Below my about this list introduction you will find the 100 fantasy books that we - and other readers - simply cannot recommend highly enough.
The purpose of this list is simple: to showcase the books that we'd loved reading and, with the support of thousands of reader reviews, hopefully help other readers find a new fantasy book that they too will love.
We've reviewed over 3,000 fantasy books but there are thousands of other worthy titles that we haven't read. And if we haven't read it, we have no review, and it won't appear here. In the comments section (being re-added imminently) you will find much outrage: Where is this author, where is this book? My answer to this is: We simply haven't read it or have read it and didn't enjoy it sufficiently to allow it to appear in our top 100. But you can do something about this; writing a positive reader review on a book will make a difference (Eragon being a case in point). And if we are missing a title altogether on the site; one you believe should be on here, write a full review and I'll publish it, with gratitude.
Some comments make accusations of bias. Of course there's bias, that's what creating a favourites list essentially is. But there's only bias at a reading enjoyment level, we don't get any financial reward for ranking a book higher than another. After running this site for 15 years, trust me, there is no financial reward. If money was the aim I'd be better doing something else with my time. Like my real job.
To explain further on how a book appears on this top 100: It is based on our review(s) and the positive reader reviews (8/10+) that accompany it. Our average review score + positive reader review score equals a total score and the top 100 list is ordered using this metric. Is it fool-proof? Goodness me, no, but it's the best way I've come up with yet. Any suggestions on improving how this works are most welcome.
So I hope you find this top 100 list useful, please post a comment but I ask you to make it constructive; suggest books you think we are missing and if you want a book to appear higher, simply write a glowing reader review and that will happen.
Happy reading today and always,
Lee @ Fantasy Book Review, April 2020
by JRR Tolkien
There are a couple of reasons The Lord of the Rings is number one on this list. The first is personal: I have simply never read a fantasy book that has pulled me in so completely, made me fall in love the lands, and made the characters so instantly important to me. As a trilogy it is, in my opinion, both beautiful and perfect. I also believe it is timeless. The second reason is you – over 130 readers have written accompanying reviews to mine which tell of their love for Tolkien’s magnum opus.
by JRR Tolkien
One of the best known and best loved fantasy books, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit introduces 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.
by JK Rowling
The Harry Potter books are both very well-written and laugh-out-loud funny, an intoxicating combination. The Philosopher’s Stone is where, for young Harry Potter, it all begins. A book infused with charm and wit it is adored by readers of all ages. The series is popular because it is very, very good and the wizarding world a wonderful place to escape to.
Series: Harry Potter: Book 1
by George RR Martin
I think, sometimes, amidst the ongoing furore over when Martin will finish the series, it is often forgotten just how damn fine a writer he is. The A Song of Ice and Fire books are as beloved, and rated so highly on this list, because they are amongst the best you will read in the genre. The characters, the story arcs, what bad things happen to the characters, often, are skilfully woven into a magnificent tale that provokes strong emotions in all who read it. The HBO series is very good, but if you want the full story told, as the author intended it to be, read the books. They are amazing.
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1
by Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings begins Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series and two reviewers, Ryan and Joshua, have called it one of the best fantasy books they have ever read. And the readers agree. In all Sanderson books you find the technology, armour, weapons and magic of his world are intricately detailed to the nth degree and utterly believable. The Way of Kings is this gifted author at his very best.
Series: The Stormlight Archive: Book 1
by Patrick Rothfuss
I love this book but some don’t. And my goodness, those that don’t, really don’t. But hey, a book can’t work for everyone, right? For me, it is one of the finest examples of first-person storytelling, it’s like sitting across from someone, in a comfy chair, before a log fire, and listening to them recount one of the most intricate and fascinating stories you’ve ever heard, and are ever likely to hear. Some won’t agree with me but thankfully the majority of fantasy readers will; and also support my belief that Rothfuss is amongst the greatest fantasy authors.
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 1
by Charles Dickens
Now I hadn’t planned on this on being on the top 100 but the visitors to the site, and their reader reviews, have made it happen. Is it a fantasy book? Is it perhaps a ghost story? Does it belong on this list? To be honest I’m not sure. But what I do know is that it is a book whose impact must be difficult for any other to match, it is ghosts and goodwill in the ultimate Christmas story. Dickens’s heart-warming tale and its lamp-lit setting, diverse characters, short length and strong moral message have ensured that it has become a classic.
by Raymond E Feist
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.
