Jan
02

Best Selling Fantasy Books for 2008

Best Fantasy Books 2008

This past year fantasy books have topped the best seller lists like never before. Writers like Stephenie Meyer and Charlaine Harris have led the way in introducing a new audience (and in the case of Twilight, a new generation) to urban fantasy. In honor of a great year I’ve put together a list of the best selling fantasy books. I decided to cover several fantasy subgenres, not just urban fantasy.

Please Note: these lists are based on data obtained from a sole source, Amazon.com. Cumulative data for the entire year was not available from the NY Times or USA Today and neither source provides subgenre sales information. The lists are basically meant to serve as guides for introducing fantasy book fans to new titles and new fantasy subgenres and to get people talking about some of the great fantasy books they’ve read over the past year.

So, without further fanfare, here are the best selling fantasy books of 2008 organized by subgenre:

Alternate History Fantasy Books

  1. Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell
  2. Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
  3. A Meeting at Corvallis by S.M. Stirling
  4. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  5. 1633 by Eric Flint
  6. Weapons of Choice (The Axis of Time Trilogy, Book 1) by John Birmingham
  7. Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War by Newt Gingrich
  8. Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century by Warren Ellis
  9. Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant: The Final Victory (Gingrich and Forstchen’s Civil War Trilogy) by Newt Gingrich, William R. Forstchen, and Albert S. Hanser
  10. In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan
  11. Into the Storm: Destroyermen, Book I by Taylor Anderson

Fantasy Book Anthologies

  1. Many Bloody Returns (Sookie Stackhouse) by Charlaine Harris, Tony Kelner, Kelley Armstrong, and Jim Butcher. Edited by Toni L.P. Kelner and Charlaine Harris.
  2. Backup by Jim Butcher
  3. Mean Streets by Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, Simon R. Green, and Thomas E. Sniegoski.
  4. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman. Kudos to the artists: Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, Steve Parkhouse, Kelley Jones, Charles Vess and Colleen Doran, and Dave McKean.
  5. Bite by Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight, and Vickie Taylor.
  6. My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Charlaine Harris, L. A. Banks, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine , Esther M. Friesner, P.N. Elrod, Lori Handeland, and Susan Krinard. Edited by P. N. Elrod.
  7. Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien. Illustrated by Alan Lee.
  8. Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy by Charlaine Harris, Carole Nelson Douglas, Simon R. Green, and Laurie R. King. Edited by Dana Stabenow.
  9. Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong (available January 27, 2009)
  10. On the Prowl by Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny.
  11. WarCraft Archive by Blizzard Entertainment, Richard A. Knaak, Jeff Grubb, and Christie Golden.

Arthurian Fantasy Books

  1. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  2. Le Morte D’Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table (Signet Classics) by Sir Thomas Malory
  3. The Winter King (The Arthur Books #1) by Bernard Cornwell
  4. The Book of Merlyn: The Unpublished Conclusion to The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  5. The Eagles’ Brood (The Camulod Chronicles, Book 3) by Jack Whyte
  6. Lady of Avalon (Avalon, Book 3) by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  7. The Lance Thrower (The Camulod Chronicles, Book 8 ) by Jack Whyte
  8. Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart
  9. Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff
  10. Enemy of God (The Arthur Books #2) by Bernard Cornwell
  11. The Eagle (The Camulod Chronicles, Book 9) by Jack Whyte

Contemporary Fantasy Books

Amazon distinguishes “contemporary” from “urban” fantasy books. Let’s see if they really differ:

  1. From Dead to Worse (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 8 ) by Charlaine Harris
  2. At Grave’s End (Night Huntress, Book 3) by Jeaniene Frost
  3. Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, No. 1) by Charlaine Harris
  4. All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7) by Charlaine Harris
  5. Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 6) by Charlaine Harris
  6. Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 4) by Charlaine Harris
  7. Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 5) by Charlaine Harris
  8. Living Dead in Dallas (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 2) by Charlaine Harris
  9. The Ghost in Love: A Novel by Jonathan Carroll
  10. Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 3) by Charlaine Harris
  11. Swallowing Darkness (Meredith Gentry, Book 7) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Urban Fantasy Books

  1. Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 6) by Charlaine Harris
  2. Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 5) by Charlaine Harris
  3. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1)
  4. Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5) by J.R. Ward
  5. Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1) by Patricia Briggs
  6. Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1) by Jeaniene Frost
  7. Kiss of Midnight (The Midnight Breed, Book 1) by Lara Adrian
  8. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
  9. Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
  10. Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, Book 2) by Jim Butcher
  11. Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 4) by J.R. Ward

Dark Fantasy Books

You decide if all the entries on this list are “dark” fantasy books.

  1. All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7) by Charlaine Harris
  2. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher
  3. Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1) by Patricia Briggs
  4. Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3) by J.R. Ward
  5. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
  6. Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 4) by J.R. Ward
  7. Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews
  8. Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, Book 6) by Stephen King
  9. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (The Hollows, Book 2) by Kim Harrison
  10. Dream Country (The Sandman, Vol. 3) by Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Jones III, Kelley Jones, Charles Vess, Steve Erickson
  11. The Killing Dance (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 6) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Epic Fantasy Books

Although a few of these books probably shouldn’t fall into the “epic” category I have to admit that a few of the real epic novels look really interesting.

