Top 100 fantasy books: #91 - #100
The Fantasy Book Review list of the top 100 fantasy books/series. This page lists entries 91 - 100.
- 91 The Chrestomanci Series by Diana Wynne Jones
Every saga has a beginning. Every journey has a first step... And so it is with the magical Worlds of Chrestomanci which English fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones began so many years ago with her own episode one - Charmed Life. Winner of the Guardian Award for Children's Books, Charmed Life has been a favourite escape to parallel fantastical worlds since 1977, and remains refreshingly captivating and reassuringly addictive in its latest paperback edition with a wonderful new jacket illustration. The adventure begins in a strange and not-quite contemporary England that is still peppered with paddle steamers, horse-drawn carriages and girls wearing petticoats. Orphans Eric Chant (nicknamed Cat) and his sister Gwendolen, a gifted witch, are whisked away to live in a castle with Chrestromanci, a much-revered man of magic, wealth and mysterious ways. Their new life is full of the surreal and unexpected, and there are several crazy new rules to master--not least by Gwendolen who must learn to channel her astonishing powers for good instead of mischief as she forever seems determined to do! Chrestomanci is a truly original creation, and Charmed Life introduces this dandy nine-lived enchanter - the king of the regal dressing gown - and his associated colourful characters in a story of pace and substance, twists and turns, treachery and bravado. There's also humour amid the author's very immediate writing, and enough puzzles and mystery to keep an inquisitive mind captivated until the very end.
- 92 War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham
Ruling from the island of Acacia, the emperor of the Known World has inherited an apparent peace and prosperity won by his ancestors generations ago. He's an intelligent man, a widower who dotes on his four children and it is this devotion that obliges him to hide a terrible secret from them: that their prosperity rests on the dark realities of trafficking in drugs and human lives. A man of integrity, he hopes that he might bring an end to this vile trade, but powerful forces stand in his way. And then an assassin strikes, a lone killer sent by the Mein, an ancient foe long ago exiled to the frozen north. Now the Mein have returned to take revenge on their old enemy and begin a series of brutal surprise assaults on Acacia. Mortally wounded, the emperor puts into play a plan that will allow his children to escape, to fulfil their destinies. And so begins a quest to avenge a father's death and restore an empire - this time on the basis of universal freedom...
"...where this sort of thing really works is not just in the attention to detail, but the attention to character. And with its epic duels and mighty sea battles, the whole thing is suffused with a feeling of Greek myth and legend." Daily Telegraph
"Ultimately, it was a book that I was unable to put down and had me ordering the sequel immediately. I urge you to try it, but please be aware of my disclaimer as I have not yet discovered many of the newer fantasy author." Fantasy Book Review
- 93 Prince of Nothing by R Scott Bakker
A score of centuries has passed since the First Apocalypse and the thoughts of men have turned, inevitably, to more worldly concerns... A veteran sorcerer and spy seeks news of an ancient enemy. A military genius plots to conquer the known world for his Emperor but dreams of the throne for himself. The spiritual leader of the Thousand Temples seeks a Holy War to cleanse the land of the infidel. An exiled barbarian chieftain seeks vengeance against the man who disgraced him. And into this world steps a man like no other, seeking to bind all - man and woman, emperor and slave - to his own mysterious ends. But the fate of men - even great men - means little when the world itself may soon be torn asunder. Behind the politics, beneath the religious fervour, a dark and ancient evil is reawakening. After two thousand years, the No-God is returning. The Second Apocalypse is nigh. And one cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten...
"I found Mr. Bakker's writing style to be extremely satisfying. When I was finished a reading session I felt like I had just exercised or jogged a couple miles. This is not light weight reading my friends, but it is also not a Mervyn Peake. Except for my occasional name problem, I found the philosophical bent and the very personal emotional descriptions to be captivating. Not only is Drusas Achamian one of the most tortured heroes I have come across, every character is given the same respect, if not depth. There are no one dimensional advance the plot and disappear characters in this series. Enjoy them all." Fantasy Book Review
- 94 Legends of the Red Sun by Mark Charan Newton
An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur. It’s a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshees wail and cultists use forgotten technology. And beyond the now besieged walls, the dead have been seen walking across the tundra. When the Emperor commits suicide, his heir, Rika, is brought home to lead the Jamur Empire. But the corrupt Chancellor has his own designs on the throne. Meanwhile, a senior investigator in the city inquisition must solve the savage murder of a city politician, and a charming rogue manipulates his way into the imperial residence with a hidden agenda. Then one crime leads to another and a plot is uncovered that could mean genocide for thousands of citizens. It seems that, in this land under a red sun, the long winter is bringing more than just snow...
