BlogThe Writing ProcessThe 25 Best Fantasy Novels: Our Picks

The 25 Best Fantasy Novels: Our Picks

Kathy Edens

Kathy Edens

Copywriter, ghostwriter, and content strategy specialist

Published Jul 24, 2020

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Have you ever thought about writing your own fantasy novel? One of the best things you can do is take inspiration from others and get to know your genre. So without further ado, here's our pick of the 25 best fantasy books ever written.

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1. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The popularity of this series has exploded over the last several years, so what list wouldn’t include A Game of Thrones? If you like multiple, intricate story lines, a cast of characters where none is safe from death, and a world full of lords, knights, bastards, wizards, ladies, and more, then you’ll like this series. It has magic, intrigue, mystery, and lots of romance; in essence, a world unlike any you’ve ever encountered.

2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

One ring rules them all. The Dark Lord put all of his powers in One Ring that was taken from him. After years in Middle-earth, Bilbo Baggins ends up with the ring. After he reaches his eleventy-first year, he disappears, and the ring becomes the property of Frodo, his cousin. Thus starts the epic quest to destroy the ring and everything it stands for.

3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The land where children tumble out of a wardrobe, a secret country where only Lucy, Peter, Susan, and Edmund are known. Lucy finds it first, followed by Edmund and the others. There they discover magic and Aslan, the Great Lion. And it changes their lives forever.

4. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

What would happen if characters in a fantasy world grew up and discovered they had modern anxieties and problems? What would be the best job for a troll in the city? The Colour of Magic explores the answers to questions everyone has but is afraid to ask about fantasy heroes.

5. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Fitz is born a bastard of royal blood with a magical link to animals called Wit. When he is eventually adopted into the royal household, he must give up his link to animals and embrace a new way of living and being—he trains to become a royal assassin.

6. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

In a fantastic world of criminals and nobles, The Lies of Locke Lamora is an adventure, loyalty, and survival guide along the lines of Robin Hood and Ocean’s Eleven. Locke Lamora dodges death, slavery, and more only to fall in the hands of a con artist known as Chains.

7. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

A coming-of-age story in a fantasy world, The Name of the Wind tells the story of a young man who grows to become a notorious wizard. With beginnings that start in a troupe of traveling players, Kvothe finally enters a school of magic. Plenty of high action and adventure turns Kvothe into a fugitive sought for murder.

8. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

The Goodreads description starts: "HOW CAN ONE GIRL SAVE AN ENTIRE WORLD?" Lessa, who most think of as an inconsequential kitchen girl, determines it’s time to take back her stolen birthright. But then she meets the queen dragon, forming a quick and strong bond. Dragons and their riders must protect the planet Thread, but at what price?

9. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

As the Wheel of Time continues to turn, Ages come and go leaving behind legends that fade to myth, which is long forgotten. It’s not until the Third Age, the Age of Prophecy, that the world and time both hang in balance. Now, what was, what is, and what will be can fall under the Shadow.

10. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Abercrombie combines an unlikely cast of characters: a philosophical Barbarian who abhors killing, a dashing hero afraid to fight, and a crippled torturer who has a heart of gold. This unlikely cast, coupled with an interesting plot and a wizard, treads a line between hero and villain that may cost them everything.

11. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

An epic fantasy where mystical swords and suits of armor transform ordinary men into invincible warriors, kingdoms are won and traded for Shardblades. An interesting cast of characters from around the fantasy world fight their own battles, sometimes with motives less than pure.

12. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

The fantasy world of Malazan is full of discontent thanks to innumerable wars, bitter infighting, and gory confrontations. Empress Laseen’s imperial legions, thought inured to the bloodshed, are looking for a break. But her rule is absolute, enforced by her dreaded Claw assassins. As the Empress turns her site to new battles, the gods themselves are getting ready for a little interference.

Why are these books so successful?

We're halfway through our list of the greatest fantasy books of all time – but why are these books so great?

All the books on this list completely immerse their reader in their stories. Their plots aren't simple by any means, but they are written in a way that allows their readers to ease themselves in to complex new worlds without overwhelming them with information.

This might seem effortless, but a lot of work goes into producing fantasy writing that works. If you've got a whole world in your head just waiting to spill onto the page, you might have thought about writing a book. If you construct a world that readers can't help but want to step into, maybe one day that book will even be one of the greatest of all time.

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Now, back to the list!

13. The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Roland Deschain of Gilead is the Last Gunslinger. He is a mysterious figure on a quest through a desolate fantasy world in pursuit of the man in black. Roland is a good man, yet he leaves death in his wake. The man in black, on the other hand, can bring the dead back to life.

14. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ged is the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, but he was called Sparrowhawk in his youth. It was as Sparrowhawk that the terrible shadow was loosed upon the world. Ged must master the mighty word of power, tame an ancient dragon, and cross death’s threshold to restore balance to his world.

15. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Over 800 pages of world-building, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell tells the tale of English magicians who have lost their ability to perform magic. That is, until a reclusive magician regains some powers. He is soon in demand for his powers and all is fine until a rival magician shows up—Jonathan Strange.

16. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Lyra rushes to the cold North where witch clans and armored bears rule—and where Gobblers take children, including her friend Roger. Lyra’s fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world, but Lyra is one small girl. Can she make a difference in this great and terrible endeavor?

17. Eragon by Christopher Paolini

In a world where the king’s evil is unending, can Eragon and the fledgling dragon navigate the treacherous terrain and the vast, dark enemies? Can Eragon take up the fight of the legendary Dragon Riders? Thrust into a world of destiny, magic, and power, Eragon realizes the fate of the empire may rest in his hands.

18. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

The first in the Sword of Truth series, Wizard’s First Rule starts with the murder of Richard Cypher’s father. Suddenly a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard’s forest. She needs help—and more. Will Richard find the courage to challenge those who hold dominion?

19. The Once and Future King by T. H. White

Who doesn’t love the mystical, magical legend of King Arthur? In The Once and Future King, a young lad called "Wart" comes under the tutelage of Merlyn the wizard to create an amazing future. Wart will ally himself with the greatest knights of the realm, love a legendary queen, and unite a country under chivalrous values. He will be Arthur, King of the Britons.

20. Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist

In the Kingdom of Isles, to the forest on the shore comes an orphan, Pug, to study with the magician, Kulgan. He may have won the heart of the lovely Princess, but normal wizardry leaves him cold. However, his strange magic may save two worlds from dark beings who open space-time to begin again an old battle between Order and Chaos.

21. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Jorg Ancrath, who was once a privileged royal child raised by a loving mother, has become the Prince of Thorns, an immoral boy who leads a band of outlaws. The entire fantasy world is in chaos, and Jorg can rule the living and the dead, but something even more horrifying confronts him. He must face the horrors of his childhood and carve a better future for himself.

22. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Featuring a cast of gods who are almost washed up, American Gods tells the tale of power waxing and waning in the modern age. When war with modern gods crops up its evil head, Shadow Moon encounters Mr. Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee, a former god, and the king of America.

23. The Black Company by Glen Cook

The Black Company was an influence in Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice and just for that reference deserves to be read. Is the newly risen Lady the force standing between humankind and evil—or is she evil itself? The stoic, hard men of the Black Company do their job until the prophecy is proven: The White Rose has been reborn, embodying good once more.

24. Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

The one real world, Amber, casts infinite shadow worlds of itself those with royal blood can manipulate. But when the royal family is torn apart by the disappearance of patriarch Oberon, the crown is up for grabs and amnesia strikes Corwin, the Crown Prince of Amber—even the fact he is the rightful heir to the throne.

25. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

What fantasy list would be complete without the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling? Harry discovers he has magical powers and is sent to the wizarding school Hogwarts to develop them. Once there, he uncovers a secret object hidden in the castle walls, which Harry must prevent from falling into evil hands.

Final thoughts

So many other titles should be on the list but weren’t. What’s your favorite fantasy novel we left off? Let us know in the comments below so we can get the definitive list going.

Note: the links on this page are affiliate links, so if you buy any of the books, you are supporting the evolution of ProWritingAid at no extra cost to you - whoop!

Want to see which novels made our other lists?

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Kathy Edens

Kathy Edens

Copywriter, ghostwriter, and content strategy specialist

Kathy Edens is a blogger, a ghost writer, and content master who loves writing about anything and everything. Check out her books: The Novel-Writing Training Plan: 17 Steps to Get Your Ideas in Shape for the Marathon of Writing and Creating Legends: How to Craft Characters Readers Adore... or Despise.

