Amazing Stories

The Greatest Fantasy Novels of All Time Part 8

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene WolfeOnce again we return to our growing list of the greatest fantasy novels of all time. As you might already know, the list attempts to collect novels through objective evaluation. We focus on the awards and nominations a novel has received rather than our own personal opinion.

We also spend time looking at the commercial success and social impact of the novel. Remember that the entries in our list appear in no particular order. Ranking fantasy novels is a flawed pursuit that can only be accomplished through the use of personal opinion.

So far we have collected seven fantasy novels in our list. Each entry contains unique elements that contribute to greatness, proving that there is no single formula for writing a great novel. Perhaps in some future column we will investigate this notion further.

 

The Greatest Fantasy Novels of All Time

  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Best Novel Awards: International Fantasy Award 1957, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award 2009)
  • Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (Best Novel Awards: Hugo 2004, Locus 2004, Nebula 2004; Nominations: Mythopoeic 2004)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling (Best Novel Award: Hugo 2001)
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (Best Novel Award: Locus 2001, Geffen 2002, Ignotus 2006; Nominations: Nebula 2001, Hugo 2001)
  • The City & The City by China Miéville (Best Novel Award: Locus 2010, Clarke 2010, World Fantasy 2010, BSFA 2009, Kitschies 2009, Hugo 2010; Nominations: Nebula 2010, Campbell 2010)
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Best Novel Award: Time 2004, Hugo 2005, World Fantasy 2005, Locus First Novel 2005, Mythopoeic 2005, British Book Newcomer 2005; Nominations: Man Booker 2004, Whitbread 2004, Guardian 2004, British Book Literary 2005, Nebula 2005)

  

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Title:  The Book of the New SunThe Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

  • The Shadow of the Torturer (volume one)
  • The Claw of the Conciliator (volume two)
  • The Sword of the Lictor (volume three)
  • The Citadel of the Autarch (volume four)

 

Author: Gene Wolfe

First Year Published: 1980 – 1983 (four volumes)

Awards:

  • British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel 1981 (volume one)
  • World Fantasy Award for Best Novel 1981 (volume one)
  • John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 1984 (volume four)
  • Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel 1982 (volume two)
  • Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel 1983 (volume three)
  • Nebula Award for Best Novel 1982 (volume two)
  • British Fantasy Society August Derleth Award 1983 (volume three)

 

Nominations:

  • Balrog Award for Best Novel 1981 (volume one)
  • Balrog Award for Best Novel 1983 (volume three)
  • Balrog Award for Best Novel 1984 (volume four)
  • John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 1981 (volume one)
  • Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel 1981 (volume one)
  • Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel 1984 (volume four)
  • Nebula Award for Best Novel 1981 (volume one)
  • Nebula Award for Best Novel 1983 (volume three)
  • Nebula Award for Best Novel 1984 (volume one)
  • British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel 1982 (volume three)
  • British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel 1983 (volume four)
  • World Fantasy Award for Best Novel 1982 (volume two)
  • World Fantasy Award for Best Novel 1983 (volume three)
  • Hugo Award for Best Novel 1982 (volume two)
  • Hugo Award for Best Novel 1983 (volume three)
  • Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Best Novel 1982 (volume two)

 

Gene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe

The Book of the New Sun is considered by some to be the greatest work of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Grand Master Gene Wolfe. It is truly an amazing work of fiction.

Early in our series we discussed the nature of fantasy novels. Many of the most beloved fantasy novels exist as one in a long series. In a few instances we have noted that the author intended the books in the series to be a single long novel. Gene Wolfe intended The Book of the New Sun as a single tale.

Back in the 1980s, publishers did not routinely put out thousand page door stops. Novels were more svelte. Gene Wolfe wrote the four volumes across the span of several years. The publishers were more than happy to put it out in slender form. Today you can purchase the collected volumes in a single binding.

As you can see from the lengthy list of awards and nominations, all of the experts and fans agreed The Book of the New Sun is truly great.

The novel follows the path of Severian, a meager apprentice torturer. In the novel, Gene Wolfe breathes life into a new world that has the elements of fantasy presented in a fresh and compelling way. His amazing writing is exciting, thought provoking, and entertaining.

The novel includes the famous sword Terminus Est, which was included in my list of the top ten greatest swords of all time.

Some have placed The Book of the New Sun in the Dying Earth genre of fantasy. Regardless of how it is classified, it is filled with masterful writing. It is one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time.

Catch up on the other Greatest Fantasy and Greatest Science Fiction novels of ALL TIME! (images link to the posts)

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