30 Best Fantasy Book Series

This list has been hopping around the internet lately and everyone has been weighing in on its merit: 30 Best Fantasy Book Series

Could be “30 Most Heard Of Fantasy Book Series” just as easily, but perhaps that is exactly what qualifies ‘best’ in this instance: bringing joy to the most people. As works of art, well, such things are in the brain of the beholder.

My main addition to the discussion is to point out the frequency with which people throw out the entire list because of one entry. Either “________ wasn’t on there! VOID!” or “They included ________? Egregious! Detestable! Stupefying!” The greater the amount of variables in a list, the greater the likelihood of something not matching your personal list. That’s why you have a personal list. If you could get your exact point of view from someone else, people would. Yours will always be different. What such lists do is emphasize what the greater population for a given genre or subsection believes to be best, with a few personal favourites thrown in. The closer the content’s source publishers are to Pitchfork the more faith they put in their individual critics, the more power they give their unique take. The broader your platform, the more the publisher seeks to appease. In the former’s case, the list seeks to point out the unheard sometimes at the sake of quality, in the later’s case, the list seeks to emphasize the quality of success at the sake of diversification or unpopular opinion.

So my opinion on the list?

Pretty much every major fantasy series I’ve ever loved is there, no matter how old I was at the time. Can’t go wrong with that. I heard someone complain about a lack of Guy Gavriel Kay on the list, but we’re talking series here, and Kay is known, for the most part, for excellent one-offs. He’s the only exception.

Finally, don’t like a list? Get a voice and make your own.
I once made a qualitative list of my 100 favourite songs. It served its purpose.

JM

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1st Page Critiques & Mark Lawrence

So author Mark Lawrence has made a little collection of critiques for amateur authors and I read through the lot of them after being forwarded the link. I thought I would post it below because I found it to be an interesting concept. Maybe I was in a funny mood this day, because the idea got its hooks in me. It is no doubt a brave and noble endeavor on his part.

At first the idea horrified me – to be judged on your first page alone sounds even worse than submitting to agents. At least your query letter is especially constructed to meet their needs. A good opening can definitely grab readers (for an example, I found a copy of Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart sitting next to the microwave at a private school I was teaching in recently. Apparently no one on staff knew who he was. I flipped it open and the first line was: “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.” Amazing! Seems like a paradox and I’ve only read four words) but at the same time an excellent novel does not need a thrilling opening if it proves itself excellent. I completely forget the first paragraph of Crime and Punishment, but that is in no way indicative of the quality of the book.

Then I found it interesting and horrifying. As an author who is serious about getting noticed for my epic fantasy debut, where would I stack if I had the balls to submit (which I don’t)? Purge of Ashes has an excellent pace to it, this I trust. It developed from a script serving the story beats of an action movie and a compliment of this ilk was the first response I got from Realmwalker. But the first page? The book ramps up the action pretty quickly, but page 1 of the Prologue is less ‘exciting’ and more ‘critical detail’ necessary to appreciate much of what is to follow (how is clear come the 2nd or 3rd chapter). If I don’t start with a robbery, a murder, a chase or a hunt, are readers going to put my novel down?

I relaxed once I read a few of the first pages. Not enough to submit, mind you, but enough. While Lawrence describes himself as viscous and not pulling any punches, he comes off gentle enough in my estimation. Certainly on #5, despite questioning the author’s language of origin. These are worlds apart – and what’s more his preamble explains that the point is not to prove what works and what doesn’t – it is to provide assistance to anyone who faces similar challenges in writing. A one-man Dragon’s Den (or Shark Tank if you get American TV). Mostly right all the time.

What I realized from my fear and recovery was was that in importance hardened fans defeat the first few pages. Gain hardened fans and hardened fans will spread your wares. They will urge others on no matter what section of your novel they may struggle with. I have no doubt that Lawrence would be incredibly popular regardless of how hair-raising the first pages of Prince of Thorns are. My chief inspiration is the Malazan Book of the Fallen and if there is one thing that ought to be gleaned from the increasing fandom of this superb series it is that rabid fans can badger the most baffled and un-hooked readers into anything if there is gold buried beneath.

So I say bury the gold. If it shines bright enough, it will be found.

Anyway, here is a link to all of the critiques.

JM

Drunk Calendar

I think the calendar countdown running on the right side of my home page is drunk. Or at least inept at basic math. Today is February 21, 2016 and the release date – as clearly stated on the calendar itself – is April 5th. And yet it insists that my book is dropping in ONE MONTH on, I suppose, March 21st – 16 days prior than reality. Is this widget only accurate once you’re within a month? You’d think an algorithm to calculate how many months AND how many days would be equally simple to make while being 1,000 times better.

In related news, between this and my last post you totally witness my range as an author: it’s the same as the range of iHawk on Futurama: maudlin to irreverent.

JM

On Harper Lee

I grew up with a cat named ‘Boo.’

I’ve also read To Kill a Mockingbird three times since 2010 and it never failed to bloom for me. It was my favourite book given to me in high school and it is my favourite book to teach years later. I have trouble reading the ending to my class without crying. People remember the book’s overall warmth and message, but they forget all the little details that mirror the main story and draw delicate parallels – Dolphus Raymond, or Mrs. Dubose, or all of Atticus’s lessons for Jem. It was a round, quaint story with no wasted words. It still is. It yet will be.