Series: Riftwar Saga: Book 1
by Steven Erikson
Gardens of the Moon, and the overarching A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, are works of great skill and beauty. Not for the faint-of-heart, Erikson throws you in at the deep end and you must decide whether, as a fantasy fan, you want to sink or swim (swimming is highly recommended). This series is one of the greatest fantasy literature achievements of the past 100 years and this could easily be number one in the top 100 as it is special, very special. The ambition and imagination set it alone and the execution is masterful.
Series: A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 1
by Rick Riordan
Well, this book is so high because kids really, really love it. The Lightning Thief is a fantastic book that will have thanking the gods you bought the entire series. An absolutely fantastic tale marvelously woven by the author Rick Riordan. Move over Harry Potter because Percy Jackson could kick your butt.
Series: Percy Jackson: Book 1
by Roald Dahl
Great ideas, well crafted prose, and an understatement of its morality make Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a modern fairy tale that will likely be popular for years to come, among children and any adults who aren't entirely devoid of any sense of magic.
by Robert Jordan
Now Robert Jordan is not for me but over the last 15 years I have discovered that he has brought reading pleasure to millions, and that is why The Wheel of Time is here, and this is what our reviewer, Kat, has to say: The Eye of the World begins an epic a saga filled with unforgettable characters and a world steeped in rich history and legend. The author's skillful writing truly brings the characters and their journey to life. If you truly love the fantasy genre, passing up a chance to read The Eye of the World would be an unbelievable mistake.
Series: Wheel of Time: Book 1
by Philip Pullman
Enthralling from the first page, Northern Lights, the first installment in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy, paints a world the reader will long to visit. There are not many books that can boast daemons, witches, armoured polar bears, parallel worlds topped with quantum physics and chaos theory and the author's ability to make this rich mix so accessible to readers of all ages is high crowning achievement.
Series: His Dark Materials: Book 1
by William Horwood
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.
Series: The Duncton Chronicles: Book 1
by Stephen Donaldson
Damnation! Hellfire! I first read Lord Foul's Bane almost thity years ago and then made my way through all 10 books until only finishing the final instalment, The Final Dark, last year. It was not any easy ride, sometimes I wanted to give up and at other times wanted to throw the book out of the window. But what kept me going is the visual imagery that has stayed me through the decades: Mithil Stonedown, Revelstone, the Waynhim, the Giants. Donaldson revels in difficult-to-like characters and the use of archaic language... well, it can be frustrating and overwhelming at times. But it was different to what was being written at the time and the fantasy genre owes the author, and those who similarly broke the mold, gratitude for forging a new path that led to some of the great fantasy of recent years (Steven Erikson as one example). But as for Thomas Covenant - he is arguably one of the most famous names 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 often divided in their opinions: Some love it, some hate it. But few dismiss it. A very complex piece of work but at heart a good old-fashioned tale of epic fantasy.
Series: Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Book 1
by Christopher Paolini
I can almost sense the disbelief of some, and the delight of others, at not only seeing Eragon on the top 100 list but seeing it rank so high. If it was based on our review it would not be - but the sheer weight of positive reader input means it is here on merit. It has given many readers a great deal of joy over the years and isn't that what reading is all about? Maybe it's not the best, but it got kids reading and loving the genre, and from this stepping stone they will hopefully go onto reading the other great titles on offer. It is important to mention that Eragon is a remarkable achievement by Christopher Paolini, especially when you take in consideration the tender age at which he wrote the novel. It is a tale that contains beauty and friendship, told by a young author who believes fully in the world that he has created.
Series: The Inheritance Cycle: Book 1
by Ursula Le Guin
I felt at complete peace while reading the four books that make up the Earthsea Saga. I almost went into a trance while reading, gone were thoughts of tax returns and shopping lists and I fell into a wonderful world where a story was being told in an almost hypnotic way. You don't need me to tell you what a fine author Ursula Le Guin is, far more eminent than I have already done so. Le Guin has a reputation for exploring psychological and sociological themes within her books and this collection of books is no different. These novels can be read by children and enjoyed from the perspective of magic, wizards, adventure and the beautifully imagined world of Earthsea. They can also be appreciated by adults for the thought-provoking elements that the book conjures. This is a collection that makes you think and leaves you thinking.
