Post your own Top 25 Best Fantasy Books

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#21
Perhaps magic system is the wrong term, there's magic in the book but not a lot. Remember The Bondsmagi of Karthain ?
And those creepy animals that were modified somehow to be docile.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#22
I don't see how it being challenging is any more valuable than entertaining. I could read a book in another language and it would be one helluva challenge but that wouldn't necessarily make the book good or worth reading. I guess the same goes for interpretation. Most people will have different interpretations than others on almost everything they read. And I would say you also have to consider author intent. Did the author write something intentionally to leave it open for interpretation or did they simply forget to tie up a loose end or option c, couldn't figure out how they wanted to answer their own writing?

And lastly to bring back the whole entertainment thing. Any author who isn't writing say a history or biography for example, has to keep some entertainment in mind because if you aren't keeping the reader engaged and interested they won't finish your books anyway.
I don't understand why people think I'm being anti-entertainment. I never said ANYTHING to indicate I think there is something with being entertaining. Most of the time I simply just don't care that much for novels written purely for entertainment's sake. As for your comment on language that doesn't make any since. How good a novel is is determined simply by how strong its literary elements are, things like characterization, plot, theme, style, etc. The way an author uses these elements is what makes a novel challenging, easy, entertaining, or not entertaining. Many popular novels people find entertaining are weak on many of these literary elements. A lot of challenging novels are great because the reader has to dig beyond the text and into the subtext to understand character motivations, or to see subtle foreshadowing at work. This challenge is a major reward for readers who persist through to the end. Now a novel doesn't have to be challenging to be great but it should reward the reader for their effort in some way. Likewise a lot of challenging novels are crap, either because they are boring slogs, or because of poor editing or for any number of reasons. You're right about author intent. It's the reader's job to interpret a work and try to determine author intent, which may or may not be part of enjoyment. As for history and biographies I disagree. Unless the author means to write purely for an academic audience there should be some entertainment value in what they write. Biographies are often times one of the most entertaining ways to learn history.
 

sopranosfan

Journeyed there and back again
#23
I don't understand why people think I'm being anti-entertainment. I never said ANYTHING to indicate I think there is something with being entertaining. Most of the time I simply just don't care that much for novels written purely for entertainment's sake. As for your comment on language that doesn't make any since. How good a novel is is determined simply by how strong its literary elements are, things like characterization, plot, theme, style, etc. The way an author uses these elements is what makes a novel challenging, easy, entertaining, or not entertaining. Many popular novels people find entertaining are weak on many of these literary elements. A lot of challenging novels are great because the reader has to dig beyond the text and into the subtext to understand character motivations, or to see subtle foreshadowing at work. This challenge is a major reward for readers who persist through to the end. Now a novel doesn't have to be challenging to be great but it should reward the reader for their effort in some way. Likewise a lot of challenging novels are crap, either because they are boring slogs, or because of poor editing or for any number of reasons. You're right about author intent. It's the reader's job to interpret a work and try to determine author intent, which may or may not be part of enjoyment. As for history and biographies I disagree. Unless the author means to write purely for an academic audience there should be some entertainment value in what they write. Biographies are often times one of the most entertaining ways to learn history.
I think it is just a difference of opinion based on my literary knowledge compared to yours. You seem to know a lot more about literature than I do, I'm a math teacher, so I don't look for or notice things you and others on here tend to see. You create an interesting world with interesting characters and I'm your Huckleberry.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#24
I don't understand why people think I'm being anti-entertainment. I never said ANYTHING to indicate I think there is something with being entertaining.
It probably comes from you saying this.

The fact its written primary for entertainment value is problematic.
It seems pretty clear fro this that you are anti-entertainment since you specifically state that something being entertaining is problematic.

As for your comment on language that doesn't make any since. How good a novel is is determined simply by how strong its literary elements are, things like characterization, plot, theme, style, etc. The way an author uses these elements is what makes a novel challenging, easy, entertaining, or not entertaining.
It does make since given the context. You said "if a book doesn't challenge you then what is the point?". So I mentioned how reading a book in another language would be challenging and that wouldn't make it a good book and I could also ask what is the point of reading something so challenging?

