Our top fantasy book 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 by Robin Hobb. These are the top fantasy book 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.

You may also be interested in our list of recommended fantasy trilogies.

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Saga fantasy series) illustration by David Lupton
Image © David Lupton

The island of Gont is a land famous for wizards. Of these, some say the greatest – and surely the greatest voyager – is the man called Sparrowhawk. As a reckless, awkward boy, he discovered the great power that was in him – with terrifying consequences. Tempted by pride to try spells beyond his means, Sparrowhawk lets loose an evil shadow-beast in his land. Only he can destroy it, and the quest leads him to the farthest corner of Earthsea.

We say: “Ursula Le Guin has a reputation for exploring psychological and sociological themes within her books and this collection is no different. These novels can be read by children and enjoyed from the perspective of magic, wizards, adventure and the beautifully imagined world of Earthsea. They can also be appreciated by adults for the thought-provoking elements that the book conjures. This is a collection that makes you think and leaves you thinking.”Ursula Le Guin’s creation, Earthsea – an ancient world of wizards, magic, darkness and light, and an ever-shifting balance of power – is an acknowledged masterpiece.

Read our review of The Earthsea Quartet, which contains books one to four in the Earthsea Saga.

“One of the major works of fantasy in this century.” Observer

  • 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

Image from Royal Assassin, book two of the Real of the Elderlings fantasy series
Image © John Howe

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility. So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

We say: “Robin Hobb is an author of rare skill and imagination and the books (13 and counting) that make up her Elderlings series are among the best the genre has to offer. She writes beautifully and her characters are so real you can almost touch them.”

Read our review of Assassin’s Apprentice, book one of the Farseer Trilogy.

“Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers! what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics.” The Times

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

The Rainwild Chronicles

  • Dragon Keeper
  • Dragon Haven
  • City of Dragons
  • Blood of Dragons

Fitz and the Fool

  • Fool’s Assassin
  • Fool’s Quest
  • Assassin’s Fate

Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen fantasy series) illustration
Image © J.K. Drummond

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…

We say: “Arguably the best fantasy series ever written. This is of course subject to personal opinion and fans of Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire and Robin Hobb’s trilogy of trilogies (Farseer, Liveship and Tawny) are quite able to put a very strong case forward for their favoured works but few can deny that the quality and ambition of the ten books that make up A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen are unmatched within the genre.”

Read our review of Gardens of the Moon, book one in the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

“Erikson is an extraordinary writer… my advice to anyone who might listen to me is: treat yourself to Gardens of the Moon.” Stephen R. Donaldson

“I stand slack-jawed in awe of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. This masterwork of the imagination may be the high watermark of epic fantasy.” Glen Cook

  • 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 cover art
Image © John Barber

The moles of Duncton Wood live in the shadow of Mandrake, a cruel tyrant corrupted by absolute power. A solitary young mole, Bracken, is thrown into leading the fight to free Duncton Wood. Only by putting his trust in the ancient Stone, forgotten symbol of a great spiritual past, can he find the strength to challenge Mandrake’s darkness. When Bracken falls in love with Rebecca, Mandrake’s daughter, the moles must make life and death choices as their extraordinary search for freedom and truth begins… Together Bracken and Rebecca will embark on moving journey that will challenge them in ways they could never have imagined. But can they save Duncton before it’s too late?

We say: “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.”

Read our review of Duncton Wood, the first book in the Duncton Chronicles.

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

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R Donaldson

An illustration of The Land from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
Image © Michael Whelan

He called himself Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, because he dared not believe in the strange alternative world on which he suddenly found himself – the Land. But the Land tempted him. As a leper, in his own world he had been an outcast, unclean, a pariah. Now he was regarded as a saviour, the reincarnation of the Land’s greatest hero – Berek Halfhand. Only the mystic powers of the white gold he carried could protect the Lords of the Land from the ancient evil of the Despiser, Lord Foul. Yet Thomas Covenant had no idea how those powers could be tapped…

We say: “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever are a series of fantasy novels with tremendous scope and a psychological depth that had never before been attempted. They are very complex pieces of work but at heart you’ll find a good old-fashioned tale of epic fantasy. The series can not be read without the reader’s constant concentration, it is adult fantasy fiction and the casual fantasy reader may need a period of time in which to become accustomed to this – there are no lovable hobbits to ease you into the story, here you have a man that has lost everything, a man who is angry, bitter, an outcast from the life and the world he knew. But the effort spent in reading this series is rewarded ten-times over and I recommend that every fantasy fan read this seminal work.”

Read our review of Lord Foul’s Bane, book one in the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

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

Ned Stark’s execution
Image © Magali Villeneuve

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must… and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

We say: “A Game of Thrones is without a doubt one of the most involved and simultaneously enjoyable books I have ever read.  If you like Tolkien, or if you like the idea of an epic fantasy series, then you must pick up A Game of Thrones as soon as possible. Martin’s ability to create a world both entertaining and disastrously realistic is nothing short of mind numbingly brilliant.”

Read our review of A Game of Thrones, the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series.

  • 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, from the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Image © Jim Kay

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed for ever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!

We say: “Is all the hype about the Harry Potter books justified? In a word, yes, the books are a joy to read and possibly the most rewarding young adult’s book since The Hobbit. Hogwarts is a truly magical place, not only in the most obvious way but also in all the detail that the author has gone to describe it so vibrantly. It is the place that everybody wishes they could of gone to when they where eleven. This book is highly recommended to anybody between the ages of 8 and 80.”

Read our review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, book one of the Harry Potter series.

  • 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

An interior illustration of The Wardstone Chronices by David Wayt
Image © David Wyatt

Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before him. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the Country, the horror begins…

We say: “You could say that if Ursula Le Guin and The Sixth Sense merged then the outcome may be as good as The Spook’s Apprentice. I would heavily recommend The Spook’s Apprentice to young adults looking for a fantastic series. Chilling, memorable, full of wonderful characters and written in a fluid style that makes the narrative accessible to all ages.”

Read our review of The Spook’s Apprentice, book one of The Wardstone Chronicles.

  • 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
  • Spook’s: I Am Grimalkin
  • The Spook’s Blood
  • Spook’s: Slither’s Tale
  • Spook’s: Alice
  • The Spook’s Revenge

The Mythago Cycle by Robert Holdstock

Mythago Wood illustration (John Howe)
Image © John Howe

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…

We say: “For all its savagery, you are hoping that there is, somewhere in this world, a wood like this in existence. Mythago Wood is a fantasy masterpiece.”

Read our review of Mythago Wood, book one of the Mythago Cycle.

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

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Dresden Files illustration by Javier Charro
Image © Javier Charro

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Reasonable rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best and technically the ‘only’ at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal capabilities, they come to him for answers. For the ‘everyday’ world is actually full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a – well, whatever.

We say: “Great characters, a mystery that twists and turns like a corkscrew and above all, Harry, a wizard with a world weary sense of humour, who takes life on the chin.”

