Below you will find a list of the fantasy books published in 1990-1999 that we enjoyed most.
by Ursula Le Guin
The Earthsea Quartet brings together Ursula Le Guin’s four legendary Earthsea sagas for the first time in a single volume.
Series: Earthsea Saga: Book 1 - 4
by Stephen King
There is a new shop in town. Run by a stranger. Needful Things, the sign says. The oddest name. A name that causes some gossip and speculation among the good folks of Castle Rock, Maine, while they wait for opening day. Eleven-year-old Brian Rusk is the first customer and he gets just what he wants, a very rare 1956 Sandy Koufax baseball card. Signed. Cyndi Rose Martin is next. A Lalique vase. A perfect match for her living room decor. Something for everyone. Something you really have to have. And always at a price you can just about afford. The cash price that is. Because there is another price. There always is when your heart’s most secret, true desire is for sale…
by Robin Hobb
The Liveship Traders series continues with the second book, The Mad Ship. Althea Vestrit continues her quest to reclaim her rightful inheritance, the liveship Vivacia. The Vivacia has been seized by pirates led by the enigmatic Kennit, a man who believes that destiny leads him to become King of the Pirate Isles. The Vestrit family are nearing financial ruin which leads them closer to the mysterious Rain Wild Traders who own the ship. Amidst these events the mad ship, Paragon is once again launched despite the history of death and despair that surrounds him.
Series: The Liveship Traders: Book 2
by Robin Hobb
Keystone. Gate. Crossroads. Catalyst. Fitz is about to discover the truth about the Fool's prophecy. Having been resurrected from his fatal tortures in Regal's dungeons, Fitz has once more foiled Regal's attempts to be rid of him. Now, back in his own body, and after months of rehabilitation, Fitz begins the painful and slow process of learning the ways of a man again. Under the watchful eye of Burrich, old King Shrewd's Stablemaster, Fitz must learn to cast off the wild but carefree ways of the wolf and enter once more the human world: a world beset ever more viciously by the relentless Red Ship Raiders who are now left free to plunder any coastal town they please. But more immediately, a world in which he finds he is utterly alone. Regal has stripped the kingdom of its riches and retired to the inland city of Tradeford. Of Verity, on his quest to find the legendary Elderings, there has been no word; Molly, Kettricken and the Fool have all vanished. Unless Fitz can find Verity and help him in his quest, the Six Duchies will perish and there will be no safe place to live.
"At the end of Royal Assassin Fitz had taken poison and died. Although we were sure that this was not the end for him, we eagerly anticipated how Robin Hobb might bring him back to life for the final installment of the trilogy. She did not disappoint." Fantasy Book Review
Series: The Farseer Trilogy: Book 3
by Robert Holdstock
Although I have enjoyed all of the books in the series so far this has been the best structured with a true destination to get to after a long struggle encountering many myths that have been twisted for the situation. The character of Richard is very well written and believable as a man grieving for the loss of his son, but also gaining a better understanding of who he is. The series as a whole is gripping and I would say that apart from the short stories in The Bone Forest the books I have read so far should be read in the order that they have been written.
Series: Ryhope Wood: Book 3
by Stephen King
As a series progresses I find it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid repetition when attempting to put across exactly what it is I enjoy about the books. My reviews for The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three have explained why I am such a fan of the Dark Tower series but I believe that now, for this review of book three, the purpose should be to talk about whether the author has managed to maintain the very high level standards set in previous instalments.
Series: The Dark Tower series: Book 3
by Robin Hobb
After having read and thoroughly enjoyed the Farseer trilogy I was expecting more of the same again. I was not disappointed; in fact I found the writing of even higher caliber ...
Series: The Liveship Traders: Book 1
by George RR Martin
As warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ... and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, a vengeance mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyong the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1
by Stephen King
This book is about Roland, who he is and how he has become who has become. It helps to explain why he is so grim, so haunted. It could be argued that you could miss out most of this book as it serves to give little forward momentum to the series but what it does, and what is does very well, is give Roland the fleshing out he deserves. As the book that follows can be looked upon as King's The Seventh Samurai, Wizard and Glass can be almost read as a stand alone book, as King's homage to Romeo and Juliet.
