Fat fantasy wordcounts

A fascinating list from Fantasy Faction, showing the wordcounts of fat fantasy series. I got this via a list linked in the comments to Sarah Avery’s post at Black Gate.

Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring: 187k
The Two Towers: 155k
The Return of the King: 131k
Total: 473k

This is not all that much longer than the Griffin Mage trilogy, which was about 120k per book if I remember correctly. I’m a bit surprised that TLotR is not a lot longer than this!

Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan
The Eye of the World: 305k
The Great Hunt: 267k
The Dragon Reborn: 251k
The Shadow Rising: 393k
The Fires of Heaven: 354k
Lord of Chaos: 389k
A Crown of Swords: 295k
The Path of Daggers: 226k
Winter’s Heart: 238k
Crossroads of Twilight: 271k
Knife of Dreams: 315k
Total: 3M 304k (official count)

My God, that’s insane. Every book in this series is INSANELY LONG. I had no idea. I had no plans to read this series ever, but now that goes double. I would have to REALLY LOVE a series to devote that much time to reading it.

No wonder people coined the term “fat fantasy.”

The post gives a few other wordcounts, and indeed there are a lot of looooong books in fat series out there, but the series they didn’t include that I would have been most interested in: Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series and the related series. Every book in those linked series is about twice what I would think of as average, including Carey’s debut novel, which astonished me. Now it doesn’t seem quite so out of line, considering Jordan’s series and the others listed in this post.

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8 thoughts on “Fat fantasy wordcounts”

  1. My first question was: did they count the appendixes in RotK? The original post didn’t say, just gave numbers.

    The second was no wonder I’ve been avoiding FF for a while. With, of course, exceptions for favorite authors (CJC’s FORTRESS, frex).

    Down in the comments people posted other word counts (unsourced). I was amused to see Potter #5 came out larger than #7 which looks rather fatter. Dubious about the Russian novels on those lists as that would have to be dependent on translation.

    If you like the world and the characters I can see reading such a FF series but once it’s out there it would be intimidating to start. And with Jordan I tried the first one, liked it ok, but wore out quickly with the sequels. It’s hard to keep my interest over such a long series. A lot boils down to: nothing really happens.

    … I wonder where Patrick O’Brian’s series fits in the word count? I’ve bounced off the first and given 20 books to look forward to – or not – keep wondering if I want to try a different one. Sometimes reading out of order is the only way to get in.

  2. Doesn’t Kate Elliot have some pretty hefty series too? She would have been on my short list of authors to include. It seems like their initial list is a bit one-sided, gender-wise. Is there some community notion that most fat fantasy is written by men?

  3. I don’t know, Sarah, they only have four or five series listed, so not sure their choices suggest too much of a statement. It would be interesting to check the wordcounts for a dozen more series, though, including that massive, what, seven or eight book series by Elliot as well as Carey’s.

    Elaine, I did read all the O’Brian books, except the unfinished last one. Some I liked better than others, but the series did draw me in, especially as Steven Maturin was established as a spy.

  4. I don’t think it’s an intentional statement, but I think it points to a subconscious bias. They left out some pretty major series, but included one where they only have one book to count so far. I don’t read a lot of fat fantasy myself, but Michelle West is another biggie they might’ve included.

  5. I noticed the Sanderson (hardcover) at the library yesterday. It’s enormous. It may have been included just because the OP noticed the sheer size of the thing. It looked at least half again as large as the next largest book on the shelves. (I spent a couple minutes looking at other fat fantasy.)

    No one seems to notice Michelle WEst although her books are the sort that reward rereading, discussion, etc. I’ve wondered why. What makes a series catch fire and get a lot of buzz? It must hit a sweet spot with enough readers who talk to each other, I guess, where others can overhear. I saw that happen with Jordan – and with Martin, well, there’s the show.

  6. I’m working on a post comparing wordcounts for fat fantasy by women authors to the ones from Fantasy Faction, but it’s going to take a while. Very tedious getting the wordcounts for everything. But it will be neat to actually do the comparison!

    Also, wow, there are a lot more veeeery long books out there than I realized.

  7. Rachel, oof, sorry, didn’t mean to make more work for you! Still, I’ll be interested to hear the results.

    Elaine, I’m not sure why West isn’t a bigger name than she is. My husband (who doesn’t read much nonfiction) thought all the female authors I listed were pretty obscure, but that was just because the male ones had all had works adapted for movies or tv, or had been around a lot longer. He only knows authors if they’re names non-readers might know, I guess…

  8. Sarah, I totally blame you! : )

    Yes, I’m kinda looking forward to laying out the different series and taking a look at them. Wordcounts for some books are pretty easy to get; for others, well, I’m still working on it.

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