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  1. #1
    Creator of Worlds sullivan_riyria's Avatar
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    A Nice Condensed List of Popular, Well-rated Modern Fantasy

    I saw this over at reddit, and thought some people here might find it interesting or helpful when looking for recommendations. A guy set out to create a list of good books to read and used the following criteria:
    • Must be considered a work of fantasy foremost
    • Must have at least 1,000 ratings on Goodreads
    • Must have at least 3.80 overall rating on Goodreads
    • Only one book per fantasy world (Discworld, Midkemia etc)
    • Only the first book of a series allowed
    • No compilation books allowed
    • No Young Adult fiction / Children's Literature
    • Must be published after 1857


    The List
    1858 George MacDonald - Phantastes
    1894 Arthur Machen - The Great God Pan
    1895 George Macdonald - Lilith
    1908 G. K. Chesterton - The Man Who Was Thursday
    1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs - Tarzan of the Apes
    1922 E. R. Eddison - The Worm Ourobouros
    1924 Lord Dunsany - The King of Elfland's Daughter
    1927 H.P. Lovecraft - The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
    1936 Robert E. Howard - The Hour of the Dragon
    1946 Mervyn Peake - Titus Groan
    1950 Jack Vance - The Dying Earth
    1954 J. R. R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings
    1962 Ray Bradbury - Something Wicked This Way Comes
    1966 Roger Zelazny - This Immortal
    1967 Roger Zelazny - Lord of Light
    1969 Roger Zelazny - Creatures of Light and Darkness
    1970 Fritz Leiber - Swords and Deviltry
    1970 Jack Finney - Time and Again
    1970 Katherine Kurtz - Deryni Rising
    1970 Roger Zelazny - Nine Princes in Amber
    1971 Roger Zelazny - Jack of Shadows
    1972 Michael Moorcock - Elric of Melniboné
    1974 Richard Matheson - Somewhere in Time
    1976 Roger Zelazny - Doorways in the Sand
    1977 Richard Matheson - What Dreams May Come
    1977 Piers Anthony - A Spell for Chameleon
    1979 Tim Powers - The Drawing of the Dark
    1980 Gene Wolfe - The Shadow of the Torturer
    1980 Jonathan Carroll - The Land of Laughs
    1981 John Crowley - Little, Big
    1982 Marion Zimmer-Bradley - The Mists Of Avalon
    1982 Barbara Hambly - The Time of the Dark
    1982 David Eddings - Pawn of Prophecy
    1982 Steven King - The Gunslinger
    1982 Raymond E. Feist - Magician
    1983 Piers Anthony - On A Pale Horse
    1983 George R. R. Martin - Fevre Dream
    1983 Tim Powers - The Anubis Gates
    1983 Steven Brust - Jhereg
    1983 Mark Helprin - Winter's Tale
    1983 Sir Terry Pratchett - The Colour of Magic
    1984 Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman - Dragons of Autumn Twilight
    1984 Guy Gavriel Kay - The Summer Tree
    1984 Glen Cook - The Black Company
    1984 David Gemmell - Legend
    1984 Barry Hughart - Bridge of Birds
    1985 Robert Holdstock - Mythago Wood
    1985 Barbara Hambly - Dragonsbane
    1986 Katherine Kerr - Daggerspell
    1987 Clive Barker - Weaveworld
    1987 Orson Scott Card - Seventh Son
    1987 Jonathan Carroll - Bones of the Moon
    1987 Tim Powers - On Stranger Tides
    1987 Ken Grimwood - Replay
    1987 David Gemmell - Wolf in Shadow
    1988 Elizabeth Moon - Sheepfarmer's Daughter
    1988 Tad Williams - The Dragonbone Chair
    1989 David Eddings - The Diamond Throne
    1989 Tim Powers - The Stress of Her Regard
    1990 Robert Jordan - The Eye of the World
    1990 Guy Gavriel Kay - Tigana
    1990 R. A. Salvatore - Homeland
    1990 Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman - Dragon Wing
    1990 Sir Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman - Good Omens
    1991 Simon R. Green - Blue Moon Rising
    1991 C. S. Friedman - Black Sun Rising
    1992 Tim Powers - Last Call
    1992 David Gemmell - Morningstar
    1992 Guy Gavriel Kay - A Song for Arbonne
    1993 Andrzej Sapkowski - The Last Wish
    1993 Roger Zelazny - A Night in the Lonesome October
    1993 Joel Rosenberg - The Sleeping Dragon
    1994 Terry Goodkind - Wizard's First Rule
    1995 Christopher Priest - The Prestige
    1995 Bernard Cornwell - The Winter King
    1995 Sara Douglass - The Wayfarer Redemption
    1995 Guy Gavriel Kay - The Lions of al-Rassan
    1996 Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere
    1996 Robin Hobb - Assassin's Apprentice
    1996 George R.R. Martin - A Game of Thrones
    1998 Kristen Britain - Green Rider
    1998 Guy Gavriel Kay - Sailing to Sarantium
    1998 Sergei Lukyanenko - Night Watch
    1998 Matthew Stover - Heroes Die
    1998 Anne Bishop - Daughter of the Blood
    1999 Steven Erikson - Gardens of the Moon
    2000 Jim Butcher - Storm Front
    2000 David Gemmell - Sword in the Storm
    2000 China Miéville - Perdido Street Station
    2000 Tim Powers - Declare
    2000 Carol Berg - Transformation
    2001 Lynn Flewelling - The Bone Doll's Twin
    2002 Lois McMaster Bujold - The Curse of Chalion
    2004 Jim Butcher - Furies of Calderon
    2004 Guy Gavriel Kay - The Last Light of the Sun
    2005 David Gemmell - Lord of the Silver Bow
    2005 Brandon Sanderson - Elantris
    2005 Neil Gaiman - American Gods
    2006 Scott Lynch - The Lies of Locke Lamora
    2006 Brandon Sanderson - Mistborn - The Final Empire
    2006 Joe Abercrombie - The Blade Itself
    2007 Patrick Rothfuss - The Name of the Wind
    2007 Simon R. Green - The Man With the Golden Torc
    2008 Brent Weeks - The Way of Shadows
    2009 Brandon Sanderson - Warbreaker
    2009 China Miéville - The City and the City
    2009 Jonathan L. Howard - The Necromancer
    2009 Peter V. Brett - The Warded Man
    2009 Chris Wooding - Retribution Falls
    2010 Brandon Sanderson - The Way of Kings
    2010 Brent Weeks - The Black Prism
    2010 Guy Gavriel Kay - Under Heaven
    2010 Nnedi Okorafor - Who Fears Death
    2011 Michael J. Sullivan - Theft of Swords
    2011 Douglas Hulick - Among Thieves
    2011 Kevin Hearne - Hounded
    2011 Mark Lawrence - Prince of Thorns
    2011 Ben Aaronovitch - Midnight Riot

