THE LONGEST FANTASY SERIES

Longest

Every one of you has done it: fallen in love with an epic, fantasy series that goes on and on forever. The ones that begin so grandly then morph into multi-volume nightmares that never seem to end. Even the authors know they are bloated beasts, for example take Tad Williams, writer of the “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” series, who labeled that trilogy “The Bloated Epic.”

Having gone through this horror myself more than once, I wondered what fantasy series in my life (I was born in 1970) were the longest and most bloated. Not “bloated” in the sense that they were terrible reads (though there are some that were horrid) but rather that the author had contracted “Herbert’s Syndrome”, in which he is overwhelmed by the temptation to keep expanding his popular universe. (I’ve read that the Fantasy Review came up with the label “Herbert’s Syndrome” when Dune creator Frank Herbert kept pumping out Dune books back in the 1980s.)

With this in mind, I did some research and came up with thirty of the “Longest Fantasy” series ever published. While I realize word count would be a more reliable measure of true length, I found it difficult to get (what I considered) reliable data regarding word count of all fantasy series, so I settled for number of pages in series, which seems to be a fairly accurate measure of total length.

After you read through the list, please nominate any others that you feel should be included. I do read the suggestions and modify this list from time to time.

black company
#30: THE BLACK COMPANY

Glen Cook has led this bunch of mercenaries across two continents and into a few different dimensions through nine books with 3808 pages. Two more books planned in the series.

 

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#29: DRENAI SAGA

David Gemmell was a master of heroic fantasy; none of his books more well known than this beloved series, which stretched to 11 novels with approximately 4432 pages.

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#28: THE DARK TOWER

King’s epic has run 8 books and 4600 pages, and it will only grow larger. Trust me. See my reviews of several novels in the series.
Gunslinger Drawing of the Three Wolves of the Calla Dark Tower VII

Imager
#27: IMAGER PORTFOLIO

L.E. Modesitt, Jr.’s first series on the list with 10 books and around 4800 pages. At least one more novel planned, perhaps two.

another fine myth
#26: MYTH ADVENTURES

Robert Lynn Aspirin’s humorous fantasy series has run for five decades and provided fans with 20 novels, sitting at approximately 4821 pages.

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#25: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE

Martin’s saga is 5 books and basically 5000 pages long, and it is not close to being complete.

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#24: THE DERYNI CHRONICLES

Kurtz began this in 1970 and has reached 16 books with over 5000 pages. Plus, there is so much more to write about in this world that I doubt we have seen the end of this long running series.

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#23: THE WORLD OF THE BELGARIAD

Eddings wrote two 5 book series and two histories: 5014 pages in all. See my review of Pawn of Prophecy, the first book in the series.

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#22: A CROWN OF STARS

Elliot’s 7 book series with 5300 pages. Each book averaging a slim 750 pages.

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#21: THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT

The Unbeliever’s “believers” have purchased 10 books so far and devoured almost 5500 pages about their favorite leper. Supposedly, the series is over, but then again, I thought the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was the last. So stay tuned to this one.

ETERNAL CHAMPION
#20: THE ETERNAL CHAMPION

Michael Moorcock has published dozens of eternal champion books, but I decided to use the White Wolf omnibus editions, which collected all the stories in one nice hardcover set. This White Wolf series stretches for 14 books with 6095 pages.

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#19: THE DRESDEN FILES

Urban fantasy poster boy has over 6200 pages through 15 books, and remember, he is still growing. See my review of Storm Front, the first book in the series.

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#18: WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW

Wurts has put out 9 books so far. Several more planned. Each novel is close to 700 pages, for a total of 6281 pages at present.

KUSHIEL
#17: KUSHIEL’S UNIVERSE

Jacqueline Carey’s series has been around for a while with 9 books, totaling 6535 pages.

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#16: DRAGAERA WORLD

Brust has dazzled his fan with 21 novels and approximately 6620 pages. More to come. So excited. Yawn. See some of my reviews.
Jhereg The Phoenix Guards Brokedown Palace

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#15: DEVERRY CYCLE

Fifteen books with approximately 6912 pages from Katharine Kerr.

REDWALL
#14: REDWALL

During Brian Jacques life, he penned 22 novels in his amazing world, and his fans will continue to cherish all 8645 pages.

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#13: DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN

Labeled scifi by some, these 26 books have always seemed more fantasy with just a touch of science fiction mixed in to liven things up a bit. But whether you agree with me or not about that, you will, no doubt, concede that the series is approximately 9000 pages and still growing.

DRAGONLANCE 1
#12: DRAGONLANCE

Okay, I know some of you are saying this is a serialized world with numerous authors writing about different characters, and I totally agree, so I am only counting the novels authored or co-authored by Margaret Weis or Tracy Hickman. With this criteria used, the core Dragonlance novels came down to 21 novels with 9038 pages or there about.

