The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series represents a high water mark in fantasy publishing. The brainchild of Betty Ballantine and her husband Ian, the series was edited by Lin Carter who was brought onto the project due to his in-depth knowledge and love of the genre. A total of 65 titles were released, most reprints of obscure titles that had lain un-reprinted for decades, though some new titles were produced as well. All featured beautiful wrap-around color covers. Lin Carter provided enlightening introductions to each (IMAGINARY WORLDS excepted, it was his own book) which served to provide author information and to "place" the book in the genre. Carter produced several original anthologies for the series. The series ran from 1969 to 1974, with about a book a month being published. Unlike the successful Tolkien titles (which inspired the creation of the Fantasy Series) the series at best enjoyed mediocre sales, which makes the five year run all the more impressive (I believe the Ballantine's felt the series was a "good thing" and continued on despite the sales numbers. Another reason the series was unique, you'd never see that attitude from today's mass-market publishers).
NOTE: This page is a "rough draft" which I plan to further enhance as I regain access to my books (packed away because I moved). Most of the information here is from a detailed set of notes I produced before moving. I'd like to provide some cover scans and more detail on the pre and post series titles. Please check back from time to time for updates and feel free to contact me with suggestions or additional information I can add to the site. Thanks!
DISCLAIMER: I have taken care to make this information as accurate and useful as possible, but there is always the possibility I goofed up somewhere. If so please let me know and I'll make repairs. My stance on what titles belong in the series is strict. They belong if:
A: Lin Carter said they do.
B: They have a Unicorn's head AND a Lin Carter introduction AND (usually) are a first printing.
Due to this my listing is perhaps smaller than some others.
The following titles were not part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series proper, but were published (or planned) before Lin Carter came aboard as a consultant for Ballantine. Carter has stated that he would have urged Ballantine to publish them if they hadn't already (and in fact, many have had the Unicorn's Head colophon added in later printings). Anyone collecting the series should consider pursuing these titles.
THE HOBBIT, J.R.R. Tolkien. August, 1965.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, J.R.R. Tolkien. October, 1965.
THE TWO TOWERS, J.R.R. Tolkien. October, 1965.
THE RETURN OF THE KING, J.R.R. Tolkien. December, 1965.
THE TOLKIEN READER, J.R.R. Tolkien. September, 1966.
THE WORM OUROBOROS, E.R. Eddison. April, 1967.
MISTRESS OF MISTRESSES, E.R. Eddison. August, 1967.
A FISH DINNER IN MEMISON, E.R. Eddison. February, 1968.
THE ROAD GOES EVER ON, J.R.R. Tolkien & Donald Swann. October, 1968.
TITUS GROAN, Mervyn Peake. October, 1968.
GORMENGHAST, Mervyn Peake. October, 1968.
TITUS ALONE, Mervyn Peake. October, 1968.
A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS, David Lindsay. November, 1968.
THE LAST UNICORN, Peter S. Beagle. February, 1969.
SMITH OF WOOTTON MAJOR & FARMER GILES OF HAM, J.R.R. Tolkien. March, 1969.
THE MEZENTIAN GATE, E.R. Eddison. April, 1969.
NOTE: Of these 16 titles, 6 that I know of had Unicorn Heads attached in later printings: THE WORM OUROBOROS, TITUS GROAN, GORMENGHAST, TITUS ALONE, A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS, and THE LAST UNICORN. This has caused some confusion as to whether they really are a part of the series or not. Some of these reprints were out by the time Carter compiled his series list and he didn't include them, so I'm toeing his line. Having said that though, I think anyone trying for a complete set should try to get all six of these earlier titles in their Unicorn Head printings. Something else worth noting is THE LAST UNICORN and THE MEZENTIAN GATE state "A BALLANTINE ADULT FANTASY" on the front cover by the spine in their first printings, in apparent anticipation of the start of the series proper (the agreement for Carter to edit the Series having been signed 11/22/68).
In the back of IMAGINARY WORLDS, a "look behind adult fantasy" volume, Lin Carter provided a listing of what titles had been published in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series up to that point. That list is provided here, and expanded to cover the series to its conclusion.