And as much as we can try to set a standard of measurement for these things they are ultimately subjective. So who decides what makes a plot good? For example I personally think the best plots are simply ones that keep you intrigued and excited about what will come next. It could even have some holes in it but as long as it keeps you hooked it is gold.

This challenge is a major reward for readers who persist through to the end. Now a novel doesn't have to be challenging to be great but it should reward the reader for their effort in some way.
Firstly, that would only feel rewarding to some people. Others might find it tiresome. Secondly, I agree that what you read should reward your effort in some way and in some cases that reward is simply reading something that keeps you entertained.

So coming full circle, I think you initially way too hard on the value of entertainment and how it relates to how good a book is.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#25
Ok whatever guy's. People can like what they like. I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem with people thinking their subjective view is right simply because a lot of other people agree with them. People need to be able to justify their opinions with sound reasoning.

And as much as we can try to set a standard of measurement for these things they are ultimately subjective. So who decides what makes a plot good? For example I personally think the best plots are simply ones that keep you intrigued and excited about what will come next. It could even have some holes in it but as long as it keeps you hooked it is gold.
That's a tough one isn't it. Certainly the complexity of a plot has a lot to do with how good it is but certainly that's not everything. A plot that can't keep a reader hooked isn't much of a plot no matter how hard to figure out it is. The thing to keep in mind about plot holes is that sometimes writer will deliberately leave plot holes and then fill them later. Also sometimes random plot points will seem to come out of nowhere. The question here is was the plot point actually random or does it seem random because the reader missed some ambiguous clues? This is what makes Malazan so damn challenging. If you the reader isn't paying close attention then they're going to miss some things and thus the progression of the plot will seem disjointed (disjointed plots can very well be a good thing). It's easiest for people to appreciate these types of things when they re-read books.

Firstly, that would only feel rewarding to some people. Others might find it tiresome. Secondly, I agree that what you read should reward your effort in some way and in some cases that reward is simply reading something that keeps you entertained.
If you find it tiring that probably means you're reading too fast and need to slow down a bit. Maybe a few pages or a chapter of the really difficult book per day and then read an easier book in accompaniment with it. There are some books I've had to do that with and as a result I enjoyed them much more than I would have otherwise.
 

Griffin

Journeyed there and back again
#26
Quite a bit later than stated, but I'll give it a go. Beware, I haven't read all that much, so this is contemporary and will look a lot different in the future.

1. Malazan Book of the Fallen - Steven Erikson
The sheer complexity of worldbuilding and intertwining plot structures is so immense that after reading these enormous tomes you feel like you've only scraped the surface. Gritty characters and sometimes good comic relief that deliver unique stories. The best epic fantay has to offer.

2. Stormlight Archive - Brandon Sanderson
A enriched world with an intriguing history and mysterious events. Barely two books of the ten written and already among the best there is. Words of Radiance certainly the best of the two books as Kaladin's story in the first had some boring elements. Unique social structures and plenty of magical actions promise only more to come in the next installments. His plot structures are great: one book is a trilogy of books peppered with short story POV's in between them.

3. Mistborn Trilogy - Brandon Sanderson
Breakthrough material. Highly imaginative magic system and a great cast of characters. Top-notch heist story in The Final Empire and without a doubt the strongest of the three books.

4. Gentlemen Bastard Sequence - Scott Lynch
Eloquent writer and superb storyweaver Lynch has created breathtaking low-magic fantasy with con artist Locke Lamore and his sidekick. The first book is the best of the bunch, the following books are nonetheless amazing as well.

5. A Song of Ice and Fire - George R.R. Martin
A father of modern fantasy. Great take on medieval fantasy with absolutely stunning characterisation and lifelike plots and twists in a backstabbing, raw society. A bit of a shame that Martin lost oversight of the bigger story and moving the plot forward.

