My Top 30 Fantasy Books, by Joshua S Hill

Having been reviewing fantasy books for well over a decade now – and having been with Fantasy Book Review since 2008 – I have read a great many books: As of early 2020 I have written over 375 reviews for FBR. When Fantasy Book Review developed its new Top 100 Fantasy Books list it fell to us, the reviewers, to populate it and to champion what we thought did and did not deserve to be included. In writing my own list – which grew from a top 10 to a top 15, 25, and finally settled on a top 30 – it became quickly apparent that writing a Top ## list for fantasy literature is like trying to pick your favourite child – which is to say, an absolute no-no.

The problem, of course, is that fantasy authors don’t just write one book, they write entire series’ – trilogies, quartets, quintets, cycles, etc. How do you pick your favourite Terry Pratchett book? Which book from Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is better than another?

So, as we jump into my Top 30 I want to make it very clear, and to make no apologies, that I am working in terms of series and authors, rather than individual titles, and there is no set system to my system.

#30 – The Red Knight (and the whole ‘Traitor Son Cycle’ series) by Miles Cameron

Sneaking into my top 30 is ‘The Red Knight’ by Miles Cameron – the pseudonym of Christian Cameron who, as far as I can tell, publishes a dozen books a year. I haven’t read any of his other stuff, but the Traitor Son Cycle – which debuted in 2013 with The Red Knight – highlights the authors training as a historian. At times dense, Traitor Son is nevertheless captivating for the width and breadth of its scope while still remaining to stay comprehensible.

The series has the feel of a fantastical history lesson shot through with blood and gore to make sure the boys sitting in the back will pay attention and not have to re-take the class next year.

#29 – ‘The God Fragments’ by Tom Lloyd

A newer series, debuting in 2017 and currently ongoing, ‘The God Fragments’ is one of the most entertaining series you’ll ever read. Leaving behind the vaguely grimdark quality of his ‘The Twilight Reign’ series, author Tom Lloyd brings a hilarious and incisive wit and wisdom to ‘The God Fragments’ and breaks several tropes of the fantasy genre to provide a fresh take on the fantasy mercenary.

What is most impressive, however, is the way in which Lloyd manages to so subtly weave in hints and progression of a much larger, darker story, while never abandoning the rollicking and action-packed good time of the main story.

Tom Lloyd has already cemented himself as one of this century’s most promising fantasy authors, and with ‘The God Fragments’ he takes his readers for a thrilling and hilarious ride.

#28 – The Sword of Shannara (and the whole ‘Sword of Shannara’ trilogy) by Terry Brooks

While The Lord of the Rings was the first fantasy book that I read, it was The Sword of Shannara that solidified my love of fantasy. It was the book recommended to me by the salesperson at the Angus and Robertson bookstore at Forest Hill Chase for someone who had just read Lord of the Rings and wanted to read something similar.

That is, of course, one of the book’s great failings – it is eerily similar to Tolkien’s magnum opus. However, one reason the book nevertheless remains so high in my estimation is the impact its two sequels had on me – The Elfstones of Shannara and The Wishsong of Shannara. Elfstones in particular is probably my favourite from the entire Shannara world, and Amberle Elessedil remains one of my favourite literary characters.

So, while it might have started out derivative, Brooks was not beholden to or reliant upon Tolkien’s imagination to supplement his own. It was simply a starting point, and from there the author created one of the most beloved fantasy series in history.

#27 – Rivers of London (and the whole ‘Rivers of London’ series) by Ben Aaronovitch

I love a particular type of urban fantasy: I want my urban fantasy set in London. This is probably the fault of my particular love of history and the influence of an author further up the list, but regardless, I am enamoured with the opportunity to visit London and to experience that great city in a way only possible through the eyes of urban fantasy writers.

While not as smooth and captivating as the other London-based urban fantasy novels on this list, Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series is nevertheless lots of fun and uses a particular strand of London history to drive the mythical under- and over-tones of this series. The focus on policing in a magical London is similarly enjoyable and adds a helpful foundation and realistic grounding.