1. THE BLUE STAR, Fletcher Pratt. May.
2. THE KING OF ELFLAND'S DAUGHTER, Lord Dunsany. June.
3. THE WOOD BEYOND THE WORLD, William Morris. July.
4. THE SILVER STALLION, James Branch Cabell. August.
5. LILITH, George Macdonald. September.
6. DRAGONS, ELVES, AND HEROES, Lin Carter, ed. October.
7. THE YOUNG MAGICIANS, Lin Carter, ed. October.
8. FIGURES OF EARTH, James Branch Cabell. November.
9. THE SORCERER'S SHIP, Hannes Bok. December.
10. LAND OF UNREASON, Fletcher Pratt & L. Sprague de Camp. January.
11. THE HIGH PLACE, James Branch Cabell. February.
12. LUD-IN-THE-MIST, Hope Mirrlees. March.
13. AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, Lord Dunsany. March.
14. PHANTASTES, George Macdonald. April.
15. THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH, H.P. Lovecraft. May.
16. ZOTHIQUE, Clark Ashton Smith. June.
17. THE SHAVING OF SHAGPAT, George Meredith. July.
18. THE ISLAND OF THE MIGHTY, Evangeline Walton. July.
19. DERYNI RISING, Katherine Kurtz. August.
20. THE WELL AT THE WORLD'S END, Vol. 1, William Morris. August.
21. THE WELL AT THE WORLD'S END, Vol. 2, William Morris. September.
22. GOLDEN CITIES, FAR, Lin Carter, ed. October.
23. BEYOND THE GOLDEN STAIR, Hannes Bok. November.
24. THE BROKEN SWORD, Poul Anderson. January.
25. THE BOATS OF THE `GLEN CARRIG', William Hope Hodgson. February.
26. THE DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH, H.P. Lovecraft. February.
27. SOMETHING ABOUT EVE, James Branch Cabell. March.
28. RED MOON AND BLACK MOUNTAIN, Joy Chant. March.
29. HYPERBOREA, Clark Ashton Smith. April.
30. DON RODRIGUEZ: CHRONICLES OF SHADOW VALLEY, Lord Dunsany. May.
31. VATHEK, William Beckford. June.
32. THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY, G.K. Chesterton. July.
33. THE CHILDREN OF LLYR, Evangeline Walton. August.
34. THE CREAM OF THE JEST, James Branch Cabell. September.
35. NEW WORLDS FOR OLD, Lin Carter, ed. September.
36. THE SPAWN OF CTHULHU, Lin Carter, ed. October.
37. DOUBLE PHOENIX, Edmund Cooper & Roger Lancelyn Green. November.
38. THE WATER OF THE WONDEROUS ISLES, William Morris. November.
39. KHALED, F. Marion Crawford. December.
40. THE WORLD'S DESIRE, H. Rider Haggard & Andrew Lang. January.
41. XICCARPH, Clark Ashton Smith. February.
42. THE LOST CONTINENT, C.J. Cutcliffe-Hyne. February.
43. DISCOVERIES IN FANTASY, Lin Carter, ed. March.
44. DOMNEI, James Branch Cabell. March.
45. KAI LUNG'S GOLDEN HOURS, Ernest Bramah. April.
46. DERYNI CHECKMATE, Katherine Kurtz. May.
47. BEYOND THE FIELDS WE KNOW, Lord Dunsany. May.
48. THE THREE IMPOSTERS, Arthur Machen. June.
49. THE NIGHT LAND, Vol. 1, William Hope Hodgson. July.
50. THE NIGHT LAND, Vol. 2, William Hope Hodgson. July.
51. THE SONG OF RHIANNON, Evangeline Walton. August.
52. GREAT SHORT NOVELS OF ADULT FANTASY #1, Lin Carter, ed. September.
53. EVENOR, George Macdonald. November.
54. ORLANDO FURIOSO: The Ring of Angelica, Volume 1, Translation by Richard Hodgens. January.
55. THE CHARWOMAN'S SHADOW, Lord Dunsany. February.
56. GREAT SHORT NOVELS OF ADULT FANTASY #2, Lin Carter, ed. March.
57. THE SUNDERING FLOOD, William Morris. May.
NOTE: Lin Carter's list stops here.
58. IMAGINARY WORLDS, Lin Carter. June.
59. POSEIDONIS, Clark Ashton Smith. July.
60. EXCALIBUR, Sanders Anne Laubenthal. August.
61. HIGH DERYNI, Katherine Kurtz. September.
62. HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA, Poul Anderson. October.
63. THE PEOPLE OF THE MIST, H. Rider Haggard. December.
64. KAI LUNG UNROLLS HIS MAT, Ernest Bramah. February.
65. OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY, Lord Dunsany. April.
MERLIN'S RING, H. Warner Munn. June, 1974.
NOTE: This book has all the right attributes, the Lin Carter introduction, the Gallardo cover art- it's just missing the Unicorn's Head colophon. Surely a left-over from the series proper.
PRINCE OF ANNWN, Evangeline Walton. November, 1974.
NOTE: Another left-over, but this time there is no introduction by Lin Carter. A necessary title as it completes the Mabinogi cycle started and continued by Walton's three books issued under the Unicorn's Head colophon.