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Best Fantasy Series

A list of the best fantasy series in the genre (from all fantasy subgenres)

Do you love those fantasy novels with many kingdoms, protagonists, politics, and cultures? Do you like the epic struggles between small bands of heroes against impossible evil? Do you eagerly follow the growing pains of the coming-of-age hero as he (or she) finds greatness? Then you want to check this list of the best fantasy series ever written.

It's hard to select series that are NOT epic fantasy, since most of the series released these days, are. In this list, I wanted to bring you the top 25 best fantasy series from a number of different fantasy subgenres. Some may be grand epic fantasy, some may be more character-driven fantasy, some may be simply fantasy that's part of a series.

I've based my picks on how good the ENTIRE series is as well as how influential they have been on the fantasy genre as a whole. You'll see familiar faces on The Top 25 Best Fantasy List but also plenty of new faces as well.

Like any "Best" list, you can't please everyone with your picks, so don't take it personally if your favorite series is not listed on the list. Rest assured I've spent a lot of time deciding what should be included and excluded.

I've also put together a list of the Best Epic Fantasy Series for those of you who are ONLY looking for epic fantasy books.

Updated and revised January 2015

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This series tops the Top 25 Best Fantasy Books, and with good reason and it's my pick for the best fantasy series. Martin shattered the fantasy mold and created something completely new. Indeed, fantasy books will never be the same. The world created is a dark one: children are made slaves, brutal graphic wars are fought, heroes are slain and villains are crowned king, swearing and sex are rampant, and all that's ugly about the world is flung in your face.

This is a world where heroes are not invincible, and villains are just as likely to emerge victorious. This type of gritty fantasy is not for everyone. Those faint of heart who wish to sail in safer fantasy waters would do well to look elsewhere: this is a no-holds-barred look at a fantasy medieval world; if lingering in padded fantasy worlds where sex is suspiciously absent, violence treated as a romantic comedy, and dashing, good-looking heroes always win, this fantasy may not be for you. But for those of you with a steady heart who want an absolutely addicting descent into a medieval realm torn asunder, where struggling heroes may or may not win, where magic is as mysterious as it is ephemeral, where the battles are so vivid you can hear the clash of steel and the whinnies of dying horses, where an epic story spans the vastness of continents, then heed the siren call of A Song of Ice and Fire.

A Song of Ice and Fire is a starkly real treatment of the horror of war and conquest of lands, of rape and pillage and revenge, and man's ultimate fight against extinction. So if you have what it takes, read this series. I guarantee your reading world will never be the same.

The last two books in the series have a been a bit of a let-down in terms of moving the plot forward, but things do look up for book 6. But even in 2015, we are STILL waiting for the next in the series. Will Martin ever finish this series? Maybe.

Regardless, Martin has still crafted a fantasy world that's taken our world by storm, and it still stands as one of the best examples of fantasy out there.

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If you want a different sort of fantasy -- funny fantasy as it's called, Terry Pratchett can't be beaten for a good laugh. Discworld cleverly parodies many of the standard fantasy conventions, often shining the light on just how stupid those conventions really are, when you think about them. Pratchett is a master at his craft: everything in the fantasy genre is fair game -- something that Pratchett takes full advantage of with his over 20 Discworld novels.

The thing is, Discworld is not just ONLY about giving you good laughs, it's also a wickedly clever and cutting look into the state of the human condition. The humor of the Discworld is merely the tip of the iceberg, but if you sink below the surface, you'll see there is a lot more to a Pratchett novel than cheap laughs -- there's darkness and depth and an over-boiling anger at the unfairness, selfishness and stupidity of humans. And yet there's still hope there too. Because of the depth into the human condition that Pratchett explores in his long running series and his clever use of humor to elucidate the follies, foibles, and beauty of humanity, Pratchett is one of those writers that has transcended the genre itself, writing something that's 'more' than fantasy. It's a damn shame we won't be seeing too much more from this brilliant author who is now suffering from Alzheimer's. 

Start with The Color of Magic, which follows the tourist Twoflower and his bumbling, hapless wizard guide, Rincewind. It's a mad, mad adventure that will have you gasping for breath. His best book is probably Nightwatch. 

Pratchett IS the Douglas Adams of the fantasy world with a bit of George Orwell thrown in for good measure.

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Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge. 

This series throws epic fantasy on its head. On the surface we have all the conceits present in standard epic fantasy: a band of heroes, a Gandalf-like wizard, a dark lord who must be defeated, etc. However, Abercrombie doesn't just twist these cliche fantasy conventions, he completely shatters them. If you're jaded from all the hackneyed epic fantasy crap out there, I highly suggest this incredible series. The writing's witty, the plot is original, and the characters are absolutely fascinating. Read it!

What's even better is that every single one of Abercrombie's books are great reads. His best is The Heroes, but even his newest 2015 YA series, The Shattered Sea, is a fine read indeed. You won't do any bad by picking up his first book in The First Law series, The Blade Itself.

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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, Barns&Noble, iTunes, and Google, or visit www.MDIreman.com

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The Name of the Wind is a stunning work of imagination and storytelling triumph and currently ranks very near the top of my Top 25 Best Fantasy List. I won't bother trying to rehash why you should read it. Just do.

Two books have been released now (as of 2015, still waiting on the third book) and both are good (though some argue the second is not as good as the first, to which I agree). 

Despite the flaws with this series, I don't think there is another fantasy series out there where you get into the head of the protagonist as much as you do in the King Killer Chronicles with maybe the exception being Farseer trilogy by Hobb (and that protagonist had me wanting to slap him for being such an incoherent doormat half the time).

There's a surprising amount of hate towards this book and author. A lot of this anger has to do with the the protagonist's hero being unrealistically heroic at everything he does, from magic, to martial abilities, to his skills with the ladies. However, Rothfuss is a clever chap and there's a deeper story beyond the surface story going on here in this frame story. The narrator's the painter of his own portrait and arguably unreliable. We'll have to see what happens in book three, but I think Rothfuss knows exactly what he is doing here.

From the start to the end of each book, you're taken along on an adventure you don't want to end. This is one of the most enjoyable series out there folks. Do yourself a big favor and read it. Even in 2015 with an absurd number of awesome fantasy reads  to be had, The Kingkiller Chronicles still stands out as some of the best fantasy in the genre.


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The Long Price Quartet

(Daniel Abraham)

(Long Price Quartet)

This is NOT your standard epic fantasy. But oh man, there's a lot to love about this one. If you want to take a much needed break from the standard fantasy cliche's, The Long Price Quartet should be your next stop. Even if you ONLY like standard fantasy, still read this gem of a series. It's widely being hailed as a modern masterpiece.

This is a series with an incredibly strong plot; really, once you get hooked at the start, you're going to have to just finish all the books to see how everything gets wrapped up (and all four books have been completed).

Abraham's characters are living and breathing creatures. There are no characters introduced just to move along the plot. It's a rare thing to get so involved with the characters you read about. But Abraham invites you to do just that -- all of the characters are sympathetic, with flaws and strengths and personalities.

So, toss away all that boring epic fantasy and read a REAL fantasy series that's just about a cut above everything else out there right now. As a bonus, the series is completed with all four books out. Many agree that the first couple of books are the weakest in the series (and even a "weak" book here is better than most of the fantasy out there) with the final books the best.

Fans of this series will also be delighted to know that Abraham has released the first book in another series -- this one a standard epic fantasy (but with Abraham's trademark style, fantastic plot, and awesome characterization) which, should you find The Long Price Quartet not the type of fantasy for you, more palatable. It's called the Dragon and the Coin.

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Yep, had to include it. Most people have probably read this series and even more authors have written hackneyed copies of it, but this series is the original father epic fantasy and deserves to be read. To the two people who haven't read it: just go ahead and get it over with. If you want to factor in significance to the genre of fantasy, Tolkien ranks at the #1 spot. However, most people have read him so I've put him at a lower spot to give other authors a chance at some recognition. 

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A classic fantasy tale about the rise of a village boy the most famous wizard of an age, The Earthsea Cycle is a series that transcends the genre. The writing is lyrical and beautiful -- those who appreciate Tolkien's Middle Earth or Patricia McPhilip's Riddle-Master trilogy, will find themselves enthralled by the story of Ged, a simple boy who becomes much more. This series is roundly hailed as one of the great fantasy classics. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the new generation of fantasy, but it's a classic tale that's told by a master storyteller. And it's a haunting tale that you will never forget.

Series listed by chronological order, from left to right. Click book image to see details. The first four books follow the life of Ged. The fifth is a compilation of short stories set in the Earthsea world. The sixth (The Other Wind) returns to the story of Ged and concludes the cycle.

