La crème de la crème

If there is a question that people keep asking me ever since the Hotlist was created back in 2005, invariably it has something to do with my favorite SFF reads of all time. And since that question returns to plague me every month or so, I've finally decided to come up with a list of what I consider the very best speculative fiction series ever published. So here they are, at least according to Yours Truly!;-)

As always, such lists are a very subjective exercise, so feel free to agree or disagree. You can click on each title to be taken to my review if the novel was read since the Hotlist's creation. Otherwise you'll be taken to an Amazon Associate link where you can find more info about each book.

So here they are, in no particular order:


- Gardens of the Moon (1999)
- Deadhouse Gates (2000)
- Memories of Ice (2001)
- House of Chains (2002)
- Midnight Tides (2004)
- The Bonehunters (2006)
- Reaper's Gale (2007)
- Toll the Hounds (2008)
- Dust of Dreams (2009)
- The Crippled God (2011)

If someone, somewhere, somehow, writes something that surpasses The Malazan Book of the Fallen in vision, in scope, and in overall quality, I just wish to be alive to have the chance to read it. George R. R. Martin might have something to say about this once all is said and done, of course. But as things stand, Erikson's magnum opus remains in pole position and reigns supreme as the best fantasy series ever written. In this house at least! ;-)

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen's rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand...

THE DERYNI SAGA by Katherine Kurtz

The Chronicles of the Deryni
- Deryni Rising (1970)
- Deryni Checkmate (1972)
- High Deryni (1973)

The Legend of Camber of Culdi
- Camber of Culdi (1976)
- Saint Camber (1978)
- Camber the Heretic (1981)

The Histories of King Kelson
- The Bishop's Heir (1984)
- The King's Justice (1985)
- The Quest for Saint Camber (1986)

- The Deryni Archives (1986)

The Heirs of Saint Camber
- The Harrowing of Gwynedd (1989)
- King Javan's Year (1992)
- The Bastard Prince (1994)

- King Kelson's Bride (2000)
- Deryni Tales (2002)

The Childe Morgan trilogy
- In the King's Service (2004)
- Childe Morgan (2006)
- The King's Deryni (2014)

Those who feel the need to put a label on everything had to come up with something new for Mrs. Kurtz's wonderful saga: Historical fantasy. As a historian, she has an eye for detail that makes her books quite different from anything else and, by the same token, extremely special. Not unlike a lot of other debut SFF series, Kurtz's first trilogy is also her weakest. For the best results, start with The Legends of Camber of Culdi, followed by The Heirs of Saint Camber. If it's your cup of tea, you'll need no further encouragement to read the rest of the Deryni Saga!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

In the kingdom of Gwynedd, the mysterious forces of magic and the superior power of the Church combine to challenge the rule of young Kelson. Now the fate of the Deryni -- a quasi-mortal race of sorcerers -- and, indeed, the fate of all the Eleven Kingdoms, rests on Kelson's ability to quash the rebellion by any means necessary . . . including the proscribed use of magic!


- The Dragonbone Chair (1988)
- Stone of Farewell (1990)
- To Green Angel Tower (1993)

A bit long-winded, but magical all the same.=) Alas, the sequel has failed to recapture the magic of the original trilogy. But MST remains a true classic of the genre!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

A war fueled by the powers of dark sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard—for Prester John, the High King, lies dying. And with his death, the Storm King, the undead ruler of the elf-like Sithi, seizes the chance to regain his lost realm through a pact with the newly ascended king. Knowing the consequences of this bargain, the king’s younger brother joins with a small, scattered group of scholars, the League of the Scroll, to confront the true danger threatening Osten Ard.

Simon, a kitchen boy from the royal castle unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League, will be sent on a quest that offers the only hope of salvation, a deadly riddle concerning long-lost swords of power. Compelled by fate and perilous magics, he must leave the only home he’s ever known and face enemies more terrifying than Osten Ard has ever seen, even as the land itself begins to die.