Great list; I have read quite a few and look forward to reading the ones that I haven't. I would like to add: The Hobbit deserves to be on there before The Fellowship of the Ring Also, The Magicians' Guild trilogy The Amulet of Samarkand series The Shannara Chronicles is a pretty good series as well
By contact.akshat.sehgal on 31 October 2018, 06:46 PM
wizard's first rule directly stole, so it does not belong
By durwintercontact on 05 March 2019, 06:50 PM
You left out Jim Butcher's "The Furies of Calderon"
By smges53 on 08 March 2019, 04:43 AM
There are quite a few on the list that I'd kick off in favor of Peter Beagle's "The Last Unicorn" and David Gemmell's Drenai novels.
By jeffbot on 12 March 2019, 11:25 PM
So many great reads on this list, however I would add Barry Hughart's Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, for an eastern flavor. In addition, a follow on series to Feist's Magician series is one that Janny Wurts wrote that was the other side of the coin from the Magician series. Eli Monpress by Rachael Aron is a great caper series as well. The Peter Grant series by Ben Aaaronvitch is marketing as Harry Potter grows up to be a cop in London, but that is nowhere near doing it justice. And lastly, I humbly submit to you, David Eddings. The Belgariad and Mallorean (the original and it's follow up series) are old friends that I re-read every other year. My buddy and I actually wrote some fan fiction about a missing 48 hours in the 7th book, King of the Murgos.
By culer5 on 12 March 2019, 11:46 PM
Surprised to see Game of Thrones at the top of this list. I read the first book of the series and had no desire to continue reading the rest. George is an excellent writer so no issues there. The problem is the book feels like a soap opera adopted for literary form, and manages to strike a balance between machismo and drama that reels readers in. But the books feel too much like a well crafted (but cheap) soap opera to be at the top of a best fantasy list. Turns out I'm not the only one who thinks the Game of Thrones isn't the pinnacle of fantasy, as evidenced by multiple, popular insightful negative reviews on Goodreads.
By gibby.grant1 on 17 March 2019, 04:43 AM
I can see your perspective on Game of Thrones but the first novel feels like a nice breath of fresh air to many of us readers. I've always loved fantasy novels, but I always hated the grandiose exposition and shoehorned world-building that most fantasy novels tend to do. And for an adult read, this is one of the few that doesn't aggravate me by forcing me to create a dictionary and a small book of all I've been taught about things that are literal parallels to real life with a revamped cool name instead. I would be interested to know your novel reads. Most of the previous suggested are ones I both enjoyed and loved at the time, especially Jim Butcher's and the Amulet of Samarkand series, but was blown away by what fantasy novels could be because of GoT. But out of all Tolkien's work, I've really only enjoyed the Hobbit and most of the Silmarillion, as a preface.
By jimbolame on 24 March 2019, 07:40 AM
The Belgariad might deserve a spot. I wasn't the biggest fan of the plot, but it has good characterisations and is well written.
By greenraiden on 29 March 2019, 11:52 PM
The Belgariad... classic
By ALEXECK on 30 March 2019, 03:40 AM
R.A. Salvators Book Series with Drizzt is a personal favorite of mine. It does seem under appreciated in most lists that I look at.
By bigalaskadave on 30 March 2019, 08:09 PM
Where's the Outlander series???!!! If you haven't read it, I'd say get thee to a bookseller now!
By kirstenmlindquist on 03 April 2019, 03:18 PM
In it's stand alone genre of Romance fantasy it is the best. Not a top 25 fantasy when you narrow the list though.
By Joseph.larsson on 23 September 2019, 05:24 PM
The only competition i'm aware of is urban fantasy writer Laurell K Hamilton.
By Joseph.larsson on 23 September 2019, 05:25 PM
Yes she’s the Nora Roberts of fantasy. I binged so many of her books for a time.
By Kbaugh15 on 16 August 2020, 04:53 AM
Honestly Australian author Kate Forsyth and her witches of eileanan series is one of the best written fantasy novel series I’ve ever read. I regard it in the same leagues as the magician and the name of the wind.
By Sneakers2540 on 21 May 2019, 12:17 AM
You've sold me on trying out K. Forsyth. Name of the wind is at top 5 for me.
By Joseph.larsson on 23 September 2019, 05:21 PM
I liked Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun more then most on this list.
By nukedukem on 25 May 2019, 05:18 PM
Lots to add: Red Moon and Black Mountain; The Well at the World’s End; The Last Unicorn; Lud in the Mist; War in Heaven; the Deryni series, and cetera!
By Mes314159 on 06 June 2019, 04:14 AM
amazing. great work.
By glowaglitter on 06 June 2019, 04:19 PM
The fact that The Sword of Truth books appear on this list makes me question your sanity. The first one is decent, but still terrible.
By sjohansen0 on 13 June 2019, 09:00 PM
A direct theft of several other stories. His stories get better as the books continue IMO. Much like Ice wind dale, or Dragon lance, the SoT is fun for a 16 year old, but hard to read as an adult. Just my 2 cents.
By Joseph.larsson on 23 September 2019, 05:23 PM
Well I must be naive because I am shocked that there's no Sara Douglass, no David Gemmell, no Isobelle Carmody... especially the lack of BattleAxe, many components of which George Martin "borrowed" (Sara Douglass is deceased so... no lawsuit). Perhaps my Australian bubble has made me think those authors are just as iconic externally when they aren't. I suggest that anyone who hasn't read them should do so - their literature is timeless.
By nashi86 on 14 June 2019, 06:33 AM
I was looking for “The Well at the Worlds End”, by William Morris. Dig deep for this one, as it was written sometime in the mid to late 1800s. I came upon it accidentally while searching for free books on Kindle.
By Sealawj on 21 July 2019, 04:52 PM
Dragonlance gets no love!!
By erikbiscoerbny on 07 August 2019, 10:11 PM
Simplistic and fun novels with no real sense of scope or danger. They are still worth reading though.
By Joseph.larsson on 23 September 2019, 05:20 PM
The Dragon Bone Chair and subsequent books by Tad Williams I put these right under Tolkein Also The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephenson R. Donaldson
By penni.mckinley5 on 11 August 2019, 01:30 AM
