The Best Epic Fantasy
Epic fantasy is generally serious in tone and often epic in scope, dealing with themes of grand struggle against supernatural, evil forces. Some typical characteristics of epic fantasy include fantastical elements such as elves, fairies, dwarves, magic or sorcery, wizards or magicians, invented languages, quests, coming-of-age themes, and multi-volume narratives.

Whether a single book or a series, what do you think is the best epic fantasy of all time?

Note: Please avoid adding up books that are not relative to the description.

Books which are not epic fantasy: Harry Potter (will be deleted).

Also will be deleted: any individual books of the Game of Throne series, Hobbit & Lord of the Rings series, etc. (otherwise the first 3 pages will be composed of just the top 4 series)

Some Subgenres:
Best Epic Fantasy
Best Urban Fantasy

Fantasy by Year:
Pre-Tolkien Fantasy (Fantasy up through 1937)
Classic Fantasy (Fantasy written before 1980)
Best Fantasy of the 50s
Best Fantasy of the 60s
Best Fantasy of the 70s
Best Fantasy of the 80s
Best Fantasy of the 90s
Best Fantasy of the 2000s
Best Fantasy of the 2010s
Best Fantasy Books of the 21st Century

Most Popular Fantasy on Goodreads:
All fantasy with at least 100,000 ratings
All fantasy with between 50,000 and 99,999 ratings
All fantasy with between 25,000 and 49,999 ratings
Best fantasy with less than 50,000 ratings

Most Popular Science Fiction on Goodreads:
All science fiction with at least 50,000 ratings

