Hello, fellow fantasy lovers! I’ve been tagged by the lovely Meg for the “get to know the fantasy reader” tag, since this tag is all about fantasy, I thought it was the perfect post for fantasy month. I’m also doing the official fantasy month tag/Instagram challenge, which I discovered on Christine’s blog!
If you haven’t heard of fantasy month, check out Jenelle’s post for all the details.
And, though this post is very long (sorry), be sure to stick around until the end for an awesome quiz to help you figure out which of the many books I mention in this post is right for you!
⟡ get to know the fantasy reader ⟡
If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you insist be in the story?
I know so many amazing writers that this is a really difficult question, but I think I have to say Christine. I absolutely love her characters and worldbuilding and all the little snippets she shares, and I would love to be in one of her stories!
Well… maybe I don’t want to be in any novel? I don’t really want to be a character just because all my darkest secrets would be out there for the world to see 😉
I’m not exactly an expert on the subject of tropes, but maybe the Chosen One? I think I’d like to be a chosen one with special powers.
What is a fantasy series you’ve read this year that you want more people to read?
I haven’t read much fantasy — or any books at all — this year, so my options are limited, and I’m going to have to say the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson (even though I don’t think he lacks for readers). It’s one of the best fantasy series I’ve read, ever, and may end up vying with LOTR for my favorite (depending on how the series ends). I adore the characters and the world. The story is captivating and complicated. I highly recommend it for any fantasy fans, teens and up.
What is your favorite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?
My favorite subgenre is definitely high fantasy. (Is that a subgenre?) All my favorite fantasy novels are of the high variety.
I haven’t read much (any) steampunk, but now I’m second-guessing myself and thinking it’s a subgenre of science fiction, not fantasy.
Okay, I’ve found a list of fantasy subgenres. So have some book recommendations!
- alternate history // Fawkes, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
- anthropomorphic // The Green Ember, Redwall (also, my friend Havalah is writing an awesome anthro series called Celta)
- Arthurian // The Sword in the Stone
- Christian // Tales of Goldstone Wood, the Wingfeather Saga
- crossworlds / portal/ / The Six
- fable / fairy tale // The Lunar Chronicles, Beauty
- historical // Over Sea, Under Stone, The Perilous Gard, The Sherwood Ring
- allegorical // Tales of the Kingdom
Fantasy subgenres I’ve not read at all include arcanepunk, fantasy of manners (I want to try one of these!), steampunk (aha! it is a subgenre!), urban, comic, and grimdark. (The list I found actually has 50 overlapping subgenres, but I really don’t think “assassin” or “dragon” counts as a subgenre.)
What is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?
N.D. Wilson! I don’t really “auto-buy” many authors, but I have read every one of his YA fantasy works (as well as his adult nonfiction) and own most of them. Also, Nadine Brandes (I don’t own all her works, but I want to — except Romanov, which I didn’t like much), and Andrew Peterson (I do own all of his books).
How you typically find fantasy recommendations?
My parents were my first source of recommendations, but by the time I was 12 or so, they’d run out of books that they knew about to give me. We looked at places like Redeemed Reader, Story Warren, Storyformed, Honey for a Child’s Heart, Read for the Heart, and Read-Aloud Revival for recommendations. Now, I usually find recommendations on blogs and Goodreads.
What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?
Stormlight Archive 5! Which is coming out in… fall 2023.
I’m also excited for Kara Swanson’s Shadow.
What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?
I can’t really think of any specific misconception… I like Millay’s answer to this question though!
If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that came to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?
I’m going to follow Meg’s lead and recommend books for three different age ranges…
- middle grade: try On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness or The Book of Three
- YA: try The Fellowship of the Ring or The Perilous Gard
- adult: try a Brandon Sanderson book (Mistborn: The Final Empire if you want a relatively uncomplicated start; The Way of Kings if you want a challenge)
Note: see the end of this post for a quiz to help you find your next fantasy read 😀
Who is the most recent fantasy reading content creator you came across that you’d like to shoutout?
The most recent fantasy book I read was by Brandon Sanderson, and the one before that was by Megan Whalen Turner. And I was going to look for a different author to talk about, and then I realized why should I? Because these two are the ones you should be reading.