6. The Kingkiller Chronicles - Patrick Rothfuss
Potentially Martin's offspring? Another eloquent writer and master storyteller. Great frame story about the life of Kvothe. Afraid Rothfuss wil need more than one book to finish his story and even more afraid he'll need monstrous amounts of time to finish his story.

7. Lightbringer - Brent Weeks
Entertaining books with a unique magic system and several amazing characters. Some great action scenes.

8. Empire trilogy - Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts
Amazing Asianlike world of Kelewan that tells the rise of a house in a society based on tradition. One of the strongest female characters I've read about.

9. The Folding Knife - K.J. Parker
Really strong novel about the rise and collapse of a politician with a gift from economics.

10. Tales of the Kin - Douglas Hulick
Fantasy and thiefs, it's like two sides of a coin. Reminiscent of the Gentlemen Bastard Sequence we read about gangs and brotherhoods at each others throats. Drothe and Degan work really good together and they have a great relationship, even when under duress.

11. The Prince of Nothing - R. Scott Bakker
Only read the first book but a really strong debut with splendid characterisation and believable stories. Great construct about the Holy War similar to the first Crusade.

12. Malazan Empire - Ian C. Esslemont
Great expansions in the Malazan world. Esslemont had to find his ground, but improved immensely and manages to deliver the typical Malazan atmosphere and story structures. We get stories we've only heard about or glimpsed at in MBotF.

13. The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
He who made fantasy popular. Species and languages abound. A story of epic proportions. Delivered splendidly.

14. The Powder Mage Trilogy - Brian McClellan
Fast paced trilogy in a unique flintlock setting that manages to give us a exemplary look on the violent transition from the old world monarchy and the first dabbles at democracy. Together with politicking and marching armies McClellan created something outstanding here.

15. The Shadow Campaigns - Django Wexler
Another flintlock setting with a chaotic revolution. More military tactics in the first book and really good characters, while the second one gives us Wexler's version of the French Revolution. Varied story.

16. The Worldbreaker Saga - Kameron Hurley
Truely unique worldbuilding with an emphasis on social constructs. The story is gritty, no-nonsense and leaves you wanting for more.

17. Shattered Sea - Joe Abercrombie
Amazing YA trilogy by Lord Grimdark. He really knows how to make mankind shine. Simple in story and amazing in execution.

18. The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne - Brian Staveley
Well-written epic fantasy that moves like a train. Amazing second book.

19. Raven's Shadow - Anthony Ryan
Masterful debut. Decent sequel. High hopes for the concluding third book.

20. Night Angel Trilogy - Brent Weeks
Only read the first book. Already showing the quality of Lightbringer, but still a bit rough around the edges sometimes. Really intriguing characters.

21. The Macht Trilogy - Paul Kearney
Amazing military fantasy based on the Greeks, especially The Ten Thousand.

22. The Faithful and the Fallen - John Gwynne
Humans, giants, magic objects, celtic vibe, lots of actions, some great personalities.

23. City of Stairs - Robert Jackson Bennett
A comprehensive, fleshed out story in a great setting.

24. The Iron Druid Chronicles - Kevin Hearne
Just really fun urban fantasy.

25. Vicious - V.E. Schwab/Drakenfeld - Mark Charan Newton
Two really fun books, the first about people who develop abilities because of a reason I won't mention here, the other about a detective in an imaginative fantasy setting.

Almost, but not quite:

Milkseed Triptych - Ian Tregillis (only read Bitter Seeds)
The Dagger and the Coin - Daniel Abraham
The Broken Empire - Mark Lawrence
The Wheel of Time - Robert Jordan (& Brandon Sanderson)
The Inheritance Triloy - N.K. Jemisin

Demon Cycle - Peter V. Brett
 
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TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#30
Guys I've permalinked your lists in the opening post so if you ever decide to edit, add, delete or whatever you can always find your list with no problems no matter how big this thread grows due to discussion posts.
Nice touch :)
 

Fatal Rose

Killed a Balrog
#32
My top fantasy books in order (Subject to change)


1. A Song Of Ice And Fire 10/10: Easily the best series available. The only series I've started that I absolutely HAD to finish. No other series has done this to me. Other series I can take a break from at times, this I couldn't. This also includes all the Novellas and the World Of Ice And Fire book.

