Read it. Find yourself immersed within vivid worldbuilding. Have your emotions ravaged by the most gorgeous prose. Love these characters with your whole being. I cannot recommend a series higher!
The Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft
There is a pulsating veraciousness about Bancroft’s writing. Almost as if magic explodes from his brain onto the page. Magic that feels real and genuine and magnetic. Layer after layer is stripped away, revealing such gorgeous bones underneath.
The Broken Earth by N. K. Jemisin
This is the way the world ends… The Broken Earth books are unique and intelligent, featuring complex characters and skilled world building, all based upon a fascinating concept. Jemisin’s Hugo Award winning books are gravitational and you can’t help reading further, wanting to know more.
The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence
Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire is an unpredictable, ruthless and poetic masterpiece. A brilliantly written and carefully crafted trilogy that dares to take a chance and shine a light on controversial subject matters; it is an important milestone in the modern fantasy landscape.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Thomas Covenant Chronicles are deep, sophisticated novels written in a very complex yet beautiful way. It was a trilogy that was very important for the fantasy genre, being the most complex work since J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and a series that kick-started a new era and a new wave of fantasy authors. A must-read for a fantasy fan; but be warned! These three books will not be the easiest you have read, but the reward is substantial.
The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Characters so complex and so real you can feel their emotions. The story of Fitz, the Royal bastard is often moving but yet sometimes brutal and with it Robin Hobb delivers a masterpiece in captivating storytelling.
The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
A gamechanger and a breath of fresh air badly needed within the fantasy genre mainly because Abercrombie’s characters are so brilliant and so different to the usual typecast heroes and villains found. But the trilogy’s tour-de-force is that it is very, very funny and has a superb plot plus sparkling dialogue. Many readers have found it unlike anything they had previously read in fantasy.
The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch
Filled with thievery goodness, hilarious turns of phrase and description, and some truly harebrained schemes, The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence belongs on any fantasy fans bookshelf. You’ll laugh, you might cry, but you’ll have a lot of fun as well.
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
Deliciously dark. The quality of the hauntingly beautiful prose is amongst the best you will read in fantasy. In Gormenghast Mervyn Peake created a gothic masterpiece, a work of art.
The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin
N. K. Jemisin has won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, Nebula Award for Best Novel, Audie Award for Science Fiction and the Crawford Award. Enough said. You want more? Okay, every now and again books comes out that deserves all the hype they get. The Inheritance Trilogy is at times smart, at times funny, and at times downright heartbreaking, all wrapped up in the the most original stories. A must for your bookshelf, a flat out 10 out of 10.
Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey
Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy is a stunning, spellbinding fantasy trilogy featuring an enormous, yet vibrantly characterised cast. The books, led by a wonderfully realised heroine, are full to the brim with magic, history, politics, and intrigue.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings is both beautiful and perfect, charting Frodo’s journey from Hobbiton to the slopes of Mount Doom and finally, the Grey Havens. Written with tremendous skill and love by Tolkien and the books are timeless classics. Born from an overwhelming fondness for dead languages, myth and story it is an all-embracing tale for the ages.
The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb
Described by Orson Scott Card as a ‘masterclass in writing’ The Liveship Traders trilogy is spell-binding story full of wonderful characters and intrigue. A nautical tale set in the same world as Hobb’s previous trilogy another complement comes from none other that George R. R. Martin: “Even better than the Farseer books. I didn’t think that was possible”.
The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman
Think Harry Potter meets Narnia but with apathy, depression, sex, drugs and the pursuit of happiness. The Magicians books are a rousing, perceptive and multifaceted coming of age story featuring characters that are very flawed, and very real.
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams
In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Tad Williams captures the essence of what a good fantasy story should be – the tale of a hero rising from lowly beginnings replete with mystical swords, magic, dragons and fairy creatures. Certainly an engaging and enveloping story set in a world struggling to survive.
The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books feature intriguing magical systems and are as compelling and as flawlessly executed as could be wished for. The imagination on show here is breath-taking and deals with themes like religion and death, power and helplessness, corruption and goodness. Weaved together like a master basket maker, these books let you grow attached too, love, and also lose, characters that you never thought would be lost.
The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff
Jay Kristoff is a skilled and meticulous writer and an expert on the fantasy genre. The Nevernight Chronicle is imaginative, original and contains a rich world, conflicted characters, assassins, dark magic and a protagonist that is strong, clever and necessarily brutal.
The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks
Brent Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy is a tale of magic, violence and revenge. Featuring wonderful characters within a complex narrative set in an immersive world. Kylar is one of the very best fantasy characters and the reader will be captivated as he navigates an assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics.
Of Blood and Bone by John Gwynne
Gwynne is a master of his craft and one of the best fantasy writers around right now. With likeable characters, Of Blood and Bone hits so much harder should bad things happen to them but unfortunately, they do. This is a majestic tale of Good vs Evil. Epic, unpredictable and exhilarating with action galore and characters worth rooting for.
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
This is a story of self-worth and determination, of finding value in life when your strengths are stripped away. It shines a light on some of the worst aspects of humanity which are sadly still reflective of our current society. It is a story of tragedy and loss, of anger and hypocrisy, of perseverance and triumph. Kuang excels at wreaking emotional havoc while delivering a powerful meditation on war and survival.
The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan
Love, betrayal, swords, magic and muskets lie at the heart of Brian McClellan’s trilogy. The characterisation in this series is impeccable, giving the reader some of the most interesting characters they will ever meet. However, be warned, you may find yourself crying as you near the end.
Prince of Nothing by R. Scott Bakker
The Prince of Nothing trilogy is made of up of much commonly found in the fantasy genre: a sorcerer, a warrior, a powerful demon-god threatening the world, but what lifts Bakker’s books above the majority of similar titles is that the writing is of the highest quality and the profundity of the content. A work of great complexity.
Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan
The characters that inhabit Anthony Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow trilogy are second to none, each and every one captivating, and not one untouched by war or loss. A beautifully written, powerful and wonderfully cast fantasy epic.
The Seven Kingdoms by Kristin Cashore
There is something truly refreshing about reading Cashore’s work and how this talented author creates fully rounded, understandable and, above all, likeable characters. Featuring political intrigues, and mesmerising scenes of violence.
Spiritwalker by Kate Elliott
The Spiritwalker books have something for everybody, from alternate history and romance to steampunk and intrigue, all wrapped up in a swashbuckling adventure. Add captivating world-building, sparkling characters, and an enthralling, rewarding story and you are left with a very fine fantasy trilogy indeed.
The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
If big action set pieces of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things is exactly what you want from your fantasy then Brandon Sanderson is the master of the “Hollywood” style of epic. The Stormlight Archive is a refreshing new take on fantasy and magic and is chalk full of intelligence.
The War Eternal by Rob J. Hayes
The characters and world-building are fantastic even for Hayes’ standard of work, the prose is especially tight, and highlighted quotes are abound. The War Eternal is simply essential reading.
The Winnowing Flame by Jen Williams
Easily one of the best fantasy trilogies in recent times. I might be sounding like a broken record by now, but Jen Williams’ writing has won me over, time and time again. She writes with a distinctive, fresh voice, giving us exciting new tales teeming with love, hope, diversity, friendship, family – things that are always worth fighting for in the face of adversity. Every time I think I cannot love it more, she surprises me. What more can I say? I’m all about fantasy. I adore it.