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Best Fantasy Book List
What is Fantasy?
If you came here looking for good fantasy books to read, you probably know all about the genre already; for those who don't, here's the definition. Fantasy is a genre that uses magic as it's primary setting. The technology in most fantasy works is at the level of the Middle Ages or thereabouts. What they have instead of machines and computers are the things we fantasy readers love: dragons, brave warriors, witty bards, graceful elves, powerful magic and tales of epic adventures.
The ranked list of the best fantasy books below should be helpful if you're looking for some excellent works to read. In addition, I have shared a few of my personal favorites. You are also welcome to recommend other series you've enjoyed in the comments.
Top Fantasy Books
1. Lord of the Rings
An epic high fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Tolkien is like a founding father of fantasy, and his works are still the best fantasy books despite being over 50 years old.
2. Harry Potter
7 book series by J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the: Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of Phoenix, Half Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows).
3. The Chronicles of Narnia
Highly popular seven fantasy novels for children by C. S. Lewis.
4. The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Makes The LotR much more enjoyable if you read this one first.
5. His Dark Materials
Trilogy by Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass). Some of the best fantasy novels for younger readers, recently adapted into a movie.
6. A Song of Ice and Fire
Epic fantasy series by George R. R. Martin with seven total planned novels.
Tetralogy by Christopher Paolini (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance).
8. The Wheel of Time
Fantasy book series of epic scope and length by Robert Jordan.
9. The Discworld Series
36 comic fantasy novels up to date by the famous English novelist, Sir Terry Pratchett.
Trilogy for young adults by Garth Nix (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen). Follows the adventures of a good necromancer family who send evil beings to their Death.
11. Howl's Moving Castle
Young adult fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones. It has two sequels: Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways.
Stand-alone fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman that was adapted into a popular movie of the same name.
13. Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Fantasy / adventure young adult novels by Rick Riordan. This really is a great story. It is aimed at a younger age, preteen-ish, but is a great story for anyone. It takes place mainly in New York but travels all throughout the country. It is based on Greek Mythology, but in present day. It is a very fast read and not too lengthy. You could easily read each book in one or two sittings.
Fantasy series by Ursula K. Le Guin (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, The Other Wind).
15. Mistborn Trilogy
A a trilogy of high fantasy novels by Brandon Sanderson (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages).
16. The Sword of Truth
Epic fantasy series by Terry Goodkind containing 11 books in total.
17. The Shannara Series
Fantasy Series by Terry Brooks, including The Original Shannara Triology, and several other trilogies.
18. Riftwar Saga
Fantasy trilogy by Raymond E. Feist (Magician, Silverthorn, A Darkness at Sethanon).
19. The Chronicles of Amber
Fantasy series by Roger Zelazny. Consists of two story arcs with 5 novels each.
20. The Dresden Files
The adventures of Harry Dresden, a wizard-for-hire in modern Chicago. A great mix of detective work, fantasy, magic and suspense by Jim Butcher.
21. Dragonriders of Pern
The sci fi / fantasy mix series by Anne McCaffrey consists of 18 novels / novellas, including Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums
22. The Belgariad / Mallorean cycle
A fantasy cycle by author David Eddings tells the story of the recovery of the Orb of Aldur by a young farmboy Garion. He is accompanied by his aunt Polgara and grandfather Belgarath as they try to fulfill an ancient prophecy that will decide the fate of the universe. The Belgariad is a 5 book epic, and is a sequel in 5 more books.
23. The Black Company
An epic series of dark fantasy novels by Glen Cook. Has 9 total novels and one spin-off.
24. MythAdventures series
Humorous light fantasy series by Robert Lynn Asprin telling the story of Skeeve, a young magician apprenticed to a grumpy demon. Skeeve is constantly getting into all sorts of trouble, finding friends and going on adventures.
25. Stellar Wind: 2012
A mix of ancient history, Mayan prophecies and fantasy by Catherine Barber.
26. Liveship Traders
Trilogy by Robin Hobb (Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny). This is the second trilogy set in the Realm of the Elderlings. It follows the adventures of a trader family and focuses on sentient Liveships that they use to travel.
27. Kingmaker, Kingbreaker
Two book series by Karen Miller (The Innocent Mage, The Awakened Mage).
28. Conan Series
Dark fantasy series by Robert E. Howard. Many other authors have written their own Conan stories, but Howard's works are the original.
29. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy
Three books by Tad Williams, (The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, To Green Angel Tower).
30. The Death Gate Cycle Series
A series of seven books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, (Dragon Wing, Elven Star, Fire Sea, Serpent Mage, Hand of Chaos, Into the Labyrinth, The Seventh Gate).
31. KnorraSky: The Deception
KnorraSky: the Deception is a fantasy novel series by By R.A. Knowlton.
32. Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter
This vampire fantasy novel series is written by Laurell K. Hamilton. It is about a Vampire Hunter and all of her adventures. 20+ novels in total.
33. The Legend of Drizzt
One of the best fantasy series by R. A. Salvatore which follow the adventures of a dark elf (drow) character Drizzt Do'Urden. The series is set in the Forgotten Realms universe.
34. The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Fantasy series by Steven Erikson (Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Midnight Tides, The Bonehunters, Reaper's Gale, and three more to come).
35. The Kingkiller Chronicle
The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear and The Doors of Stone fantasy trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss. These books has everything... It's humorous and terrifying and completely believable.
36. Caenus and The Quiver of Artemis (Of Kings And Gods series)
A moving, romantic historical fantasy novel by Christopher S. Ledbetter. Set in ancient greece, Prince Caenus competes in a tournament where the best contestants are aided by the gods. He later fights his nemesis over his true love, even descending to Hades to reclaim her soul.
37. The Black Magician Trilogy
Magic fantasy novel series by Trudi Canavan (The Magician's Apprentice, The Magicians' Guild, The Novice, and The High Lord).
38. The Dark Tower Series
An epic saga by Stephen King which incorporates elements from fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and western genres. Seven books up to date, with one more planned in 2012.
39. The Game of Thrones
A popular fantasy series (A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, et al) by George R. R. Martin that covers a world of fire and ice, dragons and manticores, with a plethora of religions ranging from druid-like forest worship to a pantheon of Seven Old Gods. Fascinating characters, ambitions, treacheries, and unrequited longing make these books riveting.
40. 'mancer series
5 book series by Don Callander (Pyromancer, Aquamancer, Geomancer, Aeromancer, Marbleheart).
41. The Septimus Heap Series
Written by Angie Sage, this magical fiction is about a boy who is the seventh son of the seventh son and has powerful magic.
42. The Graveyard Book
An excellent children's fantasy novel by English author Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Dave Mckean). It tells the story of a young boy who loses his whole family and is brought up by ghosts.
A popular fantasy world originally created as a setting for a D&D-style game. Multiple novels and series set in this universe were written by many different authors.
44. The Witcher
A series consisting of several short stories and 5 epic battle fantasy novels by renowned Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski.
45. The Farseer Trilogy
Fantasy trilogy that consists of Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Quest books. It is the first trilogy from the Realm of the Elderlings series by Robin Hobb. It follows the adventures of Fitz, a bastard son of a king and a trained assassin.
46. Sovereign of the Seven Isles
In the first book of this series by David A. Wells, Thinblade, a second son Alexander Valentine loses his brother to an assassin's arrow and discovers that his family protects an ancient secret. He finds himself at the center of the final battle of a war that was supposed to have ended two thousand years ago.
47. Bartimaeus Trilogy
The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye, and Ptolemy's Gate novels tell the story of a magician Nathaniel (who calls himself John Mandrake), and his dangerous dealings with the titular djinni, Bartimaeus, in a world where all magic comes from summoned spirits. Written by Jonathan Stroud.
48. Dragon Series
Trilogy by Don Callander (Dragon Companion, Dragon Rescue, Dragon Tempest).
49. Soldier Son
Trilogy by Robin Hobb (Shaman's Crossing, Forest Mage, Renegade's Magic) about a battle of magic versus technology.
50. The Little Goddess
Contemporary / urban fantasy series by Amy Lane. Romance and supernatural themes.
51. Arrows Series (The Heralds of Valdemar)
Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight, and Arrow's Fall by Mercedes Lackey. She's written lots of other books about Valdemar, too, so if you like it, there's much more to read!
52. The Astonishing life of Octavion Nothing, Traitor to the Nation
Historical novel by M.T. Anderson. I love this book! It is about a black slave boy who was bought up in a house that experiments on everything. It was so weird and I liked it a lot. If you like fantasy, you'll like this book.
53. The Dead Days Omnibus
Fiction anthology by Marcus Sedgwick. A story about an orphan boy who works for a magician who might not be just a magician. The magician, Valerian is in trouble and Boy and Valerian set out to find a mysterious book. Boy learns that he has family and makes a new friend. This is a good book.
54. The Janna Mysteries
By by Felicity Pulman. I really enjoyed this book. It envolved the mystery of Janna's dead mother who Janna thinks was poisoned. It uses herb law and other interesting things.
55. Kate Daniels Series (Magic Bites, etc.)
Some of the best urban fantasy novels by Ilona Andrews (real name Ilona Gordon). Kate Daniels series has five books in total: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, and Magic Slays. There's also a prequel titled A Questionable Client.