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#11: REALM OF THE ELDERLINGS

Robin Hobb has written 15 novels in this universe so far with around 10000 pages.  At least one more novel planned at this time.

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#10: THE LEGEND OF DRIZZT

Salvatore has given us a “legendary” run of 30 books with nearly 11500 pages. It appears the series may have come to an end for the foreseeable future, but don’t count Drizzt out: there are always more stories to tell.  See my reviews of the most recent books in the series.
Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf Archmage Hero

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#9: THE SWORD OF TRUTH

Goodkind has published three series in his fantasy world of the Confessors: Sword of Truth, Richard and Kahlan, and The Legend of Magda Searus. These novels total 16 books so far with nearly 11000 pages. Each book averaging almost 700 pages.

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#8: THE SAGA OF RECLUCE

Modesitt’s second series on our list with Recluce stretching out 18 novels with approximately 10740 pages. I believe more installments in the series are planned, but I could not find the source confirming that.

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#7: SHANNARA

A series that has run 28 books with nearly 11800 pages. If you include four short stories and a graphic novel into the equation, then the series is at 33 published work with approximately 12200 pages, and it’s still getting bigger. See my reviews of the most recent Shannara novels.
The High Druid’s Blade The Darkling Child The Sorcerer’s Daughter.

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#6: THE WHEEL OF TIME

Jordan and Sanderson’s 15 book epic. 12000 pages. Basically 800 pages per book!

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#5: XANTH

A little over 13000 pages! 39 books! This series of cheesy fantasy jokes and fun puns is still going strong after all these years.

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#4: THE RIFTWAR CYCLE

Feist strung this one out for 30 books and over 13100 pages. It is over finally – we think.

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#3: VALDEMAR

Lackey has penned 34 novels with 14000 pages. A big investment of time there.

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#2: MALAZAN

Erickson and Esslemont’s series is now so long I’ve lost count of how many books there are in all the different series, but I believe we are up to 19 by the end of April 2016 with around 15000 pages. Each novel averages over 800 pages long. If you add in the five novellas, the series is now above 16000 pages long with 24 published works, and the latest novels arrived in April 2016 when Fall of Light (The Kharakanos Trilogy #2) and Dancer’s Lament (Path to Ascendancy Trilogy #1) hit shelves. Obviously, this series isn’t going to stop growing for quite some time, it seems.

THE COLOR OF MAGIC
#1: DISCWORLD

During Terry Pratchett’s prolific writing career, he wrote 45 Discworld novels spreading across 15497 pages. And while this fantasy master has passed away, Discworld will always remain to pay homage to his greatness.

Now, to be honest, we all love for our favorite book series to go on and on. (I personally recall tearing up as a kid when Lord of the Rings ended.) And as long as the author can continue to churn out interesting new story ideas or plot lines, it isn’t a bad thing for anyone that a series goes “long.”

What inevitably seems to occur, however, is at some point new ideas stop coming and old ones start being rehashed, resulting in a great series turning into a never ending procession of the same formulaic story. “Bloat” sets in, if you will, and then it is up to the author to just stop. End it already, like Tolkien did by sending Frodo and Gandalf into the west at the end Lord of the Rings. Sure, I cried when I read it, but it was better than me giving up on the eighth LoTR sequel. You know, the one where Frodo is taking an enchanted sword to Mount Gundabad to destroy it so as to cast down the Ringwraith who survived Sauron’s destruction.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY OTHER BEST OF FANTASY LISTS.

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49 Responses to THE LONGEST FANTASY SERIES

  1. Jay Dee says:

    Reblogged this on I Read Encyclopedias for Fun and commented:
    I thought this was a pretty good list, and quite helpful for me to add the first books on Goodreads. I wonder how long it took to research and compile this list. I’d like to add that Malazan isn’t just written by Erikson, but some were written by Ian Cameron Esslemont, the co-creator of the world of Malazan.

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    • Bookwraiths says:

      I compiled the last over a few hours during a weekend. The math was the worst part for me. I’m math limited, unfortunately. 😛

      As for Malazan, I did know Esslemont had written five of the novels. (Forgive me if 5 is not the correct number. I do not have my notes in front of me.) But I included them in the total number since he was – as you yourself pointed out – a co-creator of the world. I also included several Pern novels written by Todd McCaffrey, since he had been co-writer on numerous books before Anne’s death and basically has continued her work.

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      • Jay Dee says:

        It’s a good few hours spent. Got me checking out a couple series I actually didn’t know about.

        I forgot about Todd McCaffrey. I’ve read almost all of the Pern novels, though not the most recent ones.