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A work of fiction that has influenced the genre. This is pure, unadulterated high fantasy. Vance is one of the most influential writers in the fantasy and science fiction sphere, with his Dying Earth series and his high fantasy series, Lyonesse. The Lyonesse trilogy is regarded by some as Vance's best work -- certainly right up there with his Dying Earth series. The land of Lyonesse and the Elder Isles are imbued with vivid life; into these magical lands are introduced a synthesis between Tolkien and Old English myths and folktales -- you have Old Folk, kings, princes, magicians, fairies, ogres and villains wandering through the magical landscape that is Lyonesse and the Elder Isles. While the Vancian style may not suit every reading sensibility -- especially those who prefer the more wordy and descriptive styles of say, Jordan or Feist and books less about the characters and settings than fast-paced action or magical battles, but if you give the series a fair shake, you'll see just why Lyonesse has inspired an entire generation of fantasy writers. This truly is some of the best fantasy out there, and because of its age, it's not been read by many a modern fantasy reader. 

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The Magicians

(Lev Grossman)
(Magicians)
A wildly impressive trilogy that didn't reveal its hand until the last book in the trilogy was published late 2014. The Magicians is one of those series where every book is better than the last and the work rated on the sum of its parts and not the individual parts.

While The Magicians may not be a fantasy series that everyone appreciates, there's a lot of depth to it and a thoroughly entertaining story told as well. Keep in mind that the books get better as you go along -- the last book, Magician's Land, is the best of the three books and elucidates the other two previous books.

If you haven't read this remarkable work of fantasy fiction, do so. 

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The Conan books are classics that helped form the early fantasy genre during the 30's, and along with Karl Wagner's Kane books and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series, Howard's work helped create the Sword and Sorcery genre. To say Conan has been influential on modern fantasy and pop culture at large would be a vast understatement.

Don't let the fact that these books are nearly 100 years old scare you from reading them. They are dark, compelling, and richly evocative reads. And hey, by reading them, you can lord this fact over all the other 95% of the fantasy nerds who claim to love Fantasy but have never read one of the pillars of the genre.

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The Malazan Book Of The Fallen

(Steven Erikson)

(The Malazan Book of the Fallen)

One of the best epic fantasy series currently out there. No boy-finds-magic-sword-and-defeats-dark-wizard story here. Malazan Book of the Fallen is a complex creation, with an absolutely huge cast of characters and stories that span thousands of pages. The stories encompassed in each book are like pieces of a puzzle -- each piece is a small picture of the story, but as you progress through the books, a spectacular picture emerges. It takes a bit of work to wrap yourself around the story, however. Those used to the standard epic fantasy tale may find themselves bewildered half way through the first book. The strange world, enigmatic characters, and vastness of the story can be confusing, BUT persevere and the Malazan Book of the Fallen becomes something incredible. By the time you are a couple of books into the series, you'll be hopelessly addicted.

With the ten-book series finally completed, this stands as one of the best epic fantasy series out there from start to finish. It can take a while to get into the series (hundreds of pages into the first book and for some even a couple of books). There were some complaints about the ending, but there was also a lot of praise as well. I think most agree the author did a reasonably good job at ending the series -- it could have been better, but considering the vast plot threads and huge cast of characters, Erikson did a good job.

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An interesting series that details the life of a young prince who, after witnessing the horrific murder of his mother and brother, runs away. The young prince lives with a band of marauding bandits living under their rules until fate provides him a chance to seek revenge and claim his throne. This is the tale of a prince become assassin. 

The protagonist, an antihero, will kill anyone and do anything to get what he wants. A dark and gritty tale and one of the best books of 2011. And big bonus points for this trilogy actually being completed with all of the books very strong from start to finish. Even more, there's a new trilogy set in the same universe and set in the same timeline period, but covering a different story with a different protagonist.

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The Gentleman Bastards

(Scott Lynch)

(Gentleman Bastards)

One of the best fantasy series in the genre. Clever, sharply written, with some seriously awesome characters, this is a series that you MUST read. The first book was awesome, the second great and the third merely good. As of the end of book three, however, some seriously cool shit is set up for book four.

If you are one of the few (serious) fantasy readers who have not yet picked up The Gentleman Bastards, this should be your next read. Like now.

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A startling work of imagination that will evoke feeling when you read it. Reading Gormenghast is like feasting your eyes on a masterfully drawn painting -- you might not always get the context, but you're drawn to the beauty it represents.

If you are a fan of fantasy with superbly written prose, this is for you. The characters are indelible and the castle setting will leap out at you from the pages. You will never, ever forget the characters or the castle.

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The Book Of The New Sun

(Gene Wolfe)

(The Book Of The New Sun)

A blend of science fiction and fantasy (see science fantasy) that you can still label as fantasy. This is one of those pillars of literary achievement. Im not going to try and explain it here other to say that this series if for those who want a deeper sort of fantasy, one full of metaphor and allusion. Its some pretty deep stuff. If you like literary fantasy, you've found mecca with this series. Fans of action epics, fast-paced dialogue and action, save-the-world plots, and easily understandable prose will probably find this series hard to read. But if you are someone who enjoys reading for the love of reading itself and you enjoy thinking fantasy that will challenge you, this is the best in the genre.

Fans of Jack Vances Dying Earth and Lionesses and Mervyn Peake's Ghormenghast are absolutely guaranteed to love this. 

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If you like your epic fantasy big in the style of Wheel of Time, the closest you'll find to that style is The Storm Light Archive -- written by the same man who's finishing The Wheel of Time series. You really won't find any other books close to the style of Jordan. 

As of 2015, we are sitting at two massive books in what will be a ten book series. Words of Radiance, book 2 in the series, was by all measures a success. It was a very good read for the most part with plenty of "ohhh shiiittt' moments going on (Sanderson has made his career on 'Holy Shit' moments where action and drama perfectly intersect with showdowns between heroes and bad guys).

The Stormlight Archive is Sanderson's own vision of an epic fantasy series, his own take on The Wheel of Time (and he's determined to do it right this time and not make the mistakes Jordan made) and folks, it is indeed epic -- the fantasy tale spans millennia and includes a cast of larger than life characters, from humble slaves, magical assassins, female scholars to the leaders of great armies. 

The magic system, like all of Sanderson's works, is very well thought out and the action scenes, when they happen, are explosive and powerful. Keep in mind that this is a huge book and it takes hundreds of pages to get into the flow of the story. But keep reading till the end and the action comes to an explosive head -- it's worth the wait.

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Glen Cook pioneered the "gritty" epic fantasy before that sort of fantasy become the gold standard of today. Black Company is the name of a number of books that follow the happenings of The Black Company, a company of mercenaries who end up being employed by The White Lady. What makes this series different from all the other military fantasies out there is that their employer, The White Lady, would be the equivalent of Sauron. It's a world where good and evil are not so defined, a world where doing evil is sometimes good and doing good is sometimes evil. It's also a rousing military tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

There are a number of books, but I recommend the (best) Books of the North (the first three books) followed by the Books of the South. The series goes downhill after that. But the first three books are stunning.

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Memory, Sorrow, And Thorn

(Tad Williams)

(Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, )

There are writers who like to write pulp and there are some writers who like to write fiction. Williams is the latter. Memory, Sorrow, Thorn is Tad Williams response to The Lord of the Rings. It's a slow, pedantic, and sometimes tedious tale about the young kitchen Scullion, Simon. Tad with his ponderous style, slowly brings the reader into his fictional world, and carefully, oh so carefully, weaves the threads of the plot together. Action doesn't happen right away -- maybe not even for hundreds of pages -- in a Williams novel. But what you get is a living, breathing world that you become part of.

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is NOT a series for everyone -- people either love or hate William's style, but a shoddily written, hack series this is NOT. So if you want a slow, epic fantasy series with great characterization, an interesting world and realistically motivated villains, pick up this series. 

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Chronicles Of Amber

(Roger Zelazny)
(Amber Chronicles)

Book Flap Description

Witness the titanic battle for supremacy waged on Earth, in the Courts of Chaos, and on a magical world of mystery, adventure, and romance.

This is one series that people seem to brush over in favor of all the "modern" stuff. Big mistake. Amber's a classic series that's been around for a few decades now. It's a different kind of fantasy, but it doesn't follow the standard "epic" fantasy conventions. This makes it a breath of fresh air to read.

What makes this series "better" than all the other stuff? Well Amber is by far one of the most unique and utterly fascinating fantasy worlds, outside of Tolkien. The world created by Zelazny is one where magic and science rule, where illusions and reality blend together. If you've read science fiction, you'll be familiar with the basic premise: the world is made up of parallel universes, each of these universes a reflection of the original world, a city called Amber. Everything is but a pale shadow of Amber. Earth is but a shadow.

Into this mix throw in the squabbling princes and princesses of Amber. Only the Royal blood of Amber can move through the different worlds freely. And many of the siblings don't get along...

