The 100 fantasy books that we - and other readers - simply cannot recommend highly enough; books that we've all loved reading.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2012 (A Dance With Dragons), 1997 (A Game of Thrones)
British Fantasy Award Nominee: 2012 (A Dance With Dragons), 2006 (A Feast for Crows)
A Song of Ice and Fire is the history lesson you wish you’d had in school. An immense, incredible work of epic fantasy written by a hugely talented author who has created an effortless, enchanting read that is rich, rewarding and completely enthralling.
Carnegie Medal Winner: 2002 (The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents)
In his Discworld Series, Terry Pratchett, one of Britain’s best and funniest authors created a true delight of modern fiction. Satirical, clever and hilarious the forty-one books that make up the series are a pure and fantastic joy.
International Fantasy Award Winner: 1957
The Lord of the Rings is unquestionably one of the greatest works of imaginative fiction of the twentieth century. J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic, written using a beautifully descriptive narrative, tells an enchanting tale of friendship, love and heroism. Steeped in magic and otherworldliness, this sweeping fantasy is beautiful, perfect and also timeless. A must read for every fantasy fan.
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2005
British Fantasy Award Nominee: 2005
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a genuinely original story, beautifully told. The Telegraph succinctly says it all with 'an elegant and witty historical fantasy which deserves to be judged on its own (considerable) merit'. It is unquestionably one of the finest historical fantasy books ever written.
David Gemmell Award for Fantasy Winner: 2012 (The Wise Man’s Fear)
The Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear are the very finest examples of first-person storytelling. It’s comparable to sitting across from someone, in a comfy chair, before a log fire, listening to them recount one of the most intricate and fascinating stories you’ve ever heard. To quote Ursula Le Guin: “It is a rare and great pleasure to find a fantasist writing... with true music in the words”.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2007
British Fantasy Award Nominee: 2007
Scott Lynch’s trilogy features wonderful characters, plot and camaraderie, all set within a setting beautifully inspired by ancient Venice. It is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, often shocking but ultimately – and frequently - heart-warming. If you are looking for fantasy novels with relatable thieves and rogues then the Gentlemen Bastards are perfect for you.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2002
British Fantasy Award Nominee: 2002
American Gods manages to broach several genre barriers all the while making it look as if Gaiman was creating his own genre. The end result is very much like creating a new species of rose; you take those qualities from other roses that you want, and then splice them all together. The outcome is beautiful.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2017 (The Obelisk Gate), 2016 (The Fifth Season)
Reading the Broken Earth trilogy can be a brutal, painful experience. There is much tragedy, despair and the characters’ futures often look nothing but bleak. But these ambitious, heartbreaking books mark a new stage in the evolution of the fantasy genre and their complexity, world-building and themes break new ground.
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2002 (The Other Wind)
The Earthsea books can be read by children and enjoyed simply for the magic, wizards, adventure and beautifully imagined world. They can also be read by adults and enjoyed for the thought-provoking ideas and themes that the books conjure. They are truly timeless, exploring human behaviour without being preaching or judgmental, encouraging readers to think deeply and form their own opinions. To quote a reader review: “The wisdom and the quiet ancient beauty of these books grow every time I reread them.”
British Fantasy Award Nominee: 1997
The Realm of the Elderlings is a glorious, classic fantasy combining the magic of Le Guin's The Wizard of Earthsea with the epic mastery of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is a master class of characterisation, imbued with the richest of narratives, all combining to produce one of the very finest fantasy series ever written.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2000 (Gardens of the Moon)
The ten novels that make up A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen are works of great skill, imagination, ambition, depth and beauty. But not for the faint-of-heart, Erikson throws you in at the deep end and encourages you to swim. This series is one of the greatest fantasy literature achievements of the past one hundred years.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2001 (The Amber Spyglass)
Carnegie Medal Winner: 1995 (Northern Lights)
Imagine a world that is as alike as it is dissimilar to our own. Where huge zeppelins litter the skyline and a person’s soul is a living breathing animal companion, or 'daemon'. This is the wonderfully engrossing world of Lyra Belacqua. Although written for children it is equally as absorbing for any adult reader, enthralling from its very first page.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2005 (The Iron Council), 2003 (The Scar), 2001 (Perdido Street Station)
British Fantasy Award Winner: 2003 (The Scar), 2000 (Perdido Street Station)
Perdido Street Station is a work of art. At times horrific, beautiful, tragic, comic and even uplifting, with a plot which takes unexpected turns and twists and revelations, one of the most unique settings imaginable and above all a style of dark poetry that is truly exceptional.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2005 (The Runes of the Earth), The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever (1978)
British Fantasy Award Winner: 1979 (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever)
British Fantasy Award Nominee: 1981 (The Wounded Land)
Thomas Covenant is arguably one of the most famous characters in fantasy, but not all who know it love it. Whether it is due to the Covenant character himself, or simply as a response to the series as a whole, readers find themselves divided in their opinions: Some love it, some hate it. But few dismiss it. The Chronicles are a very complex piece of work but at heart a good old-fashioned tale of epic fantasy deserving of being labeled classic.
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2005 (The Dark Tower)
Many who have read and enjoyed the Dark Tower series have found a companion for life. The journey for many has been one of years, if not decades. And many will have found within the series parallels to their own lives: It’s not always gone the way they would have liked, many parts were better than others (though upon re-read these conceptions can change). This is King’s magnum opus, he poured everything into its writing and it is a towering achievement.
With The Stormlight Archive, Brandon Sanderson clearly stamps his authority as the master of the "Hollywood" style of epic fantasy. It is hard to comprehend just how much stuff is going on and how this book impacts the wider Cosmere (the universe that ties all of Sanderson's books together). Big action set pieces of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things is exactly what many want from their epic fantasy.
Carnegie Medal Winner: 1956 (The Last Battle)
With the Chronicles of Narnia cemented himself as a master story teller and perfected writing novels that would survive the test of time and still entertain and educate children and adults everywhere to this day. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is arguably one of the finest stories in English literature from the 20th century.
The First Law trilogy was a real game changer for the fantasy genre. It worked in shades of grey. It makes the reader like characters they should possibly, really dislike. And dislike characters they should possibly, really like. The dialogue is witty and often the cause of out-loud laughter. It’s a captivating read and has everything a fantasy fan could wish for. Any books that can add humour to torture scenes has something special going on.
Nestlé Smarties Book Prize Winner: 1999 (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), 1998 (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), 1997 (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
The seven Harry Potter books are very well-written and laugh-out-loud funny, and it makes for an intoxicating combination. The Philosopher’s Stone is where, for young Harry Potter, it all begins. The Potter books are infused with charm and wit and adored by readers of all ages, the wizarding world a wonderful place for any reader, of any age, to escape to.
The Wheel of Time is one of the most popular and influential fantasy epics ever written. It puts the epic in epic fantasy, a hugely ambitious undertaking that redefined a genre. This skillfully written fourteen book series is filled with unforgettable characters and set in a world steeped in rich history and legend.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1991
Good Omens is one of the funniest works of fiction ever. Pratchett and Gaiman have managed to create a story that weaves together large doses of satire, cynicism, slapstick and wacky unconventional humour into a cohesive yet surprisingly accurate observation of human life all over the world. The characters, one of the biggest strengths in this book, bring a lot of charm and humour to the book. This collaboration between two fine fantasy authors is nothing short of brilliant.
Once upon a time, a young boy called “Wart” was tutored by a magician named Merlyn in preparation for a future he couldn’t possibly imagine. A future in which he would ally himself with the greatest knights, love a legendary queen and unite a country dedicated to chivalrous values... The Once and Future King is a serious work, delightful and witty, yet very sombre overall. The volume published as The Once and Future King is actually four works separately composed over about 20 years.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2011
Under Heaven, inspired by the Tang Dynasty of Ancient China, is as beautiful and enriching a novel as you could possibly wish for. Kay is an expert storyteller, his writing style strong and fluid, his exposition always necessary and worked seamlessly into the narrative. He has successfully re-imagined Ancient China in the same accessible and absorbing way that he previously achieved with medieval France, Ottoman Spain and Renaissance Italy.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2011 (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms)
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. N.K. Jemisin writes books that are at times smart, at times funny, and at times downright heartbreaking, all wrapped up in the the most original stories. This is a must for your bookshelf. This book is flat out 10 out of 10.
