In my previous post, I wrote about my love affair with books and specifically, with fantasy literature, something that is still going on strong until today. So, in line with that, I thought that it would be a good idea to list down my personal favorite fantasy series or books of all time. I also decided to write a little bit more about my special interests to encourage others like me to celebrate who they are and their special interests as well.
Before you delve into this list, please do remember that this list is subjective, as these are my own personal favorites, and please also take note that I haven’t read all that there is in the genre yet, so when this list does change, I’ll make sure to update it. However, here is my list as of the moment. Please take note that for this list, my definition of fantasy includes anything that includes magic, fairies, swords, wizards, figures from legends, and imaginary lands.
Neverwhere and Stardust by Neil Gaiman
There is no doubt that Gaiman is a master at storytelling and creating unique stories that in the different sub genres of fantasy. “Stardust” delighted me in the way that a wonderful epic high fantasy can, and “Neverwhere” presented to me a dark urban fantasy that I was totally on board with.
The Aspergirl’s Top 10 Fantasy Series/Books of all Time (as of 2/5/2018)
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
For me, my love affair with fantasy began with “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe”, as it was the first to introduce me to a wonderful new land with its own sets of rules, and a history of its own. Plus, it was easier for a child to stomach as compared to longer and lengthier ones. This was also the first book series I went crazy over, and as of the moment, I have paperback versions of all seven of the books. My favorite characters in the series are Edmund Pevensie, Eustace Scrubb, and Jill Pole. While “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe” does have a special place in my heart, my favorite books of the series are “Prince Caspian”, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, and “The Silver Chair”. I really didn’t like “The Last Battle”, and in all my re-reads, I try to take as much time as I can to avoid it.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” is a series of seven books which chronicle the rise and fall of the world of Narnia, and the adventures that take place within its history.
I love how Lewis was able to create a fantasy world and series that was easy for children to understand, but it was also still epic in scope.
The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Just like many who was a teenager in the late ’90s, I grew up with the “Harry Potter” series. I remember actually buying these books as they came out, and whenever I knew that a new one was coming, I’d actually read the past books so that I can get all caught up again on what was happening.
While Tolkein and Lewis did revolutionize and helped mold the genre itself, Rowling was able to revive the youth’s interest in fantasy by creating a magical series that was somehow quite relatable.
I don’t think I really need to tell anyone what this is about, but just in case, here goes.
This seven book series tells the story of Harry Potter, who discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is a wizard and that he is eligible to attend the premiere wizarding school in England- Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While there, he makes friends and enemies, and together, they end up in the midst of an ongoing battle with the Dark Lord Voldemort, who is beginning to once again rise to power.
I think my favorite characters from this series were Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood, and I’m very much a very proud Hufflepuff.
My favorite books in the series were “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, because of the emotional nature of the main focus; and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, because that was the book in which we got a lot of information and revelations.
This was also the very first book series in which I actively sought out fanfiction for it, and I even wrote a one-shot fanfic about this series.
The Old Kingdom Sequence by Garth Nix
To be honest, in this series, I’ve only read “Sabriel”, and “Lirael” and “Abhorsen” are currently waiting to be read and are sitting pretty on my bookshelf. However, I’ve read another series penned by Nix before, and I do love “Sabriel”.
This series tells the story of a group of characters in the Old Kingdom that are somehow related to each other. Each story features the main characters of each book going on adventures of their own and discovering themselves in the process while neatly fitting into a timeline that is very much related to Sabriel herself.
I love that his series’ protagonist is quite different from the usual, and also that it’s a little bit steampunkish in the fact that its actually set in an alternate version of 1910’s England.
The world building here is just phenomenal; and the characters and premise of the series is very different from your typical fantasy series.
The Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud
By now, it’s quite plain to see that I do love anything that has to do with alternate history. Stroud’s “The Bartimeaus Sequence” stands out from the rest of the crowd, once again, due its different premise, and an atypical set of protagonists, and the individual character journeys that they take within the series.
“The Bartimeaus Sequence” tells the story of the magical career of an ambitious young magician named Nathaniel and his assistant, an ancient mischievous djinn named Bartemaeus. Interestingly enough, the story’s narrative switches points of view between Nathaniel, Bartimaues, and a non magical young girl named Kitty.
This one is a little bit more grounded with its history though, and it is fun to take a look back at all the historical people that are name dropped in the series and try to see if them having a djinn as an assistant would be possible. It is also interesting how much he drew from legends, myth and tales, such as Homer and “The Arabian Nights” for his series.
Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
Just like “The Bartimaeus Sequence”, Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl” sequence presents us with an anti-hero protagonist, the 12 year old genius and master criminal Artemis Fowl.
While Stroud presented us with the possibility of the 1900s and early 20th century with magic; Colfer managed to blend magic and modern day technology- from cellphones, computers and to the internet.
The eight books center around the adventures of Irish billionaire and criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl, who ends up participating in a series of adventures, heists and capers that have both personal and worldwide ramifications together with the elf police Captain Holly Short, his manservant Butler, technical genius centaur Foaly, Holly’s hot headed superior Commander Root, and a criminal dwarf named Mulch Diggums.
I also love how most of the books, while all are epic adventures, involve them solving mysteries or pulling of heists and capers.
I also love the fact that they decided to mostly concentrate more on the Fair Folk as the main magical creatures for this series, with a sprinkling of centaurs and warlocks in between.
