Rising star fantasy writer Lev Grossman gives us his picks for the six greatest fantasy novels of all time [HT: Tyler Cowen]:
— The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
— The Once and Future King by T.H. White
— Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories
— The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
— Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
— Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
Many of these are worthy and unsurprising choices. I question the selection of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, however. I tried to read it several years ago and couldn’t get through it despite the fact that I am a huge fantasy fan and generally like long books. Either my reaction was highly idiosyncratic or Clarke’s book is at least somewhat boring, and therefore not worthy of inclusion in this distinguished list. The Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series is an important landmark in the field, but not actually a novel (it’s a set of loosely connected short stories with the same central characters, much like the Sherlock Holmes series).
Finally, I have to admit that I haven’t read Magic for Beginners. It, like Fritz Leiber’s work, seems to be a collection of short stories. Is it as great as Grossman claims?