Our top fantasy series recommendations

From the Taoist beliefs of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books to the complexity of Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. From the ambition of Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books to the beautifully written Realm of the Elderlings. These are the top fantasy series that you simply must read. We have listed our recommendations below and we have also listened to the many suggestions made – hence the larger selection!

The criteria? For the purpose of this list we have decided that a series must consist of at least four books. So no trilogies, that is deserving of a page all of its own. So without any further ado, here are our recommendations, beginning with Ursula Le Guin.

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin

Earthsea Quartet cover image.Earthsea is a magical world, full of enchantment. The Wizard of Earthsea must fight off the forces of evil and darkness in their various shapes before, ‘done with doing’, he flies off on his dragon to ‘the farthest shore’. These prize-winning stories are brilliantly crafted, richly imagined and engaging. Comparable with the work of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the Earthsea books follow the fortunes of the wizard Ged from his childhood to an age where magic is giving way to evil. As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and helps the High Priestess Tenar escape from the labyrinth of darkness. But as the years pass, true magic and ancient ways are forced to submit to the powers of evil and death…

Purchase the first book in this series, A Wizard of Earthsea, on Amazon now

  • The Earthsea Quartet
    (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu)
  • The Other Wind
  • Tales from Earthsea

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

Assassin's Apprentice cover image.Robin Hobb is an author of rare skill and imagination and the books (13 and counting) that make up her Elderlings series are amongst the best the genre has to offer. She writes beautifully and her characters are so real you can almost touch them. It is glorious classic fantasy combining the magic of Ursula Le Guin’s The Wizard of Earthsea with the epic Mastery of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Fitz is a royal bastard, cast out into the world with only his magical link with animals for solace and companionship. But when Fitz is adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and learn a new life; weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly. Meanwhile, raiders ravage the coasts, leaving people soulless. As Fitz grows towards manhood, he will have to face his first terrifying mission, a task that poses as much risk to himself as it does to his target: for Fitz is a threat to the throne, but he may also be the key to the future of the kingdom.

Purchase the first book in this series, Assassin’s Apprentice, on Amazon now

The Farseer Trilogy

  • Assassin’s Apprentice
  • Royal Assassin
  • Assassin’s Quest

The Liveship Traders

  • Ship of Magic
  • The Mad Ship
  • Ship of Destiny

The Tawny Man

  • Fool’s Errand
  • The Golden Fool
  • Fool’s Fate

Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Gardens of the Moon book cover.Bled dry by interminable warfare, infighting and bloody confrontations with Lord Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, the vast, sprawling Malazan empire simmers with discontent. Even its imperial legions yearn for some respite. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners and for Tattersail, sole surviving sorceress of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, still holds out – and Empress Lasseen’s ambition knows no bounds. However, it seems the empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister forces gather as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

Steven Erikson has no peer when it comes to action and imagination and A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen has established itself as the most significant work of epic fantasy since Stephen R. Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Erikson is the master of lost and forgotten epochs, a weaver of ancient epics drawing upon fantasy to recreate histories and legends as rich as any found within our culture.

Purchase the first book in this series, Gardens of the Moon, on Amazon now

  • Gardens of the Moon
  • Deadhouse Gates
  • Memories of Ice
  • House of Chains
  • Midnight Tides
  • The Bonehunters
  • Reaper’s Gale
  • Toll the Hounds
  • Dust of Dreams
  • The Crippled God

The Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood

Duncton Wood book cover.Duncton Wood is the moving love story of Bracken and Rebecca and the trials they must face and overcome to be as one. It is unfortunate that this work must be compared to Watership Down but that is the only book with which I can really compare it to in terms of story-line and excellence. This book is about moles and unlike anything you have ever read before. The animal kingdom is savage and survival of the fittest is a fact of life (or death). This is a book for adults and is at times as dark as it is uplifting. The book was first published in 1980 and has since become a best-selling novel. A story of courage, loyalty and the power of love… inspired by the shadows and light of England’s most beautiful countryside.

Purchase the first book in this series, Duncton Wood, on Amazon now

  • Duncton Wood
  • Duncton Quest
  • Duncton Found
  • Duncton Tales
  • Duncton Rising
  • Duncton Stone

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R Donaldson

Lord Foul's Bane book cover.The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever are a series of fantasy novels with tremendous scope and a psychological depth never before attempted. Written by Stephen R. Donaldson the Chronicles reveal the existence of another Earth, and recount the otherworldly adventures and struggles of a human from our Earth, Thomas Covenant.