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann is a great series, I would recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy.
By zsmi8646 on 03 September 2019, 03:26 PM
I've just started to read fantasy so I look forward to reading those on this list. I must recommend 'The Last Wish' by Andrez Sapkosky as it is the book that enticed me in to fantasy novels.
By archie.fenn on 07 September 2019, 10:46 PM
One you missed is Belgariad series by David Eddings
By Barmace on 16 September 2019, 04:09 PM
Where is Julian May’s Saga of the Exiles series and Invention series....have just reread them....still a fantastic read
By dianehenderson2008 on 18 September 2019, 05:31 PM
David Gemmell deserves a spot somewhere on this list. He has so many outstanding books.
By Joseph.larsson on 23 September 2019, 05:18 PM
Shouldn't Harry Potter be at the top of the list? Come on! How many fantasy authors are able to make spell words that are from LATIN. And the series have a lot of suspence. Even the names of fantasy beasts,plants and objects are amazing. (Hippogriff,Devilsnare and Hand of Glory)J.K. Rowling did a really good job writing her books(not to mention being rejected by 12 publishers and still become famous). She's even made her own Harry Potter website, (, now being changed to Yes I also see why it's on the bottom of the list,its low fantasy(it has MUGGLES) but you shouldn't read fantasy books and go "This book has so much of the real world" instead observe what makes it interesting,take Snape for example,who knew Harry's most least favourite teacher was connected to his mother. That's the kind of writing that makes it interesting for everybody. So I guess I'm sitting on the fence,whether Harry Potter should be on top of the list or bottom.
By daksh.patel733 on 30 October 2019, 03:47 AM
Anne McCaffrey hated that her Pern novels were considered fantasy. She saw them as science fiction. The farther you get into the series the more you realize that they are science fiction. Pern is a lost colony planet, and the dragons were engineered from the native fire lizards to save the colonists from thread.
By tasandmeier on 06 November 2019, 04:00 PM
I like the xanth novel by Piers Anthony, maybe not the most mature reading, but still very creative and original
By donald_murrayii on 09 December 2019, 12:22 PM
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson
By docmix on 11 December 2019, 03:56 PM
Agree with most of the list, but where is the Last Wish or Lesser Evil by Andrzej Sapkowski? >Any book from Witchers saga should be atleast in top 20
By dreyked on 13 December 2019, 10:04 PM
You missed all of Terry Brooks - I've read every one so far
By geosylbowers on 14 December 2019, 08:07 PM
Tamora Pierce! She' s a goddess. And an amazing writer.
By asomayaji2503 on 15 December 2019, 09:26 AM
I feel the same!!!! She has had such an impact on the fantasy (especially YA fantasy) community that I’m shocked that not even one of her books ended up on here.
By Abbyrose555 on 29 January 2020, 02:56 AM
Some great titles, but i would like to have seen Michael Moorcock somewhere, Gene wolfe should definitely be on there,likewise: Robin McKinley, Robert Holstock, Jonathan Swift, Neal Stephenson, Philip Jose Farmer and Theodore Sturgeon.
By centurian1962 on 26 December 2019, 06:24 PM
What? No place for Amulet of Samarkand? That is a great book.
By sarath.karanam on 04 January 2020, 02:37 AM
“The Last Unicorn” by Peter S. Beagle deserves to be on the list as do “Alice in Wonderland” , The Chronicles of Narnia” and “ The Wizard of Oz.” Admittedly these are considered children’s books, but they are probably our first exposure to the world of make believe.
By Scarlson703 on 19 January 2020, 11:24 PM
I agree with you completely. These are fantasy novels no distinction of adult or youth and those are perfect and predate many of the books on this list.
By Kbaugh15 on 16 August 2020, 04:50 AM
Excellent additions! I wonder what makes those books feel like something a bit separate from this list - any thoughts?
By writersneed2 on 17 August 2020, 09:42 PM
You forgot The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.
By shihoen39 on 20 January 2020, 05:03 PM
Memory, sorrow, and thorn by Tad Williams. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R Donaldson. Those are a couple of formative series for me, to go alone with Pern and Earthsea which made the list
By registration1 on 21 January 2020, 04:53 AM
I’m not sure that everyone considers them true fantasy novels, as they lack wizards, dragons, and the like, but....the Gormenghast trilogy? The first two read like poetry to me, though the third one was a bit jarring.
By Dftfvsdgsd on 21 January 2020, 12:25 PM
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Such Rick Riordan and the Beyonder series by Brandon Mull.
By eli.s.wilson.04 on 21 January 2020, 04:28 PM
Some of these are my most beloved books. Thanks for reminding me of them. The rest I look forward to reading asap.
By luminosities.etsy on 22 January 2020, 08:28 PM
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe belongs on this list. Just sayin'
By genebild on 22 January 2020, 10:19 PM
My favorite series is "The Obsidian Trilogy" by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. I always recommend it to everybody!
By justin1tait on 23 January 2020, 10:44 AM
You left out Stephen R Donaldson's series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever. I rate it right up there with, Tolkien.
By pennyireland on 23 January 2020, 03:10 PM
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson are my favorites and I've read them countless times. Definitely need to be on this list. No wizards or dragons here, this is more dark fantasy
By etherealcandy on 23 January 2020, 11:19 PM
While I am intensely pleazed by most of this list, especially the inclusion of Magician by Raymond E Feist, I think leaving The Belgariad off is probably a massive oversight, especially when it directly inspired several of the novels you put on the list.
By williamthekeenan on 24 January 2020, 12:08 AM
Missed out entirely on Mercedes Lackey. Her Elemental Masters series. The Valdemar series. The Serrated Edge books. The Diana Tregarde trilogy. Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. Bedlam's Bard. The Sceptre'd Isle series.
By brucerobb1 on 25 January 2020, 03:19 AM