Most Popular Books on Goodreads:
All books with at least 1,000,000 ratings
All books with high ratings sorted from high to low
798 House Corrino (Prelude to D...
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802 The Story of the Stone: A M...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 1,217 ratings
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802 Elegy for a Lost Star (Symp...
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 3,457 ratings
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802 Pilgrim (Wayfarer Redemptio...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 3,416 ratings
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805 Radix (Radix, #1)
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 486 ratings
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805 In Legend Born (Chronicles ...
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 478 ratings
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805 Emperor Mage (Immortals, #3)
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 34,702 ratings
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808 Sinner (Wayfarer Redemption...
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 3,833 ratings
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808 Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3)
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 35,605 ratings
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808 The Realms of the Gods (Imm...
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 30,964 ratings
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811 House Harkonnen (Prelude to...
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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58 avg rating — 10,031 ratings
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811 Books of Blood, Vols. 1-3
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 14,753 ratings
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811 Stardust
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 177,493 ratings
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814 Iron Council (New Crobuzon,...
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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 7,253 ratings
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814 Tempted (House of Night, #6)
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 105,872 ratings
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816 Everlost (Skinjacker, #1)
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 17,297 ratings
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816 In the Night Garden (The Or...
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 2,986 ratings
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816 Something Wicked This Way C...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 47,600 ratings
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819 In the Hand of the Goddess ...
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 50,788 ratings
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820 In the Cities of Coin and S...
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4.44 of 5 stars 4.44 avg rating — 1,293 ratings
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820 Knight of the Black Rose (R...
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 1,122 ratings
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822 Farewell to Lankhmar (Fafhr...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 301 ratings
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822 God Emperor of Dune (Dune C...
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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 35,633 ratings
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824 Majipoor Chronicles (Lord V...
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 1,915 ratings
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825 The Sword of Rhiannon
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 233 ratings
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826 The Soul Weaver (The Bridge...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 1,058 ratings
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826 The Woman Who Rides Like a ...
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 38,629 ratings
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826 Lioness Rampant (Song of th...
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 51,842 ratings
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829 The Scroll of Thoth: Simon ...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 35 ratings
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829 King's Dragon (Crown of Sta...
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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 5,124 ratings
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831 The Magic Goes Away
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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 avg rating — 1,063 ratings
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831 Daughter of Ancients (The B...
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 863 ratings
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833 The Complete Fairy Tales
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 105,637 ratings
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833 Children of Dune (Dune Chro...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 52,238 ratings
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833 The Stand
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 302,741 ratings
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836 A Quest For Simbilis
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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55 avg rating — 75 ratings
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836 Changes (The Dresden Files,...
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4.52 of 5 stars 4.52 avg rating — 41,403 ratings
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836 The Shining City (Rhiannon'...
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 1,312 ratings
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836 The Ladies of Grace Adieu a...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 9,188 ratings
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840 War of the Twins (Dragonlan...
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 16,896 ratings
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841 The Wind Through the Keyhol...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 24,953 ratings
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842 Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicl...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 57,098 ratings
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843 Into the Nightside (Nightsi...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 210 ratings
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844 The Desert Spear (Demon Cyc...
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 30,185 ratings
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845 DRAGONLANCE LEGENDS - Time ...
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 140 ratings
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845 Nine Princes in Amber (Ambe...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 25,537 ratings
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847 Black Trillium (The Saga of...
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3.52 of 5 stars 3.52 avg rating — 2,619 ratings
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847 The Daylight War (Demon Cyc...
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 16,142 ratings
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849 The Vampire's Assistant (Th...
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 23,679 ratings
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849 Lady Knight
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 268 ratings
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849 The Song of the Lioness Qua...
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4.57 of 5 stars 4.57 avg rating — 7,934 ratings
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849 The Rose and the Thorn (The...
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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 3,170 ratings
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853 Princess at Sea (Princess, #2)
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 1,756 ratings
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853 The Black Cauldron
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 58 ratings
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853 Willow
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 1,112 ratings
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856 City of the Dead (Resident ...
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 1,831 ratings
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856 The Last Stormlord (Watergi...
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 3,912 ratings
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858 The Decoy Princess (Princes...
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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 2,991 ratings
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858 The Passage (The Passage, #1)
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 94,136 ratings
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860 Lost Truth (Truth, #4)
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,671 ratings
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860 Deryni Checkmate (The Chron...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 2,272 ratings
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862 The Charnel Prince (Kingdom...
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 3,934 ratings
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863 Forgotten Truth (Truth, #3)
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 1,680 ratings
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863 The Gap Into Ruin: This Day...
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 3,253 ratings
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865 Dead Beat (The Dresden File...
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4.42 of 5 stars 4.42 avg rating — 51,306 ratings
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866 Hidden Truth (Truth, #2)
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 2,016 ratings
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867 Heretics of Dune (Dune Chro...
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 29,320 ratings
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868 First Truth (Truth, #1)
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 2,848 ratings
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869 Stormlord Rising (Watergive...
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 1,564 ratings
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870 Villains by Necessity
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 687 ratings
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870 Antrax (Voyage of the Jerle...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 9,329 ratings
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870 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz ...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 172,040 ratings
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873 Sanctuary (Dragon Jousters,...
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 4,560 ratings
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873 Seer of Sevenwaters (Sevenw...
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 5,217 ratings
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875 The Drawing of the Three (T...
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 95,415 ratings
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876 Alta (Dragon Jousters, #2)
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 4,942 ratings
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876 Stormlord's Exile (Watergiv...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 1,306 ratings
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876 The Short Second Life of Br...
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3.53 of 5 stars 3.53 avg rating — 125,880 ratings
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879 The Singer of All Songs (Th...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 6,086 ratings
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880 Test of Metal (Magic: The G...
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 183 ratings
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880 Crewel Lye (Xanth, #8)
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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 8,875 ratings
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880 Wolves of the Calla (The Da...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 64,792 ratings
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883 Dreamsbane of Tamalor
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 48 ratings
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883 The Wheel of Nuldoid
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883 Children of Kanigaard
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883 Alégracia et le Serpent d'A...
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 12 ratings
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883 Ilfayne's Bane
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 28 ratings
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883 The Scroll Thief : A Tale o...
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2.92 of 5 stars 2.92 avg rating — 13 ratings
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883 Witch Hunt of the Dwills (T...
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883 Mieradome
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3.15 of 5 stars 3.15 avg rating — 33 ratings
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883 The Finding (The Legend of ...
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 72 ratings
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883 When Dragons Rage (The Drag...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 866 ratings
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883 The Celestial Selenite Scry...
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2.71 of 5 stars 2.71 avg rating — 7 ratings
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883 Winter of the Wild Hunt
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 9 ratings
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883 The Cikts
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883 This Enchanted Land: The Sa...
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883 The Magic Crystal (The Drea...
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883 The Horror of Gaad Grey, Th...
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883 Memoirs of a Gothic Soul
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883 Progeny (The Children of th...
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flag this list (?)
2,248 books · 14,727 voters · list created June 22nd, 2008 by Julie (votes) .
791 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Julie
Julie
1979 books
119 friends
Arctic
Arctic
1337 books
103 friends
Lisa
Lisa
537 books
18 friends
Angie
Angie
902 books
91 friends
Kara
Kara
400 books
62 friends
Holly
Holly
1143 books
32 friends
Heather
Heather
1709 books
32 friends
Marcus
Marcus
1525 books
18 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 199) (199 new)


