I love reading a range of genres but most of my favourites have obviously been in the Fantasy genre. Here are a small list of books that I have inspired my own writing that I would recommend to all who love a good story. All of these books sit on my (physical) bookshelf currently.
The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan
Each year the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they believe. Sonea, angry, frustrated and outraged by the treatment of her family and friends, hurls a stone at the shield, putting all her rage behind it. To the amazement of all who bear witness, the stone passes unhindered through the barrier and renders a magician unconscious.
The first thing that struck me about the Black Magician trilogy were the covers. I looooove them. (The UK covers differ from the USA ones.) I saw them first in a bookshop while browsing for a book to read and was not disappointed when I took the first one home (The Magician’s Guild). I went on to read the rest of the trilogy and the Age of Five Trilogy, which was even better. Both of these series were instrumental in my decision to start writing; I loved the main characters, world set up and twists and turns in each one.
Pellinor Series by Alison Croggon
Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful Gift, a Gift that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfolds.
I picked up the first book in this series at the same time I bought The Magician’s Guild and also inspired me to start writing. I was fascinated with Croggon’s ability to conjure an atmosphere. Her descriptions and scene settings are gorgeous. I loved the main character and the sense of real danger that was always looming yet never felt forced or contrived, and I liked the set up of the world and the magic. (Covers and titles may differ in the US)
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
So I’m sure you’ve heard of this one! Of course this series is a great read and is inspiring for any writer. During the reading of the first two books I didn’t particularly feel attached them because they were clearly kids books and the plot just wasn’t very challenging, although I enjoyed them. But after reading HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I was hooked and the books got better, fast. If you haven’t yet taken a chance on this series, what are you thinking?! The films don’t quite do the later books justice. Start with book three if you’re reluctant to read children’s fantasy.
The Stand by Stephen King
I read this while studying for my degree in Dance. A fellow student strongly recommended it and lent me his copy, the expanded version. I stopped attended the morning classes because was up most nights until I finished it! This book blends so many genres and is one of King’s best, in my opinion. If you like horror, dark fantasy, dystopia, the supernatural, grittiness, good vs evil and a good cast of unique characters, you can’t go wrong here.
Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky – a palace above the clouds where gods’ and mortals’ lives are intertwined. There, to her shock, Yeine is named one of the potential heirs to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had.
I made the mistake of reading this book while I was holiday in Cyprus working on my book. It was great. I physically gasped and exclaimed every time something unexpected or particularly satisfying happened. After I read it I wanted to scrap everything I’d planned for my own book – that’s how dynamic this book is. The plot surrounding the main character and the Gods in this wonderful world was handled so interestingly and ruthlessly, I couldn’t put it down. The characters are so vivid and powerful and multi-layered, and as always, I loved the twists and turns. It’s a great story and a must for any fantasy fan. Highly recommended.
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear while the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, a divinely invincible leader. Hope is long lost, until a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa in the depths of the most hellish prison and discovered he has the powers of a Mistborn.
When I read this book, the blurb began with a question like ‘What if the Dark Lord won?’ which was exactly the idea I was working from on my own book at the time so I delved in. The plot was great, kept me gripped until the very end, however it was Sanderson’s magic system that was inspirational. It was fascinating, fun and logical and made think about how I wanted to treat magic in my own books.
A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R R Martin
Another one that needs no introduction. I found the scope and grittiness of this series captivating, as well as Martin’s willingness to kill his most likable characters. Throw in dragons, the undead and conspiracy around the throne and you can’t go wrong really! Generally I prefer more sorcery than swords in this type of fantasy, but the world is gritty and vivid enough to read it without expecting much in terms of magic.
The Black Prism by Brent Weekes
Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. His strength, wit and charm are all that preserve a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live. When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.
This was my first Weeks book and I bought it because I had seen people talking about it online and decided to check it out, plus I loved the idea of how magic worked in this world. But thing I liked most about this book was Weeks’ ability to keep you turning the page into the next chapter. His cliff hangers are brilliant and kept me up much later than planned because I had to read the next bit. The story is interesting and I liked the multi-layered backstory and histories between the characters and the dark secret the main character has to keep. Definitely worth a read.
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