Saturday, 20 February 2016

A History of Epic Fantasy: Appendix A - Timeline of Notable Books

With work proceeding on the book version of A History of Epic Fantasy, I thought I'd share a tidbit with you here.

This is the first appendix, a timeline of notable, influential or discussed works in the history of epic fantasy or other subgenres which have had a reasonable degree or profile or impact on what came after. The list is, of course, highly subjective but I think this covers both the expected, major works and a number of lower-profile, interesting books. The list is not based on quality, which is why you may find a few lesser-regarded books on here which were, nevertheless, massive sellers. These are also the books that (mostly) will be discussed in the main body of the text.

With a couple of exceptions, only the first volume of a series is listed because otherwise the list would be fifty times longer than it is right now.

Timeline of Key Books:

c. 760-710 BC: The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer
19 BC:            The Aeneid, Virgil
8 AD: The Metamorphoses, Ovid
1485:   Morte d'Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory
1725:   Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
1854:   The Rose and the Ring, William Makepeace Thackeray
1858:   Phantastes, George MacDonald
1896:   The Well at the World's End, William Morris
1900:   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Frank L. Baum
1922:   The Worm Ouroboros, E.R. Eddison
1924:   The King of Elfland's Daughter, Lord Dunsany
1927:   Kull the Conqueror (short story series), Robert E. Howard
1932:   Conan the Barbarian (short story and novel series), Robert E. Howard
1937:   The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, J.R.R. Tolkien
1939:   Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (short story and novel series), Fritz Leiber
1946:   Titus Groan (Gormenghast Trilogy), Mervyn Peake
1949:   The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia), C.S. Lewis
1950:   The Dying Earth (Dying Earth), Jack Vance
1954:   The Broken Sword, Poul Anderson
1954-55: The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
1961:   The Dreaming City (Elric), Michael Moorcock
1963:   Witch World (Witch World), Andre Norton
1965:   Elidor, Alan Garner
1968:   A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea), Ursula K. Le Guin
            Dragonflight (Dragonriders of Pern), Anne McCaffrey
1970:   Nine Princes in Amber (Chronicles of Amber), Roger Zelazny
            Deryni Rising (Deryni), Katherine Kurtz
1974:   The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia A. McKillip
            Dungeons and Dragons (roleplaying game), Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson
1976:   The Riddle-Master of Hed (Riddle-Master), Patricia A. McKillip
1977:   The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
            Lord Foul's Bane (Chronicles of Thomas Covenant), Stephen Donaldson
            The Sword of Shannara (Shannara), Terry Brooks
            A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth), Piers Anthony
1978:   The Stand, Stephen King
1982:   Magician (Riftwar Saga), Raymond E. Feist
            Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad), David Eddings
            The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower), Stephen King
            Suldrun's Garden (Lyonesse), Jack Vance
            Daggerspell (Deverry), Katharine Kerr
1983:   The Colour of Magic (Discworld), Terry Pratchett
            The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
            Harpy's Flight, Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb)
            Cloud Warrior (Amtrak Wars), Patrick Tilley
1984:   Legend (Drenai), David Gemmell
            The Black Company (Black Company), Glen Cook
            Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Dragonlance),Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
            Stormwarden (Cycle of Fire), Janny Wurts
1986:   The Wizards and the Warriors (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness), Hugh Cook
            The Anvil of Ice (Winter of the World), Michael Scott Rohan
1987:   Arrows of the Queen (Valdemar), Mercedes Lackey
            The Eyes of the Dragon, Stephen King
            Wolf in Shadow (Sipstrassi), David Gemmell
            Godslayer (Renshai), Mickey Zucker Reichert
1988:   The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn), Tad Williams
            Dragon Prince (Dragon Prince), Melanie Rawn
            The Crystal Shard (Icewind Dale), R.A. Salvatore
            The Labyrinth Gate, Alis A. Ramussen (Kate Elliott)
            Sheepfarmer's Daughter (Deed of Paksenarrion), Elizabeth Moon
1989:   Shadowrun (roleplaying game), Jordan Weisman
            Guards! Guards! (Discworld), Terry Pratchett
1990:   The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time), Robert Jordan
            Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
            Homeland (Dark Elf), R.A. Salvatore
1992:   Earthdawn (roleplaying game), Jordan Weisman
1993:   Small Gods (Discworld), Terry Pratchett
            Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light & Shadow), Janny Wurts
            The Last Wish (The Witcher), Andrzej Sapkowski
1994:   The Ruins of Ambrai (Exiles), Melanie Rawn
            Wizards' First Rule (Sword of Truth), Terry Goodkind
1995:   Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer), Robin Hobb
            Hawkwood's Voyage (Monarchies of God), Paul Kearney
            The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay
            The Baker's Boy (Book of Words), JV Jones
1996:   A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire), George R.R. Martin
            The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones
            The Roof of Voyaging (Navigator Kings), Garry Kilworth
1997:   Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter), J.K. Rowling
            Dark Lord of Derkholm, Diana Wynne Jones
            King's Dragon (Crown of Stars), Kate Elliott
1998:   Colours in the Steel (Fencer), K.J. Parker
            Heroes Die (Acts of Caine), Matt Woodring Stover
            Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders), Robin Hobb
1999:   Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen), Steven Erikson
            A Cavern of Black Ice (Sword of Shadows), J.V. Jones
2000:   Ash: A Secret History, Mary Gentle
            Perdido Street Station, China Miéville
2001:   Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel), Jacqueline Carey
            Cities of Saints and Madmen, Jeff VanderMeer
            The Magician's Guild (Black Magician), Trudi Canavan
            Across the Nightingale Floor (Otori), Lian Hearn
            The Curse of Chalion (War of the Five Gods), Lois McMaster Bujold
2002:   The Scar, China Miéville
            Eragon (Inheritance), Christopher Paolini
2003:   The Etched City, K.J. Bishop
            The Weavers of Saramyr (Braided Path), Chris Wooding
            The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone), Greg Keyes
2004:   The Darkness That Comes Before (Prince of Nothing), R. Scott Bakker
            Night of Knives (Malazan Empire), Ian Cameron Esslemont
            The Year of Our War (Castle), Steph Swainston
            Banewreaker (Sundering), Jacqueline Carey
2005:   Elantris, Brandon Sanderson
2006:   The Blade Itself (First Law), Joe Abercrombie
            The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard), Scott Lynch
            His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire), Naomi Novik
            Scar Night (Deepgate Codex), Alan Campbell
            A Shadow in Summer (Long Price), Daniel Abraham
            The Final Empire (Mistborn), Brandon Sanderson
2007:   The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle), Patrick Rothfuss
            The Cardinal's Blades (Cardinal's Blades), Pierre Pevel
            Spirit Gate (Crossroads), Kate Elliott
            The Summoner (Necromancer), Gail Z. Martin
2008:   The Steel Remains (Land Fit For Heroes), Richard Morgan
            The Ten Thousand (Macht), Paul Kearney
            The Crown Conspiracy (Ririya Revelations), Michael J. Sullivan
            The Painted Man (Demon), Peter V. Brett
2009:   Pathfinder (roleplaying game), Paizo Publishing
            Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun), Mark Charan Newton
            Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay), Chris Wooding
2010:   God's War (Bel Dame Apocrypha), Kameron Hurley
            Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay
            The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance), N.K. Jemisin
            The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive), Brandon Sanderson
2011:   Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire), Mark Lawrence
            The Dragon's Path (Dagger and the Coin), Daniel Abraham
            Tome of the Undergates (Aeons' Gate), Sam Sykes
2012:   The Killing Moon (Dreamblood), N.K. Jemisin
            Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky), Elizabeth Bear
            Blood Song (Raven's Shadow), Anthony Ryan
            The Heir of Night (Wall of Night), Helen Lowe
2013:   Malice (Faithful and the Fallen), John Gwynne
            The Grim Company (Grim Company), Luke Scull
2014:   The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker), Kameron Hurley
            Prince of Fools (Red Queen's War), Mark Lawrence
            The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne), Brian Staveley
            Promise of Blood (Powder Mage), Brian McClellan
2015:   The Fifth Season (Broken Earth), N.K. Jemisin
            The City Stained Red (Bring Down Heaven), Sam Sykes


