Misc.

March into Middle-earth: The One Where Rinn and Claire Fangirl, Part Four

March Into Middle-earth

Part Four of the fangirl session – but not the last, because apparently Claire and I have a LOT to say about Tolkien’s works! If you missed the previous posts, you can find Part One here, Part Two here and Part Three here. This is part of a series of posts of the two of us discussing Tolkien and all things Middle-earth. Although we are asking each other the questions, we’d love to know your answers to them too – leave your responses in the comments! I ended the last post with the following question for Claire:

Rinn: My next question for you is: is there a moment in any of the books that feels completely pivotal to you? Perhaps it revealed a character’s true self, it changed the course of things, or was completely unexpected.

Claire: That art is so beautiful! I’ve never seen such work like that! And to grow up with it, you’re so lucky. A pivotal moment to me? I don’t think, for me, that Lord of the Rings has a lot of those grand gesture moments but is filled with a number of small moments, small points where the way story unfolded could have changed drastically if someone hadn’t stood up at that point, or made up their mind. I think that’s why I like the stories so much because it is so indicative of real life. There are very few moments when one large point changes everything but our lives are built up of small decisions that the determine the course of everything.

A few moments that stand out:

  1. When Sam gets caught by Gandalf: Sam could have kept quiet. Gandalf could have pretended to ignore Sam but 100% believe that Frodo would have stopped or died or gotten kidnapped or given up or just gotten tired if Sam hadn’t allowed himself to (1) get caught, and I think he did because Hobbits are uncommonly quiet and (2) went along with the darn plan.
  2. Boromir realising his mistake: Besides being utterly heartbreaking, he manages to save his friends, repent and in a huge way, proves to Aragorn that the race of men are capable of atoning for past wrongs.
  3. Eowyn going into battle: She was immensely stubborn and to not go into battle wouldn’t have seemed her, but she could have just gone home. And who would have killed the Witch King?
  4. Smeagol giving into Gollum: he had many moments to resist but the lure of the ring and Gollum’s strength proved too much to bear. Though bad in a sense, the final ending of the story wouldn’t have turned out the way it did if Gollum hadn’t made that final sacrifice. Even if it wasn’t really sacrifice but a clumsy moment of bliss.

I think this quote might sum it up nicely:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

gandalf gif

So those four moments stand out to me as crucial but small, glorious moments when a decision changed the lives of many. Before I ask my question I actually want you to name one or two large or small moments that you thought were crucial to the plot and characters as well.

My question has to do with gender: There aren’t tons of women in the Lord of the Rings series but the women that are there all have some part to play, be it warrior or the guiding hope of another. How do you feel about Tolkien’s portrayal of women?

Rinn: Okay, I never thought about the fact that Sam might have been caught on purpose, that’s a really good point – and I just read that bit today. Although I bet Gandalf has super good hearing too!

  1. The first moment for me is during the Council of Elrond. I think this is probably pretty pivotal for everybody, because it starts the whole quest proper. Everyone is arguing about what to do with the Ring – the Elves, the Dwarves, the Men and Gandalf, and Frodo is just quietly sat there. That is, until he stands up and offers to take the Ring to Mordor himself. He has no idea what this will entail, and this decision shapes the entire story. What if a Man had taken it? Would he have been overcome by its power, like Isildur, like Boromir? Even Gandalf is reluctant to touch the Ring, and Galadriel shows a darker side when offered the Ring by Frodo. Clearly, he was the only choice – but no-one would have ever thought of him, he had to offer to do it.
  2. The second is the ‘death’ of Gandalf, and his subsequent revival as Gandalf the White. The rest of the Fellowship had to learn how to deal without their resident Wizard, and it ended up dividing them. Whilst this might sound like a bad thing, it wasn’t at all. Would Rohan have given Gondor aid if Aragorn hadn’t given Theoden that push? Would Isengard still exist if it wasn’t for Merry and Pippin persuading the Ents to march on it? And the rest of the Fellowship been that eager to have Gollum as a guide to Mount Doom? Not only does Gandalf’s resurrection represent hope, but also helped the Fellowship to grow, whilst also taking their own paths.