56. The Runelords
A fantasy book series by author David Farland. The Runelords universe has a unique magical system which relies on distinct human attributes, such as brawn, grace, and wit. These can be transferred from one individual (or animal) to another in a process known as "giving an endowment". Lords who have taken many endowments become extremely powerful, almost superhuman, and become known as Runelords.
A subterranean fiction series by British authors Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, consisting of novels Tunnels, Deeper, Freefall and Closer. It's full of wonderful adventures, plot twists, exploration and discoveries. A bestselling series targeted at young adults.
58. The Night Angel Trilogy
Great fantasy series (The Way of Shadows, Shadow's Edge, Beyond the Shadows) from a new author Brent Weeks that tell the story of Azoth, a young member of a thieves guild who struggles to rise through the ranks and unlock his magical talents. Antihero protagonist, interesting magic system, lots of adventure and action.
59. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
A planned tetralogy of fantasy novels by Stephen R. Donaldson.
60. Ellena And The Magic Lamp
A wonderful juvenile magic fantasy book from American author R.B.W. Culpepper.
61. The Mists of Avalon
Written by Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon is a retelling of the the Arthurian legends from the perspective of the female characters. The book spans generations and focuses on Morgaine, or Morgan Le Fay.
62. The Way of the Kings (The Stormlight Archive)
An epic fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson - the first of the planned ten volumes in the Stormlight Archive series. The book is set in a world constantly ravaged by hurricanes.
63. The Chronicles of Prydain
Award-winning children's fantasy novels by Lloyd Chudley Alexander (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King).
A single fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson, this book takes place in a cursed city of Elantris and tells the intertwining stories of three different characters.
65. The First Law
An incredible trilogy of low / dark fantasy novels by British author Joe Abercrombie: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings.
66. The Moon's Eye
High fantasy series by A.J. Calvin about a search for an object that could save the world - or destroy it.
67. Drenai Series
Drenai series by David Gemmell tell the story of the Drenai Empire and follow various heroes like Druss the Legend and Waylander The Slayer.
68. Keys to the Kingdom
Great young adult fantasy heptalogy following the adventures of an asthmatic 12-year-old boy, Arthur Penhaligon, who finds himself declared the Rightful Heir of the House (the center of the whole universe) and has to fulfill the Will of the Architect, the creator of the House. Written by the prolific Garth Nix.
69. City of Bones (Mortal Instruments)
Mortal Instruments is a young adult fantasy series that starts with City of Bones and continues with City of Ashes and City of Glass. It is written by Cassandra Clare and tells the story of "a hero's journey to the underworld".
70. The War of Light and Shadows
A fantastic as-yet-unfinished series by by Janny Wurts with well drawn characters and a cracking story. Spiritual and beautifully written. Eight books so far, with five story arcs planned in total.
A young adult fantasy series by Lauren Kate, mostly focused on romance. A young girl Lucinda Price is accused of a terrible crime and sent to the Sword & Cross Reform School in Georgia. There she feels inexplicably attracted to a handsome boy, Daniel Grigori.
One of the most forgotten standalone fantasy novel of all time by Hope Mirrlees. Check it out.
73. Magic: The Gathering
A fantasy book cycle based on the popular collectible card game, Magic: The Gathering. The novels take place in a universe with many different planes, the center of which is the Dominaria.
74. The Eirie Chronicles
Intense, lyrical, gripping fantasy series by Tasmanian author Prue Batten. The Stumpwork Robe, The Last Stitch, and the upcoming A Thousand Glass Flowers. Also available as eBooks.
75. The Winter of The World
The Winter of the World stories by Michael Scott Rohan are set in a strange and hostile time, when the Great Ice spread out from the polar caps, seeking to engulf the world in its chill grip and scour it clean of contaminating life - and most of all the long-forgotten civilizations of men. But, as the Winter Chronicles record, men were not wholly without friends; and they found in themselves strange magical abilities to help them survive...
76. The Black Jewels
A dark fantasy series by Anne Bishop. Originally a trilogy (Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness), and later expanded into several more books and short stories.
77. The Corean Chronicles
A fantastic fantasy series by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. with amazing writing and even better character development. The series is written in trilogies and Modesitt is currently on the last book of the third trilogy in this particular universe. (Legacies, Darknesses, Scepters; Alector's Choice, Cadmian's Choice, Soarer's Choice; The Lord-Protector's Daughter, Lady Protector).
78. The Dark is Rising Sequence
Five contemporary fantasy works by Susan Cooper. Written for teenagers, but a fantastic read for everyone. Draws on Celtic and Norse elements.
79. Snow Spider Trilogy
Charming tale of a young Welsh boy and Arianwen, a magical spider. Written by Jenny Nimmo.