All in all, Amber is a fascinating fantasy world that you will want to explore. It's hands down better than most of the fantasy series on the market right now.

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In his debut dark fantasy, Mythborn, V. Lakshman offers a complex, richly designed world with a sweeping history behind it, where the last beacon of hope is magic – a talent punishable by death.

Bara’cor – ancient fortress where the possession will begin, spreading like a disease, turning friends into something darker. 

A monk is sent to investigate but his orders include sacrificing his apprentice, a boy who can negate magic. What they do to survive will become the fulcrum upon which the fate of their world balances.

Mythborn is grippingly intense, with new developments on every page and a thoughtful plot that engages both the mind and heart, ultimately challenging what it truly means to be good. 

Kirkus Reviews says, “Debut fantasy novelist Lakshman offers a rousing epic....Lakshman shows a plate spinner's skill as he smoothly balances the novel's diverse elements and keeps the action rolling at a fast clip...the descriptions of physical combat, training and strategy have an authenticity that's reminiscent of Elizabeth Moon's 1992 masterwork The Deed of Paksenarrion.”

Go to the author's webpage for more information or get it on Amazon.

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Comments (6)
Awards Won:2005 BFS

Epic Dark Fantasy in the classic western tradition. This is Steven King's Magnus Opus, a series that's taken him decades to finish. In this huge series, King writes about "worlds other than these." It's a dark journey through a bizarre landscape with equally strange characters. It's a journey through space and time, through worlds not our own in a quest to protect the most precious thing in the universe.

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Subversion gone over the edge is how you can describe Richard Morgan's anti-fantasy series A Land Fit For Heroes. Morgan writes some of the blackest grimdark you'll ever read and manages to break just about every fantasy convention ever created over the three books that make up this series.

It's a sweet, sweet, but bloody read. Just bring along a towel or four when you read it, you'll need them to wipe the blood spurting from the pages,

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Chronicles Of The Unhewn Throne

(Brian Staveley)

(Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne)

A series that's exploded out of nowhere in 2014 and with a sequel published in early 2015 that's even BETTER than the already awesome first book, The Chronicles of The Unhewn Throne stands as one of the best current fantasy series ever (though yes, it's still incomplete).

I don't think I was this impressed with an epic fantasy series since The Name of the Wind debuted years ago. There's a lot to love in this series -- it smashes together the mythology and world-building of Tolkien, the action and adventure of a Sanderson novel, with some real sharp writing throne in to boot. 

If you are still reading this text and have not yet picked out your next fantasy read, make it Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne (starts with The Emperor's Blades)

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In a world saturated by religious fanaticism, Maithanet, enigmatic spiritual leader of the Thousand Temples, declares a Holy War against the infidels. Ikurei Conphas, military genius and nephew to the Nansur Emperor, embarks on a war to conquer the known world in the name of his emperor...and himself. Drusas Achamian, spy and sorcerer of the mysterious northern sorceries, tormented by visions of the great apocalypse, seeks the promised one, the savior of mankind. Anasurimbor Kellhus, heir to the shattered northern kingdom, whose ruins now lay hidden in the deepest north, a place now desolate, home to only the No-Men. Gifted with extraordinary martial skills of hand and foot, and steering souls through the subtleties of word and expression, he slowly binds all - man and woman, emperor and slave - to his own mysterious ends. But the fate of men--even great men--may be cast into ruin. For in the deep north, the hand of the forgotten No-God stirs once more, and his servants tread the lands of men...

This is one of the more interesting modern fantasy series out there. It's epic fantasy, but not in the way you're used to. This fantasy is for those who want a combination of raw action and sharp philosophical insights. It's gritty, dark, bloody, and pretty damn smart.

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Tales Of The Dying Earth

(Jack Vance)
(The Dying Earth)

Tale of the Dying Earth truly stands as one of the greatest works ever penned. Everything that's good and bad about the human condition is eloquently expressed within this tale. You get the full range of heroics, adventure, drama, atmosphere and excitement all wrapped by Vance's dry sense of humor and terse yet flowery  prose.
Dying Earth is more science fiction than fantasy, but it certainly does have many fantasy elements as told through several characters within the story (most notable Cugel the Clever).

The characters are often over-the-top characterizations by intention and are used by Vance as sharp instruments to perceptively express the full extremes of the human condition -- both the best and the worst of it.

This is literary fantasy of the highest form, written by a man who's had wide ranging influence on the genre. Many of the best modern fantasy authors cite Vance as a huge influence on their work.

Beautifully and cleverly written prose that jabs and pokes at the human condition in such a way that all the foibles, follies, and glories are laid bare to the reader.

Fans of Lionesses,  Books of the New Sun, and Ghormenghast will die for joy with this series. 

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This dark fantasy trilogy is ostensibly a children's book, but there's a lot more to the story than a simple child's tale. The author incorporates ideas from Milton's Paradise Lost, a poem that's actually the basis of the entire novel. On the surface, it's the struggle of a young girl, together with her Daemon familiar, to find her place in the world through a series of grand, fantastical adventures. This sort of fantasy is NOT the simplistic Eragon with cardboard characters ripped straight from Star Wars and Tolkien. Nor is the fantasy a happy one. It's a dark look at the nature of things, of God, and of sacrifice. It's also a resounding rebuke to the religious powers of this world.

Ignoring all that "literary" stuff, the trilogy is also an amazing adventure and can be appreciated as such, if you have no wish to dig into the subtext. His Dark Materials is without a doubt one of the greatest fantasy series ever written.

There are a number of compelling YA fantasy out there including Abhorsen, Narnia, Bartaemeus. I've included a few of these works here, but if you want my rankings on the best YA fantasy, see the list.

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Elric Of Melnibone

(Michael Moorcock)
(Elric)

Elric is the prince of a dying race, a pale, morose champion of right, despite the cards stacked against him. He's a physical weakling who needs to take drugs and relies on evil magic to survive. This puts him at odds with just about every other standard fantasy hero in the genre. In any other book, Elric would be closer to a villain than a hero. Elric may not be that "popular" these days (as evinced by the limited comments these books get on this website), but Elric has had a lasting influence on the entire fantasy genre.

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Five books in now, this series is turning out to be one of the best in the genre. If you are expecting another sort of Wheel of Time or Stormlight Archive, Game of Thrones, or Mazalan Book of the Fallen, look elsewhere. Abraham writes an entirely different sort of book then these others. The plot is slower paced, there's a lot about economics and banking, there's detailed scheming that takes place slowly over hundreds (even thousands) of pages. And first and foremost, it's completely character driven.

But IF you have the patience for a deep, plodding, yet ultimately richly rewarding series, then The Dagger And the Coin is some of the best fantasy in the genre. But it takes a few books into it before things start happening and the action starts to build.

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If you are tired of fantasy with bland characters or infallible heroes, give The Farseer a read. Hobb is a master writer of characters that are brought to life with her pen.

The Farseer is the story of Fitz Chivalry, a royal bastard. It's the story of his rise and fall, of his love and loss of love, of how he traveled to magical lands, communed with wolves, and saved a kingdom from doom.

You won't find a story that will have a bigger impact on you than The Farseer. If you want an emotional fantasy, The Farseer is about as good as it gets. The quality of the entire series is maintained from the first to the last book. If you are not a fan of the ending, Hobb wrote a direct sequel trilogy just for you, to give you the fairy tale ending you are looking for.

 A Note About Hobb's various sequel books....

Hobb has written 4 trilogies and another 4 book saga set in the Farseer world. Since it's all kind of confusing, I'll break it down here to make it easier for you. 

The original story starts with The Farseer trilogy and centers about Fitz. The Tawny Man trilogy is a direct sequel to the Farseer trilogy taking place years later after the events and featuring the main characters. And her newest (as of 2015) trilogy The Fitz and the Fool is a direct sequel to the Tawney Man trilogy; it's also chronologically as her story time lines go, the newest. 

The Liveship Traders trilogy takes place in the same world as Farseer but in a different country with different characters and roughly around the same time as the original Farseer Trilogy.  The Rain Wilds Chronicles is a 4 book saga that takes place AFTER the events of the Tawny Man. but before her new Fitz and the Fool books (I believe).

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He called himself Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever because he dared not believe in the strange alternate world in which he suddenly found himself. Yet he was tempted to believe, to fight for the Land, to be the reincarnation of its greatest hero....


Great epic fantasy that breaks out and does something different. Covenant contains many of the classic fantasy conventions: a quest, a hero, and a magical talisman. But the similarities end here. The protagonist, Covenant, is through and through an anti-hero. This series is one series that provokes the reader's passions: either fanatical love for the series or maniacal hatred for it.

