When it comes to Epic Fantasy, some series stand out above the others. These series have spawned huge readership, movies, games and fan fiction, and are always in demand among Epic Fantasy readers. J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series should all grace the shelves of libraries building an Epic Fantasy collection for their patrons.
The Lord of the Rings series
Arguably one of the most recognized Epic Fantasy series in the world, Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings continues to hold immense appeal to today’s fantasy readers. Long considered the standard in Epic Fantasy, the story and characters have enjoyed lasting fame thanks to big budget motion picture renditions in recent years which have brought this story back into the public eye. The series proper consists of four books: The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, with additional writings that deal with the pre-history of Tolkein’s world contained in other volumes. This series is available in electronic formats.
The Wheel of Time series
Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series has captured the imagination of thousands and thousands of readers of Fantasy since 1991. An enormous fan base has spawned conventions, get-togethers, book groups, and some of the most vehement discussions about characters ever seen among fantasy readers. Entire websites are devoted to the books and characters created by Robert Jordan, including Theoryland and Wheel of Time Wiki. The series has even survived the untimely death of its author, and is currently being completed by Brandon Sanderson. The series is composed of fourteen books currently, with the last volume, which will resolve the countless plots, subplots and major events of the series, due out in early January. Books in this series are: New Spring, The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, The Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and the forthcoming volume is called A Memory of Light. This series is available in electronic formats.
Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages) provides a fantastic introduction to the Epic Fantasy sub-genre and is highly representative of the genre in general. With a large cast of characters, an end-of-the-world-as-they-know-it storyline and a well-developed magic system unlike many seen before, The Mistborn Trilogy requires far less invested time on the part of the reader, and yet provides a rich, rewarding experience equal to many lengthier epics by the last book’s final page. Sanderson’s trilogy aptly demonstrates that bigger is not always better when it comes to number of books. There is also a fourth stand-alone book, Alloy of Law, which also takes place in the Mistborn universe, set further along in history from the original three books. This series is available in electronic formats.
These three series are essential in every library’s Epic Fantasy collection. With their enormous appeal to modern audiences, including those discovering them for the first time through television and social media, these books will continue to be high in circulation among patrons who enjoy the genre.
Join me next time as I talk about the burgeoning popularity of Historical Fantasy, and select authors that should be considered standards of the genre. Thanks for reading and as always, may all your stories be epic.