In his Mistborn series Brandon Sanderson has written one of the seminal fantasy stories of his generation. Compelling and flawlessly executed with exquisite skill, the enormous magnitude of the story being told showcases the breathtaking imagination at work here. Themes like religion and death are dealt with, power and helplessness, corruption and goodness. Weaved together like a master basket maker, this story lets you grow attached too, love, and lose, characters that you never thought would be lost.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1983 (The Sword of the Lictor), 1982 (The Claw of the Conciliator), 1981 (The Shadow of the Torturer)
British Fantasy Award Winner: 1983 (The Sword of the Lictor)
The Book of the New Sun is a science fantasy classic that improves with every read. Too often overlooked, possibly due to being dense in allegory and symbolism, the joy of coming to understand Wolfe’s craft is part of the joy of reading it. The lead character Severan, is an unreliable narrator, and this adds another layer of complexity. If you’re a fan of both science fiction and fantasy, it is a must-read.
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2018 (Jade City)
Emotionally shocking moments, intricate and otherworldly fight scenes, and lots of loyalty, honour and tradition. Jade City is an epic, unique and often unforgiving gangster fantasy narrative intertwined with glimpses of hope and goodness. The haunting nature of the world is also mixed with betrayals and a huge death toll. Recommended.
Feist's Magician is one of the best known and well read fantasy books; it is a powerful and memorable book that any reader who derives pleasure from reading epic fantasy should read being classic fantasy imbued with many elements of originality. The character development is excellent and the reading experience effortless. In 2003 Magician was voted the 89th most popular book of all time in the BBC's Big Read Top 100. I found the first read of this book to be one of those special moments when you are reading a book that has shaped the fantasy fantasy landscape as it now appears.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1991
I once read an interview with Guy Gavriel Kay where he explained his approach to writing. He said that he wrote what he needed to write and then went over it a second time, adding layers and textures, making improvements, rather like a painter. And then he repeated the process for a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and then eighth time. And this is why his writing is so good, it's not just natural talent, which he has in abundance, but attention to detail and hard, painstaking work. It pays off and in Tigana he wrote a book that influenced me as much as The Lord of the Rings when I was a youngster. It is a book I hold very dear. But Kay is the second Canadian on this list and although they may appear the nicest, politest people on the planet I secretely fear plans for world domination, so I'll keep on eye of the Empire of Canadia's ratio.
The Last Unicorn is an odd novel. It contains many nuanced characters, even down to its villains, yet a rather cold protagonist whose journey isn't really what we think it should be. It contains a plot which jigs and jags and occasionally lapses almost into parody, yet encompasses some wonderful ideas executed with absolute skill. Above all, it contains some of the most honestly lovely writing I have seen. Is it a truly timeless classic? With its anachronisms, odd asides and slightly jerky plot, perhaps not. A classic however most certainly, and one which every lover of fantasy should definitely experience.
Watership Down is a book which will always hold a special place in my heart. It has captivated and moved me for over three decades and I do not believe this will change for what I hope will be a further three. It has the elements that I enjoy in a story: a quest, the journey, plus the bravery, belief and inability to accept defeat. The rabbit characters are glorious: the nerviously intelligent Fiver and his kind, loyal brother Hazel. The no-nonsense Bigwig, the controlling Woundwort and the ingenious Blackberry - all are rich and wonderful to spend time with. Is it fantasy? Google lists it as Fairy tale, Fantasy Fiction, Adventure fiction. Good enough for me. How many talking rabbits have you met?
Reading The Magicians was an undiluted pleasure. It is a book that will likely divide opinions leaving very few sitting on the fence, the majority will love it but there will be some that will detest it . The fantasy genre always needs an author to come along a show it in a different light and this is exactly what has Grossman has done. He has injected sexual tension and questionable morals into a school for wizards and the result is a rousing, perceptive and multifaceted coming of age story that is both bright and beguiling. The Magicians is a perfect fantasy book for older teens that will find that the author understands them, and their feelings, possibly better than they do themselves.
Alice in Wonderland was Lewis Carroll’s first novel and its fantasy plot, humorous rhymes and brilliant use of nonsense was revolutionary. Nineteenth-century children’s writing usually served moral or educational purpose, but Alice was written firmly and purely for the amusement of children. Critical response was lukewarm, but the book was still a great success, and remains a hugely influential classic of children’s literature.
"One of the most laconic, tightly-plotted tales of mythical morality you'll ever read, an anti-establishment satire disguised as a love story, more of a scary tale than a fairy tale" Uncut
"There's nothing fluffy about The Princess Bride. The rocket-powered narrative tricks you without being merely tricksy, and is both modern and timeless" Neon
"A funny thriller for readers who are about ten years of age or wish they were ... Readers of a nervous disposition should be prepared to skim rapidly over the Zoo of Death episode or stick to fiction meant for grown-ups" Spectator
An epic journey awaits the young D’Angeline with the scarlet mote in her left eye. The tales of the old are dead; the tales of a new birth begin.
You have to ask yourself… Wouldn’t it be great to believe in magic? I found this book extraordinary, with so much thought put into the story which unfolds like a carefully constructed maze.
Hugo Award Winner: 1966
Nebula Award Winner: 1966
One of the most layered works of fiction produced during the twentieth century. If you are a fan of epic fantasy or large-scale science fiction (and are not afraid to examine weighty issues such as religion and politics) Dune cannot be strongly recommend enough. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of this genre must read it at some point in their lives.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2001 (Lord of Emperors), (1999) Sailing to Sarantium
The Sarantine Mosaic and Lord of Emperors, inspired by ancient Byzantium, tell a magnificent, sweeping story of empire, conspiracies and journeys, both physical and spiritual. One of the very best examples of alternate history merged with fantasy.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2015 (City of Stairs)
Kat: The world-building that went into this book was amazing. It was more of a bottom-top approach but there was still a sufficient amount of background information. I found the way that Bennett approached religion to be extremely interesting and I loved the way that the reader was kept in the dark about the history of Belikov and the Divinities - just as the people of the Continent were. City of Stairs definitely makes my list of favourite fantasy novels, and I would definitely read a sequel, as well as more of Bennett's work. Excellent and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2014
The Golem and the Djinni is first rate historical fantasy fiction which makes you care deeply about the characters and instils and eagerness and a need to find how it will all end. It is a wonderful debut novel that brings to life an 1899 New York every bit as atmospheric as the London Conan Doyle created for Holmes. This is a book that consistently delights, a charming love story with pleasing emotional depth.
If you want to see how the Pern saga began, and indeed see how a young writer converted two Hugo winning novellas to form her first steps into a historical world of alien dragons, Dragonflight is for you. Wonderfully descriptive narrative, impressive world building and above all a great story.
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2015
One drowsy summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for 'asylum'. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking....
One of the best known and best loved fantasy books, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit introduced the reading world to the unforgettable hobbit Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the wizard, and Smaug the dragon. A book that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike it is a tale full of adventure, heroism, song and laughter. Many who read this magical tale will find their inner-hobbit.
Epic, traditional fantasy of a high standard. At nearly 800 pages it is excellently paced and brings together all the elements that are found in many a fantasy book and re-produces them in a beautiful and endearing way.
The Black Company by Glen Cook is the first book of the nine that make up The Black Company series. First published in 1984 this book was responsible for taking the fantasy genre and turning it on its head with his introduction of realistic characters and its complete disregard for fantasy stereotypes and the age-old battle of good versus evil.
If you've not read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings this may not be for you. But I honestly don't know, it's such a brilliant book, a book about creation really, that maybe it will work for you regardless. But if you have read Tolkien's masterpieces this is a must-read. If you are as captivated by them as most of the reading world is – the Silmarillion will give you the extra information you crave and answer the questions that the two prior books threw up – Who exactly are Gandalf and Sauron? How did the Orcs come into being? Why are the Elves leaving Middle-earth and where are they going?
Deliciously dark, Titus Groan is the first book of the Gormenghast trilogy. The book is written in the third person, which allows the characters and events unfold simultaneously. The land of Gormenghast is described in enough detail for you to realise that this is a land unlike any other.
