Crossposted from my blog A Wicked Convergence of Circumstances.
Ask Me My Top 5 Anything This is something I'm doing on Tumblr. (My ask box is open. Also, if you're on Tumblr, add me!)
Okay! These are not so much my top five as my "First five from my top ten that came to mind."
Top Five Fantasy Series
Chronicles of the Kencyrath by P.C. Hodgell
What: Our Heroine is a young woman with a mysterious past and uncertain future. She is the member of one of those magical races that have Incomprehensible Missions to Defeat Evil. Problem: Evil is possibly winning and may not be evil, just Incomprehensible and unhealthy for the rest of the Universe. She spends a great deal of time accidentally leaving a path of destruction. The dean of her military academy has warned her not to drive any more of her teachers insane! Meanwhile, her favorite pastimes are reality hacking, pondering abstract philosophical concepts and untangling the mysteries of her family's past!
Why: All of the above reasons, plus a lush narrative style and some absolutely surreal yet concrete world building. There is a very strong Fritz Leiber overtone to the series and Hodgell deconstructs standard high fantasy and sword and sorcery tropes left and right with a wry sense of humor.
Young Wizards, by Diane Duane
What: When Nita is hiding out from some bullies by ducking into a library, she finds a book she thinks is a joke. The name of the book is So You Want to be a Wizard, and when she takes the Wizard's Oath she discovers it is not actually a joke at all. Nita, her friend Kit and eventually her sister Dairine end up on multiple adventures to defeat the Lone Power, or possibly redeem Him/Her/It.
Why: I loved this series since I was first introduced to it. It is an intelligent, well written series with amazing characters, excellent story arcs and a great sense of humor.
Vlad Taltos Series by Steven Brust
What: Our Hero is one Vlad Taltos. Jhereg, Easterner (read: human), witch, assassin. He and his wise-ass familiar Loiosh get into and out of the most interesting scraps, most of them caused by his strange friendships and alliances with extremely powerful individuals.
Why: Because it is a brilliant, funny series that involves gangsters and political shenanigans in a more or less high fantasy or sword and sorcery setting. Because Vlad's journey from criminal to wanderer with a price on his head is entertaining as all get out.
Elemental Logic by Laurie J. Marks
What: This is one of those "peaceful land invaded by evil enemies from across the sea" books, except it is not. It is actually about an occupation ended by the intuitive magic of three "fire" talents as they seek to aid the rightful heir.
Why: It is awesome and the characters are fascinating. I liked this particular take on the "missing heir/occupied country" fantasy tropes because it deconstructs them. Another reason I liked the series is because the characters have both same sex and opposite sex relationships. (And there is no inherent homophobia in the culture. Sadly, this is probably one of the reasons why the series isn't popular, and why the fourth book isn't out yet.)
The Belgariad by David and Leigh Eddings
What: This is your bog standard missing heir plus Dark Lord fantasy series. Our Hero is whiny and confused and has no clue of what's going on because no one explains anything to him. Despite his extreme stupid he eventually gets his act together and Defeats the Dark Lord.
Why: It is very entertaining bog standard Missing Heir versus Dark Lord! While the author(s) labored under the notion that they were doing something new and different, this series is very entertaining in its familiarity, though the conservative white bigot is extremely apparent.
Andre Norton's Witch World Novels
If you have not read any of these, you should rectify that immediately. Seriously. Go, now. I'll wait until you're done.
Glen Cook's Garret PI
This is essentially hardboiled detective in a fantasy setting of the vaguely Leiberish persuasion. It is funny and entertaining.