10 Most Overrated Fantasy Books

Reading fantasy books involves dedicating a great deal of time, especially when it comes to some of those massive epics. But sometimes, whether it be through tediousness, overused story formula or even just a bad ending, you feel ripped off for your time and money when a book doesn’t live up to its praise or popularity.

This is a warning guide of what books I find are generally over-hyped, and that may not reach the standards you were expecting or live up to or some value of nostalgia from someone else’s promises. Hopefully this will save you a great deal of time by avoiding them. Though this is a subjective list it is still one made of many subjective online opinions. Dominantly, but not only, from the bestfantasybooks.com website.

The first five are a list of reasonably well known titles that people may offer you on a whim after readying them themselves. Accept only with the warning of what you’re getting yourself into. Remember ‘overrated’ doesn’t always mean ‘bad’ and that these books couldn’t be overrated without being highly rated in the first place.

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

This is considered by some to be Guy Gavriel Kay’s best novel and even Brandon Sanderson had it at the top of his recommended books list, but do not be fooled, it’s pacing is terrible. Don’t get me wrong, the first arc was very good at introducing characters and setting, that’s why it’s only at number 10, but after that the majority of this novel reads like a history book. No surprise that this guy is a writer of historical fantasy, but when the world is made up there is a point in world building where enough is enough.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sandersonwarbreaker2

I was a bit hesitant at first to put this book on this list because of its obscurity but when I read in an author review that he had become the ‘greatest modern fantasy author’ I had to shout out a warning about this book for anyone going through his bibliography. After reading Way of Kings, I consider this to be the weakest link in a rather brilliant author’s career. Maybe it’s because this is the last one the readers generally get to and they know his writing style so well… but this book is just so predictable. We get it, dark ninja heroes and proactive heroines that cause more problems than they solve, aha. Lastly, and call me anti-religious if you must, a Mormon should not be writing even pretend sex scenes.

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Just to show I’m not completely biased let me begin by saying that I like this series all up. I mean Elfstones, Voyage, all good… (Ahem, not heritage). But let me also be honest with you, just like Thomas Covenant is Narnia for adults, Shannara is Lord of Rings for kids. It literally abridges the entire LOTR trilogy into one book, which one can either see as impressive… or depressing. So if someone recommends this to you or you want to recommend it to someone else, start off with the second book, it’s much better and works as a standalone no problem. And give the man some credit, without Brooks we would have no post Tolkien fantasy epics.

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

This book got so hyped up from the TWOT community but when I finally read it I discovered
everything awesome in this book happens in the last 50 pages… of a 1007 page book! Now readers out there can complain about how I missed out on the best parts or Sanderson’s ending or whatever characters do whatever magic. All I know is that I could’ve read ten great books in the time it took me to finish this overrated piece of sh*t.

Now here come the ones that everyone who reads fantasy is going to know.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

When creating a top ten overrated list you need to think, ‘what makes a book overrated?’ Well receiving praise and popularity that doesn’t equal to its quality of story or writing. Now hear me out here, Harry Potter is good but do you really think it’s THAT good? Do really think the craze; the films, the games and the merchandise from the books equals up to it’s story? If yes, that’s just nostalgia talking, we all went through it. (This is only slot 6 remember) I can honestly say Harry Potter is the Pokemon of books, Game or cartoon, if you’ve read other series, you know you’ve read better before.

A Wizard from Earthsea

This story became popular before the ‘show, don’t tell’ belief came into general writing practice. There is a lot of ‘telling’ in this book and it is very invasive. The idea of the grand takes away from much that is good in the story, trading the development of its characters for the development of its world and the workings of the magic for fear of what consequences it could bring on. Intentional or not this trade creates a general boredom throughout the novel.

