Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #10: A Gateway Into The Fantasy Genre

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: gateway fantasy books.

I know that fantasy can sometimes receive a bit of a bad reputation – some people seem to think it’s either a really difficult genre to read, or really geeky, or they just have no idea where to start. So I want to share with you today a three stage process for people new to the fantasy genre. I’ve split them into three ‘stages’, with the idea that you tackle them in order, to build up confidence reading the genre. It was really hard to split these books into stages, and I hope my explanations of why and how I split them make sense and don’t offend anyone!

Stage One: for younger readers AND/OR fantasy set at least partly in our world

Sabriel by Garth Nix Inkheart by Cornelia Funke The Magicians by Lev Grossman The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett Song Quest by Katherine Roberts

These books come under ‘Stage One’, as they are either aimed at younger readers so the fantasy world is not as complicated as say, The Lord of the Rings, or they are set either partly or entirely in our world. I think these are pretty good books to start with, particularly the ones set in our world: Sabriel by Garth Nix, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and The Magicians by Lev Grossman (this one is definitely an adult book!). This way you won’t be immediately thrown in at the deep end, and at least some elements of the story will be familiar. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett and Song Quest by Katherine Roberts are set in fantasy worlds, but are aimed at younger readers so you know you won’t need to worry about keeping up with a huge cast of characters, assortment of strange languages and entirely new and vast geography that you might find in books for older readers.

Stage Two: aimed at Young Adult audiences and older AND/OR set in a ‘less detailed’ fantasy world

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore The Wind Singer by William Nicholson Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta Mort by Terry Pratchett Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I say ‘less detailed’ because I do not mean in ANY way that the author has only half-heartedly created their world, or that these books are seen as ‘lesser’ fantasy. I just mean that the scale of the world-building is as not big as some of the books in the next stage. ‘Stage Two’ includes these sorts of books, as well as Young Adult Fantasy, which often falls into the category anyway. Throne of Glass (my review) by Sarah J. Maas, Graceling (my review) by Kristin Cashore, The Wind Singer by William Nicholson, Finnikin of the Rock (my review) by Melina Marchetta and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo come under Young Adult fantasy fiction, and all are fantastic examples of the genre. Mort by Terry Pratchett, like the rest of the Discworld books, is primarily aimed at adults but Pratchett’s brilliant sense of humour makes it a lighter read.

Stage Three: ‘heavier’ fantasy

The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett Mistborn (The Final Empire #1) by Brandon Sanderson The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Feeling ready for ‘Stage Three’? By ‘heavier’, I mean that these books have more detailed world building than those in Stage Two – perhaps the author has created an entire history, a new language etc. If you’re prepared to take a dip into the world of heavier fantasy, then I’d recommended starting with The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan. And if you’re not too scared of reading some Tolkien, then give The Hobbit (or even The Lord of the Rings) a shot! So many people are unsure about reading his work, but I was recently interviewed by Pages Unbound for Tolkien Reading Week, where I shared my love for Middle-earth – hopefully that will convince some people! As you feel more confident with reading fantasy books, I would highly recommend the following: The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Are you going to give any of these books a try? Have you read any of them already, or are there any others you’d recommend for new fantasy readers?

17 thoughts on “Fantasy Friday #10: A Gateway Into The Fantasy Genre”

    1. Haha 😉 Mort is my favourite, for sure.

      I still need to read Siege & Storm. I love the covers of that series – although in the UK the first book is called The Gathering Light, and the cover isn’t as pretty. =(

  1. I love so many books in your middle tier! But I have not read The Wind Singer so it looks like I have something to add to my TBR list! And I seem to remember hearing good things about The Name of the Wind but I never got a chance to pick it up – thank you for reminding me! 😉 This is such a great list – I hope it converts a lot of people to reading fantasy!

    1. I first read the series when I was thirteen I think, I still have them all. Maybe it’s time for a re-read?

      And The Name of the Wind is AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING. It was one of the first books my Goodreads book group read, and so many of us absolutely loved it. It is epic on every scale and just – wow. So well done. I need to hurry up and read the second.

  2. Yes to Graceling!! I really think that will get someone to get started for sure. It is really one of the best YA fantasies and introduces people to fantasy “worlds”. In your stage 3 I have only read the Hobbit. The Name of the Wind looks fantastic.

    1. I hope so too! I finally finished the trilogy last month, I have to say Graceling is definitely my favourite of the three.

      And I heartily recommend The Name of the Wind. It’s long and SO detailed, so be prepared 😉

  3. I might even put The Hobbit into stage 2, I remember being 9 years old when it was first read to me and I enjoyed it a lot. Then I read it again when I was 12 and it was just as awesome as I remember! Might just be me though, but I do know it was the gateway fantasy for a lot of my friends who also picked it up when they were elementary to middle school aged 😀

    1. Yes, I wasn’t sure about that one! I think because some people are really quite scared of Tolkien’s work, I sort of bumped it up. But then you could put The Hobbit in Stage Two and The Lord of the Rings in Stage Three.

      I expect it has been a gateway to fantasy for many a reader =) It’s definitely one of the earliest fantasy books I can really remember reading.

  4. So many awesome recommendations! I must fangirl over Terry Pratchett, because I LOVE his books and I love reading them. Some of his Tiffany Aching books would be good for younger readers too. 🙂

    1. Yay Ana! I thought you might be a Pratchett fan, going by your blog header image 😉 I know there’s the Diggers/Truckers etc series, what are the Tiffany Aching ones? Are those about Granny Weatherwax’s grand-daughter? (I haven’t read any Pratchett in a little while now).

  5. So I just recently came to the revelation that I think The Hobbit is actually the only fantasy book I’ve ever read! Or at least what I think of when I think of fantasy. That really surprised me, and it also surprised me to see you put as a stage 3 since I read in 8th grade and it felt like an intro into the genre for me. I actually just bought Shadow and Bone yesterday. It’s been on my “maybe” TBR list for a while, but after making this discovery about my lack of fantasy reading and with it being a great price at the bookstore, I decided I should give it a go, so I’m glad to see it made it onto your list for stage 2!

    1. AMY!! HOP ON IT! 😮

      Mmm, I am reconsidering my choice! But… yeah, it’s not ultimate I guess 😛 I really hope you enjoy Shadow and Bone, I thought it was a pretty great fantasy – although it has had some backlash for its ‘portrayal’ of Russian culture (the world is based on Russia).

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