Stressed out? pick a book. Bored to death? Let a good book be your companion. Trying to find meaningful answers to where your life is headed? A well-scripted book might have all the answers. In fact, come to think of it now, reading books are not only a source of joy but also bring peace in our lives. Such is the case with novels that immerse you in a universe never imagined or even slightly close to reality with happy endings (not-so-happy at times too) and momentous lessons.
1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a culture-transforming masterpiece of a “new world” no one but J. R.R. Tolkien would have imagined. An Oxford university Professor and an English philologist, Tolkien envisaged the story as a sequel to his less-complex fantasy novel, The Hobbit. The three novels were written during the World War II between 1937 and 1949 and now are considered the second best-selling book series of all time, with over 150 million copies sold.
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first book of the series setting the stage. Gandalf The Grey, a wizard, enters the plot with the sad news that the main antagonist Sauron, the Dark Lord, has risen yet again in Mordor, seeking the One Ring. He desires to rule the Middle Earth. The One Ring, with the power to rule all the other 7 power rings.
And thus, the journey begins to destroy the ring in the fires of the Mount Doom (where it was created), located right in the middle of the Kingdom of the Dark Lord Sauron himself. In this pursuit, a fellowship forms including 4 Frodo, Sam, Pippins and Merry (the hobbits), 2 kings, an elf, dwarfs and a wizard progressing slowly but steadily towards the Mount Doom encountering Orcs, Ringwraiths and Nazgul, and of course, evil man fallen prey to their most debase instincts, as enemies. Nature too seems to aid the quest when walking, talking trees called ‘Ents’ joins in to stand against the oppression of the Dark Lord in the rebellion.
Facing evil from every corner, the Fellowship must go through mountains, snow, forests, plains and rain to destroy the only hope Sauron has to reign again – the One Ring. And that marks the end of the second book in the series The Two Towers.
All the quests of the Fellowship comes to an end in the last book of the trilogy The Return of the King filled with ultimate points of excitement, power of will, love and most importantly hope. Against all odds, when all hope was lost and utter failure was bound to descend upon the world, the fellowship somehow triumphs.
2. A Song of Ice and Fire
From the pen of the uncrowned king of contemporary fantasy, George R. R. Martin, comes a series that launches a genuine masterpiece, redefining the ‘fantasy’ genre in all its perfection. A Song of Ice and Fire is an epic saga of mystery, grim omens, chivalry, romance, and medieval politics where some take to the swords and maces while others are abetted by mystical power and dragons to rule Westeros.
In a land where summers last decades and winters a lifetime, a fascinating assortment of kings and queens, assassins and bastards, renegades and knights are all pieces on the grand Chess board, all vying for power and led to believe they can get it while sinister forces beyond the 8,000 feet wall of the North gather, an army of the dead to march south as summer drains.
The tale truly centers on the Stark family and their perilous fate hanging in between cruel endeavors as they try to outsmart a treacherous queen who is willing to risk it all for the sake of her love and children; a tribe of fierce wildlings, a dragon princess who is the righteous owner of the throne of Westeros, and many amid and counter plots for survival and justice. The book series is still in progress, with the 6th book still being worked upon.
3. Harry Potter Series
There is a reason why it is considered to be the best-selling book series in history i.e. it comes from the mind’s eye of J. K Rowling. The series has bagged immense renown among the masses, commercial success, and worldwide critical acclaim attracting both the adult audience and being the preeminent milestone of young adult literature. As of 2015, the 7 books in the series have sold over 450 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 73 languages.
The novel revolves around the life of a young boy aged 11, Harry Potter, who, upon his 12th birthday, finds out that is in fact a wizard living in a world of non-magical ordinary people (Muggles). Since his magical abilities are inborn, he is invited to attend an exclusive magic school (Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) where he would be taught the necessary skills to survive in the magical (wizarding) world.
Each book chronicles a year in Harry’s life as he learns to survive in the magical world encountering challenges with his two very close friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. It’s a story of how they confront the problems of magic, social acceptance, rivalry, infatuation, school work, anxiety, and of course, the biggest evil of all, Lord Voldemort; who is also the murderer of his parents James and Lily Evans.
4. The Dark Towers
A series that incorporates myriad genres such as mystery, science fiction, horror and Western can only have been envisioned by the god of supernatural fiction Stephen King himself. The Dark Tower series circles around one main protagonist Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger in search of the elusive but powerful edifice, the Dark Tower, the structure being the nexus of the time-space gamut, located in the fey region amidst a sea of singing roses. As the book progresses, Deschain discovers that it is under perils by something or someone using the forces of evil to obliterate it. The fabric of reality frays as Deschain begins his journey, but what he doesn’t know is that it’s about to get much, much worse. The six invisible beams upholding the alignment of space, time, size and dimensions are deteriorating foundering the Dark towers unless Deschain finds a way to save it.
The Dark Towers series is another classic Arthurian adventure inspired in equal proportions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Robert Browning’s poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came” and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns classics. Stephen King himself calls it his magnum opus, and who are we to deny his amazing intriguing universe!
