I am assuming that most of us out there are fantasy readers.  It’s a popular genre and who doesn’t love elves, dwarves, and those things that spark nightmares.  Or you may not, but for my purposes, let’s pretend that you do.  Besides, I’m going with a gut feeling on this, so why not see if we can spark a little controversy.  Or baring that, a debate.

Last night, I was staring at my bookcase, trying to decide what to read.  When I decided on my book (it doesn’t matter which, but it is below for the record), I started talking to myself—as you do.  Or maybe I’m just losing it.  Dunno.  But I did, and one of the things that I said was that the book I chose was one of the best fantasy series ever written.  I didn’t need to justify it to myself, but I did all the same.

Which got me wondering, what are the best fantasy series?  What is the best?  Why?

So here are my thoughts.  It’s not an easy list.  Just because I love a series, doesn’t mean it belongs here.  Just because it’s entertaining (while important), doesn’t mean it belongs there either.  Yet, on the other hand, do I have some specific criteria to judge these stories on?  No.  It is purely subjective.  But with that in mind, let’s give this a shot.

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien—Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit: These novels should really be on any top fantasy list.  Not only are they entertaining in their own right (if you can get past all the singing), but they are arguably what brought fantasy out into its own genre and away from fairy tales set to warn kids of the dangers visiting houses made from gingerbread.  Plus they have staying power, as can be seen by the Steve Jackson movies.
  2. Robert Jordan—The Wheel of Time: Probably one of the best fantasy series ever written, it is also one of the most popular that hasn’t been turned into a television series.  The author, Robert Jordan, was so popular that George R.R. Martin (Yes, the Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin) credits a blurb from Jordan for A Song of Fire and Ice’s success.  Jordan’s world contained countless individual and unique cultures that added a rich background to the tapestry of the story.  Add on top of that a realistic understanding of the “fog of war” and how it applies to armies and politics, and you have a fantastic tale of good versus evil.
  3. Roger Zelazny—The Chronicles of Amber: This ten-part book series was written between 1970 and 1991, and is divided into two parts: The Corwin Cycle and The Merlin Cycle.  The thing with the worlds of Amber is that it is one of the most fantastical journeys you’ll ever read.  Tropes that we recognize originated with Zelazny’s work.  Added to that is the fact that these books have been cited by many successful authors as inspiration for their own fantasy.  At least two authors (Steven Brust and Neil Gaiman) have publicly stated that they’d love to write more stories of Amber, but won’t because Zelazny requested that no one else write in the world.  I feel that is saying something.  Zelazny’s writing style is something marvelous to behold and transmits exactly what he wants with the smallest strokes of the brush, yet you feel immersed in his world.

Are these the best descriptions of these series?  No, definitely not.  As I look back, frankly, I feel they do a poor job at best.  But are they important?  Yes.  Now, I have also walked a fine line on what is exactly fantasy.  For example, on the surface, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series appears to be fantasy, and it is incredibly influential.  But only as you dig into the series do you realize that it is actually science fiction.  So I ruled it out.  Same goes with Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher, and J.K. Rowling (Rowling is a whole different post).  No one can deny their successes, but in my opinion, they aren’t as influential or as important as those listed above.

But then again, that’s just what I think.  What are your opinions? Please let me know and let’s see if we can start a discussion!  I’d love to learn what you consider to be influential and fantastic fantasy series.

5 thoughts on “Let’s Start a Debate!

  1. On this list, I would have to go with Lord Of The Rings. (As you stated, past the songs. Those were hard to get through.) I haven’t an extensive experience in reading, as I get lost and seem to have a bit of dyslexia, so go mainly by the movies (by the way it was Peter Jackson who did the movies).
    I have read some of the Shannara novels, at the request of my Son, and did enjoy them. But, I have not heard of Roger Zelazny, nor have I read anything from Anne McCaffrey, though I have heard of Pern.
    Another writer, though more along the lines of Terry Brooks, is Nat Russo with his Necromancer series. It deals with alternate universes, but is really interesting. You should give him a try.
    Interesting subject! It would be really cool if more people would join the discussion, as I would like to hear more views.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Shannara novels are entertaining. I have to be in a certain mood to read them, since they tend to run together at times for me. I will have to take a look at Nat Russo.

      And do look into Roger Zelazny and Anne McCaffrey. They were fantastic authors which helped to shape fantasy and science fiction for years to come. For me, I consider Anne McCaffrey one of the pillars of the genre, right up there with Asimov and Heinlein.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would like to. Problem is, I am unable to acquire them. Most want money in exchange, and that’s something I don’t have access to.
        The issue I have with Asimov and Heinlein is that they tend more toward hard sci-fi. All the technical information leaves me at a loss.
        As I say regarding my own writing, I care not how the machines work, as long as they do. When I write about a mechanical problem, I cannot put what the characters do to fix it, because I really have no idea about the workings of machines. So, I usually leave the problems while some characters fix them, and move to other scenes. I know, it may be sloppy or lazy, but my sci-fi deals more with the Aliens and Humans and less with machines.
        Soft sci-fi?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Have you tried your local library? Most library systems now partner with other libraries to offer a wider selection to their patrons. I’d start there. Hell, I use my local library all the time. 🙂

        Yeah, I think what you’re describing is soft-sci fi. I guess when it comes to some of these authors, it depends on the novel you pick up as to whether or not it’s hard sci fi. Like the original Dragonriders of Pern trilogy deals very little with the technology aspect, if at all (it’s been a while since I read it). Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress are also books that, while dealing with the hard sci fi elements, has very little to do with it as well. But then, Heinlein also had some fun sci fi (such as Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and The Rolling Stones) that have little, if not nothing, to do with hard sci fi. I want to say that Asimov had some too, but for the life of me, I can’t remember most of them. Like I know I Robot had more to do with the question of humanity than of robots. The Foundation Trilogy was much the same, calling into focus society, the pressures it faces, and its downfall.

        I’m just trying to give you an idea. I’d recommend all of these plus more. But for the most part, I’m with you. I read all kinds of sci fi, but I tend to steer clear of most hard sci fi. As long as the machines work, I’m happy. But at the same time, I do like it when they are used to explore a concept and develop ones conscious understanding of certain aspects of life and society.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. As for libraries, there is one here, but I don’t get out much, and between getting stuck on FB and trying to get some writing done, there’s not much time left, either. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m a slow reader and easily distracted. (I know, “Excuses, excuses…”) :/

        Liked by 1 person

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