Read our review of Storm Front, book one in the Dresden Files series.

  • 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)
  • Skin Game (2014)

Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next illustration by Dylan Meconis and Bill Mudron
Image © Dylan Meconis and Bill Mudron

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.

We say: “A great combination of humour thriller, science-fiction, detective and fantasy,. In my opinion this book really takes the fantasy fiction genre further. I know I am going to repeat myself but this series is how Thursday would have said it: “mad as pants”. It combines some great elements that truly make this book comes to life in more than one dimension. Combining funny and witty dialogues but also numerous literary ideas with the bookworms and names of several of the characters make this a terrific read and should be compulsory for everyone. ”

Read our review of The Eyre Affair, book one of the Thursday Next series.

  • 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

Illustration featuring Roland Deschain and The Dark Tower by Michael Whelan
Image © Michael Whelan

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.

We say: “The Dark Tower boasts some of the best characters in fantasy and the first instalment introduces to us the obsessive and lonely gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, and the innocent yet world-weary Jake of New York. And as we read they form a tender and loving relationship that is pivotal to all that follows. From the beginnings in the desert and through events and flashbacks we then visit the doomed town of Tull, visit Gilead, see the New York of Jake’s when and finally travel through the mountains to the moment when Roland faces the most difficult decision of his life.”

Read our review of The Gunslinger, book one in the Dark Tower series.

  • 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

An illustration of The Banderbear from The Edge Chronicles
Image © Chris Riddell

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…

We say: “Stylishly creepy; at turns gorgeous, humorous, horrifying and awe-inspiring.”

Read our review of Curse of the Gloamglozer, book one of the Edge Chronicles.

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 cover art
Image © Raymond Swanland

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…

We say: “There are no larger than life characters to be found in The Black Company, all contain frailties and failings that are found in all humans. This book is beautifully amoral and contains no two-dimensional characters. As I’ve already mentioned, The Black Company is a wonderfully amoral book, often dark and containing violent battles and fantastic characters. Glen Cook changed the face of the fantasy genre forever – and for the better.”

Read out review of The Black Company, book one of the Chronicles of The Black Company.

  • 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 Dragon Reborn artwork (Wheel of Time)
Image © Darrell K. Sweet

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.

We say: “A saga filled with unforgettable characters and a world steeped in rich history and legend. If you truly love the fantasy genre, passing up a chance to read The Eye of the World would be an unbelievable mistake.”

Read our review of The Eye of the World, book one of the Wheel of Time series.

  • 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

Artwork for Magician Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist
Image © Don Maitz

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.

We say: “If you gain any enjoyment whatsoever from reading fantasy then this is a series that you simply cannot afford not to read. Understandably, this is one of the highest regarded fantasy series of all time.”

Read our review of Magician, book one of the Riftwar Saga.

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

The Rigante Novels by David Gemmell

John Howe's artwork for Sword In The Storm by David Gemmell
Image © John Howe

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.

We say: “A book by David Gemmell is about morally grey heroes, who fight for what they believe in, and regularly get kicked in the nuts by fate. A Tavern brawler who selflessly stands up when faced with injustice. A Drunkard that, without a moment of hesitation, sacrifices his life in favour of an innocent family. A Burly woodcutter that travels to all corners of the world to rescue his captured crush. A pacifistic priest forced to slay numerous enemies. These tales tell of honour and glory, duty and loyalty, courage and resolve, all coated in a wonderful blend of action, black humour and suspense.”

Read our review of Sword In The Storm, book one of The Rigante novels.

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

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Artwork from The Colour of Magic
Image © Josh Kirby

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…

We say: “Be careful! Once you have read and enjoyed one Discworld novel you may find yourself making your way through the whole series.”

Read our review of The Colour of Magic, book one of the Discworld series.

  • 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

Cover illustration for The Stone Key (Obernewtyn Chronicles)
Image © Cathy Larsen

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.

We say: “When you put your mind to considering some of the greatest writers of the English language, it is a source of continuing pity that Isobelle Carmody’s name is not up there along with some of the greats like Tolkien, Lewis and Hemmingway. Though some of her work has been criticized, writing science fiction, fantasy, children’s and young adult literature, Carmody is probably most well known and praised for her work on the Obernewtyn Chronicles.”

Read our review of Obernewtyn, the first book in the series.

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

A Tale of Einarinn by Juliet E McKenna

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.

  • 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

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…

  • 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

The 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…

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

The Deverry Cycle by Katherine Kerr

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

Green Rider series by Kristen Britain

Karigan G’ladheon always seemed to be getting into a fight, and today was no exception. But as she trudged through the forest, using her long walk home to contemplate her depressing future – and the expulsion it was bound to hold – a horse burst through the woodland and charged straight for her. The rider was slumped over his mount’s neck with two arrows embedded in his back. Wherever his horse was taking him, he would be dead before they got there. There’s nothing Karigan can do, as the young man lies dying on the road. He had sworn to carry out his mission as a Green Rider – one of the legendary messengers of the king – and he has a life or death message that must reach King Zachary. Karigan may be unable to save him, but she can deliver his message. He makes her swear to it, to keep it secret and, with his last breath, he warns her to ‘beware the shadow man…’ Pursued by an unknown assassin, following a path only her horse seems to know, and accompanied by the silent specter of the original messenger, Karigan is going to become a legendary Green Rider herself. Caught up in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand, her simple promise to deliver a letter is about to become a race against time… and a race for her life…

Purchase the first book in the series, Green Rider, on Amazon now

  • Green Rider
  • First Rider’s Call
  • The High King’s Tomb
  • Blackveil
  • Mirror Sight

The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind

One man, Richard Cypher, holds the key to the fate of three nations, of humanity. But until he learns the Wizard’s First Rule his chances of succeeding in his task are slim. And his biggest problem is admitting that magic exists at all…A novel of incomparable scope and brimming with atmospheric detail: in a world where heart hounds stalk the boundaries for unwary human prey, blood-sucking flies hunt on behalf of their underworld masters, and where artists can draw more than your likeness, there is no place to hide, nowhere safe. Here magic makes love twice as sweet, betrayal and loss twice as bitter.

Purchase the first book in the series, Wizard’s First Rule, on Amazon now.

  • The First Confessor: The Legend of Magda Searus
  • Debt of Bones
  • Wizard’s First Rule
  • Stone of Tears
  • Blood of the Fold
  • Temple of the Winds
  • Soul of the Fire
  • Faith of the Fallen
  • The Pillars of Creation
  • Naked Empire
  • Chainfire
  • Phantom
  • Confessor
  • The Omen Machine
  • The Third Kingdom
  • Severed Souls
  • The Law of Nines

The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix

Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues – and seven sins. The moment Arthur meets sinister Mister Monday, the world turns inside out. The next seven days will bring seven fearful challenges – and a billion grisly ways to die. As his world is attacked by a plague of hellish creatures, Arthur retreats into a mysterious house , a house that only he can see. Inside, unlikely hero Arthur must unravel the secrets of the Seven Keys, battling monsters and treacherous Denizens in a bid to save his world…

Purchase the first book in the series, Mister Monday, on Amazon now.

