I don’t usually pay much attention to the publication dates of fantasy books. My mind tends to file them into vague categories like “old classic” or “fairly recent”. I do sometimes check when books came out or read articles about fantasy history, but it’s hard to remember it all clearly, and I tend to think books are much older or newer than they actually are. Occasionally I’ll see a decade or era referred to (e.g. 80s paperback, 90s fantasy) but not often, and the timelines I find online tend to be exhaustively long title lists or random “must read” compilations.
All of this is to say: getting a sense of which fantasy books were important at certain times or influenced later books, and how fantasy has changed over the last 50 or 100 years, is not always easy.
This made me think it would be interesting to see a snapshot of the most popular or influential fantasy books from each decade with their original covers, to create a kind of visual timeline that shows the changing genre and cover styles over the last Century. Continue reading