I heard of this blog from Google, and I'm going to have to take this list with a big grain of salt. Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight is a wonderful, wonderful read, and is a sci-fi book disguised as a fantasy, not a fantasy book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is placed too low on this list, The Fellowship of the Ring is placed too high, Eragon and The Golden Compass deserve no mention on any list that calls itself "Best Fantasy Novels of all time", and here's why. Jo Rowling got kids to read 400-500 page tomes at a time when kids weren't reading books at all. The Golden Compass failed there and came out at about the same time as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and it fails to capture the excitement of the first 2 chapters. I set the book down before I reached part 2, and have never touched that series since. Eragon is a wonderful idea, well-told, until Paolini's father stepped in and decided to make that book a Lord of the Rings wanna-be / ripp-off. This shows with the creatures Paolini chose to include in his novel, and how he chose to illustrate them. To Paolini's credit, he managed to not embarrass himself with the languages he crafted for his creatures. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring set a standard for fantasy novels that young adults can relate to to this day, but it promises tension and excitement in the first 3 chapters that the first book failed to live up to. Hardly surprising that a book written by a man who lived in his head most of his life is dryer than the fossil of Lucy. Why is there no mention of A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, Tarzan of the Apes, or Star Wars: Heir to the Empire on this list? Please take what I say with some skepticism, as I'm aware these are popular titles.
By antoniotambornino on 26 January 2020, 09:51 PM
Antonio Tambornino here again, and I want to thank you for reminding me of The Name of the Wind. I keep seeing that title among fantasy books to read. It has been on my radar for years, but I struggle to find time to get to it. All best.
By antoniotambornino on 26 January 2020, 09:56 PM
Shanara looks to be having no love :(
By Ulolin.00 on 27 January 2020, 01:46 AM
Maybe you missed throne of glass series? And surely daughter of bone and smoke? You can't miss up on that one
By jpgargi19 on 27 January 2020, 07:31 AM
You left off Draegonstorm: Elders Saga by KR Fraser, The Dark Elf Trilogy by RA Salvatore, The Shannara Chronicles by Terry Brooks...
By smanfield8629 on 30 January 2020, 07:48 AM
Seems like a very subjective list. I don't mean LOTR should be first, but GOT? I think tv show highly effected this decission.
By bekir_birden on 30 January 2020, 12:49 PM
Take your pick of the Elric of Melnibone books by Michael Moorcock. They've always been favorites since I was young.
By justincrywolf on 11 February 2020, 10:32 PM
Indeed, the 'Eternal Champion' series by Moorcock deserves a place, as does Jack Vance.
By pg4004 on 06 May 2021, 06:29 PM
Thanks for the suggestions!
By amy.cohen on 10 May 2021, 07:43 PM
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander deserve mention, as does the Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle. Stephen Lawhead deserves recognition for his Pendragon series as do many of the works of Marrion Zimmer Bradley.
By mjnolet on 13 February 2020, 12:25 AM
Not a huge fan of the trends that have evolved in recent fantasy books, overlong and laborious writing is hailed as world building by the masses, but a truly talented writer can impart the impression of a vast backdrop without bogging the reader down with unnecessary exposition. The Chronicles of Amber is a great example, also my list would include Zelazny's Dilvish the Damned books and Larry Niven's awesome The Magic Goes Away. As far as shear writing ability, Tanith Lee blows most of the authors on the list right off the map, so any of her numerous works is worthy of inclusion, as well as The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant as others have pointed out. I'd like to also see some love given to the sword and sandals side of the genre, my gateway as a young reader into fantasy, with the John Carter series and the better works of Robert E. Howard.
By alohabobnmax on 13 February 2020, 02:03 AM
I would have definitely included the Licanius Trilogy by James Islington. Check it out if you haven't yet.
By wdistad on 14 February 2020, 06:15 PM
Read all of Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time. So far the 3 books from way of Kings. Just waiting for #4 to come out. Honorable mention to most Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman trilogies.
By Jogo84 on 17 February 2020, 05:25 PM
I'm very happy Robin Hobbs made the list. I'm very disappointed Game of thrones is number one. It does not deserve the number one spot especially when its competing against books like; Stormlight archives and the wheel of time. I'm not saying ASOIAF doesnt belong on the list. I just think there are a lot of books that are a million times better. The Black prism also needs to be on this list.
By Klarc19 on 21 February 2020, 02:25 AM
Good list! I would have included Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy and Nancy Springer’s Isle books.
By Gvd11111 on 21 February 2020, 05:43 PM
I love the Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy and reread it as often as I can.
By bevmynott on 07 September 2020, 11:42 AM
The Dwarves and Alfar Series by Markus Heitz is very good. It seems to be more popular in Europe, seeing as the writer is German, but I have read all the books and if you like something a bit dark I would highly recommend.
By civicpulse on 22 February 2020, 03:09 PM
Fred Saberhagen's Sword books should be in this list, e.g. The Complete Book of Swords.
By noscgag on 25 February 2020, 04:27 PM
Any book in the Drittz the dark elf series by R.A. Salvatore are amazing and for younger readers The Redwall Abbey series are great books as well
By Caseyswalton1985 on 29 February 2020, 06:58 PM
I can’t believe I forgot the Redwall series! Such a great addition.
By Kbaugh15 on 16 August 2020, 04:43 AM
Redwall literally changed my life as a young reader! Still brings tears to my eyes... Such amazing books! :)
By writersneed2 on 17 August 2020, 09:40 PM
I have to agree that The Chronicles if Thomas Covenant should have been on the list. What about The Tales of Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card? Or the Riyria books by M. J. Sullivan?
By cotpusher1 on 03 March 2020, 01:08 PM
Anything by Paul Kearney or Cugel's Saga and Eyes of the Overworked by Jack Vance.