  • Mister Monday
  • Grim Tuesday
  • Drowned Wednesday
  • Sir Thursday
  • Lady Friday
  • Superior Saturday
  • Lord Sunday

Fallen Blade Novels by Kelly McCullough

Once a fabled Blade of Namara, Aral Kingslayer fought for justice and his goddess alongside his familiar, a living shadow called Triss. Now with their goddess murdered and her temple destroyed, they are among the last of their kind. Surviving on the fringes of society, Aral becomes a drunken, broken and wanted man, working whatever shadowy deal comes his way. Until a mysterious woman hires him to deliver a secret message – one than can either redeem or doom him.

Purchase the first book in the series, Broken Blade, on Amazon now.

  • Broken Blade
  • Bared Blade
  • Crossed Blades
  • Blade Reforged

The Belgariad by David Eddings

A battle is coming… And in that battle shall be decided the fate of the world. Myths tell of the ancient wars of Gods and men, and a powerful object – the Orb – that ended the bloodshed. As long as it was held by the line of Riva, it would assure the peace. But a dark force has stolen the Orb, and the prophecies tell of war. Young farm boy Garion knows nothing of myth or fate. But then the mysterious Old Storyteller visits his aunt, and they embark on a sudden journey. Pursued by evil forces, with only a small band of companions they can trust, Garion begins to doubt all he thought he knew…

Purchase the first book in the series, Pawn of Prophecy, on Amazon now.

  • Pawn of Prophecy
  • Queen of Sorcery
  • Magician’s Gambit
  • Castle of Wizardry
  • Enchanters’ End Game

Hyddenworld by William Horwood

It has lain lost and forgotten for fifteen hundred years in the ancient heartland of England – a scrap of glass and metal melded by fierce fire. It is the lost core of a flawless Sphere made by the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon CraeftLords in memory of the one he loved. Her name was Spring and contained in the very heart of this work is a spark from the Fires of Creation. But while humans have lost their belief in such things, the Hydden – little people existing on the borders of our world – have not. Breaking the silence of centuries they send one of their own, a young boy, Jack, to live among humans in the hope that he may one day find what has been lost for so long. His journey leads him to Katherine, a girl he rescues from a tragic accident – it’s a meeting that will change everything. It is only through their voyage into the dangerous Hyddenworld that they will realize their destiny, find love and complete the great quest that will save both their worlds from destruction.

Purchase the first book in the series, Spring, on Amazon now.

  • Spring
  • Awakening
  • Harvest
  • Winter

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia have enchanted millions of readers over the last fifty years and the magical events described in C.S. Lewis’s immortal prose have left many a lasting memory. For here is a world where a witch decrees eternal winter; where there are more talking animals than people; and where battles are fought by Centaurs, Giants and Fauns.

Purchase the first book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew, from Amazon now.

  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle

The Demon Cycle by Peter V Brett

Sometimes there is very good reason to be afraid of the dark… Eleven-year-old Arlen lives with his parents on their small farmstead, half a day’s ride from the isolated hamlet of Tibbet’s Brook. As dusk falls upon Arlen’s world, a strange mist rises from the ground; a mist that promises a violent death to any foolish enough to brave the coming darkness, for hungry corelings – demons that cannot be harmed by mortal weapons – materialize from the vapours to feed on the living. As the sun sets, people have no choice but to take shelter behind magical wards and pray that their protection holds until the creatures dissolve with the first signs of dawn. When Arlen’s life is shattered by the demon plague, he is forced to see that it is fear, rather than the demons, which truly cripples humanity. Believing that there is more to his world than to live in constant fear, he must risk leaving the safety of his wards to discover a different path. In the small town of Cutter’s Hollow, Leesha’s perfect future is destroyed by betrayal and a simple lie. Publicly shamed, she is reduced to gathering herbs and tending an old woman more fearsome than the corelings. Yet in her disgrace, she becomes the guardian of dangerous ancient knowledge. Orphaned and crippled in a demon attack, young Rojer takes solace in mastering the musical arts of a Jongleur, only to learn that his unique talent gives him unexpected power over the night. Together, these three young people will offer humanity a last, fleeting chance of survival.

Purchase the first book in the series, The Painted Man, from Amazon now.

  • The Painted Man
  • The Desert Spear
  • The Daylight War
  • The Skull Throne

Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Here is the tragic tale of the rise and fall of Camelot – but seen through the eyes of Camelot’s women: The devout Gwenhwyfar, Arthur’s Queen; Vivane, High priestess of Avalon and the Lady of the Lake; above all, Morgaine, possessor of the sight, the wise, the wise-woman fated to bring ruin on them all…

Purchase the first book in the series, The Mists of Avalon, from Amazon now.

  • The Mists of Avalon
  • The Forests of Avalon
  • Lady of Avalon
  • Priestess of Avalon
  • Ancestors of Avalon
  • Ravens of Avalon
  • Sword of Avalon

The Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler

In the desert colony of Khandar, a dark and mysterious magic, hidden for centuries, is about to emerge from darkness. Marcus d’Ivoire, senior captain of the Vordanai Colonials, is resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost, when a rebellion leaves him in charge of a demoralised force in a broken down fortress. Winter Ihernglass, fleeing her past and masquerading as a man, just wants to go unnoticed. Finding herself promoted to a command, she must rise to the challenge and fight impossible odds to survive. Their fates rest in the hands of an enigmatic new Colonel, sent to restore order while following his own mysterious agenda into the realm of the supernatural.

  • The Thousand Names
  • The Shadow Throne
  • The Price of Valour
  • The Penitent Damned
  • The Shadow of Elysium

The Ryria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadius can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

  • The Crown Tower
  • The Viscount and the Witch
  • The Rose and the Thorn
  • The Death of Dulgath
  • Theft of Swords
  • Rise of Empire
  • Heir of Novron

Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in… For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Purchase the first book, The Screaming Staircase, from Amazon now

  • The Screaming Staircase
  • The Whispering Skull
  • The Hollow Boy
  • The Creeping Shadow
  • The Empty Grave

The Faithful and The Fallen by John Gwynne

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage. The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars. High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

  • Malice
  • Valour
  • Ruin
  • Wrath

Dragonlance novels by Margaret Weis and Laura and Tracy Hickman

Every generation can point to a fantasy book or series that defines their teenage years. Currently, that would likely be Harry Potter; for those now edging towards or into their 40s it would be Dragonlance. Weis & Hickman’s core six books took the 70s and early 80s concept of Dungeons & Dragons and pulled it firmly into the big-haired, techno-pop world of the late 80s and early 90s in a manner that enthralled a generation as much then as Potter does now.

