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Together with Science Fiction, my favourite genre simple because of the breathtaking scope that books of this genre have, and the awe inspiring works they are. The best fantasy is simply put, out of this world =P The series are arranged approximately from best to less best.
Steven Errikson - Malazan, Book of the Fallen
I guarantee the scope of this book will leave you mind boggled. When you read this, you are thoroughly, 100% transported into another world. Not only that, the characters exihibit human flaws, failings, likes and the run the gamut of human emotion. You have the tragic majesty of the Jaghut, the overbearing mien of the Fokrul Assail, the inhuman single-mindedness of the T'lan Imass, the ficklenss of Gods and Ascendants and us humans squeezing in in all the cracks between the aforementioned races. You will find yourself empathising with atleast some of them. Deftly interspersed are discourses on life, war, religion, government and any issue meriting discourse. In this respect, its like fantasy's equivalent of Brothers Karamazov and in my opinion the best fantasy series.
What underscores every passage in this book is that at the end of the day we all are human . Have a look at my favourite quotations to understand what I mean.
Robert Jordan - The Wheel of Time
Again vast in its scope, in its the meticulous detail, this series has a certain flow to it. It is less like a plot buildup and more like how a real recounting of how life is. Not every incident aids in plot development, but in life does everything you do lead somewhere? As a result, people say the series drags in part, but I feel its just contributes to the verisimilitude of the series. The tale of 3 friends coming from a remote village and going on to forge world changing paths, and thier tribulations as they try and hang to onto whatever they can clutch of their former lives is heartwarming. As the story progresses, and the plot revealed you understand what "wheels within wheels within wheels" means.
It is truly unfortunate that Robert Jordan died before he could complete his life's work. The 12th and last book will be completed based on notes he left. R.I.P. and thank you for such a great work of literature.
George R.R. Martin - Song of Ice and Fire
Another epic series, noticeable for its handling of magic. Magic is not an overt force, but something that hides in the shadows, showing its hand rarely. Another thing that stands out is that there are no good and bad sides, each faction has its own view of things. The series also bears much resemblance to medieval history. Battles, and the arrangement of forces are explained in great detail. You have tourneys, knights, maidens and all the pomp of medievel life. As the series progresses more and more is revealed about the rest of the world, and Westeroos is shown to be just one part of a much greater and grander whole.
As of now, much is unknown with 4 books having being published and 3 remaining.
J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings
Everyone has heard of this. It deserves all the fame it gets, though its not as vast as the other series above, being only 3 books. If you wish to delve into the world of fantasy, this is a good introduction because it isn't too complicated, yet is an excellent read and conveys the epic scope of fantasy.
J.V.Jones - The Sword of the Shadows
This is one step below the best fantasy series. The scope is not vast, limited to just the northern portion of a continent, but this focus enable the author to explore and flesh out her (J.V.Jones is a pen-name) characters, and explores their hopes and fears. The story is told through the eyes of several key characters, and this lends the books a satisfying human dimension.
Robin Hobb - The Liveship Trilogy
An average fantasy series, it fairly drags till three fourths of the way through the second book, and then the pace picks up. The final book is an enjoyable read, as you get to know the characters, the events that have shaped (or in some cases twisted) their lives, their motivations and secrets. I feel the series' USP is that its a maritime fantasy, something quite uncommon, so that helps keep the interest going. Overall, if you need to satisfy a craving for fantasy then this isn't a bad choice, otherwise you're better off reading any of the above series.
This is the fantasy I've read till now, which is a fair amount, considering each book is 800 plus pages of heavy reading, so thats 11 (WOT) + 4 (SoAiF) + 7 (Malazan) + 3 (LOTR) = some 25,000 odd pages.