Where do I start? Tamora Pierce writes strong female characters in fantasy settings so often dominated by men; lady knights, city guards, spies. She has two main worlds, Tortall and Emelan. In general Emelan tends to focus more on magic and Tortall has more traditional fantasy action (read: swords) but both are excellent. Every character is unique and her worlds have so much detail.
Recommended first read: Alanna: the First Adventure. The first book she published that will introduce you well to the world of Tortall.
My personal favourite: Trickster’s Choice. Spies & revolution on a colonised island.
I’ll focus here more on Trudi’s Black Magician series because the Age of the Five never caught my attention as much. The magic is unique and you see the world clearly from different perspectives, understanding the politics even though you only see it from the main character’s point of view.
Recommended first read: The Magician’s Guild. First in the series.
My personal favourite: The Magician’s Guild.
I’ve had some books sitting on my shelves waiting to be read for a few years now, and it’s only recently that I picked one up and discovered this magic. I’ve only read the Farseer Trilogy in full at the time of writing although I’m partway through The Rain Wild Chronicles. It astonishes me how she weaves her plot, leaving little hints here and there, drawing the reader along with the mysteries the main character also faces.
Recommended first read: Assassin’s Apprentice. 1st in the Farseer Trilogy.
My personal favourite: Royal Assassin. Fitz has grown up and I loved seeing him continue to grow and the world develop around him in this book.
She’s got quite the variety of books, but puts a new twist and good backstory to ‘
farmboy fisherman vs. big bad evil’ in Kingmaker Kingbreaker. Asher never forgets who he is and who he wants to be (not to mention who he doesn’t want to be) even as his whole world changes. But mostly I’m adding her into this list because of the fantastic story that is Empress. It’s bloody and brutal and I never understood the significance of Hekat’s life until the end.
Recommended first read: Innocent Mage. The first story in Kingmaker Kingbreaker. Alternatively, The Blight of Mages – this is the first chronologically.
My personal favourite: Empress. The ending of this book, finally understanding what I’d just read, blew my mind.
Not sure if this should really count as a recommendation since everyone already knows her, but I couldn’t miss her out. Harry Potter. Read the first book when I was seven or eight, haven’t put them down since. Amazing worldbuilding, lovable cast of characters. And yes the books are far superior to the films, so if you haven’t yet stop missing out and go read them!
Recommended first read: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
My personal favourite: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.