Recommended fantasy books similar to J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien has inspired generation upon generation of new fantasy writers. Readers wanting to read more books similar to Tolkien's own asterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, found themselves falling happily under the spell own new works such as Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and Terry Brooks' Shannara trilogy.

Recommended Reading

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 The Lord of the Rings should definitely set aside some time to do so. The Lord of the Rings recounts the Great War of the Ring and the closing of Middle-Earth's Third Age, a time when magic begins to fade from the world and men rise to dominance. Tolkien carefully details this transition with tremendous skill and love, creating in The Lord of the Rings a universal and all-embracing tale, a justly celebrated classic.

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...

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

"Extraordinarily imaginative, and wholly exciting." The Times

"Masterpiece? Oh yes." Evening Standard

"An astonishing imaginative tour de force." Daily Telegraph

The gathering forces of the Dark Powers threaten the world of man. The legions of Faery, aided by trolls, demons and the Wild Hunt itself, are poised to overthrow the Realms of Light. Holger Carlsen, a bemused and puzzled twentieth-century man mysteriously snatched out of time, finds himself the key figure in the conflict. Arrayed against him are the dragons, giants and elven warriors of the armies of Chaos, and the beautiful sorceress Morgan le Fay. On his side is a vague prophecy, a quarrelsome dwarf and a beautiful woman who can turn herself into a swan, not to mention Papillon, the magnificent battle-horse, and a full set of perfectly fitting armour, both of which were waiting for him when he entered the magical realm. The shield bears three hearts and three lions - the only clue to Holger Carlsen's true identity. Could Carlsen really be a legendary hero, the only man who can save the world?

Our reviewer Ross Kitson says: "This is a classic of the genre by an excellent writer, a major influence for the half a century since it was created. It would be a great book to shove under the noses of those who think fantasy is all Tolkien-derivatives. It was a book out of its time in many ways."

Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world. No one expected them to be heroes.

"Today’s generation of teenagers would say you do not understand magic if you have not read Harry Potter. Yet, every generation should understand that they are not the first to tread in dreams of magic and if you love Harry, then you will love Dragonlance."

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year. Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril. In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

"I recommend this book to those that have read many of Tolkien’s works. If you enjoyed Tolkien’s poetry editions, such as Beowulf a Translation and a Commentary and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, along with the books set in middle-earth then this will undoubtedly be for you. However, readers who are expecting to just enjoy a prose story will, ultimately, be disappointed with the content here."

The Wizards Guild has been shattered by a coup and, in the uproar, Geralt was seriously injured. The Witcher is supposed to be a guardian of the innocent, a protector of those in need, a defender against powerful and dangerous monsters that prey on men in dark times.

But now that dark times have fallen upon the world, Geralt is helpless until he has recovered from his injuries.

While war rages across all of the lands, the future of magic is under threat and those sorcerers who survive are determined to protect it. It's an impossible situation in which to find one girl - Ciri, the heiress to the throne of Cintra, has vanished - until a rumour places her in the Niflgaard court, preparing to marry the Emperor.

Injured or not, Geralt has a rescue mission on his hands. 

"There are so many standout moments and set-pieces, character development is sublime, and relationships that are frosty at best transcend any predicted outcome as the Brotherhood fight for their life and for Ciri. This series is finally reaching the lofty heights that it has always hinted at and I can't wait to start The Tower of the Swallow straight away. This entry is exceptional and as well as the finest story in The Witcher saga it is also probably in my top-20 books of all time."

Thirty years ago Ineluki, the Storm King, was destroyed and his armies scattered. Osten Ard has been at peace ever since, ruled by Simon Snowlock, kitchen boy made king, and Miriamele, King Elias' only child. But now age weighs upon their reign. Simon's dreams have deserted him, old allies die and betrayal and assassination threaten. His son and heir John Josua is years dead and his grandson, Morgan, is a wastrel. A journey of redemption and discovery beckons in the darkening world.