message 1: by Julie (new)

Julie Not saying it shouldn't be included, but I don't think of Pratchett as epic fantasy. I guess I don't know what to call Pratchett, so maybe epic is the best place for him.


message 2: by Rora (last edited Jun 26, 2008 07:41PM) (new)

Rora I agree, I think Pratchett is more in the category of comic fantasy and satire.


message 3: by Florence (new)

Florence wow i was looking for another fantasy to read and this helped a LOT (however i hate the word epic when used to describe books, movies, etc.)


message 4: by Jenny (new)

Jenny I think Diane Duane's work has yet to be acknowledged. She is the kind of author who makes sensible fantasy. With rules. Her universe is beautiful. She never gets as much attention as she deserves.

Any how I'm also quite fond of Madeline L'Engal's work.

"Children's books who can only be enjoyed by children are not very good children's books"
- C.S Lewis


message 5: by DavidO (new)

DavidO Bit of a stretch to have the foundation trilogy on an epic fantasy list, isn't it?


message 6: by Kevin (last edited Jul 07, 2009 10:46AM) (new)

Kevin Doll Guards! Guards! The whole city watch series by pratchet was great as well.


message 7: by DavidO (new)

DavidO It's not exactly Epic, though, is it?


message 8: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Doll Ok, got me there.....


message 9: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Doll Robin Hobb, Soldiers Son series


message 10: by Nisha (new)

Nisha Not all of these are really that 'epic', oh well.


message 11: by Cecile (new)

Cecile David wrote: "Bit of a stretch to have the foundation trilogy on an epic fantasy list, isn't it?"

I agree, and it's the same for Ender's Game, which would be more at home in a science fiction list, where I could vote for it.


message 12: by DavidO (last edited Jul 16, 2009 08:09AM) (new)

DavidO I guess some people are just voting for books they like, regardless of whether they are even in the right genre.


message 13: by Isaac (last edited Jul 15, 2009 11:56PM) (new)

Isaac Groves Wow, this list is pretty damn suspect, there's a lot of pulpy crap in it.

Why are peoples expectations so low when it comes to fantasy as a genre exactly? Sure, not every writer can be a Pullman or a Tolkien or even a Bradley, but Dragonlance pulp novels? Robert bloody Jordan? People are just listing the crap they like, and it's the fact that those awful writers create books that become best sellers that keeps the entire fantasy genre permanantly looked down upon by the rest of the literary world.

Until we as readers start demanding more, fantasy will always be 90% awful.


message 14: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Doll Make your own list.


message 15: by Janet (new)

Janet When I think of "epic" fantasy I think of long ranging battles that are well epic, elves, castles, swords and great feats of magic. Some of the books in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series definitely fit the bill in my opinion. Beauty and the Beast (while a great story, depending on the interpretation) not so much.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Rora wrote: "I agree, I think Pratchett is more in the category of comic fantasy and satire. "

I agree also. Doesn't belong here.




message 17: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Florence wrote: "wow i was looking for another fantasy to read and this helped a LOT (however i hate the word epic when used to describe books, movies, etc.)" I KNOW! It's so annoying when someone says,"This is so epic!".




message 18: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Isaac wrote: "Sure, not every writer can be a Pullman or a Tolkien or even a Bradley, but Dragonlance pulp novels? Robert bloody Jordan?"

