Fantasy Fiction Is My Guilty Pleasure

April 10, 2023 |
by: Angela Woodard

Why read?
The reasons for reading are as varied as we readers. Many times, what we choose to read may change depending upon our mood, life experience or how enthusiastically a particular book is recommended to us. It is my intent to recommend my personal favorites within the genre of fantasy fiction, most enthusiastically.
What makes Fantasy Fiction such an enjoyable and satisfying reading option is that, at its best, it encompasses elements found in other popular genres, such as Mystery and Detective novels, Political Intrigue, Romance and Adventure, with the extra bonus of Magic, all wrapped up in unique settings outside of the natural world as we know it.
It is my guilty pleasure because it allows me to separate from my day-to-day concerns and to immerse myself in imaginative new worlds filled with surprising possibilities and characters that generate genuine interest and emotional investment.
Fantasy Fiction includes several sub-genres that have distinctive identifying characteristics; some of the most popular are:
1. High Fantasy – Features heroic themes, fantastical creatures and magical elements set in a unique world of the author’s creation.
2. Low Fantasy – Takes place in the world as we know it with magical elements known to only a few characters.
3. Epic Fantasy – Is high fantasy to the extreme, with rich and dense narratives that span several books.
4. Dark Fantasy – Also known as Supernatural or Horror fiction. This sub-genre is typically frightening. If you like spine tingling and disturbing stories (think Stephen King), this sub-genre is for you.
5. Mythic Fantasy – Incorporates mythological elements such as gods, goddesses, ancient religions, and cultures and the power of nature.
6. Historical Fantasy -Adds magical elements to real world historical cultures and times, such as Ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages or the culture of the Ancient Celts.

There are novels such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit: Or, There and Back Again” (DB 48978) and the seven-book series, “The Complete Chronicles of Narnia” (DB 50083) by C.S. Lewis, that are widely popular and are gold standard “must reads” within the Fantasy Fiction genre. And who among us is unaware of the worldwide phenomenon that is J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (DB 92229) and the subsequent seven books that round out the Harry Potter series?
With this in mind, here is one of my favorite fantasy fiction series.
Robin Hobbs’s The Realm of the Elderlings is a 16-book Epic Fantasy written
between 1995 and 2017. It is divided into four trilogies and one quartet.

The Farseer Trilogy, this first trilogy of the epic is a coming-of-age story in which Hobb introduces us to Fitz Chivalry Farseer, Buckeep Castle and the land of the Six Duchies. Robin Hobb is a masterful creator of character-driven narrative. You will, in turn, genuinely become emotionally invested in the characters that populate this story, rooting for some while longing for the complete destruction of others. The animal companions that appear throughout this story have unique personalities that keep you looking for them to show up to add a completely entertaining and unique experience.

Book 1
Assassin’s Apprentice (DB 55270)
In the Six Duchies, ruled by the Farseers, the illegitimate son of Prince Chivalry, Fitz, grows up fatherless and motherless, an outcast at court. Yet Fitz possesses an inherited magic skill, understands animals, and is secretly tutored in the assassin’s techniques. Followed by Royal Assassin (DB 55271). Some strong language. 1995.

Book 2
Royal Assassin (DB 55271)
At fifteen, Fitz has managed to defeat Prince Regal’s plot in the mountains, but at the price of his health. He returns to court, where King Shrewd lies dying and intrigues abound as the Six Duchies come under assault from the Red-Ship Raiders. Sequel to Assassin’s Apprentice (DB 55270). Some strong language. 1996.

Book 3
Assassin’s Quest (DB 55272)
In this sequel to Royal Assassin (DB 55271), Regal is responsible for the death of his father, King Shrewd, and everyone believes that Fitz is dead, too. But Fitz comes back from the grave through beast magic to undertake a quest—to kill Regal. 1997.

I believe that this first trilogy in The Realm of the Elderlings will leave you longing for more and I am so pleased that Robin Hobb continues to deliver in the following series: Liveship Traders, The Tawny Man, The Rain Wild Chronicles and The Fitz and the Fool! But this is the stuff of future blogs.