My All-Time Favorite Epic Fantasy Series

Hello! 

Goodness, what a lot I have to talk about today! In exciting personal news, after many weeks and many outlays of money, I now have a working water system. Yay! I was contemplating how to retrofit my 1920s home into a medieval castle, complete with privy, but (knock wood) that may not be necessary. As far as writing, I know I haven’t had anything new come out in a while. The reasons are myriad–working on my other pen name, focusing on making audiobooks, the limitations imposed by my health, that pesky day job–but I recently had some ideas, so I’m really hoping that we shall all see some new fantasy stories come out in the not-too-distant future. I have to thank everyone for their encouragement and inspiration–some of you may see things you’ve suggested appear in my stories next year!
Meanwhile, check out the free & 99c fantasy and scifi event on Bookfunnel to pick up some great new books.

I’ve also been doing some great reading and listening during my non-writing time. In fantasy, I just finished The Humility of Humans, the final book in the Penny White series. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a kind of urban fantasy/Chronicles of Narnia thing featuring a female Anglican priest. The author is an Anglican priest herself, and writes very compellingly about the modern Church of England (and its fantasy surrogate).

In literary/translated fiction I just finished Captives: An anthology of Russian stories. This is for my “day job” research, but I recommend it to anyone interested in checking out some 20th-century Russian short fiction. It’s got stories by reasonably well-known contemporary authors who are still outside of the canon of “the Russians” you may have read in school. Some of them definitely stray into the zone of “misery porn” (chernukha), but some of them are delightful and all of them are interesting.

And then I’ve also been engaging in that most wonderful of pleasures: rereading. Or in my case, re-listening. I’ve been listening to the audio version of Terry Brooks’s The Heritage of Shannara series.

I made the bold claim in the headline to this post that this was my favorite epic fantasy series of all time. Some might look askance at that. What about The Lord of the Rings? A Song of Ice & Fire? The Kushiel series? The Discworld series?

Those are all excellent choices, and I could make arguments for why each one of them is my favorite epic fantasy series. But it was Terry Brooks, and specifically The Heritage of Shannara, that really sparked my love of epic fantasy. It was the first modern epic fantasy series I read, and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of the genre. I went on to acquire, oh, about ten more of Brooks’s novels, which I carried around with me for the next 20+ years.

Then…then there was the Great Mold Purge. All my old books had to go, including what I think were my original first-edition copies of The Heritage of Shannara. Okay, they were cheap paperbacks, but they were still beloved first editions.

Then a couple of months ago I saw a deal on Chirp (I really recommend it if you’re in the market for audiobook deals) for the audiobook of The Scions of Shannara, the first book in the series. I got it and, with a certain amount of trepidation (what if it wasn’t as good as I remembered? What if my entire adolescence was a lie???!??!), listened to it.

Wow! I’m glad to report that my entire adolescence was not, in fact, a lie. The Scions of Shannara was as good as I remembered, if not better, since now I could appreciate Brooks’s writing craft. And John Lee, the narrator, does a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life.

I just finished listening to The Elf Queen of Shannara, book 3 in the series and definitely up there in the top three of my all-time favorite fantasy books. I was worried about having a male actor narrate a book that’s largely from a female point of view (despite having done cross-gender narration myself), but once again, John Lee did an amazing job. I’ve been taking notes on how to up my own narration game–when I haven’t been caught up in one of the most nail-biting, tearjerking stories in modern American fantasy.

So there you have it! What about you? Are you a Brooks fan? What’s your favorite epic fantasy series?

Oh, and here’s that link again to the Free & 99c Fantasy giveaway.

Happy reading!

E.P. Clark

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