THE DUNE SAGA by Frank Herbert

- Dune (1965)
- Dune Messiah (1969)
- Children of Dune (1976)
- God Emperor of Dune (1981)
- Heretics of Dune (1984)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)

Unique. The monument of science fiction. Forget about the movies. Read the novels. But steer clear of the prequels and sequels that were written following Herbert's death. . .

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Frank Herbert’s classic masterpiece—a triumph of the imagination and one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for....

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.


The Farseer
- Assassin's Apprentice (1995)
- Royal Assassin (1996)
- Assassin's Quest (1997)

The Liveship Traders
- Ship of Destiny (1998)
- Mad Ship (1999)
- Ship of Destiny (2000)

The Tawny Man
- Fool's Errand (2001)
- Golden Fool (2002)
- Fool's Fate (2003)

The Rain Wild Chronicles
- The Dragon Keeper (2009)
- Dragon Haven (2010)
- City of Dragons (20011)
- Blood of Dragons (2013)

Fitz and the Fool
- Fool's Assassin (2014)
- Fool's Quest (2015)
- Assassin's Fate (2017)

Each of these series is amazing, but taken together they form what is doubtless one of the best SFF sagas of all time. Robin Hobb likes to make her characters suffer, so get ready for an emotional rollercoaster! She'll take you through the wringer every single time.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

THE FIRST LAW by Joe Abercrombie

The First Law trilogy
- The Blade Itself (2006)
- Before They Are Hanged (2007)
- Last Argument of Kings (2008)

- Best Served Cold (2009)
- The Heroes (2011)
- Red Country (2012)
- Sharp Ends (2016)

The Age of Madness
- A Little Hatred (2019)
- The Trouble With Peace (2020)
- The Wisdom of Crowds (2021)

Little did we know when The Blade Itself was first published that Joe Abercrombie would become one of the best fantasy authors writing today. Some readers never made it past the first trilogy, which is unfortunate because it's with the subsequent three standalones that Abercrombie truly began to shine. With his second series, The Age of Madness, the man known as Lord Grimdark proved that he's here to stay! Can't wait to read what comes next!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.

Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up in a hole in the snow with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all - ideally by running away from it. But as he's discovering, old habits die really, really hard indeed...

...especially when Bayaz gets involved. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a whole lot more difficult...


- Black Sun Rising (1991)
- When True Night Falls (1993)
- Crown of Shadows (1995)

- Nightborn: Coldfire Rising (2023)

A dark fantasy masterpiece! If there was such a thing as a fantasy Hall of Fame, Gerald Tarrant would be part of it. It's been nearly three decades since Black Sun Rising was published and the Coldfire trilogy remains one of the very best dark fantasy series to ever see the light.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Over a millennium ago, Erna, a seismically active yet beautiful world was settled by colonists from far-distant Earth. But the seemingly habitable planet was fraught with perils no one could have foretold. The colonists found themselves caught in a desperate battle for survival against the fae, a terrifying natural force with the power to prey upon the human mind itself, drawing forth a person's worst nightmare images or most treasured dreams and indiscriminately giving them life.

Twelve centuries after fate first stranded the colonists on Erna, mankind has achieved an uneasy stalemate, and human sorcerers manipulate the fae for their own profit, little realizing that demonic forces which feed upon such efforts are rapidly gaining in strength.

Now, as the hordes of the dark fae multiply, four people—Priest, Adept, Apprentice, and Sorcerer—are about to be drawn inexorably together for a mission which will force them to confront an evil beyond their imagining, in a conflict which will put not only their own lives but the very fate of humankind in jeopardy.


- Twelve (2008)
- Thirteen Years Later (2010)
- The Third Section (2011)
- The People's Will (2013)
- The Last Rite (2014)

Vampires have never really been my thing. But this intriguing blend of Russian historical fiction and paranormal fiction should satisfy even the most jaded genre fiction readers! I never understood why this series didn't get more traction. . .

