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, Percy Jackson (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)

Other Lists of Note:
Best Alternate History
Best Dystopian and Post Apocalyptic Fiction
Best Epic Fantasy
Best Fantasy of the 21st Century
Best Science Fiction
Best Science Fiction of the 21st Century
Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century
Best Forgotten Science Fiction of the 20th Century
Best Science Fiction Fantasy Books
Best Space Opera
Best Urban Fantasy
Pre-Tolkien Fantasy (Fantasy up through 1937)
Classic Fantasy (Fantasy written before 1980)

Fantasy by Decade:
1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s
1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

Locus Recommended Fantasy:
2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

Fantasy By Ratings:
More than 100000, 50000 to 99999, 25000 to 49999, 10000 to 24999
1000 to 9999, 100 to 999, Less than 100
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flag this list (?)
2,959 books · 22,321 voters · list created June 22nd, 2008 by Julie (votes) .
2679 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Julie 2809 books
124 friends
Arctic 1584 books
113 friends
Lisa 1045 books
30 friends
Angie 1249 books
81 friends
Kara 279 books
79 friends
Holly 1223 books
33 friends
Heather 1479 books
37 friends
Marcus 1895 books
22 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 288 (288 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 [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 16: 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 17: 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 18: 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 19: by Billy (new)

Billy shut up



message 20: by Billy (new)

Billy stop talking


message 21: 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 23: 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 25: 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 27: 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 28: by Lorenzo (new)

Lorenzo Escobar No Ursula K. in the top ten?

dude! get it together!


message 29: 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 31: 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 32: 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 33: 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 34: 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 35: 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 36: 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 37: 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 38: 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 39: 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 40: 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 41: by Bill (new)

Bill 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 42: 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 43: 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 44: 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 45: 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 46: by Michael (new)

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


message 47: 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 48: 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 49: 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.


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Hear, hear, Tharon. But, of course, that begs the question What would you put first?


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