Post your own Top 25 Best Fantasy Books

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
Boreas, you haven't read anything in the site's top 25 or none make your list?
From that list, I've read:

A Game of Thrones (the first three instalments of A Song of Ice and Fire only)
The Name of the Wind (first instalment of The Kingkiller Chronicle only)
The Blade Itself (the whole First Law trilogy)
Lord of the Rings (the whole trilogy)
Assassin's Apprentice (the whole Farseer trilogy)
Gardens of the Moon (first instalment of Malazan only)
American Gods
A Wizard of Earthsea
(original Earthsea trilogy only, not the later instalments)
The Black Company (first instalment of Books of the North trilogy only)
Heroes Die
The Prince of Thorns
(whole Broken Empire trilogy)
Under Heaven
Legend
(and all the Drenai instalments and pretty much his entire catalogue excepting his last Greek trilogy before he croaked)
The Dark Tower (first instalment only)
The Dresden Files (first five instalments only)

Only LotR made it into my top 25 list and a GGK work (though not Under Heaven, which was pretty damn good) and a Gaiman work. I wanted something of Gemmell to make it, but mostly out of a personal bias. I loved his works because they were short, fast-paced, and almost always intense. They were also quite formulaic, but that was part of his genius - how he managed to tell the nearly same type of story through 25+ novels successfully, without ever boring me, astounds me even now.

I loved Groundhog Day
I've always disliked Andie MacDowell, so that probably contributed. I was able to tolerate her presence in Four Weddings and a Funeral because of the great ensemble cast but, man, how I wanted to smack her with the back of my hand every time her face made an appearance.
I agree... I don't get very emotional when it comes to reading, but with 'The Sparrow' it's impossible not to.
I'm saddened that she decided to stop writing science fiction. She would have been a heavy weight with her high calibre writing. You should also check out Blish's A Case for Conscience and Lem's Fiasco for Jesuit priests confronting alien civilisations. None of them are as emotionally devastating as Russell's work, but they are both excellent. Since you said you're in a hard sf mood, then definitely pick up Lem's Fiasco. Such an excellent novel (of the 4 or 5 Lem I've read, this one is probably my favourite). Very hard, very cerebral and very, very pessimistic in tone. Fucking deadly. Recently, Watts' Blindsight has been a first contact novel that matched (maybe even superseded?) the complexity angle, but it wasn't able to match the sucker-punch to the gut that Fiasco delivered.
 

Fatal Rose

Killed a Balrog
I've surprisingly read a lot since I initially wrote that list, going to greatly edit and modify it all now. My feelings have also changed about certain books.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
I was looking forward to @Amaryllis's response to @Sparrow's posts so much that literally every time I got on the net I was looking at this thread to see if he'd responded and I wasn't disappointed. When I did just now see his response I was smiling like this inside :). I honestly thought both of their lists were the two worst that I've ever seen on this site and I think most of the lists are pretty bad (for this reason I don't usually comment on anyone's lists) but that's too be expected... because seriously we all can only draw from our own limited reading experiences to create these lists and none of us has read everything....and there are certain qualities that we all look for in novels that we value above others and you can clearly see this in the aforementioned lists, one valuing characterization and the fantastic, the other classic writing and cultural heritage. I for one haven't read anywhere near 25 fantasy books I seriously consider good enough to put in a top 25 list but if I were to make a full length list then I think the value of complexity and mind-blowing originality would be at the forefront.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
If he keeps pissing people off at this rate soon @Sparrow will be on everyone's ignore list but the staff. Much like the weird kid at school who has to partner with a teacher on trips.
Maybe we should stop with the ad hominems eh? Tom made the point quite clear I think. Let's get this thread back on thread.

I was looking forward to @Amaryllis's response to @Sparrow's posts so much that literally every time I got on the net I was looking at this thread to see if he'd responded and I wasn't disappointed. When I did just now see his response I was smiling like this inside :). I honestly thought both of their lists were the two worst that I've ever seen on this site and I think most of the lists are pretty bad (for this reason I don't usually comment on anyone's lists) but that's too be expected... because seriously we all can only draw from our own limited reading experiences to create these lists and none of us has read everything....and there are certain qualities that we all look for in novels that we value above others and you can clearly see this in the aforementioned lists, one valuing characterization and the fantastic, the other classic writing and cultural heritage. I for one haven't read anywhere near 25 fantasy books I seriously consider good enough to put in a top 25 list but if I were to make a full length list then I think the value of complexity and mind-blowing originality would be at the forefront.
Now I'm curious. Could you at least give us a top whatever? Like a top 5 or something? Or however many you think deserve to be in your top list.
 

Fatal Rose

Killed a Balrog
I don't mind "classics" but if its too archaic or if the book/series has certain things I tend to avoid in fantasy I'm probably not going to read it anytime soon.

