I’ve been reflecting on books I’ve read recently and not-so-recently, and started thinking about a set of books I’d reccomend to someone interested in exploring fantasy – a fantasy starter pack.
- HARRY POTTER series (magic school, suitable for all ages, but grows steadily darker)
- THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series (urban fantasy, young adult, demon hunters)
- THE LUNAR CHRONICLES series (dystopia, fairytale retelling)
- NEVERNIGHT (adult fantasy, assassins in Hogwarts, some mature themes)
- A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (adult fantasy, everyone dies, very mature themes)
The majority of fantasy novels are series, often involving 4+ novels. This isn’t, by any means, an introduction to reading itself: this is specifically aimed at those who want to explore fantasy fiction further. For those who want more information about each of my choices for a fantasy starter pack, I’ve created a brief, non-spoilery guide below.
I’ve deliberately excluded any dystopia novels because I think they deserve their own entirely separate post.
THE HARRY POTTER series by J.K Rowling [5*]
I consider Harry Potter to be a place to start for anyone interested in reading, regardless of genre – I know very few people who haven’t read it. This was one of the first books I remember having read to me and, as I got older, reading myself. I was a little too young to read the entire series myself, but once I get a copy of the first book I definitely intend to re-read the entire series. I have the original covers for the subsequent books, but for some reason I’m missing the first one. I might use it as an excuse to buy the set of new covers.
THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series by Cassandra Clare [5*]
The Shadowhunter Chronicles is comprised of, at the moment, three series within the same world: THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS [TMI], THE INFERNAL DEVICES [TID] and THE DARK ARTIFICES [TDA]. In terms of chronological order, TID is followed by TMI and then TDA. However, TMI was written first so, in my opinion, it’s best to start here. Any of the three series can be read on their own, although since they’re all in the same world with characters related to one another across multiple series, reading series’ out of order can potentially spoil things. If you want to get the most out of reading these series, check out their publishing dates and read in that order.
THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer [4*]
This is the only slight dystopia within the list, although since it’s most important label is a fairytale retelling, I’ve decided to include it. The cover of CINDER caught my attention, before I realised the huge reputation behind THE LUNAR CHRONICLES. I don’t want to say too much about it to avoid spoilers, and I’m aware I’ve only read the first one so far, but I’ve heard great things about the entire series.
NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff [5*]
This book isn’t released yet, so I’m reading an ARC via netgalley. Not intending to offend fans of the THRONE OF GLASS series, but this is how a fantasy series about an assassin should be done. The initial chapters feature a dual narrative between the main character’s past and present, involving lines which repeat both in the past and present. It’s an amazing introduction to what is quickly becoming my favourite fantasy novel.
A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series by George R R Martin [4*]
This series was honestly a pain to read because it’s so long – if you can’t stick to a book or series, you’ll struggle with it. However, it’s definitely worth reading, despite its complexity. If you’ve seen anything to do with HBO’s adaptation, you’ll know it’s certainly not for everyone, but if anything I think the book is subtler compared to it’s TV show sister. It’s an excellent example of high fantasy with parallels to real history – certainly one of the most complex books I’ve ever read.
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