Fantasy literature worth reading
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means that it's a classic.
means that it has more than 100 000 ratings on Goodreads.
The [number] at the end is the rounded version of the rating on Goodreads. If a series is not available as an individual book, the first book in the series is used for the rating.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin [4.4]
Incredibly detailed books, with a very realistic world. I can't get enough of it. Awesome in the scale and breadth of intricacy. - @RichardLitt
- A Game of Thrones
- A Clash of Kings
- A Storm of Swords
- A Feast for Crows
- A Dance with Dragons
- Winds of Winter forthcoming
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.
The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.
Black Company (1984) by Glen Cook 
This is my favorite dark fantasy series and the first book is awesome. These are written so differently than any fantasy-esque book I've ever read. It is difficult to describe, but as a veteran, it just feels like you're reading a fantasy book written by a former soldier that's been there, crude jokes, blood and all. I highly recommend this. - @PeerRails
The series follows an elite mercenary unit, The Black Company, last of the Free Companies of Khatovar, through roughly forty years of its approximately four hundred-year history. Cook mixes fantasy with military fiction in gritty, down-to-earth portrayals of the Company‘s chief personalities and its struggles.
- The Black Company [3.96]
- Shadows Linger [4.16]
- The White Rose [4.19]
- Shadow Games [4.09]
- Dreams of Steel [4.09]
- Bleak Seasons [3.95]
- She Is The Darkness [4.10]
- Water Sleeps [4.07]
- Soldiers Live [4.22]
- 1 last book coming
Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien [3.9]
The Lord of the Rings is a quest; the Hobbit a children's tale; the Silmarillion a history. This is one of the few novels, a story that shows the life of a tortured individual. This story borrows heavily from Scandinavian lore, and presents Turin as one of the most tragic of all of Tolkien's creations. It is my favourite story from all of his books, and I think it has the most advanced and beautiful look into the world of Middle Earth as a whole. - @RichardLitt
There are tales of Middle-earth from times long before The Lord of the Rings, and the story told in this book is set in the great country that lay beyond the Grey Havens in the West: lands where Treebeard once walked, but which were drowned in the great cataclysm that ended the First Age of the World.
In that remote time Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in the vast fortress of Angband, the Hells of Iron, in the North; and the tragedy of Túrin and his sister Nienor unfolded within the shadow of the fear of Angband and the war waged by Morgoth against the lands and secret cities of the Elves.
Their brief and passionate lives were dominated by the elemental hatred that Morgoth bore them as the children of Húrin, the man who had dared to defy and to scorn him to his face. Against them he sent his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire. Into this story of brutal conquest and flight, of forest hiding-places and pursuit, of resistance with lessening hope, the Dark Lord and the Dragon enter in direly articulate form. Sardonic and mocking, Glaurung manipulated the fates of Túrin and Nienor by lies of diabolic cunning and guile, and the curse of Morgoth was fulfilled.
The earliest versions of this story by J.R.R. Tolkien go back to the end of the First World War and the years that followed; but long afterwards, when The Lord of the Rings was finished, he wrote it anew and greatly enlarged it in complexities of motive and character: it became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention.
Codex Alera (2005) by Jim Butcher [4.28] 🔥
A great series that is a little different from your typical epic fantasy. In this world, everyone has powers, or elemental furies attached to them, except for Tavi, the main character. - @cary-williams
- Furies of Calderon [4.10] 🔥
- Academ's Fury [4.22]
- Cursor's Fury [4.31]
- Captain's Fury [4.31]
- Princeps' Fury [4.37]
- First Lord's Fury [4.39]
Welcome to the Realm of Alera, traveler. Written by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher, the Codex Alera follows the adventures—and misadventures!—of a young man, Tavi of Calderon. In a land where everyone has access to great powers called furies, being the only one without a fury to his name can be tricky, but Tavi proves time and time again that it is not all about your furies.
