Do you enjoy escaping from reality to a world where magic and mythical creatures are common? Or, perhaps, you enjoy the thrill of reading about a fierce battle in detail and get excited with the prospect of seeing common humans like you fighting a dragon. Regardless, of your personal taste, if you’re an avid reader, these are the best fantasy books for you to give a try.
Here you can find:
- The 10 best fantasy books to escape reality
- A Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
- The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
- Malazan Book Of The Fallen by Steven Erikson
- The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan
- The Wheel Of Time by Robert Jordan
- The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
- The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
- The allure of the fantasy genre
Fantasy books aren’t easy to categorize or evaluate. Each creates an imaginary world made of dreams and powers that live in one’s most hidden desires. And, because of this, they are also quite subjective. A person who enjoys familiar war settings with a touch of magic and dragons might not enjoy the more peaceful and slow-paced works of Tolkien, for instance.
The following list of the best fantasy books doesn’t categorize the books or focus on a specific sub-genre. Instead, these are the best rated books, hailed by their complex stories and writing, regardless of the topic in question.
Even before it became a worldwide massive hit thanks to the TV series, the A Song of Ice and Fire book series was already regarded as one of the best fantasy series of all times.
Martin drew from many medieval and historical sources to create his ruthless world paved with power struggles, moral dilemmas and complex characters but also magic, dragons and epic fights. The author creates each character as close to reality as possible, and villains and heroes intertwine depending on the situation, showing that no one is completely good or bad.
As for the story, Martin drew from several medieval real stories, most notoriously the War of Roses when two powerful houses fought for the throne of England in the 15th century.
Following the TV series is not an excuse to dismiss the books as both branched out and tell different stories, albeit having the same essence.
>> BUY NOW <<The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The name of the wind was Patrick Rothfuss fantasy debut and it puts him right together with other celebrated fantasy writers like Martin and Tolkien.
The book tells the story of Kvothe, a hero, a villain, a wizard and a worrier. Thousand tales are told about the life of this mysterious character that now lives a quiet and detached life as an inn owner, in a little town where no one suspects he is the central character of their tales.
The story is divided between the present, where it is told from a third-person perspective, and the biography of Kvothe told by himself and where he provides a deeper insight on how the boy became a man of legends.
Throughout the book the reader gets marveled by each twist, turn and information uncovered, only to feel that each little thing is implicated in a much bigger tragedy yet to be uncovered.
>> BUY NOW <<Malazan Book Of The Fallen by Steven Erikson
Malazan Book of the Fallen is a 10-volume series that begins with The Gardens of the Moon. The most used adjective to describe these books is “Epic”, which right away puts them in any list of the best fantasy books.
The story is not told in a chronological line, but rather it follows each character individually and their adventures until the connection between all of them becomes apparent.
>> BUY NOW <<The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan
The Powder Mage trilogy replaces the medieval setting for a more modern but no less fantastic world.
Curious about the meaning of that dying statement, the Marshal engages the work of private investigator Adamat and his own son, a powerful mage that consumes gunpowder to have supernatural abilities, in hopes of solving the mystery. But as they begin to uncover secrets and plots, they understand that the truth is buried deeper and it’s more unsettling than what they expected.
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Divided into 14 book settlements, The Wheel of Time was launched in 1990 to become one of the best fantasy books of all time.
In this high fantasy saga, the time doesn’t follow a linear direction. Instead, in this unnamed world, the time is simultaneously the distant past and the distant future, as in a wheel of time where every event is connected.
The story begins with the discovery that the Dragon is reborn. Two unknown characters are then sent to a near-forgotten little village to rescue the Dragon and to protect him or her from the deadly attacks of the Dark forces. Not knowing how to recognize the Dragon, the mysterious characters flee with three youths, thus marking the beginning of their saga.
Amazon already announced their intention of converting this epic story into a TV series, so now it’s a good time to read the books before spoilers start floating around.
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When Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind was released almost one year after The Lies of Locke Lamore, many critics were quick to compare the two for their quality work and similar guidelines. The point is, if you enjoyed the story of Kvothe, chances are you are also going to love this one of Locke Lamora.
An orphan, a thief and a quick-witted man, Lamora is notorious for his lies and how good he is telling them. But, if there is one thing he is always honest about, it’s his lies. Hypocrisy is not acceptable to him.
With such a defined character and personality, Lamora becomes the leader of the Gentleman Bastards, a gang of orphans that steals from the rich and perverse. But to our main character, money is not important. Only the thrill and challenge each mission and battle represent.
The second book of this saga received mixed reviews, but the first installment is sure to please the most demanding fantasy readers.
>> BUY NOW <<The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
If you expect to find a bubbly and cute story about a unicorn in this book, prepare to be disappointed. Published in 1968, Peter S. Beagle tells instead an ominous tale that dwells in the darkness of the human heart and the dangers of power and ambition.
The story follows a mythical Unicorn that lives in a forest untouched by death with the single goal of protecting it. When human hunters visit it looking for prey, the unicorn hears the disturbing news: she might be the last Unicorn left on Earth. The distress prompts her to leave her forest for the first time in search of the truth, only to find out that humans forgot her magical kind to the point of confusing her with a regular mare.
Through her journey, she faces perilous situations and meets characters that put into evidence and questions the human essence, both capable of evil and good.
>> BUY NOW <<A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Before Harry Potter, there was Ger. Before Hogwarts, there was Earthsea.
This novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, published in 1968, marked the classical fantasy genre and influenced many great authors for years to come.
The story follows Ger, a talented and powerful wizard with a bad attitude, that is accepted into the school of wizardry from Earthsea. There, during a duel, he accidentally releases a dark creature that clings to him and it’s set to take his life.
Ger then embarks on a journey to discover how to destroy the dark creature. On his way, he faces and outwits dragons, learns to turn himself into a hawk, resists evil, but regardless of his strength and talents, he remains defenseless against the powerful creature that begins to take his appearance.
Although this is a coming-of-age book, its message is timeless and can be appreciated by everyone. The writing also follows a soft to a complex pattern that set it apart from other young and young-adult novels.
>> BUY NOW <<American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Despite winning several awards and to have become one of the best fantasy books out there, it was not until a popular TV series was released that this book, published in 2001, began receiving the right appreciation from the general public.
The power of the old and once mighty beings, like Odin, Keli or Anubis, is now in peril as their believers dwindle. On the other hand, the new God of technology, media and finance are growing invincible by the minute.
>> BUY NOW <<The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings might be Tolkien’s most famous and epic novel, but the Hobbit was undoubtedly one of his most important creations. The vivid depiction of this fictional world impacted on the literature from then on and still lives in the imaginary of the millions of readers that already had the opportunity to contact with Tolkien’s literary work.
Even if you are not a fan of the movies (and many book fans aren’t), this still remains as one of the best fantasy books in history and you should leave your prejudices aside to give it an opportunity you’ll not regret.
>> BUY NOW <<The allure of the fantasy genre
The fantasy genre is normally associated with a more juvenile public due to its otherworldly nature. Teens can grow wings, kings can raise the dead and dragons can rule the world or simply be used as war weapons. In the fantasy genre, there are no limits besides those of imagination.
The best fantasy books, though, are not those which employ more magical or mythical traits and characters, nor do they have to target a specific section of society. The best fantasy books are those where authors create complex and intricate universes and then use their powerful writing to bring them alive. They make those worlds, those characters and those supernatural powers feel as real as reality, they make the reader believe.
And most importantly, by creating this parallel reality, they provide the reader an opportunity to escape their real lives and become part of something much bigger made of dreams.