Looking around the Web, we are shocked and amazed by several absolutely horrific Fantasy Books and Series that frequently appear on Fantasy “Top Lists”. Here at HQ we have two lists that do not reflect our team’s opinions: The Best Selling Fantasy Series of All Time, and The Current Top-Rated Fantasy Books and Series. Both of these lists contain books we consider to be consistently over-rated.
How does this happen? We’ve identified five main traps:
- The Influencers: Books that clearly influenced the Fantasy genre, but are not actually enjoyable to read.
- The Vocal Minority: Books that appeal very strongly to a specific group of individuals, but almost everyone else finds them horrible.
- The Transformers: Series that lure you in with one good book, then morph into something completely different and wholly unpleasant.
- The No-So-Golden Age: Books written years ago that are still remembered fondly by many, but have absolutely not stood the test of time.
- The Quest for Money: Series that started ok, but then stretched into a money-grabbing avalanche of no purpose sequels.
Note: Our articles normally provide links to show our readers where they can buy the books being discussed. This list does not contain those links…
Ursula K LeGuin
Why is it Recommended So Often? The world-building.
Why should you avoid it? It’s boring.
Published in 1968, the Earthsea Cycle’s graphic, detailed descriptions of the world are truly amazing, and have undoubtedly served as a heavy influence to the epic world-building we see in many of today’s Fantasy Series. What people often fail to mention, however, is that the plot and storylines in this series are generally tepid and uneventful.
The Sword of Truth Series
Why is it Recommended So Often? The first 1-2 books
Why should you avoid it? The remaining 6-7 books, and especially the ending
The Wizard’s First Rule is a fun (albeit very graphic) book, following the path of our hero, Richard, from small-town fellow to world-saving hero. What follows afterwards are a series of progressively less interesting stories, including an evil chicken and multi-page lectures on the perils of socialism.
The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon)
Why is it Recommended So Often? These are great for readers age 11-14.
Why should you avoid it? You are probably not age 11-14
Unlike the Harry Potter series, which also appeals to many older (and some even younger) readers, the Inheritance Cycle seems to have been specifically written to appeal to young teens and pre-teens.
Riftwar Series (all books after the original Trilogy)
Why is it Recommended So Often? The original trilogy is pretty good.
Why should you avoid it? The (many) other books, are not.
The excellent coming of Age story in the Original Riftwar Saga Trilogy has lured many people more deeply into Feist’s world, only to discover that most of his best ideas were used in the original books.
Chronicles of the Black Company
Why is it Recommended So Often? It was one of the very first “gritty” military fantasies that are currently very popular.
Why should you avoid it? Not nearly as good as the books to which it is compared.
The Black Company is frequently compared to some very popular series, such as Game of Thrones, First Law, or Malazan Book of the Fallen. While these comparisons are technically and tonally accurate, the Black Company simply falls short when compared to the other series.
The Dark Tower
Why is it Recommended So Often? King is the master of Horror
Why should you avoid it? You are looking for a Fantasy Book
Few would deny that Stephen King is an excellent author, but is The Dark Tower as an excellent Fantasy Series? We don’t think so. Firstly, it contains debatably ZERO Fantasy. From fighting a giant cyborg bear to outsmarting a psychopathic A.I. controlled train this series has it all, except for Fantasy.
The Shannara Series
Why is it Recommended So Often? Very easy reading of D&D® style adventures
Why should you avoid it? Reads like a D&D® Module from the 1980’s
If you are looking for an easy-read full of elves, magic swords, and fireballs, the Shannara Series may be right for you. If you are looking for a more complex plotline and fully developed characters, you should look elsewhere.
The Wheel of Time
Robert Jordan / Brandon Sanderson
Why is it Recommended So Often? Absolutely epic series with a fabulous beginning and ending
Why might you choose to avoid it? Books 5-9 (there are 13 total in the series)
We loved the Wheel of Time, and we have it rated as one of the best series of all time. HOWEVER: Books 5-9 are filled with almost nothing of consequence and could have been one book. IF you have the patience to read +4000 pages of filler to get the final four books we can promise that you will be glad you did.
If you don’t have that kind of patience, stay far away.