Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books in My Fantasy 101 Syllabus


Top Ten Tuesdays meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish and this week’s theme is the top 10 books to include in the syllabus if you were to teach YA Fantasy 101. Since I hardly read any YA, I made this a Fantasy 101 list.

Here is my Top 10:

    1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: This is the essential for Fantasy 101 without question. Fantasy literature as we know began with the Hobbit, after all.
    2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: This is another must-read, the greatest milestone of fantasy literature.
    3. The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist: This is one the classics of fantasy and much easier read than the Tolkien books.
    4. Dark Elf Trilogy By R.A. Salvatore: I’ll fail the students who don’t read this. At least one R.A. Salvatore book is mandatory for my class! If you don’t know Drizzt, I’ll fail you.
    5. The Empire Trilogy by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts: This series is one of the earlier milestones of the fantasy literature and it’s distinguished with its Japanese inspired setting and amazing female protagonist. It’s one of the earliest and finest examples of political intrigue fantasy.
    6. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin: Like it or not, that is one of the mandatory reads. It made a huge impact on the genre and popularized the grimdark subgenre of fantasy.
    7. Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin: This is one of the timeless classics of the genre and the foundation of wizard fantasy. It featured a magic school way before Harry Potter was written.
    8. The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence: This is one of the best examples of dark fantasy featuring a diabolical protagonist. Both the deep and complex characterization and the smooth integration of the futuristic scifi elements into the medieval setting distinguishes this series among the modern fantasy books.
    9. The First Law by Joe Abercrombie: This is another fine example of modern fantasy and both the stellar characters and the intricately woven plot earned it a spot in the mandatory reading list.
    10. Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny: Another classic of the fantasy literature, this series has a very different setting and magic concept. It’s not a pseudo-medieval setting and nothing like the generic fantasy from the 80’s. I’d say it’s the weird before Neil Gaiman.

What is your top ten?


11 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books in My Fantasy 101 Syllabus

  1. I’m loving this list, Leona, which is packed full of quality Fantasy:)) I’ll fully endorse The Riftwar series, Earthsea and The Empire trilogy and feel The Lord of the Rings story helped shape me. While I enjoyed the first couple of books by Joe Abercrombie in the First Law series, it got a tad dark for my taste, but I’m loving The Shattered Sea series. I’ve tried twice to get into A Song of Ice and Fire, but large, sprawling, multi-viewpoint tales don’t do it for me, although I’ve really enjoyed some of Martin’s other work and think he’s an excellent writer. And I also found Mark Lawrence too rich for my blood… But I haven’t yet checked out the Dark Elf trilogy, or Nine Princes in Amber and now will add them to my TBR list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Icewind Dala Trilogy (after Dark Elf trilogy, with some of the same main characters) is another excellent one. I love dark and gritty but The First Law doesn’t feel _that_ gritty after Mark Lawrence, lol. Though his new series, The Red Queen’s War is not gritty, it’s packed with humor and adventures. The same world but from the eyes of a completely opposite character. A Song of Ice and Fire did spread around too much, you are right, but I love some of the characters. I think GRRM spread the story too thin and is having trouble wrapping it up now. I can’t wait to read The Shattered Sea, heard so many great things about it. I’m also planning to read The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch, it has thieves and pirates and I love heist and pirate fantasy 🙂


  2. Nothing against anything else on the list (except for Ice and Fire: I’m not a fan, although I’ve greatly enjoyed other works by Martin)–but how could you leave out E.R. Eddison’s “The Worm Ouroboros”? When it comes to dark, the villains in this classic take a back seat to nobody. And if you like sorcery, the sorcery in this baby will scare you silly. And on top of all that, Eddison did things with the English language that no other 20th century writer dared to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Empire Trilogy is an epic read, I’m planning to re-read it. Such a masterpiece! I’ll read the other series by Janny Wurts and review them here.


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