You might not like Dragonlance or the Wheel of Time, but the fact that you don't like them doesn't mean they're not epic fantasy. IMHO, more characters, more settings, more heroic and world-changing acts of derring-do = MORE EPIC. In this case, both DL and WoT are more epic than LotR. It doesn't mean they're better--just more epic.






message 19: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Isaac wrote: "Sure, not every writer can be a Pullman or a Tolkien or even a Bradley, but Dragonlance pulp novels? Robert bloody Jordan?"

I must admit I'm not really a Dragonlance fan either, but what is your beef with Jordan? Have you even READ the WoT? If that's not "epic," well...



message 20: by Billy (new)

Billy shut up



message 21: by Billy (new)

Billy stop talking


message 22: by DavidO (new)

DavidO How profound, Billy.


Mike (the Paladin) When my son was younger he hadn't developed a taste for reading (unusual in our family). I finally got him interested in the Dragon Lance Novels, so while I agree they're not in the same league with LotR I suppose they have their place. One of my all time favorite Epic Fantasies are the Paksanarrion novels. I'm always surprised at how few people have read them.

As for Robert Jordan well, I'm always "suffused" with a sense of "what might have been". The first 6 volumes were great, after that they went way down hill.


message 24: by DavidO (new)

DavidO At least Brandon Sanderson is finishing them.

I've never even heard of the Paksanarrion novels. Sorry. :(


Mike (the Paladin) Like I said, I'm always surprised at that. The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon, that's the omnibus edition of the trilogy. The three books are Sheep Farmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold. Their on my book list and on the Epic fantasy book list.


message 26: by Seregil (new)

Seregil Can Dune be considered fantasy? I thought it was clearly sci-fi... The boundries of genres aren't that fixed, but still... heh...


Mike (the Paladin) I don't know about the "authorities" but there are at least some fantasy aspects to it I'd say. It may not be a typical epic fantasy...but why quibble I suppose.


message 28: by Lorenzo (new)

Lorenzo Escobar The Wizard of Oz??

No love for Clive Barker???!!!

Imajica and Weaveworld are easily top ten. This list is a fucking joke!


message 29: by Lorenzo (new)

Lorenzo Escobar No Ursula K. in the top ten?

dude! get it together!


message 30: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Isaac wrote " Sure, not every writer can be a Pullman or a Tolkien or even a Bradley, but Dragonlance pulp novels? Robert bloody Jordan?"

Well Isaac I was infinitely more impressed with the Wheel of Time series than I was with His Dark Materials.

On a different note, I can't understand how Jim Butcher and his Codex Alera series didn't get higher up on the list.


Mike (the Paladin) Possibly simply that it's (the Codex Alera series)a newer series and fewer people have found it.


message 32: by Chris (new)

Chris i agreewith mike! robert jordan went so downhill after the sixth he's one of the only authors that I've stopped reading a series half way through!!! Jim butcher should definetly be wayyyy higher up there one of my favorites :P
and terry goodkind....AMAZING :D


message 33: by Flora (new)

Flora Jenny wrote: "I think Diane Duane's work has yet to be acknowledged. She is the kind of author who makes sensible fantasy. With rules. Her universe is beautiful. She never gets as much attention as she deserves...."

Diane Duane's books are DEFINITELY awesome!!!


message 34: by Kheldar (new)

Kheldar True, Robert Jordan's books went downhill after book six - but that was only only the drudgery of the pacing and the increasing cringeworthiness of the characters. The writing itself was still excellent, and he remained true to the storyline and plot. The series is definitely epic fantasy. Goodkind on the other hand... First book was great, second and third a little less so. But at the end? The books were only a soap box for his ideals, preached in a gagworthy manner, plots were non-existent, and characters were so shallow as to barely even be there! I had to force myself through Chainfire just to see how it ended. But again, it would definitely belong on the epic fantasy list. Just a little lower down.


message 35: by Xenophon (last edited Dec 02, 2010 01:11AM) (new)

Xenophon Hendrix One of the interesting things about Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books is that there is an epic tale lurking in the background that one doesn't notice until one has already read a few of the novels in the series.


message 36: by Bob (new)