Fantasy books often feature absolutely altruistic heroes. But a hero Covenant is not: he's a flawed man who struggles with vices, a man who's thrown into a confusing situation. He's selfish, stubborn, and does some despicable deeds. More than anything, it is these characteristics that seem to upset people who read the first book then declare Thomas Covenant the worst fantasy series ever. Sorry folks, you're not "getting" the series.

The story of Covenant is the story of a flawed man's transformation into something better. And along the way, he may just end up saving The Land. If you want a complex story about a flawed man forced to become a hero, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant delivers. It's a fantasy series that has remained unique over the twenty years that its been published. Millions have read it and loved it. If this doesn't move you to read it, than nothing ever will. But if you haven't read it yet, do so your missing out one of the most remarkable fantasy tales ever. And please, before you leave a comment trashing this series, read the ENTIRE series first.

Stephen Donaldson has three Thomas Covenant series: First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and the recent series, the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Each series is chronological and follows the exploits of Thomas Covenant. I've listed the series by chronological order. 

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Not an epic fantasy in your traditional sense, but one of the most underrated series out there starring the brutal amoral assassin, Caine. This is a series that holds nothing back: it's brutal and uncompromising the entire way through. With an interesting blend of science-fiction and fantasy combined with an absolutely amoral psychopathic killer as the star of the whole show (literally, Caine the killer is in fact a movie star beamed to another dimension to wreak murder and induce mayhem among the local population for the entertainment of billions back home), it's an absolutely must read, especially if you like anti-hero fantasy where there is no defined moral compass. Every book in the now four part series (with more likely to come) is good with no dip in  quality.

This series is one of my absolute favorites, and it's a crime that the author and the series are not as well-known as they should be. If you want something different that's so tasty you'll practically cry with delight, read.

The series is a bit uneven, however. The first book is fabulous, the second merely great. The last two books are merely just good.

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31

The Lightbringer

(Brent Weeks)
(Lightbringer)
The Lightbringer is Brent Weeks best series so far. I was never that impressed with his Night Angel trilogy which was all action and setting but of little substance. However, Weeks has greatly matured as a writer and his next effort, The Lightbringer series, has shown his talent as an author in a big way. Book one of the series was disappointing, but the second book completely blew me a way. It was one of the best examples of the second book being so much better than the first. The Blinding Knife (book 2), was pretty much my favorite fantasy read of 2013 -- yes, it was that good. Book three (which was released in the middle of 2014) was also a good read, though not as good as book two (it had more character development which is good thing by far and large, but at the cost of a plot that really did not move very far the entire book).

Overall though, if you want an awesome coming of age fantasy, a completely unique magic system, lots of action and a cast of likable heroes, then defiantly pick this one up. Fans of Brandon Sanderson, Douglas Hulick, and David Gemmell will particularly find themselves right at home here.

Books in Lightbringer Series (4)

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32

This series has become the gold standard for urban hard boiled detective fantasy. There have been many clones but no true imitations yet. The premise is pretty simple: a down and out Private Investigator and Wizard, Harry Dresden, takes on investigations that are special, that that involve the supernatural. Now this may sound like a worn, tried and true formula by now with the rain of similar style books clogging up the fantasy shelves, but Dresden is one of the originals and by far about the best in the subgenre.

Its an action packed, wildly entertaining, fun ride through the supernatural a ride that includes vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, rival wizards and other supernatural baddies all trying their best to take down Harry Dresden. This is one of those series that takes a couple of books before Butcher really hits his stride with the character and story, but once he does, boy does the series come together. So give it to book three before things really pick up big time. What I particularly like about this series is you watch all the characters evolve over the entire story arc, and theres an underlying story thats carried through from book to book, even if each book might focus on one specific situation. The story also starts to get pretty dark midway through the series and by the time you catch up to the latest works, everything is only gritty and gray including characters, choices, and setting.

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33

The Grim Company

(Luke Scull)
(The Grim Company)
Two books out so far and some real sharp reading this one is. 

Luke Scull writes heavily in the tradition of Joe Abercrombie, so much so that part way into The Grim Company, you could swear Abercrombie is the author. Really, I was quite taken aback at how great The Grim Company was and the sequel, Sword of the North, is even better. 

So...if you love grimdark and The First Law trilogy is the apple of your fantasy eye, then don't even think about hesitating on this book -- pick this one up as your next read before anything else on this list as you are guaranteed to love it.

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34
A wonderfully beautiful novel that explores the ideas of myth and reality and the connection between the two. You'll find here a hauntingly story about a primeval forest somewhere undefined in the heart of the English countryside, a place where every human myth created by man over human history survives in this strange forest; the deeper you travel into it, the deeper into the mythic past of mankind you embark.

A journey into the heart of Mythago Wood is a journey into the mythos of mankind, for in this forest is contained every myth from every culture that every was and ever will be; and the further you go, the deeper into mythic history you go till you read the one true myth before all myths

This series concerns itself with mythological archetypes that are given life in a primeval forest somewhere in England. There are a number of books in the series that explore this concept, but the best is the first one which reads as a sort of mysterious and lucid adventure tale.

The first book in the series Mythago Wood is the best and a remarkably  beautiful and wonderfully evocative read. The novel recounts one mans journey into the heart of this primeval forest as he searches for his kidnapped love a mythical Celtic princess he meets on the edge of Mythago Wood, given life by the power of the forest itself.

The first book ever remains one of my favorite novels in the fantasy genre. I'm just disappointed the author didn't really create a direct sequel to it. It's been many, many years since I first read this book, but it's one of those books that's still stuck with me even now over a decade after reading. That my friends is the power of this book -- it's poetry for the soul and fire for the imagination. 

Read it if you want to be haunted for years by the story.

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35

Chronicles Of Narnia

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

Nearly half a century ago, fantasy was dividing into two fantasy worlds: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia has entertained generations of children and continues to do so even to this day.

For those who dislike books written in heavy allegory, especially heavy religious allegory, it's best to avoid this series -- you're going to get upset. However, above the layer of allegory is a fantastic tale of magic and adventure. Narnia may not be as complicated as the new generation of fantasy, but as an old classic that's made its mark for decades, it should be read -- if only to your children at night.

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36

The Cold Fire Trilogy

(C.S. Friedman)
(The Coldfire)

Dark, epic fantasy that's really quite different from any other fantasy series out there -- a tasty recipe that combines the best of the horror, fantasy, and Gothic genres. This is one epic fantasy that stands wholly original, untainted by the scent of unoriginality present in most fantasy books released these days. Friedman creates a vivid and fascinating world, a world where human imagination actually has the power to create reality. Of course, the human psyche being what it is, the world is not a paradise, but rather a dark and sinister place; a place where man's own imagination has become an enemy. With a flawed anti-hero, compelling characters, and an outright fascinating world, this series delivers something special. I heartily recommend this superlative fantasy series.

And apparently, author is hard at work on a NEW book in this series as of 2015.

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This is a series that's fallen a bit by the wayside in that many don't know about it. But it's a rare treat for those who want a well drawn dark fantasy tale with elements of horror. This is a tale that's moody and suspenseful following a path laid out by Edgar Allen Poe, especially the first book. It's a disturbing tale that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. The story itself is entertaining, but the series also brings up some deeper issues such as what is gender, and do the means always justify the ends. Lyn Flewelling puts a twist on the story around book two which gives the whole tale a whole new spin. 

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A magnificent series of adventure, magic, and revenge with one of the most unique magic systems in the fantasy genre. Mistborn is the story of a band of wizards fighting a hopeless battle against an invincible mage tyrant. The interesting cast of characters and strong plotting makes this one book you have to pick up. Those looking for a strong epic fantasy series should check this one out. 

Despite everyone going gaga over Sanderson's new Stormlight Archive saga (which as of this updated writing has two books out), there is a certain power to the Mistborn books that Sanderson has not yet replicated in his later works. Call me nostalgic towards Sanderson's earliest work, but I think it's true! Either way, if you haven't read Mistborn trilogy yet, make it your next read.

What's also interesting is that Sanderson is turning the Mistborn world into a set of three trilogies -- with the first trilogy set in mythical times, the second trilogy (which has as of 2015 one book out and two on the way) set in a pseudo streampunk wild west hundreds of years later, and a future trilogy set in modern times or in futuristic science fiction setting. Awesome!

So you might as well read the original trilogy to get it out of the way! 

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39

Powder Mage Trilogy

(Brian McClellan)
(The Powder Mage)
A series of pure awesomeness. If you love the action, magic, and adventure of a Sanderson novel, you'll love the Powder Mage trilogy. The magic system is one of the more unique types I've read about in the genre. The dark, gritty world, and depressed characters who populate it also make this series a great place to dally in but not one you ever want to live in!

