Many of you may know that I'm an absolute sucker for quality fantasy fiction (by quality I mean that Twilight doesn't count). I'm eagerly anticipating The Hobbit movie(s) and have always appriciate the imagination is takes to create these works.
But I've also learned a great deal from many fantasy writers. Because it deals almost by definition with the supernatural, fantasy is probably the most inherently spiritual genre. While this means that it can be very dangerous when done badly (Satanism, paganism and so on) it also means that fantasy can be a powerful tool is exploring Christian truth.
Christians have a long history in the genre. The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are of course the bulwarks of the Christian fantasy - one the standard of allegory and the other the standard of Christian applicability. While these two works are definitely the best known, there are many other like works that I think deserve some attention. I'd like to direct you to my personal favorites.
From John Bunyan:
I was first introduced to this style of writing when my Sunday school class read The Pilgrim's Progress. Since then my mind has been captivated by the educational and inspiration power of allegory. But it's only been recently that I've been introduced to two other allegories written by the Baptist preacher. The Life and Death of Mr. Badman is the reverse of The Pilgrim's Progress. Holy War is a mind blowing tale of God's benevolent conquest over the human heart.
From George MacDonald:
C.S. Lewis referred to George MacDonald as his master. It was while reading Phantastes that a young atheist Lewis was confronted with holiness. He would later say that MacDonald baptized his imagination. I would recommend starting your explanation of MacDonald by reading The Princess and the Goblins and the sequel, The Princess and Curdie. In these books you can definitely see the inspiration for Lewis' writing style. Likewise, the goblins of The Princess and the Goblins served as the inspiration for Tolkien's orcs.
From C.S. Lewis:
Of course, there's the basic Narnia stories which every human being on the planet should read. However, Lewis also wrote many other fiction stories. The Screwtape Letters is a classic that will make you laugh out loud when it's not scaring you to death. In it, Lewis provides many insights into human nature and spiritual warfare. But Lewis believed Til We Have Faces to be his very best work and I can't say that I disagree. The characters are rich, the writing style engrossing and the plot mind blowing. But you have to stick with because it all "clicks" at the very end.
From J.R.R. Tolkien:
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are absolute must-reads. However, for someone looking to dig deeper, The Silmarillion is a good read. In this massive postmortem work, the professor is much more overt about his Christian faith. Valaquenta (a sub-section of the book) begins, "In the beginning Eru, the One, who in the Elvish tongue is named Iluvatar, made the Ainur of his thought; and they made a great Music before him." If you don't want to read the whole thing just read Of Beren and Luthien. It was Tolkien's personal favorite, inspired in part by his own marriage and the first one he showed to his best friend, C.S. Lewis. It is also pay tribute to through the relationship between Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings.
These are some of my favorite which I hope you'll enjoy too. I'd love to hear from you as well. What are some of your favorites?