The longest fantasy series, and why we read them
Update: because of all your recommendations, the list actually has over 90 items now (it started at 40), and more are still being added. Thank you!
With the help of the members of The Green Dragon group, some LibraryThing.com web scraping and Amazon’s API, I put together a list of the longest fantasy series. It was a fun exercise, but it also made me a little sad, realizing that I will probably never find the time to read them all. But by Moradin’s hammer, I will sure try!
Some things to be kept in mind about the list:
- Not all pages have the same number of words on them. Some books have a larger format, and some are written with a smaller font. The list is not 100% accurate because of this, but unfortunately I cannot find the number of words for each book belonging to these series, which would provide the ideal measurement.
- I tried to only include the main books of a series, ignoring auxiliary short-stories, graphic novels, comics, and other related publications.
- Some series, like the Riftwar Cycle, are actually multiple series and trilogies that take place in the same universe, they don’t necessarily share the same characters throughout the series.
- I kept the minimum criteria for inclusion in the list to 2000 pages or 5 books.
- Some of these series (e.g. A Song of Ice and Fire, Wars of Light and Shadow) are still running, so I will try to update this list periodically to reflect new releases.
|1||Conan’s Journeys||78 books||20549 pages|
|2||Discworld||38 books||13674 pages|
|3||Gor||28 books||13050 pages|
|4||The Riftwar Cycle||26 books||11873 pages|
|5||Wheel of Time||14 books||11362 pages|
|6||Xanth||33 books||11480 pages|
|7||Valdemar||26 books||10592 pages|
|8||Saga of Recluce||16 books||9696 pages|
|9||Malazan Book of the Fallen||10 books||8981 pages|
|10||Dragonriders of Pern||24 books||8980 pages|
|11||Shannara Universe||20 books||8976 pages|
|12||Sword of Truth||12 books||8784 pages|
|13||Anita Blake Vampire Hunter||19 books||8192 pages|
|14||Redwall||21 books||8081 pages|
|15||The Three Worlds Cycle||11 books||7926 pages|
|16||Realm of the Elderlings||11 books||7749 pages|
|17||The Legend of Drizzt||20 books||7243 pages|
|18||Deverry Cycle||15 books||6912 pages|
|19||Wars of Light and Shadow||9 books||6281 pages|
|20||Kushiel’s Legacy||8 books||6192 pages|
|21||The Dresden Files||14 books||5771 pages|
|22||Witch World||24 books||5757 pages|
|23||Crown of Stars||7 books||5264 pages|
|24||Books of the Orokon||10 books||5019 pages|
|25||The Complete Chronicles of Thomas Covenant||10 books||4948 pages|
|26||Lord of the Isles||9 books||4808 pages|
|27||The Sun Sword||6 books||4704 pages|
|28||Chronicles of an Age of Darkness||10 books||4646 pages|
|29||Tarzan||25 books||4563 pages|
|30||MythAdventures||19 books||4414 pages|
|31||The Hollows||9 books||4410 pages|
|32||Deryni||15 books||4352 pages|
|33||The Dark Tower||7 books||4341 pages|
|34||Oz||14 books||4277 pages|
|35||Solar Cycle||12 books||4252 pages|
|36||Belgariad/Mallorean||10 books||4224 pages|
|37||A Song of Ice and Fire||4 books||4195 pages|
|38||Drenai||11 books||4191 pages|
|39||Harry Potter||7 books||4136 pages|
|40||Corean Chronicles||7 books||4030 pages|
|41||The Realms of the Blood||9 books||4016 pages|
|42||Avalon||8 books||4000 pages|
|43||The Last of the Renshai||6 books||3960 pages|
|44||Earth’s Children||5 books||3952 pages|
|45||Dragon Knight||9 books||3944 pages|
|46||Wayfarer Redemption Series||6 books||3840 pages|
|47||Symphony of Ages||6 books||3760 pages|
|48||Saga of the Noble Dead||8 books||3728 pages|
|49||Sunrunners world||6 books||3672 pages|
|50||Last Rune||6 books||3632 pages|
|51||Chronicles of the Black Company||9 books||3478 pages|
|52||Chronicles and Legends of the Raven||7 books||3430 pages|
|53||The Runelords||7 books||3347 pages|
|54||Codex Alera||6 books||3312 pages|
|55||Guardians of Ga’hoole||15 books||3227 pages|
