Contributor Brian McClellan is an editor, writer, and science fiction enthusiast.
I've been reading fantasy for as long as I can remember so when someone asks me to list my favorite fantasy books, I often stare back at them blankly. After all, is that even possible to quantify?
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: This list wouldn't be complete without Lewis and Tolkien, so I figured I'd start there. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading to me from the Chronicles of Narnia. I love everything about these books (particularly the first one), from the symbolism to the wonderful creatures to the idea that great adventures lie as close as your very own closet. The Hobbit is the first fantasy book I read myself, and it put me on the journey to be a writer.
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander: I can still remember where I was when I finished this book—sitting in the car, after being picked up from the bus stop after school in fifth grade, unable to move because I wanted to finish the last chapter. It's been seventeen years since I read this book, but I still remember poignant moments from the series; meeting the three witches, giving up the brooch, and Ellydir's sacrifice
Salamandastron by Brian Jacques: My favorite of the incredible Redwall books. The series helped me survive my first year of middle school and, surprisingly, showed me a darker, more brutal fantasy world than I had seen in either The Hobbit or C.S. Lewis.
Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson: This is my favorite from the Malazan Book of the Fallen. It's an incredible, heart-rending behemoth of a book with far more characters than I can keep track. It's size and depth allows it to tell several dark, poignant tales side-by-side.
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie: I often describe Joe Abercrombie as my personal hero. I was reading this series when I wrote Promise of Blood, and it likely influenced me a great deal. I love the way he uses atypical fantasy characters and turns the tropes I grew up reading all on their heads.
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson: Stand-alone epic fantasy novels are fairly rare. Elantris is a dang good book and the first book I read where I knew the author. He was my professor and I think it was the first time it occurred to me that fantasy authors were just regular people and that maybe, if I worked crazy hard, I could be one too.
The list goes on and on. I could drone for hours about The Eye of the World, The Princess Bride, Belgarath the Sorcerer, Conan the Barbarian, A Game of Thrones. There's so much to discover out there. Just pick up a book and get to it.