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Monday, August 29, 2011

Fantasy Favorites...

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"Fantasy is a necessary
ingredient in living."

~Dr. Seuss

In the past, I've written about the fantasy books I loved as a child.  I have also mentioned my deep admiration for the "Harry Potter" series.  Today I am sharing some more middle-grade/young adult fantasy favorites that I read (for the first time) as an adult.  With the exception of The Princess Bride, these are all books that my daughter Emmalie -- a HUGE fantasy buff! -- recommended to me.  Now, I recommend them to you. :)

The Princess Bride:
S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love
and High Adventure
written by William Goldman, 1973
I confess that I saw "The Princess Bride" movie -- which came out in 1987 and is now one of our family's favorite films -- before ever reading the book.  (I hadn't even heard of the book before seeing the movie.)  While I do highly recommend the movie, the book is even better! 

This story has everything.  As Goldman says, it is filled with "Fencing.  Fighting.  Torture.  Poison.  True love.  Hate.  Revenge.  Giants.  Hunters.  Bad men.  Good men.  Beautifulest ladies.  Snakes.  Spiders.  Beasts of all natures and descriptions.  Pain.  Death.  Brave men.  Cowardly men.  Strongest men.  Chases.  Escapes.  Lies.  Truths.  Passion.  Miracles."   Best of all,  it is served with a great big helping of humor!  With characters like the lovely Buttercup, the brave Westley, and Fezzik the giant, this book is fun for kids and adults alike.


The "His Dark Materials" trilogy,
written by Philip Pullman:
The Golden Compass
(also known as Northern Lights) (1995),
The Subtle Knife (1997),
and The Amber Spyglass (2000)
This trilogy -- along with its protagonist, 12-year-old Lyra Belacqua, and her daemon Pantalaimon -- moves through several parallel worlds, some similar to our own.  The story begins as Lyra embarks on a dangerous rescue mission.  She befriends a bear named Iorek Byrnison and a boy named Will Parry, learns about the mysterious substance called Dust, and ends up on a quest to save the universes.

These books have become controversial in some circles, due to their negative portrayal of organized religions.  That did not bother me, and I don't have any problems with my kids reading them. Critical thinking and questioning beliefs does not make those beliefs invalid; indeed, they can even strengthen one's beliefs .  Personally, I found the trilogy thought-provoking and interesting, full of complexities.


The "Inkworld" trilogy, written by Cornelia Funke:
Inkheart (2003), Inkspell (2005), and Inkdeath (2007)
So far, I've only read the first two books in this trilogy, but I'm eagerly awaiting the call from the library, telling me the third one is in!  Filled with people who love books -- reading them, binding them, collecting them, writing them -- along with many references to other well-known stories, this trilogy is sure to delight anyone who is a BookWyrm at heart. 

I love the idea behind this story!  Certain individuals have the ability to bring book characters into our world (and transport others into the world of a book), simply by reading aloud.  At the beginning of the Inkworld story, 12-year-old Meggie discovers that her father can do just that.  The girl soon realizes that, while such a talent may seem wonderful at first, it can have dire consequences -- for both worlds!

Our family liked the "Inkheart" movie, but, as usual, the books themselves are much more enjoyable!


"The Inheritance Cycle" series,
written by Christopher Paolini:
Eragon (2002), Eldest (2005), Brisingr (2008),
and Inheritance (coming out in November 2011)
So far, I have only read the first book in this series.  Emmalie, on the other hand, has read and loved the others that have been published, and is looking forward to the fourth.  The thing that I find most interesting about The Inheritance Cycle books is that Paolini was only 15 when he began writing them, and 19 when Eragon was published!  (Something I didn't learn until after I'd read it.)

Eragon is a 15-year-old farm boy who befriends a dragon named Saphira.  Together they set out to try and defeat their world's evil king, Galbatorix.  There are many unusual names, magic words, and phrases to try and keep track of in this series, and I'll admit I had a little trouble keeping them all straight.  Still, I found it to be a pleasurable read.  (I did not enjoy the movie "Eragon" nearly as much, however.)


The "Artemis Fowl" series, written by Eoin Colfer: 
Artemis Fowl (2001), The Arctic Incident (2002),
The Eternity Code (2003),
The Opal Deception (2005),
The Lost Colony (2006), The Time Paradox (2008),
The Atlantis Complex (2010),
and The Last Guardian (coming out summer 2012)
I love Colfer's apt description of his first Artemis Fowl book: "Die Hard with fairies"!  (For those who don't know, "Die Hard" is an action movie with explosions galore.) 

I haven't read the entire series yet, but the books I have read are filled with action, explosions, magic, technology, and wit!  Artemis Fowl is not your typical 12-year-old boy; he is a genius, criminal mastermind, and anti-hero, all rolled into one.  The series begins when he pits himself against all sorts of otherworldly creatures -- fairies, elves, trolls, dwarves, and more -- in an attempt to steal fairy gold.  Fast-paced and often laugh-out-loud funny, these books are pure entertainment!


The "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series,
written by Rick Riordan:
The Lightning Thief (2005),
The Sea of Monsters (2006),
The Titan's Curse (2007),
The Battle of the Labyrinth (2008),
and The Last Olympian (2009)
This series combines Greek mythology with modern day life in a humorous, action-packed story.  Main character Percy Jackson is a preteen boy struggling with ADHD and dyslexia.  When he discovers that he is actually a demigod, the son of Poseidon, his wild cross-country adventures begin!  Starting with the first page of The Lightning Thief, I had a hard time putting these books down.  And when I finished one, I couldn't wait to move on to each subsequent book, always eager to find out what would happen next! 

A note about "The Lightning Thief" movie:  While it may have been an enjoyable film, it was VERY different from the book. Emmalie and I were both disappointed by how much was left out or changed.  If you've only seen the movie, I urge you to try the books!


Have you read any of these fantasies?  If so, what did you like or dislike about them?  I'd love to hear your opinion, and also any recommendations you may have for other fantasy novels!


  1. Frankly, I wasn't that big a fan of the Lightning Thief movie, and not only because it was so different from the book. While the book was filled with plot twists and turns, the movie seemed rather straightforward and predictable.

    I also love how my Eragon book is falling apart after I dropped it in the bathtub. Good times....


  2. Yeah, Emm, your book looks quite worn in the photo (and in person)! :)

    I agree with you about the movie, but I do think that people who'd never read the book (like your brother) liked it better than we did.

  3. I've read most of them also.
    I love the Monsturmologist and the Curse of the Wendigo By Rick Yancey. I've read every kind of horror/fantasy there is, and they are VERY intense YA reading!

    I also like the 39 Clues series, started by Rick Riordan, and the other new Rick Riordan series about Egypt!

    Some others that are very popular in my library are The Ranger's Apprentice series, BONE, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc.

    Thanks for listing the ones you did!

  4. Thanks for the recommendations, Mandi! I haven't read any of those... yet. :)