Read our review of The Dragonlance Chronicles.

For a full list of Dragonlance novels, visit Wikipedia.

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

Further reading:

192 Replies to “Our top fantasy book series recommendations”

  1. Hi Emma. I too love Robin Hobb & have been re-reading them for many years. You may enjoy The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I personally love Stephen King’s Dark Tower series & all the works of William Horwood. I hesitate to recommend Steven Erikson’s Malazan books despite loving them myself, just because they are not everyone’s cup of tea. Brandon Sanderson & Mark Lawrence are very highly regarded in the genre. Good luck finding your next read!

  2. Help!! So many recommendations! Where to start?? I’ve just finished all of Robin Hobbs books & I fear nothing will ever compare ever again. Maybe I should resign myself to reread them forever. Admittedly I thought the same after I finished GoT & David Gamell before that, adored JV Jones Book of Words trilogy which started me off in fantasy fiction, waiting forever for her to finish her Sword of Shadows series. I just can not get into The Magician, have put it down twice now, just don’t care about the characters. I can’t face starting another book that I’m not going to devour. Anyone got any tips or advice, help lines for how to replace dear old Fitz?

  3. To those of you saying Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth is horrible… how dare you! That is hands down my favorite series. But where is Tamora Pierce? She has many books written for 2 universes and is still adding to it with the Numair Chronicles. Of course her Lioness series was great but it was when I read the Immortals series that I was hooked!

  4. Top F/SF series of all time
    Amber – Zelazny
    The Dying Earth – Vance
    Worlds of the Imperium – Laumer
    Imperial Radch – Leckie

    You have some excellent selections listed. But seriously, these should have been the first four on your list.

  5. Sorry folks, but fans of the Malazan series should probably look away – it’s a marmite series, you either love it or hate it and no surprises which category I fall into. John Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen series has propelled him into one of the few ‘autobuy’ authors I have. Just a joy to read.

  6. Brilliant comments Squiggler, completely agree with everything you said. Hope you enjoy the Duncton books & I will update the Realm of the Elderlings listing on your excellent recommendation! Lee.

  7. Malazan as the ‘high water mark of epic fantasy’ — good call Glen Cook. I just finished my second tour of the 10 book series and it was twice as good the second time around. Anybody with a bit of free time should try Gardens of the Moon (Malazan book 1) on for size (though if you love Gardens, I think you’ll find the other books–2-6 especially–even more enthralling).

    Reading through this list brought back some great memories and sparked some new ideas (as inspiration for my reading list) — many thanks for that. I’m excited to pick up Duncton for the first time (on your recommendation).

    PS: you might want to add the Rain Wild Chronicles to your Elderlings list for the sake of any tenacious new devotees adding these titles to their reading list as a chronology. I believe you skipped straight from Tawny Man to Fitz and the Fool.

  8. I’m upvoting for Amber, hopefully for it to be added to this list. I understand that a series ‘isn’t your thing’, but that doesn’t change the fact that Zelazny’s prose isn’t top notch. Cheers though for the rest of the included series.

  9. You’ve made a great post. Love it. This books are amazing. I recommend everyone to read them. I was able to read some of them last week. I have added your website in my toolbar so i can return with just one click when i feel the need to read your great posts. You’ve just gained another constant reader. I must say i’m impressed with your articles. With much love and warm <3

  10. I really loved your list. There are 12 series that I have added to my ‘must read’ list and 2 I think I will revisit and see if they generate enough interest to finish the series. I appreciate the comments and have added a couple of series from the recommendations. The books listed in the comments have nicely rounded out your list.

  11. I like this ideas for reading. I do think it would be interesting to round out the list with Jack Forsithe’s books, Head in the Cloud and Heart in the Cloud. They bring fantasy and reality together in way that is compelling. At least I thought so.

  12. I enjoyed the sword of truth series until I read Faith of the Fallen. It tried to paint charity, compassion and mercy as evil. Not Goodkind by nature!

  13. Mike B,

    The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb is listed above and includes the Tawny Man, Farseer, Liveship Traders and Fitz & the Fool trilogies.

    Your disappointment is misplaced as I would assume are the examples of other missing series you could easily have included. But didn’t.

    Please go and be disappointed somewhere else, I’m sure you’ll find faults everywhere if you look hard enough.

    Have fun being cantankerous.

  14. A little disappointed that Robin Hobb’s numerous series of Fitz, The Fool, Liveships, Rainwilds etc are not here anywhere. But to be fair, there are others missing I could easily include.

  15. I agree with these comments, and have also heard of some books I didn’t know about so that’s always a plus! Currently I am reading Sara Pascoe’s book Being A Witch and Other Things I Didn’t Ask For. It’s more geared at YA, but that doesn’t bother me usually so I recommend it!

  16. The first 2 books of Kingkiller Chronicles are the worst fantasy books I’ve ever read. I can’t get the hype for this trilogy.

  17. I’ve seen no mention of Cecelia Dart-Thornton’s, Crowthistle Chronicles. I thought they were real page turners. Are they considered too light – or are they young adult? Just a thought.

    I’m surprised no one thought this all started from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Carter of Mars or the Conan stories from Robert E. Howard

  18. I am somewhat surprised to not see Terry Brooks mentioned as having written the magical kingdom of Landover series a great read for all ages also I think Robin hobbb is missing from this list Michelle there’s so many more series I just can’t think of this moment also please forgive the typos I’m blind and my iPhone is a pain for corrections

  19. Nice to see how people’s taste can be very different. The Sword of Truth is my number one…
    But i agree with Blood Song. Needs to be on the list!

  20. The Name of the Wind & The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss are the best books I have ever read, but the wait for the next book is killing me.

  21. Just read “the land” by Aleron Kong. It is incomplete at book six, but it is a good read and I couldn’t put it down

  22. To “Anonymous” and others. This is clearly stated as a list of favourites that includes more than three books. The Lord of the Rings you will find, hopefully to your pleasure at number one on the trilogy top list.

    Now. Have you taken Joe Abercrombie off this list?? Why? I can understand including authors because there is a lot of people enjoying their books. I can not understand why you would exclude an excellent author because he’s less popular though.

    Anyway, I’ll leave you with an utterly enjoyable pastime: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. If I had to compare him to anything I’d say a somewhat lightweight, fast action Neil Gaiman. Very entertaining!

    (@ Will. Love the authors you mention but, Lawrence’s books will be treated as two triologies (search for the author on the home page and you will get all reviews), Lynch, only a triology so far, Stover is free standing books mostly sci fi.
    Great authors all of them but wrong criteria for this list.)

  23. Thank you so much for this list. I get tired of falling in love with a world or character only to have the adventure end all too abruptly for me. I will have tour start looking at some of these. I might add that the Belgariad is a wonderful series by David Eddings and his wife. Easy reading but very enjoyable.