And in the frozen North, in Nakkiga, the mountain fortress, Ineluki's ally, the Norn Queen, wakes from her deep, decades-long sleep and tells her followers that she will sleep no more. Humanity must be destroyed. Her sorcerers will bring a demon back from death, her warriors will seek the world for living dragon's blood...

And finally the greatest artefact of all, the Witchwood Crown, will be hers.

"It’s a book driven by cultural clashes and racial wars. The world is stark and grey, and I’m not entirely sure who to root for. It’s highly compelling fantasy, go read it! " Sean Barrs, Fantasy Book Review

In the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers in the world. There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband. Deeply opposed to Morgoth is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar.

Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo's desires and designs.

Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo's designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the sea-god himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon's daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo.

At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Tuor and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources.

Following his presentation of Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien has used the same 'history in sequence' mode in the writing of this edition of The Fall of Gondolin. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was ‘the first real story of this imaginary world’ and, together with Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin, he regarded it as one of the three 'Great Tales' of the Elder Days.

"As a huge Tolkien enthusiast, I know I speak for many other readers, when I extend my undying thanks to Christopher Tolkien for allowing his father’s unfinished work to be published. Although this work is far from a shining jewel, I can imagine how fantastic this would have been as I read the segments (and various drafts) of the story: I can see what this would have been. And, as ever, the artwork of Alan Lee brings the words to life. However, this is the very last we will see of it. Christopher Tolkien explicitly states that this is the final piece (and that he will not change his mind this time.) The destruction of a fine city is an appropriate last glimpse of such a vast world, as the walls of Gondolin crumble and the tower collapses, it marks the very end." Sean Barrs, Fantasy Book Review

At a time when many authors were producing pastiche Tolkien, Jordan created entirely new races, an innovative magical system and a captivating world with its own rich history.

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.

"With The Wheel of Time, Jordan has come to dominate the world Tolkien began to reveal' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title." New York Times

Drizzt Do'Urden, a Dark Elf, finds adventure, peril, and awesome magical power as he confronts the underground civilization of the evil race of Drow elves.

Travel back to strange and exotic Menzoberranzan, the vast city of the drow and homeland to Icewind Dale hero Drizzt Do'Urden.

The young prince of a royal house, Drizzt grows to maturity in the vile world of his dark kin. Possessing honor beyond the scope of his unprincipled society, young Drizzt faces an inevitable dilemma. Can he live in a world that rejects integrity?

"Highly praise this series. R.A Salvatore's dark elf character, 'Drizzit do'Urden' is the best in the last 20 years. It's the friendships made, the battles fought, and the epic journeys they undertake. The great storytelling transports you to another world and into the midst of all the action." Tim from MN (reader review)

The ultimate celebration of the final Hobbit movie reveals the full creative vision of the art and design teams, with almost 2,000 exclusive images, including designs and concepts that never made it to the big screen. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Chronicles – Art & Design is packed to bursting with more than 1,800 pieces of conceptual artwork created for the epic final instalment of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Learn how the battle for the Lonely Mountain was plotted, its armies designed and its landscapes shaped, through detailed commentary by the films’ Academy Award-winning creative team members at 3Foot7, Weta Digital and Weta Workshop. From Lake-town and Dol Guldur to Dale and Ravenhill, each section is richly illustrated with concept art depicting creatures, costumes, armour, props and environment design hand-picked by the artists themselves from the Dragon’s hoard of artwork generated for the film. Also included as a bonus feature, unique to this book, is a stunning full-colour, removable art print by Gus Hunter depicting a key moment in the trilogy. Compiled by Weta Workshop senior concept designer Daniel Falconer, with a foreword by Costume Designer, Bob Buck, and introduction by Concept Art Director and renowned Tolkien artist, John Howe, this fifth volume in The Hobbit: Chronicles series has been created in full collaboration with key members of the production’s creative team to ensure the most comprehensive and authentic film companion possible.

