Book Bragging Rights (Fantasy Edition)

Andrew Stephens, Sunday the 8th of March, 2009

Alright! This is the last one of these I am going to do, partly due to the time they take, but mostly because they make me look bad This post was automatically imported from my old sandfly.net.nz blog. It may look a little weird since it was not originally written for this format..

Fantasy is a much (and accurately) maligned genre. Unlike SciFi, Fantasy cannot pretend that its authors are offering up visions of our future, nor do novels containing doughty heroes slaughtering goblinoid lesser racers lend themselves to commentary on the human condition, except in the most ironic way. Still, I will admit to enjoying some olde-time dragon slayage as much as the next man.

I got this list from the same site as the SciFi list, but you can see they were scratching to find 100 fantasy books worth mentioning. Several items are more "Magic Realism" which is publisher-speak for "telepathic policeman" or some-such nonsense. Others are could have easily been labeled SciFi. Still more just aren't really that good.

  1. Lord Of the Rings Trilogy by J R R Tolkien (1954)
    Excellent, almost everything on the rest of this list rips this off in some way
  2. Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling (1997)
  3. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien (1937)
    Very cool. Tolkien had a way of starting stories out as pastoral larks and then turning them dark so gradually you don't notice.
  4. Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan (1990)
    I read the first few, not too bad but they didn't seem in a hurry to get anywhere
  5. A Song of Ice & Fire by George R R Martin (1996)
    Another series I didn't finish. The first book (or two books depending how you count them) are excellent but you need to keep notes to remember all the characters.
  6. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C S Lewis (1950)
    Beloved but not that great
  7. The Belgariad Series by David Eddings (1982)
    Fantasy cheese with a light touch, the perfect fantasy paperback series. Evil defeated, rightful king throned, everyone gets married – what more can you ask for.
  8. Magician by Raymond E Feist (1982)
    I read the first one. It was pretty good.
  9. Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind (1994)
  10. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman (1995)
  11. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks (1977)
  12. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (2002)
  13. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin (1968)
    Excellent children's fantasy
  14. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (1995)
  15. Dark Elf Trilogy by R A Salvatore (1990)
    Well actually I am not sure I have read them all, but I liked the ones I found. Much better than a gaming tie-in novels have any right to be.
  16. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King (1982)
    I lost track of this series somewhere along to way. I liked to first couple. I have always thought King was a better writer than he is usually given credit for when he wanted to be. Its a shame that wasn't all the time.
  17. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle (1962)
  18. Dragonlance Chronicles by Weis & Hickman (1984)
    Pretty much exactly as good as gaming tie-in novel have any right to be, ie: not that good.
  19. Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)
    Cool, its a shame none of Adams' other books were anything special
  20. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
  21. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (1983)
    Pratchett's discworld books are excellent and unlike just about everything else on this list, actually get better as they go along. This one is one of the weakest in my opinion.
  22. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001)
    It's OK – covers a lot of the same ground as Small Goods by Pratchett but not as interesting.
  23. The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973)
  24. Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)
  25. Thomas Covenant - The Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson (1977)
    Thomas Covenant – The Absolute Bastard more like it. Didn't like the first book, didn't stick around to see if they got better.
  26. The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny (1970)
    Actually pretty cool – very pulpy but moves fast enough so you don't mind too much
  27. Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice (1976)
  28. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (2001)
  29. The Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1983)
  30. Good Omens by Gaiman & Pratchett (1990)
    Fantastic book that only gets better when you read some of the stuff they are spoofing
  31. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
  32. Redwall by Brian Jacques (1986)
  33. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (1997)
  34. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
    Influential. I liked the way it told the story through letters and diary entries.
  35. The Lord Of the Flies by William Golding (1954)
  36. Memory, Sorrow & Thorn Series by Tad Williams (1988)
    Pretty standard fare as far as I can remember.
  37. Sabriel by Garth Nix (1995)
  38. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (1968)
  39. On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony (1983)
  40. The Once & Future King by T H White (1958)
  41. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (2005)
  42. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (1997)
  43. The Silmarillion by J R R Tolkien (1977)
  44. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (1983)
  45. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (1979)
    Excellent novel pretending to be a Children's story. Most people who have seen the movie don't realise that the film only covers the first third of the book. The rest is, shall we say, quite different.
  46. The Malloreon by David Eddings (1987)
    In which Eddings tries to recapture the magic by ripping himself off and fails miserably. A pale shadow of #7
  47. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson (1994)
  48. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
  49. Beowulf by Unknown Author (700)
    Actually I have only read the Penguin condensed version, but that is more than you have - so there.
  50. The Odyssey by Homer (-800)
    Yes, and this as well.
  51. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (2003)
  52. Mort by Terry Pratchett (1987)
  53. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
  54. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1995)
  55. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (1964)
    Charming, as all stories that include pigs are
  56. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2003)
  57. Outlander by Dianna Gabaldon (1992)
  58. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)
    Just reading it now – seems good so far...
  59. The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis (1942)
    Better than those Narnia books
  60. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1967)
  61. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2001)
  62. Left Behind by LaHaye & Jenkins (1995)
  63. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002)
  64. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (1961)
    Very cool and trippy book for kids
  65. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay (1990)
  66. Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton (1993)
  67. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (1991)
    Educational
  68. Watchmen by Moore & Gibbons (1987)
    Perhaps not quite deserving of the praise that gets heaped upon it – but still pretty good. I have high hopes for the film.
  69. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1943)
  70. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)
    I have a picture in my attic that reads the books I haven't.
  71. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (1992)
  72. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (2001)
  73. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (2005)
  74. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (2003)
  75. Death Gate Cycle by Weis & Hickman (1990)
  76. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (2000)
    Very, very cool world unlike any other I have seen in a fantasy book. The sequel is good as well.
  77. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)
  78. Batman - The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (1986)
    What's this doing on this list? Not to bad, but I wouldn't call it fantasy.
  79. Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey (1989)
  80. Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C Wrede (1990)
  81. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (1972)
    I got read this by a teacher in primary school.
  82. The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle (1968)
  83. The Elenium by David Eddings (1989)
    Eddings rips himself off again. The story is getting pretty thin by this stage.
  84. The Amulet of Samarkan by Jonathan Stroud (2003)
  85. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2002)
    Neat idea well executed
  86. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)
    Odd
  87. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962)
  88. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966)
  89. Perfume by Patrick Suskind (1986)
    Very odd
  90. Inferno by Dante Alighieri (1321)
    Funny and bitchy, I would have hated to get on Dante's bad side.
  91. Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (1980)
    The first part of it anyway. Did not care for it.
  92. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)
  93. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper (1973)
  94. Elric of Melnibone Series by Michael Moorcock (1972)
  95. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (1600)
    I liked The Tempest better, but thats just me.
  96. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)
  97. Lamb by Christopher Moore (2002)
  98. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1994)
  99. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (1982)
  100. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop (1998)

Have I been too harsh on Fantasy? Has your favourite Magic:The Gathering novel been omitted? Feel free to comment below.