By turnbullr67 on 04 March 2020, 01:16 AM
My favorite fantasy book not on the list is Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
By tammimarshall on 04 March 2020, 02:41 PM
Guy Gabriel Kay. The fionovar tapestry. Epic. Karen Miller. Godspeaker trilogy. Epic.
By karensuttie13 on 04 March 2020, 10:28 PM
Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock and any of Robert E Howard's Conan books.
By shighman on 05 March 2020, 02:15 PM
Add Keeper of the Lost City!!
By null on 08 March 2020, 12:49 AM
Yes, these are great, many of which I've read, however none of them can hold a candle to Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop. It is the first in a trilogy called The Black Jewels and is, to date, the only series of books I very literally couldn't put down until I finished. It was three days of making everyone around me furious and no sleep because I was so enthralled I didn't want to pause for a minute. Surprises me it's not mentioned, but maybe it's just not well known. Try it, trust me.
By fay.june on 08 March 2020, 05:35 AM
Glad to see Brandon Sanderson on here. Also, not many people know of her, but Patricia A. McKillip has written some of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read.
By null on 10 March 2020, 08:56 PM
Tje Belgaraid series by David Eddings waa a favorite of my whole family!
By cathymarshall4090 on 15 March 2020, 10:27 PM
i think harry potter,heroes of olympus,artemis fowl,the trials of apollo,and the percy jackson series should have deserved a place in this list.
By null on 26 March 2020, 11:33 AM
The Sword of Shannara is conspicuously missing. While I wouldn’t place it in top 10, surely it deserves to be top 25.
By Robbocwg on 26 March 2020, 11:43 PM
Michael Moorcock and his Eternal Champion series, in particular the stories about Elric of Melnibone. Lloyd Alexander and The Chronicles of Prydain, a series consisting of 5 high fantasy novels. Robert Howard and his series about the adventure of Conan the Barbarian which is the heart and soul of "sword and sorcery".
By jbaga0101 on 01 April 2020, 04:47 PM
I'm surprised not to see Michael J. Sullivan's The Riyria Revelations or The Riyria Chronicles on this list. Much prefer those over Game of Thrones.
By rowse3 on 04 April 2020, 06:26 PM
Well ur recommendations r good but u should add more books like The throne of glass The red Queen A court of thrones and roses An ember in the ashes These r complete fantasy books for anyone who wanna try. They r flawless and gave me hangovers for months U won't be able to pot them down..I swear it. Happy reading..!!
By mubashrabtsarmy on 08 April 2020, 12:08 PM
A great list! The Way of Kings is amazing. Sanderson has always been one of my favorite authors. I finished Diplomat of Uram by R. Matthews two days ago and I loved it! I will start with The Blade Itself next week but Abercrombie is a bit slow for my personal taste. These days there is plenty of time for reading!
By jenniferhiggins58126 on 16 April 2020, 01:54 AM
The Patternist Series by Octavia Butler, the Broken Earth Trilogy by NK Jemison, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (i know there will be debate on that one). I am glad HP is 25. HP books aren't bad, I just feel like others are better
By christyjoholloway on 22 May 2020, 01:29 PM
Eragon at minimum doesn’t touch HP. I enjoyed those books, but nowhere near the same. I would say there’s other’s too, but it might get contentious due to differing opinions.
By Kbaugh15 on 16 August 2020, 04:57 AM
In what world does Lord of the rings come after Game of thrones
By null on 23 June 2020, 03:19 PM
Middle Earth? ;) Just being cheeky. Love those strong opinions!
By writersneed2 on 24 June 2020, 01:33 AM
Absolutely! Lord of the Rings & the Hobbit are in a (higher) league of their own!
By pg4004 on 06 May 2021, 06:27 PM
I know that everyone has gone crazy over A Song of Ice and Fire, but I would put The Lord of the Rings as number one, for many many reasons.
By noahcpeterson05 on 16 July 2020, 07:04 PM
Truly, one of the greats! Perhaps the great! It all depends on who you're asking. We love your thoughts on this piece! Keep em coming. :)
By writersneed2 on 17 July 2020, 06:43 PM
I feel like A Song of Ice and Fire is only at the top due to its popularity in other media. A good series, but putting it 9 places ahead of The Wheel of Time is a travesy. Even with my love for The Name of the Wind, and others not metioned (Furies of Calderon, Lightbringer, Demon Cycle) I feel like The Wheel of Time should be first on this list, if not top 3.
By Ryan.w.hoar on 29 July 2020, 04:03 AM
Great ideas! The Wheel of Time is fantastic.
By writersneed2 on 29 July 2020, 12:46 PM
Any definitive fantasy list must include The Last Unicorn and A Wrinkle in Time series.
By Kbaugh15 on 16 August 2020, 04:39 AM
As a second note: while the books currently included are great inclusions, I do not support this ordering :)
By Kbaugh15 on 16 August 2020, 04:40 AM
Love the feedback! These lists are always so hard... there's no way to include everything that should be on the list! I know we have "A Wrinkle in Time" on one of our lists tho. Maybe science fiction...
By writersneed2 on 17 August 2020, 09:37 PM
Y'all forgot about everything R.A. Salvatore wrote... Homeland was better than Potter and the Rings.
By rjgabryjr on 20 August 2020, 11:53 AM
Thanks for the feedback! :)
By writersneed2 on 20 August 2020, 02:48 PM
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Belgariad, Shannara, Dragonlance,
By caretaker on 04 September 2020, 05:52 PM
Great suggestions! Thanks!
By writersneed2 on 09 September 2020, 12:13 PM
Patricia McKillop's Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy is one of my favourite fantasy series, but it often gets overlooked.
By bevmynott on 07 September 2020, 11:40 AM
Gotta check it out!
By writersneed2 on 09 September 2020, 12:15 PM
Without Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams you would not have GoT, in the same way (as an example) you wouldn't have Fifty Shades of Grey without the Twilight Saga, imho. Furthermore, I would have included something David Eddings and Robert E. Howard.
By gman3737 on 11 September 2020, 03:13 PM
Great additions! Love the thought process here. Would love to know more about your theory!
By writersneed2 on 11 September 2020, 07:53 PM
The Dragonlance chronicles is a must in any all time great list, if you haven't read them start with Dragons of autumn twilight.
