Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Alyssa Recommends Fantasy

Fantasy is probably one of my favourite genres (and my second most read genre in 2014), although that's mostly because I'm just interested in reading good books, and for some reason a lot of fantasy books end up falling into the category of good books. Maybe it has something to do with how in order to write a good fantasy, writers really have to go all out to create in-depth worlds and characters, I don't know. Anyway! Here are some of my favourite fantasies. 

1. The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

I can't really say anything about this series because any spoilers would just tarnish the entire brilliance of the books. I can say however that MWT is a genius, and she creates awesome characters and awesome story. You never know what's going to happen, and she is the queen of twists. I also really appreciate how clean and to the point her writing is. Everything she includes is there for a reason. I've read the four books about three times now, and King of Attolia (third book) about five or six times, and I discover new things each time I read them. And if you really need more convincing, R.J. Anderson wrote a lovely non-spoiler-y review of the series here.  
  2. The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

Come on, all my lists of my favourite books have to include my favourite author. I have to admit I put off reading the first book in this series, Finnikin of the Rock, for a long time considering MM wrote my favourite book of all time, Jellicoe Road. I just had trouble getting through the first few pages, but once I did get through that confusion, I read and fell in love with the heartbreaking story and characters that Melina Marchetta had once again created. MM is amazing at characters, and that is what I read for - characters. Froi of the Exiles was just as heartbreaking (although sometimes confusing), but Quintana of Charyn, the final book in the series, wrapped it up perfectly staying true to the characters, story, world while at the same time providing a message of hope. Belle at Belle's Bookshelf wrote a wonderful post that explains ten reasons why you should read this series.

3. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

This was one of the best fantasies I've read in a long time! The concept of dragons in human form cavorting around with humans and the political and racial (species?) tensions between them was so interesting and different. The writing was clean and crisp, just like Megan Whalen Turner's, and the characters were perfectly well rounded and I loved the development of the relationships between them. I'm super excited for the second book, Shadowscale, which comes out in March 2015! (Also my copy of Seraphina has a shiny cover which is super fun).

4. Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The thing I liked about this fantasy was that it was not in a European setting, which was refreshing for a fantasy. Eliza's character was also really well-written and interesting. There was also an aspect on religion, which is not always present in YA. 

5. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

I saw the first book in this series, Shadow and Bone, EVERYWHERE before I started reading it - and thankfully this was one of the few times where the book actually lived up to the hype! It was a very different fantasy, very dark and the setting was Russian-inspired. My mom and brother also read the series. I think the third book is the best, which is good because that is how it is supposed to be in a trilogy (*cough*allegiant*cough*).

6. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Another book that lived up to the hype! I was excited to finally get my hands on it, and I was even more excited that I liked it. An interesting story and good characters, what more could you ask for?

7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Genius, a classic, and hilarious. 

There you go! Some great fantasies. Read them and get lost in their awesome worlds and characters. :)  
What are your recommendations for good fantasy books? 


  1. I started Fire and Thorns, but lost my copy. I'll have to head to a library soon. I also ranted on the different US cover, which hides the fact that the protagonist isn't white and the setting isn't Europe (and the weird title change to Girl of Fire and Thorns). I don't like misleading covers!! Ahh!! OK I'm done. I just want what I see to be somehow a reflection of what I will get, you know?

    I'll rec The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm again, which has some fantasy elements as well as elements of religion. Along with being a science fiction novel. Always interesting to see.

    Other fantasy...Have you read The Abhorsen Trilogy? It's a little dark and creepy, but good. Also, Throne of Glass was OK, but not one of my favorites.

    1. Abhorsen... is that the one by Garth Nix? I took out Sabriel from the library this time around. Yeah, I'm uncertain about Throne of Glass. I've seen some people who love them, and people who hated them.

    2. I had a comment...it disappeared. Sabriel is one of the Abhorsen books, yes. It's so good!! Hope you like it.

      As for Throne of Glass, the pacing and action was a LOT slower than I had expected. It's not boring; I just was expecting it to take a lot different direction. But, it resolved the love triangle in a way that didn't make me want to slap everyone involved, repeatedly, with a wet fish. And that's pretty rare.

      I had a bit of trouble with the FMC because she is such a sexist towards other women. She's one of those women who hates women and thinks that she is the sole exception to the shallowness, vainness, backstabbing, etc. of female nature. Like she's oh so above them. (This despite an episode where she recounts a female prisoner taking care of her when she was in the death camp, and how another woman there taught her how to speak a foreign language, and all that.) She learns to think differently -- a LITTLE -- because she gets a female friend and is forced to revise her opinions of women. But the other main women characters are the queen and a lady in waiting, who perfectly fit all of the FMC's sexist stereotypes, so the sexist values in the book are kind of confirmed? Like every other woman except the FMC and her friend is a shallow, slutty, backstabbing bimbo out to steal their men or whatever. It's kind of absurd. But in many other ways it's a good book, so I wouldn't write it off.


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