Living in a Fantasy World

Living in a Fantasy World

I have long since accepted the twist of fate that brought me to the world of romance and Jane Austen, and learned to laugh at the irony that this life-long reader of fantasy and sci-fi is now writing sappy stories of happily-ever-after! Vague twinges of guilt remain when folks mention popular romance authors with an awed respect that I could only honestly muster if suddenly face-to-face with JRR Tolkien or Isaac Asimov, but gradually I am being educated. Still, I can’t deny that when I curl up with a good book, I grab for something more in the sword-and-sorcery genre. To honor my first love this post is to pay homage to my favorite fantasy writers.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The grandfather and master of all modern fantasy. No debate. I read The Hobbit when I was 12 and never looked back. I fell in love with fantasy while trekking through Middle Earth with Bilbo and those dwarves, and have read everything Tolkien wrote more times than I can count. And don’t even get me started on my obsession with the movies! Truly scary stuff and my basement eerily resembles an LOTR shrine. Tolkien created the most amazing fantasy world with history, poetry, characters, and mythology that is beyond compare.

David Eddings: After the good Professor, Eddings’ world and characters are the best around, IMHO. The ten novels that comprise The Belgariad and The Mallorean are a sumptuous treat. The world is wildly diverse, the magic unique, the wealth of characters phenomenal, the mythology complex, the quests exciting, and the reigning sorcerer (Belgarath) one of the best ever created. Yes, he gives Gandalf a run for his money! Eddings’ stories are serious but also extremely humorous and entertaining. A must-read for anyone who loves fantasy.


Anne McCaffrey: The Pern series appears to be never-ending, and McCaffrey’s created dragons are the very best. The later novels gradually mix in larger and larger doses of sci-fi to the pure fantasy of the original books, but everything written is great. Start with Dragonflight, then Dragonquest, and then The White Dragon. Plus, there are tinges of romance in these books with more than a few folks gettin’ lucky!

Stewart Mccaffrey


Mary Stewart: Immediately after I read The Hobbit Mary Stewart’s King Arthur novels inspired a long passionate affair with all things Arthurian. Over time I would read dozens of novels about those chivalrous knights of merry old England with Merlin the Wizard pulling the strings, including Geoffrey of Monmouth and Sir Thomas Mallory. But, Stewart’s version – The Crystal CaveThe Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment – remain my favorites.

FeistRaymond Feist: Begin with The Riftwar Saga trilogy and move on from there. All of them are fabulous and it is a huge saga that is still ongoing. Another terrific wizard, Pug/Milambar, and a well-developed world. In fact, two worlds as we are dealing with rifts between universes here. Honorable mention to Feist’s only non-Midkemia novel, Faerie Tale – you will never think of fairies in the same way!

Terry Brooks: Between the Shannara books (including the Word & Void series) and the Landover series, Brooks will keep one busy for years. The Landover novels are my favorites, but all are truly excellent, even if the first Shannara (The Sword of…) treads a bit close to Tolkien’s heels.

Barbara Hambly: Way too many novels to mention, but some of the best time-travel/multi-universe stuff out there. Tends to be very dark, but really great. Along with the requisite wizards and warriors, she also writes vampires and dragons. Frequently blends sci-fi and modern technology in with her fantasy in unique ways, and has even contributed to the Star Wars and Star Trek mythos.

Terry Pratchett: Insane! His Discworld is the oddest place ever envisioned and inhabited with the most bizarre collection of misfits created. I challenge you not to laugh, and to not fall in love with Death. Can’t happen.

More-than-honorable mentions: Terry Goodkind, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Stephen King (the Gunslinger series), Robin Hobb, Katherine Kurtz, and Fred Saberhagen. Anybody else read fantasy or sci-fi? Who are your favorite writers?


14 Comments for Living in a Fantasy World

  1. Also by David Eddings are the Sparhawk series: The Elenium and the Tamuli. Love those, too. And within Feist’s Riftwar series are Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, and Mistress of the Empire. And the Mercedes Lackey’s books on the Heralds and her books about the Hawkbrothers are great fantasy, too.

  2. Since I became involved in the world of JAFF, I’ve been surprised by how much of a crossover there is with those of us who read sci fi/fantasy as well.

    Sharon, your blog post and the comments have given me several new authors to have a look at. Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey I know back-to-front, inside-out and all the rest. I think Todd McCaffrey is doing a pretty good job of carrying on the torch for his Mum. Of the others, I’ve read works of some of them but don’t know them well, and the rest are new to me. Lots more reading to do!

