Fun for Monday: Get to Know the Fantasy Reader Tag

The marvellous Maddelena did this tag for Wyrd and Wonder last year and I’ve been sitting on it since then. She, in turn, discovered it over at the lovely Jessticulates. Ah, these lovely threads that are woven back and forth across the blogisphere between us all! *heart eyes*

Wyrd and Wonder: Celebrate the Fantastic 1st to 31st May 2021
Image Credit: Svetlana Alyuk on

Let’s do this thing!


What is the first fantasy novel you read?

Roger Llancellyn Green’s Tales of the Greek Heroes and The Adventures of Robin Hood and Wise Child by Monica Furlong. I don’t know which of these came first, although I know I read them all at around the same time. What I do know for sure is that these three books shaped me in some fundamental way. The Hobbit followed swiftly after to seal the deal.

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Before all of these, however, even if not by much, was Marshall Cavendish’s Storyteller 2. Every two weeks we went to the paper shop to collect the next issue of this collectable book and tape set. The artwork in the books was stunning full-page spreads; the stories were a mixture of classics, modern works and folk tales from around the world; and the narrators on the tapes were people like Derek Jacobi, Floella Benjamin, Richard Briers and Una Stubbs. Along with our little local library, Storyteller 2 was my childhood.

And there is an incredible site here where some magnificent human being has collected together images and recordings from the series. I’ve just spent a couple of hours trawling through my favourite stories, goose-pimples all over and welling up from time to time as it all came back. I’m made up to find it all here.

Excuse me a moment … *sniffle*

The covers to the first three editions of Storyteller 2, published by Marshall Cavendish every fortnight in the 1980s


If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?

Not a hero, please and thank you. But I’d love to be in a Robin McKinley novel. One of the quieter ones like Chalice or Spindle’s End.

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What is a fantasy you’ve read this year, that turned into a huge revelation?

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo blew me away. The way it told Rabbit and In-yo’s story was masterful and delightful both. That it told such a sweeping story through such a precise lens leaves me awestruck. I’ve read it again twice since.

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What is your favourite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?

Ummm … I really like the New Weird stuff that China Miéville writes and would love to read more of this kind of thing (suggestions welcome!). And I like my fantasy to have dark and gothic leanings, (except when I don’t).

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I’ve not read a great deal of urban fantasy, mainly because Kate Griffin spoiled me for all the other stuff. Having got what I wanted first time round, I’m not really willing to trudge through the more romantic/sexy stuff to find other great things. I also object to long series of books because I get bored.

Covers for the four books that make up the Matthew Swift series by Kate Griffin


 Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?

Well Jo Walton goes here just as easily as she did in the Get to Know the Sci-Fi Reader Tag I did a few weeks ago.

Other than her, hmmm … Robin McKinley is an instant buy when I see her books anywhere. I’ve ended up with duplicates before now because her name produces an involuntary grabby reaction in my hands. And Zen Cho is my latest have-to-have-it-immediately author.

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How do you typically find fantasy recommendations?

Fantasy is something I’m much happier just picking up wherever I find it. I’m much less choosey about the fantasy I read because reading it is a massive comfort thing for me. And you know, if there’s a dragon on the cover I’ll pick it up. That said, my TBR has grown astronomically since I met all you lovely interwebby friends.

The people who’ve done the most damage to my once tidy TBR pile are imyril, Lynn, Maryam, Ola and Piotrek, Little Red and Calmgrove. I don’t know whether to love or hate you all! You do complement one another quite beautifully though, so I guess it’s mostly love.


What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?

Oh boy, you know I’m no good at this, right? Here’re a few, but if they’re out already and I haven’t noticed, don’t shout at me:

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What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?

That it’s all High Fantasy – swords, sorcery, Chosen Ones and all that jazz. Not that I don’t love swords and magic and champions on the side of right, but there’s also quiet fantasy and internal tales, mysteries and creeptastic terrors, low down and dirty fantasy, hilarity to be had and soulful sorrowing to be done.

I think stuff like this always come down to the need for a shorthand to describe those things we’re less interested in so that our brains don’t explode. Those who’re not interested in fantasy only need a very broad, vague definition for the word, because they need brain-space for the subjects they do care about. Just as I have a very broad, vague definition for, say, trainspotting, because I need brain-space for the names of authors, bloggers and publishers, latest releases and backlists, cover artists, themes, types of ghost and species of dragon.


If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?

Ooooooooo… *claps hands*

Pratchett’s Mort, Guards! Guards! or Wyrd Sisters depending on what mood I’m in and what mood the person I’m recommending to appears to be in; Jen Williams’ Winnowing Flame trilogy because I’m a sadistic sod sometimes; aaaaaaand … I don’t know, Gaiman’s Sandman comics because they read like a fantasy primer and cover a fair bit of ground. And because if I suggested they read Monstress right off the bat it might break them before they even got going.

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What’s the site that you like to visit for reviews, author interviews and all things fantasy?

I recently started following The Fantasy Hive properly (instead of just bobbing over and reading posts lurker-style), which is a delightful smorgasbord of awesomeness, although I suspect I’m late to the party with this opinion.

I also refer to a lot. I particularly like Jo Walton’s reading posts on there, I love the original fiction, and my secret secret aim in life is to write a post for the site. Which, of course, I realise I’ll most likely never manage, but it’s a dream and I’m told their generally seen as a Good Thing. And now I feel all hot and flustered for having shared that particular nugget so I’m going … going …

… gone.


But tell me, where did your Fantasy life begin?




  1. I love The Fantasy Hive as well, they have a great team of reviewers. And I’m also excited for so many upcoming books, including The Chosen and the Beautiful😁

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  2. So many of these I regret I’ll never get round to reading, but I enjoyed your answers to the questions! (And thanks for the mention!) I particularly agree that the outsider’s view of what fantasy is sadly is far too limited, and often far too dismissive. In fact I would say that fantasy is at the root of all fiction, from the earliest times, and without a fuller historical perspective it’s unsurprising that there’s a snobbishness about the genre.

    I’ll get off my hobbyhorse now…

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    • ‘Dismissive’ is exactly the word I was looking for. And, yes! fantasy is right there at the beginning of storytelling! I’m nodding so hard over here as I read you comment! 😄

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  3. Love this! And thanks for the shout-out! Just so you know, I’m quietly proud to have influenced your TBR, no matter if you hate me for it or not 😀
    Oooh, I think we have a new tag to do, perfect for Wyrd and Wonder 😉

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  4. Wise Child by Monica Furlong was also one of the books I read when I was really getting into fantasy too. I haven’t read it since I was a teen and have forgotten much. I hardly ever see people mention that book.
    Love Robin McKinley’s work. I wouldn’t mind visiting the world in Spindle’s End, where it seems magic is in everything.

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    • A fellow Wise Child reader?! Yay! I don’t see it mentioned much (at all) either, but it really captured my imagination as a kid.
      And a lover of McKinley too! I’m so happy over here! *high five* 😄

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  5. Love this tag! There’s such a variety of fantasy books out there, I feel like I learn something new each time I read someone answering these questions. The chosen and the Beautiful is one I’m also looking forward to. The Ninth Rain is one that’s been on my TBR for a little while. I’ll have to remember to give it a go this year!

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