"This book is, simply put, beautifully stunning. For any fans of The Hobbit movies, or fans of movie making in general, this is a must!"

On a crisp autumn morning, in his cottage in the idyllic land of the Vale, Mr. Edward T. Cozzlebottom composed the following letter for his secret love, the graceful and lovely Mizz Ezmerelda Wimbish. "Dear Mizz Wimbish, Confessions are something to admire. Don't you agree? Far more confessors, of the subtle variety, would make this world a place more agreeable for all. It is in this spirit that I concoct this missive and subtle confession. I have been taken with you for some number of years. I notice that you are quite fond of roses, as am I. Given our mutual interests, and the proximity of our lives, I think it is time for us to meet fate halfway and talk of things that affect us both. We could discuss your roses, or my books, or any matter that concerns you. There are many seemingly quiet things that happen on our very street that I think could fill an evening, if not a lifetime. If my suggestion intrigues you, I will meet you beyond the honeysuckle on the far side of Embry Lane by the fourth gaslight. I will be there Wednesday just before the lamplighter arrives. I encourage you to consider my offer, as it is filled with gravity. Most sincerely and with the respect due to a lady of your type, Edward T. Cozzlebottom. P.S. If it rains, bring an umbrella." Though these two lonely souls occupy homes separated by a matter of feet and inches, they soon discover that it will take many miles of treacherous travel before they can master the short distance between their hearts and doors. Each one goes on a separate journey that takes them from the startling beauty of the Many Mirrored Way to the blackest woods of the Great Dorianic Forest. Along the way, they encounter the Trench Systers, the Wicked Tinker, the Walrus King, and the Brothers of the Black Lodge.

"If you love fantasy and adventure fiction then this book is for you. Well written, charmingly detailed and epic, this truly is a must read for 2012." Fantasy Book Review

The Kingdom of Wendar is in turmoil. King Henry still holds the crown, but his reign has long been contested by his sister Sabella, and there are many eager to flock to her banner. Internal conflict weakens Wendar's defences, drawing raiders, human and inhuman, across its borders. Terrifying portents abound and dark spirits walk the land in broad daylight. Suddenly two innocents are thrust into the midst of the conflict. Alain, a young man granted a vision by the Lady of Battles, and Liath, a young woman with the power to change the course of history. Both must discover the truth about themselves before they can accept their fates. For in a war where sorcery, not swords, may determine the final outcome, the price of failure may be more than their own lives.

"The world we are introduced to is expressed in such a way as to ensure you are aware you are reading epic fantasy, while still remaining true to the culture the author is writing for. The characters are fascinating and are dealt with in depth. The religious and royal politics that thrives in this book is beautifully captured in its greedy reality as are those who excel in it." Fantasy Book Review

The world first publication of a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the powerful story of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and who swears revenge on the magician who killed his father.

"Taking into account my own Tolkien-bias, The Story of Kullervo was a wonderful read - not only informative by way of the essays on the various subjects, but informative to see some of the seeds of what would one day become Tolkien's Silmarillion."

