I am eternally thankful for J.K Rowling and my childhood friend Alex Jose for introducing me to the Fantasy Genre. Harry Potter was the first set of books that I read that vetted my appetite for alternate reality and magical realism. But Harry Potter was a short stint, my romance with the booked ended when the Triwizard Tournament did. Post that, every other book was read because I had to finish the series. Somehow there was not enough magic, the characters became “meh” and the events were mere blips in a tiny magical world.
Oh wait, I know how that happened. ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ came out, that again got my childhood friend Alex Jose to introduce me to Lord of the Rings. Lord of the Rings happened to my Harry Potter love. Suddenly the plot was too small. Suddenly you see Wormtail and Wormtongue. The Friendship between Samwise Gamgee was epic compared to that between Ron Weasley and Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. Merry and Pippin trumped out the Weasley Twins. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli and their journey became more epic than what I could even imagine. Tom Bombadil and his songs became stuffs of Legend ( Oh wait, they are ). Harry Potter lost its shine. But now I was hooked into Epic Fantasy. Both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings played their part in it. Harry Potter helped me get the foot wet and LOTR transported me into an entire ocean of greatness in Middle Earth.
Then came my forays into other authors, Terry Goodkind ( If you read one book, you have read them all ), Tad Williams ( great, but totally slow ), R.A Salvatore ( never left a mark ), Raymond E.Feist ( when I read them, I liked them. Will I read any new books? No. ) and Terry Pratchett ( Will be going back to read more of them I think ).
Then there were the greats Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson and David Gemmell.
The Dark Tower ( Brilliant! ), The Stand, It!, The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot and Dreamcatcher were out of this world. Loved every bit of the Horror Fantasy genre that only Stephen King can create.
Brandon Sanderson is another author that I am dipping my feet into, though not yet totally convinced on being an ardent fan. Mistborn was amazing in parts and so was The Stormlight Archive. I should say I enjoyed Stromlight Archive much more than Mistborn. Every single time Sanderson explains how magic exists in that particular universe, not only does it make sense, but it becomes epic in itself.
David Gemmell, David Gemmell, David Gemmell! No one writes heroic fantasy better than this guy! Be it the story of Troy or Druss the Legend or Waylander. What this guy writes, is about 3000 sentences of epic-ness in every book!
That brings me down to the one author that I absolutely fan-boy. Steven Erikson and in extension Ian C. Esslemont.
Until now Lord of the Rings was sitting comfortably at the number on spot. Not anymore. The Malazan Book of the Fallen is the most epic, batshit awesome, absolutely awesome book series ever. The ten books in the main series tells a story so complicated, so epic in scope and a world so beautifully drawn with words. The story weaves around a bunch of soldiers, gods, main gods and humans who are just outright awesome.
Characters like Fiddler, Quick Ben, Whiskeyjack, Gesler, Stormy, Adjunct Tavore, Ganoes, Kalam, Dujek, Anomander Rake, Dragons, Mael, Karsa, Icarium, Trull, Kellenved, The Rope, Toc, Onos T’oolan, Traveler, Dancer, Mappo, Caladan Brood and a horde of others. The Bridgeburners. The Bonehunters. The 14th.
Nothing is less than epic in this. Every character can have an entire series dedicated to them and there will be more to tell.
I missed Coltaine. How the fuck did I miss Coltaine of the Crow Clan! Writing about these people is giving me goosebumps, even now. Then there is the Kharkhanas Trilogy.
The books extended sideways with the Malazan Empire series by Ian C. Esslemont. Slightly less in scope, slightly loose, but great books still. The world of Malaz currently stands at 18 books. This does not include the novellas! The true magnum opus series in Epic Fantasy.
This brings me to G.R.R. Martin and his Songs of Ice and Fire. An overrated pile of books that is more around politics that epic fantasy. ( Yes, I have only read two books and seen two episodes of season one ). I just want to say that adding dragons does not make a book epic fantasy.