Sometimes I do not want to be inside my head.
High fantasy books can be pretty scary. They’re usually massive and part of some massive series with an intricate world that is different from the real world. I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t like fantasy and I always ask… have you really tried? Are you sure you’re not just intimidated by it? Fantasy is not a genre you can just dive into. You have to ease your way into fantasy.
I think one of the most important things is not to jump right into high fantasy. If you’ve never read fantasy before. Or you’ve read like… Matilda when you were in elementary school, but nothing really beyond that, then the books that I’m about to talk about are not for you. Not yet. If that’s you, then go and read my other post A Noob’s Guide to Fantasy.
If however, you have read at least some of the books on that list, you’ve learnt how to swim in the shallows of fantasy and you kind of want to go off into deeper water, but you’re a little bit scared and you’re not really sure where to begin, then this post is for you. Grab some popcorn and allow me to ease you into the world of high fantasy.
In the interest of not making this post too long, I will not be talking about what the books are about, I’ll just leave a link to the Goodreads page so you can check them out for yourself.
The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen
This is probably the best series to get you into high fantasy. Particularly if you’re really apprehensive about reading a book that takes place in a different world. This is perfect. It’s classed as a middle grade series, but it is really good. It’s really clever and witty and quite dark for middle grade, I would say it reads a lot more like YA.
It’s an amazing series, really underrated in my opinion. It’s super fast paced, it’s not too long, the world is not that complex. It’s very similar to just… the real world but with a medieval setting. As far as I can remember, there isn’t any magic in it and if there is, it’s really not prominent. So it’s perfect for people who aren’t used to high fantasy and are perhaps a bit apprehensive about it. Although it’s also amazing for senior high fantasy consumers, like myself. It’s just a great series.
The Poison Study series by Maria V. Snyder
This is another excellent series to ease you into high fantasy. This one does have a magic system, but it doesn’t thrust you right into it, I think it only really becomes part of the story towards the end of the first book. It’s really easy to get into, it’s really fast paced. Maria V. Snyder has a great writing style, I really enjoyed this series. I think most of her novels take place in the same world and I think there are 2 or 3 series known as The Chronicles of Ixia. I’ve only read I think 7 of them, but to begin with, I would recommend the first 6 books, which follow the same characters, because I believe the next ones focus more on other characters.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Another pretty light one, as far as fantasy goes. It has a slightly more complex world than the previous two. It takes place in a desert, Roman-like society and it has some elements of magic and mythology that are a little bit more prominent that in the previous books I mentioned, but it’s still not too dense, you don’t get thrust into it, it’s really not difficult to understand and get into.
I’ve only read the first book so far, but I really enjoyed it and I think it’s a good series for beginners. It’s not too long, it’s not too complicated, and it has a really cool setting and some nice mythology to it. I also have a spoiler-free review of this, if you’re interested to read that.
The Assassin’s Curse series by Cassandra Rose Clarke
If you like pirates and assassins, this book is it. This is a duology, the books are quite short and while there is quite a heavy element of magic and mythology, it’s not dense or difficult to understand. I really enjoyed this series, it’s got quite unique characters as far as the YA genre goes. And I think it’s perfect if you’ve maybe read one of the previous books I talked about in this post and are ready for the next step. It’s a bit more complex a fantasy world, but it’s not too bad.
The Graceling Series by Kristin Kashore
This one is a bit more complex. This is the graduation series of this guide to high fantasy. If you’ve read this, you’ll probably be ready to take on some of the more hardcore fantasy series. The world is more complex, the magic system is more complex and the books are longer, closer to your standard high-fantasy book, around 500 pages. It’s not that fast paced. Some people find it slow, I personally really loved the series and I think the fact that it isn’t very fast paced, is good for people who are not as used to high-fantasy. Because it gives you time to digest the world and how the magic works and so on.
This is a companion series. They can either be read in chronological order, or publication order. I recommend publication order, so start with Graceling, then Fire, then Bitterblue.
