I got a question from a friend this weekend, who shall remain nameless, but he was one of my more uneducated friends; What book is your favorite book? I didn’t know what to say. First of all he is bigger than me, so I couldn’t smack some sense into him without risking injury to myself, and I have never thought about it before. I have gotten the same question about movies before and I have gone on several rants about how that is like asking me what is my favorite oxygen molecule. It is not that I don’t have a film a prefer to watch, but every film has its setting and mood, so I can’t put anything on.
Now back to the original question. I told him that it isn’t like I have one favorite book. I have books that I have read several times either because of work or for pure pleasure. Robert McKee’s Story is something that I plow through once a year simply because I like to keep myself in training and as write screenplays, that is one of the best manuals for that profession. And being a serious nerd, I have read The Lord of The Rings several times, but I stopped for some reason after the movies were released.
But that is not what this post is really about. Since I do not have a favorite book, I thought I would have run through of the authors that inspire me in a sort of autobiographical order.
The reason I mention him is simply because he was the one who dragged me into the wonderful world of myths and legends. He is often referred to as the father of modern fantasy and for me he was the one I first started reading. There might be readers here, although I seriously doubt it, who don’t know who he was. He was the author behind The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, which are reckoned as the start of modern fantasy.
I most not forget the books I read right after first reading The Hobbit. This drew me into a world of more magic and talking animals than anything else I have read. As a preteen I loved these books, because they spoke to me. They gave me a promise of the possibility of escape from the dreary everyday and into a world of adventure and the heroes were children. They were my age, so therefore I loved them and I understood the problems some of them had.
The author of the Shannara-series was someone I came across as I was looking for someone new to read in my teens. His dark, yet hopeful worldview, was something that fascinated me. I read Sword of Shannara and I immediately wanted to read more of him. After a while I started reading his series The Word and The Void. They were a brilliant portrait of a society on the way towards collapse. His more humorous books in the Landover series are on par with the brilliant Terry Pratchett and parodies everything about modern fantasy.
Where would I be without the late and great Robert Jordan? I would certainly not know about Ta’veren, Aes Sedai and Tarmon Gai’don. His way of making you connect with the characters almost reminds me of the bond between Aes Sedai and Warder. You feel the pain that the characters go through. You curse Rand al’Thor for making idiotic decisions. I discovered Robert Jordan after a friend of mine gave me a copy of The Eye of The World after one of my first girlfriends dumped me and he has a steady companion since then. I was seriously distraught when he died. Not only did we lose one of the greatest fantasy writers ever, but I was really scared this would mean the end of a great series. Luckily Brandon Sanderson was asked to finish the saga and he did so beautifully. Or so I imagine since I haven’t had time to read the last book.
Tad Williams is an author I have been a fan of for a long while. His books are extremely well written and his characters are real. I don’t mean in the sense that they exist, but they feel like real people to me. They make choices that feels like real choices. They have qualms and worries. They have flaws and they aren’t like your typical Hollywood heroes, something that might explain why this brilliant writer never has had any of his works dramatized on screen. Not that I would like that. In fact I love the images that I have created i my own head from the words he has eloquently placed on the pages. I discovered his books while I was studying film in Lillehammer and I have loved every book he has put out there. I can highly recommend him.
George RR Martin
Now who doesn’t like A Song of Ice and Fire? I discovered George RR Martin at the same time as I discovered Tad Williams and unlike the others I have written about, George does not comply to any sort of time table when he writes. His books are done when they are done. Something that can really frustrate you as a fan, but when you have that new copy in your hands, it has been so worth it. His way of interconnecting history and interesting characters have always inspired me. He has several times taken rules and events from the western world’s past and placed into Westeros. The way they scheme in the Red Keep and other courts gives you a sense of how dangerous life must have been in the middle ages or in the Roman Empire. His characters, like with Williams, feel real. They aren’t perfect, but you love them. You even after a while love the really bad people. Let me warn you if you haven’t read any of his books. Do not get attached to too many characters. I have many times cursed Martin for killing off my favorites. But one thing is clear; read the books before you watch Game of Thrones.
The next I would like to mention is Mark Lawrence, the author of the brilliant Broken Empire trilogy. He is a new face and I only came across him about two years ago when I picked up a copy of Prince of Thorns. The second I put down the book I thought; What a wonderful and evil person Prince Jorg is? Even though he seems to be the most cruel and fickle individual, you fall in love with this guy, because of all the shit he has gone through. I love Lawrence’s style and I am currently reading the third book in the Broken Empire trilogy. You should definitely get a hold of a copy of Prince of Thorns and get hooked too.
Now I know there are more people I should mention, like E.R. Eddison and Terry Pratchett, but right now these are the guys that inspire me. Whoever inspires you, let me know and maybe I can find someone new to really cherish.