80. The Last Unicorn
Whimsical, tender, fantastical yet so human story of how two very imperfect and unlikely "heroes" set out to discover whether the unicorn they have freed is truly the last of her kind. Written by Peter Beagle.
About the Ranking
All the entries above are sorted by the total number of visitor votes they received over the course of several years. In addition, many of the series listed here were submitted by the visitors themselves. Unfortunately, the voting and submission functionality is now gone as this page was converted from Squidoo to HubPages, but you can still use the list to find something good to read. You are also welcome to share your own recommendations in the comments towards the bottom.
My Recommendation: The Chronicles of Amber
Amber is a magnificent immortal city, and all other worlds are but shadows of it. The royal family of Amber has the power to travel through these by manipulating reality itself, and communicate with each other by means of magical cards created by the great Dworkin. The main character is Corwin - a prince of Amber who lost his memories and spent centuries living on Earth. After an attempted murder, Corwin regains his memories and embarks on an epic journey to search for his father, battle for Amber's throne, and even reach the other side of the shadows - Chaos itself.
This is one of my favorite fantasy book series of all time. The first books which follow Corwin are absolutely great, whereas the sequel which follows his son, Merlin, isn't as good. Still worth reading if you're a Chronicles of Amber fan, however.
My Recommendation: The Abhorsen Trilogy (Old Kingdom Series)
Necromacers are usually depicted as evil, nefarious spellcasters raising zombie armies to do their bidding. Well, not so here. Abhorsen by Garth Nix is an epic dark fantasy trilogy telling the story of a family of good necromancers who's job it is to lay the dead (and undead) to rest. Deep characters, rich world, and a unique and inventive magic system makes Abhorsen a must-read!
My Recommendation: A Wizard of Earthsea
The first book in the trilogy, A Wizard of Earthsea weaves a monumental story of a young mage named Sparrowhawk, who's thirst for power and knowledge results in him unwittingly releasing a great evil upon the world. The task to contain this evil falls to him, and Sparrowhawk embarks on an epic journey which will see him master his magics, travel to the edge of the world, and confront his own shadow. A truly magical series, and definitely my favorite from Ursula Le Guinn.
My Recommendation: His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials takes place in a world parallel to ours, where human souls live outside their bodies as small creatures called daemons. Join young Lyra and Will in their breathtaking journey to save the Universe itself. And yes, there's badass armored polar bears, too!
The first book, The Golden Compass, was adapted into a movie, but, unfortunately, a sequel and further adaptation seems very unlikely at this point due to some undeserved controversy.
My Recommendation: Spirals of Destiny
If you're looking for something less-known to read, try this heroic fantasy novel for young adults by Jim Bernheimer. I have been a fan of his ever since I read his collection of short stories called , so I simply had to read this new novel. Horror, Humor, And Heroes
Rider: Spirals of Destiny is the beginning of what looks to become an amazing fantasy series. It features adventures of a unicorn named Majherri who survived his rider's death - an unheard thing in the whole history of Battle Maidens, elite force of young women possessing magic powers and a deep connection with their unicorns - and Kayleigh, a 16 year old girl who forms a new bond with him. Definitely not a fluffy and cute unicorn story, it features magic, adventure, epic battles and a touch of humor.
Subgenres of Fantasy
Fantasy fiction can be divided into many branches
Fantasy is very popular these days, so it's no wonder it has grown and split into multiple subgenres. They are pretty hard to define clearly, so most are just a matter of agreement. You can find the most prominent ones and their descriptions below.
Contemporary fantasy: fantasy of this subgenre is set in the real world in current times, but with added fantasy elements. Perhaps the most famous example would be the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
Dark fantasy refers to the stories which represent the medieval brutality, or has horror elements. A good example would be the Black Company series by Glen Cook, or some of the H. P. Lovecraft's works.
High fantasy usually tells the story of epic struggle between clearly distinguished sides of good and evil. A classic example would be the Lord of Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Magic is often prevalent in this type of story.
Low fantasy is the opposite of High fantasy. It is usually realistic and features characters who can be called neither good nor evil. A good example would be Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard. Such fantasy often overlaps with other genres, like dark fantasy. It also has less magic, or it is a more dangerous art with bigger consequences to the practitioners.
Steampunk fantasy is often set in Victorian or Edwardian eras. Like the name suggests, the steam power is widely used in steampunk worlds, but other fantasy or science fiction elements are present as well. It's really a cross-breed between sci-fi and fantasy; my favorite example would be the Last Exile anime.
Historical fantasy might tell the history of an alternate fantasy world, similar to ours - or our own world, with added fantasy elements. It is often epic in scope, written in chronicle style, and features many characters, factions, and nations. A great example would be A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.
Fantasy vs Science Fiction Discussion
Do you prefer fantasy or sci-fi books, and why?