Deltora Quest Series (2000) by Emily Rodda [3.98]
My favorite book series and one of the best series I've ever read. The books are exceptionally well written, easy and fast to read. Great for readers in the 12 to 15 age group, but it can also catch the eye of older readers, just like mine. I'm look forward to reading your sequels: Deltora Shadowlands and Dragons of Deltora. - [@AmandaPita] (https://github.com/AmandaPita)
- The Forests of Silence
- The Lake of Tears
- City of the Rats
- The Shifting Sands
- Dread Mountain
- The Maze of the Beast
- The Valley of the Lost
- Return to Del
For centuries, the evil Shadow Lord has been plotting to invade Deltora and enslave its people. All that stands in his way is the magic Belt of Deltora with its seven gems of great and mysterious power. Now, Leif, Barda, and Jasmine must unite to find the seven gems and save Deltora from an eternity of darkness.
There's elements of fantasy in here, although it is mostly science fiction. The elements they have - the power of words, the bene gesserit, the worms - are all, indubitably, awesome. - @RichardLitt
This is fantasy and magic done exceedingly well. These read like children stories - not in their style or content, which are very adult - but in the massive expanse of the world that you start to imagine, the way the stories run off the page and away with you. I can't praise it enough. - @RichardLitt
- A Wizard of Earthsea [4.0]
- The Tombs of Atuan [4.1]
- The Farthest Shore [4.1]
- Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea [3.8]
- Tales from Earthsea [4.0]
- The Other Wind [4.0]
Elantris (2005) by Brandon Sanderson [4.17] 🔥
This is a beautiful but somewhat slow paced book with really good world building that we have come to expect and love from Brandon Sanderson. If you are not sure to read it because it's his first book, have no fear!!! Go ahead and read it, I can assure you, you will not regret it. - @Shadeslayer234
Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling. Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping—based on their correspondence—to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god. But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself. A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.
These are amusing, and relevant for their cultural impact if not for the caliber of the writing. - @RichardLitt
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone [4.4]
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [4.3]
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [4.5]
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire [4.5]
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [4.4]
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince [4.5]
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [4.6]
The novels revolve around Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers at the age of 11 that he is a wizard, who lives within the ordinary world of non-magical people, known as Muggles. The wizarding world is secret from the Muggle world, presumably to avoid persecution of witches and wizards. His ability is inborn, and such children are invited to attend an exclusive magic school that teaches the necessary skills to succeed in the wizarding world. Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and it is here where most of the events in the series take place. As Harry develops through his adolescence, he learns to overcome the problems that face him: magical, social and emotional, including ordinary teenage challenges such as friendships, infatuation and exams, and the greater test of preparing himself for the confrontation in the real world that lies ahead.
Each book chronicles one year in Harry's life with the main narrative being set in the years 1991–98. The books also contain many flashbacks, which are frequently experienced by Harry viewing the memories of other characters in a device called a Pensieve.
The environment Rowling created is completely separate from reality yet also intimately connected to it. While the fantasy land of Narnia is an alternative universe and the Lord of the Rings ' Middle-earth a mythic past, the wizarding world of Harry Potter exists in parallel within the real world and contains magical versions of the ordinary elements of everyday life. Many of its institutions and locations are recognizable, such as London. It comprises a fragmented collection of overlooked hidden streets, ancient pubs, lonely country manors and secluded castles that remain invisible to the Muggle population.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson [4.4]
The Mistborn trilogy (well, he plans on doing a trilogy of trilogies, and the last 2 of the 2nd trilogy are due out in the next year or so) is probably his best known and a great read, too. I would recommend all of his stuff, but I think the original Mistborn is probably the best place to start (for one, they're much shorter!). - @CWSpear
I've only read the first trilogy at this point, but I loved it; the magic system is pretty well done, the characters are convincing, we've got some strong female leads, and there's a good amount of intrigue and plot setting. Brandon Sanderson is fairly good at turning tropes on their head, as well, which was fun to read - a lot of my original complaints have now turned into praises for the books. I'm looking forward to reading more. - @RichardLitt
I have read the first six books and will continue reading every book in this series...and probably everything Sanderson writes. The Mistborn stories are well crafted and interesting. There is so much going on as they also fit into Sanderson's Cosmere which means characters from other worlds occasionally interact with those from Scadrial - the world where these novels are based. I find every story to be expertly paced, never leaving a lull in the momentum, I have had friends say they found the sixth book, Bands of Mourning, to be a little slow but I didn't have the same view. Every novel is well rounded, leaving plenty unsaid and undiscovered but never robbing the reader of a complete or resolved story.
The first trilogy introduces us to a strange and spectacular world: one where there is magic, intrigue, social/economic inequality and, possibly my favorite thing, different races of people that inhabit this world.