|56||The Death Gate Cycle||7 books||3168 pages|
|57||Chronicles of Amber||14 books||3155 pages|
|58||Chronicles of the Cheysuli||8 books||3120 pages|
|59||Guardians of the Flame||10 books||3051 pages|
|60||Fortress||5 books||2944 pages|
|61||Majipoor||6 books||2941 pages|
|62||The Chronicles of Elantra||6 books||2867 pages|
|63||The Pendragon Cycle||6 books||2736 pages|
|64||The Winter of the World||6 books||2736 pages|
|65||Guardian Cycle||5 books||2711 pages|
|66||House of Night||8 books||2704 pages|
|67||Memory, Sorrow and Thorn||3 books||2672 pages|
|68||The Banned and the Banished||5 books||2668 pages|
|69||Dragaera: Vlad Taltos||12 books||2634 pages|
|70||Einarinn||5 books||2623 pages|
|71||Sword of Shadows||4 books||2600 pages|
|72||Shadows of the Apt||5 books||2565 pages|
|73||Ixia/Sitia||6 books||2544 pages|
|74||The Elemental Masters Series||6 books||2537 pages|
|75||Paksennarion’s World||6 books||2521 pages|
|76||Nightrunner||5 books||2512 pages|
|77||Chronicles of the Kencyrath||5 books||2479 pages|
|78||Tiger and Del||6 books||2460 pages|
|79||The Demon Wars Saga||4 books||2268 pages|
|80||Temeraire||6 books||2262 pages|
|81||Ryhope Wood||7 books||2261 pages|
|82||The Second Apocalypse||4 books||2240 pages|
|83||The Chronicles of Westria||8 books||2214 pages|
|84||The Lord of the Rings||5 books||2144 pages|
|85||Twilight Reign||4 books||2144 pages|
|86||The Magic Kingdom of Landover||6 books||2096 pages|
|87||Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms||5 books||2064 pages|
|88||Tales of Alvin Maker||6 books||2038 pages|
|89||World of Tiers||7 books||1933 pages|
|90||The World of the Alfar||6 books||1864 pages|
|91||Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser||8 books||1863 pages|
|92||The Earthsea Cycle||6 books||1436 pages|
Also, although I tried to manually check every series, the process was mostly automatic, so please correct me if you find any mistakes.
Why do we read epic series?
Like probably no other topic, fantasy has some of the longest series in literature. Why?
A series gives the author time to shape her characters better. A longer development time means the characters will be a lot deeper, and this in turn will make the reader share a stronger bond with them, so it’s no wonder that good series are real page-turners. I always feel a small amount of regret when finishing a book whose characters I started to like, because that usually is the last time I will read about them.
Multi-dimensional characters that are not defined by a single trait, that are neither good nor bad, etc (A Song of Ice and Fire is a marvelous example of this) tend to appear in longer series more often, because they are put in enough situations to cover all the sides of their personalities.
Also, some things can only be accentuated properly if the reader witnesses them. For example, the deep friendship / hate between two characters is a lot stronger in the reader’s mind if he gets to see it grow through actions, rather then simply being told in the beginning of the book “Also, they are best friends / worst enemies”.
There is only so much action you can pack into 300 pages. In a normal book there is normally just one story arc, and it must come to conclusion pretty fast. Some people enjoy stories that span over a long period of time (sometimes entire generations), multiple connected plots that come together and overlap at points, numerous adventures involving the characters you know so closely, and so on.
Some series share neither characters nor plots between books, so what makes them a “series”? Their setting does, and the universe they are placed in. Sometimes it’s not the characters or the action that hold a series together, but the marvelous world in which they take place, a world that is large enough and has enough potential to accommodate multiple character sets and story lines.
Thank you for reading
Please let me know if there is something I missed, or of any mistakes.