#26 – Graceling (and the whole ‘Graceling Realm’ series) by Kristin Cashore

I am by nature a fan of the epics – Malazan, Lord of the Rings, Sanderson’s ‘Cosmere’ – but my tastes do not end there, and over the years I have developed a love for a certain type of female-led action fantasy which started with Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, was bolstered by its two sequels – Fire and Bitterblue – and solidified by several other series on this list.

Graceling was not a brilliant book, but its imprint on me – and, more importantly, the books’ sequels – has remained with me as one of my favourite series. The whole trilogy showed the author’s willingness to grow as a writer and by the time I finished reading Bitterblue I said that “Kristin Cashore is simply one of the most inspiring writers currently putting pen to paper”.

#25 – Cold Magic (and the author’s larger oeuvre) by Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott, the pseudonym for American author Alis Rasmussen, remains a tricky subject for me, as I have yet to actively finish reading a single one of her series – though not for lack of trying, nor for any fault on the authors part. I am a quarter of the way through her ‘Crown of Stars’ series (septet?), halfway through the ‘Crossroads’ trilogy, and two-thirds of the way through her ‘Spiritwalker Trilogy’. However, each time I pick up her books, as much as I plough through her beautiful prose and magical worlds, life somehow kicks me off track.

The geographical premise behind her ‘Spiritwalker Trilogy’ remains one of the most inventive I have come across and Catherine and Beatrice remain two of my favourite characters. Elliott’s ability to hook me in from the first page remains rare and something I hope to return to some day soon.  

#24 – Fated (and the whole ‘Alex Verus’ series) by Benedict Jacka

As I mentioned regarding Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, I prefer my urban fantasy to be set in London – preferably at street level, where the street cleaners are working, and the kebabs are fresh, or as fresh as they ever are.  

The Alex Verus series in particular, then, is right up my alley. In addition to being set in and around London, I also get to be involved with one of the most impressive cast of characters that exist in fantasy literature. Alex and Anne are specifically brilliant – supported by the specific way in which the author writes his books, which are closer to being chapters of a larger story than being stories in and of themselves – as their relationship is slow, almost torturous, but oh so human.

#23 – Magician (and the whole ‘Riftwar Saga’ series) by Raymond E. Feist

I have read very little of Raymond E. Feist’s books – only the first five or so – but to leave him off this list would be criminal, given just how influential he has been for so long.

On top of that, his opening trilogy – made up of the ground-breaking Magician, followed by Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon – are truly just very good books. So, while I haven’t read a lot, Feist’s impact on the genre and the books I have read guarantee Feist a position on this list.

#22 – The Eye of the World (and the whole ‘Wheel of Time’ series) by Robert Jordan

This is another series which I haven’t finished, but to leave off this list would be a crime. Further – and from what I have heard – the reason I haven’t finished this series is mitigated by how the series finishes. If only, then, I was able to somehow plough through books 7 and 8 and 9 – essentially just the same book written three times – and get out the other side, everything would be fine (or so I’ve been told).

The first five books of the series, however, are astronomically brilliant, and game changing for the genre. The sheer scope of Jordan’s story is breath-taking, and through it all are genuinely enjoyable, thrilling, and captivating stories.

#21 – The Autumn Republic (and the author’s larger oeuvre) by Brian McClellan

There was a point in the early 2010s when a handful of new fantasy authors burst onto the scene and began challenging the status quo of how fantasy was written. Brian McClellan is the first of these authors on my list – though I must explain that the only reason he is so far back is because of the packed field ahead of us. Starting with his ‘Powder Mage’ trilogy, McClellan has since maintained a scary-high level of talent into the sequel trilogy, ‘Gods of Blood and Powder’.

More than just setting a fantasy story in a world with gunpowder and longrifles, however, McClellan made the “flintlock fantasy” genre his own with his own twist on how magic and gunpowder might react. Throw in an array of exciting and explosive personalities and a mythology to make your knees weak and you are left with some of the most exciting and enjoyable reading you’ll ever come across.

