Via Tyler Cowen, Lev Grossman of Time and The Magicians (which I liked quite a bit, up to the end, but didn’t love) provides his personal list of the six best fantasy novels of all time. I’ll observe that any list of ‘best novels’ which includes one series consisting of short stories plus one to three novels, depending on how strictly you define the term (Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series) and one short story collection (Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners ) has some oddities – but since I like both of these series a lot, I shan’t raise a fuss. A thread on best fantasy novels seems like a good Thanksgiving occupation for those so inclined, so here are my 6, in no particular order.
(1) John Crowley, Little, Big
(2) Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun (critics may cavil that it is in fact Dying Earth SF, but under Michael Swanwick’s argument that fantasy, unlike science fiction, has mystery at the heart of its universe, I contend that they are wrong).
(3) Paul Park’s Romania quartet.
(4) M. John Harrison, The Course of the Heart.
(5) China Mieville, the Bas-Lag books.
(6) Michael Swanwick, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter
I’ll note that this list is in many ways dull and predictable – none of these choices are likely to surprise anyone tolerably well read in the genre. But canons can have useful social purposes – they point towards books that are central to the conversation the genre is having with itself. Others should feel free to be more adventurous.