Falling leaves, foggy nights and Hallow’s Eve can only mean one thing: fall is finally upon us! It is a time for fantasy and good reading, which is why we at novum publishing picked out five legendary fantasy novels for your literary pleasure.
Fall is a magical time dear readers: while we are occasionally gifted with a warm day reminiscent of late summer days, there is nothing quite like the light in early fall, as it bathes everything in a soft golden glow, yet the nights have an oftentimes harsh quality to them: foggy and misty as they are, is it any wonder that we believe in witchcraft and wizardry more than ever when celebrating Halloween in late October?
And with shorter days and winter not far away, it certainly is the very best time to get cozy with your favorite book. What could be more fitting to this time of year, then, than a fantasy novel? Novum publishing got you covered once again with our top five picks of inspiring fantasy novels in history:
By Neil Gaiman
We chose to start off with a surprise here, dear readers, and a fantasy novel that surely deserves attention as much as its author does. Written by acclaimed British novelist Neil Gaiman, who wrote numerous works of fantasy, many of which are more than readable, we chose Stardust as an example of a thoroughly enjoyable tale of modern fantasy that is set against a backdrop of historical England in the times of Charles Dickens. Stardust is set apart from Gaiman’s other works by its fairy tale character and special prose and language. The main themes of Stardust are love and heritage as it tells the story of a young man searching for a star to impress his scornful sweetheart, finding friendship, his one true love and a surprising secret about his ancestors along the way. We love this fantasy novel for many things, but for one it reminds us of our childhood days when we believed that fairy tales are real and wishes do come true. And who is to say they do not? Stardust, although a modern day novel, is lovingly created with richly layered characters where not everyhting is as it may seem. You will fall in love with Tristran, Elaine and definitely Captain Shakespeare for reasons of which you will have to convince yourselves by taking a chance with this literary gem. An extra treat about this one are the gorgeous illustrations that make Stardust all the more reminiscent of fairy tale classics like the brothers’ Grimm’s. And if you still want more of Stardust after turning the very last page: it was also made into an eminently watchable movie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro in 2007!
The Last Unicorn
We promise you, dear readers, this pick was not in any way prompted by the not-so-recent popcultural unicorn-hype. Neither was it influenced by our collective love for the motion picture. The Last Unicorn was and is a major milestone in fantasy storytelling, and if you are not already convinced, let us quote American fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss, who said: „ The Last Unicorn is the best book I have ever read. You need to read it. If you have already read it, you need to read it again.” And right he is, as the magical tale of The Last Unicorn is an utterly enchanting read, resembling a fairy tale and yet it is so much more. It is a story without artifice and relentlessly raw and relatable in its emotions. The lessons we take away when reading the story of our unicorn, the very last of its kind, that was unwillingly turned into a human being and got to experience love and loss and all the bewildering pain that goes with it will stay with you forever. Yet it is also a story of hope and of empowerment that makes us realize that we cannot run away indefinitely and only overcome our darkest fears when facing them head-on. So much and more there is to learn from this epic classic, it is a must-read for anyone who dares to dream. Masterful storytelling meets moral depth in this classic that is not only recommendable but also perfect for all ages.
The Fellowship of the Ring
(The first part of The Lord of the Rings) by J.R.R. Tolkien
Less than surprising as pickings for any list of fantasy novels go, Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring nevertheless deserves its place in any ranking. You will find fantasy novels galore, but few will absorb you as totally and utterly in their world as The Lord of the Rings. The world that the trilogy is set in surely is a unique blend of European myth and the author’s personal vision. Multifaceted and riveting, few fantasy works can compete with Tolkien’s ingenuity. Yet, despite the intricate layers that make up the world this epic trilogy (as well Tolkien’s The Hobbit) is set in, The Lord of The Rings Saga still is a thoroughly approachable read and a page-turner of the first order. As richly painted as Tolkien’s middle earth is, it still is eminently approachable and imaginable – as he masterfully weaves his web of historical folklore with his own, very unique imagination, you will find yourself longing with a pleasantly gnawing ache for lush green hills and a world filled with magic and intrigue. Few works have gained such a steady following, yet the Lord of the Rings and its universe achieved it with ease. Brilliant and beautiful as well as sometimes pleasantly terrifying in its depiction of its characters, we bow down before Tolkien’s style of writing.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
(and the subsequent Harry Potter Saga) by Joanne K. Rowling
Well, of course…you probably saw that one coming, dear readers. Obviously, we could hardly make up a list of the most inspiring fantasy novels and fail to mention the arguably most influential fantasy book series of the 20th and 21st century – probably of all time – could we? J.K. Rowling’s „Harry Potter“ has met with the kind of success that was as unprecedented as it is unbroken, even after the end of the series. The book-turned-movie-turned-multi-million-dollar-franchise has become such a huge phenomenon that it is sometimes hard to remember that everything started with a fantasy novel by a then-unknown author. The tale about the boy who lived is not only an inspiration for all aspiring new authors out there, but also an example for exceptionally good and captivating writing. The characters she invented stay with us for long after we put away a tome and let us easily slip away into daydreams where we ourselves belong to the world of Hogwarts, feel at home in its hallways and experience all the deliciously exciting and increasingly dark adventures firsthand, right there at Harry’s side. Revisit the modern classic this fall or, in the unlikely case that you have missed it until now, make sure that you rectify that by picking up the first installment of the saga, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”*. Rowling’s world of wizardry and witchcraft is quite unprecedented in its richness.
*the American title is called “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, published in 1998.”
A novel that pierces your heart not only by its stunningly beautiful writing, but also with its tragic and captivating story laced with literary meaning. The story about a colony of rabbits is without a doubt one of history’s most important reads and it became an instant and timeless classic upon its release in 1972. Set in real places in the picturesque backdrop of rural Hampshire, Watership Down is a tale of adventure and of raw survival, of courage and of loss. Even though it is a fantastic tale, it unmistakably has more than one lesson to teach as it follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man as they face the certain destruction of their safe haven, their home. It is a special gift and an art in and of itself not only to depict animals in a stunningly relatable way without actually making them too much into something more of a human than an animal. There are many animal-centered novels out there that are good enough but yet one-too many antropomorph features away from being truly outstanding. Watership Down is a one in a million work of writing that ought not to be missed by any lover of good literature. Beware of shedding a tear or two as it will surely tug at your heartstrings, yet it is an undeniably beautiful read.
These are our first top 5 picks for inspiring fantasy novels, dear readers – now we would love to hear your feedback! Did we miss out on something – what are your favourite picks of fantasy literature? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!
Read from you soon, and until then:
Keep writing, keep typing!