Best Early Modern Fantasy Books (1930's to 1950's)
After the development of Fantasy in the early part of the 20th century, it truly seemed like the genre was moving towards a golden age. Then the real world became a priority.
Most of the 40’s were taken up by World War 2 and the ensuing aftermath. The 50’s saw the rise of communism and the start of the cold war.
But the entertainment was phenomenal!
On screen, we had James Dean, Humphrey Boggart, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlton Hest. On radio and filling concert halls you had Elvis, Chuck Berry, Frank Sinatra. It was a time of contrasts. Capitalism and Communism. War and Peace. Jazz and Rock and Roll.
The upshot of all of this is that Fantasy as a genre was submerged and interspersed with Gothic horror, science fiction, and religion. A rebirth and renaissance of fantasy fiction with new ideas, new genres, and a wealth of fiction that forever influenced the fantasy genre as a whole.
Some memorable works came out of this mix: C.S. Lewis and The Narnia Chronicles and I am Legend by Richard Matheson.
The torch of True Fantasy was, however, carried by only 2 authors: Tolkien, whose The hobbit and Lord of the Rings molded the genre into what we know today, and Poul Anderson who wrote the Broken Sword and, according to some, is one of the lost great fantasy authors.
Here is our list of the 25 Best Early Modern Fantasy.
By "early modern' we mean fantasy written in 1930's to 1950's -- a thirty year period that saw some of the biggest conflict the world had ever seen (WW2) and remarkably, along with the suffering and tragedy of the war, saw some of the world's greatest fantasy put to pen in the form of Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
But Tolkien is not the only great work to come from this period -- Lewis, Anderson, and many more authors started birthing classic fantasy tales, giving definite form and shape to modern fantasy.
The list displays a good indication of how fantasy contributed to the development of both science fiction as well as horror novels. It also highlights the immeasurable contributions made to the genre by Tolkien, Anderson, and Lewis. This list covers 30 years and wide variety of genres and subgenres.
All these differences are united by one thing: each book contributed to fantasy in some significant way.
These books forever changed the face of fantasy -- and in some cases, started the modern idea of what fantasy is. If authors like Tolkien lite the fantasy torch, generations of authors since have picked up the torch and carried it to new heights. These are NOT given by date of publication, but rather our personal curation for quality of story, impact on the genre, and critical acclaim.
Read this list for some of the best fantasy history can offer.