Niki’s Best Book Bulletin: Fantasy!

#1 Daughter of the Empire

Series: Kelewan Empire

Authors: Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Told from the persepctive of a woman in the Tsurani homeworld of Kelewan, this is a brillaint expansion on a facinating peoples referred to in Feist’s Riftwar saga. I loved every moment, disappearing for two days as I devoured all three books in the trilogy. Everything from the characters to the highly memorable world-buidling had me hooked from start to finish. I loved them so much, that no book has managed to stack up since. Read full review

#2 Dragon Weather

Series: Obsidian Chronicles

Author: Lawrence Watt-Evans

You might recognize this from my Dragon Bulletin, as it’s still one of the best books I’ve read in the entire genre. Adrian was only 11 when a dragon destroyed his village, killing everyone but him. Left alone and defenseless, he is soon captured and sold into slavery, sent to work the mines of the Lord Dragon. As Adrian grows through the story, he seeks vengeance on those who wronged him. I have to say I loved every moment of this trilogy – so much so that I bought them in hardcover. Watt-Evans is an excellent writer. He has a way of drawing you in, making every moment is engaging and entertaining. Not only is it an amazing dragon book, it just plain good fantasy!

#4 Magician: Apprentice

Series: The Riftwar Saga

Author: Raymond E. Feist

This is a story about a young orphaned boy named Pug who is chosen as the apprentice to Master Kulgan, a magician. When invaders from another world threaten the kingdom, Pug finds himself swept up on an epic adventure that will take him to places he never could’ve imagined. As the long-time favorite of my family, “Magician: Apprentice” is the book that first inspired my love of the genre. I’ve gone through hundreds of books since then, and it is still one of the best novels I’ve ever read. It’s got all of the elements I loved about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it is written in a much more vibrant and story-driven manner. I highly recommend it for both hard-core fantasy fans and those hoping to give the genre a try. You wont be disappointed. Read full review

#4 Heart of Myrial

Series: The Shadowleague

Author: Maggie Furey

Myrial is a world divided by magical walls, giving each species within it an isolated sanctuary. Dark powers have been unleashed in the land, and the worst is about to happen. Hurling towards apocalypse, the walls are beginning to crumble, and only a select few from a secret society of guardians can stop it. I have read so many fantasy books that, after a while, they all start to sound the same. What Furey does is give you dynamic and interesting characters, a unique and fascinating world, and a cleverly woven plot to make for one of the best books out there. Despite my best efforts, she is still relatively unheard-of, and that is a shame. Her novels rival and beat some of the most well-known books in the genre. I LOVED this trilogy.

#5 The Name of the Wind

Series: Kingkiller Chronicles

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Kvothe is a young man with an impossible task: locating the men that killed his family – beings that supposedly don’t exist. In this seemingly never-ending search for justice, he manages to work his way to become the most notorious magician his world has ever seen. There is not a single thing I didn’t like about this book. In fact, the only reason it’s not higher on the list is that I’ve only just discovered it. The characters come alive, and are much more than words on a page, the story is beautifully written, bringing the story to life without being overdone, and the plot is one of the most well-woven that I’ve ever read. I am dying for the final book, that’s all I’m saying. Read full Review

#6 Joust

Series: Dragon Jousters

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Also a duplicate from my Dragon Bulletin, Vetch is a young slave who yearns to become a jouster – a warrior who rides a dragon into battle. Sold into a house of riders, he soon finds himself caring for the great beasts. It isn’t long before he gets the idea to raise one in secret… This is by-far my favorite Mercedes Lackey series, and she’s got a lot to choose from. Oddly, I love books that teach you things. After reading “Joust” I felt like I knew a lot more about how to care for and train dragons (useless knowledge, I realize, but filled with awesomeness nonetheless). This was one of the most fun books to read – I loved it!

