The Christian Guide to Fantasy
Of Mercs and Men


Links/Table of Contents

Douglas Adams
The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy


Lloyd Alexander
The Prydian Chronicals

Hans Christian Anderson

Peter Beagle
The Last Unicorn

Marion Zimmer Bradley
MZB Fantasy Magazine
The Mists of Avalon
The Fall of Atlantis
Sword and Sorceress Anthologies

Terry Brooks
The Sword of Shannara
The Scions of Shannara

Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game
Speaker for the Dead
Children of the Mind

Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland and
Alice through the Looking Glass

Lin Carter
Imaginary Worlds

Susan Cooper
The Dark is Rising Sequence

David Eddings
The Belgariad
The Malloreon
Belgarath the Sorcerer
The Elenium and Tamuli

Teresa Edgerton
The Green Lion Trilogy
The Silver Wheel Trilogy
The Goblin Moon Duology

Kate Elliott
The Crown of Stars Quatrology

William Goldman
The Princess Bride

Terry Goodkind

The Grimms Brothers

Brian Jaques
The Redwall Chronicals

J. V. Jones
The Baker's Boy

Robert Jordan
The Eye of the World

Guy Gavriel Kay
The Fionavar Tapestry
A Song for Arbonne
The Lions of Al-Rassan
The Sarantine Mosaic

M. M. Kaye
The Ordinary Princess

Ellen Kushner

Mercedes Lackey
Fairy Tales
Sword and Sorcery

Ursula K. LeGuin
The Language of the Night

Gail Carson Levine
Ella Enchanted

C. S. Lewis
The Chronicals of Narnia

George MacDonald
The Complete Fairy Tales
The Princess and the Goblin
The Princess and Curdie

Anne McCaffrey

Patricia McKillip
The Book of Atrix Wolfe

Robin McKinley
The Door in the Hedge
The Knot in the Grain
Spindle's End
The Damar Chronicals

Donna Jo Napoli

Andre Norton & Rosemary Edgehill
The Shadow of Albion

Michael O'Brien
A Landscape with Dragons

Charles Perrault

J. K. Rowling
The Harry Potter Series

Caroline Stevermer
A College of Magics
(With Patricia Wrede)
Sorcery and Cecelia

J.R.R. Tolkein
The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings
The Simarillion
A Tolkein Reader

Paula Volsky
The Curse of the Witch-Queen
The Fal Ghrizni Trilogy
The Luck of Relian Kru
The Wolf of Winter
The Gates of Twilight
The White Tribunal

Connie Willis
To Say Nothing of the Dog

Patricia Wrede
Alternate Reality
Mairelon the Magician
Magician's Ward
(With Caroline Stevermer)
Sorcery and Cecelia
Young Adult
The Enchanted Forest Chronicals
Sword and Sorceress
Daughter of Witches

1001 Arabian Nights
Kissing the Witch
Roads Not Taken
Sword and Sorceress Anthologies
Twice Upon a Time

The category of Sword and Sorcery is nearly as old as the genre. Its worldbuilding is typically minimal, while its hack-and-slashing tends to rival Dungeons and Dragons. S&S is probably the largest sub-genre, and DAW books its largest American publisher. The books, however, tend to be maudlin in both literary style (although generally great on plot), and highly questionable (especially in recent years) in morals. Most likely, newcomers to Fantasy will fall in love with this genre first, but it should be read with some caution, especially for the younger mind. Below are listed three authors to absolutley stay away from. As I get the time (or your feedback!) I'll add some positive S&S recommendations.

Let me take a quick moment to offer my apologies for this whole page. I began reading S&S as my first taste of non-fairy tale fantasy, but as I've grown in my faith, I've realised that pretty much everything I've ever read in this genre is dung. There it is. And it makes for a rather depressing page. However, perhaps there's someone out there with their head on straight who'll write something worth reading in this genre. (Hint hint!)

Marion Zimmer Bradley

MZB, may God rest her soul, has become a near sub-cultural icon for those who read Sword and Sorcery novels. Through both her magazine, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine (which recently published my short story, "If We Shadows Have Offended" - yaaay!), and her Sword and Sorceress anthologies, she has nurtured generations of S&S writers. As an editor, she was pretty good.

However, as an author, she stank, and should not be read by anyone under sixteen years of age, or so.

A pro-feminazi with a highly pagan agenda, her opinions are liberally strewn over every page - making them at once easily identifiable and equally angrisome. (Yes, it's not a word, but it ought to be.)

The best example of this agenda is found in her highly acclaimed The Mists of Avalon (Literary Quality: ; Christian Morality: Dangerous/Offensive; Age Appropriateness: Adult/Inappropriate), which is a retelling of the Arthurian myth from the point of view of Morgan the Fay. Considering the fact that she butchers history, she also manages to repeatedly incriminate Christianity as oppressive, degrading, yadda yadda. The book is tedius, poorly written, and difficult to hold in one's hand, as well. However, it is worth reading as a critical model of feminazi anti-Christianity propaganda. A fair amount of sex, incestual, rape and menage a trois, is involved. If you don't have to read this novel, don't. If you want to read Arthurian legend, read The Once and Future King, Idylls of the King, or any other older source.