Long ago, the world of the Four Lands was torn apart by the wars of ancient Evil. But in the Vale, the half-human, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford now lives in peace - until the mysterious, forbidding figure of the druid Allanon appears, to reveal that the supposedly long dead Warlock Lord lives again. Shea must embark upon the elemental quest to find the only weapon powerful enough to keep the creatures of darkness at bay: the fabled Sword of Shannara.
"And while I will agree that Brooks draws inspiration from Tolkien, he doesn't copy him. The reason I linger on this is to hopefully, impress upon you an open mind to reading this book. Do not cross this book off your “to read” list because you've heard people knock it. Similarly, do not go into reading this book attempting to cross reference everything back to some other work. This is a book that deserves being critiqued on its own merit."
A 10/10 book. Sean: ‘This is a beautiful book; it is flawless and intelligent. I do not have a single criticism for this fantastic piece of writing. I loved it! I could not recommend it more highly. I really liked The Song of Achilles though this surpassed it in every way. I really hope to see more from this author in the future’.
Another reader favourite, The Way of Shadows is one of the most entertaining fantasy books available, a rich, engrossing and creative novel. The action sequences are awesome and the plot and characterisation also. If you're looking for all of the above within the framework of a great story, look no further.
Take your standard noir detective with a sarcastic frame of mind and a weakness for helping damsels in distress, add in wizardry, vampires, werewolves, talking skulls, pizza loving fairies and all things paranormal and this is what you get. A quirky, fast paced and thrilling ride through a Chicago you never thought possible. 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.
There is something eminently satisfying about coming across a new author and finding that he is utterly brilliant. That is exactly what happened when I received Ben Aaronovitch’s book ‘Rivers of London’. You have to read this book. Whether you like good writing, good fantasy or urban fantasy, good characters, or simply a breath-taking story set in a breath-taking world, this book is for you. Because it is all of those things, and much much more. Aaronovitch has written a book that will surely become a favourite on many shelves the moment they’ve finished it at 3 in the morning.
World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement: 1983
When Dahl made up James and the Giant Peach as a bedtime story for his daughters Olivia and Tessa, little could he have know that half a century later millions of parents would have read exactly the same story to their own children; a book that fully deserves the accolade of children’s classic.
Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence was a book steeped in controversy - a book that seemed to have divided the Science Fiction and Fantasy community with regards to what is acceptable for people to like and enjoy. A confronting story, deliberately so, that follows a 13 year old boy named Jorg who leads a gang of marauders as they pillage their way across the countryside. Jorg is a sociopath, a willing participant, and readers get to experience the world through his damaged viewpoint. Readers get to see, through Jorg's eyes, the cold apathy with which he dispatches his enemies. It is discomforting. But Prince of Thorns is a fantastic tale of one boy’s fight for control in a world threatening to engulf him.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1979
If you call yourself any kind of reader of speculative fiction and can appreciate a truly rich and complex book, The Stand is a must read. Even if you’ve never read Stephen King before, even if neither horror nor post-apocalyptic are your usual genre choice, you won’t be disappointed. The writing is excellent, the imagery horrifying and the atmosphere hypnotic. After the first few pages you will either find yourself hooked or repelled… it’s that kind of book. But if you want to read one of the greatest examples of dystopian fiction with a healthy dose of fantasy thrown in then look no further.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2014
Ryan: An intimate trip down memory lane to a time when things were much more fantastical than what they are now. This a story that is simple on the surface, but with a depth of immersion that depends entirely on how much you connect with the story. My guess is that the further you are away from your childhood, be it through age or experience, the more you will connect with this story and the more you will fall in love with it.
All the Birds in the Sky is an intense emotional roller-coaster that flits between genres, using both sci-fi and fantasy to get its message across and although it does pit them against each other, the novel never says one is better than the other, each has its place in this story and it is by both of these working together that the best outcome will be found. All the Birds in the Sky is also a very human story focusing on the confusion and mistrust that can come from not understanding the unknown.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1987
It is the children who see - and feel - what makes the town so horribly different. In the storm drains and sewers "It" lurks, taking the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. As the children grow up and move away, the horror of "It" is buried deep - until they are called back.
"As an exploration of childhood, growing up, friendship and facing both real and supernatural fears I still hold It up as a great book. But the ending, and the book’s length in general, will be unpalatable to many readers."
One of the greatest storytellers of our time - The Guardian
A writer of excellence... King is one of the most fertile storytellers of the modern novel - The Sunday Times
Jen Williams “The Ninth Rain” is unlike anything I have ever read. For a fantasy lover, it’s one of those rare books that pulls at your heartstrings but also at the knowledge that it’s okay to be imperfect, inquisitive and slightly mad.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2019
Simply put, R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War is a towering achievement of modern fantasy. Kuang writes in a descriptive and narrative style that presents many sides of an issue without trying to persuade the reader into thinking which path is the “correct” one, if one such exists. As the book descends into its bleak final act, the connection we’ve built with Rin and her companions is put to the test. It is a testament to Kuang’s skill as a writer to establish such a strong connection with her protagonists that the impact of the events in third act hit as hard as they do.
Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Brightness Long Ago is a masterpiece; perhaps the finest work of one of the world’s greatest living storytellers. This story is shocking, devastating, and beautiful. Kay’s language is elegant in its simplicity, yet painstakingly profound as it cuts to the core of what makes us think, and act, and remember.
The “feminist successor to The Lord of the Rings” - Laura Eve. The Priory of the Orange Tree is a story told with grace and infused with rich history and lore in its gloriously huge scope: it is magnificent in every regard. It’s all about the girl power here! I recommend this to readers who enjoy female driven fantasy that is also carefully paced like the works of Robin Hobb, Tad Williams and Chris Wooding.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2020
Another 10/10 book and the most recently published book to appear on this list, published as it was in 2019. Ann Leckie first came to our attention with her highly-regarded science fiction books. When she turned her hand to fantasy she produced, in the words of the book's reviewer, Joshua: A magisterial tour de force of subverted narrative expectations that wrestles with what it means to find identity as a human, and as a god. Unlike anything being written, Ann Leckie will likely be remembered as a literary pioneer, and not as similar to someone else. A masterpiece of storytelling that leaves a willing reader humbled, The Raven Tower is quite simply the best book of the year – mighty, subtle, captivating, unputdownable.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2020
It is a rare thing to relate to a book’s character in such a way that similar situations evoke empathy across your lives. Enough parallels can be drawn to feel almost as if the book is catered specifically toward you in some existential way. I have not read much portal fantasy, but I have always felt a feeling of smothered repression through my youth that has tamped down my will to explore. Instead, my portals to elsewhere revealed themselves in books and stories at an early age, and they’ve been with me ever since. Alix Harrow captures this feeling of finding oneself through the stories we share in her stunning and unforgettable debut novel The 10,000 Doors of January. It is a beautifully written and lovingly crafted adventure about the strength of love, the importance of stories, and the timeless power of words.
I can’t remember the last time I wanted to step into a book so much, be part of a world so desperately. Even with all the danger, with the pain and darkness and death, it’s a place that feels like possibility…
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2013
Twenty years ago , sixteen year old Tara Martin took a walk into the mysterious Outwoods in the Charnwood Forest and never came back. Extensive searches and police investigations find no trace and her family is forced to accept the unthinkable. Then on Christmas day Tara arrives at her parents' door, dishevelled, unapologetic and not looking a day older than when she left. It seems like a miracle and Tara's parents are delighted, but something about her story doesn't add up. When she claims that she was abducted by the fairies, her brother Peter starts to think she might have lost her sanity. But as Tara's tale unfolds, those who loved and missed her begin to wonder whether there is some truth to her account of the last two decades.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2020 (Gideon the Ninth)
The Emperor needs necromancers.
The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.
Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.
Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.
Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.
Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.
Of course, some things are better left dead.
The characterisation is excellent, creating well-formed, sympathetic and most importantly, realistic characters. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea masterpiece, the writing of this generation contains a magic that few modern authors have managed to successfully retain. This is a beautiful, thought-provoking book that will stay with the reader forever.