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The voordalak--creature of legend, the tales of which have terrified Russian children for generations. But for Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov--a child of more enlightened times--it is a legend that has long been forgotten. Besides, in the autumn of 1812, he faces a more tangible enemy: the Grande Armée of Napoleon Bonaparte.

City after city has fallen to the advancing French, and it now seems that only a miracle will keep them from Moscow itself. In desperation, Aleksei and his comrades enlist the help of the Oprichniki--a group of twelve mercenaries from the furthest reaches of Christian Europe, who claim that they can turn the tide of the war. It seems an idle boast, but the Russians soon discover that the Oprichniki are indeed quite capable of fulfilling their promise ... and much more.

Unnerved by the fact that so few can accomplish so much, Aleksei remembers those childhood stories of the voordalak. And as he comes to understand the true, horrific nature of these twelve strangers, he wonders at the nightmare they've unleashed in their midst....

Full of historical detail, thrilling action, and heart-stopping supernatural moments, Twelve is storytelling at its most original and exciting.


- God's War (2011)
- Infidel (2011)
- Rapture (2012)

- Apocalypse Nyx (2016)

Dark, violent, complex, touching, compelling, populated with flawed but endearing and unforgettable characters, the Bel Dame Apocrypha is a memorable read. Kameron Hurley at her very best.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn't make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on--

There's not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war--but at what price?

The world is about to find out.


The Fionavar Tapestry
- The Summer Tree (1984)
- The Wandering Fire (1986)
- The Darkest Road (1986)

- Tigana (1990)
- A Song for Arbonne (1992)
- The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995)

The Sarantine Mosaic
- Sailing to Sarantium (1998)
- Lord of Emperors (2000)

- The Last Light of the Sun (2004)
- Ysabel (2007)
- Under Heaven (2010)
- River of Stars (2013)
- Children of Earth and Sky (2016)
- A Brightness Long Ago (2019)
- All the Seas of the World (2022)

Guy Gavriel Kay's entire body of work deserves to be on this list. Those who have read his books all agree: He just might be fantasy's best-kept secret. The way that man can blend history and fantasy is simply unbelievable! If you only read one book this year, make it one of his! Don't know where to start? The Lions of Al-Rassan, Tigana, or Under Heaven.


- The Fifth Season (2015)
- The Obelisk Gate (2016)
- The Stone Sky (2017)

This is N. K. Jemisin writing at the top of her game. A demanding yet rewarding read, The Broken Earth trilogy is definitely one of the finest speculative fiction series out there.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:


A season of endings has begun.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.


The Prince of Nothing
- The Darkness That Comes Before (2003)
- The Warrior-Prophet (2004)
- The Thousandfold Thought (2006)

The Aspect-Emperor
- The Judging Eye (2009)
- The White-Luck Warrior (2011)
- The Great Ordeal (2016)
- The Unholy Consult (2017)

This saga puts the Dark into grimdark! True, it can be so bleak at times. And yet, with stellar worldbuilding and a vast tapestry of storylines, these books are simply remarkable. Hopefully Bakker will get the chance to write the final novels that would bring the Second Apocalypse to a close. Even unfinished, the Second Apocalypse stands as one of the most impressive fantasy sagas ever written.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

A score of centuries has passed since the First Apocalypse. The No-God has been vanquished and the thoughts of men have turned, inevitably, to more worldly concerns...

Drusas Achamian, tormented by 2,000 year old nightmares, is a sorcerer and a spy, constantly seeking news of an ancient enemy that few believe still exists. Ikurei Conphas, nephew to the Nansur Emperor, is the Exalt-General of the Imperial Army and a military genius. He plots to conquer the known world for his Emperor and dreams of the throne for himself. Maithanet, mysterious and charismatic, is spiritual leader of the Thousand Temples. He seeks a Holy War to cleanse the land of the infidel. Cnaiur, Chieftain of the Utemot, is a Scylvendi barbarian. Rejected by his people, he seeks vengeance against the former slave who slew his father, and disgraced him in the eyes of his tribe.