  24. lol this list snubbed Lawrence, Lynch, Abercrombie, AND Stover but the commenters are whining about “Butth muh Peeeeers ANTHUH’NEEEE! Wheres Terry Brooks ermagerd!” But i must give credit where credit is due. I’m glad Wheel of Time, Ice&Fire, and Malazan made the list.

  25. LOTR is a must of course and that has been true for decades.

    Jack Forsithe’s Heart in the Cloud is an interesting one. I couldn’t put down once I started reading and at first did not realize it was fantasy. Then suddenly it was and it was believable too, sort of like track 9 1/2.

  26. Where is The Lord of the Rings? The History of Middle-Earth, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and Tales from a Perilous Journey? Any real fantasy-lover should read LOTR.

  27. I agree with the mckillop recommendation. As an older teenager this series fired my now 45 year old love for fantasy fiction ( that and Tolkien). It is a great tale of self discovery.

  28. Quit trolling. Goodkind is definitely in the top five of all time. My guess is you’ve never read them.

  29. Thanks Jeff, the problem is, we just don’t have this series reviewed on the site at the moment. This is something that needs to be rectified so you should see reviews appear over the coming weeks and then hopefully we can add the Dragonlance series to this page.

  30. Sword of Truth has got to go. Predictable and truly not in league with the other series noted here.

    One series missed here is Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. It’s a great epic tale.

  31. These are recommendations after-all, and here is mine, Whispers by Aram Keledjian. My new favorite of the year by faaaaaaar.

  32. No Dragonlance? This is criminal. A quarter of those series are nothing more than Dragonlance knock offs anyway.

    There never has been a fantasy character more intriguing as Raistlin Majere.

  33. Sword of Truth is ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE. Goodkind is the worst author ever. I can’t stress enough how bad this series is. The fact that this series is on your best list makes me question your judgement about all the other books on this list.

  34. Thanks for the list. I am going to check out Duncton Wood. The series that got me into fantasy writing to begin with was Brian Jacques Redwall series. Granted they did get a little repetitive and predictable, but the first 5 books were great. As children’s fantasy goes they are top notch and hold up to other classics such as Watership Down and Wind in the Willows.

    I feel like Michael Moorcock should be on this list somewhere. Elric of Melnibone series is one of my all-time favorites.

  35. Patricia McKillip – Riddle Master Trilogy
    Riddle Master of Hed
    Heir of Sea and Fire
    Harpist in the Wind

    Piers Anthony – Xanth Novels
    A Spell for Chameleon
    …too many to name

    Terry Brooks – Shannara Books
    The Sword of Shannara

  36. Yes dragon spindle is pretty good for a self published book I recon it will be picked up by a publisher soon then probably get ruined by big business !

  37. I absolutely loved that list… Quick question though: Should the novels by Anne Rice not be included as well? There’s more to them than just “vampire stuff”. There’s poetry! Don’t you think?

  38. I liked a new book and fantasy series which is Dragon Spindle book 1 in the Ningazia Balance series . It’s really good and I am looking forward to the rest of the series . Definatly worth a look if you like fast paced dragon fantasy with dragons, elfs , orcs and loads of magic .

  39. Honestly, Peter V Bretts Demon Cycle crashes faster than windows 98 with no service packs. The first book is indeed awesome, but after that, the entire thing goes down the drain.

    Zero innovation, bullshit character development (He might has well had an alien parasite take over Leesha), inconsistent pacing….

    Just… bad.

    I really dont understand why you would chose the Demon Cycle over the Stormlight Archives, whose second book managed to SURPASS its first book, that, by itself, outclasses the Demon Cycle without breaking a sweat.

  40. Dresden files up but got to say Codex Alera has me coming back for more. read them several times now.

  41. Mazan Book of the Fallen is so epic, intelligent and unpredictable, near all other fantasy seems childlike in comparison. Good call for having it in the list.

  42. You forgot The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay – one of the best High Fantasy writers IMHO

  43. Thanks Matt. I actually have the Rangers Apprentice books on my to-be-read pile and – following your recommendation – will move them up the list and read them soon.

  44. A book series that I highly recommend is Rangers Apprentice. It is not your average fantasy novel, it takes place in a world much like middle age England and does not include magic surprisingly. You follow the adventures of Will Treaty becoming a Ranger, a legendary warrior using the tools of stealth and archery to guard the crown.

  45. How by all that’s holy has this thread been going 7 years and *no one* has mentioned Anne McCaffrey?!?! This list cannot be considered complete without the Chronicles of Pern!

    I would also mention The Saga of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr as being worthy of inclusion, certainly well above the risible Sword of Truth series.

  46. The Dredsen Files is the best fantasy book written by the best author – Jim Bucher. Often it’s said that the ideas or twists in a good book is the expression of the mind of the writer behind it, and you truly have to read the Dredsen Files. You would definitely agree that The Dredsen Files is the Best Fantasy Series around I have read each book 3 times over just to fully understand the characters and the plot of the series. I mean, the ideas in the books are just mind boggling, the facts seamlessly fit in and sometimes when Dredsen has a sharp thought I actually think he is too mentally/socially/magically blind to be that insightful. Seriously, read it, and get your mind literally blown away (you know those moments you have when reading books when all the clues come together to explain the situation at hand and you think “Hmmn I should have thought about that”… You are going to be having a lot of those)

  47. Hi Lynette, great recommendations! Some we have yet to read and review on the site but I have added them to our to-read list and hope to remedy that very soon.


  48. I know this post is a few years old… I have a few new ones to add:
    *Morgan Rhodes: Falling Kingdoms Series
    *Rae Carson: Girl of Fire & Thorns Trilogy
    *Erika Johanson: Tearling Trilogy
    *Robin Hobbs: The Rainwild Chronicles
    *Trudi Canavan: The Black Magician Trilogy
    *Elise Kova: Air Awakens Series
    *Danielle L. Jensen: The Malediction Trilogy
    *Trudi Canavan: The Age of Five Series
    *Victoria Aveyard: The Red Queen Series
    *and yes…the most epic of all…George R.R. Martin: A Song Of Ice And Fire…

  49. I think Inheritance Cycle should be on the list. It is an awesome read and its characters are very deep too.

  50. Hi Milotius,

    I had to re-purchase the Duncton Chronicles about 5 years ago due to my originals being lost somewhere in the midst of time. You’re right – no Kindle, no audiobooks, not even any new copies – my wife bought the trilogy for me for a Christmas present off Amazon, all used. But I treasure them as much as any other books, they have character and history. The first Duncton book is a real gem, a worthy companion to Watership Down.

    Interesting what you say about inconsistencies in the Hyddenworld series. I have to admit a few elements of the story did not piece together perfectly, especially the legend of the Peace Weaver and Beormund, but I am very, very forgiving of the authors I hold dearest!

