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So, thanks to D.A.A., who knows I’m interested in this sort of thing, for having brought this to my attention. Here’s the link.
I’ve taken the piece on the other end and re-arranged it out of click-bait format to just author, title, and date (when the date was included, which was usually but not reliably present). I’ve also reversed the polarity of the neutron flow and reversed the sequence so it starts with the #1 book, the one they think the best fantasy novel of all time, and counts down from there.
I find that I’ve read eleven of these books. Most of the rest don’t particularly interest me, from the descriptions here, any more than any other such listing, book recommended for me by someone who doesn’t know me beyond ‘likes Tolkien’. Well, they’ve got me there.
And having this list may draw me out to read more of these books (I have to admit I’ve actually never heard of twenty-three of these fifty authors).
With any list of this type, the immediate (and expected) response is to say ‘well, what about [X]?’, naming a book or two the reader wd have liked to see included.
But I’m dismayed at how few books from more than twenty years made it through. If what I’ve been reading all these years isn’t fantasy, what is? And if this truly were a fair representation of the fantasy genre as it stands today, then perhaps I’ve been left behind and it’s something else I’m really interested in. “Classic Fantasy” perhaps? Dunsany and Adams and Hughart, McKillip and Briggs, and a host of others absent here.
Here’s Esquire’s list
1. N. K. Jemisin. The Fifth Season (2015)
*2. J. R. R. Tolkien. The Fellowship of the Rings (1954)
*3. Ursula K. Le Guin. A Wizard of Earthsea (1968)
4. Ken Liu. The Grace of Kings
5. Nnedi Okorafor. Who Fears Death (2010)
6. Jin Yong, A Hero Born (1950s, translated more recently)
*7. Susanna Clarke. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004)
8. Sofia Samatar. A Stranger in Olondria (2013)
9. Madeline Miller. Circe
10. Rand Miller, Robyn Miller, & David Wingrove. Myst: The Book of Atrus (1995)
11. Tomi Adeyemi. Children of Blood and Bone. (2018)
12. Octavia E. Butler (1979)
*13. Angela Carter. The Bloody Chamber (1979)
14. Gene Wolfe. Latro in the Mist (1986 & 1989)
15. Amos Tutuola. The Palm-wine Drinkard (1952)
*16. C. S. Lewis. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
17. Kenji Miyazawa. Once and Forever (?1930s or before)
*18. L. Frank Baum. Ozma of Oz (1907)
19. Robert Jordan. The Shadow Rising (1992) [fourth book in Wheel of Time]
20. Brandon Sanderson. The Way of Kings
21. Victor Lavalle. The Changeling
22. G. Willow Wilson. The Bird King
23. Naomi Novik. Uprooted
24. Jeffrey Ford. The Drowned Life (2008)
25. Marlon James. Moon Witch, Spider King
26. Robert Jackson Bennett. Foundryside
27. Keren Lord. Redemption in Indigo (2010)
28. Kelly Link. Get in Trouble (2015)
*29. Grace Lin. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2010)
30. Sjón. The Blue Fox
*31. Stardust. Neil Gaiman (1999)
32. Kalpa Imperial. Angélica Gorodischer (2003) [tr. Le Guin]
33. Kacen Callender. Queen of the Conquered (2020)
*34. Philip Pullman. The Subtle Knife [middle volume from His Dark Materials]
35. George R. R. Martin. A Game of Thrones (1996)
36. Neon Yang. The Black Tides of Heaven (2018)
*37. Guy Gavriel Kay. Tigana (1990)
38. Brian Catling. The Vorrh
39. V. E. Schwab. A Darker Shade of Magic
40. Julia Fine. What Should Be Wild
41. Ben Loory. Tales of Falling and Flying
42. C. L. Polk. Witchmark (2019)
43. Amber Sparks. The Unfinished World
44. Kai Ashante Wilson. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (2015)
45. Michal Ajvaz. The Other City (tr 2009)
46. P. DjèlÍ Clark. Ring Shout
47. Scott Hawkins. The Library at Mount Char
*48. Kazuo Ishiguro. The Buried Giant
49. Erin Morgenstern. The Night Circus
50. S. A. Chakraborty. The City of Brass
—current reading: THE ROOK (excellent. recommended).