#20 – Curse of the Mistwraith (and the whole ‘Wars of Light and Shadow’ series) by Janny Wurts

Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts was one of the earliest fantasy books I read – after The Lord of the Rings and Shannara, and it both elevated the genre and set an unfair benchmark for all that would follow. Like a few other series on this list, I have yet to finish the ‘Wars of Light and Shadow’ but, again, this has much less to do with the author or the books and more to do with how many hours there are in a day and how many of those hours I must spend sleeping, working, writing, etc.  

Janny Wurts was the first to introduce me to how lyrical fantasy prose could be. The way her characters move and talk and the flow and rhythm of the story match the almost musical quality of her prose. The ‘Wars of Light and Shadow’ is, fairly, a genre-defining series.

#19 – The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss burst onto the fantasy scene in 2007 with The Name of the Wind and took the whole genre by storm. A sentence- and line-perfect book, it was the beginning to what appeared to be the similarly genre-busting Kingkiller Chronicles and an utterly enthralling and captivating story.

Unfortunately, unlike most other books on this list, only The Name of the Wind appears, as its follow up, The Wise Man’s Fear, was not only woefully delayed but woefully overwritten in a failed attempt to mimic the sentence-by-sentence perfection of the first book. The third book, The Doors of Stone, remains as yet unseen.

And yet, if we are to be honest with ourselves, The Name of the Wind nevertheless remains a brilliant book and deserves to be on this list regardless of the failings which came afterwards. Weaving in a variety of well thought out ideas and concepts, tangled together with a brilliantly captivating lead character and a stunning supporting cast, and a larger mouth-watering mystery and fantasy world, The Name of the Wind remains one of the best single books written this century.

#18 – The Thousand Names (and the whole ‘Shadow Campaigns’ series) by Django Wexler

In much the same vein as Brian McClellan, Django Wexler burst onto the scene in the early 2010s with a puff of gunpowder with his ‘Shadow Campaigns’ series.

Bringing with him a brilliant flare for “flintlock fantasy” and heart-wrenchingly intimate characters, Wexler rarely let the pitch go without swinging, and rarely missed hitting it out of the park. The ‘Shadow Campaigns’ series will likely go down as one of the hallmarks of the 2010s, and Winter one of the most captivating, emotional, realistic, and attractive characters of fantasy.

#17 – The Masked City (and the ‘Invisible Library’ series) by Genevieve Cogman

At a certain point you simply cannot put a book any higher – not because it doesn’t deserve it, but because there are so many other titles and series clamouring for the same space. It’s very similar to the final kilometres of a bike race – too many cyclists trying to occupy too little space, someone is going to get pushed into the fence and take down the rest of the peloton.

That is most definitely the case with The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman, the second book in the author’s The Invisible Library series which, as I wrote in the review for the titular book of the series, “I have never before in my life wanted to write in someone else’s created world more than I do” this one.

Set in a world where libraries have power all of their own and, along with the librarians, maintain equilibrium in a universe with dragons and the fae standing at opposing poles, you couldn’t possibly imagine a more enticing concept. On top of all that, though the books are shorter than I would like, Cogman is a hell of a writer and leaves you spellbound until the last page is turned. The Masked City in particular was right up my alley, set in an alternative Venice during Carnival, this remains one of my favourite reads.

#16 – Dawnthief (and both ‘Raven’ trilogies) by James Barclay

As much as The Lord of the Rings was my entryway to fantasy, and Shannara was that second hit which hooked me, it was James Barclay’s Chronicles of the Raven and Legends of the Raven which turned me into a lifelong fan of the fantasy genre. Humans and elves, a mercenary band with a conscience, and a paperback edition with coloured edging that matched the cover, Barclay became one of my favourite authors, and it is only the preponderance of talent that has emerged over the last decade that has dragged him, kicking and screaming all the way, in to sixteenth spot.

Simply put, if you want some of the best action fantasy since David Gemmell (and maybe even better), then there is simply no one better than James Barclay. Realistic, gritty without being grimdark, deadly for almost all characters, with universe-spanning consequences and heart-breaking relationships, both ‘Raven’ trilogies are essential reading.