Series: Earthsea Saga: Book 1 - 4
by Brent Weeks
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.
Series: The Night Angel Trilogy: Book 1
by Susanna Clarke
Another book that divides opinion. I loved it as do many others. I don't like using the word dense when describing a book as well written as this but that's the most appropriate I can find. Maybe it's the extensive footnotes which make up a book in themselves that make it so but the fact remains that Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a genuinely original story, beatifully told. The Telegraph succinctly says it all with 'an elegant and witty historial fantasy which deserves to be judged on its own (considerable) merit'. It is unquestionalbly one of the finest historical fantasy books ever written.
by Robin Hobb
Why isn't Robin Hobb higher? Good question, she should be. But reader reviews make a difference - if you think she should be, tell us in the form of a review and she will be. Go on, what else better have you to do today? Simply put, the fantasy genre is fortunate to have an author who writes as beautifully as Robin Hobb. Her novels are a masterclass in characterisation imbued into the richest of narratives. Assassin's Apprentice begins The Realm of the Elderlings series, one of the very finest written.
Series: The Farseer Trilogy: Book 1
by Roald Dahl
Terror, wonder, love of language and hints at a wide and fantastic world, The BFG has it all. I can only echo the BFG's words about his own favourite book, Nicholas Nickleby by Darlse Chickens: "I is reading it hundreds of times and I is still reading it and teaching new words to myself and how to write them. It's the most scrumdiddlyumptious story".
by CS Lewis
Lewis has an outstanding ability to be able to write just enough to give the reader a description of the setting, scene and characters and leave the rest to your imagination. This is a technique that is hard to master and he always manages to pull it off seamlessly. This is one of the best things about his writing technique and makes Wardrobe a lot of fun to read and interpret. Arguably one of the finest stories in English literature from the 20th Century C.S Lewis cemented himself as a master story teller and perfected a novel that would survive the test of time and still entertain and educate children and adults everywhere to this day.
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia: Book 2
by Lewis Carroll
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.
by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson again, the little spotlight stealer. The Mistborn books appear on so many reader favourite lists it would be hard to put a number of it. But it would be high. If you want to read one of the best fantasy books published in the last decade, then this definitely has to go at the top of your list. With two books you can read immediately after, characters that jump off the page, and a story that continues beyond this book but still leaving you fully satiated, Mistborn: The Final Empire is a must have for any reader of good fantasy.
Series: Mistborn: Book 1
by David Gemmell
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.
Series: The Drenai Novels: Book 1
by Guy Gavriel Kay
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.
by NK Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin has won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, Nebula Award for Best Novel, Audie Award for Science Fiction and the Crawford Award. Enough said. You want more? Okay, every now and again books comes out that deserves all the hype they get. 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.
Series: The Inheritance Trilogy: Book 1
by Alan Garner
I've never read Alan Garner so this book's placement is based on readers' input. When a book gets a lot of positive feedback on this site it signifies that it holds a very special place in many hearts. It is the fourth book in a series which began with the Weirdstone of Brinsingamen, set in a mythical place called Alderley Edge. Now I live close to and have worked even closer to the real Alderley Edge in Cheshire so I need to read these books soon (it seemed rather posh in a nouveau riche way but otherwise unextraordinary). So I need to discover how Garner made this place magical. And I will. This is a readers' choice book and series.
by JRR Tolkien
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?
by George RR Martin
The book I enjoyed most in A Song of Ice and Fire, after A Game of Thrones. If you're a fan of the series make your way to this one and submerge yourself in the continuing story of characters (some of them) that you've followed and been captivated by so far. A Song of Ice and Fire is the history lesson you wished you had in school.
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3
by RA Salvatore
Drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden, first introduced in The Icewind Dale Trilogy, quickly became one of the fantasy genre’s standout characters. But Homeland first reveals the startling tale of how this one lone drow walked out of the shadowy depths of the Underdark, leaving behind a society of evil and a family who want him dead. It is here that the story of this amazing dark elf truly began.