"It's a long, long time since reading a book and series from a new author has made me this excited. How he manages to fit it all into one book is amazing. The style of writing is so clean, no paragraph is wasted. This is such a pleasure to read. It's slightly mad in places as Mark gets into transforming everything in sight, but that just adds to the fun of reading this book. I really believe in years to come we will be talking about new authors, and asking, are they the new Mark Charan Newton?" Stephanie Gelder, Fantasy Book Review
- 95 The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron
With the pressure on after his success in Gaol, Eli Monpress, professional thief and degenerate, decides it's time to lie low for a bit. Taking up residence in a tiny seaside village, Eli and his companions seize the chance for some fun and relaxation. Nico, however, is finding it a bit hard. Plagued by a demon's voice in her head and feeling powerless, she only sees herself as a burden. Everyone's holiday comes to an untimely close, though, when Pele arrives to beg Eli's help for finding her missing father. But there are larger plans afoot than even Eli can see, and the real danger, and the solution, may lie with one of his own and her forgotten past. If only Nico could remember whose side she's on.
"There were scenes that made me grin from ear to ear and the humour that Aaron puts into Eli’s actions and dialogue is spot on and fits perfectly with the story. Eli is now one of my favourite characters in the fantasy genre. Rachel Aaron has created an excellent and solid foundation and I hope that she keeps up this high standard - using her excellent writing style and witty dialogue - to create that one big final job for Eli. The Legend of Eli Monpress is a top series, one of the very best I have ever read." Fantasy Book Review
- 96 Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
"Collins is a fine writer worthy of her craft, and the book is compelling all the way through. I don't usually stay up late reading novels, but this time I did. It is a massive whirlwind of enjoyment and insight. It does not pull its punches, and for this reason The Hunger Games is also not free of controversy. Some religious groups have denounced the books as unacceptable for its presentation of violence and for the ever-present theme of looming death. Such readings are in fact misreadings, these groups having missed the obvious point of the series, which is that violence, while very real, is not a viable response. Katniss throughout the book avoids killing where she can, and only does so regretfully, in self-defense. The books are about how violence and vengeance destroys and lowers human life. Far from being a pro-violence or blood-letting message, the books end up being a strong anti-war tract by subverting the honor-warrior-noble-battle trope common in many stories today. Ultimately, the books are about self-sacrifice and the ability of love to overcome the might of totalitarianism, cruelty, and hatred. I do not believe I can recommend them highly enough." Fantasy Book Review
- 97 Dune by Frank Herbert
The Duke of Atreides has been manoeuvred by his arch-enemy, Baron Harkonnen, into administering the desert planet of Dune. Although it is almost completely without water, Dune is a planet of fabulous wealth, for it is the only source of a drug prized throughout the Galactic Empire. The Duke and his son, Paul, are expecting treachery, and it duly comes - but from a shockingly unexpected place. Then Paul succeeds his father, and he becomes a catalyst for the native people of Dune, whose knowledge of the ecology of the planet gives them vast power. They have been waiting for a leader like Paul Atreides, a leader who can harness that force...
"If you are a fan of epic fantasy or large-scale science fiction (and are not afraid to examine weighty issues such as religion and politics), then I cannot strongly recommend Dune enough. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of this genre must read it at some point in their lives." Nicholas King, Fantasy Book Review
- 98 The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch
They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he's part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count. Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich - they're the only ones worth stealing from - but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards. Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it's a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city. But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa's power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming. A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora...
