Top 50 Epic Fantasy: Agree or Disagree?

Zarien

Knows how to pronounce Kvothe
#1
I recently took the time to check out some of the articles, and of course, that includes the Top 50 epic fantasy list. I was actually surprised by some of the choices. Some I wholeheartedly agreed with and some puzzled me to how they made the list over others.

Now, I personally have read all of the series on the list, from warded man to earthsea to Duncan and Malazan, etc. I'll edit my post later to include what I feel shouldn't have made the list, what should have ranked higher or lower, and which series I feel are missing once I'm able to type from a physical keyboard instead of an iPad. I'm curious as to everyone else's thoughts though.

What series/book do you feel should have made the list? What shouldn't have? And what ranks higher or lower in your eyes?

Link to article http://bestfantasybooks.com/best-epic-fantasy.html
 

João Ribeiro

Journeyed there and back again
#2
Hi Zarien.
Just an FYI, you can create your own list as well. in the Listiverse (here: http://lists.bestfantasybooks.com/list/ ) and put it up for discussion. I'm not saying to not discuss the article, just pointing out an alternative.

Cheers and have a nice weekend.
 

Hand of Fear

Journeyed there and back again
#3
I Haven't read all of the books in the top 50, the reason I ended up on this site was because I was looking for the best books to read instead of trying to find them myself and buying rubbish books.

I'm slowly working my way through it but it's going to take awhile, I will post back when I have a bit more time about how I found some of the books I have read on the list.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#4
If I'm being totally honest I think the top 25 best fantasy books is even more puzzling than the 50 best epic fantasy novels, possibly more so because of what's not on it rather than what is included. I haven't read most of the books on the 50 best epic fantasy novels list, but I'll comment on what I have read. Malazan, book of the fallen is obviously deserving of it's place at number one, as it is the most epically complex fantasy ever, and in my opinion deserves to be at number one on the top 25 list as well. I can understand A Song of Ice and Fire's ranking on the epic list, but it's grossly overrated on the first list. A Game of Thrones and A Storm of Swords are two of the best books ever, but I don't think aSoIaF is necessarily the best fantasy series, especially if you give any consideration to consistence and plot coherency. One of the most baffling things on both lists is how low LoTR is ranked. I have a feeling some people may not take Ben's lists seriously for this reason alone. I haven't read WoT, but based on what Epic Fantasy Freak said and some comments from some of my friends, I think I would hate it, and enough people hate it to justify not including it all together. I'm hoping that The Stormlight Archives rises in ranking on both lists in the future when it becomes more complete, overtaking both aSoIaF and LoTR. Monarchies of Gods starts off absolutely fantastic, but doesn't end that great so I don't think it should be ranked as high as it is. I think the Name of the Wind is grossly overrated on both lists although it had some reaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllly great moments. Brandon Sanderson and Robin Hobb are both leagues ahead of Patrick Rothfuss. I'm not sure about the Farseer trilogy yet as I have only just started it, but I have a feeling that Liveship Traders is better. I guess that's because Assassin's Apprentice seems much more simplistic with the first person point of view and linear story line. Why none of Robin Hobb's books besides the Farseer are given much credit baffles me more than anything. I thought the Liveship Traders was better than both Monarchies of Gods and Name of the Wind. I don't think ColdFire trilogy is epic fantasy so disagree there. The Codex is good, but by no means is it great. I read the Riftwar Saga and hated it. Raymond E. Feist is not a very talented writer and as has been said those novels age horribly. Considering how high the Prince of Thorns is ranked on the 25 greatest fantasy books list I would think it would be ranked higher on the epic list, but either way the inclusion of the broken empires baffles me. Just seemed fast-paced, action pact popcorn fantasy. I also thought that Mark Lawrence didn't handle the fantasy element very well. That's about all I can comment on right now.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#5
I think a huge part of the problem with contention in the list is that it zigzags between having works listed because they are 'important' (Wheel of Time), and having them listed because the guy who made the list in the first place personally likes them (although I like Kingkiller Chronicles, it is not what I would classify as 'epic'). Neither method is wrong (and hell, you could argue that mashing them together that way isn't wrong either since it can ultimately be retorted with 'then make your own list, you ingrate'), but listing something based on its importance to the genre doesn't agree with much of the rest of the site, since you can then click over to the Worst Fantasy list, and find Shannara, Sword of Truth, and Dragonlance/Forgotten Realms, which are all huge influences on fantasy, and undoubtedly the entry point to the genre for countless people.

I don't think not listing Lord of the Rings at #1 will turn anyone off. At least not anyone that you wanted hanging around and/or using the site. Listing it at #1 is retarded because nobody looking for fantasy novels is going to google search a site and be told anything by finding it at the top of the list. If you haven't read it and formed an opinion, you are at least aware of its existence and what it means to the fantasy genre. That attention grabbing #1 spot should be reserved for lesser known (by which I mean, 'known by less than approximately everyone in the world') works, like ASoIaF, Malazan, and others. I believe the site creator even says something like this, which I agree with. People would only agonize about seeing it on top of a list because they want their intellectual snobbery boner stroked a little (LotR is the only series you can like for 'intelligent' reasons, though Malazan will probably have crept up to join it in a decade or two).

