Fantasy is my favorite genre both in films and books. Since childhood I loved everything that contained even a little bit of magic, because this world always seemed quite dull without it. As I grew older, this love for fantasy never faded away, on the contrary, it grew with me, as I started discovering new “worlds” to dive into.
Originally I wanted to write about only 3 fantasy series, as they’re quite intertwined in some way, and wanted to compare and contrast them. But then I remembered some of the other series I read, which are also worth mentioning. So we got a whole list. Let’s start.
1. J.R.R. Tolkien – Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Yes, starting from the classic. I read and watched Tolkien quite late (Hobbit in 2016, and lotr just last year), and whenever I’d mention to someone that my favorite genre is fantasy, they’d always ask whether I read any Tolkien. And when the answer was negative, people’d always say that I’m not a real fantasy fan then, which always pissed me off. But at the same time I was curious to get acquainted with this story and understand its magnificence. I never did. The story itself (both the hobbit and lotr) is interesting, full of different twists, characters, myths etc. And if it was written by any other author, I’d consider it as my favorite book, but sadly, I didn’t like Tolkien’s style. It was quite dull and very hard and long-going. Usually I read at least 20-30 pages in one sitting, but with Tolkien, I couldn’t go past 10. I liked Hobbit better, because there was much more action, and I may even reread it once again. But Lord of the Rings felt like infinite going-going-going. Like I was waiting for some kind of a change of the plot, which never happened. But still, if you’re a fantasy fan, and for some reason haven’t read Tolkien, I definitely recommend it, cause I really love the peculiar world he created. And if you get lucky to actually enjoy Tolkien’s style of writing, it’ll definitely become a favorite of yours.
2. C.S. Lewis – The Chronicles of Narnia. Back in 1930-40s, both Lewis and Tolkien belonged to an informal literary group “The Inklings” and were actually friends. Lewis was much more popular, in fact, Tolkien became popular only after Lewis’s death. But for some reason Lord of the Rings is now much more famous than Chronicles of Narnia, and lots of people don’t even know Narnia or don’t consider it as the real classic of fantasy. The Chronicles of Narnia consists of 7 books, which are of course connected, but each is an individual story with its own characters. It works the best both for children and adults. The children will enjoy it like a magical fairytale, while adults will see and understand the very deep meaning among the books. When I finished the last book, I just sat still in shock for solid 20 minutes, trying to digest everything that happened, and after that I have never been able to look at this story in the same way as I did as a child or a teenager, because I understood the real message behind the story and saw everything as metaphors for something more enlightening. This is a series I’d absolutely recommend to anyone, no matter how old you are, you’ll definitely find something amazing in Narnia.
3. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter. Well, of course I had to include HP here. These three were actually the ones I wanted to write about at first. HP is often compared to Lotr, many people saying that Rowling copied lots of characters and even storylines. I actually did find some similarities, and even if Rowling did take some inspiration from lotr, it didn’t feel like a plain copycat, as she adjusted everything to fit her own story. I wrote so much about HP, that I don’t know what else to write. It’s a wonderful story, for many reasons. It is interesting and there’s lots of action happening. What I like the best, is that each book has its separate plot as well as the holistic storyline. So it’s not like Harry’s trying to fight Voldemort from the first book until the end, no. Each book revolves around a new narrative, which all get connected into a whole big story together. There are so many topics discussed in here-from love and friendship to politics and the fight of good and evil. There’s so much hidden inside every character or plot in general, that no matter how many times you read it, you’ll always find sth new.
4. Cassandra Clare – The Shadowhunters Chronicles. Moving on to some less popular stories. The Shadowhunter Chronicles is actually a media franchise, which includes 4 (or more) different series and trilogies. They all happen in the same world, but in different timelines. Sometimes the same characters appear in more than one series, like the older or younger version of themselves. I really loved all of the books that I’ve read from Cassandra, as her world is quite diverse. It includes so many myths and legends from different cultures, lots of mythological creatures and events. The main heroes here are humans who have angel blood-Nephilims or Shadowhunters. And the rest is already so versatile, that it would take me several posts to write all about it. I definitely will recommend this to everyone, who loves fantasy, because you’ll find literally everything in here-from angels and demons to fairies, vampires and werewolves, witches and warlocks. And it’s really interesting getting to read about all these creatures living “in relative peace” in one world, to see their relationship and interaction.
5. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson. Rick has actually written lots of series, the ones that I read are “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and “The Heroes of Olympus“. If you’re a fan of mythology, especially Greco-Roman one, you’ll love these books. It’s about demigods (children of Greek gods and humans), and the Camp Half Blood, where all the demigods live and train their powers, and of course fight evil and save the world multiple times. These books made me recollect everything I’ve read about all the gods and different creatures. The first series only focuses on the Greek mythology, while the second one includes Roman mythology as well. It’s interesting to see how these Gods or other creatures are so much like us, each with their own trait and flaw, something that you probably won’t find in more serious mythology books.
6. Stephenie Meyer – Twilight Saga. Last and probably the least among all the books. It has always been alongside other fantasies, and had quite controversial opinions, that’s why I decided to give it a shot and get my own impression. I don’t regret reading it, on the contrary, I wish I read this years ago, when I was a teen, as I feel like I’d enjoy it much more, as I was more naive and hadn’t read much fantasy at that point. The books focus a lot on the love-story (and a love triangle) of the main characters which is irritating. The relationship of Bella and Edward is cringe and toxic, especially in the beginning, as it feels like she’s solely in love with his appearance, and he’s in love with her smell. A kind of a predator-prey situation. You’d think then why I added this to the list. Because besides these awkward dialogues about their forbidden love, there are some interesting moments. First it’s the fresh and new interpretation of everything we have ever read or seen about vampires and werewolves, a new perspective on all these legends and myths, not the same old things with coffins, bats and full moons. Second, the character of Bella is really contradictory and peculiar. One moment you want to kill her for her stupidity, and the next moment you get a deeper understanding of her nature, all her decisions and choices. If the author described her love and relationship with Edward in a more normal way, like a fate or soulmate kind of situation, then it wouldn’t be as bad as everyone says.
These are pretty much all the fantasy series I’ve read. I love reading trilogies and series, because with them, you actually have the proper time to get acquainted with almost all the characters, and get connected with them on a whole different level, something that doesn’t always happen with reading solo books, no matter how good they are. I may do another list of stand-alone fantasy books one day, but for now, that’s all. Hope you found some good recommendations and will enjoy any series you decide to read.