Series: The Dark Elf Trilogy: Book 1
by Kenneth Grahame
Since its first publication in 1908, generations of adults and children have cherished Kenneth Grahame's classic, The Wind in the Willows. For in this entrancing, lyrical world of gurgling rivers and whispering reeds live four of the wisest, wittiest, noblest, and most lovable creatures in all literature - Rat, Mole, Badger, and Toad of Toad Hall. Like true adventurers, they glory in life's simplest pleasures and natural wonders. But it is Toad, cocky and irrepressible in his goggles and overcoat, whose passion for motorcars represents the free and fearless spirit in all of us; just as it's Toad's downfall that inspires the others to test Grahame's most precious theme - the miracle of loyalty and friendship.
by China Mieville
There is no other way of saying it; Perdido Street Station is a work of art! At times horrific, beautiful, tragic, comic or 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. A very intricate and complex novel that provides a refreshing challenge to the way in which epic fantasy is traditionally explored.
Series: New Crobuzon: Book 1
by Patrick Rothfuss
Okay, I didn't enjoy this as much as The Name of the Wind but that is just saying this is excellent while the other is sublime. But it does improve on re-read and this may just be because I'm a reader who does like the familiar and the second half of this book takes us out of this comfort zone and into a land far away where court politics hold sway. This is gone into into intricate detail. And then there's Kvothe training to be a warrior - still not sure what to make of this part. But Rothfuss is a writer that's always a pleasure to read. Can't wait for the third book, is it out yet? Or coming soon? Ask the author. Go on, I dare you.
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 2
by Guy Gavriel Kay
A 10/10 book. We don't get many of those. The second Kay book on the list for the reason our reviewer Adam gives: 'A Brightness Long Ago is a masterpiece; perhaps the finest work of one of the world’s greatest living storytellers'. Here, here.
by Ann Leckie
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.
by George RR Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire. Again. We love it. As an ongoing series it is one of the very best. It didn't become a worldwide phenomenon by chance. Read it.
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 2
by Glen Cook
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.
Series: Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the North, Book 1
by Neil Gaiman
"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. I can't put it better than that but our reviewer Joshua will add: 'So, the advice is to read this book, unless you are Neil Gaiman, in which case you should really be writing more and more and...'
by Richard Adams
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?
by Jonathan Stroud
I don't know if Jonathan Stroud is a household name worldwide but he certainly should be. He'll be on this list twice, once for his Lockwood & Co series but first for his wonderful Bartimaeus books. Comic fantasy is not my cup of tea usually - there's a reason why comedians only do twenty minutes on stage, someone trying to make you laugh can be great for a while and then wears thin. Stroud's greatest achievement in this book and the two that follow is to be consistently funny while striking a balance between humour, tragedy, adventure, excitement, delightful characters (both human and djinni) and a story rich in every way you could wish for. And, my, he can end a trilogy well, arguably the best bringing together of story arcs and untied ends I've read.
Series: The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 1
by Stephen King
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.
by Robin Hobb
Robin Hobb. Again. Should be higher. Again. This is the third trilogy with Fitz as the lead. Read The Farseer Trilogy, then read The Tawny Man trilogy, then read this trilogy, which begins with Fool's Assassin. You won't regret it.
Series: Fitz and the Fool #1
by Alix E Harrow
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.
by A K Larkwood
A. K. Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name is among the most creative, exciting, and brilliantly-told epic fantasy novels I’ve read. It is an immersive experience that grabbed my attention early on, then grew at a staggering rate until I found myself being launched through fantastic worlds, meeting wonderful characters, and caught in a magnetic prose that left me spellbound. Larkwood has a tremendous talent for building upon the best parts of what makes fantasy great and elevates it all with her own dash of chaos and wonder. Simply put, it is an outstanding debut I won’t soon forget.
Series: The Serpent Gates #1
by Robin Hobb
No other than Orson Scott Card described the Liveship Traders trilogy as a 'masterclass in writing'. The story is unique, the character development excellent. In just a few chapters the characters are well drawn and take on a life of their own. Highly recommended.
