Friday, February 19, 2010

100 Must-Read Fantasy Novels

I picked up this little tome as a bit of an afterthought a few weeks ago. I don't generally give those 100 Must Read/See/Do/Eat books a second look, but this one intrigued me, being about something that is near to my heart and been a big part of my life for more years than I care to admit to. It also contained the answer to a question that has been going around in my head for a while now: What exactly is Fantasy?
According to one of the co-authors; Stephen E. Andrews in his introduction the answer is: Fantasy is the literature of imaginary and inexplicable places, times, events and beings. Fantasy stories take place either in our world or others, in our time or other times, their authors describing imaginary things that they do not attempt to explain rationally or scientifically, sometimes evoking magic and the supernatural to provide an excuse for the presence of these imaginary elements.

Unlike a number of similar books this one doesn't insist you read the books it recommends it just gives you a brief review and it's up to you whether or not you follow it up. It also contains other works by the same author, things to read on (books by the same author or others with similar themes) and in some cases a list of Reading On A Theme. For instance L Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz may lead you to read a list of classic children's literature including, but not limited to: Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth.

100 Must-Read Fantasy Novels had an interesting and thought provoking introduction, the 100 recommended works and their authors in alphabetical order, a list of World Fantasy Award for Best Novel winners from it's inception in 1975 up until 2008 and a glossary of fantasy terms. Each listed author had a brief biography and a succinct review of the work being covered. It was written in an easy to understand an accessible manner. I found that I learned not only about a number or works of which I was previously unaware, but also found some interesting snippets about authors I thought I knew.

Reading through the 100 works I was struck by how many I hadn't read. I decided to embark on an undertaking which concerns this blog. I'm going to read and review every single work in this book. It should be an interesting journey for me and you.
I need to finish The Eldarn Sequence and The Flashman Papers, but once that's happened the Great 100 Must-Read Fantasy Novels Review will begin.


  1. Fun aim! I'll be counting how long it takes (and how many you'll be able to find easily!)

    Oh, and with Pratchett, read NIGHTWATCH... (not COLOUR OF MAGIC) *laugh*

    Annonymouse on the couch

  2. Good luck. I have read 40 of them. My picks for the best ones I've read are: Weaveworld, The Land of Laughs, Little Big, The King of Elfland's Daughter, Pawn of Propecy, Replay, The Pastel City, Mythago Wood, A Wizard of Earthsea, Wizard of the Pigeons, Elric of Melnibone, Titus Groan, Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings and The Dragonbone Chair. All of these I just mentioned are so good I'm going to read them again!
    -Scott D.

  3. Thanks. I'd read about a 3rd before I started. I'm up to the C's now. Of what I've read so far Weaveworld was wonderful again and Land of Laughs surprised me with how much I enjoyed it.