I would argue about what was said regarding ASoIaF, but I feel like that would detract from the topic.
 

Antoxx

Journeyed there and back again
#6
LOL. Amaryllis you never disappoint, I love the intellectual snobbery comment. I must confess that to a point I've been slavishly following Ben's recommendations and have rarely been disappointed (I'm talking about you TCtUB). So, I'm hardly going to start complaining.

I reckon it's pretty hard to keep track of everything that you've read especially if you have read a lot. Trying to rank thm from memory, I would imagine, would be quite hard. I keep a spreadsheet of everything I've read over the past 18 months or so since I started reading fantasy again to make things easier for myself. And before you start saying it's due to the early stages of dementia since I've turned 40, I'd say that it's more due to my organised nature!

All that said, from Ben's point of view he probably also needs to keep things fresh, hence a fair amount of movement and inclusion of new series in the rankings. It's very difficult not to tinker with things once new stuff comes along. Personally, I reckon there should be a minimum qualification criteria like the series has to be complete or at least 3 books must be completed before inclusion (otherwise they're included in a "Best new series" list) but it's not my show and I only treat it as a best of guide without worrying too much about actual rankings.

A further point and not sure if it has been raised before, but I do wonder why the order in the epic list doesn't reflect the order in top 25. For example Lyonnese is ranked number 6 in Epic in front of a lot of other series that make the top 25 overall but it doesn't make the top 25 which seems a bit inconsistent (gee some people are so picky! :)).
 

Jon Snow

No Power in the Verse can stop me
Staff member
#7
Yup, and remember it is one person's opinion when making this list. Yours is also one opinion.

What I love about these lists is that it gets people talking. I mean my list of Top 20 is going to be very different
1) because I haven't read all of it (and I'll never get to with my current line of work)
2) because I just simply like different things, you can't convince me that chocolate ice cream is better than hokey pokey when it clearly isn't =P)
3) with books like LOTR how much weight do you put in that it was one of if not THE defining fantasy book last century. How much factor do you put into that it has a whole language created just for one of it's races.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#8
The cool thing about writing is that you can argue anything and it will be right as long as your argument is backed up with a sufficient amount of facts. :)Have any of you seen the greatest fantasy novels list at fantasybookreviews. The lists are so different between this site and that one that it's actually quite amusing. The only thing they seem to have common is the high ranking of Malazan and the Lightbringer trilogy is ranked around the same spot on both lists. To clarify I never said anything that would indicate LoTR should be ranked at 1. I explicitly said Malazan should be at 1. I just think that Name of the Wind and aSoIaF should be ranked below LoTR.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#9
Have any of you seen the greatest fantasy novels list at fantasybookreviews. The lists are so different between this site and that one that it's actually quite amusing.
I went looking. Are you talking about this site?

http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/

Those selections are a bit more eclectic, I guess. There are a couple I dispute (I think Karen Miller is awful, for example). There are a couple I've never heard of. There's a lot of classic literature, too. I've never been there before, though I think the reason I started coming here is because I'd read enough of the lists here that I knew I had similar taste.

OK, well, time to log off the computer and leave work. One more day until the holiday weekend...
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#11
Yea that site has a lot of stuff I would never read, or have tried but got bored (classic literature ugh), there was some cool stuff too, it is nice to get some broader reading experiences happening.

Tbh I used to use the lists a lot but now I get enough recs from people telling me what they have read here that I don't use them anymore. You forum peeps know what I like to read better then Ben's generic list anyway.

I never really had a problem with the order. I know how hard it is to rank my top 10 let alone 25 and a whole bunch of other lists also. I also think part of the problems comes from liking a certain kind of book and comparing others to it. To be fair LotR and Malazan are worlds apart in terms of almost everything but the fact theya re both 'epic' in scope. ranking one better than the other is pretty much just saying you value apples over oranges ...complex plot over insanely detail description or whatever. It's why i don't like to rank, I value lots of different things in books and its too hard to think about what a value more.
 

Antoxx

Journeyed there and back again
#12
The cool thing about writing is that you can argue anything and it will be right as long as your argument is backed up with a sufficient amount of facts. :)Have any of you seen the greatest fantasy novels list at fantasybookreviews. The lists are so different between this site and that one that it's actually quite amusing. The only thing they seem to have common is the high ranking of Malazan and the Lightbringer trilogy is ranked around the same spot on both lists. To clarify I never said anything that would indicate LoTR should be ranked at 1. I explicitly said Malazan should be at 1. I just think that Name of the Wind and aSoIaF should be ranked below LoTR.
Some good stuff here (like I needed more books to want to read!:)). And totally agree around the whole fun of arguing around which books might be better than others. Beauty as they say is in the eye of the beholder.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#13
TTo clarify I never said anything that would indicate LoTR should be ranked at 1. I explicitly said Malazan should be at 1. I just think that Name of the Wind and aSoIaF should be ranked below LoTR.

