Best Fantasy Series

Do you love those fantasy novels with many kingdoms, protagonists, politics, and cultures? Do you like the epic struggles between small bands of heroes against impossible evil? Do you eagerly follow the growing pains of the coming-of-age hero as he (or she) finds greatness? Then you want to check this list of the best fantasy series ever written.

It's hard to select series that are NOT epic fantasy, since most of the series released these days, are. In this list, I wanted to bring you the top 25 best fantasy series from a number of different fantasy subgenres. Some may be grand epic fantasy, some may be more character-driven fantasy, some may be simply fantasy that's part of a series.

I've based my picks on how good the ENTIRE series is as well as how influential they have been on the fantasy genre as a whole. You'll see familiar faces on The Top 25 Best Fantasy List but also plenty of new faces as well.

Like any "Best" list, you can't please everyone with your picks, so don't take it personally if your favorite series is not listed on the list. Rest assured I've spent a lot of time deciding what should be included and excluded.

I've also put together a list of the Best Epic Fantasy Series for those of you who are ONLY looking for epic fantasy books.

September 2012: I've completely updated the Best Fantasy Series list with a tons of new books (including some requested in the comments -- yes, I DO read every single one) and revised the rankings to reflect 2012 sensibilities, especially taking into account the whole series (including bad sequels). I've expanded this list from a Top 25. It's a far different, more well rounded list now.

You can view the crowd-ranked version of this list and vote on the entries at the bottom of this page.



This series tops the Top 25 Best Fantasy Books, and with good reason and it's my pick for the best fantasy series. Martin shattered the fantasy mold and created something completely new. Indeed, fantasy books will never be the same. The world created is a dark one: children are made slaves, brutal graphic wars are fought, heroes are slain and villains are crowned king, swearing and sex are rampant, and all that's ugly about the world is flung in your face.

 

This is a world where heroes are not invincible, and villains are just as likely to emerge victorious. This type of gritty fantasy is not for everyone. Those faint of heart who wish to sail in safer fantasy waters would do well to look elsewhere: this is a no-holds-barred look at a fantasy medieval world; if lingering in padded fantasy worlds where sex is suspiciously absent, violence treated as a romantic comedy, and dashing, good-looking heroes always win, this fantasy may not be for you. But for those of you with a steady heart who want an absolutely addicting descent into a medieval realm torn asunder, where struggling heroes may or may not win, where magic is as mysterious as it is ephemeral, where the battles are so vivid you can hear the clash of steel and the whinnies of dying horses, where an epic story spans the vastness of continents, then heed the siren call of A Song of Ice and Fire.

 

A Song of Ice and Fire is a starkly real treatment of the horror of war and conquest of lands, of rape and pillage and revenge, and man's ultimate fight against extinction. So if you have what it takes, read this series. I guarantee your reading world will never be the same.

 

The last two books in the series have a been a bit of a let-down in terms of moving the plot forward, but things do look up for book 6. Regardless, Martin has still crafted a fantasy world that's taken our world by storm, and it still stands as one of the best examples of fantasy out there.

Song of Ice and Fire Saga:

dance with dragons book george martin

Similar recommendations:

If you like Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga, try David Anthony Durham's Acacia . It's very similar to A Song of Ice and Fire. It's the first of a series, but what a first book. It's one of my top picks for 2007. Also read Greg Keyes' The Briar King , the first in his not-yet-complete trilogy which features delicious prose, gritty realism and an enticing plot. You can also try R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before , which features superlative prose, a unique, but fascinating storyline, and the gritty realism that Martin exhibits. You might also like Tad Williams newest fantasy saga: Shadowmarch . It's got some similar themes and the series is NOW complete.

 

It's a given that you should read Mazalan Book of the Fallen for some epic fantasy that will blow your socks off. And for a solid gritty fantasy about a company of soldiers who work for evil, give Glen Cook's Black Company a read.

If you want MORE similar recommendations, then go here.


One of the best epic fantasy series currently out there. No boy-finds-magic-sword-and-defeats-dark-wizard story here. Malazan Book of the Fallen is a complex creation, with an absolutely huge cast of characters and stories that span thousands of pages. The stories encompassed in each book are like pieces of a puzzle -- each piece is a small picture of the story, but as you progress through the books, a spectacular picture emerges. It takes a bit of work to wrap yourself around the story, however. Those used to the standard epic fantasy tale may find themselves bewildered half way through the first book. The strange world, enigmatic characters, and vastness of the story can be confusing, BUT perservere and the Malazan Book of the Fallen becomes something incredible. By the time you are a couple of books into the series, you'll be hopelessly addicted.

 

With the ten-book series finally completed, this stands as one of the best epic fantasy series out there from start to finish. It can take a while to get into the series (hundreds of pages into the first book and for some even a couple of books). There were some complaints about the ending, but there was also a lot of praise as well. I think most agree the author did a reasonably good job at ending the series -- it could have been better, but considering the vast plot threads and huge cast of characters, Erikson did a good job.

About the Malazan Novels

Erikson is a prolific writer. The Malazan Book of the Fallen saga comprised 8 books in 2008, with two more scheduled for release. Erikson co-created the Malazan world with Ian Cameron Esslemont. Esslemont's novels, which are set in the same world as Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, are considered as canonical as Erikson's own. Esslemont's novels are called Novels of the Malazan Empire. Erikson also wrote several novellas (short novels) set in his Malazan world. His two novellas follow the storylines of Bauchelain, Korbal Broach and Emancipor Reese, three characters who appear briefly in Memories of Ice. I've listed all books from the Malazan universe. Read Malazan Book of the Fallen first, and if you can't get enough, read the Novels of the Malazan Empire books and the Novellas which follow some of Erikson's characters. Click on the book images to get the Amazon book descriptions.

Malazan Book of the Fallen:

Novels of the Malazan Empire:

stoneweilder malazan

Malazan Novellas:

Similar recommendations:

George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga also features an epic scope and the grey characterization that Erikson so loves. Martin's work is smaller in scale though and tends to be more focused, plot wise. You can also try Scott R. Baker's The Darkness That Comes Before saga, which is an alternative history saga, where the Roman Empire has never fallen and magic works. Oath of Empires is epic, featuring massive magical battles and huge opposing armies (Persian and Roman) clashing so hard you can hear the horses scream. Also give James Barclay's The Cry of the Newborn a whirl which is similar in style and content (though less epic) to Erikson. It's an example of a Fantasy military fiction done right. Barclay also knows how to write damn good battle scenes, giving even Erikson a run for his money. Also give David Anthony Durham a try. His recent novel, Acacia, is a fantastic read -- big on the epic battles and gritty dark realism of Erikson and Martin. At it's core, The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a military fantasy; you might want to read Glen Cook's classic Black Company series. It's dark, gritty, and has a hell of a lot of battles. It's the book that has forever defined military fantasy.



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The Sorcery Code (Dima Zales)

 

Tired of the run-of-the-mill fantasy and looking for something a bit...different? Check out The Sorcery Code, an epic fantasy that's not afraid to do something new in the genre. Fans of strong epic fantasy with an emphasis on romance will find themselves right at home here. Well-developed, morally ambiguous characters. Check. A completely unique magic system with a strong, page turning plot? Double Check!

Cover Blurb...

Once a respected member of the Sorcerer Council and now an outcast, Blaise has spent the last year of his life working on a special magical object. The goal is to allow anyone to do magic, not just the sorcerer elite. The outcome of his quest is unlike anything he could've ever imagined - because, instead of an object, he creates Her. She is Gala, and she is anything but inanimate. Born in the Spell Realm, she is beautiful and highly intelligent - and nobody knows what she's capable of. She will do anything to experience the world . . . even leave the man she is beginning to fall for. Augusta, a powerful sorceress and Blaise's former fiancée, sees Blaise's deed as the ultimate hubris and Gala as an abomination that must be destroyed. In her quest to save the human race, Augusta will forge new alliances, becoming tangled in a web of intrigue that stretches further than any of them suspect. She may even have to turn to her new lover Barson, a ruthless warrior who might have an agenda of his own . . .

 

Buy for the Kindle on Amazon, or, for audiobook, paperback and more eBook store links, visit www.dimazales.com

 

 


Description (Amazon)
Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he's on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian - leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies. Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules. Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it. Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glotka a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge.


This series throws epic fantasy on its head. On the surface we have all the conceits present in standard epic fantasy: a band of heroes, a Gandalf-like wizard, a dark lord who must be defeated, etc. However, Abercrombie doesn't just twist these cliche fantasy conventions, he completely shatters them. If you're jaded from all the hackneyed epic fantasy crap out there, I highly suggest this incredible series. The writing's witty, the plot is original, and the characters are absolutely fascinating. Read it!

 

What's even better is that with every new book added to the universe Abercrombie (two standalones released, with a third coming out by the end of 2012), Abercrombie's writing only gets better. His standalone, The Heroes, was his best work yet.

The First Law trilogy

Similar recommendations:

The Blade Itself is a new style of Fantasy that's gaining swift momentum. The quality level demanded of a good Fantasy novel is now very high. Readers are no longer satisfied with the dark lords versus farm boy conceit. This new style of Fantasy takes the old staples of Fantasy and remakes them into something more sophisticated. Strong, witty writing, dry humor, twisted plotting, and full of contrasting elements, this new style makes for some intelligent reading. In this new world of noir Fantasy, shades of grey are the new black and white. If you like this 21st century upgrade to the Fantasy genre, check out books by R. Scott Bakker, Brandon Sanderson , Scott Lynch , Joe Abercrombie, George R.R. Martin, and Steven Erikson .


This is NOT your standard epic fantasy. But oh man, there's a lot to love about this one. If you want to take a much needed break from the standard fantasy clichés, The Long Price Quartet should be your next stop. Even if you ONLY like standard fantasy, still read this gem of a series. It's widely being hailed as a modern masterpiece.

 

This is a series with an incredibly strong plot; really, once you get hooked at the start, you're going to have to just finish all the books to see how everything gets wrapped up (and all four books have been completed).

 

Abraham's characters are living and breathing creatures. There are no characters introduced just to move along the plot. It's a rare thing to get so involved with the characters you read about. But Abraham invites you to do just that -- all of the characters are sympathetic, with flaws and strengths and personalities.

 

So, toss away all that boring epic fantasy and read a REAL fantasy series that's just about a cut above everything else out there right now. As a bonus, the series is completed with all four books out. Many agree that the first couple of books are the weakest in the series (and even a "weak" book here is better than most of the fantasy out there) with the final books the best.

 

Fans of this series will also be delighted to know that Abraham has released the first book in another series -- this one a standard epic fantasy (but with Abraham's trademark style, fantastic plot, and awesome characterization) which, should you find The Long Price Quartet not the type of fantasy for you, more palatable. It's called the Dragon and the Coin.

Daniel Abraham's Series

The Long Price Quartet

the long price quarteta betrayal in winter an autumn warthe price of spring

The Dagger and the Coin

the dragon's path


Book Flap Description

Witness the titanic battle for supremacy waged on Earth, in the Courts of Chaos, and on a magical world of mystery, adventure, and romance.

This is one series that people seem to brush over in favor of all the "modern" stuff. Big mistake. Amber's a classic series that's been around for a few decades now. It's a different kind of fantasy, but it doesn't follow the standard "epic" fantasy conventions. This makes it a breath of fresh air to read.

 

What makes this series "better" than all the other stuff? Well Amber is by far one of the most unique and utterly fascinating fantasy worlds, outside of Tolkien. The world created by Zelazny is one where magic and science rule, where illusions and reality blend together. If you've read science fiction, you'll be familiar with the basic premise: the world is made up of parallel universes, each of these universes a reflection of the original world, a city called Amber. Everything is but a pale shadow of Amber. Earth is but a shadow.

 

Into this mix throw in the squabbling princes and princesses of Amber. Only the Royal blood of Amber can move through the different worlds freely. And many of the siblings don't get along...

 

All in all, Amber is a fascinating fantasy world that you will want to explore. It's hands down better than most of the fantasy series on the market right now.


The Name of the Wind is a stunning work of imagination and storytelling triumph and currently ranks very near the top of my Top 25 Best Fantasy List. I won't bother trying to rehash why you should read it. Just do.

Two books have been released now and both are good (though some argue the second is not as good as the first, to which I agree).

So the author spends an enormous amount of time detailing the trivialities of the protagonist's life. So it can take a long time for something, anything to happen.

 

Despite the flaws with this series, I don't think there is another fantasy series out there where you get into the head of the protagonist as much as you do in the King Killer Chronicles with maybe the exception being Farseer trilogy by Hobb (and that protagonist had me wanting to slap him for being such an incoherent doormat half the time).

 

From the start to the end of each book, you're taken along on an adventure you don't want to end. This is one of the most enjoyable series out there folks. Do yourself a big favor and read it.

The Kingkiller Chronicle

Similar Recommendations

If you like The Name of the Wind, you might like Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy . Though the authors have a different style and radically different plots, both authors really delve deep into the mind of the protagonist. You really get to know the hero. Both stories are about the rise of a no-name boy into something great.


Tale of the Dying Earth truly stands as one of the greatest works ever penned. Everything that’s good and bad about the human condition is eloquently expressed within this tale. You get the full range of heroics, adventure, drama, atmosphere and excitement all wrapped by Vance’s dry sense of humor and terse yet flowery  prose.
Dying Earth is more science fiction than fantasy, but it certainly does have many fantasy elements as told through several characters within the story (most notable Cugel the Clever).


The characters are often over-the-top characterizations by intention and are used by Vance as sharp instruments to perceptively express the full extremes of the human condition – both the best and the worst of it.