“You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”

R.I.P Harper Lee.

March 1st

Nothing like a post saying a post is coming later.

I have a March full of excitement queued up and I am eager to do away with ruddy February to get to it. Waiting, in all capacities, is an exercise in patience – and the strain intensifies the less patience necessary. In other words, it’s the final days before Christmas (in my case) that hurts the most. Purge of Ashes is one of the latest releases in Realmwalker’s first quarter – which is fine, even ideal, but tough in the manner described above. The successes of Daniel Beazley’s Goblin’s Know Best and Keaghan in Dreamside whets my whistle to get Purge into people’s hands.

Anyway, the party gets started March 1st.

JM

Steven Erikson on Queries

I often end up explaining the gist of a Reddit AMA answer I got from acclaimed author Steven Erikson regarding the value of queries and summarizing your novel in 250 words. It resonates strongly with me as my own query does little justice to the Imbalance series as a whole, and no amount of shaving, mincing or dissecting is going to change that. Queries allow no space for B or C plots and no means of demonstrating how carefully interwoven they are to the central A plot. They function more as an easy fishing system for publishing companies and agents, with unique never-before-seen-quirks as the prized catch of the day. Thing is, an excellent novel of tropes is still better than a garbage novel with a one-of-a-kind premise.

AMA-with-Steven-Erikson

Having taken a screenshot, the above answer is due online so I can point those interested to the source. As a new author come April whose publisher never even read my query, I once again ascribe to the Path of Erikson in selling the book and not the pitch.

JM

Eleven Years Ago I Found a Picture of the Coolest Joel

The internet is a weird place.

This was still pretty true back in 2005, even without YouTube and its myriad demented wonders. At the time I attended university in 4th year, and the net was changing. Increasingly, folks were creating their own spaces online from which to ramble narcissistic. Enter the fact that in university everyone feels mature of opinion and wicked-cerebral and you can imagine the burgeoning success of sites such as MySpace, Blogspot and LiveJournal.

I had a blog called ‘Zugswang’ – spelling error and all – and there is absolutely NO reason to click on this link and go there.

If your curiosity got the better of you, you would have found yourself on a page featuring my incredulous face and a post about ‘Great Joels in History.’ You also would have found a sidebar full of links that don’t work to various projects and time wasters. Additionally, you may have noticed that roughly half of the pictures on the post itself are broken. I like to think of it as ‘living in the spirit of the Spacejam Official Website,’ but really it’s just a neglected internet ghost town of one man’s empty musings

That was, until the first Joel mentioned – a boy hanging off a staircase in a picture clearly taken before easy photo editing rotation – contacted me eleven years later.

Here’s what I wrote in my original:

I don’t know if this kid is famous at all, but if you type ‘Joel’ into google he tops the list. And THAT’s pretty impressive. Almost as impressive as his incredible leg push-ups from that upside-down staircase. Go gravity-defying Joel go!

Joel Climbing Up the Walls

And here’s the reply from the gravity-defying Google champion Joel Carr:

Well when that post was published I was nearly out of Secondary School (15 years old). I can’t remember the first time I found the post but I am pretty sure it was my first few years of University, 2010ish. Basically happened when with friends and we decided to google each other’s name. This was an instant hit and I love the fact it was still online. It has been found by numerous of social groups then onto colleagues. I wanted to message you to say thank you for the much joy you have brought me, my friends, and family!

Joel Climbing Up the Walls 2

So there you go. The magic of the internet in two easily-digestible blog posts.

I learned a few things from this:

  1. I have the same PJ pants.
  2. Randomly compliment strangers in the fledgling days of the internet and eventually they will hunt you down to say thanks.
  3. The mystique of the original picture, long a quandary to wizened analysts and philosophers alike, is blown wide open by the reveal of the hallway wall in the second picture.
  4. If my crumb-bum blog posts can create long-distance ‘besties’ whose only bond is their shared name, imagine what my epic fantasy debut will do to you in eleven years. You will one day look me up and link back to this site saying, “Hey, is this the same Joel Minty who wrote that trilogy before the tarantulas attacked? YOUR SITE REUNITED ME WITH MY FAMILY” or some such.
  5. Joels are pretty great.

Honestly. How do you name your blog after a word you can’t spell?

JM.

The Calm Before the Purge

If things seem quiet around here for an author whose first book is going to be released in two months, it is because I am storing up for an exciting March. In addition to preparing an interesting series of articles that cover a wide range of subjects – and posting them daily no less, I will be going through the throes of editing and confirming front and back matter. I may also have some new maps for everyone. In addition to all that, I will be naming my cover artist as well as debuting his or her work when it is ready.

The cover is a big deal. It sets the tone of the book, often conveys both accurate and inaccurate information, and can be the difference in the thousands for sales. There is a harmony necessary between all parties when putting art to words. Like most authors I have feared attaching my work to a cover I despise for years, since being a teen at least. That said, a good cover and unique symmetry between novels in a series can really bring an author’s universe together in a manner not quite told by the words.

By then RPG will no doubt have yet more news of expansion and success. For example, it was recently announced that our titles will now be available Indigo.ca. We’re everywhere!

And in March I will be, too.

JM