The second trilogy takes place some 300 years after the events of the first, and many of these events have filtered through into the 'modern' day Scadrial (it has a very old western feel to the whole setting); such as cities named after hero's, religions based on characters and many little secrets that are still unanswered from the first trilogy. We are introduced to a whole batch of new characters and some not so new characters - I won't say more otherwise I may give too much away.
Would recommend this entire series and the whole Cosmere to any fantasy fan. - @SeanSWatkins
The first three books are a trilogy to be read together.
Mistborn is an epic fantasy trilogy and a heist story of political intrigue, surprises and magical martial-arts action. The saga dares to turn a genre on its head by asking a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? What kind of world results when the Dark Lord is in charge?
Books 4-6 are sequels that take place 300 years later.
- The Final Empire [4.4]
- The Well of Ascension [4.3]
- The Hero of Ages [4.4]
- The Alloy of Law [4.2]
- Shadows of Self [4.2]
- The Bands of Mourning [4.2]
- More coming
These are really amazing and fun to read, especially the characters and how it relates with Greek mythology. - @ankush1024
- The Lightning Thief [4.3]
- The Sea of Monsters [4.4]
- The Titan's Curse [4.4]
- The Battle of the Labyrinth [4.4]
- The Last Olympian [4.5]
The novels revolves around Percy Jackson, who is a demigod whose father is Poseidon, God of the Sea and the quests he follows to save the world from the war between gods.
The series feel fresh and new from the eyes of these young modern heroes. From the first novel, the plot is engaging and exciting, appealing to anyone who's ever felt like they didn't belong. Between all of the action, magic and riddles, it's a truly heart-warming story about finding friends who eventually become family, and houses that eventually become homes.
The Belgariad by David Eddings [4.3]
The Belgariad was my first foray into an epic series and I was hooked from the start because of the characters, humor, and adventure created by David and Leigh Eddings. The series starts with Pawn of Prophecy and spans a total of 16 novels each as well developed as the one before. Inspired by the continued printing of Lord of the Rings, Eddings created the Belgariad as a trilogy, but was eventually convinced by the publisher to print it as a series of five books. The story continues on in the equally as developed 5-book series known as the Mallorean. - @codercarly
It all begins with the theft of the Orb that for so long protected the West from an evil god. As long as the Orb was at Riva, the prophecy went, its people would be safe from this corrupting power. Garion, a simple farm boy, is familiar with the legend of the Orb, but skeptical in matters of magic. Until, through a twist of fate, he learns not only that the story of the Orb is true, but that he must set out on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger to help recover it. For Garion is a child of destiny, and fate itself is leading him far from his home, sweeping him irrevocably toward a distant tower-and a cataclysmic confrontation with a master of the darkest magic. The quest may be nearing its end, but the danger continues. After discovering a shocking secret about himself he never could have imagined-all in pursuit of the legendary Orb-Garion and his fellow adventurers must escape a crumbling enemy fortress and flee across a vast desert filled with ruthless soldiers whose only aim is to destroy them. But even when the quest is complete, Garion's destiny is far from fulfilled. For the evil God Torak is about to awaken and seek dominion. Somehow, Garion has to face the God, to kill or be killed. On the outcome of this dread duel rests the future of the world. But how can one man destroy an immortal God?
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe [4.1]
My favourite book series of all time. Severian is an unreliable narrator, as he remembers everything. But he lies to you, and you slowly start to realise it. The fifth book, which was added later to the other four (mostly sold as two books), has the most unexpected revelations that make a rereading entirely necessary. This series is incredible. - @RichardLitt
Recently voted the greatest fantasy of all time, after The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is an extraordinary epic, set a million years in the future, on an Earth transformed in mysterious and wondrous ways, in a time when our present culture is no longer even a memory. Severian, the central character, is a torturer, exiled from his guild after falling in love with one of his victims, and journeying to the distant city of Thrax, armed with his ancient executioner's sword, Terminus Est. This edition contains the second two volumes of this four volume novel, The Sword of the Lictor and The Citadel of the Autarch.
The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny [4.3]
In truth, this is ten books, but they aren't stand-alone. I would call this two series: the Corwin series of the first five books, and the Merlin series of the second.
