Friday, October 21, 2011

What I Wish I Read: High Fantasy

On our last day of Teen Read Week, Katie's part II of what she wishes her teen self had read:

Tamora Pierce published her first book the year after I was born. It wasn’t until over two decades later when I was in my 20s that I finally picked up Alanna. I remember seeing a Pierce book on the shelves nearly every time I went to the library growing up (and I went to the library A LOT), but the whole fantasy/world creation thing just didn’t seem like it was for me. Of course, I read The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia, but those were classics written by crusty old Englishmen (which practically made it historical fiction in my mind).

If I could get a cup of coffee with teenage me--or a mocha because teenage me wasn’t too keen on coffee--I would hand her a copy of Alanna (and the rest of The Song of the Lionness Quartet) and tell her to thank me later. High fantasy is filled with inspiring characters and complex plots set in other times and places--in other words pretty much everything I loved about historical fiction and mysteries dropped into an amazing fictional world all of the author’s own creation.

All my current favorite series are of the fantasy variety:

The Thief of Eddis by Megan Whalen Turner

I’m in the process of rereading these books right now. I’d like to explain to you why they are so good but some things just can’t be put into words (although I tried in my first post for TATAL!). All I can say is that you should read them. Now. And then sit around impatiently with me waiting for the fifth book.
The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

Yes! Marchetta writes contemporary romance AND high fantasy. And she’s wicked good at both. Like most readers I assumed Finnikin of the Rock was a stand alone novel when it came out last year. And then out of Australia came Froi of the Exiles (it will be out in the US in March--start getting excited now!--which will be followed by Quitana of Charyn). This series isn’t unlike many of the popular dystopias that are currently out there. Set in a fictional time and place, these books tell the stories of individuals who have been chosen by fate to change the course of their world. The suspense rarely lets up, the plot twists keep coming, and the relationships between the characters... oh man... so good.

The Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima

These are the sort of mammoth books one typically equates with fantasy and come complete with wizards and magic and tons of drama. I love how this epic story follows the paths of Han, the former street lord, and Raisa, the future queen, weaving together their story lines in a gradual and satisfying way. Each book has been better than the last.

And just in case you’re wondering, yes, I’m anxiously awaiting Pierce’s newest book next week--Mastiff. My teenage self might not know what she was missing out on, but my post-teen self appears to be in a long term relationship with high fantasy.

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