Brandon Sanderson

My Top 5 Fantasy Series List

Good morning everyone,

As the title indicates, I’m covering a list of my favorite fantasy series. These are always subjective so there’s not a definitive list. People invariably have read different books and authors so lists can vary greatly.

The Lord of the Rings:

Wait, I’m not just putting this here because it’s the original fantasy series that went big. True it has a status among most readers, but we tend to forget just how groundbreaking LotR was at the time. There were few books like this available when the series was first published. Elves? Dwarfs? What was Middle-earth? Don’t even start with different languages, cultures and unique setting not widely found except in pulp fiction.

I remember that Tolkien’s series set off a huge marketing swell of licensed items during the 70’s an 80’s. Authors wrote books that provided background information for the series. All this for fantasy which was not much of a genre then and before that time. Tolkien’s work is largely the foundation of the fantasy genre today.

Authors are now challenged not to re-hash LotR, but decades ago, the genre was not so mature. Regardless, Lord of the Rings spun off so much that started the genre on its path to its current popularity, not to mention the movies directed by Peter Jackson. Those movies really put in motion the search by production companies for more works to release into movies and on TV (internet streaming included). Lord of the Rings is still top of the list because “Frodo lives!”

The Wheel of Time:

If you read last week’s post about The Wheel of Time, you knew this series was on the list so I went ahead and slotted it here. The series took LotR and fantasy in a different direction of its own. But still there were rich cultures, languages, settings and lots of questions from the past. It took fourteen books and two authors but it was always entertaining. I was always waiting on the next book to arrive and enjoyed every last one. If Jordan were alive today, an origin series would have been demanded and probably exceptional too.

The Wheel of Time will also get it’s series on the small screen very soon and I can’t wait. If you thought Thrones had lots of twists, hang on because there are plenty in Wheel. This series is largely ignored because of the success of thrones on the small screen but it’s far better. Just read my post from last week. Rand, Matt, and Perrin are just characters living by the wits for so much of the series and that’s engrossing. When they finally start to gain some control, there’s still nothing easy for them.

The Chronicles Narnia:

C. S. Lewis wrote these books long ago and they’ve been considered children’s book for much of that time. I still re-read them on occasion and enjoy the series. These were also ground-breaking at the time and it’s interesting that Tolkien and Lewis were good friends. Narnia opened the doors to a log of fantasy where characters are drawn into alternate worlds. This type of plot was further explored by other authors in later decades and still is today (I’m looking at you LitRPG sub-genre, and, no, these new authors were not the first to try this). Of course there have been a ton of fantasy series with chronicles in the title largely from this series.

Narnia is a set of seven books with almost stand-alone stories using overlapping characters for the most part, Aslan being a constant throughout. It’s a complete world, though with broken timelines since characters visit at different times. The use of mythological characters and other elements make for an entertaining story even for adults. The oddity of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is engrossing and has spun off several attempts at both small and big screen adaptations. The movies were very good but, alas, like all the other projects, this seemed to lose steam when there are several stories never shown on screen that are very good. It would be nice for a production company to find a way to complete these somewhere.

The Earthsea Trilogy:

This series has long been a favorite of mine (I only include the first three books because they were written close together). The adventures of Ged from his childhood until he’s the main wizard in Earthsea is one that’s very entertaining. The ride is different in each book since they are set at different points in Ged’s life. Most everyone remembers Ursula K. LeGuin’s first one, A Wizard of Earthsea, but I love them all. I think it’s well told with a very unique culture of a world that’s mainly set around islands large and small.

Sadly, this series has never gotten the attention it should have over the decades. It really should land a streaming series as the LeGuin’s work in this series is superlative and would translate well. Here’s to hoping for it to make it on-screen in the next few years since all the services and channels out there are looking for fantasy material. This should not be overlooked at all and younger fantasy fans should give it a read.

The Riddle-master Trilogy:

This is another series I re-read too. The mystery of a fantasy world and story set around riddles is amazing. Patricia McKillip told this story masterfully. Her writing voice was incredible. Often, I would sit by the fireplace and read these books and be lost in this world. The magic blends into the story and there’s always a mystery surrounding the riddles and the lost world of wizards who founded much of it.

This is another series that needs attention for the small screen. It’s an incredible world of magic that so well told. Riddlemaster would easily translate onto screen and would draw a good many viewers to the wonder and mystery. It’s just that good and doesn’t get near enough credit in the fantasy genre.

The Dragonriders of Pern:

Flying became a big element in fantasy and Dragonriders was right there at the time several decades ago. Other series jumped in there, but Anne McCaffrey’s series was on-target from the beginning. This is mainly a science fantasy that leans heavily on the fantasy. The mystery of the world in danger from it’s moons as humans and dragons teamed up to keep everything alive was masterful.