For explosive action, magical battles, a dark, depressing world on the verge of collapse, and some kick ass heroes who tear shit up in a big way, pick this series up.

Books in The Powder Mage Series (3)

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40

The Bartimaeus Trilogy

(Jonathan Stroud)

(The Bartimaeus)

My pick out there for the best YA fantasy series hands down. The characters are wonderfully complex and greatly evolve over the course of the story. The premise of the story is unique too, as is the setting. This is no light read -- the story gradually gets darker and darker. There is plenty of action and you'll never get bored. Just make sure you have plenty of time -- once you start the series, you'll finish it.

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41

It seems that most of the fantasy authors get paid by the word. The shoddy fantasy is a reflection of that fact. Some authors take pride in their work, and write...art. Guy Gavriel Kay is one such writer. He doesn't always write the most popular kinds of fantasy, but every book he writes is imbued with intelligence, wit, and a beautiful story.

The Fiovanar Tapestry is one of the most underrated fantasy series out there. The quality of the writing is a few miles above the normal standards. Kay IS a wordsmith, his writing is sometimes lyrical and always beautiful. His characters are crafted with care, and there's always a number of complex and interweaving plots. It's not uncommon for one sentence to foreshadow major events that happen hundreds of pages later. When you read Kay, you're missing out if you don't pay attention to every sentence. If you are looking for some fluff fantasy to skim over, I suggest you look at some other fantasy options. Kay writes books that are meant to be read -- every word and every sentence.

The Fionavar Tapestry is high fantasy, but it's probably a sort of epic fantasy you are not used to. Still, if you are looking for a character-driven, realistically portrayed (as funny as that sounds) epic fantasy, I can't recommend anything better than this series.

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Politics, magic and sexuality burst from the seams of this one. This series has garnered a fantastic reputation over the years its been out. 

Read if you want complex politics, an pseudo alternate Italian/Spanish Renascence setting, deep, complex characters, a heavy focus on complicated romantic relationships, and lots of graphic kinky sex. 

I'd say if there was a 50 Shades of Grey of the Fantasy World, well the Kushiel's Legacy books would be it -- though a much deeper, more complex, and better written version of them -- and a hell of a lot longer too.

The Kushiel Legacy Books consist of three trilogies (but read the very first book Kushiel's Dart and see how you like), listed in order below:

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A lot of people call Kearney's Monarchies of God 'A Game of Thrones Lite.' And for the most part, this is true. There are a five books (each only a few hundred words) with a hell of a meaty story packed in between the pages. I've said so before about this series on other lists: it's one of the more underrated series in the genre. It may not be as complex as some of the newer fantasy today, but if you want an epic fantasy with kingdom's clashing, big battles, strange magics, and mysterious lands to explore, well Kearney's book won't disappoint you.

It's a great series to read in between some of the other more emotionally taxing series out there.  

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A great series in the same style as Lord of the Rings and the Wizard of Earthsea. It's the story of the Riddle-Master of Hed, Morgan, who has an unknown destiny. You see, he himself is a riddle, a man born with three mysterious stars on his head. And to solve the greatest riddle of all -- himself -- he will change the world forever.

The book is one of the great modern fantasy trilogies. My recommendation is that you only read it when you don't have to work the next day -- it's very hard to put this series down once you start, so be prepared for a LONG reading session. 

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45

The Seven Waters Trilogy

(Juliet Marillier)

(Sevenwaters)

There's quite a lot of Celtic fantasy out there, but this one takes the cake as some of the best written. It's a deep and involving story that spans several generations over the three books, with each book about a different character. It's a lovely tale that's a twist on a fairy tale story set in a Celtic world on the cusp of change. What really stands out are the characters, though. It's not always a happy story that's told, but by the end of it all, you'll care deeply for each of the characters.

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46

Abhorsen Trilogy

(Garth Nix)
(Abhorsen)

A dark epic fantasy tale about a girl who will go into the land of the dead to save her father. It's an exciting adventure that's also scary. Nix is a talented author who has an excellent command of the English language -- and the man uses his abilities to great effect in this series.

While this series is classified as Young Adult fantasy, it can be read and appreciated by all ages. Just make sure you read this series with the lights dimmed -- you're going to be in for a good scare!

If you want a really chilling feeling, get the Audiobook version of the series. The narrator does a superb job and the tale seems even more scary. 

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47

I can't say enough good things about this amazing fantasy series except that the author has gone completely AWOL and, as of 2015, looks like she's pretty much abandoned writing at this point.

At one point, maybe close to 10 years ago, I considered it one of the best fantasy series out there. These days, the series is still good but against some of the new wave of awesome fantasy that's come out the past 10 years, is only so so. 

Regardless, Sword of Shadows is a great read for all. And, for some reason, it's not on too many radars, perhaps because J.V. Jones took 5 years between sequels, but I remain firm in my conviction that this series is one of the better 'classic good guy versus bad guy' series (no grey ambiguity with the heroes here, the the setting is gritty). 

The landscape and setting and different cultures/peoples are unique enough in their own right, but the vicious, dark action, very strong cast of characters, and enticing plot really draw you in.

So, pick it up if you find the series on the cheap, just realize that only 4 books are out and the last book doesn't look like it's ever going to be finished. The author recently posted on her almost abandoned blog that she's currently been hard at work on BOOK 5. Finally!

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48

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow... 

Despite the inevitable flood of protests I'll get by including this on the list, Robert Jordan has really defined the modern epic fantasy genre. I've stated it before, but I'll say it again: despite the problems and controversies of how Jordan has handled the story (it's agreed that the first 5 books are pretty good, the later 6 or so really lose track), this series is "the" epic fantasy series of our generation. Robert Jordan has pretty much taken up the cloak that Tolkien left and stretched out so wide the very seams threaten to tear. I can confidently say that no other story is as large as WOT. Indeed, you'll need a backpack to carry Jordan's entire story, literally. Those who like their fantasy big, with dozens of realms, a huge cast of characters, and plenty of magic, politics, and adventure, WOT delivers. This book defines what classic epic fantasy is folks, for better or for worse. You will find peoples opinion sharply divided about whether WOT has imploded under the too-many plot threads of the story, but without a doubt, WOT is a seminal work of epic fantasy and is a must-read book for every epic fantasy lover.

If you are looking for new variations on the epic fantasy genre, there are several authors and books who have done some interesting things, but if you want something "classic", the Wheel of Time is the best you'll find. I'm sure not having this in the top 5 will offend his fans, while even including the WOT will invariably offend others.

But if you want to read epic classic fantasy with a huge cast of characters who move from sheepherders and blacksmiths to great men of importance in a huge detailed world, and on whom the fate of a world and all the worlds that will ever be rest, then read this. This is about as epic as classic fantasy comes.

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49

Worldbreaker Saga

(Kameron Hurley)
(Worldbreaker)
Released in 2014 to critical acclaim, Kameron Hurley's epic really pushes the fantasy boundaries with some new ideas. Her first book completely wowed the fantasy world, though we'll see what happens with book two.

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50

Tyrants And Kings

(John Marco)
(Tyrants And Kings)

Military fantasy with some great characterization, gray characters, and a lot of plot twists the whole way through. The author takes great pains to create most characters as morally ambiguous simple humans fighting to survive in a world that rewards the bad and punishes the good. This series hasn't gotten the sort of attention it deserves. So if you are looking for a well-written good character-driven epic of love and war, treachery and betrayal, this one comes recommended.

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51

This YA series has been around for a while now but still makes for some scintillating reading despite its age. It's a book that despite the evolution of the genre is still just as good as when it first came out. Some argue that Susan Cooper is one of the direct successors to Tolkien (she studied under him in university). The series has some very strong characters with a lot of depth to each of them. This is more complex fantasy on the whole than is Harry Potter. 

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52

The Night Watch

(Sergei Lukyanenko)
(Watch )
Russian fantasy comes to the West. There's something beautiful about a melancholy tale and Sergei Lukyanenko captures this perfectly with his 'Night Watch' books. Perhaps it takes someone who comes from a land that's suffered so much loss like Russia to write a book like this. Whatever the case, I'm glad it's been written.

The Night Watch is a different sort of fantasy tale -- it takes a world that's divided up between those who have magical abilities and those who don't. The gifted humans are divided into 'The Night' and 'The Light', but as you find out, these are only terms. The good and bad is just a matter of perspective.

If you want some real sophisticated Urban Fantasy that's deep and will have you thinking just as much as it entertains you, then check The Night Watch Books out.  

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53

Tales Of The Ketty Jay

(Chris Wooding)

(Tales of the Ketty Jay)

Some pretty compelling stuff in this series is its beautiful prose, imaginative scenes, and hilarious action that will have you giggling as you struggle to turn the pages faster.

The key word when describing this series is 'fun and funny.' 

