The epic has been the foundation of fantasy for a long time.
From Beowulf and the tales of King Arthur all the way up to The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, epic fantasy has been in the roots of Western culture a long time. It was really the Oxford professor’s story of Frodo Baggins and the One Ring that began modern day epic fantasy, the trilogy bestsellers worldwide. By the time Terry Brooks published The Sword of Shannara in 1977—a book most would consider epic fantasy at the time—Tolkien readers were already craving more of the same.
But as with all things, epic fantasy has evolved over the decades since Brooks wrote his original Shannara trilogy. I talked about this two weeks in So You Want To Read High Fantasy: Here’s Where To Start. Epic fantasy once meant large books with an everyman-type of lead character against a dark lord. But to me, the epic fantasy that has been written in the last three decades are not only large in size and scale of story but also feature numerous point of view characters and several storylines that are separate but are also intertwined.
To talk about and recommend epic fantasy, it requires an epic list. These are the books I recommend people start with if they want a truly epic reading experience.