Joined: 11 December 2010
Joined: 11 December 2010
Joined: 11 December 2010
Joined: 15 May 2007
Joined: 31 August 2007
Joined: 20 August 2011
#1: A song of ice and fire (George R.R. Martin)
A Song of Ice and Fire is THE fantasy series of our age. It's influenced countless other books and has started an entire genre of subfantasy ("the gritty fantasy"), or if not started, than at least popularized.
If you want a fantasy series that follows all the standard cliches -- heroes who never die, villains who are two dimensional, wise cracking sidekicks, deus ex machina -- then read something else. If you want a fantasy series that' brutal, unforgiving, and totally unpredictable, A Song of Ice and Fire can't be beaten.
#2: Lord of the Rings (J.R.R Tolkien)
This series needs no explaining. The series helped shape the concept of epic fantasy. The conceits used (dark lords, callow youths, elves, dwarves, goblins, magic swords, evil creatures lurking in the dark) are standard in the fantasy genre. Because of the influence this series has had on fantasy as a whole, it's without a doubt one of the best epic fantasy series ever written. So if you are the one person who hasn't read this series, do yourself and just get it out of the way.
#3: The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Steven Erikson)
This epic 10 part series is finally completed as of 2011. It's one hell of a ride from start to finish. For some people, Mazalan is too "epic" to understood or enjoyed. But we are talking about "epic" fantasy here and you can't get more epic than the Mazalan books -- there's a huge cast of powerful characters that grow and mature over the series, there's super villains and super heroes, vast landscapes explored, and the series is on such a scale that the series jumps between past and present. Basically, if you are looking for a big EPIC with a lot of stress on the EPIC part, Mazalan Book of the Fallen is as epic as you'll find. It's also an adventure that you won't forget. This book has helped change the face of fantasy. As such, it's a must read.
#4: The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)
No epic fantasy series evokes as much passion as does The Wheel of Time. It's got a legion of fanatical fans as well as a legion of critics. So why am I casting Robert Jordan's WOT so high on this list? Well for one, when you mention epic fantasy, it's simply impossible NOT to mention Robert Jordan in the same breath. This guy helped to pioneer the concept of the big fat fantasy series. With a story that spans over 13 books and even the death of the author (it's still being finished with the last book to come out this year by Brandon Sanderson), the Wheel of Time is truly an epic.
Yes, there are problems with the novels. As so many of you kindly love to point out, Jordan completely loses control of the plots around book 6 and the series spirals out of control for another 5-6 books. Yes, there are too many characters to keep track of. Yes, women are portrayed as two dimensional characters. Yes, Jordan spends too much time detailing every single little detail.
But the fact remains that the man has created a massive world with a huge plot and an unforgettable story. There are better writers writing fantasy these days, there are more clever epic fantasy series with realistically portrayed characters, there are series that do new things with the fantasy genre. But give Jordan's Wheel of Time series the credit it's due: it's changed the face of epic fantasy for good or for ill. So on that premise, the series should be read.
#5: The Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sanderson)
Man, what's NOT to like about this series. It's got some great heroes, carefully constructed over the 1000+ pages of the novel. It's got some serious kick ass action (it takes a while to build up to the action, but when it happens...it happens!). It's got an end-of-the-world plot. It's got different lands, different races, and different cultures. It's got a unique and pretty fascinating magic system. And it's written by Brandon Sanderson, the man who's written another great epic fantasy series (Mistborn) and the one finishing off the Wheel of Time.
I know ONLY the first book of what's going to be a ten book series has been released. But based off the strength of the first book and the premise of the series, The Stormlight Archive is looking to be one of the best epic fantasy series out there. Time will tell as more books are released, but for now, I'm putting this at #4.
#6: The Kingkiller Chronicles (Patrick Rothfuss)
Yet another book that seems to be near the top of many a best fantasy list. The Kingkiller Chronicles is not yet complete, but the first two books deliver a great story. The Name of the Wind is not epic in the way that The Wheel of Time is -- there are only a handful of characters. It's not epic in the way of Mazalan where space and time itself is scaled. But rather, it's an epic tale about the hero of the story, Kvothe. Quite simply, it's one of the best tales I've yet read. The strength of this book is not so much the actual settings and plot, but in the telling of the story itself.
#7: Chronicles of Amber (Roger Zelazny)
Not exactly epic high fantasy in the traditional sense, but there's enough fantasy elements to land it on the list. Amber is, for many new fantasy readers, almost an unknown series. But it's a fantasy series that should be read. There's complex political scheming, a cast of warring noble siblings, and parallel worlds.
More than a few accolades name this as the greatest fantasy series ever written. And it's true that this is one of the most original and complex fantasy worlds you'll find outside of Tolkien.
The plot is pretty complex, but this is one series where you should just pick it up and start reading without looking at the plot summary. One of the greatest joys I've ever had reading a book came from discovering how this book unfolds as I read it.
#8: The Farseer (Robin Hobb)
Another epic fantasy series that should be read. There's magic, adventure, romance, and some of the best characterization in the fantasy genre. This IS epic fantasy done right and if you're missing out big if you've never read the series.
#9: Black Company (Glen Cook)
This epic fantasy series is quite a bit different than your standard fantasy fare. If you want an epic military fantasy series where good and bad are not so clearly delineated, The Black Company delivers this. There are some of the classic epic fantasy conventions such as a band-of-heroes against a world-ending-evil, except things are twisted around a bit. Instead of good against evil, the struggle is more less evil versus more evil, with the heroes themselves of questionable morality. If you like the gritty military fantasy style of A Song of Ice and Fire and Mazalan Book of the Fallen, you'll love Black Company.
#10: Earthsea (Ursula K. Le Guin)
Another fantasy series that crops up near the top of many best fantasy lists. Earthsea is a classic fantasy tale well done. While it doesn't rack up a sizable page count like some of the newer fantasy series (cough Wheel of Time), what it lacks in size it makes up with quality. Good doesn't always mean big folks.
So for a very well written classic fantasy tale about a boy's journey to become the greatest wizard alive, Earthsea is one of the best. And the writing is just so damn beautiful to read.
Joined: 01 August 2012
Joined: 06 November 2011
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