14 Best Fantasy Books Readers Can’t Put Down
What's the best fantasy book ever written? Here are 14 of the all-time best fantasy novels to immerse you in magical, mythical worlds chock-full of dark sorcery and epic wonder.
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Get ready for epic high fantasy
So what’s the difference between fantasy and high fantasy? The fantasy genre features narratives brimming with elements like magic, myth, and supernatural beings and imaginings. High fantasy novels take those ingredients and set them on planets and in realms that go way beyond reality or the everyday world. The best fantasy books of all time display epic world-building overflowing with awe-inspiring adventures. Read on for the best fantasy books to get lost in. If you like your fantasy spiked with a touch of nightmare, check out the 20 scariest books of all time.
The Name of the Wind
Fall into Book 1 of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle if you’re looking for a fantasy series told in poetic language that creates an enthralling world. You’ll follow the mythic wizard Kvothe as he chronicles an intricate history both tragic and heroic. Prepare for 700-plus mesmerizing pages of riveting action with twists and turns set in an elaborate world and across two timelines. You’ll be glad there are two more books in the series when you reach the end. Check out some more of the highest-rated books on Goodreads.
The Lies of Locke Lamora
Looking for one of the best fantasy books? This one’s both brutal and witty. Brace for a thrilling, genre-defying adventure that sets a crime caper in a fantasy world. Scott Lynch’s debut novel (the first in a series) teems with adventure as it follows the Gentlemen Bastards, a gang of elite crooks in Camorr, a Venice-inspired world created with elaborate detail and a dash of Dickens. The novel alternates between the hero’s orphan childhood and his adult exploits as a brilliant con man taking down noblemen, an underworld ruler, and the shadowy Gray King. Discover the most popular book the year you were born.
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings isn’t just the best-selling fantasy book of all time—it’s one the best-selling books of any genre, with over 150 million copies sold in translations of over 50 languages. J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary saga sets in Middle-earth and offers readers well over a thousand pages of epic world-building filled with mesmerizing characters, like hobbits Bilbo and Frodo and the wizard Gandalf. If you’re looking for the top fantasy books of all time, immerse yourself in Tolkien’s breathtaking series. Find out 13 hidden messages in the Lord of the Rings trilogy you missed on the first read.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
The best fantasy books captivate readers with magical journeys into spectacular worlds. Susanna Clarke’s award-winning debut fantasy novel takes place in England during the Napoleonic Wars. Only this isn’t familiar British history, but an alternate version where magic exists and gets put to use by a practicing magician and the student who’s prone to go off script when it comes to powerful spellwork. Ever wonder why “Abracadabra” gets the job done? Here’s how it became the word to say during magic tricks.
A Game of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire is considered the best fantasy series of all time—or at least of the last decade. George R.R. Martin’s thrilling fantasy series concerns Winterfell, King’s Landing, all the seven kingdoms, and the epic plots over who should rule them. Prepare for a thick tome in the addictively readable Book 1 in the series, A Game of Thrones. Dragons, bloodshed, and sorcery abound. Check out some more best-selling books of the 2010s you may have missed.
The Way of Kings
Readers find Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings to be one of the best fantasy books ever written. It’s the first in the Stormlight Archive fantasy series known for intricate plots and epic world-building on nature-ravaged planet Roshar. Fantasy fans can’t put down this thrilling, intense 1000-plus-pager. What’s on your list of must-read books? Here are the top 100 books that everyone should read.
If you’re looking for an epic fantasy to curl up with, try out Robin Hobb’s story about Fitz, a boy fathered by a prince but trained as an assassin. The Farseer trilogy is considered one of the best fantasy series of all time because of its immersive world-building, well-drawn characters, and transfixing details filled with magic, emotion, and surprise. See if you can identify these famous books from only one quote.
The Eye of the World
Robert Jordan’s complex Wheel of Time fantasy books are known for pulling readers into their enthralling universe and holding them rapt until the last page. The first book (of 15!) is 700 pages of intensive, imaginative, immersive fantasy. These are good fantasy books for young adults or readers new to the genre and looking for some of the best. If you don’t have time for a whole series, these are great books that can be read in one day.
Neil Gaiman’s inventive world mixes urban fantasy, set in contemporary America, with the epic battles between the old gods and the new ones, with an ex-convict named Shadow caught in the middle. The novel was adapted into a TV series, bringing Gaiman’s original, captivating story to life for the small screen. Fans can tear through the novel and binge the series! Read the book if you want witty writing and fantasy that draws you in with its wondrous vision and strange violence. Make sure to add these other must-read books to your reading list.
A Wizard of Earthsea
Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic Earthsea novels are considered some of the best fantasy books ever written. Le Guin’s books build an immersive world with elaborate magical systems. The story follows the young Ged, who starts his training as a wizard but experiments with forbidden magic and unleashes darkness and chaos. This leads him on an epic journey to conquer evil. If you consider yourself a book lover, here are 16 essential reads you don’t want to miss.
The Fifth Season
The Broken Earth trilogy garnered numerous awards and acclaim, making its three novels some of the best fantasy books of all time. The first in the series is told in N.K. Jemisin’s gorgeous, evocative prose that reinvents the science fiction and fantasy genres for a new generation. The novels build a world on Earth, far in the future after devastating storms known as Seasons destroy civilizations over and over. This Earth features floating Obelisks and humans with magical powers drawn from Earth’s geology. The elaborate world intersects with epic, complex plot lines that mesmerize fantasy fans. These are life-changing books that everyone should read.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book 1 in J.K. Rowling’s enormously popular fantasy series might the best fantasy book ever. It’s one of the most beloved and most-read books of all time. Readers can’t get enough of the wizarding school known as Hogwarts and the epic battles between young Harry and his various, villainous foes. Even if you’ve read the series a million times, you’ll be surprised by these 14 hidden messages in the Harry Potter books.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia were written for children, but adults love the imaginative world where brothers and sisters find themselves transported to, a world filled with mythical creatures and talking animals. In the first book in the series, travel to wintry, fantastical Narnia where the wicked White Queen baits a boy to betray his family. Here are some more children’s books worth a read as an adult.
Guy Gavriel Kay’s epic novel is considered a masterful entry in the fantasy genre sure to impress readers looking for the best fantasy books. Tigana features rich, evocative language that constructs an awe-inspiring elaborate land of kingdoms, the Peninsula of the Palm, entangled in civil war. The complex plotting follows two rivalrous sorcerers along epic and intricate plot lines that build to a climax that shocks and astounds readers. See how you’re doing on our checklist of 50 books everyone should read before they turn 50.