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The Best Fantasy Fiction Books Ever - Greatest Fantasy Books Of All Time

Updated on March 2, 2012


If you are looking for the best fantasy fiction books then you are in the right place. Here we will review some of the greatest fantasy books of all time. This is not just a list, this is a guide to what to read if you love fantasy fiction. We will view single books, trilogies and series’. If you love fantasy fiction then you will find something worth reading here.

Although these choices of fantasy book are based on my own opinion they are also very popular in the wider spectrum. You will find many of these books at the top of many fantasy reading lists. These fantasy books have won critical acclaim for readers around the world. The fact is, if you love fantasy books, you will love these! So let’s have a look at some of the greatest fantasy fiction books of all time.

All Time Classic

There is only one place we can start this list of the best fantasy books of all time. That has to be with the man who transformed the world of fantasy fiction. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is widely thought to be the best fantasy book ever. It was the first book I read when I was a teenager and it captured my imagination and converted me to the world of fantasy fiction forever. This masterpiece has been put on to the big screen and Lord of the Rings has gone on to be one of the most well known books of all time.

The trilogy follows an unlikely group of hero’s on a quest to destroy a ring of power. The story follows different threads and different characters as they all come together to achieve their final goal. The Lord of the Rings really set the mould for fantasy books, the vast majority seems to have some whiff of Tolkien in their writing and this is no bad thing. In Lord of the Rings Tolkien discovered the perfect formula for creating an engaging fantasy world that would thrill readers for generations.

The Lord of the Rings is really seen to be a trilogy. The first book is The Fellow Ship of the Ring, then you have The Two Towers and the story concludes in The Return of the King. These books flow so well into each other and the story moves at a stunning pace. If you have never read the Lord of the Rings then you must do something about this, even if you are not a big fan of fantasy fiction, these books really are something special and they rightly deserve to be called the best fantasy books of all time.

In recent times we have also been hearing lots about the Hobbit. This is the prequal to the LOTR and although it is a very different book it does still hold a place in many people's hearts. Later in 2012 Peter Jackson releases the first of his Hobbit films and will once again bring Tolkien to the masses. If you want something that is beautifully written but not quite as dark as LOTR then The Hobbit may just be what you are after.

Stand Alone Brilliance


If you don’t want to embark on a long series of fantasy but just want one book that will blow you away, I suggest Tigana by Guy Gaveriel Kay. Although Guy Gaveriel Kay is not one of the more well known fantasy writers he has won critical acclaim amongst his peers. Although Tigana is not an easy book to read it is considered by many to be a masterpiece of fantasy literature. The depth of storyline and characters really is spectacular and the way Kay tell the story is stunning.

The book is based in a land of music, love and political intrigue. A strange combination but Tigana balances the different threads of story so well and really will have readers hooked from start to finish. If you want to try something a little bit different and don’t want to read a ten book series, then Tigana could well be just what you are looking for.

Fantasy Virgins


If you have never read fantasy fiction and don’t really know where to start , then I would suggest The Belgariad by David Eddings. This is a series of five books that move at a simply magical pace. These books have to be in any list of great fantasy fiction books as they truly are marvellous. Quite a light read in the fact that the story is easy to follow and moves along quickly, this is one of those that you can just not put down.

The series of books tell the story of a young boy called Garion who is just coming of age. Garion discovers that he is a very special person and the subject of prophecy, now he must embark on a quest to save the world and fulfil his destiny. The Belgariad is the perfect set of books for anyone starting out in the fantasy world, the story follows the classic mould for fantasy books and there is plenty of Tolkien to be found in here. Although some people may find the reading a little to easy, for someone who just wants a good old fashioned fantasy story, then the Belgariad by David Eddings is perfect.

An Epic Series

If you want something that is going to keep you going for a longer period of time then give The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan a try. This is epic in every sense and makes it onto many lists of top fantasy books. The series is a whopping 13 books long and is not actually finished yet. Robert Jordan sadly passed away before finishing his series, but the work has been taken up by another writer who is basing the final books on the notes he received from Robert Jordan before his death. Although there is a very slight difference in the writing style for the final few books, the story still follows the same threads and is still just as impressive as when Jordan was doing the writing himself.

The Wheel of Time follows the adventures of young Rand Al Thor. He starts off with a quiet life in the Two Rivers, but one day a mysterious woman shows up and turns his world upside down. Now he and his two friends Matt and Perrin are whisked away on an adventure, soon Rand discovers his true identity and the books follow his life as he heads toward the last battle of good and evil.

This series is another that really has that classic fantasy feel to it. Robert Jordan has a wonderful writing style and The Wheel of Time really runs at a relentless pace. When it comes to epic works then you really can’t get much better than this series of books. The Wheel of Time really is something special and it has captured the imagination of millions all around the world.

Something Different


If you enjoy fantasy books but are looking for something a little different then I would suggest trying reading Robin Hobb. She has done a few trilogies which are all excellent but I would have to say the stand out one is The Farseer Trilogy. This set of three books really does break the mould as far as fantasy fiction is concerned. Robin Hobb has a wonderful way of telling a story and the depth of character she creates is wonderful. Although the first book takes a while to get going, The Farseer Trilogy is soon moving at a magical pace.

The books follow a young man named Fitz. He is the illegitimate son of the king and has been hidden away out of sight for much of his life. Soon though things start to change for Fitz, a series of events thrusts him into the spotlight and suddenly he is immersed in a world of politics and intrigue. How Fitz grows up and deals with his new life will eventually shape the fate of the entire world.

