I've been reviewing some older, successful, fantasy books including His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, and now The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart.
His Dark Materials is three good stories but serves as a channel to propagate the author's aetheistic view of human spiritually. My book Time of the Heathen is a mirror opposite of it. Without being overtly Christian, my story refutes the moral/ethical assumptions Pullman gives to his characters. There is an inspiration that is dark and also one that is light. In my story Ewan and Alysa grow spiritually in opposite directions.
The Bartimaeus Trilogy is also three well-written stories, but has a complete absence of any moral or ethical sensibilities until the middle of book 3. Just about everyone in the trilogy is selfish, wicked, or immoral - until the end where a demon and a wizard develop a kind of moral sensibility toward each other.
Mary Stewart's story is just a re-telling of the Arthurian legend, filling in much detail and characterization in a way modern readers find attractive.
I'm reviewing these books as I prepare to write Vol 2 of the Time of the Heathen which is planned to cover 1,000 years of human history lived under alien domination.