Indeed, I've heard this series described as a cross between the Firefly TV series combined with the character Jack Sparrow. The crew is a motley mishmash of different characters who all form a cohesive unit when one of them lands in trouble.  

The plot is nothing new but the setting, characters, and story fit so well together that it just works. The premise of the first book in the series follows the crew of the Ketty Jay as they struggle hand to mouth to keep afloat; when they see a get rich quick scheme to end their financial woes for good, they take it, only to find out it was a horrible mistake that gets them framed for a crime they did not commit. This forces them to go on the run -- they have to prove their innocence before they are killed.

You won't find anything new or unique in the book; it's not deep, intellectual or anything to write to your English teacher about, but it's a fast paced, entertaining and wildly funny tale that refuses to slow down once you get past the first 100 pages or so. 

What's particularly entertaining is to watch the crew jump from one bad misadventure to another even worse catastrophe. The Tales of the Ketty Jay really brings to mind the sort of comedic misadventures (though less dark) of Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamora books.

The biggest crime is that the author has not yet added anything new to this series in a while.

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54

The Deed Of Paksenarrion

(Elizabeth Moon)

(The Deed Of Paksenarrion)

A twist on the classic epic fantasy conceits. Moon takes many of the best elements from the genre and puts her own unique spin on them. This is a compelling story about a woman who rises above the limitations of her class and gender to become a legend. Fans of military fantasy will really enjoy this one as quite a bit of the novel follows the protagonists life among the military. This is a gritty novel in a lot of ways, as Moon does not try to beautify what is ugly. 

The heroine evolves with the story; she starts off wide-eyed and ignorant at the beginning, but grows into maturity and knowledge as the story progresses. It's very interesting to see how the events in the story affect the protagonists psyche. 

One of the best fantasy series out there with a deeply developed and kick-ass heroine; along with other female-centric greats like The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Mary Gentry's Ash: The Secret History, and Deerskin, The Deed of Paksenarrion is widely regarded by many as a modern classic. 

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55

One of the more unique epic fantasy series out there. Unlike your standard generic Tolkienized medieval landscape series, it introduces an ancient alternate Rome where magic works. The magic system itself is quite unique, where humans gain access to special powers through magical creatures bound to the elements called Furies. Someone whos bound to an earth Fury will have powers over the earth and superhuman strength. Someone bound to a wind Fury will have powers over the wind. Special individuals can have two or even more Furies giving them control over multiple elements.

Written by the same guy whos behind The Dresden Files, this series is some good stuff. Lots of military action combined with an epic struggle the world.

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56

A Raven's Shadow

(Anthony Ryan)
(A Raven Shadow)
The first book in the series (The Blood Song) was a remarkable work and hailed as a successor to Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind -- both books had a similar feel in tone, style, and plot. The Blood Song pretty much was everyone's favorite book for almost two years. 

Until the sequel came out in 2014 and disappointed everyone as much as the first book impressed. I won't go into why the second book was so bad, but needless to say, it wasn't a good read. There's still hope with his upcoming third book where Ryan can redeem himself and prove he's not a one hit wonder, so we'll see what happen then.

In the meantime, do read the first book. It's awesome.

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This series wins big points for originality here. The premise itself sounds, on the surface, ridiculously unbelievable: a world where all humans have the attributes of different insects.

However, the author does a very good job at realizing this unique setting fully. While you initially expect the series to be kind of silly the author skillfully makes everything believable.

The author, in place of magic, gives every race unique powers (called insect kinden. The idea is that each human insect race gains strengths and weaknesses along the lines of that insect behavior. Beetles are good with tech, ants at warfare, and spiders at politics.

Its an interesting concept, but it really forces characters into archetypal groups rather than let them develop as individual characters with unique abilities and personalities.

The series is a mix of weird and brilliant. Some may love it and others not. On the whole though, great world building and an interesting, even gripping story. There are some pretty wicked battle scenes too.

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58

The Book Of Jhereg

(Steven Brust)
(Vlad Taltos)

Some pretty compelling action hero fantasy staring an anti-hero criminal. Unlike some of the other anti-hero fantasy (Prince of Thorns, Thomas Covenant, Heroes Die), the anti-hero has a good mix of admirable qualities rather than being straight out badass. Steven Brust doesn't really get the acclaim he deserves, and he's really not well known outside the circle of his select fans. But give this series a chance and you'll find yourself pretty captivated by the whole thing. 

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59

The Inheritance Trilogy

(N. K. Jemisin)

(The Inheritance)

One of the more beautifully written fantasy series. Jemisin knows how to write, and write well. The words are just as beautiful as the tale is. If you like romantic fantasy, gods interacting with humans, and a strong intelligent female protagonist and political scheming aplenty, The Inheritance Trilogy is just your cup of tea.

Books in The Inheritance Series (3)

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60
The first book was pure awesomeness -- that pure intersection between military strategy, adventure, and unbridled action with a cast of interestingly complex characters. The first book's desert setting was pretty interesting too as was the story of several companies fleeing a city through an impossible desert, hounded on all sides by enemies, both human and magical.

The sequel was a good but the setting, and urban one, was not as enticing as the first book's desert. Still, a good read. Overall, an interesting take on the fantasy genre and one of the better new fantasy series to be released the past five years.

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61

The Traitor Son Cycle

(Miles Cameron)
(The Traitor Son)
A book with a lot of sword and sorcery action set in a meticulously drawn medieval setting. The author is an actual medieval historian and his attention to realistic medieval details are quite thorough. 

This is what you get when a historical fiction writer takes on epic fantasy.

Then there's an inventive magic system, a large large cast of heroes (hey, why have one hero when you can have like 9), evil monsters to kill, beautiful ladies of the court to woo, and deadly invasions from monstrous to prevent. There's a lot of detailed military strategy (the first book is almost entirely about a siege of a castle by monsters, defended by knights) thrown in, a kick ass hero captain with some awesome powers, and plenty of squad dynamics (kind of like The Black Company). There's a lot of different elements and genres thrown into a single book and it all somehow works.

One of the more impressive new fantasy epics, with two books out now. I highly recommend it if you want a fantasy with some real action, grit, set in an interesting medieval war.

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62

A beloved fantasy series by all who've read it, though few modern fantasy readers have read it. This is probably one of the best hidden epic fantasy gems out there right now and you would do well to get your hands on this series.

The basic premise sounds petty hackneyed: a stable boy, a princess, imps, dwarves and an evil king. But this is Dave Duncan we are talking about here who can write anything about everything and make it into an addicting read.

Duncan manages to take those worn-out fantasy conceits and twist them around into something completely new and utterly enthralling. This is some stellar heroic fantasy that will absolutely keep you turning the pages. 

The world-building is great and the cast of characters, especially the lovable hero Hap, are just great. I'm also a big fan of the magic system which stands out as one of the more unique magic systems in the genre, right up there with Sanderson's Allomancy (Mistborn) and Farland's Rune Magic (Rune Lords), and Week's color magic from his Lightbringer books.

You won't go wrong reading this; if you are looking for your next epic fantasy fix, this should be your next read. There is a sequel series, A Handful of Men that continues the story of the first series years later. The first series is better, though.

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Mark Lawrence's newest anti-hero fantasy, with the first book out so far (2015 as of this writing). It's not as good or genre pushing as his first trilogy The Broken Empire but it's still an awesome read.

Lawrence writes a very different sort of hero character this time around -- rather than a sadistic amoral Prince who fucks everything in his way, we have another prince who runs from all his problems. It's a much funnier read than The Broken Empire books -- so funny I was boiling over with laughter at several points during the first book The Prince of Fools.

Worth reading? You bet. 

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64

A Tale Of The King's Blades

(Dave Duncan)

(King's Blades)

Duncans managed to make this list with 3 series. Kings Blades are some sword-heavy fantasy for those who like fantasy full of swashbuckling, politics, and raw action. This is not epic fantasy as much as it is an action political fantasy thats heavy on the heroics.
You might think of this something as a fantasy version of The Three Musketeers. Like all Duncans books, well plotted, well written, with an interesting world. And of course, always well developed and compelling characters, especially the protagonist. 

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65
This series (2 books so far) is an awesome read if you like gritty fantasy about the underside life of a city. We're talking about thieves, crooks, spies, gangs, pimps, and the like. Tossed into the middle of a rat-infested slum area is Drothe our likable but rather un-extraordinary protagonist. This is a fast-paced series pretty much from the get go and has our hero trying to stay alive from the start till the very end of the book.

If you are fan of Week's Night Angel trilogy, the Vlad Taltos books, or the Thieve's World books, you are going to love Tale of the Kin. Heck, even if you are not a fan of those books, you'll still probably love Tale of the Kin.

Book two is even better than the first book, so as of 2015, the very high standards set by the first book have been maintained.

