Rating of the best books in the fantasy genre
• Over the years, good fantasy books have taken people to other places and times. And since the turn of the 21st century, fantasy has truly exploded into the mainstream thanks to the success of Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.
• We invite you to remember the best of the best by collecting the top 20 most popular fantasy books. At the same time, we are a little cunning and indicate both individual books and entire cycles in which each book is worthy of mention.
• All participants in the rating are in random order. Perhaps not all of your favorites made it to this list, but that's only because it won't be able to accommodate absolutely all the masterpieces.
20. A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin
The popularity of the series based on Martin's books (although not in everything) has been phenomenal for several years. The A Song of Ice and Fire series currently has five books, still unfinished, to the chagrin of fans.
• If you enjoy multiple intricate storylines, a cast of characters none of whom are immune from death, and a world full of lords, knights, bastards, wizards, conspirators, heroes, and anti-heroes, then you'll love Martin's books.
• A Song of Ice and Fire has magic, intrigue, mystery, and plenty of romance; in fact, a world similar and not like ours, and certainly not like the standard magical worlds with noble elves and evil orcs.
19. Chronicles of Deryni, Katherine Kurtz
Katherine Kurtz's books begin with "Rise of the Deryni," which introduces readers to a land where the magically gifted race of the Deryni must keep the powers of their bloodline secret.
• In the first book, Prince Kelson must master his derini abilities in order to challenge a powerful foe. Written in the early 70s, The Chronicles of Deryni managed to avoid Tolkien's imitation, and gave readers an original (at the time) plot.
18. The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis
A series of works by K.S. Lewis is a great example of well-executed portal fantasy. Each of his works seems complete and gives a different perspective on the world of Narnia.
• Narnia is a beautiful country where children from an ordinary English family (Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund) got straight from the wardrobe. There they discovered magic, magical creatures not found on Earth, and Aslan, the Great Lion. And it changed their lives forever.
• The Chronicles of Narnia may seem too childish for adults, but for primary school children and teenagers, it is a wonderful book for out-of-school reading that teaches mercy, courage, and justice.
17. The Witcher, Andrzej Sapkowski
Before moving into one of best games of the decade Geralt of Rivia was a character in a series of books written by the Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski.
• And if you think The Witcher 3 is one of the best fantasy games of all time, then trust that Sapkowski's book series is also one of the best fantasy books of all time.
• You can’t say the same about the Netflix series The Witcher yet, but perhaps he has everything ahead of him. And we will still pay the cinematic Geralt, if not in cash, then with hot audience love, as was the case with the first seasons of Game of Thrones.
16. Riders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey
Lessa, considered by most to be just a kitchen maid, decides it's time to get her stolen birthright back. But she is destined for a fate far greater than becoming the mistress of a poor settlement-hold.
• Lessa meets the dragon queen, forming a quick and strong mental bond with her. Dragons and their riders must protect the planet Pern from the Threads that burn everything in their path, but at what cost?
• The cycle about Pern is very prolific, it includes 28 books. Some of them were written by Ann McCaffrey in collaboration with her son, Todd McCaffrey. And the last book called "Code of Dragons" (not published) was written by Georgina McCaffrey.
15. Sword of Truth, Terry Goodkind
One of the most controversial fantasy series was the offspring of Terry Goodkind's epic fantasy series.
• It begins with Wizard's First Rule and follows Truth Seeker Richard Cypher in his fight against the dark forces of the world.
14. Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
When the late Ursula Le Guin wrote The Wizard of Earthsea, she did so to reverse the traditional view of fantasy imagery by introducing a dark-skinned protagonist and showing what a wise wizard looks like when young and reckless.
• Young Ged, nicknamed the Sparrowhawk, longs for the glory of the great sorcerer of Earthsea, but makes a terrible mistake. And as a result, a terrible monster penetrates into the material world – the Shadow, constantly pursuing Ged.
• Now Hawk must defeat the ancient dragon and fight Shadow after learning her True Name.
• The Wizard of Earthsea was filmed twice, as a television movie and as an anime by Goro Miyazaki, but Ursula Le Guin herself did not approve of these film adaptations, considering them more like films based on her books.
13. The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny
Zelazny's classic ten-book series is the best kind of portal fantasy for adults. "Chronicles of Amber" tells about the life of the royal family of Amber (in other translations – Amber or the Amber Kingdom) and the Courts of Chaos, as well as the conflicts between them.
• Zelazny has been an inspiration to many of today's preeminent fantasy writers, and although the Princes of Amber series is now fifty years old, it is still beloved and popular.
12. The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
This cult fantasy work is filled with wonder and hope, which can offer a nice contrast to dark and gritty fantasy like A Song of Ice and Fire.
• The Last Unicorn, released way back in 1968, is still a pleasure to read, and it can surprise you with its depth – at times the book becomes philosophical and even sad, but, at its core, remains a beautiful and compassionate story. And, of course, the 1982 animated film is worth watching.
11. Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan
With Amazon planning to release an adaptation of Robert Jordan's 2021-book epic series in 14, now is the time to read the series that had a lot of influence on the development of fantasy in the 90s.
• Jordan's cycle (which was completed by Brandon Sanderson after his death) offers readers a detailed, magical world and a huge number of characters. It stands out for its interesting system of the Unified Force, which obeys a special form of the laws of thermodynamics, as well as the inclusion of many female characters in the main characters.
10. "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever" by Stephen R. Donaldson
One of the best dark fantasy novel series won the British Fantasy Award in 1979. His main character, a misanthrope and a whiner with leprosy, is completely different from the typical fantasy hero.
