24 March, 2012

Worst Fantasy Books List

You may already know or have gleaned through the years that I'm a big fan of lists. I can stare at them for hours, seeing how my readings stack up and trying to find another great gem to read.

In my search for more and more lists, every now and then I check out this site, Best Fantasy Books, which has groupings of the top 25 fantasy books, Best stand-alones, Best series, Great books, Good books, and until now (I don't know if it's new or if it's just been a while for me) I never noticed their list of Worst Fantasy Books Ever.

This is what I wanted to share today because I think it's actually a pretty good list at least as far as the general sentiment goes. I haven't nearly read all of those books on the list.

It's probably no surprise that Robert Stanek and Robert Newcomb are on the list, but I was surprised to find R.A. Salvatore as I've enjoyed what I've read of his. It's not the best ever, but certainly not the worst, although I find I have a hard time arguing with what he says:
R.A. Salvatore is one of those authors that does a disservice to the rest of the real writers out there. He writes popcorn fantasy over and over. If you want to read shallow fantasy that offers about as much nutrition as a McDonald's cheeseburger, then R.A. Salvatore's works are exactly what you need. For the rest of you who value your time, read something else.

There were some others I didn't expect to find, like Shannara and Dragonlance, And then another I wasn't too surprised to see was Terry Goodkind - the blog author says:

Goodkind's book quality go like this:

first book -- readable

books 2 - 3 -- less readable

books 4 - 6 -- even less readable

books 7 - 9 -- oh my god, my eyes are bleeding

books 10 - 12 -- thank god the series is done. Oh but wait, he's signed up for MORE novels

I was just wondering what do you think? Is this a fair and accurate list?


Kathryn said...

I don't get what he has against Salvatore and so on - they're not supposed to be anything more than they are, and they don't pretend to be.

It's like Baen; you largely can't factor them into discussions like this, because they exist to be "pulp fiction" in a way, i.e. you get a Baen book or a D&D book and you know what you're getting.

Seems less like a list of "Worst Fantasy Books" and more of a "I have an axe to grind" list.

Alec said...

Agreed Kat. A number of older sf/f readers very much enjoy the "pulp" fiction for what it is. They don't like their reading high and might and I can respect that choice, even though I go the other way. It isn't really fair to stack up and old school smash and bash D&D spinoff against a novel with higher aspirations.

Bryce L. said...

I thought the list had some that definitely belonged (Stanek) and Brooks is arguable. I didn't really enjoy the one thing (First King of Shannara) I read from him.

But I really don't think Salvatore belongs either. Like you said, you don't expect more than he gives and yet you can't stop turning pages.

Antonakis said...

I think I agree with most of his choices and argumentation behind those. I must have read (or tried to) around half of the books featured in there and I also feel they came up lacking. Where I disagree is in the generalization that all FR or Dragonlance books are utter crap or as he put in it his introduction: "To make this list, the book must REALLY be a steaming pile of donkey defecation. Think of this book list as those books you shouldn't read, not even if someone holds a gun to your head." I've read several amazing FR and Dragonlance books that I would easily include among my most favourite fantasy books ever. But ok, maybe most are not that good but still I don't think they are that bad either. As people have said already before me, they should be judged for what they are.
Still, even though I have read many books by R.A. Salvatore, I think I agree with his arguments against him. His books are really not that good as his fans make them appear. More like B-movies, I'd say.
And here's my contribution for a book to be avoided (or read if you really want to read a ridiculously bad book): Teri McLaren (or Teri Williams) - The Cursed Land
It belongs to Magic The Gathering series and maybe I should not have expected more from a book that was sold for less than $1 in a bargain bin... Probably the worst book I have completed (I've probably quited worse... we will never know!)

Josh (Fixed on Fantasy) said...

I haven't read any of the books in the top ten ... I think I'm far too picky to read just anything and so far I've only bought/read one book that I actually hated.

I was actually a little offended that Ian Irvine was mentioned further down the list ... to this day he remains my favourite author and The View from the Mirror quartet is still my favourite series. So strange how someone can have such a vastly different opinion.

Bob (Beauty in Ruins) said...

I don't get the hate for Newcomb. Admittedly, I've only read his first book, but I quite enjoyed it.

