Sunday, April 29, 2012

Top Five Fantasy Authors

There are so many good fantasy authors out there that it's hard to know what to read next. And everyone's suggestions are going to be very different too. This list is only my top five favourite authors. I think I'd have a nearly impossible time narrowing it down to just five or ten books if I were to do the list that way. I know that if I asked you for yours, you'd come up with something very different.
  1. J.R.R. Tolkien. You can't have a list of fantasy authors (unless it's for a specific sub-genre of fantasy like urban fantasy) without J.R.R. Tolkien on it. However, I'm not just bowing to pressure here, Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings is my all-time favourite book. It might be Tolkien's best known book, bot it's not the only one. There's The Hobbit and The Silmarillion set within the world of Middle-Earth, but also some non-Middle-Earth books like Mr. Bliss.

    All of them are well-written, detailed and wonderfully descriptive, particularly the books set within Middle-Earth, which was something he worked on for most of his life. For a world that feels real - detailed and thoroughly described, as well as a great story with layers just waiting to be discovered, I can't think of a better author.

  2. Elizabeth Moon. Especially the book The Deed of Paksenarrion. The whole world she's created though is detailed and vivid. One of the things that puts Elizabeth Moon's work on this list is the additional realism she's added throughout. Mud, blisters, the cold etc. All little things that remind you that a fantasy world still has it's little problems and isn't all sunshine and roses. A lot of that comes from her own background - both owning livestock now and a past in the military. Basically, for all this is a fantasy world, Paks feels like a very real character, as do the rest of the cast: Stammel, Arcolin, Arvid, Duke Phelan, all of them feel like real people. Quite honestly, this is a series where I keep waiting eagerly for the next book to come out. For some variety, Elizabeth Moon also writes science fiction, more specifically military science fiction.

  3. Mercedes Lackey. One of the more prolific writers on my shelf, and one that I can keep coming back to again and again. Her Valdemar series is at over thirty books at my last count, and some of them manage to bring me to tears every time I read them. Yes, some of the stories are a bit formulaic - having the same "type" of main character or what have you, but I find that regardless of that, the stories are ones I can read again and again. And that's just the Valdemar books.

    Mercedes Lackey has also written several other series, including the Free Bards books (starting with The Lark And The Wren), the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, several of which are reviewed here, including the most recent one Beauty and the Werewolf, and a teen series.

    Personally, I find her books to be the kind I can pick up at any time, almost in any order now, and enjoy. Great for pulling myself out of a reading slump, or when I'm just not feeling a hundred percent.

  4. Jo Graham. The perfect (in my mind at least) blend of history and fantasy. My favourites of hers are Hand of Isis and Black Ships, although she's written other books as well, including several Stargate novels (which would be more Science Fiction than Fantasy). I absolutely love the way she's taken the time period and made it real, and yet added the fantasy as well.  Hand of Isis is retelling the story of Cleopatra and her life - a story we know, yet in this telling, I kept going "if only". Black Ships has taken the story of The Aeneid as told by Virgil, and fleshed it out into a full novel. Each of the books in the Numinous World, though set in a completely different period of time is connected by a thread of reincarnation. Something I honestly find quite intriguing.

  5. Patricia Briggs. You can't have a list like this these days without having some urban fantasy on in. That said, Patricia Briggs isn't just a place-holder here. She's my favourite of the urban fantasy authors I've read. Starting with Moon Called, the Mercy Thompson series, together with the spin-off series Alpha and Omega is possibly one of the best out there.

    In a lot of the urban fantasy novels the paranormal is kept completely secret. In others it's completely exposed to the public. The troubles from it's coming out are already over with. In the Mercy Thompson series, some parts of the paranormal world are out - others are still secret, and the stresses and backlash are going on as the books progress. And, of course, I just like the main character, Mercedes Thompson herself.
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