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Beginner Fantasy Books

Easy-to-Read fantasy for new fantasy readers

If you are new to the genre of fantasy, it can be confusing deciding what books to read. There are seemingly endless fantasy books -- most are bad, some are good, and a few are stellar.

I’ve put together a selection of easier-to-read fantasy books that are easy to read while still being somewhat entertaining. These are the books that many fantasy readers started out with -- so it’s good to get them out of the way if you feel you need to read them. If you are new to fantasy, you will find your fantasy tastes start to evolve and mature the more you read.

Full disclosure here: I'm not a fan of most of the books on this list (in fact, many of them made my "Worst Fantasy Books list"). But I will admit that I grew up on some of these "bad" fantasy books many years ago as there was NOT a huge selection of great fantasy books to choose from twenty or thirty years ago.

If you want to skip the fantasy training wheels and start off at the top, you can check out the Top 25 Best Fantasy Books list. Some people want to get into the good stuff right away, but you may want to take a slower pace with your fantasy readings and work your way up with easier-to-read fantasy books.

Fair warning: It's likely you won't want to come back and read SOME of these books if you start with the best fantasy books list, so if you have any inkling that you might like to read the books on this list, read them first.


Amazon Description It all begins with the theft of the Orb that for so long protected the West from an evil god. As long as the Orb was at Riva, the prophecy went, its people would be safe from this corrupting power. Garion, a simple farm boy, is familiar with the legend of the Orb, but skeptical in matters of magic. Until, through a twist of fate, he learns not only that the story of the Orb is true, but that he must set out on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger to help recover it. For Garion is a child of destiny, and fate itself is leading him far from his home, sweeping him irrevocably toward a distant tower -- and a cataclysmic confrontation with a master of the darkest magic.

I put this first on this starter fantasy list because The Belgariad is so easy to read. The Belgariad is a shining example of classic fantasy and is a great starter fantasy book for people new to the genre. The genre has since evolved into something very different now, but the Belgariad harkens back to the simplistic happy-go-lucky fantasy of the 80s. Eddings' books all feature a formulaic classic quest fantasy -- a teenage boy hero versus dark lord. The village boy vs. Dark lord conceit has been much lampooned in recent times -- probably because most fantasy books without a shred of originality feature the same rewritten story, but if you like the classic village boy and dark lord conceit, David Eddings will give you that. All of Eddings' works are formulaic -- you have the cookie cutter hero, villain, and plethora of sidekicks. That’s not to say his works are not entertaining -- they are, but if you want more advanced stuff, look at the Top 25 Fantasy Novels list. Eddings was fairly prolific, but I recommend only The Belgariad. Don’t bother with the rest of his books unless you really fall in love with the two first series mentioned above.

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This is really the founding of the fantasy genre. Lord of the Rings IS the start of epic fantasy. If you have not read this masterpiece, you should, as most modern fantasy books draw influence, in some way or the other, from Tolkien’s original works. Tolkien’s world building is second to none -- the books draw you into another world, a world rich with language, culture, and peoples. The characterization is fairly simplistic, but the world-building makes up for it. If you want a gentle, easier-to-read lead in to "Rings", I suggest you start off with The Hobbit first. If you like it (and you probably will), you can then start on Lord of the Rings.

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Chronicles Of Narnia

(C.S. Lewis)
(Chronicles Of Narnia)

Amazon Description Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil -- what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by C. S. Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia. For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a world where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations. This is the fantasy I grew up on. Narnia by C.S. Lewis is some great beginners' fantasy. Talking animals, magical kingdoms, magic and adventure, Narnia is a great segue into what the fantasy world can offer. Narnia is really aimed at children, but adults can enjoy the adventure too. Really, there is "nothing wrong" with this fantasy; there is nothing really sophisticated, but it's hailed as a classic and really should be read by every fantasy fan.

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With a Martin-esque plot and Jim Butcher pace, The Axe and the Throne is a definite "must read" for even the pickiest fantasy fans.

In his stunning debut, Ireman has built the type of world so vivid and engrossing that leaving it at the end is agony. In spite of leaning toward grimdark, where authors often enshroud every scene in depressing darkness, there is no lack of cheerful moments or brilliant scenery. Yet the pangs of near-instant nostalgia that come after you put down a book like this have less to do with the inspired setting, and far more to do with those who inhabit it. 