• Being rejected by his environment due to illness, Thomas ends up in the Land, which he believes is the result of his sick imagination. And the world he enters hardly deserves just such a savior. But there is no choice here...
9. "The Saga of the Eternal Warrior" by Michael Moorcock
The famous English science fiction writer published several novels united by the theme of the Eternal Warrior – "one soul, many faces." The four incarnations of the Warmaster are best known: Elric of Melnibone, Dorian Hawkmoon, Prince Corum, and Erikese the Rememberer
• Each Warrior fights with a special weapon, has a faithful friend who remembers his incarnations, and a lover, and has a physical feature that clearly distinguishes him from other people.
• But regardless of the appearance and the world in which the main protagonist finds himself, his mission is the same – saving the world and restoring the Cosmic Balance, which he serves (sometimes unwittingly).
• Many songs have been written based on Moorcock's work, but, unlike many participants in the list of the best fantasy of all time, the Eternal Warrior did not make it into games and films. For now.
8. Saga of the Spear, Laura and Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weiss
The books that make up the Spear Saga show a rare literary quality – versatility.
• They are easy to read, full of fantasy clichés, yet manage to be absolutely charming and captivating at the same time. And they are the standard of the D&D system. It is not a great book, but rather an important element of fantasy culture, one of the doors through which we can enter the world of heroic fiction.
7. Chronicles of the Black Company, Glen Cook
One of the best fantasy universes has influenced Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and deserves to be read.
• Is the newly resurrected Mistress a force standing between humanity and evil, or is she evil herself? Steadfast and firm mercenaries from the Black Squad, who found themselves in the very center of world upheavals, do their job until the White Rose – the main enemy of the Lady and her Lord – is reborn, embodying good ... or not.
6. The Saga of Drizzt Do'Urden by Robert Salvatore
Drizzt is not quite the correct spelling of the name of the dark elf created by Robert Salvatore, the author himself called his hero Drizzt. But the Russian publishing house "Maxim" felt that Drizzt sounded dissonant to the Russian ear.
• Be that as it may, the character has become one of the favorites of Russian and foreign fans of the fantasy genre. Fantasy World magazine even gave the dark elf the second line in the list of the main fantasy characters of all history (the first went to Frodo Baggins).
5. Mythic Cycle, Robert Asprin
A cheerful, exciting and full of humor fantasy, in which there are demons and demons and magicians and dragons, and many other creatures, but not at all the same as we know them from the books of other authors.
• In the world of Asprin (or rather, the worlds), stereotypes are broken, and a dangerous creature can hide under the guise of a cute child – and vice versa.
• Despite the ease with which the "MYTHIC" books are read, Asprin had a hard time writing them. The cycle began in 1979, and the first six books were written fairly quickly. But then the author, with great difficulty (according to him), wrote four more and put the project on the shelf due to problems with the tax office. He completed the last 2 books of the 12-volume series in 2001-2002.
• Unlike several books by Terry Pratchett, which are also masterpieces of humorous fantasy, The Mythic Cycle was never filmed.
4. "Harry Potter", JK Rowling
If Tolkien laid the foundation for 20th century fantasy, Rowling laid the foundation for the next generation. Like it or not, we will see echoes of the Harry Potter books for decades to come.
• So, if you love good books about magic, wizardry, and the challenges of growing up, then the Harry Potter series is one of the best fantasy series of all time.
3. "Conan of Cimmeria" by Robert E. Howard
I confess to you, dear readers, that the Conan books were my desktop books in my youth. He was the hero that teenage dreams lack – a born leader, uncompromising, noble, incredibly strong and having his own code of honor.
• Only a small part of the Conan books were written by Robert Howard, who left our world early. After his death, other science fiction writers continued Conaniad, including Paul Anderson, Robert Jordan, Steve Perry, Lyon Sprague de Camp, and Lin Carter.
• The fact that the saga of the rampaging barbarian from Cimmeria was able to achieve overwhelming commercial success could not but affect the fantasy industry as a whole. Imitations of Howard led to the creation of the fantasy sword and magic subgenre. At the same time, not all authors made "tracing paper" from Conan, there were "anti-Conans" and even parodies, such as Cohen the Barbarian – one of the heroes of the "Flat World" cycle.
• In addition to Cohen, parodies of the Cimmerian are Ronal the Barbarian from the cartoon of the same name, Korgoth from the Barbarian (a character of the pilot episode of the same name, the production of which was stopped) and Condon the Barbarian from Harry Turtledove's novel "Wonder-Zanudo".
2. Discworld, Terry Pratchett
Sir Terence Pratchett is no longer with us, but his gift to all lovers of good fantasy remained – worlds generously filled with magic, irony and charismatic heroes.
• Managing to joke about such serious things as politics, science, religion and even death, Pratchett wrote over 40 novels included in the Discworld cycle, and the total circulation of his books amounted to more than 70 million copies.
• Some of Pratchett's books have been made into films (Santa Hog, Postage, The Color of Magic). And in 2017, the BBC channel released a documentary series about the life of Terry Pratchett himself. You can watch it with Russian subtitles.
1. The Lord of the Rings, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
It is, without exaggeration, the most influential fantasy of all time. And this is not only the personal opinion of the author of the article. In 2003, The Lord of the Rings was ranked number one on the BBC's 200 Best Books list.
• Modern fantasy sagas such as Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire have reached incredible levels of popularity around the world, but will any of them be as loved and famous sixty-six years from now? The best they can hope for is a mention on a par with Tolkien's masterpieces.