#15 – The Black Company (and the ‘Black Company’ series) by Glen Cook

Steven Erikson once described Glen Cook as having “single-handedly changed the face of fantasy” and followed it up with one of the greatest cover quotes you could ever ask for: “Reading his stuff was like reading Vietnam War fiction on peyote.”

While I prefer the earlier ‘Black Company’ books to the latter – focusing on the Ten Who Were Taken as villains – one cannot take away from the impact Cook had on the larger fantasy genre. Ground-level fantasy warfare told from the perspective of the grunts who are more likely to die as they are to see the heroes, but with enough of a glimpse into the heavy-hitting to keep you guessing, the ‘Black Company’ series is an all time great.

#14 – Green Rider (and the ‘Green Rider’ series) by Kristen Britain

I had convinced myself that Kristen Britain had ruined her own series when I received the 2014 Mirror Sight – the fifth book in her ‘Green Rider’ series. I was wrong. The ‘Green Rider’ series is better in the first four books than in the last two, but it nevertheless maintains itself as one of my favourite-ever concepts.

A fantasy series that elevate horses to major characters, a monarchy, hidden magical powers, and an elite service of spies – you literally can’t write a series more likely to hook me. Add in Karigan G’ladheon, who, despite her inability to recognise relational boundaries, remains one of my favourite-ever characters, and you have an utterly spellbinding and captivating series of books to read.

#13 – Liveship Traders Trilogy (and ‘The Realm of the Elderlings’) by Robin Hobb

I’ll be honest, I nearly forgot to put Robin Hobb on this list – her books hidden in a second row on my bookshelves (since remedied). Too, her later books have not had the thrill and brilliance of her original two trilogies – ‘The Farseer Trilogy’ and the incomparable ‘Liveship Traders Trilogy’ – causing her to slip, somewhat, from mind and memory.

But the ‘Liveship Traders Trilogy’ nevertheless remains one of my all-time favourite reads – captivating me in a way very few books or series ever had. The cast of characters was more likeable than the rest of the ‘Elderlings’ series – particularly the ships, Althea, and Brashen – and the magic and fantasy much closer to the surface.

Readable even if you haven’t read the rest of the ‘Elderlings’ series and thrilling right up until the end, the ‘Liveship Traders Trilogy’ remains a classic of the fantasy genre. And, while I believe it is the high-point of the larger 16-book series, the original ‘Farseer Trilogy’ and the subsequent ‘Tawny Man Trilogy’ fall only slightly behind. Unfortunately, ‘The Rain Wilds Chronicles’ quartet brings down the overall average somewhat and is only somewhat ameliorated by the concluding ‘Fitz and the Fool Trilogy’.

#12 – The Lies of Locke Lamora (and the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series) by Scott Lynch

Coming in just beyond the wire for Top 10 honours is The Lies of Locke Lamora, the first book in the famed ‘Gentleman Bastards’ series currently ongoing by Scott Lynch. Though Lynch has been plagued by issues with depression preventing him from being able to write regularly, the three books in this series – and led admirably by the first book out of the gate – are a hallmark of beautifully written and ingeniously captivating fantasy.

The series follows the Gentleman Bastards, under the leadership of titular Locke Lamora, a gang of thieves who have taken their calling and made it an elegant artform. Despite their chosen profession, you are never less than 100% fully in their corner, despite the hapless shenanigans and ill-fortune which continually befall our would-be heroes.

With the fourth book in the series, The Thorn of Emberlain, theoretically due out late-2020, the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series is, in my opinion, a perfect entryway to this list’s Top 10.

#11 – Haven (and the ‘A Trial of Blood and Steel’ series) by Joel Shepherd

One of the world’s most criminally underrated authors is Joel Shepherd. While I will constrain myself to speak only of his fantasy series – ‘A Trial of Blood and Steel’ – his current series, a sci-fi epic, ‘The Spiral Wars’, cements him as one of my all-time favourite authors.

