The 100 Best Fantasy BooksThe best fantasy books take you on the adventure of a lifetime, through fantastic worlds full of magical creatures and endless possibilities. I'm Talitha (that's me in the pic :) and I have been reading magical stories ever since I can remember.
I've listed my Top 100 books under seven categories which are: contemporary, sword and sorcery, dark, epic, alternative history, sci fi fantasy and comedic. Some of the listings are of individual novels, while others are of trilogies or series, as specified in the description.
Of course many novels fall under several subgenres but hopefully these listings will act as a guide in helping you to find ones that appeal to you. I will be adding book and movie reviews regularly so come back often or better yet, subscribe to my Fantastic Fiction Feed so I can keep you posted whenever I add something new. Happy reading!
Contemporary / Urban: 21 best fantasy books
These books are set either partially or fully in the real world and/or in a city environment.
21. Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series – Laurell K. Hamilton, 1993- present
Anita Blake lives in a parallel world, identical to our own apart for the existence of supernatural creatures, who live alongside humans. Her job is to solve supernatural crimes, a career that alters her perception and affects her in unexpected ways.
20. Women of the Otherworld – Kelley Armstrong, 2001-present
This series documents the plight of various supernatural beings, including a werewolf, a witch, a ghost, a necromancer, and a sorcerer, each struggling to fit in in human society.
19. Diana Tregarde – Mercedes Lackey, 1989-2010
A witch and novelist called Diane Tregarde is the main character in this series of books. Diane is a good and powerful witch in modern-day America. She balances her time between writing romance novels and using her magical skills to help people in need.
18. Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead, 2007-2010
These six books are told from the point of view of Rose Hathaway, a teenage girl who is a Dhampir, meaning she is conceived as a result of a union between a human and a vampire. While training to be a bodyguard for her best friend, Rose attends Vladimir’s Academy. There she learns to defeat the evil undead and discovers the pleasures of forbidden love.
17. Wicked Lovely – Melissa Marr, 2007
Teenager Aislinn has the ability to see the invisible world of fairies, which is hidden from all others. However, her grandmother has taught her to ignore it, never to look at or speak to the fairies, or even acknowledge their existence. But then one day the fairies start following her around and wondering aloud if she is 'the one'. Will Aislinn break her grandmother’s rules to find out what they mean?
> Are you a fan of fairies? Read about the banshees, leprechauns, and other fairy folk who inhabit the emerald isle of Ireland in my take on evil fairies.
16. Hollows – Kim Harrison, 2004-present
Rachel Morgan is a detective and witch living in an alternate world, where supernatural beings live among people and much of the human population has been wiped out by a plague. It’s Rachel’s job to work with local law enforcement agencies to track down criminals. This series is made up of ten novels, six short stories, a graphic novel, and a compendium.
15. The Magicians – Lev Grossman, 2009
Quentin Coldwater is a bright New York teenager with limited social skills. He earns a place at an exclusive school for magicians called Brakebills Academy but is disappointed to learn that magic can’t solve all of his problems and the study of it is tedious and demanding. His fortune changes however, on graduation day, when he discovers the setting of his favorite books, the magical land of Fillory, truly exists.
14. The Dresden Files – Jim Butcher, 2000-present
Private investigator and wizard extraordinaire Harry Dresden is the viewpoint character of this series. He solves crime in an alternate Chicago, inhabited by vampires, demons, werewolves, fairies, and other magical beings, along with humans, who are oblivious to the threat they pose.
13. Life of Pi – Yann Martel, 2001
Piscine Patel is an Indian boy from Pondicherry who sets out on a voyage with his family as they move to Canada, along with many of the animals from their zoo. Tragically their ship sinks, leaving Pi shipwrecked alone at sea for 227 days, with only a Bengal tiger for company.
12. Imajica – Clive Barker, 1991
This fantasy novel documents the reconciliation of the planet Earth, known as the Fifth Dominion, with four parallel worlds, an occurrence known to only a select number of people.
11. Percy Jackson & the Olympians – Rick Riordan, 2005-2009
One day Percy Jackson is an ordinary American teenager. The next he’s discovered that he’s the son of a Greek god and is accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning rod. This series documents his dealings with the gods and is set against a backdrop of teenage angst and romance.
10. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman, 2005
When the father of Fat Charlie Nancy drops dead, his life is thrown into chaos. First Spider, a brother he never knew he had, turns up at his home and refuses to leave. Then he discovers his father was actually a god and that both he and his brother have inherited some of his divine powers, with dangerous consequences.
9. Bordertown – Terri Windling, 1986-present
Bordertown, a dystopian metropolis that lies on the border between the Elflands and the World, is the setting for this urban fantasy series. Gang violence, race wars, and class conflict are the norm and both magic and technology exist, but often work in unexpected ways.
8. The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Charlaine Harris, 2001-present
Dead Until Dark kicks off this series, also known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, which provides the inspiration behind the hit TV series True Blood. The books are set in a world in which vampires exist and have recently become public knowledge, and is told from the perspective of Sookie, a telepathic waitress living in Louisiana.
7. The Mercedes Thompson Series – Patricia Briggs, 2006-present
This collection of fantasy books is set in an alternate world in which werewolves and other supernatural beings have been forced to reveal themselves to the public. It follows the adventures of Mercedes Thompson, a Native American shapeshifter raised by werewolves, as she comes to terms with who and what she is.
6. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel – Michael Scott, 2007-2012
In the first book, The Alchemyst, teenage twins Sophie and Josh Newman become embroiled in the life of immortal French alchemist Nicholas Flamel, who reveals to them that they are part of a prophecy that will determine the future of all.
5. The Modern Faerie Tale series – Holly Black, 2002-2007
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is no ordinary teenager. She is a changeling from the land of Faerie left in the place of a human child. Now she’s journeying back to her native home to find her human counterpart, but once there finds herself caught up in a conflict between two rival kingdoms that could cost her her life. Read my review of the first book, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale.
4. American Gods – Neil Gaiman, 2001
Shadow gets out of prison early after his wife dies and befriends Wednesday, a man who turns out to be much more than a man. He is in fact a god, known in European mythology as Odin the All-father, who his believers brought with them to America many years ago. Now he’s going up against a host of new gods, including the gods of credit cards, TV, and the Internet, and Shadow has agreed to help him - but at what cost?
3. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman, 1996
This, a companion novel to the TV series of the same name, documents the trails and tribulations of young businessman Richard Mayhew, whose life changes forever after he encounters an injured girl called Door. He ceases to exist in the world of London Above and exists only in the alternate realm of London Below. Can he return to his old life and save Door from her would-be assassins? Gaiman has given the world many great fantasy books.
2. Twilight – Stephenie Meyer, 2005-2008
The four Twilight books revolve around teenager Bella Swan and her 104-year-old vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen as they face one danger after another.
1. Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling, 1997-2007
A collection of seven books follows the adventure of Harry and his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, as they solve mysteries, face dangers, and go up against the Dark Lord Voldemort, who murdered Harry’s parents and is threatening to take over both the magical and non-magical worlds. These are some of the top fantasy books of all time.
> The Top 25 Harry Potter Characters.
Sword and sorcery: 8 best fantasy books
Many epic fantasy books contain elements of sword and sorcery. These are the ones that have come to define that genre.
8. Jirel of Joiry – C. L. Moore, 1934-1939
This collection of five fantasy stories focuses mostly on Jirel of Joiry, a female warrior and ruler in an alternate version of medieval France, where threat often comes in supernatural form.
7. The Sword, the Ring, and the Chalice – Deborah Chester, 2000-2001
This trilogy is set in a medieval world, in which the king is betrayed by his brother and driven into a realm between life and death. Now it’s up to his son, Dani, to recover the three keys to the kingdom, a sword, a ring, and (you guessed it!) a chalice, so he can reclaim his birthright and take the throne.
6. Sword and Sorceress – various, 1984-present
Sword and sorcery is traditionally a man’s world, dominated by male warriors. In an effort to address that imbalance, the late author Marion Zimmer Bradley began this collection of stories featuring strong female protagonists, which continues to this day.
