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Twilight, step aside

All of this buzz around the Twilight books has got me thinking about the fantasy series that I grew up loving, and still adore today. Here are my personal top five!

5) J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. There is no way to escape this one. If you have not heard of Harry Potter by this point you must have been living under a rock, a time traveler from over a decade ago, or completely ignorant of everything going on around you! Harry Potter is beloved by fans and critics alike, and for good reason. Rowling brings her story of schoolchildren learning witchcraft and wizardry to life in a simple and elegant manner. It is one of the most easily accessible and entertaining mainstream fantasy novels for young adults out there, and if you have not checked it out yet, do so immediately!

4) Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The Discworld books are fantastic fun! Magic, corrupt governments, amusing reoccurring characters… Terry Pratchett makes sure to always keep his readers entertained. Most of his books are parodies. Masquerade, for example, is a clear parody of The Phantom of the Opera, complete with a girl who can sing in harmony with herself and the neverending wonder that is Nanny Ogg, a witch. Some books in the series are better than others, but as a collection they’re wonderful, and they can serve as a gateway into more series works of fantasy and science fiction.

3) Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy. This is really one of the best trilogies out there. It has the perfect mix of humanity and the paranormal, with characters who seem to live and breathe just as we do. The main focus of the trilogy is death, and the Undead (mainly fighting them to save the Old Kingdom) but despite that they are not particularly dark or frightening. Endlessly entertaining, these books stay fresh even after many reads.

2) Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books. These books are pro-woman, pro-contraception, and pro-self defense. Pierce’s stories of girls who become knights, talk to animals, and become spymasters for countries in turmoil may sound clichéd and boring, but they are anything but. Her characters are layered, and the adventures they go on remain attached to the usual knight stories without being just the same old thing. There is more to these books than just women in roles usually reserved for men.

1) Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Please, please please do not judge this book by the movie! Ignore the movie, pretend it never happened, and go buy all three books. They’re exciting, different, and most importantly they are thought provoking. Most fantasy stories are a comment or reflection on our on society, and that is never more true than in His Dark Materials. The books are a comment on society at large, but especially on religion. Some may say it’s a little too harsh, but I say it is perfect as it is.