Purchase the first book in this series, Lord Foul’s Bane, on Amazon now

First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  • Lord Foul’s Bane
  • The Illearth War
  • The Power That Preserves

Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  • The Wounded Land
  • The One Tree
  • White Gold Wielder

Third Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  • The Runes of the Earth
  • Fatal Revenant
  • Against All Things Ending
  • The Last Dark

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

A Game of Thrones book cover.George R R Martin’s glorious high fantasy tells the tragic story of treachery, greed and war that threatens the unity of the Seven Kingdoms south of the Wall. Martin unfolds with astonishing skill a tale of truly epic dimensions, thronged with memorable characters, a story of treachery and ambition, love and magic. Set in a fabulous world scarred by battle and catastrophe over 8000 years of recorded history, it tells of the deeds of men and women locked in the deadliest of conflicts and the terrible legacy they will leave their children. In the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. And in the bitter-cold, unliving lands beyond the Wall, a terrible winter gathers and the others – the undead, the neverborn, wildlings to whom the threat of the sword is nothing – make ready to descend on the realms of men. Fantasy literature has never shied away from grandeur, but the sheer mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads… Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias.

Purchase the first book in this series, A Game of Thrones, on Amazon now

  • A Game of Thrones
  • A Clash of Kings
  • A Storm of Swords
  • A Feast for Crows
  • A Dance with Dragons
  • The Winds of Winter
  • A Dream of Spring

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who’s parents have been killed in a ‘car crash’. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day. Read and find out how Harry discovers his true heritage at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, the reason behind his parents mysterious death, who is out to kill him, and how he uncovers the most amazing secret of all time, the fabled Philosopher’s Stone! All this and muggles too. Now, what are they?

Purchase the first book in this series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, on Amazon now

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney

Cover image of The Spook's Apprentice.

‘Someone has to stand against the dark. And you’re the only one who can.’ For years, the local Spook has been keeping the County safe from evil. Now his time is coming to an end, but who will take over? Many apprentices have tried… Some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive. Just one boy is left. Thomas Ward. He is the last hope. But does he stand a chance against Mother Malkin, the most dangerous witch in the County?

Purchase the first book in this series, The Spook’s Apprentice, on Amazon now

  • The Spook’s Apprentice
  • The Spook’s Curse
  • The Spook’s Secret
  • The Spook’s Battle
  • The Spook’s Mistake
  • The Spook’s Sacrifice
  • The Spook’s Nightmare
  • The Spook’s Destiny

The Mythago Cycle by Robert Holdstock

Cover image of Mythago Wood.Deep within the wildwood lies a place of myth and mystery, from which few return, and none remain unchanged. Ryhope Wood may look like a three-mile-square fenced-in wood in rural Herefordshire on the outside, but inside, it is a primeval, intricate labyrinth of trees, impossibly huge, unforgettable . . . and stronger than time itself. Stephen Huxley has already lost his father to the mysteries of Ryhope Wood. On his return from the Second World War, he finds his brother, Christopher, is also in thrall to the mysterious wood, wherein lies a realm where mythic archetypes grow flesh and blood, where love and beauty haunt your dreams, and in promises of freedom lies the sanctuary of insanity…

Purchase the first book in this series, Mythago Wood, on Amazon now

  • Mythago Wood
  • Lavondyss
  • The Bone Forest
  • The Hollowing
  • Merlin’s Wood
  • Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn
  • Avilion

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Storm Front by Jim Butcher cover image.Meet Harry Dresden, Chicago’s first (and only) Wizard P.I. Turns out the ‘everyday’ world is full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Harry is the best at what he does – and not just because he’s the only one who does it. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal capabilities, they look to him for answers. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting. Magic – it can get a guy killed.

Purchase the first book in this series, Storm Front, on Amazon now

  • Storm Front (2000)
  • Fool Moon (2001)
  • Grave Peril (2001)
  • Summer Knight (2002)
  • Death Masks (2003)
  • Blood Rites (2004)
  • Dead Beat (2005)
  • Proven Guilty (2006)
  • White Night (2007)
  • Small Favor (2008)
  • Turn Coat (2009)
  • Changes (2010)
  • Ghost Story (2011)
  • Cold Days (2012)

Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair book cover.There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of a new crime wave’s Mr Big. Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing. Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. But solving crimes against literature isn’t easy when you also have to find time to halt the Crimean War, persuade the man you love to marry you , and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

Purchase the first book in this series, The Eyre Affair, on Amazon now

  • The Eyre Affair
  • Lost in a Good Book
  • The Well of Lost Plots
  • Something Rotten
  • First Among Sequels
  • One of our Thursdays is Missing
  • The Woman Who Died a Lot

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

The Gunslinger cover image.Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own. In his first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.

