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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Top Fantasy Genre Book Series Picks



GIFTS FOR GAMERS - A weekly column at Cold's Gold Factory that focuses on bringing you some of the coolest gifts for gamers of all types. Remember to check back here for ideas for Gamer Birthday Gifts, Stocking Stuffers for Gamers, and Gamer Christmas Ideas.
  
Gifts For Gamers
If your New Year's resolution was "to read more books", then today's Gifts For Gamers post should be of particular assistance to you.  Today I'm going over my Top Fantasy Genre Book Series from all time.  Many of my favorite Fantasy Genre books are older trilogies or series that you may never have been exposed to, but each and every one on this list has been hand picked by me.  These are all books that I have previously or currently owned and can attest to how great each and every one of these titles are!

I prefer to read from the Dungeons & Dragons style of Fantasy books and the White Wolf / Dungeons & Dragons: Ravenloft settings for Fantasy Horror.  I've read a ton of books from these genres and I hope you find some of these excellent series to add to your collection as well.  Some of these are hard-to-find or out of print, but many have digital or audio versions now available.  Others have the boxed set or collector's editions unavailable, but the individual books can still be purchased for normal prices, so I've linked both the sets and the individual books.

Cold's Top Fantasy Genre Series Picks

  • The Dark Elf Trilogy - The Dark Elf Trilogy is my #1 favorite book series ever!  Written by R.A. Salvatore, The Dark Elf Trilogy is the first trilogy (chronologically) in the now massive series, The Legend of Drizzt.  These books take place within the DnD Forgotten Realms fantasy world and detail the childhood and beyond of one of the most beloved characters in all of the Dungeons & Dragons universe, Drizzt Do'Urden.  Drizzt is a male Drow (Dark Elf) and the Dark Elf Trilogy details the culture, society, and lifestyles of the Drow, Menzoberranzan, and The Underdark like no book before or after.  If you love Drow, you simply cannot go without reading the Dark Elf Trilogy.  My Siamese cat, Berg'inyon, is even named after my favorite character in this series. 
  • The Icewind Dale TrilogyThe Icewind Dale Trilogy is the next trilogy that comes after The Dark Elf Trilogy and continues on with the adventures of Drizzt Do'Urden as he leaves The Underdark and ventures into the world of The Forgotten Realms.  Yup, this drow takes his place above ground!  Here is where he first meets lifelong friends the barbarian, Wulfgar, and dwarven axemaster, Bruenor Battlehammer.  Another of the most badass characters ever, Artemis Entrari, also debuts in this trilogy.
  • Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy - The Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy, by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, is another massive classic premeire trilogy in the Dragonlance Saga, now with a massive collection of titles.  These books are set in the DnD Dragonlance setting that features dragons, dragon riding knights, draconion humanoids, multiple Towers of Sorcery, and introudces us to some of the most popular characters in all of the Dungeon & Dragons lore.
  • Masquerade of The Red Death Trilogy - The Masquerade of the Red Death Trilogy is one of the best vampire based series I've ever read.  These books are written by Robert Weinberg and take place within the White Wolf - World of Darkness fantasy horror setting, most commonly recognized as the world of Vampire The Masquerade.  An old ancient evil is re-awakened and seeks to reek havoc on the world and the vampire clans must choose sides in a brewing apocolypse.  This is truly one of the best trilogies I've ever been lucky enough to own.  I highly recommend you check these books out, if you want to enjoy some of the best vampire lore in the genre.  Screw Twilight, these are real vampires!
  • The Moonshae Trilogy - The Moonshae Trilogy, by Douglas Niles, is another of the fantasy books series that takes place within the Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms universe.  This is a series with a lot of bloody battles as a war is forming on the Moonshae Isles.  Demon forces break through the planes and start to amass, but are met with resistance from some of the most awesome giant slaying dwarves, an all female Cavalier brigade, and countless other characters.  This trilogy is an excellent series to recommend to a female reader with little experience within the DnD style Fantasy genre.  I've gotten a fair share of females into reading "proper" fantasy books by starting them on this series.  I think it works because of the many female characters, the all female cavalier brigade (that kicks ass), and the Earthmother, the great druid that calls upon the wild animals to help defeat the demon armies.
  • Darksun: The Prism Pentad - The Prism Pentad, written by Troy Denning, takes place within the Dark Sun DnD setting.  What makes these books so amazing is the world in which they take place, The Dark Sun World.  Dark Sun is another Dungeons & Dragons setting, but this one is completely different than any other fantasy DnD setting.  Image a world where:
      • Metal resources are nearly gone, this forces stone and bone to be the most common weapon sources.  Metal is too precious and too expensive for weapons and armor.
      • Water is a rare resource!  The planet is 90% desert wasteland.
      • Magic is outlawed.  Wild Mages can release destructive magic energy, but it's effects can be random.  Casting spells destroys natural foilage.  Only the Templars are approved to cast spells. 
      • Slave Gladiator combat is the most common entertainment of the world.
      • Lizard men, Thri-kreen (mantis style humanoids), and half-giants are commonplace among other more common races.
    • Book One: The Verdant Passage
    • Book Two: The Crimson Legion
    • Book Three: Amber Enchantress
    • Book Four: Obsidian Oracle
    • Book Five: The Cerulean Storm
  • DnD Ravenloft Books - Last, but not least, I'd like to feature a group of stand alone books that are part of my most favorite Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings ever, Ravenloft.  These books aren't a chronological series, but each and every one makes up just a small part of the Ravenloft World setting.  Ravenloft is simply awesome!  It's the horror-fantasy side of Dungeons & Dragons, where no DnD world's inhabitants are safe - any character from any world can be sucked into the swirling mists and find themselves trapped within one of the Ravenloft domains.  Each domain is guarded over by one of the most evil of wicked characters that have been captured by the mists and brought to Ravenloft.  The domain then evolves around it's individual domain.  I could go on and on about the awesomeness of this setting, but you have to read and see for yourself.  It's by far my favorite of the DnD worlds and the line of books written within the Ravenloft setting are some of my favorites ever written.  Here's a handfull of my favorites.
    • Knight of the Black Rose - Lord Soth from Dragonlance is trapped in Ravenloft.
    • Vampire of the Mists - The first Ravenloft book ever and written by Christie Golden.  Introduces us to Barovia and it's Count Strahd as he grows enthralled by a young gal who resembles his deceased love.
    • I, Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire - The story of the fall of Strahd and how he ended up as lord of the domain Barovia, in Ravenloft.  Written in diary format.
    • Tapestry of Dark Souls - The Gathering Cloth must be destroyed before the evil overtakes the main character.
    • Carnival of Fear - Deaths at a sideshow carnival lead to investigations and more deaths.
    • Dance of the Dead - Author Christie Golden takes us on a journey through one of the swamp infested domains in Ravenloft.  Think Cajun swamp riverboat culture meets Jack the Ripper.
So there you have my Top Fantasy Genre Book Series Picks, hand selected from my own personal library of Fantasy and Fantasy-Horror.  These are all awesome books and I hope you've found something to peek your interest.  Give a series a try and let me know what you think.

Have anything to add about any of these classic series?

Be sure to check out the other Gifts For Gamers posts for more Gamer Gift Ideas.

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