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66

The Second Sons Trilogy

(Jennifer Fallon)

(The Second Sons )

Fallon has written quite a few fantasy books (most of them with a heavy romantic bent to them), but her Second Son's trilogy is her best work and a remarkable set of books at that.

It's a low fantasy world (a fantastical world but one where there is no magic) with some seriously well drawn, complex characters.

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If Harry Dresden has a doppelganger in the genre, it's probably Alex Verus. Take all the elements of Harry Dresden, then make the hero less powerful and lot more ruthless and you have the Alex Verus series.

This is my new favorite Urban Fantasy. I love Jim Butcher, but his work has gone a bit downhill with his series lacking focus at this point. Alex Verus (for now) is a sharper read. What's also interesting is Verus' magical power, which is only his ability to see into the near future. Outside of this power, he's completely helpless against the more regular magic types. But the way Verus uses his power (and strategy) to beat impossible odds make these books wildly entertaining.

If you love Dresden, you absolutely have to start reading Alex Verus.

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Some of the best characterization in the fantasy genre. Fans of Fitz Chivalry will find themselves right at home in this series. 

This is a series of three books that are connected, though each features a different character. 

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69
I read the fist in the series, Scourge of the Betrayer, late 2014 and was blown away with how good Salyards' tale was. A sort of a cross between The Black Company, The Blade Itself, and Prince of Thorns, Scourge of the Betrayers impressed the hell out of me. And the sequel, which was released in 2014 was even better than the first book.

So if you have any love of gritty grimdark, you owe it to yourself to pick up Scourge of the Betrayer and the even better sequel Veil of the Deserters. Even more, if you love Glen Cook, Joe Abercrombie, Luke Sculls, or Mark Lawrence, you are going to have a serious hard on for Salyards.

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Most people will have heard of The Witcher from the video games; the video games are based on the popular Witcher books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. 

These books have been gaining quite a following in the past couple years for good reason; The Witcher books are very good indeed, taking some of the fantasy concepts you are used to in the west but introducing a different perspective to it. It's a refreshing change and the books bring a different perspective to the fantasy world you may be used too.

Dark, gritty, depressing, and troubling, The Witcher books are a must read for any fantasy fan.

It can be a bit difficult figuring out where to start in the Witcher Saga because a number of the books for the series have not yet been (officially) translated into English just yet -- so there are 'gaps' in the series. 

Start with The Last Wish, then Blood of Elves, then Time of Contempt, then Baptism of Fire, but just realize there are some gaps between, before, and after these books. Note that All of his books are officially being translated, so it's just a matter of time before the chronological saga will be completed in English. 

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71

The Drenai Saga

(David Gemmell)
(Drenai )
Gemmell's lifework and the gold standard of heroic fantasy. You can't mention heroic fantasy without following it up with Gemmell's name. The series is uneven with some books remarkably better than others. Overall, the first book Legend is what made Gemmell's career and stands as the fan favorite. 

Waylander is another one of the standouts in the series -- a book about the slow redemption of an amoral assassin who's give a chance to protect instead of kill for once.

His most recent work (the series he was writing when he passed away) The Troy trilogy stands out as Gemmell's best work so far, really showing his maturity as a writer. 

Still, Legend stand forth as a true 'legend' in the genre and absolutely must be read, even if it's not Gemmell's best work.

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This is a different sort of fantasy and helped solidify the New Weird / Slipstream movement. The New Crobuzon novels are loosely connected (set in the same world), with the first being Perdido Street Station. It's hard to explain Mieville's work -- it's a combination of the bizarre, the familiar, and the totally weird. But everything somehow fits right together in the end. And the writing is good, so very good. Beautiful metaphors and similes dance from the pages. Prose so sharp it almost cuts. and keeps you turning the pages. 

The books take a bit to get into due to the utter weirdness of the characters and the landscape, but after a bit of time the environment starts to sink in. The plots are always strong, however. 

All in all, the series is as grand as it is grotesque and gaudy, and the whole tale is captivating. I'll be the first to admit that China Mieville is a polarizing author and his works are definitely not for everyone. I recommend you start with his Perdido Street Station for a good introduction to his style of writing. If you don't like this book, then you probably won't like his other books. His most interesting book is The City and The City, which is a pseudo science fiction read, but quite remarkable.

His New Crobuzon books require you to put some work into and just slow down your reading pace and let the words, story, and setting wash over you. If you do, you'll be in for something special. 

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73

Troy Trilogy

(David Gemmell)
(Troy)
The best of Gemmell's work -- and the last of his work too. Troy is a retelling of the Greek tale of Troy, but done told in such a refreshing way that it's not a simple repeat of the age-old tale we've all watched a number of big budget Hollywood dramas portray.

If you like Gemmell, then this series is an absolute must read. It showcases the best of what Gemmell is/was capable of and it's a damn sweet tale about heroes, done in that classic way only Gemmell can do right.

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74

Feist has quite a few Midkemia books, but his Riftwar books (starting with Magican: Master and Magician Apprentice) are by far the best of the bunch (with the exception of the even better Empire trilogy). Riftwar tells the classic tale of a group of callow characters who, over the course of a few books, become powerful forces who battle to save the world from destruction. This (especially the two Magician Books) is classic epic fantasy and it's mostly very well done. You get all those worn cliche's - castle boy becomes hero, stirring dark forces creeping in to destroy the land, a princess in need of rescue, an ancient wizard mentor, etc, but Feist puts enough zest and passion into the whole tale that it works pretty well. Definitely one of the best classic farm-boy-to-hero epic fantasy tales out there. If you love the likes of The Wheel of Time, The Death Gate Cycle, and Way of Kings, you'll probably be slathering all over this series.

I personally don't like pretty much any of Feist's other Midkemia books; if you really fall in love with the world, characters and stories, you can continue on with other books which follow some of the events (sometimes decades or hundreds of years later after the original Riftwar books). But they all lack the initial spark the first few books had, I find.

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75
Kind of a whimsical fantasy, but so very cleverly done. A self referential work about a world where the boundaries between fiction and reality are blurred, with characters able to step into books and characters from books able to step out of them.

Confused? So is everyone. But pick this clever series up and it will somehow make sense.

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76

The Erebus Sequence

(Den Patrick)
(Erebus Sequence)
I was quite impressed with the first book, The Boy with a Porcelain Blade which told an awesome coming of age tale set in a dark, twisted Italian Renaissance world gone wrong. It combined a macabre setting, The Three Musketeer's level of awesome sword action, political scheming, with a likable hero. 

The second book was released January 2015.

For a solid coming of age tale, awesomely unique setting, and a story where a lot of horrible depressing shit happens, pick this one up. And did I mention there's almost a pedantic detail given to fencing? 

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77

Generally regarded, along with A Man of His Word, as Duncans best work. This is some of the best sword and sorcery fantasy youll read, period.

The premise is that a dying man with very few abilities to recommend him as special gets transported into another dimension/world into the body of a warrior, Shonshu by a God who is in fact looking for a pawn. Shonshu is no mere warrior, however. Rather, hes a Swordsman of the Seventh Rank and in a brutal, feudal world where top class hierarchy is associated with martial prowess, Wallie as Shonshu now stands at the pinnacle.
Its a wildly entertaining ride though a vaguely medieval landscape mixed in with a faint Oriental influence. Combine it with a myriad of Greek and Roman gods who take an active role in the whole story. Wallie brings his modern sensibilities to a medieval world which makes for some interesting scenes as the books progress. But you also see the character grow and evolve too. The characters are quite well done as are the relationships.

The series has a multi-leveled plot all the way through and there are enough twists going on that keep you suspended right until the final page. 
There is a faint D&D feel going on behind the scenes with the characters martial abilities represented by different sword levels tattooed on their heads. You get to watch your own protagonist (game character) power up through the levels as the series progresses. However, this novel is a far, far cry from those tie-in game knockoff novels.

So if you are looking for some absolutely fantastic sword and sorcery fantasy with a cross-over twist, this series is a must. Hell, even if you dont like sword and sorcery, read it I dont care whether you like A Game of Thrones, hate or love The Wheel of Time, this series will appeal to you.

After a few decades, Duncan recently released a new book in the series entitled The Death of Nnanji.

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Sullivan was a self-published author who was, after years of persistence, able to land a contract with a publishing company.

The series have garnered a lot praise over the past few years. The books are fairly light reading --  the characters are over the top as is the action. You might think of it as an entertaining light action romp with quite a bit of humor. Fans of say, Brent Weeks and Scott Lynch (Lynchs books are more complex with better prose, however) will appreciate the series.

So for some fun, quick, light reading, give The Riyria Revelations a go.

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79

An ambitious and engrossing post-apocalyptic meets steampunk fantasy series that seems to be doing all the right things. You might think of it as a cross between A Song of Ice and Fire and Lions of al-Rassan.