Purchase the first book in this series, The Dark Tower, on Amazon now

  • The Gunslinger
  • The Drawing of the Three
  • The Waste Lands
  • Wizard and Glass
  • The Wind Through the Keyhole
  • Wolves of the Calla
  • Song of Susannah
  • The Dark Tower

The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Cover image of The Curse of the Gloamglozer.Quint, son of sky pirate captain, and new apprentice to Linius Pallitax, the Most High Academe, has been set some highly important tasks. Just how important, Quint is about to find out as he and Linius’s only daughter, Maris, are plunged into a terrifying adventure that takes them deep within the rock upon which Sanctaphrax is built. Here, they unwittingly invoke an ancient curse – the curse of the gloamglozer…

Purchase the first book in this series, The Curse of the Gloamglozer, on Amazon now

The Quint Sequence

  • Curse of the Gloamglozer
  • The Winter Knights
  • Clash of the Sky Galleons

The Twig Sequence

  • Beyond the Deepwoods
  • Stormchaser
  • Midnight Over Sanctaphrax

The Rook Sequence

  • Last of the Sky Pirates
  • Vox
  • Freeglader

The Immortals

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

The Black Company book cover.Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead. Then comes the prophecy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more…

Purchase the first book in this series, The Black Company, on Amazon now

  • The Black Company – Books of the North
  • Shadows Linger – Books of the North
  • The White Rose – Books of the North
  • Shadow Games – Books of the South
  • Dreams of Steel – Books of the South
  • Bleak Seasons – Books of the Glittering Stone
  • She Is The Darkness – Books of the Glittering Stone
  • Water Sleeps – Books of the Glittering Stone
  • Soldiers Live – Books of the Glittering Stone

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World book cover image.Life in Emond’s Field has been pretty boring for Rand Al’Thor and his friends until a strange young woman arrives in their village. Moraine is an Aes Sedai, a magician with the ability to wield the One Power, and she brings warnings of a terrible evil awakening in the world. That very night, the village is attacked by bloodthirsty Trollocs – a fearsome tribe of beast-men thought to be no more than myth. As Emond’s Field burns, Moraine and her warrior-guardian help Rand and his companions to escape. But it is only the beginning of their troubles. For Moraine believes Rand Al’Thor is the Dragon Reborn, and that he is fated to unite the world against the rising darkness and lead the fight against a being so powerful and evil it is known simply as the Dark One.

Purchase the first book in this series, The Eye of the World, on Amazon now

  • The Eye of the World (1990)
  • The Great Hunt (1990)
  • The Dragon Reborn (1991)
  • The Shadow Rising (1992)
  • The Fires of Heaven (1993)
  • Lord of Chaos (1994)
  • A Crown of Swords (1996)
  • The Path of Daggers (1998)
  • Winter’s Heart (2000)
  • Crossroads of Twilight (2003)
  • Knife of Dreams (2005)
  • The Gathering Storm (2009)
  • Towers of Midnight (2010)
  • A Memory of Light (2013)

Riftwar Saga by Raymond E Feist

At Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil Kingdom of the Isles, an orphan boy, Pug, is apprenticed to a master magician – and the destinies of two worlds are changed forever. Suddenly the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders swarm the land. Pug is swept up into the conflict but for him and his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun. Tomas will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilization. Pug’s destiny is to lead him through a rift in the fabric of space and time to the mastery of the unimaginable powers of a strange new magic.

Purchase the first book in this series, Magician, on Amazon now

  • Magician
  • Silverthorn
  • A Darkness at Sethanon
  • Prince of the Blood
  • The Kings Buccaneer

The Rigante Novels by David Gemmell

Cover image of David Gemmell's Sword in the Storm.Fierce and proud, the Rigante dwell deep in the green mountain lands, worshiping the gods of air and water, and the spirits of the earth. Among them lives a warrior who bears the mark of fate. Born of the storm that slew his father, he is Connavar, and tales of his courage spread like wildfire. The Seidh – a magical race as old as time – take note of the young warrior and cast a malignant shadow across his life. For soon a merciless army will cross the water, destroying forever the timeless rhythms of life among the Rigante. Swearing to protect his people, Connavar embarks on a quest that will take him into the heart of the enemy. Along the way, he receives a gift: a sword as powerful and deadly as the Seidh who forged it. Thus he receives a name that will strike fear into the hearts of friend and foe alike – a name proclaiming a glorious and bitter destiny… Demonblade.

