Good Minds Suggest—N.K. Jemisin's Favorite Epic Fantasies

April, 2012

N.K. Jemisin Brooklyn writer N.K. Jemisin imagines otherworldly lands for her quixotic fantasy and speculative fiction. In The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the first book of the award-winning Inheritance Trilogy, the city of Sky appears to float atop a whisper-thin pillar of rock. In her latest novel, The Killing Moon, which launches the Dreamblood series, the setting is a desert city-state where dreams are a magical force and all citizens worship the goddess Hananja. Devout Ehiru—an elite priest capable of harvesting dreams to heal or kill—must test his faith when he uncovers a conspiracy that goes all the way up to the highest ranks of society. Jemisin recommends her favorite epic fantasies for "people who don't read a lot of epic fantasy"—because she doesn't like the majority of epic fantasies either! Here are the ones she does love, "because they take the usual clichés of the genre and do the Mashed Potato all over them."

The Spiritwalker series by Kate Elliott (Goodreads Author)
"Epic fantasy with a side of alternate history, set on an Earth in which the spirit world is real, Africa has conquered Europe, and colonialism does not exist. Our swashbuckling heroine, Cat, must save her sister from the Wild Hunt while struggling not to fall in love with her own husband. There are also dinosaur lawyers and Casanova were-sabertooths...well, it's kind of hard to describe. But it's unbelievably cool."


Books of the Raksura series by Martha Wells (Goodreads Author)
"Wells introduces us to a magnificently rich world without humans, in which the politics of empire are quite literally Darwinian. Lonely orphan Moon has no idea what species he belongs to, which is tough because he just wants a place to call home. When he finally finds his people, however, he discovers they're in danger of being destroyed by the dreaded people-eating, magic-tainting Fell—and it's up to him to save the Three Worlds from mass extinction."


The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
"Epic fantasy with a side of postapocalyptic science fiction, horror, and sheer WTF. King's magnum opus is threaded throughout nearly all his works, but those threads come together in this powerful saga of the gunslinger and his three companions, the man in black, and all the worlds saved and shattered by their epic battle. A haunting world and compelling characters; my two favorite things."


Time Master series by Louise Cooper
"Cooper actually wrote several additional books set in this universe, but this is the best of them. Young sorcerer-in-training Tarod has no idea why he has such a natural talent for magic—or why ominous portents surround him. It might have something to do with the fact that some angry gods have taken a very active interest in his fate. C'mon, angry meddling gods! Can't go wrong with those."


RG Veda series by CLAMP
"Stepping away from text-only here because I'm also a fan of manga, and this series is an old favorite. In this mythological mash-up we follow Ashura, a beautiful genderless child-of-prophecy who might be the salvation of the universe...or something worse than the Antichrist. Ashura assembles a band of very human gods and supernaturally powered mortals to face off against THUNDER EMPEROR TAISHAKUTEN (imagine that in a booming voice). Contains some shocking twists, truly memorable characters, and gorgeous art; I still think it's CLAMP's best."



Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: The Best Epic Fantasy



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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Paige (new)

Paige Vest As I mentioned on Facebook: I ♥ you for listing SK's Dark Tower Series. So many fans of fantasy (IMO) disdain tDT and it's such an amazing story... I've been a fan for over 20 years and still, Roland and his ka-tet are among my all-time favorite characters. "Oy! Eld! Thankee!" ;o)


message 2: by Arlena (new)

Arlena This sounds interesting to want to take a look at...


message 3: by Marcel (new)

Marcel Du Plessis What about Terry Pratchett's Discworld series? That's epic in an unusual sense...


message 4: by Hollyleilani (new)

Hollyleilani Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series!


message 5: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pierce The Malazan: Book of the Fallen series. Epic can barely describe it...

Hollyleilani wrote: "Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series!"

That is the only series I have ever read that made me actually hate the main character, yet somehow I own the whole thing.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan Wojtas How about George R. R. Martina's A Song of Ice and Fire series? And also Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time.


message 7: by Paige (new)

Paige Vest Those are rather regular epic fantasy... whereas the list she compiled are as mentioned above, epic fantasies for people who don't read epic fantasy. You've got to be a pretty big fan of fantasy to read either GRRM or RJ, as I well know!


message 8: by Becky (new)

Becky :) If reading GRRM qualifies a person as a pretty big fan of fantasy, then I guess I must be one. I love this list though! Fabulous suggestions from Jemisin! Dark Tower is a fave of mine as well.


message 9: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Seeing RG Veda here made me smile. And it seems increasingly inevitable that I'll have to pick up Dark Tower, and soon...


message 10: by Marcel (new)

Marcel Du Plessis Susan wrote: "How about George R. R. Martina's A Song of Ice and Fire series? And also Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time."

I second that!


message 11: by Sven (new)

Sven Ursula K. Le Guin's Earth Sea Trilogy. Read it 30 years ago in high school. Looking back, it was very much an early Harry Potter-esque series. Loved it. Still holds a fond spot in my heart.


message 12: by John (new)

John CLAMP write the best manga series - xxxHolic is still one of my favorites. I'll definitely try these out, as I'm not a huge fan of the "traditional" epic fantasy ala Jordan/Brooks/ect.


message 13: by Val (new)

Val I loved Timemaster series but it's been ages sine I read it. I should reread it. Dark Tower is amazing! The rest I will get to. :)


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