Okay, so since I haven't been posting in like, just about forever, I have worked up a little something that is extra special for today!

It is a list of Fantasy novels that should be thoroughly perused and even investigated before one may consider oneself a true "connoisseur" of the Fantasy genre. I will start with the obvious masterpieces, and work my way down to the less-than-obvious titles.

1. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein (1937)

The first of the great J.R.R. Tolkein's works, The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo's journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into more sinister territory. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien's Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo gains a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom. The story reaches its climax in the Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in conflict.
Personal growth and forms of heroism are central themes of the story. Along with motifs of warfare, these themes have led critics to cite Tolkien's own experiences during World War I as instrumental in shaping the story. The author's scholarly knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature and interest in fairy tales are also often noted as influences.

Now, I place The Hobbit first and foremost because it really, truly is the first work of "High" or "Epic" Fantasy to be published in the modern age, and really must be read as a predecessor to the larger epic work, The Lord of the Rings.

2. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein (1954-55)

The Lord of the Rings
 is an epic high fantasy novel written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during World War II. It is the third best-selling novel ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.
The title of the novel refers to the story's main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who had in an earlier age created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth. From quiet beginnings in the Shire, a Hobbit-land not unlike the English countryside, the story ranges across north-west Middle-earth, following the course of the War of the Ring through the eyes of its characters, notably the hobbits Frodo BagginsSamwise "Sam" GamgeeMeriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck and Peregrin "Pippin" Took, but also the hobbits' chief allies and travelling companions: Aragorn, a Human RangerBoromir, a man from GondorGimli, a Dwarf warrior; Legolas, an Elven prince; and Gandalf, a Wizard.
The work was initially intended by Tolkien to be one volume of a two-volume set, with the other being The Silmarillion, but this idea was dismissed by his publisher. It was decided for economic reasons to publish The Lord of the Rings as three volumes over the course of a year from 21 July 1954 to October 1955, thus creating the now familiar Lord of the Rings trilogy. The three volumes were entitled The Fellowship of the RingThe Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Structurally, the novel is divided internally into six books, two per volume, with several appendices of background material included at the end of the third volume. The Lord of the Ringshas since been reprinted numerous times and translated into many languages.
Tolkien's work has been the subject of extensive analysis of its themes and origins. Although a major work in itself, the story was only the last movement of a larger epic Tolkien had worked on since 1917, in a process he described as mythopoeia. Influences on this earlier work, and on the story of The Lord of the Rings, include philology, mythology, religion and the author's distaste for the effects of industrialization, as well as earlier fantasy works and Tolkien's experiences in World War IThe Lord of the Rings in its turn is considered to have had a great effect on modern fantasy.
The enduring popularity of The Lord of the Rings has led to numerous references in popular culture, and the publication of many books about Tolkien and his works. The Lord of the Rings has inspired, and continues to inspire, artwork, music, films and television, video games, and subsequent literature. Award-winning adaptations of The Lord of the Rings have been made for radiotheatre, and film.

3. The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis (1950-56)

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven high fantasy novels by C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages. Written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954, illustrated by Pauline Baynes and originally published in London between October 1950 and March 1956, The Chronicles of Narnia has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, the stage, and film.
Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a place where animals talk, magic is common, and good battles evil, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world. Except in The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil and restore the throne to its rightful line. The books span the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician's Nephew, to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle. Inspiration for the series is taken from multiple sources; in addition to numerous traditional Christian themes, characters and ideas are freely borrowed from GreekTurkish and Roman mythology, as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales. The books have profoundly influenced adult and children's fantasy literature written since World War II. Lewis' exploration of themes not usually present in children's literature, such as religion as well as the book's perceived treatment of issues including race and gender, has caused some controversy.

