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Series Fantasy

What is Series Fantasy?

Series Fantasy, also known as Shared World Fantasy, is a long series of stories in either novel or short story form. These series differ from the mere trilogy type series in that their publication can span decades. Other authors may even contribute new stories to the series by expanding subplots, taking up secondary characters, or generally writing new stories within an existing world. Series Fantasy is not fan fiction—it is a formal process and sometimes done in collaboration with the original author.

This descriptive subgenre of fantasy (indeed it can apply to many different genres in fact, such as science fiction, mystery, romance, etc.) is related to the fat fantasy descriptive subgenre, though "Fat Fantasy" refers more to a single series of "big" books, often containing half a dozen books. One example of "Fat Fantasy" would be The Wheel of Time.

Other Features of Series Fantasy

  • Level of Magic

    Variable. Series Fantasy is a descriptive term and has no bearing on any magic systems created.

  • Level of Grand Ideas and Social Implications

    Variable. With so much space for exploring things and ideas and characters and events, and so many other things, there is plenty of room for authors to explore some grand ideas. Indeed, because of the extensive world-building and multitude of volumns, Series Fantasy presents the opportunity to explore social implications and ideas over long periods of time. But! Not all writers take advantage of this opportunity and instead choose to focus on other aspects of their world and characters.

  • Level of Characterization

    High. Series Fantasy provides lots of space and opportunity for authors to fully explore and develop all characters—main characters as well as secondary characters.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    High. New adventures! More events! There is always something more to be done in Series Fantasy and so the plots are perpetually moving. Sometimes the plot moves forward, sometimes they look to the past, but as the stories unfold they twine together multiple plot lines ever revealing new details and information.

  • Level of Violence

    Variable. Like the level of magic, the sub-genre has no particular characteristic violence.

Related Fantasy Subgenres




    Any and all sub-genres can be a part of a grand series. However, sub-genres that have extensive world-building and lots of characters (like epic fantasy, high fantasy, quest fantasy) are more likely to kick start a series and spin-offs simply because there is so much material to work with. Certain subgenres like Paranormal Fantasy tend to expand into large series if they meet comercial success (for example, The Dresden Files).

Series Fantasy Isn’t For You If...

If you like to enter the fantasy world, enjoy your time, and then move on. Series Fantasy goes on and on my friend, so if you want a quick resolution with a nice bow on it, this sub-genre is not going satisfy you. 

The risk of these long series is losing control of the story as it sprawls outward. Usually, the first sign is the pacing getting all out of whack—too many character points of view, wandering subplots, this is where readers will start moving away from the series.

Popular Series Fantasy Books
  • 1 Shannara

    By Terry Brooks. This epic fantasy series blends magic and technology in a future Earth. This series connects with the Knight of the Word novels to expand the history of this world.

  • 2 Belgariad

    By David Eddings. A voluminous series that connects with The Malloreon series, which continues the original Belgariad story. Prophecy, the fate of the universe, a farm boy, all typical earmarks of the epic fantasy sub-genre.

  • 3 Discworld

    By Terry Pratchet. A huge series, these books are part of the Comic Fantasy sub-genre. It parodies and is influenced by canonical authors like Tolkien, Lovecraft, and Shakespeare in addition to folklore, mythology, and fairy tales. A prime example of series fantasy because new characters and subplots connect as the series continues.

  • 4 Malazan Books of the Fallen

    By Steven Erikson. Ian C. Esslemont, Malazan Empire. Erikson and Esslemont created the world of Malazan together, but have each published their own series set in the world.

  • 5 Tales of the Dying Earth

    By Jack Vance. This series of novels and short stories take place in a distant future when the sun is nearly gone and magic has returned to the world. George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and others have taken up this world in a collection of short stories as well, Songs of the Dying Earth to honor the inspiring work of Vance.

  • 6 Realm of the Elderlings

    By Robin Hobb. Several sets of linked trilogies and short stories of high fantasy set in the same world.

  • 7 The Wheel of Time

    By Robert Jordan. This series was planned as six novels, but is now more than twice that length. It has a detailed imaginary world and magic system. After Jordan's death in 2007, Brandon Sanderson finished the series using Jordan's notes.

  • 8 Valdemar

    By Mercedes Lakey. A series of trilogies and novels set in the world of Velgarth. The series contains complex interactions between humans and non-humans, several cultures and social structures.

  • 9 The Sword of Truth

    By Terry Goodkind. In this 12-book epic fantasy series each book stands alone, with the exception of the final three which are a trilogy. All the books share a common timeline and plot linkages.

  • 10 Eternal Champion

    By Michael Moorcook. This sequence of novels and short stories is set within a complex multiverse. The eternal champion is a recurring character who exists in all universes and dimensions chosen to fight for the cosmic balance.

  • 11 The Chronicles Trilogy

    By Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. One example of books within the shared world of Dragonlance. Weis and Hickman are the original writers of this world, but many other writers have contributed.