Summer Reads at Gustavus Library: Fantasy

Posted on May 11th, 2021 by

Looking for some leisure reading after finishing Game of Thrones, Chronicles of Narnia, or Harry Potter? Check out these fantasy series available at Gustavus Library.

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Cover of The Obelisk Gate by N.K. JemisinCover of The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Cover of The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
Call Number: PS3610.E46 F54 2015
Publication Date: 2015-08-04

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
Call Number: PS3610.E46 O24 2016
Publication Date: 2016-08-16

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
Call Number: PS3610.E46 S76 2017
Publication Date: 2017-08-15

All three volumes of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy were awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novel in consecutive years. Here’s the publisher summary for The Fifth Season:

This is the way the world ends…for the last time. A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long-dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

The Obelisk Gate:

The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night. Essun—once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger—has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead, there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever. Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power—and her choices will break the world.

The Stone Sky:

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women. Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe. For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

Also check out: N.K. Jemisin’s newest fantasy novel, The City We Became.

The Mirror Visitor quartet by Christelle Dabos

Cover of The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle DabosCover of A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos

Cover of The Storm of Echoes by Christelle DabosCover of The Memory of Babel by Christelle Dabos


A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
Call Number: PZ7.1.D15 F53 2020
Publication Date: 2020-05-12

The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos
Call Number: PZ7.1.D15 M57 2019
Publication Date: 2019-05-07

The Memory of Babel by Christelle Dabos
Call Number: PZ7.1.D15 M46 2020
Publication Date: 2020-09-08

The Storm of Echoes by Christelle Dabos
Coming Fall 2021

Melissa Perron, Metadata and ILS Manager: I highly recommend the French Young Adult series The Mirror Visitor quartet by Christelle Dabos. The author created a truly unique and magical world with captivating characters. The likable protagonist slowly discovers what is truly going on around her and I’m rooting for her to set things right. There are four books in this series and the English edition for the fourth volume will be out this October, I can’t wait!

Here is the jacket copy for the first book in the series, A Winter’s Promise, with some information about the setting:

Lose yourself in the fantastic world of the arks and in the company of unforgettable characters in this French runaway hit, Christelle Dabos’ The Mirror Visitor quartet.

Plain-spoken, headstrong Ophelia cares little about appearances. Her ability to read the past of objects is unmatched in all of Anima and, what’s more, she possesses the ability to travel through mirrors, a skill passed down to her from previous generations. Her idyllic life is disrupted, however, when she is promised in marriage to Thorn, a taciturn and influential member of a distant clan. Ophelia must leave all she knows behind and follow her fiancé to Citaceleste, the capital of a cold, icy ark known as the Pole, where danger lurks around every corner and nobody can be trusted. There, in the presence of her inscrutable future husband, Ophelia slowly realizes that she is a pawn in a political game that will have far-reaching ramifications not only for her but for her entire world.

The World of the Arks

Long ago, following a cataclysm called the Rupture, the world was shattered into many floating celestial islands, now known as arks. Over each, the spirit of an omnipotent and immortal ancestor abides. The inhabitants of these arks each possess a unique power. Ophelia, with her ability to read the pasts of objects, must navigate this fantastic, disjointed, perilous world using her trademark tenacity and quiet strength.

The Grishaverse series by Leigh Bardugo

Cover of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCover of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Cover of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Call Number: PZ7.B25024 S5 2015
Publication Date: 2015-09-29

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Call Number: PZ7.B25024 C76 2016
Publication Date: 2016-09-27

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Call Number: PZ7.B25024 K56 2019
Publication Date: 2019-01-29

Adrianna Darden, Archives Collections and Records Manager:
The Grishaverse series consists of one trilogy and two duologies, and they are all worth the read. The Grisha with their magical powers, civil wars, and elaborate heists are all part of these fascinating stories. These books have an incredible cast of characters, many who take very interesting journeys and often change your opinion of them. Plus, Netflix just adapted them into the hit series Shadow and Bone. The show is great, but the books are fantastic!

Here is publisher’s description of the first book in the Grishaverse, Shadow and Bone:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Also check out: Leigh Bardugo’s acclaimed Six of Crows and King of Scars duologies!

The Bas-Lag novels by China Miéville

Cover of Perdido Street Station by China MiévilleCover of The Scar by China Miéville

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
Call Number: PR6063.I265 P47 2001
Publication Date: 2001-02-27

The Scar by China Miéville
Call Number: PR6063.I265 S33 2002
Publication Date: 2002-06-25

China Miéville is one of the most acclaimed contemporary writers of weird fiction, a genre of fantasy that eschews stereotypical tropes in favor of strange creatures and unusual settings. His first three novels are set in Bas-Lag, a fantasy world which blends magical and steampunk elements. Here is the jacket copy for the first novel in the series, Perdido Street Station, which won the 2001 Arthur C. Clarke Award and was nominated in 2002 for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for Best Novel:

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contains a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none—not even to Isaac, a gifted and eccentric scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.