I wasn't actually pointing the finger anyone on this forum when I said that, but rather the Disqus comments for LotR on the main site, where every second comment is someone saying how LotR not being #1 means the site can't be taken seriously, and is a total joke (this attitude, of course, is not confined to the comments there, and can be found most anywhere fantasy literature is discussed 'seriously' as well).
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#14
Yea that site has a lot of stuff I would never read, or have tried but got bored (classic literature ugh), there was some cool stuff too, it is nice to get some broader reading experiences happening.

Tbh I used to use the lists a lot but now I get enough recs from people telling me what they have read here that I don't use them anymore. You forum peeps know what I like to read better then Ben's generic list anyway.

I never really had a problem with the order. I know how hard it is to rank my top 10 let alone 25 and a whole bunch of other lists also. I also think part of the problems comes from liking a certain kind of book and comparing others to it. To be fair LotR and Malazan are worlds apart in terms of almost everything but the fact theya re both 'epic' in scope. ranking one better than the other is pretty much just saying you value apples over oranges ...complex plot over insanely detail description or whatever. It's why i don't like to rank, I value lots of different things in books and its too hard to think about what a value more.

Good point Danica. Creating these lists is very difficult and I think I would have a nervous breakdown trying to do it. You're totally right about Malazan and LoTR, but I rank Malazan higher because I value characters and plot over detail. Detailed descriptions are nice though..... As long as it doesn't go on and on and on. :) When creating a "greatest" anything list we need to keep in mind that it's important to try to keep a careful balance of making a concentrated effort to be unbiased, thus putting important works high up on the list while at the same time not devaluing the projected influence of newer works, and being careful with ranking something too high just because it's "your" favorite. But.... you still want to make it "your" list, and all people are biased so they're naturally going to rank personal favorites above some novels which probably deserve to be ranked higher. Taking public opinion into account is important as well which is what these forums and the comment section are for! And the public ranked versions, of course. At the same time being able to discern bad from good, great from good, complexity from simplicity, engaging from boring, substance from fun, etc is also important and can lead to the exclusion of novels that are important but not that good as is the case with a lot of novels listed in the worst fantasy books section as Amarylis pointed out. Plot, characterization, consistency, inventiveness also need to be taken into account as I'm sure we all know. Peoples memories fade pretty quickly. In all honestly I think that's what makes creating these kind of lists so damn hard and part of the reason why there can never be a perfect list.
 

Jon Snow

No Power in the Verse can stop me
Staff member
#15
To be fair LotR and Malazan are worlds apart in terms of almost everything but the fact theya re both 'epic' in scope. ranking one better than the other is pretty much just saying you value apples over oranges ...complex plot over insanely detail description or whatever. It's why i don't like to rank, I value lots of different things in books and its too hard to think about what a value more.
This is why I never rate my books on a point system. Always just say good points and bad points.

I agree with you as well that I don't look at the lists very much, every now and then. Those lists really are to draw people in and get initial discussion. Hopefully those people stay around like moonspawn =)
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#16
I read his blog, not bad we should get him to review for bfb's blog .... probs is we are all kinda reading the same same stuff atm lol
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#17
I seem to remember reading once that the lists aren't necessarily in ranked order, they are simply the top 25, 50 etc of the genre (in btkongs opinion). Is this right, or is No.1 the best, No 2 second best etc etc ..
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#18
Yeah, most of the recommendations on fantasy book reviews are books I would never read, but I have read a couple of recommendations, most recently the Dreamblood duology and before that the Liveship Traders which I read before the Farseer because it was ranked so high. I don't think Liveship Traders should be higher than Mistborn, but do agree that both are top 10 material. I am also interested in reading the John Cleaver series, the Match, and The Inheritance Trilogy which are all ranked very highly on that site. I like how there's a good balance of newer novels and old classics, but it seems like a lot of novels that aren't on that list should be such as the Amber Chronicles and Name of the Wind. The same is true about this site too....
 

Riposte

Philosophizes with Kellhus
#19
I really don't worry about these lists in the sense of them being right or wrong. I tend to view them more as a source of recommendations.

The most appealing feature of this site's lists, for me, is that it suggests further reading recommendations. So if you find an author or story you like, you can jump down the rabbit hole and discover more interesting books tailored to your interests.

That is why this site is a great resource for newer fantasy readers. Find something on the lists you like and explore what fantasy has to offer. In all likelihood you will find something you like as much or more than the authors sitting at the top of the list.