Today’s prompt for Wyrd & Wonder is “start here (getting into fantasy).” Now, I don’t really have much advice for getting into fantasy, so I figured I’d just talk about the books that were my own first forays into fantasy. I have a notoriously terrible memory (well, notorious among my family), so I can’t tell you at what age I read each of these books and series, nor even which I read first, though I’ve done my best to place them in a vaguely chronicle order.
The Redwall series by Brian Jacques not only served as an introduction into fantasy for me but also an introduction into fandom. After having read the entire series, I was looking for more, and, after much cajoling, I convinced my parents to allow me to join the Redwall Abbey forums online. Here, I discussed my favorite books and characters with other fans but mostly took part in online forum games.
I’ve seen a good number of people bashing on the Redwall books in recent years, saying they contain innumerable plot holes and tropes (all weasels are villains!), and the books don’t hold the test of time. This is probably true, but I don’t really care. I have no plans to go back and reread the Redwall series; I’m quite happy to view them through a nostalgic lens.
Chronicles of Narnia
I have a love/hate relationship with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wordrobe which, I’ll admit, is mostly due to my distaste for Edward. Though I understand his role now, when I first saw the movie he just seemed inexcusably idiotic. Despite this, I soon found myself checking out a large compilation of all seven Chronicles of Narnia from the library. Then I checked it out again. And again. Finally, I obtained my own copy through a library sale, a copy I still own, though it’s a bit worse for the wear.
Narnia was something all my own. While my younger brothers soon picked up the Redwall books, and my older sister would often, annoyingly, discover the best books before I did, to my knowledge I’m the only one of us who ever read all of The Chronicles of Narnia. We had all seen the few movies, of course, but that hardly mattered. These stories were mine.
The Lost Books
Similar to Narnia, my parents had no issue with me reading The Lost Books because of their role as biblical allegory. This isn’t to say we weren’t allowed to read non-Christian books, we were, but my parents were generally less familiar with these books and thus, more hesitant. For example, though Harry Potter didn’t come onto my radar until much later, apparently my parents hadn’t let my sister read it when she wanted to. My youngest brother, of course, was under no such restrictions when it was his turn.
The Lost Books were my first introduction into a weirder and darker sort of fantasy. There was still travel between worlds, as in Narnia, but it was accompanied by much more suspense and, well, slime. I went on to read many of Ted Dekker’s adult books, most of which were set in the same world as The Lost Books but featuring different protagonists. Also like Narnia, this is a series that I reread a couple of times and still own. My nostalgic rememberings will probably prompt me to reread it again at some point, and I actually expect it to still be good.
Did I mention my path to being a fantasy lover wasn’t very unique? No? Well, I meant to. Eragon was my first true introduction to epic fantasy, and I loved the new, large scale, not only within the book but of the book. Books of 500 to 800 pages daunted me much less then than they do now; I was just happy to have that much more time to explore the world. After finishing The Inheritance Cycle, I was left with many questions (what about the Menoa tree?) and was somewhat devastated when I found there weren’t going to be more books any time soon. Now, the time has finally come! Well, sort of. I think I’m much more excited for Paolini’s debut scifi novel, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, than I would be for another Eragon book anyway.
These are only a few of the fantasy series that had a great impact on my path as a reader since I’m saving several others for posts later this month (May the 4th, for example). I’m curious if anyone else followed a similar path as I did? Or if anyone can guess my age from the fact that I read these books as a child/young adult? If you’ve read/skimmed this far, I’m flattered. Thanks for sticking around to hear my backstory!