Hogwarts, The Wheel of Time, LOTR and more fantasy

A Eclectic Mix of Good Fantasy Books

I labelled this an eclectic mix for "Hogwarts, The Wheel of Time, LOTR and more ...." because that reflects my reading and the fact I have no order of preference ..... they are all good reads.

J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and Hogwarts - that school every kid wants to go to - and every adult wishes he or she did - needs hardly any comment or recommendation from me.

The Harry Potter phenomenon has ensured wide knowledge of the series .... so suffice to say the following.

Don't be put off by the commercial success - the books live up to their hype.

They are, by and large well written, certainly entertaining and reasonably well plotted.

If you accept the premise of magic as a literary device (and why are you reading them if you don't) they are plausible and fun with good characterisation and technique.

They are not just KID's books. Although Rowling wrote for a younger audience, that audience aged with the series characters, and like C S Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia - can be read by young adults and Adults.

Yes, they are escapist, BUT do we need harrowing tales of angst, psycho thrillers and Booker Prize winning Freudian navel gazing tomes all the time to justify the label of literary merit.

These, as do many fantasy novels, have literary merit - they make readers happy, entertain and delight, sometimes educate (yes!), encourage imagination, rarely disappoint and get kids to read.

I can't think of one Nobel Prize winning book or author who has done that - at least to the extent Rowling, David Gemmell, J R R Tolkien and others have done.

The Harry Potter movies or the books first? Your choice - the films are good translations of the novels. Probably - to follow the plots better - read the books first.

The Lord of the Rings

I tried to read J R R Tolkien's series years ago and couldn't get into them.

Then I saw the movies .... and wanted more ... and the books clicked ... they are very good and well worth your time. The movies were so good - and an excellent translation to the big screen .... and even the cast was almost 100%spot on - although Elijah Woods was a hopeless Frodo - especially in comparison to Sean Astin's Sam.

The films work despite being more adaptation than strict translation - they still satisfy.

Tolkien's work was original for its time, and written with an understanding of story and language that few can match. In a way it is the forerunner of today's phenomena of fantasy novels.

The Wheel of Time

Now this is a reading journey that will tax your patience, intrigue you, frustrate you and fascinate you - make you give up and then lure you back.

The series is twelve books long - the 12th is being written by Brandon Sanderson as the author Robert Jordan sadly died before completion.

Sometimes the books seem convoluted, at times ponderous, and as intricate as the basic premise of time being circular as history passes through different ages or epochs.

To some extent they are over written - Jordan could have done with a razor sharp editor - there is unnecessary complexity and not insignificant breaks in the flow of the narrative's plots - yes there is more than one - plus disruption to our following various characters - again due to unnecessary plot exigencies.

BUT - they are well worth patience because they are a great read. It is an imaginative and creative series that always holds your interest, if not your attention span.

I recommend you Google "The Wheel of Time" and read a few of the first entries - this will help keep the interweaving threads of the narrative more in line.

Of course all these books are still currently available from your favourite bookshops - or used booksellers usually have them too.

Online bookstores like Borders Books(U.S.) and Waterstones (U.K.) are another means of obtaining volumes you can't find locally.

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