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Best Pre-Tolkein Fantasy Books

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The Once and Future King

by T. H. White

5 avg rating
T. H. White's masterful retelling of the saga of King Arthur is a fantasy classic as legendary as Excalibur and Camelot, and a poignant story of adventure, romance, and magic that has enchanted readers for generations.

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The King of Elfland's Daughter

by Lord Dunsany

The poetic style and sweeping grandeur of The King of Elfland's Daughter has made it one of the most beloved fantasy novels of our time, a masterpiece that influenced some of the greatest contemporary fantasists. The heartbreaking story of a marriage between a mortal man and an elf princess is a masterful tapestry of the fairy tale following the "happily ever after."
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Dracula

by Bram Stoker

2.5 avg rating
During a business visit to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count's transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula's grim fortress, but a friend's strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker's 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire.  Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.
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The Worm Ouroboros

by E. R. Eddison

5 avg rating
This anthology is a thorough introduction to classic literature for those who have not yet experienced these literary masterworks. For those who have known and loved these works in the past, this is an invitation to reunite with old friends in a fresh new format. From Shakespeare’s finesse to Oscar Wilde’s wit, this unique collection brings together works as diverse and influential as The Pilgrim’s Progress and Othello. As an anthology that invites readers to immerse themselves in the masterpieces of the literary giants, it is must-have addition to any library.

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Peter Pan

by J. M. Barrie

Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. A mischievous boy who can fly and never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang, the Lost Boys, interacting with mermaids, Native Americans, fairies, pirates, and occasionally ordinary children from the world outside of Neverland. In addition to two distinct works by Barrie, the character has been featured in a variety of media and merchandise, both adapting and expanding on Barrie's works.
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The Broken Sword

by Poul Anderson

4 avg rating
Thor has broken the sword Tyrfing so that it cannot strike at the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree that binds together earth, heaven and hell. But now the mighty sword is needed again to save the elves in their war against the trolls, and only Scafloc, a human child kidnapped and raised by the elves, can hope to persuade Bolverk the ice-giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But Scafloc must also confront his shadow self, Valgard the changeling who has taken his place in the world of men.
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The Princess and the Goblin

by George MacDonald

Princess Irene lives in a castle in a wild and lonely mountainous region. One day she discovers a steep and winding stairway leading to a bewildering labyrinth of unused passages with closed doors - and a further stairway. What lies at the top? Can the ring the princess is given protect her against the lurking menace of the boglins from under the mountain?
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Jirel Of Joiry

by C. L. Moore

The fierce, proud, and relentless commander of warriors, standing tall above her enemies and simmering with rage, Jirel bids farewell to the world of treacherous men and walks through a forbidden door into Hell itself in pursuit of freedom, justice, and revenge. Reissue.
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The Arabian Nights

by

Now as sumptuously packaged as they are critically acclaimed?a new deluxe trade paperback edition of the beloved stories.

The stories of ?The Arabian Nights ?(and stories within stories, and stories within stories within stories) are famously told by the Princess Shahrazad, under the threat of death should the king lose interest in her tale. Collected over the centuries from India, Persia, and Arabia, and ranging from adventure fantasies, vivacious erotica, and animal fables, to pointed Sufi tales, these stories provided the daily entertainment of the medieval Islamic world at the height of its glory. No one knows exactly when a given story originated, and many circulated orally for centuries before being written down; but in the process of telling and retelling, they were modified to reflect the general life and customs of the Arab society that adapted them?a distinctive synthesis that marks the cultural and artistic history of Islam.

This translation is of the complete text of the Mahdi edition, the definitive Arabic edition of a fourteenth-century Syrian manuscript, which is the oldest surviving version of the tales and considered to be the most authentic.

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Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: Cloud of Hate and Other Stories

by Dennis O'Neil

In 1973, comics industry titan Denny O'Neil joined noted artists Howard Chaykin and Walt Simonson to adapt stories starring Fritz Leiber's timeless fantasy characters, the barbarian Fafhrd and the nimble rogue the Gray Mouser. Now, for the first time ever, Dark Horse Books is collecting all of those exciting tales of swords and deviltry into one handsome collection!
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Lud-in-the-Mist

by Hope Mirrlees

"The single most beautiful, solid, unearthly, and unjustifiably forgotten novel of the twentieth century ... a little golden miracle of a book."--Neal Gaiman Hope Mirrlees penned "Lud-in-the-Mist"--a classic fantasy, and her only fantasy novel--in 1926. When the town of Lud severs its ties to a Faerie land, an illegal trade in fairy fruit develops. But eating the fruit has horrible and wondrous effects. "Helen Hope Mirrlees was born in England in 1887. Mirrlees was a close friend of such literary lights as Walter de la Mare, T.S. Eliot, André Gide, Katharine Mansfield, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Bertrand Russell, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, and William Butler Yeats. Under her own name, she published three novels: Madeleine -- One of Life's Jansenists (1921); The Counterplot (1924); and her 1926 classic fantasy Lud-in-the-Mist, which has acknowledged inspiration to the likes of Neil Gaiman, Mary Gentle, Elizabeth Hand, Johanna Russ, and Tim Powers."--SF Site "Hope Mirrlees' writing, usually underrated, moves between gently crazy humour, poetic snatches, real menace, and real poignancy."--The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
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Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales

by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

They are the stories we've known since we were children. Rapunzel. Hansel and Gretel. Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty. But the works originally collected by the Brothers Grimm in the early 1800s are not necessarily the versions we heard before bedtime. They're darker and often don't end very happily?but they're often far more interesting.