2. King Killer Chronicles 9.9/10: Amazing characterization that tells an unforgettable journey. Every character seems so real. This is an epic coming of age personal journey through an awesome fantasy world.

3. The Traitor Son Cycle 9.8/10: Awesome new series, highly recommended! I love knights and medieval fantasy with awesome swordplay. This has it all with an awesome story and magic system.

4. Lyonesse Trilogy 10/10: Utterly enchanting. Amazing literary poetic like prose done right. G.G. Kay , Patricia Mkhillip, and Ursula K. Leguin can learn from Vance. Their stories are a boring chore to read with highly unrealistic characters.

5. Kingdoms Of Thorn And Bone 9.8/10: Criminally underrated. The ending left a lot to be desired however the overall series is amazing.

6. Mary Stewart Arthurian saga 9.9/10: must read for all Merlin/Arthurian fans!

7. Chronicles of the Black Company trilogy 9.8/10: Military epic awesome fantasy with a cool world and magic system. Awesome characters too.

8. The Farseer Trilogy 9.7/10: Freaking AWESOME! Deep characterization, thoughtful plot and world. It's just a deep wonderful read. Fitz is a tad dumb sometimes though.

9. Gentleman Bastards trilogy 9.8/10: Fun read. Awesome world building with a great cast of characters.

10. Narnia series 10/10: Easily one of the best. You don't have to be Christian to enjoy this
series.

11. The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson 10/10: poops on LOTR and Hobbit, far superior in all aspects with far better characterization! How JRRT is given more praise and his books are rated higher than Poul Amdersons I'll never understand!

12. Three Hearts, Three Lions 9.9/10: still stacks up well today.

13. Paul Kearney Macht 9.8/10: seriously underrated!!!!

14. Night Angel trilogy 9/10: I listened to the Graphic audio versions. Insanely fun and entertaining.

15. Benedict Flynn King Arthur 9.9/10: it was too short! I listened to the audio book read by Sean bean with music and sound effects!

16. Memory, Sorrow, And Thorn 8.9/10: Awesome trilogy! Hope he writes more in this world.

17. Steven Brust Vlad Taltos 7/10: just getting into this series, liking it so far.

18. The Chronicles Of The Deryni 7.9/10: I've only just started, rating may change after I read further into the series. Great so far though.

19. Deverry 7.6/10: Only two books in, interesting so far. Good celtic fantasy.

20. Elantris 7.5/10: Solid awesome standalone. Awesome lore and magic.

21. The Broken Empire Trilogy 7/10: Almost finished with this trilogy and I must say its pretty freaking exciting. No wasted words, straight to the point. I do wish the books were a bit longer though.

22. The Wheel Of Time 6.9/10: My first fantasy. Special place in my heart. The series drags and it feels like you don't get enough attention paid to the characters you like. For me it was Galad and Gawyn. It's worth finishing though. However I can hardly remember anything that happened in the middle 7 books or so. It's sad because the series starts off great and ends great, the middle is boring though.

23. Mistborn 7/10

24. Thomas covenant 7.5/10: good so far, not finished with the series though.

25. Lost years of Merlin 7/10: good YA book.


Chronicles of Amber is no longer in my top 25 for now.

26. Chronicles of Amber 7/10: only one book in, I liked it. Fizzled off toward the end, going to give the other books a read eventually.
 
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Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#33
My top fantasy books in order (Subject to change)
Note: I almost exclusively do audiobooks. For me it enhances the experience. I also love radio dramatization and Graphic audio versions.


A Song Of Ice And Fire 10/10: Easily the best series available. The only series I've started that I absolutely HAD to finish. No other series has done this to me. Other series I can take a break from at times, this I couldn't. This also includes all the Novellas and the World Of Ice And Fire book.

