The Best Fantasy Book Series

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 best 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 large 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.

A Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

A Song of Ice and Fire and Robin Hobb’s trilogy of trilogies (Farseer, Liveship and Tawny Man) 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.

“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

A Malazan Book of the Fallen: 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, and The Crippled God

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

George R. R. Martin is a wonderful writer and his fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire is so popular because it is excellent. This not a finished series, only five of the seven books have seen the light of day so far (but those who have watched the HBO series will have a good idea of what is coming next). Inspired by The War of the Roses, the English civil war of the fifteenth century the series features wonderful storytelling, a massive cast of characters that demand your attention and a narrative that shows that all humans of capable of being both cruel yet kind, intelligent yet foolish, brave yet cowardly. My advice to someone who has yet to read this series is this: Forget the hype, try to forget the HBO series – read A Game of Thrones on its own merit and I hope you revel in the experience. It’s rather good you know.

“The sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads… Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias” The Guardian

A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

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 Wheel of Time would be an unbelievable mistake.

“With the Wheel of Time, Jordan has come to dominate the world that Tolkien began to reveal” New York Times

The Wheel of Time: The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

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.

“One of the greatest literary adventures of modern times” Sunday Telegraph

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 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin

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.

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

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Saga fantasy series) illustration by David Lupton. Image © David Lupton The Earthsea Cycle: The Earthsea Quartet: (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu), The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

The Realm of the Elderlings: Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin’s Quest, Ship of Magic, The Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny, Fool’s Errand, The Golden Fool, Fool’s Fate, Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons, Blood of Dragons, Fool’s Assassin, Fool’s Quest, Assassin’s Fate

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.

“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 Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood

Duncton Wood is a truly breathtaking and enchanting read that reminds us how savage yet full of love the animal kingdom truly is. It is unfortunate that these works 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 is a book for adults and is at times as dark as it is uplifting, 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.

“A breathtaking achievement” Washington Post

The Duncton Chronicles: Duncton Wood, Duncton Quest, Duncton Found, Duncton Tales, Duncton Rising and Duncton Stone

The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman

Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library is a world I want to write in. I want the opportunity to play in this sandbox, to visit the Library and meet someone new, and to take them on adventures through this intricate and magical world of alternate Earths and mysterious interdimensional libraries. If you like you worlds colourful but dark, fantastical and adventurous, this is the book for you. Speak the name of the Library in the Language and the door will open. Step through at your own risk.

The Invisible Library Series: The Invisible Library, The Masked City, The Burning Page, The Lost Plot, The Mortal World and The Secret Chapter

The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson

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.

The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, the Unbeliever: Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War, The Power that Preserves, The Wounded Land, The One Tree, White Gold Wielder, The Runes of the Earth, Fatal Revenant, Against All Things Ending and The Last Dark

The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney

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 and The Spook’s Revenge

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.

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 and The Spook’s Revenge

The Mythago Cycle by Robert Holdstock

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.

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

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

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.

The Dresden Files: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, Cold Days, Skin Game, Peace Talks and Battle Ground

Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde

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.

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

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Stephen King’s 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. King’s magnum opus is a towering achievement.

The Dark Tower: 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 and The Dark Tower