5. The First Law – Joe Abercrombie, 2006-present
This series takes place in a world similar to medieval Europe. It includes a trilogy that revolves around three main characters, a crippled torturer, a self-absorbed swordsman, and a savage warrior, as well as two stand-alone novels, Best Served Cold, which is set four years later, and The Heroes, about a three-day battle.
4. Elric of Melniboné – Michael Moorcock, 1972
Elric is the doomed prince of a dying race. He pledges his service to the God of Chaos and takes possession of a cursed sword called Stormbringer. This book kicked off an extensive series of books that features this ill-fated anti-hero as the main character.
3. Thieves' World – various, 1979-present
Gods fight one another for dominance in the city of Sanctuary on the edge of the Rankan Empire, where many live in poverty and struggle to survive. The late author Robert Lynn Asprin created this shared world fantasy series and many other authors have contributed to it over the years.
2. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser – Fritz Leiber, 1970-2000
This series is made up of 37 stories that revolve around the adventures of two anti-heroes, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, in the corrupt city of Lankhmar.
1. Conan The Barbarian – Robert E. Howard, 1932-1969
The late great Robert E. Howard is known as the father of sword and sorcery, largely due to his creation of Conan The Barbarian, who is perhaps the most famous hero of the genre. Howard wrote more than 20 short stories about Conan, many of which appeared in the pulp magazine Weird Tales and some of which have been published posthumously.
Dark: 9 best fantasy books
These books have a darker tone than others in the fantasy realm, and are in some cases bordering on horror.
9. The Vampire Chronicles – Anne Rice, 1976-2003
These four books are told mostly from the perspective of Lestat de Lioncourt, a vampire who began life as an 18th-century French noblemen. They are normally considered a work of horror but since Twilight, vampires seem to have crossed more and more into the realm of fantasy, so I thought they deserved a mention here.
8. The Child Thief – Brom, 2010
It’s Peter Pan with a dark twist. Brom retells J.M. Barre’s beloved tale with the insertion of bloodthirsty children and monsters. The main character, fourteen-year-old Nick, is almost murdered by drug dealers in New York City when Peter Pan comes to his rescue, and whisks him away to a desolate land of eternal youth. There Nick is enlisted in an age-old war and must fight alongside a band of savage children to save the last of the magic in this dying land.
7. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman, 2008
Ever since Jack murdered his family, Nobody Owens has lived in a graveyard, where he is raised by ghosts and an undead guardian. If he leaves the graveyard, he could fall victim to his family’s killer. This is considered a children’s book but is a fantastic read for fantasy lovers of all ages.
6. Shadowland – Peter Straub, 1989
Two boys, Tom Flanagan and Del Nightingale, spend a summer with Del’s uncle Coleman, who is considered the world's greatest magician. Tom soon realizes that Coleman is trying to train them in the dark arts and not all is as it seems.
5. Weaveworld – Clive Barker, 1987
This novel concerns the magical realm of Fugue, which is woven into a rug to hide its inhabitants, Seerkind, who were almost wiped out by mankind. When the protector of the rug, Mimi Lashenski, dies, it passes to a man by the name of Calhoun Mooney, who joins forces with Mimi’s granddaughter, Suzanna, to keep it safe. In time Fugue crosses into the human world, where its people have to struggle to find their place while going up against their greatest foe, a destructive being known as The Scourge.
4. The Black Company – Glen Cook, 1984-2000
This series of fantasy novels revolves around The Black Company, an elite mercenary unit and the last of its kind. It spans about 40 years and includes nine novels, as well as a spin-off novel, The Silver Spike.
3. Abhorsen or The Old Kingdom series – Garth Nix, 1995-present
A great wall stands between two places. On one side is the Old Kingdom, a dark and mysterious place ruled by magic. On the other side is Ancelstierre, a country devoid of magic and ruled by technology. This ongoing series features inhabitants from both places and a line of necromancers known as Abhorsens, whose job it is to stop evil spirits escaping from the nearby realm of Death.
2. Coraline – Neil Gaiman, 2002
A lonely girl discovers a portal to another dimension that at first seems idyllic but soon turns dark and foreboding. She becomes imprisoned there and faces the prospect of losing her parents. Can she escape before it’s too late?