Into this world steps Anasurimbor Kellhus, the product of two thousand years of breeding and a lifetime of training in the ways of thought, limb, and face. Steering souls through the subtleties of word and expression, he slowly binds all - man and woman, emperor and slave - to his own mysterious ends. But the fate of men - even great men - means little when the world itself may soon be torn asunder. Behind the politics, beneath the imperialist expansion, amongst the religious fervour, a dark and ancient evil is reawakening. After two thousand years, the No-God is returning. The Second Apocalypse is nigh. And one cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten...

THE KUSHIEL LEGACY by Jacqueline Carey

Phèdre's trilogy
- Kushiel's Dart (2001)
- Kushiel's Chosen (2002)
- Kushiel's Avatar (2003)

Imriel's trilogy
- Kushiel's Scion (2006)
- Kushiel's Justice (2007)
- Kushiel's Mercy (2008)

Moirin's trilogy
- Naamah's Kiss (2009)
- Naamah's Curse (2010)
- Naamah's Blessing (2011)

- Cassiel's Servant (2023)

Too bad that prudes can't handle the sexual content found in these books, for there is so much more to the Kushiel saga. Superior worldbuilding and engaging characterization make for compulsive reading. Be forewarned that, like Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey loves to make her characters and her readers suffer in every novel. And yet, as gut-wrenching as they can be at times, Carey's books will have you begging for more!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.


- Bitter Seeds (2010)
- The Coldest War (2012)
- Necessary Evil (2013)

Intelligent, thought-provoking, inventive, and engrossing; That's The Milkweed Triptych in a nutshell. Looking for the perfect blend of alternate history, science fiction, and urban fantasy? Then the Milkweed Triptych is exactly what you should read! This lesser-known series deserves the highest possible recommendation.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

It's 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between.

Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.

When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities―a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present―Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.

Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis is a tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.


- Storm Front (2000)
- Fool Moon (2001)
- Grave Peril (2001)
- Summer Knight (2002)
- Death Masks (2003)
- Blood Rites (2004)
- Dead Beat (2005)
- Proven Guilty (2006)
- White Night (2007)
- Small Favor (2008)
- Turn Coat (2009)
- Changes (2010)
- Side Jobs (2010)
- Ghost Story (2011)
- Cold Days (2012)
- Skin Game (2014)
- Brief Cases (2018)
- Peace Talks (2020)
- Battle Ground (2020)

At first, the early installments were short and episodic in format. But gradually, with storylines building upon themselves with each new volume and the overall story arc expanding, the Dresden Files have become as convulated as they are entertaining. Spanning over two decades, at the beginning Harry was the only wizard in the phonebook, and today phonebooks are now a thing of the past. Looking forward to the next book!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

For Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name.

THE GAP SAGA by Stephen R. Donaldson

- The Real Story (1990)
- Forbidden Knowledge (1991)
- A Dark and Hungry God Arises (1992)
- Chaos and Order (1994)
- This Day All Gods Die (1996)

Grimdark space opera before grimdark even existed. Dark and at times disturbing, it remains one of the best science fiction series I've ever read. May have been ahead of its time in style and tone.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Author of The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, one of the most acclaimed fantasy series of all time, master storyteller Stephen R. Donaldson retums with this exciting and long-awaited new series that takes us into a stunningly imagined future to tell a timeless story of adventure and the implacable conflict of good and evil within each of us.

Angus Thermopyle was an ore pirate and a murderer; even the most disreputable asteroid pilots of Delta Sector stayed locked out of his way. Those who didn't ended up in the lockup--or dead. But when Thermopyle arrived at Mallory's Bar and Sleep with a gorgeous woman by his side the regulars had to take notice. Her name was Morn Hyland, and she had been a police officer--until she met up with Thermopyle.

