Post your own Top 25 Best Fantasy Books

ABatch

Journeyed there and back again
My list is kind of eccentric; it reflects series I enjoyed at different stages in the development of my taste as a reader of fantasy. These are works that, for whatever reason, have stayed with me longer than many others. I probably can't articulate what I liked about them, and I certainly can't defend them. They are what they are!

LOTR -- That guy
Most of Abercrombie
The Elric Saga -- Moorcock
GoT -- George R. R. Martin
Malazan Book of the Fallen -- Erikson
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn -- Tad Williams
The Riftwar Saga -- Feist (I used to love Feist, now I find him hard to read)
The Empire Trilogy -- Feist and Wurtz
Most of The Wars of Light and Shadow -- Janny Wurtz (it fizzles out towards the end)
The Last Herald Mage Trilogy -- Mercedes Lackey
The Black Company -- Cook
Any of Howard's Conan books.
09/09/20
I've read a few really exceptional books since I posted the above, including:
Senlin Ascends, by Josiah Bancroft
Chasing Graves, by Ben Galley
Paternus, by Dyrk Ashton
 

Blastoise

Listens to The Unbeliever whine about life
I am not quite as well read as many of you, but I spend the bulk of my time reading fiction in fantasy and sci fi, and the fictional works that have influenced and shaped me the most in my life have both been fantasy works.

1. Harry Potter- this takes the number one spot for me because as a kid these were the books that got me reading and spurred my love for reading. Prior to Harry Potter, all the books I read were kind of forced upon me by school and ones that I didn't particularly enjoy (not really a classical literature fan...sorry not sorry *shrugs*). Harry Potter changed that for me, turning me into somebody who would beg my parents to run to B&N on opening day to get the new release. I would literally lock myself in my room all day until I finished the books. Yeah, it's not a literary masterpiece by any means, but for the above reasons alone, it takes the number one spot for me, as without it, I'm not sure the following works would have ever had the chance to be read. Any list I would make without it would be incomplete and inaccurate.

2. A Song of Ice and Fire- another cliche pick, but it's a cliche for a reason and also the work that has had the second most influence on my life, after HP. If Harry Potter was what created my love for reading, then ASOIAF was the one that developed my palate for the genre. After ASOIAF nothing else quite hit the same and I became (and still mostly continue to be) largely a fan of the grey characters and more GrimDark type of fantasy. I also had a pretty significant addition to my moral framework due to the line about "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword" (or close to it) that changed and shaped certain ways in how I carried myself throughout my life and what I did. I admit that I am amongst those that have started to become a bit aggravated by the lack of progress in the series in the form of GRRM releasing the last two (or, if some rumors are to be believed, three) books, but damn, I just love these books. Storm of Swords I think would be the GOAT for me in terms of the best fantasy novel I have ever read (or any fiction book I have ever read, really).

3. The Expanse- I know it's SciFi and not fantasy, but I think the majority of us that read fantasy also read Sci Fi, or have at various points in our reading journey. So this just gets included because I had actually kind of drifted away from Sci Fi and became almost solely fantasy, but this series has brought me back to loving scifi and space operas, what a ride, and I cannot wait for the (undoubtedly) exciting conclusion at the end of this year. As this series has progressed, there have been numerous times that I have questioned how they could possibly raise the stakes further or how they are going to introduce something new/exciting, and boy have they delivered, always finding myself pleasantly surprised. It's interesting because it's almost like 3 separate trilogies rolled into one massive 9-story arc, however with the same tone and elements of the story being woven in and brought back, sometimes several books later. 8 books in and I am not even remotely tired of it, yet. I would be happy if they continued beyond book 9, though I can see how book 9 should be a perfect conclusion to this long journey.

4. Night-Angel Trilogy- just a fun read. Thoroughly enjoyed these books and I blew through them.

5. The Age of Madness- Combine this with First Law as I just love Lord GrimDark's story telling and writing. I think AoM is going to finish better than the First Law did. I'm not sure, maybe not, but I love both series and can't wait for the finish of AoM at the end of this year. As stated earlier, I love this subgenre and I feel that Abercrombie does it about as well as anybody, other than GRRM. Sand dan Glokta was so much fun to read and I guess I have a type because Savine is my favorite, so far, in AoM.