Series: The Dark Tower series: Book 4
by RA Salvatore
After abandoning the perils of the underdark, Drizzt Do-Urden, the renegade dark elf, battles to survive in the harsh surface world and to gain acceptance from the surface-dwellers.
Series: The Dark Elf Trilogy: Book 3
by Paul Kearney
Paul Kearney is really one of the best writers writing at the moment. He is not only technically proficient but he’s also wonderfully entertaining, rarely leaving us with a dull moment or place to put the book down to sleep. Hawkwood’s Voyage, in whichever form you read it, is a must read, and belongs on the shelf next to authors like Steven Erikson and George R. R. Martin.
Series: Monarchies of God: Book 1
by JK Rowling
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed for ever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!
"Do the Harry Potter books live up to the hype? When I first began reading the Philosopher’s stone I was immediately struck by how good - and laugh-out-loud funny - the humour was. You usually need to read a Terry Pratchett novel to ensure constant laughter throughout but Rowling has managed to infuse this book with a lovely wit and charm that will both amuse and delight adults and children."
Series: Harry Potter: Book 1
by Vonda N McIntyre
A winner of the 1997 Nebula award for best novel, Vonda N McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun is a sumptuous work of alternate history. Set in 17th century France, at the court of the Sun King, the book’s attention to detail and flowing narrative help create an absorbing tale of fantasy, romance, science and history.
"The Moon and the Sun successfully melds fantasy and alternate history to create a charming, well-written and meticulously-researched novel that will appeal to readers who enjoy history and romance with a fantasy element." Fantasy Book Review
by Robin Hobb
Honesty is the bedrock for any relationship. But how can Fitz – royal bastard, trainee assassin, holder of secrets crucial to the security of the kingdom – bare his soul to his beloved Molly? Danger lies all around him – from the raiders savaging the coastal towns, and from within the court. The king has been struck down by a mystery illness and his eldest son, Verity, is bound up in the defence of the realm. When Verity leaves the court in search of the mythical Elderlings, Fitz finds himself friendless apart from his wolf, Nighteyes, and the king’s strange, motley-clad fool, exposed to Prince Regal’s malign ambitions. He will be asked to sacrifice everything – his heart, his hope, even his life – for the sake of the realm.
Series: The Farseer Trilogy: Book 2
by Robin Hobb
In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility. So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.
"Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb is the first book in her acclaimed work, The Farseer Trilogy. First published in 1995 the trilogy has been described as combining the magic of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea with J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings."
Series: The Farseer Trilogy: Book 1
by Robert Jordan
The Dragon Reborn is the third in the Wheel of Time series and continues almost immediately on from The Great Hunt. This book contains two distinct paths to the climax, a feature throughout the series and one of the many reasons why I am such a big fan of the series.
Series: Wheel of Time: Book 3
by Kim Newman
What more could you ask for? Dracula meets the Giallo murder mystery and Bond! There is even a 1968 set novella Aquarius as an added bonus. This will chill and amuse the reader, transporting you to a bygone era of cinema and culture. Unmissable.
Series: Anno Dracula series: Book 3
by Sara Douglass
A thousand years ago, the people of Achar drove the Forbidden from their lands. But now the northern tribes of the Ravensbund are fleeing south again, with nightmarish tales of creatures who feed upon the terror of their prey. Winter has come early, and with it the promise of war. Axis, bastard son of the dead Princess Rivkah, is sent north to the battlefront at Gorkenfort with his elite Axe-Wielders. Once there, he must hand over command to his hated half-brother, Borneheld, Duke of Ichar and heir to the throne. But during the long journey Axis falls in love with Faraday – Borneheld's betrothed – and finds himself reassessing the very essence of his beliefs. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Axis must unite the feuding lands under one banner before it is too late and the evil rising in the north engulfs them all for good.