1. The Dark Tower – Stephen King, 1982-2012
This series of eight novels follows the mid-world's last gunslinger on his quest across post-apocalyptic terrain to reach the powerful but elusive Dark Tower, which is the heart of all the worlds and faces imminent destruction.
Epic: 50 best fantasy books
Epic or high fantasy books are set exclusively – or almost exclusively – in a fictional world.
50. Godspeaker – Karen Miller, 2007-2008
This trilogy of fantasy novels is set in a brutal world. A kingdom is in danger of collapse and only one person can save it.
49. Chronicles of the Raven – James Barclay, 1999-2001
This is the first of two trilogies about a band of mercenaries called The Raven and the many dangers they face.
48. The Ealdwood Stories – C. J. Cherryh, 1979-1983
A collection of fantasy works that includes a short story, a novella, and two novels, this concerns a high order of fairy folk who live in the enchanted forest of Ealdwood. Much of the narrative is based on Celtic mythology.
47. Red Moon and Black Mountain – Joy Chant, 1970
Three children from England are drawn into another world, called Vandarei, where each of them plays a part in a war against Satan.
46. The Troy series – David Gemmell, 2005-2007
These books are based in part on the Greek legend of the Trojan War but includes many original characters.
45. The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch, 2006
Locke Lamora is a master con artist in late medieval Venice trying to outsmart a powerful figure called the Grey King, who is terrorizing the city’s crime gangs. This is the first of seven novels about Locke and his fellow con artists.
44. The Death Gate Cycle – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, 1990-1994
This cycle of epic fantasy books deals with the conflict between two powerful races, the Sartan and the Patryns, who formed following a nuclear holocaust on earth. It features five alternate worlds and magical creatures such as dwarves and elves.
43. The Fionavar Tapestry – Guy Gavriel Kay, 1984-1986
Another trilogy, this takes place mostly in the magical land of Fionavar and revolves around five law students from the University of Toronto who are drawn into an epic otherworldly conflict against the forces of evil.
42. The Black Magician – Trudi Canavan, 2001-2003
This series follows a girl called Sonea who is born in the slums but discovers she has natural magical powers that are normally reserved for the upper classes.
41. The Riddle-Master trilogy – Patricia A. McKillip, 1976-1979
Another trilogy that draws inspiration from Celtic mythology, this concerns a fantasy world presided over by the High One and a man who won a game of riddles against a ghost.
40. The Acacia Trilogy – David Anthony Durham, 2007-2011
The four children of a great ruler face immense danger as they seek to avenge their father’s death, restore peace to the kingdom of Acacia, and embrace their destinies.
39. The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde, 2001
In a parallel universe, England is a police state where everyone is obsessed with literature, cloning is common, and time travel is the norm. When someone starts kidnapping characters from works of literature, literary detective Thursday Next must enter a virtual world based on Charlotte Brontë's classic novel Jane Eyre to track down the criminal mastermind involved. This is the first of a series of novels about Thursday.
38. Magic Kingdom of Landover – Terry Brooks, 1986-2009
These six novels follows the adventures of former trial lawyer Ben Holiday in the magical kingdom of Landover, which is populated by magical creatures and surrounded by fairy mists.
37. The Painted Man – Peter V. Brett, 2008
The three main characters live in a world under nightly attack by demons known as corelings that live in the planet’s core and emerge to feast on its people. They each set out on their own quest to defeat the corelings and restore peace to their world. This is the first book in the Demon Cycle.
36. Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini, 2002-2011
Christopher Paolini was a teenager when he began working on these four books about a boy called Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, who fight together to overthrow the evil king Galbatorix.
35. The Sword of Truth – Terry Goodkind, 1994-2011
Thirteen books make up this series about three heroes and their quest to save their world from a rule of evil.
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman, 1998
Tristan, a young man from the town of Wall in England, is in love with a girl called Victoria. One night he promises to retrieve for her a fallen star, as a sign that his love for her is true. And so he crosses over into the magical land of Faerie, where he encounters witches, goblins, gnomes, enchanted trees, and talking animals, and discovers his true destiny.
