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The Beginner's Guide To Reading Fantasy Books

The fantasy genre can be daunting — magic, creatures, and unpronounceable names can seem, well, a bit weird to people who haven't read those kinds of books before. However, as millions upon millions of fans know, there’s something to be said for the escapism and sense of wonder that a fantastical novel can provide.

There's also the question of size to consider. One glance at hefty high-fantasy series like Lord of the Rings (approximately 1,200 pages altogether) and Game of Thrones (4,228 pages and counting) can intimidate even the most avid of readers. But rest assured, not all fantasy novels are as massive and terrifying.

Whether you’re new to fantasy, or even new to reading for pleasure, there is always a point A from which to start. In this hypothetical scenario, consider “Game of Thrones” point D.

Here are some fantasy trilogies, series and standalone novels that can get you to point B (or point D, if you’re feeling ambitious).

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This 192-page book is a breeze compared to the 1,000-page epic fantasies commonly associated with the genre. The story is best enjoyed when you know little more about it than this: it gets weird and awesome. This fantasy takes place in our world where the lead character experiences a series of events that are out of this world.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
If you’re a fan of supernatural stories, this is the book to bridge the gap between genres. The book, which is the first in the ”All Souls” trilogy, follows historian (and witch) Diana Bishop and vampire Matthew Clairmont. The pair live in a world where vampires, witches, humans and demons coexist, making their romance that much more dangerous. Alongside its fantastical characters, the trilogy tackles themes of love, family, self-acceptance and more.
The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman
Consider this “Harry Potter” for adults, This trilogy (the other two books are "The Magician King" and "The Magician's Land") follows your average angry teenager, Quentin Coldwater, on his journey to learning magic and experiencing new worlds he never knew existed. If you like anti-heroes, sass and love triangles, you won’t be able to put down these books.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Given his two appearances on this list, Neil Gaiman is obviously a good place to start when it comes to fantasy. “Stardust” is best described as a twisted version of a fairy tale featuring a colourful cast of characters. Gaiman’s writing is more atmospheric than descriptive, so don’t fear any full chapters describing a tree.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
This young adult fantasy series is everywhere nowadays. The books follow a strong female protagonist — an assassin who fights and battles her way through every book in the series. Come for the badass female representation, but stay for the well-developed world.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind is a brick of a book at 662 page fantasy novel, but don’t be intimidated. The book is the first in the KingKiller Chronicles, in which the main protagonist is the narrator, re-telling his adventures as the infamous King Killer. The book is a modern classic of sorts, telling an epic fantasy story with beautiful description with intricate details - if you like that sort of thing.
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
“The False Prince” is the first in the “The Ascendance Trilogy.” The middle grade or young adult book, depending on which Indigo you walk into, is a reimagination of the simple but classic tale of “The Prince and the Pauper.” SPOILER: The end has a major plot twist. While this book may be targeted towards a younger audience, people of all ages will fall in love with the characters and their adventures.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
This dark and menacing fantasy novel is the debut of “The Grisha” trilogy, which most recently came to an end with “Ruin and Rising.” Its story follows teenage orphan Alina Starkov, who lives in the dark world, Ravka, inspired by Tsarist Russia. Readers will get to experience Alina’s growth as she learns to harness new powers to rescue her best friend.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
While "The Night Circus" isn’t an epic fantasy, it is a door into the world of magic — a central theme in all fantasy novels. In this book, two magicians come together to make the most epic of wagers. To determine the winner of the wager, the two each find a protegee. Whoever is left standing will be the winner. This scenic, surprisingly emotional book will touch your heart and keep you excited to turn the page.
The Lies Of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Think of this fantasy novel as "The Italian Job," but in late medieval Venice. The only thing better than a book about a group of thieves is when the thieves exist in a world where anything is possible. Our favourite part? This heist will last for a whole three-book series.


<em>A Visit From the Goon Squad</em> Jennifer Egan (2010, Fiction)

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