This is literary fantasy of the highest form, written by a man who’s had wide ranging influence on the genre. Many of the best modern fantasy authors cite Vance as a huge influence on their work.

Beautifully and cleverly written prose that jabs and pokes at the human condition in such a way that all the foibles, follies, and exaltations are laid bare to the reader.


Fans of Lionesses,  Books of the New Sun, and Ghormenghast will die for joy with this series.








If you like your epic fantasy big in the style of Wheel of Time, the closest you'll find to that style is The Storm Light Archive -- written by the same man who's finishing The Wheel of Time series. You really won't find any other books close to the style of Jordan.

 

This is Sanderson's own vision of an epic fantasy series, his own take on The Wheel of Time (and he's determined to do it right this time and not make the mistakes Jordan made) and folks, it is indeed epic -- the fantasy tale spans millennia and includes a cast of larger than life characters, from humble slaves, magical assassins, female scholars to the leaders of great armies. There has only been ONE book released in the series so far, so it's hard to say exactly how the entire series will play out in time, but based on the strength of the first book, there's a hell of a lot of potential. This series doesn't try to do anything ground breaking in the genre like Abercrombie, nor does it try too hard to be clever. But what it does excel at is telling a gripping tale in an epic setting and interesting world. The magic system, like all of Sanderson's works, is very well thought out and the action scenes, when they happen, are explosive and powerful. Keep in mind that this is a huge book and it takes hundreds of pages to get into the flow of the story. But keep reading till the end and the action comes to an explosive head -- it's worth the wait.

The Stormlight Archive


If you are tired of fantasy with bland characters or infallible heroes, give The Farseer a read. Hobb is a master writer of characters that are brought to life with her pen.

 

The Farseer is the story of Fitz Chivalry, a royal bastard. It's the story of his rise and fall, of his love and loss of love, of how he travelled to magical lands, communed with wolves, and saved a kingdom from doom.

 

You won't find a story that will have a bigger impact on you than The Farseer. If you want an emotional fantasy, The Farseer is about as good as it gets. The quality of the entire series is maintained from the first to the last book. If you are not a fan of the ending, Hobb wrote a direct sequel trilogy just for you, to give you the fairy tale ending you are looking for.

 

Hobb has written 3 trilogies set in the Farseer world, which are listed below (click on the appropriate image to get an Amazon book description). The Tawny Man trilogy is a direct sequel to the Farseer trilogy. Liveship Traders takes place in the same world as Tawny Man and Farseer, but in a different country. There is one character present in Liveship Traders that is present in the other two trilogies.

The Farseer trilogy

The Tawny Man trilogy

Liveship Traders trilogy

The Rainwild's Trilogy

robin hobb rainwilddragon haven robin hobb


Not an epic fantasy in your traditional sense, but one of the most underrated series out there starring the brutal amoral assassin, Caine. This is a series that holds nothing back – it’s brutal and uncompromising the entire way through. With an interesting blend of science-fiction and fantasy combined with an absolutely amoral psychopathic killer as the star of the whole show (literally, Caine the killer is in fact a movie star beamed to another dimension to wreak murder and induce mayhem among the local population for the entertainment of billions back home), it’s an absolutely must read, especially if you like anti-hero fantasy where there is no defined moral compass. Every book in the now four part series (with more likely to come) is good with no dip in  quality.

This series is one of my absolute favorites, and it’s a crime that the author and the series are not as well-known as they should be. If you want something different that’s so tasty you’ll practically cry with delight, read.







Acts of Caine


A beloved fantasy series by all who’ve read it, though few modern fantasy readers have read it. This is probably one of the best hidden epic fantasy gems out there right now and you would do well to get your hands on this series.

The basic premise sounds petty hackneyed – a stable boy, a princess, imps, dwarves and an evil king. But his is Dave Duncan we are talking about here. Duncan manages to take those worn-out fantasy conceits and twist them around into something completely new and utterly enthralling. This is some stellar heroic fantasy that will absolutely keep you turning the pages.

The world-building is great and the cast of characters, especially the loveable hero Hap, are just great. I’m also a big fan of the magic system which stands out as one of the more unique magic systems in the genre, right up there with Sanderson’s Allomancy (Mistborn) and Farland’s Rune Magic (Rune Lords)

 

You won’t go wrong reading this; if you are looking for your next epic fantasy fix, this should be your next read. There is a sequel series, A Handful of Men that continues the story of the first series years later. The first series is better, though.





Man of His Word Series

A Handful of Men


This is a different sort of fantasy and helped solidify the New Weird / Slipstream movement. The New Crobuzon novels are loosely connected (set in the same world), with the first being Perdido Street Station. It's hard to explain Mieville's work -- it's a combination of the bizarre, the familiar, and the totally weird. But everything somehow fits right together in the end. And the writing is good, so very good. Beautiful metaphors and similes dance from the pages. Prose so sharp it almost cuts. and keeps you turning the pages. The books take a bit to get into due to the utter weirdness of the characters and the landscape, but after a bit of time the environment starts to sink in. The plots are always strong, however. All in all, the series is as grand as it is grotesque and gaudy, and the whole tale is captivating. This is a series that you'll need to put some work into and just slow down and let the words, story, and setting wash over you. If you do, you'll be in for something special.





New Crobuzon Novels


Yep, had to include it. Most people have probably read this series and even more authors have written hackneyed copies of it, but this series is the original father epic fantasy and deserves to be read. To the two people who haven't read it: just go ahead and get it over with. If you want to factor in significance to the genre of fantasy, Tolkien ranks at the #1 spot. However, most people have read him so I've put him at a lower spot to give other authors a chance at some recognition.






About Tolkien's Books

Tolkien spent his life writing in the Lord of the Rings world. Tolkien pretty much has four "novel" type stories set in middle earth. I have listed them below in chronological order. Click on the book picture to get an Amazon book description. The Silmarillion is a prequel to the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. It details the entire history of Middle Earth, how it was formed, and describes the history of the First, Second, and Third ages. If you really want to know the history of Middle Earth, and read some of the old tales, read the Silmarillion -- it's sort of the pre-story of the Lord of the Rings, a history of Middle Earth. Children of Hurin is Tolkien's old "new" novel that was recently released by his son, Christopher Tolkien. Christopher edited and completed one of Tolkien's unpublished works. It's a greatly expanded version of Chapter XXI of The Silmarillion, "Of Turin Turambar" and takes place long, long before the Hobbit. The Hobbit is the precursor to The Lord of the Rings and pretty much a must read if you like Lord of the Rings. If you have never read Lord of the Rings, I suggest starting with the Hobbit then moving on to Lord of the Rings. You can then read the Silmarillion and Children of Hurin later.

Tolkien's Middle Earth Novels(Chronological Order)

Similar Recommendations

What can I possibly recommend if you like Lord of the Rings? 'Rings' is the progenitor of an entire genre, and one can recommend almost anything. Regardless, I'll try to suggest a couple books based on the "feel" of Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien has always been about the world in which his characters live, never about the characters who live in his world. He created a world full of myth and legend, starkly real and full of mystery. There is always some strange power deep in a mountain, or some magical glade in the heart of a forest. There are worlds deep in the world, and worlds high in the heavens. It's a land full of wonder, a world too large to explore; it's an earth that still has mysteries and unknown lands.

There are several authors who recreate this type of world -- but with stronger characters and more meaningful relationships. Tolkien's characters were always too perfect, too evil; their motivations are at best unclear and at worst, unrealistic. Modern fantasy has taken the roots created by Tolkien and grown them into full trees and in some cases grafted those roots to new trees completely.

If you like Tolkien, read Eye of the World by Jordan. This man, when he was alive, claimed Tolkien's world building mantle: Jordan created a massive world, richly developed cultures, and well-defined magic system. When you read Jordan, you explore an ancient world full of secrets. I have to throw out a disclaimer though: Wheel of Time is far from perfect; Jordan becomes lost in his own world as it grows too big even for him; (some of) his characters devolve into caricatures, and Jordan's handling of romance between characters is puerile to say the least. However, many people still find the books great fun, and if you like Tolkien's epic style, Jordan is a must read. Jordan died a few years ago, but the talented Brandon Sanderson is finishing the series and looks to be doing a good job. In fact under Sanderson's finishing touch, the Wheel of Time is finally getting back on track; Sanderson's last two Wheel of Time books were some of the best Wheel of Time books since books 5-6. This year (2011) will mark the final completion of the series when A Memory of Light, the final book, will be released.

For another epic fantasy with an end-of-the-world plot and a coming of age (sorta) story, read Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings (first book in the Stormlight Archive saga). If Jordan took up Tolkien's world-building mantle with A Wheel of Time, Sanderson is picking up that epic fantasy mantle with this generation's new epic fantasy series.

If you want a book that's like Lord of the Rings but longer, has strong female characters, and very strong characterization (FAAR better than Jordan's), read Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn saga, another classic.

If you want the beautiful, almost lyrical writing of Tolkien and a world in which magic is present but still a grand mystery (i.e. not every character is throwing around magic like kids throwing sand at a beach), Sean Russell's The Swan's War is the answer. Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle is also a beautiful tale, full of lyrical, often sad, prose; a tale about a village boy who seeks his destiny. Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master is also another series(trilogy) that brings back similarities to Tolkien's style of writing.

For a 12th-century version of Middle Earth set in a stark (English) European landscape that's as cold as the world is gritty and brutal where main characters can die at any moment, read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga tale.

If you want to see some of Tolkien's conventions turned on their heads and enjoy a noir version of a classic high fantasy tale with a starkly realized cast of grey characters, read Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy.


A work of fiction that has influenced the genre. This is pure, unadulterated high fantasy. Vance is one of the most influential writers in the fantasy and science fiction sphere, with his Dying Earth series and his high fantasy series, Lyonesse. The Lyonesse trilogy is regarded by some as Vance's best work -- certainly right up there with his Dying Earth series. The land of Lyonesse and the Elder Isles are imbued with vivid life; into these magical lands are introduced a synthesis between Tolkien and Old English myths and folktales -- you have Old Folk, kings, princes, magicians, fairies, ogres and villains wandering through the magical landscape that is Lyonesse and the Elder Isles. While the Vancian style may not suit every reading sensibility -- especially those who prefer the more wordy and descriptive styles of say, Jordan or Feist and books less about the characters and settings than fast-paced action or magical battles, but if you give the series a fair shake, you'll see just why Lyonesse has inspired an entire generation of fantasy writers. This truly is some of the best fantasy out there, and because of its age, it's not been read by many a modern fantasy reader.









Lyonesse Trilogy


Dark, epic fantasy that's really quite different from any other fantasy series out there -- a tasty recipe that combines the best of the horror, fantasy, and Gothic genres. This is one epic fantasy that stands wholly original, untainted by the scent of unoriginality present in most fantasy books released these days. Friedman creates a vivid and fascinating world, a world where human imagination actually has the power to create reality. Of course, the human psyche being what it is, the world is not a paradise, but rather a dark and sinister place; a place where man's own imagination has become an enemy. With a flawed anti-hero, compelling characters, and an outright fascinating world, this series delivers something special. I heartily recommend this superlative fantasy series.







The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow...

Despite the inevitable flood of protests I'll get by including this on the list, Robert Jordan has really defined the modern epic fantasy genre. I've stated it before, but I'll say it again: despite the problems and controversies of how Jordan has handled the story (it's agreed that the first 5 books are pretty good, the later 6 or so really lose track), this series is "the" epic fantasy series of our generation. Robert Jordan has pretty much taken up the cloak that Tolkien left and stretched out so wide the very seams threaten to tear. I can confidently say that no other story is as large as WOT. Indeed, you'll need a backpack to carry Jordan's entire story, literally. Those who like their fantasy big, with dozens of realms, a huge cast of characters, and plenty of magic, politics, and adventure, WOT delivers. This book defines what classic epic fantasy is folks, for better or for worse. You will find peoples opinion sharply divided about whether WOT has imploded under the too-many plot threads of the story, but without a doubt, WOT is a seminal work of epic fantasy and is a must-read book for every epic fantasy lover.

 

If you are looking for new variations on the epic fantasy genre, there are several authors and books who have done some interesting things, but if you want something "classic", the Wheel of Time is the best you'll find. I'm sure not having this in the top 5 will offend his fans, while even including the WOT will invariably offend others.

 

But if you want to read epic classic fantasy with a huge cast of characters who move from sheepherders and blacksmiths to great men of importance in a huge detailed world, and on whom the fate of a world and all the worlds that will ever be rest, then read this. This is about as epic as classic fantasy comes.

The Wheel of Time saga

towers of midnight robert jordan

Similar recommendations:
Give George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga a try. It's a massive epic like Jordan's The Wheel of Time (but not as long), and it's universally held in the highest esteem, a sort of paragon of what all Fantasy books should strive to be. You thought those "Dragonlance" books were good? Feast on Martin for a taste of what Fantasy books should be like. You might also try Tracy Hickman & Margaret Weis's The Death Gate Cycle . A monolithic seven book saga that's reminiscent of Jordan's style: heavy on the magic, tension and action, but unique enough not to be a banal hack. Also try Michelle West's The Sun Sword , another large epic fantasy saga (six books) that shares some similarities with Jordan's Wheel of Time. West's writing style is drastically different that Jordan's, however -- far more subtle, and often ponderous. If you are an action freak, The Sun Sword pacing will probably be a bit too slow for you. You might also try Raymond E. Feist's Magician, as he writes in a style and flavor similar to Jordan (heavy on politics, action, and magic). Jim Butcher's Codex Alera is also another magic-packed, plot driven series you might like. It's got a really unique magic system and it's fantasy set in an alternate roman empire where magic works. Don't forget Dave Farland's The Runelords series -- action galore, the most unique magic system I've seen, and a pretty entertaining story.


