Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Books Lured You Into the Genre?

I'm still currently suffering from some serious reader's block and looking for a way to kick-start some interest in reading something. Today's idea was to look at the books that made me fall in love with fantasy. I decided to make a list of my off-the-top-of-my-head books, the first adult titles I ever read, and see if any of those could hold my attention long enough to actually finish one.


 Dragon on a Pedestal by Piers Anthony

There is trouble in Xanth again. The Gap Dragon had escaped and was ravaging across the land, the forget-spell was causing mass amnesia, three-year old Ivy was headed right for a hungry dragon. Could things get any worse? Probably.... 

I was 14 and picked this book based entirely on the cover. I think the colors were what appealed to me the most, but the contrast between the dragon and a little girl totally captured my imagination. The book is the seventh in a series and one that prompted me to go back and read everything Anthony had written up to that point. I can't say whether the story would hold up to adult scrutiny, but my 14-year-old self loved the pun-based magic that was a huge part of story.



The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Ancient Evil threatens the Elves: The ancient tree created by long-lost Elven magic, is dying. When Wil Ohmsford is summoned to guard the Amberle on a perilous quest to gather a new seed for a new tree, he is faced with the Reaper, the most fearsome of all Demons. And Wil is without power to control them....

This is another book I picked up thanks to its colorful cover (drawn by Darrell K. Sweet-- who also drew "Dragon on a Pedestal") and it's the first book I ever read that fell into the real sword-and-sorcery style of fantasy. Again, I didn't pay attention to where this book fit into the series but got lucky in that it could be read as a stand alone novel. I didn't fall in love with the whole series because each of the first three (or so) books are basically the same story- but I LOVED this book because I thought the Reaper was genuinely scary. I'd love to revisit this book now and see if it has the same impact now as it had then.


Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

HOW CAN ONE GIRL SAVE AN ENTIRE WORLD?

To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.

But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . . .


I'm pretty sure I bought this book for two reasons: the main character was female and dragons... Even though this series gets into some sci-fi elements later on, it really reads like fantasy thanks to its telepathic dragons. The sexual overtones and politics were over my head when I first read this series so I liked it a lot, but I'm not sure that my current sensibilities go with McCaffrey's - but it must be remembered that this was published in 1968. Nonetheless this is a series that carried me through many, many boring high school lectures.

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of THE BELGARIAD, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved--but did not know...?


This is the first series that had me prowling the bookstores hoping for the next book in the series to come out. Digital downloads have pretty much ended my days of roaming the aisles of my favorite bookstores- which is a shame as that is how I found all of my early favorites. And I must admit to some disappointment in the later books written by Eddings because they were so saccarine they made my teeth ache. But the first five books were pure magic.


Of this particular list I think I'm most tempted to go back and read "The Elfstones of Shannara." I'm pretty sure I haven't read that book in at least 20 years and I'm curious to see if it still seems like a dark piece of fiction all these years later.

What about you? What books lured you into the fantasy genre? And which ones would you recommend for someone with some serious reader's block?

21 comments:

Liesel K Hill said...

This looks like a great list. I haven't read any of them but I might now, so thanks for sharing them. I LOVE fantasy anyway, but I'm currently looking for anything/everything I can find on dragons, and I've always meant to read Terry Brooks, though I've never gotten around to it. Don't know if you're looking specifically for fantasy to cure your reader's block, but if you are I suggest you check out Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, or if you want an easier read, try Lloyd Alexander. His are more middle-grade to YA, but they're classics! Thanks for the list! :D

Blodeuedd said...

I actually read fantasy before knowing, Pratchett and others. But the one that made me seek out more and made me fall in love was David Eddings. Ever since that I read every book in the library and it's still the genre I love the most .)

David said...

I really don't remember the title but I do remember it had a map. It was about 45 years ago and the librarian suggested it since I had consumed all of the science fiction that they had. When I returned it she then suggested The Hobbit which so enthralled me I think I kept it an extra two weeks.