    Happy reading,

  51. Thanks for the nice answer Lee! I’ve just finished of the Hyddenworld Quartet by William Horwood after reading about it here (for some reason Kindle/Amazon doesn’t have the Duncton Chronicles – their first fail for me..). I found it quite enjoyable – few fresh ideas there! Only thing that bugged me was that there was rather a lot of inconsistencies throughout. Guess the author must be even more forgetful than I am!

    Now, The Name of the Wind and Mr. Rothfuss! Read it when it first came out. It was a solid page turner and I loved it but it also annoyed me a bit (too much “darn Harry Potter hero, can’t do anything wrong, even when he does it turns out a miracle, kind of thing”). By the second book it gets a whole lot better though, in my opinion. Also give Rothfuss’ blog a go – he’s a funny – and by all standards a great guy – and he’s got some awesome book tips to boot!


  52. I want to see Gregor the Overlander on this list. Yes it’s a children’s fantasy but it really is underrated.

  53. Thanks Milotius, this is exactly the type of comment that provides real value. You’re right about many things, the lack of non-English written fantasy and so it’s great to have those suggestions. We have reviewed Lukyanenko, Pehov and Sapkowski on the site, but not enough of a series to get them onto this page. I think the advancement in the standard of translation will open up these books to a wider audience. I have read several translated books recently and they have lost nothing in the translation.

    Oh, and I can’t read The Wheel of Time either, tried the first book 5 times and just couldn’t quite make it to the end. It’s just not for me – the reason it is on this page is because it is loved by so many and if it gives reading pleasure to so many, it’s worthy of inclusion.

    I’ve just started reading The Name of the Wind. Now this might be a new series to add. So far, wonderful story, wonderfully told. Just a shame I’m so late in getting to it.


  54. Great list! S. Erikson, Ursula Le Guin, Elisabeth Moon, Robin Hobb and Joe Abercrombie being my favourites here I think… So hard to choose!

    Anyway, thought I’d add a few suggestions. Way too few non-English-speaking authors on this list I’d say. There are some amazing books out there once you start exploring!

    These are kind of top of the iceberg, most well known ones and they are quality!

    My personal favourite: The Labyrinths of Echo series, starting with The Stranger by Max Frei (a.k.a. Svetlana Martynchik). Kind of an urban fantasy, modern day, Russian version of Narnia if you will. But with so much dark humour, strangeness and sometimes creepiness it should definitely not be recommended for kids.

    Second: The Watcher series, started by Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. Yet again an urban fantasy and I suppose (hope) well known. Yet again for its mix of lightheartedness and angst!

    Also “bravo!” to ReadingEnthusiast for mentioning Andrzej Sapkowski and his Witcher series (which has also been turned in to a computer game b.t.w.)

    Would want to mention Alexey Pehov’s The Chronicles of Siala as well – only a triology but just for the recommendation.

    My only negative note on this list: Wheels of Time… Why, oh why are people so in to it? It’s the only series I’ve never managed to finish. Could not stomach more after book 6. It’s not going nowhere fast – it’s going nowhere, oooooh sooooo veeeery slowly! Also Jordan’s female characters were starting to really piss me off. He seems to have (had) only two categories for females – evil or annoying (or possibly both).

    Anyway, thanks for a great list – a few there I’m looking forward to try out!

  55. Hey…. the list is good.. but, it is just missing the Kingkiller Chronicles.. have you read it? If not, do it now! For me, it was simply the best after epic LOTR and Song of Ice.. Thank you.

  56. I understand having Tolkien on the list but I have never been able to read his books. They just bore me and seem to spend too much energy in building the world and races that it is nearly a biography of a fantasy world and less a good fantasy story. Though I would have to say that without LoTR fantasy would still be decades behind where it is now.

  57. Really, not a single Brandon Sanderson, I just wanna see one of them (although I think they all deserve a spot), Mistborn was an amazing series.

  58. Thanks Ann, great comment and recommendations.

    I am listening to The Dragonbone Chair at this very moment – I first read it decades ago and hope to enjoy it every bit as much second time around!

    All the best to you and all Danish science fiction and fantasy fans,

  59. Hello
    First thanx, thanx, thanx,
    Sitting at my desk with my morning tea I just found this site
    Amazing, u have given me so many ideas of future reading
    But, but how about Tad Williams & Markus Heitz, two of my favorites
    Markus Heitz:
    1. The Dwarves (2009)
    2. The War of the Dwarves (2010)
    3. The Revenge of the Dwarves (2011)
    4. The Fate of the Dwarves (2012)
    5. The Triumph of the Dwarves (2015)
    Book 5 is, as far as I know, only yet to buy in German
    I love those books because they are action packed, but mostly caz they are loaded with humor, it’s not very often u find it in fantasy books, but when a small dwarf with a HUGE beard and an axe is running towards an orc screaming :” Go away he is mine and mine alone” u can’t help laughin. Also to dedicate a whole series to a certain race is rare
    He has also written about Älfar
    “The Legends of the Älfar”
    1. Righteous Fury”
    2, 3, 4, 5, is unfortunately still only in German, but they have gotten an English title so I hope they are soon to come, I hate reading in German

    And then my absolute favorite: Tad Williams
    Memory, Sorrow and Thorn:
    1. The Dragonbone Chair (1988)
    2. Stone of Farewell (1990)
    3. To Green Angel Tower (1993)
    The paperback publication of “To Green Angel Tower” was divided into 2 volumes so the series could be seen as a tetralogy instead of trilogy

    1. City of Golden Shadow (1996)
    2. River of Blue Fire (1998)
    3. Mountain of Black Glass (1999)
    4. Sea of Silver Light (2001)
    I know it is said to be SF but I think it could be considered fantasy too as I find a lot of Tolkien’s fiction in it, but basically it’s about what can happen when too old men with too much power and too many money get together
    1. Shadowmarch (2004)
    2. Shadowplay (2007)
    3. Shadowrise (2010)
    4. Shadowheart (2010)
    Shadowmarch started out as an idea about a fantasy TV series described as “Hill Streets Blues” meets “Babylon 5” meets “Lords of the Rings”, luckily it didn’t end this way
    I think I remember an interview with Tad Williams where he said he never wrote a trilogy or a tetralogy but basically wrote novels. It just so happens that they got a bit long
    Greetings from a granny in Denmark with 5 grandchildren whom I incessantly am trying to seduce into the fantasy/SF genre

  60. Daniel Abraham: Both Dagger & the Coin and The Long Price Quartet are original, addictive and should be on anyone’s list.

  61. The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss!! It is simply amazing. It’s one of those long books that you will stay up all night to finish!

  62. My favorite, and I have read nearly everything listed above, has to be Michael J Sullivan’s Riyria Chronicles, and their newer published prequels, The Riyria Revelations. An unbelievable achievement. Self published at first, and has become a best-seller on word of mouth alone. Can’t recommend it enough.

