This post was originally scheduled for next Monday. However, some exciting things (like my new novel’s release) are taking precedence on Monday, so instead of bumping this one back further I decided to push it up to today. I hope you will not mind.
The problem with fantasy, like the problem with science fiction, really, is that defining the genre is so blasted difficult. Then there is the problem that these fantasy books often come in long series. This makes it exceedingly difficult because a series can be over-the-top great but within the series there is not a single stellar book that would be the best. I hope that makes sense to you, because it makes sense to me but I’m not sure it makes sense. And yes, I realize the ridiculousness of that sentence, it accentuates my problem.
Okay, now having said that, here are my top three fantasy books. As you read, please keep in mind these are not in any particular order.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Book Five of the Chronicles of Narnia), C. S. Lewis
I know that I will get push back on this one. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is everybody’s favorite. I love it too, but there is something about Dawn Treader that is marvelous. I don’t know if it is the rag tag crew, their odd discoveries, dragons, the speculation about heaven or that it is a tribute to The Odyssey but there is something about this book that makes it my favorite in the set. Plus, it has one of the greatest first lines ever: “There once was a boy called Eustace Clarence Srubb, and he almost deserved it.”
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
If you didn’t like my first pick, I know you’ll not like this one. The world is filled with Lord of the Rings aficionados, including some of my very best friends, but for my money The Hobbit is a better book than any of those three. Here are my reasons. One, it is shorter. The eventual finished product was longer than the first release, I grant that. This demonstrates Tolkien’s perfectionist tendencies. Shorter is better because it skips all that blasted elfin poetry. Second, its more playful. The Hobbit is really just a treasure quest tale. Compare Gandalf in The Hobbit with Gandalf in LOTR. He is far funnier and whimsical in The Hobbit. Third, LOTR is slightly predictable. You can see it all coming. The Hobbit, not so much. These three differences is why I think The Hobbit movies are failing, they are trying to reduplicate LOTR but The Hobbit is a completely different kind of tale.
The Singer Trilogy, Calvin Miller
I will not have a “Christian Fiction” book category in these lists. The main reason is my strong conviction that Christian literature doesn’t exist. There is only literature. Christian writers should strive to create works of art that stand on their own merit as they reflect a biblical worldview. The Singer Trilogy (originally released as three small books, The Singer, The Song, and The Finale) does that. It is outstanding artwork and poetry that casts Christ as a troubadour singing an eternal song. Calvin Miller was a teacher and hero of mine, but that is not why this book is on my list. It is on my list because it is a great work. That it is biblical is a bonus.
So these are my three fantasy book favorites. What are yours? What do you think of mine? I’d love to know.