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  2. I’d like to point out Piers Anthony’s Xanth Series. The series’ 38th novel came out today and averages about 350 pages per book, which is 13,300 pages and counting.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The funny thing is that some of these series have high page counts but very little bloating. E.g. the Erikson and Wurts ones are very dense in terms of signal to noise in ratio, almost every word counts, where things like Wheel of Time and Sword of Truth are (in my opinion at least) almost the opposite – you can skim a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld! Fabulously prolific.

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  5. Pingback: BEST STANDALONE FANTASY NOVELS PART I | Bookwraiths

  6. davekheath says:

    Great list. The epic of Gesar The Mongolian national tale has over 50 books, but pretty hard to fins in English.

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  14. Chris says:

    The Warhammer 40K series is 365 pieces and counting. Pretty much it is as long as everything mentioned in this list combined, and then some.

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  16. lpstribling says:

    Reblogged this on L.P.'s and commented:
    Something I thought was worthy of a reblog for all my fantasy nerds out there.

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  17. Michael Elverum says:

    Dragonlance is pretty deep too.

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    • Bookwraiths says:

      I absolutely agree, and I thought about adding it. The only reason I didn’t is that I tried to list the series that had the same authors writing each and every book in the series. That is why Malazan made it and Dragonlance did not. Thanks for reading. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Charley says:

    The Discworld books (by Terry Pratchett) = 41 books of varying lengths and Xanth by Piers Anthony both belong on that list.

    As for dragonriders.
    Survivors of an interplanetary war, cold sleep to colonize a planet. Genetic engineering. Psionics in the form of telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation. The danger comes from a mycorrhizoid spore raining down from the tail of a Sedna-class inner Oort cloud object. There’s an influenza epidemic, which is dealt with via mass vaccinations.

    Even in the original trilogy, it’s pretty clearly sci fi.

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  19. Pingback: 25 OVERLOOKED FANTASY SERIES |

  20. romeorites says:

    Redwall is one of my favourite series and Im hoping to start the Malazan books soon. Great list.

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  21. Jay Dee says:

    Ooh, an update! Enjoyed reading it again.

    Like

  22. Reblogged this on Misty Midwest Mossiness and commented:
    I’ve read many of these series and some of my favorites are among them.

    See any you like?

    Like

  23. AO says:

    You’ve overlooked Michelle West’s Essalieyan books. 9,645 pages so far (using the mmpb numbers), and it’s still far from being done.

    For more info, all but the short stories (which I did include in my page count) are listed here:

    http://www.goodreads.com/series/130836-essalieyan

    Liked by 1 person

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  25. Janessa says:

    This is an awesome list! Thanks for putting it together. I’m in the middle of trying to slug through the Wheel of Time series myself.
    I was a little surprised at how you classified these all as series because for me a series is one complete story. Something I have to read all the books of so I can have closure (if done right). Whereas some on the list, like Mercedes Lackey’s Valdamar world is mostly made up of standalones and trilogies within the world of Valdamar. Which is a lovely way to do it because it gives relief and you aren’t stuck in such huge reading commitments! This is something I never appreciated as much before I started WOT. Hahaha.

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  28. Lionclaw says:

    What about Warriors? They are a long series written by Erin Hunter, with 63 books last time I checked, if you count all the special editions, e-book exclusives, mangas. It’s an ongoing series too, and I’m pretty sure they’ve produced at least one more book since I counted them.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. nzpieface says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guin_Saga…………………..

    You’d be surprised how bloody long it is, but it’s Japanese.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Matte says:

    Dresden Files is 15 books in and plans for at least 5 more

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  31. octotea says:

    Oh my gosh, I did not expect Discworld to win! I always wanted to get into Xanth and Wheel of Time, but they’re so daunting!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I’m wondering if Conan could make the list.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Laura says:

    You need to add the Outlander series! It only has 9 books in its series and it’s about 9,000 pages long, I started the first book without knowing what I was getting myself into. And she’s still publishing more!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Roman says:

    Notable mentions:
    Oz by Frank Baum, Ruth Plumly Thompson and others. (44 canon books)
    Cosmere by Brandon Sanderson (10 novels and ~4 novellas) (This is not much but writer is getting there really, really fast)
    Gor by John Norman (33 novels)

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Anon says:

    Darkover by Zimmer has 40 novels in its universe. Not sure it makes the list or not since a few are pretty short.
    https://www.librarything.com/series/Darkover%3A+Publication+order

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Harriet says:

    What about Warrior Cats? Series has maybe more then 60 books and 18 000 Pages all together!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Pingback: How Long Should a Fantasy Book Be? | Thoughts on Fantasy

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