Like most high fantasy, I didn't so much read these books as devour them. The series was excellent. Corwin's story is the story within all of us; a desire to be loved, to make sense of the world, to win back the castle from the evil usurper. Amber - the city upon which all other cities are but a shadow. Like CS Lewis, this earth is only a shadow of the real earth. Corwin is one of my favourite characters from a fantasy series; it's not often that you get to talk to someone who was a soldier in Napolean's army, who knew Van Gogh, who remembers Paris at the turn of the century (his section on the chestnuts is exquisite).
There is so much good writing, so many beautiful places, that it is almost impossible to remember it all. Reading this book wasn't so much reading as being transported to faery for a day. I remember feeling totally at a loss after reading one afternoon, as if I had been transported; the next day, on top of a mountain, I had the exact same feeling, that I was somewhere else. Reading these books gave me the greatest joy that a book can give - being lost in another world. - @RichardLitt
Roger Zelazny's chronicles of Amber have earned their place as all-time classics of imaginative literature. Now, here are all ten novels, together in one magnificent omnibus volume. Witness the titanic battle for supremacy waged on Earth, in the Courts of Chaos, and on a magical world of mystery, adventure and romance.
The Daevabad Trilogy 2017 byS. A. Chakraborty[4.3]
This series is sumptuous. It follows Nahri as she leaves her hum-drum life in Egypt for a life of adventure, danger, and romance. It all starts when she plays with magic she doesn't understand and ends up summoning a djinn. This is truly an epic work as it spans three books, the final volume weighing in at nearly 800 pages. The world building is wonderful and reading a fantasy based on eastern magic and mythology was a welcome change for me among so many fantasies that seem more European-based. I looked forward to both sequels as they came out and finished reading the final installment without even realizing I had read over 700 pages because I read it on a Kindle!
One of my favorite parts of the books was the unique perspective brought by each of the characters. Although the story starts off with Nahri and I would call her THE main character, it is written with other views as well. Each character had a distinctive voice. I find this to be a sprawling story in the best sense. - @novemberhaiku
In the Daevabad Trilogy, S. A. Chakraborty builds an astounding world full of magic and conflict. Nahri begins as a grifter in Egypt, but accidentally summons a djinn who unwillingly introduces her to a world of magic and the city he once called home. Its history is dark and its future uncertain as Nahri discovers who she really is and how she can change the world of the djinn.
The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon [4.3]
This omnibus edition of 3 books describes the origin and deeds of a female Paladin named Paksenarrion. The Deed of Paksenarrion contemplates justice, true courage and the forces of good and evil in a way that is refreshing. I don't think I ever really understood the fantasy class of Paladin until reading this either, Elizabeth Moon's depiction will now forever be my etched on my brain as what a Paladin is.
It has all the usual trappings of high fantasy including dwarves and elves, but what really stands out is the balance of gender and the role of women. Throughout the books women are respected as equals and Paksenarrion develops a courageous, head-strong and loyal character that is engrossing and convincing. - @samueljseay
Paksenarrion-—Paks for short-—was somebody special. Never could she have followed her father's orders and married the pig farmer down the road. Better a soldier's life than a pigfarmer's wife, and so though she knew that she could never go home again, Paks ran away to be a soldier. And so began an adventure destined to transform a simple Sheepfarmer's Daughter into a hero fit to be chosen by the gods
The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb [4.1]
I devoured these books; the magic system is great and the world is well worked through. There's a fantastic amount of detail that never gets onerous, amazingly. The characters grow with the story, unlike most fantasy novels. The writing of characters who are under spells is also fantastic - Hobb never tells you directly that they have been befuddled until after, which makes for some very fun and enjoyable surprises. - @RichardLitt
In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility. So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.
The First Law Trilogy (2006) by Joe Abercrombie [4.2]
The First Law is a grimdark epic fantasy trilogy that is very character driven. The characters in this book are not particularly likable but despite that I found them all very lovable. The first book is a slow burn, and for a time I wasn't sure I would continue, but by the time I was half way I realised I loved seeing these characters go through their hardships, and on their adventures. This is the kind of series you feel sad about finishing because you want to spend more time with these characters. Fortunately there are standalone books and a second trilogy to read if you enjoy the original trilogy!
The magic in this series isn't front and center. Despite this I would say this is a series every lover of fantasy needs to read. - @Darknessflowers
- The Blade Itself [4.2]