Goodreads.com has a multitude of groups you can join for every imaginable genre and angle on books. This week the Top 5 Wednesday Group are looking for top 5 gateway books to your favorite genre. Here are my top 5 gateway books to fantasy. Keep in mind I read some of these in my teens, they were my gateway into fantasy, so some are on the “young adult” side.
Number 5: The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
I first attempted to read The Hobbit when I was nine years old and found it heavy going. When I was about thirteen I tore through it in a matter of days. This was my introduction to fantasy worlds populated by something other than humans, with magic and dragons to boot.
One of only two fiction books I have ever read twice.
Number 4: Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad Book 1) by David Eddings
I re-read the beginning of this book recently and I was reminded that this is more a young adult book and a somewhat conventional farm boy marches off to fight the dark lord type story. When you are young and have not read the like before it works. My memory of characters like Belgarath the Sorcerer and his daughter Polgara is warm, but I dare not read the books again now lest these old memories be spoiled.
Number 3: Magic Kingdom For Sale Sold! by Terry Brooks
This is the other fiction book I have read twice.
A portal story. Ben Holiday, a lawyer and widower is seeking meaning to his life and purchases a Magic Kingdom from the gift catalog for the wealthy. Once he crosses through the portal into this Magic Kingdom he soon realizes he is not the first new King of Landover to try and rule. The others were dispatched by the Mark – lord of Abaddon. Can Ben’s alter-ego, the Paladin, save him? For Ben and the Paladin are one and the same when he wears the medallion.
This is a light hearted fantasy come fairy tale featuring humorous characters such as a court wizard whose level of competence with magic resulted in turning the courrt scribe into a dog – that can still talk and walk on two legs. And then Ben gets a girlfriend who is sometimes a tree. Her name is Willow. Can you guess what kind of tree she sometimes turns into?
Number 2: Legend by David Gemmell
Take one old man with a mean axe (or is that a mean man with an old axe?), stick him in a castle under siege by an enemy army so large the odds are impossible and you get an amazingly compelling story when David Gemmell tells it. Hard to believe such a simple dramatic concept produced a story that is so good the title sums up my impression of the book – legendary. I’m not quite sure what made me put this second place to my number one choice…
Number 1: Magician by Raymond E Feist
Raymond says he knew nothing about producing a novel when he wrote this monster. If he did know what the was doing, he would have produced something smaller. But sometimes a story will be as long as it needs to be and an epic tale begins here.
Pug is a kitchen boy who can’t even bring a basket of muscles home from the beach. One day he will be the most powerful magician in two worlds connected a rift and he will save them both from each other, themselves and many other external threats… but I get ahead of myself. Magician is about the beginning of a war between Midkemia – Pug’s home world – and Kelewan – a world modeled on Japanese culture that invades through the rift. The opening to Magician is also a beautiful read – go find Pug on the beach and join him.
The Belgariad was my favorite series by far when I was young. Loved it. It still forms my ideas of what a good story should be. 🙂 And I’d forgotten about Feist’s Magician. I need to reread it. Although the feel of it is still vivid, and I must have read it 25 years ago!