5 Books Every Fantasy Writer Should Read

I’ve previously posted a list of five books every writer should read, irrespective of genre. But, once you’ve read them, I’ve got five more that will not only help fellow fantasy writers but are chock-full of inspiration! So, in no particular order:

Medieval Lives by Alan Ereira and Terry Jones.

The majority of fantasy literature is inspired by medieval England which, we know, was full of ignorant peasants in brown, noble knights saving damsels and maybe some royalty with absolute power. Thanks to Ereira and Jones, we know different. Peasants could be smart and colourful, knights were often thugs, and royalty wasn’t all that. An easy and entertaining read and your fantasy world will feel more real for it.

Lore of the Land by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson

One of my very favourite books. A veritable tome of folklore and superstition, every page is full of budding story ideas. Spring-heeled Jack, the Seven Maidens, King Arthur, the Swan Knight, mermaids, there’s just so much crammed in it will keep you inspired for years.

Celtic Mythology by Geddes & Grosset

Mythology is always a plundering ground for authors, but all too often it’s the Norse, Egyptian or classical myths that are plundered. Celtic mythology is just as rich, and this book serves as a good introduction to give your fantasy world a unique flavour.

The Real Middle Earth by Brian Bates

Published at the height of The Lord of the Rings movie fever, this book tries a little too hard in places. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic exploration of dwarves, elves, dragons, ents and so on as they were seen by our Dark Age forbears.

The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Like the sound of Odin, Loki and Thor and want to know more? This is the place to go. A fantastic modern telling of the myths, along with an introductory essay on the Norse society and beliefs and capped by an appendix and index. I’ve never wanted or needed another resource on Norse myths, which I think says it all.

These are my suggestions but I’d love to hear yours. Let me know if there are any other books that ought to be in this list!

10 thoughts on “5 Books Every Fantasy Writer Should Read

  1. Claire

    How about the Mistborn trilogy? I like a bit of Brandon Sanderson. Looking forward to reading your book, I’ll recommend it to my students ( I am captain of the nerd club)!

    Reply
    1. James

      I have to admit I’m not a fan of Sanderson; I read Warbreaker and I wasn’t a big fan. Perhaps my expectations were too high? Is this a club with a card and a secret handshake?

      Reply
      1. Claire

        That wasn’t his best I admit. Perhaps it’s because his characters remind me of Final Fantasy characters.
        You’re joking but my Year 7 book club did have a list of initiation questions…

        Reply
          1. Claire

            Do you know who Darth Vader REALLY is?
            Have you read Harry Potter? Movies don’t count.
            How many or DC marvel characters can you name?
            Do you play Skyrim?
            Do you like sport? If so, get out.

            Along these lines…

            Reply

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