Generally regarded, along with A Man of His Word, as Duncan’s best work. This is some of the best sword and sorcery fantasy you’ll read, period.

The premise is that a dying man with very few abilities to recommend him as special gets transported into another dimension/world into the body of a warrior, Shonshu by a God who is in fact looking for a pawn. Shonshu is no mere warrior, however. Rather, he’s a Swordsman of the Seventh Rank and in a brutal, feudal world where top class hierarchy is associated with martial prowess, Wallie as Shonshu now stands at the pinnacle.
It’s a wildly entertaining ride though a vaguely medieval landscape mixed in with a faint Oriental influence. Combine it with a myriad of Greek and Roman gods who take an active role in the whole story. Wallie brings his modern sensibilities to a medieval world which makes for some interesting scenes as the books progress. But you also see the character grow and evolve too. The characters are quite well done as are the relationships.

The series has a multi-leveled plot all the way through and there are enough twists going on that keep you suspended right until the final page.
There is a faint D&D feel going on behind the scenes with the character’s martial abilities represented by different “sword levels” tattooed on their heads. You get to watch your own “protagonist” (game character) power up through the levels as the series progresses. However, this novel is a far, far cry from those tie-in game knockoff novels.

So if you are looking for some absolutely fantastic sword and sorcery fantasy with a cross-over twist, this series is a must. Hell, even if you don’t like sword and sorcery, read it – I don’t care whether you like A Game of Thrones, hate or love The Wheel of Time, this series will appeal to you.

After a few decades, Duncan recently released a new book in the series entitled The Death of Nnanji.





The Seventh Sword


Epic Dark Fantasy in the classic western tradition. This is Steven King's Magnus Opus, a series that's taken him decades to finish. In this huge series, King writes about "worlds other than these." It's a dark journey through a bizarre landscape with equally strange characters. It's a journey through space and time, through worlds not our own in a quest to protect the most precious thing in the universe.









The Dark Tower


He called himself Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever because he dared not believe in the strange alternate world in which he suddenly found himself. Yet he was tempted to believe, to fight for the Land, to be the reincarnation of its greatest hero....


Great epic fantasy that breaks out and does something different. Covenant contains many of the classic fantasy conventions: a quest, a hero, and a magical talisman. But the similarities end here. The protagonist, Covenant, is through and through an anti-hero. This series is one series that provokes the reader's passions: either fanatical love for the series or maniacal hatred for it.

Fantasy books often feature absolutely altruistic heroes. But a hero Covenant is not: he's a flawed man who struggles with vices, a man who's thrown into a confusing situation. He's selfish, stubborn, and does some despicable deeds. More than anything, it is these characteristics that seem to upset people who read the first book then declare Thomas Covenant the worst fantasy series ever. Sorry folks, you're not "getting" the series.

The story of Covenant is the story of a flawed man's transformation into something better. And along the way, he may just end up saving The Land. If you want a complex story about a flawed man forced to become a hero, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant delivers. It's a fantasy series that has remained unique over the twenty years that its been published. Millions have read it and loved it. If this doesn't move you to read it, than nothing ever will. But if you haven't read it yet, do so your missing out one of the most remarkable fantasy tales ever. And please, before you leave a comment trashing this series, read the ENTIRE series first.

Stephen Donaldson has three Thomas Covenant series: First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and the recent series, the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Each series is chronological and follows the exploits of Thomas Covenant. I've listed the series by chronological order. Click on the pictures to read the amazon descriptions.

First Chronicles

Second Chronicles

Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

Similar recommendations:

If you like his Donaldson's first trilogy , then you should read his Covenant trilogies listed above. His new trilogy (Last Chronicles ) is a riveting read that will please both old and new fans. Thomas' old lover, Linden, returns to The Land, only to find it changed beyond recognition... And Thomas the Unbeliever? Read the books to find out!

If you like the characterization of Thomas Covenant, you may like Tad William's epic fantasy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn saga which really follows the transformation of the protagonist over the course of the series. Read Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy for another story with magnificent characterization set in a fantasy landscape (though Farseer is not exactly epic fantasy). Donaldson is unique in fantasy because his character is whole an whole an anti-hero instead of a hero. You may like George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga; there are some detestable main characters (anti-hero types) that become more agreeable as the series progresses; You see a slow evolution of these characters.

Donaldson also has a very interesting (and dark dark) Science Fiction saga (Gap) that you will like if you liked the anti-hero aspect of Covenant.


Book Flap Description
Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, but once he was called Sparrowhawk, a reckless youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

A classic fantasy tale about the rise of a village boy the most famous wizard of an age, The Earthsea Cycle is a series that transcends the genre. The writing is lyrical and beautiful -- those who appreciate Tolkien's Middle Earth or Patricia McPhilip's RiddleMaster trilogy, will find themselves enthralled by the story of Ged, a simple boy who becomes much more. This series is roundly hailed as one of the great fantasy classics. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the new generation of fantasy, but it's a classic tale that's told by a master storyteller. And it's a haunting tale that you will never forget.


Series listed by chronological order, from left to right. Click book image to see details. The first three four books follow the life of Ged. The fifth is a compilation of short stories set in the Earthsea world. The sixth (The Other Wind) returns to the story of Ged and concludes the cycle.

Earthsea Cycle

Similar Recommendations

Similar recommendations: J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings . I also recommend Phillip K. McKillip's wonderful Riddle-Master trilogy, which features similar prose and a similar, though at the same time, very different, story. You might also try Sean Russell's The Swans' War .


Glen Cook pioneered the "gritty" epic fantasy before that sort of fantasy become the gold standard of today. Black Company is the name of a number of books that follow the happenings of The Black Company, a company of mercenaries who end up being employed by The White Lady. What makes this series different from all the other military fantasies out there is that their employer, The White Lady, would be the equivalent of Sauron. It's a world where good and evil are not so defined, a world where doing evil is sometimes good and doing good is sometimes evil. It's also a rousing military tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

There are a number of books, but I recommend the (best) Books of the North (the first three books) followed by the Books of the South. The series goes downhill after that. But the first three books are stunning.

A blend of science fiction and fantasy (see science fantasy) that you can still label as “fantasy.” This is one of those pillars of literary achievement. I’m not going to try and explain it here other to say that this series if for those who want a deeper sort of fantasy, one full of metaphor and allusion. It’s some pretty deep stuff. If you like literary fantasy, you’ve found mecca with this series. Fans of action epics, fast-paced dialogue and action, save-the-world plots, and easily understandable prose will probably find this series hard to read. But if you are someone who enjoys reading for the love of reading itself and you enjoy thinking fantasy that will challenge you, this is the best in the genre.

Fans of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth and Lionesses and Mervey’s Ghormanghast are guaranteed to love this.







Book of the New Sun


There are writers who like to write pulp and there are some writers who like to write fiction. Williams is the latter. Memory, Sorrow, Thorn is Tad Williams response to The Lord of the Rings. It's a slow, pedantic, and sometimes tedious tale about the young kitchen Scullion, Simon. Tad with his ponderous style, slowly brings the reader into his fictional world, and carefully, oh so carefully, weaves the threads of the plot together. Action doesn't happen right away -- maybe not even for hundreds of pages -- in a Williams novel. But what you get is a living, breathing world that you become part of.

 

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is NOT a series for everyone -- people either love or hate William's style, but a shoddily written, hack series this is NOT. So if you want a slow, epic fantasy series with great characterization, an interesting world and realistically motivated villains, pick up this series.

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

to angel green tower

Similar recommendations:

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. Another book that shares some similarities is Michael A Stackpole's The DragonCrown War Cycle , which features an epic, black & white struggle, struggle between good and evil. Also read William's new fantasy saga Shadowmarch. Wonderful prose and a strong plot. I also recommend Tad Williams Otherland saga. It's science fiction, but there are quite a few fantasy elements too; it's kind of like the Matrix. Otherland is of the best Science Fiction books, IMHO.


My pick out there for the best YA fantasy series hands down. The characters are wonderfully complex and greatly evolve over the course of the story. The premise of the story is unique too, as is the setting. This is no light read -- the story gradually gets darker and darker. There is plenty of action and you'll never get bored. Just make sure you have plenty of time -- once you start the series, you'll finish it.






Bartimaeus


It seems that most of the fantasy authors get paid by the word. The shoddy fantasy is a reflection of that fact. Some authors take pride in their work, and write...art. Guy Gavriel Kay is one such writer. He doesn't always write the most popular kinds of fantasy, but every book he writes is imbued with intelligence, wit, and a beautiful story.

The Fiovanar Tapestry is one of the most underrated fantasy series out there. The quality of the writing is a few miles above the normal standards. Kay IS a wordsmith, his writing is sometimes lyrical and always beautiful. His characters are crafted with care, and there's always a number of complex and interweaving plots. It's not uncommon for one sentence to foreshadow major events that happen hundreds of pages later. When you read Kay, you're missing out if you don't pay attention to every sentence. If you are looking for some fluff fantasy to skim over, I suggest you look at some other fantasy options. Kay writes books that are meant to be read -- every word and every sentence.

 

The Fionavar Tapestry is high fantasy, but it's probably a sort of epic fantasy you are not used to. Still, if you are looking for a character-driven, realistically portrayed (as funny as that sounds) epic fantasy, I can't recommend anything better than this series.

The Fionavar Tapestry




A wonderfully beautiful novel that explores the ideas of myth and reality and the connection between the two.

This series concerns itself with mythological archetypes that are given life in a primeval forest somewhere in England. There are a number of books in the series that explore this concept, but the best is the first one which reads as a sort of mysterious and lucid adventure tale.

The first book (Mythago Wood) recounts one man’s journey into the heart of this primeval forest as he searches for his kidnapped love – a mythical Celtic princess he meets on the edge of Mythago Wood, given life by the power of the forest itself.
 

A journey into the heart of Mythago Wood is a journey into the mythos of mankind, for in this forest is contained every myth from every culture that every was and ever will be; and the further you go, the deeper into mythic history you go till you read the one true myth before all myths…
It’s a stunning look into the heart of man and one of those books that makes you think deep thoughts. Highly recommended by anyone who wants a deeper sort of fantasy tale.







Mythago Cycle


Elric is the prince of a dying race, a pale, morose champion of right, despite the cards stacked against him. He's a physical weakling who needs to take drugs and relies on evil magic to survive. This puts him at odds with just about every other standard fantasy hero in the genre. In any other book, Elric would be closer to a villain than a hero. Elric may not be that "popular" these days (as evinced by the limited comments these books get on this website), but Elric has had a lasting influence on the entire fantasy genre.










This dark fantasy trilogy is ostensibly a children's book, but there's a lot more to the story than a simple child's tale. The author incorporates ideas from Milton's Paradise Lost, a poem that's actually the basis of the entire novel. On the surface, it's the struggle of a young girl, together with her Daemon familiar, to find her place in the world through a series of grand, fantastical adventures. This sort of fantasy is NOT the simplistic Eragon with cardboard characters ripped straight from Star Wars and Tolkien. Nor is the fantasy a happy one. It's a dark look at the nature of things, of God, and of sacrifice. It's also a resounding rebuke to the religious powers of this world.

 

Ignoring all that "literary" stuff, the trilogy is also an amazing adventure and can be appreciated as such, if you have no wish to dig into the subtext. His Dark Materials is without a doubt one of the greatest fantasy series ever written.

 

There are a number of compelling YA fantasy out there including Abhorsen, Narnia, Bartaemeus. I've included a few of these works here, but if you want my rankings on the best YA fantasy, see the list.

His Dark Materials


A startling work of imagination that will evoke feeling when you read it. Reading Gormenghast is like feasting your eyes on a masterfully drawn painting -- you might not always get the context, but you're drawn to the beauty it represents.

 

If you are a fan of fantasy with superbly written prose, this is for you. The characters are indelible and the castle setting will leap out at you from the pages. You will never, ever forget the characters or the castle.



Gormenghast Trilogy


Some of the best characterization in the fantasy genre. Fans of Fitz Chivalry will find themselves right at home in this series. 

This is a series of three books that are connected, though each features a different character.






Chalion Series


A magnificent novel of adventure, magic, and revenge with one of the most unique magic systems in the fantasy genre. Mistborn is the story of a band of wizards fighting a hopeless battle against an invincible mage tyrant. The interesting cast of characters and strong plotting makes this one book you have to pick up. Those looking for a strong epic fantasy series should check this one out.

I would, in a heartbeat, replace Mistborn with Sanderson's newest series, The Stormlight Archive. However, only the first book of that 10 book saga has been released.






Monarchies of God


A great series in the same style as Lord of the Rings and the Wizard of Earthsea. It's the story of the Riddle-Master of Hed, Morgan, who has an unknown destiny. You see, he himself is a riddle, a man born with three mysterious stars on his head. And to solve the greatest riddle of all -- himself -- he will change the world forever.

The book is one of the great modern fantasy trilogies. My recommendation is that you only read it when you don't have to work the next day -- it's very hard to put this series down once you start, so be prepared for a LONG reading session.

Similar recommendations:

J.R.R.Tolkien's A Lord of the Rings. I also recommend Ursula le Guin's classic The Earthsea trilogy, which features the same lyrical writing style as McKillip, and the hauntingly beautiful tale of a young boy's journey from boy to wizard. You might also try Sean Russell's The Swan's War trilogy which features lyrical prose, a pervading sense of pathos and a world full of opportunity, were magic is as mysterious as it is dangerous.


