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Grendel
by John Gardner (1971)


A retelling of the 8th century Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf from the perspective of the monster Grendel. The story follows Grendel's twelve-year war with the Danes. Following an episode of loneliness an encounter with a dragon leaves him both angry and powerful. Eventually Beowulf arrives, but plays a relatively minor role in the story. A novel of great sensitivity and compassion.





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'The Dark Tower Series'
by Stephen King (1982)


Noted heavyweight of horror Stephen King's Dark Tower series is his most fantasy-oriented work. The first and most popular in the series can be read as a stand-alone - a brooding dreamscape of good versus evil. At odds with each other is the eponymous Gunslinger and the evil Man in Black. There is no doubting King's writing ability. This is superb.





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'Tales of Alvin Maker'
by Orson Scott Card (1987)


One of sci-fi's hottest writers proves he is no slouch in the realms of fantasy. The Tales Of Alvin Maker series is about a man who lives on the frontier of an alternate early 19th century America. Alvin is gifted with the power and is pitted against dark forces. A girl with second sight holds the key to his salvation. Everything we have come to expect from this terrific writer.





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'The Last Herald Mage'
by Mercedes Lackey (1989)


Perhaps the most important series in the gay fantasy sub-genre, this is the story of a young man who is a failure in his father's eyes. He undergoes a somewhat painful coming-of-age in the ancient kingdom of Valdemar. Heralds in the kingdom have psychic abilities. The first in the series, Magic's Pawn, works well as a stand-alone for those who are just curious.





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The Prestige
by Christopher Priest (1995)


Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film version of this fine book went straight to #1 at the US box office. In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose one another. Mind-boggling stuff and a must-read for the adventurous.





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'Temeraire'
by Naomi Novik (2006)


The books in Novik's Temeraire series are named for the noble dragon that is its main character. Set during the Napoleonic wars, dragons are basically the air force. When a British naval officer manages to acquire the egg of a normally un-obtainable Chinese dragon he forms a strong bond with the hatchling. A cut above the standard noble-dragon adventure and rich in historical detail.





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The City and the City
by China Miéville (2009)


Socialist left writer China Miéville is fond of describing his work as weird fiction' and strives to shun commerciality in order to write works of meaning. Regardless, he is probably the most popular fringe writer of the day. In this book, rabid nationalists are intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists dream of dissolving the two into one.





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Among Others
by Jo Walton (2011)


A Hugo and Nebula award-winner, this somewhat unusual fantasy is definitely a must-read. Teenager Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and her mother who practices dark magic. A magical battle leaves her sister dead and Mori crippled. Mori turns to her estranged father in England for safe harborage, while finding solace in her sci-fi and fantasy books… but Mum is on the hunt.


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