Series: The Liveship Traders: Book 1
by Stephen King
I’ve read almost thirty King novels and this might just be my favourite. Although the first book of a seven book magnum opus it can, I feel, be read as a standalone. But stopping after book one will be nigh impossible if you enjoy it as much as I did. Few books can grab you and draw you into them quite as quickly and completely as The Gunslinger. In my experience the first book in a trilogy/series can often take some time to immerse you as a reader, possibly due to the unfamiliarity of the characters but also the new location and place names, this is especially pertinent for high fantasy titles. But this book hooks you from the very first page, from the very first sentence even: ‘The Man in Black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed’. Great book.
Series: The Dark Tower series: Book 1
by Madeline Miller
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’.
by Terry Pratchett
Good Omens is by far one of the funniest works of fiction I have ever read. 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 by managing to be both unique yet stereotypically British at the same time.
by Frank Herbert
To borrow a line from a film adaptation of this novel: “When politics and religion ride in the same cart, the whirlwind follows.” Frank Herbert’s Dune is easily one of the most layered works of fiction produced during the twentieth century. From examining Byzantine political gambits to the human penchant for hero worship, Herbert uses a far-flung future setting to examine the best and worst aspects of human nature. Dune is easily one of the primary masterpieces of science fiction / fantasy despite being a dense, somewhat difficult book for the average reader.
by Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows is a fantastic book, one of the best fantasy heist books going around. It is funny, tragic, witty, silly, murderous, thoughtful and more all in one package. If there is a criticism, it might be that Bardugo tries to cram too much into a single story, but it's not much of a criticism given how adeptly she pulled this story off. YA readers probably had this book on their radar long ago and have probably re-read it a couple of times, so for those people who steer clear of YA for whatever reason, I would highly encourage you to put your prejudices aside and give this book a shot.
by Charlie Jane Anders
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.
by Jay Kristoff
If the Harry Potter series and The Lies of Locke Lamora ever got together and decided to have a dark book baby, they would call it Nevernight. This is the sort of book I dream about reading. Only a fantasy expert could have written one this well. It’s exactly why authors such as Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss are so successful: they know their audience. And here Jay Kristoff certainly knew his.
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1
by Timandra Whitecastle
This fantasy novel had everything I love: fast-paced plot, fearless female main character, no-holds-barred fight scenes, some romantic/sexy moments and laugh-out-loud humour. It’s gritty, sweary, a bit different and has an intense grimdark feel.
Series: The Living Blade: Book 1
by TH White
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.
by Samantha Shannon
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.
by Guy Gavriel Kay
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.
by Katharine Kerr
Have you ever sacrificed what might have been your soul mate to walk another path? Ever wished you could put that right? Imagine you swore that you would not rest until you had done just that… that is how Nevyn comes to be a seemingly immortal wizard. The world of Deverry is unfurled around him as he searches for each incarnation of his soul mate in the hopes of bringing her to the Dweomer.
Series: The Deverry Cycle
by Mark Lawrence
Mark Lawrence is one of the premier fantasy storytellers of the last few years. Red Sister is a story set in a world of great challenge, where the environment itself works against the people who rely on it, about a bunch of gifted individuals who can do great things when they work together. This is, yet again, a supremely accomplished story by Mr Lawrence which I have no problems recommending to any reader of fantasy novels.
Series: Book of the Ancestor #1
by Joe Abercrombie
Abercrombie pulls no punches in his description of bloody battles, yet he is never over gratuitous. The humour in the books is at times laugh out loud and there is certainly enough of the unexplained to keep you guessing and wanting more. There is nothing superfluous in these book, no plot that ends in a damp squib, everything is there for a reason. I would recommend this book to diehard fantasy readers and those reading fantasy for the first time alike as it is simply a damn fine read.
Series: The First Law: Book 1
by Peter S Beagle
The plot is a classic quest structure-an impossible goal, a motley company, heroes, villains, monsters, magic, desperate chances, bittersweet success. The last unicorn in the world sets out from her enchanted wood to discover the fate of her kin. In the process she becomes, briefly and agonizingly, human. What makes The Last Unicorn unique is the way Mr. Beagle transcends the ordinary fantasy quest trope with his incomparable storytelling skill. The book is a triumph.
by Mark Lawrence
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.
