Exploring the Hero’s Journey: The Three Best Fantasy Books of the Decade
The Hero's Journey, outlined by Joseph Campbell in his work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, has remained a popular narrative structure in literature. From 2010 to 2020, many fantasy novels embraced this universal structure. In this post, we will explore the three best fantasy books from this decade that use the Hero’s Journey as a central theme.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (2011)
Our first selection is the 10th-anniversary reissue of *The Name of the Wind*, the first book in Patrick Rothfuss's acclaimed series, *The Kingkiller Chronicle*. The story follows Kvothe, an innkeeper with a mysterious past, who narrates his transformation from a talented child into a legendary figure in a world filled with magic and danger. Rothfuss's vivid storytelling and intricate world-building provide an enticing backdrop to Kvothe's thrilling Hero's Journey.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (2015)
N.K. Jemisin's *The Fifth Season*, the first book in *The Broken Earth Trilogy*, offers a unique interpretation of the Hero's Journey. The story focuses on three women—Essun, Damaya, and Syenite—who each embark on a Hero's Journey in a world that fears and oppresses individuals with the power to control seismic activity. The journeys of these characters interweave to form a collective Hero’s Journey. Jemisin's novel won the Hugo Award in 2016 for its innovative narrative structure, deep character development, and insightful exploration of societal issues.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (2015)
V.E. Schwab's *A Darker Shade of Magic* invites readers on a journey through multiple versions of London, each with its own level of magic. The protagonist, Kell, is an Antari, a magician with the rare ability to travel between these parallel universes. When Kell comes into possession of a dangerous artifact from another world, he embarks on a classic Hero's Journey. Schwab’s novel stands out for its gripping narrative, engaging characters, and unique spin on the Hero's Journey.
Each of these books presents a unique perspective on the Hero’s Journey. From Rothfuss's legendary figure to Jemisin's groundbreaking trio to Schwab's dimension-hopping magician, each protagonist's journey is a testament to the compelling narrative possibilities of the Hero's Journey. These narratives offer compelling stories that resonate on a deeply human level, inviting readers to reflect on their own journeys of self-discovery and transformation.
Ryan McRae is the author of the website and a lover of fantasy novels.