Ok, we need a little more critical thinking on these boards now that the so many people seem to be posting here. I would like to you think makes a good fantasy novel. What aspects of it excite you, prompt tears of joy, or simply arouse appreciation? Do you enjoy epic quests, romance within the story, friendship, great battle scenes, war, tragedy, betrayal, lust, suffering, mind-splitting tension, or what? It might also be benefecial to list the books you found these things you loved in. Below I will give you my examples to show you what I mean. First off, I need an original story. This doesn't mean every single part of the book needs to be unique or strange, it just requires imagination and a story that hasn't already been told in the way it is presented. A good example of this is David Farland's "Runelords" series, which deals with unique creatures called "Reevers" and lords who must take power directly from their loyal subjects in order to boost the strength of the few. Second, I must have a character or group of characters that I can relate to and admire. Unfortunately for me, this generally equates to characters who have or who have the potential to have great strength or powers. This probably speaks ill of my own character, but nevertheless, its what I like. Examples of this include Rand in Jordan's series (at least initially), Fitzchivalry from the Farseer trilogy, Rache and Colbey from Last of the Renshai, Conan, Gath of Baal (Death-Something series), and Pug and Tomas from the Riftwar series. Thirdly, I appreciate a complex plot and some mystery. If its easy to see what is going on, then why the heck do I need the writer anymore? Jordan does this, as of course does George R.R. Martin. Fourthly, don't make any character or story mistakes. Basically this means to make certain the characters act the way they should. If some hired killer is luckily defeated by some girl with no skills-and only because she was lucky-I'm skeptical of the author's credibility. There are other examples of this (and better ones), but that is the best I can do for now. From what I have seen George Martin doesn't make any of these mistakes. Fifthly, the characters need some depth and believability. It isn't enought to have a character be wise or powerful, I need to know the how's, why's, and when's. It is only after I learn these crucial details that I can begin to appreciate a story and marvel at its depth. Once again Martin is excellent here. Sixthly, the author must capture the right mood or tone. Don't be silly when you are about to be killed (at least not most of the time), If the story is about war and death I want a consistent view of characters' grim states of mind, or their cruel lust for carnage if the case may be. Although this isn't always easy to identify, it is easy to identify the odd sensation you get when it happens. You wonder why you aren't quite as interested in the characters as you once were...Authors that have failed in this or other aspects of believability include Feist, Jordan, Goodking, Brooks, amoung others. It is not an easy thing. As you can see there are many aspects of fantasy which I find makes a good fantasy novel. Some of them are more important than others-especially the believability-while others like powerful characters just make it that much more fun. No author has yet done everything that I like, but Martin has come the closest.