#7 First Truth

Series: Truth

Author: Dawn Cook (aka Kim Harrison)

Despite her father’s best efforts, Alyssa didn’t believe in magic. Not even when it compelled her to journey to the Hold, a fortress hidden in the wilderness where students come to learn the craft. Finding it almost abandoned, Alyssa works with some trusted companions to save it from destruction and finds the courage to embrace her father’s legacy. I’ll be the first to admit that nothing particularily epic happens in this series, but that didn’t diminish my love for it in the least. The love story element has always been one of my favorites, but that’s not even the best part. There is such a momentum built up throughout the series that by the time I made it to the final book, I was up all night finding out what happens. Read full review

#8 Homeland

Series: Legend of Drizzt

Author: R.A. Salvatore

“Homeland’ is not just the first of an amazing trilogy, but is also the beginning of the brilliant “Legend of Drizzt” saga. A well-rounded prequel, it takes you deep into the kingdom of Menzoberranzan where dark elves rule with unabashed cruelty. Among them dwells Drizzt, an anomaly with honor and compassion who yearns for a different life. A tad slow to start, the story soon launches to become one of the most epic fantasy adventures in the genre. I’ve read this first trilogy several times, and find new things to appreciate about it each time I do. One of the best characters in fantasy history, Drizzt will always keep you wanting more! Read full review

#9 Wayfarer Redemption

Series: Wayfarer Redemption

Author: Sara Douglass

A heroic story about a woman who defies all odds to learn the true nature of her people. She unveils a secret in the process that might save the world from ultimate destruction at the hands of an evil lord and his terrifying ice demons. I’m still reeling from this series years later, and am biding my time until I can get back and read it again. So so memorable, and the characters and plot are amazing. It is such a well-rounded series that I think it deserves a lot more attention than it’s gotten. I would love to see this one made into a film.

#10 Kushiel’s Dart

Series: Kushiel’s Legacy

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Submission was never so powerful… following the story of Phedre no Delaunay, this book will take you on one heck of a adventure. Filled with intrigue, history, love, and passion, this is one of the most unique books you’ll ever read. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate politics, but reading about them in this format was actually quite entertaining. I remember tiny details about this book, and the characters really resonated with me. Definitely an excellent historical/romantic/fantasy fusion.

Honorable Mentions! (Because what book lover doesn’t experience turmoil when trying to narrow down their favorites?)

HM#1 Aware

Series: Isles of Glory

Author: Glenda Larke

Facing the struggles of a female half-breed, Blaze is the ultimate minority in this world. She is also an aware – a gifted person who senses magic. She uses this talent to hunt down dark sorcerers, hoping to earn a place in an unforgiving society. My favorite element of this series was the phenomenal world-building. I love the totoal escape Larke provides, and have found all of her works to be totally transporting. Because of this, she has become one of my all-time favorite authors! Her “Stormlord” series easily makes it into the top 20.

HM#2 Wizard’s First Rule

Series: Sword of Truth

Author: Terry Goodkind

This is a story about a young woodsman named Richard who journeys across the boundary separating his home from the magic-infested land beyond. Destined for a role which he’s not yet ready for, he relies on the wit and wisdom of his companions to help him defeat the evil Darken Rahl. The second and third time I read this book, even I had to admit it was a bit wordy. The first time around, I was so absorbed in the story that I didn’t notice or care – it was an incredibly gripping story. It also has my all-time favorite female character: Kahlen.

HM#3 Thief’s Gamble

Series: Tales of Einarinn

Author: Juliet E. McKenna

Searching for an important artifact, Livak is a young scholar who sets out with an almost-mage and a wizard to track them down. Faced with many obstacles to their quest, she takes a gamble that just might prove to be the worst decision she’s ever made… or best. I really appreciate the characters, the adventure, and the world-building in this series. McKenna takes you all over this land in a way that I found totally entertaining.

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HM#4 Mistborn

Series: Mistborn

Author: Brandon Sanderson

In a world where metals are the source of power, an unlikely cast of miscreants just might have what it takes to save the world. One of the most excellent cast of characters in any fantasy novel I’ve read, each one was dynamic and interesting. To top that off, the magic system was also original, and the plot was a complex and fascinating culmination of events that I am still reeling from. Loved it!