The ultimate celebration of the spectacular battle in the final Hobbit movie reveals in stunning detail the full creative vision of Peter Jackson and the filmmakers, together with extensive commentary from the director, cast, crew, and almost 2,000 exclusive photos, illustrations and visual effects imagery. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Chronicles - The Art of War goes behind the lines to explore how thousands of artisans brought the defining film of Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit to the screen. More than 1,000 intricate illustrations, stunning photographs and never-before-seen imagery illuminate fascinating insights shared by cast and crew, including exclusive content from the extended edition of the final film. Also included is an exclusive fold-out battle map illustrated by Weta Workshop Designer, Nick Keller! From the sorcerous ruins of Dol Guldur and the fiery conflagration of Lake-town, follow the filmmakers on to the blood-soaked battlefields of the Lonely Mountain, and climb the steps of Ravenhill to witness the final, tragic duel of Thorin Oakenshield and Azog, the Pale Orc. Discover the challenges and reactions of the stars of The Battle of the Five Armies as they recount their experiences and excitement. Join the choreographers of the film's action to examine the battle strategies and formations of each of the five armies, and learn how a dozen stunt performers became thousands of digital troops. Pore over archive-quality photography of staggeringly detailed weapons and armour and browse galleries of fearsome war beasts and monsters. As the story of The Hobbit reaches its shattering climax amidst an epic landscape of war and tragedy, join Weta Workshop senior concept designer Daniel Falconer behind the scenes one last time as this sumptuous final book in The Hobbit: Chronicles series celebrates the epic conclusion of The Hobbit film trilogy.

"With chapters dedicated to all the major races that fought in the Battle of Five Armies, featuring intricate detail for costumes and weapons, The Art of War is a must-have for any fan of Peter Jackson's adaptations of The Hobbit."

A lavish, full-colour hardcover art book taking readers on a visual guide through Stephen Hickmans artwork. The collection focuses on his book covers for famous SFF authors such as Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, and Larry Niven.

"With a body of work that is mainly fantasy with a portion of science fiction, this coffee table book is a real showcase for art appreciators who want to see Hickman’s interpretation of characters and settings from some of the most famous novels around."

Set 'In Britain's land beyond the seas' during the Age of Chivalry, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun tells of a childless Breton Lord and Lady (the 'Aotrou' and 'Itroun' of the title) and the tragedy that befalls them when Aotrou seeks to remedy their situation with the aid of a magic potion obtained from a corrigan, or malevolent fairy. When the potion succeeds and Itroun bears twins, the corrigan returns seeking her fee, and Aotrou is forced to choose between betraying his marriage and losing his life.

"The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun is a wonderful addition to any Tolkien fan's collection, and in a way other editions haven't, expands our knowledge of Tolkien's ability and interests."

The kingdoms of Osten Ard have been at peace for decades, but now, the threat of a new war grows to nightmarish proportions.

Simon and Miriamele, royal husband and wife, face danger from every side. Their allies in Hernystir have made a pact with the dreadful Queen of the Norns to allow her armies to cross into mortal lands. The ancient, powerful nation of Nabban is on the verge of bloody civil war, and the fierce nomads of the Thrithings grasslands have begun to mobilize, united by superstitious fervor and their age-old hatred of the city-dwellers. But as the countries and peoples of the High Ward bicker among themselves, battle, bloodshed, and dark magics threaten to pull civilizations to pieces. And over it all looms the mystery of the Witchwood Crown, the deadly puzzle that Simon, Miriamele, and their allies must solve if they wish to survive.

But as the kingdoms of Osten Ard are torn apart by fear and greed, a few individuals will fight for their own lives and destinies—not yet aware that the survival of everything depends on them.

"Empire of Grass continues the epic story set in the massive world of Osten Ard. It’s fantasy at its finest because it is layered with so much history and lore. This is a world so detailed it could be real."

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High / Epic fantasy books
High / Epic fantasy

Secondary world with epic characters, themes, and plot
Historical fiction / Alternate history books
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Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Grimdark fantasy fiction
Grimdark

Bleak subject matter and a dystopian setting
Parallel worlds.
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Fantasy set in parallel worlds
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Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
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Fantasy for ages up to 12
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Fantasy for ages 12+
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Fantasy for ages 18+
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Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic

Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
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Fantasy books with empires at their core
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Gothic Fiction

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

Fiction with vampiric characters
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Werewolf Fiction

Fiction with werewolf characters
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Steampunk

Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
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Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Fantasy books featuring dragons
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Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
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Lore, Legend and Mythology

Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
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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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Fantasy with sentient animals
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Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
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Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
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Manga

Japanese comic books and graphic novels
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Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
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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