33. The Stormlight Archive – Brandon Sanderson, 2010-present
The Way of the Kings kicked off this series, which promises to be another brilliant achievement by Brandon Sanderson. It centers around the world of Roshar, which is under constant assault by hurricanes, and the competition between men to take possession of rare but valuable weapons and armor known as Shardblades and Shardplate.
32. The Chronicles of Amber – Roger Zelazny, 1970-1991
This series is set in the two true worlds, of Amber and the Courts of Chaos, and documents the tension that exists between them, which is reflected on other lesser worlds, including Earth.
31. The Dark Elf Trilogy – R. A. Salvatore, 1990-1991
Drizzt Do'Urden is a dark elf from the city of Menzoberranzan who abandons his home to follow his principals, first into the open wilderness of the Underdark and later to the surface of the world.
30. The Rigante series – David Gemmell, 1999-2002
The Rigante are a clan of the Keltoi tribes. This collection of books focuses on their conflict, first against the people of Stone, and later against the Varlish.
29. The Kingkiller Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss, 2007-present
This is a biography of an adventurer, arcanist and famous musician called Kvothe. It moves between the present, in which he is telling his life story to a character known as the Chronicler, and the past, in which his many adventures took place.
28. Shadowmarch – Tad Williams, 2004-2010
The Edon family rule over the human province of Southmarch and have driven the fairy folk into the far north to hide under a veil of mist called the Shadowline. This is a series of four books.
27. Drenai Series – David Gemmell, 1984-2004
This series of 11 books begins with a sword and sorcery classic called Legend, about the legendary warrior Druss, and concerns threats against the Drenai Empire.
26. The Codex Alera – Jim Butcher, 2004-2009
This is a coming-of-age series of six books about Tavi, a young man in the land of Alera, who lacks the power of his fellow people to control elemental forces known as furies. But when war threatens his homeland, it’s up to Tavi to make things right.
25. The Riftwar Saga – Raymond E. Feist, 1982-1986
The Riftwar Saga is a trilogy that makes up the first part of a The Riftwar Cycle. It centers around an orphan named Pug, who alone has the power to end an age-old battle between the forces of Order and the forces of Chaos.
24. The Black Jewels series – Anne Bishop, 1998-2011
Jaenelle Angelline is a witch destined for great things, but suffers as a consequence. Her family interpret her differences as madness and commit her to an asylum, where children are subject to horrific experiments. In time she begins to travel between realms, where she reunites with family members and befriends a host of wise creatures. She has to go to great lengths to escape the dark forces that hunt her and realize her destiny.
23. The Magician's Apprentice – Trudi Canavan, 2009
Tessia has an unremarkable life, working for her father in a remote village, until she becomes an apprentice to the local magician and develops magical powers. For a while, she enjoys the benefits of her position, which include fine clothes, servants, and exciting travels, but she soon learns that with great power comes great responsibility.
22. The Night Angel Trilogy – Brent Weeks, 2008
In the city of Cenaria, assassination is an art, and it’s an art the young Azoth wants to master. He becomes an apprentice to the city’s best wetboy, an assassin with magical abilities, and learns to navigate a dangerous world to become the perfect killer.
21. The Bartimaeus Sequence – Jonathan Stroud, 2003-2010
Bartimaeus is a five-thousand-year-old djinni, which means he’s an intelligent spirit with limited powers, and the main viewpoint character in this series, about the career of teenage magician Nathaniel.
20. Mistborn – 2006-2011
Teenager Vin is a member of a gang of street thieves and, because she's part of the mistborn race, has special magical powers. A mentor known as the Survivor takes her under his wing and trains her to help him overthrow the empire, which is ruled by the oppressive and powerful Lord Ruler.
19. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift, 1726
This classic fantasy and political satire follows the voyages of the surgeon Gulliver, who travels to distant lands, meets strange people, fights off a band of pirates, and becomes stranded on a desert island.
18. The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle, 1968
A unicorn lives all alone in a lilac wood. After discovering that she is the last of her kind, she sets out on a quest to find out what happened to her kin.
17. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn – Tad Williams, 1988-1993
This trilogy takes place on the continent of Osten Ard, a land inhabited by races that resemble elves, trolls, and other magical creatures. The ruler of the land, King John the Presbyter, is old and feeble, and his sons are creating conflict throughout the land.
