Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander
The Book of Three
The Black Cauldron
The Castle of Llyr
The High King
This series of five books, based on Welsh mythology and geography, tells the story of Taran, whose official role is assistant pig-keeper but who longs for heroic quests and adventures. When one of his pigs, Hen Wen (who just happens to be a porcine oracle) escapes into the forest, Taran follows him and begins his longed-for heroic adventure. Throughout the series, Taran grows up along with his companions, Princess Eilonwy, Ffewddur, Fflam (a wandering king), a creature called Gurgi and a dwarf named Doli.
The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
Over Sea, Under Stone
The Dark is Rising
The Grey King
Silver on the Tree
Using Arthurian legend and Norse mythology, Susan Cooper finds magic in our world. In Wales, to be exact, where a great battle between the two sides of Old Magic—the Light and the Dark—is being fought by the six mortals who, prophesied in a song, are destined to turn back the Dark. They must work together with the Old Ones to find the Things of Power and keep the Dark from rising.
The Sea of Trolls trilogy by Nancy Farmer
The Sea of Trolls
Land of the Silver Apples
The Islands of the Blessed
When apprentice bard Jack and his little sister Lucy are kidnapped by Viking Berserkers, they set off on adventure through a Scandinavian landscape full of trolls, warriors, dragons, Norns, and giant spiders. As the series continues, it draws upon a wealth of Norse mythology, including the tale of Beowulf, the myth of changelings, and the mingling of Christian and pagan traditions. Jack’s adventures have been compared to a “tale of a Saxon Bilbo Baggins,” with all the excitement, terror, exhaustion, and illumination a journey tale can hold.
The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan
The Ruins of Gorlan
The Burning Bridge
The Icebound Land
The Battle for Skandia
The Sorcerer of the North
The Siege of Macindaw
The Kings of Clonmel
On Choosing Day—the day when members of the kingdom gather to choose new apprentices—the orphan boy Will is chosen as an apprentice Ranger, even though he’d hoped to become a knight. The Rangers is a military group, secretive and swift; Will learns how to use a bow, track creatures through the woods, and blend into a landscape so he’s nearly invisible. These skills help Will throughout his adventures in his medieval world, where he comes across and must defeat evil in the surprisingly mutable forms it takes.
Time Trilogy series by Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
An Acceptable Time
L’Engle’s series is part science fiction: it deals with the science of space and time travel, computer engineering, and mind control. But there are also fantasy elements as well, including exploded stars who become physical beings, a woman who turns into a centaur, and an eons-ancient battle between the forces of good and the evil being called The Black Thing. Into this amazing world come the O’Keefes: brilliant scientist parents and equally-intelligent children Meg and Charles Wallace. Their adventures in battling The Dark Thing extend throughout their childhood in this series of stories that’s so good it pops up on the banned books list.
The Wizard of Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin
A Wizard of Earthsea
The Tombs of Atuan
The Farthest Shore
The Other Wind
Tales from Earthsea
Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic fantasy masterpiece reveals the land of Earthsea, a landscape made of hundreds of islands. Here, dragons roam and magic is used by wizards to keep good and evil in balance. Like Tolkein’s Middle-earth, Earthsea is built on an ancient, detailed history and unique language that creates an entirely new world for readers to explore.
Abhorsen series by Garth Nix
The landscape in this series is divided by a wall, separating the Old Country from Ancelstierre, a nearly-normal world that’s very similar to ours. In the Old Country, magic is prevalent and so are The Dead, who don’t always remain dead. The Abhorsen is the necromancer, responsible for keeping The Dead out of Ancelstierre. This is a dark, adventure-filled series, elegantly written, with dual-natured characters and intriguing plotlines that will pull you into its world.
Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini
Brisingr, or, The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Safira Bjartskular
Humans, elves, dwarves and gnomes populate the world of The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Dragons used to live in this world, too, and they do again when 15-year-old Eragon finds a blue stone in the forest—a stone that isn’t rock at all, but a dragon egg. Now Eragon must fight the evils of King Galbatorix while learning the art of the Dragon Rider in a fast-paced series that’s sure to grab your attention.
His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman
The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
Lyra lives in a world very similar to Victorian England, except in her parallel universe, everyone has a daemon, a sort of soul that takes the shape of an animal. Lyra stumbles upon the research her uncle, Lord Asriel, is doing in the frozen North: he’s trying to build a bridge between the worlds. As the trilogy progresses, Lyra and several characters interact with our world and others, including a visit to the Land of the Dead. Enormous talking bears, strange angels, and the elephant-esque muletta mingle with unusual technology—a compass that leads its reader to truth, a telescope that reveals elementary particles, a knife that cuts windows between worlds in Lyra’s journey through the multiverse.
Pit Dragon Chronicles series by Jane Yolen
Dragon’s Blood: A Fantasy
A Sending of Dragons
The planet Austar IV, setting for the Pit Dragon Chronicles series, is mostly desert. Formally settled by humans as a penal colony, it is now valued for its dragons. Citizens gain social freedoms and powers by moving up the ranks of dragon fighters. Jakkin Stewart is a young dragon bonder (read: powerless) who decides to steal a dragon and train it on his own. A coming-of-age story, the series is part science fiction, part fantasy, and completely enthralling.