Anonymous said...

You can probably throw Beowulf in there too.

little bit of nothing said...

Thank you

Ori Folger said...

Don't forget the Icelandic sagas.

Anonymous said...

Stormlight Archive is missing :)

Anonymous said...

Do you already have a publisher for it?

Adam Whitehead said...

My agent is currently submitting it to publishers.

And yes, I added THE WAY OF KINGS to 2010 :)

Gabriele Campbell said...

Ori, the Icelandic sagas were not considered Fantasy in their own time (the fornaldarsögur and the translated riddarasögur - Arthurian epics - were considered that) but 'historical fiction'. I would not consider them Fantasy even according to our standards.

It is the same with the French chansons de geste (Song of Roland etc.) which were considered 'true' compared to the Arthurian stuff by Chretien de Troyes and others which were seen as 'vain et plaisant' (made up and pleasing to read), albeit the heroic feats of the heroes in the chansons de geste are more than a bit on the unrealistic side - one against several hundred. But there are no dragons and magic rings, except for some later hybrids like the Chanson de Flovent (which was the topic of my MA thesis, ages ago).

Cristian Dolog said...

Good job. Have you thought about doing a history of science fiction?

Doc Boyd said...

Glad to see you included the Briar King, ... always thought that series didn't get enough attention.

zammus said...

No nibelungenlied??

JJJ289 said...

Heavily Western based. Gilgamesh?

JJJ289 said...

Still brilliant though

Cesar said...

That's like my to read list!
I've only read like 10 of those books.
I wonder how most of the older ones hold up?
The Hobbit and Earthsea were great reads but Dragonflight was a chore and I only finished Lord of the Rings because I had already seen the movies.

Brian @ SFF Chronicles said...

How would you define "epic fantasy", though?

I've considered this issue on the chronicles forums before, and the one thing that all the major epic fantasy series have in common is multiple protagonists:

Many novels marketed as "epic" are simply one character's story - either shown only from their point of view, or from that of other characters who are defined primarily by their relationship to that central character - ie, love interest, best friend, mentor, antagonist, etc.

Once you start to develop a list based on multiple protagonists, the list becomes very small indeed - Tolkien, Martin, Jordan, Sanderson, Erikson all qualify, but very few others do - they are just fantasy with different ways to look at a central character.

So even though I love David Gemmell's "Legend", it's really just Rek's story and about his development into a heroic figure - hence "heroic fantasy". Any other viewpoints in the novel simply serve to show that from different perspectives.

Would be interesting to hear your perspective on this - perhaps better on the chrons forums, as its hard to keep up with discussions on a Blogger blog. :)


Michael Laird said...

I think you need to add Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain books. It's probably right up there with Narnia for bringing new fantasy readers into the fold. So far as epic goes, I would suggest that the number of PoV characters is less important than that it be high fantasy and be on a scale that involves saving (or destroying) more than just the kingdom.