Recommended fantasy trilogies

Anyone who reads in the genre will know that fantasy is not adverse to the odd trilogy. Indeed the three volume approach may well be more common than the stand-alone novel (although I have absolutely no proof to back this up). I love trilogies, reading a great book in the knowledge that there is still more excellence to come is a warming feeling. We’ve long run a recommended fantasy series page and the success of that coupled with the fact that many reader suggestions made were trilogies led to the creation of this page. Initially it will be populated by the trilogies that we have read, reviewed and loved but we hope that you, dear reader, will make many more suggestions to cover those trilogies we have not – as of yet – been lucky enough to read. So please leave a comment below – it makes the recommendations so much more useful.

If the trilogy title is a link you can click on it to read our review on the individual books.

The Lord of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings cover image.In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth still it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell, by chance, into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. From his fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, Sauron’s power spread far and wide. He gathered all the Great Rings to him, but ever he searched far and wide for the One Ring that would complete his dominion. On his eleventy-first birthday, Bilbo disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin, Frodo, the Ruling Ring, and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring
  2. The Two Towers
  3. The Return of the King

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The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb

The Ship of Magic book cover imageWizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain River Traders when only a liveship, fashioned from wizardwood, can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? A liveship is a difficult ship to come by. Rare and valuable, it will quicken only when three family members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening, as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried to her deck in his death-throes. Althea waits with awe and anticipation for the ship that she loves more than anything in the world to awaken. Only to find that her family has other plans for her… And dark, charming Kennit, aspiring pirate king, also lusts after such a ship: he well knows the power of wizardwood, and has plans of his own…

  1. Ship of Magic
  2. The Mad Ship
  3. Ship of Destiny

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Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire book cover imageA thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash fields. But now a troublemaker has arrived and there is rumour of revolt. A revolt that depends on criminal that no-one can trust and a young girl who must master Allomancy – the magic that lies in all metals.

  1. The Final Empire
  2. The Well of Ascension
  3. The Hero of Ages

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The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

The Amulet of Samarkand book cover imageWhen the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician’s apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation or a few simple illusions. But Nathaniel is a precocious talent and has something rather more dangerous in mind: revenge. Against his will, Bartimaeus is packed off to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, a master magician of unrivalled ruthlessness and ambition. Before long, both djinni and apprentice are caught up in a terrifying flood of magical intrigue, murder and rebellion.

  1. The Amulet of Samarkand
  2. The Golem’s Eye
  3. Ptolemy’s Gate

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The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Assassin's Apprentice book cover imageThe kingdom of the Six Duchies is on the brink of civil war when news breaks that the crown prince has fathered a bastard son and is shamed into abdication. The child’s name is Fitz, and his is despised. Raised in the castle stables, only the company of the king’s fool, the ragged children of the lower city and his unusual affinity with animals provide Fitz with any comfort. To be useful to the crown, Fitz is trained as an assassin; and to use the traditional magic of the Farseer family. But his tutor, allied to another political faction, is determined to discredit, even kill him. Fitz must survive: for he may be destined to save the kingdom.

  1. Assassin’s Apprentice
  2. Royal Assassin
  3. Assassin’s Quest

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The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms book coverYeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky – a palace above the clouds where gods’ and mortals’ lives are intertwined. There, to her shock, Yeine is named one of the potential heirs to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history. But it’s not just mortals who have secrets worth hiding and Yeine will learn how perilous the world can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably.

  1. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
  2. The Broken Kingdoms
  3. The Kingdom of Gods

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Age of Misrule by Mark Chadbourn

World's End book coverWhen Jack Churchill and Ruth Gallagher encounter a terrifying, misshapen giant beneath a London bridge they are plunged into a mystery which portends the end of the world as we know it. All over the country, the ancient gods of Celtic myth are returning to the land from which they were banished millennia ago. Following in their footsteps are creatures of folklore: fabulous bests, wonders and dark terrors. As technology starts to fail, Jack and Ruth are forced to embark on a desperate quest for four magical items – the last chance for humanity in the face of powers barely comprehended.

  1. World’s End
  2. Darkest Hour
  3. Always Forever

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The Macht by Paul Kearney

The Ten Thousand book coverOn the world of Kuf, the Macht are a mystery, a seldom-seen people of extraordinary ferocity and discipline whose prowess on the battlefield is the stuff of legend. For centuries they have remained within the remote fastnesses of the Harukush Mountains. In the world beyond, the teeming races and peoples of Kuf have been united within the bounds of the Asurian Empire, which rules the known world, and is invincible. The Great King of Asuria can call up whole nations to the battlefield. His word is law. But now the Great King’s brother means to take the throne by force, and in order to do so he has sought out the legend. He hires ten thousand mercenary warriors of theMacht, and leads them into the heart of the Empire.