So, yeah these 5 books/series I think are a very good way to get into high fantasy. I hope this list helps someone get into high fantasy, because it’s an amazing genre and there are so many good stories that people may be missing out on because they’re intimidated by the genre. Let me know if this did help you, or if you’re already a veteran fantasy reader, what books would you recommend for noobs? Also, for fellow veterans, because I’m always on the lookout for some good fantasy recs.
I’ve heard so many people saying that they don’t like fantasy, they only like realistic books. And to those people I say… give it a chance. You’ll probably end up loving it. I know it can be an intimidating genre. There’s usually so many books in those fantasy series and there’s so much you need to understand and it can get pretty intense. So I don’t blame you for being a little bit scared.
You can’t just jump into fantasy. You need to ease yourself into it. And that’s what I’m here for. Sit back, relax and let me take you on a short guide to getting into fantasy. The trick is not diving straight into high fantasy. Start a bit closer to home.
In the interest of not making this post too long, I will not be talking about what each book is about, instead I’ll just link the Goodreads page so you can check them out for yourself.
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
Okay, you probably saw this coming. But seriously, it’s one of the best series to get you into fantasy. It’s funny and well written and just so epic, but it still takes place in the ‘real world’ and it does a very good job of introducing all the magical elements. Besides… it’s like a massive cultural thing. If you haven’t read it, you need to read it. Just give it a couple books. It gets better and better and better. Just read Harry Potter.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan
Another one you probably saw coming. It’s so funny and witty and easy to read. The books are pretty short and they’re just so, laugh-out-loud funny. They’re brilliant. So easy to get through, so much fun. You’ll probably love them. If you’ve seen the film and think it’s shit, forget what you saw and read the books, because the film really was shit.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This is a beautiful book. I would almost call it magical realism. It’s very much a realistic book. It does have magical elements that are incredibly significant, but it’s very realistic. For those people who think “Eh, I don’t like fantasy, I like realistic stories that I can relate to.” If you think fantasy is fanciful or whatever, read A Monster Calls. It’s short, you can read it in a couple hours, just read it.
I also have a review of it, if you are interested.
The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
I adore this series. It’s so underrated. It’s so much fun. I love the characters, I love the story and the magic is so well woven together with the mundane, it’s great. It’s great for getting into fantasy and it’s great if you’re already a fantasy reader. It’s just a great series all around. So witty and well written, it’s awesome. It’s a long series, but the books are quite short and fast paced and easy to read and you’ll have a blast with them.
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Cassandra Clare is sort of the graduation of this guide. She’s a very good bridge between sort of regular, low fantasy and high fantasy. All her books, really, although I do strongly recommend reading her books in publication order for the best experience. Technically, you can read each series as a standalone series, even though it takes place within the same world, but you get a lot more out of them if you read them in publication order, because Cassie has a way of weaving stories together and the easter eggs are so satisfying.
You might find City of Bones, the first book, a bit boring, but it’s not difficult to read or get into and Cassandra really does get better with every book and every series. So I recommend, if you’re not a really big fan of City of Bones, try the next one. I would say, the end of book two is where the series starts getting really good. If you can get through the first two books, you’ll probably end up hooked on Cassie Clare.
These are 5 books/series that I think are great for getting you into fantasy. I hope if you were unsure about fantasy, that this post has provided some guidance. Fantasy is such a wonderful and diverse genre, there’s really something for everyone within it, so don’t dismiss it. Just give it a chance. Also, if you’ve already taken your first steps into the world of fantasy and would like to move to intense fantasy, but maybe you’re a bit intimidated, check out my guide about getting into high fantasy.
