Recommended fantasy books with dragons

The dragon first appeared in literature thousands of years ago, with the Book of Job being one of the earliest recorded instances. As the 19th century drew to a close Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky in Through the Looking-Glass (1871) and Kenneth Grahame The Reluctant Dragon (1898) brought the scaled, reptilian back into favour. And then, in 1937, one JRR Tolkien wrote a children’s book called The Hobbit, which featured an especially greedy and cunning dragon called Smaug and the professor’s great friend CS Lewis featured an elderly, unnamed dragon in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Narnia Chronicles, 1952). Among the best-known books to feature dragons in the last fifty to sixty years have been Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Saga (1964-), Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series (1966), Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1979), RA Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms novels (1988–present), Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series (1995), George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (1996–present), JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series (1997–2007), Christopher Golden’s Strangewood (1999), Christopher Paolini The Inheritance Cycle (2002-) and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (2006-).

Recommended Reading

Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain River Traders when only a liveship, fashioned from wizardwood, can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? A liveship is a difficult ship to come by. Rare and valuable, it will quicken only when three family members, from succesive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening, as Althea Vestrit's father is carried to her deck in his death-throes. Althea waits with awe and anticipation for the ship that she loves more than anything in the world to awaken. Only to find that her family has other plans for her... And dark, charming Kennit, aspiring pirate king, also lusts after such a ship: he well knows the power of wizardwood, and has plans of his own...

"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 Liveship Traders trilogy has it all - intricate plot, realistic characters and a sense of magic." Fantasy Book Review

First published in 1937, The Hobbit is one of the few real classics of English children's literature. A story to stand beside Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows and Watership Down. And while the book recently voted the most popular of the 20th Century might need no introduction, The Hobbit nevertheless is one to The Lord of the Rings, for that novel is the epic sequel to this, smaller, simpler, but no less enjoyable tale. Here are the first steps where "roads go ever ever on", until one day we come to journey's end, changed forever by JRR Tolkien's enchanted way with words. Really, every child, of every age, should own one.

"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

"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?

The details that Mark Chadbourn puts into the Celtic mythology are fantastic. I’ve never really been that keen on Celtic mythology in books in the past, this is the first book where I’ve enjoyed going into the details of the old myths. Generally the small details in the book are amazing. You feel as if he’s walked every path, and driven every road that the characters have travelled upon. It all helps to make the book feel that bit more authentic than the average story.

"Chadbourn's first of three is a sparkling read, weaving multiple Celtic myths together to reopen a Britain that has much of its folklore in mistier times. Providing a new future for the island nation and bringing together some peculiarly British characters (who do need some more work to become more rounded) it is a magisterial tour de force from this author that any fantasy fan will enjoy."

Long-time fans of World Fantasy Award-winning author McKillip will be delighted to find these previously hard-to-obtain stories. Harrowing the Dragon is a collection done right: all the author’s current short fiction in one place.

Spanning a quarter of a century, this anthology of previously uncollected short fiction explores a world of magic in such works as "The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath," "A Matter of Music," "The Fellowship of the Dragon," "The Lion and the Lark," "Toad," "Ash, Wood, Fire," "The Stranger," and more.

For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room. Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world's secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.

"The Dragon's Tooth is a captivating novel from beginning to end, and is generally well paced. It kept me up reading well into the night, something which I cannot say about many books, and features a spectacular finish in the last hundred pages. Not to mention an ending that will have you trying to break into the Random House building to get a copy of volume two." AT Ross, Fantasy Book Review

"The Rage of Dragons explodes at a breakneck pace. Complex characters, dragons, revenge, ALL THE STABBY-STABBY-STAB-STAB. I adored everything about this book! The cover, the chapter titles, the maps, the wee dragon on the spine, the notes from Winter at the back... it was just fucking phenomenal. Truly. What a brilliant debut!"

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for generations. The lucky ones are born gifted: some have the power to call down dragons, others can be magically transformed into bigger, stronger, faster killing machines.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Tau Tafari wants more than this, but his plans of escape are destroyed when those closest to him are brutally murdered.

With too few gifted left the Omehi are facing genocide, but Tau cares only for revenge. Following an unthinkable path, he will strive to become the greatest swordsman to ever live, willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill three of his own people.

