My Favorite Fantasy . . . Novels, That Is

For those of you not into reading fantasy fiction, don’t worry; this will only take a minute.  I’m a slow reader, after all, and not very well read, as I’ve stated in at least one previous post.  So the list of books I’ve actually read and finished is small in itself.  Well, then, why should you listen to me, you ask?  Why pay any attention to some dude with a small sample size?

Well, because I care, that’s why.  All of these books are decades old, and some of you may not have heard of them for this reason alone.  And they and their authors deserve continued, or renewed, attention.  If I can bring them even a few new readers, I’m glad of that.  In addition, some of these books are why I started writing fiction in the first place.  I’d never felt the urge to write (beyond what I’d had to do in school) before I started reading fantasy in my early twenties.  And, mind you, I’d read some great stuff in my teens for my own enjoyment, authors like Jules Verne and Jack London.

Another reason you may find that my short list has something you will like?  Well, at least some of these books were pre-filtered.  A couple of brothers and a couple of friends were readers of fantasy long before I was, and they also read a lot more than I did.  They told me their favorites out of a much larger sample size.  Being a slow reader, I was pretty finicky about what books I started reading.  And I was even more finicky about what books I finished reading.  Oh, I suppose I could also mention some of these books are already well-known classics, and some were New York Times Bestsellers, as well.  And many, if not all, are by award-winning authors.  But that’s all secondary to my own opinion, of course.

So without further ado, these are my favorite fantasies, not necessarily in preferred order:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien:  The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King
“The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever” trilogy by Stephen R. Donaldson:  Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War, The Power That Preserves
“The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” trilogy by Stephen R. Donaldson:  The Wounded Land, The One Tree, White Gold Wielder
(Note:  Three of the four volumes of “The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” by Mr. Donaldson are out.  I just haven’t read them yet, as I want to reread The Second Chronicles again first.)
“The Riddle-Master” trilogy by Patricia A. McKillip:  The Riddle-Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind
“The Fionavar Tapestry” trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay:  The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, The Darkest Road
“The Earthsea Trilogy” by Ursula K. LeGuin:  A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore

I’d also like to cheat a little here.  The following books fall into the science fiction category, which may tend to turn off some readers, but I feel these books in particular are outstanding stories for readers who love fantasy, nonetheless.

“The Dragonriders of Pern” trilogy by Anne McCaffrey:  Dragonflight, Dragonquest, The White Dragon
by Frank Herbert
“The Faded Sun” trilogy by C.J. Cherryh:  The Faded Sun: Kesrith, The Faded Sun: Shon’jir, The Faded Sun: Kutath

What are some of your favorites?


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  1. #1 by Joe McCarthy on October 9, 2011 - 10:27 AM

    Seeing a list of this nature, from you, sparks a memory from my/our past. I asked a question of you in the early 1980’s. What books should I put in my personal library? You replied, anything by JRR Tolkien, And what tops your short list in 2011? JRR Tolkien.

    If my memory serves me correct….it was at your new apartment in GI.


    • #2 by Joseph M Kurtenbach on October 9, 2011 - 6:56 PM

      That’s cool you remember that (I wish I did!). Those books I read in the earlier years sure seem to have a lasting impact.


  2. #3 by Steve on October 10, 2011 - 5:00 AM

    The first author to inspire me to read voraciously, and in a three way tie for my favorite of all time, of course is Tolkien. Followed by Stephen R. Donaldson, and Patricia McKillip. I should also mention Joseph Kurtenbach, by following in a grand, fantasy story telling approach.


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