Welcome back to Thoughtful Thursday! I’ve been mulling over something Janny Wurts said in the podcast we linked to on this blog last week.  She talked about certain archetypes reoccurring in fantasy because they serve as an entrance point to the genre for certain age groups which made me think about how I started reading fantasy.

I remember the first fantasy book I ever read.  While younger I had read other books like C.S. Lewis‘s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, or Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, but I had never considered them fantasy. Maybe because the stories depicted something I recognized as our world, just looked at sideways. The first book I read and realized I was reading a fantasy novel was Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen.  I was in my early teens, and this book spoke to me in a way that nothing else had before. I was figuratively transported out of my boring teenage life and into another world. I identified with the plucky young heroine, her trials and triumphs, the clear cut world view, and I coveted her telepathic horse.  That set me off into a reading binge that has never really ended.  For years I read every book that Mercedes Lackey published. I blazed through Anne McCaffrey‘s Harper Hall trilogy, and most of the other Pern books. I fell in love with Charles deLint and Robin McKinley and Jane Yolen and Elizabeth Moon.  And that was just high school.

Even now as an adult, when nothing else on my bookshelf appeals to me, I can pick up Arrows of the Queen and lose myself in familiar and welcoming Valdemar. While my tastes have matured and I realize now that it may not be the epitome of great literature, I will always be grateful for that book starting my love affair with fantasy and science fiction.  And I still covet the telepathic horse.

It’s your turn: How old were you when you read your first fantasy novel, what was it, and what about it made you seek out more?


  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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