An interesting series that details the life of a young prince who, after witnessing the horrific murder of his mother and brother, runs away. The young prince lives with a band of marauding bandits living under their rules until fate provides him a chance to seek revenge and claim his throne. This is the tale of a prince become assassin.

The protagonist, an antihero, will kill anyone and do anything to get what he wants. A dark and gritty tale and one of the best books of 2011.







The Broken Empire


There's quite a lot of Celtic fantasy out there, but this one takes the cake as some of the best written. It's a deep and involving story that spans several generations over the three books, with each book about a different character. It's a lovely tale that's a twist on a fairy tale story set in a Celtic world on the cusp of change. What really stands out are the characters, though. It's not always a happy story that's told, but by the end of it all, you'll care deeply for each of the characters.






The Seven Waters Trilogy


A dark epic fantasy tale about a girl who will go into the land of the dead to save her father. It's an exciting adventure that's also scary. Nix is a talented author who has an excellent command of the English language -- and the man uses his abilities to great effect in this series.

 

While this series is classified as Young Adult fantasy, it can be read and appreciated by all ages. Just make sure you read this series with the lights dimmed -- you're going to be in for a good scare!

 

If you want a really chilling feeling, get the Audiobook version of the series. The narrator does a superb job and the tale seems even more scary.




Abhorsen Trilogy & Other Tales

Similar recommendations:

A classic series kids around the world have grown up reading is The Chronicles of Narnia . While Narnia is very clearly a Christian allegory, it can be enjoyed without reading too deep into the Christian subtext. The writing is great and it's a great magical adventure for both kids and adults. You should also read Garth Nix's newest series, Keys to the Kingdom . It's also a great read, both for the kiddies and adults, one of the better series for kids. Don't forget to read Jonathan Stroud's very impressive The Bartimaeus Trilogy It's an action-packed thrill ride about a magician's apprentice who manages to summon a powerful genie (Bartimaeus). Bartimaeus is less than pleased with this turn of events and tries to sabotage his young master at every opportunity. Hilariously funny, at times very dark, with great writing, a great cast of well-developed characters, and an interesting world, Bartimaeus is a must read series (for both kids and adults). And finally, Harry Potter . I won't bother explaining why. If you are specifically looking for books your kid might like, i suggest you visit The Top 10 Fantasy Books for Kids list.


In a world saturated by religious fanaticism, Maithanet, enigmatic spiritual leader of the Thousand Temples, declares a Holy War against the infidels. Ikurei Conphas, military genius and nephew to the Nansur Emperor, embarks on a war to conquer the known world in the name of his emperor...and himself. Drusas Achamian, spy and sorcerer of the mysterious northern sorceries, tormented by visions of the great apocalypse, seeks the promised one, the savior of mankind. Anasurimbor Kellhus, heir to the shattered northern kingdom, whose ruins now lay hidden in the deepest north, a place now desolate, home to only the No-Men. Gifted with extraordinary martial skills of hand and foot, and steering souls through the subtleties of word and expression, he slowly binds all - man and woman, emperor and slave - to his own mysterious ends. But the fate of men--even great men--may be cast into ruin. For in the deep north, the hand of the forgotten No-God stirs once more, and his servants tread the lands of men...

This is one of the more interesting modern fantasy series out there. It's epic fantasy, but not in the way you're used to. This fantasy is for those who want a combination of raw action and sharp philosophical insights. It's gritty, dark, bloody, and pretty damn smart.

The Prince of Nothing trilogy

Aspect Emperor Trilogy

the white luck warrior

Similar recommendations:

The vast scope of The Darkness That Comes Before is very redolent of Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen saga, though the characters are less grey, and the story more focused. Also try George R.R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which is very epic and very gritty.


I can't say enough good things about this amazing fantasy series. It is, in my opinion, one of the best fantasy series out there. For some reason, it's not on too many radars, perhaps because J.V. Jones took 5 years between sequels, but I remain firm in my conviction that this series is really something special. The landscape and setting and different cultures/peoples are unique enough in their own right, but the vicious, dark action, very strong cast of characters, and enticing plot really draw you in.







Sword of Shadows

Similar recommendations:

Try George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which features a brutal, gritty world set in an ice-filled milieu. Characters are realistic and Martin holds nothing back. It's a superlative epic fantasy saga. You might also try J.V. Jones's other excellent Book of Words fantasy saga (starts with The Baker's Boy ).


A magnificent novel of adventure, magic, and revenge with one of the most unique magic systems in the fantasy genre. Mistborn is the story of a band of wizards fighting a hopeless battle against an invincible mage tyrant. The interesting cast of characters and strong plotting makes this one book you have to pick up. Those looking for a strong epic fantasy series should check this one out.

I would, in a heartbeat, replace Mistborn with Sanderson's newest series, The Stormlight Archive. However, only the first book of that 10-book saga has been released.






Mistborn


A compelling re-telling of stories of heaven, hell, the afterlife and beyond. I don’t think there is any other story out there quit e like this one. Plenty of authors have played around with the concept of death and the afterlife, but few have created a universe quite like Williams as found in The Crooked Letter.

The Crooked Letter, the first segue into the world of the Cataclysm series, is the deeply spooky end-of-the-world tale of twins who find out that death and life are full of surprises. The concept of an afterlife not based entirely on the Jewish heaven and hell constructs is one that the novel devotes a significant portion to exploring.

 

For one, dying brings you to an afterlife – one or two afterlives that is – a magical world where the laws of physics are replaced by the power of will. Things in “heaven” are not well, however. There’s a war going on between the residents of the second realm and an entity that’s seeking to destroy both the second realm and leap to the first realm. Heaven now looks like hell and the first realm (earth) has been taken along for the ride when the two realms “collide.”

 

It’s an entertaining book that aggregates a number of different folklores – there’s Germanic, greek, celtic, and Jewish folklore imbued into the story.

 

Beyond the mere story of two brothers caught in the middle of a struggle between different realms and basically trying to understand what the hell is going on, all the while surviving, there’s a lot of other stuff going on too.

The book explores themes such as one’s concept of a freely determined self, the difference between body and spirit, God, heaven, and hell.

It takes a while to figure out just what the hell is going on in the story, but once you do, it’s a darkly gripping adventure with elements of fantasy and horror. You won’t read anything quite like this.








Books of the Cataclysm


This YA series has been around for a while now but still makes for some scintillating reading despite its age. It's a book that despite the evolution of the genre is still just as good as when it first came out. Some argue that Susan Cooper is one of the direct successors to Tolkien (she studied under him in university). The series has some very strong characters with a lot of depth to each of them. This is more complex fantasy on the whole than is Harry Potter.





The Dark is Rising


This “naval” epic fantasy series is a “boatload” of fun. It’s one of the more refreshing grand epic fantasy tales released in the past couple of years with a mottley cast of zany and unique characters all sharing space -- not always willingly -- on a giant ship sailing across a vast unknowable sea. 

There are mad god kings, treacherous empowers, evil sorcerers, wizards from other dimensions, conniving ship boys, ruthless pirate captains, talking rats and sword-wielding thumb-sized human. This is a book that packs a lot of plot and characters onto every page.

You might think of this as Redwall meets Malazan Book of the Fallen in some respects; the comparison doesn’t exactly work, but it’s got some similar elements.







Chathrand Voyage


A strange mix of post-apocalyptic and steampunk fantasy, but a rewarding one. In a futuristic world, the sun is dying out and the world is slowly turning to ice with the few wealthy preparing for the ice age, while the rest of humanity will be left to die.
Standing on the edge of this depressing and doomed world is the great city of Villjamur. It’s a city of great potential that juxtaposes the wondrous and the horrible – a metaphor perhaps for man himself. It’s a city and land where the goal is to survive. The world is populated mostly by humans but there are a few sentient machines around too.

The plot is complex with a number of things going on:
This is a complex and ambitious piece of fantasy which is both a good and a bad thing. The author presents a world on the edge of an ice age (the Freeze) where the privileged few are preparing for a few decades of difficulty while many of the rest of the unfortunate population will be left to their own devices. This is a world populated mainly by humans, but there are a few sentient non-humans in the cast too which makes for a potentially more interesting set of characters.

The basic plot is something we’ve seen before: murder, mystery, mayhem  and magic.  But into the mix are added scheming politicians, imperial politics, deadly soldier assassins, weird religions and crazy cultists.
So if you fancy dark fantasy tale set on an exotic landscape with strange alien races, steampunk and magic, murder and mysteries, you’ll  love this series. You might think of this series as a cross between Jack  Vance’s Dying Earth, China Mieville







Legends of the Red Sun


An ambitious and engrossing post-apocalyptic meets steampunk fantasy series that seems to be doing all the right things. You might think of it as a cross between A Song of Ice and Fire and Lions of al-Rassan.

The premise itself: ancient technology has destroyed one of the great cities of the world, Windwir, also the repository of all the knowledge in the world. The leaders of the Named Lands will see justice done; conflict is brewing and every kingdom in the Name Lands will play the great game of politics…and war.

This series is one of the better political fantasies to grace the bookshelves since A Song of Ice and Fire. This is a rich fantasy with many layers of plot to it with complex, fascinating characters – some of which will actually die (again, like Martin’s series). Highly recommended.







Psalms of Isaak


Some pretty compelling stuff in this series is its beautiful prose, imaginative scenes, and hilarious action that will have you giggling as you struggle to turn the pages faster.

The key word when describing this series is “fun and funny.” I’ve heard this series described as a cross between the Firefly TV series combined with the character Jack Sparrow. The crew is a motley mishmash of different characters who all form a cohesive unit when one of them lands in trouble.  

The plot is nothing new but the setting, characters, and story fit so well together that it just works. The premise follows the crew of the Ketty Jay as they struggle hand to mouth to keep afloat; when they see a get rich quick scheme to end their financial woes for good, they take it, only to find out it was a horrible mistake that gets them framed for a crime they did not commit. This forces them to go on the run – they have to prove their innocence before they are killed.

You won’t find anything new or unique in the book; it’s not deep, intellectual or anything to write to your English teacher about, but it’s a fast paced, entertaining and wildly funny tale that refuses to slow down once you get past the first 100 pages or so. What’s particularly entertaining is to watch the crew jump from one bad misadventure to another (even worse).








Tales of the Ketty Jay


This series has become the gold standard for urban hardboiled detective fantasy. There have been many clones but no true imitations yet. The premise is pretty simple: a down and out Private Investigator and Wizard, Harry Dresden, takes on investigations that are special, that that involve the supernatural. Now this may sound like a worn, tried and true formula by now with the rain of similar style books clogging up the fantasy shelves, but Dresden is one of the originals and by far about the best in the subgenre.

It’s an action packed, wildly entertaining, fun ride through the supernatural – a ride that includes vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, rival wizards and other supernatural baddies – all trying their best to take down Harry Dresden. This is one of those series that takes a couple of books before Butcher really hits his stride with the character and story, but once he does, boy does the series come together. So give it to book three before things really pick up big time. What I particularly like about this series is you watch all the characters evolve over the entire story arc, and there’s an underlying story that’s carried through from book to book, even if each book might focus on one specific situation. The story also starts to get pretty dark midway through the series and by the time you catch up to the latest works, everything is only gritty and gray – including characters, choices, and setting.







The Dresden Files

summer knight

Codex Alera Series

academ's fury


A twist on the classic epic fantasy conceits. Moon takes many of the best elements from the genre and puts her own unique spin on them. This is a compelling story about a woman who rises above the limitations of her class and gender to become a legend. Fans of military fantasy will really enjoy this one as quite a bit of the novel follows the protagonist’s life among the military. This is a gritty novel in a lot of ways, as Moon does not try to beautify what is ugly. The heroine evolves with the story; she starts off wide-eyed and ignorant at the beginning, but grows into maturity and knowledge as the story progresses. It's very interesting to see how the events in the story affect the protagonist’s psyche. One of the best fantasy series out there and widely regarded by many as a modern classic.






The Deed of Paksenarrion


One of the more unique epic fantasy series out there. Unlike your standard generic Tolkienized medieval landscape series, it introduces an ancient alternate Rome where magic works. The magic system itself is quite unique, where humans gain access to special powers through magical creatures bound to the elements called Furies. Someone who’s bound to an earth Fury will have powers over the earth and superhuman strength. Someone bound to a wind Fury will have powers over the wind. Special individuals can have two or even more Furies giving them control over multiple elements.

 

Written by the same guy who’s behind The Dresden Files, this series is some good stuff. Lots of military action combined with an epic struggle the world.







Codex Alera


Feist has quite a few Midkemia books, but his Riftwar books (starting with Magican: Master and Magician Apprentice) are by far the best of the bunch (with the exception of the even better Empire trilogy). Riftwar tells the classic tale of a group of callow characters who, over the course of a few books, become powerful forces who battle to save the world from destruction. This (especially the two Magician Books) is classic epic fantasy and it’s mostly very well done. You get all those worn clichés – castle boy becomes hero, stirring dark forces creeping in to destroy the land, a princess in need of rescue, an ancient wizard mentor, etc – but Feist puts enough zest and passion into the whole tale that it works pretty well. Definitely one of the best classic farmboy-to-hero epic fantasy tales out there. If you love the likes of The Wheel of Time, The Death Gate Cycle, and Way of Kings, you’ll probably be slathering all over this series.

I personally don’t like pretty much any of Feist's other Midkemia books; if you really fall in love with the landscape and tale, you can continue on with other books which follow some of the events (sometimes decades or hundreds of years later after the Riftwar books). But they all lack the initial spark the first few books had, I find.







Raymond Feist's Series in Chronological Order

I've listed his Midkemia books in chronological order by series. Each series is set in the same world that Magician is and are sequels, sort of. Feist has even more books, but I've only listed the series that I feel are actually worth reading. His best by far are the two Magician books and his Empire Trilogy as I've stated about 10 times now.

