Top 100 fantasy books: #1 - #10

The Fantasy Book Review top 100 fantasy books. Let us begin with the top 10 fantasy books (in our opinion). Are they the best fantasy books? Great fantasy books? Or just good fantasy books? Why not let us know?

1 The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

"Amongst the greatest works of imaginative fiction of the twentieth century." Sunday Telegraph

"A story magnificently told, with every kind of colour and movement and greatness." New Statesman

"Masterpiece? Oh yes, I’ve no doubt about that." Evening Standard

"It is hard to put into words the happiness that can be felt when reading a fantasy book as good as this and anybody who has never read it should set aside some time to do so." Fantasy Book Review

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

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2 A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

"The kind of epic narrative that will have you scrambling for more. Steve Erikson afflicts me with awe... his work does something that only the rarest of books can manage: it alters the reader's perceptions of reality" 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

"A world that is both absorbing on a human level and full of magical sublimity...a wonderfully grand conception...splendidly written...fiendishly readable." Adam Roberts

"The Malazan series is a towering achievement: Brave, ambitious and skilfully executed." Fantasy Book Review

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...

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3 The Tawny Man by Robin Hobb

"Robin Hobb writes achingly well" SFX

"Robin Hobb's books are diamonds in a sea of zircons." George R. R. Martin

"In this hard-to-put-down follow-up to the Farseer trilogy, Hobb maintains the high standards of her earlier fantasy series... A stay-up-until-2:00-a.m.-to-finish type of book." Publishers Weekly

"Three wonderful books, three wonderful series, three cheers for Robin Hobb!" Fantasy Book Review

Years have passed since Fitz was tortured by Prince Regal. Now he lives in self-imposed exile far from the court. Even his beloved Molly believes him dead. It is safer that way. But safety remains an illusion. Even though war is over dangerous undercurrents still swirl around the Six Duchies and suddenly young Prince Dutiful disappears just before his crucial diplomatic wedding to shore up the peace. The Fools brings Fitz a secret mission. He and his bonded companion, the wolf Nighteyes, must find Dutiful and bring him back to be wed. For if the Outislanders are snubbed, war will surely resume. But what if the prince does not wish to be found?

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4 The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

"The debut of a writer we would all do well to watch. Patrick Rothfuss has real talent, and his tale of Kvothe is deep and intricate and wondrous." Terry Brooks
 
"The great new fantasy writer we've all been waiting for." Orson Scott Card

"A rare and great pleasure." Ursula K. Le Guin

"The Name of the Wind, Day One of the Kingkiller Chronicles, quickly made its way into my top fantasy series list. The book, which is essentially an autobiography of a once famous now reclusive musician, arcanist and adventurer named Kvothe, is revolutionary - to my eyes at least - in its storytelling method. Autobiographical for the most part, it starts, finishes, and occasionally reverts to a narrative telling of the interview from whence the autobiographical information springs." Fantasy Book Review

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me'"So begins the tale of Kvothe - currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeeper - from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief and the infamous assassin.

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5 Red Queen's War by Mark Lawrence

"A savage voice which is telling you a good jest while trying to drown you in story." Robert Low

"Really excellent, gritty fantasy – I'm trying to avoid comparison with Game of Thrones, but I'm afraid it’s right there. But funnier. Very funny indeed." Anthony McGowan

"These books have everything - magic and sci-fi, humour and horror, truths and lies, and then some more lies. This trilogy is essential reading for all fantasy readers." Fantasy Book Review

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line to the throne. While his grandmother shapes the destiny of millions, Prince Jalan pursues his debauched pleasures. Until he gets entangled with Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse axe man, and dragged against his will to the icy north. In a journey across half the Broken Empire, Jalan flees minions of the Dead King, agrees to duel an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath, and meets the ice witch, Skilfar, all the time seeking a way to part company with Snorri before the Norseman’s quest leads them to face his enemies in the black fort on the edge of the Bitter Ice. All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth getting back out alive and with Loki's Key is all that matters. Loki's creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jal's fortune back in the living world. Jal plans to return to the three Ws that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other, larger, plans... The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster and it will crack the world unless it's stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there's nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jal and Snorri face many dangers - from the corpse-hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue; but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim will exert its power. In the end it's win or die.

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DID YOU KNOW?

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien has sold approximately 150 million copies. This places it second only to A Tale of Two Cities (approximately 200 million) in the list of best-selling single-volume books. The Hobbit (1937) has sold approximately 100 million copies.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling has sold approximately 107 million copies since its publication in 1997.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) is the best-selling of all the Narnia Chronicles with sales of approximately 85 million copies.

Watership Down by Richard Adams, Charlotte's Web by E. H. White and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling have each sold approximately 50 million copies.