These are my favorites, now what about YOU? What books make the top of your fantasy list?

by Niki Hawkes

Niki’s Best Book Bulletin: Dragons!

Here’s a list of my top 6 favorite dragon books of all-time! What dragon books are at the top of your list?

#1 Dragon Weather

Author: Lawrence Watt-Evans

Series: Obsidian Chronicles

Adrian was only 11 when a dragon destroyed his village, killing everyone but him. Left alone and defenseless, he is soon captured and sold into slavery, sent to work the mines of the Lord Dragon. As Adrian grows through the story, he seeks vengeance on those who wronged him. I have to say I loved every moment of this trilogy – so much so that I bought them in hardcover. Watt-Evans is an excellent writer. He has a way of drawing you in, making every moment is engaging and entertaining. Not only is it an amazing dragon book, it just plain good fantasy!

#2 Joust

Author: Mercedes Lackey

Series: Dragon Jousters

Vetch is a young slave who yearns to become a jouster – a warrior who rides a dragon into battle. Sold into a house of riders, he soon finds himself caring for the great beasts. It isn’t long before he gets the idea to raise one in secret… Not only is this my favorite Mercedes Lackey series, but it’s quite arguably one of my favorite series of all-time. I love books that teach you things and after reading “Joust” I felt like I knew a lot more about how to care for and train dragons (useless knowledge, I realize, but filled with awesomeness nonetheless). Yet another series I had to have in hardcover, it was the ultimate fun-read!

#3 Dragon Champion

Author: E.E. Knight

Series: Age of Fire

This one I’ve already highlighted in a review. Told from the point of hatching, Auron is an anomaly, lacking the rock-hard scales of his species. Forced to make his way alone in the world long before he’s ready, he starts out on an unforgettable journey. The coolest thing about this book is that it’s told from the dragon’s perspective, and I’ve yet to read one done better. The author does an excellent job at keeping the integrity of the beast, rather than “humanizing” them as you see in other works. I loved it for its originality, and knew it had to be near the top of my list.

#4 The Last Dragonlord

Author: Joanne Bertin

Series: Dragonlord

Linden Rathan is a weredragon and the last of his kind. In an endless search for a mate, Rathan has to deal with constant threats from those who would see him destroyed. I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that this book was initially released back in 2000. Because the final book in the trilogy was twelve years in the making (and only announced recently), I never went back and reread these. Honestly, I only remember three things about these books: Rathan was a dragon-shifter, there was an excellent love-story, and I finished them eager for the next book because I loved them so much. Now that the final book is almost here, I’m definitely going to go back and enjoy these for a second time. In cast you were wondering, these were also deemed hardcover-worthy!

#5 Dragonflight

Author: Anne McCaffrey

Series: Dragonriders of Pern

A ragged kitchenmaid, Lessa struggles to take back her birthright. Her whole world changes after she meets a queen dragon, and bonds with her. Now, woman and dragon must fight to save their world from death that falls from the sky. This is a classic, and likely the series that sparked the passion for dragons in a lot of readers. There’s no way I can have a complete dragon list without including the Pern series. The initial trilogy should be on every fantasy-lover’s “must read” list!

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#6 Dragon’s Blood

Author: Jane Yolen

Series: Pit Dragon Chronicles

As a bond boy in a dragon nursery, the only way Jakkin can earn enough money to buy his freedom is to train a champion fighting dragon. As all the hatchlings are fiercely guarded and accounted for, Jakkin somehow manages to steal one, raising him in secret. What I loved about this series is that it both dazzled me with originality while still reminding me of other series that I loved. Set on another planet, it had elements of Lackey’s Joust, McCaffrey’s Pern, and even a touch of Harry Potter. Yup – I got them in hardcover. :)

There are many others that deserve mention, but none of them rocked my world quite like the six listed above. That said, there are still quite a few dragon books I’ve yet to read, and perhaps one day soon I can add a few more excellent titles to the the list.

What dragon books are YOUR favorites?

By Niki Hawkes