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Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever #1)... - Stephen R. Donaldson
This is fantasy all grown up. Very philisophical and morally sticky, this series will thrill you, anger you, challenge you, and move you. It's utterly fantastic.
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1)... - J. R. R. Tolkien
The grandaddy of them all, what is there to say that hasn't already been said?
Assassin's Apprentice/Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb
Character driven, tightly told, and probably the best debut fantasy series I've come across in years and years. Magic abounds, in two very different forms, and you won't begrudge the absence of trolls, goblins, elves, etc. for a second. If you're a fantasy fan and haven't yet read this you're really missing out.
This guy didn't become a writer until he was into his forties. What he lacks in sheer skill, he makes up for in imagination and the ability to tell truly engaging stories. These are very very good books and will keep you up till the wee hours.
A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings - George R. R. Martin
Masterfully crafted, this series oozes with integrity, honor, excitement. A love-letter to a grander time, and a serious work of epic fantasy. A true must read for fans of the genre.
The Book of Words: The Baker's Boy Vol I - J. V. Jones
One of the most loveable, purely enjoyable series I've ever read. J.V. Jones has caught some criticism and has improved as a writer since this debut series, but this trilogy brings a lot of charm. Packed with fully realized, memorable characters. This is lighter than some of the stuff you may have read, but terribly engrossing and rich and satisfying in all things sensory.
The Sword of Shannara - Terry Brooks_III
Total hack. Blatant LOTR rip-off. But admit it, you want more Lord of the Rings, even if the author and character names have changed. I liked these books, and with a forgiving mindset, you will too.
The Icewind Dale Trilogy: Collector's Edition (Forgotten Realms)... - R. A. Salvatore,R.A. Salvatore
Mass market, pop fantasy has never been this good. Salvatore can weave a story with some of the best, and he's created some of the most iconic fantasy characters to come alive on page. Forget the rest of the Forgotten Realms stuff and just start (and if you still feel like it, end) with this trilogy.
The Chaos Balance (Saga of Recluce) - L. E. Modesitt Jr.
An over-looked, underrated series, that seemingly will never end. This series actually begins with "The Magic of Recluse" and has now arrived at its 16th installment. I didn't make it past 5, but not for lack of enjoyment. This is smart fantasy with a social conscience, a complex, fresh offering to the genre.
Black Sun Rising (Coldfire Trilogy) - C. S. Friedman
Quietly gripping trilogy. Still not sure what endeared me to these books quite so much, but there's something powerful at work in them indeed. These tackle ideas about religious systems, beliefs with more depth than most any other fantasy works, and are really just a good read.
Yep. I went through that phase. To me the said part is that, try as I might, I just can't get back in it. Those were good days.
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