Series includes:
1. The Magician's Nephew (1955)
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
3. The Horse and His Boy (1954)
4. Prince Caspian (1951)
5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
6. The Silver Chair (1953)
7. The Last Battle (1956)

4. The Sword in the Stone (The Once and Future King), T.H. White (1938; 1939-1958)

The Sword in the Stone was initially published in 1938 as a stand-alone work but now the first part of a tetralogy The Once and Future King. A fantasy of the boyhood of King Arthur, it is a sui generis work which combines elements of legend, history, fantasy and comedy.
"Who so Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise King Born of all England."
The premise is that Arthur's youth, not dealt with in Malory, was a time when he was tutored by Merlyn to prepare him for the use of power and royal life. Merlyn magically turns Wart into various animals at times. He also has more human adventures, at one point meeting the outlaw Robin Hood, (who is referred to in the novel as Robin Wood). The setting is loosely based on medieval England, and in places it incorporates White's considerable knowledge of medieval culture (as in relation to hunting, falconry and jousting). However it makes no attempt at consistent historical accuracy, and incorporates some obvious anachronisms (aided by the concept that Merlyn lives backwards in time rather than forwards, unlike everyone else).

The Once and Future King was first published in 1958 and is mostly a composite of earlier works written in a period between 1938 and 1941.
The title comes from the inscription that, according to Le Morte d'Arthur, was said by "many men" to be written upon King Arthur's tomb: the internally rhymed hexameter Hic iacet Arthurus, rex quondam, rexque futurus — "Here lies Arthur, king once, and king to be".
Most of the book "takes place on the isle of Gramarye", and it chronicles the raising and educating of King Arthur, his rule as a king, and the romance between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guenever. It ends immediately before Arthur's final battle against his illegitimate son Mordred. Though White admits his book's source material is loosely derived from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (The Death of Arthur), he reinterprets the epic events, filling them with renewed meaning for a world enduring the Second World War.

The book is divided into four parts:

5. The Belgariad, David Eddings (1982-84)

The Belgariad is a five-book fantasy epic written by David Eddings.
The series tells the story of the recovery of the Orb of Aldur and coming of age of Garion, an orphaned farmboy. Garion is accompanied by his aunt Polgara and grandfather Belgarath as they try to fulfill an ancient prophecy that will decide the fate of the universe. Along the way, various "instruments", or helpers, of the prophecy join their quest to recover the orb, and Garion discovers his true identity and destiny.
Volumes include:
  1. Pawn of Prophecy (1982)
  2. Queen of Sorcery (1982)
  3. Magician's Gambit (1983)
  4. Castle of Wizardry (1984)
  5. Enchanters' End Game (1984)
The title of each book combines a chess term with a fantasy term. The concept of a Game of Destiny is a significant motif in the story. The series has been reprinted as a two-volume set, titled The Belgariad Volume One, containing the first three books of the series, and The Belgariad Volume Two, which contains the last two books. This does not include the original map in Pawn of Prophecy by Chris Barbieri, but only Shelly Shapiro's map.
The Malloreon is a five-book sequel that continues the story started in the BelgariadBelgarath the Sorcerer (1995) and Polgara the Sorceress (1997) are prequels that share the setting and most characters. The Rivan Codex (1998) features annotated background material.

6. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede (1985-1993)

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a series of four young adult fantasy novels by Patricia C. Wrede titled Dealing with DragonsSearching for DragonsCalling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons. Additionally, the Book of Enchantments includes one short story titled Utensile Strength.
Dealing with Dragons began as a short story, "The Improper Princess," and was expanded to novel length at the insistence of Patricia's editor at Harcourt. It, and the subsequent two books, tell the story of Cimorene, a fairy-tale princess  of the kingdom of Linderwall who finds her expected duties too boring and confining, and therefore runs away to become the "captive" princess of the dragon Kazul. Princess Cimorene discovers and subsequently dissolves a plot by the wizards to take control of the King of the Dragons. 
In Searching for Dragons, Cimorene meets the King of the Enchanted Forest, Mendanbar. With their new friends, they collaborate to rescue Kazul—now the King of the Dragons—from the wizards who have captured her in the Enchanted Forest. In Calling on Dragons, Morwen discovers that the wizards have stolen Mendanbar's sword, which keeps them from stealing the Enchanted Forest's magic, and works with Cimorene to retrieve it. Talking to Dragons is told from the viewpoint of Daystar, Cimorene's son, as he sets off on his own adventures with his father's sword and tries to piece together the past his mother hasn't told him about.