The premise itself: ancient technology has destroyed one of the great cities of the world, Windwir, also the repository of all the knowledge in the world. The leaders of the Named Lands will see justice done; conflict is brewing and every kingdom in the Name Lands will play the great game of politics and war.

This series is one of the better political fantasies to grace the bookshelves since A Song of Ice and Fire. This is a rich fantasy with many layers of plot to it with complex, fascinating characters -- some of which will actually die (again, like Martin's series). 

It's not for everyone and the series is a bit uneven the whole way through. But if you want something a bit...different, then I do recommend you give this series a go.

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A strange mix of post-apocalyptic and steampunk fantasy, but a rewarding one. In a futuristic world, the sun is dying out and the world is slowly turning to ice with the few wealthy preparing for the ice age, while the rest of humanity will be left to die. 

Standing on the edge of this depressing and doomed world is the great city of Villjamur. Its a city of great potential that juxtaposes the wondrous and the horrible a metaphor perhaps for man himself. Its a city and land where the goal is to survive. The world is populated mostly by humans but there are a few sentient machines around too. 

The plot is complex with a number of things going on: 

This is a complex and ambitious piece of fantasy which is both a good and a bad thing. The author presents a world on the edge of an ice age (the Freeze) where the privileged few are preparing for a few decades of difficulty while many of the rest of the unfortunate population will be left to their own devices. This is a world populated mainly by humans, but there are a few sentient non-humans in the cast too which makes for a potentially more interesting set of characters.

The basic plot is something weve seen before: murder, mystery, mayhem  and magic.  But into the mix are added scheming politicians, imperial politics, deadly soldier assassins, weird religions and crazy cultists. 

So if you fancy dark fantasy tale set on an exotic landscape with strange alien races, steampunk and magic, murder and mysteries, youll  love this series. You might think of this series as a cross between Jack  Vances Dying Earth, China Mieville

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81

Books Of The Cataclysm

(Sean Williams)

(Books of the Cataclysm)

A compelling re-telling of stories of heaven, hell, the afterlife and beyond. I dont think there is any other story out there quit e like this one. Plenty of authors have played around with the concept of death and the afterlife, but few have created a universe quite like Williams as found in The Crooked Letter.

The Crooked Letter, the first segue into the world of the Cataclysm series, is the deeply spooky end-of-the-world tale of twins who find out that death and life are full of surprises. The concept of an afterlife not based entirely on the Jewish heaven and hell constructs is one that the novel devotes a significant portion to exploring.

For one, dying brings you to an afterlife one or two afterlives that is a magical world where the laws of physics are replaced by the power of will. Things in heaven are not well, however. Theres a war going on between the residents of the second realm and an entity thats seeking to destroy both the second realm and leap to the first realm. Heaven now looks like hell and the first realm (earth) has been taken along for the ride when the two realms collide.

Its an entertaining book that aggregates a number of different folklore myths with elements of Germanic, Greek, Celtic, and Jewish folklore imbued into the story.

Beyond the mere story of two brothers caught in the middle of a struggle between different realms and basically trying to understand what the hell is going on, all the while surviving, theres a lot of other stuff going on too.

The book explores themes such as ones concept of a freely determined self, the difference between body and spirit, God, heaven, and hell.

It takes a while to figure out just what the hell is going on in the story, but once you do, its a darkly gripping adventure with elements of fantasy and horror. You wont read anything quite like this.

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82

This is Le Modessits best work so far. Its not a standout fantasy series, but it is pretty entertaining. Modessits fantasy typically features a young callow boy who rises through the ranks to become a power player in society, usually because of a few aces up the sleeve brilliant tactical abilities and powerful hidden magic abilities. The Imager Portfolio follows the same sort of formula, but Modessit creates an interesting world full of rigid social orders and class politics. Into this maelstrom of nascent social conflict, our hero is thrust to change the political and magical landscape.

A good series to read, especially if you want a fantasy that deals more with human conflict than any sort of defeat-the-dark power conceit that the typical fantasy novel incorporates. Definetly read this if you love his Recluce books. 

I'd say the Imager Portfolio series is better overall -- more complex heroes dealing with more complex issues.

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83

Deverry Series

(Katharine Kerr)
(Deverry)

A series retells over and over the tale of two lovers (and the characters important to them) who meet and fall in love again and again over the course of centuries. Its a lovers tale thats bound to the concept of reincarnation, fate, destiny and unfinished business.

Its an interesting concept, and Kerr really makes the whole thing work again and again over the course of the series. And while you are reading about the same souls in every book, the general stories are different.

The language is quite poetic descriptive and distinctly Celtic and the characters are all so well done. If you like well done romantic fantasy, this is a series youll enjoy. Much recommended if you enjoy books by Kate Elliott and Marion Zimmer Bradley as some of their books have a somewhat similar feel in tone, setting, and content. If you are looking for raw action, gray characters, and epic world shaking events, this series is not for you. But if you want a sweetly romantic series, read it.A series retells over and over the tale of two lovers (and the characters important to them) who meet and fall in love again and again over the course of centuries. Its a lovers tale thats bound to the concept of reincarnation, fate, destiny and unfinished business.

Its an interesting concept, and Kerr really makes the whole thing work again and again over the course of the series. And while you are reading about the same souls in every book, the general stories are different.

The language is quite poetic descriptive and distinctly Celtic and the characters are all so well done. If you like well done romantic fantasy, this is a series youll enjoy. Much recommended if you enjoy books by Kate Elliott and Marion Zimmer Bradley as some of their books have a somewhat similar feel in tone, setting, and content. If you are looking for raw action, gray characters, and epic world shaking events, this series is not for you. But if you want a sweetly romantic series, read it.

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84

Black Jewels Trilogy

(Anne Bishop)
(The Black Jewels)
This one is solidly a romance fantasy, but a well written one at that. There's a lot of angst and a lot of drama to be found here. The world is interesting, a dark and twisted place where women (who are powerful) are regularly brutalized to keep their powers in check. There's an interesting magic system, lots of romance, well developed characters, and a gripping story. This is definitely one of the best fantasy series I've read with a strong romantic bent. 

Do read this one if you like The Seven Waters trilogy or Bujold's The Curse of Chalion.

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This series has mixed reviews. Its pretty much the same tale told again and again with very little changed from book to book. Take a callow boy, force him into the wider, unforgiving world, give him nascent magic abilities that eventually become god-like, and have the character overturn the status quo system of the day and you have a Recluce novel.

Now thats not to say the series is not entertaining the first few books are good reading. But the recycled plot archetypes start wearing on you a few books down. At like about 18 or so books (at time of writing this in 2015) in this series out so far, you might start pulling your hair out unless you

Youll probably enjoy them if you like the world and magic system the author creates everything is internally consistent and the author tells stories that span thousands of years from the start of the series to the end (and not necessarily in the books chronologically published order). 

All and all, the Recluse is not a bad series at all -- there's just nothing new in the sort of story told after a couple books in. But I do confess, I do keep up with the newest books in the series as they come out, even if I don't particularly enjoy the stories all that much anymore. The good news is that you can pretty much just cherry pick what you want to read as each tale is distinct with some of the stories broken down into two books at most. You only need to read ALL of them if you want to get a sense of the whole, detailed history of the Recluse world, from founding to the present.

If you want to give this series a go, start with The Magic of Recluce. 

To help you guys cherry pick the best of the bunch, I've created a mini 'Guide to the Best of the Recluce' Books here. The most interesting of the 18 books are:

  • The Magic of Recluse (the original book, and a good introduction to the world) 
  • Fall of Angels (this is the origin story of the Recluse world)
  • Magi'i of Cyador (set in one of the earliest periods in Recluse history, this one will give your military fantasy/squad combat aficionados your fix as quite a bit of the story deals with a young commander working his way up the ranks in the military)
  • Ordermaster (a middle-aged hero, finally)
  • Mage-Guard of Hamor (a selfish hero who causes a lot of harm before he learns his lesson -- this is the closest you are going to find to the author attempting a more 'complicated' character in the Recluse series).

Books in The Saga Of Recl... Series (18)

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This naval epic fantasy series is a boatload of fun. Its one of the more refreshing grand epic fantasy tales released in the past couple of years with a motley cast of zany and unique characters all sharing space -- not always willingly -- on a giant ship sailing across a vast unknowable sea. 

There are mad god kings, treacherous empowers, evil sorcerers, wizards from other dimensions, conniving ship boys, ruthless pirate captains, talking rats and sword-wielding thumb-sized human. This is a book that packs a lot of plot and characters onto every page. 

You might think of this as Redwall meets Malazan Book of the Fallen in some respects; the comparison doesn't exactly work, but its got some similar elements.

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