What is the single best fantasy novel of all time?

Erekose

Eternal Champion
I don't think Legend is particularly great in any of the ways I personally care about in a book, but it is definitely worth reading, and more importantly, I think it and Robin Hobb's Assassin trilogy really significantly influenced the future direction of fantasy - also in 1984, Legend was pretty much unique. Had I read it back in the '80s or very early '90s I would have been pretty shocked by it. It's one of the first modern fantasy novels where the hero is aging and feeling the results of that, and really very much human, and with feet of clay, barely dragging themselves through the story, and I think there's a whole major subgenre of fantasy that basically exists because of that - very much much including people like Joe Abercrombie. I think part of the reason ASoIaF was so successful is the longer-term influence of Legend and works it inspired or influenced. It's representative of a sort of reaction to Moorcock and Tolkien - there's perhaps some inspiration from Elric, who is himself not in a great state, but I think it's more than the protagonists in Legend really go through some stuff, in a very human way, that's not connected to magic or high weirdness in the way Frodo's struggle with the ring is, for example. And they're not confident and airy like the vast majority of Moorcock's characters ultimately are (even the doomed ones - maybe especially the doomed ones).
I almost agree with everything you’ve said :) and certainly my opinion is influenced by reading Legend when it was first published. Moorcock is another favourite author for me but I’ve always struggled with Tolkien - I appreciate the impact of his work and broadly speaking like the stories in his books but the detail he goes into in many areas is sadly a “dense wall of impenetrable text” for me. In that context, I’ve always appreciated how much character, emotion, and action Gemmell could provide in very few words (by comparison). I think his style has sometimes been described as cinematic, which doesn’t feel quite right, but I can see why it might be said.
 
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I appreciate the impact of his work and broadly speaking like the stories in his books but the detail he goes into in many areas is sadly a “dense wall of impenetrable text” for me.
Oh I definitely feel you on that. I'm kind of fascinated by Tolkien but more because of his letters than his work, and that's a very long story. Probably his worst literary tic, imho, is his endless, and frankly not-always-that-great landscape descriptions.
I’ve always appreciated how much character, emotion, and action Gemmell could provide in very few word (by comparison). I think his style has sometimes been described as cinematic, which doesn’t feel quite right, but I can see why it might be said.
Yes definitely, there's a directness and spareness in a lot of Gemmell's work that many authors could learn from, and that some have! Doesn't stop them writing 600+ page books, but it does mean they pack more in to them!
 


Zardnaar

Legend
I do enjoy Gemmel's stuff. And yes, reading it as a youth in the mid 80s, it really was a game changer for fantasy. I prefer Knights of Dark Renown and The King Beyond the Gate .

Can barely remember reading those and siptressi books.

Echoes of an Ancient song as well iirc and something involving a banished city returning full of inhuman monsters.
 




Queer Venger

Dungeon Master is my Dad
You can only pick one, and you can't just cite a whole series.
wow, a bit torn on this one. I can only pick one (if we are going by a more modern/postmodern definition of fantasy):

A Game of Throne Despite the controversy around the sh*te-tv adaptation; it truly remains my favorite, though a very very close second (and until recently was my top favorite) was the Lord of the Rings
 



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