06 August 2008

The best Sci-Fi and Fantasy books EVER (in my humble opinion) Part I - Fantasy

Y'know something? I'm happy to see all these new bookshops opening around the country, offering quite a wealth of books in Arabic and English (and sometimes French). It's even refreshing to see kids (and adults) taking an interest in some proper Sci-fi/fantasy books, too. I've had a huge love affair with sci-fi and fantasy over the years, and despite the fact that much of what I've read can be classified as trash, there are a few books out there that truly offer unique take on the genres.

Fantasy is somewhat easier to write about: even though I've only ever read one of his books, I think David Gemmel is a very good writer. Terry Goodkind's earlier works (before 2001), though slightly preachy, were compelling reads with good plots (after 2001, he became an ultra right-wing nutter who probably advocates nuking the Middle East, or so his books seem to suggest. The main character, Richard, who is called the Seeker of Truth and is a good guy with a conscience, somehow now has no problem killing evildoers without remorse, since it's only right to do so.....yeah...right...killing people without caring is no big deal. Idiot).

Also, I've started reading Neil Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which, I can say based on an informed reading of the first five pages, looks decent enough to get into.

Although he doesn't quite fall under the same category, the historical fiction of Bernard Cornwell (All the Sharpe books) is superb: the man knows what he's on about, and his more recent series, the name of which I can't remember, save for the title of one of the books, Harlequin, is an entertaining read.

Of course, let us never forget the true master of fantasy, the man who pretty much set the standard for modern sword-and-sorcery: J.R.R. Tolkien himself, whose books, more than fifty years later, are still incredibly popular. If you've never read the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, pick them up now; they're well worth it. The Hobbit is a quick and easy read, and quite entertaining. Lord of the Rings is a bit complicated and spends far too much time describing trees and too little time describing action, but once you get through it, you'll understand why it's the ultimate work of fantasy ever written, and that everything that came after copied Tolkien.

If you are a glutton for punishment, and want to read stories that make the events of LotR look like a pre-school picture book, find a copy of the Silmarillion and read it. Three times. It'll take you that long to sort out everyone's name and understand the relationships between the various characters, but the book is well worth it. Essentially, it is the history of Arda, the world where LotR takes place from creation and until the end of LotR. The stuff that happens in the First Age of the world is so goddamn hardcore, it makes the battle of the Pelennor Fields in Return of the King look like a water balloon fight. Seriously, the Silmarillion should be Tolkien's most popular work.

Well, that's enough for now: gotta head off to a meeting. See you next time for part two: The best Sci-fi books EVER!