The Traitor Son Cycle 9.8/10: Awesome new series, highly recommended! I love knights and medieval fantasy with awesome swordplay. This has it all with an awesome story and magic system.

King Killer Chronicles 9.9/10: Amazing characterization that tells an unforgettable journey. Every character seems so real. This is an epic coming of age personal journey through an awesome fantasy world.

Lyonesse Trilogy 9.9/10: Utterly enchanting. Amazing literary poetic like prose done right. G.G. Kay , Patricia Mkhillip, and Ursula K. Leguin can learn from Vance. Their stories are a boring chore to read with highly unrealistic characters.

Kingdoms Of Thorn And Bone 9/10: Criminally underrated. The ending left a lot to be desired however the overall series is amazing.

The Farseer Trilogy 9.9/10: Freaking AWESOME! Deep characterization, thoughtful plot and world. It's just a deep wonderful read.

Gentleman Bastards trilogy 9.7/10: Fun read. Awesome world building with a great cast of characters.

Chronicles of the Black Company trilogy 9/10: Military epic awesome fantasy with a cool world and magic system. Awesome characters too.

The Wheel Of Time 8/10: My first fantasy. Special place in my heart. The series drags and it feels like you don't get enough attention paid to the characters you like. For me it was Galad and Gawyn. It's worth finishing though.

Memory, Sorrow, And Thorn 9/10: Awesome trilogy! Hope he writes more in this world.

Night Angel trilogy 9/10: I listened to the Graphic audio versions. Insanely fun and entertaining.

Three Hearts, Three Lions 9.9/10: still stacks up well today.

Narnia series 10/10: Easily one of the best. You don't have to be Christian to enjoy this series.

The Chronicles Of The Deryni 7.9/10: I've only just started, rating may change after I read further into the series. Great so far though.

Deverry 7.8/10: Only two books in, interesting so far.

Elantris 8.5/10: Solid awesome standalone. Awesome lore and magic.

Demon Cycle 8/10: the first book is soooo awesome. 2 and 3 are good. Series lost its magic a bit but still a fun read. Check out the graphic audio versions.
You mentioned Deverry! Not many people have read that series. I couldn't find that much information about it on this site either. I've just finished the entire series, and I must say it was quite rewarding. I'd give it a 7.5/10.
 