Basically anything DnD/Dragonlance, or books featuring elves, gnomes, dwarves, orcs, or JRRT/DnD goblins I'm not interested in.

Also not into books that's written too dry/archaic. I enjoy deep characterization regardless of the level of fantasy.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
Now I'm curious. Could you at least give us a top whatever? Like a top 5 or something? Or however many you think deserve to be in your top list.
Go to the OP of the thread where Alucard created direct links to all posted lists. Moonspawn's list is also there.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
Go to the OP of the thread where Alucard created direct links to all posted lists. Moonspawn's list is also there.
eh, could you give me a link to the thread with links that link to Moonspawn's list? Can't find it...
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
I'm also making an effort to read more classics of fantasy, but for me it's about sharing pleasure in that history with peers, not condescending to them. What on Earth would @Sparrow do if anyone did go and read the works on his list? He'd have to go find another forum where he could be the queen hipster again.

If he keeps pissing people off at this rate soon @Sparrow will be on everyone's ignore list but the staff. Much like the weird kid at school who has to partner with a teacher on trips.

Regardless, a work being historically important to fantasy (or literature in general) isn't the same thing as being the best example of the genre. People who'd read half of what he seems to be claiming (in peoples' quotes) he has would have realized that...
That was awesome lyraseven.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
eh, could you give me a link to the thread with links that link to Moonspawn's list? Can't find it...
Go to the OP means go to the opening post i.e the first post in a thread. It's an internet slang.

Updated all the lists in the OP, finishing with the Sparrow's which is the last so far. Now it's all nice and tidy so if you wanna mess with your lists, edit or whatever, you have quick access. You don't have to dig around the thread to find where you posted.

I've noticed a lot of people dont even have 10 titles in their lists let alone 25. But it doesn't matter. I'm always aware of the fact that people love making lists in general for one thing. And for the other, some just can't color inside the lines / stick to rules, however you wanna look at it. :p
I don't mind one bit, even a small list can help someone discover a new read.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
Go to the OP means go to the opening post i.e the first post in a thread. It's an internet slang.
Yeah I know, but I thought ofer referred to another thread, not this one ("go to the OP of the thread where Alucard created direct links to all posted lists". I thought ofer meant there was another thread in which you did that, which I couldn't find, hence the comment).

And thanks for updating!
 

fbones24

Journeyed there and back again
I was looking forward to @Amaryllis's response to @Sparrow's posts so much that literally every time I got on the net I was looking at this thread to see if he'd responded and I wasn't disappointed. When I did just now see his response I was smiling like this inside :). I honestly thought both of their lists were the two worst that I've ever seen on this site and I think most of the lists are pretty bad (for this reason I don't usually comment on anyone's lists) but that's too be expected... because seriously we all can only draw from our own limited reading experiences to create these lists and none of us has read everything....and there are certain qualities that we all look for in novels that we value above others and you can clearly see this in the aforementioned lists, one valuing characterization and the fantastic, the other classic writing and cultural heritage. I for one haven't read anywhere near 25 fantasy books I seriously consider good enough to put in a top 25 list but if I were to make a full length list then I think the value of complexity and mind-blowing originality would be at the forefront.
I agree 100% with what you have said here. Isn't reading, like music, movies, art, etc. subjective? My #1 book of all time is "The Prince of Nothing" and others have that book at the bottom of their list. Like you, it would be impossible for me to compile my top 25 because I can only think of 5 - 10 that have left a life long impression on me.

With that said, I do love reading other people's lists, dissecting them and then researching and scouting the books I have not read.
 

Fiction Fan 101

A farm boy with a sword
Crap, I just realised I somehow omitted Clark Ashton Smith.


I love this book, too!
I can't WAIT for the movie! Though I suppose I'll have to. I'm not sure they've even started filming it yet...
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
As I was just filling in the BFB Member list spreadsheet (now hosted by @Derk of Derkholm in the absence of @Antoxx), I thought it'd be fun to finally post my top 25 in this thread as well. I've opted not to include any horror novels (the Stand, Salem's Lot, It), nor any post apocalyptic books (The Road, The Postman, Earth Abides), nor alternative future novels (1984, Brave New World). Also no mythology (The Iliad, The Odysee), nor alternative histories (the Man in the High Castle). I know this is very arbitrary, but I guess any such list is to a certain degree.

If you go through my list you'll notice some recurring names. Needless to say these are my favorite fantasy authors. In some cases I've provided a short reason as to why I particularly like a certain book/series.

Without further ado, please find my list below (@Alucard: could you include it as a hotlink in the OP of this thread please?)