For me this is one of the best series’ of fantasy books ever written. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb is something very special that anyone who enjoy fantasy books will surely enjoy. If you want something slightly different than your average fantasy trilogy, then The Farseer Trilogy is for you.

Deep Challenging Read


If you want something to really get the brain cells working then try The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. This series of ten books is very dark and heavy going. It took Steven Erikson years to get this published as many people saw it as far to complicated and deep. However when it finally went to print the public loved it. Although not for everyone, the Malazan Book of the Fallen really is a stunning piece of writing. The story goes so deep and has so many different levels that you almost have to read it twice to get the understanding.

Although the book is heavy going it is written in a way that defies logic. The power of description used by Steven Erikson is mind boggling. What one writer may sum up in a single sentence, Erikson can take a full page to describe. Although at times this makes for slow going, the world Erikson creates and the attention to detail is simply phenomenal. If you want something that will completely mess with your mind and suck you in, then this series of book must not be missed. Considered by many to be the greatest fantasy books of all time, Steven Erikson really has delivered a masterpiece in these books.


Whatever your taste in fantasy fiction, chances are you will enjoy something on this list. Whether it be an epic series or a stand alone classic, these books really are the best of the best when it comes to fantasy fiction books. It’s hard to come up with a top ten list as fantasy fiction can be so different, but whatever genre you are looking for and whatever length of read you desire, something on this list should appeal. These really are some the best fantasy books of all time.



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    • nakmeister profile image


      4 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Yes I think you're right there. Sometimes you just want them to go out on a high, but Robert Jordan especially, just didn't know where to leave it!

    • CISSPTutor profile image

      Prasad Tiruvalluri 

      4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Great list! I have read Farseer Trilogy, Malazan book of fallen and Robert Jordan's WOT. Farseer Trilogy is short and sweet. WOT and Malazan book of fallen both suffer from the same problem, the writers decided to extend the fantastic series by a couple of books more than what was really required! If both the series can be clipped by a couple of books (in case of the Malazan book of fallen) or three (In case of WOT), they would be perfect.

    • profile image


      6 years ago from Cairo, Egypt

      Definitely an interesting list! It's funny because the Belgariad was my real gateway to Fantasy as a boy (Similarly, Robots of Dawn was my gateway to Sci-Fi). I also think Kay is way high up the list of Fantasy writers. His other books are well worth reading too. (He's sort of my gateway to Historical Fiction - given how well he researches his plots!) I love the Wheel of Time (except for the big bog in the middle) and of course, I've reread The Lord of the Rings countless times. The only one I haven't read on the list is Erikson, I'll have to pick up one of his books. (When you say dark - is it darker than say CS Friedman - Black Sun Rising?)

      Some more recent books/authors that are deserving are Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora); Joe Abercrombie (The Blade Itself) and Patrick Rothfuss (Name of the Wind)

    • nakmeister profile image


      6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Really good article. I've read Lord of the Rings as well as most of Eddings work and a large chunk of The Wheel of Time (gave up about age 8 and said I'd re-read from the start when it was finished). Tried Steven Erikson once and was a bit heavy going, but then I was out of the habit of reading then, so may give it another go. Think will definitely go for Tigana though, thanks. I'd recommend Raymond E. Feist, certainly his early stuff (Magician being the best).

    • dblyn profile image


      6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      Great choices all of them and I have to say that after reading the first book of the Shannara series I thought it was too much like Lord of the Rings. With the Belgariad is the follow up the Malloreon which is just as good and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series is fantastic, if a bit tough to read at times.

    • Lauryallan profile image


      6 years ago

      Hey andyoz, I have read all of these series except for the Tigana book. I love fantasy and think the list you've put together is great. Thumbs up!

    • andyoz profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Orrell 

      6 years ago from UK

      I've read most of the Terry Brooks books, not a huge fan to be honest. His writing style does not quite do it for me. I think his stories are a little shallow if that makes sense, he doesn't go very deep into characters or set things up as well as he could. Not a bad writer by any means but not one I would consider a fantasy great.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is definitely an interesting and useful hub! I couldn't help but think about Terry Brook's and the Shannara Series. Would you consider his series as some of the best fantasy books around?

    • andyoz profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Orrell 

      7 years ago from UK

      Ah yes, they are wonderful fantasy books, I used to love the Chronicles of Narnia when I was growing up. But they are really aimed more at children whereas the ones in my list are seen more as adult fiction. Maybe I should write am article about best children's fantasy fiction.

    • profile image

      Sizwe from south africa 

      7 years ago

      But what about Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia? Those are like one of the best fantasy fiction books,too. But anyway, great list and love the fact that lotr was put first!

    • htodd profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      I like "Lord of the rings" Thanks for this useful hub

    • profile image

      Penny splendid 

      7 years ago

      I haven't read Robin Hobb but it sounds like my sort of thing.

      We have read all but the last two wheel of time books.

      I really like the way that Robert Jordan wrote and his successor has a very similar style judging by the 1st of the last 3 books.

      We really enjoyed The wizard of Earthsea books by Ursula Leguin.

    • AlyzaLewis profile image


      7 years ago from The Land of Narnia

      Great suggestions... thanks!

    • MLoriMotley profile image


      8 years ago

      I definitely agree with the Farseer Trilogy. Great suggestions all around.

    • Christy Chen profile image

      Christy Chen 

      8 years ago from Indonesia

      Great Collection! I really like your hub!


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