My biggest announcement of the year (& why I haven’t been posting much for the last two months) needs a bit of a drum-roll. So I thought, what better drum-roll than an updated list of the genre this announcement is going to be about? Here’s my updated top 50 fantasy list, and for those who get to number 50, there’s a little surprise waiting for you.
Top 10 Must Read Fantasy Books
I will inevitably change the title to the ‘Stormlight Archive’ series if the third book is as good at the first two, but having the most potential, this is undoubtedly the
Best Fantasy Book.
No one does character like Joe Abercrombie. Consisting of six books and a collection of short stories, each better than the last, this holds my place for
Best Fantasy Series.
With a style that has evolved through sixteen books, Jim Butcher has mastered the 1st person, single-arc story. This series undoubtedly holds the place for
Best Urban Fantasy.
As a standalone book, ‘Heroes Die’ could have overtaken the Dresden Files. Like many series, it’s less fantastic sequels dropped it in my ranks. It is the
Best Sci-fi/Fantasy Crossover.
This has fallen a placing for each year I’ve waited for the next book to come out. As good as the the first two books are, for the waiting time alone it gets my
Worst of the Best Fantasy.
This book redeemed my faith in the fantasy genre. However, this placement comes with the caveat that it stays standalone, being placed as the
Best Short Standalone Fantasy.
I thought this series had peaked at book two but the final book released this year proved me wrong. Doing justice to older fantasy cliches justifies its place as
Best Comeback Fantasy.
My seventh placement always goes to the best work that barely anyone has tried. This works perfectly because I am convinced this series fits in this place as
Best Obscure Fantasy.
The places for nine and ten are so close that the only reason this is above ten is because both it’s setting and main character are a lot more unique, giving it the
Best Unique Fantasy.
When the second book won the David Gemmel award, there were very high hopes for the third book. The fact that it didn’t live up the anticipation gives it the
Best Overrated Fantasy.
Best 10 Genre Specific Fantasy Books
Brandon Sanderson’s failed heist plot reverts to the tried and true assassin’s heroes journey, redeeming itself entirely with its clever magic system, giving it the
Best Assassin Fantasy.
Joe Abercrombie reinvented the noble savage character trope in dark fantasy and Luke Skull followed his mold, reinforcing it in the new sub-genre Joe predated,
Best Grimdark Fantasy.
This new entry was so close to getting the Grimdark Fantasy placing but the ending of the final book really did change my mind considering its context, still
Best Historical Fantasy.
Abusing the exoticism and eastern noble savage trope for the sake of conflict, this series has definitely gotten better as it’s gone along to the point of being
Best Eastern Fantasy.
Should have been a trilogy is something that comes to mind when I think of the last book of this series considering how good the third book was. For those three,
Best Oriental Fantasy.
If I was more artistic, this would probably be my favorite fantasy book but because I’m aware of the plot tool he uses to get the effect, this fits into
Best Spiritual Fantasy.
I need to read the rest of this series, but from the first book I can tell that it’s something special. The first in this series represents a great place for the
Best Military Fantasy.
As an urban fantasy, Bobby Dollar is not as good as Dresden because, like Gentlemen Bastards and Lightbringer, it quality is not consistent. For the believers,
Best Contemporary Fantasy.
The Red Queen’s War, which builds on the same world as the ‘of Thorns’ trilogy, changed my mind on this world, convincing me it gets the place of
Best Post-Apocalypse Fantasy.
This series was a tricky placement with the ones below it, as they are both series of similar length, tone and plot tools. Focusing on what it does well, I give it
Best Crossover Fantasy.
Highly Recommended Classic Fantasy Books
Predating The Lord of the Rings, Gormanghast features one of the best scheming main characters in classic fantasy and so I give it the
Best Machiavellian Fantasy.
After abridging the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy into a single book, Terry Brooks did the next best thing for the fantasy genre, he wrote the
Best Adventure Fantasy.
Codex Alera, Gormangast and Elfstones are above this series because, unfortunately, the scale of the plot tools leave the later books feeling jumbled, being the
Best Epic Fantasy.
Having given the post apocalypse sub-genre to another series, what makes the Dark Tower unique is that, in a sense, the world actually ends, making it the
Best Apocalypse Fantasy.
I thought epic fantasy was a better genre to describe this massive series. Unfortunately the term wasn’t around and does not define what is generally called the
Best High Fantasy.
