[DWJ] short complete quest fantasies

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Mon Jun 22 12:39:31 EDT 2009

On Sat, 20 Jun 2009 09:50:37 -0400 (EDT), deborah.dwj at suberic.net wrote:

>I'm calling on the brilliant list hive mind for help with my
>fantasy syllabus. I'd really like to assign my students one
>entire epic quest fantasy from beginning to end, in which a Boy
>(who is potentially a girl) leaves his humble beginnings, gathers
>together a troop of Companions, hits every place on the Map, and
>defeats the Dark Lord. I'd like to assign that entire thing in
>one week, and realistically I can't ask them to read more than
>three books in one week unless they are very brief (i.e.
>picturebooks, easy readers, or early chapter books). But I'm
>finding that most of the complete quest fantasy series I can
>think of are pretty long. Can you folks come up with any decent
>quests that are three books or less? One book would be even
>better. :-)
>Here's what I've come up with and rejected so far:
>* Prydain: five books
>* Pellinor: four very long books
>* Eragon: actually, this is perfect, but it's bad, and I don't
>   want to make them read it
>* Dark Lord of Derkholm: I do assign this one, but one of the
>   reasons I would like them to read an entire quest fantasy is so
>   they understand what Dark Lord is parodying
>* The Hobbit: I assign this one as well, but it's not really the
>   same thing. It's a precursor, really.

I haven't read the trilogy in a very long time, but _The Ash Staff_ is
fairly straighforward quest fantasy.  The other two books in the series
don't have some of the markers of the quest-journey, but each has a new
"Dark Lord" sorcerer to defeat.

Another perhaps more bizarre take on the epic quest is Geraldine Harris's
Seven Citadels series.  It lacks the gathering of Companions, but the hero
and his half-brother wander all over the place.  This is the series I think
of with the Tough Guide reference to all those discrete cultures all over
the world.  The ending also lacks a true Dark Lord (the goal being more
about the hero overcoming his flaws to achieve transcendence).

I'd personally vote for a shortened reading of the Prydain Chronicles.  Four
of those books don't take very long at all.

I choose to overlook your not liking the Riddle-master series if you will
overlook my addiction to the Wheel of Time series.  We all have unfortunate
character flaws.

Melissa Proffitt

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