As for Goodkind, I'd put his first 2 books on my Best list . . . but everything else on my Worst list. Just when I thought he was coming back around to some quality (the 'final' trilogy did have its moments), he goes and dumps a steaming pile of crap on us called The Omen Machine. Argh!

Dragonlance & Forgotten Realms . . . it's just not fair to judge an entire catalogue by it's worst authors. Yes, they've published some absolute garbage, but they also gave us the likes of Raistlin and Drizzt.

No argument with Brooks, Eddings, or Drake, but I like Sara Douglass.

Sascha Walter said...

I haven't read most of the books on that list. And the ones I have read I mostly agree with., for example The Redemption of Althalus was really horrible.

But others mentioned on the list really enjoyed. I knew from the start that Forgotten Realms books were formulaic and popcorn fantasy. And sometimes that is exactly what I want. I couldn't just read "high" fantasy all the time, sometimes I want something lighter.

Salvatore is pulp fantasy and happy with that label. Though I have to admit: I read the Icewind Dale trilogy when it came out (in German) around 1990. And then I re-read it a few years ago, in preparation for all the other Salvatore books with the same cast. And then I found the books to be really bad. I had read lots of Fantasy in the meantime, and my taste changed.

But even so, the Dark Elf Trilogy by Salvatore is still a very good read, in my opinion.

Ryan said...

I enjoy Brooks and Eddings for what they are, a lot of fun. They aren't supposed to be hard, mind bending reads. They are what I want fantasy to be, pure escapism.

As far as Mercedes Lackey goes, while I do think all of her Valdemar books have the same plot points, I still enojy them. The Last Herald Mage trilogy is what made me a fan of fantasy to begin with.

honeyboo said...

I may get skewered, but I totally agreed with the list (I’m glad Eragon in particular got a mention). However, I have this to say in defense of those authors: at least they sold. I mean, being a best-seller doesn’t mean one is a good writer (when a local professor stated that while he hates Stephanie Meyer’s writing, she must be doing something right, as she is making millions, one of my friends observed “Well, so do drug lords, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing anything right.”). But as an aspiring writer, I’m glad that they’re getting published and that people are reading them. It means that there’s a big, big market that publishers will want to cater to, and so long as that market is healthy, I won’t complain too loudly about the quality of the work.

Anonymous said...

The list is total rubish. Stanek is one of the best fantasy writers of today. He has awards to prove it and it is no suprise that he is commonly refered to as America's Tolkien. And there is talk of his best selling series being made into movies. So you don't know what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

The list is total rubish. Stanek is one of the best fantasy writers of today. He has awards to prove it and it is no suprise that he is commonly refered to as America's Tolkien. And there is talk of his best selling series being made into movies. So you don't know what you are talking about.

...Robert, is that you?

Anonymous said...

"Robert, is that you?"

Why, can't you see that our anonymous friend can actually write five whole intelligible sentences in English?
He's clearly not Stanek!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I am in the third year of writing my fantasy book. I am serious about making it something worthwhile reading. I would look anyones feedback on what they dislike and like about fantasy books that they have read.

Every 20 chapters (I'm at chapter 28 now) or so I scour my book for cliché, things people hate about fantasy books, and delete them revising and fixing it. Just today I got rid of my protagonists pendent that lit up showing her the way.

There are no dragons, one wizard (evil) yet hes not inflatable and does screw up. All magical elements have weakness (like the protagonists sprinting spell, has cost of hurting her and causing internal damage if she pushes her self to got to fast.) I put all my characters though the ringer and they don't any thing easy and it usually has a high cost.

On chapters 26-28 theres a mystery going on on an attempted murder. (I'm still working on the earlier chapters as the antagonists there die off to fast, that will be fixed soon.)

Theres lots more going in this book. Every single chapter is put in to critquecircles q where I'm getting cridics there to help with any problems they see.

he two main characters don't just hop into bed together, nor does every one think she's the greatest thing ever and save her butt all the time, she saves her self and gets her self out her own pickles.

So if you think this book stands a chance and want to help send me what you hate and love about fantasy books, A long list of both would be great, expecually what you hate, and I'll search though i've got so far and stamp it out.

Email: vaporlight AT aol DOT com