Try Megan Whalen Turner if you like: snarky heroes | enemies-to-lovers | fantasy that feels like historical fiction | original myths that feel like real legends | cross-country treks, with storytelling | unreliable narrators (so unreliable) | stories you can reread a million times and never get bored | adorable fluffy characters with guns | thieves who dance on rooftops | lavish costume descriptions | well-done disability representation | plot twists (so many plot twists, guys) | endings that are so perfect you could cry
Try Brandon Sanderson if you like: realistic representation of depression and PTSD in fantasy | cute OTPs | stories spanning worlds and generations | tortured heroes who give up everything for the ones they love | redemption scenes that will leave you crying (for real) | ingenious magic systems | rich worldbuilding that only gets better with each successive novel/series | plot twists that make so much sense, and yet you never saw them coming | the coolest settings | non-human characters | Wit (aka the best, most sarcastic, wisest character to ever exist) | endings that leave you angry (in a good way) | did I mention the magic systems?
⟡ fantasy month fandom hashtag challenge ⟡
Note: I am thoroughly convinced that I will not be able to mention all of my fandoms in this post. Apologies to any fandoms that feel neglected… I promise I still love you!
What was the first fandom you fell into?
Narnia! My dad read the books to me when I was five, and my two-year-old sister and I listened to the audio dramas in a tent each afternoon the summer my dad worked at a camp for three weeks. Once we tied him to a picnic table with his coat and declared it the Stone Table.
The very first story I wrote was a Narnia fanfiction (the story of Susan, of course). The second (also a Narnia fanfic) was about an Archenlandian dwarf. I don’t think I have them any more, but I still vividly remember the descriptions of pies and cottages. They were the first steps toward my dream of being an author, though I didn’t know it at the time.
Remember that all worlds draw to an end and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.
What is the most recent fandom you’ve become a part of?
I think this is the Cosmere/Brandon Sanderson’s books, because I read those in November 2020-February 2021, but it might also be the Queen’s Thief, because I read those in October-December 2020. I don’t really know which one counts, but I do know that they have become inexpressibly important to me and that you should really all read them.
Then come out, knowing you’ll never die of a fall unless the god himself drops you. // Megan Whalen Turner
It will [get worse], but then it will get better. Then it will get worse again. Then better. This is life, and I will not lie by saying every day will be sunshine. But there will be sunshine again, and that is a very different thing to say. That is truth. I promise you… You will be warm again. // Brandon Sanderson
The other fandom I want to mention here is the Tales of Goldstone Wood, a book series which I discovered in 2019 and love very dearly. It’s not the most recent fandom of mine, but it is relatively new to me, and I adore it and hope you will too.
“I wonder,” he said after a long silence, “what will happen if I open my eyes?”
The Prince of the Farthest Shore, sitting beside him, answered, “You’ll see things as they are.”
Alistair shuddered. Since that moment of red mouth and black teeth and pain like ripping fire, he wasn’t convinced he wanted to see things as they were.
“Maybe,” he said, “I’d rather sit here in the dark.”
“No, you wouldn’t,” said the Prince, and there was a smile in his voice.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
This is an easy one… Star Wars. Simply because the only Star Trek I have ever seen is one very old TV show episode and I didn’t like it.
I don’t really love Star Wars either (sorry!) but Rogue One is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I consider it a fandom unto itself.
“I’m not used to people sticking around when things go bad.”
Marvel or DC?
Another easy answer — Marvel! (Does anyone really say DC?) I’ve only seen Wonder Woman and Man of Steel (though I’m interested in Aquaman as well) from among the DC canon, but I’ve seen allll the Marvel movies except the Iron Man trilogy (which I want to see) and The Incredible Hulk (which I decidedly don’t).
(I also haven’t seen WandaVision yet — but I will!! — so please don’t spoil that for me.)
Though — as I talked about in this post — I’m not the biggest fan of Infinity War and Endgame, I do really appreciate the MCU and enjoy most of the movies set there. My favorites are probably the Spider-Man movies, The Winter Soldier, the Ant-Man movies, and select scenes from the Thor movies.
Do you see the beauty of it? The inevitability? You rise, only to fall. You, Avengers, you are my meteor. My swift and terrible sword and the Earth will crack with the weight of your failure. Purge me from your computers; turn my own flesh against me. It means nothing! When the dust settles, the only thing living in this world… will be metal!
I know that’s an unexpected quote for this fandom — but seriously, Ultron is pretty cool. And creepy.
What is a fandom you love enough to want to live in that world?
I think… Harry Potter? I love a lot of fandoms, but I don’t actually want to live in them. They’re extremely dangerous, people. However, I think I could stand to live in the Harry Potter-verse after Deathly Hallows (but before the disastrous puddle of fun that is Cursed Child) and attend Hogwarts. Magic school sounds cool. Maybe I could be friends with Teddy and Victoire, or Rose and Scorpius and Albus (I think they’re all teens right now, according to the official timeline?), and I’d adore DADA and Arithmancy and Ancient Runes and probably hate Potions and Divination, but it would be loads of fun. (And no, I would not play Quidditch. Motion sickness.)
