Skies of Rohan - <i>High Fantasy</i> Books

Skies of Rohan - High Fantasy Books

High Fantasy is a subgenre of Fantasy fiction. It owes its very existence and structure to the template laid down by JRR Tolkien in THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

At the time when THE LORD OF THE RINGS took America by storm in the late 1960's and early 1970's, the High Fantasy genre did not exist. When the paperback version of THE LORD OF THE RINGS became an enormous best-seller, all those thousands of readers were left with a great reluctance to leave Middle-earth. Bookstores were besieged by readers who wanted to buy and read more books like THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Publishers rushed to find writers who could - and did - produce similar tales, which also sold in amazing quantities.

Readers wanted more and they got it. An entire generation of young readers and aspiring writers had their hearts and imagination captured by Middle-earth, and many of them went on to become successful writers of modern fantasy. They created their own worlds and universes, and their own epic quests. In the decades since, High Fantasy books have become a successful and prolific genre.

The first wave of writers was followed by a second wave, then a third and so on. Many writers started out by writing a book that closely followed the formula of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but then went on and found their own voice and their own tales. The resulting stories range from highly imaginative and impressive sagas to others that are simply a gentle revisiting of Middle-earth. But regardless of which new world the reader now finds themselves in, the fact remains that the presence of JRR Tolkien still lingers there, in the back of every story and in the heart of every writer.

The road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began. . .

High Fantasy fiction is distinguished by several characteristics:

  • The story takes place in an invented and imaginary world with a medieval-style society.
  • The stories are typically serious in nature and depict an epic struggle between good and evil.
  • The hero or heroine undertakes a dangerous and fateful quest, where they must show courage and resourcefulness in the face of danger. Quite often, they find they have unusual abilities and skills that are only discovered during the course of their quest.
  • Magic plays an important part of the story, especially in overcoming the obstacles found in the quest. Magical creatures and characters from fairy-tales and myths, such as dragons, elves, and dwarves, inhabit the invented world.
  • The trilogy format for THE LORD OF THE RINGS, created due to a shortage of paper and a hope of reducing projected loss, became the standard for High Fantasy novels. This standard holds true today with most stories spinning out across a minimum of three books.

High Fantasy novels and series include the following authors and books:

Terry Brook's Shannara series

Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series

Joy Chant's Red Moon and Black Mountain

CJ Cherryh's Fortress series

Stephen R Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and Mordant's Need series

David Eddings' Belgariad, Malloreon and Elenium/Tamuli series

Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series

Ru Emerson's Nedao series

Sylvia Engdahl's Enchantress from the Stars

Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth saga

Barbara Hambly's Darwath series

PC Hodgell's Kencyrath series

Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series

Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar series

Patricia Kennealy's Keltiad series

Katherine Kurtz's Chronicles of the Deryni series

Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series

Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory's Obsidian series

Ursula K LeGuin's Earthsea series

CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series

Patricia McKillip's The Riddle-master of Hed series

Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown

George RR Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice saga

Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series

RA Salvatore's Forgotten Realms and Demon Wars series

JRR Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS and The Hobbit

Margaret Weis's and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance series

Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series

Roger Zelazny's Amber series

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