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Like George RR Martin? Best Fantasy Books Fantasy Series
Ever since I got into epic/historical fantasy a few years ago, I’m constantly on the look out for more and more best fantasy books. I love the imaginative potential of fantasy books that transport me into magical worlds full of dragons and swords and rich political intrigue. As soon as I finish reading one fantasy series, I start looking for my next literary adventure. Here is a list of the best fantasy books I have read...
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
This series is insanely popular and has captured the minds of readers young and old. Tolkien is the father of fantasy and the Lord of the Rings has everything--magic, different races and creatures, a completely unique world and great wars between good and evil. The storyline is rich with multifaceted characters and emotional depth, and the prose is poetic and beautiful. You may have watched the movies which are breathtaking in their own right, but if you haven’t read the trilogy yet, you are missing out!
A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin
The only reason this fantasy book is second on my list is that Martin’s series is incomplete. Conceived in seven parts, only four books have been published so far. However, A Song of Ice and Fire is beautifully written with intense political intrigue, different races, and lots of magic. Written in the epic style, what is truly unique about this fantasy series is that each chapter presents the point of view of one of the several key characters.
As the narrating voice shifts, we get to know all the characters and understand the motivation behind their actions. As a result, one cannot help but sympathize with even the most seemingly evil characters. Unlike other fantasy books where the lines between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are clearly drawn, the presentation of different viewpoints and the very realistic characters make it hard to form snap-judgments about the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. I loved every second of reading this series and cannot wait for Martin to finish the series!
The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
One of the best female fantasy writers out there, Robin Hobb’s beautifully written European Medieval fantasy series is all about magic and dragons. The first trilogy set in the realm of the Elderlings, the Farseer series follows a royal bastard-assassin as he helps his king-in-waiting in a war to save their kingdom of Six Duchies from enemies who are intent on turning people into zombies. The resulting story is fast-paced and nail-bitingly exciting.
Hobb’s subsequent series, The Liveship Traders Trilogy and The Tawny Man Trilogy are as well-written as The Farseer--a remarkable feat of creativity. Also set in the realm of the Elderlings, the Liveship Traders trilogy has pirates and ships that come alive--a very interesting and unique fantastical move. The Tawny Man trilogy takes up where the Farseer trilogy ended and re-introduces characters from both, Farseer and Liveship series. Robin Hobb’s Elderling books are ALL a MUST read!
Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey
Carey is another favorite female author and her Kushiel’s Legacy series is one of the most imaginative. She blends Judeo-Christian mythology into her own fantastical world to create a realm rich in history and intrigue. The adventures of the series heroine are exciting and Carey’s writing is vivid. The story follows a courtesan in Terre d’Ange, a society that follows their God given precept ‘Love as thou wilt’.
The Kushiel universe provides an alternate history of Western Europe. The lack of dragons and magic is more than made up for by the endless political intrigue and the very detailed cultures that Carey has dreamed up. While the first trilogy (a.k.a. Phedre trilogy) is the best, the following Imriel trilogy is also a good read if you find yourself having a hard time saying goodbye to Carey’s Terre d’Ange.
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
This seven-part series by Stephen King is best described as fantasy meets science fiction meets western. The story centers around a gunslinger and his quest toward a tower to save the world. The world of the book has many similarities to our own world. Yet, there appear different worlds which are like our own, but different in significant ways.
This fantasy series experiments with different philosophical ideas such as many worlds and the possibility of travel between them. One of the worlds featured in the story also has the feel of a post-apocalyptic society. The plots are reminiscent of old American westerns, the Wizard of Oz, and Arthurian legend. The fantasy books are a mind-bending journey--intense, sometimes terrifying, and consistently exciting. By no means a light read, these books are easy to get into and a very rewarding read indeed.
The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
This fantasy series by Anne Bishop is not as rich or detailed as the ones mentioned above. But, the Black Jewels Trilogy is interesting because it’s characters have not been explored in such detail--the book is about the Devil, Hell, and its inhabitants.
Bishop does not allude to the biblical origins of Hell and the fallen angel. Instead, she treats them as members of a a different race with a gift for magic. The world of this fantasy book has three different realms and some of the characters have traits reminiscent of vampires. Rather erotic in nature, there is plenty of magic and a war to achieve total dominance over the realms. This fantasy series is an interesting, entertaining and easy read.