This elegant edition of Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales includes all our cherished favorites?Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Cap, and many more?in their original versions. With specially designed end papers, a genuine leather cover, and other enhancements, it's the perfect gift for anyone looking to build a complete home library.

Many of these tales begin with the familiar refrain of ?once upon a time”?but they end with something unexpected and fascinating!

Lexile score: 1150L
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Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid box set:

by Homer

A glorious boxed set featuring Robert Fagles’s award-winning translations of the three great epics of Western literature

ONE OF THE PREEMINENT translators of our time, Robert Fagles’s interpretations of these epic poems give new life to three seminal works in the Western canon. The Penguin Classic Deluxe Editions of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid are collected here for the first time in a specially designed gift box. Each volume contains a superb introduction by renowned classicist Bernard Knox.


about The Odyssey

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The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian: The Original Adventures of the Greatest Sword and Sorcery Hero of All Time!

by Robert E. Howard

“Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities . . . there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars. . . . Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand . . . to tread
the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.”

Conan is one of the greatest fictional heroes ever created–a swordsman who cuts a swath across the lands of the Hyborian Age, facing powerful sorcerers, deadly creatures, and ruthless armies of thieves and reavers.

In a meteoric career that spanned a mere twelve years before his tragic suicide, Robert E. Howard single-handedly invented the genre that came to be called sword and sorcery. Collected in this volume, profusely illustrated by artist Mark Schultz, are Howard’s first thirteen Conan stories, appearing in their original versions–in some cases for the first time in more than seventy years–and in the order Howard wrote them. Along with classics of dark fantasy like “The Tower of the Elephant” and swashbuckling adventure like “Queen of the Black Coast,” The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian contains a wealth of material never before published in the United States, including the first submitted draft of Conan’s debut, “Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard’s synopses for “The Scarlet Citadel” and “Black Colossus,” and a map of Conan’s world drawn by the author himself.

Here are timeless tales featuring Conan the raw and dangerous youth, Conan the daring thief, Conan the swashbuckling pirate, and Conan the commander of armies. Here, too, is an unparalleled glimpse into the mind of a genius whose bold storytelling style has been imitated by many, yet equaled by none.
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The Complete Fairy Tales

by George MacDonald

George MacDonald occupied a major position in the intellectual life of his Victorian contemporaries. This volume brings together all eleven of his shorter fairy stories as well as his essay "The Fantastic Imagination". The subjects are those of traditional fantasy: good and wicked fairies, children embarking on elaborate quests, and journeys into unsettling dreamworlds. Within this familiar imaginative landscape, his children's stories were profoundly experimental, questioning the association of childhood with purity and innocence, and the need to separate fairy tale wonder from adult scepticism and disbelief.
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A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors (mechanical), who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. The play is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

by Lewis Carroll

In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps the most popular heroine in English literature. Countless scholars have tried to define the charm of the Alice books–with those wonderfully eccentric characters the Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum, and Tweedledee, the Cheshire Cat, Mock Turtle, the Mad Hatter et al.–by proclaiming that they really comprise a satire on language, a political allegory, a parody of Victorian children’s literature, even a reflection of contemporary ecclesiastical history. Perhaps, as Dodgson might have said, Alice is no more than a dream, a fairy tale about the trials and tribulations of growing up–or down, or all turned round–as seen through the expert eyes of a child.
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The Ship of Ishtar

by Abraham Merritt

"The Ship of Ishtar" is a universally hailed as a classic of the fantasy novel genre. Merritt's writings were heavily influenced by H. Rider Haggard and Gertrude Barrows Bennett (writing as Francis Stevens), with Merritt having "emulated Bennett's earlier style and themes." What sets Merritt apart from the typical pulp author, however, is his lush, florid prose style and his exhaustive, at times exhausting, penchant for adjective-laden detail.
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The Wood Beyond the World

by William Morris

The Wood Beyond the World is a fantasy novel by William Morris, perhaps the first modern fantasy writer to unite an imaginary world with the element of the supernatural, and thus the precursor of much of present-day fantasy literature. When the wife of Golden Walter betrays him for another man, he leaves home on a trading voyage to avoid the necessity of a feud with her family. His efforts are fruitless, as word comes to him enroute that his wife's clan has killed his father. As a storm then carries him to a faraway country, the effect of this news is merely to sunder his last ties to his homeland.
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