By stevengbayliss on 16 September 2020, 02:28 AM
Thanks for the rec!
By writersneed2 on 21 September 2020, 02:55 PM
Having read most of the books in the list, I found the 112 comments to be much more interesting and useful to see what people were clamoring to add. Quite a few comments for the Belgariad. A lot of nostalgia there! Great characters who never make a decision for themselves, because, you know, fate. I think it's fine to leave it off honestly. I'm not surprised because it's not talked about much, but seriously, the lightbringer series by Brent weeks deserves more than 2 shout outs in the comments section. I enjoyed it more than ASOIAF.
By williwheet on 20 September 2020, 01:28 AM
It's true... the comments on these articles are often even more fun than the articles themselves! Thanks, internet! Love the feedback. :)
By writersneed2 on 21 September 2020, 03:04 PM
The Belgariad plus I keep on going back to The Elfstones of Shannara.
By Risscanz on 15 October 2020, 11:53 AM
Great additions!
By amy.cohen on 15 October 2020, 02:47 PM
Tough to make a list like this. I get it. But no REH? The father of modern fantasy and just fun books to read. Lord Valentine's castle. Or is it considered sci fi? Moorcock. Terry Brooks. Chronicles of Thomas Covenant has to b on the list. For me Abercrombie in the top 5 with best served cold.
By michael.galloway9044 on 18 October 2020, 02:16 PM
Love these additions! Always worth reviewing a list. :)
By amy.cohen on 19 October 2020, 03:55 PM
Thanks, good list. Every best of fantasy list loses its credibility for me if it does not have lord of the rings in top 3.
By null on 07 November 2020, 03:55 AM
We're so glad you enjoyed it! :)
By amy.cohen on 12 November 2020, 10:46 PM
Magician Raymond Feist Best Fantasy.
By rmbuckl on 08 November 2020, 11:48 AM
Thanks for the rec!
By amy.cohen on 12 November 2020, 10:34 PM
I've tried GoT several times, but not got past the first few chapters. My favourites are Tolkien (of course!?), but also Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion, and the sequels (not so much the prequels), and also David Weber's Oath of Swords and following books. Both these are best known for their military science fiction, which probably helps them write convincing fights in their fantasy books. All these I re-read regularly. Elizabeth Moon's books have really strong female characters, including Paksenarrion herself.
By jeremy19 on 10 November 2020, 01:07 AM
Gotta love a good re-read!!
By amy.cohen on 12 November 2020, 10:41 PM
I was hoping to see The Neverending Story on this list, as it is one of the greatest books of all time that happens to be a fantasy
By tbtfirm on 27 November 2020, 02:44 PM
Thanks for the suggestion! :)
By amy.cohen on 29 November 2020, 03:42 PM
Pern books are in no way fantasy. Pern is a planet settled by humans and everything in it, including the dragons which were the result of gene-engineering, has a technological or scientific basis. It is wrong to put it in with fantasy. The RiddleMaster of Hed by McKillip and the Deryni books by Katherine Kurtz (especially the Camber trilogy). Both Game of Thrones and The Name of the Wind are incomplete missing the conclusion and thus do not belong on this or any other list until the authors rectify the situation.
By moffittjudith on 25 December 2020, 07:02 PM
Interesting points! We love a strong opinion - thank you for sharing yours! :)
By amy.cohen on 28 December 2020, 05:10 PM
With respect, you left out Shannara series, which over all is far better than many of these books. They have also been around since the 70s so are not unknown. Another series that is newer but deserves mention towards the top of this list is the red rising series by pierce brown. Pierce is by far my favorite author and he leaves many of these authors out of breath. I would encourage you to check him out. Thanks for the list. A few books here I haven't read yet
By Nerthian on 30 December 2020, 10:32 AM
You're so welcome! And thanks for the suggestions - there's always room for another great list! :)
By amy.cohen on 31 December 2020, 04:06 PM
Dragons of Autumn Twilight! Raistlin is by far one of the best wizards of all time and the world of Krynn is amazing!
By Archieparks916 on 01 January 2021, 04:36 PM
Thanks for this!
By amy.cohen on 04 January 2021, 07:09 PM
You always have to list the classics but everything is evolutionary and it's like robert jordan picked up where tolkien left off then brandon sanderson picks up where jordan leaves off its really ashame all of brandon sanderson aren't on theese lists especially elantris
By waymondkelly04 on 14 January 2021, 07:36 AM
Will have to review this notion! Love the subject of the evolution of the fantasy genre! :)
By amy.cohen on 14 January 2021, 03:02 PM
The fact that Harry Potter made the list but you omitted anything by Andrej Sapkowski is a bit of an insult..
By Entuziastik on 07 February 2021, 08:16 AM
These lists are always tough - but man oh man do we love a strong opinion! Thanks for sharing, fellow book-lover! <3
By amy.cohen on 08 February 2021, 06:08 PM
Where are fafhrd and the gray mouser? No one seems to have mentioned them yet. I feel they should be on the list.
By decoysignin1 on 09 February 2021, 10:49 PM
I've personally never heard of those - love the idea of having new fantasy books to explore, tho. Thanks!
By amy.cohen on 10 February 2021, 08:42 PM
Thanks for the list, and all the discussion. Some great recommendations for me to get reading. I love Stephen Donaldson’s writing, and while I respect the love in the comments for the covenant series, I’d rank the two Mordents Need books as his best work. They feel more unique and complete to me, and have a more nuanced anti hero/redemption theme.
By reppik on 21 February 2021, 01:44 PM
You're welcome! We love all the discussion too. Thanks for sharing your suggestions! You've piqued my interest in Mordents Need, for sure!
By amy.cohen on 22 February 2021, 02:19 PM
Sword of Shannara The wheel of time Any brandon sanderson book
By null on 03 March 2021, 02:12 PM
Thanks for the suggestions!
By amy.cohen on 03 March 2021, 04:40 PM
I would like to suggest 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; the Unbeliever.' by Stephen Donaldson. Covenant is a man of our time and world (a novelist with leprosy-forsaken by friends and family) who gets transported into another world. A world of wizards, orcs, giants,etc. He is told he is the chosen champion against Lord Foul. Covenant doesn't believe in this magical world, nor in himself. Will his actions have consequence? Lord Foul's Bane is the first of 9 novels. I highly recommend them...Enjoy!
By baldridge623 on 10 March 2021, 04:44 PM
We love suggestions! Thank you so much for the detailed recs! :)
By amy.cohen on 12 March 2021, 02:58 PM
As soon as I saw Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb, I lost interest in this list. That was mighty boring book that I had to plough through and skip a lot to finish. This list also feels like every other list; just a copy n paste job and lacks any discernable personal flavour.
By dragonbane44 on 14 March 2021, 10:25 AM
We are sorry that you feel that way, but still happy that you shared your opinion! We love how vocal our users and blog-readers are! Thanks for sharing. :)
By amy.cohen on 16 March 2021, 08:58 PM
The Legend of Drizzt series should definitely be on a comprehensive list of the best fantasy books. Such captivating stories and characters that draw you in and make you thankful there are about 20 or so books!
By Ttjohns3388 on 15 March 2021, 06:21 AM
20 or so books! That's fantastic! Gotta check these out - thanks for the rec!
By amy.cohen on 16 March 2021, 08:55 PM
Clive Barker and Tad Williams should both be on here especially over Game of thrones and the Wheel of time.
By eatkin17 on 16 March 2021, 02:15 AM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
By amy.cohen on 16 March 2021, 07:52 PM
I’m surprised there were no Terry Brooks novels on the list. I’m also surprised that certain ones ARE on the list. But hey, that’s only MY opinion.
By on 16 March 2021, 09:41 PM
We LOVE good strong opinion!
By amy.cohen on 18 March 2021, 09:02 PM
Awesome list! I loved to see Sanderson there. My top picks would be A Song of Ice and Fire, Diplomat of Uram, and The Blade Itself.
By samjenkinsnew on 28 March 2021, 12:16 AM
Thanks for the love! We are so glad you liked it. :)
By amy.cohen on 29 March 2021, 07:46 PM
Tad Williams?, Stephan Donaldson?, Terry Brooks? hmmm...
By jeff.w.thomas on 18 April 2021, 04:51 PM
Thanks for adding your thoughts! We always appreciate the input. :)
By amy.cohen on 19 April 2021, 04:19 PM
Tad Williams?, Stephan Donaldson?, Terry Brooks? hmmm...
By null on 18 April 2021, 04:51 PM
Okay...That is really great. My favourite is RICK RORDIAN'S COLLECTION. You can read all of that if you're really interested.
By mvnaveen18 on 24 April 2021, 07:09 AM
Love the suggestions! Thanks for that. :)
By amy.cohen on 26 April 2021, 08:51 PM
I’m very surprised not to see the Riyria Chronicles by Michael J Sullivan. The characters and world he creates and develops are as good as anything I’ve ever read. The dialog and quick banter between the two lead characters is hilarious and the ENDING was soooo crazy perfect! The way he brings everything together at the end was like “I see dead people” good!
By Paldurin1 on 25 April 2021, 08:45 PM
High praise! Another one to add to my reading list!
By amy.cohen on 26 April 2021, 08:42 PM
Great list! I never thought of most of these books but come to think of it these are all really good. Preferably i would put The Return of the King #1, The two towers #2, Game of thrones #3, the fellowship of the ring #4, The chronicles of Narnia #5 and then continue on down the lists like how you wrote it. One more thing, i don't really like the harry potter books but it deserves to be here. Thanks all, that's my perspective.
By maxwhussein on 28 April 2021, 01:21 PM
Thanks for the love and sharing your opinion!! We love reader feedback. :)
By amy.cohen on 30 April 2021, 12:44 PM
‘The Lumatere Chronicles’ by Melina Machetta are a great trilogy to read if anyone is doing the same as me and just getting reading recommendations from the comments section!
By angela_asb on 03 May 2021, 12:25 PM
Thanks for the suggestion! We love checking out different series!
By amy.cohen on 10 May 2021, 07:32 PM
Jack Vance - Lyonesse (superb) and Tales of the Dying Earth (Brilliant); Michael Scott Rohan, the Winter of the World
By pg4004 on 06 May 2021, 06:25 PM
Yes! We love these suggestions! Keep them coming! :)
By amy.cohen on 10 May 2021, 07:40 PM
Really disappointed to see only the Good Old Boys Club represented here. This is absolutely NOT a list of books people can see themselves in, it is a list of books that white dudes can see themselves in without having to think about why that is. And no, token Lyra doesn't count. Maybe start with N. K. Jemison.
By E.m.rasely on 21 May 2021, 10:00 AM
Thanks for sharing your perspective! Looks like we are due for an update!
By amy.cohen on 04 June 2021, 05:49 PM
A personal favorite of mine is the Percy Jackson series and I'm surprised few seem to hold it as a favourite.
By ichigogirl361 on 03 June 2021, 10:15 PM
I love Percy Jackson! Maybe it is in a different list for Young Adult Fantasy Novels. If not, maybe we need to write that list! :)
By amy.cohen on 14 June 2021, 05:42 PM
The Mists of Avalon
By rhiannaliberto on 06 June 2021, 03:11 AM
Great addition!
By amy.cohen on 14 June 2021, 07:55 PM
3 fantasy worlds I really would have preferred to see rather than some on your list 1. Fritz Leiber's sword and sorcery stories. Many feel these laid the groundwork for much of what exists today 2. Brian Jacques Redwall and subsequent novels. Amazing story writing. 3. Sarah K. L. Wilson's dragon school books. Strong female hero, great dragon presence, I couldn't put it down.
By lvirden on 06 June 2021, 03:20 AM
Yes! Great books, all. Thanks for sharing your opinion!
By amy.cohen on 14 June 2021, 07:56 PM
Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, J.V. Jones..amazing writers here who more than deserve a mention.
By wendyaitken419 on 10 June 2021, 03:03 PM
Thanks for the suggestions! We love the additions!
By amy.cohen on 15 June 2021, 06:08 PM
Has no one ever read J.V.Jones?? she is brilliant her TheBarbed Coil is inspired..
By wendyaitken419 on 10 June 2021, 03:06 PM
The title alone has me "hooked"! ;) Guess I've got another to add to my own reading list.... thanks!
By amy.cohen on 15 June 2021, 06:06 PM
What about the Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams, and the King of Osten Ard series by the same author? I really enjoyed those books because of all the detail and the different characters point of views.
By finnramac on 16 June 2021, 04:50 PM
We'll have to take a look! Thanks for the suggestions.
By amy.cohen on 16 June 2021, 08:19 PM

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