For this post I wanted to share five fantasy series that I think are great for those starting the journey into reading fantasy books.
I’ve been reading fantasy books for almost long as I can remember – but I properly cut my fantasy teeth on my Dads copies of The Belgariad by David Eddings. For that reason it has to be on this list.
Long ago, the evil God Torak fought a war to obtain an object of immense power – the Orb of Aldur. But Torak was defeated and the Orb reclaimed by Belgarath the sorcerer.
Garion, a young farm lad, loves the story when he first hears it from the old storyteller. But it has nothing to do with him. Or does it? For the stories also tell of a prophecy that must be fulfilled – a destiny handed down through the generations.
And Torak is stirring again . . .
I know it’s an old series now, started in the early 1980’s but it still has all the elements of a classic ‘swords and sorcery’ fantasy story. The ideas that may seem a bit cliched now weren’t at the time this was written, the characters are well written with strong women as well as men among the cast. Join Garion, his Aunt Pol and friends on an epic quest and maybe the fantasy bug will grab you too.
A powerful necromancer plans to seize control of all things Magykal. He has killed the Queen and locked up the Extraordinary Wizard. Now with Darke Magyk he will create a world filled with Darke creatures. But the Necromancer made one mistake. A vital detail he has overlooked means there is a boy who can stop him – the only problem is, the boy doesn’t know it yet.
For the Heap family, life as they know is about to change, and the most fantastically fast-paced adventure of confused identities, magyk and mayhem, begin.
The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage is another great starter fantasy series. Yes it is a series aimed at younger audiences but that doesn’t stop it being a cracking ‘coming of age’ fantasy series that sparks with magic.
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a smallish Viking with a longish name. Hiccup’s father is chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe which means Hiccup is the Hope and the Heir to the Hairy Hooligan throne – but most of the time Hiccup feels like a very ordinary boy, finding it hard to be a Hero.
In the first How to Train Your Dragon book Hiccup must lead ten novices in their initiation into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. They have to train their dragons or be BANISHED from the tribe FOR EVER!
But what if Hiccup’s dragon resembles an ickle brown bunny with wings? And has NO TEETH? The Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus is stirring and wants to devour every Viking on the Isle of Berk . . .
Can Hiccup save the tribe – and become a Hero?
How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell is another superb fantasy series for those making the first steps in a fantasy reading journey. With a courageous young hero who doesn’t really feel that heroic at all and an abundance of dragons this series is worth a read whatever your age.
Don’t think you know these books if you’ve seen the movies, both are excellent but although similar in feel the books are very different – for one book Toothless is tiny and fits in Hiccup’s pocket.
If you like audiobooks I’d highly recommend these on audio as well – read by the wonderful David Tennant who really brings them to life.
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.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor was one of those brilliant series that had me reaching for the next booki as soon as I finished the previous one. A beautiful writing style and a great twist on angels/demons this trilogy is well worth a read.
Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson’s navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important son of Lord Allendale. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancée, society’s esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to overrun her shores.
After a skirmish with a French ship, Laurence finds himself in charge of a rare cargo: a dragon egg bound for the Emperor himself. Dragons are much prized: properly trained, they can mount a fearsome attack from the skies. One of Laurence’s men must take the beast in hand and join the aviators’ cause, thus relinquishing all hope of a normal life.
But when the newly-hatched dragon ignores the young midshipman Laurence chose as its keeper and decides to imprint itself on the horrified captain instead, Laurence’s world falls apart. Gone is his golden future: gone his social standing, and soon his beautiful fiancée, as he is consigned to be the constant companion and trainer of the fighting dragon Temeraire…
His Majesties Dragon series by Naomi Novik is an interesting mix of historical and fantastical. Such a brilliant premise – what would have happened during the Napoleonic Wars if both sides also had a Dragon fleet? The dragon lore in this series is well thought through and the mix of historical among the dragons makes this a good starting point for a novice fantasy reader. Although the series dips a bit in the middle the first few books in particular are gripping and the relationships between dragon and rider carry the rest. Temeraire is one of my absolute favourite dragon reads.
Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend to a fantasy novice?
Synopsis of books taken from Amazon.