My love for Shepherds’ ‘A Trial of Blood and Steel’ series benefits deeply from having read Graceling: A strong female hero, swords, and a twist on the human/elf dynamic creates the opportunity for some fantastic storytelling and action-packed fight scenes. Add to that an intricate and well-thought-out overarching story which ties the four books together, and its little wonder this is one of the few series I’ve ever had the opportunity to re-read – a re-read which only confirmed my previous enjoyment, and raised it to new heights.

#10 – Night of Knives (and the author’s larger oeuvre) by Ian C Esslemont

It is hard for me to put Ian C Esslemont so far down (up?) this list – especially considering that Steven Erikson, who is essentially his writing partner, is so much higher. Together, Erikson and Esslemont created the whole Malazan universe that both authors write in, and their stories intertwine, overlap, and fill in where the other skims over. And yet, despite all this, Esslemont’s contributions are a little less polished, a little more fast-paced and action-oriented, and a little less tight.

That being said, there are times when I prefer Esslemont to Erikson – primarily when the latter begins to get a little too philosophically-intricate, as if he’s forgotten he’s writing a fantasy book and thinks he’s writing a treatise on the nature of humanity. Esslemont, on the other hand, never leaves his characters behind, never forgets the story he is telling, and always keeps you glued to the page.

And, honestly, Night of Knives probably remains my favourite Malazan book – competing only with Gardens of the Moon (see below). 

#9 – A Madness of Angels (and the ‘Matthew Swift’ series) by Kate Griffin

Kate Griffin is one of two pseudonyms used by British author Catherine Webb (the other being the acclaimed Claire North), and in 2009 she burst onto the urban fantasy scene with a book that remains a highpoint for the genre. A Madness of Angels gave me my first taste of real London-based urban fantasy – so gritty you can feel the asphalt on your torn knees, so intense you can smell the spices of Indian curry and feel the weight of the world’s oldest city.

True, it is somewhat cheating to provide me with urban fantasy, set in London, based on London history – of course I’m going to fall immediately and deeply in love. But to maintain that love, reward it, and fulfil it with each of the four ‘Matthew Swift’ books was the work of a master artist.

#8 – Mistborn: The Final Empire (and the author’s larger oeuvre) by Brandon Sanderson

How many people will raise their pitchforks and tiki-torches in rage at keeping Brandon Sanderson so far down (he’s only eigth, people, rein it in)? I’m not sure, but I maintain this is just the right place for Sanderson. High enough that he ranks well in the “Top 10” but not so high that his faults and missteps aren’t adjudged fairly.

His original ‘Mistborn’ trilogy is almost faultless and flawless and will likely remain one of my top five ‘books’ ‘til the day I die. While most of the attention paid to Sanderson focuses on his world-building and magic system-crafting, these only landed with the legendary force they have now accrued thanks to the characters that populated and jumped off the pages of his ‘Mistborn’ trilogy – Vin, Kelsier, the Lord Ruler, Sazed, Elend.

And while other additions to his massive and ever-growing oeuvre have similarly scaled mammoth heights, I do not believe anything he has written has surpassed the majesty of this original trilogy.

Oh, and The Way of Kings is pretty good, too.

#7 – ‘The Riyria Revelations’ (and the author’s larger oeuvre) by Michael J Sullivan

Michael J Sullivan had been writing for a while before he burst onto the scene, thanks to some savvy self-publishing and an eventual contract with a big-name publishing house. But it’s important to remember that, despite the publishing mechanics which he has become so well known for, it was his writing that helped him succeed where others have failed in the self-publishing game.

Sullivan is simply one of the greatest writers currently in business. With an endless imagination and an ability to write deeply intimate and attractive characters, there are very few downsides to his oeuvre. While he writes in a tone a little less “epic” than the likes of Tolkien and Erikson, the story told is what you remember when you finish, not the prose used to tell the story.

For the keen of eye and memory, you may also realise that, since I published this list on Facebook during May and June of 2020, Sullivan has sidled higher up the list. Realistically, I just couldn’t leave him in the teens where he was, as he is simply too good of a writer, and his original Royce and Hadrian sextet is almost unmatched.