5. The Chronicles of Narnia
What more could an escapist reader ask for in a book full of epic adventures, journeys depicting the end of the world, praise-worthy battles between good and evil, a tale of love and passion in the purest of senses between a little girl and a ruling king of the Narnia -a lion; all comes together in one series with strong leads taking the book into a parallel universe. The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of 7 novels written by the bestseller author Clive Stables Lewis and delivers a true portrayal of adventures involving orphaned siblings Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan Pevensie. All seven books are unabridged and are true masterpieces, letting its reader imagine a fictional world so perfect where magic truly meets reality to engulf us into a fascinating tale of hope for a better tomorrow.
6. The Heroes of Olympus
A pentalogy worth all the praise! From the critically acclaimed bestselling author of children’s books, The Heroes of Olympus serves as a spin-off series to the earlier Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. The first book entitled The Lost Hero was published on October 12, 2010 while the last of the series the fifth book entitled The Blood of Olympus was published on October 2014.
The tale revolves around a new great prophecy (the prophecy of the Seven), epic adventures, and a new generation of demigods embarking on the most precarious of challenges yet. According to the new prophecy:
“Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire, the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death!”
The Heroes of Olympus is a fulfilling cataclysmic fantasy where victories are hard won and bravery nuanced at every stage with a hope towards a peaceful resolution.
7. The Hunger Games Trilogy
Scripted beautifully by Suzanne Collins, an American author, The Hunger Games is one of the most acclaimed and well-crafted young adult novels written recently. The story follows the main characters: Katniss Everdeen, a 16 years old girl from District 12, and Peeta Mellark, the love of her life. The novels are titled The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay – all three have topped the US bestseller list.
The principle plot chronicles a dystopian country called Panem, distributed into twelve districts ruled by the Capitol, a totalitarian nation. Due to varying states of poverty, the districts had rebelled against the Capitol once, long ago, and had been defeated. As a punishment, each year, children (one male and female called as tributes) from each district are chosen to participate in a compulsory televised death match called the “Hunger Games”. These pickings are chosen randomly through a reaping. This year in the 74th Hunger Games event, Katniss Everdeen’s little sister, Primrose Everdeen gets chosen and Katniss volunteers herself in her place. Peeta and Katniss are then sent off to participate in the Hunger Games along with other participating tributes from other districts and thus begin their journey of struggle, hope and love.
As the story unfolds, readers will be welcomed with unexpected twists, absolute mind-blowing scenarios and a new world of possibilities. What happens next is for you to find out!
8. Divergent Series
The talented Veronica Roth doesn’t disappoint with her recently acclaimed bestseller novel series Divergent intended for all ages. The plot revolves around a dystopian Chicago encased in a chained fence with a society that has been divided into five factions: Candor for the honest and pious, Abnegation for the selfless, Dauntless for the brave, Amity for the peaceful, and Erudite for the intellectuals.
Each year, anyone who turns 16 is asked to choose a faction or remain the one they were raised in. Beatrice Prior upon turning 16 is faced with the same dilemma in the first book of the series. But she is special, she is a divergent, the one who doesn’t fit in any of the five factions and now she has to conceal it. What follows next is a thrill of adventures in order to unearth the secrets kept from the factions and discover her fate and whatever that is outside that fenced wall.
The book is well crafted and has immense emotional and thematic depth giving readers an extra nudge at times. A book that all of us could relate to in some manner based on the vice of the factions so beautifully portrayed.
9. The Wheel of Time Series
The Wheel of Time, beautifully written by James Oliver Rigney Jr. under the penname of Robert Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s death, is an impressive take on fantasy and has been the No.1 international bestseller series. The best part, the series constitutes of 14 huge books, written over a total span of nearly 23 years!
The world-building concept in the Wheel of time is classic in the truest sense, and pure genius. It tells the tale of a man in between the past and the future destined to save the world by facing the Evil One. The magical system explained in the plot comprises a vat of power termed as the True Source. There are only a few who could actually channel the Power by weaving the five elements (air, water, wind, fire and spirit) to accomplish tasks such as heal a wound or create a bubble around you to stop outsiders from hearing what you have to say. The main characters all come from the same land known as the Two Rivers. It’s a tale of five youngsters leaving the one place they had grown up into and moving on to gain knowledge of the world and most importantly grow.
Employing the usual fantasy theme of good, evil and power, Jordan has defined gender roles and relationships exceptionally well becoming the most dominant theme of the book. The overall series sums up f total fourteen books and a prequel to follow, so you are in for a treat if you are craving for something that will truly broaden your sense of reality and time.
A set of six meow-filled series of little warriors (cats) in a fantasy world out to save their kingdom, what could be more cute and heartwarming than that! Erin Hunter’s Warrior series has topped the bestseller series charts with epic adventures and fierce warrior cats.
The story revolves around four clans of warrior cats sharing the forests as per the forest laws laid down by their ancestors. Everything seems to be going fine for ages until the warrior code is threatened and the cats are in danger. The antagonist, the sinister Shadow clan, is growing stronger day by day and noble warriors are losing their lives under mysterious circumstances. They are in search of a savior and amidst of this grave turmoil enters and ordinary household cat Rusty turning out to be the greatest of all warriors.
Some may find the series a bit too childish for their taste, but the gratifying messages in the series and encounters with evil are very relatable in our daily life. The plot, however simple it may seem initially, will keep you in a death grip till the end in each of these book series. We can attest to that fact.