    If the other list grows I'll try to keep this one up to date. Some good titles to be sure.
    Last edited by sullivan_riyria; September 9th, 2012 at 10:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Well, I could cut that down by a few already...

  3. #3
    Great list! I wouldn't call it "essential" given the method, I would call it most popular.

    As an engineer, I appreciate the crowd sourcing of the list for a popularity contest. It's like the top 100 movies on imdb, as chosen by thousands of people. People can push up a book when it first comes out, but eventually it returns to a steady state.

    Missing from the list:

    Fred Saberhagen - Complete Book of Swords This surprises me.
    TH White - The Once and Future King - out of favor the last 15 years or so
    Anne Bishop - Black Jewels - I like her, but not that surprising it didn't make the list
    Sir Thomas Malory - Le Morte D'Arthur - also not surprising, it's essential but not popular

    Other than that, I can't think of any books that belong on the list that aren't there already. Not bad, Interweb!

    Whoops just noticed Phillip Pullman, His Dark Meterials isn't on there. That is also a big surprise. Was it considered scifi?
    Last edited by phil_geo; September 9th, 2012 at 10:36 AM.

  4. #4
    Creator of Worlds sullivan_riyria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phil_geo View Post
    Great list! I wouldn't call it "essential" given the method, I would call it most popular.

    As an engineer, I appreciate the crowd sourcing of the list for a popularity contest. It's like the top 100 movies on imdb, as chosen by thousands of people. People can push up a book when it first comes out, but eventually it returns to a steady state.

    Missing from the list:

    Fred Saberhagen - Complete Book of Swords This surprises me.
    TH White - The Once and Future King - out of favor the last 15 years or so
    Anne Bishop - Black Jewels - I like her, but not that surprising it didn't make the list
    Sir Thomas Malory - Le Morte D'Arthur - also not surprising, it's essential but not popular

    Other than that, I can't think of any books that belong on the list that aren't there already. Not bad, Interweb!

    Whoops just noticed Phillip Pullman, His Dark Meterials isn't on there. That is also a big surprise. Was it considered scifi?
    Good point...I just copied his title for the list, but yours seems more appopriate. I'll pass your titles back over there but update mine as well.

