My Favourite Epic Fantasy Series
Tis the season—well, for lists it seems, since everywhere I look a new one pops up. So I thought, why step to the beat of a different drum when you can get with the programme?
I can’t do any sort of reader’s or writer’s Top 10 of 2012 though, because I don’t feel I’ve stayed sufficiently up to date with new books out (although I do try my best, honest!)
However (or should I type “howeverz”: ponders…) a few people have said to me:
“I don’t normally read fantasy but I enjoyed your books (HL: thank you!) and would like to read more, so what would you recommend?”
“I am new to epic but liked your books so… (again with the recommendations.)”
So I’m going to start with Epic Fantasy and list my Top 10 epic reads–over two posts though, today and tomorrow.
- the list is in alphabetical order by author, so there is no preference implied by the order in which they appear
- I will post on standalone books as a separate topic.
- I am not including children’s books: these are either adult or YA/Crossover
- I have only included finished series, for obvious reasons
So here goes, the first 5 of my Top 10:
— this series was my introduction to CJ Cherryh’s work and I loved the epic feel of the world, its Nordic grimness, the mystery of the qhal, the hint of SF behind the “gates”, the complex layered plots, the soul-sucking sword and epic quest—and Morgaine herself, the whole notion that an epic fantasy series could have a stern, resolute, super-heroine (my first.)
I still recall the excitement I felt on first reading Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen): the ambition of the story, the scope of the world, the range of characters, so many of whom I loved—Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners, the mage Tattersail, Anomander Rake—as well as the complexity of the magic system. I’m sure you’re getting the picture… The series ran to 10 books, and although my enthusaism waned toward the end, overall I am still awed by Steven Erikson’s achievement.
Mara of the Acoma is one of my favourite Fantasy heroines: strong in herself, astute, and definitely a character who thinks outside the square—it’s the reason she survives. She is also neither a super warrior nor a super witch, which is possibly the thing I like about her the most… I also love this series’ delving into the Kelewan side of the world Feist first began exploring in Magician and the fact that it is an essentially Asian inspired world—adding just a little more diversity to the epic oeuvre.
I talked a lot about David Gemmell’s influence on my love of epic when The Heir of Night won the Gemmell Morningstar Award earlier this year, so I won’t say too much more now, except that I have always really enjoyed his ability to write heroes who are still real people. He also excels at writing the “band of brothers”, exemplified in the friendship between Tenaka Khan and Ananais in The King Beyond the Gate.
The Windrose Chronicles were not the first Barbara Hambly I read—that was The Ladies of Mandrigyn and I was hooked—but I feel that The Windrose Chronicles are the most complete of her series (for me) and also one of the most accomplished in terms of the world building and the diversity and complexity of the characters. I also like the crossover between our world and Ferryth via the Void, the 17th century tech world (Ferryth) and the tension between secular politics, religion and magic in that world.
Check back tomorrow for the second instalment of my favourite Epic Fantasy series’ post.