And in terms of gender: I would of course appreciate more female roles, but I don’t really have a problem with the way Tolkien represents women. Arwen is a lesser role than most people realise, as much of what she does in the film was actually performed by Glorfindel, a male Elf, in the book – for example, saving Frodo from the Nazgul after he is stabbed with a Morgul blade. I’m glad that her role was bumped up in the film. Her main purpose seems to be a reason to motivate Aragorn. Eowyn, on the other hand, has a more active role. The women of Rohan are trained in the use of weapons, because as Eowyn so aptly puts it:

“‘The women of this country learned long ago, those without swords can still die upon them.’”

But whilst Rohan clearly has a lot of badass ladies trained in the art of combat, they are still forbidden from actually going to war or putting themselves into danger in any way, as shown by Eowyn disguising herself as a man named Dernhelm in order to fight. And in one of the most absolute BADASS FEMALE EMPOWERING moments of all fantasy fiction:

‘“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!”

A cold voice answered: ‘Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.”

A sword rang as it was drawn. “Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.”

“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!”

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. “But no living man am I!”’

And with that she kills the Witch King. Like i said: BADASS.

eowyn gif

What’s interesting is that all female characters of note are in positions of power. Arwen is the daughter of Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, Eowyn the niece of King Theoden of Rohan, and Galadriel the Golden Lady of Lothlorien, and appears to hold more power than her husband Celeborn. Rosie Cotton might be the exception here, but she is barely more than a mention until the very end. Testosterone definitely wins, but I’ve kind of gotten used to that in fantasy fiction. And that’s really quite sad. The lack of female characters is probably my main grumble with The Lord of the Rings, but I absolutely have no problem with which they are represented.

So we’ve discussed LotR video games, and you’ve said you haven’t played any – but what would be your ideal Middle-earth video game experience?

Claire will answer the next question in Part Five of our fangirling! If you want to answer any of the questions in this post, let us know your responses in the comments 🙂

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Misc.

March into Middle-earth: The One Where Rinn and Claire Fangirl, Part Three

March Into Middle-earth

And we’re onto Part Three of the fangirl session! If you missed the previous posts, you can find Part One here and Part Two here. This is part of a series of posts of the two of us discussing Tolkien and all things Middle-earth. Although we are asking each other the questions, we’d love to know your answers to them too – leave your responses in the comments! I ended the last post with the following question for Claire:

Rinn: Now my next question for you: the musical score for the films, composed by Howard Shore, was such an important part of creating the right atmosphere. To me, it is perfect and completely sets the mood. Are there any other songs or pieces of music that remind you of Middle-earth or The Lord of the Rings?

Claire: I agree with you, in everything that you say (and you say it so eloquently as well!). I’d love the idea of that kind of magic, or that world as you say. The magic is in the earth and ground and how we read it and survive and live with it is key. Being from the Caribbean, an especially rocky, almost treeless place I can imagine our own version of this Middle-earth. We wouldn’t have forests or volcanoes or horse masters, but I can image island fiefdoms and oceans filled with magic. We’d have talking dolphin guides and yes- mermaids even!

But to get back on track, to answer your question: I loved the Lord of the Rings series soundtrack. I am a huge fan of movie soundtracks in general, I am planning to see Hans Zimmer in concert soon (April!) and would love to see something by Howard Shore as well. The soundtrack was a big influence for me in how much I loved the film series because it set that mood, it made that place so real and tangible to me. I have always been a fan for choirs, violins and dramatic drums and Shore totally uses them to his advantage here- especially in battle scenes!

This one always makes me cry. I get such goosebumps.

I’ve also been a lifelong Enya fan (I grew up with her music) and I thought she was the perfect choice for May It Be! Any Enya song will always remind me of this world- its potential and love of country. So whenever I hear a violin, piano or harp I have to imagine an Elf in a wood or Hobbits laughing in a country side. I don’t know a lot of songs like this but I’d love it if you shared any that inspired you or made you think of Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth!