By all means continue destroying my possessions. I daresay I have too many.
If you could hang out with a character from one of your fandoms, who would it be and why?
I’d like to meet…
Janner, from the Wingfeather Saga, because we’re both oldest siblings who like to write but struggle with selfishness and bossiness. I don’t know if we’d get along long-term, but it would be fun to talk to him.
Hermione and Ginny, from Harry Potter, because Hermione is basically me, and Ginny could stop us from arguing about our strongly-held opinions.
Cyrus and Antigone, from Ashtown Burials, because Antigone and I could commiserate about our siblings who don’t like Latin, and Cyrus would make the conversation a lot more interesting (if only because he was resurrecting long-dead evil spirits and talking about how bullet holes make clothing better).
Gen and Costis, from the Queen’s Thief, because I want to see what their dynamic/relationship looks like in person, and I want to experience the feeling of being outsmarted by the Annux. Please someone make this happen.
Eanrin and Imraldera, from Goldstone Wood, because Eanrin is the kind of person you need to meet at least once in your life (though I would very probably be very annoyed by him), and Imraldera is another character who’s very similar to me.
I think the N.D. Wilson books (Ashtown Burials, 100 Cupboards, Outlaws of Time, etc.) are deserving of much more love and readership than they currently have, so go check those out…
…but for this question, I’m going to talk about a little gem of a book that no one I know (as far as I know) has read: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip.
This lovely, aesthetic, heartwrenching novel is about the wizard Sybel, a white-haired young woman who lives alone with her animals. But she can’t hide from the outside world forever, and when a warrior shows up on her doorstep bearing the child of the enemy king, she is forced to confront the emotions she’s hidden and the lies she’s told.
The writing of this book — the phrases, the word choices, everything — is incredibly beautiful, and the characters are memorable and strong, and the plot is slow but perfect, and I love the magic and the world. Everyone needs to read this book.
What do you think love is — a thing to startle from the heart like a bird at every shout or blow? You can fly from me, high as you choose into your darkness, but you will see me always beneath you, no matter how far away, with my face turned to you. My heart is in your heart. I gave it to you with my name that night and you are its guardian, to treasure it, or let it whither and die. I do not understand you. I am angry with you. I am hurt and helpless, but nothing will fill the ache of the hollowness in me where your name would echo if I lost you.
bonus question: a fandom guaranteed to give you feels
(I found this on Sarah Seele’s blog and decided to steal it. Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah!)
The Gateway Chronicles by K.B. Hoyle! This six-book series follows six teens who travel (six times) to a magical fantasy world (the first book is aptly titled The Six). The place where they find the portal is based on a real-life camp (the same place where I listened to Narnia when I was five), so naturally I get intense feels just reading about the setting, but also: the SHIP. There’s a particular ship that pretty much slays me every time.
(Ship = romantic relationship, in case you aren’t fluent in fangirl.)
You should know how highly I regard you.
bonus question: favorite bookish fandom?
Like Sarah, I’m interpreting this question to mean “favorite fandom you haven’t yet mentioned” and thus I’m talking about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is a quirky epic set in Victorian (I think?) England. Basically, imagine a world in which practical magic has faded away — the gold and silver ages of magic have passed — and now magicians study magical theory and history, but no one can actually do anything remotely supernatural. Until Mr Norrell is discovered — and Mr Norrell decidedly does not want to share his skills and knowledge with anyone else. Throw in a Dickensian plot, Austenian dialogue and social situations, prophecies of the Raven King, creepy Faeries who can’t comprehend human emotion, and a fiery young magician who wants to travel the ancient paths, and you’ve got a massive tome full of gloriously fun scenes and writing.
There is nothing else in magic but the wild thought of the bird as it casts itself into the void. There is no creature upon the earth with such potential for magic. Even the least of them may fly straight out of this world and come by chance to the Other Lands. Where does the wind come from that blows upon your face, that fans the pages of your book? Where the harum-scarum magic of small wild creatures meets the magic of Man, where the language of the wind and the rain and the trees can be understood, there we will find the Raven King.
(final) bonus question: a fandom that feels like home
Middle-earth, y’all. LOTR and The Hobbit and all the ancient tales. Tolkien. Arda.
It’s my second-ever fandom, my favorite of all time, the one I can return to and never be bored. Characters I love, worldbuilding I envy, a plot that makes me cry and laugh and feel alive.
If you haven’t tried Tolkien, ignore all my other recommendations and read The Fellowhip of the Ring.
There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
I apologize for the length of the post (3k words!) you just read, and I sincerely hope that you enjoyed them! Don’t forget to check out Jenelle’s blog for all the info on Fantasy Month (which is sadly about to end).
Until next time!