sopranosfan

Journeyed there and back again
#34
  1. A Song of Ice and Fire. The first 3 are the most entertaining and solidly written books I have ever read and the last two are good but they do tend to pale in comparison of the first 3. If I made a list of my top 25 favorite individual books the first 3 would probably be in my top 10-15.
  2. Stormlight Archive. I know it's only 2 books in and I know it's probably nothing new or groundbreaking but it is simply enjoyable and that is the only reason I read.
  3. Farseer Trilogy. Wow. I read somewhere about her mastery with human relationships and I agree 110%. I have rarely felt what characters feel the way I did in this series. Except for a little boring part at the beginning of the third book I though the entire series was amazing.
  4. American Gods. This will probably be my first of many controversial picks but it's my list and I loved this book. Why? I don't know how else to say it but I was mesmerized by the characters and I loved the endings.
  5. Demon Cycle. I know this is probably my most controversial but I stand by it. Yes there is too much sex and yes Innevera's backstory was boring but I adore the world. To me it is like Skyrim in the way I just enjoy being in and walking around the world.
  6. Malazan Book of the Fallen. I told you I went back and forth a lot I moved this after the somewhat disappointing conclusion and rethinking on the series. I really, really like the series and I have a feeling that if I ever go back and read it I will like it more. I almost put it lower because of the fact I often find myself wondering what the hell happened because I feel like I am missing something important. But the world and story are incredible and the story is also complex and amazing, especially once you figure it out.
  7. Dresden Files. Great characters, good humor, and lots of action. These just keep getting better. Butcher is a great world builder having built and then built upon again an amazing world that somehow makes sense and he truly had improved as a writer in every book.
  8. The Stand. Not 100% sure it's fantasy but to me it's got enough fantasy elements that I'm going to put it here.
  9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane: Short but amazing. Gaiman's storytelling is the best I have encountered. They really are just like somebody telling you great stories. Once I have read more and try to limit the books by authors I may remove but as of now they both deserved to be on here.
  10. City of Stairs. Kind of nervous putting a single book out of a series this high but it has everything I look for in a book, new world, lots of fantastical creatures and gods, and a story that kept me guessing.
  11. Wheel of Time. The middle 3-4 books were mind numbing lay boring and Jordan had a tendency to repeat actions and sayings a lot over the course of the series but ignoring those, which I couldn't completely do, it was a great story and probably the most popular farm boy with a sword story ever.
  12. The Dark Tower. This would be my first introduction to fantasy as a huge Stephen King fan I started reading these before I even knew they were fantasy and finished them when they came out. I remember very few details but I remember loving parts and being disappointed at times. I hope to reread these soon and it may move up or down based on that.
  13. Harry Potter. Forgot about this one. It was probably my second time with a fantasy series. I remember loving it and devouring the books as soon as they come out and reading The Half Blood Prince in under 48 hours. I doubt I would enjoy them quite as much now but I have no doubt I would still enjoy them.
  14. Mistborn. Just like Stormlight Archive it is simply enjoyable to read Sanderson's writing.
  15. The Witcher: Really cool world and an awesome protagonist. The world is full of interesting characters and creatures with enough political intrigue and backstabbing to make GRRM happy. The biggest negative with the series is Geralt's relative lack of emotions make him a little hard to connect with. The good thing is Ciri adds the relatAble main character. I recently moved this down because I have either grown tired of reading them or something. They were good but I doubt I read any farther.
  16. Lord of the Rings. If it were most important or influential list it would probably be 1 or 2 but it's not. I liked the books but the fact I like the movies more should speak volumes. I liked them, I really did, but I did not love them at all.
  17. Night Angel. The comparison to John Woo is perfect. It is fast and action packed with no words wasted on describing things.
Well that is my list. I've only read half a top 25 list and will try to remember to update as I read more and now that I'm done with Wheel of Time and almost done with Malazan these little 3-4 book series should fly by.
 
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sopranosfan

Journeyed there and back again
#36
If you have it on this list after only the first 4 books I bet you will put it higher later on! I absolutely love it.
That's what I hear and am glad to hear it.
Do you like this better than Lightbringer or have you not read that one yet? I haven't read anything by Weeks yet but I've heard Lightbringer is a little better.
I haven't read it yet because I'm relatively new to Fantasy, this list is pretty much the only fantasy I've read. I have a feeling that I should get a lot more series done by the end of next year because I seem to average about 20-25 thousand pages a year but ASoIaF, Malazan, and Wheel of a Time took a lot of those pages my first 3 years reading Sci-Fi and fantasy.
 

ReguIa

Journeyed there and back again
#37
I'd like to get to Wheel of Time someday. Unfortunately because it's so big it's at the bottom of my TBR list.
 

Fatal Rose

Killed a Balrog
#38
You mentioned Deverry! Not many people have read that series. I couldn't find that much information about it on this site either. I've just finished the entire series, and I must say it was quite rewarding. I'd give it a 7.5/10.
It has its own wiki that's worth checking out. I normally avoid books with Elves, this series was an exception though. How does the series progress past book 1? Does it delve into the fey/Faery creatures more? That's why I liked Lionnesse soo much. I loved the Fey/Faery stuff.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#39
It has its own wiki that's worth checking out. I normally avoid books with Elves, this series was an exception though. How does the series progress past book 1? Does it delve into the fey/Faery creatures more? That's why I liked Lionnesse soo much. I loved the Fey/Faery stuff.
I know about the wiki. It's not very active though and a lot of information seems outdated.

As to the Faery stuff: you're in for a real treat then. As the series progresses this aspect will get more prominent. It's all intertwined with the idea of reincarnation and dweomer. I don't want to say much more, as I'm afraid I might spoil it for you.