Once again, I have come to the problem that I have already used up specific genres for the favorite specified genres. Luckily, this series also falls under the genre of
Best Dark Fantasy.
These next two series were hard to choose from as they are both hard to pinpoint their abstract endings. Unlike Sci-fi/Fantasy crossovers, this is the
Best Science Fantasy.
Eric is difficult to pin down because of the amount of the stories attributed to his character. Some people says he’s an anti-hero, but no, Eric of Melnibone is the
Best Heroic Fantasy.
A massive series containing multiple spin-offs which include even those from other authors. Along the with Wurt’s The Empire Trilogy, this series is the
Best Multiverse Fantasy.
If the first Shannara book is the Lord of the Rings abridged into one book for children, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is Narnia for adults, being the
Best Portal Fantasy.
Genre Specific Fantasy Follow Ups Books
As it came first, one might consider The Long Price Quartet derivative of this series. No, because it follows the exact formula of the Heroes Journey it is the
Best Oriental Fantasy Follow Up.
If I hadn’t read Joe Abercrombie or Luke Skull first, this might have seemed a better book, but after I read it I thought it seemed like another
Best Grimdark Fantasy Follow Up.
This is the kind of book that is great when you read it but afterwards you realize how messy and bottom heavy the second half is. Therefore is takes the
Best Standalone Fantasy Follow Up.
‘Gardens of the Moon’ was a great first book but the series quality didn’t remain consistent throughout. For some boring books, this gets the
Best Military Fantasy Follow Up.
Jim Butcher’s new series jumps on the already aging Steam Punk sub-genre but until more books are released, the first book is so far the
Best Steam Punk Fantasy Follow Up.
Set during the Napoleon War era and dealing with concepts of the madness, although not quite as clever as the beautiful language it uses, it gains a
Best Unique Fantasy Follow Up.
Although Terry Brooks always planned his Shannara series to set in a post-apocalyptic setting, with the Dark Tower and Broken Empire, it’s a
Best Post-Apocalypse Fantasy Follow Up.
As a standalone book, I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series. However, with a plot that rolls off of from previous fantasy in this type, it’s the
Best Eastern Fantasy Follow Up.
This series is an exception to this part of the list because quality-wise this is where it belongs but because there are so many books in the series, it could be a derivative of any fantasy book.
Coming after both Lord of the Rings, Shannara, this dense high fantasy trilogy was easy to overlook once the Wheel of Time got underway for the
Best High Fantasy Fantasy Follow Up.
American Gods would be a very hard act to follow and removing the spiritual aspect that gave it its depth left this book as the
Best Urban Fantasy Follow Up.
Once again, Neil Gaiman’s experiment into a new fantasy sub-genre didn’t bare as much fruit as American Gods, leading to the
Best Portal Fantasy Follow Up.
A Shannara prequel trilogy before the author had even confirmed its connection to the overall series, set in the pre-internet world as
Best Contemporary Fantasy Follow Up.
Written by well known game reviewer, its not a surprise that there is some meta and gaming elements to this fantasy book, being the
Best Science Fantasy Follow Up.
This is the worst derivative fantasy I have read, including a heroes journey, vague Deus ex Machina powers, and blood relative twists along with the
Best Assassin Fantasy Follow Up.
Most Bearable Young Adult Fantasy
What can I say? Even when it’s the young adult demographic, winning the Locus Award shows Joe Abercombie can find a way to make a trilogy the
Best Young Adult Fantasy Series.
This series is an atheist’s young adult fantasy wet dream, but there’s depth to them that can change a reader’s views, this being the
Best Spiritual Young Adult Fantasy.
For a series about summoning demons, Bartimaeus is told from the perspective of one of the demons, giving the books a beautiful cynicism
Best Unique Young Adult Fantasy.
Along with Ristmatist, Steelheart showed the Sanderson could write a decent Young Adult book, although the sequels did let it down a bit. Still, it’s the
Best Young Adult Fantasy Book.
Stuck in the Game?
FINALLY, for those who have read this far, you get something a little bit special…
A shameless plug! That’s right, a few month ago I signed a contract for a Young Adult book that will be published in August by Future House Publishing. And due to my somewhat ironic, self-aware narcissism, I think this is the perfect place for my
Best Young Adult Science Fantasy.
Does it deserve this rank? Find out yourself by reading it when it’s released. Also if your favorite book is missing, you might want to check my 10 Most Overrated Fantasy list where you might find it… probably because that’s where it belongs.