What do you suggest?
I asked this question on Twitter and received the following responses (amongst others):
- The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
- Elric by Michael Moorcock
- The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
- Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
- Magician by Raymond E Feist
- Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Leguin
But they're also so OLD. The most recent novel that is deemed to be able to keep company with the above is The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.Other than that, we're harking back to an age of fantasy where quest fiction was the norm, where our bad guys helpfully wore black cloaks to identify themselves and everyone eats stew.
Why is it that these are deemed to be the best ways to bring people into the fantasy genre? I can entirely understand not suggesting someone like Joe Abercrombie - or even George R R Martin. They are very dark, with adult themes and language. But how about J V Jones? Or Trudi Canavan? Or Guy Gavriel Kay? Spellwright by Blake Charlton was hailed as harking back to a gentler age and celebrated as such - how come this novel is not being suggested? Did it get a little lost on the shelves? Is it not as beloved because nostalgia has nothing to do with it? I just wonder at the idea that we are suggesting fantasy novels that are sometimes referred to as Tolkien knock offs to showcase the fantasy genre...
I wonder whether it is the explosion of the YA genre that means we no longer seem to be breeding fantasy on the shelves that can be handed to those just embarking on their fantastical reading career. With hard hitting fantasy and science fiction on the YA shelves - including the Chaos Walking trilogy - are younger readers finding access to the fantasy and science fiction shelves through those means?
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on:
- why the 101 fantasy novels are often so old;
- what the perfect 101 fantasy novel is;
- and, is there still a place for the 101 fantasy novel - or has YA taken its place?