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

toptentuesday

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?

 

Book Review: Dragons of Spring Dawning By Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragonlance

Genre: Fantasy
Series: Dragonlance: The Chronicles
Author Info: http://www.margaretweis.com | http://www.trhickman.com

This is the third and last book of the legendary Dragonlance Chronicles.

Review for the first book

Review for the second book

This one took me longer to read and dragged more than the first two books but nonetheless it was an entertaining read. The whole series was a nice light reading break after all that serious grimdark.

The adventures are quite good and the companions splitting up and going on different adventures is fun to read. Kitiara is a compelling character, my personal hate for her notwithstanding. She is quite well written and not one-dimensional like most others. Fizban is my other favorite here and the surprise twist was well done too (even though I saw it coming from the earlier hints) and Laurana’s character growth was also well done. The love triangle between Tanis, Kitiara and Laurana was a bit more in your face and annoying in this book.

The most shocking thing for me was the tragic deaths of two of the main characters, but then again Harry Potter gets a lot darker and many characters die.

The humor is what makes this series cool. Things get dark and bad stuff happens, but the humor is always there. Most modern fantasy I read has little humor if any (with the exception of Mark Lawrence) and the light humor aspect is what makes Dragonlance Chronicles a perfect summer read.

I think Raistlin is the best character in the entire series. The world is more interesting than the characters except Raistlin and Fizban. All in all it’s a nice summer read and I think every fantasy geek, D&D and role playing nerd needs to read it as part of the must-read essentials stack.

I can’t wait to read the sequel series Dragonlance Legends and Raistlin Chronicles.

Verdict: Read the whole series!

Book Review: Dragons of Winter Night By Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragonlance

Genre: Fantasy
Series: Dragonlance: The Chronicles
Author Info: http://www.margaretweis.com | http://www.trhickman.com

This is the second book of the legendary Dragonlance Chronicles.

Review for the first book

I have been feeling quite ashamed for not getting around to reading the fantasy classics everyone read as teenagers, so I’m fixing it one book at a time. Dragons of Winter Night is more of a page turner compared to the first book, it’s thick with action, tension, suspense, twists and turns with a touch of humor. The scenes with Fizban and the gnomes were hilarious.

In this book things were surprisingly more grey than I expected. There’s no black and white and even the most honorable, utopic factions are marred with greed, infighting and political intrigue.

The development of the characters is quite intriguing to read. We get to see the inner struggles of Tanis, Laurana, Sturm and even the Kender Tasslehoff. Raistlin’s power and magic skills keep increasing and his relationship with the companions somewhat improves (at least that was the impression I got.)

We finally get to meet Tanis’ love interest Kitiara and I must say it came as a huge surprise and plot twist. For the sake of keeping this spoiler free, I can’t say more but I didn’t expect that at all, even though I read plenty of plot twists. Tanis is torn between the human woman Kitiara and the elf maiden, his childhood crush Laurana. I absolutely hate love triangles but the love triangle here was negligible enough so I was able to tolerate it.

The Silvanesti scenes are bone chilling unless you are an experienced grimdark reader. I have to say the dark and creepy atmosphere was well done.

Even though it has been 30 years since the publication of the Dragonlance Chronicles, the books still hold up today. This book is a page turner and a great read, I’m looking forward to reading the third book and then the Dragonlance Legends series after that. I really wish I’ve read those books as a teenager, but nevertheless they are still quite enjoyable, even at my age.

Verdict: This is a must read for all fantasy readers, young and old alike.