Elric of Melniboné, along with the sword Stormbringer, is the most influential of Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champions. The first Elric story, The Dreaming City, was published in 1961 and created the trope of the fantasy anti-hero with a burdened soul. These tales of his adventures as he wanders the world in a futile quest for spiritual peace have influenced countless works in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. That description fits superheroes like The Hulk, and while I'm not sure Elric influenced the comics, there is a definite resemblance in the television series of the 1980's. The multiverse concept pioneered here is seen in the works of authors like Brandon Sanderson and the place that brings spiritual and mental peace, Tanelorn in this multiverse, is echoed in Guy Gavriel Kay's references to Fionavar. The conflict between Lords of Chaos and Order was the basis for Louise Cooper's The Time Master series. References to the series and Stormbringer appear throughout popular culture including music, comics, and even lines in television series such as Game of Thrones. "But are the books actually good?" My answer: It's complicated.
If you're in the mood for a grimdark fantasy but would prefer something quick and easy to read, this is the series for you. The Seven Swords is a stands out for its unique settings, elaborate world building, and short format that is reminiscent of Moorcock's books of the late 1970's. This is a harsh unkind world with plenty of gods, magic, and, obviously, swords. Everybody has secrets but none are worse than Guyime's bloody past and the sword that made it possible. He believes his soul is beyond redemption so he's willing to die for a chance to destroy his sword. But the fabled Seven Swords are indestructible by mortal means so he sets off on epic pilgrimage. There is plenty of action, betrayal, and death along the way.
In the land of Baroken it is the Wizard Lord's duty to protect the land, people, and magical ler. Since hunting down rogue wizards is one of their most important duties they are gifted with a set of talismans, ler that have been bound to an object, to ensure they have the most power. It was not long until the wizards of the Council of Immortals realized that those talismans would make it very difficult to deal with a rogue Wizard Lord, a Dark Lord. They created a second set of talismans that would be linked to those of the Wizard Lord and given to talented individuals who would act as a team to take down Dark Lords. The talismans of The Chosen as they are called enhance their natural abilities with specific magics according to their role in the team but they also bear a curse. When one of the Chosen dies the Wizard Lord loses the power of his linked talisman so should he kill all of the Chosen he is no more powerful than other members of the Council. They think they have covered every possibility. They are wrong.
In the Free States people love their Capes, the superheroes that defend them. With a few very notable exceptions Capes have a short life expectancy so they established the Academy where kids interested in becoming Capes can train. They also learn how to market themselves and take advantage of any vid and merchandising deals that come their way on the off chance they survive long enough to retire. Damian's father doesn't have a cool villain name like Cemetery Sally or Crimson Death and a body count of one isn't impressive for a necromancer, also called Crows. He only made headlines because he went mad and killed his wife in front of their five year old son Damian. Crows are the most hated Powers for obvious reasons and there has never been a Crow Cape or even one at the Academy and no one wants him there now. Half of his classmates are too frightened to get near him and the other half think they should kill him now before he starts murdering people. But Damian is determined to stay in the hopes that learning control will prevent him from going insane like every other Crow. If not he hopes they can stop him before he does too much damage. As Damian says at the beginning, it's a shame they couldn't do either.
Three thousand years from now Earth is mostly desert and is little more than a quaint tourist destination for history buffs. Humans have spread out across the stars colonizing as they went with varied success and even survived first contact with an alien race and the war that followed. That means there are a lot of historic relics just waiting to be found by antiquarian Alex Benedict and his pilot Chase Kolpath. In addition to brokering deals for his wealthy clients Alex spends chasing down rumors of lost colonies, missing ships, and even people for profit. This doesn't make him popular with museums and those who feel he's nothing more than a graverobber. In the eight book series Alex and Chase have dealt with a wide variety of puzzles and frequently narrowly avoid dying because there is always someone who would prefer that those unsolved mysteries remain unsolved.
