What’s Your Favorite Fantasy Story?

Since the Lord of the Rings trilogy hit theaters, everyone in the world is much more aware of the genre of fantasy storytelling. Looked at one way, every story is a fantasy of some kind including things like superheroes and vampires. With Game of Thrones returning to HBO this spring, fantasy storytelling gets an even bigger boost. We thought that this week we’d take time to find out what kinds of fantasy the Confabulators read, love or admire. 

Jack Campbell, Jr.:

I hate to say it is The Hobbit, because anything Tolkien seems like too obvious of an answer, even if it is the truth. I recently finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and it was great. Unfortunately, I haven’t read fantasy as a genre on a regular basis for probably 15 years. I am pretty out of touch on the genre.

Paul Swearingen:

Fantasy is perhaps the least favorite of my reading genres (okay, I don’t do romance nor erotica very well, either), but a well-written fantasy will certainly hold my attention. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the original fantasy, probably, is still my favorite, in spite of revelations that its author was more or less a dirty old man. Oh, well. Even dirty old men can write well.

Sara Lundberg:

I gave up high fantasy for urban fantasy awhile back. I succumbed to the seduction of the dark modern-day settings, the excessive use of vampires, and the graphic love scenes. High fantasy had too much description, too many stock characters, and not nearly enough hot sex. But then I read The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett, and I was reminded why I fell in love with high fantasy all those years ago. Beautiful world building, epic battles of good vs. evil, true heroes, and a refreshing lack of vampires and modern day slang. This book encompassed everything about high fantasy that enchanted me the very first time my Dad read us The Hobbit as children.

Jason Arnett:

Sword of Shannara was the first fantasy story that got my attention because all my friends were reading it. The Hobbit was good, but I never went on to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy because I found Robert Heinlein’s Glory Road and that was MORE fun. Later on I realized fantasy was more than swords and sorcery (though Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories will always have a place in my heart) and that things like Mike Carey’s Felix Castor novels really were fantasy, too. If I had to pick one, I’ll fudge it a little and say that Neil Gaiman is one of the finest fantasists working these days, from Sandman to Neverwhere to The Graveyard Book. One can’t go wrong with any of his work for great fantasy.

Ted Boone:

The Lord of the Rings cannot be beaten. However, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is a close second.

R.L. Naquin:

I love retellings of fairy tales. My favorite is Beauty by Robin McKinley.  So much of it recaptures the feeling of the original story of Beauty and the Beast, yet it also expands it and makes the characters real. Beauty is not some victim of her own good looks and family tragedy. She’s an insecure, intelligent, courageous young woman with a flair for gardening and a love of horses.

 Kevin Wohler:

Sometimes the best stories are the most simple. And that’s why my favorite fantasy was also one of my first. Written by Jay Williams, the classic children’s picture book “The King With Six Friends” is a great quest story. It tells of a king who befriends strangers on his quest for fortune. In turn, his new friends help the king with their special gifts. Also, the book is beautifully illustrated by Imero Gobbato. I love this story. It’s a mix of The Wizard of Oz and a superhero story. It’s about magic, friendship, and destiny. Most importantly, it started me down the road to reading more fantasy. And for that, I’m ever grateful.

I could give the very simple and narcissistic answer of, “The book I’m writing, of course!” Except it’s not my favorite book. Right now I kind of hate it–not because it’s a bad book, but because it requires fine tuning and tweaking… and because I haven’t immersed myself in it for about a month.

My favorite book is something that consumes my every thought. I live and breathe that book. Which means, that every book I read is my favorite book at some point as long as it is well-written and compelling enough to draw me in to its world. There are several fantasy books and series that I keep going back to:  The Lioness Quartet, by Tamora Pierce (and just about every other book she’s written), The Belgariad by David Eddings, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, Xanth by Piers Anthony, The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon, the Pern collection by Anne McCaffrey (though this is arguably science fiction), Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon, and of course Harry Potter by, regrettably, not me.
I would be hard pressed to pick a specific favorite book or favorite series out of those I’ve listed (and many others). They all have special meanings to me, but none of them are, specifically, my favorite books. Because they’re all my favorite fantasy books. Asking me to narrow it down further would be like expecting me to be able to breathe in outer space. I would give it my best effort, but still be unable to do so all the same.
So rather than giving a specific book as my favorite, I should tell you what makes books join the hallowed ranks of “favorites.” I want a book that gives me character growth, I want a book that is going to make me laugh just as often as it makes me cry. I want a book that when it makes me cry, it hurts. I want to be taken on an emotional roller coaster with the characters. I want the characters to make me care about them… even if that’s just me wishing them dead. I want characters that will have a moral code that they stick to, even if their morals don’t match with mine. And perhaps most of all, I want a book that I’m not going to know how it ends by the fiftieth page. Surprise me. Make me work for my happy ending. Oh, that’s the other thing. I want a happy ending–well, or for everyone to die. I’m not all that picky.

Cafe Management is run by the administration of The Confabulator Cafe. We keep things running smoothly, post stories by guest authors, and manage other boring back-end tasks.

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