While I was thinking about what influences my own writing, I knew high fantasy would be in there somewhere. The funny thing is, I seem to remember it being more of a widespread love of mine than it actually appeared to be, upon reflection. I remember starting a lot of fantasy series, but very few kept my attention for very long. The perfect example would be Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time…I liked book one and two, but never made it through book three. I had a lot of similar experiences with other book series. There are a few which really stood out, though…
Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien: The granddaddy of them all. So much has been written and said about the trilogy and the other books and stories set in Middle-Earth, that there is nothing for me to add, really. The books set the template for every other mythical fantasy world to follow. Much of it is retrospectively clichéd due to this. I still find the books enjoyable, but much prefer Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. These two have such a massive scope and depth, they have more in common with the classic sagas than modern fantasy fiction.
Dragonlance: Chronicles, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman: Admittedly, geared more for teens than adults, it was still everything an eleven year-old me wanted in a fantasy epic. I have dug up my old copies of this trilogy (and about twenty other Dragonlance books), because I am kind of curious how an adult version of me thinks these books held up. The 80’s cover art is still some of my favorite covers (more from a nostalgic standpoint than the quality of the art).
The Riyria Revelations, Michael J. Sullivan: For some reason, several years ago, I decided to give another fantasy series a whirl. I went in a book store with no preconceived idea of which series I would choose. I settled on two: the Malazan books by Steven Erikson and the Riyria series by Sullivan. I liked the massive scope provided by the Malazan books, but I hated the writing style (I made it through the first book, but never opened the second book…). I then tried the first Riyria book (which was actually the first two books in one volume). I loved the style; I loved the characters; I loved the world. I loved the small-scale adventure feel of the books taking place in a large world. I never felt swallowed by the world-building aspect and the intimate comradeship of the two leads is written with flare and humor. I have followed Sullivan ever since…having finished Age of Myth,; I have yet to start the second book of the Legends series.