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Genre Guide: Fantasy

Welcome to our Genre Guide series! This series will give readers exposure to unfamiliar material - and perhaps a refresher on old favorites. First up: fantasy.

Covers of fantasy novels

Typical elements in fantasy are elaborate world building, heroes, thrilling action, genuine emotion, unironic humor, and, never forget, magic. No discussion of fantasy can ignore magic. My husband, a lifelong fantasy reader and the person who introduced me to the genre, defines the difference between sci-fi and fantasy as “sci fi has technology we don’t have, and fantasy has magic.” It’s a solid, functional definition, especially for movies: The Matrix has future tech, The Lord of the Rings has magic. Fantasy has many subgenres, too; most notable are epic fantasy, which includes lots of swordplay; urban fantasy, which inserts elements of the fantastic into real-world settings; and paranormal, which incorporates vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc.

The following Top 5's give some of the best of the genre, some personal recommendations, and a look at what's new with fantasy. When you're ready for more, try searching our catalog, getting more recommendations, or looking for award winners in the genre.


Top 5 Classic Authors

Marion Zimmer Bradley Ursula K. Le Guin George R. R. Martin Terry Pratchett J. R. R. Tolkien


Top 5 Up-and-Coming Authors

Joe Abercrombie Kelley Armstrong Nnedi Okorafor Daniel O’Malley Helen Oyeyemi



Top 5 Classic Books

Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Cover of The Lion,  </p>
<p>the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

Cover of The Dragonriders of Pern

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Cover of Game of Thrones

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Cover of Lord of </p>
<p>the Rings

Once and Future King by T. H. White

Cover of The Once and Future King


Top 5 New Titles

Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Cover of The Aeronaut's Windlass

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

Cover of Delicious </p>
<p>Foods

Slade House by David Michell

Cover of Slade </p>
<p>House

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Cover of Uprooted



My Favorite 5

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Cover of Storm Front

The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

Cover of The Magician's </p>
<p>Land

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Cover of Master and </p>
<p>Margarita

The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern

Cover of The Night Circus

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Cover of Tigana