Fantasy Series Every Fan of the Genre Should Explore

Reading Room: How J.R.R. Tolkien Transformed the World by Creating a Universe

Image of the Cover of Lord of the RingsSince Peter Jackson brought The Lord of the Rings to the big screen and birthed a global cinematic phenomenon, J.R.R. Tolkien’s work has cultivated a modern, international following. When paired with the literature’s original fandom, it far exceeds most anything the world has ever witnessed before. The tale of the One Ring and all the related stories observably impacted generations of fantasy writers, so much so that his influence is starkly visible, even today. Beyond just books, J.R.R. Tolkien introduced characters and tropes of such intense cultural importance that to list where his work rears its head in popular culture would be an utterly exhaustive and arguably impossible endeavor. The way he conceptualized folklore like elves, giants, wizards, dragons, and dwarves is mirrored in various movies, TV shows, novels and comics today. Direct references to his work is mentioned in every conceivable medium of entertainment stretching back decades, from ‘90s sitcom Friends to music by The Beatles.

The question, then, is “why?” What is it about J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing that so deeply moved so many people across not just enormous swaths of space, but also over incredible stretches of time? It is certainly an exciting tale, and the characters are definitely beloved. However, that only really begins to scratch the surface of what makes this work, more than almost any other, so special. In fact, there are literary critics to this day that are happy to debate the narrative merits of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing from a technical standpoint. Although time has made it clear that the action and adventure of the story is beyond exceptional, what makes his body of work truly unique, unlike anything that has come before or since, is its depth.

Typically, the unspoken contract a fiction reader makes with the author is that he or she will suspend disbelief in return for entertainment. Tolkien hammered away at that archaic agreement with the tools he had available – words and his imagination. He called this notion, “secondary creation.” By creating a universe so shockingly rich with history and detail, Tolkien relieves that burden on the reader to suspend disbelief. The universe of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion is so dense and fleshed out, it is easier than anything literature had ever before seen to fully immerse oneself in.

Entire histories, languages, dialects, peoples, traditions, and nations are born, live, and die within these pages. True fans of Tolkien’s work understand that he did not make up a fictional world in which to tell a story – he wrote a story as a line by which to reel us into an impossibly immersive world. Therein lies his genius. He did not just give us fictional characters, he gave us that fictional cultures that defined them…and the histories which created those cultures, as well as the myths which influenced those histories, and so on and so forth. Tolkien’s creation is so deep that it leaves you absolutely craving more, and he endeavored to satiate that craving. This experience is simply unlike anything else available in the pages of a book elsewhere. And, as a result, our world is forever changed by the magic of one created in the mind of a brilliant man.

Lets Talk About Game of Thrones!

Game of Thrones came about during an era of door-stopper fantasy series that are apparently endless. Its often tedious to consider entering the world of newbies when there are so many other attention grabbing fantasy book series hitting the shelves. After all, Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind are already taking over the feild so why try anything else huh? Haha.. But in all honesty, each book should be judged on its own merits. For example: George R.R Martins A Song of Ice and Fire proves that there’s still room for diamonds among the rough.


The initial book in the series is the award-winning A Game of Thrones. Describing the book is not an easy task. Mainly because a short summary will miss one of the precious facets of a great piece work. But here’s an attempt to give those who’ve never read the book a feel:

Imagine a feudal kingdom on a massive continent in a world filled with many cultures and half-legendary lands, all connected together through an ancient history. Imagine a time where dragons once lived but magic is now dwindling,where the seasons can be long or short, bringing glorious summers or terrible winters that last years at a time. Imagine an iron throne from which seven kingdoms are ruled, with false knights and true all gathered about it in hopes of blood or glory or profit, and shadows behind it pushing the pieces that make up the game of thrones.

That’s the book for you, well…in a nut-shell. But if you want something more specific, try this:

The story begins with an immensely frightening prologue that announces who the truest “enemies are”, suddenly we enter the castle of winter-fell. We are then introduced to the Starks, King Robert and his Iron Throne. Yes, the beginning includes a man being executed and on the same bloody day direwolf pups are found next to the dead body of a huge direwolf, killed by a broken antler in her neck.

Later on down the line we the readers are introduced to a series of events such as a shock of fear that arrives when Stark Motto announces, “Winter is Coming”, this serves as a reminder that there’s a great danger that almost no one is paying attention to. Game of Thrones consists of Politics, murders, and conspiracies. Tournaments, love, hatred. War, battle, trials. Disaster and victory. But, thats not even the half, Game of Thrones is notably one of the best fantasies written in the last decade, and it stands proudly up there right next series such as The Lord of the Rings.  In short, If you want something written in a straightforward tone without the use of political intrigues,  minus bloody battles or frank language and sexual situations, without the use of a  huge cast of characters, then A Game of Thrones may not be for you. But if you are looking for a fantasy book series that surprises you and leaves you yearning for more but also leaves you elated, angry and sad by the turn of the page, then give it a try! I promise you, you wont be disappointed.