  1. The Ten Thousand
  2. Corvus
  3. Kings of Morning

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The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay

The Summer Tree book coverFive men and women find themselves flung into the magical land of Fionavar, First of all Worlds. They have been called there by the mage Loren Silvercloak, and quickly find themselves drawn into the complex tapestry of events. For Kim, Paul, Kevin, Jennifer and Dave all have their own part to play in the coming battle against the forces of evil led by the fallen god Rakoth Maugrim and his dark hordes.

  1. The Summer Tree
  2. The Wandering Fire
  3. The Darkest Road

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The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan

Promise of Blood cover imageIt’s a bloody business, overthrowing a king. Now, amid the chaos, a whispered rumour is spreading. A rumour about a broken promise, omens of death and the gods returning to walk the earth. No one really believes these whispers. Perhaps they should.

  1. Promise of Blood
  2. The Crimson Campaign
  3. The Autumn Republic

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The Lightbringer Trilogy by Brent Weeks

The Black Prism book coverGavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. His strength, wit and charm are all that preserve a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live. When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

  1. The Black Prism
  2. The Blinding Knife
  3. The Broken Eye

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The Tawny Man by Robin Hobb

Fool's Errand book coverFifteen years have passed and events are about to sweep Fitz out of his quiet backwater life and into the main political current again. Persecution of the Witted has become rampant throughout the Six Duchies despite Queen Kettricken’s effort to damp it. The Witted themselves have begun to strike back. So when 15 year old Prince Dutiful disappears, is it only because he is nervous about his betrothal ceremony to an Outislander princess, or has he been taken hostage by the Witted? Worse, is he perhaps another ‘Piebald Prince’, a Farseer tainted by Wit magic? As the desperate situation worsens, Kettricken has no choice but to summon Fitz to Buckkeep, for who better to track the young prince down than another gifted with the Wit, together with his bonded companion, the wolf Nighteyes?

  1. Fool’s Errand
  2. The Golden Fool
  3. Fool’s Fate

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His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights book cover“Without this child, we shall all die.” Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world…

  1. Northern Lights
  2. The Subtle Knife
  3. The Amber Spyglass

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Spiritwalker by Kate Elliott

Cold Magic book coverThe Wild Hunt is stirring and the dragons are finally waking from their long sleep… Cat Barahal was the only survivor of the flood that took her parents. Raised by her extended family, she and her cousin, Bee, are unaware of the dangers that threaten them both. And although they are poised on the brink of an Industrial Age – magic – and the power of the Cold Mages, still holds sway. Now, betrayed by her family and forced to marry a powerful Cold Mage, Cat will be drawn into a labyrinth of politics. There she will learn the full ruthlessness of the Cold Mage rule. What do they want from her? And who will help Cat in her struggle against their powerful magic?

  1. Cold Magic
  2. Cold Fire
  3. Cold Steel

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The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade ItselfInquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body – not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers. Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men. And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up in a hole in the snow with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all – ideally by running away from it. But as he’s discovering, old habits die really, really hard indeed…

  1. The Blade Itself
  2. Before They Are Hanged
  3. Last Argument Of Kings

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The Prince of Nothing Trilogy by R Scott Bakker

The Darkness That Comes Before book coverA score of centuries has passed since the First Apocalypse and the thoughts of men have turned, inevitably, to more worldly concerns… A veteran sorcerer and spy seeks news of an ancient enemy. A military genius plots to conquer the known world for his Emperor but dreams of the throne for himself. The spiritual leader of the Thousand Temples seeks a Holy War to cleanse the land of the infidel. An exiled barbarian chieftain seeks vengeance against the man who disgraced him. And into this world steps a man like no other, seeking to bind all – man and woman, emperor and slave – to his own mysterious ends. But the fate of men – even great men – means little when the world itself may soon be torn asunder. Behind the politics, beneath the religious fervour, a dark and ancient evil is reawakening. After two thousand years, the No-God is returning. The Second Apocalypse is nigh. And one cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten…

  1. The Darkness That Comes Before
  2. The Warrior-Prophet
  3. The Thousandfold Thought

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The Dark Elf Trilogy by RA Salvatore

Homeland book coverIn exotic Menzoberranzan, the vast city of the drow is home to Icewind Dale prince Drizzt Do’Urden, who grows to maturity in the vile world of his dark elf kin. Possessing honor beyond the scope of his unprincipled society, can he live in world that rejects integrity?

