Monday, 18 October 2010

The longest fantasy series

The Walk into Mordor blog has made a valiant attempt to compile a list of the longest fantasy series. The author's criteria was to count only series over 2,000 pages (thus avoiding the vast glut of trilogies), but based on reader feedback even with this criteria his list has still swollen from forty to over seventy series, and still rising based on feedback.

The list's counting methodology is somewhat arbitrary - the heavily interconnected Belgariad and Malloreon are counted as two separate series whilst the mostly stand-alone Discworld books are counted as one - but nevertheless it is a fascinating list. The fourteen-volme Wheel of Time series (counting the prequel spin-off) is actually considerably longer than the thirty-three volumes of Piers Anthony's Xanth series, whilst Discworld's place in the lead isn't that much higher considering it's forty books written over thirty years compared to fourteen over twenty. A Song of Ice and Fire's placing at #32 (at the moment) is surprisingly low, but Steven Erikson's ranking at #7 is definitely surprisingly low, until you realise that it's the most recently-begun series in the top seventeen, showing his rate of output to be quite impressive.

Interesting to see how the promised SF list is compiled and how dominant the likes of Peter F. Hamilton are, although I think the forerunner at this time will be the Perry Rhodan series (over 2,500 novellas forming very long and distinct story arcs).

14 comments:

TD said...

Actually the Perry Rhodan series contains a lot more ... output.
750 novellas in the ATLAN series, 415 paperbacks plus various books containing original stories.

Victor Stanciu said...

I've merged the Belgariad/Malloreon series, thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how he counts Malazan without including the books by Esslemont? And if you count LOTR as including all 5 books....then why don't we include the page counts from the three Dunk & Egg novellas?
Not to nitpick, I just don't understand the methodology, as this seems a very daunting task to accurately count many of these series. Very interesting idea though.

Lenore said...

Honor Harrington?

Alex said...

Interesting to see that Memory, Sorrow & Thorn is the only 3 volume series in there- I have all the hardbacks so can vouch its a genuine 3 volume series ;)

Robert Rankins 5 Brentford books stand at 1,500 pages but the characters and locations feature in a lot more novels (inc the Corneilius Murphy trilogy for starters).

etrangere said...

List is invalid due to lack of Guin saga :p

ediFanoB said...

Perry Rhodan is the longest running science fiction series published since 1961 in weekly pulp booklet format.
And there are a lot more products including related series like ATLAN ...

I read Perry Rhodan for more than 30 years - every week a pulp booklet! It was exciting. I can't really explain why but one days I lost my interest...

Anonymous said...

could you put up a list of the books that are for sure going to be published in 2011

Adam Whitehead said...

As I believe the original author said, this list is fantasy only, not SF, so no DUNE, no NIGHT'S DAWN TRILOGY, no PERRY RHODAN etc.

LeGuin's saga, presumably EARTHSEA, doesn't come to 2,000 pages, the minimal criteria for the list. The omnibus for the first four books is only about 700 pages, so even adding the later books and the short story collection probably wouldn't lift it above that.

A '2011 preview' post will likely turn up around Christmas :-)

Dave Cesarano said...

The fourteen-volme Wheel of Time series (counting the prequel spin-off) is actually considerably longer than the thirty-three volumes of Piers Anthony's Xanth series

Yeah, I do not see that as a good thing. When I consider the length of time I spent reading Xanth, then think about Jordan's Wheel of Time, I can't help but consider opportunity cost and conclude that there's more and better stuff out there that I could and should be reading instead.

The Conan stories, if you subtract all the de Camp and other pastiche, probably wouldn't make it high on the list. Le Guin was added at #86 with 1,436 pages.

Jens said...

Hey Wert!

I guess etrangere was referring to the Guin Saga, a Japanese language fantasy series, not the Earthsea books.
Said Guin Saga was apparently planned to only comprise a meager 100 volumes but eventually surpassed this number! ;-)
All written by one writer!

Here the wiki article if you're interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guin_Saga

etrangere said...

Not Leguin's saga, Guin Saga

"The Guin Saga (グイン・サーガ, Guin Sāga?) is the title of a best-selling heroic fantasy novel series by the Japanese author Kaoru Kurimoto, in continuous publication since 1979. A record 100 volumes were originally planned, but as of the author's death in May 2009 the total stands at 126 volumes, with 21 side-story novels"

Adam Whitehead said...

Oh, right :-O Hadn't heard of that one before.

Victor Stanciu said...

Hello,

I just published the science-fiction list. If you have any suggestions, I would be glad to include them in the list :)
http://walkintomordor.com/the-longest-science-fiction-series