7. Sabriel, Garth Nix (1995)

Sabriel is a young-adult fantasy novel by Australian author Garth Nix, first published in 1995. It is the first in his Old Kingdom trilogy, and is followed by Lirael and Abhorsen. The novel is set in two neighbouring fictional countries: To the south lies Ancelstierre, which has a technology level and society similar to that of early-20th century England, and to the north lies the Old Kingdom, where magic works and dangerous spirits roam the land — a fact officially denied by the government of Ancelstierre and disbelieved by most of Ancelstierre's inhabitants. (Those who live near the border know the truth of it, especially on days when the wind is blowing out of the Old Kingdom.) These dangerous spirits range from undead corpses known as Dead Hands to supernatural beings known as Free Magic elementals.
These living Dead are raised by Necromancers, or black magicians, who roam the Old Kingdom or live in Death, using Hands to do their bidding. To remedy the problem of dangerous, living dead, there is always a sorcerer with the title of Abhorsen, who is essentially a Necromancer himself (or herself), only in the reverse; he puts the dead to rest. At the time of Sabriel, it is her father, Terciel, who has the job of controlling the endless dead creatures doing evil deeds around the Wall, especially difficult since a new evil seems to be rising.
When the current Abhorsen is overcome by one such evil, he sends his bells (the primary tools of a necromancer and used in various ways to control the Dead) and sword to his daughter Sabriel, who is being raised in an Ancelstierre school, out of reach of those who might try to strike at her father through her. She must return to the Old Kingdom to rescue her father and prevent the evil's return.

8. The Chronicles of Prydain (The Black Cauldron et. al), Lloyd Alexander, (1964-68)

The Chronicles of Prydain is a series of five children's fantasy novels by Lloyd Alexander. The five novels may be considered a bildungsroman, for they follow one protagonist Taran from youth to maturity, most overtly in the fourth book, Taran Wanderer. Taran has the title Assistant Pig-Keeper at Caer Dallben but initially dreams of being a grand hero. His most important companions in adventure are Princess Eilonwy, a girl his age; Fflewddur Fflam, a wandering bard and minor king; Gurgi, a wild creature between animal and man; and Doli, a dwarf.
Thematically the novels draw upon Welsh mythology, particularly the Mabinogion. The novels are not, however, retellings of those myths, a point Alexander himself makes in an author's note for The Book of Three: stories have been conflated, and characters have been changed in both role and motive, so a student of Welsh culture should be prepared as Arawn becomes the books' dark archenemy and Gwydion's negative traits are replaced with unclouded heroism.
Appropriately, the author's note also reveals the geography is ultimately derived from Wales, though Alexander notes that Prydain is separate from Wales both in physical geography and history.
"Always interested in mythology", Alexander received army combat intelligence training in Wales during World War II. That exposed him to its castles, scenery, and language, which became "part of the raw material for the Prydain books". Originally he "planned to write one or two – three at the very most".
At one point they planned a trilogy with titles The Battle of the TreesThe Lion with the Steady Hand, and Little Gwion. In Welsh mythology the former features the sons of Don led by Gwydion against the forces of Arawn, and the legend of Gwion concerns the bard Taliesin as a boy. Later, a four-volume series would conclude with The High King. The editor felt that something was missing between third and fourth volumes, so Taran Wanderer was written one month after The Castle of Llyr was published, making it a five-volume series.

9. Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin (1964-2001) 

Earthsea is a fictional realm originally created by Ursula K. Le Guin for her short story "The Word of Unbinding", published in 1964. Earthsea became the setting for a further six books, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea, first published in 1968, and continuing with The Tombs of AtuanThe Farthest ShoreTehanuTales from Earthsea and The Other Wind. All are set in the world of Earthsea, as are (to date) seven short stories by Le Guin, two of which are not collected in any of these books. 

A Wizard of Earthsea was the first novel set in the fictional archipelago Earthsea and it inaugurated the so-called Earthsea Trilogy (1968 to 1972). It features the adventures of a budding young wizard named Ged. The tale of Ged's growth and development as he travels across Earthsea continues in The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, set a few years and about two decades later.
In 1987, Locus ranked The Wizard of Earthsea number three among the 33 "All-Time Best Fantasy Novels", based on a poll of subscribers.
The Earthsea Canon
Short Stories:
Seven short stories appear in two collections of Le Guin's work (and some have been reissued elsewhere). Two seminal stories were originally published in 1964 and were collected in The Wind's Twelve Quarters (Harper & Row, 1975). Five much later stories were collected in Tales from Earthsea (Harcourt, 2001), where three were original.
Tales from Earthsea also includes about thirty pages of fictional reference material titled "A Description of Earthsea" (2001) and catalogued as short fiction by ISFDB.

10. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan (1990-2013) 

The Wheel of Time (abbreviated by fans to WoT) is a series of epic fantasy novels written by American author James Oliver Rigney, Jr., under the pen name Robert Jordan. Originally planned as a six-book series, the length was increased by increments; at the time of Rigney's death, he expected it to be 12, but it will actually run 14. There is also a prequel novel and a companion book available. Rigney began writing the first volume, The Eye of the World, in 1984 and it was published in January 1990.
The series draws on numerous elements of both European and Asian mythology, most notably the cyclical nature of time found in Hinduism and Buddhism, the concepts of balanceduality, a matter-of-fact respect for nature found in Daoism, as well as a creation story paralleling that of Christianity in "The Creator" (Light) and "The Dark One". It was also partly inspired by Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.
The Wheel of Time is notable for its length, its detailed imaginary world, its well-developed magic system and a large cast of characters. As of August 12, 2008 the series has sold over 44 million copies worldwide.
At the dawn of time a deity known as the Creator forged the universe and the the Wheel of Time, which spins the Pattern of the Ages using the lives of men and women as its threads. The Wheel has seven spokes, each representing an age, and it is rotated by the One Power, which flows from the True Source. The One Power is divided into male and female halves, saidin and saidar, which work in opposition and in unison to drive the Wheel. Those humans who can use this power are known as channelers; the principal organization of such channelers in the books is called the Aes Sedai or 'Servants of All' in the Old Tongue.
The Creator imprisoned its antithesis, Shai'tan, the Dark One, at the moment of creation, sealing him away from the Wheel. However, in a time called the Age of Legends, an Aes Sedai experiment inadvertantly breached the Dark One's prison, allowing his influence to seep back into the world. He rallied the powerful, the corrupt and the ambitious to his cause and these servants began an effort to free the Dark One fully from his prison, so he might remake time and reality in his own image. In response to this threat, the Wheel spun out the Dragon, a channeler of immense power, to be a champion for the Light. In the Age of Legends the Dragon was a man named Lews Therin Telamon, who eventually rose to command the Aes Sedai and their allies in the struggle against the Dark One's forces. After a gruelling ten-year war, Telamon led his forces to victory in a daring assault on the volcano of Shayol Ghul (the site of the earthly link to the Dark One's prison), and was able to seal off the Dark One's prison. However, at the moment of victory the Dark One was able to taint saidin, driving male channellers of the One Power insane. Lews Therin killed his friends and family and then himself. The other male channellers devastated the world with the One Power, unleashing earthquakes and tidal waves that reshaped the world. Eventually, the last male channeller was killed or cut off from the One Power, leaving the human race all but destroyed and only women able to wield the One Power safely. The Aes Sedai reconstituted and guided humanity out of this dark time. Mankind now lived under the shadow of a prophecy that the Dark One would break free from his prison and the Dragon would be Reborn to fight him once more, and although he is humanity's only hope to suceed against the Dark One, he would devastate the world a second time in the process.
Over the next three and a half thousand years, the human race returns to a level of technology roughly comparable to that of the Middle Ages, with the difference that women enjoy full equality with men in most societies, and are superior in some. This is put down to the power and influence of the female-only Aes Sedai spilling over into everyday life. Several major wars have ravaged the main continent since the defeat of the Dark One, such as the Trolloc Wars, when the surviving servants of the Dark One tried to destroy civilization once more but were defeated by an alliance of nations led by the Aes Sedai; and the War of the Hundred Years, a devastating civil war that followed the fall of a continent-spanning empire ruled by the High King, Artur Hawkwing. These wars have prevented the human race from regaining the power and high technology of the Age of Legends, and also left humanity divided. Even the prestige of the Aes Sedai has fallen, with their shrinking numbers and the emergence of organisations such as the Children of the Light, a military order who hold that all who dabble with the One Power are servants of the Shadow. The nations of the modern era are able to unite against the warrior-clans of the Aiel, who cross into the western kingdoms on a mission of vengeance after they suffer a grievous insult, but are too divided to work effectively together in other areas.