  1. Homeland
  2. Exile
  3. Soujurn

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War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham

Acacia (War with the Mein) coverRuling from the island of Acacia, the emperor of the Known World has inherited an apparent peace and prosperity won by his ancestors generations ago. He’s an intelligent man, a widower who dotes on his four children and it is this devotion that obliges him to hide a terrible secret from them: that their prosperity rests on the dark realities of trafficking in drugs and human lives. A man of integrity, he hopes that he might bring an end to this vile trade, but powerful forces stand in his way. And then an assassin strikes, a lone killer sent by the Mein, an ancient foe long ago exiled to the frozen north. Now the Mein have returned to take revenge on their old enemy and begin a series of brutal surprise assaults on Acacia. Mortally wounded, the emperor puts into play a plan that will allow his children to escape, to fulfil their destinies. And so begins a quest to avenge a father’s death and restore an empire – this time on the basis of universal freedom…

  1. Acacia
  2. The Other Lands
  3. The Sacred Band

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Chronicles of the Raven by James Barclay

Dawnthief book coverThe Raven are an elite. Formed of six men and an elf, they’re swords for hire in the wars that have torn their land apart. For years their only loyalty has been to themselves, and to their code. But that time is coming to an end. The Wytch Lords have escaped and The Raven find themselves fighting for the Dark College of magic, on a mission which soon becomes a race for the secret location of Dawnthief. It’s a spell – one created to end the world – and there’s a danger that someone is going to use it…

  1. Dawnthief
  2. Noonshade
  3. Nightchild

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The Elenium by David Eddings

The Diamond Throne book coverAfter a long spell of exile, Sparhawk, Pandion Knight and the Queen’s champion, returns to his native land to find it overrun with evil and intrigue – and his young Queen grievously ill. Indeed, Ehlana lies magically entombed within a block of crystal, doomed to die unless a cure can be found within a year. But as Sparhawk and his allies – who include Sephrenia, the ageless sorceress, and Flute, the strange and powerful girl-child – seek to save Ehlana and the land, they discover that the evil is even greater and more pervasive than they feared…

  1. The Diamond Throne
  2. The Ruby Knight
  3. The Sapphire Rose

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The Abhorsen Chronicles by Garth Nix

Sabriel book coverWho will guard the living when the dead arise? Sabriel is sent as a child across the Wall to the safety of a school in Ancelstierre. Away from magic; away from the Dead. After receiving a cryptic message from her father, 18-year-old Sabriel leaves her ordinary school and returns across the Wall into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands – for her father is none other than The Abhorson. His task is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him – and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father’s title and duties – to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible challenges whilst discovering her own supernatural abilities – and her destiny.

  1. Sabriel
  2. Lirael
  3. Abhorsen

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Raven’s Shadow series by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan book coverVaelin Al Sorna’s life changes for ever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime – where the price of failure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order’s masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly. Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Sixth Order’s deadliest weapon and the Realm’s only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

  1. Blood Song
  2. Tower Lord
  3. Queen of Fire

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The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library book coverIrene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

  1. The Invisible Library
  2. The Masked City
  3. The Burning Page

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28 Replies to “Recommended fantasy trilogies”

  1. Great trilogies, but missing one of the very best—the Lyonesse trilogy by Jack Vance. Second only to Tolkien in my view.

  2. Mercedes Lackey wrote a ton of books about an amazing fantasy world. I’m not sure if they would meet your criteria of ‘trilogy’, but thought I’d mention her as many of the series are actually written in trilogies focused on a primary character or group, in a specific time period.

  3. Tad Williams’ trilogy Memory, Sorrow and Thorn has been around for 30 years and is a brilliant stand-alone trilogy. I’m surprised its not on this list actually. He has recently started a new series in the same world and with some of the characters but set around 20 years later.

  4. 2018 and neither Rothfuss or Martin have released another book in their series. Watching their activities, it’s pretty doubtful a conclusion is forthcoming in either.
    As much of a twat as Kingkiller Chronicle’s main character was, the magic systems were refreshing. With a little work it could actually feel at home in sci-fi as well. I like that.

  5. LoTR is not a trilogy. It was seven books that were crammed into four (not counting The Silmarrillon and various other posthoumous writings published by his son).

