Epic fantasy is usually big, loud fun: kingdoms in peril, good about to be obliterated by dark evil, and scrappy adventurers defying death in nearly every chapter.
While there’s plenty of fun to be had in the Quest for the Magic Thingy, the trend toward focusing on character and realism is welcome, and some of the books on this list flip on its head whole idea of what “epic” means.
Perhaps nowhere does storytelling so totally reverse reality as when it deals with pirates. It’s difficult not to like swashbuckling rogues tweaking the noses of the uptight British ninnies as they ply their brave way across the wild, lusty seas.
Of course, actual pirates were about as romantic as the tortures they would inflict on prisoners, including holding lighted matches to the victim’s eyes or keel-hauling, where a sailor had a rope tied to each arm and thrown off the bow of a ship. The unfortunate was then dragged along the length of ship, scraping against the sharp barnacles and possibly drowning.
Fun fact: “Avast!” means “Stop!” or “Stand still!” not “Hello, fellow pirate!”
Vampires have gone from being seen as unfortunate creatures operating under a dread curse (Nosferatu) to pretty, brooding superheroes (Twilight). They’re the ultimate bad boys: tall, dark, and handsome taken to a feral, gothic extreme.
There are all sorts of vampires in the list below: angry, scared, young, old, terrifying, hilarious, confused, weak, strong, monstrous, and human.
Fantasy has more book series than any other genre. Science fiction is in second place with hundreds of series, but fantasy is at the top. Once we fantasy readers find a world and characters we like, we seem to want to go back again and again.
The longest fantasy series out there is Conan, with almost eighty books. Second is (my personal favorite) Terry Pratchett’s Discworld with forty-five books.
Discovering a new book series is a fantastic feeling. Here’s hoping you find something new below.
Fantasy writers worked their butts off in 2016, giving readers an avalanche of great stuff to read. In addition to the usual daggers-and-dragons adventures, we got robots, ticked-off old gods, and murder mysteries: a fun, genre-expanding year.