So, there’s a little movie called The Hobbit being released next month. You might have heard of it . . .

the hobbitWho are we kidding? If you’re reading this, you’re probably as ridiculously excited for this film as I am. In fact, you’re probably planning on rereading your dog-eared copy of The Hobbit and maybe even making your way through The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Silmarillion if you have the time before December 14th rolls around. But what happens when you still have a craving for Tolkien and have run out of books that he has written?

That’s where we come in.

We’re serving up a list of some of the best fantasy tales around that share characteristics with Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel, so whether you prefer stories with amazing worldbuilding, quests, or maybe even one about dragons (because who doesn’t like dragons?), we have something to suit your fancy.

Worldbuilding

name of the windThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (see also A Wise Man’s Fear)

Jacket Notes:

Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

game of thronesA Game of Thrones* by George R. R. Martin

Jacket Notes:

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing-his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his thro≠ a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear.

Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

*See Kent District Library’s What’s Next database for a list of the titles in the Song of Fire and Ice series.

finnikinFinnikin of the Rock, book one of The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta (see also Froi of the Exiles and the upcoming Quintana of Charyn)

Jacket Notes:

Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems – and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

paradise warThe Paradise War by Stephen Lawhead (see also The Silver Hand, and The Endless Knot)

Jacket Notes:

From the dreaming spires of Oxford, Lewis Gillies drives north to seek a mythical creature in a misty glen in Scotland. Expecting little more than a weekend diversion, Lewis finds himself in a mystical place where two worlds meet, in the time-between-times–and in the heart of a battle between good and evil. The ancient Celts admitted no separation between this world and the Otherworld: the two were delicately interwoven, each dependent on the other. “The Paradise War” crosses the thin places between this world and that, as Lewis Gillies comes face-to-face with an ancient mystery–and a cosmic catastrophe in the making.

Quests

sword of shannaraThe Sword of Shannara* by Terry Brooks

Jacket Notes:

Long ago, the wars of the ancient Evil ruined the world. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles. But the supposedly dead Warlock.Lord is plotting to destroy everything in his wake.The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, which can be used only by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races.Thus begins the enthralling Shannara epic, a spellbinding tale of adventure, magic, and myth…

*see Kent District Library’s What’s Next database for a listing of the rest of the titles in the Shannara series

sabrielSabriel by Garth Nix (see also Lirael and Abhorsen)

Jacket Notes:

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

golden compassThe Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (see also The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass)

Jacket Notes:

Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her.

In this multilayered narrative, however,nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

over sea under stoneOver Sea, Under Stone* by Susan Cooper

Jacket Notes:

On holiday in Cornwall, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is even more than that — the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil known as the Dark. And in searching for it themselves, the Drews put their very lives in peril.

*see Kent District Library’s What’s Next database for the rest of the titles of The Dark is Rising Sequence

Unlikely heroes

the blue swordThe Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Jacket Notes:

Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does. Harry is to be trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of his men. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?

lion witch wardrobeThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe* by C. S. Lewis

Jacket Notes:

Four English schoolchildren find their way through the back of a wardrobe into the magic land of Narnia and assist its ruler, the golden lion Aslan, to triumph over the White Witch, who has cursed the land with eternal winter.

*see Kent District Library’s What’s Next database for a list of the titles in The Chronicles of Narnia series.

eye of the worldThe Eye of the World* by Robert Jordan

Jacket Notes:

Life in Emond’s Field has been pretty boring for Rand Al’Thor and his friends until a strange young woman arrives in their village. Moraine is an Aes Sedai, a magician with the ability to wield the One Power, and she brings warnings of a terrible evil awakening in the world. That very night, the village is attacked by bloodthirsty Trollocs—a fearsome tribe of beast-men thought to be no more than myth. As Emond’s Field burns, Moraine and her warrior-guardian help Rand and his companions to escape.

But it is only the beginning of their troubles, for Moraine believes Rand Al’Thor is the Dragon Reborn, and that he is fated to unite the world against the rising darkness and lead the fight against a being so powerful and evil it is known simply as the Dark One.

*see Kent District Library’s What’s Next database for a list of the rest of the Wheel of Time series

book of threeThe Book of Three* by Lloyd Alexander

Jacket Notes:

Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper wants to become a hero. He is  joined on his quest by Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli–all of whom have become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain.

*see Kent District Library’s What’s Next database for a list of the rest of The Chronicles of Prydain series

Dragons

seraphinaSeraphina by Rachel Hartman

Jacket Notes:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

hero and the crownThe Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Jacket Notes:

Aerin is the only child of the king of Damar, and should be his rightful heir. But she is also the daughter of a witchwoman of the North, who died when she was born, and the Damarians cannot trust her. But Aerin’s destiny is greater than her father’s people know, for it leads her to battle with Maur, the Black Dragon, and into the wilder Damarian Hills, where she meets the wizard Luthe. It is he who at last tells her the truth about her mother, and he also gives over to her hand the Blue Sword, Gonturan. But such gifts as these bear a great price, a price Aerin only begins to realize when she faces the evil mage, Agsded, who has seized the Hero’s Crown, greatest treasure and secret strength of Damar.

dealing with dragonsDealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede, first book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (see also Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons)

Jacket Notes:

Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart. . . .

And bored.

So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon . . . and finds the family and excitement she’s been looking for.

eonEon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman (see also Eona: The Last Dragoneye)

Jacket Notes:

Sixteen-year-old Eon has a dream, and a mission. For years, he’s been studying sword-work and magic, toward one end. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye-an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a twelve-year-old boy. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured. When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.

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