At Best Fantasy Books HQ we searched the web and consolidated the rankings and reviews from multiple, credible sources to give you the consensus best 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 in the Kindle Edition.
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 rest 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. Only $2.99 on Kindle
First Book: Harry Potter and the Socerer’s Stone
Many adults have avoided this series because they are considered to be “kids’ books.” A more accurate description 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 pick up a copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone today. You won’t be disappointed.
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 truly 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, places, and concurrent plotlines very manageable. 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 untimely death. Jordan said he knew the very last scene of the series from the beginning, and from how well his world comes together you can believe it.
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 the two timelines in which we follow our protagonist, Kvothe. If the current quality level is maintained, this series (already #2 on our Top-10 List here at HQ) will continue to move up the overall rankings with each new book released. Amazon is also currently offering a “get you hooked’ price on Book 1.
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, while still maintaining surprising complexity through the engrained religious symbolism. Are they enthralling reading for adults? Maybe, but they would definitely make an amazing gift for a young person who you want to introduce to the world of Fantasy reading.
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. Learn more at Amazon.
Easily the most controversial works on this list, especially considering they were targeted toward Young Adult readers. Banned by the Catholic League and called “Atheism for kids,” His Dark Materials definitely raises strong responses 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. Judge for yourself here.
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. Learn more about it here.
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. Definitely worth checking out for $2.99. After reading these it will be clear why Brandon was entrusted with the completion of the Wheel of Time.
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 blasts 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. Read the Back Blurb.
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. Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad Book 1)
First Book: Assassin’s Apprentice
The Farseer 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. Assassin’s Apprentice: The Farseer Trilogy Book 1
#14 Earthsea Cycle
Earthsea was another pioneer in 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. A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle)
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. Learn more, or buy it here.
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 heat, these books (as well as the follow-ups) are amazing. Get First Law, and try to spot the psychopath.
#17 Riftwar Saga
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 line. Want to know why? Because when the story is well crafted with compelling characters it makes for excellent entertainment, and the Riftward Saga is very well done.
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.
First Book: The Way of Kings
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. Also 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 are as rampant as they were with ABC’s Lost.
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. Learn more at Amazon.
Let us know in the Comments Section if you have ideas for additional rankings that should be incorporated! We value your input!