Core Best Fantasy Lists
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Best Yearly Lists
- Best Fantasy of 2017 (SO FAR)
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Best Decade Lists
- Best Fantasy Since 2010
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- Best Early Modern Fantasy (30's to 50's)
- Best Pre-Tolkien Fantasy
Best Thematic Lists
- Best Anti-Hero Fantasy
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- Best of the Tolkien Clones
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- Fantasy That Will Blow Your Mind
- Best Fantasy Books for Women
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- Best Fantasy Books for Children
- Best Vampire Books for YA
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Best Subgenre Lists
- Top 50 EPIC Fantasy
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- Guide to Fantasy Genres
- How to Find Your Next Read Here
- Guide to Vampire Books
- Beginner's Fantasy Guide
Movies & Games Lists
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- Epic Fantasy
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Books in The Night Angel Series (3)
Keyes stunned the fantasy community with his phenomenal new high fantasy novel, The Briar King, a few years ago. This guy is a master of the English language. His writing is both witty and beautiful; sort of an Oscar Wild meets J.R.R. Tolkien synergy. His plot is thick, rich with interesting characters (and the dialogue is top notch and at times, hilarious), and the world fairly gritty, though less so than George R. Martin's. Keyes takes old fantasy cliches and creates something new. I can't recommend this fantasy series enough. Keyes continues his excellent standard throughout the series for the first couple, but the last book things fall to pieces.
What a magnificent start and an equally magnificent failure of an ending. Had Keyes kept things up, this series would have been up there on the Great or Top 100 list, but now it's only Good enough. Shame.
Books in The Kingdoms of ... Series (4)
Picture a dark, apocalyptic world set in the near future. A world conquered by vampiric aliens, where humans are kept as nothing more than feeding and breeding stock. This is not your normal post-apocalyptic novel. Knight creates a rich milieu, almost reminiscent of an epic fantasy world. Make no mistake, this novel cannot be pigeon-holed into a single genre, it has elements of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. This is one hell of a thrill ride with a dark tension that keeps you pinned from the moment you open the cover to the second you wipe your eyes at 3 in the morning.
Edit: That's how the series started. I was very much excited. But Knight let's things go to hell after a couple books and nothing ever really gets resolved. Very disappointed and I stopped reading after book 4-5 when it became a sort of monster of the week series.
Books in Vampire Earth Series (11)
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.
A fabulous trilogy that hasn't received the acclaim or popularity it deserves. Julian May has written a fantastic saga of love, treachery, war, and magic. Magic has a definite sense of mystery in this series but also retains a strong presence. In addition, the magic system is one of the most interesting ones I?e encounter. If you want a ripping good yarn, compelling characters, and lots of politics, adventure, and fighting, read this book. If you like Robert Jordan, but hate the pedantic pacing of his books, this series is for you.
Edit: The trilogy ends much worse than it started. Things look new and fresh at the start of it a fantasy in the vein of Jordan and Feist, but much faster paced with solid characters and better writing than both. But the plot threads come undone and the series really ends with a whimper and not a bang.
Books in Boreal Moon Tale Series (4)
I do have a soft spot in my heart for these books they are entertaining if you like fantasy with the standard archetypes (callow boy becomes most powerful person in the world and overthrows the exiting status quo both magical and political).
Modesitt's style of fantasy may just be a breathe of fresh air for those of you who are tired of all the complex, morally ambiguous grimdark where the heroes all seem to have a strong streak of evil. The Recluse series is all about good and bad, and very little in between. If this is what you want, then you'll be delighted...for about 6-7 books before the honeymoon ends.
My biggest complaint with this series is that the author basically retells the exact same tale with each and every book. It gets so bad that some of the later books are almost unbearable to read. It's the same tale told over and over in every single book. In fact, Modesitt tells the same damn tale in every single one of his fantasy series -- his Imager Portfiolo and his Corean Chronicles for example.
Of his Recluse books, the best of the bunch are:
The Magic of Recluse the first published and still on of the best. This is the prototypical Recluse story. If you like it, you'll probably enjoy the rest of them as every single other book follows the same template.
The Fall of Angles chronologically, the first book and explains how everything came to be the way it was. Entertaining.
Magi'i of Cyador a good tale about the rise of a talented young solider through the unforgiving ranks of an army unit on the edge of the wilderness where survival rates are 50 percent. Great if you like heroic military fantasy where the underdog must stay alive and ascend the ranks. A different sort of Recluce tale than the usual. If you like this tale, check out his Imager Portfolio series which I consider a better series.
Natural Ordermage one of the best Recluce books in a decade. Modesitt finally changes up the worn constructs he's been recycling for over a dozen books. The hero is by far the most interesting he's had a selfish bastard who's not opposed to using his substantial magical powers for his own pleasures (including seducing women).