Also, as this is a young adult fantasy series, it is written in an easy tone that is easy to warm up to. As of the moment, I do know that a movie is in the works, and I hope that they do this series justice.
Among all of the books in the series, my favorites are “The Eternity Code”, due to the fact that they had to pull off an elaborate heist; and “The Opal Deception”, as it was interesting as to see what would happen to our main characters after everything that happened in “The Eternity Code”
The Chrestomanci Chronicles & The Worlds of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones
“The Chrestomanci Chronicles” or “The Worlds of Chrestomanci”, are a whimsical collection of stories and novels written by Diana Wynne Jones set in a multiverse of parallel worlds that differ from each other based on the differing outcomes of specific historical events. All of these worlds and the use of magic in all of these worlds are overseen by the Chrestomanci, the most powerful enchanter in all of the universes. Included in this series are the books “A Charmed Life”, “The Magicians of Caprona”, “Witch Week”, “The Lives of Christopher Chant”, “Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci”, “Conrad’s Fate”, and “The Pinhoe Egg”.
In this series, Jones was able to deftly weave wonderful stories while introducing the concept of the multiverse, which makes it fun to guess which historical event caused this particular world to happen. Aside from that, each of her books is a coming of age story, with the unifying thing being the fact that the Chrestomanci always makes an appearance in each story.
The Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones
Unlike “Chrestomanci”, Jones’ “Dalemark Quartet” is set in a magical land of its own, where magic is seamlessly interwoven into things, and is more grounded despite it being set in a magical fantasy land.
“The Dalemark Quartet” is set in Dalemark, a pre-industrial world, and sort of narrates the entire history of the land through the stories of a group of teenagers who have surprising connections to myths and legends of the land, and end up helping shape its history and future.
There are four books in this series- “Cart & Cwidder”, “Drowned Ammet”, “The Spellcoats” and “The Crown of Dalemark”.
Aside from the epic scope of the series, and the recurring themes of self-discovery and discovering that the main characters end up having connections to myths and legends that come true, I love the fact that I constantly have to check my own internal timelines for these books as sometimes the events in each of the books overlap or come before the other, but they all do wonderfully culminate and merge in “The Crown of Dalemark”.
The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
I have a profound love for mythology and legends, and among all of the legends in the world, my favorite has to be the legend of King Arthur, which, interestingly enough, “The Dark is Rising Sequence” heavily does borrow from. Aside from Arthurian legend, Cooper’s books also borrow from Celtic and Norse mythology. This stands out from the crowd as it is pretty contemporary, and it is a little bit darker in tone compared to a lot of other series out there.
The novels tell the story of an epic battle between the forces of Light and Dark, and center around an interesting group of characters, who each have a role to play in the struggle, and who end up coming together for one last battle against the Dark in the final book of the series. The series includes “Over Sea, Under Stone”, “The Dark is Rising”, “Greenwitch”,”The Grey King” and “Silver on the Tree”.
I loved this series as the whole struggle between Light and Dark seemed more ancient and more powerful than in “Harry Potter”, and because of the masterful way that Cooper was able to bring all of these stories together.
The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
This series of coming of age novels follows the adventures of an Assitant Pig-Keeper and orphan named Taran, in the land of Prydain. He goes on these adventures with Princess Eilowny, a bard named Fflewdur Fflam, a “wild man-beast” named Gurgi, and a dwarf named Doli. Aside from this, it also chronicles the history of the land, Prydain’s struggle against the Land of Annuvin and its ruler.
One of the things that makes this series stand out is the fact that this is solely based on Welsh myths and legends, and in particular, the Mabinogion.
Also, aside from it just being the history of the land of Prydain, it primarily focuses on Taran, and how he grows throughout the series based on the choices that he makes.
This series is pretty easy to read, less dense, and gives you an interesting insight as well into Welsh culture, legends and mythology.
There are five books in this series- “The Book of Three”, “The Black Caulron”, “The Castle of Llyr”, “Taran Wanderer” and “The High King”.
I would actually really LOVE to see this be made into a movie series or a television series. However, since the source material is quite close to my heart, they’d better do it justice!
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein
All set in Middle Earth, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” tell the history of how the One Ring was found, and tells the ensuing struggle of the peoples of Middle Earth against the Dark Lord Sauron, who sought to take back his Ring of Power so that he could rule the entire world.
“The Hobbit” was primarily an adventure story featuring the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, a company of dwarves and the wizard named Gandalf; while “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is a more epic tale detailing how they tried to destroy the One Ring of Power and fought for the freedom of Middle Earth.
Tolkein revolutionized the fantasy genre by creating a well fleshed out world, complete with a magic system, several written and spoken languages, and different races that seemed realistic, even though you knew they were all made up.
I love Tolkein’s works because what he did was an amazing feat, and because he wrote an epic story that shows us that there is really no limit to what a fantasy writer can do, especially if you have the skill set already within you.
Looking back at all of these made me realize that these books are also on my “to be re-read” list for this year, and I’m planning to make some “Quick Guides To” and book reviews of them on my other blog, The Kat’s Cafe, sometime this year.
And there you have it, my ten favorite fantasy books and book series of all time, as of now. What do you think of my list? Have you read any of these? If fantasy is your special interest, what titles do you agree with here, and what other titles would you add to this list? Sound off in the comments below!