If you’re willing to read something written for younger readers, Lloyd Alexander’s five-book Chronicles of Prydain is one of the best fantasy series ever.
Intriguingly, Christopher Stashief (mentioned by simster has recently been writing new books for this series, so you could argue that it isn’t “finished” anymore ( as if de Camp and Pratt ever did…)
You’re on book seven. See if you still feel the same in a couple of books when you realize the books are never going to end! That’s what it feels like anyway.
The 3 Gormenghast books by Mervyn Peake. Weird & enthralling (at least the 1st 2)
The quartet of books based on the Mabinogion (Welsh mythology) written by Evangeline Walton. Simply wonderful. I get boring by recommending these so much.
It’s not over, but it’s like the other books - episodic and not a cliff hanger or anything. The new ones haven’t been as good, I think.
Oh see I really really LIKE books that go on and on! Its like the Nancy Drew series, the Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, Bobbsie Twins, and I am most definitely dating myself here, but I LIKE that! So, good thing there are so many different types of authors. I do think Jordan is very good.
I am saving all these other suggestions tho’ because I can read 'em faster than they can be written!
Hmm i hate to be the bearer of bad news but apparently Jordan has some sort of terminal disease and hes no where near finishing the series. The problem also wasn’t that the books went on and on, it was that they went on and on without anything actually happening. More and more minor characters and plots keep getting added, not to mention brought back from the dead, with no resolution in sight for anything and very little chance than Jordan could possibly tie it all together and resolved every single thing hes been added for like 11 books now, that is if the poor guy wasn’t actually dying which he is so its a moot point anyways.
There’s a difference between an episodic series like Nancy Drew where each book is standalone and a series like, say <i>The Lord of the Rings</i> where each book functions as (and was even written as) part of a whole that can’t be pleasurably read as standalone books. I haven’t read Jordan, but my impression is that he’s writing the latter, only without Tolkien’s coherence.
Many mystery writers write episodic series. It seems much less common in fantasy.
Jordan has a median life expectancy of only four years, if wikipedia has it right.
I haven’t read them in years, but I enjoyed C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy, which starts with Black Sun Rising (amazon)
No idea if I’d still like it now, but I enjoyed her books back in 8th grade.
I recall them as being good but quite grim.
Louise Cooper’s Time Master trilogy - which was recently reprinted, as it happens. There’s a sequel trilogy, but not quite as good IIRC.
Her Indigo series is also good.
Someone mentioned Jack Vance’s Dying Earth above, but if you like faerie-heavy “High Fantasy”, then his Lyonesse trilogy is also well worth checking out.
I’ll also note I just bought the complete omnibused Chronicles of Amber* for someone as a Christmas gift. So a strong fourthed ( I think ), though the first pentology is better than the second.
Related to the suggestion of Jhereg, there’s the Paarfi of Roundwood “Trilogy,” composed of The Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years After, and the Viscount of Adrilankha trilogy. It might be wise to read at least one of Mr. Brust’s other books first, so that you don’t mistake what he’s doing as Paarfi for his own writing style, though. (What he IS doing is parodying/paying homage to Alexandre Dumas and the Three Musketeers books, partly by adopting a rather wordy, convoluted, and pretentious prose style. IMO, it’s hilarious, but it might be rather odd if you weren’t in on the joke.)
I don’t think anyone’s mentioned Memory, Sworrow and Thorn (aka The Dragonbone Chair series) by Tad Williams yet.
Back when it was coming out, it was the series people were waiting on…
I mentioned it. I love it. Especially Binabik.
Whoops! I read this thread yesterday but forgot… sorry!
the first fantasy series I read was Cronicles of Amber and coming from devotion to hard core SF usually space oriented I was hooked–The others are right to recommend it.
The Deed of Paksenarrion by Eliz. Moon was so addictive I struggled to put it down when I had other things to do.
I also enjoyed the Chanur series by Cherryh and also by her the 2 related books not called a series Rider at the Gate and Cloud’s Rider
Have you considered the Harry Potter series–not truely sci fi fantasy but a compelling series of obvious fantasy–the last book will be out in the next year if the rumors are true but the published 6 get increasingly long and complex and depending on how fast one reads could last until 7 comes out.
I stopped reading at the end of book 8. I think 7 and 8 could easily have been condensed down into one novel, and the series would be the better for it. I’ve read summaries of later books, in which even less of interest happens. And to top it all off, Jordan decided that he would throw in a couple of prequels set in the previous age. He has the potential to be an excellent writer, and the first couple WoT books are really good. I feel bad that the guy has this horrible disease, but that doesn’t make me like his latest work any better.
Oh yeah, I forgot. Mercedes Lackey has a number of trilogies and single novels set in and around the kingdom of Valdemar. They refer to each other from time to time, but each one can be read and enjoyed independently of the others. The character of Vanyel is one of the few gay protagonists in fantasy - he is in the Magic’s Pawn/Promise/Price trilogy.
That’s more SciFi than Fantasy.
However, having said that, her Morgaine series was fantasy, and very good, IMO. I like Cherryh, and telling Morgaine’s story from the POV of her retainer Vanye adds an almost Quixotic note to her quest. I consider it a must-read.
Also, for Urban Fantasy, English writer Michael de Larrabeiti’s Borrible Trilogy is a GREAT, if mostly-unknown, series. China Mieville cites it as an inspiration for his work, if that helps. Also, the first book nicely skewers The Wombles, which may only mean something to all those who had to suffer through Wombling For Christmas.
Here’s my pick…
The Chronicles of Amber by Zelazny (mentioned a few times before)
The Dying Earth by Jack Vance (mentioned previously as well)
Memory, Sword and Sorrow by Tad Williams
Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman
Lord Valentine’s Trilogy by Robert Silverberg (Consisting of ‘Lord Valentine’s Castle’, ‘The Majipoor Chronicles’ and ‘Valentine Pontifex’)