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This week was something along the lines of "complete a syllabus as if you taught (insert genre) 101" and so that's exactly what I've done. View this post as a guide map if you're new to epic fantasy or looking for something new. I hope you enjoy!
So you want to read Epic Fantasy? Well, the best place to start is with Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan. It's actually an omnibus of the first two books in his Riyria Revelations series. This is good for people new to epic fantasy because it eases you in with some basic tropes, but then slowly expands to be something original and entertaining. The pair of main characters, Royce and Hadrian, are particularly great to read about. In the first of the two books they have to steal a king to save a kingdom.
If you want to start somewhere more juvenile, though, I recommend Eragon. It's not really anything super unique, except that it does dragons really well. Plus, pretty much everyone who's read epic fantasy has at least read the first in the series so you'll have a good starting point for conversations.
Now what's the next step? As you get deeper into the epic fantasy genre you might find a couple particular names being tossed around- Brandon Sanderson, George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, and Robert Jordan. These are four of the biggest writers in fantasy (though two of them are dead). They either helped pave the way for future writers or have developed old ideas into fantastic and explosive stories.
The "classic writers", as I like to refer to them, are Robert Jordan and JRR Tolkien. You've probably heard of the latter since he penned the Lord of the Rings. If you haven't seen the movies you're seriously missing something.
Be careful when you decide to read this series. I myself have never completed it (though I desperately want to) but I know people who have. It's massive and the world is extensive. You'll have to wade through quite a bit of text to even get to the exciting story parts in the beginning, and the language can come across as a bit dated.
Robert Jordan has a huge series, called Wheel of Time, and he died before it was completed. This, too, can feel very dated and is a rather hard series to read. Jordan spends a lot of time writing about things that don't matter. So why is it on this list? I feel like you're reading a bit of fantasy history when you read through this series. But don't bother unless it's on your bucket list.
Don't worry, the series is now completed. And by none other than the wonderful, the magical, the fantastic! Brandon Sanderson. You'll hear me sing his praises forever. His books get better each time you read them and he's got a wonderful writing that makes hundreds of pages easy to swallow in a matter of days. I recommend starting with his Mistborn trilogy. The premise for these books is that the hero who was prophecied to save the world actually failed and now, hundreds of years later, the world is in pretty bad shape. Such a great twist on a classic tale, and the magic system is mind-blowing. When you're done reading it you'll want to be an allomancer, I promise.
That last name I mentioned earlier was George RR Martin. Chances are you've heard of him for a long time now. And if not him, you've heard of his series The Song of Ice and Fire which has been turned into the raved about HBO show Game of Thrones. I've not watched the show, but I have read the first two books. Very, very good fantasy. Very mature, though, so prepare yourself for anything if you dive into this series.
Now, maybe you want something a bit lighter. Or perhaps just younger characters in general. A fan of YA? Well, some of the best fantasy comes from that corner of the literary universe. One of the most popular series' in the genre is Throne of Glass, and for very good reasons. It follows an assassin as she competes to be the King's Champion. Really a must read for fantasy fans in general (not just YA fans).
When you've finished devouring this series (and finished screaming at me for turning you onto a non-finished series with terrible cliffhangers) I recommend going onto the Lumatere Chronicles. They're possibly the most intense and moving pieces of fantasy I've ever read. They're a bit confusing at first, but once you get into them you won't be able to put them down. Don't worry, this series is completed.
Need to take a break from the "epic" part of epic fantasy? Okay, look no further. Still a fantasy set in another world, but much lighter, here's one of my favorite books of all time.
The Thief features an unreliable narrator and is beautiful. It's a really short read and it kept me awake until the very wee hours of the morning because it's so very good. Read it no matter what you do.
And, on the cusp of urban fantasy, is A Darker Shade of Magic. It's a very good book, though not exactly epic fantasy. The magic system is pretty cool and you'll feel rather attached to the characters by the end.
So those are my top recommendations for Epic Fantasy. Maybe give them a shot. Maybe recommend something to me.
What's on your list this week?