So many books, so little time...Nov 30, 2000 Write an essay on this topic.
Trying to pick the best sci-fi or fantasy series is a very difficult thing to do. I certainly wouldnít know how to narrow it down to just one choice, considering the plethora (one of my favorite words ever since I saw The Three AmigosÖ) of material and sub-genres there are out there. So instead I thought Iíd go through a list highlighting some of my own personal favorites. Since I donít read much science fiction, my list is going to lean much more towards the fantasy side.
Tolkienís The Lord of the Rings Honestly, was this not the most obvious choice in the world? No list can be complete without giving homage to one of the greatest works of fiction ever created. If youíve never once heard of these books or know nothing about them, you must have been living under a rock. So, now Iíll continue on with my listÖ
Madeleine LíEngleís A Wrinkle in Time You ever notice how some childrenís books are often light years better than most ďadultĒ fiction? This is a perfect example. This book and itís sequels are just absolute magic and helped turn me on to sci-fi/fantasy. It is beautifully crafted, intelligent and it refuses to talk down to children, instead choosing to challenge them. LíEngle is definitely an author for all ages.
CS Lewisís The Chronicles of Narnia Another true classic in childrenís fiction. I canít even begin to properly explain how wonderful these books are. It is extremely spiritual, entertaining and always leaves you uplifted with every re-reading. Honestly, I never knew it was an allegorical series till I was in my twenties when someone pointed it out to me. But even as a child, I knew that these were something special.
Frank Herbertís Dune This is my all-time favorite science fiction story. There are layers upon layers of plots, intrigue, constant suprises and nail biting moments. Although I didnít like the later books nearly as much, the first books in the series are expertly crafted and also grow richer each time I pick them up. Of the books by Frank Herbertís son, so far Iíve only read Dune:House Atriedes. Itís a good book and fun to read, but I donít think anyone could ever live up to the standard of the original.
Stephen Kingís Dark Tower series I donít know if Iíll upset people by putting a recognized horror writer in this category, but I have to stick to my guns. Stephen King gets a lot of flak simply because heís so famous and I believe many people are too quick to dismiss him. I consider this series to be absolute brilliance and it is possibly the best work Stephen King has ever done. The only other book coming close would be The Stand. The adventures of Roland and his search for the Dark Tower has been a harrowing and intense journey that one cannot help but be caught up in. And itís certainly been frustrating for his fans who have been waiting for years for him to finish the series. As horrible as this makes me sound, when he got in his accident last year and came close to dying, my first thought was, ďDamn, if he dies, Iíll never know how the Dark Tower ends!Ē It certainly made me feel ashamed to think it, but at least I discovered later on that I wasnít the only one who thought the same thingÖ So, Iíll continue salivating in anticipation for the next chapter for this masterful series.
Robert Jordanís The Wheel of Time A friend of mine from college was absolutely addicted to these books, but I never understood what was the big deal about them. Years later, I picked up The Eye of the World on a whim and finally discovered why he couldnít stop raving about these books. And to this day, my father curses me for getting him addicted to yet another series of books to wait for. Itís sometimes childish and Jordan certainly can be a bit formulaic at times. Not only that, he often spends a bit too much time bothering with discussing what outfits everyone is wearing. But, he knows how to craft a good story, he writes some excellent battle scenes and he still manages to leave us wanting more.
Terry Goodkindís The Sword of Truth This is a recent gem that I only just stumbled on. Luckily, I found it late in the series, so Iíve had quite a few books to read before I reach the end of the series. In fact, I am currently reading the recently released 6th novel, Faith of the Fallen. I can already tell, just 50 pages into it, that this is going to captivate me just as much as the first. Goodkind uses a lot of elements from other stories, but he manages to twist them around and give us a new perspective on a very old story. And he is wonderful at interweaving seemingly unrelated plots and characters and making it mesh together in the end, making it work without feeling like heís simply cleaning up a mess he left behind. I cannot recommend this series highly enough.
Piers Anthonyís Incarnations of Immortality After reading so much serious material and questioning yourself and your beliefs constantly, you need to give your mind a break every once in a while. And I have to say that Piers Anthony really is the master of writing entertaining fluff. Iíve found the Xanth series to be a tad too silly for me (too many puns), but I discovered that this series to be a real treat. The plots can be pretty obvious and itís certainly cartoonish at times, but itís just so fun, you really donít mind!
Orson Scott Cardís The Tales of Alvin Maker Though most people seem to rave about his Enderís Game series, this has always been my personal favorite. Itís a revisionist history of 1800ís America, with a little extra magic thrown in. Itís a world where people have their own special magic or ďknacksĒ and a young boy is born with a very special gift. Again, I canít recommend this highly enough.
Well, thatís my list of some of my favorites. Itís certainly an eclectic mix, but Iíve always been pretty eclectic in my reading tastes, anyways. If you just pick up one of the books here, Iíll consider my job doneÖ Iím also open to any suggestions of books you might think Iíd enjoyÖ
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