  63. Here are some thoughts on some of the comments and then 2 series that don’t seem to get any recognition and I am not quite sure why. I think that most people who like these other series would enjoy these.

    The WOT situation: The first three books were fantastic, interesting world, characters with room to grow and a story to tell. Somewhere though it got off track. It seemed to require story lines that were way to separate and did not seem to come together much. Characters that did not seem to keep growing and a story that wasn’t going anywhere until Brandon Sanderson came into it and made it interesting again. Great series but after starting out to be the best ever, it never quite lived up to that.

    The two series that don’t get mentioned:
    Tad Williams-The Dragonbone Chair
    Classic fantasy adventure story. Well told. Interesting story and characters.
    Dave Duncan-A Man of his Word
    He is just a very good story teller. Interesting form of magic.

  64. I don’t know if anyone here read Terry Brook’s “Magic Kingdom of Landover” series. My ESL teacher recommended it to me when I was in high school and I have been in love with it ever since. This series will always be on my top list even if it’s not well known.

  65. One series that is missing is the amazing “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Now it is sold as 1 thick book, but it is actually composed of 4 books: Mistress of Magic, The High Queen, The King Stag, and The Prisoner in the Oak.

  66. Sword of Truth series starts out very strong, I’m a huge fan, but only recommend the first four, Wizard’s First Rule, Stone of Tears, Blood of the Fold, and Temple of the Winds are a great quartet… After that its iffy.

  67. A good call for Mists of Avalon Luiz and I have been delighted to add it. I should just note that Diana L. Paxson co-wrote and independently wrote the later novels.

  68. One author completely missing from this list and the comments is Peter V Brett – His Demon Cycle series (it is now over 3 books so can be included) is a fantastic new take on the fantasy genre. Some wonderful characters in a gripping story line. 5 books are planned with some stand-a-lone novel(la)s too. Four have been published and I can hardly wait for the fifth and concluding novel.

  69. Hi all…

    Just thought I’d mention one of my all time favorite series: The Twilight Reign by Tom Lloyd.

    For those who have not read it yet, do yourself a favor – you won’t be disappointed.

    Otherwise, all the comments and remarks are very acurate, and although I am a fan of Terry Goodkind, some of the books did stink… Wheel of Time is epic! I can see why Mistborn, Gentleman Bastards, Night Angel, Kingkiller, Stormlight, etc. are not on the list (however brilliant they are), they are all either trillogies, or incomplete. Let’s hope Rothfuss manages to complete Kingkiller in the next decade, as it is dragging on quite a bit now……….

    At least this leaves me time to catch up on lost of new and exciting authors though.

  70. Yay! Great books! I’ll show this to my 11-year-old son. He loves reading. In fact, he just finished reading the first novel by Jim West called Libellus de Numeros (The Book of Math) that makes math and science relevant and fun in a story of magic and danger. The story is about Alex, a young precocious girl, who mysteriously gets transported to a strange world where Latin and Math combine in formulas and equations with magical effects. With a cruel council leading the only safe city of its kind in this world, she will have to prove her worth to stay as well as help this city as it is the target for two evil wizards who seek to destroy the city and its ruling council. To help the city and also get back home, she will need the help of the greatest mathematician of all time, Archimedes. In a world where math is magic, Alex wishes she paid more attention in math class. Search for the book on Goodreads for reviews.

  71. Nice list, glad NOT to see junk like Twilight on it. Though I do miss the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance series on it 😉

  72. Oh, I’ve noticed that a ‘trilogy list’ was mentioned a few times. Is it out as yet? If so, can you post a link?

  73. This thread has been opened since 2009. Wow! Great choices presented. I’ve read a few of these series, and have gotten some interesting suggestions to try out. Gonna finally give WoT a try (way too many of you have suggested it).

    I get why His Dark Materials isn’t on this list. It’s still worth mentioning that it is, to date, one of my favorite reads. Another series that can be given a mention (maybe) is the Delver Magic Books by Jeff Inlo. I don’t even remember how I came across these. Was probably looking for something new to try out and voila . The story managed to completely draw me in after a couple of chapters. I think I’ve read 4/5 of them so far.

    Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles should be a definite add to this list. For those of you who enjoy the VC’s, L.A Bank’s Vampire Huntress is a must read (forgive me if the last two aren’t classified as “fantasy” per se).

  74. Hi all! That is one great list of beloved series you got there, so I felt compelled to express a concern and immediately suggest an entry. Please consider foreign authors – not just UK/US authors (or English in general) but authors such as Andrzej Sapkowski and his Witcher series (the suggestion). I am not Polish myself so I had to wait for translation but his work is truely masterful and entertaining, for lack of a better word. The subtle references to classic pieces are simply genius while the series follows its own engaging story. Believe me, I would never look at Cinderella or the Beauty and the Beast the same way as I did before! Definitely a recommended read!

  75. Thanks for that David, it made me smile, a lot. Very close to my own personal opinions on many points. Would love to know what you think about Wheel of Time though – if you could reply with an answer that would be great.

    Good call on Saga of the Recluce – we have very positive reviews for it already on the site, so added to this list it shall be!


  76. Good call including Malazan and Black Company, Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire. Those are great.

    Katharine Kerr’s Deverry is great too, for about the first two-thirds of the series. After Days of Air and Darkness, it sinks to somewhere between pretty good and so-so.

    You can get rid of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth, though, because it stinks. Twilight stinks too. Most Dragonlance stinks, as badly, though I haven’t read it all and so can’t swear that there isn’t a decent book in the collection somewhere.

    R.A. Salvatore is so-so. He isn’t as bad as some, but he hasn’t written any series good enough to show on anybody’s BEST list.

    Same goes for David Eddings, whose stuff ranges from stinky on the low side to middlin’ OK on the high end. No I take it back. Belgarath the Sorceror and Polgara the Sorceress actually rate Quite Good (just below Great). The Belgariad is okay. The Malloreon is so-so. The Elenium is blah. The Tamuli is just plain bad.

    Terry Brooks’ Shannara books are almost good enough to be called good, but not quite.

    I really wish that Guy Gavriel Kay would write a series with each book being as good as Tigana was. That’s probably impossible though. He’d contest the #1 Fantasy Author position with Martin if he did.

    Farseer by Robin Hobb is great. You have to like a book authored by a liberal where the hero is a guy who murders people for a living. Way to go, Margaret. Do it again!

    Mistborn was great-minus, with flashes of great here and there. Although I have yet to read Stormlight Archive for myself, I’ve had people whose judgement I trust swear that it is a series safely within the Great Category.

    The Saga of Recluce is another great-minus series, with some of the books being marginally great and others being just pretty good. The repetitive use of the boy-from-the-sticks-grows-up-and-does-well theme holds it down half a notch.

  77. Ironically, David Farland’s Runelords series isn’t on here, even though that’s the image used for the banner. It’s a good read, too.

  78. Honestly. Not seeing Wheel of Time here is strange, although I don’t worship Robert Jordan as much as the rest of the planet.

