Fantasy literature has captivated readers for centuries, transporting them to magical realms, introducing them to mythical creatures, and immersing them in epic adventures.
With a plethora of amazing books to choose from, it can be challenging to decide where to begin your journey into the world of fantasy.
To help you navigate this world of fantasy literature, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best fantasy books ever written.
Whether you’re a seasoned fantasy fan or new to the genre, these novels are sure to spark your imagination and leave you longing for more.
Best Fantasy Books To Read
1. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien
This epic trilogy is not just a book but a journey into the heart of Middle-earth, a richly imagined world brimming with history, languages, and cultures.
Tolkien’s masterpiece is a saga of good versus evil, where humble hobbits become unlikely heroes.
The fellowship’s quest to destroy the One Ring is filled with peril, friendship, and courage, making it a foundational text in the fantasy genre.
2. “A Game of Thrones” (A Song of Ice and Fire series) by George R.R. Martin
Set in the intricate and brutal world of Westeros, where summers and winters can last years, Martin’s series is a masterful blend of political intrigue, complex characters, and vivid world-building.
The fight for the Iron Throne is a deadly game, marked by surprising twists, profound moral questions, and a realism that redefined fantasy storytelling.
3. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
The book that introduced us to the young wizard Harry Potter is a gateway to a magical world hidden within our own. Rowling’s tale, where an ordinary boy learns of his extraordinary destiny, is filled with wonder, enchantment, and a deep sense of right and wrong.
It’s a story that captures the magic of childhood and the timeless struggle against darkness.
4. “The Name of the Wind” (The Kingkiller Chronicle series) by Patrick Rothfuss
This is the compelling story of Kvothe, a legendary figure now living in self-imposed exile. Told in his own voice, it’s a tale of a gifted young man’s rise to fame, his mastery of magic, and the personal costs of his ambition.
Rothfuss weaves a narrative that is as much about the power of story as it is about the adventures of its protagonist.
5. “The Way of Kings” (The Stormlight Archive series) by Brandon Sanderson
In a world ravaged by storms and war, Sanderson presents a sprawling epic filled with deep lore and complex characters. The novel focuses on the lives of diverse individuals who play pivotal roles in a world on the brink of cataclysm.
Sanderson’s meticulous world-building and innovative magic systems make it a standout in modern fantasy.
6. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (The Chronicles of Narnia series) by C.S. Lewis
This classic tale transports readers to the magical land of Narnia, where four children stumble upon a world under the tyrannical rule of the White Witch.
It’s a story of redemption, bravery, and the eternal battle between good and evil, told with a sense of wonder and profound allegorical depth.
7. “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman blends mythology, folklore, and modern life to create a story that explores the soul of America. It follows Shadow, a man caught in a war between gods of old mythologies and new gods of media, technology, and consumerism.
This novel is a meditation on identity, belief, and cultural transformation, written with Gaiman’s signature blend of wit, darkness, and narrative ingenuity.
8. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
This timeless adventure is the precursor to “The Lord of the Rings” and introduces readers to the enchanting world of Middle-earth.
The story follows Bilbo Baggins, a reluctant hobbit thrust into an epic quest to reclaim a treasure guarded by the fearsome dragon Smaug. Tolkien’s rich storytelling, infused with humor and a deep sense of adventure, makes this a captivating read for all ages.
9. “Mistborn: The Final Empire” (Mistborn series) by Brandon Sanderson
In a world where the sky rains ash and the lord ruler wields absolute power, a group of rebels discovers an unlikely hero in a street urchin named Vin. Sanderson crafts a unique system of magic based on metals and a plot full of political intrigue, revolution, and personal growth.
It’s a tale that redefines the boundaries of epic fantasy.
10. “The Eye of the World” (The Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan
This is the opening chapter of an expansive saga set in a world where the Dark One is breaking free and the Wheel of Time is turning towards a cataclysmic age.
Following the journey of Rand al’Thor and his friends, Jordan weaves a narrative that balances epic world-building with intricate character development, setting the stage for a series that has become a cornerstone of fantasy literature.
11. “Assassin’s Apprentice” (Farseer Trilogy) by Robin Hobb
This novel introduces us to Fitz, the bastard son of a nobleman, who is trained as an assassin for the royal family. Hobb’s storytelling is deeply personal and emotionally charged, exploring themes of loyalty, identity, and power through Fitz’s eyes.
The richly detailed world and the complex relationships make it a deeply engaging read.
12. “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
A collaboration between two masters of fantasy, this book is a witty and satirical take on the apocalypse. An angel and a demon, having grown fond of Earth, team up to prevent the end of the world.
The novel combines Pratchett’s humor with Gaiman’s darkly imaginative style, creating a story that is both hilarious and thought-provoking.
13. “The Lies of Locke Lamora” (Gentleman Bastard series) by Scott Lynch
Set in the elaborate, Venice-like city of Camorr, this novel follows Locke Lamora, a master thief with a penchant for elaborate scams.
Lynch crafts a gritty, fast-paced tale filled with clever heists, intricate plots, and a richly detailed world. It’s a story that’s as much about friendship and loyalty as it is about revenge and survival.
14. “The Golden Compass” (His Dark Materials series) by Philip Pullman
This book introduces Lyra Belacqua, a young girl who embarks on a journey through a world filled with daemons, witches, and armored bears. Pullman’s narrative blends adventure with philosophy, questioning the nature of reality and authority.
It’s a story that captivates the imagination and challenges the reader, making it a modern classic in fantasy literature.
15. “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik
In this enthralling tale, Novik spins a story of Agnieszka, a girl from a quiet village, chosen by a mysterious wizard known as the Dragon to serve him.
This novel masterfully blends Slavic folklore with a unique magic system. It’s a story about the bonds of friendship, the power of love, and the courage to face the unknown.
The vividly painted world and the growth of Agnieszka as she discovers her own magical abilities make “Uprooted” a compelling and enchanting read.
16. “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White
White’s novel is an imaginative retelling of the Arthurian legends, exploring the rise and fall of King Arthur.
This work delves into themes of justice, power, and human frailty, presenting a world where chivalry and realpolitik collide. It’s a poignant study of the ideals of knighthood and the often harsh realities behind them.
The blend of whimsy, philosophy, and stark realism makes it a seminal work in Arthurian fiction.
17. “The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger” by Stephen King
This book begins King’s ambitious and expansive Dark Tower series.
It introduces Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger, on his quest through a desolate world that intriguingly combines elements of fantasy, westerns, and post-apocalyptic fiction.
King weaves a haunting and surreal tale, full of symbolism and dark fantasy elements, that sets the stage for an epic journey.
18. “Sabriel” (Old Kingdom series) by Garth Nix
Nix creates a rich world where the dead walk and only the Abhorsen can keep them at bay. Sabriel, a young woman trained in the art of necromancy, must venture into the dangerous Old Kingdom to find her missing father.
The novel is a gripping tale of dark magic, complex family legacies, and a heroine’s journey into the unknown. Its unique magical system and the eerie landscape of the Old Kingdom make it a standout in the genre.
19. “Elantris” by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson’s debut novel is set in a world where the magical city of Elantris has fallen into ruin, and its once-godlike inhabitants are now cursed.
The story follows three main characters navigating political intrigue, personal tragedy, and the mysteries of Elantris.
Known for its intricate plotting and innovative approach to magic, “Elantris” is a tale of resilience, love, and the enduring human spirit.
20. “The Colour of Magic” (Discworld series) by Terry Pratchett
The first of the Discworld novels, this book introduces readers to a flat, disc-shaped world balanced on the backs of four elephants, which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle.
It’s a parody of traditional fantasy novels, filled with Pratchett’s signature wit, satirical humor, and keen observations of human nature. The adventures of the inept wizard Rincewind provide a hilarious and insightful commentary on our world.
21. “The Last Unicorn” by Peter S. Beagle
This timeless story follows the journey of the last unicorn left in the world, as she sets out to find what has happened to the others of her kind.
Beagle’s novel is a beautifully written tale that blends elements of fantasy and melancholy, filled with rich characters and evocative language.
It’s a meditation on love, loss, and the bittersweet nature of existence, wrapped in a narrative that is both whimsical and profound.
22. “The Blade Itself” (The First Law series) by Joe Abercrombie
This is the gritty entry into Abercrombie’s renowned First Law series. Known for its dark humor and complex characters, the novel turns traditional fantasy tropes on their heads.
It’s a tale of war and intrigue, featuring characters like the crippled torturer Glokta and the barbarian Logen Ninefingers. Abercrombie’s narrative is a masterclass in character development and moral ambiguity, making it a standout in the grimdark subgenre.
23. “A Wizard of Earthsea” (Earthsea series) by Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin’s Earthsea series is a cornerstone of fantasy literature, known for its deep philosophical underpinnings and elegant prose.
The story follows Ged, a young boy with innate magical talent, as he grows into his powers and learns the responsibility that comes with them. Le Guin’s world, with its archipelago of diverse islands and cultures, is a fascinating exploration of balance, knowledge, and power.
24. “Gardens of the Moon” (Malazan Book of the Fallen series) by Steven Erikson
The first in Erikson’s sprawling, complex series introduces readers to the Malazan Empire and a host of characters ranging from soldiers to gods. Known for its ambitious scale and intricate plotting, the series weaves together multiple storylines in a richly detailed world.
It’s a challenging but rewarding read, noted for its sophisticated themes and epic scope.
25. “The Book of Three” (The Chronicles of Prydain series) by Lloyd Alexander
This is the first in Alexander’s much-loved series inspired by Welsh mythology. The story follows Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper who embarks on a quest to find the magical Black Cauldron.
It’s a classic coming-of-age story filled with adventure, humor, and lessons about heroism and self-discovery.
26. “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman
This imaginative novel tells the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, a boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard. Gaiman’s tale is a unique take on the idea of growing up and learning about the world.
It’s a blend of the macabre and the whimsical, with Gaiman’s signature storytelling charm, exploring themes of family, friendship, and the meaning of life and death.
27. “Perdido Street Station” (Bas-Lag series) by China Miéville
This novel is a tour-de-force of New Weird, a genre that blends elements of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. Set in the sprawling, chaotic city of New Crobuzon, it’s a story of bizarre creatures, arcane sciences, and intricate politics.
Miéville’s imaginative power is on full display in this novel, which is as much about the weird and fantastic as it is a commentary on social issues.
28. “Shadow and Bone” (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo
Opening Bardugo’s Grishaverse, this novel introduces a world divided by darkness and light. The protagonist, Alina Starkov, discovers extraordinary powers that could be the key to saving her war-torn world.
It’s a tale of magic, love, and power, set in a world inspired by Russian folklore, with a compelling narrative and a richly drawn fantasy world.
29. “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman
Grossman’s novel is often described as a more grown-up, darker version of Harry Potter with a touch of Narnia.
It follows Quentin Coldwater, a high school student who discovers the magical world he read about as a child is real. The book delves into the complexities of adulthood, disillusionment, and the search for meaning in a world where magic exists but doesn’t necessarily solve all problems.
It’s a story about the challenges of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, set in a beautifully crafted magical universe.
30. “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman
This book is a timeless classic that blends fantasy, adventure, romance, and wit. It’s presented as an abridged version of an older text, adding a unique layer to the storytelling.
The story follows the beautiful Buttercup, her beloved Westley, the giant Fezzik, and the Spaniard Inigo Montoya, as they navigate a tale filled with humor, love, and swashbuckling adventure. It’s a unique and self-aware novel that has charmed generations of readers.
31. “The Fifth Season” (The Broken Earth series) by N.K. Jemisin
Jemisin’s book is a groundbreaking work in the genre, known for its unique narrative structure and deep social commentary.
The story takes place on a supercontinent that undergoes periodic, catastrophic climate changes. It’s a tale of survival and oppression, exploring themes of environmental disaster and systemic injustice.
The book is celebrated for its complex characters, intricate world-building, and its challenge to traditional fantasy norms.
32. “The Black Prism” (Lightbringer series) by Brent Weeks
This novel is known for its unique magic system based on light and color, and its intricate, fast-paced plot.
The story revolves around Gavin Guile, the most powerful person in the world, as he faces both a looming war and a personal crisis. Weeks weaves a tale filled with action, political intrigue, and moral complexity, set in a vividly imagined world.
33. “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman
In this novel, Gaiman crafts a dark and magical underworld beneath the streets of London.
The protagonist, Richard Mayhew, finds himself drawn into this hidden world after helping a mysterious girl named Door. The book is a journey through a strange and often dangerous landscape, filled with memorable characters and Gaiman’s signature blend of myth, fantasy, and reality.
It’s a captivating urban fantasy that explores themes of identity and belonging.
34. “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss
This novel, already discussed in a previous list, is worth mentioning again for its lyrical prose and compelling narrative.
It’s the story of Kvothe, a gifted young man who grows up to be one of the most notorious magicians his world has ever seen.
Rothfuss’s narrative is an exploration of the nature of legend and truth, told through a beautifully crafted magical world.
35. “The Sword of Shannara” (The Original Shannara Trilogy) by Terry Brooks
Brooks’ novel is often credited with popularizing the fantasy genre. The story follows Shea Ohmsford, a young man who discovers that he is the last of an ancient line and the only one who can wield the Sword of Shannara against the dark lord.
The book is a classic hero’s journey, filled with adventure, peril, and discovery, set in a richly detailed world.
36. “Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon
In this epic standalone fantasy, Shannon crafts a world rich in history and lore, where a divided land faces the return of a formidable dragon.
The story weaves together the fates of a queen in hiding, a dragonrider, and a mage, each holding key pieces in the battle against the encroaching darkness.
It’s a tale of intrigue, forbidden magic, and forgotten lore, celebrated for its complex characters and a world where female power and queer relationships are central.
37. “Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor
Taylor introduces us to Lazlo Strange, a librarian with a dreamer’s heart, obsessed with the lost city of Weep.
This beautifully written tale is a blend of fantasy and romance, where dreams intertwine with reality, and the mysteries of Weep unfold.
The novel is lauded for its lush prose, imaginative world-building, and the poignant exploration of love, loss, and longing.
38. “The Bear and the Nightingale” (Winternight Trilogy) by Katherine Arden
Set in the deep winter of a medieval Russian village, Arden’s story is a mesmerizing blend of Russian folklore and history.
The protagonist, Vasya, is born with a special gift and challenges the societal norms and supernatural forces that threaten her home.
It’s a tale rich in folkloric detail, atmospheric settings, and a strong-willed heroine fighting against an encroaching darkness.
39. “Gideon the Ninth” (The Locked Tomb Trilogy) by Tamsyn Muir
This novel combines necromancy, swordplay, and a witty, irreverent tone. Gideon is a swordswoman bound to serve a necromancer as they compete in a deadly trial to unlock the secrets of immortality.
Muir delivers a unique blend of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, with a cast of complex characters and a richly imagined universe.
40. “The Poppy War” by R.F. Kuang
Inspired by 20th-century Chinese history, this grim and gripping tale follows Rin, a war orphan who shocks everyone by acing a national exam and earning a place in an elite military school.
It’s a narrative steeped in history, mythology, and brutality, exploring themes of war, empire, and the price of power.
41. “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Bradley reimagines the Arthurian legends from the perspective of its women, primarily Morgaine (Morgan le Fay). This retelling gives a feminist voice to the Arthurian myths, exploring themes of power, loyalty, and tradition.
It’s a story that weaves together the mystical with the human, painting a picture of Camelot that’s as much about its women as its famous knights.
42. “The City of Brass” (The Daevabad Trilogy) by S.A. Chakraborty
Set in 18th century Cairo and the magical city of Daevabad, this book follows Nahri, a con artist who accidentally summons a mysterious djinn warrior.
This richly woven tale of magic, politics, and adventure draws on Middle Eastern history and mythology, creating a vibrant world where tribal loyalties collide with power struggles and ancient magic.
43. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman
A hauntingly beautiful tale that blends myth, magic, and memory. This novel follows a man who returns to his childhood home and recalls a forgotten friend and the remarkable events they shared.
Gaiman masterfully creates a story that is both a poignant exploration of childhood innocence and a dark, magical journey, where reality and fantasy blur in compelling ways.
44. “Red Sister” (Book of the Ancestor series) by Mark Lawrence
Set in a world on the brink of extinction, where the sun’s dying light leaves all but a narrow corridor of the world inhabitable, this book introduces Nona, a girl with a violent past and a potentially deadly future.
Lawrence weaves a tale of magic, martial arts, and the struggle for survival in an unforgiving environment, focusing on friendship, loyalty, and the tough choices that define us.
45. “The Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo
This dark fantasy set in the prestigious Yale University follows Galaxy “Alex” Stern, a young woman with a troubled past, who gets involved in the university’s secret societies.
These societies are not just centers of power but also engage in mystical activities. Bardugo crafts a gritty, suspenseful story about power, privilege, and the dark occult underbelly that can lie beneath the most traditional institutions.
46. “The Raven Boys” (The Raven Cycle series) by Maggie Stiefvater
In this series, Stiefvater combines the allure of mystery and romance with the supernatural.
The story revolves around Blue, a girl from a family of psychics, and her involvement with a group of boys from the local private school, known as the Raven Boys.
They are on a quest to find a lost king, which leads them into a world filled with magic and danger.
The narrative is rich in character development and mystical undertones.
47. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab
Schwab presents a compelling story of a young woman, Addie LaRue, who makes a Faustian bargain to live forever but is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Spanning centuries and continents, the story is a beautifully written exploration of loneliness, time, and the enduring power of memory and human connection.
It’s a poignant tale of a life lived in the shadows, yearning to leave a mark.
48. “Children of Blood and Bone” (Legacy of Orïsha series) by Tomi Adeyemi
This riveting West African-inspired fantasy takes readers to the land of Orïsha, where magic has been suppressed and its practitioners persecuted.
The story follows Zélie, a fierce heroine who embarks on a quest to bring magic back and fight against a ruthless monarchy.
Adeyemi creates a richly imagined world filled with magic, adventure, and intense emotion, tackling themes of oppression and racial injustice.
49. “The Bone Season” by Samantha Shannon
Set in a dystopian future, Samantha Shannon’s novel introduces us to a world where clairvoyants are persecuted by a totalitarian government.
The story follows Paige Mahoney, a powerful dreamwalker working in the criminal underworld of London.
Her life takes a dramatic turn when she is captured and taken to a secret city, Sheol I.
The novel is rich in imaginative detail, blending elements of fantasy, dystopia, and paranormal, creating a narrative that’s both gripping and thought-provoking.
50. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
This enchanting novel transports readers to the magical world of Le Cirque des Rêves, a nocturnal circus that appears without warning and leaves a trail of awestruck spectators.
The story revolves around two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood for a mysterious competition. Their fierce rivalry evolves into a complex love affair, played out in the magical environment of the circus.
Morgenstern’s writing is lyrical and atmospheric, making the circus itself a vivid, almost living character.
51. “The Cruel Prince” (The Folk of the Air series) by Holly Black
This book takes readers into the treacherous world of the Faerie. The story centers around Jude, a human girl who was taken to live in the Faerie Court as a child.
Despite her mortality, Jude is determined to gain power in this dangerous world.
Holly Black’s storytelling is filled with political intrigue, twisted betrayals, and a dark, seductive atmosphere that redefines the trope of fairy tales and presents a complex exploration of power dynamics and identity.
52. “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir
In a brutal, Rome-like world, this novel tells the story of Laia, a slave fighting for her family, and Elias, a soldier fighting for his freedom.
Their paths cross in the oppressive Martial Empire, where defiance is met with death. Tahir weaves a gripping tale of resistance, survival, and the quest for freedom.
The novel is distinguished by its rich world-building, complex characters, and a storyline that explores themes of oppression, loyalty, and the cost of rebellion.