6 The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"The English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and those who are going to read them." Sunday Times

"A finely written saga of dwarves and elves, fearsome goblins and trolls... an exciting epic of travel and magical adventure, all working up to a devastating climax." Observer

"A flawless masterpiece ... One of the most influential books of our generation." The Times

"The Hobbit is quite simply a must read, a real delight." Fantasy Book Review

Bilbo Baggins enjoys a quiet and contented life, with no desire to travel far from the comforts of home; then one day the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves arrive unexpectedly and enlist his services – as a burglar – on a dangerous expedition to raid the treasure-hoard of Smaug the dragon. Bilbo’s life is never to be the same again.

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7 Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

"One of the best fantasy novels I have read." Anne McCaffery

"Tigana is so perfect I don’t think I could bear it if Kay wrote a sequel" Interzone

"I was 19 and fresh out of Fionavar when I snatched this book off the shelf. I was totally swept away by the grand scope of the adventure that the young singer Devin d’Asoli found himself in. How could any young person not become the character themselves to live the life of adventure?" Fantasy Book Review

"A brilliant and complex portrayal of good and evil." Publishers Weekly

Set in a beleaguered land caught in a web of tyranny, Tigana is the deeply moving story of a people struggling to be free. A people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the tyrant King Brandin that even the very name of their once beautiful land cannot be spoken or remembered. But not everyone has forgotten. A handful of men and women, driven by love, hope and pride, set in motion the dangerous quest for freedom and bring back to the world the lost brightness of an obliterated name: Tigana.

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8 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.

"An elegant and witty historical fantasy which deserves to be judged on its own (considerable) merit." Sunday Telegraph

"A genuinely original story, beautifully told." Fantasy Book Review

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9 Earthsea Saga by Ursula Le Guin

"One of the major works of fantasy in this century." Observer

"Earthsea ... has made her name spell enchantment, gentle terror and pleasure to children and adults alike" Independent

"Stunning, thought-provoking fantasy." Fantasy Book Review

As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and helps the High Priestess Tenar escape from the labyrinth of darkness. But as the years pass, true magic and ancient ways are forced to submit to the powers of evil and death...

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10 Harry Potter by JK Rowling

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

"JK Rowling's tales of the boy wizard have become a phenomenon. The series has so far sold a staggering 400,000,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into over sixty-five different languages. There will always be debate over how good an author Rowling is but few can deny that she deserves the utmost acclaim for bringing the joy of reading to a new generation." Fantasy Book Review

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Top 100 fantasy books: 1 - 10 | 11 - 20 | 21 - 30 | 31 - 40 | 41 -50 | 51 - 60 | 61 - 70 | 71 - 80 | 81 - 90 | 91 - 100

Your comments

Have your say

Xavier from Austria

The best fantasy books I have read to date are ... The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear (Rothfuss), The Dark Tower series (King), The Farseer, Liveship and Tawny Man trilogies (Hobb) and A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen (Erikson). Honourable mentions should go to The Belgariad (Eddings), The Magicians Trilogy (Grossman), Narnia Chronicles (Lewis).

Garen from Canada

1 3 6 7 are definitely good. Read them.

Arkam from Sri Lanka

I was hoping to see The Wheel of Time in the first 10 since its the best I have ever read.

Terraqua from Netherlands

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn from Tad Williams should definitely be in the top 10 of the list... 

PJ from UK

Whereeeee is Joe Abercombie!!!!

Emile from South Africa

The Fionavar Trilogy was my first Fantasy Book - Guy Gavriel Kay seemed to put all his love into it and should have stopped writing when it was finished. In my opinion nothing he has written since has come close to this perfection.

Eladar from Russia

Lacks the books of R. A. Salvatore! Him being my favourite fantasy author, even more than all the ones in the top 10, I just think he deserves a bit more.

Tamzyn from Australia

Why is the Wings of Fire by Tuit T. Sutherland not up there? It is a really good fantasy book.

Tamzyn from Australia

I love Galaxy Trotters keep an eye out for it and the Drudges.

Fulvio from Switzerland

Agree with you but I must say that its pretty strange not to have at least a David Gemmell book in the top 10 (I would suggets The Lion of Macedon or Troy)

Troy from Australia

The Farseer trilogy deserves to be above the Liveship Traders trilogy on this list and where is Raymond Feist?

Veresa from Nigeria

Brandon Sanderson is my favorite author. The Stormlight Archives and Mistborn series are amazing!

Keanu from England

I like The Hobbit. I've nearly finished. Try it. It's good :)

Daniel from UK

I agree with most of the titles on here. If I could make a suggestion it would be to add The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and to move some of the very best David Gemmell up into the top 10.

Have your say

Rating books is by nature highly subjective. So we would love to know what you, the reader, feels about the books listed in our top 100. Which titles you agree with? Which titles do you disagree with? Which titles do you think should be on this list but are not? Please let us know by submitting a comment below, you will be helping us to further improve this top 100 as all quality comments will impact on where where books place.

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DID YOU KNOW?

In April 2003 the BBC's Big Read began the search for the UK's best-loved novel. The Lord of the Rings topped the poll and numerous other genre title listings show just how loved fantasy and science-fiction is in the UK.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
53. The Stand, Stephen King
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho