The best fantasy stories are original and creative with their world building, and if they use clichéd subjects at all, they know how to give them a fresh spin . . . or turn them on their heads. The best fantasy stories feel "real" while the reader is immersed in them. And that altered reality is where they can don the armor of the hero, or heroine and maybe help to save the world. That alone is a powerful message — and an important one. So... onto the books themselves.