My Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s

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Shawn Speakman: Escaping the darkness that enters our lives can be as easy as reading a book. The world right now is all too dark, I think, and escaping it from time to time can be a relaxing release that helps us better prepare for life’s hardships. Below is a list of my favorite 80’s fantasy novel
    Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    When The Sword of Shannara published in 1977, Terry Brooks proved that there was a market for epic fantasy that publishers had not tapped into beyond Tolkien. Its sequel, The Elfstones of Shannara, was an immediate bestseller as well. But while Sword is quite derivative of Lord of the Rings, Elfstones is a masterpiece of original epic fantasy storytelling. I want to escape into the Four Lands. I want to wield Elfstones. I want to touch the white bark of the Ellcrys. I escape with this book often.
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  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    Ever enter a dark wooded forest and wonder what eyes could be watching you do it? Do you wonder if it is wise for the modern world to supplant an older one — and if that older world would fight back? While Feist is known for his Midkemia stories that began with Magician, Faerie Tale is one of the earliest examples of a dark contemporary fantasy featuring fey from the ancient world and the Hastings family that is caught in the middle of a very old war.
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  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    One of the best examples of a stand alone fantasy novel, Dragonsbane drew my eye the moment I saw its Michael Whelan cover. The magic of that cover is within its pages as well. The story of witch Jenny Waynest, lord John Averson, and the dragon Morkeleb the Black makes for a complex tale. What would you do for real love? To matter in one’s abilities and work? What would you be willing to give up? The subtly that Hambly writes with here makes for a beautiful read.
  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    What would it be like to open a floating door and stepping from our world into an alternate one? The Dark Tower series features this very thing, the ability to move from different worlds and even into different time periods. Gunslinger Roland Deschain is one of the best literary characters ever written — his hunt for the Dark Tower to put right the failing world as compelling as any quest written — but the characters he draws to his side are just as great. The Drawing of the Three is just that and much, much more.
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  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    One of the foundational books of epic fantasy, The Dragonbone Chair begins the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy. Writers like Robin Hobb and George R. R. Martin praise Williams for this series, for its incredible characters, complex plot, amazingly detailed world, and all written by a master wordsmith. A castle orphan story that defies most of the tropes. All requiring a large glossary. Now that’s epic escapism! And with Williams returning to Osten Ard in The Heart of What Was Lost (Jan. 2017) and The Witchwood Crown (Apr. 2017), there is more escaping to be done soon.
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  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    Every list of this nature needs a book that is lighthearted and hilarious. A book that lifts some of the seriousness that can be epic fantasy. Even the seriousness of our real lives. A book that makes a person laugh out loud in public. The Color of Magic is that book. The story of tourist Twoflower and his odd wizard guide Rincewind starts the Discworld series and will leave you in tears. Sometimes escaping from the world into the fantasy genre is not enough; sometimes reading a book that makes fun of many fantasy cliches can be the best kind of escape.
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  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    What kind of list would this be without an Arthurian tale on it? After all, the knights of the Round Table have been helping people escape from reality for a very long time. The story of King Arthur that we know so well is brought to life in The Mists of Avalon, from the point of view of the women in the tale, making for a rich re-telling that offers the knights as supporting characters. In a genre where women characters tended to be marginalized in the 80’s, escaping into this book now is as powerful as it was then.
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  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    Ever close your eyes, look up into the sunshine warming your face, and wish you could speed away upon it to another place? Ever wish you could ride a dragon into the sunset, toward a new land? Ever wish your gems possessed hidden power? Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn and its sequels have these things and more. The books are filled with political machinations like A Song of Ice and Fire and with characters just as complex, all centered around sunrunning and dragons.
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  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    A guilty pleasure for a great many people these days but a magical read for those who want to get lost in a magical tale. Eddings helped define fantasy in the 80’s and his story of an orphan boy destined to come king is one for the ages. The magical system Eddings created in the Belgariad novels is fantastic and, while its main character Garion is the quintessential orphan watched over by a grandfathterly mentor, the characters he is surrounded by will stay with you long into your reading life. Polgara and Silk, anyone?!
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  • Unboundworldsadded a book to the bookshelfMy Top 10 SF&F Escapist Books From The 80’s6 years ago
    One of my favorite books. I first read it and The Hero and the Crown in eighth grade when I had only been introduced to Alexander, Le Guin, Brooks, and Donaldson. A book report, of all things. The Blue Sword was so different from those other books that I immediately fell in love with it — its complex sentences, wonderful world building, and yet simple story of a woman taken from all she knows and destined to wield Gonturan, the blue sword that only a woman can wield.
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