  5. #5
    Creator of Worlds sullivan_riyria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phil_geo View Post
    • Fred Saberhagen - Complete Book of Swords - rating is 3.70, which is below the threshold he placed.
    • TH White - The Once and Future King - rating 4.02 so it qualifies
    • Anne Bishop - Black Jewels - rating 4.18 and more than 1,000 reviews so qualifies - I added it to mine
    • Sir Thomas Malory - Le Morte D'Arthur - rating is good but too few reviews it only has 684 needs at least 1,000.
    • Phillip Pullman, His Dark - it's classified as YA based on Amazon categories
    Keep them coming though...would like the list to be as comprehensive as possible.

  6. #6
    I was glad to see Theft of Swords made the list. Congrats Michael!

  7. #7
    Lord of the Wild Hunt Mithfânion's Avatar
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    The value of such a list is mainly so that people less informed can get good recommendations. People see titles, check them out on Amazon, and think "hey I want that". And that's good. A definitive list can not be made anyway, and certainly this does not strike me as such, but it has loads of good titles nevertheless.

  8. #8
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phil_geo View Post
    Great list! I wouldn't call it "essential" given the method, I would call it most popular.

    As an engineer, I appreciate the crowd sourcing of the list for a popularity contest. It's like the top 100 movies on imdb, as chosen by thousands of people. People can push up a book when it first comes out, but eventually it returns to a steady state.

    Missing from the list:

    Sir Thomas Malory - Le Morte D'Arthur - also not surprising, it's essential but not popular

    ........

    Whoops just noticed Phillip Pullman, His Dark Meterials isn't on there. That is also a big surprise. Was it considered scifi?
    Actually, Malory cannot be included on the list as he was a medieval writer. Le Morte D'Arthur was first published in 1485, per wikipedia and the list can only contain books published after 1857. But I do agree, Pullman's His Dark Materials should be on the list. I am also wondering where Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is at, published 1865.

    When I go to bookstores I usually take a list of three to five books I want to get. They will usually only have two or three and yet, I still want to get at least four. I rarely look at these lists or even the "recommend me something like..." lists. I prefer to see what others are reading currently and go from there. Still, if I am in the mood for a particular subgenre or I want to read something I know will be good, then I do turn to these lists and the recommendation threads. As others have said, the rec threads are just so specific and the best of lists are, while good about older books, very subjective when it comes to new books from the last decade.
    Last edited by RedMage; September 9th, 2012 at 12:55 PM.

  9. #9
    Damn fool idealist DailyRich's Avatar
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    Absolutely no Stephen R. Donaldson??

  10. #10
    Lord Foul's Bane is only rated 3.7, but several other books in the series are at 3.95, so does that mean the first book in the series gets on there? Hmmmm...

    Alice's Adventures has a solid 4.03 rating with over 125,000 reviews. It's also the third most quoted book in the English language, so props.

    Good call on Malory, although my translation was written in 1957 (Baines). It didn't look quite 500 years old. First edition would probably be worth quite a bit.

  11. #11
    Creator of Worlds sullivan_riyria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heather Myst View Post
    I was glad to see Theft of Swords made the list. Congrats Michael!
    Thank's Heather...I of course am glad as well. It's pretty amazing company to find myself in.

  12. #12
    Creator of Worlds sullivan_riyria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage View Post
    . I am also wondering where Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is at, published 1865.
    My Guess is because it's not "adult" It's classified by Amazon as:

    Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction

    He was limiting his list to adult fiction. Which is also why Pullman isn't listed.

  13. #13
    Creator of Worlds sullivan_riyria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phil_geo View Post
    Lord Foul's Bane is only rated 3.7, but several other books in the series are at 3.95, so does that mean the first book in the series gets on there? Hmmmm...

    Alice's Adventures has a solid 4.03 rating with over 125,000 reviews. It's also the third most quoted book in the English language, so props.

    Good call on Malory, although my translation was written in 1957 (Baines). It didn't look quite 500 years old. First edition would probably be worth quite a bit.
    For right or wrong I think his requirements are the first book has to be 3.80 or higher...which is probably why Lord Foul's Bane was knocked out.

    Alice as I mentioned elsewhere is not classified as "adult".

  14. #14
    Very nice, Michael. Thanks for sharing. Looks like I have a bit of research to do, especially on the older titles.

    I will say, however, that the absence of The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker from this list (whether it reflects essentiality or merely popularity) is criminal. That it has only a 3.76 rating, while something as horrid as Green Rider by Kristen Britain has a 4.07, is nearly unfathomable.

  15. #15
    What about the Canterbury Tales?

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