Fantasy Series that Define the Genre

Defining Each Generation

Lovers of fantasy all have their favorites. It is that specific series that either started you reading fantasy or in some other way defined the genre for you. For me, as for many readers, it was Tolkien’s Trilogy. But that may also be because I first discovered fantasy back in the dark ages of the 60s. You know, before the internet and cable TV

Still, there are some truly amazing fantasy series that have come out and defined the genre for a whole new generation of fans. Here are few that I have heard from others have come to hold a very special place in their hearts.

Classic Genre-Defining Fantasy Books

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Dover Thrift Editions)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (Dover Thrift Editions)

One of the very earliest fantastic voyage fantasy stories. Bet you haven't actually read it!

 
Dead Until Dark  (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 1)
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 1)

The Sookie Stackhouse series recently finished, and what an amazing adventure it has been. If you have never read the books that TVs True Blood is based on, you owe yourself this delightful treat about a barmaid and a town of vampires, werewolves and more.

 
The Vampire Chronicles Collection, Volume 1
The Vampire Chronicles Collection, Volume 1

Many say that the three Anne Rice books that began her series are still by far the best, and I agree. These books, particularly Interview with the Vampire shook the literary world when they first came out. This collection gives you the first three at a bargain price.

 
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1)

Like many, this was one of my earliest fantasy stories. If you haven't read it since you were a kid, do so today. Or introduce a kid to it today. This first book of the Chronicles of Narnia series is still, by far, the best.

 
American Gods: Author's Preferred Text
American Gods: Author's Preferred Text

Neil Gaiman is fast becoming today's leading fantasy writer. American Gods, a tale of old world gods in today's US is a wonderful example of his new fantasy approach. There is word that a TV show is in the works as well.

 

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire

Even if Game of Throne’s, the HBO cable TV adaptation hadn’t just completed a sterling second series, this would still be on the top of many a fantasy lover’s list. The sprawling epic tale of a land torn apart by a scramble for the throne of the Five Kingdoms owes much to Tolkien and yet creates some whole new visions of medieval struggles for power and the role of evil and corruption. The magical elements seem minor right now if all you know is the show. But the written series is itself unfolding as the show begins to take on a life of it’s own.

Women of Game of Thrones

Martin's soon to be Classic

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

A Game of Thrones begins this Song of Ice and Fire Series. Classic medieval/magic setting with politics, intrigue and dragons!

 
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)

The second book in the series continues the struggle between brothers to control the throne that rules it all.

 
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)

In this third book of the season, Winter is coming. It could mean disaster for many or the throne for one!

 
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)

An uneasy peace rules the land as the various factions hold truce. But can it last? Find out in this fourth book of the series.

 
A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)

The fifth and latest book to be added to the series. Kingdoms have been carved on all sides, and the high Northern Wall stands strong- for now. Armies shift, thrones are taken and power slides from one side to the other as new alliances are formed.

 

What are your Nominations for this hub’s Fantasy Series?

Do you have a series you feel was instrumental in getting you into reading fantasy? Share it and why with us below. I will be coming back at a later time to add more fantasy series to the list. Maybe I will add yours.

Epic Fantasy – Lord of the Rings

As just about anyone knows who loves epic fantasy, Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are not only epic fantasy, but are pretty much the books that defined it. The author, Tolkien, wanted to use the books to create a body of tales that would reflect English culture. As an English literature professor he was familiar with such epic stories as the ancient Gilgamesh. Many today still consider his lectures on the German epic poem Beowulf to be his inspiration for his Lord of the Rings masterpiece.

Like many, I was overwhelmed by the idea of reading a trilogy when I first saw it. Although today in fantasy an ongoing series is quite common, it is a relatively new phenomenon. I knew many people who began to read Lord of the Rings but never completed the three books. It took me three attempts to actually do it myself.

For those who never read it the tale is quite simple. The story takes place in a magical kingdom called the Middle Earth. There we meet a wonderful race of beings called Hobbits. Industrious, domestic, and thoroughly charming they live in little villages and were definitely not the sort of people to go on adventures. But this is the story of one hobbit that did.

We then follow the adventures of this hobbit along with a wizard and some dwarves as they set about to rescue a magical ring. It is the classic tale of a band of warriors on a quest. They fight evil, battle monstrous creatures, and even their own inner needs.

There are dozens of books written about the meaning behind the Lord of the Rings. To go into that here would take more than one post. For many, the story is a coming of age tale and a journey to our own inner knowledge. I think it will continue to be a seminal book not only in fantasy but in English literature. It has almost become a rite of passage to read it when a teenager.

Characters in Lord of the Rings

Tolkien's classics

The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings

The book where the journey begins. Don't read some abridged version, treat yourself to the real thing.

 
The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings
The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings

The journey continues! For many, this was the most exciting of the three books. and hey- lots of elves!

 
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings

For those who like it all in one tidy (but long- over 1200 pages) book.

 
The Hobbit
The Hobbit

This is a great introduction to the world that Lord of the Rings inhabits. This is the journey referred to, that got all those hobbits in trouble in the first place!

 

The Lord of the Rings in Movies.

The current trend to interpret fantasy and science fiction books into film is relatively new. For many years many different filmmakers tried to make a film based on Tolkien’s classic story. Some were successful, but most were not. Peter Jackson finally created what many consider the ultimate tribute to Tolkien’s classic fantasy story.

Trailers for all 3 Films in One

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