I’d hazard a guess that when asked, most fantasy readers would say Tolkien was their gateway book. (Fine, so maybe nowadays Harry Potter might have edged into the equation.) But when I think back to my first foray into fantasy (aside from fairy tales, of course ;p), Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl were fundamental. The next crucial piece of the puzzle came in the form of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, leading (via Steve Jackson’s and Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy books) to The Hobbit and by natural progression to the LOTR. By this point it’s fair to say I was a fan.
Then things exploded! Brooks, Feist, Eddings, Pratchett, Jordan, Gemmell—the staple diet—had their turn; leading me to Tad Williams who became a favourite. I also loved Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate stories!
My studies saw me stray from the path and enter a strange archaic landscape where Austin, the Brontes, Shakespeare, Blake, Milton and Homer amongst others had their turn. Subsequently, my travels imbued me with a soft spot for magical realism, particularly Allende and Marquez…
I stumbled back into the fantastical realm some years later, cobweb-bedraggled and disorientated. Dusting off my armour, I took it upon myself to do battle with the Hobbs and Sandersons, the Lawrences and Abercrombies, the Martins and the Kays; whilst also plumbing the dusty vaults of Vance—probably my favourite author—, Peake, Zalazny, Herbert, Le Guinn, Moorcock, Dunsany, Eddison and Wolfe.

In 2019 I’m making it my main quest to explore the indie wilderness, with a litany of new authors and downloaded books at my disposal. I’ll probably have to keep postponing the Malazan which is glaring at me from the shelf.