Sometimes, there are things you cannot do. Like, you physically cannot bring yourself to do it. Your mind and body and being simply refuse to even consider it. Because they cannot deal with the anxiety it causes. It’s like an invisible, insurmountable force around that thing. And you know that it makes no sense. That there is no reason why there should be that force around it. No reason why doing it should be in any way difficult. But it is. And there’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to keep probing until the force goes away. Or at least, until it’s not quite as strong. Until you can overcome it. And it feels so completely out of your control. Maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. But it feels like it is.
The most frustrating thing is the knowing. Because there is that part of you that is rational, that is cool and collected and recognizes that there is nothing there preventing you from doing that thing. That the force is just in your mind. It’s fictitious. But it doesn’t matter. Because that part of you is not in control. All it can do is rage in frustration. Shake fists and grind teeth. Or so it feels. Sometimes, it can win. Sometimes, it successfully usurps the other part, the irrational one. But then you feel so tired. Bone tired. It takes so much.
1. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
I didn’t particularly like this book. It was too wishy-washy and insta-lovey for me. It had a pretty cool world concept, but it just wasn’t enough to hold my interest. You can read my full review of it here if you are interested, but yeah… not likely to ever pick up the other ones.
2. Legend by Marie Lu
It’s not that I didn’t like this. I enjoyed it. It’s just that my focus has sort of shifted away from dystopian in the past year and I really don’t read dystopia anymore unless it’s some mindblowingly amazing one. And Legend was good, but it wasn’t by any means mindblowing. So I just don’t think I will ever get around to reading the other two books. I’m still holding out for The Young Elites though. It was so much better than Legend and it’s a fantasy dystopia and I don’t know why I haven’t read the rest of it yet, but I hope it won’t end up on my next “will not finish” post, because it would be a shame.
3. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
UGH! I do not know how to tell you how much I hated this book. I actually haven’t even finished it because it’s so boring and annoying and Snow is so whiny and insufferable and stupid. *deep breath* Yeah, no. Not going to happen.
4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
I really enjoyed this book. But I read it quite a while ago and I haven’t picked up the other ones and I just don’t really see myself doing that anytime soon. I still might get around to reading it eventually. Though realistically, I probably won’t because you know… so many books, so little time. It’s like Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. “Oh, I kept the first for another day, But knowing how way leads on way,/I doubted if I should ever come back.” I really like that poem.
There are a few other candidates for this list, but I’ll hold out on them a little longer. Still, I reckon it won’t be too long before I have another one of these posts.
One unknown and one unknowable.
One unheard and one unhearable.
One untouched and one untouchable.
One unreached and one unreachable.
Political corectness is society’s newest obsession. And like all obsessions, I think it’s becoming harmful and getting in the way of healthy interactions. I mean, I get it. I get where this obsession comes from, but the problem is that it stems from… almost a false sense of dignity. And it’s got to a point where you have to think 3 times before saying anything lest someone in your vicinity gets offended. That does not promote healthy communication.
Not only that, but it’s got to a point where it’s almost perverse in its mentality. An example that’s been recently on my mind for obvious reasons is when Christmas rolls around every year and you wish someone Merry Christmas and they give you this offended look and tell you very curtly “I don’t celebrate Christmas.” So what? Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, does not change the fact that it IS Christmas on the 25th of December. So if on the 25th of December, I wish you Merry Christmas, I’m wishing you a nice day. Why are you offended by that? Why can’t you just smile back and say “Thank you.”. I guarantee you that nobody who wishes you a Happy Christmas does so with any other intention that to simply share a little bit of joy with you. And what’s wrong with that? How messed up is it to get offended when someone wishes you a happy day just because that day holds a different significance for them than it does for you?
This is just one of the many, many instances when people get so butthurt about things that they have no reason to be offended by. And because of this, people live in fear of saying something that isn’t politically correct. It adds so much tension to social interaction, so much negativity to it. Instead of being so hung up on political corectness, we should just exercise respect and compassion for others. If we did that, nobody would care about political corectness. Nobody would feel the need to ‘defend’ themselves. Nobody would feel like they needed this false sense of dignity that political corectness affords them.