Riftwar Saga

Empire Trilogy

Serpentwar Saga

shadows of a dark queenrise of a merchant prince

Conclave of Shadows

The Darkwar Saga

Demonwar Saga

rides a dread legionat the gates of darkness

The Chaoswar Saga

a kingdom besieged


This is Le Modessit’s best work so far. It’s not a standout fantasy series, but it is pretty entertaining. Modessit’s fantasy typically features a young callow boy who rises through the ranks to become a power player in society, usually because of a few aces up the sleeve – brilliant tactical abilities and powerful hidden magic abilities. The Imager Portfolio follows the same sort of formula, but Modessit creates an interesting world full of rigid social orders and class politics. Into this maelstrom of nascent social conflict, our hero is thrust to change the political and magical landscape.

A good series to read, especially if you want a fantasy that deals more with human conflict than any sort of defeat-the-dark power conceit that the typical fantasy novel incorporates.







Imager Portfolio


Military fantasy with some great characterization, gray characters, and a lot of plot twists the whole way through. The author takes great pains to create most characters as morally ambiguous – simple humans fighting to survive in a world that rewards the bad and punishes the good. This series hasn’t gotten the sort of attention it deserves. So if you are looking for a well-written good character-driven epic of love and war, treachery and betrayal, this one comes recommended.







Nearly half a century ago, fantasy was dividing into two fantasy worlds: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia has entertained generations of children and continues to do so even to this day.

For those who dislike books written in heavy allegory, especially heavy religious allegory, it's best to avoid this series -- you're going to get upset. However, above the layer of allegory is a fantastic tale of magic and adventure. Narnia may not be as complicated as the new generation of fantasy, but as an old classic that's made its mark for decades, it should be read -- if only to your children at night.





Chronicles of Narnia

 

Duncan’s managed to make this list with 3 series. King’s Blades are some sword-heavy fantasy for those who like fantasy full of swashbuckling, politics, and raw action. This is not epic fantasy as much as it is an action political fantasy that’s heavy on the heroics.
You might think of this something as a fantasy version of The Three Musketeers. Like all Duncan’s books, well plotted, well written, with an interesting world. And of course, always well developed and compelling characters, especially the protagonist.







A Tale of the King's Blades


Politics, magic and sexuality burst from the seams of this one. This series has garnered a fantastic reputation over the years it’s been out



 

 

 

 

 

 




Kushiel's Legacy: Phèdre Trilogy

Kushiel's Legacy: Imriel Trilogy

Kushiel's Legacy: Moirin Trilogy


This series wins big points for originality here. The premise itself sounds, on the surface, ridiculously unbelievable: a world where all humans have the attributes of different insects.

However, the author does a very good job at realizing this unique setting fully. While you initially expect the series to be kind of silly the author skillfully makes everything believable.

The author, in place of magic, gives every “race” unique powers (called insect ‘kinden’. The idea is that each human insect race gains strengths and weaknesses along the lines of that insect behavior. Beetles are good with tech, ants at warfare, and spiders at politics.

It’s an interesting concept, but it really forces characters into archetypal groups rather than let them develop as individual characters with unique abilities and personalities.

The series is a mix of weird and brilliant. Some may love it and others not. On the whole though, great world building and an interesting, even gripping story. There are some pretty wicked battle scenes too.






Shadows of the Apt


Some pretty compelling action hero fantasy staring an anti-hero criminal. Unlike some of the other anti-hero fantasy (Prince of Thorns, Thomas Covenant, Heroes Die), the anti-hero has a good mix of admirable qualities rather than being straight out badass. Steven Brust doesn't really get the acclaim he deserves, and he's really not well known outside the circle of his select fans. But give this series a chance and you'll find yourself pretty captivated by the whole thing.






The Vlad Taltos

Khaavren Romances


If you want a different sort of fantasy -- funny fantasy as it's called, Terry Pratchett can't be beaten for a good laugh. Discworld cleverly parodies many of the standard fantasy conventions, often shining the light on just how stupid those conventions really are, when you think about them. Pratchett is a master at his craft: everything in the fantasy genre is fair game -- something that Pratchett takes full advantage of with his over 20 Discworld novels.

Start with The Color of Magic, which follows the tourist Twoflower and his bumbling, hapless wizard guide, Rincewind. It's a mad, mad adventure that will have you gasping for breath. Pratchett IS the Douglas Adams of the fantasy world




A series retells over and over the tale of two lovers (and the characters important to them) who meet and fall in love again and again over the course of centuries. It’s a lover’s tale that’s bound to the concept of reincarnation, fate, destiny and unfinished business.
It’s an interesting concept, and Kerr really makes the whole thing work again and again over the course of the series. And while you are reading about the same “souls” in every book, the general stories are different.
The language is quite poetic – descriptive and distinctly Celtic – and the characters are all so well done. If you like well done romantic fantasy, this is a series you’ll enjoy. Much recommended if you enjoy books by Kate Elliott and Marion Zimmer Bradley as some of their books have a somewhat similar feel in tone, setting, and content. If you are looking for raw action, gray characters, and epic world shaking events, this series is not for you. But if you want a sweetly romantic series, read it.







Deverry Series

Deverry: The Westlands

Deverry: The Dragon Mage

Deverry: The Silver Wyrm


This is a series that's fallen a bit by the wayside in that many don't know about it. But it's a rare treat for those who want a well drawn dark fantasy tale with elements of horror. This is a tale that's moody and suspenseful following a path laid out by Edgar Allen Poe, especially the first book. It's a disturbing tale that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. The story itself is entertaining, but the series also brings up some deeper issues such as what is gender, and do the means always justify the ends. Lyn Flewelling puts a twist on the story around book two which gives the whole tale a whole new spin.






Shadows of the Apt


This series has mixed reviews. It’s pretty much the same tale told again and again with very little changed from book to book. Take a callow boy, force him into the wider, unforgiving world, give him nascent magic abilities that eventually become god-like, and have the character overturn the status quo system of the day and you have a Recluce novel.

Now that’s not to say the series is not entertaining – the first few books are good reading. But the recycled plot archetypes start wearing on you a few books down. You’ll probably enjoy them if you like the world and magic system the author creates – everything is internally consistent and the author tells stories that span thousands of years from the start of the series to the end (and not necessarily in the books chronologically published order). If you want to give this series a go, start with The Magic of Recluce.







Saga of Recluce


Sullivan was a self-published author who was, after years of persistence,  able to land a contract with a publishing company.

The series have garnered a lot praise over the past few years. The books are fairly light reading --  the characters are over the top as is the action. You might think of it as an entertaining light action romp with quite a bit of humor. Fans of say, Brent Weeks and Scott Lynch (Lynch’s books are much better, however) will appreciate the series.






Riyria Revelations

1

A Game of Thrones(George R.R. Martin)

2

The Malazan Book of the Fallen(Steven Erikson)

3

The First Law (Joe Abercrombie)

4

The Long Price Quartet (Daniel Abraham)

5

Chronicles of Amber (Roger Zelazny)

6

The King Killer Chronicle (Patrick Rothfuss)

7

Tales of the Dying Earth(Jack Vance)

8

The Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson)

9

The Farseer (Robin Hobb)

10

The Acts of Caine (Michael Stoover)

11

A Man of His Word(Dave Duncan)

12

New Crobuzon(J.R.R Tolkien)

13

Lord of the Rings(J.R.R Tolkien)

14

Lyonesse(Jack Vance)

15

The Cold Fire Trilogy (C. S. Friedman)

16

The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

17

The Seventh Sword (Dave Duncan)

18

The Dark Tower (Steven King)

19

Thomas Covenant (Stephen R. Donaldson)

20

Earthsea Cycle (Ursula Le Guin)

21

Black Company (Glen Cook)

22

The Book of the New Sun (Gene Wolfe)

23

Memory, Sorrow, Thorn (Tad Williams)

24

Bartimaeus (Jonathan Stroud)

25

The Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay)

26

Mythago Wood (Robert Holdstock)

27

Elric of Melinbone(Michael Moorcock)

28

His Dark Materials (Phillip Pullman)

29

Gormenghast (Mervyne Peake)

30

Chalion trilogy (Lois McMaster Bujold)

31

Monarchies of God (Paul Kearney)

32

Riddle of Stars (Patricia A. McKillip)

33

The Broken Empire (Mark Lawrence)

34

Seven Waters Trilogy (Juliet Marillier)

35

Abhorsen Trilogy(Garth Nix)

36

The Prince of Nothing (Scott R. Bakker)

37

Sword of Shadows (J.V. Jones)

38

Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)

39

Books of the Cataclysm (Sean Williams)

40

The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper)

41

Chathrand Voyage (Robert V.S. Redick)

42

Legends of the Red Sun (Mark Charan Newton)

43

Psalms of Issak (Ken Scholes)

44

Tales of the Jetty Kay (Chris Wooding)

45

The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher)

46

The Deed of Paksenarrion (Elizabeth Moon)

47

Codex Alera (Jim Butcher)

48

Riftwar Saga (Raymond E. Feist)

49

Imager Portfolio (L. E. Modesitt Jr.)

50

Tyrants and Kings (John Marco)

51

Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)

52

A Tale of the King's Blades (Dave Duncan)

53

Kushiel's Legacy(Jacqueline Carey)

54

Shadows of the Apt (Adrian Tchaikovsky)

55

Vlad Taltos (Steven Brust)

56

Discworld (Terry Pratchett)

57

Deverry Series(Kathrine Kerr)

58

Tamir Triad (Lyn Flewelling)

59

Saga of Recluse (L.E. Modesitt Jr.)

60

The Riyria Revelations (Michael J. Sullivan)

1

A Song Of Ice And Fire (George R.R...)

1147 364
2

Lord Of The Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

1067 280
3

The Wheel Of Time (Robert Jordan)

914 258
4

The Kingkiller Chronicles (Patrick...)

782 112
5

Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)

615 128
6

The Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sa...)

528 59
7

The Malazan Book Of The Fallen (St...)

494 128
8

Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

677 341
9

The Kingkiller Chronicle (Patric...)

405 61
10

The Farseer Trilogy (Robin Hobb)

377 89
11

The First Law (Joe Abercrombie)

334 71
12

Riftwar Saga (Raymond E. Feist)

280 50
13

the night angel trilogy (Brent Weeks)

285 68
14

The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher)

250 57
15

dune frank herbert (Frank Herbert)

241 48
16

The Belgariad (David Eddings)

271 81
17

Discworld (Terry Pratchett)

212 49
18

Chronicles Of Narnia (C. S. Lewis)

281 143
19

tawny man trilogy (Robin Hobb)

189 42
20

Codex Alera (Jim Butcher)

182 38
21

Sword of Truth (Terry Goodkind)

324 210
22

The Warded Man (Peter V. Brett)

175 45
23

The Dark Tower (Stephen King)

205 84
24

Earthsea Cycle (Ursula K. Le Guin)

164 45
25

Black Company (Glen Cook)

157 41
26

the lightbringer series (Brent Weeks)

130 19
27

Chronicles Of Amber (Roger Zelazny)

140 34
28

The Broken Empire (Mark Lawrence)

112 16
29

Memory, Sorrow, And Thorn (Tad Wil...)

127 34
30

Bartimaeus Trilogy (Jonathan Stroud)

97 28
31

The Riyria Revelations (Michael J....)

94 26
32

shannara series (Terry Brooks)

154 96
33

the witcher saga (Andrzej Sapkowski)

74 13
34

Inheritance Cycle (Christopher Pao...)

177 128
35

the liveship traders trilogy (Robi...)

76 17
36

His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)

143 92
37

Elric Of Melniboné (MICHAEL MOORC...)

69 14
38

dragonlance chronicles (Margaret W...)

78 26
39

Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant (Ste...)

109 61
40

the gentleman bastard sequence (Sc...)

63 10
41

Abhorsen Trilogy (Garth Nix)

77 29
42

Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay)

59 16
43

Kushiel's Legacy Trilogy ()

62 20
44

Sword Of Shadows (J. V. Jones)

55 16
45

Vlad Taltos (Steven Brust)

47 11
46

rangers apprentice (John Flanagan)

44 13
47

the dark elf trilogy (R.A. Salvatore)

35 3
48

thomas covenant (Stephen R. Donald...)

74 47
49

The Book Of The New Sun (Gene Wolfe)

47 19
50

The Prince Of Nothing (R. Scott Ba...)

48 22
51

the chronicles of prydain (Lloyd A...)

34 8
52

dragonriders of pern complete ser...

43 18
53

dragonlance legends (Margaret Weis)

41 17
54

The Cold Fire Trilogy (C.S. Friedman)

48 26
55

heroes of olympus series (Rick Rio...)

46 26
56

dragonriders of pern anne mccaffr...

40 21
57

The Dark Is Rising (Susan Cooper)

27 11
58

The Long Price Quartet (Daniel Abr...)

40 26
59

Chathrand Voyage (Robert V. S. Red...)

30 15
60

Tales Of The Dying Earth (Jack Vance)

28 14
Click to View Additional Entries or Submit New Ones...

And For More Recommendations...

If you are looking for more book recommendations, check these related lists out.

Also look at the Good Fantasy Books for even more recommendations.

Look at the Top 25 Best Epic Fantasy series list for the best of that type of fantasy.

Look at the Best Fantasy Series for a broad list of the best fantasy series ever written

If you like the story. Share it!

COMMENTS









648157640:
Andrew

I love fantasy. Books can be "Best" for a number of reasons. I love serious works, but I also like to indulge in humorous fantasy occasionally as a guilty pleasure. Terry Pratchett's Disc World Series (38 books?) is pure, silly fun. It can't stand up to others, but as someone who was engaged by Douglas Adams at a young age, the series has sated my desire for diversion on many occasions.


