High Fantasy - Beyond Tolkien
Thanks to the rousing success of the Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit) movies and HBO's gratuitously visceral show Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, high fantasy has become an important part of pop culture. Suddenly, it's kind of cool to be a fantasy geek!
There are a number of fantasy subgenres, like high (or epic), urban, and dark. High fantasy takes place on it's own world. Part of what's so great about high fantasy is you get to immerse yourself in a completely different world, one with unique conflicts, creatures and, of course, magic. And while Tolkien and Martin are great (don't even get me started on A Song of Ice and Fire - if you haven't read it, go do it now), there are so many amazing worlds out there just waiting for you to pick them up and explore.
Here are some of my favorites:
The Name of the Wind is a huge, sweeping story of a man named Kvothe (you may have heard of him) and his extraordinary life. It's a really big book and the second in the series, The Wise Man's Fear, is even bigger, but it's worth every single word.
Amazon Amazon Says:
Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.The intimate narrative of his more...
Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. less...
Ahh, Fitz. He'll always have a special place in my heart. Just trust me and read this trilogy. Then read the Liveship Traders trilogy. And then the Tawny Man trilogy. There are more after that but by then you'll have found her website and you won't need me anymore.
Amazon Amazon Says:
Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the r more...
Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom. Praise for Robin Hobb and Assassin’s Apprentice “Fantasy as it ought to be written . . . Robin Hobb’s books are diamonds in a sea of zircons.”—George R. R. Martin “A gleaming debut in the crowded field of epic fantasies . . . a delightful take on the powers and politics behind the throne.”—Publishers Weekly “This is the kind of book you fall into, and start reading slower as you get to the end, because you don’t want it to be over.”—Steven Brust less...
If you haven't heard of Neil Gaiman, I'll be surprised. He's awesome. From the man behind American Gods, Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, and more. It's Neil's version of a fairytale and it's so much fun.
Amazon Amazon Says:
In the sleepy English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian Era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall--a secluded hamlet so named for an imposing stone b more...
In the sleepy English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian Era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall--a secluded hamlet so named for an imposing stone barrier that surrounds a fertile grassland. Armed sentries guard the sole gap in the bulwark to keep the inquisitive from wandering through, relaxing their vigil only once every nine years, when a market fair unlike any other in the world of men comes to the meadow. Here in Wall, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to beautiful Victoria Forester. But Victoria is cold and distant--as distant, in fact, as the star she and Tristran see fall from the sky on a crisp October evening. For the coveted prize of Victoria's hand, Tristran vows to retrieve the fallen star and deliver it to his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the ancient wall, and propels him into a world that is strange beyond imagining. But Tristran is not the only one seeking the heavenly jewel. There are those for whom it promises youth and beauty, the key to a kingdom, and the rejuvenation of dark, dormant magics. And a lad compelled by love will have to keep his wits about him to succeed and survive in this secret place where fallen stars come in many guises--and where quests have a way of branching off in unexpected directions, even turning back upon themselves in space and in time. Neil Gaiman works his unique literary magic in new and dazzling ways in Stardust, a novel that will shine in the heart and memory far beyond the turning of its final page. less...