After taking everyone’s opinions into account, I removed a few
series, added a few more, and came up with the following order.
Underlining indicates an incomplete series, or at least one I deem insufficiently complete to conclusively judge, while italics indicates a series I have not personally
- The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien
- The First Law, Abercrombie
- Malazan Book of the Fallen, Erikson
- A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin
- The Black Company, Cook
- Dragonlance, Weis & Hickman
- The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Donaldson
- The Riftwar Saga, Feist
- The Long Price Quartet, Abraham
- The Demon Cycle, Brett
- The Stormlight Archive, Sanderson
- The Belgariad/The Mallorean, Eddings
- Codex Alera, Butcher
- The Prince of Nothing, Bakker
- Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Williams
- The Deathgate Cycle, Weis and Hickman
- The Wheel of Time, Jordan/Sanderson
- The Sword of Truth, Goodkind
- Shannara, Brooks
- The Red Knight, Cameron
No doubt many will disagree with my opinions here, but they are
not arbitrary. First, I’m judging the series as a whole. One thing
I’ve noticed is a lot of series take a serious nosedive after a certain
point. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant would be number two on this
list if judged solely on the first two Chronicles, (six books).
Bakker’s series would have cracked the top ten were it not for the
abysmal third book. And as crazy as it sounds, Martin could freefall if
he doesn’t turn it around in this next book; post Dance, the “American
Tolkien” already sounds silly.
I tend to suspect
Brandon Sanderson will move up and Peter Brett will move down. Brett
started great, but his demon world is a boring hive mind and he never
got around to actually writing about eponymous Daylight War in the third
book. I suspect that he may have fallen victim to Epic Author Disease
even faster than Jordan or Martin did.
are series that I love, that I consider much better than most of the
series on this list. But they’re not epic, by which I mean I regard
them as books that on some level are doing something similar to what I’m
attempting to do. The whole reason that I’ve been closely considering
the various epic fantasy series is to avoid the problems that have
plagued some of these series in the past.
too soon to judge ATOB, but good or bad, I can hope to keep improving.
Some would even say there is considerable room for it….