Heroism. Death. Magic. Quests. Mythology. Sorceress princesses, bard kings, and the Assistant Pig-Keeper. With its classic fantasy feel, memorable characters, wry humor, and complex takes on morality and heroics, the Chronicles of Prydain were a touchstone of so many of our readerly development. Here are a few books to read three, five, ten, or twenty years later.
The Riddle-Master of Hed, by Patricia McKillip
A world of dangerous riddles and farmer-kings, a mysterious sigil, a quest… The Riddle-Master trilogy contains that alchemical combination of intriguing characters, adventure, magic, wry wit, darkness, whimsy, and moral exploration that made the Prydain Chronicles so compelling for so many of us, with Patricia’s McKillip’s keen eye for imagery and lovely prose.
The essential book of Welsh mythology, from which so much of Prydain was drawn.
The Gawgon and the Boy, by Lloyd Alexander
A loosely autobiographical story of boyhood, monsters, friendship, learning, and possibilities.
The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold
After years imprisoned as a galley slave, Cazaril wants only home and rest. Instead, a post as secretary-tutor to a young noblewoman draws him into a world of intrigue, both human and divine. Bujold creates a world of complex theology and morality grounded in compelling characters and dilemmas, and the series only gets better from here.
Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier
Juliet Marillier retells the story of the six swans with grace and power.
Gods and Fighting Men, by Lady Gregory
Lady Gregory’s collection of myths of the founding of Ireland.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin
When Yeine is summoned by her mother’s powerful, estranged family, she is thrust into a world of power struggles, gods, ever-changing stories, and shifting lines between good and evil and enemies and friends.
Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman’s beloved fairytale is by turns melancholy, frightening, and hilarious, and it’s always magical.
A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula LeGuin
The classic bildungsroman of magic and power.
Sabriel, by Garth Nix
Garth Nix’s rich world and dark magic make the story of Sabriel, who is summoned away from her civilized boarding school to confront family secrets and ancient evils in the Old Kingdom, an unmissable middle grade/YA fantasy.
The Mabinogian Tetralogy, by Evangeline Walton
Walton’s ambitious, novelistic retelling of the tales of the Mabinogian.
The King of Elfland’s Daughter, by Lord Dunsany
Beautiful, sometimes melancholy, and certainly one of the more influential works of 20th century fantasy.
Previously in this series: Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books, The Giver Quartet