6. First Law Trilogy

7. The Prince of Nothing- this one is such a weird story, but man, I loved reading the prose. It was such an enjoyable writing style that, at least for me, was a departure from the more typical styles I am used to reading in fantasy. Cnaiur is also a bad ass and I was always excited to get to read more about him. It was weird, but dang, I just liked reading this series, for whatever reason, lol. I am going to read the sequel trilogy at some point.

8. Gentleman Bastard- not yet finished with this one, but I found it a lot of fun and an enjoyable read. How the series concludes probably won't impact its ranking for me (maybe it will slide one spot up to #7).

There are a lot more series, some of which I have completed and some of which I stopped after book 1 because it just wasn't for me, that I have omitted because I am really moreso keeping it to series that I feel really deserve a ranking for me because I think about them a lot, recommend them a lot, or have exposed/introduced me to an aspect of fantasy/scifi that I was previously unacquainted with. Some honorable mentions, that mostly fall in YA fantasy, which I enjoyed, but were not paradigm shifts for me: Red Queen, The Folk of the Air, The Dagger and the Coin, Throne of Glass, The Hunger Games, The Demon King, The Inheritance Cycle. There are also plenty I disliked and impacted me in showing me examples of what I DON'T like, but that's for another thread.

Glaring omissions: I'm also two books deep into Malazan, but I feel it's too early to judge a 10-book series with so much left to go. Like it so far, but there is so much going on, I think it's the most intricate series I have read, including ASOIAF. I genuinely would make a character map/list if I had to go back and do it over again from book 1, lol.

Also, I really want to explore Sanderson's work at some point. I listen to his podcast and watch his YT channel for writing advice, which is kind of funny considering I haven't ever actually read any of his books (I was put off when people told me he probably wouldn't be my taste for books). I have bought Way of Kings, so I plan to give that a read along with Mistborn, at some point. I also really respect, similar to the authors of The Expanse, how this guy just cranks his books out. Similar to athletes where there is the cliche of "the best ability is availability" because it doesn't matter if you're the best basketball player in the world if you're only available 5 games a year. He seems to really appreciate and respect his opportunity as one of the GOATs of fantasy authorship, which I appreciate from the outside.

Same goes for Rothfuss and his Name of the Wind. I'm not in any particular rush as he seems to have some GRRM tendencies and I have no real desire to go through that experience again, while people have also told me similar things about Rothfuss as they told me about Sanderson in regards to him not really being my taste.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
I am not quite as well read as many of you, but I spend the bulk of my time reading fiction in fantasy and sci fi, and the fictional works that have influenced and shaped me the most in my life have both been fantasy works.

1. Harry Potter- this takes the number one spot for me because as a kid these were the books that got me reading and spurred my love for reading. Prior to Harry Potter, all the books I read were kind of forced upon me by school and ones that I didn't particularly enjoy (not really a classical literature fan...sorry not sorry *shrugs*). Harry Potter changed that for me, turning me into somebody who would beg my parents to run to B&N on opening day to get the new release. I would literally lock myself in my room all day until I finished the books. Yeah, it's not a literary masterpiece by any means, but for the above reasons alone, it takes the number one spot for me, as without it, I'm not sure the following works would have ever had the chance to be read. Any list I would make without it would be incomplete and inaccurate.

2. A Song of Ice and Fire- another cliche pick, but it's a cliche for a reason and also the work that has had the second most influence on my life, after HP. If Harry Potter was what created my love for reading, then ASOIAF was the one that developed my palate for the genre. After ASOIAF nothing else quite hit the same and I became (and still mostly continue to be) largely a fan of the grey characters and more GrimDark type of fantasy. I also had a pretty significant addition to my moral framework due to the line about "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword" (or close to it) that changed and shaped certain ways in how I carried myself throughout my life and what I did. I admit that I am amongst those that have started to become a bit aggravated by the lack of progress in the series in the form of GRRM releasing the last two (or, if some rumors are to be believed, three) books, but damn, I just love these books. Storm of Swords I think would be the GOAT for me in terms of the best fantasy novel I have ever read (or any fiction book I have ever read, really).