Quenelda has always had a magical bond with dragons, and her greatest wish is to fly one and fight alongside her father in the war against the hobgoblins. Root, on the other hand, wishes only to avoid the fearsome creatures, so the role of Quenelda's esquire is the last thing he needs.

"Regardless of gender, readers will root for the underdog (a young gnome named Root) and wish they had their very own dragon. Verdict? A battle-dragon of a book!" Fantasy Book Review

Young pioneer, Micah, enters Wrymeweald full of hope to return home having made his fortune. But this is a land where wyrmes, fabulous dragon-like beasts, roam wild and reign supreme. In Wyrmeweald man is both hunter and hunted - and seventeen-year-old Micah may never return alive, let alone a hero...After a near-brush with death on the edge of a canyon, Micah soon finds a chance to prove his worth when he meets with Eli, a veteran tracker of Wrymeweald. They choose to defend a rare whitewyrme egg and its precious hatchling before it falls into the hands of a band of evil Kith. But the fledgling wyrme has its own guardian in the shape of the beautiful, brave and dangerous Thrace. Thrace, a Kin and a highly-skilled wyrme rider-assassin; and Micah, a would-be Kith, should never mix - but the magnetism between them is strong. Together they join forces on a mission to rescue the hatchling and seek vengeance for loved-ones lost at the hand of Kith bandits. Meanwhile the glorious whitewyrme colony of Wyrmeweald looks on as its land is encroached by gold-diggers and ravaged by bounty hunters. Is Exodus the only option? And if so, when - and where - will they flee too?

"Wyrmeweald is fantastic:– absorbing, stirring and intelligently written... everything you could possibly want from a fantasy book." Fantasy Book Review

Enchanted by a sand-sorcerer, the toy dog Roverandom explores a world filled with strange and fabulous creatures; the fat and unheroic Farmer Giles of Ham is called upon to do battle with the dragon Chrysophylax; Hobbits, princesses, dwarves and trolls partake in the adventures of Tom Bombadil; Smith of Wootton Major journeys to the land of Faery via the magical ingredients of a giant cake; and Niggle the painter sets out to paint the perfect tree.

"Josh S Hill reviews Leaf by Niggle, Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham, three acclaimed modern classic fairie tales included in the collection entitled Tales from the Perilous Realm."

Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit inside her village fence. Their unexpected friendship is risky in Leland Province, where drought has stripped the land and superstition has cowed its people. And the danger only grows. Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, resents Leland's time-worn venur system. He has inflamed tensions between dragons and humans to the brink of war. He wants to trample humans into utter submission, or wipe them off the face of the land. Anger erupts, scorching innocent lives in its path. When Riza is threatened, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. But first, he must confront his past and the future he stopped believing in. He must claim his destiny.

"There is plenty of soaring action, drama, humour as well as a deeper message behind the thrill-fest about tolerance, understanding and peaceful coexistence. If you liked the BBC series ‘Merlin’ the film ‘Dragonheart’ and the book and film ‘Eragon’ then this is a must read. ‘Redheart’ will appeal to all ages and is a great read right up to its final unexpected twist ending." Daniel Cann, Fantasy Book Review

Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye - a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to nurture and protect the land. But Eon also harbors a desperate secret - he is in fact a young woman living a dangerous masquerade that, if discovered, will mean certain death. Brought to the attention of the Emperor himself and summoned to the opulent court, Eon is thrust into the heart of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne. In this new, treacherous world of hidden identities and uneasy alliances, Eon comes face-to-face with a vicious enemy who covets the young Dragoneye's astounding power, and will stop at nothing to make it his own.

"Addictive reading... the climax is gloriously tantalising. Exotic and delightfully compelling." SFX

"Well-written, well-structured and steadily paced, with Goodman deftly balancing the intimate character scenes with the heavier, action-laden ones." Fantasy Book Review

From fire-breathing to friendly, dragons pretty much rule the fantasy world. Dedicated to the coolest of mythological beasts, DragonWorld is a showcase of some of today’s best, most imaginative dragon art. Some stick to the popular notion of what a dragon is, while others offer more unexpected interpretations. Behind this fiercely creative work is a diverse group of young international artists who have developed loyal fan followings on the popular online showcase, deviantART.com.

