Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Ten Greatest Works of Fantasy Literature

10. The Chronicles of Amber
Roger Zelazny

With the Amber novels, Zelazny created a very detailed and intricate fantasy universe. Fantasy fans have called this one of the most engrossing fantasy worlds they have ever read and remains a classic of modern fantasy.

9. The King of Elfland’s Daughter
Lord Dunsany

One of the most influential works of fantasy writing, Lord Dunsany’s 1924 novel of elves, kingdoms and magic laid out the groundwork for much of modern fantasy today. This is truly a pioneering work in the genre which laid out the groundwork for the writers who would come after.

8. A Song of Ice and Fire
George R. R. Martin

George Martin’s series is a richly constructed world grounded in both reality and fantasy. These unconventional plots keep the story fresh. The action is realistic while the events are unpredictable, adding a certain suspense around the characters, as you truly don’t know what will happen to them. The four books of the series thus far have grabbed the attention of high fantasy fans everywhere as they have proven to be some of the best there is.

7. A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L’Engle

This richly layered children’s fantasy has become a favourite to many readers over the years. Its deep themes may remind you of C.S. Lewis, with a hard look at what it means to be a child, as well as just being a great adventure. A Wrinkle in Time is a book which will stand the test of time.

6. The Harry Potter Series
J.K. Rowling

Sure, it may be bold of me to include a series which is so recent as high as #5. However, this is no ordinary fantasy series. This is the series which created a worldwide reading phenomenon, grabbing the attention of both kids and adults everywhere. Yet Harry Potter is not just hype; these are wonderfully crafted stories set in a fully realized magical world. The characters feel real, and even more so since we follow them through their growing years throughout the seven books. There are twists and very interesting plot devices all leading up to a final conclusion which does not disappoint. This series is one of the powerhouses of modern fantasy, and will remain so more a long, long time.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis

Its interesting that most of this list is comprised of stories written for children. Perhaps it says something about the child-like need for discovery in fantasy tales, and none sums it up better than the Narnia books. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has reached instant classic status, and the wardrobe in the title has become an icon for all portals into new and fantastic worlds. Lewis’ Christianity allegories also give this series an intellectual edge which doesn’t distract from the story. These seven books are some of the most beloved fantasy stories of all time.

4. His Dark Materials
Philip Pullman

Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy tells the story of two kids who are able to journey through the different dimensions which exist in the universe. These two children have a great destiny in the future of all the worlds which will affect the very nature of existence and spirituality. Pullman reaches for some pretty big goals here, but does not disappoint. He tackles the domination of organized religion while championing the freedoms of human thought and expression.

3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll

Carroll’s fantasy tale of Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole has captured the imagination of youth all over the world. This exercise in nonsensical logic, language and situations has become a book not only to enjoy, bu also to study. The metaphors in these two tales run deep and are often referenced by many other media. Alice and her crazy adventures simply make no sense; and that’s why we love them.

2. A Midsummer’s Night Dream
William Shakespeare

Let’s face it;  Shakespeare is the master.  Many of Shakespeare’s plays have an element of fantasy in them, but with Dream the bard went all out.  Shakespeare mostly played upon the idea of the fairy world and the mischievous creatures’ intrusions upon the lives of us regular humans.  Midsummer night’s dream is perhaps Shakespeare’s most beloved comedy, and its whimsy will live on for many centuries to come.

1. The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien

Choosing the greatest work of literary fiction was an easy task. It is, of course, the Lord of the Rings; the epic high fantasy of one hobbits journey to defeat the powers of evil. No fantasy world is as rich or detailed as Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It is as if he himself believed it to be a real place, complete with a full, fleshed out history and wonderfully detailed geography. And set in this world is a strong, heartfelt story which has proven to be ageless. This is a bold tale of massive proportions which also works on the simplest emotional level. A masterpiece in every way.

3 Responses to “The Ten Greatest Works of Fantasy Literature”

  1. I cannot believe anyone would have a top 10 list of fantasy where they include the Harry Potter novels and 3 other childrens books but do not include the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.

    In my opinion this omision puts your entire list in doubt.

    Not to mention putting the Chronicles of Amber below the childrens books.

    On top of that, no mention at all of the Elric Saga which is far superior to any of the childrens books you mention. If you’re so dead set on childrens books being in the top 10 then how does Alice and Harry rank above The Hobbit (which is also not even mentioned). How about the Pern novels which, although based in science fiction, are actually fantasy stories? All of the books I mention are better than the four childrens books in your list.

  2. And no mention of Riverworld Philip Jose Farmer?? if it is not in your top 10 it is because you have not had the pleasure of reading the series!!!

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