3. The Expanse- I know it's SciFi and not fantasy, but I think the majority of us that read fantasy also read Sci Fi, or have at various points in our reading journey. So this just gets included because I had actually kind of drifted away from Sci Fi and became almost solely fantasy, but this series has brought me back to loving scifi and space operas, what a ride, and I cannot wait for the (undoubtedly) exciting conclusion at the end of this year. As this series has progressed, there have been numerous times that I have questioned how they could possibly raise the stakes further or how they are going to introduce something new/exciting, and boy have they delivered, always finding myself pleasantly surprised. It's interesting because it's almost like 3 separate trilogies rolled into one massive 9-story arc, however with the same tone and elements of the story being woven in and brought back, sometimes several books later. 8 books in and I am not even remotely tired of it, yet. I would be happy if they continued beyond book 9, though I can see how book 9 should be a perfect conclusion to this long journey.

4. Night-Angel Trilogy- just a fun read. Thoroughly enjoyed these books and I blew through them.

5. The Age of Madness- Combine this with First Law as I just love Lord GrimDark's story telling and writing. I think AoM is going to finish better than the First Law did. I'm not sure, maybe not, but I love both series and can't wait for the finish of AoM at the end of this year. As stated earlier, I love this subgenre and I feel that Abercrombie does it about as well as anybody, other than GRRM. Sand dan Glokta was so much fun to read and I guess I have a type because Savine is my favorite, so far, in AoM.

6. First Law Trilogy

7. The Prince of Nothing- this one is such a weird story, but man, I loved reading the prose. It was such an enjoyable writing style that, at least for me, was a departure from the more typical styles I am used to reading in fantasy. Cnaiur is also a bad ass and I was always excited to get to read more about him. It was weird, but dang, I just liked reading this series, for whatever reason, lol. I am going to read the sequel trilogy at some point.

8. Gentleman Bastard- not yet finished with this one, but I found it a lot of fun and an enjoyable read. How the series concludes probably won't impact its ranking for me (maybe it will slide one spot up to #7).

There are a lot more series, some of which I have completed and some of which I stopped after book 1 because it just wasn't for me, that I have omitted because I am really moreso keeping it to series that I feel really deserve a ranking for me because I think about them a lot, recommend them a lot, or have exposed/introduced me to an aspect of fantasy/scifi that I was previously unacquainted with. Some honorable mentions, that mostly fall in YA fantasy, which I enjoyed, but were not paradigm shifts for me: Red Queen, The Folk of the Air, The Dagger and the Coin, Throne of Glass, The Hunger Games, The Demon King, The Inheritance Cycle. There are also plenty I disliked and impacted me in showing me examples of what I DON'T like, but that's for another thread.

Glaring omissions: I'm also two books deep into Malazan, but I feel it's too early to judge a 10-book series with so much left to go. Like it so far, but there is so much going on, I think it's the most intricate series I have read, including ASOIAF. I genuinely would make a character map/list if I had to go back and do it over again from book 1, lol.

Also, I really want to explore Sanderson's work at some point. I listen to his podcast and watch his YT channel for writing advice, which is kind of funny considering I haven't ever actually read any of his books (I was put off when people told me he probably wouldn't be my taste for books). I have bought Way of Kings, so I plan to give that a read along with Mistborn, at some point. I also really respect, similar to the authors of The Expanse, how this guy just cranks his books out. Similar to athletes where there is the cliche of "the best ability is availability" because it doesn't matter if you're the best basketball player in the world if you're only available 5 games a year. He seems to really appreciate and respect his opportunity as one of the GOATs of fantasy authorship, which I appreciate from the outside.

Same goes for Rothfuss and his Name of the Wind. I'm not in any particular rush as he seems to have some GRRM tendencies and I have no real desire to go through that experience again, while people have also told me similar things about Rothfuss as they told me about Sanderson in regards to him not really being my taste.
Nice list!

About number 7 > I think it might be better to leave it at the first trilogy. I wish I did... In my opinion the subsequent series starts of good, but the latter books (especially the last 2) are quite bad.
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
I am not quite as well read as many of you
That's a very good list you have there, I'd say you're well read enough in the genre.

Regarding Sanderson - I would suggest reading the Mistborn trilogy first to get a taste. In my opinion, it's a better introduction to both Sanderson's style, as well as his Cosmere, than The Way of Kings.

As for Rothfuss - you could try him, I suppose. Plenty of people consider his books among the best they've read. Personally, I didn't think very highly of them (specially the second) and that's before considering the decade-long delay for the third.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
Great list! Mistborn and Way of Kings are top tier, but I wouldn't bother with the sequels for either. For more grimdark, you'll probably enjoy the Acts of Caine and A Land Fit for Heroes. Wheel of Time is also worth a read, although at >10,000 pages, reading it is quite a project.