Best Fantasy Books HQ consolidated thousands of individual reader votes for the best fantasy book or series to create the most comprehensive and balanced fan rankings list ever assembled. Look below to see which books the global community of Fantasy fans enjoy the most, or to see our personal favorites check out HQ’s Top-10 Must-Read Fantasy Books!
|RANK||SERIES / BOOK NAME||AUTHOR||PUBLISHED BOOKS|
|1||Lord of the Rings||J.R.R. Tolkein||3 of 3|
|2||A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)||George R.R. Martin||5 of 7|
|3||Harry Potter Series||J K Rowling||7 of 7|
|4||Wheel of Time||Robert Jordan / Brandon Sanderson||14 of 14|
|5||Kingkiller Chronicle||Patrick Rothfuss||2 of 6|
|6||Chronicles of Narnia||C.S. Lewis||7 of 7|
|7||Discworld||Terry Pratchett||40 of ?|
|8||His Dark Materials (Golden Compass)||Philip Pullman||3 of 3|
|9||Dark Tower||Stephen King||8 of 8|
|10||Mistborn Trilogy||Brandon Sanderson||3 of 3|
|11||Dresden Files||Jim Butcher||15 of 20|
|12||Belgariad||David Eddings||5 of 5|
|12||Farseer Trilogy||Robin Hobb||3 of 3|
|14||Earthsea Cycle||Ursula Le Guin||6 of 6|
|15||Malazan Book of the Fallen||Steven Erikson||10 of 10|
|16||First Law||Joe Abercrombie||3 of 3|
|17||Riftwar Saga||Raymond E. Feist||3 of 3|
|18||Inheritance Cycle (Eragon)||Christopher Paolini||3 of 3|
|19||Stormlight Archive||Brandon Sanderson||2 of 10|
|20||Old Kingdom (Abhorsen)||Garth Nix||4 of 5|
First Book: Fellowship of the Rings
Generally regarded as the parent series to all modern Epic Fantasy, Tolkien’s world building set the bar. Of all the top ranked series Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth also has the most unbelievable depth, with a collection of histories (The Silmarillion) almost as long as the series itself. While not as dark or “edgy” as many of the newer popular series, if you haven’t read them (or if you have, but +20 years ago) you definitely should. The whole series is only 1036 pages. Get your copy now!
First Book: A Game of Thrones
It is hard to summarize what makes these books so good because there are so many good things to say. For the sake of everyone’s sanity let’s focus on two things that make this epic drama so rich. Firstly, out of literally dozens (hundreds?) of characters, the number who are clearly “good guys” or “bad guys” can be counted on one hand. For all of the others, it’s a matter of perspective. Martin does an amazing job of showing us the same situation through multiple POV’s, and from each character we get a totally different angle on what initially seemed clear-cut. Secondly….death. If your favorite character is in peril, you need to be afraid because this could well be their last page. No one kills off more characters than Martin, and while it can be sad when it happens, it makes the stories of the living that much more compelling.
Also, if you watch the show on HBO, you must READ THE BOOKS. Sometimes books and their on-screen translations are far from simpatico, but in this case they each really add to the experience of the other. Get your copy now!
First Book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Many adults have avoided this series because they are considered to be “kids’ books.” Probably a more accurate definition may be that these books are good fantasy books which are also appropriate and enjoyable for kids. There is a reason J.K. Rowling has sold 450,000,000 copies and kept readers hanging on through 8 books. If you enjoyed the movies and are looking for an exciting adventure in an amazingly creative world of The Sorcerer’s Stone today. You won’t be disappointed. Get your copy now!
First Book: The Eye of the World
If you want EPIC, stop reading and get Book 1, The Eye of the World, right now. This 14-book, +12,000 page monster with hundreds of named characters redefines the word. Reading each of these books as they were published must have been challenging to follow, but reading them in sequence helps keep all of the people and places very manageable. Even better, the final stretch of books (co-authored by Brandon Sanderson) is very strong and leads to a satisfying conclusion penned directly by Jordan before his death. Jordan said he knew the last scene of the series from the very beginning, and from how his world comes together you can believe it. Get your copy now!
First Book: The Name of the Wind
There is a reason why the Kingkiller Chronicles made it to #5 even though only two (of a planned 6) books have been published: this series is an instant classic. Brilliant storytelling takes readers on a ride of emotional highs and lows, all building to eventually sync two different timelines in which we follow our protagonist, Kvothe. If the current quality level is maintained, this series (already #2 on our Top-10 List) will continue to move up the overall rankings with each new book released. Get your copy now!
First Book: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Narnia will always hold a special place in the hearts of fans who read them as children. These wonderful tales are perfect for young readers, but still maintain surprising complexity through the ingrained religious symbolism. Are they enthralling reading for adults? Maybe, but they would definitely make an amazing gift for a young family member who you want to introduce to the world of Fantasy reading. Get your copy now!
First Book: The Color of Magic
From the brilliant comedic mind of Terry Prachett, Discworld somehow manages to be unique and compelling fantasy while frequently parodying the works of Tolkien, Lovecraft, and numerous others. These are easy and enjoyable reads, averaging around 300 pages per volume. Get your copy now!
Easily the most controversial works on this list, especially considering they were targeted to Young Adult readers. Banned by the Catholic League and called “Atheism for kids,” His Dark Materials definitely raises strong response from some, but many others simply see it as exciting fantasy in which religion acts as a key driver for the motives and actions of some characters. Get a copy now!
First Book: The Gunslinger
Almost certainly one of the most mind-blowingly creative series ever written. The sheer number of bizarre and terrifying situations the main characters encounter is unbelievable. From psychopathic, A.I. controlled super-trains to giant, diseased cyborg bears, these books quite literally have it all. Pair this with the most unlikely team of protagonists and you are in for a wild ride. Get your copy now!
First Book: Mistborn: the Final Empire
Mistborn was the breakthrough series for one of today’s hottest fantasy names, Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn is set in a unique, almost Steampunk world (the follow-up book Alloy of Law is full-blown Steampunk, set in the same world but several years after the conclusion of the Mistborn Trilogy) with compelling characters, an exciting plot, and THREE completely unique magic systems utilizing diabolically complex methods for combined employment. After reading these it will be clear why Brandon was entrusted with the completion of the Wheel of Time. Get your copy now!
First Book: Storm Front
Who’s the most unlucky private detective and professional wizard in modern day Chicago? You guessed it, Harry Dresden. Ever wonder how superheroes make money for groceries? Welcome to Harry’s world, where you have the ability to shoot gouts of flame with the power of your mind….but also have to keep your powers hidden from normal humans. The result? You have unimaginable power, but can’t pay your rent. There are few characters easier to root for than Harry. There are even fewer who take as many butt-kickings from pretty much anything supernatural of which you have ever heard as he works tirelessly behind the scenes to defend his hometown (and the world) from destruction. There are 20 or-so total books planned, but don’t be intimidated. Each novel works well as a stand-alone, but also keeps pulling you through with background story arcs that span over several books or even the whole series. Get your copy now!
First Book: Pawn of Prophecy
Like Narnia, Belgariad holds a special place in many, many people’s hearts. Completed in the 1980’s, some say it was the forefather of “Young Adult” fantasy before that category even existed at booksellers. Pawn of Prophecy is fun and exciting with a straightforward plot and themes appropriate for younger readers. Don’t mistake “straightforward” for simple or boring, though. This is an exciting, interesting world with relatable characters that will continue to be a favorite for years to come. Get your copy now!
First Book: Assassin’s Apprentice
This trilogy may be the most emotionally powerful series on this list. The complex relationships amongst the main character, his family, his love interest, and his closest companion (a wolf) are compelling enough to justify reading the series. Add in a solid plot line with exciting adventure and it’s easy to see how this series made the top 15. Get your copy now!
Earthsea was another pioneer on the field of Epic Fantasy. With the first volume published in 1964. If you like Lord of the Rings and Belgariad, Earthsea should provide you with many hours of enjoyment. Get your copy now!
First Book: Gardens of the Moon
Often compared to Game of Thrones, this colossal 10-book epic is also dark, gritty, and complex, but with a much larger fantasy component than Thrones. Three main story arcs are woven together over the course of the series, often intertwining in very surprising ways. POV characters range from normal humans to indestructible gods (including everything in-between) and Erickson does a masterful job of showing just how much room for power variation exists in the “in-between”, as well as what happens when they cross paths. Get your copy now!
First Book: The Blade Itself
The best and most accurate description of this series remains as follows: the characters include a narcissistic royal, a sadistic torturer, and a schizophrenic, murderous barbarian….and those are the good guys. So true! Never before has such an amazing pack of anti-heroes been assembled, and you will, without question, be cheering for them by the end. First Law is graphic, brutal, and in an unexpected twist, surprisingly thought provoking. There are so many pearls of wisdom and insight amidst the carnage that they manage to shine through despite the intensity of their surroundings. Did I mention the dark humor? Some of the lines are so great you’ll try to remember them for later use, but ultimately find they are just too dark to actually say aloud. If you can handle the intensity, these books (as well as the follow-ups) are amazing. Get your copy now!
First Book: Magician: Apprentice
The Riftwar Saga follows a fairly typical Fantasy story arc: a young, downtrodden individual is eventually called upon to do great things. Frankly speaking, look at how many of these top 15 follow that same general plotline. Want to know why? Because when the story is well crafted with compelling characters it makes for excellent entertainment, and the Riftwar Saga is very well done. Get your copy now!
First Book: Eragon
Praised for its fun and excitement, Eragon has all the components of a classic Young Adult series: dragons, magic, and adventure. If you liked Star Wars, and you like Fantasy, you will probably find Eragon highly enjoyable.
Much like Kingkiller, this in-progress series is absolutely white hot, has thousands of 5-star reviews on Amazon, and already ranks #1 in the Best Fantasy Books HQ Rankings. Like Kingkiller, if the current quality level is maintained Stormlight will rocket up the consolidated chart in coming years. The first two books have set the table for an epic so grand that theories and speculation in online forums is as rampant as it was with ABC’s Lost. Get your copy now!
First Book: Sabriel
Another very popular Young Adult Series, Abhorsen was a joint Aurealis Award winner for “Best Young Adult Novel 2003”, and a Teens’ Top Ten selection for 2003 by the Young Adult Library Services Association. Get your copy now!