Now, something I’d like to know (besides your LOTR music loves) is what you think of the art this series inspired. Artists have always been captivated by Tolkien’s world and I, myself, discovered many an artist through their LOTR pieces. There are some classically known artists like Alan Lee who illustrated the covers for an edition as well as doing the storyline art for the films and covers in the special extended editions. I AM A HUGE ALAN LEE FAN, but are there other artists or pieces inspired by Lord of the Rings that you like?

Rinn: First of all, SUPER jealous that you’re seeing Hans Zimmer! I’m a big fan of his, and film soundtracks in general, like you.

GANDALF FALLS NO NO NO. Now that I’m listening to it, I can perfectly picture that scene just after the Fellowship leave Moria, where it’s all in slow motion and we see Merry and Pippin sobbing, and Frodo turns slowly to the camera with a single tear rolling down his cheek. IT HURTS. Even though, obviously, we known Gandalf is fine. It was a beautifully acted, scored and shot scene.

My absolute favourite piece of music from the series is Concerning Hobbits, to me that is the ULTIMATE Lord of the Rings piece and just sums everything up. It’s gorgeous and peaceful and so wonderful. I also love any of the vocals, like when Pippin sings to Denethor, or others in the background – for example, the ‘Houses of Healing’ song is sung by Liv Tyler, who played Arwen, and of course Aragorn/Viggo Mortensen sings too. I like that the cast were involved in the music as well, it ties it all together nicely. And like you say, May It Be is gorgeous, as is Gollum’s Song and Into the West, the end title songs for The Two Towers and The Return of the King respectively. And if we’re venturing into other territory, all of The Hobbit end songs are awesome too – especially the final song of the trilogy, The Last Goodbye, which just makes me want to cry because it means it’s all over. Goodbye to various characters, goodbye to Middle-earth.

Frodo understands my feels.
Frodo understands my feels.

In terms of your question – I actually own a book entitled ‘The Art of Tolkien’ which shows just how much he has inspired artists all over the world. Some of my favourite pieces (apart from the great, great Alan Lee) include those by Dutch artist Cor Blok. The style is just so unique and all the characters look adorable. And on doing some more research, I have discovered that he actually lectured at my alma mater, the University of Leiden! I wish I’d known that when I was there. That just goes to show though, you can find links to Tolkien just about anywhere. Here is Blok’s illustration of the Mumakil:

Mumakil Cor Blok

And his version of Gollum is like a little duck, look!

image07

Aren’t they interesting and unusual? (Also Claire, this Gollum is less creepy 😉 ) But I have to say, Tolkien’s very own illustrations are just magnificent. That classic image of Smaug, that beautiful anniversary edition of The Hobbit – those are both his works. This means we get to see scenes exactly as Tolkien imagined them, which is not something you often get with epic fantasies. In fact the Bodleian Library sells postcards and posters with Tolkien’s illustrations on, and I really need to buy some…

My next question for you is: is there a moment in any of the books that feels completely pivotal to you? Perhaps it revealed a character’s true self, it changed the course of things, or was completely unexpected.

Claire will answer the next question in Part Four of our fangirling! If you want to answer any of the questions in this post, let us know your responses in the comments 🙂

Misc.

March Into Middle-earth: Books Inspired By Tolkien

March Into Middle-earth

J.R.R. Tolkien has had a huge inspiration on the fantasy genre ever since the publication of The Hobbit in 1937, which only grew with the release of The Lord of the Rings in 1954. Many of the authors inspired by him are now notable authors themselves, who have gone on to inspire others – and so Tolkien’s legacy continues.

