I recently participated in an
online survey voting for the Top 100 Fantasy books
of all time.
Not surprising – to me, anyway, since it's
my pick too – is that J.R.R. Tolkien's
Lord of the Rings was at the top
of the Top 100 list.
I blogged this week about my personal all-time
favorite books – the ones I add to my personal
library and read over and over again – and
LOTR is at the top of that list too. I discovered
Tolkien's epic in high school, and immediately
fell in love with Middle Earth.
I read The
Hobbit first – which is also on
the Top 100 list, in the No. 3 position. It's
enchanting and magical, and a delightful prequel
to LOTR. But Lord of the Rings is the
heart and soul of Tolkien, awesome and heartbreaking
You could vote for up to 10 books in the Top
100 nominees, so I put in a vote as well for The
Haunting of Hill House.
It's been years since I've read Shirley Jackson's
1959 novel. A finalist for the National Book Award,
it's rightfully considered by many to be one of
the best literary ghost stories published in the
To me, Hill House is exactly what a
ghost story should be, relying on terror and the
reader's imagination rather than graphic gore.
A couple of the nominated Top 100 books surprised
me, mainly because I don't think of them as “fantasy.”
One was George Orwell's Animal
Farm, written as an allegory of the Communist
takeover of Russia in the early 1900s. I do consider
it a must-read, even these days, in its tale of
how the animals – led by the pigs –
overthrow their farmer-owner and his family and
take control of the farm on which they live.
The book's ending – spoiler alert here
– is chilling as it describes how the other
animals on the farm look through the farm-house
window at the pigs as they sit around the table
… And the animals see no difference between
the pigs and the humans they replaced.
Animal Farm was at No. 35 on the Top
100 list when I participated in the poll.
The other book that surprised me by its inclusion
is Homer's Odyssey. I guess that's because
I tend to think of “fantasy” as being
created for readers who know the plot is …
well … “fantastical.” In Homer's
day, people accepted the reality of the gods and
However, that's probably splitting hairs. The
Odyssey is No. 44 in the poll.
I cast one of my votes for Dennis McKiernan's
and another for Kim Harrison's Dead
Dragondoom is one of the books in McKiernan's
Mithgar series, and there are others in the series
that I like better. Eye
of the Hunter and
Voyage of the Foxrider spring to
mind, probably because they feature elves.
Anyone who knows me knows that – like Tolkien's
Hobbit character Sam Gamgee – I am enamored
of elves. Dragondoom
is a beautiful if tragic tale, and it well deserves
a place in the Top 100.
Dead Witch is the first book in Harrison's
“Hollows” series featuring bounty-hunting
witch Rachel Morgan and her friends, including
a fecund pixie names Jenks and Ivy, a living vampire.
It's the first of Harrison's books that I read,
and it sent me on a hunt for more.
If you'd like to check out the list, and maybe
cast your own vote, here's the link: http://fantasy100.sffjazz.com/lists_books.html.
There's also a Top 100 Science Fiction
books list that I plan to check out.