"Filled with thievery goodness, hilarious turns of phrase and description, and some truly harebrained schemes, The Lies of Locke Lamora belongs on any fantasy fans bookshelf. You’ll laugh, you might cry, but I can damn well guarantee you’ll have a lot of fun as well!" Fantasy Book Review
- 99 The Magicians series by Lev Grossman
In a secret world of forbidden knowledge, power comes at a terrible price... Quentin Coldwater's life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton he finds his interviewer dead - but a strange envelope bearing Quentin's name leads him down a very different path to any he'd ever imagined. The envelope, and the mysterious manuscript it contains, leads to a secret world of obsession and privilege, a world of freedom and power and, for a while, it's a world that seems to answer all Quentin's desires. But the idyll cannot last - and when it's finally shattered, Quentin is drawn into something darker and far more dangerous than anything he could ever have expected...
"The Magicians is a book that will likely divide opinions leaving very few sitting on the fence. The majority will love it but there will be some that will detest it (ardent Potter and Narnia fans possibly). The fantasy genre always needs an author to come along a show it in a different light and this is exactly what has Grossman has done. He has injected sexual tension and questionable morals into a school for wizards and the result is a rousing, perceptive and multifaceted coming of age story that is both bright and beguiling. The Magicians is a perfect fantasy book for older teens that will find that the author understands them, and their feelings, possibly better than they do themselves." Fantasy Book Review
- 100 The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
"I know this review doesn't really tell you what the book is about, but I think to do so in more detail would spoil what is supposed to be an intimate trip down memory lane to a time when things were much more fantastical than what they are now. This a story that is simple on the surface, but with a depth of immersion that depends entirely on how much you connect with the story. My guess is that the further you are away from your childhood, be it through age or experience, the more you will connect with this story and the more you will fall in love with it." Fantasy Book Review
Barb from USA
Marissa Meyer - The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet Cress, Winter). Hard to put down!
Robert from United Kingdom
Who put this list together????... Not even a mention of Charles de lint.... The little country was a fantastic piece of fantasy writing.. And what about Clive Barker, (weaveworld, Imagica, to name but two), I can't, no refuse, to believe not even one of these authors have made the top 100...
James from Canada
You're right about Conan Jeff
Anon from United States
Moorcock? Eternal Champion Series? And as others have said: Zelazny? Howard? This is heavily weighted to more recent books.
Jeff from United States
Why not Robert E Howard and the original Conan books? He always gets left off of these lists, in my opinion, simply because he wrote the stories a long time ago. Great stories.
NB from UK
Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
Steve from United Kingdom
Looks like a list of what's currently in Waterstones, W H Smiths, etc. There was an explosion of fantasy writers at the end of the 70's which doesn't seem to have abated. For me Moorcock is the main man but as his books are not in the shops any more neither is he on the list.
Anon from UK
As others have said, I'm surprised to see a number of authors missing: Piers Anthony (Incarnations of Immortality, Xanth, Blue Adept, etc.), Terry Brooks, etc. Also, Poul Anderson's "The High Crusade" is far better than the work you currently have posted.
Daniel from United States
Like you have said, highly subjective. That being said: 1. Though prolific, I do not think R.A. Salvatore is at all a great writer. He is the reason the word formulaic exists as a word. 2. The First Law by Abercrombie should be in the top twenty. It is polarizing, but good art usually is. 3. I don't know that incomplete series should be included in this list, especially since they are listed by series, not individual books, but since they were, I'm going with it. Here are a few I thought should be included: The Fisherman by John Langan, Grim company by Luke Scull, Vlad books by Steven Brust, Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell, Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Half a King by Abercrombie, Raven's Shadow by Anthony Ryan, and the Demon Cycle by Peter Brett.
Josh from United States
An interesting list, but missing some important authors and works. No Zelazny, Brooks, Kurtz, or Lieber? All pretty influential authors who did some remarkable work. Where's the urban fantasy of de Lint, or Butcher? are people like Aaronovitch or Jacka excluded because their series are still ongoing? I love Eddings, but the Elenium series fell off badly after book one; very surprised to see it here.
Chris from Philippines
Dale from USA
Have to agree with some people here. Terry Brooks should be on the list somewhere. His work is imaginative and unique. I really wish the Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern got more love. She has strong and interesting characters, a fully thought out world, and adifferent flavor of dragons. I guess as there is no magic and it gets a bit sci-fi might disqualify her from a list like this.