There is also another series that I'd like to point out. The Deverry Series by Katherine Kurr is a saga that I'd equate to the Deathgate Cycle or works by Raymond E. Fiest. I don't know if it could make a Top 25, but I found it noteworthy and enjoyable.


Sometimes those "Best" books require quite a bit of work to digest, so I wanted to throw out a few unmentioned works that brought me pleasure.

648157648:
David Sims

Although I've not read it yet, I've heard enough good things from Usually Reliable Sources to say that the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson probably ought to be mentioned here.


Series: Mistborn.

1. The Final Empire

2. The Well of Ascension

3. The Hero of Ages


Speaking on behalf of fantasy fans everywhere, I must say that Brandon Sanderson has done a good job so far in continuing Robert Jordan's series, The Wheel of Time, and that We are pleased.

648157654:
David Sims

I recommend the SAGA OF RECLUCE series, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.


Series: The Saga of Recluce.

1. Magi'i of Cyador

2. Scion of Cyador

3. Fall of Angels

4. The Chaos Balance

5. The Towers of the Sunset

6. The White Order

7. Colors of Chaos

8. The Magic Engineer

9. Natural Ordermage

10. Mage-Guard of Hamor

11. The Order War

12. Wellspring of Chaos

13. Ordermaster

14. The Magic of Recluce

15. The Death of Chaos

16. Arms-Commander (forthcoming)

648157657:
David Sims

I recommend the DEVERRY series by Katharin Kerr.


Series: Deverry 1.

1. Daggerspell

2. Darkspell

3. The Bristling Wood

4. The Dragon Revenant


Series: Deverry 2: The Westlands.

5. A Time of Exile

6. A Time of Omens

7. Days of Blood and Fire

8. Days of Air and Darkness


Series: Deverry 3: The Dragon Mage.

9. The Red Wyvern

10 The Black Raven

11. The Fire Dragon


Series: Deverry 4: The Silver Wyrm.

12. The Gold Falcon

13. The Spirit Stone

14. The Shadow Isle

15. The Silver Mage

648157659:
Kenneth

Hey,


thanks for the list and recomendations. I have one for you 'The Sword of Truth' series by Terry Goodkind. I'm very surprised it's not on your list. Its had many bestsellers and it's so popular they've made it into a TV series.


thanks again

ken

648157664:
Andrew

Thank you for the list - there are some very good books out there I haven't got to yet.


I started on the Ice and Fire series, and thought the first two books were excellent, but it's slowly deteriorated through the 3rd (both parts) and 4th (book 4 is approaching being a bore by comparison to the first two). I keep getting the feeling the extremes (language, brutality, etc) are cheap shock tactics (for marketing to the contemporary fantasy demographic - think young FPS gamers), and the fact that the books are dragging out are more the result of publisher greed than art.


There are more books to come, and they are taking a long time to get written - don't rush in like I did expecting a good 'complete' story.


I would put Game of Thrones in the top 5 books, but the Ice and Fire series would drop lower down my own top 10.

648157671:
David

I woiuld definitely recommend the sword of truth series mentioned above, written by Terry Goodkind.


I would match it up against the Wheel of Time saga for sheer epic-ness, although where the Wheel of Time revels in it's exceptional attention to detail and intrigue (and has a fairly slow pace), the Sword of Truth series is a much fasdter paced story that has darker elements to it (indeed - the desription of the Fire and Ice saga that you gave reminded me in a number of way sof the Sword of Truth series in terms of the darker aspects and realism in terms of violence - it is a lot more graphic than Wheel of Time)


The series is 11 books long, hence the epic handle i gave it, and whereas the Wheel of Time tails off in later books (although personally i think books 9-11 brought the quality back somewhat), the Sword of Truth series remains strong throughout (with the exception of book 7 - the Pillars of Creation, which seems a little out of place), and indeed, the final 3, which form a mini-trilogy, are exceptional.


I will definitely read the Fire and Ice saga you recommend - thanks for the heads-up!

648157679:
b nanno

I was glad to come across this page and have found many interesting recommendations (which I have duly noted!) and pleased to see some of my old favourites recognised too that one does not find too often, like the Abhorsen triology, and other Garth Nix, or giving Phillip Pullman his due.

Here are some other favourites of mine: Gene Wolfe's series of 4 -The Book of the New Sun. Stephen Donaldson's 2-part The Mirror of Her Dreams & A Man Rides Through, Rosemary Kirstien's Steerswoman Series, among others.


In children's fantasy, Diane Wynne-Jones is (surprisingly for me) missing. Any of her series, say the Chrestomanci books, or the 4-part Dalemark series, or any individual book like The Time of the Ghost, Fire and Hemlock, Howl's Moving Castle, make really excellent and usually very original reading.

Other enjoyable, but perhaps with some slight reservations regarding robustness of plot or originality for YA or children's, would be Phillip Reeve's Mortal Engines and sequels, Cliff McNish Silver triology or The Doomspell Triology as well Angie Sage's Septimus series, or Chris D'Lacey's The Fire Within and follow-ups.


Hope you are able to comment on some of them sometime.

648157683:
Reedrunner

Following the recommendations here, I picked up George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Enjoyable, yes. Well-written, yes, but readers beware! While books 1-3 are very good, this series trails off weakly at book #4 (published in 2005). Based on the author's note at the end of Feast for Crows, at least 2 more books will be required to finish the storyline. Based on current publication pace, that is unlikely to happen before 2015. If you need closure in a fantasy series, then best wait a few years before starting Game of Thrones.

648157689:
ramon

Hi all. I am happy to see such great works such as Memory Sorrow and Thorn. and glad mention is made of Williams incredible Otherworld series (I would highly reccommend) - not quite fantasy, not quite sci-fi - the best of both worlds!

However I am concerned that no mention is made of Ian Irvine and his incredible Fantasy epic Three Wolds series (11 huge volumes in all). I would seriously check this series out - Irvine is a master story teller and must rate as highly as any on this page. Cheers

648157692:
John

Thanks you very much mate. This list is a great gift to me. I was devouring stupid contemporary romance/fantasy books out of boredom. Those book will be like medicine.

648157699:
Tony

I am also very surprised that the “Sword of Truth” series is not on the list.

Unlike Jordan the cast of characters is small and very “knowable”.

I consider this story to be epic because of the ups and downs reflecting the struggles of life and how hard will you hold on to the truth when faced with extremely difficult problems.

I am not happy about book 11 and 12, but the rest of it is really worth reading.

I was not expecting him to end the series so I am disappointed in that.

I fell in love with the story and the people involved.


The TV series does a great job with the characters and action but barely holds to the real story with one book per session with several side plots and no endings that the books hold. If you like the TV series you will like the real story found in the books much much better.

648157708:
reigis

I support the exclusion of the Sword of Truth series. Wizard's first rule is by far, one of the best debuts and best first book in a series, but the series as a whole has gone downhill after the first 3.


I mean Richard Rahl, found the Temple of Winds a repository of secrets and magic by the wizards of old. and what does Richard do? He goes EMO. Instead of using the godly powers he have, to blast Jagang and his armies to hell and back, he goes moping like a love-sick schoolboy.


That's not all, he has the SILPH, he can use it to get a drop on Jagang and end his atrocities once and for all. I mean, who could stop him? He is a War Wizard with the Sword of Truth, and Jagang's power can't affect him because, he's the fricking Master Rahl, so why doesn't he do it? *crickets*


Hell, most of the plots in the story are like that, they don't make any lick of sense.


I'm sorry Goodkind, the Wizard's First Rule might be "People are Stupid", but not all of your readers are!


To the Author of the List:


I disagree with some of them, like the Riddle of Stars. The prose is good, but the story is nothing special. I've seen this series in alot of Fantasy lists, so I did my best to find them. Once I got around to reading them all, I said to myself, "is that it?" This series is the very definition of OVERRATED.


Another is David Farland's Runelords series. It's good, but it's not that good.


My recommendations in addition to the list in no particular order, to those who love Fantasy books:


1. Mythago Wood and the rest of the Ryhope Wood Series by Robert Holdstock


2. Corean Chronicles by LE Modesitt Jr.


3. Recluce Saga by LE Modesitt Jr.


4. Spellsong Cycle Series by LE Modesitt Jr.


5. Chalion Trilogy by Lois McMaster Bujold.


6. The Seer King Trilogy by Chris Bunch


7. The Tyrants and Kings Trilogy by John Marco


8. Isavalta Novels by Sarah Zettel


9. The Sun Sword Series by Michelle West


10. War of Light and Shadows by Janny Wurts


11. Any Novel by David Gemmell


12. Any Novel by Guy Gavriel Kay specially Tigana and Lions of Al-Rasaan


13. Age of Discovery Series by Michael Stackpole


14. Firelord Series by Parke Godwin


15. Symphony of Ages Series by Elizabeth Haydon


16. Soldier Series by Gene Wolfe


17. The Secret Texts Series by Holly Lisle


18. The Three Worlds Cycles Series by Ian Irvine


19. Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance


20. Lion's Heart and Lion's Soul by Karen Wehrstein


21. Enemy Glory and Hecate's Glory by Karen Michalson


22. God Stalker Series by PC Hodgell


23. Maia by Richard Adams


24. The King's Blade Series by Dave Duncan


25. Rodrigo of Caledon by David Feintuch

648157713:
Like, the best fantasy read du

I agree/ disagree with a lot of you about Terry Goodkind, his novels are worth less than what I wipe off my ass with them.

648157719:
JoeTLord

Your reason for putting Rings at number ten is probably the only one a fanboy would accept. This is a great list. Will definitely look into the George Martin series.

648157723:
Michael

Terry Brooks Shanarra series needs to be on this list. It is in the top five fantasy series out there and is a disgrace not to have it on this list.

648157729:
zarif

648157732:
Aminar

I have been searching for a specific Juvenile fantasy book that I hold in high regard for nearly 10 years now. The book is about a princess from a world where reality control is possessed by all. She is named after one of the laws that bind the peoples powers to prevent them from causing constant chaos. I need to the title if possible, this book influenced me greatly and I have significantly younger brothers that should be reading it soon. The book introduced a variety of concepts I believe are important.

648157737:
Jason

No more Sword of Truth please. Three books in I stopped. Most of his ideas were ripped off from Wheel of Time with far inferior writing.

648157741:
Sarah

I love the sword of truth books and are very disappointed they are not on the list. Whoever does not like them and claims to love fantasy then they are stupid. There are many good lessons to be had in them unlike some fantasy books where it's just drama. The sword of truth should be at least number nine because i know for a fact that it is better then the Lord of the Rings.

648157753:
dagim

Dresden Files should be here just beacause it isnt an epic fantasy doesnt mean it isnt supposed to be here it is one of the best fantasy series ever

648157757:
john

U SUCK dude u missed some of the best!!!!!!! codex alera dresden files and i didnt even see on this web site the alvin maker series o and WERE IS THE SWORD OF TRUTH BOOKS no terrygoodkind or terrybrooks D:

648157762:
Mike

Very glad sword of truth is not on. Read most of them, but for one, most of the books have same storyline. 1 &2 were great, but went downhill. And i also read before robert jordan. Good idea if you want to derive any enjoyment at all from terry goodkind. Malazan book of fallen should be #1, and #2 Lord of the rings. Haven't read near all the books, some don't even sound good, but some like robin hobb or the earthsea books were just trash. Very good site, gives wide variety of fantasy books.

648157765:
jaide

title is more minds.

648157772:
Jesse

Ok, i have to comment on the Sword of Truth debate. I definitely think the first book was amazing ( I loved the Mord-Sith). And there are a lot of great points to the book. But the ending was awful, I was very dissappointed, and overall, I was unimpressed with the last three books. And pillars of creation, although it introduced some new plot points, it wasn't as fun to read.

But my favorite was Faith of the Fallen, just amazing job on that one, and I think suggest sticking with the seeries til that book at least.

648157778:
dood

I would have liked to see David Eddings' "The Belgariad". It's an excellent series

648157783:
rob

How are the kingkiller chronicles one of the best fantasy series available. Unless i'm mistaken the second book hasn't been released.

648157789:
rob

LOTR only at no10?!!!!!! give us a break. ive been reading fantasy just as long as you, and more than half of those above it aren't fit to wipe its cover

648157798:
joran6

The first 3 series on this list are exactly correct in my opinion. A Song of Ice and Fire is, without doubt, something special. Readers that like to be immersed in long (800+ page novels) and engrossing series that have lots of violence and characters you love to love and love to hate can't possibly go wrong with this series.


Likewise, the Malazan books are wonderful. Having said that, reader beware! The Malazan books are REALLY complicated. Especially the first one, as Erickson dives right in to a fully realized, extremely complex world. The characters are involved in highly complex plot lines and Erickson's writing is in a style that sort of assumes the reader is completely familiar with the world (which, of course, you're not for the first 1500 pages). Many more casual fantasy readers won't even make it through the first book. Like this site suggests, amazing things happen for those readers that persevere.


WOT: What can I say? Jordan's writing is much more adolescent than ASOIAF and Malazan, but it's intentional and Jordan's world is still wonderful. I also agree that Jordan loses focus in a couple of the books. On the other hand, many of the WOT books are as addictive as any out there.