Sword of Shannara Pawn of Prophecy Lord Foul's Bane

Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, first published in the 1970s, was greatly inspired by Tolkien. It features multiple races like elves, gnomes, dwarves and trolls living together in a world that is troubled by a dark power. In 1978 it was even called a ‘rip off’ of Tolkien’s work, and Brooks has confirmed that Tolkien was an influence on his work. However, this has not stopped it from being a vastly popular series, nor affected any of Brooks’ other work. The Belgariad series by David Eddings is greatly inspired by Tolkien, although quite a bit shorter! It may be made up of five books, but each book is much shorter than each of Tolkien’s. It centres around a Dark Lord, a mysterious and power object, and an epic quest. Sound familiar? 😉 The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series by Stephen R. Donaldson is yet another that took inspiration from Tolkien. It sounds a little less similar plot-wise than the previous two, and also is notable for having a protagonist who is considered to be fairly unlikable.

The Dark Tide Ring of Darkness There and Back Again

Some authors even went as far as trying to create sequels to The Lord of the Rings, or other stories set in Middle-earth. Author Dennis L. McKiernan wrote a series which was originally intended as a sequel, but then had to be changed. The Iron Tower series was the resulting backstory. Something I was really surprised to discover when reading for this post was that someone actually has written sequels to The Lord of the Rings – and somehow managed to get away with it. Considering how strict the Tolkien Estate can be, this is quite shocking, but might also explain why the books have never been published in English. The author in question is Russian Nick Perumov, and his series, Ring of Darkness, is set 300 years after the events of LotR, and follows a descendant of Merry Brandybuck. Alternatively, the book There and Back Again by Pat Murphy is, as it sounds, based on The Hobbit, albeit a science fiction retelling of sorts.

There are so many books inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, and this is just a small selection of them. Let me know if you can recommend any others!

Misc.

March into Middle-earth: A Month to Celebrate Tolkien

March Into Middle-earth

As many of you probably know, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my absolute favourite books – I even wrote a post about how much I love it. I normally read it once a year, and have done since the age of 10, but have missed the past few years. I’ve been planning a buddy read of the books with my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, and thought I’d use the occasion to create an event on the blog.

Therefore, the month of March will be dedicated to celebrating Tolkien and his works set in Middle-earth!

I’m not planning on the event being quite as intense or huge as Sci-Fi Month, but I’d love for others to join in! Also unlike Sci-Fi Month, my blog won’t be filled with only content relating to this – I’ll still be posting other things. Right now the only post I know I will have for sure is my The Fellowship of the Ring read-along/discussion, but here are some ideas for posts (as much as for myself as for those who want to take part!):

  • Read-alongs of Tolkien’s work set in Middle-earth (or join in with my Buddy Read!)
  • Reviews of Tolkien’s works, or works of those who have listed him as an inspiration
  • Discussions of film adaptations
  • A look at the various video games based in Middle-earth
  • Discussions of Tolkien’s influence on the fantasy genre or other authors, or what he himself was influenced by
  • Discussions of the inhabitants of Middle-earth

If you’re interested in joining, please leave a comment on this post and add your name to the Linky below!

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Recap

London Film & Comic-Con and YALC Recap, Part 1

YALC

For much of June and the first part of July, you may have seen me chatting on Twitter about LFCC/YALC, also known as London Film and Comic Con and Young Adult Literature Convention. I’ve always liked going to conventions, I’ve been to the London MCM Expo quite a few times, and I went to Bristolcon last October. So me and my friend Kerry (my frequent companion on these sorts of things, we also went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and the Doctor Who Experience together) decided it would be a great thing to do before I went off to university. We eagerly bought our tickets to LFCC, and then to my delight I discovered there was a new addition to LFCC this year: the Young Adult Literature Convention. And not only this, but many of my blogger friends were planning on going!

Cue weeks and weeks of Twitter chat, WhatsApp conversations and much fangirling. Then finally the big day arrived, and after getting our train at 8.05am, we reached Earl’s Court at about 10.15. And OH MY GOSH, THE QUEUES. Claire had been there since about 8.30, and had already warned us of the queues – but we thought that by the time we got there, on the end of the Early Bird ticket slot, the queues would have died down and we’d be fine. Oh, how wrong we were… the queues, of which there were many and it wasn’t entirely clear which one we were supposed to be in, snaked around and around Earl’s Court. Luckily, the Early Bird queue was constantly moving – but it still took us a good forty minutes to get in, which gives you some idea of how crazy it was. Not to mention that it was an absolutely boiling hot day, and there was no shade.