Some authors write beautifuly and can induce an almost meditive state in the reader. Tolkien, Hobb, Le Guin, Martin can achieve this, and so can William Horwood. There are two books on the site that generate an effusive outpouring of love from readers, two books which will be well know to some but perhaps not as widely known as many books on this list, they are Swan Song by Robert McCammon and Duncton Wood. It is the moving love story of Bracken and Rebecca and the trials they must face and overcome to be as one. It is unfortunate that this work 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. Read my review and the reader reviews below it if you want to get a real sense of how highly this book is regarded.
David Gemmell is unquestionably one of my favourite fantasy authors. For the past 30 years his books have been read and re-read and I am still not weary of them, and I hope that will always be the case. I personally do not think that this is Gemmell's finest but it surely has to be his most important, as without it nothing may have followed. Legend is a great place to start if you have not read any of his work before and a great blend of sword, sorcery and heroism. A MUST read for any heroic fantasy fans.
Terry Goodkind has created a consice, intelligent book that is believable from the start. This is fantasy that is definately aimed at the adult. It is evident that Terry Goodkind has strong political and social views that he is keen to get across in his books. Rather than finding this spoilt the narrative, I found it healthy reading a book that makes you think about what the author is trying to say. I found that Ursula Le Guin's works had the same effect on me.
If you are a fan of trains, history, or London, then this book is definitely for you. Gaiman once again, just like he did in American Gods, shows an uncanny research ability, matched with his inimitable writing style. We are soon introduced to a mass of underground railway stations, and a group of people that, unbeknownst to London Above, are living rather content lives beneath their feet. A bit of mythology, a bit of fantasy, a bit of urban drama and a whole lot of London makes this book a definite must read.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2009
The Graveyard Book won the Carnegie medal for children’s fiction, and it deserved to win. The writing style, though easy enough for children, is very descriptive and distinctive.
"If asked to put The Graveyard Book into a genre, I'd have to say: this is a Neil Gaiman book. It's in the Genre of Excellence" Fortean Times
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2010
This is a great story. Mieville has delivered and lived up to the hype generated by his early work, in particular the Bas-Lag series. While this is a vastly different book to that epic series, there is no change in quality.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2009
Liga raises her two daughters in the safe haven of an alternative reality, a personal heaven granted by magic as a refuge from her earthly suffering. But the real world cannot be denied forever and when the barrier between the two worlds begins to break down, Liga’s fiery daughter, Urdda, steps across it…
"Tender Morsels never once tries to show that life has a happily ever after ending. It shows that life is full of hardship; you will experience hurt, you will watch loved ones die and you will often be afraid. It also shows that live can be full of love, caring and kindness and that it is better to experience something, be it good or bad, than to experience nothing at all." Fantasy Book Review
Sei, November, Ludov, and Oleg -- four people unknown to each other but united by grief and their obsession with the city of Palimpsest. Located beyond the human realm, Palimpsest is accessible only by those who sleep after generating the energy which comes from sex. Once anyone arrives in the city, they indulge in sense pleasures and are able to obtain their innermost desires -- two things which ensure that Palimpsest visitors return.
"Like other Cathryn Valente books (Orphan's Tales, In the Garden of Coin and Spice), this poignant poetic work is a feast for the mind. Palimpsest is the gift of a fairy tale wrapped in an allegory and tied with a mystical ribbon. A gift that readers can enjoy again and again." Fantasy Book Review
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2009
Jeffrey Ford throws genuine easy gas with this little semi-autobiographical gem. The book pulls you in, keeps pulling you, yanking you, in fact, but you never feel anything but a slight trace of a tug. So familiar is he with his world - the south shore of western Suffolk County (NY) in the late sixties - and so skilled is he at drawing you into it, that you scarcely notice the creepy, dark water leaking in under your mental door.
The leading man, one Meyer Landsman, is a festival of flaws and possibilities. The characters are alive, dynamically three-dimensional, and refreshingly complicated. Chabon’s world and its collapsing-star reality you completely buy. The analogs of human behaviour are poetic, tenderly ironic and brilliantly designed. Chess is key, but not in such a fashion that it bans the non-chess playing reader. And there is a seemingly self-perpetuating sense of devilish humour that had me choking every other page.
A winner of the 1997 Nebula award for best novel, Vonda N McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun is a sumptuous work of alternate history. Set in 17th century France, at the court of the Sun King, the book’s attention to detail and flowing narrative help create an absorbing tale of fantasy, romance, science and history.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1986 (The Vampire Lestat)
In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life - the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood. Anne Rice's compulsively readable novel is arguably the most celebrated work of vampire fiction since Bram Stoker's Dracula was published in 1897. As the Washington Post said on its first publication, it is a 'thrilling, strikingly original work of the imagination ...sometimes horrible, sometimes beautiful, always unforgettable'.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1993
It is 1888 and Queen Victoria has remarried, taking as her new consort Vlad Tepes, the Wallachian Prince infamously known as Count Dracula. Peppered with familiar characters from Victorian history and fiction, the novel tells the story of vampire Geneviève Dieudonné and Charles Beauregard of the Diogenes Club as they strive to solve the mystery of the Ripper murders. Anno Dracula is a rich and panoramic tale, combining horror, politics, mystery and romance to create a unique and compelling alternate history. Acclaimed novelist Kim Newman explores the darkest depths of a reinvented Victorian London. This brand-new edition of the bestselling novel contains unique bonus material, including a new afterword from Kim Newman, annotations, articles and alternate endings to the original novel.
"Kim Newman's Anno Dracula is back in print, and we must celebrate. It was the first mash-up of literature, history and vampires, and now, in a world in which vampires are everywhere, it's still the best, and its bite is just as sharp. Compulsory reading, commentary, and mindgame: glorious." Neil Gaiman
"The book succeeds not just as horror but also as a thriller and detective novel combining politics, romance and history. Newman has produced an excellently crafted, well-plotted, fast-paced, sure-footed, incident-packed and macabre thrill fest." Fantasy Book Review
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2011
British Fantasy Award Nominee: 2011
A brilliant story which from the first chapter is hard hitting and the bleakness of the story brings the action to the fore. Graham Joyce has created in the first chapters a sense of uncertainty that makes it a real page turner. A very good read; a mix of fantasy and love story. It flows well and is well worth reading at least twice.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1988
Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen – from the President of the United States to the homeless on the streets of New York City – will fight for survival. In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth’s last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity: Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artefact in the destroyed Manhattan streets… Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station… And Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels alongside Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swan’s gifts. But the ancient force behind earth’s devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself...
"In a book of over 850 pages I never once found myself bored, I looked forward to reading it each evening as I cared about the characters. I found it impossible not to like Swan Song." Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2012
WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11/22/63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless... King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of Elvis and JFK, of Plymouth Fury cars and Lindy Hopping, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
"11.22.63 finds Stephen King on top form. A compelling tale of alternate history and time travel showcasing King’s skill as a storyteller as he effortlessly weaves together fact and fiction, highlighting the benefits of meticulous research." Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2013
In the first of her Dreamblood duology, N K Jemisin presents a vivid world of dreams and reality, sanity and insanity, and the stories of the people caught up within it. It’s a compelling tale of corruption and justice and the lengths people will go to in pursuit of both.
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2013
He calls himself Alif - few people know his real name - a young man born in a Middle Eastern city that straddles the ancient and modern worlds. When Alif meets the aristocratic Intisar, he believes he has found love. But their relationship has no future - Intisar is promised to another man and her family's honour must be satisfied. As a remembrance, Intisar sends the heartbroken Alif a mysterious book. Entitled The Thousand and One Days, Alif discovers that this parting gift is a door to another world - a world from a very different time, when old magic was in the ascendant and the djinn walked amongst us. With the book in his hands, Alif finds himself drawing attention - far too much attention - from both men and djinn. Thus begins an adventure that takes him through the crumbling streets of a once-beautiful city, to uncover the long-forgotten mysteries of the Unseen. Alif is about to become a fugitive in both the corporeal and incorporeal worlds. And he is about to unleash a destructive power that will change everything and everyone - starting with Alif himself.
