Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Worst Fantasy Novels

Before I start this review, I want to make something clear.  This post is ENTIRELY subjective.  Yes, I've listed books that are "terrible" here, but this is mostly mine and LiveJournal's opinions (I put up a couple of posts in book blogs over there to get some outside perspective.)

If you like the books on this list, that's fine!  In fact, leave me a comment telling me why!  Just please be respectful.  We enjoy differences of opinions here, but not malice.

That being said, here's a list of truly terrible fantasy books and the reasons that they're really not worth the read.

Modelland by Tyra Banks

The premise: Superhuman girls get chosen to live in a city in the clouds and are taught how to be SUPER Models there, superpowers and all.

The Problems: It's written by Tyra Banks.  Ok, so maybe that's not a problem PER SE, but it's quite obvious that Tyra is no writer.  The dialogue is ridiculous, the premise more so and let's not forget all of the model metaphores ("You begin your mornings staring at the fog, longing for the fateful evening when it will turn a golden yellow and then, finally, like a push-up brassiere, lift.")  And the names in this book get more ridiculous by the second.  Our main character is Tookie, who makes it to Modelland and meets Evanjelia and Creamy.  If nothing else, you should read this book for the LOL factor.


Eragon (and pretty much the whole Inheritence series) by Christopher Paolini

The Premise: Boy (Eragon) finds dragon, saves the kingdom.

The Problems: The biggest flaw of this book is that it's entirely unremarkable.  It's trying to be like a lot of other novels (Tolkien, mostly), but Paolini doesn't have the talent that Tolkien does.  There's very little world building and more than a little rambling.  Which seems to get progressively worse with each novel.

Twlight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

The Premise: Girl falls in love with vampire, vampire falls in love with her.  And so does a werewolf... and a normal kid... and half the student body.  Bella is constantantly in danger, requiring her to be saved by all of the aforementioned.

The Problems: Ok, we all knew that this one was going to be on here.  The whole series has multiple flaws: for instance the controlling relationship Bella is in.  The love triangle in the book gets ridiculous (and then creepy), the ending was a total cop out and let's not even get me started on Bella's hallcinations in book two.

The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (post Queen of the Damned)

The Plot: Lestat turns Louie, they form a love/hate relationship until, eventually, the Queen of Vampires wakes up to torment them all.  Plot is over by book three, so cue back story of every character ever mentioned in the first three books.

The Problems: Let's face it.  Rice started out with a great plot in the first three novels.  It was interesting and intense and you cared about the characters.  But Queen of the Damned (book 3) seemed like it should have ended the series.  And maybe it should of.  Because for the rest of the series we get almost entirely back story, only to end with a book of characters that are nothing like the originals and a rant from the author.

LOTR by J.R.R. Tolkien (including The Hobbit)

The Plot: Bilbo acquires the Ring of Power (read: super bad ass ring that will destroy the world if it reaches the bad guy.)  Should take on the quest himself, but hands it off to his kin, Frodo Baggins.  Who proceeds to spend three books getting the ring to Mordor so he can destroy it.

The Problems: Now, before you murder me, hear me out.  Personally, I like the LOTR books.  However, I just think they're decent books.  I'm not in love with them, and a lot of people aren't.  Can Tolkien write?  Yes, very well.  But the problem is that Tolkien doesn't know when to STOP.  He goes on and on and while, yes, he is amazing at world building, there are just things I, the reader, don't need to know.  (And the worst part is, he didn't even tell us everything in these books.)

Also, everything after Helm's Deep in The Two Towers makes me want to gouge my eyes out.  If I had to read about Sam and Frodo walking anymore, I might have walked myself off a cliff.


Wicked by Gregory McGuire

The Plot: Follows the life of the Wicked Witch of the West and how she interacts with all the other characters in Oz, before the famous story we all know and (might) love.

The Problem: McGuire has a bad habit of being, well, dry.  His writing (in my experiance) is either really great or really terrible, and it usually falls into the latter category.  Also, there's less about the Wicked Witch in this book than we all would like.  We wanted to know HER backstory, not her mother's, not her sister's, and certainly not about the ridiculous politics of Oz (of which we barely understand as it is.)  By the time we got to Dorothy, the whole story was just ruined.

Honorable Mentions:
Thraxas, by Martin Scott (which, ironically, won a Fantasy Award.)
Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
If I Pay Thee Not in Gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey  (Sexism is a fantasy book?!  Nooooo, that could NEVER happen.)

These are just a small sampling of some of the worst fantasy books.  What are your least favorites?  Why?


  1. Terry Goodkind.

    Oh, wait, that isn't a book or series of books but an author. No.... wait, it's a perfectly appropriate answer.

    Terry Goodkind.