Purchase the first book in this series, The Sword in the Storm, on Amazon now

  • Sword In The Storm
  • Midnight Falcon
  • Ravenheart
  • Stormrider

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Book cover of The Colour of Magic.Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld. Tourist, Rincewind decided, meant idiot. Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. It plays by different rules. Certainly it refuses to succumb to the quaint notion that universes are ruled by pure logic and the harmony of numbers. But just because the Disc is different doesn’t mean that some things don’t stay the same. Its very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the arrival of the first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. But if the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death is a spectacularly inept wizard, a little logic might turn out to be a very good idea…

Purchase the first book in this series, The Colour of Magic, on Amazon now

  • The Colour of Magic
  • The Light Fantastic
  • Mort
  • Sourcery
  • Wyrd Sisters
  • Pyramids
  • Guards! Guards!
  • Faust Eric
  • Moving Pictures
  • Reaper Man

The above are just the first ten books in the Discworld series, click here for the complete list.

Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

Obernewtyn book cover image.In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities, it is also dangerous. Survival is only by secrecy and so she determines never to use her forbidden powers. But it is as if they have their own imperative and she is brought to the attention of the totalitarian Council that rules the Land. Banished to the remote mountain institution of Obernewtyn, she must throw off her cloak of concealment and pit herself against those that would resurrect the terrible forces of the apocalypse. Only then will she learn most truly who and what she is …Elspeth is determined to uncover the plot and so, accompanied only by her cat, Maruman, embarks on a terrible adventure full of danger, the conclusion to which promises not just uncertainty about her safety but also that of many around her.

Purchase the first book in this series, Obernewtyn, on Amazon now

  • Obernewtyn
  • The Farseekers
  • Ashling
  • The Keeping Place
  • Wavesong
  • The Stone Key
  • The Sending
  • The Red Queen

A Tale of Einarinn by Juliet E McKenna

Book cover image of The Thief's Gamble.In Einarinn, the secret of magic is known only by an elite few. They live in deliberate isolation, under the watchful eye of the Archmage. But nothing last for ever. Livak is a part-time thief and a full-time gambler, long accustomed to living by her wits and narrowly avoiding serious trouble. When she attempts to sell a stolen antique to a passing merchant, she finds herself pulled into a new and dangerous world of political intrigue in which the stakes are higher than anyone involved can imagine. For the antique she has acquired dates from a particular period in the history of Einarrin about which little is known, but much has been speculated. And when the truth begins to emerge, Livak decides to take the greatest gamble of her life.

Purchase the first book in this series, The Thief’s Gamble, on Amazon now

  • The Thief’s Gamble
  • The Swordsman’s Oath
  • The Gambler’s Fortune
  • The Warrior’s Bond
  • The Assassin’s Edge

The Drenai Novels by David Gemmell

Legend by David Gemmell book cover image.The Legend. Druss, Captain of the Axe: the stories of his life were told everywhere. Instead of the wealth and fame he could have claimed, he had chosen a mountain lair, high in the lonely country bordering on the clouds. There the grizzled old warrior kept company with snow leopards and awaited his old enemy death. The Fortress. Mighty Dros Delnoch, protected by six outer walls, the only route by which an army could pass through the mountains. It was the stronghold of the Drenai empire. And now it was the last battleground, for all else had fallen before the Nadir hordes. And hope rested on the skills of that one old man…

Purchase the first book in this series, Legend, on Amazon now

  • Legend (1984)
  • The King Beyond the Gate (1985)
  • Waylander (1986)
  • Quest for Lost Heroes (1990)
  • Waylander II – In the Realm of the Wolf (1993)
  • The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend (1993)
  • The Legend of Death Walker (1996)
  • Winter Warriors (1996)
  • Hero in the Shadows (2000)

The Ravens series by James Barclay

Dawnthief book cover imageThe 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…

Purchase the first book in this series, Dawnthief, on Amazon now

  • Dawnthief
  • Noonshade
  • Nightchild
  • Elfsorrow
  • Shadowheart
  • Demonstorm
  • Ravensoul

The Deverry Cycle by Katherine Kerr

daggerspell
The celebrated Deverry series, an epic fantasy rooted in Celtic mythology that intricately interweaves human and elven history over several hundred years.

Do you agree with our selection of top fantasy series? If you have do not, or if you have any further recommendations then please let us know by leaving comment below. Thank you, we hope you enjoyed reading our list.

Comments

L2Think
June 22nd, 2009

Where’s Wheel of Time on that list!?!

Aaron
September 12th, 2009

twilight?

Thomas
October 24th, 2009

Wheel of Time should definitely be near the top of that list.

Jarrock
November 2nd, 2009

No Discworld? Really?

Xyresic
January 18th, 2010

Although Twilight is an entertaining read it is nothing more than cheap thrills filled with angst. It shouldn’t be on the list. Wheel of Time, in my opinion, should be, but it did have some problems along the middle of the series. It’s still my favorite but I can see why it wouldn’t be on here. Terry Pratchett has written so many books, all of which can’t really be described as a series and can’t be seen as anything by themselves. Maybe they just couldn’t be defined as easily.