Books in The Recluce Saga Series (18)
Complex politics, well thought out magic system, clash between religious and secular powers, an ineluctable catastrophe looming, long lost creatures walking the lands once again, GREAT characterization. What more can you ask for in a fantasy saga. Plot? Good enough to taste. My only complaint is that the series, which clocks in at 7 books long, is several books too long. Still, the series is one of the better epic fantasy sagas out there and well worth the read.
Edit: The series completely disappoints by the end. Its ambitious and the first couple books in the series hint at great things, but Elliot gets lost in her world and things just dont end up moving along. Whats 7 books should have been 3. By the end of things, I didnt much care about the characters or plot, I was so bored.
It is 600 AD and Rome has never fallen. The Roman Empire of the East will join the Roman Empire of the West to invade the inimical Persians who threaten the very gates of Constantinople itself. Featuring epic battles, beautiful babes, and powerful magic, Oath of Empires is an epic story so full of energy that your hair will sizzle. It features the epic scope of a Steven Erikson novel, a Robert Jordan Wheel of Time like struggle, and the George Martin propensity for axing main characters. Yummy! Similar recommendations: Steven Erickson? ? Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen saga, which is as epic as they come, and features an array of massive battles like Oath of Empires. The dazzling magic battles are also very similar is scope and size. Harlan? work focuses more closely on individual characters, however, while Erickson zooms out. You might also try Michelle West? Sun Sword saga which features a similar type scenario as in Oath of Empires (two culturally different empires clashing, while an ancient evil stirs behind the scenes orchestrating a conquest of the mortal world?. Also give James Barclay's Ascendants of Astoria saga a shot. Great battle scenes and epic.
Books in Oath of Empire Series (4)
I'm not a fan of Piers Anthony in general (on a personal level I find the man utterly distasteful just read his blog for example and you'll find he's a racist, sexist, and has a disturbing fascination of young girls). But, his Incarnations of Immortality is his best series. And it's a pretty damn good read to boot. Definitely worth reading.
Books in Incarnations of ... Series (8)
Books in Lukien Saga Series (4)
Books in The Braided Path Series (4)
Books in The DragonCrown ... Series (4)
Books in The Age of Unrea... Series (3)
Books in Temeraire Series (10)
Books in Heirs of Alexand... Series (3)
Books in Book of Words Series (3)
Books in Aldabreshin Comp... Series (4)
Books in The Sun Sword Series (6)
Books in Chronicles of Si... Series (3)
Books in The Black Magici... Series (3)
Books in Seven Brothers Series (3)
Books in Redwall Series (22)
Books in Dragonriders of ... Series (27)
Books in Deepgate Codex Series (4)
Books in Weather Warden Series (12)
Books in The Books of Pel... Series (4)
This series has hit a cultural never and is uber popular. I don't think much of them though in terms of being of any sort of quality. There is nothing bad about the books per say they are YA fiction but there is nothing outstanding about them either, nothing that sets them apart from the pack other than the serialization of the ancient Greek Myths tossed into modern times with a bunch of outcast magically gifted youngsters who don't it in normal society going to a magic school of sorts.
Entertaining, yes maybe. But nothing special. You may disagree of course.
Books in Percy Jackson an... Series (7)
Despite Goodkind's ever increasing descent into the lowest tiers of quality, his first book is pretty good in a simple sort of way -- if you can live with the author's almost juvenile writing skills.
Regrettably, Goodkind has a disturbing fascination with rape and the torture of women--which he practically shoves down your throat every few pages; though to be fair, it's within the context of the greater story in the first book. Not recommended for the kiddies! His first couple books are probably worth reading; after that, you will have more fun mowing the lawn.
I would actually classify Goodkind's first (and best) book as mediocre, not necessary good, especially in the light of all the outstanding fantasy that's been written the past decade.
Note: I've added his entire series, The Sword of Truth, to the worst fantasy books list. Despite the fact that the later books are pure drivel, the first book has some decent worldbuilding and shows a glimpse of potential. That potential is soon lost in the next few books, however. And since his first book, Richard Rhaul, I mean Terry Goodkind, has never grown as a writer. Shame.
As of 2014, Wizard's First Rule does NOT stand the test of time very well. Expect a simple writing, basic plot, terrible characterization, and a strident message the whole way through. The first book is a decent, if uncomplicated read, but I don't recommend continuing on with any of the other books -- they get worse and worse.
Books in Sword of Truth Series (11)
Books in Nightside Series (14)
Books in The Left Hand Of... Series (3)
This series has evolved as one of the more entertaining and complex epic fantasy series out there. Theres a cast of eclectic characters, politics, magic, and war and an epic world ending plot to tie it all together. Mad god kings, evil sorcerers, miniature warriors, humans, and sentient animals battle for control of a powerful artifact that in the wrong hands marks the destruction of the world. The setting a giant and mysterious ship where the conflict takes place makes for a unique setting. All in all, a fantastic and fascinating world that you just want to get swept up in.
