books definitely include sex and vivid violence!
Wheel of Time series (M) by Robert Jordan has sold over 44 million copies worldwide and have reached number one of the New York Times Best Seller list for volumes 8 through 13. They are similar to George R.R. Martin’s tomes in that the series is know for its length (14 volumes of 600+ pages), its detailed imaginary world, well-developed magic system and a large cast of wonderful characters. For those who would have trouble with the length of this series it is also available in graphic novel format.
Sword of Truth (M) by Terry Goodkind is a series of 13 epic fantasy novels. Set in two major regions, the New World and the Old World, the series follows the quests of Richard Cypher and Kahlan Amnell. Cypher is the “every man” who grows as a warrior, leader and intellectual with each quest. He often defeats his enemy with his brains more often than brawn. Amnell is a woman of strength of character and authority and is not afraid to wield a sword. They are engaged in a battle to defeat oppressors who want to control the world and those who would unleash evil to the living.
So fantasy fiction fans of the world unite and share your ideas on what people could read while waiting for the next wonderful magical world to appear on our reading list.