Series: Broken Empire: Book 1
by Mary Victoria
Sometimes in fantasy you will come across a hidden gem, a book that you cross paths with having heard absolutely nothing about it, a book that you were unprepared for that completely blows you away. I have been very lucky having found quite a number of these hidden gems in the past twelve months, but of these hidden gems few can compare to Tymon's Flight by Mary Victoria, a book that has taken a remarkable idea and complemented it with one of the most engaging stories I have read.
Series: Chronicles of the Tree: Book 1
by Myke Cole
Ryan: As a military officer myself, I feel like I can really relate with Cole and the book he has written. It is a book that accurately portrays military life on a military base, while enhancing it using the fantasy elements I love to read about. Whether you are a military buff or not, this is an entertaining book packed full of intense action sequences - a modern interpretation of the fantasy genre that you should have no hesitations in reading.
Series: Shadow Ops series: Book 1
by Jon Skovron
Olivia: Superb fantasy packed with daring pirates, brave warriors, intelligent thieves and revolution. Hope and Red is a phenomenal read with something for everyone.
Series: Empire of Storms #1
by Michael Chabon
Jim: I salute Landsmann, his compatriots, and their creator. Clearly, this is a writer for the ages, a powerful wordsmith and a uniquely gifted mind at work. Envy him if you must (I do), but by all means read him. I can’t imagine you’ll read a finer book in the fantasy genre. He gives Philip Roth, William Kennedy, and even the venerable Mr. Fitzgerald a run for their money. Black hats off to him.
by Mervyn Peake
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.
Series: The Gormenghast Trilogy: Book 1
by Terry Pratchett
Joshua: Night Watch is simply one of the best books I have ever read. Pratchett’s already mammoth skill, combined with a once in a lifetime tale, and a healthy dose of great characterization in the form of his lead character makes this book a must get for any fan of books.
Series: The Discworld Series: Book 28
by Lev Grossman
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.
Series: The Magicians series: Book 1
by Lauren Beukes
If you are looking for a book that makes you think, pick this one up. I found this book really throws you into the deep end, leaving you guessing at the full extent of the how the world Lauren Beukes creates is different from our own. Zoo City, set in Johannesburg, invites us into the lives of the undesirables that the majority of the population like to pretend do not exist. But if they have to acknowledge them they will do so to blame them for all the world’s problems.
by David Sandner and Jacob Weisman
Ryan: The Treasury of the Fantastic is an amazing collection of 44 poems, short stories and novellas, all fantasy related, all published before 1923. The anthology editors, David Sandner and Jacob Weisman, should be congratulated for managing to collect the rights to so many amazing stories. At the start of the book they openly provide the criteria they used for putting together this anthology. Unfortunately their criteria mean we miss out on a few great authors who were producing their best work right around the cut-off data, authors like Lovecraft and Howard, but that barely takes away from the excellent 44 stories that made the cut and are celebrated in this anthology.
by David Eddings
Pawn of Prophecy is a fantasy novel in its truest form; we have Kings in waiting, mad Gods, magic swords (slight spoiler) and Ancient sorcerers. At the core of Pawn of Prophecy is the quest to retrieve a precious (intentional) object of power before Evil rises once more and destroys the world. You know, nerd candy.
Series: The Belgariad: Book 1
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Holly: Delightfully dry humor, mythology brimming with radical creatures & a group of interesting characters, The Last Wish is a great introduction to this universe. However, something I was missing is the detailed world-building I look for in a first book. Because these are short stories, it feels like it jumped around in terms of fleshing out the Continent. I'm assuming this will be rectified further in the series, considering there are plenty more books to detail such things. I'm thoroughly looking forward to more of Geralt's adventures!
Series: The Witcher #1
by Brent Weeks
I had never read the previous trilogy and had committed the cardinal sin of buying a book simply because I liked the cover, but that momentary whim has repaid me with interest! This is a beautifully-crafted fantasy that held me from beginning to end, for all 600 plus of its pages. The narrative is enthralling and the twists are so stunning that I had to go back and re-read the first because I couldn't believe that I hadn't seen it coming, that Weeks had so skillfully misled me.
Series: Lightbringer: Book 1
by R F Kuang
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.