#6 – Night Watch (and the ‘Discworld’ series) by Terry Pratchett

This list has been undergoing almost consistent modification up until the very moment I am writing these words – meaning that Night Watch by Terry Pratchett falls to sixth only by the very slimmest of margins.

The value Terry Pratchett brought to fantasy literature cannot easily be measured, but Night Watch was his writing pinnacle – both with his prose and his imagination. Less intentionally “funny” than other books in the series, and even less overtly satirical, Night Watch nevertheless represents, in my opinion, Pratchett’s greatest piece of fiction amidst an oeuvre that, for the majority of his writing life, only went from strength to strength to unimaginable strength.

Thank heavens we have the ‘Discworld’ because, without it, the world would be an inherently less enjoyable place to live.

#5 – The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

The only book on this list which I have not ‘officially’ reviewed falls into fifth place not only because of just how damn good it is, but for the impact it had on my life at the time of reading. Saving the full story for my memoirs, during a particularly dramatic downturn in my mental health I found myself reading The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon which was not only brilliantly captivating but spiritually and theologically lifesaving.

Telling the tale of a young woman who becomes a paladin in a world whose spiritual warfare is no distant, unseen thing, The Deed of Paksenarrion quickly became one of my favourite books of all time. Beautifully written, wonderfully fleshed out and betraying the authors own willingness to delve into the spiritual warfare referenced throughout the Christian Bible (in particularly Ephesians 6:10-20), thrilling, imaginative, and un-put-down-able, The Deed of Paksenarrion is a must-read for any fantasy fan, and easily one of my favourite ever reads.

#4 – The Lord of the Rings (and the author’s Legendarium) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Whatever the size of the village horde that comes at me for “snubbing” Brandon Sanderson, I can guarantee it will be immediately superseded by those looking to string me up for not having J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings at number one.

And, to be fair, I understand the criticism: Make all the arguments you want about other authors, but we would not have the level of excellence in the fantasy genre we have today were it not for Tolkien and the impossibly high bar he set for everyone who followed.

I love The Lord of the Rings and I have read more of Tolkien than I have of almost any other author alive. But there remain, for me, just a handful of authors who have succeeded in both elevating the genre and writing books which I enjoy more.

Let Tolkien’s position at #4 say less about him, then, and more about the quality of those to come.

#3 – Gardens of the Moon (and the ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’) by Steven Erikson

I maintain that Gardens of the Moon is my favourite Steven Erikson book. I know that a lot of people – even the author himself – do not necessarily rate this book as highly as the others, and if it stood on its own it would not rank this highly on my list of favourite books. But considering that it introduced me to the Bridgeburners, warrens, the Malazan Empire, and brought me into the most simultaneously captivating and beautiful and tactile fantasy universe in existence, I’ll never not love Gardens of the Moon as my favourite of Erikson’s ‘Malazan’ books.

Consider, though, just what came afterwards: A towering epic of proportions that can only be resembled by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium, andreplete with a symphonic cast of characters, villains, heroes, the mistreated and downtrodden, the ridiculous and the absurd – and Kruppe.

Written with a sophistication and anthropological erudition that boggles the mind – and only rarely goes too far into philosophical treatise for philosophical treatise sake – Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen simply must be the greatest fantasy series ever told.

We reach the final two entries in my list, and unlike essentially everything that has come before, they are single books – not a series, not a trilogy, not a quintet or a cycle or anything but a single book. And even as I write, I am uncertain exactly which order these two books belong.

#2 – The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

In March of 2019 Ann Leckie – the multi-award-winning science fiction phenom who burst onto the scene in 2013 with Ancillary JusticeTweeted that The Raven Tower is “definitely a standalone” novel.

This, and this alone is all that relegates The Raven Tower to second on this list, rather than first. I gushed with praise in my 2019 review, describing it as a magisterial tour de force of subverted narrative expectations that wrestles with what it means to find identity as a human, and as a god.” It was at once captivating and thrilling – despite the fact the main protagonist is literally a hunk of sedentary rock – and simultaneously eye-opening and mind-altering.