When we FINALLY got inside, Kerry went straight to the queue to buy tickets for a photo shoot with Finn Jones (Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones. I took this chance to go and hunt down some book bloggers! I headed straight for the book area, where I spotted Amber and Tatum, and had a brief chat with them before they had to move on. It was already so packed in there, and absolutely boiling, and it was going to get much, much worse… I then found Claire over at the bean bags, and we grabbed some swag from the freebies table (Egmont tote bag, a couple of badges, a few samplers and some postcards) before meeingt up with Natalie quickly, and Claire gave her a ticket to the Dystopian panel (where Amber and Tatum had gone) because she didn’t feel like going.

Claire & I take a sneaky shot with Adam Brown (photo taken by Claire)
Claire & I take a sneaky shot with Adam Brown (photo taken by Claire)

Then it was time for a wander! We didn’t really go too far because it was just so cramped – they’d definitely let far too many people in, there were queues everywhere for various photo shoots and autograph sessions, not to mention the crowds around the dealers stalls – but we did manage to grab a sneaky photo with Adam Brown, who plays Nori in The Hobbit! We also bumped into Asti briefly! Mostly we just checked out which celebrities were nearby and tried to look at the stalls we could actually reach… We met up with Kerry again, who managed to get a ticket for Finn Jones, and also bought a ticket for me and her to meet Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor in Game of Thrones!

The three of us wandered around looking at the stalls, and when I went I was prepared to go in and pretty much spend all my money (‘sorry Leiden, I can’t pay tuition fees now, I spent all my savings on comic book merchandise and books’), but actually… well I only ended up buying the one thing: a Tyrion Vinyl Pop figure (I was going to get Magneto but he doesn’t exist…).

Mostly freebies, the only things I paid for were the Skittles and the Tyrion figure!
Mostly freebies, the only things I paid for were the Skittles and the Tyrion figure!

That’s the end of the first part of my recap, look out for the second part next week! Otherwise I think this post would get a bit too wordy…

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #16: My Favourite Elements of Fantasy Fiction

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: my favourite elements of fantasy fiction.

1. Unexpected friendships

Two people thrown together by unexpected circumstances, whether it be a quest or for revenge, their previous distrust and even hatred developing into a close friendship – I LOVE THIS. My favourite (and possibly the most obvious) example is that of Legolas and Gimli in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It’s often a feature in fantasy fiction due to different races that do not get along, like dwarves and elves.

Would you like me to describe it to you? Or should I fetch you a box?
(image source)

You do however see something similar in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, where Celaena, an assassin, becomes friends with a prince and the captain of the guard.

2. Assassins

Speaking of assassins… anything to do with them. Although I suppose it’s more of admiration of extremely skilled fighters. And the costumes. Yeah. There’s a reason I’ve been obsessively playing Assassin’s Creed lately (not that it really comes under the fantasy category unless you make an argument for the Animus?), and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the Unity trailer…

3. Archers & bowmen

This is for the same reason as assassins really, I’m in awe of anyone skilled with a bow. There’s been a big surge of interest in archery lately, due to films and books like Brave, The Hunger Games and Hawkeye in The Avengers. I always wanted to join the archery club at uni, but you spent most of your time waiting around for a turn at shooting, so I never bothered. Maybe this year?

Isolde (Neverwinter)
There’s a reason I always make archer characters in games…

4. Magic systems that demand sacrifice

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the magic in Harry Potter. But I also love it when a magic system demands that the user sacrifices something, so that magic doesn’t seem too easy or simple. It requires work and dedication. Examples of this are The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss and The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson. In both of these series, the magic user must sacrifice energy and health in order to use magic. Prolonged usage without a break is not an option, which feels more ‘realistic’ to me – despite the fact that it’s magic!

