Friday, January 13, 2012
Ever since the Harry Potter books were published, there has been an explosion of YA Fantasy. But people seem to forget that fantasy has been around a long time.

This week I thought I’d recommend some nearly forgotten fantasy novels that have been collecting dust on your library shelves. These have been around long before Harry went to Hogwarts, some even before Bilbo left the Shire.

The Princess and The Goblin by George MacDonald

"The story of young Princess Irene and her friend Curdie, who must outwit the threatening goblins who live in caves beneath her mountain home." — I read this when I was a little girl, and I was enchanted by its magic. Just a fun note: MacDonald's goblins were part of the inspiration for Tolkien's orcs.

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

"When orphan Maria arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she's come home. Her new guardian is kind and funny, and everyone there is like an old friend. But beneath the beauty and comfort lies a tragedy. I thought this book was all about me when I read it (mostly because my last name is Mooney, so of course I am a moon princess).

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

"The adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain."  I was actually really late learning about these books, and I regret that. I could see my twelve-year-old self devouring them.

The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany

"The heartbreaking story of a marriage between a mortal man and an elf princess is a masterful tapestry of the fairy tale following the 'happily ever after.'"  I found this book in high school and fell in love with it. I felt like I was dreaming while I read it. It was written when Tolkien was just a young man and influenced his creation of the elves of Middle Earth.

The Once and Future King Series by T. H. White

"A masterful retelling of the saga of King Arthur is a fantasy classic as legendary as Excalibur and Camelot, and a poignant story of adventure, romance, and magic that has enchanted readers for generations."  I love the world the T. H. White created, so strange and beautiful and authentic.

Quest for a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry

"Meg Wright is nine when she hides under a table and hears her sister Inge kill the King of Scotland by witchcraft, setting in motion a treacherous power struggle."  This one had me from the first line. The story is set in a magical world, but its heroine has no magical abilities. She has to rely on courage and cleverness, and I loved that.

The Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce

"Alanna of Trebond disguises herself as a boy and makes her way to the castle of King Roald to begin training as a page. As she masters the skills necessary for battle, Alanna must also learn to control her heart." — This is another series I started reading in high school, and I've reread it many times since. It's a must read for any fantasy lover.

Some of these books are out of print, but you can still find them at your local library, or you can buy them used on Amazon. 

Are there any forgotten books that you think people should start reading again?



Kristan said...

I'm sure it will be no surprise to you that I recommend The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. SUCH great fantasy books.

In elementary school, we had a teacher who read The Chronicles of Prydain to us during naptime. It was the best. Since I was sleeping/sleepy, I don't remember much, except loving the story and having good dreams. :)

Quest for a Maid is kind of a lame title, lol, but it sounds awesome, and I too am attracted to the idea of this girl with no powers.

Unknown said...

Steph, I love this list!! My little brother was the one reading fantasy when we were kids and demanded I read Prydain (LOVE) and Narnia.

I wish I had something to add, but I've gotten into fantasy way late. LOTR in high school/college, A Game of Thrones only last year because someone physically put a copy in my hands.

And now I can't get enough. xx

Matthew MacNish said...

I can't believe I haven't heard of some of these. Thanks!

Stephanie Mooney said...

Kristan, I had stop myself from putting The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown on this list. We've talked about them so much already. You know I absolutely adore them though. You would love Quest for a Maid! I'll have to lend it to you.

Sarah, I'm slightly jealous. I wish I could read some of these books for the first time again. The good thing about getting into fantasy late is that there's so much to read ahead of you! ;)

Matthew, glad I pointed you to something new. You'll have to come back and let us know how you liked them.

sonje said...

This is a fantastic list! I'm bookmarking this page so that I can come back to it when I'm looking for something to read.

Michelle Santiago said...

Oh wow, all those books sound amazing! I'll have to keep an eye out for them the next time I go to the library because I would love to read them.

Great post and thanks for stopping by our blog :)

Stephanie Mooney said...

Sonje & Lesie, Thanks! I hope you enjoy them when you read them. :)

Sandie @Teen Lit Rocks said...

My husband and son are going to start the Lloyd Alexander series after the firstborn turns 10 in February. So excited about their father-son book bonding!

Erica said...

I am sad to say I haven't read any of these - I have The Little White Horse somewhere, I still remember buying it. I was in the second grade and I had just finished the Harry Potter book that had come out and my mom took me to B&N since I had a giftcard and they'd recommended it for fans of HP, but for some reason I never read it. I have no idea why.

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



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