Edit: Until you get to some of the later books in the series, then things just all apart. When I first started the series I thought I found a new, novel voice in fantasy. But things kept on getting worse and worse with each new book released. I actually gave up by book five on it. Along with Peter V. Brett, one of the best debuts and one of the most disappointing set of sequels.
Books in Chathrand Voyage Series (4)
George R.R. Martin, take heed, you have a new challenger for the throne of kingdoms! David Anthony Durham. The new kid on the fantasy block has some new moves that may even impress the old timers. Durham, a well known historical fiction author, brings his writing prowess to the fantasy genre. And what an effort it is! Acacia has all the elements that make A Song of Ice and Fire so compelling. Unpredictability? Check. Mysterious magic? Check. Fantastic world building and myth? Check. Political maneuvering? Check. Massive Battles. Check. Great characterization. Check. Fantastic writing? Check. A plot that grips and won't let go? Check. Should you read it? Double Check.
The series is not completed and the ending was a bit of a disappointed. Overall, the author writes the characters in such a way that it is hard to get emotionally involved with them. I found them somewhat flat. The world building and the plot are pretty grand though. The series has some similarities to Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, though it's less epic and the characters are far less complex. A better fantasy than many epics out there and the series will appeal to those who like grand battles, exotic landscapes, and powerful heroes. And yet, my major complaint was that something was missing from the characters -- they did not resonate with me for some reason, especially near the end of the series. The start was better than the finish. It all felt flat to me by the end. You may appreciate this series much more than I, but I felt cheated by the end. Fantastic start, disappointing ending. Good but could have been great.
Books in Acacia Series (3)
A very interesting epic fantasy tale, sort of a cross between A Song of Ice and Fire and Lions of Al-rassan. The series proves to come off the rails a bit after a few books the world building is interesting, the concepts are grand and expansive, but the characters fall very flat. There was potential here, but things didnt take off the way I thought they would early on in the series. Worth reading, but doesnt rise to the potential it could have been.
Keyes stunned the fantasy community with his phenomenal new high fantasy novel, The Briar King, a few years ago. This guy is a master of the English language. His writing is both witty and beautiful; sort of an Oscar Wild meets J.R.R. Tolkien synergy. His plot is thick, rich with interesting characters (and the dialogue is top notch and at times, hilarious), and the world fairly gritty, though less so than George R. Martin's. Keyes takes old fantasy cliches and creates something new. I can't recommend this fantasy series enough. Keyes continues his excellent standard throughout the series.
Books in Psalms of Isaak Series (5)
Books in The Faithful and... Series (1)
Books in Iron Druid Chron... Series (11)
Books in Seven Forges Series (2)
Books in Winds of the For... Series (5)
Our Version of the List
At a Glance
- 1 The Way Of Shadows (Brent Weeks)
- 2 The Briar King (Greg Keyes)
- 3 Way Of The Wolf (E.E. Knight)
- 4 Conqueror's Moon (Julian May)
- 5 The Magic Of Recluce (L. E. Modesitt Jr.)
- 6 King's Dragon (Kate Elliott)
- 7 The Shadow Of Ararat (Thomas Harlan)
- 8 On A Pale Horse (Piers Anthony)
- 9 The Eyes Of A God (John Marco)
- 10 Weavers Of Saramyr (Chris Wooding)
- 11 War Of The Flowers (Tad Williams)
- 12 Fortress Draconis (Michael A. Stackpole)
- 13 Newton's Cannon (J. Gregory Keyes)
- 14 His Majesty's Dragon (Naomi Novik)
- 15 Shadow Of The Lion (Mercedes Lackey)
- 16 The Baker's Boy (J. V. Jones)
- 17 Southern Fire (Juliet E. McKenna)
- 18 The Light Ages (Ian R. MacLeod)
- 19 The Broken Crown (Michelle West)
- 20 In Legend Born (Laura Resnick)
- 21 The Magicians' Guild (Trudi Canavan)
- 22 The Prince Of Shadow (Curt Benjamin)
- 23 Redwall (Brian Jacques)
- 24 Dragonflight (Anne McCaffrey)
- 25 Scar Night (Alan Campbell)
- 26 Ill Wind (Rachel Caine)
- 27 The Naming (Alison Croggon)
- 28 Dracula (Bram Stoker)
- 29 Inkheart (Cornelia Funke)
- 30 The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan)
- 31 Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
- 32 Something From The Nightside (Simon R. Green)
- 33 The Left Hand Of God (Paul Hoffman)
- 34 The Red Wolf Conspiracy (Robert V. S. Redick)
- 35 Acacia: The War With The Mein (David Anthony ...
- 36 Lamentation (Ken Scholes)
- 37 Malice (John Gwynne)
- 38 Hounded (Kevin Hearne)
- 39 Seven Forges (James A. Moore)
- 40 The Mirror Empire (Kameron Hurley)
- 41 Rules Of Ascension (David B. Coe)