Bob Parks So, what makes an Epic Fantasy? My thoughts:
1. A Hero
2. A Villain
3. A Quest
4. Big Battles
5. Big supporting casts
6. Personal issues that are connected to the quest
7. Betrayal
Your thoughts?


message 37: by Xenophon (last edited Dec 04, 2010 06:21AM) (new)

Xenophon Hendrix I think a fundamental property is that there are large conflicts with the fate of nations--or even entire species--in play.


message 38: by Xenophon (last edited Dec 15, 2010 12:08PM) (new)

Xenophon Hendrix Someone, or something, deleted the single-volume version of The Lord of the Rings from its high place on the list. I'm trying to see what can be done about it. We librarians are threatened with dire consequences if we delete something improperly.


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Absolutely ridiculous. The fact that The Lord of the Rings is first goes to shew how silly people can be. I love the Harry Potter series as much as the next man, but it doesn't lay a finger on Tolkien. Likewise, the idea that The Hobbit would be rated higher on this list, when it is a short children's novel, is sad and equally laughable.


message 40: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Lord of the rings is about the best series I have read in my life.I don't think fantasy can get much better than that!!


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Jenna wrote: "Lord of the rings is about the best series I have read in my life.I don't think fantasy can get much better than that!!"

Modern Fantasy is the invention of Tolkien, and no one has ever topped him.


message 42: by Kernos (new)

Kernos Logan wrote: "Jenna wrote: "Lord of the rings is about the best series I have read in my life.I don't think fantasy can get much better than that!!"

Modern Fantasy is the invention of Tolkien, and no one has ev..."


Agreed. As it is one novel in 6 parts, I think it should be listed as Lord of the Rings and not as the artificial Fellowship, Two Towers,Return...


message 43: by Devon (new)

Devon Ward The Amber series started it for me, great list, and a great resource to find rich new series. Thanks


message 44: by Ryan (new)

Ryan O'sullivan Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "When my son was younger he hadn't developed a taste for reading (unusual in our family). I finally got him interested in the Dragon Lance Novels, so while I agree they're not in the same league wit..."

I wouldn't be a reader today without Dragonlance - it has a place in my opinion.


message 45: by Owen (new)

Owen Jones For me, an epic has to have all of these: massive back story, huge detailed world, long story, severe consequences, engaging characters and deep immersion. I chose 3 that meet these requirements: Lord of the Rings, Dune and the Amber novels. I include in these a variety of sequels/prequels by the same author. Other books/series would serve but ultimately my choices are a matter of what I've read and liked.


message 46: by Owen (new)

Owen Jones Seregil wrote: "Can Dune be considered fantasy? I thought it was clearly sci-fi... The boundries of genres aren't that fixed, but still... heh..."

Dune is an interesting case. I would consider it a hybrid in that it has both sci-fi and fantasy elements. It does belong here but then not entirely either. However, it is here, so I'll vote for it since it is at least epic.


message 47: by Michael (new)

Michael WOW! this list has almost all the greats!!


message 48: by Owen (new)

Owen Jones I find it curious that all of the candidates for "Whether a single book or a series, what do you think is the best epic fantasy of all time? " are recent works, i.e. within the last hundred years or so. How about La Morte d'Arthur?, maybe Homer's Trojan War/Odyseus or the Norse Eddas (where would Tolkien be without those!). Is the Bible an epic fantasy? (running and ducking ;^) )


message 49: by Becky (new)

Becky Jenny wrote: "I think Diane Duane's work has yet to be acknowledged. She is the kind of author who makes sensible fantasy. With rules. Her universe is beautiful. She never gets as much attention as she deserves...."

I agree about Diane Duane, and feel the same thing can (and should) be said about Diana Wynne Jones.


message 50: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Bee Owen wrote: "I find it curious that all of the candidates for "Whether a single book or a series, what do you think is the best epic fantasy of all time? " are recent works, i.e. within the last hundred years o..."

You're funny! No need to run and duck either. The Bible qualifies as epic certainly. The question of fantasy gets really sticky. I live in the Bible Belt of the south. Most people here would jump up and down about labeling the Bible as fantasy. Of course, the tragedy is that regardless of what most people say, the way the message of the Bible is treated displays most clearly the majority opinion.


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Anyone can add books to this list.