"Anyone who is into dragons in a big way would enjoy having this book in their collection as it shows what kind of artwork is done by the skilled artists over at deviantART." Sandra Scholes, Fantasy Book Review

Vlad Taltos is an Easterner - an underprivileged human in an empire of tall, powerful, long-lived Dragaerans. He made a career for himself in House Jhereg, the Dragaeran clan in charge of the empire's organized crime. But the day came when the Jhereg wanted Vlad dead, and he's been on the run ever since. He has plenty of friends among the Dragaeran highborn, including an undead wizard and a god or two. But as long as the Jhereg have a price on his head, Vlad's life is... messy. Meanwhile, for years, Vlad's path has been repeatedly crossed by Devera, a small Dragaeran girl of indeterminate powers who turns up at the oddest moments in his life. Now, Devera has appeared again - to lead Vlad into a mysterious, seemingly empty manor overlooking the Great Sea. Inside this structure are corridors that double back on themselves, rooms that look out over other worlds, and - just maybe - answers to some of Vlad's long-asked questions about his world and his place in it. If only Devera can be persuaded to stop disappearing in the middle of his conversations with her...

"Even if you shrug at supernatural murder mysteries, Brust deserves reading as a master-class on voice. Compare his narrator in The Phoenix Guards — featuring the Dragaeran historian Paarfi's curious priorities and comedic circumlocution — with Vlad. Then read some Paarfirotica. You could just revel in the voice, but this is like drinking alone: you’re better off with friends. In a high fantasy adventure, those friends are typically adversaries, supernormal threats, world-altering stakes, and characters you care about facing problems whose solution reveals the protagonist’s true self. In Vallista, Brust provides."

Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild. Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men - or worse, a company of mercenaries - against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder. It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it. The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he's determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery it's just another job. The abbey is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can't deal with. Only it's not just a job. It's going to be a war...

"With hints of Steven Erikson, attention to world building reminiscent of Tolkien and Sanderson, and characters and interweaving plots that draw the reader further and further into the story."

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Recommended reads by sub-genre

Select a sub-genre below to see which books we highly recommend.

High / Epic fantasy books
High / Epic fantasy

Secondary world with epic characters, themes, and plot
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery fantasy books
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery

Fantasy with heroic adventures
Contemporary / Urban fantasy books
Urban fantasy

Fantasy narrative with an urban setting
Historical fiction / Alternate history books
Historical fantasy / fiction

Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Grimdark fantasy fiction
Grimdark

Bleak subject matter and a dystopian setting
Parallel worlds.
Parallel universe

Fantasy set in parallel worlds
Science fantasy / Speculative fiction books
Science / Speculative

Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
Children's fantasy books
Children's Fantasy

Fantasy for ages up to 12
Young adult fantasy books
Young Adult

Fantasy for ages 12+
Adult fantasy books
Adult Fantasy

Fantasy for ages 18+
Dystopian fiction
Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic

Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
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Monarchy / Empire

Fantasy books with empires at their core
Gothic fiction books
Gothic Fiction

Fiction with elements of fear, horror, death, gloom and romance
Vampire fiction
Vampire Fiction

Fiction with vampiric characters
Werewolf fiction
Werewolf Fiction

Fiction with werewolf characters
Steampunk books
Steampunk

Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
Dragon fiction
Dragon Fiction

Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Wizards / Magicians

Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
Lore, Legend and Mythology
Lore, Legend and Mythology

Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Military Fantasy

Fantasy books focusing on mailtary life
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Roman historical fiction

Explore the ancient Roman Empire
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Star Wars

Books exploring the galaxy of the ever-popular franchise
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Animal fantasy books

Fantasy with sentient animals
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The Thief / Assassin

Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
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Supernatural

Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
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Manga

Japanese comic books and graphic novels
House of Small Shadows
Horror

Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
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Comic Fantasy

For the reader who loves to laugh
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Inspired by Tolkien

Love Lord of the Rings? Now try these...
The Time Traveller's Almanac
Anthologies

The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies