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Added by Prof. Caraway on 6 Feb 2014 01:30
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Fantasy Series You Need to Read!

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Any list without this most masterful fantasy series in the top three should not be taken seriously. Tolkien's impact can still be felt in today's cutting edge fantasy offerings. This is arguably the greatest series ever and still holds up astoundingly well years past the half century mark.
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Donaldson's Thomas Covenant is not a likable character; he is often cross, combative, and taciturn. That being said, he is a very layered, complex, and interesting character. After reading all eleven books in the series, that's right eleven, Covenant still surprises. It is, however, "the Land" (the magical place to where Covenant is whisked away),and its inhabitants, which appeals to the reader. Donaldson's writing is devastatingly evocative. His "Land" is a place so real and, at times, mesmerizing that the reader can't help but tag along.
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Tad Williams has joined the upper echelon of the fantasy Genre. He does so by not only creating a world vibrant with verisimilitude, but also by providing his creation with vivid characters who will quickly become the reader's friends or enemies. Many have written about elves, but none have begat such utter comprehension of them while maintaining the necessary amount of wonderment like Williams has. None.
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People who added this item 38 Average listal rating (22 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
Terry Brooks rocked the fantasy world in 1977 with his Sword of Shannara. His writing style draws the reader into the action very quickly, and within ten pages the reader knows who two of the major players are in the story. If anyone on this list was more influenced by Tolkien it is not apparent; The Sword of Shannara bears many similarities to LOTR but it is not a knockoff. Brooks creation is all his own. There is plenty of mystery and action to make this book, and entire series, go by all too quickly.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 10 IMDB Rating 0
Yes, Tadd Williams made the top five twice. This series is as strong as his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, but it has a totally different feel. Again, Williams characters force their way from the pages into the reader's consciousness and dwell there long after the last page. What he does so well with elves in The Dragonbone Chair, Williams arguably does better with faeries in the Shadowmarch series. His invocation of caverns, caves, and all forms of underground settings is indeed masterful.
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People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
Sanderson was once known as the author who finished Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series- no longer. This is not his first offering, by far, but it is the one which solidifies is position as a legitimate fantasy author in his own right. He creates vivid settings with innovative weather patterns and magic which are a breath of fresh air, and brings to life a history which encompasses ages and ages. His characters refuse to be ignored and endear themselves to the reader quickly. Sanderson lends a great sense of realism to his characters, and has a knack for delving into the more brutal side of humanity. The second book is due out in March, but The Stormlight Archive demands to be on this list now.
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People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
The Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey
McCafrey's Dragonriders series can also be considered science fiction, for reasons revealed in the story, but there are dragons so... fantasy too. Interesting characters and fire-breathing dragons make for a very entertaining story. This series utilizes strong story lines and solid action, which makes for an amazing read.
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People who added this item 202 Average listal rating (97 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
Robert Jordan runs a close second to Terry Brooks for apparent influence from Tolkien. Also like Brooks, Jordan's world is purely his own creation. This is a very in-depth storyline with a cast of fully developed characters that is a wonderful read. If you like a story that doesn't just stop after a measly few hundred pages, then this is your series. If ever there were an epic fantasy series, this is it. The final three books in the series were wrapped up nicely by Brandon Sanderson. Did I mention it's epic?
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People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 8.9 IMDB Rating 0
Magician (Riftwar Saga) - Raymond E. Feist
Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga is a definitive study in good versus evil. Feist introduces a believable cast of characters that thrive in the ever-present conflict which weaves aggressively throughout the story line. His bad characters are believably sinister which makes the chances of the protagonist's survival seem unlikely. A very solid and entertaining read.
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People who added this item 41 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 0
David Eddings was doing in the eighties what Robert Jordan did in the nineties: writing good plot driven action-packed stories. Eddings weaves a wonderful tale which evinces a solid cast of characters that encompass many human characteristics: from the humorous to the laconic and severe. Long live Belgarath and Polgara!
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People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
This is Donaldson's first post-Covenant project. I really liked it but it's not Covenant... and it shouldn't be. This is a well written story, the characters are well developed and believable, and the story moves at a good pace once it gets started. Donaldson is such a chameleon in his writing styles: this, as well as his Sci-Fi Gap Cycle, read in a totally different manner than his Covenant series. Kudos to Mr. Donaldson who excels in all he writes!
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People who added this item 196 Average listal rating (106 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
Mr. King steps out of the horror genre from time to time, and when he does he kicks the door down! This lifelong love of his is as all-encompassing as any epic fantasy, as well developed in story and characters as any fiction, and as evocative in setting and action as anything else he has written. This is a big story! It is also a labor of love for King which is apparent as it is a damn good adventure mystery.
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People who added this item 60 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
Anthony had written many novels before the much acclaimed Xanth series, but this award winning series quickly became his main focus. Not to say he hasn't written in between Xanth novel, he has written well over 100 books since 1967! Two other series of his made this list too. The Xanth series is a light hearted look at fantasy which entertains and raises a chuckle from time to time.
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People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Eddings Malloreon series is something of a continuation of the Belgariad. Some of the characters from the the earlier series carry over and, consequently, become more fully developed. This series seems a little darker that the Belgariad but definitely reads like a continuation from the original. Still a wonderful read.
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People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
Anthony delves into a realm which is divided: magic works on one side, science on the other. Crossing from one to the other is a cool concept which makes for an interesting plot line. Entertaining characters keep the reader interested as well. This one is as fun a the Xanth series but nothing like it- fun read.
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Eddings explores new characters in this series, but they are as interesting (if not as fun) as his other series in this list. The Elenium is dark- good delineation between good and evil. There is a knight's quest feel to this one which feels more medieval than his earlier series. Seriously solid story.
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
Elric of Melnibone (Elric Saga, book 1) - Michael Moorcock,James Cawthorn
The Elric Saga is seventies sword and sorcery at it's best! Moorcock has created a multi-layered character who, as much as the reader feels they know him- they don't. His mystery makes Elric a timeless character. This is the grown-up follow-up to Conan.
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
Empire of the East - Fred Saberhagen
Saberhagen ties science fiction and fantasy together in this post apocalyptic piece. Characters are interesting, albeit not overly developed, but the story carries the reader along at a quick enough pace to keep him or her engaged. This is a good original story.
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Anthony answers the question of what would happen if a mixture of Greek and other loosely related deities were actually positions that were filled, and sometimes vacated, by normal humans. This is good storytelling with a healthy dose of originality.
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People who added this item 46 Average listal rating (20 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
This is the first of 190 books written by various authors writing under the TSR Dungeons and Dragons banner. Weis and Hickman truly own the series and create a group of trilogies, and other gatherings, which form the backbone of heir universe. Raistlin is likely one of the most memorable characters in this series, which is definitely worth the read if you like high fantasy.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 0
Riddle Master of Hed - Patricia A. McKillip
This is a good story with interesting characters. McKillip fleshes her characters out somewhat but originality is her strong-suit in this offering. An interesting take on magic and a good read.
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0
The First Book of Swords - Fred Saberhagen
This is a loose continuation of The Empire of the East. It does seem to lean much more toward the fantasy genre which almost feels like Saberhagen decided to choose that route over the sci-fi approach. This series covers decades and many protagonists along the way but still entertains.
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People who added this item 23 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
Death Gate Cycle 1: Dragon Wing - Weis, Margaret and Hickman, Tracy
At the height of Dungeons and Dragons, Weis and Hickman capitalize again. This series is based on a group of kids who play RPGs pretty seriously. After they are swept away to a fantasy realm it gets all too real for them. The first three books are solid, then it seems to lose its punch as a series.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 0
This is an original idea and once it gets going, is an entertaining read. If you like political intrigue, you'll enjoy this series.
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Funny! Asprin has a wonderful sense of humor and a relaxed sense of what a fantasy series should look like. This is a great series to sandwich in between two seriously intense fantasy reads.
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People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 0
Camber of Culdi - Katherine Kurtz
Political intrigue, religious stigma and struggle, and a bit of fantasy to hold them all together, makes for a good read.
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While there are many wonderful fantasy series out there, this is a list of fantasy series which I have read- it will continue to grow as I continue to read. There are some obvious series missing from this list. It is likely that the first book in the series, of which you are thinking should be here, is in actuality on my nightstand with many other in my to read stack. I am always looking for the next best fantasy author though, and would love to hear who your favorite is. Please share in the comments section below.

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Posted: 3 years, 4 months ago at Feb 8 11:05
I've read many of these you've listed here and enjoyed every one. Great list, Prof! This is, by leaps and bounds, my favorite genre of literature.

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