Tuesday, 2 February 2016

TOP 10 GENRE-STARTERS: FANTASY EDITION

Sometimes the bookish comfort zone is a difficult thing to escape. At times we all find that we tend to stick to the same genres and read the same stories over and over again. But this being the new year and all, the time is ripe for a change. But where to start? 

You've come to the right place. Please, take a seat. Coffee? A biscuit? Are you comfy? Marvelous. Today we are going to give you some easy, starter books for the magical genre that is fantasy.

This genre is one of the most popular among readers, so it's likely you've seen the odd book about the shops, Goodreads or anywhere on the internet. The thing is, it can be quite daunting going into something like fantasy, especially if you're used to something vastly different. The switch from paranormal is easy enough. The switch from classics/contemporary - not so much. And that is where we come in. We are here to help you, friends.



If, on the other hand, you already are a seasoned fantasy reader, do leave some suggestions for fellow bookworms who want to broaden their reading horizons. Us bookdragons have to stick together, after all.








1. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling



Picked by: BOTH!
# of books: 7
Age range: Children-through-YA

There is no doubt in my mind that this will start off your need for fantasy. We're also quite confident you've either read it already, or you'll love it once you get around to it.

J.K. Rowling's beloved fantasy series follows an orphaned boy whose magical power and wizardly infamy is revealed at the age of eleven. To Harry Potter's surprise, he is a wizard. To Harry Potter's downright shock, he is arguably the most famous wizard alive. And when he gets summoned to attend Hogwarts, school of Witchcraft and Wizardry to hone his powers and finally enter the magical world, the reader's journey is every bit as poignant as Harry's as we follow the makings of the world's greatest wizard, the inception of a second magical war, and Harry's seven years of magic and mayhem.

Our generation is frequently dubbed "the Potter generation" in these bookish circles. And whether the series is started at nine or at fifty-nine, it is one which everyone can enjoy, which can propel even the most hardcore realist into fantastical waters, and which is easily the most effortless introduction to fantasy there ever was.

A/N: Don't expect anything to be as good as Harry Potter because, well, it's Harry freakin' Potter. 



2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien




Picked by: Lexie
# of books: 1
Age range: Children's lit


It has a dragon with a stash of gold on the cover, and that's really all you need to know. Following the movie franchise, The Hobbit needs very little introduction. It not only features all fantasy staples ever, it also is in and of itself a fantasy staple. Dragons! Wizards! Dwarves! Hobbits! Food! Except, unlike the movie franchise, The Hobbit was written purely with kids in mind (Tolkien's very own), so most find that it isn't at all difficult to get into and enjoy for the adventure that it is.



3. Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan




Picked by: Natalie
# of books: 5+5
Age range: Middle Grade

Not another series of kids books. I know, but honestly, I read these when I was in my early twenties and they were exactly what I was looking for. They actually started me off with fantasy,  and it really put me in the mood to read other books in the genre. I felt like I wanted something as epic as this, and it gave me the confidence to really try out other fantasy books. I know this is a Middle Grade series, but it's simply epic. You can't go wrong with sassy Percy Jackson. Rick's writing is so easy to digest, and his stories are so jam-packed with adventure and fantastical creatures and monsters. Also, I learnt quite a bit of Greek mythology through this, and whether or not it's 100% accurate, it got me interested in it and I always ended up reading more about it online.

Thanks, Rick! I always ace those Greek mythology questions on game shows now, and it makes me look super smart.



4. The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist




Picked by: Lexie
# of books: 4 (sometimes 3, if the first two are in a bind-up)
Age range: Adult fantasy


The Riftwar Saga, as most series by Raymond E. Feist, is a case of Adult High Fantasy that follows young protagonists. At the same time, however, it has been enjoyed by both children and adults everywhere for over two decades. And it is easily the most effortless introduction to high fantasy there ever was. With four books which follow a Tsurani invasion of a fictional Kingdom of The Isles, a young boy apprenticing in magic with a famous Wizard, and a prince on a mission to save his brother's lands, this story covers it all. For a seasoned high fantasy pro, The Riftwar Saga may prove a bit too easy. But to anyone just starting out in this vast and expansive genre, this ubiquitous title is the way to go.


5. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas




Picked by: Natalie
# of books: 6 total (4 out at the moment)
Age range: YA

"Oh my god, you guys never mention this book in a list!" I know, I know, we use this one a lot but it's just that awesome. Sarah is a fantastic storyteller, and if ever you are in need of a fantasy series that is epic, heartbreaking and full of sassy and brave characters, this is the one for you. It helps, too, that the series is incredibly popular with a built-in community for discussions and analyses. The most recent book released, Queen of Shadows, won just about every book award there was online, and there's a reason for that - it's the best! The books are gripping, magical and full of many twists and surprises, and you'll fly through the series and pine for the next one. Yep, this is where you start pulling out the other fantasy books and try and fill that void until the next book comes out. We understand. We do this, too.




6. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay




Picked by: Lexie
# of books: 1
Age range: YA


It isn't so much a Sleeping Beauty retelling as it is a tale of Sleeping Beauty's twins - wherein the daughter sets out to rescue her twin brother from the clutches of evil by basically... pulling a Mulan. On top of being a thoroughly enjoyable ride, Princess of Thorns comes with an added benefit of being a standalone. No crater-dent in your credit card, no humongous time commitment, no world-which-shall-only-be-explained-after-you-turn-sixty-and-you've-read-all-ninety-books-in-the-series. This is an easy book to get into, and a plot which encompasses it all in its four hundred pages.



7. Air Awakens by Elise Kova




Picked by: Natalie

# of books: 5 (2 are out at the moment)
Age range: YA

This book I've only recently discovered, and I saw many amazing reviews for it. Although it starts off slow, the story really does kick off and the action just kicks you right in the face when you least expect it. You look up from the book like 'where did that come from' but have to continue reading because oh my god. It's easy to read, there isn't too much to take in so it's not overwhelming, and the characters are very interesting.
Recommendable, for sure. I'm also very much enjoying the second book, so that's also a good sign for an epic series.



8. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White




Picked by: Lexie
# of books: 1
Age range: YA


For fans of (a version of) Victorian England, diversity, magic, standalone fantasy, or - yes - creepy birds, Kiersten White's Illusions of Fate covers it all. In a land on the brink of an international magic war, one of the last sentinels of peace struggles to prevent the inevitable. But when he crosses paths with a foreign student from a local school, he will find that the peace is more tenuous than he had ever thought, and that, well, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by the English aristocracy. (Quite a lesson, that, for an English aristocrat.) Rather than to cover the whole scope of this international conflict, Kiersten White chooses to tell a tale of one of its crucial points, all the while schooling some other fantasy authors on how to pack fantasy into a standalone format. In this single book, the reader is introduced easily and gradually into the world of Illusions of Fate and all its intricacies. With a traditional approach to magic - that of spellbooks and spellcasting - there is very little unknown or unfamiliar to get accustomed to, and this low fantasy setting never expands into a more dramatic high fantasy format. And with a little shy of 300 pages, Illusions of Fate is easy to breeze through in an afternoon.



9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis 


Picked by: Natalie
# of books: 7
Age range: Children's lit

Another children's book series, another great fantasy starter. The Chronicles of Narnia can be enjoyed by adults and kids kids, and it's a good way to whet your appetite for more elaborate magical adventures. This is a beloved series full of hidden meanings, exciting adventures and lovable characters everyone can relate to and enjoy. Everyone knows the story - well,  most likely the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but that is the best one, in my opinion - so it's very easy to get started. Even just reading one, that's a good way to kick it off.




10. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Claire



Picked by: Lexie
# of books: 6
Age range: YA


To offset the standalones featured so far, The Mortal Instruments is a six-book series. With a three-book prequel. And apparently sixty more spinoffs to come in the following decades. On the flip side, however, it is an incredibly easy series to get into. In fact, you can stop after book three and call it a day - that's how it was originally intended. Unlike most books on this list and unlike its prequel trilogy, The Mortal Instruments takes place in modern-day New York. And unlike many other urban fantasy books of the kind (say, Daughter of Smoke and Bone), the simplistic and straightforward style and delivery makes The Mortal Instruments an easier read to start out with for those new to fantasy. Clary Fray is a normal teenager. Clary Fray finds out she is actually not a normal teenager. Cue angel-descendants, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and a whole barrage of other supernatural creatures who engage in an epic power struggle.




Talk to us, pumpkins! What was the book that got you into fantasy, and what are the easiest fantasies you tend to recommend? Or, if you're more of a contemporary guy/gal, do let us know which of those featured on our list sounds like something you might give a try somewhere down the line. 



4 comments:

  1. Awesome picks, girls! You've got the classics and the newbies on here - perfect mix.

    (and also, agreed - nothing will ever beat HP)

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, we do try and mix it up a bit, so we hope it's helpful :)

      Oh, for sure. Harry Potter beats everything! <3

      Thanks for stopping by!

      - Natalie

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  2. There are so many good series on here (also a few I haven't read). Thanks for all the recs :)

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    1. You're moooooore than welcome! We HIGHLY recommend them all, and we're 100% biased. But that we can be biased about these series says something about their quality, too! ;)

      - Lexie

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