SQT said...

I read both Jordan and Goodkind back when they first came out. It wasn't until I started to reread Jordan much later that I realized how similar the two series' are. Is it me or does it seem like Goodkind borrowed some ideas from Jordan?

SQT said...

I think Eddings really solidified it for me too. My only disappointment with him was when he wrote the Eleniad. By that time it felt like he was following a formula. I never made it beyond the first few books in that series.

SQT said...

I never could connect with Tolkien. I've tried but the books move too slow for me. I should go back and read "The Hobbit" though- just to say I have.

Kylie Griffin said...

Besides DRAGONFLIGHT and the whole Pern series, I love the whole intertwined world of The Heralds of Valdemar and related books of Mercedes Lackey.

That's closely followed by a tie between Rowena Corey Daniells and The Last T'En series and Jennifer Roberson's Cheysuli series (I love shapeshifters!).

All of them have incredible world building and memorable characters.

SQT said...

I LOVE the Valdemar series. I didn't list Lackey because I didn't start reading her until I was older. But that is definitely one of my favorite series.

Maurice Mitchell said...

SQT, movie novelizations really brought them to life for me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard, and their imitators is what got me into fantasy.

SQT said...

You mean like the Hobbit movies- or were there others that came before that?

Bethany C. said...

I adore Terry Brooks! I thought Diana Pharoah Francis's Path trilogy was really great.

Elfy said...

I've been into fantasy for as long as I can remember, and I think the books that drew me into the genre were Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair books and then Tove Jansson's Moomin books. Later on it was things like The Hobbit, The Once and Future King and The Sword of Shannara, another one that kept me reading was Robert Silverberg's Lord Valentine's Castle. I was lucky enough to bump to Mr Silverberg at a convention and thank him for Lord Valentine's Castle a couple of years ago.

Wilson said...

I came across The Hobbit when I was 10 years old. Nothing, NOTHING, had prepared me for how awesome the book, and subsequently, the genre was :) Before I read that, I regularly picked up mystery books (Three Investigators, Hardy Boys, Secret Seven) from the school library. You know the deal. Bunch of nosy Scooby-esque kids sneaking around, solving mysteries that 'they had no right to be in', that sort of stuff.

But compared to The Hobbit? A bloody dragon with jewels as its armor, irreverent Drawves and their mad dinner antics, skippy hobbits skilled in the art of thievery, riddle duels deep below a mountain, old legends of piles of gold...it's safe to say that The Hobbit changed everything for me ^_^

The following year, after doing well in school, I begged my mum to get me the LOTR book series as a reward.

From then on, my hunger for fantasy, and a little after, science fiction, has never abated, and I've never looked back since :)

DesLily said...

What a selection! I've read every one of these along with their series! ..and believe it or not I just started rereading Dragonflight for maybe the 5th time?!.. I love the Eddings Belgarath series and read quite a few Piers Anthony before moving on and have reread all of these a number of times!

rereading favorites always "unlocks" those reading blocks!

SQT said...

Some good stuff on that list. I haven't read Silverberg so I'll have to check that out.

SQT said...

Diana is from my hometown. I met her a few years back- really nice lady.

SQT said...

I wish I had read Tolkien when I was younger. I think I would have connected to him more and appreciated the wonder of the story.

SQT said...

I remember you saying that those two were heavy influences on you (especially Howard). I've only recently begun to appreciate the influence Burroughs has had on the genre.

oakenbookcase said...

Awesome list! I loved all these when I was smaller, apart from Piers Anthony (although I may have read some of his other stuff). I LOVE the Pern series and may just have to re-read it now, thanks :D
If you're looking for a new series to read, you could try out the Obernewtyn series by Isobelle Carmody, an aussie author - the final book in the series will be out next year. I can't think of other series that haven't already been mentioned. Good luck :)
-Angelya
www.oakenbookcase.com

SQT said...

I haven't read Isobelle Carmody before- I will definitely put her on the list.