"There is a reason classics are timeless - they energise and captivate, bringing the reader back for more, time and time again. Sara Douglass's Battleaxe sits up there with the great epic fantasy books of the last 30 to 40 years, easily holding its own against the likes of Tad Williams' The Dragonbone Chair, Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara and Raymond Feist's Magician. If you have never read Battleaxe, do so now, you won't regret the decision."
Series: Axis Trilogy: Book 1
by George RR Martin
Throughout Westeros, the cold winds are rising. From the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding lands of Winterfell, chaos reigns as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms stake their claims through tempest, turmoil and war. As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky - a comet the colour of blood and flame - five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Against a backdrop of incest, fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory is measured in blood.
"If you are looking for a tale that features more sword than sorcery and enjoy the nuances of epic battles then this will be just your cup of tea. If you have read Game of Thrones and want more of the same then this will not disappoint but unfortunately I was rather looking forward to finishing the book and not for all the right reasons. A good book but too long."
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 2
by David Farland
The Sum of all Men is the first book in David Farland’s Runelords series. The first of three books, the story continues in Brotherhood of the Wolf and Wizard Born.
Series: Runelords: Book 1
by Philip Pullman
Northern Lights is the first part of Philip Pullman's acclaimed Dark Materials trilogy. The book was first published in 1995, a year in which the book also claimed the Carnegie Award.
Series: His Dark Materials: Book 1
by JK Rowling
The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
"J.K. Rowling’s series began with the Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets continues the adventures of the young wizard Harry and his friends at Hogwarts."
Series: Harry Potter: Book 2
by Philip Pullman
The sequel to Northern Lights, this is the second book in the 'His Dark Materials' Trilogy and introduces the character of Will Parry, a young boy who lives in Oxford (our world) with his ailing and increasingly confused mother and now on the run from a number of 'men in black' who seem to be searching for some letters sent from his missing explorer father, whom Will and his mother has not seen or heard from for years. After a scuffle with these mystery men, when they break into Will's home, one of the agents is accidentally killed and now Will must run for his life and try to find his father in order to help him and his mother. With his mother placed in the care of his old piano teacher Will ventures off and soon stumbles across a window to another world. Cittigazze is the City he stumbles across; but all is not well here, the place is deserted apart from a small, wild band of children who talk of spectres chasing away the adults. It is here he meets Lyra Belacqua, our heroine from the first book, who has traveled through the window from her world through the Northern Lights. Lyra has her Althiometer stolen and must retrieve something call the Subtle Knife in order to get it back. It soon becomes clear her and Will's meeting is not merely coincidence as Will becomes the successor to the previous owner of the Subtle Knife, which was made and resides in the City of Citigazze and is the key to opening an infinite number of windows to an infinite number of other worlds. Now they must find Will's father in order to put things right in Will's world and help his mother, but Mrs Coulter, who Lyra has already learnt is her real but not naturally maternal mother, has other plans for Lyra and is determined to destroy her. With the help of the witches and now also angels, Will and Lyra set off on this new and very dangerous quest.
Series: His Dark Materials: Book 2
by Terry Pratchett
Lords and Ladies is one of fantasy author Mark A. Cropper's favourite books. Mark kindly took the time to tell FantasyBookReview.co.uk why he rates the book so highly - Terry Pratchett’s books have always been a bit of an enigma to me. On one hand they’re light, funny and almost poke fun at the Fantasy Genre. On the other; they often, if not always, contain a darkness which can be almost startling. My overall feeling about them is that he tends towards the former. It doesn’t stop me loving them but I often feel a bit cheated. Then there is “The Lords and Ladies”.
Series: The Discworld Series: Book 14
by Neil Gaiman
A bit of mythology, a bit of fantasy, a bit of urban drama and a whole lot of London makes this book a definite must read.
Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.
