Bored with the status quo?
If you have been reading fantasy for over a deacde and a half like me then you might be bored with the status quo. The status quo for fantasy was set with the Harry Potter franchise. Even though that was an amazing series there are other series out there that you may enjoy.
Additionally, when you ask a fantasy reader what they have read then they will probably say Harry Potter. However, many older readers will tell you that they have read the Lord of the Rings. Tolken's Lord of the Rings are another must read, but again it represents the status quo for fantasy.
Two authors that I am about to recommend do not represent the status quo of fantasy. However, they are not "unknown" authors. In fact they are amazing, popular, and almost mainstream. However, they do not represent the status quo for fantasy. These authors have been around a long time and have built complex high fantasy worlds.
Terry Brooks has built a fantasy series that begins in our modern era and stretches almost three thousand years in the future. His series is known collectively as the Shannara series, but is also known for lighter work such as: The Magic Kingdom of Landover For Sale -Sold. The other author that you may or may not have heard of is named Robert Jordan. Robert Jordan has unfortunately passed away, but his works live on and I recommend that you check out his series as well which is collectively known as the Wheel of Time.
What is Shannara?
Shannara is an epic fantasy series that began originally with The Sword of Shannara in 1977, but since then Mr. Brooks has added numerous prequel novels. Originally Mr. Brooks had three series. The Knight of the Word series, Shannara series, and Magic Kingdom series. In the beginning these series were all seperate, but now are all joined more or less. The Magic Kingdom of Landover still exists as a stand alone series, but since the main protagonist came from Earth then in a loose sense it still connects slightly to the main stories.
The Knight of the Word series begins with Running with the Demon and follows the tale of a Knight of the Word (essentially a modern day American with magical powers and the ability to stop demons from taking over the world) on his journey to save the world from a scheme by demons to destroy it. This series spans three books and does directly connect with the Shannara trilogy.
In the early 2000's Mr. Brooks connected the Knight of the Word series with two prequel series. The first series was called Armageddon's Children which follows the tale of a group of street children.
Basically, the protagonist in Running with the Demon failed to save the world. There was a World War III orchastrated by demons which destroyed civilization and now they are hunting down the last remnants of humanity. The protagonist in Armageddon's Children saves a small band of humans and protects them as the world is engulfed in one final nuclear attack that destroys everything.
The second prequel series is a duology centered around the last Knight of the Word. It is called Bearers of the Black Staff. This series connects Armageddon's Children to the main stories of the Shannara universe which begin with The First King of Shannara (written after Sword of Shannara) and the Sword of Shannara.
The main Shannara series is a large collective universe that spans thousands of years in a region of Earth called the Four Lands which would be located somewhere in Western America and lower Canada. Of course in the series there is no trace of America or Canada and Mr. Brooks refers to our time period as "the Great Wars".
The story focuses on a family known as the Ohmsfords who are directly descended from Jerle Shannara an elven King who used the Sword of Shannara. His bloodline holds the ability to use many of the talisman's created during the first novels of the series. The collecive series has many themes which mainly focuses on an overarching conflict between magic and science.
It is a great series and I recommend that you check it out now.
The Sword of Shannara
Mr. Jordan began his writting career under various pseudonym's, but his main story the Wheel of Time was written under his real name. Unlike Mr. Brooks his story does not include very many prequels. The story begins with Eye of the World and ends with A Memory of Light. It centers around the Dragon Reborn (will explain below) and his efforts to defeat the Dark One and his minions. This might seem cliche, but it isn't. The Wheel of Time is an amazing story that touches on many elements of philosophy.
What is the Wheel of Time?
The Wheel of Time begins in a small region known as the Two Rivers. This area of the world is very remote, but is under the influence of the government of Andor. In the first novel, the reader is introduced to the main cast of characters, but over the course of the series the cast grows and dies according to the books. There are a lot of characters in the Wheel of Time.
In the books the previous age is commonly referenced. The age is known as the Age of Legends and during this age the Dragon, Lews Therin, failed to contain the Dark One. He managed to patch an area that allowed the Dark One to touch the world, called the bore, but this patch was temporary. Three thousand years later during the Third Age, the Dark One has once again begun to touch the world.
The age before the Second Age, the First Age, is not very well known. There are no records that exist from this time period except for scattered relics. No one really knows what they are, but readers might. A poem called Musk vs. Merk refers to Moscow and America and the protagonists even find a Mercedes car sign. However, much of the back story focuses on the Age of Legends and Lews Therin. The main character Rand al'Thor is the reincarnation of Lews Therin and he commonly hears his former spirit's thoughts.
The series is very complex and there is no way to describe it in detail other than by breaking it down to this: the story focuses on Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, and his efforts to defeat the Dark One who has gained a strong grip on the world of men.
The Eye of The World
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(price as of Feb 1, 2016)
These two writers break the mold of status quo fantasy. They are great reads for anyone who enjoys epic fantasy and overly complex stories that pit humans against evil forces. I highly recommend both series and please check out the book postings from Amazon above. Let me know if you enjoy them in the comment section below.