Fantasy/Science-Fiction, or whatever else the sub-genre, has plenty of reads to thrill, entertain, teach, and inspire. The best fantasy novels have much to offer you by way of brilliant storytelling and dashing pace, to say nothing of memorable characters who can do more than change your life. With so much in store, few people can deny the allure of reading the cream of the crop this year and gearing up for fresh reading challenges come 2018.

Whether you are new to reading or are already a voracious veteran in the book-devourer department, it is never too late to find something exceptional in the world of books – be they paperbacks or digital e-editions.

Suppose you are waiting to find the ‘right’ book to start you off on your reading crusade, this article could probably point you in the right direction. While New Year resolutions are often targeted toward annual beginnings, it’s not unheard of to pursue such resolutions before a year is out.

The following selections come from varied outstanding writers, not exclusively 2017-published. Hopefully, this list of my Blasting News’s top-10 favorites (inspired from Goodreads) to check out before 2018 will be your key to a vast and glorious kingdom, where everyday rules do not apply and where the things you imagine as you feverishly turn the pages could be true.

10: ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R. R. Martin

Having attained immense fame since HBO developed the series into a television sensation, "A Song of Ice And Fire" comprises seven books – ‘A Game of Thrones,’ ‘A Clash of Kings,’ ‘A Storm of Swords,’ ‘A Feast for Crows,’ ‘A Dance of Dragons,’ ‘The Winds of Winter,’ and ‘A Dream of Spring.’ The last two are the latest installments after a prolonged gap, and Martin has said that ‘Dream’ could be the final book in the illustrious series.

The depth of storytelling prowess, keen characterization, and outstanding shockers and twists in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ stands apart in the epic-fantasy crowd. Set in a timeline hundreds of years ago, the series takes you through the lives of memorable characters as they fight, cajole, scheme, kill, and lie to claim their heritage (the Iron Throne) and rule the land of Westeros.

9: ‘1984’ by George Orwell

One of the few books that can resonate strongly with the way our world is today, ‘1984’ (written back in 1949) outlines a society that has strayed so far from a utopian model that it’s almost assuredly headed toward self-destruction. From one of the most convincing writers of the century, this novel is as evocative as it is haunting. Today’s political plight and societal strife ring true in several instances in the book, which itself is a shocking modern-day literary discovery. Orwell is one of the most celebrated writers around, and his ‘1984’ could well be termed a Fantasy-jewel.

8: ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams

This science-fiction masterpiece takes readers through a world that goes beyond Earth.

From inter-galactic travel, smart humor, and witty observations to splendid storytelling at an even pace, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (published in 1979) is one of those rare books that set the standard for plotlines centered around multiple important characters. The personalities in this book are as otherworldly as they are memorable, making for a fun read that is equal parts entertaining and uplifting. A core thread of philosophical/existential subtext has been woven through the book – you can read it times ten and not experience the same meaning twice. In this regard, Adams has certainly outdone himself and written a book that makes every reader feel like they’re hitchhiking around in the galaxy.

7: The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski

Originally written in Polish, the eight Witcher books inspired the bestselling computer game after the same name and heralded a new standard in game development and character design. The books, in their own right, are brilliant pieces of masterful fiction with twists, turns, excellent fight choreography, and characters whom you can read about just once and feel as if you’ve known them for years – you are probably starting to understand how the game turned out so good. Sapkowski’s work has earned even greater acclaim in light of the release of ‘Witcher III: Wild Hunt’ (the latest in the game’s 3 part installment). Netflix has also bought the rights to develop a full-fledged TV series around the books – ‘The Last Wish,’ ‘Blood of Elves,’ ‘Sword of Destiny,’ ‘Time of Contempt,’ ‘Baptism of Fire,’ ‘The Swallow’s Tower,’ ‘Lady of the Lake,’ and ‘Season of Storms’


6: ‘Harry Potter’ series by J. K. Rowling

No seven books are immediately recognizable as this set of brilliant and truly unforgettable stories from a writer who has proven that dreams really do come true if you believe in them long enough. Rowling’s excellence as an author reflects in each instance of her crowning work, and her characters have only added to that gilded standard. One of the biggest-selling books in the last few decades, the adventures of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasley are the stuff of literary legend. Filled with intrigue, magic, the power of perseverance, the importance of love, and the invaluable nature of friendship, the ‘Harry Potter’ books can be read time and again and the pages will still turn as fast as you can blink – that in itself must be magic.