Series: The Poppy War #1
by Terry Pratchett
Mort is a notch above The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, the writing consistently excellent and the humour perfectly placed - just the thought of Death going through a mid-life crisis is enough to make you smile. One of the reasons that Pratchett has managed to turn the reaper of souls into such a loved character is that he shows Death’s caring side. Early in the book Death exudes barely suppressed fury at the needless death of a bagful of kittens.
Series: The Discworld Series: Book 3
by Michael J Sullivan
Michael J. Sullivan is one of the most talked about authors around the fantasy community at the moment. His independently published six book series, The Riyria Revelations, has sold a bucket load of ebooks, and these big sales lead to a lucrative offer from Orbit. The first two volumes, The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha, have been combined into an omnibus edition called Theft of Swords that introduces us to the world of Melengar and two thieves who somehow manage to become entangled in every wrong place at all the wrong times. Theft of Swords is a excellent addition to the fantasy genre, one that tells a fun and modern story with a traditional Tolkien styled setting, and one that you should not hesitate in adding to your library
Series: The Riyria Revelations #1
by Neil Gaiman
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.
by Robin Hobb
You may have already noticed that we absolutely loved The Farseer Trilogy. Robin Hobb is a much praised and admired author due to the fact that she is a storyteller of rare skill with a unrivalled command of the English language. There is also, of course, the fact that her books are highly enjoyable and feature many strong and memorable characters. The experience of reading of a Robin Hobb book is one to be cherished; there are no safer hands that you could place your leisure time in. From the first page to the very last you are treated like royalty with a tale that will last with you for a long time. I could not recommend Robin Hobb’s books highly enough – the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies are a must for every fantasy enthusiast. As a body of work, the nine books are arguably the finest fantasy series ever written.
Series: The Tawny Man: Book 1
by Neil Gaiman
In what is one of his most celebrated works, up there along with Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is one of the best books of its genre. The real dilemma presented us however is understanding just which genre Gaiman was writing. This is not a negative opinion of his writing ability, suggesting that he doesn’t seem to have any idea what he is doing. Just the contrary, 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 (is that the right term, or have I gone down a more Frankenstein’s monster route?) them all together. The process may not be all that pleasant, but the outcome is beautiful.
by Patricia Briggs
Kudos to Patricia Briggs for bringing werewolves into a new light, for offering up a believable and relatable female author, and for an over all quite interesting story that had me guessing till the very end. Bravo.
Series: Mercy Thompson: Book 1
by William Horwood
If there is one author I like to recommed as often as possible, it is William Horwood. He is a wonderful writer who, in Hyddenworld: Spring, has written a wonderful book, it was a delight to read and I was not alone in welcoming him back to the genre that has been poorer for his absence.
Series: Hyddenworld: Book 1
by Jonathan Stroud
The five books that make up the Lockwood & Co series are so good that's I'm currently re-reading them all. I also hold The Bartimaeus Trilogy and stand-alone novel Heroes of the Valley to be amongst the finest fantasy books I have read. The most enjoyable fantasy books always supply the reader with a healthy dose of wish-fulfilment. I think this was key to the success of the Harry Potter books and the Narnia Chronicles before that and one the greatest strengths of Lockwood & Co. is that readers will wish they could live inside the book - after all, what teenager would not want to live in a massive old house, looking after themselves with no adults to order them around? And then at night they get to strap on a rapier and go out to battle the unsettled dead… Who wouldn't get a little bit excited about the prospect of being a full-time ghost-hunter? In Stroud's world it is the kids that hold the power, not the adults.
Series: Lockwood & Co #1
by Anthony Ryan
JJoshua: Beautifully written, wonderfully cast and populated, Anthony Ryan does indeed seem to be placing himself as one of the next master storytellers. The characters are brilliant, at once interesting and – despite their age – appealing to readers of any age. Their feats of strength are realistic, their stamina and abilities raw and limited, and their growth over the first half of the book comes slowly. Their mentors and teachers are fleeting, though important, and are obviously more than they seem to the young eyes of our protagonist.
Series: Raven's Shadow #1
by Robert Jackson Bennett
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.
by Helene Wecker
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.
by Ed McDonald
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.