    The real atrocity is that neither Mistborn nor the Stormlight Archives are listed. The Way of Kings was easily the best Fantasy book published in 2010, and it isn’t even mentioned here? Seriously?

  79. Hi James, great books but a trilogy. I’m going to set up a page dedicated to the very best fantasy trilogies and Rothfuss will definitely be on there.

  80. Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber are not a particular favourite of mine, they just weren’t my ‘thing’. But if enough people think they should be on the list I would be happy to add them.

  81. Thanks for the good list. I agreed with most of the picks and got ideas for future reads from the rest. I do feel the need to award kudos not only for the Gemmell nods but specifically for the Rigante series. Rarely does a list acknowledge Gemmel and this is the first one to do that and go farther. The Drenai series may be simplistic but the tale of the Rigante is a whole different level of story telling in my opinion, and well worthy of mention. Cheers!

  82. Wheel of Time series has to be in 2nd place after the story of the Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien.

  83. I have read many of the authors in the list and are all great in different ways. One of my favourites however is Robin Hobb, I would urge anyone whose is looking for a great read to consider these.

  84. The Death Gate Cycle.

    (The Death Gate Cycle is a seven-part series of fantasy novels written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman – Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)

  85. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to whether Tolkien’s work should be on this page. I decided that Lord of the Rings was a trilogy and didn’t fit the criteria but when I thought on it yesterday I have changed my mind.

    You have the The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and all the Christopher Tolkien edited books posthumously released.

    I think when you look at all from a distance, J. R. R. Tolkien is the author of all these books and they are all set in the same world. So I now think they should be included.

    What to call them though? The Tolkien Legendarium? Possibly.

    Whatever the series will be called, it will be added in the coming days.

  86. Hi Unojoe, thank you for your comment. The Kingkiller Chronicles is – as you say – fantastic. But at the moment the criteria for inclusion on this page is a series consisting of at least 4 books. So it doesn’t meet that just yet, but fingers crossed that it will do in the next few years.

  87. Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear are great books as well and there is still one to come. 2 of the Best books I have ever read or listened to. Song of Ice and Fire was amazing but I might die before I read the last few he is writing 😉 But yes, the list is good but the Kingkiller Chronicles should have been added for sure.

  88. Great comments. I don’t just like Guy Gavriel Kay’s work, I adore it. The only reason he is not on this page is that he hasn’t (to the best of my knowledge) written a series of books. He has the Fionavar Tapestry (which is a trilogy) and some wonderful duologies (if that’s a real word?!). I’m reading A Song for Arbonne at this very moment in time. I think you’re right in regards to The Sword of Truth series – it has given a lot of people a lot of reading pleasure, so I will add this evening. Good call.

    Have a great Christmas,
    Lee @ Fantasy Book Review

  89. Thank you for the original list. I used to read lots of fantasy but what with my career and children etc have only recently got back into it. I’m going to try S. Erikson next. Just finished WoT after a 7 year break- agree it lost its way in the middle at times and I despaired of it ever finishing; great finale though, a really good fight! I probably ought to re-read them now! I would say Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series deserves a place; it gets very bogged down in political preaching over and over again but has some good fantasy and some great ideas/twists. I agree with the comments on Eddings; great entrance to the genre after LOTR when younger, and one I intend to get my son to read when he’s older, but out-matched by so many authors mentioned above. I know he writes more stand alone novels, but would like to recommend Guy Gavriel Kay. And one day I’ll finish Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice assuming he ever does. Interesting comments Batto and Lawler, I tend to agree. Cheers everyone, have a good Christmas!

  90. I read fantasy fiction to escape and I enjoy it for that purpose, but I have to admit that very little of it is high-quality literature, and I find that the longer series are little more than endless plot, with little substance. It is often a simplistic clash of good vs evil, where the bad guys are evil for evil’s sake, which is not very realistic. In human history, people who commit great evil, like Hitler implementing the Final Solution, Stalin carrying out the Great Purges, Kennedy and Johnson bombing Indochina, or Bush Jr. invading Iraq, have reasons for committing evil and an ideology or a world view which justifies their actions.

    Good literature makes you reflect on and better understand something, whether it be history, current events, human nature, love, friendship, pyschology, politics, etc. Fantasy fiction is often heavy on interpersonal relationships and emotions like love and courage, but it often has a very simplistic understanding of society in general. Maybe that is why we read it. We want to escape to a simpler time, where you don’t have to understand the enemy and there is a simple choice between right and wrong.

    What I enjoy about fiction fiction as a genre is its world building. I delight in the way the authors construct language, culture, history and myth. The creativity is boundless, although as a student of history and anthropology I find that most fantasy fiction authors don’t know much about the past or non-Western society, so their constructions are often lacking in my opinion.

  91. Hi Kenneth, great shout on the Green Rider series – deserves to be added and it is reviewed very favourably on the site. I will add it now. Unfortunately we have no Piers Anthony reviews at all at this moment in time so it will be difficult to add the Xanth series but I will look at getting it reviewed as soon as possible – and then hopefully adding to this list.

  92. What? No Piers Anthony Xanth series (over 36 fantastic books to date) OR Kristen Britain Green Rider series, up to 5 books so far (just finished book 5 out March 2014) so gagging for book six! Sadly she is a very slow writer!

  93. 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,

  94. 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.

    (Hi Coty – Keys to the Kingdom series added – 14/06/2015. Thank you sor your recommendation.)

  95. 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,

  96. 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.

  97. 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.

  98. 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,

  99. 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…

  100. 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.

  101. 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.

  102. 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.

  103. 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.

  104. 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…


  105. 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!

  106. Where in the Creators name is the Swords of Truth series.

    (Oscar – Sword of Truth added! Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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.

  110. 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.

  111. 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!

  112. Doesn’t the Alloy of Law make Mistborn 4 books? 😛 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.

  113. 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 😛

  114. 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.

  115. 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.

  116. 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.

  117. 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!

  118. No Gemmell? No Eddings? Pfft

    (Hawkwise – both Gemmell (Rigante) and Eddings (Belgariad) are now listed. Both favourites from my youth/teens – Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)

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

  120. 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 .

  121. 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…

  122. 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.

  123. 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.

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

  125. 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.

  126. 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…

  127. 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.

  128. 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.

  129. 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! (:

  130. 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!

  131. 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.

  132. 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

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

    (Hi Simon, good call and the Dresden Files are now listed – Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)

  134. 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.

  135. 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.

  136. I am gonna read The Song of Ice and Fire books does anyone know if it is good?

    (Hi Melissa, the books divide opinion, with the majority loving them but a minority loathing them. My personal experience has been that the first 4 books were very good but I have to admit to finding book 5 a real struggle. You can see all our Song of Ice and Fire reviews here http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/George-RR-Martin/A-Game-Of-Thrones.html – Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)

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

  138. 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.

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