Her other books include the Fall of Atlantis Duology (Literary Quality: ; Christian Morality: Dangerous; Age Appropriateness: Adult), and her Darkover series, which both promote paganism and feminazism.

However, the stories in her Sword and Sorceress anthologies are often fairly good, although they do touch on mature themes, and sometimes have questionable morals - but the literary value is often good.

Sword and Sorceress Anthologies

Literary Quality:
Christian Morality: Harmless/Dangerous
Age Appropriateness: Teenager/Adult

Assorted stories about female heroines and their derring do. A mixed bag.

Mercedes Lackey

"Misty," as she's known by her fans, is at one time one of the most prolific and mediocre authors out there. I'll refrain for the nonce on commenting on the relationship of those two adjectives. However, due to the fact that her books easily, and often, take up at least one shelf in Barnes & Noble, that she has a fairly large following, and that some of her better short stories have been featured in MZB's publications (and she has nifty books covers), chances are you'll have to deal with her at one point or another.

Unlike Eddings, Lackey is easier to pinpoint as very pro-liberal. Nearly half of her worlds' populations consist of homosexuals (yet, somehow, her world is vastly populated...go figure), sex is treated casually, as is violence, and several scenes of sado-masochism and torture are not uncommon. Her recent stories have been incredibly pro-Wiccan, as well as increasingly sloppy in literary quality. However, her worldbuilding is such that one wants to read the whole darn stinking huge series just to figure out the world - forget the rehashed characters and semi-interesting plot.

Therefore, as a general rule, I'd caution away from Lackey's works altogether. Her Tarma and Kethry series are generally benign, but involve an orgy-loving demon which they fight. If you absolutely must read something by her, pick up a copy of a Sword and Sorceress - chances are a cute but brainless romp will be included from Misty.

Over all her books are rated thus:

Literary Quality:
Christian Morality: Dangerous/Offensive
Age Appropriateness: Adult/Inappropriate

Recently, Lackey has been turning her sights towards retelling fairy tales. These will be dealt with in that section.

Patricia Wrede

The authoress of the "Enchanted Forest Chronicals" (soon to be reviewed in the upcoming YA section), and Regency Alternate Realities (soon to be reviewed in the upcoming Alternate Realities secion! <: ), as well as the authoress of Snow White and Rose Red, a retelling of the Fairy Tale of the same name - Wrede is a remarkably diverse author. Her style is generally good, and her books fun and mostly harmless. However, even bad books happen to good authors, as her earlier toe-in-the-door S&S proves.

Daughter of Witches

Literary Quality:
Christian Morality: Harmless/Dangerous
Age Appropriateness: Teenager/Adult

A fan of Wrede's "Enchanted Forest Chronicals" and alternate reality Regencies, I recently snatched up at my local used bookstore several of Wrede's earlier works.

Upon reading them, I can only suppose that these standard sword and sorcery novels were written as the result of a need to gain a toehold on the market. If that was their purpose, then I applaud them. But as pieces of literature, they are dull, undeveloped, cliche, and inconclusive.

The usual S&S elements are evident in "Daughter of Witches": a tyrannical monotheistic church which actually worships a demonic power (*long-suffering sigh insert here*), a girl with untapped magical abilities, a mercenary - both male and female, a mage (female), a streetrat-thief (boy), and several conveniently expendable temple guards under the control of a lustful, manipulative, tyrannical meglomaniacal highpriest (male - *insert second long-suffering sigh*).

Ranira's plight is not compelling, mainly because her final decision - to develop her latent magical talent - is painfully obvious from the first. Their flight from the city, while tense at times (the river bit worked fairly well), counteracts the semi-interesting world-building conflict Wrede had begun within the city by removing the threat of a return to the city with every pageturn.

In short, "Daughter of Witches" from the title to the last sentence, is predictable.

Those who first discovered Wrede with her later novels would be well-served not to invest in her earlier S&S fare, but keep an eye out for upcoming novels from this otherwise excellent author.

J. V. Jones

As you've no doubt guessed by now, Sword and Sorcery - at least, as it's written today; I can't speak for Conan the Barbarian and all the pulp fiction stories - is the Stronghold of Paganism and the Liberal Agenda. And, continuing in that ill-lustrious line, comes Warner Imprint's new darling, J. V. Jones. Shamelessly featured in Writer's Digest, and again in their Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's Sourcebook, 2nd Edition - promoted as a Brit (and awl wee dum Amhairicains no there reel smart!), and the reincarnation of Chaucer (who was kidding folks! We weren't supposed to emulate the idiots in the Canterbury Tales! yeesh.), at first glance she looks like a potential darling of ours as well.

No soap. Not only is there sado-masochism, she also includes voyeurism, casual sex, a good amount of violence, a direct attack against the Church (there's an evil Bishop involved), and the degradation of knighthood. Her first series, beginning with The Baker's Boy (; Offensive; Inappropriate) uses all of these. She has recently begun a second series which I have not read - one can only presume they are the same. She has no short stories or other fiction which can be recommended. Her contribution to fantasy as a genre lies only in quantity; in literary merit she stinks.

Final analysis: don't bother.

Literay Quality:
Christian Morality: Offensive
Age Appropriateness: Inappropriate


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Updated 6 October, 2000
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