From savage, unremorseful heroes, to deep, introspective villains, the cast of this story is comprised of believable characters capable of unthinkable actions. And it is these characters -- the ones you wish you could share a drink with or end up wanting to kill -- that forge the connection between fantasy and reality. Keethro, Titon, Ethel, Annora. These are names you will never forget, and each belongs to a man or woman as unique as they are memorable. 

No book would be complete without a its fair share of intrigue, however, and there is no lack of it here. Each chapter leaves you wanting more, and Ireman's masterful use of misdirection leads to an abundance of "oh shit" moments. Do not be fooled (or do -- perhaps that's part of the fun) by storylines that may appear trope-ish at first. This is no fairytale. 

Available on Amazon & Audible, Barns & Noble, iTunes, Google, and Kobo.

Yes, everyone has probably read this. In fact, these these may have been the books that got you started reading fantasy in the first place. These books do make for a good read and as the series progresses, the plot gets darker and darker. Read the books, you'll enjoy them. They are not what I consider the best of the best in the fantasy genre, but they are a far cry from the worst! Highly recommended reading for those looking for a nice introduction into the fantasy genre.

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Terry Brooks is one of the most popular fantasy authors. He’s been writing fantasy for decades and is a household name. His books are pretty simplistic -- boy finds special talisman, sword, item and fights against some impossible evil. While the books are not original, they can be entertaining for some who like that sort of tale.

If you are looking for a simplistic fantasy tales without all the dark, gritty complexities of more "modern" fantasy as penned by the likes of George Martin, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, then you may enjoy the Sword of Shannara series. You could literally fill a wheelbarrow a couple of times with the number of books Brooks has written over the past twenty years. I suggest you read his Shannara trilogy first -- they are what launched his career as a fantasy writer. The books that follow are mediocre (but you may find them interesting). However, Brooks’ newest series Genesis of Shannara has been his best work in a long time, so read it if you like Brooks' style. It’s a tie together of his Word and Void series. I personally find Brooks is best when he does not write standard Tolkienesque fantasy. His best work by far is his Word and the Void series -- a sort of urban horror fantasy in the vein of Steven King’s The Stand. Not as good by far, but not that bad either.

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RA Salvatore is well known in the genre. Some people love him, some hate him. If you like the D&D type sword and sorcery type fiction, you'll probably love RA Salvatore’s works. I would say RA Salvatore is the best of the Forgotten Realms bunch. Start with the Ice Wind Dale series. If you like his style, you will probably want to read his Dark Elf Trilogy – it’s the fan favorite. If you like the action fantasy that RA Salvatore writes, I highly suggest you check out David Gemmel (Legend or Waylander are two of his best works) who is a much better writer and who delivers far more complex plots and characterization. Another good action fantasy writer is James Barclay.

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These are literally everywhere in the bookstore. These are the cheeseburgers of the fantasy world. They taste good, but you get indigestion after. If you are looking for something easy to read that delivers the same experience over and over, Dragonlance is your bet. It’s good to read a couple of these books so you at least know what they are about. You can start off with the Dragonlance Chronicles, which is probably the best novels of the bunch. Similar Recommendations If you like Dragonlance, you can start looking at more sophisticated novels. One such recommendation is the Death Gate Cycle (actually written by the same authors of the Dragonlance Chronicles). Raymond E. Feist’s Magician is another classic fantasy that you’ll probably love if you find the Dragonlance novels appealing.

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These, in my estimation, are pretty similar to Dragonlance books. There are a ton of them, they are easy to read, feature uncomplicated plots and cardboard cutout characters. But, they are tasty in the way that going to Mcdonald's is tasty. There's no real "nutrition" to these books, but they do have some taste. Read them, you may like or not like them. As for where to start, the crowd favorite is probably the Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore

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The Black Magician

(Trudi Canavan)
(Black Magician)

Amazon Description This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work -- until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders . . . and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield. What the Magicians' Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.

The Black Magician trilogy is a good starting fantasy for people new to the genre. The books are entertaining and with a fairly simple plot which makes them great for YA or children. In general, I would say if you are a fan of Harry Potter or other Young Adult fantasy, it’s worth reading this series.

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