Ritika
April 14th, 2010

The Prince of Nothing (R. Scott Bakker series) is amazing too!

Owmythumb!
August 7th, 2010

.. Twilight? Not really.
Discworld! It should be on the list – it’s such an epic series! :D

Melissa
August 26th, 2010

I am gonna read the song of ice and fire books does anyone know if it is good?

Eamonn Sullivan
October 27th, 2010

A Song of Ice and Fire is brilliant, however it is not complete. Martin has only completed the first 4 of these books and I think we’ve been waiting since 2005/6 since he published book 4. It’s conceivable that Martin may not finish this series for 10 more years. Do you really want to wait that long? In saying that, they are brilliant books.

Luniz
November 5th, 2010

A very good list. The series that I’ve read are much better than those that have been left off such as WoT. And I agree that Fire and Ice may never be completed, it’s dubious to include it.

Burr
November 18th, 2010

Bartimaeus Trilogy? :{ (You’re right, I agree, it needs to be in there, may turn the list up to 11 – Ed)

Simon
November 22nd, 2010

What about Dresden Files? It should be on the list, it’s a pretty cool series even if it’s not yet complete :)

Michaela Truffault
January 16th, 2011

Did you hear something about an Italian fantasy book intitled Stigmergy? All fantasy book readers are talking about it, but I cannot find the English version… where can I find it? Could you please help me? Thank you in advance.
Michaela, Germany

Stevie
March 1st, 2011

A Song of Ice and Fire, so far is almost as good as LOTR. Read it! You will have it in your hand every spare moment you get until you finish A Feast for Crows. I only hope the series actually gets finished. Superbly written, fantastically formed characters, fascinating setting. All in all, a 10 out of 10 read.

Stevie
March 1st, 2011

Also, Harry Potter should not be on that list. I don’t think mediocre series’ should be put on a top 10 list. HP ain’t bad but can’t compete with the other heavyweights on the list!

Rebecca
March 3rd, 2011

I think The Age Of The Five trilogy or The Black Magician trilogy should be on there. They’re by Trudi Canavan and are completely amazing and gripping! (:

Ryan
March 23rd, 2011

A Song of Ice and Fire is just as good as LOTR, possibly better, and Harry Potter, while not technically as good of writing as the rest (I think it’s pretty close) definitely deserves respect for its success.

JacktheBeard
March 31st, 2011

You don’t have Wheel of Time on the list so I hate this site; but you do have Earthsea on the list so I love this site.

Ryan Lawler
April 1st, 2011

The Wheel of Time is one of the greatest Epic Fantasy series, but the Fantasy genre is so much more than Epic Fantasy and so it becomes hard to fit everyones favourite series into a Top 10.

While this may not be my Top 10, these are all great series deserving of the various accolades bestowed upon them.

My Top 10 fantasy series in no particular order:
- Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
- Harry Potter by JK Rowling
- The Dark Tower by Stephen King
- The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
- His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
- The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody
- The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Fiest
- The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde
- The Stone Dance of the Chameleon by Ricardo Pinto
- The Old Kingdom (Abhorsen) by Garth Nix

Other series that I wanted to fit in there but just couldn’t were Wheel of Time, Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card, Word/Void by Terry Brooks, Magic Kingdom for Sale by Terry Brooks, The Engineer Trilogy by K. J. Parker, New Crobuzon by China Mieville, A Song of Ice and Fire by GRRM, The Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch, Discworld by Terry Pratchett… the list goes on and on…

Derrick Kinzer
April 20th, 2011

Wot def. should be on this list. There has never been a series including Lotr that can top it. 12 books and a prequel so far. More too come and still keeps you wondering about the world that youve come to love. Not to mention that if Robert Jordan had lived for ever which is what it would have took to finish the series. There could have been many other spin off series based on prequels for the early ages and future times and ages possibly. No set of books have had as much detial put into the world and character base as Wot. Middle earth can not even come close. Look at all that we don’t know about Shiara and Seachen and the land of mad men that we don’t know yet you know you want to. Look at the Wiki created for it. It is amazing how gifted Robert Jordan was with this. Just my humble opinion.

Damo
April 27th, 2011

The way of the shadows by brent weeks and the first law by joe abercrombie are both excellent trilogies, highly recommended.

Stevie
June 6th, 2011

Thinking about reading The Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series. Any good, anybody?

Ryan Lawler
June 7th, 2011

Hi Stevie. Have a look at our review of the first book – http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/Karen-Miller/The-Innocent-Mage.html

Stevie
June 8th, 2011

Cheers Ryan. Might give it a wee read. Sounds promising!