Isaac has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before encountered. Though the Garuda’s request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger.

While Isaac becomes more and more consumed with his experiments, one of his lab specimens demands special attention: a brilliantly colored caterpillar that feeds on nothing but a hallucinatory drug and grows larger—and more voracious—by the day. What finally emerges from the silken cocoon will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon—and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it invokes…

Reminiscent of Charles Dickens, Franz Kafka, and Neal Stephenson, this magnificent novel, rife with scientific splendor, magical intrigue, and wonderfully realized characters, offers an eerie, voluptuously crafted world that will plumb the depths of every reader’s imagination.

Also check out: China Miéville’s standalone novels The City & the City (2009), winner of Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novel; Kraken (2010), winner of the 2011 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel; and Railsea (2012), a steampunk YA novel inspired by Moby-Dick.

The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey

Cover of Dragonflight by Anne McCaffreyCover of Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey

Cover of The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey

The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Call Number: PS3563.A255 D73 1978
Publication Date: 1979-01-01

The Harper Hall of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Call Number: PS3563.A255 H37 1979
Publication Date: 1979-01-01

Daenerys Stormborn is fierce and majestic as the Mother of Dragons in Game of Thrones, but the person most responsible for making dragon-riding cool in the first place was undoubtedly American-Irish writer Anne McCaffrey (1926 -2011), who with her Dragonriders of Pern series broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first female writer ever to win a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award. Although dragons are traditionally an element in fantasy, McCaffrey locates her story three thousand years in the future on a distant planet called Pern — McCaffrey strongly preferred the series be classified as science fiction — where fire-breathing lizards known as dragons evolved to live alongside humans. Together with their chosen riders, the dragons protect Pern from the interplanetary incursions of the silver Threads.

Here is the jacket copy from the first book in the series, Dragonflight:

After ten long Turns, Lessa was ready to come out of hiding, to claim her birthright and become Weyrwoman of Benden. But suddenly, the deadly silver Threads once again threatened all Pern with destruction. The mighty telepathic dragons were fewer in number, not nearly enough to protect the planet in its hour of greatest peril…until Lessa hatched a daring and dangerous scheme to rally support from people who had long ago ceased to exist.

The first three books, Dragonflight (1968), Dragonquest (1970), and The White Dragon (1978) were later republished in one volume as The Dragonriders of Pern, though McCaffrey would go on to write a number of other stories set in the same world.

Also check out: The Harper Hall of Pern, a prequel trilogy to Dragonriders of Pern.

The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake

Cover of Gormenghast by Mervyn PeakeCover of Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

Cover of Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
Call Number: PR6031.E183 G6 v.1
Publication Date: 1967

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Call Number: PR6031.E183 G6 v.2
Publication Date: 1967

Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
Call Number: PR6031.E183 G6 v.3
Publication Date: 1967

The first book of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, Titus Groan (1946), predates J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring by 8 years and C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by four, but it’s far less known than either of them. The book tells the story of the House of Groan, a noble family that lives in the vast Gothic castle Gormenghast, and the parallel struggle of young Titus Groan to deal with his status as the titular heir of the Groan family, while the malevolent servant boy Steerpike uses his wiles and machinations to inexorably rise to a position of power over the castle.

But no synopsis can capture the vivid style and storytelling of the book, which has caused writers ranging from China Mieville to Anthony Burgess to literary critic Harold Bloom to hail the Gormenghast trilogy as a masterpiece. Before he wrote his first novel, Peake was already one of the most sought-after book illustrators of his time, and he drew many evocative sketches of his characters and settings in his notebooks; his prose, likewise, overflows with word pictures, polarizing opinion between readers who lap up the beauty of his stately descriptions and those who find his style hard to swallow.

Here, for a taste, is the opening paragraph of Titus Groan:

Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its Outer Walls. They sprawled over the sloping earth, each one halway over its neighbor until, held back by the castle ramparts, the innermost of these hovels laid hold on the Great Walls, clamping themselves thereto like limpets to a rock. These dwellings, by ancient law, were granted this chill intimacy with the stronghold that loomed above them. Over their irregular roofs would fall, throughout the seasons, the shadows of time-eaten buttresses, of broken and lofty turrets, and most enormous of all, the shadow of the Tower of Flints. This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven. At night the owls made of it an echoing throat; by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow.

Click here for even more fantasy series at Gustavus Library!

The Night Circus and The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Sandman and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman


One Comment

  1. Julie Gilbert says:

    An excellent list! I devoured the Broken Earth trilogy last year and loved it. I’ll be adding a lot of these titles to my TBR list. (PS – thanks for the Dark Waters shout out.)