Night Angel Omnibus by Brent WeeksNight Angel

You’ve probably seen the covers to these books all over the shelves at your local bookstore.
Warning: Stray no further.
They read like young adult fanfiction but have swearing and sex to make it seem for adults. It takes both the classic master-apprentice relationship and hero-damsel relationship and makes them so circular that what the characters stand for starts to lose all meaning. The formula in the book is the generic orphan, apprentice, troubled master plot but adds nothing to it other than a magic system that has no boundaries allowing for most eye-rolling dues ex machina resolutions you will ever read. Heed my words, skip these and move onto his Lightbringer saga, you have been warned.

The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind

What can I say about Wizards First Rule? It was okay. The_Sword_of_Truth_cover_designs
What can I say about the Sword of Truth series? It steadily declines from okay. Why do I say this? Its fan base is immense enough to create a terrible TV show that perpetuates the knowledge of this terrible series until it was finally, thankfully, cancelled. Here’s some food for thought; ‘super wizards’, ‘betty the evil goat who was evil,’ ‘a magical sword that gives no magic to the main character that any sword couldn’t’, ‘morally putting a peaceful town to the slaughter’, ‘punting little girls’ faces’, & lots and lots of sex torture… You get the point. Plus Goodkind is an Ayn Rand follower and you can every easily see her philosophies in these books *shiver*.

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

I know I’m going to get some slack for this one, which helps to prove my point really. The trilogy has many within its strong nostalgic grips but for those who actually read it, and by ‘it’ I mean the entire trilogy, who remember the tedious wandering and depression of the third book only to lead to one of the most disappointing endings in fantasy, here is my main reason. The main character is an idiot and a whiney b**ch which makes for a bad combination when complaining about the stupid things he does. In third person this wouldn’t be so bad but in first person, it’s all the reader has to go on!

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

For those of you who read my ‘least favorite things’ post this should not come at a surprise to you. This is a good example of why you shouldn’t publish a Star Wars obsessed teenager’s LOTR fan fiction. (Big breath in) Simply compare the quality of this series with its popularity and it’s not hard to see why this is the most over-rated book.

Don’t say you were expecting Twilight to be #1, we all know paranormal-romance doesn’t count as ‘real fantasy’. As ballsy as this was to send this to a well respected fantasy website it wasn’t nearly as ballsy as the publishers for putting these books on the bookshelves and watching them sell. Hehehe XD

This entry was posted in Eragon, Fantasy, Farseer, Harry Potter, List, Night Angel, Novels, Shannara, Sword of Truth, Tigana, Warbreaker, Wheel of Time. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to 10 Most Overrated Fantasy Books

  1. Don says:

    You forgot “The Lord of the Rings” series…the most boring, stilted, garbage I’ve ever slogged through. I realize Tolkien nerds think that he is the beginning of the world building fantasy series, but he’s not.

    In the early 1900’s a man named L. Frank Baum wrote a series of 14 books (admittedly for children, although in the 1900’s the level of “adult themes” allowed for kids was much higher than today) which contain each and every trope that Tolkien gets all the credit for.

    Ah…when will people realize that Tolkien is nothing but a snooze…I was bored reading his books at 13, and I was still bored with them when I gave them a second chance 30 years later.

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  3. hlmwilki says:

    I loved this blog post because I agreed with you for most of the books on this list. I absolutely hate the wheel of time series because in the 6th book (or when Rand gets kidnapped and put in a chest box and breaks free at the end) all the action happened in the last 200 pages and I had to wade through 700 pages of absolute boredom. It is inexcusable and the story itself has many plot holes and artifical tension.
    Today I was thinking about Eragon when I saw it on your category list and thought that the ending looked similar to what Luke Skywalker did (tries to start up the Jedi in a hidden place) and I was wondering if Paolini was a star wars fan. Then I read this post and find out that yes he was a major star wars fan and so the design of his story makes sense as a star wars saga but with dragons and magic.
    Having said that Eragon was one of my most favourite books of all time (it’s not now) and I actually read it 3 times and Eldest I read twice, and I was dying for the next books, so I was a massive fan of the story. Basically I disagree that the story was overhyped, but I tip my hat to Paolini for getting his dream story in print (I know his parents own a publishing company) when he was 15! That’s incredible. And even if Eragon is riddled with themes seen in Star Wars and other fantasy books, the story is pretty original.

