Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Week Six - F is for fantasy



 
Josephine Wall's Periwinkle 

My first book love was Fantasy.   Fantasy books entertained my mind as I traveled to far away places, introduced me to mythical creatures, took me on fanciful quests and experienced battles with  knights, dragons, elves, ogres, warriors, heroes,  apprentices and the fight between Good and Evil.   I cut my teeth on Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom Series,  Margaret Weis's Dragonlance, Charles DeLint's Newford, Mercedes Lackey Valdemar Books,  Christopher Stasheff's Warlock, Piers Anthony's Xanth  and Incarnations of Immortality,  and of course, Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy and J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.


The Fantasy Genre has grown over the past twenty - thirty years with many, many sub genres including 

Romance Fantasy
Fairy Tales
Alternative History
Arthurian Fantasy
Comic Fantasy
Dark Fantasy
Epic Fantasy
Fairy Tales and Mythology
Heroic Fantasy
High Fantasy
Mystery Fantasy
Magic Realism
Modern Fantasy
Sword and Sorcery

I sort of fell away from the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres for a decade or more and recently rediscovered some old authors whom I actually skipped reading for one reason or another way back when.  I just finished reading The Mists of Avalon by Marian Zimmer Bradley and the very first book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series The Eye of the World.   I thoroughly enjoyed both and maybe because of age or maybe wisdom appreciated the stories more than I would have at the age of 20.    There are many authors who have stood the test and time and new authors that time is now testing.     There's an interesting list from Mania.com who they consider the top 20 Fantasy writers of all time.

1.  J.R.R. Tolkein
2.  Robert E. Howard
3.  Terry Pratchett
4.  Piers Anthony
5.  Michael Moorcock
6.  Fritz Leiber
7.  Roger Zelazny
8.  Raymond Feist
9.  Terry Brooks
10.  Neil Gaiman
11.  George R.R. Martin
12.  Tanith Lee
13.  Lord Dunsany
14.  Robert Jordan
15.  Marian Zimmer Bradley
16.  Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
17.  David Eddings
18.  J.K. Rowling
19.  R.A. Salvatore
20.  Katherine Kurtz

I have read at least one book from everyone on the list or have one of their books on my TBR pile waiting to be read.  All except for  Lord Dunsany, whom supposedly influenced Tolkien, Eddings, Moorcock and Gaiman. His Fifty One Tales are on Project Gutenberg so I will be checking him out.

Do you agree with the list and if you don't, who do you think should be considered a top fantasy writer?

What fantasy books do you have on your wishlist?  

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10 comments:

  1. I learn so much from your weekly posts, Robin! This week I learned I'm not much into fantasy -lol! I've only read Tolkein and Anthony. A whole genre I've been ignoring, so I'll make sure to read one fantasy this year!

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  2. Is that list supposed to be influential writers, popular writers, or good writers? Because I would never call Piers Anthony good. Diana Wynne Jones would be near the top of my list, right up there with Pratchett and Gaiman and above Rowling and Brooks. Well, I would leave Brooks off and put somebody else on, like Lloyd Alexander, and I'd put in Ursula K. LeGuin, Robin McKinley, and Susan Cooper. And Alan Garner. Yeah, I would change that list a lot.

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  3. I read a lot of fantasy, but not enough from the "masters", I guess. *grin* I'm pleased to see Terry Pratchett on the list. He is one of my favorite writers and one of a kind. Some of the other writers on the list (Brooks, Feist, Eddings) I consider to be just "meh" but I do have a preference for the newer, fresher, twistier fantasy coming out nowadays.

    I have another fantasy book to review for this coming week. A good fit for this post. :D

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  4. Jean, Good points!

    DWJ is another one of my favorite writers. I wonder if this list is biased against writers whose books are more geared toward MG/YA readers? I've always seen DWJ, Cooper, Garner, McKinley and Alexander shelved in the not-adult section of the bookstore.

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  5. Fantasy is the genre I read more than anything else. But do I agree with their list? Not really, no. I don't think I would agree with any "Top 20 _______ Authors of All Time." It's so subjective. And are they talking "best" as far as writing ability, or as far as popularity? I have read many of the people on their list, though.

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  6. Week 6 already!!??? Wow.

    I have been keeping up with my reading, unfortunately not with my writing of reviews. So far it has all been non-fiction, but I do expect to have a bit of fiction thrown in here for good measure. Eventually.

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  7. Like you, Robin, I too went through quite a love affair with fantasy!

    I would have to say my favorite is Mercedes Lackey, and I've read all of her Valdemar series. These gave me a sense of wonder at her storytelling power, and I think they also paved the way for my passions for social justice and LGBT rights!

    I stopped reading fantasy because the stories started to feel repetitive, and I got tired of the way women are portrayed in the majority of fantasy books. However, it might be time to take up a few new ones, and to see what may have changed in the last few years!

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  8. The list is totally subjective but I found it interesting. There are many authors I would chose over several of them.

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  9. I haven't read much fantasy in recent years, though I used to read some fantasy in high school and college.

    I do notice that George MacDonald is missing (Phantastes and Lilith) as is C. S. Lewis (his space trilogy as well as The Chronicles of Narnia). I would add them in! :)

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  10. OK, Robin, I accepted the challenge, although I did not pick anybody from your list. In fact, the author I picked is not really known for this genre, however I think it still applies. I chose "The Princess Bride," by William Goldman. If anyone would like to check out my review you can go here:
    http://the52booksin52weekspersonalchallenge.blogspot.com/2010/02/week-6-princess-bride-william-goldman.html

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