Older Fiction

digging back to my kid years, some of the influential stories i remember most are these:

Dragonriders of Pern (world)

Anne McCaffrey

the Pern books made dragons into our friends. before this, dragons only showed up in literature as foes. this series, and all the subsequent series in the same world, are a huge part of why i thought of myself as dragon or dragon-adjacent through much of my youth, as well as why i think bards are pretty fine people in any fantasy setting


Belgariad (series)

David Eddings

this author had a story to tell about an epic fight between elemental good and atomic evil, then they proceeded to write the same fantasy series four times over trying to tell it. i think the first series told it best. one of the common criticisms it receives is the “planet of hats” trope – each country in the world is a monoculture, organized around one twist on human nature. i pose that’s actually a strength of the series though, as we get to tour the world and see each twist taken to extreme levels. it’s a dive through this author’s idea of the main axis of human psychology


Coldfire (series)

C.S. Friedman

this was the first grimdark mage fantasy i ever read as a teenager. seriously, nothing ever goes well, and i found it glorious because of it


A Wizard of Earthsea (series)

Ursula K. Le Guin

the Earthsea books arguably had as much defining influence on the genre of fantasy as Lord of the Rings. they are still fantastic, and as much psychology as they are an adventure through lands near, far, and beyond the grave. please skip the tele adaption though, as they totally missed the point, on just about everything


Riddle Master of Hed (series)

Patricia A. McKillip

these books have a deep take on the concept of land-law – you know, where the king of a land and the land itself are entwined, and the health of one affects the health of the other


Trumps of Doom (series)

Roger Zelazny

this author wrote a pretty popular series, called the Chronicles of Amber. then they wrote a second series in the same world with different characters, but i guess it’s considered part of the same series? whatever, i liked the second run of books better. Trumps of Doom and its sequels follow a kid who’s a child of chaos as much as order, and we all know chaos is more fun


The Prydain Chronicles (series)

Lloyd Alexander

the first couple books of this series were adapted into one of Disney’s early animated movies. The Black Cauldron is okay, but my favorite part of the series is book four, Taran Wanderer. i wanted to be Taran when i was a kid


Gom on Windy Mountain (series)

Grace Chetwin

this series is an unknown footnote in the history of young adult fiction, as me and maybe only five other people in the world ever actually read it. that said, i loved it. this is the series i look for when i find myself in a used bookstore


The Big Scratch

Christopher Reed

this standalone book was the first story i ever read that starred cats. the main character is a rough-and-tumble feline private eye, haunting the docks, alleys, and trash-cans of a human world. it’s been fun on every re-read. it has a sequel, which i picked up once as well, but that’s written in German and i don’t grok the language enough to appreciate it

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