The books in this series (all of which have gone on to become blockbuster movies) are ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,’ ‘...the Chamber of Secrets,’ ‘...the Prisoner of Azkaban,’ ‘...the Goblet of Fire,’ ‘...the Order of the Phoenix,’ ‘...the Half-Blood Prince,’ and ‘...the Deathly Hallows.’ ‘...the Cursed Child’ is the latest installment, after quite a gap, but the previous seven far outshines it in terms of plot and charm.

5: The ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien

Carefully created and nurtured since before 1973 (its publication year), Tolkien has made absolutely certain that his books will stand the test of time, and they have indeed. Constituting three exceptional works of literature – ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ ‘The Two Towers,’ and ‘The Return of the King’ – the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series continues his splendiferous Middle-Earth saga and gives readers a fantasy world worth exploring.

From creatures of all shapes and sizes to heart-rending wars and bloodthirsty battles, these books have made art on the canvas of epic-fantasy writing. Unparalleled characters, a language developed from scratch by Tolkien himself (who’s also a professor and linguist), and some of the most inspiring moments you will ever find in print, this trilogy is nothing short of all-conquering.

4: The ‘Bartimaeus’ trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Innovative, finely imagined, even better written, and sprinkled with political mischief, demonic dabbling, laugh-out-loud humour, heart-racing face-offs, and a fictional setting that every fan of this trilogy yearns to see happen in real life, Stroud’s way of taking a reader through three books of sheer unblinking fascination has earned him a fan base that to date is screaming for a book-4 – three’s the final book, apparently.

This tantalizing trio of books comprises ‘The Amulet of Samarkand,’ ‘The Golem’s Eye,’ and ‘Ptolemy’s Gate’. The author has also written a companion-novel for the series called ‘The Ring of Solomon’. As page-turners go, these books will make you feel like you’re reading in a wind tunnel – pardon the exaggeration – which could be the same force that has propelled this story to the desks of interested moviemakers.

3: The ‘Artemis Fowl’ series by Eoin Colfer

Another fine feather in the fantasy cap, the ingenuity behind the ‘Artemis Fowl’ series is how remarkably Colfer has balanced real experiences and ethereal ideas. Working with a concept as commonplace as fairies, the author has woven a world so elaborate, convincing and enjoyable that readers are often left wondering if it could all be real if such fairies like the types he writes about could actually exist.

Then there’s the billionaire-kid-mastermind and his butler, both of whom have rendered this series of eight books a marvel in the realm of fantasy fiction. The books are ‘Artemis Fowl,’ ‘The Arctic Incident,’ ‘The Eternity Code,’ ‘The Opal Deception,’ ‘The Lost Colony,’ ‘The Time Paradox,’ ‘The Atlantis Complex,’ and ‘The Last Guardian.’ Some of these titles have been made into outstanding graphic novels and there are talks in the Hollywood pipeline about putting them on the Silver Screen.

2: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood

The novel was already quite popular and a major point of discussion in active book clubs before the acclaimed television series after the same name came along and shook more of our perceptions about life, and what we’re probably making of it.

Set in a future that could well come to be, the cunning with which Atwood has sketched her characters, especially her protagonist Offred (played by Elisabeth Moss in the show), reveals a dark side of humanity – men as well as women in power – and how easy it can be for a tyrannical subjugation-oriented elite to take up the reins in a climate of fear.

1: The ‘Kingkiller Chronicles’ by Patrick Rothfuss

Prodigiously well-paced, characters enlivened with flair, a system of life that is beyond believable despite magic being involved, and a set of interconnected relationships that every reader can relate to has led to the ‘Kingkiller Chronicles’ becoming one of the most sought-after books to read. Aside from ‘The Name of the Wind’ and ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’, Rothfuss is yet to finish the final (hopefully not) book in his trilogy – so be prepared to hold your breath.

Leaving readers awed and inspired on a bewildering cliff-hanger in the second installment, fans await his next in the series with an enthusiasm that can put hungry hyenas to shame. From superb intrigue and subtle emotional cues to singular goosebumps-moments, readers will spend two (soon to be three) days in the life of an ordinary actor-musician who was forced onto a tough road to becoming one of the most powerful wizards around. The ‘Kingkiller Chronicles’ is a tour de force of fantasy fiction