    No-one has mentioned George R.R. Martin, which surprises me. Obviously, he’s best known for his A Song of Ice and Fire series, currently on TV as Game of Thrones, but he’s also involved in writing and editing other things. Just Google “Wild Cards”.

    It’s interesting that junewilliams7 mentions the connection between Darcy and Spock. We were watching Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (my favourite of the original series films) the other night. Suddenly it struck me how similar, in many ways, the two characters are (if you discount the ears and green blood!); showing little emotion, especially to those they don’t know well, uncomfortable amongst strangers, loyal to a fault…I could go on for a while.

  3. I have to admit that I love fantasy and sci-fi and I love the romance and paranormal as well. Whilst not fantasy, I love Susanna Kearsley’s timeslip books. C. S. Lewis and Narnia and Tolkien of course, love Star Trek…Mary Stewart also a favorite. Other than that, a good bit of your list is unknown to me. Research time!! LOL I can’t do vampires, werewolves, mummies and zombies. Those whole genres are completely lost on me. Even the Darcy crossovers leave me cold. Time travel, history, wars, magic, good vs. evil, romance…all those things (or a pick 3) wrapped up into one book makes me a happy girl!

  4. Like Barbary Hambly too.
    Love Marion Zimmer Bradley and her Darkover world for 30 years now.
    Also love Robert Jordan’s The Wheel Of Time. Liked Tolkien as a child but haven’t read him since then. Always wanted to read Terry Pratchett – will keep it on my must-read list. 😉 Became interested in David Eddings now. Thank you for that! 🙂

    • Hi Rattilia! Glad you mentioned Marion Zimmer Bradley. I love her Arthurian novel Mists of Avalon, and know I read a few others long ago, but can’t recall the titles. I’ll have to look into the Darkover ones. Pratchett is fantastic, especially because unlike most fantasy his novels are largely tongue-in-cheek. He pokes fun at the typical fantasy tropes, in a light hearted way, and get downright nonsensical, yet always manages to make a relevant point in each book. Really brilliant. I started Jordan’s series waaayyy back when there was like 2 or 3 books written. Once I realized he intended to write many I decided to wait. Then I just never got back to it! One of these days.

      Eddings I just can’t speak highly enough of. He has written several fantasy novels outside of the series I listed, and they are enjoyable, but not as good as the Belgariad and Mallorean. You will love them, I am sure!

      • Ah, yes, I loved MZB’s Avalon also, but her Darkover world is one of my book loves continuing for such a long time. She wrote some interesting parapsychological books too. A lot to explore! 😉
        Robert Jordan is really worth a go! I completely fell in love with his characters and how he built the story up. And I also love that you can read it like one big book!
        It’s fascinating – if you stick to the story of course – when you get some things revealed many, many chapters/books later. Very well done IMO.

  5. I grew up on fantasy and science fiction, and swore that I would never read “sappy romance” as a kid! Some of my favorites are: C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Ursula LeGuin, David Eddings, Barbara Hambly, Piers Anthony, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, to name just a small few!!

    • That was me too, Wendy. I did read some romances in high school, but got bored. Thankfully romance as a genre has changed. Novels are now much deeper, and wonderfully diverse.

      Thanks for mentioning CS Lewis (Narnia series) and Mercedes Lackey.

  6. As you know Sharon my favourite will always be Darcy and romance 😉 But you and your author friends have introduced me to so many new books that I am excited I will never ever run out of wonderful reading material. I would most definitely be interested in reading a sci/fi fantasy written by you though because I love your writing style 🙂

    • LOL! I understand your passionate first love, Vee, so no problemo. 🙂 I didn’t mention the many, many novels that fabulously mix the romance and sci-fi/fantasy genres. I have hosted a few of those skilled authors recently, in fact. Another way to branch out while also getting the hot lovin’ and HEA of a romance novel. 😉

      • Haha yes they’re the sort sci/fi fantasy books I would choose to read first. Ones that are heavy in the romance dept! LOL
        So what are you waiting for Sharon? I want to read yours first! xx

  7. I love sci/fi fantasy as well. Anne McCaffrey & J.R.R. Tolkien also top my list. I have all McCaffrey’s dragon series & have read &reread the books. Also many versions of King Arthur & Merlin…just can’t remember all the authors…Sir Thomas Mallory, Mary Stuart. Robin McKinley’s stories…The Blue Sword, The Hero & the Crown, Beauty, Dragonhaven, and Rose Daughter with Beauty and The Blue Sword at the top. Absolutely loved her retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I think that is where the Disney version came from. There are many parallels. Isaac Asimov an Ray Bradbury are some other authors too.

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