"I would highly recommend this book to anybody who like a ripping yarn, whether they are into fantasy or not because this is more of a thriller with echoes of the computer acrobatics seen in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, which I find really interesting, but set against an exotic landscape that really comes to life. You can feel and smell the duststorm as it sweeps over the houses, seeping its way in through the cracks, the panic as The Hand, an unbending, alien force, closes in, and the awkwardness of a young American scholar who tries to help Alif but is so clearly out of place. Overall, a sumptuous, colourful and many-layered novel." Fantasy Book Review
British Fantasy Award Nominee: 1985
This is a book written about the cusp of the 20th century, where so many things were promised and hoped for and so many changes happened. This story focuses on two people, bound together because of a newspaper story: Jack Walser, the journalist sent to write a story on Sophie Fevvers the “aerialiste extraordinaire”, to find out whether she is fact or fiction, as instead of being a typical trapeze artist she has wings that allow her to fly through the air. Angela Carter has written a fantastical microcosm of life.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2011
An intriguing “what if?” urban fantasy story that gives a twist to the contemporary world we live in. This story involves animals and magic, that fits into the world of Zoo City. As well as inviting questions as to why people who are different from the norm are treated in different circumstances.
Susan Cooper is a natural storyteller, and all five The Dark is Rising novels grip the reader tightly, helped in this with copious amounts of mythology and spectacular prose. The prose of the second book in the series, The Dark is Rising, is some of the best in its genre. The sequence is an absolute classic, and should be required reading for children between the ages of seven and fifteen. Those who are older who haven't read them yet are really missing out on something wonderful. Highly recommended.
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 1988
Weaveworld is a true epic of a story – a whirlwind of base instincts and heights of imagination that brings together fantasy and horror, whilst grounding the fantastical in a recognisable, mundane, suburban England.
Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers - magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London...
"Like the best books I have read, V. E. Schwab has left me wanting to read more about these characters that have come alive in my mind."
World Fantasy Award Nominee: 2015
From the quietly sad story of a lonely young man out of his depth, to the equally quietly triumphant story of a hero who has accepted himself, learned to cope and promises to do a great deal of good for others, this is a story with magic, airships and elves set around a very ritualistic royal court. In some ways The Goblin Emperor is one of the most grittily hopeful books I’ve read for quite a significant while, and one I’d definitely agree deserves its accolade.
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2017
The Sudden Appearance of Hope is an excellent novel, one that looks at complex themes with much more depth before providing a biased social commentary. There is barely any escapism to be found here. This book will engage you with the prevalent social issues of today (mid-2016), making you pause and think about our pursuit of perfection as defined by Hollywood and the mainstream media.
This is quite a dark story full of gritty and macabre deaths aplenty with a good, but not an overwhelming amount of adrenaline fueling action. Certain sections are superbly intense though and this book is highly unpredictable. It features twists, betrayal, political disputes and half the time when I thought I had analysed where the story was going, I was then blindsided or completely shocked by a revelation. The publisher stated that this as being "gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch" and I cannot disagree.
It’s rare that a story catches me off guard with so many inventive and thrilling ideas, yet still only scratches the surface of the directions it could take. The potential here is so vast; I see these ideas as prime material to turn into its own RPG world, or spinoff novels, or fill-in-the-blank. Great writing, characters of substance, and thoughtful exploration of original ideas elevates Foundryside into rare territory.
World Fantasy Award Winner: 2016
The Chimes is one of the most difficult, and yet most rewarding books I’ve read for quite some time. Breaking so many rules of writing to explore its central premise, yet blending together dark poetry, a truly unique post-apocalyptic world, love, music and memory into one great symphonic whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts, and an experience which you won’t easily forget.
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 phenomenal. Truly. What a brilliant debut!
Alternate timelines, manifestations, Hands of Glory, alchemy, Doctrine of Ethos and immortality and and and GODDAMN. McGuire provides a clinic in storytelling with Middlegame. This is her magnum opus (so far!) It’s magical... truly magical. I could not love it more!!!
I loved the start of this novel, and I loved the end. But I did not enjoy what came in between. And that in a nutshell is my review.
Linnir from Australia
I very much appreciate your website and have found it a great aid in finding to me new authors and books to enjoy. I like how your top 100 is an evolving list that has considered comments and looked at reader suggestions. I would like to suggest Garth Nix’s Abhorsen, the first of his Old Kingdom series. Fantastic world building and characters.
Scott from USA
I agree with Christos from Greece - no Bakker, no list. Ahead of his time, in a league all his own. I also think Tad Williams is poorly represented, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is such a classic series that inspired some of the top SFF authors of this century.
Andrea from Italy
I bet Jay Kristoff's "Nevernight Chronicle" serie will be in the list sooner or later. I would like to thank you guys for giving me tons of suggestions on "my next book to absolutely read": you basically are the reason why I met authors such David Gemmell and Steven Erikson, to name a few.
Lily from USA
I am very surprised that the Percy Jackson series isn't on the list, it should have been.
Richard Forman from Australia
A much better list than some (TIME, omg) Glad to see Magician. Possibly over Inflated Neil Gamain and sold Janny Wurts, Clive Barker and Stephen Donaldson short and hasnt anyone else ever read Sara Douglass? Is Jean M Auel classed as fantasy?
Mohit from India
In what world is The Lightening Thief better than The Final Empire?
Will Sargent from UK
Conan? Vance? Also loved Blue Sword - ideal for misty/jinty fans like me.
Jempi from Belgium
Oh dear, no Jack Vance there ...
Henrikas from Lithuania
Lots of good suggestions and many books I haven’t read yet. Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourites. Therefore personally I would add more books from Stormlight Archive. I also would put LOTR as #1
Mike from England
I'm shocked that there isn't a single book by Michael Moorcock I'm this list. Whilst some is hard to read and book order can be a problem (Elric, I'm looking at you), there is no doubt that his many different but interlinked Eternal Champions have brought joy to many.
Caleb Knopf from America
I love the Farseer trilogy so far and am on the last book. The series is absolutely amazing and has some fantastic writing. David Dalglish's books are also fantastic and one of my favourite series and I wish his series were more well-known. Both the Keeper series and Shadowdance series are hidden gems that very much deserve more love.
Richard from Scotland
It's your top 100 and everyone is different. Agree with some, disagree with others. Anthony Ryan, Terry Goodkind, Simon Green. Three authors i am surprised not to see here. Although not sure you would consider Green's Deathstalker saga as it is sci-fi. But it has a distinct element of fantasy to it.
Dave B from United States
Can you please make a "print friendly" version?
Craig from USA
I agree with a lot of these (maybe not the order of some) but I'm really wondering why David Dalglish is nowhere on here?
Richard from England
You have left out Dragonlance tales.
Donal from Ireland
David Eddings is on this list! So I suspect the list should be called "the only 100 fantasy books we've ever read".(Yawn - nothing positive to say, no mention of books you've read and enjoyed, just criticism. Thanks for wasting everyone's time.)
Kevbox from Ireland
Just one Joe Abercrombie on this list? Come on. His books could make the top ten!
Sue from UK
Where is The Wars of Light and Dark by Janny Wurts?
Ana from USA
Not one mention of Anne Mccaffrey?!?
Christos from Greece
No Bakker, No list :D
Dan from UK
Not sure I can take the list seriously when you have The Blade Itself at 68. The first law books are the best fantasy books ever written. Nothing else comes close.
Matthew from UK
I would recommend you to read the book Ready Player One
Ole from Norway
Not even close to my personal list, but there are some interresting picks here. Personally I miss Peter V. Brett, Scott Lynch and John Gwynne on the list. I am a sucker for Sir Terry and David Gemmell, so I would have put many more of their books on my list. I think Steven Ericson, Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson and Mark Lawrence are overrated. This just proves that taste is personal, and what works for some, irks others.
Stefano from Italy
I'm tired of seeing Tolkien at the top of any list of fantasy authors or books. Michael Moorcock was right about him. He's overrated. I'm not saying he isn't a good author, neither "Lord of the rongs" isn't a very good book but, HELL!, it's everywhere! And always at the number 1 of the chart! Stop revere him (and LotR)! There are other authors, other books, he isn't a divinity! Worst of all... Eragon? Paolini? At the n. 10? It could be only if you've read 10 books in your whole life! Where is Robert Holdstock? And Michael Moorcock? And Ann Rice? And Tomi Adeyemi? And C. S. Pacat? And Sebastien De Castell? And Mary Stewart? And Michael Ende? There are at least 10 books by 10 different authors better than Eragon by Paolini. Final note: Dune by F. Herbert is usually considered a sci-fi book.
