Epic fantasy series have long captured the imaginations of readers and listeners alike. As a sub-genre of fantasy, these stories transport us to new worlds filled with magic, adventure, and unforgettable characters.
In this guide, we’ll explore the history, characteristics, and best practices for reading and writing epic fantasy series, as well as recommend some top picks for beginners.
What is an Epic Fantasy Series?
Epic fantasy series are a sub-genre of fantasy that typically feature a vast, complex world, an overarching plot spanning multiple books, and a large cast of characters. These stories often revolve around a central conflict or quest, with the fate of the world at stake.
A Brief History of Epic Fantasy Series
The roots of epic fantasy can be traced back to ancient myths and legends, but the modern form of the genre was popularized by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the mid-20th century. Since then, countless authors have contributed to the genre, making it one of the most popular and enduring forms of fantasy literature.
The Importance of Epic Fantasy Series in the Fantasy Genre
Epic fantasy series have become a cornerstone of the fantasy genre, offering readers immersive, multi-layered stories that can be enjoyed over many years. They often serve as an introduction to the wider world of fantasy literature, inspiring readers to explore other sub-genres and authors.
Characteristics of Epic Fantasy Series
Definition of Epic Fantasy Series
An epic fantasy series is a multi-volume work of fiction set in a secondary world, featuring a large cast of characters, complex world-building, and an overarching plot that often involves a struggle between good and evil.
Elements of Epic Fantasy Series
Some common elements found in epic fantasy series include:
- A vast, intricate world with its own history, geography, and cultures
- A large cast of characters, often including multiple protagonists and antagonists
- An overarching plot that unfolds over multiple books, often involving a quest or struggle between good and evil
- Magic, mythical creatures, and other supernatural elements
- Themes of heroism, destiny, and the struggle between light and darkness
Examples of Epic Fantasy Series
Some well-known examples of epic fantasy series include:
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
- The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
Tips for Reading Epic Fantasy Series
How to Approach Epic Fantasy Series as a Beginner
If you’re new to the genre, start with a shorter, more accessible series before diving into longer, more complex works. Don’t be afraid to take your time and immerse yourself in the world and its characters.
Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Reading Epic Fantasy Series
- Getting overwhelmed by the size and scope of the world: Take notes or use a map to help you keep track of important details.
- Giving up too soon: Epic fantasy series often require patience and commitment, so stick with it and give the story a chance to unfold.
- Skipping books or reading out of order: To fully appreciate an epic fantasy series, it’s important to read the books in the order the author intended.
Tips for Staying Engaged with Epic Fantasy Series
- Join a book club or online discussion group to share your thoughts and experiences with other readers.
- Set a reading schedule or goal to help you stay on track and make steady progress through the series.
- Take breaks between books to avoid burnout and maintain your enthusiasm for the story.
Top Epic Fantasy Series for Beginners
If you’re new to the epic fantasy genre, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Fortunately, there are many great books and series to choose from.
Here are some of the best epic fantasy series for beginners, as recommended by readers and critics alike:
- The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (4.28 and 4.38 Goodreads rating, respectively)
- A classic introduction to the genre, following the adventures of hobbits, elves, and wizards in the fight against the dark lord Sauron.
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (4.23 Goodreads rating)
- A beloved children’s series that explores themes of faith, courage, and sacrifice through the adventures of four siblings in a magical world.
- The Belgariad by David Eddings (4.16 Goodreads rating)
- A coming-of-age story set in a richly-imagined world, featuring a young farm boy who discovers his destiny as a powerful sorcerer.
How to Write Epic Fantasy Series
Overview of the Writing Process for Epic Fantasy Series
Writing an epic fantasy series requires careful planning, extensive world-building, and a commitment to telling a long, complex story.
It wouldn’t be possible to cover the entirety of what’s needed to write a fantastic epic fantasy series in a single post, but here is some food for thought.
Tips for Worldbuilding in Epic Fantasy Series
- Start with a basic concept or theme for your world, then build out its history, geography, and cultures.
- Create a consistent system of magic or supernatural elements that fits within the rules of your world.
- Develop a diverse cast of characters with distinct voices, motivations, and storylines.
Common Themes and Tropes in Epic Fantasy Series
- The hero’s journey: A protagonist embarks on a quest to fulfill their destiny and save the world.
- The chosen one: A character with a unique power or ability that sets them apart from others.
- The mentor: An experienced figure who guides the protagonist on their journey.
Epic fantasy series offer readers an immersive, multi-layered experience that can be enjoyed over many years. By understanding the characteristics and best practices for reading and writing these stories, you can fully appreciate the depth and complexity of the genre.
So, dive into the world of epic fantasy and embark on your own unforgettable adventure.