Series: The Raven’s Mark #1
by David Farland
Goodness me, how I enjoyed this book. The rest of the series did fade away in my opinion and I stopped reading it but as an opening to a fantasy series this is magnificent. This novel is different to anything I had read before. The main feature that stood out for me was the use of runes to give Runelords and also ordinary people greater power. A really fascinating concept explored very well within a really fun story.
Series: Runelords: Book 1
by Tad Williams
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.
Series: Memory Sorrow and Thorn: Book 1
by Jim Butcher
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.
Series: The Dresden Files: Book 1
by David Gemmell
Koen: A book by David Gemmell is about morally grey heroes, who fight for what they believe in, and regularly get kicked in the nuts by fate. A Tavern brawler who selflessly stands up when faced with injustice. A Drunkard that, without a moment of hesitation, sacrifices his life in favor of an innocent family. A Burly woodcutter that travels to all corners of the world to rescue his captured crush. A pacifistic priest forced to slay numerous enemies. These tales tell of honor and glory, duty and loyalty, courage and resolve, all coated in a wonderful blend of action, black humor and suspense.
Series: The Rigante Novels: Book 1
by Laini Taylor
Taylor’s story is an enchanting mix of contemporary gothic and old school fantasy, lovingly married together to create something that I don’t see too often – an author obviously in love with their work and the world that they have created.
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy #1
by Jonathan French
Jonathan French's The Grey Bastards is an emotional, exciting, and unique story told from the viewpoint of half-orcs, living in the badlands with their fellow 'hoof' members, defending their desecrated colony by riding their war pigs into crossbow-and-javelin battles. The "biker gang" analogy is smartly developed, as half-orcs ride literal hogs while roving into enemy territories. This novel was the winner of the 2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off contest and for good reason. The environmental descriptions and deeply flawed, yet empathetic characters breathe life into this richly detailed story that pulled me in from the get-go and didn't let go until the final page.
Series: The Lot Lands #1
by Ulff Lehmann
This is not an easy book to review, but it is an easy book not only to love, but to obsess over. So much of the novel is entrenched in the ever-changing feel of the author’s multiple POV’s. Between the more grounded invasion and conflict based chapters, the surrealist dark magic related sections, and especially the inner monologues, this is a rich and expansive work. Lehmann writes beautiful prose that is at once, linear and simple and quickly changes to complex, abstract and poetic.
Series: Light in the Dark #1
by Trudi Canavan
The Magician’s Guild is a fantastic first book to begin The Black Magician Trilogy. I found it to be simply written, yet original, unpredictable, fast-paced and throbbing with intensity. If you’re looking for a fun quick book to read, or even looking to introduce young teenagers into the world of fantasy with good writing, then Trudi Canavan is definitely the way to go. A definite winner.
Series: The Black Magician Trilogy: Book 1
by Terry Goodkind
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.
Series: The Sword of Truth Series: Book 1
by Neil Gaiman
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.
by Scott Lynch
When an author decides to interweave multiple stories together into a larger story, a lot of talent is needed to back up such an ambition. Some authors pull it off with an ease that leaves you breathless, and staggered at how – several books later – everything is tied up neatly. Other authors leave you giddy with confusion. American born author Scott Lynch, in his book ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora,’ manages to adeptly weave the past and the present (or the present and the future) into a compelling and adventure filled romp.
Series: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence: Book 1
by Josiah Bancroft
An extraordinary debut that is well worthy of the hype. A beautifully written, highly engaging page-turning masterpiece where I was on Tom's side every step of the way. This isn't the most action-packed spectacle but the way Bancroft presents, with slower moments and emotional flashbacks intertwined, the more action-oriented scenes have great impact. Especially the ending. The future possibilities seem awesome with the way things concluded. The ending convinced me this was definitely a 10-star read.
Series: The Books of Babel #1
by Michael R Fletcher
If you’re looking for the epitome of grimdark fantasy, look no further. Fletcher is a brilliant writer and this book blew me away. Layer by layer, page by page, this story will crawl under your skin and redefine your views on sanity and communication. There can be beauty in darkness, and elegance in horror. Fletcher delivers these on all fronts.
Series: Manifest Delusions #1
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!!!