Anthony from United Kingdom
Where is Wheel of Time? This epic tale absolutely deserves to be in the top 20.
Grig Orescovici from Romania
I would definitely add Songs of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
Mark from United States
Evaluating the relative merits of literature is subjective, so there are always going to be omissions and inclusions that upset some. Personally, I enjoy lists, particularly those populated with material with which I'm unfamiliar. I appreciate the work of this site's contributors in putting together these lists and all of the site's content as it has turned me on to some exciting new possibilities. As for me my favorites are Patricia McKillip's Riddle-Master series, Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber and J.V. Jones' sadly incomplete Sword of Shadows. I don't believe I saw any of them on the above list and therefore I would add them to the chorus of additional recommendations. Maybe not the Jones, as I'm not sure she will finish and that might sour some to series. It is excellent, but like Martin and Rothfuss, there is some disappointment that is likely part of the bargain. Thanks again to the staff, the reviewers and the recommenders in the comments. '
Claire from UK
Where is Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword? A short book that creates an amazing world. Also Melanie Rawn, anything by her but especially The Golden Key blending art and fantasy. Agree about Guy Gabriel Kay - awesome but where is that doyenne of Fantasy Anne McCaffrey? No list will satisfy everyone but how about less multiple books by the same author & more authors instead. Loved the Song of Ice and Fire but never finished so how can it be truly great?
Mike from Sweden
This list is incomplete without the tales of Paksenarrion. Some of the best Fantasy ever written
Erin from UK
Where is Sarah j. Maas people! Her books are INCREDIBLE! However, I'm glad The Poppy War is here because it is my all time favourite along with The Book Thief but that's not fantasy.
Isabelle from Germany
Throne of Glass belongs somewhere on this list. Sarah J. Maas is one of the most incredible fantasy authors out there.
Brian from Kenya
Good list but its not complete without works of cassandra clare eg. The Mortal Instruments
Maya from United States
I like Eragon and Harry Potter but I would recommend The Keeper Of The Lost Cities like Sreeya said.
Anon from UK
I love it that Lord of The Rings is up there! I would put Diplomat of Uram around the 30th or 40th place, and Red Rising at the 50th or so. Sanderson is hard to place though. Anyway very good list!
Well you should have included Keeper of the List Cities, it is recently published though it is a must read.
Thank you very much for making this list.
However, you may want to consider adding 'The Neverending Story' by Michael Ende. In my opinion, this should have been in any top 100 book lists.
Also, honestly, the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett is so epic and brilliant, how is it not here?
Nikki from The Netherlands
There are no good fantasy books in this list, just think of the books by Sarah J. Maas or the books by Brandon Sanderson. There are no compelling books here and I am an 11 year old girl who has already read over 250 fantasy books. I would adjust your list with Throne of glass. Or The Avengers. But it is rather lazy that people still bother to make a list. (translated from Dutch)
Niki from Sri Lanka
What about Nevernight and Strange the dreamer? This list is incomplete without them.
Dominique from USA
No Charles de Lint? Deborah Harkness or Jim Butcher? This list has some major omissions!
Alex from US
Malazan?!?!? That series is terrible. I gave up halfway through the second book.
Caroline from England
What about Holly Lisle's Diplomacy of Wolves? Janny Wurts? And an odd one but Tamora Pierce whose Song of the Lioness quartet introduced many young girls to the world of fantasy books. I'd have any of these over the Hunger Games. Personal preference only.
Paul from USA
The fact that the terrible Terrys are not on this list make it for real. I mean Brooks and Goodkind. They are entry level fantasy at best and conplete hacks at worst. Read some Robin Hobb if you want some good reading. I would include Peter Brett and Daniel Abraham.
TheShreester from UK
A comprehensive top 100. Most readers would probably agree with the first half but the rest are less well known, so debatable. It's gratifying to see Ursula LeGuin's Wizard of Earthsea trilogy receiving the recognition it deserves, but two glaring omissions are Mary Stewart's superb Merlyn Trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment) and Raymond E Feist's Riftwar saga. (Thank you for this wonderful comment - this is, in my opinion, what a comment should be, confirming positives and making further recommendations. Very appreciated - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)
Serena from USA
In one of my elective classes at University we were assigned a book that mentioned "The Machine Stops" briefly. I was so intrigued by the quotes that I went looking for this short story and I do not regret it at all. This story perfectly captures the extreme of full reliance on technology and machines for every form of resource and the changes it creates in humanity. The fact that this entails for a large admiration for something that humans created is insane and will of course end poorly. I enjoyed Forster's story and the thought provoking features it holds.
Cameron from USA
I am genuinely surprised that Wizards First Rule wasn't on here.
Mary from America
I would’ve loved to have seen the fallen trilogy on this list It’s easy to loose track of time reading it. There’s battles forbidden Love and an ending that was more surprising than I imagined.
Dennie from Netherlands
Great list, funny to see that the LOTR is #1, that series started my addiction to fantasy books. And even funnier that #2 is my favorite series of all time. The Malazan world by Steven Erikson is everything you want in a high fantasy world. I'm currently reading Dancer's Lament (from his co-writer Esslemont) , preparing for Kallenved's reach release this February.
michael from australia
kate forsyth witches of eileanan or Rhiannons ride two very good series with great world building, would like to see a review of these on this site. and also shoud be in the top 100
David from USA
Missing Robert Silverberg’s Tales of Majipoor is a significant oversight.
Darrell from USA
Top ten or so either series or books. Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Thomas Covenant, MIstborn, Stormlight archive if/when it is finished, Shanara, Taran Series, Harry Potter, Earthsea, Belgariad, Pern, Saga of Recluse, The Dark, etc.
Duke from USA
Joe Abercrombie should be far, far higher on the list.
Person from Ireland
Where's Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series?
Pseudonym from Somewhere
Terry Pratchett's Discworld series should be on this list.
Brian from USA
Where is The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson?
Guy from Where good books are
Eragon isn't there!?!?!?!?!?!!!
Thomas from America
This is the best top ten list I’ve seen, at least as far as the authors themselves go. I’m in agreement the Farseer trilogy should be above Liveship Traders, but as long as Robin Hobb is in the top ten I’m happy.
Laura from Italia
"Rating books is by nature highly subjective"...true, but this list is very strange, no way it represents the best of fantasy literature. Robin Hobb and Farseer's books should be in the top ten; Mistborn is overrated. Ilona Andrews in the top ten?? come on..The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan only 45? and where are Michael Ende? Neverending story? Momo? Patricia A. McKillip? Riddle-Master? Carol Berg? Valen series? Books of the Rai-kirah? Martha Wells? Raksura series? C.J. Cherryh? Morgaine saga? The Dreamstone? Megan Turner? The Queen's Thief? Scott Lynch? Sebastien Decastell? Jim Butcher? Dave Duncan? J. V. Jones? on and on...
Timothy from Australia
Brice, if Brandon Sanderson is such a crappy author why has he sold so many books? I've read some but not all of his books and I find his writing style quite good for such a young author.
Fango from UK
No Demonic Cycle by Peter V. Brett? This is outrageous.
Dave from UK
@Toni from Burlington Why do you want a Sci-Fi book like Ender's Game included into a list of Fantasy books? Shouldn't it be obvious that this list is vastly different from it?
Clay from USA
Great list. Love what you folks are doing. Unlike most of the comments I appreciate Brooks not being on the list. I tried to read a number of his books and just couldn’t do it.
Kate from US
I don't know about this list...it feels very fabricated. A lot of what is said was simply quotes from the book/series and very dry or stale opinions of them.... which seem very phony so I don't know if these are adverts or not can't really get a feel for the quality of anything on this list.
Toni from Burlington, ON Canada
Yes, it is only a list and there are many great books that didn't make this 100. For example 'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card which opened a door for me years ago to fantasy writers (which I was very closed minded, prior). Another is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon amazing book.