11. A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin (1996-?) 

A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels written by American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. Martin began the series in 1991 in response to the limitation of television production and published the first volume, A Game of Thrones, in 1996. Martin gradually extended the originally planned trilogy into four, six and eventually seven volumes. The fifth installment, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011; the sixth book, The Winds of Winter is currently being written.
The story of A Song of Ice and Fire takes place on the fictional continents Westeros and Essos, with a history of thousands of years. The series is told in the third person by 31 point of view characters. Three stories become interwoven: the chronicling of a dynastic war for control of Westeros by several families; the rising threat of the dormant cold supernatural Others dwelling beyond an immense wall of ice on Westeros' northern border and the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, the exiled daughter and only remaining heir of a king murdered 15 years earlier in a civil war, to return to Westeros with her fire-breathing dragons and claim her rightful throne.
The fantasy series has been praised for its realism; it subdues magic in favor of battles and political intrigue. Drawing inspiration from historical events, Martin deliberately defied the conventions of the fantasy genre and frequently displayed violencesexuality and moral ambiguity. Main characters are killed off, indicating that the supposed heroes may not come through unscathed and readers are left to decide which characters are good or evil. A Song of Ice and Fire also received critical commentary for its portrayal of womenreligion, and food.
Originally published without much publicity, the books in the series have now sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 20 languages. The fourth and fifth volumes, which both took Martin over five years to write, reached the top of The New York Times Best Seller lists upon their releases. Among the many derived works are three prequel novellas, the HBO TV series Game of Thrones, and a comic book adaptation.
Series includes:
1. A Game of Thrones (1996)
A Clash of Kings (1999)
3. A Storm of Swords (2000)
4. A Feast for Crows (2005)
5. A Dance with Dragons (2011)
6. The Winds of Winter (forthcoming)
7. A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)

12. Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey (1967-?)

The series (as of June 2011) comprises 22 novels and several short stories. Most of the short fiction has been collected in two volumes or incorporated in one of the novels, so Dragonriders of Pern is sometimes identified with the 24 books. Beginning in 2003, her middle child Todd McCaffrey has also written Pern novels, both solo and jointly with Anne.

Life on
 Pern as presented in the novels resembles a pre-industrial society with lords, holds, harpers (musicians, entertainers, and teachers), and dragons, with the occasional examples of higher technology (like flamethrowers, telegraphi, chemical fertilizers, and powerful microscopes and telescopes).
Pernese people are described as belonging to four basic groups: Weyrfolk (including Dragonriders) who live in the Weyrs, the Holders who live in the Holds (cities, towns and farms), the crafters who live in Crafthalls (or are assigned to work their crafts in certain Holds), and the Holdless who have no permanent home (including traders, displaced Holders, and brigands).
One of the main threats to Pernese civilization in the series is Thread, which is described as a mycorrhizoid spore that periodically rains down on the planet due to the orbit of the Red Star. The Red Star is set out to be a rogue planet in the Rukbat system. The Red Star, characterized as a "Sedna-class inner Oort cloud object", has a 250 Turn (or Pernese year) elliptic orbit around its sun. Thread can reach the planet Pern for about 50 Turns while the Red Star is at perihelion. Thread is described in this series as an agent that consumes organic material at a voracious rate, including crops, animals, and any humans in its path.
The Pernese use intelligent firebreathing dragons and their riders to fight Thread. The riders have a telepathic bond with their dragons, formed by Impression at the dragon's hatching. Later books deal with the initial colonization of Pern and the creation of the dragons through genetic manipulation. The lengthy (over two millennia) time period covered by the series as a whole allows room for new stories and characters, explored by each new novel released by the authors.
Original Trilogy:
These stories take place immediately before and during the Ninth Pass, about 2500 years after landing (AL).
  • Dragonflight (1968; composed in part of McCaffrey's first two Pern novellas, Weyr Search and Dragonrider, originally published in 1967)
  • Dragonquest (1970)
  • The White Dragon (1978; although published prior to DragondrumsThe White Dragon continues the adventures of certain Dragondrums characters; McCaffrey recommends reading Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums before The White DragonThe White Dragon incorporates McCaffrey's story "A Time When")
Harper Hall Trilogy:
These stories take place immediately prior to and concurrently with those depicted in Dragonquest and The White Dragon.
The Harper Hall trilogy was released in 1984.

13. The Original Shannara Trilogy (& The Heritage of Shannara Tetralogy), Terry Brooks (1977-1993)

The Original Shannara Trilogy

The Original Shannara Trilogy consists of the first three Shannara novels (The Sword of ShannaraThe Elfstones of Shannara and The Wishsong of Shannara) by Terry Brooks. Though not originally written as a trilogy, the novels were published as The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Del Rey; however, Terry Brooks' official website lists the books as The Original Shannara Trilogy. The series blends magic and primitive technology and the books are set in the Four Lands which in some books is identified as Earth long after civilization as we know it was destroyed in a chemical and nuclear holocaust called the Great Wars. By the time of the prequel First King of Shannara, the world has now reverted to a medieval state and magic has re-emerged to supplement science as humans and other races live in a place known as the Four Lands, which is a future North America. Further into the novels science starts to become more advanced.

The Sword of Shannara

The first novel of 
The Original Shannara Trilogy chronicles the adventures of the brothers Shea and Flick Ohmsford in their quest to retrieve the Sword of Shannara to defeat the Warlock Lord and once-Druid Brona who threatens the Four Lands. The novel interweaves two major plots into a fictional world called the Four Lands. One follows the protagonist Shea Ohmsford on his quest to obtain the Sword of Shannara and with it confront the Warlock Lord, the antagonist, while the other shadows Prince Balinor Buckhannah's attempt to oust his insane brother Palance from the throne of Callahorn while the country and its capital, Tyrsis, come under attack from overwhelming armies of the Warlock Lord. Throughout the novel, underlying themes of mundane heroism and nuclear holocaust appear.

The novel has received derision from critics who believe that Brooks derived too much of the novel from 
The Lord of the Rings. Some have accused him of lifting the entire plot and many of his characters directly from Lord of the Rings; others have regarded the book more favorably, and say that new writers, including Brooks, often start by copying the style of established writers.

The Elfstones of Shannara

The second novel of The Original Shannara Trilogy follows Shea's grandson, Wil Ohmsford as he aids the endangered Elven nation, helping it survive a horde of demons coming through from their sealed off dimension, the Forbidding. The rift is eventually closed when the magic tree that guards it, the Erlcrys, is renewed.

The Wishsong of Shannara

The final novel of The Original Shannara Trilogy details the quest of Jair and Brin Ohmsford, the children of Wil, to save the Four Lands from the evil magic within a tome called the Ildatch.

The Heritage of Shannara
The next four books, known as The Heritage of Shannara, are set 300 years after The Original Shannara Trilogy. This series consists of The Scions of ShannaraThe Druid of ShannaraThe Elf Queen of Shannara and The Talismans of Shannara. They follow four of Shea Ohmsford's descendants: Walker BohPar OhmsfordColl Ohmsford, and Wren Elessedil. Unlike the original trilogy, however, this series is all one, cohesive story, in contrast to the three isolated stories of the originals. It is set in a future Four Lands in which the Federation of the Southland has driven off the Elves, enslaved the Dwarves, and outlawed magic. Only the rebel Free-born, led by Padishar Creel, dare to resist. The series begins with The Scions of Shannara, when the Ohmsford descendants are summoned by the shade of the Druid Allanon to combat the Shadowen that have been poisoning the land.

The Scions of Shannara

The first novel in The Heritage of Shannara reveals the gathering of the chosen Ohmsfords to meet with the shade of Allanon, then focuses on Par and Coll Ohmsford as they attempt to retrieve the Sword of Shannara.

The Druid of Shannara

The second novel follows Walker Boh, as he reluctantly searches for the Black Elfstone, which has the power to restore the Druids and their keep, Paranor.

The Elf Queen of Shannara

The third novel chronicles Wren Ohmsford's travels beyond the shores of the Westland in search of the lost Elven race.