As I said then, and as I believe now, “The Raven Tower is quite simply the best book of [2019] – mighty, subtle, captivating, unputdownable.” It will likely go down as the best book of the decade.

All that relegates it to second is the fact that there will be no more – when maybe, just maybe, there could have been.

#1 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

And yet … despite everything I have written, all the hyperbole, embellishment, quote-hunting descriptions I have used, all the praise I have sung and the virtues I have extolled, there must nevertheless be something at the top of this list.

I would like to say that, under different circumstances and different criteria, another book may have reached the top of this list, but I do not believe it.

Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is, has been, and will very likely always be my favourite ever fiction book written. It is the most beautiful book I have ever read: Beautiful not just because the prose was beautiful, or the cover dressing and design was beautiful, or the story was beautiful, but beautiful because of the beauty of imagination’s limitlessness that was conveyed to the reader.

It was the most captivating, spellbinding, transporting, and emotionally involved book I have ever read. A book of eternal re-readability and recommendability to all and sundry.

There is no book I have read, nor book I have heard of, or book I have conceived of, that I would rather have as my favourite fantasy book – and, simultaneously, my favourite fiction book – of all time.

1 thought on “My Top 30 Fantasy Books, by Joshua S Hill”

  1. Hallo, Hallo Joshua,

    Calvin @ Under a Pile of Books podcast and fellow reveiewer of yours here at the Fantasy Book Review tipped my hat towards this lovely blog today when another kind-hearted book blogger I love reading nominated us both for #FF. I’m one of the co-hosts for @WyrdAndWonder wherein we celebrate Fantasy for a full month every year in May – I’ll be hosting a RAL this year featuring a self-published Dark Fantasy author (Marcus Lee) whilst I’m wicked thrilled just to have found your blog post – as I’ve been wanting to read further into Fantasy yet I can relate to something you’ve shared when speaking about Kate Elliott?

    Like you, I’m betwixt and between her books as well! I first discovered her at seventeen with the Crown of Stars series which I purchased through the SFBC – I never made it through the whole series though either! For shame I know. Then, if you fast forward years into the future as a book blogger and joyful tweeter I found her on Twitter and have been following her ever since. I also tried to begin the Spiritwalker Trilogy but failed in that – yet, never one to give up ship I am currently organising and hosting a RAL for her “Unconquerable Sun” novel which was a most anticipated read of mine from 2020. I am hoping to release a post about this RAL on my blog next week but the kick-off is in April 2020 as that is what collectively was decided when I asked which month to start in a recent poll.

    I agree with you about being lost inside an author’s vision and holding fast to seeing how their imagination can evolve to such a degree of familiarity for us as readers to bewitch us by their narratives and to seek more out of their author’s canon. I love those experiences myself – which is why I have a feeling I’ll be hugged inside “The Night Circus” myself once the time comes back round for me to read it! I began it one December (several years ago) and just stepped out of it and have longed to return. Like you, life and tides tend to distract me or take me out of the worlds I am reading – which is only right of course that they would but like you I ache to return to those stories myself.

    I look forward to re-reading your reactions and researching the other series and storycrafters you’ve mentioned on this lovely post! Mostly as I love to continue to seek out new Fantasy authors/series/stories to be reading and discovering — ooh! One author whom I’m determined to read this year is my favourite Science Fiction novelist who also writes Fantasy: Julie E. Czerneda. I’ve had “A Turn of Light” for awhile now and I aim to not just dive into it but to complete reading it hopefully before #WyrdAndWonder so I can share my journey within the book itself during the event. Her Clan Chronicles are epic and dearly blogged about on my blog – I had the chance to read them from the prequels through the series finale all in sequencing of order and I am forever blessed to have had that experience – so I do understand what you meant about once you find authors you love, you simply want to feel absorbed by their words, soak into their worlds and feel wickedly awe struck in the process.

    Thanks for writing such a captivating post full of candor and personal reactions. If you want to know what my top Fantasy reads for 2020 were kindly visit my blog and read my End of the Year survey.

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