Jay from Sweden
Re: former post no 'Sword of Truth' because its really REALLY bad.
Osayd K from Australia
Why don't I see Terry Goodkind's Sword Of Truth series?
Josh from United States
@James I normally wouldn't agree that ASOIAF is top 10 worthy but considering that Sanderson and Rothfuss are so high and Martin is better than both of them...
Tsvi from Israel
You forgot at least one amazing searies "The Sword of Truth" by "Terry Goodkind". Other then that I should memorize the list for further reading. Thank you.
Fred from Oman
The Empire of the East should be on the list. Just as a counterpoint to all the long winded, overwritten modern fantasy titles. Three books that are wrapped up before the typical fantasy author has introduced us to character number 40 - who seems a lot like characters 12 and 27.
Harry from Canada
It's just a list.... And like all lists it gives us all the opportunity to find out about Fantasy books that may have never crossed our individual radars. I've never agreed with any fantasy list I've ever seen and I'm still waiting for some diverse fantasy writing that transcends the usual suspects who seem to inhabit most lists. Fantasy and the adept world builders who inhabit the genre still see those worlds through one coloured, one dimensional lens, Well, it is what it is.
Ben from England
Harry Potter is a very unremarkable book, the only only reason it was big was because it had a nice story.
Ben from England
most of this list is similar to how I would rank it, I just have a couple of issues. one is the fact that harry potter is so high. the story is a good story, no question, but in general the book is just not an amazing book. the vocabulary isn't amazing, the description is also lacking, and the characters are unrealistic to a whole new level. another issue is that the belgariad is so low. in case no-one has noticed, the kingkiller series, most of conn igguldens books, and the eragon series are all based on work by eddings. his most popular books came out before fantasy became that big, and most fantasy from the 80's to now can be traced back to either eddings, Tolkien, or any one of the gothic writers. also, I mentioned conn iggulden and the eragon series at the start of the comment, where are they?
William from UK
I saw the BBC dramatization of this story back in 1966 and the story and theme have stayed with me ever since. Written in 1909 it is a truly remarkable thesis that humans will become ever dependent on technology even for the most basic tasks. It is clear looking at our modern society and life styles that if not necessarily depending on machines we are depending almost wholly on interdependent systems. Just look at the food supply chain and how fragile that is. E.M. Forster has remarkably foreseen the world wide web, email and video conferencing as well as our dependence in technology. He also postulates the influence and control technology could have on our lives. To the point that those that buck against the technology or question it will be punished. The machine dependent human race will be easier to control if we accept domination by the machine. The title of the book leaves no surprise to the outcome of the story. But that does not spoil the quality and impact of the read. If one remembers that this was written in 1909 this short story will be a satisfying and thought provoking read. I am surprised that Hollywood has not yet made a film of it.
Kenneth from Norway
How can you place Wheel of Time so low on your list when it is one of the best selling fantasy series? Your review of the books are also lackluster at best.
Ela from India
Oh my god. I was really into this list but then you put Name of the Wind before the Hobbit. What even..? How can you put a teenage gamer's wet dream (the MC is a self insert for god's sake) over the depth that Hobbit is?! Blasphemy!!
Barb from USA
Marissa Meyer - The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet Cress, Winter). Hard to put down!
Robert from United Kingdom
Who put this list together????... Not even a mention of Charles de lint.... The little country was a fantastic piece of fantasy writing.. And what about Clive Barker, (weaveworld, Imagica, to name but two), I can't, no refuse, to believe not even one of these authors have made the top 100...
Marilyn from United States
Good list... I would suggest Brian Staveley's Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne series. Most delicious. Also, The Dagger and the Coin series by David Abraham... new twists, here.
Roland from Nigeria
Definitely the Sorcerer's Ring should be top 20.
Scott from USA
I expected to see "Little, Big" by John Crowley on the list, but didn't. I have been reading fantasy novels since the 60's. Tolkien and Crowley's "Little, Big" deserve to be together on a plane of their own.
Peter from Nigeria
What of the Sorcerer's Ring by Morgan Rice?
Anon from United States
Moorcock? Eternal Champion Series? And as others have said: Zelazny? Howard? This is heavily weighted to more recent books.
James from Canada
You're right about Conan Jeff
Nick from Bulgaria
Daaamn, first list where Malazan is truly on its rightfull place. Same for Song Of Ice And Fire. I like Silmarillion more than every other Tolkien's work, so LOTR must not be on top. Riftwar must took its place, because its dozen times better. Amber? Fionavar? Gentelmen Bastards? I think I did not see them in the list, you should add them next time. Thats for me, have a nice day.
Gary from UK
Great list. Quite a few I have not heard of. I shall check them out. Check out new book by Leo it is called. Kandor the warrior. :-)
Jeff from United States
Why not Robert E Howard and the original Conan books? He always gets left off of these lists, in my opinion, simply because he wrote the stories a long time ago. Great stories.
Willy from Canada
A great list .But where is "LEGEND OF JIG DRAGONSLAYER"? No list is complete without Jig!!!
James from USA
I like this website but putting a song of ice and fire where it is just seems crazy, like somebody is purposefully bias toward it. It's top 5 easily and probably top 5 for all fantasy readers who's read it. Hard to take the reviews seriously on this site now.
Brice from United States
And disparaging remarks about Tolkien? Are you sure you like fantasy literature? Poul Anderson mostly wrote SciFi, now you're saying he's the hero the fantasy genre. You seem confused.
Brice from United States
Who is writing the reviews next to each of the entries? That has actually stated above that he or she does not like Celtic mythology in fantasy novels. That is a moronic statement as all of the stock features of the genre--elves, magic, dragons, etc.--all come from Celtic mythology. And why is Brandon Sanderson on the list. He is a hack who writes the same novel over and over again, the same tired plot over and over--and that plot is not even original but taken wholesale from earlier fantasy novels--hacks destroy a genre's credibility, hacks as authors and as list-makers.
Brice from United States
If this is a representative of what the genre has to offer, I am pretty much done with it. Mostly YA and coming of age crap.
NB from UK
Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
James from Switzerland
An interesting top ten and it's also interesting to read other people's comments. At least one of Robin Hobbs books are in the top ten, but no Robert Jordan? And nothing from the amazing Raymond E feist, the magician. If you've not read it, do so! I guess we all have our own opinions, I'm currently reading the mistborn series and quite honestly I can't see what all the fuss is about 😄😬
Iliyan from Bulgaria
I haven't read the last books of the cycle but Robert Jordan can be a bit slow for big part of readers. This is, i think, the reason why he isnt in top 10. Otherwise he is an amazing author and more skillful at world building than most.
Steve from United Kingdom
Looks like a list of what's currently in Waterstones, W H Smiths, etc. There was an explosion of fantasy writers at the end of the 70's which doesn't seem to have abated. For me Moorcock is the main man but as his books are not in the shops any more neither is he on the list.
Archie from Philippines
Are u kidding me???!!!! Wheel of time by Robert Jordan is not on the top 10 list/s???? Puhleaze!!!!!!
Peter from Ireland
Would've liked to see a song of ice and fire on this list.
Anon from UK
As others have said, I'm surprised to see a number of authors missing: Piers Anthony (Incarnations of Immortality, Xanth, Blue Adept, etc.), Terry Brooks, etc. Also, Poul Anderson's "The High Crusade" is far better than the work you currently have posted.
Daniel from United States
Like you have said, highly subjective. That being said: 1. Though prolific, I do not think R.A. Salvatore is at all a great writer. He is the reason the word formulaic exists as a word. 2. The First Law by Abercrombie should be in the top twenty. It is polarizing, but good art usually is. 3. I don't know that incomplete series should be included in this list, especially since they are listed by series, not individual books, but since they were, I'm going with it. Here are a few I thought should be included: The Fisherman by John Langan, Grim company by Luke Scull, Vlad books by Steven Brust, Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell, Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Half a King by Abercrombie, Raven's Shadow by Anthony Ryan, and the Demon Cycle by Peter Brett.
