Since his childhood, Christopher has read thousands of books, both fiction and non-fiction. In this article, the first of an ongoing series, he discusses some of his favorites and what makes them special. We hope that you enjoy these recommendations!
The Worm Ouroboros – E. R. Eddison
This is the book that shaped the landscape of contemporary science fiction and fantasy. When The Lord of the Rings first appeared, the critics inevitably compared it to this 1922 landmark work. Tolkien himself frankly acknowledged its influence, with warm praise for its imaginative appeal. The story of a remote planet’s great war between two kingdoms, it ranks as the Iliad of heroic fantasy.
In the best traditions of Homeric epics, Norse sagas, and Arthurian myths, author E. R. Eddison weaves a compelling adventure, with a majestic, Shakespearean narrative style. His sweeping tale recounts battles between warriors and witches on fog-shrouded mountaintops and in the ocean’s depths–along with romantic interludes, backroom intrigues, and episodes of direst treachery. Generations of readers have joyfully lost themselves in the timeless worlds of The Worm Ouroboros.
Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake
A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and a dazzling array of bizarre creatures inhabit the magical world of the Gormenghast novels which, along with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, reign as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of it all is the seventy-seventh Earl, Titus Groan, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom, unless the conniving Steerpike, who is determined to rise above his menial position and control the House of Groan, has his way.
In these extraordinary novels, Peake has created a world where all is like a dream–lush, fantastical, and vivid. Accompanying the text are Peake’s own drawings, illustrating the whole assembly of strange and marvelous creatures that inhabit Gormenghast.
The Mabinogion Tetralogy – Evangeline Walton
The Mabinogion is to Welsh mythology what the tales of Zeus, Hera, and Apollo are to Greek myth. These tales constitute a powerful work of the imagination, ranking with Tokien’s Lord of the Rings novels and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. Evangeline Walton’s compelling rendition of these classic, thrilling stories of magic, betrayal, lost love, and bitter retribution include the encounter between Prince Pwyll and Arawn, the God of Death, which Pwyll survives by agreeing to kill the one man that Death cannot fell, and the tale of bran the blessed and his family’s epic struggle for the throne.
The Mabinogion is internationally recognized as the world’s finest arc of Celtic mythology; Walton’s vivid retelling introduces an ancient world of gods and monsters, heroes, kings and quests, making accessible one of the greatest fantasy sagas of all time.