"A very fine and imaginative writer." The Times
"Gaiman has a rich imagination... and an ability to tackle large themes." Philip Pullman
by Andrzej Sapkowski
For more than a hundred years humans, dwarves, gnomes and elves lived together in relative peace. But times have changes, and now the races once again fight each other - and themselves. In this tumultuous time a child is born - Ciri has strange powers and a stranger destiny, for a prophecy names her as one with the power to change the world, for good or for evil. The witcher Geralt has taken Ciri to the relative safety of the Witchers' Settlement, but it soon becomes clear that Ciri is not like the other witchers. As the threat of war hangs almost palpably over the land, Geralt and Ciri are pursued by someone who understands exactly what the prophecy means - and exactly what Ciri's power is capable of. This time Geralt may have met his match.
"If, like me, you’ve never heard of Andrzej Sapkowski before, it’s about time that was rectified. Combining traditional fantasy with Polish folklore, Sapkowski’s Witcher series has been translated into seven languages, made into a TV series and most recently converted into a computer game. This is clearly not to be taken lightly. Blood of Elves is only the second book by the author to hit British shelves (The Last Wish was published in 2007) – it’s a pity it didn’t arrive sooner."
Series: The Witcher #3
by David Gemmell
Sword in the Storm tells us about a young hero, Connavar of the Rigante. Burdened by the thought of his father being a coward, he’s eager to prove himself. His thoughts are often shadowed, but his heart beats true. The Seidh, malevolent forces of nature, sense his inner turmoil and decide to use him as a plaything, granting him one wish… When one day a bear attacks him and his friends, he refuses to give ground and attacks the animal, earning him mortal wounds and eternal glory. Against all odds he survives, and returns to his town a hero. This is only the beginning of his perilous journey… Will he be able to live up to his reputation and dreams, or will his inner demons consume him?
Series: The Rigante Novels: Book 1
by Kate Elliott
Prince of Dogs is the perfect second book. It draws you on from the first outstanding introduction to this new universe and drops you off ready and willing for the third. Kate Elliott is a master of her craft, able to leave you breathless and emotionally wrung out with the simple flip of a page.
Series: Crown of Stars: Book 2
by Robert Holdstock
This book takes us back to the start of Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Cycle, which with Mythago Wood followed Steven, the younger Huxley brother, into Ryhope wood. This book instead shows us Christian Huxley’s odyssey into the wood before Steven comes back from the war. The Huxley’s have always been drawn to the wood by their father George Huxley’s obsession with it and the Mythago Guiwenneth.
Series: Ryhope Wood: Book 6
by Jeff Noon
Take a trip in a stranger's head. Travel rain-shot streets with a gang of hip malcontents, hooked on the most powerful drug you can imagine. Yet Vurt feathers are not for the weak. As the mysterious Game Cat says, ‘Be careful, be very careful’. But Scribble isn't listening. He has to find his lost love. His journey is a mission to find Curious Yellow, the ultimate, perhaps even mythical Vurt feather. As the most powerful narcotic of all, Scribble must be prepared to leave his current reality behind.
"Vurt offers its readers a host of original visions even as it riffs off the classical myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Like one of Noon’s dream feathers, it is well worth consuming this book for it transports you to a richly imagined world of distorted realities and twisted fantasy. Its highly inventive blend of poetic and grotesque imagery lingers in the mind like the residue of a powerful dream." Karl Bell, Fantasy Book Review
by Stephen King
Roused by a single drop of blood, Rosie Daniels wakes up to the chilling realisation that her husband is going to kill her. And she takes flight – with his credit card. Alone in a strange city, Rosie begins to build a new life: she meets Bill Steiner and she finds an old junk shop painting, ‘Rose Madder’, which strangely seems to want her as much as she wants it. But it’s hard for Rosie not to keep looking over her shoulder. Rose-maddened and on the rampage, Norman is a corrupt cop with a dog’s instinct for tracking people. And he’s getting close. Rosie can feel just how close he is getting...
"In many ways Rose Madder represents my personal ideal of any work of speculative fiction, an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation doing the best they could against the darkness. This is one King classic which gets sadly overlooked."