Thursday, 17 August 2017

The biggest fantasy debuts in the past decade!

This list is restricted to "epicish" fantasy, which by my off the cuff definition generally involves a secondary world and warfare based on sword and spear.

The reason for such restriction is simple - it's my favourite kind of fantasy, and were I to include YA fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, romance fantasy etc the great majority of the the books below would be swept off the table because the truth is that "epicish" fantasy is a niche genre and sells far fewer books than the kinds of fiction I just listed.

I crowd sourced this list over at r/fantasy and if you have a debut book you think fits, please mention it in the comments.

The numbers in brackets are the number of Goodreads ratings the book has. Since this is directly related to sales it is a clear indication of the "size" of that debut.

I have included three titles that aren't really "epicish" but don't seem to fall into the other categories I mentioned either. They are probably close to magical realism, which crosses over well into the general readership and gets big sales. I've left them (shaded red) as reminders that the kind of fantasy shown here constitute small fish in a big pond!

Where I had more than three I have stuck to the top three except in cases of ties.

2007 - The Name of the Wind (530K), The Summoner (11K)

2008 - The Way of Shadows (126k), The Warded Man (87k)

2009 - The Dwarves (8k), Lamentation (3K), The Adamantine Palace (2K)

2010 - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (38K)

2011 - The Night Circus (526K), Prince of Thorns (73K), Blood Song (58K), Theft of Swords (42K)

2012 - Malice (10K), Throne of the Crescent Moon (9K)

2013 - The Golem and the Jinni (80K), Promise of Blood (30K), The Thousand Names (14K), House of Blades (9K), A Crucible of Souls (6K), The Grim Company (6K)

2014 - The Emperor's Blades (28K), The Goblin Emperor (17K), The Shadow of What Was Lost (13K), Traitor's Blade (12K)

2015 - The Library at Mount Char (21K), Dawn of Wonder (16K), The Grace of Kings (9K), Free the Darkness (9K)

2016 - Hope and Red (2K), The Summer Dragon (2K), The Crimson Queen (2K), Benjamin Ashwood (2K)

2017 - The Bear and the Nightingale (47K), Kings of the Wyld (8K), Blackwing (2K)

2018 - Candidates include: Children of Blood and Bone (31K), The Poppy War (4K)


  1. I have a question about the dwarfes: does that even count as a debut?
    Becaus Markus Heitz is a german author and has written several other books before which didn't got translated. Also he has written die Zerge (the dwarfes) in 2003 the translation was just 6 Years later.
    I mean I love all the dwarfes and albae books but I don't count it as a debut.

  2. The Vagrant had a 3K debut in 2015, which doesn't reach those on the list, but still suggests strong impact for a debut. Seth Dickinsons ''The Traitor Baru Cormorant' , from the same year, has 5K, though I'm debating now whether it fits the definition of Epic Fantasy...

  3. I've seen how you calculate how much the book makes. But you may be downplaying how much they made on the newer releases.

    Seeing that books will sell a lot more on the first few years after publication.

    So your numbers in profits for the newer ones might be a bit lower than they actually are.

    Either way, it's a great post ;)

    1. There's nothing being said about profits here, and the figures are since publication rather than in the first year.

    2. Yes, sorry. For some reason my brain mixed up number of sales for profits ;P