Jeremy
June 24th, 2011

My favorite series of all time is Jim Butcher’s, The Dresden Files. Large list of characters and the plots become more complex as the series goes on. A must read.

Lee
June 24th, 2011

Good call Jeremy, the Dresden Files are an excellent series. I haven’t read The Wheel of Time books yet (although many of our other reviewers have) so that is why they are not on there (yet). Stephen King’s Dark Tower books would be on there too, if you only judge the first 5 books… David Gemmell’s Drenai novels, Feist’s Riftwar Saga, the Discworld novels… Should A Song of Ice and Fire be on there being as it is unfinished? I have to admit that this list is flawed but hopefully one day it will be in better shape. One thing I am certain of is that Steven Erikson’s Malazan books deserve to be on there – an incredible ten books and a series now complete.

Becky
July 22nd, 2011

I generally agree with the original list. IMHO leaving off WoT was a stroke of genius. It got itself terribly lost somewhere between volumes 8 & 9. But, being a fan and collector of young people’s books, I would enjoy seeing Diana Wynn-Jones’ “Tales of the Chrestomancy” and Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl.” Otherwise, Tad William’s “Shadow” series or “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” are also missing from this list.

Maybe next time…

Ray
August 6th, 2011

Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl.” Was just awful. But i just started “Game Of Thrones” and it’s not too bad.”The Inheritance Cycle” started a little rough,but kinda kicks a little ass by book 3 . You have to listen to the audio book . The reader breaths life into it .

Dellmadelyne
August 25th, 2011

The Harpist in the Wind series? A wonderful 3 book series about personal power with a fab ending…

Narcissus
October 3rd, 2011

I hope to get The Society On Da Run on that list! ^^

Hawkwise
November 6th, 2011

no Gemmell ? No Eddings ? pfft

Lee
November 8th, 2011

Hawkwise,

I will happily add both Gemmell and Eddings to the list, but which series. You see, I loved the Jon Shannow novels and the Belgariad… do these two showcase the best of these great authors? Or would the Rigante novels and The Tamuli be a better choice…

Decisions. Decisions…

Any comment on this would be most welcome!

Lee
November 8th, 2011

Oh, and to add to an earlier post. I have just begun reading The Wheel of Time. I know, I am a little behind on this one. I’ve read the opening three chapters and I did catch myself fondly remembering Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings as I believe the two stories have parallels.

I first tried to listen to The Wheel of Time on audio book but am beginning to discover that high fantasy and audio books don’t mix very well – too many made-up names and words that can make the story hard to follow – you really need to see them written down I feel.

Ryan Lawler
November 9th, 2011

I like Gemmell and Eddings, but for me they are good entry level fantasy. As you start to mature your tastes in fantasy and read some of the better works out there, it becomes hard to go back to Eddings and Gemmell without feeling like they are just a bit to simplistic.

I will always remember these authors fondly for what they did in bringing fantasy into the mainstream, and they will hold a place in my heart as being the authors of the first fantasy books I ever read, but they haven’t aged well and I just dont enjoy reading them anymore.

Lee
November 9th, 2011

Ah, you see I hold simplicity very dear to my heart! I’m going to be re-reading the Jon Shannow novels over Christmas so it will be interesting to see how they hold-up.

This page really needs some serious attention and a bit of a spruce up, some images at the very least.

There is nothing I love more than people leaving suggestions (the criteria is a series consisting of more than 3 books – so this will mean the removal of His Dark Materials, The Lord of the Rings and the Duncton Wood books and expanding the Robin Hobb and Stephen Donaldson entries to encompass all in the series). I will also attempt to put some voting mechanism so that the masses can have their say!

In fact a poll running on the site might be a great idea too.

Ryan Lawler
November 9th, 2011

I think there is a subtle difference between simplicity and simplistic. Some writers can do amazing things with some very simple concepts, while other writers take a concept that should be complex but give it a very simplistic treatment.

With the criteria for determining what actually counts as a series, I dont know if I like the “more than 3 books” restriction. A series like Harry Potter would qualify because it has more than three novels in the series, but a series like Mistborn with only three novels would not qualify, despite being longer in total word count than the entire Harry Potter series. Just food for thought Lee :P

Lee
November 9th, 2011

Doesn’t the Alloy of Law make Mistborn 4 books? :P The “more than 3 books” restriction is flawed but I like it as I am too. (Flawed: As in nearly, but not quite perfect)

I’m putting a poll up today – would appreciate your feedback once it’s live. Discworld, Dresden Files, Shannara, Thursday Next… all to be included.

emer
November 17th, 2011

Where is Darkover! Where is the Diplomacy of Wolves – a very under appreciated saga? Where is the Empire Trilogy by Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts! And of Course Wheel of time? And possibly Patrick Rothfuss’s new trilogy or jack vance, the list can go on… interesting list though!