16. Shannara – Terry Brooks, 1977-present
It’s the future. A nuclear holocaust known as the Great Wars has wiped out all modern civilization and the inhabitants of Earth, now called the Four Lands, live in a medieval society based on magic rather than science. Shannara began with The Sword of Shannara and continues to this day.
15. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke, 2004
In this alternate 19th century England, magic once existed, and now it’s returned thanks to two men, Jonathan Strange and Gilbert Norrell.
14. The Broken Sword – Poul Anderson, 1954
Orm the Strong marries Aelfrida of the English and they have a son called Skafloc. An elf named Imric kidnaps Skafloc and leaves a changeling called Valgard in his place. Now both Skafloc and Valgard have come of age and have an important part to play in a war between elves and trolls.
13. The Farseer Trilogy – Robin Hobb, 1995-1997
FitzChivalry Farseer was born out of wedlock and rejected by his father, Prince Chivalry, who banished him from the royal court to be raised by gruff stablemen. But a king intervened and secretly trained him as an assassin. Now that the kingdom is under attack, will Fitz take up arms to save its people, or abandon them to their fate?
12. The Belgariad – David Eddings, 1982-1984
In this series, spanning five books, a farm boy by the name of Garion is tasked with recovering a stolen Orb, the theft of which threatens to bring darkness to his world, and defeat the evil and immortal god Torak.
11. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – Stephen R. Donaldson, 1977-2013
These ten fantasy books revolve around the bitter and resentful writer Thomas Covenant who, having been rejected by society for developing leprosy, discovers he is destined to save an alternate world known as The Land.
10. Earthsea saga – Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968-2001
The ancient world of Earthsea is made up of hundreds of islands, grouped around the main island of Havnor and surrounded by a great ocean. These six books and seven short stories document the conflict between the islands’ people and involves magic, both good and evil, and the balance of power.
9. The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan, 1990-2013
Robert Jordan conceived of this series of 14 books but died before he could complete it, after which fantasy author Brandon Sanderson took over. The saga revolves around a world torn apart by power and engulfed by shadow, and draws on mythology, spirituality and religion.
8. Tigana – Guy Gavriel Kay, 1990
Tigana is a province in the country of the Peninsula of the Palm, which is similar to medieval Italy, on a planet orbited by two moons. After the son of a ruler called Brandin is killed in battle against Tigana, Brandin uses magic to wipe out all memory of Tigana's name and history. The only people who remember it are those who lived before the battle took place and now they are banding together to overthrow their tyrannical rulers and reclaim their heritage.
7. A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin, 1996-present
This wonderful series, which began with A Game of Thrones, spans thousands of years. It features a war against the continent of Westeros, a supernatural race known as Others, and an exiled princess.
6. Liveship Traders Trilogy – Robin Hobb, 1998-2000
A Liveship is a ship made of magical wood, the only vessel capable of navigating the Rain Wild River. After Althea’s father dies, the family Liveship passes to her sister, Keffria, and her greedy husband, Kyle, who uses it to trade slaves. Determined to regain its possession, Althea sets out on a dangerous mission that brings her into contact with pirates, sea serpents, and other deadly foes.
5. The Malazan Book of the Fallen – Steven Erikson, 1999-2011
This epic fantasy was published in ten volumes and is comprised of interwoven stories that take place in the world of the Malazan Empire.
4. The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937
This is one of the most beloved fantasy stories of all time, suitable for readers of all ages. A hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins sets out from his home in The Shire to help a Company of Dwarves reclaim their treasure from the fierce dragon Smaug. Along the way, he encounters one danger after another, comes into possession of the One Ring, and becomes the group’s unlikely hero.
> Check out this guide to who's who in The Hobbit and preview of Peter Jackson's movie trilogy.
3. The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis, 1950-1956
Follow the adventures of the Pevensie children, the wise lion Aslan, and other characters in the magical land of Narnia through the seven books in this series.
2. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman, 1995-2000
This trilogy of fantasy novels centers around an orphan called Lyra, who travels first to the north to save her best friend from an evil band known as the Gobblers, and then journeys through parallel universes, where she befriends a boy by the name of Will.