    • Lazarinth says:

      I have about as much respect for Christopher Paolini as any teenager who gets their Star Wars/Lord of Rings fan fiction published and popularized to naïve children enough to become viral. I asked him in person at a con, “Farm boy, who discovers something wanted by an evil empire, goes to an old story teller, who was once a part of a magical race of peace keepers before betrayed by one of them. Together they go on a journey to a fortress to save a captured princess but on it the old trainer dies. Returning with the princess to the rebel base the farm boy becomes a hero in a hasty battle. Is this the plot to Eragon or Star Wars: A New Hope?” When answering not only did he say that he got the plot from starwars and Kurosawa films but he actually admitted that Eragon was never originally meant to be published, but I thought this was obvious by the book itself.

      • hlmwilki says:

        Well despite all of that, I still enjoyed reading Eragon and liked the story overall. Even if the themes are the same the fact is you are reading one particular story: Eragon and Saphira’s story and that’s what I loved about it. I had no clue what inspired Eragon at the time I read it, so I was able to enjoy the story on its own merits, and it has many. 🙂

  4. Elise says:

    I personally liked Warbreaker, i read it in between Mistborn and Stormlight Archive. The reason for placing it on the list [ Sanderson becoming acclaimed as the ‘greatest modern fantasy author’] is odd to me. Yes, the book a a bit predictable [ though really, I did not see some things comming…] but the Worlbiulding in it and the magic system are pretty damn cool. Also Warbreaker was kind of an experiment – Sanderson posted the book online chapter by chapter while he was writing it and you can also find the rewrites and changes he made along the way. I’m sorry to disagree with you, but to me, this book was beautiful.

    • Lazarinth says:

      Honestly, this post is a bit outdated now. I posted at the start of last year and I’ve read books much more overrated than Warbreaker and Tigana since then, I’ll re-post it some time in the future. As for Warbreaker I read it coming off of his better stuff so I was a lot more sensitive to how formulaic approach to writing. It’s not really overrated now that i think about it because I’ve never seen a review that’s given it too high of a rating.

  5. Lazarinth says:

    Hah, probably, didn’t you ever wonder what the fuss was all about?

  6. The Otaku Judge says:

    Cool top ten. Am I the only person in the world who hasn’t read any of the Harry Potter books or watched the movies?

  7. Rebecca says:

    Ack Warbreaker. Don’t even get me started on that book. I loved the Mistborn trilogy and then I read Warbreaker and Brandon Sanderson lost so many respect points in my book. It definitely deserves a spot on this list. It makes me sad because the cover is so gorgeous.

  8. So happy to see Eragon on that list! For me, the book started out interesting and then became very bland and devoid of creativity by the end. The first book killed my desire to read more in the series.

    I’m a very weird Terry Brooks fan: The Elfstones of Shannara was my least favorite of his Shannara series. I actually stopped reading his books after the Voyage of Shannara because it felt like he was running out of ideas.

    I’d have to agree with you completely about The Sword of Truth series, but I liked the characters so much that I read on until he started talking about “the evils of self-sacrifice.” How selfish does one need to become in order to call self-sacrifice evil, anyway? And the Wheel of Time finally vexed me such that I stopped reading it after going 300 pages into The Crossroads of Twilight: “Did I really just read 300 pages of text consisting of little except what the characters were thinking?” I’m surprised that I didn’t notice something similar in Lord of Chaos–could have spent my time reading something better!

    • Lazarinth says:

      Considering the fantasy part of my blog is the only thing that really makes it distinguishable from every other anime blog out there I’m glad so many anime bloggers read fantasy as well. I’ve gone on about Eragon in my least favorite things post as well so really no reason to go there. For me with Brooks Elfstones was just a surprise after having read Sword, Lord of Rings similarities and all. I think I preferred Armageddon’s Children all up just because of it’s pre-apocalypse setting set up to create fantasy world was a bit more original. With Goodkind, well his philosophies are a bit backwards because of his obsession with Ayn Rand who herself was a bit backward. Haha, yeah Crossroads of Twilight was doozey, nothing happening, I remember finishing and going, “Okay nothing really happened in that book, did it?”