But one person in Mallorys Bar wasn't intimidated. Nick Succorso had his own reputation as a bold pirate and he had a sleek frigate fitted for deep space. Everyone knew that Thermopyle and Succorso were on a collision course. What nobody expected was how quickly it would be over--or how devastating victory would be. It was common enough example of rivalry and revenge--or so everyone thought. The REAL story was something entirely different.

In The Real Story, Stephen R. Donaldson takes us to a remarkably detailed world of faster-than-light travel, politics, betrayal, and a shadowy presence just outside our view to tell the fiercest, most profound story he has ever written.

THE SUN SWORD by Michelle West

- The Broken Crown (1997)
- The Uncrowned King (1998)
- The Shining Court (1999)
- Sea of Sorrows (2001)
- The Riven Shield (2003)
- The Sun Sword (2004)

Imagine Erikson's worldbuilding and Hobb's characterization and it will give you an idea of just how great this series is. Not sure if the House War series and the rest of the Essalieyan saga will live up to the potential generated by the Sun Sword, but Michelle West really knocked this one right out of the park!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The first novel of the acclaimed Sun Sword series introduces readers to a war-torn world of noble houses divided and demon lords unleashed...

Tor Leonne—the heart of the Dominion of Annagar, where the games of state are about to become a matter of life and death—and where those who seek to seize the crown will be forced to league with a treacherously cunning ally....

Tor Leonne, ancestral seat of power, where Serra Diora Maria di’Marano—the most sought-after beauty in the land, a woman betrayed by all she holds dear—may strike the first blow to change the future of the Dominion and Empire alike....

Averalaan Aramarelas—that most ancient of civilized cities, the home of the Essalieyan Imperial court, has long been a center of magics both dark and bright. And though the Empire won its last war with the Dominion, and survived a devastating, magic-fueled battle with a far deadlier foe, both those victories were not without their cost....

But now the realm is on the brink of a far greater confrontation, faced with an unholy alliance that could spell the end of freedom for all mortalkind.


The Broken Empire
- Prince of Thorns (2011)
- King of Thorns (2012)
- Emperor of Thorns (2013)

The Red Queen's War
- Prince of Fools (2014)
- The Liar's Key (2015)
- The Wheel of Osheim (2016)

Book of the Ancestor
- Red Sister (2017)
- Grey Sister (2018)
- Holy Sister (2019)

Impossible Times
- One Word Kill (2019)
- Limited Wish (2019)
- Dispel Illusion (2019)

Book of the Ice
- The Girl and the Star (2020)
- The Girl and the Mountain (2021)
- The Girl and the Moon (2022)

The Library trilogy
- The Book That Wouldn't Burn (2023)

Mark Lawrence is one sneaky bastard. While each of his series can be read independently, though there were a number of Easter eggs that hinted at certain connections, in The Girl and the Mountain we finally discovered that they are all related. À la Robin Hobb and Joe Abercrombie, though each trilogy tells its own tale, Lawrence continued to build a bigger and more ambitious story arc in the background. Finding Jorg Ancrath to be too hardcore for their taste, many readers bailed out on Lawrence early and never read any of his other series. Given that they are all totally different, if that's the case with you I encourage you to give the author another shot. You won't regret it. That Thorns Guy is a truly gifted writer!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.

Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg's bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

THE EXPANSE by James S. A. Corey

- Leviathan Wakes (2011)
- Caliban's War (2012)
- Abaddon's Gate (2013)
- Cibola Burn (2014)
- Nemesis Games (2015)
- Babylon's Ashes (2016)
- Persepolis Rising (2017)
- Tiamat's Wrath (2019)
- Leviathan Falls (2021)

Daniel Abraham and Tye Franck have written what is the new benchmark for science fiction/space opera series. Yes, it's that damn good!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Humanity has colonized the solar system—Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond—but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for—and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations—and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE by George R. R. Martin

- A Game of Thrones (1996)
- A Clash of Kings (1998)
- A Storm of Swords (2000)
- A Feast for Crows (2005)
- A Dance With Dragons (2011)

Like countless fans, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of The Winds of Winter. There's not much else to say that hasn't already been said about this awesome series. So I'll just leave you with a bit from my review of A Storm of Swords that truly irked purists back in the day. The American Tolkien? I think not. . . No disrespect, but J. R. R. Tolkien never wrote anything this good.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.


- The Shadow of the Wind (2004)
- The Angel's Game (2008)
- The Prisoner of Heaven (2011)
- The Labyrinth of the Spirits (2018)

Strictly speaking, this isn't fantasy. Still, Carlos Ruiz Zafón wrote one of the most magical series ever. The Shadow of the Wind just might be the best novel I've ever read, and it's the one I offered as a present to everyone I know who loves reading. His tragic death robbed us of one of the most celebrated authors of his era.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

IAN MCDONALD (The Pyr Years)

- River of Gods (2004)
- Brasyl (2007)
- Cyberabad Days (2009)
- The Dervish House (2010)

Ian McDonald's novels and short fiction have won the Locus, the Philip K. Dick, the British Science Fiction Association, the John W. Campbell Memorial, and the Hugo Awards. In the mid-2000s, while being published by Pyr in North America, he released some of the very best science fiction yarns I've ever read. Do yourself a favor and give these novels a shot if you haven't experienced McDonald's awesomeness already!

Here's the blurb for River of Gods:

As Mother India approaches her centenary, nine people are going about their business--a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. And so is Aj--the waif, the mind reader, the prophet--when she one day finds a man who wants to stay hidden.

In the next few weeks, they will all be swept together to decide the fate of the nation.

River of Gods teems with the life of a country choked with peoples and cultures--one and a half billion people, twelve semi-independent nations, nine million gods. Ian McDonald has written the great Indian novel of the new millennium, in which a war is fought, a love betrayed, a message from a different world decoded, as the great river Ganges flows on.

11 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Love this!!! Hits all my favorites! I would have chose Lord Foul’s Bane but the “Gap” is awesome too. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Love this!!! Hits all my favorites! I would have chose Lord Foul’s Bane but the “Gap” is awesome too. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

A superb list! I learned that I can trust your recommendations implicitly and found many of these gems just thanks to you!

Patrick said...

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant almost made the cut. But I'm not sure these books have aged well enough to end up on the shortlist.

Still highly recommended, though. =)

Oregon Dan said...

Fantastic list. one of the best I've seen. Malazan is my personal number one, followed by First Law and Bakker's series. You clearly have great taste so I will be checking out some of the others.

Gonger said...

What about some older stuff like Leiber, Zelazny, Moorcock, Vance, Eddison, Cabell,...?

Patrick said...


A lot of the older stuff hasn't aged well and doesn't look as good as it used to be the way fantasy and science fiction have evolved over the years. Yet all this is highly subjective, so many would likely disagree with me. I guess that's probably why books/series from the 70s, 80s, and even the 90s appear to have lost some of their relevance and don't hold up well against more recent SFF works.

Everyone's mileage will vary, I guess. And that's the way love goes! =)

Anonymous said...

Solid list. Many of them are on my “list” as well. Would recommend giving Janny Wurts’ The Wars of Light and Shadow a run. Personally feel that this series is criminally unknown to the wider Fantasy reading world.

Erratic 21 said...

Every list that has Bakker who is my favourite is excellent. Add to that my favorite sci fi series the Gap and things het even better. Perronally I would also add Middle Earth and the Book of the New Sun by Wolfe

Fred said...

Merci Ser Patrek de la Montagne Royale :D

Plenty to add in my to-read list. No Alastair Reynolds?

cr8tive said...

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