Jack from USA
Nothing from Weiss and Hickman, huh? Nevermind that Dragonlance has sold more novels than every series on that list with the exception of Tolkein. Also, no Terry Brooks? No David Eddings? What kind of BS list is this anyway? Dragonlance is objectively speaking a top 10-20 series -- top 20-40 if you are a subjective prat.
Michael from UK
I honestly think any fantasy list without Michael Moorcock is a deeply flawed thing. Charles de Lint is also one of the finest fantasy writers of modern times. Obviously any list of this kind is down to personal taste and we all have our favourites but some of the choices here are just silly. I mean.... Shadow Ops ?....Really?
Andrew from England
I can only assume the non-appearance of Terry Brooks is a mistake.
Greg from Australia
Hi, great list. I thought the Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglas was pretty damn good.
Russell from USA
Ummm, did I miss Terry Brooks on this list?
Victorianne from Philippines
Where is Prince Nothing??? This is one of my favorite series. Grrr.
Zeeshan from India
@Trent, Broken Empire is on number 20. The list is great I discoverd many new titles to read. My favorite are the Broken Empire series and the Kingkiller series.(Thanks Zeeshan. Trent was correct at the time of comment, there was a bug in the system and Broken Empire wasn't showing. I fixed it and all is now fine. I'm currently reading Wise Man's Fear and agree with your recommendation - Kingkiller series is excellent).
Steve from Canada
This list is flawed. It has some, in my opinion, very questionable choices but I was pleased to see you have Raymond E Feist and David Eddings works listed. You left out The Sword of Shannara or any of the Shannara books by Terry Brooks. I can not condone this.
Paul from England
I am astonished that the Empire series (Daughter of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire etc) by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts is not featured. In my opinion, it is better than the Magician Series, even though it was effectively a spin-off.
Michael from UK
Where is Tad Williams epic masterpiece Memory, Sorrow and Thorn? Some strong titles here, but MMT is a stronger and more poetic work than A Song Of Ice And Fire, and a major rival to The Lord Of The Rings. I actually prefer it to anything written by Tolkien. There. I said it!
Chris from UK
Nothing by Alasdair Gray, eg Lanark, Poor Things, or A History Maker.
Thomas from USA
Maybe I missed it but the Jeruselam Man should definitely be in the top 40; at least in my opinion. Also, in my bias view all Robin Hobb series should be in the top 25 and Wheel of Time should be top 15. Thank you for not being cliche and drop ASoIaF as #1. Also, thank you for appreciating the awesomeness of Malazan.
David from USA
I'm surprised that with the incredibly high ratings this site gave Pierce Brown's Red Rising and Golden Son neither one is on this list. Red Rising got a 9.7 and Golden Son a 9.9! That's a better grade than almost every other book on this list. Maybe because they're too new. Also, no Ender's Game for God's sake?!(Hi David. We've not reviewed the entire Pierce Brown series yet - when that has been done it looks a dead cert to be included. I think we have Ender's Game classed as purely science fiction at the moment - so that's why it doesn't appear on this list at the moment. Will look into this further. Thanks for your comment - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)
Dan from Kenya
I am surprised that no mention was made of tge Deverry Cycle series by Katharine Kerr, or any of the books by Elizabeth Moon or Bujold. All well thought out fantasy settings and good story telling!
Trent from USA
Love this list! One question - I notice that while your individual reviews for Mark Lawrence's 'Broken Empire' series are VERY high, the series itself is not listed in the Top 100. Was that intentional or just an oversight? I think it's one of the best modern fantasy series of the last 20 years...(Great spot Trent, it was a data issue that has now been fixed and Broken Empire is - at this moment in time - appearing at #20. Thank you so much - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)
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Rating books is by nature highly subjective. So we would love to know what you, the reader, feels about the books listed in our top 100. Which titles you agree with? Which titles do you disagree with? Which titles do you think should be on this list but are not? Please let us know by submitting a comment below, you will be helping us to further improve this top 100 as all quality comments will impact on where where books place.