  9. Heard of/seen/read most of these on the list:

    Tigana: Well, think you saved me from a lot of wondering, since I had it on “To-read” list on GoodReads. Got a lot of good reviews, but been hesitant to buy it.

    A Wizard from Earthsea: Lol. I would have to agree with your analysis. It was a very tedious read for all the “telling” it did, but did appreciate the world-building at least. Wouldn’t be a book I would recommend, though.

    Night Angel: Seen it, flip though a few pages in the store, proabably won’t be starting it. I am curious about the Lightbringer saga you mentioned, though.

    Happen to have list of sci-fi titles ^_^

    • Lazarinth says:

      Tigana isn’t bad, it’s just not as good as a lot of people say it is. The main reason i had it as number 10 is because it’s opening is really good and what a lot of people judge it on when the rest of it starts to read like a history book.

      The lightbringer saga are Weeks’s newests books and are far better than the nightangel trilogy, the 2nd, the blinding knife won last years gemmel award. Including this in the fantasy section you can find all my fav scifi books on my recommendations list. As for overrated scifi Asimov’s Foundation might be in there but besides that i dont know. A future post perhaps.

  10. Jeyna Grace says:

    I think HP is overrated because of the hype, but it is no doubt a good series. Growing up with it made it an adventure, and though people might think it is overdone with games and merchs, it is one of the best fantasy adventures out there.

    • Lazarinth says:

      Yeah, it’s on this list because of the massive hype it got but only at number 6 because it’s still relatively good, if it had been terrible as well I would have put it at number one.

  11. Silvachief says:

    Sword of Shannara was one i’ve had sitting on my “to read” list for a while, just because I see it around a lot. It’s not really on the list any more XD

    While I can’t remember book six of The Wheel Of Time specifically I remember it being a very drawn-out series. You go from relatively fast-paced excitement early on to a lot of waiting around without much happening. I enjoyed the series as a whole but I have no qualms about it being on this list.

    The Order Of The Pheonix most definitely deserves its place here. It was the book that stopped me from continuing the series, though i’ll admit I was never hugely into it anyway. This might be the only case where the movies were enough for me.

    You already know how I feel about Robin Hobb’s books. I would be very interested to hear how you feel about the Soldier Son Trilogy, as they were another set of books by Robin Hobb that enjoyed, and they’re quite different to the Farseer series.

    • Lazarinth says:

      Yeah I wouldn’t recommend Sword of Shannara because it’s pretty much Lord of the Rings abridged. If I were to recommend you a Brooks book it would be Elfstones of Shannara because it really perfected the time-bomb plot device on an epic scale, though obviously only if you had nothing else good to read as with everything else here. I guess you should ignore the comment part of my last email to you, but I do wonder if some of those animations would suit your dry humor or not. I preferred the Order of the Phoenix film more as well and I’ll give the soldier son trilogy a wiki.

  12. Alex says:

    Waaaaah I really like Harry Potter >_< . The books at least. But fair enough, I can see what you put it on the list.

    As for the others… I haven't read or have forgotten 10 and 9. I thought Sword of Shannara was pretty boring, and the characters dull. Can't comment on the WoT one, can't remember what happened. Either I haven't read Earthsea or dropped it early on. I read the Night Angel trilogy in early high school and enjoyed it. Then I read it again a couple of years ago and realised it was crap haha.
    I liked Wizard's First Rule and did kinda like the rest of the series at first, but when I tried to re-read I got bloody sick of Goodkind's preaching through his characters and I doubt I'll touch it again. Except maybe the first book.
    I've tried a couple of Robin Hobb series, but haven't found them very interesting. And lol Eragon. Despite its flaws which you have so kindly pointed out, I found it fun. Although the series literally had the worst ending ever and I had a mad rage after. 😀

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