    Everything by this self important, sociopath can be rolled up in a greasy ball of paper and ink and be called some of the worst fiction produced in the 20th century.

    A few years ago, I found myself rather enjoying the televised version of his Sword of Truth series produced by the same folks in NZ and Oz that brought us Xena and Hercules: The Seeker of Truth. The show was fun and piqued my interest enough that I got my hands on the first book in the series, Wizards First Rule.

    The titular rules is simply that people are stupid. I giggled to myself and agreed, "yeah they are", and read on, stupidly. Several hundred pages later worth of rape, paper thin characters, a massive chunk devoted to the author's obvious fascination with- if not fixation on- BDSM power dynamics, an absurdly simplistic allegory of an enemy standing in for communist dictatorship cults- srsly, the bad guy's fortress is called "The People's Palace"- and scrotum removal I scratched my head, said "huh!" and moved onto the second book, Stone of Tears. It only got worse, and it became increasingly clear that I was reading something by Ayn Rand only with dragons and fetishism.

    Upon looking into his world, I discovered that in many circles, Goodkind is something of a figure of fun; "hey, hey, post that one passage where Goodkinds hero kills a hippy for daring to use non-violent resistance". It certainly makes it easy when the man regularly gives interviews with shiny, golden turds like this:

    "First of all, I don't write fantasy. I write stories that have important human themes. They have elements of romance, history, adventure, mystery and philosophy. Most fantasy is one-dimensional. It's either about magic or a world-building. I don't do either."

    Followed by...

    "What I have done with my work has irrevocably changed the face of fantasy. In so doing I've raised the standards. I have not only injected thought into a tired empty genre, but, more importantly, I've transcended it showing what more it can be-and is so doing spread my readership to completely new groups who don't like and wont ready typical fantasy. Agents and editors are screaming for more books like mine"

    You can check him out for yourself, the man's a well-spring of self-aggrandizing nonsense.

    Anyways, I've already spent mroe time on this than I meant to.

  2. It's either about magic or a world-building. I don't do either.

    Haha, I like that he basically said, "I don't world build or have magic in my fantasy novels." Because you're just that crappy of an author.

    This pretty much adds to what I've heard about his books. The rape thing, mostly. And I've had people, people whose opinions I generally trust, tell me that the series is FANTASTIC. Best thing they ever read.

    I'm probably never going to pick him up after this. I've gotten a lot of negative feed back about him. Also, he sounds like a jerk.

  3. Definitely agree with you on Modelland, Eragon, and Wicked. Haven't read Anne Rice or LOTR. You know how I feel about Twilight...

    Since you were honest about how you feel with regards to the beloved LOTR trilogy, I feel I can be honest here too. I absolutely, without one shred of doubt, wanted to rip the book apart, literally threw it across the room when I was done reading it, HATED The Princess Bride. The book, mind you, not the movie.

    1. Haha, Jenna is actually the exact opposite. She LOVES the book but couldn't stand the movie (which, I continually forget because she's a freak and WHO DOESN'T LIKE THE MOVIE?!)

      I want to read it just because I love the movie, so generally the books are better. I wonder if it's the kind of thing where, if you loved one, you're doomed to hate the other.

  4. Whatever Sarah, The Princess Bride book was great.:)

    I actually liked Wicked, until the third section. It was a great story until the stupid third section. He completely ruined it. He introduced characters that didn't need to be in it, and it dragged. The musical was a lot better. One of my favorite things about the musical is the Fiyero/Scarecrow, and Boq/Tin Man connection that didn't exist in the book, thereby making those characters pointless.

  5. Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty... That's time I'll never get back. Suffice to say I've never read another book recommended by the friend who passed this onto me.

    1. Also, Sleeping Beauty was an erotica book, if memory serves me correctly (I never read it, but that's what I heard.) I might be a little suspicious if my friends says, "Hey, go read this GREAT book about sex!"

    2. I was duped. I didn't really look into it before hand. She told me it was a retelling of the story and I'm not opposed to reading fairy tales retold.

      And you are correct it is an erotica novel but the way she sold it peaked my interest.

  6. Agreed on everything but LOTR (because I just can't bring myself to include it on a list of worst anything and because it's a special thing between me and my mom so I feel ~loyal and all). I deeefinitely agree with some of your points about it though. It does tend to be long-winded and boring in places, and it's almost sensory overload when it comes to the sheer details and appendices and extra info. But that aside, I still love it. XD

    I absolutely loved the beginning of Wicked, but quickly lost interest. IMO, it made a much better musical.

    I honestly can't think of a fantasy book I haven't liked that wasn't listed on here, mostly because I've loved the ones I've chosen to read XD I will admit to having read Twilight and hating it, but that's about it.

  7. Wasn't terribly fond of Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr either :\