5. Guilds

Maybe I’m thinking back to my MMO days, but I love guilds in fantasy. Groups of people with similar interests or skills, often those who have lost all their family and friends, so the guild becomes their new family. Whether it’s a thieves guild, an assassin’s guild or a simple merchants guild, there’s a real sense of camaraderie. It’s probably more to do with how guilds made me feel on MMOs (well, Dream of Mirror Online more than any other), but they sort of give me the warm fuzzies. Yes, even those guilds full of heartless assassins.

6. Non-human MCs

It’s fantasy fiction! Why write about humans if you don’t have to?? If you’re going to be exposed to all these different fictional races and cultures in fantasy, why not see it through the eyes of one of them? It’s a much more immersive way to learn about them – for example, seeing The Hobbit through Bilbo’s eyes.

How about you – what are your favourite elements of fantasy fiction?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #15: Fantasy ‘Pick & Mix’

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 recommend fantasy novels, depending on what element you would like to read about.

I’ve chosen a selection of fantasy books, picked out some of the main themes or features of each, and then divided them accordingly. The idea is that you can pick one or more elements you’d like to read about, and pick a book from that category. Even better if a book crosses several different categories – which is where the ‘pick & mix’ comes in! When it comes to series I’ve generally only included the first book from each, unless the sequels contain elements that the previous books do not.

The categories are: Assassins, Dark, Dragons, Dwarves & Elves, Historical, Magic, Monsters, Political, Quest, Royalty and Thieves.

Assassins
Assassins
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Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas; Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore; The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers; Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Pyramids (Discworld #7) by Terry Pratchett.

Dark Theme
Dark

A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie; The Left Hand Of God (The Left Hand of God #1) by Paul Hoffman; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; Low Town (Low Town #1) by Daniel Polansky; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence.

Dragons
Dragons

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire by J.K. Rowling; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman; The Red Knight (The Traitor Son Cycle #1) by Miles Cameron; A Natural History of Dragons (Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan; A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin; Dragonflight (Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey; Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8) by Terry Pratchett.

ffdwarvesandelves
Dwarves & Elves

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; Men At Arms (Discworld #15) by Terry Pratchett; The Dwarves (The Dwarves #1) by Markus Heitz; Homeland (Legend of Drizzt #1) by R.A. Salvatore; Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini; Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven #1) by James Barclay.

ffhistorical
Historical

*By historical I mean the book is either based on a historical period, takes place in a historical period but has fantastical elements, or is an alternate history.

Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers; Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; In Camelot’s Shadow (The Paths to Camelot #1) by Sarah Zettel.

Magic
Magic
Magic
Magic

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling; The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss; Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor; The Magicians’ Guild (The Black Magician Trilogy #1) by Trudi Canavan; Elantris by Brandon Sanderson; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson; The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire #1) by William Nicholson; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan; Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo; Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin; The Colour Of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett; Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven #1) by James Barclay; Low Town (Low Town #1) by Daniel Polansky.

Monsters
Monsters

*By monsters I mean a wide variety of things: zombies, centaurs, orcs, goblins, demons etc. Not necessarily all evil!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling; Fire (Graceling #2) by Kristin Cashore; Sabriel (The Old Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix; The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett; Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor; The Last Wish (The Witcher Saga #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts.

Politics
Politics

The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; The Left Hand Of God (The Left Hand of God #1) by Paul Hoffman; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan; Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder.

Quest
Quest
Quest

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) by Gene Wolfe; Red Country by Joe Abercrombie; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire #1) by William Nicholson; Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks; The Princess Bridge by William Goldman; A Natural History of Dragons (Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen; Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence #1) by Katherine Roberts; Dragonflight (Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey.

Royalty
Royalty
Royalty

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas; Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore; A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin; The Desert Spear (The Demon Cycle #2) by Peter V. Brett; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; Elantris by Brandon Sanderson; The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson; Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta; The Princess Bride by William Goldman; Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman; Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb; The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas; The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen; Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan.

Thieves
Thieves

Bitterblue (Graceling #3) by Kristin Cashore; The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch; Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence; The Princess Bride by William Goldman; Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan.

I hope this ‘pick and mix’ list helps you to find some new reads! 🙂