The Talismans of Shannara

The last novel details the final conflict between the Ohmsfords and the Shadowen monsters that have overtaken the Four Lands.

14. Fablehaven, Brandon Mull (2006-2010)

Fablehaven is a secret nature preserve protecting beings of myth and legend from the outside world. The current caretaker, Stan Sorenson, describes it as "a refuge for mystical creatures". Those who live in this large sanctuary, mortal and magical, must abide by a treaty of rules. The most common rules are focused upon "the law of the harvest" or "the law of retribution" meaning, you reap what you sow. It is described in the book as, "mischief for mischief, trouble for trouble, magic for magic." If this law in the treaty is broken, you lose the magical protection it provides, allowing for retaliation, which is essentially what drives the plot through the first book. There also exist magical borders that keep most mystical creatures within the preserve, but out of certain domains. The caretaker's house and grounds are within one of these protective boundaries. However, some of these borders dissolve on certain nights, allowing frightening creatures to roam free on the grounds, one of which - Midsummer Eve - occurs in the first book.
The series begins as 13-year-old Kendra and 11-year-old Seth Sorenson are traveling to their Grandpa and Grandma Sorenson's house while their parents are away on a 17-day Scandinavian cruise. When they get there, they also meet Dale, the groundskeeper, and Lena, the housekeeper. Grandma Sorenson is "mysteriously" missing. Grandpa Sorenson does not tell Kendra and Seth about Fablehaven being a secret preserve for magical creatures at first, but instead sets up a rather complex puzzle involving six keys and a locked journal for Kendra to solve. Once Kendra unlocks the mostly blank journal, she discovers the words "drink the milk". She and Seth drink the magical milk which opens their eyes to see a whole new, mystical world full of the magical beings of Fablehaven. Now Kendra and Seth must face challenges such as defeating an evil witch and a powerful demon, defending the preserve from an evil society, stopping a plague that changes creatures of light into creatures of darkness, and ultimately, protecting the world from a hoard of imprisoned demons.

Series Includes:
1. Fablehaven (2006)

Since I have gone ahead and put Fablehaven in, it is only fair to include Harry Potter, though both are less "High" or "Epic" Fantasy as they are young-adult Fantasy. However, both incorporate a great deal of in-realm mythology, unique creatures and magic, and a rich writing style that makes them worthy to be counted among the other masters of the Fantasy genre.

15. Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling (1997-2007)

Just in case you live in a cave completely cut off from the outside world, Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of a wizardHarry Potter and his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry's quest to overcome the Dark wizard Lord Voldemort, whose aims are to become immortal, conquer the wizarding world, subjugate non-magical people, and destroy all those who stand in his way, especially Harry Potter.

A series of many 
genres, including fantasy and coming of age (with elements of mysterythrilleradventure, and romance), it has many cultural meanings and references. According to Rowling, the main theme is death, although it is primarily considered to be a work of children's literature. There are also many other themes in the series, such as prejudice and corruption.

The novels revolve around Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers at the age of eleven that he is a wizard, living within the ordinary world of non-magical, or Muggle, people. His ability is inborn and such children are invited to attend a school that teaches the necessary skills to succeed in the wizarding world. Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and it is in here where most of the novels' events take place. As Harry develops through his adolescence, he learns to overcome the problems that face him: magical, social and emotional, including ordinary teenage challenges such as friendships and exams, and the greater test of preparing himself for the confrontation that lies ahead.
Each book chronicles one year in Harry's life with the main narrative being set in the years 1991–98. The books also contain many flashbacks, which are frequently experienced by Harry viewing the memories of other characters in a device called a Pensieve.
The environment J. K. Rowling created is completely separate from reality yet intimately connected to it. While the fantasy land of Narnia is an alternative universe and the Lord of the Rings' Middle-earth a mythic past, the wizarding world of Harry Potter exists in parallel within the real world and this is how Potter's world contains magical elements similar to things in everyday life. Many of its institutions and locations are recognisable, such as London. It comprises a fragmented collection of overlooked hidden streets, ancient pubs, lonely country manors and secluded castles that remain invisible to the Muggle population.

Series Includes: