If wizards had computers……..
There are lots of top fantasy book lists online, so what makes ours different?
Firstly, the list below is COMPLETELY unbiased. As you have probably guessed, many of the “Top Lists” and ratings online are sponsored by parties with a personal or financial stake in the success of the listed books.
We hate that.
Secondly, our list was created with input from thousands of our readers and subscribers to create the best list possible! These aren’t the opinions of literary critics with Ph.D.’s; this is a list created by fantasy fans for fantasy fans.
And so, without any further ado…here are the ten best fantasy series you will ever read:
Author: Jim Butcher
First Book: Storm Front
Status: 15 of 20 planned books Published
Awards: Hugo Award (Finalist)
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? Unimaginable power, but you 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 everything 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 the reader through with background story arcs that span over several books or even the whole series.
Author: Brandon Sanderson
First Book: Mistborn: The Final Empire
Status: Original Trilogy Completed; additional books published/planned
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 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.
#8 The Lightbringer
Author: Brent Weeks
First Book: The Black Prism
Status: 5 Planned Books, 4 Published
We loved Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy, and Lightbringer proves that he still continues to improve as an author.
What we especially love (aside from lots of amazing action) is the character complexity, particularly with of one of our heroes, Kip. No matter what Kip accomplishes in life, his self-esteem remains that of the bullied youth from a small town, and yet……Kip will not back down from anyone. The comments Kip makes to dangerous figures of power and authority will leave you both stunned in amazement and laughing with joy.
#7 The Broken Empire
Author: Mark Lawrence
First Book: The Prince of Thorns
Status: Completed Trilogy
Psychopathy (noun) definition: a personality disorder characterized by diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior. See also: Jorg Ancrath
Jorg, the Prince of Thorns, is debatably the most psychopathic main character in all of Fantasy, and will stop at absolutely nothing to get the revenge he seeks for the brutal murder of his mother. His actions will literally make you cringe, and yet somehow you will love him for it.
#6 Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Author: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Status: Standalone Novel
Ready for a change of pace? One of only two set (mostly) in modern day planet Earth (Dresden Files being the other), this book is so conceptually clever and well executed when you finish it we can almost guarantee your next purchase will be American Gods (Gaiman) and/or The Color of Magic (Pratchett) to search for the true source of Good Omens’ creative genius (answer: both authors).
Think of Omens as a slightly less silly (but equally charming) fantasy counterpart to Sci-Fi classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is some the highest praise we here at Best Fantasy Books HQ are capable of giving.
Author: Joe Abercrombie
First Book: The Blade Itself
Status: Completed Trilogy, with additional standalone works
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 a fantastic 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 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 say aloud.
If you can handle the heat, these books (as well as the follow-ups) are amazing. Challenge yourself by trying to spot the psychopath (finding the torturer is too easy).
Author: Robert Jordan / Brandon Sanderson
First Book: The Eye of the World
Series: 14 Books, all published
What begins as the story of 3 seemingly ordinary young men in a rural village blooms into a 14-book, +12,000 page monster with a millennia-spanning history, dozens of different cultures, and hundreds (thousands?) of named characters in a battle against the force evil itself and his 13 chosen champions.
Author: George R.R. Martin
First Book: A Game of Thrones
Status: 5 of 7 Planned Books Published
For many years, ASoIaF was the undisputed champion of modern epic fantasy. Book comparisons would often start with “Yeah, Book XYZ is really good…..not as good as Game of Thrones, but still very good.”
Our top three were almost too close to call, and while Thrones was ultimately edged out by two newcomers, A Song of Ice and Fire still reigns as the best drama on this list. Amidst the action and intrigue, Martin’s work shines as he tackles several issues that are frequently grossly oversimplified in the genre.
If realistic fantasy fiction exists, this is it.
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
First Book: The Name of the Wind
Status: 2 of 3 in initial trilogy published, plus standalone
Bottom line: this series is an instant classic.
Even after reading it twice, it’s hard to pin down exactly what makes this series SO GREAT, but brilliant storytelling takes readers on a ride of emotional highs and lows, all building to eventually sync the two different timelines in which we follow our protagonist, Kvothe.
This video covers everything you need to know about Kingkiller in just 2 minutes:
Sound interesting now?
Author: Brandon Sanderson
First Book: The Way of Kings
Status: 2 of 10 planned books published
Through some magical process, Brandon Sanderson has found a way combine key aspects from some of the best works of all time into something completely new and utterly amazing. Epic world-building with histories spanning millennia? Check. Superior character depth built through time-spanning narratives? It’s in there. Completely original magic system? Yep, got that too. Did we also mention fight scenes and battles of monumental proportion?
In this video we attempt to explain thousands of years of Stormlight history in under 3 minutes:
Even with only 2 of a proposed ten books published, Stormlight tops our list based on the amazing groundwork that has been laid, and Sanderson’s proven ability to ensure each and every novel in his series is action packed.
Disagree with us, or know of other books you were surprised to see excluded? Let us know!