Josh from United States
An interesting list, but missing some important authors and works. No Zelazny, Brooks, Kurtz, or Lieber? All pretty influential authors who did some remarkable work. Where's the urban fantasy of de Lint, or Butcher? are people like Aaronovitch or Jacka excluded because their series are still ongoing? I love Eddings, but the Elenium series fell off badly after book one; very surprised to see it here.
Bethany from USA
Damastor? What's that?
Harry from Canada
Gemmell should definitely be on this list! Another one I've read which is cool is Damastor by Dimitri Iatrou. It's REALLY well written!!
Jude from UK
Seems like from the comments, people think something isn't in the top 100 if it isn't on the first page (1-10). I think this is a great 1-100 list tbh x
Chris from Philippines
Lee from Fantasy Book Review
Game of Thrones lists at #18, The First Law Trilogy at #64.
Mark from United States
No Joe Abercrombie???? Are you serious????
Elven from Sverige
THE WORST LIST EVER. NO GAME OF THRONES.
Gordon from USA
Leanee, Rowling is #11 on this list.
Leanee from UK
WHAT?! NO J.K.ROWLING!! how can you have a list of top fantasy books and not have Harry Potter on there?
Marshall from USA
How is it even possible that The First Law is number 64 on this list? This is the most raw, delicious fantasy that I have ever read. The plot is flimsy at first, but the characters are so three-dimensionally drawn that the reader is just happy to be along with them for the journey. All of the flowery stuff is taken out of this series, folks, replaced with a smack-you-in-the-lips realism. If you are a fantasy fan and not faint of heart, run to the bookstore for these three.
Gomez from England
A great list, but no David Gemmell? Legend, King Beyond The Gate, Waylander, the list goes on. And what about R. A. Salvatore and that wonderful Dark Elf. Give 'em a try, you'll not regret it.
Dale from USA
Have to agree with some people here. Terry Brooks should be on the list somewhere. His work is imaginative and unique. I really wish the Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern got more love. She has strong and interesting characters, a fully thought out world, and adifferent flavor of dragons. I guess as there is no magic and it gets a bit sci-fi might disqualify her from a list like this.
John from Australia
Robin Hobb's fine as long as she keeps clear of dragons. To me by far her best book - and in fact one of the best fantasy books of the many I've read - has been Assassin's Apprentice.
Nick from South Africa
Can't imagine a top ten without a Terry Pratchett novel.
Laura from US
Gene Wolfe's "The Shadow of the Torturer". . .
Gizaw from Ethiopia
I'm very interested on THE LORD OF THE RING it very special. God bless the writer.
Marie from United States
I agree with Keanu...loved The Hobbit; it is definitely worth the read. Also Some Must Fall, book 1 of The Coming Crown, is awesome. It's great fantasy set in the middle ages. Website is at http://thecomingcrown.com/
Arnold from Canada
Death Gate Cycle not on there? Not perfect but should be top 100. No Fionavar? Tales of Alvin Maker was also a good light read. WOT should be top 15. I will admit that books 7-10 are pretty darn slow and spend too much time talking about woman sniffing, folding arms below bosoms and describing dresses, but having woman as the power figures (for the most) part was a nice departure from the usual. It did lack any main character being killed off. And yes, Lord of the Rings was the first, but going back and reading it again, it seems very predictable and takes itself too seriously. It may be the same as my kids watching old classic TV shows like I love Lucy and the Honeymooners thinking the jokes are corny, but only because every other sitcom since has stolen them.
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).
Nick from Canada
Well this is a bizarre list of junk. Is it supposed to be limited to just a couple of publishers?
Jack from USA
Nothing from Weiss and Hickman, huh? Nevermind that Dragonlance has sold more novels than every series on that list with the exception of Tolkein. Also, no Terry Brooks? No David Eddings? What kind of BS list is this anyway? Dragonlance is objectively speaking a top 10-20 series -- top 20-40 if you are a subjective prat.
Michael from UK
I honestly think any fantasy list without Michael Moorcock is a deeply flawed thing. Charles de Lint is also one of the finest fantasy writers of modern times. Obviously any list of this kind is down to personal taste and we all have our favourites but some of the choices here are just silly. I mean.... Shadow Ops ?....Really?
Andrew from England
I can only assume the non-appearance of Terry Brooks is a mistake.
Zorro from Sweden
Harry Potter <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3
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.
Garen from Canada
1 3 6 7 are definitely good. Read them.
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.
Shadowthrone from Itko Kan
Bakker and Abercrombie surely belong in the top twenty... but massive kudos for having Malazan so far up!
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.
Greg from Australia
Hi, great list. I thought the Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglas was pretty damn good.
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)
Russell from USA
Ummm, did I miss Terry Brooks on this list?
Victorianne from Philippines
Where is Prince Nothing??? This is one of my favorite series. Grrr.
Troy from Australia
The Farseer trilogy deserves to be above the Liveship Traders trilogy on this list and where is Raymond Feist?
Andrew from Canada
Harry Potter at #26? Seriously?
Zeeshan from India
@Trent, Broken Empire is on number 20. The list is great I discoverd many new titles to read. My favorite are the Broken Empire series and the Kingkiller series.(Thanks Zeeshan. Trent was correct at the time of comment, there was a bug in the system and Broken Empire wasn't showing. I fixed it and all is now fine. I'm currently reading Wise Man's Fear and agree with your recommendation - Kingkiller series is excellent).
Steve from Canada
This list is flawed. It has some, in my opinion, very questionable choices but I was pleased to see you have Raymond E Feist and David Eddings works listed. You left out The Sword of Shannara or any of the Shannara books by Terry Brooks. I can not condone this.
Paul from England
I am astonished that the Empire series (Daughter of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire etc) by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts is not featured. In my opinion, it is better than the Magician Series, even though it was effectively a spin-off.
Michael from UK
Where is Tad Williams epic masterpiece Memory, Sorrow and Thorn? Some strong titles here, but MMT is a stronger and more poetic work than A Song Of Ice And Fire, and a major rival to The Lord Of The Rings. I actually prefer it to anything written by Tolkien. There. I said it!
Veresa from Nigeria
I think the Discworld, Rigante, and Drenai series should definitely be moved up in the list.
Veresa from Nigeria
Brandon Sanderson is my favorite author. The Stormlight Archives and Mistborn series are amazing!
Chris from UK
Nothing by Alasdair Gray, eg Lanark, Poor Things, or A History Maker.
Thomas from USA
Maybe I missed it but the Jeruselam Man should definitely be in the top 40; at least in my opinion. Also, in my bias view all Robin Hobb series should be in the top 25 and Wheel of Time should be top 15. Thank you for not being cliche and drop ASoIaF as #1. Also, thank you for appreciating the awesomeness of Malazan.
David from USA
I'm surprised that with the incredibly high ratings this site gave Pierce Brown's Red Rising and Golden Son neither one is on this list. Red Rising got a 9.7 and Golden Son a 9.9! That's a better grade than almost every other book on this list. Maybe because they're too new. Also, no Ender's Game for God's sake?!(Hi David. We've not reviewed the entire Pierce Brown series yet - when that has been done it looks a dead cert to be included. I think we have Ender's Game classed as purely science fiction at the moment - so that's why it doesn't appear on this list at the moment. Will look into this further. Thanks for your comment - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)
Dan from Kenya
I am surprised that no mention was made of tge Deverry Cycle series by Katharine Kerr, or any of the books by Elizabeth Moon or Bujold. All well thought out fantasy settings and good story telling!
Trent from USA
Love this list! One question - I notice that while your individual reviews for Mark Lawrence's 'Broken Empire' series are VERY high, the series itself is not listed in the Top 100. Was that intentional or just an oversight? I think it's one of the best modern fantasy series of the last 20 years...(Great spot Trent, it was a data issue that has now been fixed and Broken Empire is - at this moment in time - appearing at #20. Thank you so much - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)
Yowasie from Uganda
Just impressed by the works of J. K. Rowling And C. S. Lewis.
Keanu from England
I like The Hobbit. I've nearly finished. Try it. It's good :)
Harry from United Kingdom
I like the Harry Potter books. I am at chapter 5 on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!
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.
Krisha from Australia
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is by far my favorite book on Earth, Matilda - Roald Dah, Wizard of Oz - L.Frank Baum and Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carrol are also excellent books I must say!!!