tough guide fantasyland map
I’ve always been one of those people who are a bit snooty about fantasy, eschewing anything with dragons or magic and generally fearing that most fantasy will be cookie-cutter high fantasy of the medieval European variety – with barbarians in the north, exotic desert people in the south, and some sort of quest in between.

That said, I was fascinated by the Calormen scenes from the Narnia stories as a child, and Ged’s growth in A Wizard of Earthsea still offers so much to me, even as an adult.  I also just simply adore the presence of just a little bit of magic and mystery in my everyday world, something urban fantasy does so very well.  And for those who love their history, you can’t look past the complex and deeply realised worlds of Guy Gavriel Kay.  I often wish Kay’s wonderful alternate histories, set from Moorish Spain and Tang Dynasty China to Byzantium, were more widely known.  If you enjoy political intrigue and complicated plots told from multiple perspectives, Kay is an excellent choice.  His stories and characters are also deeply moving: I don’t think I have ever cried more in my life than in the final chapters of Tigana or The Lions of Al-Rassan.

So if you love fantasy and have someone in your life that you would like to convert, or if you are deeply suspicious like me, but are looking for a little complex and fully realised escapism in your reading, try some of the following:

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If You Liked… A Game of Thrones

With George R. R. Martin’s recent announcement that Winds of Winter will likely not be released before the end of 2016, and a few months still to go before the premier of season six of Game of Thrones, you may want to try something from the following list to fill the history/action/intrigue void I think that we all currently have in our reading lives.


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