“The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster
-Recommended by Garrett Calcaterra, author of Dreamwielder
free online, thanks to it being in the public domain.
Earth Giant (1961) by Edison Marshall
-Recommended by Howard Andrew Jones, author of the Arabian historical fantasies The Desert of Souls and The Bones of the Old Ones
Not only have I never met anyone who’s read this, I’ve never met anyone who’s even heard of the novel. Labeling Earth Giant fantasy is a little bit of a stretch, for there are only two minor magical moments in the entire book. But then it’s not exactly a straight historical novel, either, as only mythical figures appear within its pages. Instead, it’s the best depiction I’ve ever read of one of mankind’s most famous heroes, Herakles. The stirring exploits depicted within this novel might very well have been those that gave birth to the legends that have come down to us. Sure, the cover of Earth Giant makes it look like one of those 50s/60s historical potboilers where much is promised but very little really happens, but Marshall delivers. Not only are there great story arcs and surprises, but Herakles himself is an incredibly likeable character, far different from his more common brash or even arrogant depictions. Any heroic fantasy lovers really owe it to themselves to track it down.
She and Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard
-Recommended by CJ Cherryh, Hugo and Locus Award winning author
She is associated with the Allan Quatermain stories: "She Who Must Be Obeyed" is an eternal queen. I was also enchanted with the valiant Umslopogaas, the Zulu warrior... Eric Brighteyes is a Viking romance. I loved the images.
A Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan
-Recommended by Tim Powers, World Fantasy Award winning author
The Art of Arrow Cutting by Stephen Dedman
-Recommended by Misty Massey, author of the fantasy novel Mad Kestrel
Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip
-Recommended by Mary C. Moore, author and literary agent.
This is not the case of Patricia McKillip. Although McKillip is perhaps best known for her Riddle Master series or The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, both of which were published in the seventies, her later work is where she really starts to shine. Her prose has a lyrical quality to it that is hard to match, and her stories are both wonderfully spiritual and utterly magical. Od Magic, published in 2005—nearly 20 years after her first—is a true testament to an author who has matured in time. You would be hard pressed to find another fantasy novel that captures such earthly beauty and emotion wrapped up in floating specks of magical dust.
Illumination by Terry McGarry
-Recommended by D.B. Jackson/David B. Coe, author of the historical urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry
The Reckoning by Ruby Jean Jensen
-Recommended by Brian Barnett, author of the middle-grade chapter book, Graveyard Scavenger Hunt
The Last City by Nina D'Aleo
Recommended by Ahimsa Kerp, co-author of the mosaic novel, The Roads to Baldairn Motte
Superfolks by Robert Mayer
-Recommended by James Aquilone, writer and editor
Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
-Recommended by Luna Lindsey, author of the urban fantasy novel, Emerald City Dreamer
The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling
-Recommended by Craig Comer, co-author of The Roads to Baldairn Motte
Lord Darcy, the 2002 omnibus edition, by Randall Garrett (edited by Eric Flint)
-Recommended by Wendy Wagner, author of Skinwalkers
Another Day, Another Dungeon by Greg Costikyan and The Hero Always Wins by Robert Eaton
-Recommended by M Todd Gallowglas, author of Judge of Dooms
Fantasy is my biggest love in reading. I've been reading fantasy for the better part of four decades, and that's a lot of books. I first fell in love with Tolkien and Lewis, then moved on to Brooks and Eddings. I've read widely across the genre, soaking up the good, the bad, and the weird. One of the things I love most is when a book really surprises me by twisting some expectation of something considered a trope of the fantasy genre. To that, I have two suggestions for books that I had a lot of fun reading.
Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirlees
-Recommended by James P. Blaylock, World Fantasy Award winning author
(Blaylock’s recommendation was originally published here, along with 9 other obscure fantasy novels he recommends. Reprint of this rec done with his permission. –GC)