Top Ten Books, Part One.
There are some stories that just stay with you over time. They have an impact, whether it changes your perspective on things, enlightens you about a topic or just makes you laugh. The following are my top ten favorite books, strictly my personal opinion. Please leave me comments about your favorites, I look forward to hearing your favorites.
No. 10 Riddlemaster of Hed
Written by Patricia A. McKillip, 1976.
In many ways a fairly typical story of a young man destined for greater things. But I love the story and the characters, McKillip has a way of developing both through the trilogy. The hero, unlike many in fantasy, is strongly conflicted about the role he's being led into and the past he's being forced to give up, and the theme of growing up and having to move away from what we've known and love is a powerful one.The use of riddles, not the type you get from the sphinx, but more a question and answer about the history and lessons of the lands, adds a dimension to the story that resonates within the reader to, a unique way to make her lessons touch us. It is certainly one story I enjoy reading again every few years.
No. 9 From Beirut To Jerusalem
Written by Thomas L. Friedman, 1989.
Mr. Friedman was a reporter for the UPI and New York Times in Beirut from 1979 to 1984, and in Lebanon from 1984 to 1989, and his stories about his experiences there are riveting. A Pulitzer Prize winner, he talks about many of the most famous names on both sides of the conflict, but also looks at how the average person lived through one of the most intense conflicts of the Middle East. An amazingly balanced view that doesn't really place blame, but looks fairly at the mistakes of all sides.
No. 8 American Gods
Written by Neil Gaiman, 2001.
An exploration of mythology, both ancient and modern, with a great cast of characters. The basic idea is that gods exist based on belief, the greater the belief, the stronger the god. The book follows the path of Shadow, an ex-convict released from jail early due to the death of his wife, who finds himself a pawn in the hands of Mr. Wednesday. Because the gods exist on the basis of belief, the gods that populate this world are the ones brought over by the variety of immigrants to America, and so the story is very much about how we reconcile our past with the potential of our future.
No. 7 Another Fine Myth
Written by Robert Aspirin, 1979.
Hilarious. A twist on the fantasy hero stories, the tale of an incompetent apprentice wizard who finds his master dead one day and is forced to team up with a demon to survive. Of course the demon is large and scaly, and because of the dead wizards sense of humor, powerless. The story is fun, and you really can't look for anything more than that in it. It's a different twist on the genre, and the beginning of a series that, I have to admit, got old. But the first few are laugh out loud funny.
And No 6 Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.
Written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, 1990.
Two of my favorite authors collaborating to end the world. Two of the strangest angels working together to save it. The end of the world is approaching, the four horsemen are riding forth, and the antichrist is an eleven-year-old boy. The angel, Aziraphale, and Crowley, the demon who tempted Eve, decide the world is too entertaining to let be destroyed and focus all their attention to save it. A great story, great characters, the funniest book about the end of the world you'll ever read. I wish the two of them would do it again someday.