Author Top 5s - Chris Andrews talks fantasy that inspires him

In Author Top 5s I'm inviting a number of authors to share top 5 lists somehow related to the genre they write. They'll be discussing things they love and how they've been influenced by them. Should prove to be interesting and hopefully we'll all pick up a few recommendations of good stuff to check out.

Today my agency stablemate Chris Andrews joins me to talk top 5s. Chris writes epic fantasy and while he hasn't published his debut novel yet he's got exciting things on the horizon so keep your eye out for him hopefully very soon. Chris has shared the 5 fantasy books that have inspired his own writing. Take it away Chris.

When Justin asked me to pick five books from just one genre, I struggled with the concept. One genre!?! What kind of craziness is that? My top five books span both genres – Science Fiction and Fantasy! Still, it's Justin's blog, and being the local Dark Lord he makes all the rules, so here goes. 

My top five:

1. Magician – Raymond E. Feist

You thought Lord of the Rings would make the number one spot, didn't you? Yeah, pfft. It doesn't even make the list. LOTR's great and all that, but it's like reading a text book – something I appreciate more than enjoy. 

I loved Magician on the other hand, probably because it was one of the first fantasy's I read as a teenager. It convinced me that fantasy was awesome. More than that. It gave me something to aspire to: I wanted to write the next 'Magician'.

At its heart, Magician's a story full of tropes: an orphan boy destined to grow up and save the world. There's also war, invasion, magicians at odds with each other, politics, romance, etc. Below the surface it's a very complex story showing both sides of the war, but central to it all was the fact that I cared about Pug and Thomas. 

Overall, I'd probably rank it my favourite fantasy book from my youth.

2. Pawn of Prophecy – David Eddings

The Will and the Word inspired generations of kids when I was in high school – me included.  I'm a little afraid to revisit this book (and the series) in case I'm disappointed, but I certainly read the series a couple of times when I was younger.

I even read the sequel series, unfortunately a carbon copy of the originals and not worth the effort. I doubt you'll get much disagreement on that.

Still, the Belgariad was wonderful. Like Magician, it's a story full of tropes - a young boy who discovers he's got 'magic' and it's his destiny to save the world.

Tropes, fortunately, aren't clichés, and David Eddings pulls this off with a sense of wonder and adventure that few writers can top.

3. Lyonesse – Jack Vance

I picked up Lyonesse in Alice's Bookshop, one of those gorgeous, tiny little second-hand bookshops that are often hidden or well off the beaten path.

Like Alice's Bookshop, the Elder Isles (where Lyonesse is set) are long gone, drowned under the sea.

Lyonesse opened up a new world of fantasy to me – the kind you believe could exist in your own history. It's grounded in mythology and has an undercurrent of reality you can't step over. It's gritty, believable, and inspiring.

It's also a story of politics, magic, intrigue, love, loss and faerie folk. It captivated me because of its adult themes and outlook, and it instilled a love of the unexpected, the fey, and intelligent characters.

I haven't come across too many others that compare.

4. The Clan of the Cave Bear – Jean M Auel

A strange choice, you might say, especially as it's not fantasy. Or is it?

I loved it from the moment I first read it, largely because Jean M Auel made me care about about Ayla, the protagonist, more than most authors could ever hope to do.

As to fantasy, it does feature a character who can link minds with his brethren under the influence of specially-prepared herbs and guide them back in time to remember and understand their origins. With the unwanted help of the protagonist Ayla, the same character discovers a future he's entirely uncomfortable with.

Overall, Jean M Auel created the story of a vulnerable young girl, put her at a severe disadvantage, and made me feel as if her defeats were victories whether they were or not.

One of my favourite books.

5. Stormwarden – Janny Wurtz

Like many good fantasy's, the Cycle of Fire comes in a trilogy, yet it's a little bit like the Clan of the Cave Bear in that it's not a traditional fantasy. In fact, the further you get into it the more you come to discover that it's not a fantasy at all – but it does a brilliant job of cross-dressing.

Stormwarden is largely the story of Taen, a young girl with a very special gift. Through happenstance and a little help she's delivered to the Isle of the Vaere where's she trained as a Dreamweaver.

This skill becomes vitally important as it allows Taen to influence the young man destined to take on his father's mantle and hopefully save the world from a demon horde.

What's important to me, however, is that I cared about what happened to Taen and the other characters. In fact, I'm sensing a common theme here.

Chris is a writer, blogger, and supernatural being of immense power trapped in the body of a mortal thanks to leprechaun's curse following a disagreement over some fools gold (it was honest mistake). Until the curse gets lifted he's doing his best to lift the veil of reality and show people the truth about what's really out there.

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