1. The Lord of the Rings – 1954-1955
This is epic fantasy at its best! Set in the realm of Middle Earth, it concerns the One Ring, a magical tool tied to the fate of the Dark Lord Sauron, who is threatening to cover all the lands in darkness. A hobbit by the name of Frodo Baggins inherits the ring from his uncle, Bilbo, and sets out on a dangerous quest to cast the ring into the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor, the one place it can be destroyed. Meanwhile, the descendant of a king leads the free people of Middle Earth in a battle against Sauron’s army, which includes a vicious breed of orcs and a band of evil spirits known as Ringwraiths.
> Read about the main Lord of the Rings characters.
Historical / Mythic / Arthurian: 6 best fantasy books
Here are some of the finest examples of books that give us an alternate version of history, either real or imaginary.
6. Silverlock – John Myers Myers, 1949
A. Clarence Shandon is the only survivor of a shipwreck and becomes stranded on an island known as The Commonwealth of Letters. There he befriends the legendary figure Golias and together they encounter many other characters from the pages of history, literature, and mythology.
5. The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1983
This Arthurian novel retells the legend of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table from the perspective of its female characters, most notably Morgaine, a priestess trying to save her matriarchal pagan heritage from the onslaught of patriarchal Christianity.
4. Kushiel's Legacy series – Jacqueline Carey, 2001-2011
This collection of fantasy novels is set in a fictional version of medieval Europe and provides an alternate history of the world, in which people worship a mighty deity known as Elua and prostitution is a sacred service.
3. The Once and Future King – T. H. White, 1958
This novel gives a more traditional take on the Arthurian legend and documents the life of Arthur and his reign as the king of Britain.
2. Mythago Wood – Robert Holdstock, 1984
Mythago Wood provides an alternate version of British mythology and follows the adventures of Stephen Huxley and his relatives in an enchanted forest. This mythic novel kicked off a series of books known as the Mythago Wood Cycle or Ryhope Wood Series.
1. Soldier of the Mist – Gene Wolfe, 1986
This book purports to be the diary of a Roman mercenary who fought for Xerxes at the Battle of Plataea and suffers from amnesia due to head injuries. He no longer remembers his name but has developed a strange new skill, to see and communicate with gods, ghosts, and other supernatural beings.
Sci fi fantasy: 3 best fantasy books
These books combine science-fiction and fantasy, which are separate genres that fall under the umbrella category of speculative fiction.
3. The Mortal Instruments – Cassandra Clare, 2007-present
A teenage girl is drawn into the world of Shadowhunters, warriors assigned with the task of driving demons out of this world. She soon discovers that a powerful Shadowhunter is responsible for her mother’s disappearance and is shocked to learn her true identity.
2. The Acts of Caine – Matthew Stover, 1997-present
This series takes place on a futuristic Earth run by a corporation. Following the discovery of an overcrowded parallel dimension known as Overworld, the corporation introduces its people to virtual-reality entertainment, with unexpected results.
1. Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer, 2001-2012
Artemis Fowl is the anti-hero of the eight books in this series. A teenage criminal mastermind, he starts out by kidnapping a fairy for ransom but later develops a friendship with the fairies and becomes their most faithful ally.
Comedic: 3 best fantasy books
These books deliver a lighter and more humorous experience of the fantasy realm.
3. Xanth series – Piers Anthony, 1977-present
Each of these books is about a different inhabitant of the land of Xanth, which is shaped like Florida and is home to people with magical powers, as well as ghosts, zombies, goblins, ogres, centaurs, dragons, and a host of other creatures.
2. Discworld – Terry Pratchett, 1983-present
Discworld is a flat disc that lies on the backs of four elephants, who are standing on the back of a giant turtle. This collection of books documents the adventures of the people who live there and parodies fantasy clichés, as well as real-world culture and politics.
> My reveiw of The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic & The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
1. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, 1990
In this comedy an angel and a demon join forces to prevent the onset of End Times, which the son of Satan is trying to bring about, so they can continue their comfortable lives on Earth.
> Now that you've made it through the 100 best fantasy books, it's time to check out the 100 best fantasy movies.
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