Ultimate Fantasy Books Series
I am fan of fantasy books, period. Ever since I read The Hobbit in High School I have been hooked to this genre, not only because of the work of giants like Tolkien, but because I found that many fantasy writers are more likely to create sagas spanning 6 or seven books, or even more, rather than just giving us a trilogy. Thus, for the last 20 years I have been reading every fantasy book I can get my hands on and finally decided to write this top ten list, of the ultimate Fantasy Books Series.
1.- The Wheel of Time. – Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.
This extensive series follows the lives of a group of young, unsuspecting heroes, thrown blindly into the designs of a powerful group of Wizards and of the impending evil that is about to be unleashed to the world. This series has everything an epic fantasy story needs: compelling and real characters, a massive world, filled with local customs, architecture, wardrobe and cuisine; it has deep storylines and real emotion, it has Rand, Mat and Perrin; and it has Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne. You will discover the world of mysteries of the Aes Sedai, of the Children of the Light, of the Seanchan and the Tinkers and the Aiel. If you are new to the fantasy genre, then I highly recommend this series. The 14th and final book of the series is due to come out around March of 2011.
2.- The Deathgate Cycle. – Margaret Wise and Tracy Hickman.
This is a seven book series, which features one of the most unique characters within the fantasy world. Haplo, a Patryn, who has finally escaped the clutches of the evil prison the Sartan had made for them- the Labyrinth- and who is ready to infiltrate what is left of the world, or worlds, after the sundering. Haplo has to be one of my favorite characters of all time, because he has a very violent past, like most Patryn, but he does tend to grasp the bigger issues that are at play in this new world. He will be accompanied by a dog, a half-blind dwarf, an assassin, a brat prince and a clumsy servant. Epic fantasy at its finest.
3.- A Song of Ice and Fire. – George R.R. Martin.
This is thrilling story of medieval and epic proportions, detailing the harsh and brutal life in the continent of Westeros. This is the prime example of a new type of fantasy, geared toward adults. The brutal realities depicted, the killings and the sexual content, do not, in any way, shape or form, demerit the story. You will be immersed into the hard and frozen lands of the North, where the Starks rule, to the placid yet treacherous King’s Landing, to the twisting and dangerous roads of the Vale, Martin will take you on a journey of fantastic lands, thick with mystery and magic, with the only adage that could possibly destroy the world as they know it: Winter is coming!
4.- Dragonlance, Heroes I (The Legend of Huma, Stormblade, Weasel’s Luck). – Richard A. Knaak, Nancy Varian Berberick, Michael Williams.
This trilogy is just the tip of the iceberg peeking out of the massive D&D world of Dragonlance, created by Tracy Hickman and his wife. The modules meant to be played following the D&D rules were later novelized, by Weis and Hickman, but out of the development of the world and the modules and stepping out of the shadows created by the Heroes of the Lance, came the first trilogy that did not deal with the original cast of characters. Of the three novels, the one that stands out is The Legend of Huma, where you will get to meet Huma Dragonbane, Kaz the Minotaur and Magius the mage. I read this trilogy around 1989, when all of the books had been published and I will not lie to you that Heroes I made me want to read as much of Dragonlance as possible.
5.-The Legend of Drizzt. – R.A. Salvatore.
I have rated this whole series, which is part of a larger set of novels from the whole Forgotten Realms modules -also D&D- as one of my favorite fantasy series, because of a single word: Drizzt. The depiction of the tortured life of a Drow, a Dark Elf usually associated with murder and chaos, trying to live among Dwarves, Humans, Barbarians and Halflings, in a tale that will lead you all around Faerun, where the mythical cities of Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter are part of the story. You will follow Drizzt and his friends Wulfgar, Regis, Cattie-Brie and Bruenor, as well as his nemesis Artemis Entreri, in their many adventures. These eclectic cast of characters will leave their mark in Faerun and will be known as the Companions of the Hall. Each character is well defined and Salvatore’s descriptions of battles are still one of the best. Unlike Dragonlance, I do feel that throughout the whole Drizzt series you can, sometimes, if you are paying attention, hear the dice roll when the companions hit the road.
6.-The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. – J.R.R. Tolkien.
This is the granddaddy of all series, the benchmark for the new generation of writers to aspire to. I read this books for the first time 24 years ago, and have read them many times since. The truly epic story of a Hobbit, a mage named Gandalf and the many situations that arise, threatening to destroy not only their peaceful Shire but the world itself. The rich context of a new language created, of the fight between good and evil, of friendship and trust and magic, and evil, will forever make this one of the best fantasy series of all time.
7.-The First Law. – Joe Abercrombie.
The series consists of the First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings) and two standalone books (Best Served Cold and The Heroes). While the Trilogy is beautiful, gritty, fast paced, bloody, sexy and wildly entertaining, and while its characters are some of the most iconic character you will ever read, like Glotka, Jezal, Ferro, Logen, the Dogman, Bayaz, etc… the best book is Best Served Cold, but only after you have the trilogy. Monza Murcatto, became one of my favorite characters. The whole series of books will lead you through the treacherous paths of medieval politics, of inquisitorial intrigues, of bloody battles, and of endless regrets.
8.-The Kingkiller Chronicle. – Patrick Rothfuss
This is an ongoing series (The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear), but if the first two books are any indication of where the series is going, then you need to buckle up your seatbelt and hang on, because Kvothe is on the loose. This is a beautiful story about redemption, revenge, sadness, music, love, a celebration of life in all of it’s glory, a testimonial of perseverance when the world, and the gods, have already forsaken you. Again, I cannot stress enough how well written and how good the story is.
9.-Dragonlance, Chronicles. – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
This is the trilogy that defined the Dragonlance Novels series. It introduced to you the cast of characters that would become known as the Heroes of the Lance, but like many of their protagonists ( Haplo, Joram, Mina) their heroes are flawed and bitter, some are lingering between the thin line of good and evil, while others cannot accept what they are. Tanis Half-Elf, Caramon and Raistlin Majere, Flint, Tasselhoff, Laurana, Kitiara and Sturm, are all part of the story that would put the heroes against the petty and frivolous designs of the gods. A Great read if you want to dip you feet into the enormous Dragonlance pool.
10.-The Chronicles of Narnia. – C.S. Lewis.
Another classic, another set of books that are a must read for anyone wanting to enter the fantasy genre, the world created by Lewis and how it affects our own, with its own cosmogony, its own evolutions and their own forces of balance, are just the opening of a marvelous and rich cast of characters.
So there you are, these are my Ultimate Top Ten Fantasy Series. There are a lot of worthy series out there, and maybe in time, and with your help, we can improve and expand this list.