There was plenty of intrigue and adventure throughout the series. It beats Eragon by a couple of decades and has a much more engrossing story-line throughout. The struggle to protect life amid intrigue is captivating. There is some talk of a feature length film arriving for Dragonflight at some point (it was optioned back in 2014), but you can find a good series wiki here.

Conclusion

That’s my take on top fantasy series. Agree or disagree? What makes your list? What am I missing? Weigh-in with your opinion since there’s no way to be wrong here. Leave your thoughts below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Better yet, just start your own debate with each other, but be nice. For your convenience, I’ve linked those cover/series images if you want to read any of these.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and don’t forget to share it with others. Want to find out more about my writing? Have a look at my epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga. Also, I’ve started a very different series with The Order of the Dark Rose with book two due this spring. Have a look at those if you have time using those links or the ones just below:

 

 

Why Wheel of Time Will be Better Than Game of Thrones

Hey everybody,

Today’s post is likely going to set off a debate, but I’m going to throw my thoughts out there anyway. Which is better The Wheel of Time or Game of Thrones (yes, I know the book series has a different title but Thrones is synonymous and a better series title)? Will Wheel of Time do better on the screen than Game of Thrones? My answer is The Wheel of Time (find all 14 books at Amazon) for both and here’s why:

Find all 14 books at Amazon

The Wheel of Time is progressing toward release on Amazon Prime. I’m looking forward to the series because I loved the books so much. The fantasy series by Robert Jordan (and finished by Brandon Sanderson) is one of my personal top 5 fantasy series. The world is intricate and the story is over the top epic. The completion of the series outlasted Robert Jordan (note to self: don’t start a long series and write it slowly – anything can happen).

It’s my opinion that this series will be far better than Game of Thrones. Why? It’s also my opinion that Wheel of Time was planned and written much better than GoT. To my mind, the books of Thrones (Originally A Song of Fire and Ice) meandered too much and we never had truly central characters. I could never get invested in the series. In fact, the HBO series finished the the story before the last book was written. Why was the screen version so popular? Aside from a lot of sex scenes, there was a lot of intrigue and self-interest – much like a soap opera. I know many people got into watching but it just never struck a chord with me.

Why do I think Wheel of Time will do better. When it comes to WoT, there’s no need to change the name. All the books are finished so the production company can write episode scripts to the very end and start filming. It’s more likely to keep continuity. Only the pandemic gets in the way and other epic real-life events.

Aside from those reasons, the writing is better and the series is more organized – if you are patient. Patience is a key for readers of these two fantasy series for different reasons. WoT is long. GoT never finished in a suitable time. Wheel has characters in which you are invested. I know a lot of people think that killing so many characters in Thrones was great and there’s a point to that. However, I think Jordan accomplished far more with his characters than Thrones.

I once asked on my Twitter feed which was better. I never even got replies from Thrones fans while Wheel fans weighed-in with very solid reasons. If you’ve never read Wheel, you may think that Thrones covers a lot of cultures, people and territory. Wheel covers far more without getting rid of the characters.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that characters died with secrets and this caused turmoil in Thrones. It’s just that the same claims were made by other characters when warring over the throne of Westeros and that could have been done with Ned Stark for more than one book. With Wheel, everything is against Rand including himself. He has to forge relationships, alliances and discover secrets to his abilities with little help. Rand is constantly in a state of questioning any assistance that comes is way and runs through a series of approaches to achieving his goals. Meanwhile, it seems the fluid events of his world leave him constantly off balance as he must overcome his nemesis without losing himself and the world all over again.

Big task. Big events. Big backdrop. Lots of intrigue. Lots of self-interest. Lots of twists and turns. Getting to the end is so circuitous it’s hard to believe there is a satisfying conclusion. Thrones will seem askew by comparison for those who unfamiliar with Wheel. But WoT finishes with a large backdrop, lots of action and an end that makes sense to the reader.

One commenter to my Twitter question mentioned that he quit reading GoT books after the first one. Someone then told him that it got good by book four. He didn’t see the point in wading through three books that went nowhere. Each book of WoT has a point and takes you somewhere. Do you know what will happen, or do you know how a book fits? No, and that’s why you keep reading. However, you never feel like there’s no point and you don’t go so far and lose the story to other characters. The main characters keep surviving because of, well, fate, but you are always in grounded in the series without being set adrift.

So that’s my take on GoT versus WoT. I’m even thinking about re-reading the series as refresher. With so many books that could take a while since they take up most of a bookshelf on their own. But I always thought the series was worth reading in its entirety. I can say that, just as Lord of the Rings fans are loyal, Wheel of Time fans are very loyal. In fact, there are many loyal fans of Pern and other fantasy series which lie untapped by all the various production companies and many of these fantasy series from decades past will do very well on-screen.

Now it’s your turn. If you’ve read both series which one to do you favor and why? Do you think Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime will fare even better than Game of Thrones? Feel free to share your thoughts and answers, even debate away with each other. Thanks for reading this post today. Please share and reblog as you will and poke around the site some.