Ryan Lawler
November 20th, 2011

Hi Emer,

I think the whole Darkover universe is pretty cool, but there are better written works out there. Diplomacy of Wolves doesn’t get any appreciation because Lisle writes boring characters and because this book failed in its attempt to emulate G.R.R.M. It promised to be a complex dark fantasy, but it quickly devolved into a boring quest novel with a protagonist who the author made pains to point out was a woman almost every page.

Empire could have gone on there, I think it is the best of the Feist trilogies, but which series would you replace? Spook’s series by Delaney possibly. The reasons for why Wheel of Time isn’t up there I think have been made through all the comments, as you say the list could go on and for us the Wheel of Time is very close but just misses the cut.

Rothfuss doesn’t meet the criteria here because at the time of writing this list he only had the one book out. And its probably remiss of me, but I haven’t read any Jack Vance and I don’t think I will because every time I pick up a Vance book I find nothing that appeals to me.

Mowen
December 6th, 2011

No Society On Da Run on the list? Awww man!
I still think it’s a good list.

Anon
May 4th, 2012

Ann Rice’s Interview with the Vampire Chronicles?

Tyler
July 2nd, 2012

This is a newer series, not a lot of people know about it yet. However, I would highly recommend “The Kingkiller Chronicles” by Patrick Rothfuss to anyone, it isn’t complete yet but I believe it easily makes this list as well.

Ady
July 10th, 2012

I am looking for a trilogy about a girl who must either master or understand each race on the planet to stop something form happening. Not much to go on I know, I sort of remember she is in a dancing/magic act during a performance gets attacked by an assassin, a female warrior ghost who battled against a race of super beings (also the last race the girl must understand). The girl finds this ghost in the dungeons of an old castle, she can travel through earth and rock, there’s one part I remember where she comes out of the earth into a lake and because she’s so hot from the lava evaporates the water. If anyone knows what this series is could you let me know, I read the books about 8 years ago while on holidays with friends (I borrowed them from the library) but cannot remember what they were called or who wrote them.

jake
July 29th, 2012

No Weis/Hickman? Drangonlance?.. The dark tower series is awesome. No Drizzt the dark elf? I got bored with the Wheel of Time, stopped reading at book 9.

Oscar
August 18th, 2012

Where in the Creators name is the Swords of truth series.

Jerome
August 27th, 2012

I must say I thought that David Eddings would have made the list although I can see why it hasn’t in favour of the others on the list. I grew up with The Belgariad and The Mallorean, I must have read these two series a handful of times in high school. I was later recommended Wheel of Time by the librarian and, like you Lee, found the similarities in the earlier part of the series with Eddings’ work refreshing!

Another series that didn’t make the list that I quite enjoyed was the Axis Triology by Sara Douglass…I recently learned she had followed it up with further books so must get back to read them!

Lee
August 28th, 2012

Hi Jerome,

Ah, Eddings. I loved the Belgarion and Sparhawk books and always have a hankering to re-read them every year. Unfortunately I rarely have the time to re-read for pleasure and have so far only managed The Diamond Throne, which I found to be a great little read. Quite a lot of people are quite dismissive of Eddings but I think they are doing him a great disservice, his books are great fantasy and lovely to lose yourself within. Is is Shakespeare or Tolstoy? No, of course it isn’t, but it a great tale of epic fantasy and a lot of fun. Yes, it has racial stereotypes but not in a way that I found offensive. I’m glad you mentioned him.

I’m not a fan of The Wheel of Time books myself (I plan to write a post on why soon), the reason they are in the top 100 is because so many people obviously do love them, including many reviewers for the site.

Right, might go and start reading the second Sparhawk book…

Lee

Ryan Lawler
September 13th, 2012

As much as I hate to admit it, the David Eddings books have not aged very well. We should definitely acknowledge the importance of his books in making the fantasy genre what it is today – Pawn of Prophecy was one of the first fantasy books I ever read and was a gateway novel to fantasy for many of my friends – but the problem with writing one of the first popular fantasy series to come after Tolkien is that his books will always be talked about in comparison to Tolkien, while everything that came after his books will talk about they learnt from his mistakes.