1. Malazan Book of the Fallen - Steven Erikson 9,8
This is my favorite fantasy series of all time. Erikson's prose is unrivalled in the fantasy genre. The huge complexity of the world is simply mind-boggling. Tough going at first, but once I was well into book 2 I was hooked. The cast of characters is humongous, but Erikson nonetheless has fleshed out most of them in a way which is admirable. Erikson had me rooting for a wide range of personalities, including Kruppe, Karsa Orlong, Hedge, Fiddler, Kalam, Whiskeyjack, Shadowthrone, Cotillion, Duiker, Quick Ben, Tehol, Mappo Runt, Tool, Coltaine and many others. Although some people were dissapointed with the ending of the series, I don't agree. I loved every letter of the final book. I applaud thee Erikson! May the wind always blow softly on your back and may the sun shine gently upon your shoulders.

2. A Song of Ice and Fire - George RR Martin 9,5

ASOIAF rekindled my passion for fantasy. "Grey characters". Nowadays you're bombarded with those words. Martin started it all. He was not the first, but he certainly did it best, opening the door for the later Grimdark fantasy genre. Rooted in real history (the War of the Roses), Martin's world has a strong appeal to me. Being a history student I loved finding the parallels between the world of Ice and Fire and the one we live in. Martin has the quality to make fantasy believable. The sparing use of magic makes the supernatural elements of the story somehow more believable when they occur. Also, I feel the fantasy genre is indebted to GRRM for finishing what the LOTR movies started; he made fantasy cool. I firmly believe that because of GRRM we now have the prolific amount of great fantasy we have today.

3. Lord of the Rings - J R R Tolkien 9,5

4. The Hobbit - J R R Tolkien 9,2

5. The Silmarillion - JRR Tolkein 9

Tolkien's books got me into reading fantasy. The world he created, with now common fantasy creatures like Elfs, Dwarves and Orcs, and a rich history and mythology has been a major formative element in my life. Tolkien's books (including Children of Hurin and Unfinished Tales, which I haven't rated here) are among my most treasured possessions. I re-read all of them at least once every two years. Also, the LOTR movies are my all time favorite movies and me and my wife (who is also a big fan) binge watch them annually around Christmas time. We love the franchise so much that some years ago we even booked a 1 month trip to NZ where we visited most of the film locations and the Weta workshop where I almost jizzed my pants when I got to meet the supervising weapon-smith who created the props for the movies (including Anduril and Narsil). Drool...

6. Liveship Traders - Robin Hobb 8,5

7. Assassin Trilogy - Robin Hobb 8,5

8. Tawny Man Trilogy - Robin Hobb 8,5

Sure, Fitz can be a bit whiney. Sure, some characters are outright annoying (Regal anyone?), but Hobb spins an amazingly good yarn. The new Farseer books are still on my TBR shelf, but knowing Hobbs that series will be a hell of a read too.

9. Kingkiller Chronicles - Patrick Rothfuss 8,5
I've almost finished the first book in this trilogy (I should say "to-be trilogy"). Rothfuss' prose is beautiful. At the start of the book I was a bit annoyed by the omnipotency of Kvothe, but somehow that annoyance has abated and now I've warmed up to the man with the impossibly irritating name.


10. The Dark Tower - Stephen King 8,5

King is one of my favorite authors. I've read most of his books. Some are great, some are shit. Most are just above average. Say one thing for the master of horror, say he's inconsistent. He's written some great novels though. The Stand, Salem's Lot, The Shining, Doctor Sleep, It, Hearts in Atlantis; all amazing books. However, his magnum opus is undoubtedly The Dark Tower. When I first heard that King was going to try his hand at fantasy I was a bit apprehensive. My fears have proven to be ungrounded. The Dark Tower is a solid series. I liked some books better than others (Wolves of the Calla. Blergh!), but overall it is a fun, intriguing and sometimes scary (of course) read. King's characters are complex and feel real. The world (that has moved on) is mysterious in an almost Lovecraft kind of way. The ending is controversial, but I loved it. All in all, this series deserves to be read by any fantasy fan.

 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
Cont.

11. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman 8,5

12. The Sandman - Neil Gaiman 8,5

13. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman 8,5
Gaiman is a recurring name in my top-25. I love Gaiman's whimsical stories. American Gods is quite a tome, but most of his other books are short, fun, melancholical reads. Gaiman is one of the few authors that can really get me emotional about a character. Great stuff. I wish he'd be as productive as he was during his earlier years.

14. Conan et al - Robert E. Howard 8,5
"The best thing in life is to cursh ones enemies, see them driven before and to hear the lamentations of their women." - Dzenghis Khan AND Conan the Cymerian. I love this brooding barbarian from the Northern mountains. Short stories all, they nevertheless capture the attention without letting go until the final page. I've got the complete collection of Conan stories by Howard, bound in black leather, engraved with gilded letters. It weighs at least 2 kilograms (about 4.5 pounds for the peeps across the big pond). Great for bashing in some enemies' heads. Blood!

15. Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson 8
The magic system in this series is interesting and fun. The story is also quite good. I didn't particularly like the "clean" feel of the books (why don't Vin and Elend bone?), but that doesn't negate the fact that this is a fun trilogy.

16. First Law Trilogy - Joe Abercrombie 8
I would've rated this series with a 9 at least if the story would have been more present in books 1 and 2. The characters in this series have quickly earned a place among my all time favorites. Glokta, Logen, West, Jezal, Ardee, the Dogman; I loved them all. They are conflicted, sometimes deliciously evil, but at other times heart-warming. I even felt bad for Bethod occasionally. I'm definitely going to read Abercrombie's stand-alone novels and YA trilogy. I'm also currently reading the First Law comic book (thanks @Alucard for pointing that one out to me).

17. Chronicles of Dune - Frank Herbert 8

18. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn - Tad Williams 8

19. American Gods - Neil Gaiman 8

20. Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman 8

21. Prince of Nothing - R. Scott Bakker 8

22. Aspect Emperor - R. Scott Bakker 8
I'm a sucker for philosophy and Bakker's books are filled with it, thus landing his series a place in this top-25. The tone of Bakker's books is dark, but somehow that never troubled me. No easy reading, but very rewarding.

23. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman 8

24. Wheel of Time - Robert Jordan 7,8
As a kid I used to love this series. Mat, Perrin and Rand feel like childhood friends. However, this series has slowly lost some appeal for me. After I re-read the entire series some 4 years ago (after Sanderson had completed the series after Jordan's untimely demise), some aspects of the books really irritated me. Foremost was the unrealistic and frankly childish way in which male-female interations are portrayed. According to the men in this series all women are cranky, violent maniacs and according to the women the men are unruly, dumb lummoxes. Also, the irritating way in which certain character idiosyncracies are constantly repeated ("Nynaeve tugged her braid, Birgitte wirkled her nose, Perrin roled his shoulders, Mat tipped his hat" Shut the hell up!!!) grated on my nerves. Furthermore, the story was often so convoluted and lacking in structure that I sometimes despaired. This is especially apparant in the middle books, where the story meanders a lot and nothing much happens besides Elayne drinking goat's milk and the Aes Sedai moping about in Salidar. Despite these points I believe this series still deserves a place on my list. It's a YA series and it should be judged as such. The magic system is awesome, the size of the world grande, the scope of the story ambitious. These points land the WoT a place in my top-25.

25. Chronicles of the Black Company - Glen Cook 7
Some people love Cook's terse writing style. I'm not one of them. I can tolerate his prose though because of the way in which the soldiers of the Black Company are portrayed. I love the realistic banter among the members of the Company. It often reminded me of the chit-chat of the Bridgeburners, which in itself is a commendable achievement. As the Gentlemen Bastard, Stormlight Archive and Raven's Shadow series are already waiting on my TBR-shelf, I don't expect Cook's series will stay on this list for long. Enjoy it while it lasts Mr Cook.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
I think you put too many of the same authors on your list but other than that not bad @Silvion Night.


Erikson's prose is unrivalled in the fantasy genre.
That is quite the assumption when the only classic fantasy you have listed are Howard and Tolkien.

6. Liveship Traders - Robin Hobb 8,5
7. Assassin Trilogy - Robin Hobb 8,5
8. Tawny Man Trilogy - Robin Hobb 8,5
Sure, Fitz can be a bit whiney. Sure, some characters are outright annoying (Regal anyone?), but Hobb spins an amazingly good yarn. The new Farseer books are still on my TBR shelf, but knowing Hobbs that series will be a hell of a read too.
All three in a row! I thought I was alone in that opinion! (although I consider Farseer by far the lesser of those three).


As the Gentlemen Bastard, Stormlight Archive and Raven's Shadow series are already waiting on my TBR-shelf
Well Black Company is objectively better than the first two you listed. As for Raven's Shadow I don't know because I haven't read it but it sounds like a bland mixture of Name of the Wind and aSoIaF to me.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
Well Black Company is objectively better than the first two you listed. As for Raven's Shadow I don't know because I haven't read it but it sounds like a bland mixture of Name of the Wind and aSoIaF to me.
I can't say much about Black Company because I only briefly started the audiobook at one point but you are making big claims saying it is better than Gentleman Bastard and Stormlight Archive. They are both 2 of the best current running series out there. The first GB book is fantastic and while the others don't match up quite as well they are still good. As for the other, it is only 2 books in and already looking to measure up with some of the genre greats.

Raven's Shadow was a great first book and an okay 2nd and from the sounds of it, doesn't close out well so maybe we are into more comparable ranges with that. Again, I only got a little ways into the audiobook and thought it was kind of boring (could have had something to do with the reader) so I won't try and make any claims to something being superior. I am not big into military fantasy anyway so my guess would be I wouldn't like it as much.