  1. A Dance with Dragons (Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
  2. His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman
  3. Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, No. 1) by Charlaine Harris
  4. Living Dead in Dallas (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 2) by Charlaine Harris
  5. The Sword of Truth, Boxed Set I, Books 1-3: Wizard’s First Rule, Blood of the Fold ,Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
  6. Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Book 1) by Patricia Briggs
  7. Princeps’ Fury (Codex Alera, Book 5) by Jim Butcher
  8. The Sword of Truth Box Set, Books 4-6: Temple of the Winds; Soul of the Fire; Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind
  9. Sword of Truth, Boxed Set III, Books 7-9: The Pillars of Creation, Naked Empire, Chainfire by Terry Goodkind
  10. The Final Empire (Mistborn, Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson
  11. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) by George R.R. Martin

Historical Fantasy Books

  1. Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA by Richard C. Hoagland and Mike Bara
  2. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
  3. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  4. Grendel by John Gardner
  5. Laurell K. Hamilton Set – Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned and The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton
  6. Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, Book 4) by Naomi Novik
  7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. Victory of Eagles (Temeraire, Book 5) by Naomi Novik
  9. Taltos by Anne Rice
  10. Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
  11. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Fantasy Books Series

  1. Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4) by Stephenie Meyer
  2. The Sword of Truth, Boxed Set I, Books 1-3: Wizard’s First Rule, Blood of the Fold ,Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
  3. Confessor: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 3 (Sword Of Truth, Book 11) by Terry Goodkind
  4. The Sword of Truth Box Set, Books 4-6: Temple of the Winds; Soul of the Fire; Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind
  5. Sword of Truth, Boxed Set III, Books 7-9: The Pillars of Creation, Naked Empire, Chainfire by Terry Goodkind
  6. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher
  7. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) by George R.R. Martin
  8. The Dark Tower Boxed Set (Books 1-4) by Stephen King
  9. Making Money (Discworld Novels) by Terry Pratchett
  10. Debt of Bones (Sword of Truth Prequel Novel) by Terry Goodkind
  11. The Gypsy Morph (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 3)

So, there you have it – the top 11 books in 9 different fantasy book subgenres. Since that only adds up to 99 books I’ll include the overall bestselling fantasy book in 2008, which happens to be an urban fantasy book! This book is the top seller at both Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble:

Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4) by Stephenie Meyer!

21 comments on “Best Selling Fantasy Books for 2008

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  5. Using Amazon isn’t your best bet for accuracy. The NYT or USA Today lists would be better, if you don’t have access to Bookscan. As it is, you have erroneously put a lot of books (like Ilona Andrews’) far higher than their sales warrant, and left out many that sold considerably better. Nothing against Ms. Andrews, it’s just the facts.

    The problem with Amazon rankings is that a book released in many locations (supermarkets, airports, etc) besides just bookstores is going to have fewer sales at Amazon because people can buy it so many other places. Books without these outlets tend to do better at Amazon, because it’s one of the few places they are available.

    • Dot:

      I started this project by researching both the NYT and USA Today but they don’t have cumulative lists for the year, only for individual weeks. Actually, USA Today has a Top Books for 150 Years but you can’t narrow down a range. They also don’t have lists that provide sales information by fantasy subgenres.

      Nielsen released a “top 10 best of” list but it’s just 10 adult fiction books. It specifically states “data does not include sales from Wal-Mart, Sam’s, BJ’s, airports, and libraries.”

      Booksalley.com has lists but they don’t provide the source or the date range.

      Wikipedia has lists but again, no date range and no subgenre information.

      I’ve also contacted BookScan to inquire about obtaining access to their data.

      As you can see, I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking for reliable sources.

      I wrote this article knowing it reflected sales from just one source. The purpose of the list is two-fold:

      -to introduce fantasy book fans to some great new titles;
      -to encourage people to talk about other fantasy books they’ve read during the year.

      Based on your comment I’ve reinforced the statement about the origin of the source data at the start of the article.

      Thanks so much for the comment.

  6. I’m more than delighted to see MANY BLOODY RETURNS topping the Anthologies list, but I would like to clarify the listing a bit, if I may. The book isn’t really “by” anybody, unless you list all 13 of the contributors. The three big names on the cover are, of course, Charlaine, Kelley, and Jim.

    And the book was co-edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner, not just by me.

    Thanks much!

    • Toni:

      Good point about the author listings for an anthology. For Many Bloody Returns I just listed the ones on the cover.

      I’ve updated the editor names per your comment.

      Thanks so much for dropping by and please visit again!

  7. Really helpful list! Thanks for putting it together.

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  16. 1984 was not written in 2008.
    1984 is science fiction, not fantasy.
    1984 was a date considerably in the future at the time it was written, making the “history” part of “alternate history” extremely difficult to satisfy.

    WTF?

  17. “By the glare of false science betray’d, That leads to bewilder, and dazzles to blind.” – scientist quote

  18. Pingback: Best Selling Urban Fantasy Books for 2008 :: Best Fantasy Stories

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