A Top 10 of Important Authors would be a very interesting one. I would almost definitely include Eddings in that list, but probably as a conglomerate addition with Raymond E. Feist, David Gemmell and Terry Brooks called Children of Tolkien. You would also have to include Tolkien, probably Frank Herbert for Dune, Stephen King for his various works, Robert Jordan for showing us it’s possible to do very large scale fantasy epics in a readable manner, George R.R. Martin for finally bringing fantasy into the mainstream, H.P. Lovecraft for creating a mythology that continues to haunt us (you would almost lump him together with guys like Robert E. Howard, Bram Stoker, and maybe Kenneth Grahame), the Grandchildren of Tolkien (Rothfuss, Sanderson, Erikson, Lynch, Abercrombie, Weeks, etc.), J.K. Rowling for getting children and adults to read again, and maybe you would include the likes of Amanda Hocking and Michael J. Sullivan for ushering in this new era of high quality self publishing. Oh and Sir Pterry Pratchett. And I still feel like I’m leaving out big names would easily deserve to be on a Top 10 Important Fantasy Authors. Ursula Le Guin, Robin Hobb, China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, Philip Pullman, R.A. Salvatore, N.K. Jemisin, Anne Rice, Orson Scott Card, Connie Willis, Garth Nix, Jim Butcher, Diana Wynne Jones, Anne McCaffrey etc. etc. etc.

Mariette
February 12th, 2013

ROBIN HOBB! THE BEST EVER!

Daniel
July 11th, 2013

I would say Eddings Sparhawk character is one of the best heroes. Eddings also sprinkles his work with something a lot of fantasy writers struggle to do well… humour. David Gemmell is quite easily the best heroic fantasy writer. His characters are easily likeable and identifiable and his stories are action packed and to the point. Jon Shannow trilogy is one of the best characters ever written! If you are after a quick enjoyable read between or to break up a larger series then Gemmell is the man for the job. Also I can never understand the criticism of Terry Goodkind. So what if people think his writing is simplistic. I found his books engrossing and very hard to put down. All the above authors are from the last generation though and I think writing has improved to the point where the above writers shouldn’t be compared side by side with the Sandersons, Rothfuss’ and Arbercrombie’s of the new wave. Also, I never see this book mentioned but Battle Royale by Koushun Takami is excellent.

Tim
July 20th, 2013

Salvatore ! Dark Elf !

Tob
September 26th, 2013

I wonder, where is Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilolgy? Truly enchanted my childhood but perhaps that’s what it is, a children’s book. Still my best fantasy read yet.

Lee
September 26th, 2013

Hi Tob, for the purposes of this list I decided to include only series of 4 and more books. So no trilogies. However, I am aware there are two more Dark Materials books besides the trilogy itself in Once Upon A Time in the North and Lyra’s Oxford (please forgive any inaccuracies) but I see these more as companion pieces than additional novels. So that’s why the series is not on the list. I’m wondering whether a Recommended Fantasy Trilogy page is worth doing… If we did His Dark Materials would probably be on there. My thoughts on the trilogy is that the first two books are excellent but book three left me very disappointed. I plan to re-read very soon so I’ll see how it goes second time around. Book 3 was rather preachy and confusing from what I remember.

Abest77
April 30th, 2014

I think you’ve forgotten some really good ones which have their place on this list :
-Wheel of Time
-His Dark Material
And, of course… The Lord of The Rings !!!! It’s a must-read !!!! Just a classic as much as all your Shakespeare and Poe’s books. I think you have to re-do this list…

Lee Sibbald
May 3rd, 2014

Hi Abest77.

The Wheel of Time series is on the list. The reason His Dark Materials and Lord of the Rings are not on there is because I see them as trilogies, rather than series, and although there are books that accompany the trilogy, such as Once Upon A Time in the North and Sauron Defeated for example, I think the book world will also see both (which are excellent by the way) are just 3 books, and the criteria for this page is 4 books +.

Kind regards,
Lee

Janet
June 17th, 2014

For all the people who are wondering where The Wheel of Time is on the list… The Eye of the World is listed and the first book in the series.

David Balman
June 24th, 2014

I must admit I have read through many of the above series and while I will always fondly remember the Gemmell series as one of my favourite if a little basic I would also recommend the James Barclay Raven series books for all out action fantasy as well.

But my all time favourite series is the Malazan series by Steven Erikson. While not for the fainthearted as it can be hard work and at times grim I have never read a series with such scope and imagination.

Lee Sibbald
June 24th, 2014

David, thanks for backing up many of the selections, it is appreciated. And the Barclay Raven series definitely deserves to be on this list, being more than 3 books and very favourably reviewed on the site. I will add it at the next available opportunity.

Kind regards,
Lee

Coty Sledge
July 28th, 2014

Although it is considered youth fiction the Keys to The Kingdom series by Garth Nix is definitely worth the read. There’s 7 books and Nix is so creative.

Lee Sibbald
July 29th, 2014

Hi Coty, that’s a great suggestion and a series worth adding, as we already review it favourably on the site and Garth Nix is an author we admire. I will add Keys to the Kingdom to this list within the next 2 weeks.

Thank you so much,
Lee

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