Now...to weigh in on the Sword of Truth debate. I have to agree with those that put it well below the ranks of the series above. The first book is awesome. The second one too. However, Goodkind totally loses focus after that. Goodkind is an Objectivist and likes to spend significant portions of his books giving speeches on his real life philosophies. He does it through his characters, but it becomes very obvious a few books in. Another thing: Goodkind DOES seem to take a lot of his ideas directly from Wheel of Time. I'm talking about really obvious, blatant "borrowings" on not a small number of occasions. In every instance, the WOT idea came first, as evident from the copyright dates. On the positive side, I found his series was a lot of fun. Also, you'll become more emotionally attached to his characters than in the work of many other authors. I'm a big fan of violent, bloody, gritty fantasy. There's no doubt that SOT has all that in spades. It's not a BAD series at all, but it's not anywhere near as good, in my opinion, as anything by Martin or Erickson.


I also loved the First Law series, Acacia series, The Name of the Wind, The Prince of Nothing series (another really complicated series...not as complex in plot as Erickson, but even more complicated in prose), and of course Lord of the Rings.


Finally, there are a couple of series that are really high on my list that I thing deserve attention.


First, the Gentleman Bastard Series. There are two books so far: The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies. These are great medieval, fantasy con-man stories. The first is like Ocean's Eleven crossed with Robin Hood (adding a dash of magic as well). The second is like Ocean's Eleven crossed with Pirates of the Caribbean. Great fun.


Second, and I'm sure I'll take some flack for this, the Harry Potter series. Yes, I realize that these books are written with younger readers in mind. However these books are wonderfully written, wholly original, engrossing, and totally fun for all ages.


I'd welcome comments from any readers: kimchifor3@me.com


Great site! Thanks for all your recommendations! I can't wait to get started on many of the books mentioned that I didn't even know existed.


648157804:
Paul

I recommend reading any of Terry Brooks' series. My favorite is the Sword of Shannara series. They get better the further in you get.

648157810:
Jason

I think david Gemmell should get some hard rep,i think this site is great.

648157813:
Bill

A mighty "hell yeah!" for including CS Friedman's Coldfire trilogy. Although, considering you have it at #4 here, it should be on your top 25 fantasy list, considering you have other series on there that aren't included on this one. Good list, though.

648157820:
m rig

I needed a good reference from somebody that knew good fantasy and am glad I stopped in here. I have read around 75% of the list and have loved most of what I've read.


And to all those haters out there, stick it. Just because somebody makes a list that happens to not include your favorite book series doesn't mean the list was bad at all. It simply means that it didn't make their particular standards or tastes. So like I said, freakin stick it.

648157824:
Dave

I was thrilled to see this series on the list. My mom read them when she was in college and passed them on to me. Great series. I also love the WOT series and think that it was properly placed on this list. I am not familiar with several of the books on this page and I'm excited to read them!

648157828:
Derrick

I thought that this was a great list and I'm excited to start reading a lot of these books.


For anyone out there looking for another good read I think they need to take a look at both of Jim Butchers' series. Codex Alera is an amazingly interesting and exciting series that is an easy read and will keep you hooked the whole way through! The Dresden Files, while more urban fantasy than high fantasy like the series' listed, but it deserves serious consideration. I think it is the best fantasy series on the market today!


Overall great list though, Thanks!

648157829:
Zanos

This is by far the best list of fantasy books that I've seen thus far. A lot of the normal Amazon fare lists a few of the books found here, but this author clearly knows what the more mature (and seasoned) fantasy reader is looking for. I have bookmarked this and have recommended it to friends that are looking for something new, especially after having read Martin or Erikson. The author just keeps throwing up gems with a lengthy description as to WHY it is up there, what makes it stand apart, and what it has or can contribute to the genre.


Great work.

648157833:
Jeff

I agree with the comment that the Belgariad / Mallorean should be on this somewhere

648157843:
LOA

Firstly. To any who keep saying the Sword of Truth series should be up there, well i'm not trying to be mean, but i hated that book with a passion. This is just my opinion, but i found it rubbish.

You get four chapters in and "abra kedabra", now your the sword wielder and only hope of mankinds survival! Well that dropped you in the deep end didnt it!

And the friendship between the two main characters jumps to absolute trust in under a chapter. I don't know about anyone else, but i would not lay down my life for someone i had known for a whole twenty minutes. I mean, i like fast paced books, but that was ridiculous!

I think the whole series is one of the ones where you either love it or you hate it. Unfortunately, i'm a hater.

Sorry, just my opinion.

2. I concur with anyone who thinks Brandon Sandersons new Stormlight Archive books will be awesome. I'm only half-way through the first and i love it!!!

3. I shall be definately coming back to this list to help me expand my book collection! Cheers to the writer.

648157846:
Barb

Thanks for the list. I am currently taking a Masters Course in Fantasy Lit and my husband (who is a devoted fantasy reader) and I were discussing the best of the genre. This was great and a wonderful way for me to pick a few extra books for my thesis.

648157853:
Stephen

I'm glad that Raymond E. Fiest is on the list, because I have finshed all his books and I'm looking for a good seris to start. Thanks for the list, it was really helpful!

648157858:
A;ex

The problem with SoT is that its the same plots rehashed. He gives 20+ page explanations of his ludicrous magic. If it were a 6 book series with faith of the fallen as the middle and the last three condense to one it would be pretty reasonable.

648157863:
Felix

Anyone remember Roger Zelazny? I can't believe no one has mentioned the Chronicles of Amber. Its subject matter does stray a bit from the traditional fantasy path, with some sequences involving cars and automatic weapons, but it's more fantasy than sci-fi. It is also incredibly imaginative, jumping from here to there and everywhere in between in the space of a few pages.

648157872:
k radd

Agreed, this an exceptional list. I have a special place for the Prince of Nothing and First Law series' as well as Ice and Fire of course.


Regarding Harry Potter, I believe it's a little too popular and young to be thrown on a list like this (not too mention overexposed). At least that's the sentiment I get from most fantasy readers. If someone who had as good of a scope of fantasy literature as this author appears to, writes a list in 20 years, it would be difficult to imagine him/her not having Harry Potter on it.


I love the kingkiller chronicle and would have to agree that the Rothfuss will have to string at least 2 good reads together before being as worthy as some of the other reads on this list.

648157876:
Tyler

One of my favorites is the sword of truth series by terry goodkind. I think it deserves to be on this list

648157880:
lok

This is a great list, glad you put it together! Just finished the Conclave of Shadows series by feist and was looking to start another epic. Plenty for starters found in your list and in the comments .


I would say that David Gemmell deserves a place in the top 25, his Rigante and Drenai series were absolutely fantastic (excuse the pun).

648157885:
Dobbie

I haven't read anything on this list except WOT and that's saying a lot because I've read hundreds of fantasy novels. So thanks, you have given me a huge list to plow through.


It's unfortunate the bias against D and D type books, because my favorite series of all time is the core Dragonlance books. Second is the Drizzt-centric Forgotten Realms books. Salvatore is a genius. Third favorite is the Shannara books.

I also enjoyed the Sword of Truth series from Goodkind, and the Mercedes Lackey/James Mallory books (can't remember the two trilogy titles).

And believe it or not, the Gunslinger books from King are quite decent and very unique.

You should pick these up, you'll push some of them onto your list for sure.

648157890:
dchrist

A lot of this list sounds really interesting and I'm definetly gonna check some out. However, I do feel that whoever writes everything on this site is obssessed with George R.R. Martin. He's mentioned on almost every book description, whether to say this book is like his or that it's the complete oppossite. So Site very helpful, but get over your crush on George Martin. haha no offense though his books are excellent though he takes forever I mean come on. Feast for Crows disapointed me in some ways my favorite characters where the ones he didn't mention.

648157894:
Darek

A. Sapkowski's Witcher saga (Wiedzmin) should definately be there somewhere. Its a great saga and I like it as much as I like Game of Thrones or LotR.

648157900:
Djog

I just wanted to thank you for creating this list because it really helped me to select some amazing books that are amazingly written. I shared your selections with my friends and they have all enjoyed your choices very much.


Although I am not sure you would put these books on the list of top 25, I recently read a series the Banned and Banished written by James Clemens the first book being witch fire and to anyone that likes fantasy I think they would really enjoy these books. They are my favorites as of now, but I still need to read more books on your list before I do commit to that. If you find the time, read them, I think you might enjoy them

648157905:
Cam

Slowing working my way through this list. Got to tell you that hopefully there aren't anymore like the Coldfire trilogy. IMO this is a young adult or really a teen series, and in no way should be ahead of Tolkien or some of the others.

648157907:
Brian

Thanks for putting this list together. While I did enjoy Martin's first couple books in the series, the fact that he has completely forgotten about his fan base should get him many notches down the list (IMHO).


He's been promising a completion for too long now. I'd recommend his series only if/when all books have been completed. I'd really hate for anyone to start this with the assumption the story may actually be completed. As your list shows, there are a lot of REALLY great stories out there that have a conclusion.


Start with #2 and work your way down. If Martin ever finishes his series, then I'll start reading his stuff again.

648157912:
Alex

First off, this is an amazing list! I've been very interested in getting more involved with fantasy, and your rankings and descriptions have given me a perfect place to start building my collection!


My only question is your omission of Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. I understand that this is your personal list based on your preferences, but for any fantasy buff, Goodkind's work definitely stands out.

648157917:
John

I was just wondering if you could recommend anymore books like the feist and canavan series that have lots of magic in them. I have found that out of most fantasy books I have read, the ones that have the most magic I seem to enjoy the most

648157919:
Rob

Terry Goodkind's Sword of truth series should really be on the great series list at least.

648157923:
Bhagwad Jal Park

Bookmarking this NOW


Some great lists here. I haven't yet read "Song of Fire and Ice" and I've heard so much about it. I haven't started it yet cause I heard it hasn't been completed...

648157928:
Grant

Very nice list here. Something i will be looking back on quite frequently. Im on a deployment right now and i read at least a book a week while im gone so i always need more fantasy to choose from...im very very surpised however to not see Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series on this list. That series is by far the best i have ever read. The only series of books i have ever read where after i finished the last page i would pick up the next book....very amazing series to anyone who likes fantasy

648157933:
SG Lee

I appreciate all these suggestions!

And to John who is looking for more "magical" series definitely check out the McKillip and Nix books here- they are wonderful though a bit different- they are different in the best way. And check out the original "Dragonlance" series (beginning with "Dragons of Autumn Twilight")- the 2nd series turned me off to reading further ones but the 1st? Mmm-mm, magnifique!

648157938:
Aili

The Sword or Truth series NEEDS to be on here. Best, Modern. Epic. Series. EVER

648157944:
sb

Thanks for the great list, I picked up a lot of great reading material from your site!!!


I would highly recommend reading Dave Duncan, he is fairly prolific and successful, yet completely overlooked by almost of such ranks and lists.


His most popular work is the Seventh Sword series (the first book is The Reluctant Swordsman) although his best work by far is the Great Game Trilogy. His writing is very polished, characters wonderfully realized, and world(s) vibrant and intriguing. But he actually distinguishes himself by writing conceptually new and unique plots.


Give his series a shot, you won't be dissapointed

648157948:
RA

Thanks for compiling this list. While I have not read as many of them as you, nor do I agree with all of your selections, GRRM's is the best fiction I've ever read and the Farseer books are also favourites of mine.


I can recommend that you read The Long Price Quartet of books by Daniel Abraham, it belongs on that list.


Thanks and keep up the good work

648157951:
Martin

Hunter's Oath and Hunter's Death should, accoridng to me, figure on one of your lists.


cheers

648157958:
Bartholemues

You're having a laugh right? A list of the best fantasy series with no mention of Guy Gavriel Kay's near perfect Sarantine Mosaic!? Even his lesser Fionavar Trilogy is better than most of the series on your list...

648157961:
Names_Dont_Matter

The witcher books are being ported over to english but their popularity will rise. Especially after the witcher 2 is released.


The only downside atm is only 2 books in the saga is finished english. however once fully released I expect it would be hard to keep out of the top10.


You should have listed Tolkien as a must read for everyone and its no#1. imo wheel of time and lotr are 1-2. Saying otherwise is pretty much a lie to attract interest in other authors.


No offense but Martin's books sucked, I think he bit off more than he can chew and it shows by his 2nd book.


my top 5:


1) LOTR

2) The Wheel of Time

3) The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss)

4) R.A. Salvatore - All his books from 1988-2001, after that its like he loses is touch. (prolly due to rushed writing, or maybe he just doesn't care anymore)

5) Robin Hobb (The Farseer Trilogy, Liveship Traders Trilogy , The Tawny Man Trilogy , Soldier Son Trilogy)


Skip robin hobb's The Rain Wild Chronicles, I have no idea what she was thinking.


Worth mentioning: Brandon Sanderson and his work on WoT and previous Mistborn series.

648157966:
anynmonys

"A Song of Ice and Fire is a **starkly** real treatment of the horror of war and conquest of lands, of rape and pillage and revenge, and man's ultimate fight against extinction."

648157971:
AC

The Sword of Truth doesn't even deserve a mention, it is awful. I made my way through the first book, which I thought was bad. Then a friend of mine begged me to at least try the second and I did. I cringed and groaned my way through some more of Goodkind's epic and it was painful. Apparently it even gets worse, though surely no human being has ever finished all of his books. Everyone has their own opinions, but when there's a vast number of people who feel the way I do (that Goodkind is a terrible author and his books are crap), well maybe it's common sentiment.


Glad to see the Farseer Trilogy up there, as well as Abercrombie's First Law. Also loving Malazan so high, what an epic.

648157976:
robert

i kno the first one barely came out but just taking a glimpse into the next 10 yrs of fantasy by saying that brandon sandersons the stormlight archive will be one of the best series of all time!