Author Kristing Cashore made quite a splash in the YA Fantasy genre with Graceling. It's a good book but so standard for the genre that its mostly forgettable except for the world defining gracelings, people blessed with an extraordinary ability with the physical mark that their eyes are two different colors. It can be virtually anything but the most feared are those with mental gifts which brings us to the worst of those, King Leck, who used his Grace to brainwash and control an entire country. His assassination in the book Graceling leaves his daughter Bitterblue as queen of a people who have no idea how much of their past is real and have to live with the horrible things they did under his control. As Bitterblue delves deeper into the secrets of the past she discovers her father was worse than she ever imagined and quite literally a Monster from beyond what they thought was an impassable barrier. The companion novel Fire takes place on the other side of the barrier in a strange land with Monsters instead of Graces with their own story of Leck that will bring the two lands together.
World War III began with Chinese warbots walking out of the ocean near Washington D.C. They were initially held off by the Outlaw Motorcycle Club, who happened to be holding their annual rally outside the city, but the situation just kept escalating both on Earth and in space. For ten years humanity did its worst to destroy both the Earth and themselves until the alien bugs came along and forced peace with their superior technology. The survivors now live in a drastically altered climate with discarded bio-weapons and deadly technology hidden beneath the surface. Thanks to their early heroics, the Outlaws now have a strong relationship with the US government. One of their most well known heroes was a twelve year old girl named Shining Smith who single-handedly brought down one of the Mother Warbots and earned her status as the first female made-man of the Outlaws. Sadly Shining, known as Little Girl to the club, died not long after. Or did she? The club received a distress signal from her old kutte (battle vest) which leads the Enforcer Jagger to a junkyard in the desert formerly known as West Virginia. There he finds a strange woman and her even stranger cats under attack.
A deadly pandemic strikes the world and within days ninety-nine percent of the human population is gone. The survivors all gained a super-human talent in the process but half of them are violent lunatics. The Savage North Chronicles, beginning with The Darkest Winter, follows a small band of survivors from Anchorage, Alaska as they struggle through the outbreak in December and the chaos that follows. In addition to the craziness of a civilization ending apocalypse, there are wilder elements as well, including super human abilities and military scientists who wipe memories and resurrect the dead. The survivors include Elle, who is a cruise ship photographer who wakes up after falling sick and immediately discovers that she can defend herself by summoning fire, and Jackson, who is a state trooper who's pregnant wife is killed by an intruder. Together with four children Elle picked up the group follows Jackson's intuition and sets off for Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. Its a mix of The Walking Dead series, a survival game called The Long Dark, and a lot of conspiracy theories.
The Osiris Serum changed the world by giving some people magic that they could pass on to their children. The powerful Prime mages are rich, famous, and utterly ruthless in the defense of their Houses. They can create tornadoes, level buildings, or crack the human mind like an egg so everyone else does their best to avoid becoming collateral damage. Nevada Baylor is a private investigator who specializes in insurance fraud and cheating spouse cases to support her family. Her life goes sideways when she is forced to apprehend notorious bad boy Adam Pierce (Fire) who is accused of bank robbery and murder. Her own talent, the ability to detect lies, is useless against a combat mage so it looks like a suicide mission until she's kidnapped by an even more dangerous Prime, Mad Rogan (Telekinesis) and the situation devolves from there. There's a grand conspiracy among the most powerful mages to create anarchy by burning down Houston, TX and Nevada may be the only one who can save the city.
Anne Bishop returns to the world of the Others, an alternate Earth where the Terra Indigene were the apex predators long before Humans came along, with Lake Silence and Wild Country. Lake Silence is unrelated to the original series with all new characters in a small Other controlled town about a middle aged woman who finds herself caught between her scuzzy ex-husband and the surprisingly friendly Others. Surprising because they usually prefer to eat humans rather than help them. The Wild Country returns to the towns of Bennet and Prairie Gold and overlaps with the end of the original series. It turns into an old west style showdown with vampires and wolf shifters squaring off against human outlaws determined to take over Bennet.