  6. I am also a thirteen year old grammar student, and I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter trilogy and the Northern Lights trilogy! Any of these would be enjoyed!

  7. Hi Elizabeth, Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy is just perfect, if he hasn’t read them already. The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, which consists of 3 trilogies and stand-alone finale are also excellent. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series might also be something he might enjoy! Hope this helps, Lee.

    PS There are so many other trilogies I could recommend but they may be a little too adult still – all Robin Hobb’s Elderling books for example. Let me know if you need any more suggestions.

  8. This is more a question than a comment, sorry. Can you recommend a good fantasy trilogy for my bright, thirteen year old
    grammar school grandson. I need your help as I hate to admit fantasy is not my genre, but very much his!
    Your help would be appreciated. Do they appear in paperback?

  9. Ok people:

    1) Kingkiller is not a completed trilogy, therefore it can’t be on this list… yet. Relax yourselves.

    2) Mistborn IS a trilogy. It is referred to a the “original trilogy”, with The Alloy of Law being the first book of the second trilogy, which is now going to be a 4 book series. There is also going to be a third trilogy as well, moving further into the future, and if my guess is correct, bringing allomancy to the equivalent of the current day.

    If you’re going to nitpick, at least get your facts straight. Great list, keep it up.

  10. The Aspect Emperor trilogy by Bakker is currently incomplete, but the third book is supposed to be titled The Great Ordeal. It is chronologically based 20 years after the first Bakker trilogy, The Prince of Nothing, which include: The Darkness That Comes Before; The Warrior-Prophet; and The Thousandfold Thought. I suppose it’s technically fine to consider them two different trilogies instead of one six book series, I do think that then you should include The Prince of Nothing trilogy and correct the book titles.

  11. I’ve read a lot of these amazingly good books and can heartily agree to most of the list. However, why are the Night Angel books not up there. The Lightbringer books are great but Weeks captivating story of Kylar is hands down my favourite trilogy I’ve read.

  12. The Black Prism is a series, not a trilogy. Fourth book out in the next year or so I believe. Fantastic first three books though….

  13. Patrick Rothfuss’ King Killer Chronicles should definitely be on here (despite the fact that the third book hasn’t been published yet). So good!

  14. 1-The third book in R Scott Bakker’s Aspect Emperor trilogy is called The Great Ordeal. The Thousandfold Thought is part of his Prince of Nothing trilogy which also belongs on the list.
    2-The Great Leveler is composed of Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country by Abercrombie. This wasn’t marketed as a trilogy but certainly rates as one. Great reads.
    3-Jude Fisher has a very entertaining trilogy out called Fool’s Gold including Sorcery Rising, Wild Magic and Rose of the World.

  15. Seconding the fact Kingkiller Chronicles should be on this list!
    The third book, Doors of Stone, should be out (hopefully) at some point in 2016. At least, that seems to be what is being hinted at. But there IS a third book coming!
    (I’m pretty excited for it, if you can’t tell, haha)

  16. Totally disagree with putting the Raven’s Shadow” series by Anthony Ryan on the list. The first book. Blood Song was brilliant. If the other two books in the series were half as good, I would have no issues having the series on the list. The second book was so poor, it was hard to believe that it came from the pen of the same author that wrote the first. If that was not bad enough, the third book was worse than the second.

    I would love to see The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margret Weiss and Tracy Hickman on the list, brings back great memories from my youth 🙂

  17. Hey there. 🙂 about the Lord of the Rings cover at the top, this is the artist that made them:

    He also makes a lot of other beautiful Middle Earth art in a similar style.

    And I’m so glad that the Bartimaeus Trilogy is included on this list. Those books are so wonderful but underrated!

    Another trilogy I recommend you check out (if you’re still looking for good reads) is Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician Trilogy. She has another standalone and another set of trilogy relating to that world, all wonderful books too 🙂

  18. Hey Moe, I completely agree that The Kingkiller Chronicle is brilliant but is it a trilogy at this very moment in time? At the moment we only have 2 books (The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear) and 1 novella (The Slow Regard of Silent Things) reviewed on the site. Do you know if we are missing a third and final book in the trilogy? Or if it is due out soon?


  19. I’m sorry but where is The Kingkiller Chronicle?! Hands down one of the best trilogies ever written, surely it deserves a place.

  20. Wow, that picture of the Lord of the Rings books at the top are so beautiful. Best versions I’ve seen. Anyone know who produced them?

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