648157983:
Sean

I agree that "The Name of the Wind" is groundbreaking fantasy, in fact i've never read anything quite like it but beware it is not quite a series just yet, the book has been out for a number of years now and the second book of the trilogy is not due out until 2011, at this rate you'll have forgotten the characters and plot and really i've too much on my book shelf to re-read any novel. So hold off until the series is complete and then i'm sure you'll enjoy them immensely.

648157992:
WarmHen

Absolutely terrific books-must read for any fantasy fan. Loved Brandon Sanderson books, Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind was superb. Couldn't get into Feist's books. Will try some other recommendations here. LOTR is the all-time best ever.

648157997:
Jacob

Whereas Robert Jordan defined fantasy from 1990 on, Cook was the one who did it before him. The Black Company series definitely deserves some recognition, even if it's still just a cult favorite. He's the one who brought fantasy down from the "high and mighty" of Tolkien to the human level; he added the realistic touch.


And I agree, Badkind deserves no recognition whatsoever.

648158004:
Ryan

Thanks for compilling this list, I will be using to compile my future reading list.


Haven't seen anyone else mention the Eddings series, the Belgariad and the Mallorean. I realize they may not be the most sophisticated books ever, but they drew me and a bunch of my friends into the genre.

648158014:
veefer750

I'm surprised you don't have the Belgariad listed at all, I immensely enjoyed that series.

648158035:
veefer750

Oops, didn't see the post immediately before mine, wasn't trying pile on.

648158038:
Shauwn

First, I'd like to say I love the site.. Second, it seems you put a lot of time and effort with the rating, review, and ranking process over all these series... However, as I scanned through the list, I noticed you didn't have a series on here that is definitely a top 10 epic series in my honest opinion.. The series is,,,,


"The Wayfarer's Redemption" by (Sarah Douglas)


This series completely blew me away.. It's got everything you want in a fantasy epic series.. Not only that, it's also very unpredictable and filled with awesome, lovable, lifelike characters, races, and cultures..


I've read almost 100 novels, mostly Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and of course non WOTC/TSR fantasy like Feist, Eddings, Goodkind, GEORGE R R MARTIN, Sanderson, JV Jones, etc.. The Wayfarer's redemption is my 2nd favorite NON TSR/WOTC fantasy epic series.. My favorite of course is A Song of Ice and Fire by Martin..


Since you put Martin's ASOIAF at #1, I'm very surprised and shocked not to see Sarah Douglas's Wayfarer redemption even mentioned in the top 25.. Did you not read the series yet? If not, do yourself a favor and read it IMMEDIATELY.. I'm sure after you get done, you'll have it in the top 10..

648158052:
EnOne

I would recommend The Belgariadand series and The Malloreon series by David and Leigh Eddings as two of the best fantasy series out there.


Belgariad

www.amazon.com


Malloreon 1-3

www.amazon.com


Malloreon 4-5

www.amazon.com

648158057:
Monika

I agree with Shauwn's comment below. This is a great series and for anyone who has not read it you shoud do so immediatey. this series had gone through my workplace like fire and I have not had one bad report about it.


Thanks for the list I have a lot of reading to do starting with A Song of Ice & Fire - I have had book one for a long tmie but have never really got past the first page.


Happy rading everyone

648158068:
Shauwn

Monika,


Thanks for agreeing with me regarding the Wayfarer's Redemption series. It truly is an epic masterpiece.. With that said, George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is actually even better.. Take it from someone who loved Wayfarer's Redemption probably as much as you have..


I will be honest though, the first half of A Game of Thrones is really an introduction phase of most of the characters and major houses within. There are ALOT of names being thrown at you from every angle so to speak, lol.. Once you get through about half the book, you'll soon get better affiliated with the houses, characters, and of course the overall storyline being unraveled. However, even after reading book 4, Martin is an expert at keeping the reader guessing as to which path certain characters will take, and the outcome of their story Arc.. The way he writes, you'll swear that a certain character will do this and that only to realize it didn't happen the way you predicted.. In a way, I love this! Most novels are straight edged and is pretty easy to ascertain and figure out halfway through the first book which annoys me..


Once you get through half the book, I'm sure it will be tough for you to put it down.. It's the same thing through books 2, 3, and 4.. That's how incredibly awesome the series is..


Anyway, I hope you enjoy the series.

648158074:
Chris

I have read all of Feist's books, all of Jordan's books, The death gate cycle, and the Runelords. I love all of these books especially the heavy use of magic that they have. I would really appreciate anyone that has more suggestions on books with heavy use of magic. I also enjoyed the banned and bewitched series so I would really appreciate any similar suggestions.

648158079:
Yoshi

Its a shame that he was not added to the list this man

has published some amazing books the word and the void trilogy

being one of the best by him so far.

648158080:
Ryan

Chris,


I just started reading (just finished first book) the Malazan Book of the Fallen series based upon the recommendation on this site. It is very magic heavy. If you can get past the first 150 or so pages (I almost quit reading, but I'm glad I didn't) the first book gets really good. I would also highly recommend the David Eddings books in the two series the Belgariad and the Mallorean.

648158083:
michael carey

One of my all time favorite series is Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. It runs the gambit from heavy magic to graphic violence to fantasy romance. I love the quality and depth of charecter development he put into the stories.


Also Richard A. Knaak was the author who first got me hooked on fantasy with The Dragonrealm series. They were a good YA series I would put a step above the Dragonlance books.

648158087:
janine

i cant believe robert jordan was higher up on the list than robin hobb. After seeing this, your opinion on books was nullified in my books.

648158092:
Kevin

Keep an eye on Sanderson. His writing has been of the highest quality since his debut, and still continues to improve. Not only that, he writes *fast*. Eagerly awaiting the next in his Stormlight Archive (Mistborn was also good).

648158098:
JG

Janine, after seeing that you think robin hobb should be higher than Robert Jordan I believe your opinion is null and void. But oh wait....that's right, it's an opinion and every one is entitled to it. For the record I've read both series and like jordan's better, but that doesn't mean you'll come out feeling the same way. Please don't leave meaningless and thoughtless comments like that, it only serves to disparage yourself.

648158104:
Kendra

The first series I have ever read in fanatsy was The Belgariad from David Eddings. My mom showed me these wonderful series when I was twelve years old and since then I have been reading fanatsy with a passion and have read many books since then, so to my demise I do not find this mentioned anywhere within your list. These books are AMAZING and are a true gift of individuality....they are a MUST READ!!!

648158108:
silentbob

while i am a big fan of many of the series on this list, and also the wayfarer redemption, i feel it lacks one very important author and series. Jaquelin Carey and the "Kushiel" series. one can argue that it is a little on the romantic fantasy side, but what she has done with the story is absolutely incredible. anyone that has not read this series needs to go and read "Kushiel's Dart".

648158112:
Emil

It is hard to take any list serious that does not include Gene Wolfe's epic classic, recently voted by its peers as the best fantasy series after The Lord of the Rings.

648158115:
Emil

It is hard to take any list serious that excludes Gene Wolfe's literary work "The Book of The New Sun." His creative grasp and imprint and prolificacy are so unmistakeably manifest that one may plausibly use the word "great" in describing his work.


So blurbed George RR Martin: "The books are chests full of wonders, full of images like jewels, of words a reader can get drunk on, of people and incidents that will linger long in memory. For years and years to come, I think, we'll see inferior imitation of Wolfe's masterpiece decked out with the phrase 'In the tradition of Wolfe,' for that is the tribute all great originals are inevitably paid."


Any synoptic view of a collective enterprise such as the genre of fantasy must necessarily deal with those writers of influence, whether or not we have a high opinion of their oevres as autonomous works of art. The Book of The New Sun is essential Dying Earth fantasy, what Jack Vance's Tales of The Dying Earth should have been. The series has been hailed as one of the most important efforts of imaginative literature ever. In scope, symbolism and popularity is has been favorably compared to The Lord of the Rings, even Peake's monumental Gormenghast, as well as Dune. Only because of its quasi-historical and spiritual overtones is The Book of the New Sun considered as sword and sorcery fantasy, but more properly the series is (maybe) the greatest representative yet of the Dying Earth group of science fanatasies, an ambiguous borderland of imaginative literature where science and magic are combined or misinterpreted. Apart from aforementioned works, the only other series I consider to be close to this, is the Song of Ice and Fire saga.

648158116:
Nick

Terry Goodkind has a similarly epic series to that of Robert Jordan; his sword of truth series is well-written, and philosophically intriguing, although his characters tend to get somewhat white-knighted later in the series, and there are a couple misses in the batch. Nevertheless, his attention to detail is superb, and really deserves mention.


Also, while you make mention of the Furies of Calderon, by now the entire series is out. I thought that series was very well conceived, the more so because it was conceived on a dare that nobody could write a good story on the premise of Romans and Pokemon. How wrong that person was! It is full of compelling and complicated characters, epic battles, political maneuvering, all kinds of excellent plot twists, romance, moments of great poignancy, and wisdom in many forms. It is a series as much surprising for its humanity as much as its unique view of magic, and really deserves more mention.


Finally, I also note that David Gemmell is missing from here. I have to say, nobody does the hero and his tragic fall better than David Gemmell, and he has several fine series. I think they're probably worth mentioning!

648158119:
Cassie

hi i just wanted to say that i think you have done a great job with this list because there is something for everyone and thats what a good list of fantasy books should look like but i would like to make a suggestion incase you revise this list or create a new one, my suggestion is James Clemens and his Banned & Banished series because (I personally think) that its hasa good mix of all the different elements that we love about fantasy books xxxxxx

648158121:
Dan

Thanks for putting together such a good list. I've read a lot of fantasy, but you still helped me find two series that I hadn't read yet, and were very entertaining, by J.V. Jones and Greg Keyes. I still have a couple more to read from your list - I'm trying Donaldson now. Also, just a heads up, it looks like your book links have been moved down one item each (i.e., the series' descriptions are beside book links for the preceding series). Again, thanks for the list!

648158126:
Will

This list is probably the best thing that happened to me, I'm almost 20, yet for most of my life I've been reading "kid-quality" fantasy, some good, but none as deep as "A Game of Thrones" or the Farseer Series. I've made the transistion into the deeper, more complex fantasy novels and have left the likes of Harry Potter behind (I'll always have a soft spot for those books, Rowling was really good at creating an interesting, lighthearted life at Hogwarts for her characters, but to be honest, her writing skills aren't amazing, far from it, all of the characters were flat, Harry often being downright annoying and completely irrational, etc).


I can't thank you enough for giving me some direction into the realm of fantasy books, before I had only scratched the surface and didn't delve deeper into the genre due to the massive amount of crappy fantasy books. Again, thanks so much, know that you've created a passionate fan of Fantasy books, and have helped me move from flat, boring, fantasy novels to rich, deep, eloquent epic tales infinitely better than the likes of Harry Potter or Eragon.

648158129:
jshadow58

impressive. I've been to a bunch of sites and different list looking for something exciting and new in fantasy. This list is by far the most interesting that i've come across in some time, thank you.

and i will give you the obligatory "shame on you" for not having the best epic fantasy series ever written hands down ever period, not having it number one. Our adventurous minds can grasp the complex plots and story lines of mr. jordan and we like it.

648158135:
C Lowry

I am having a very hard time understanding why you do not have R.A Salvator's Dark elf trilogy anywhere on these lists...It is just such an amazingly deep and rich story of one of the greater fantasy characters (in my opinion)of all time! drizzt do'urden.Anyone out there that loves great fantasy with very deep story lines and very in depth characters would very much enjoy reading this trilogy! His other Books that are of the same World and characters are also very immense and fulfilling reads!

648158138:
andy

This is a very good list and Martin is rightfully on top. JV Jones would rank a bit higher on my scale but all in all a good list with one exception. I realize this might be considered to cookie cutter but eregon, eldest, and brisingr are some damn good books by paolini. Childish or not they belong on the list. Lastly I think in a few years sanderson's stormlight archive will be high on this list.

648158141:
Jen

Well, I found this one by accident at my local library but have been pleasantly surprised. It's good stuff...lots of action, intrigue, magic, "woken" animals, brilliantly inventful worlds.


ROBERT V.S. REDICK - First two books of the trilogy are available with the third coming in 2011. The first is "The Red Wolf Conspiracy" and the second is "The Ruling Sea". Try them, you won't be disappointed.

648158149:
Nabil

While it may seem very cliche, and the first book might very well be the definition of cliche, the way the books develop after that is just mindblowing.


And best of all, the characters are so very real and you really come to love them and feel their pain and emotions.

648158152:
Rebecca

Thanks, this list is absolutely awesome. I got into fantasy when i started out in high school, our library was pretty limited, but Robert Jordan remains to be my favorite author of all time. I wanted to give a kudos to some other authors that weren't mentioned that I thought were pretty great series for anyone interested. Terry Brooks and the Shannara series (loved it), Raymond E Fiest, and David Eddings (aimed at a younger audience, still awesome)

I will definitely be checking some of these other series out!

648158158:
Ian Oliver

I read GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire, and it's right to place it in number one IMO. Though Steven Erikson's Malazan book of the fallen should be placed in the second place, because it is real "epic fantasy". But great list all in all. To add I also read Mistborn, LotR, The first law, and Kingkiller chronicles, and they totally blew my mind.


Cheers to the writer!

648158161:
Chris

Thanks for the list, lots of great books and authors on there! I'm looking forward to some new reads as well!


Was just going to say that if you haven't already, give Carol Berg a try. I've read everything she's put out to date and love pretty much all of it. Just a suggestion! Thanks for yous!

648158169:
Janny wurts

This is a great list. Definitely given me some ideas on what I should read next but what about the wars of light and shadow by janny wurts. I reckon they deserve a place somewhere on here.






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