The 10 Best Fantasy Books
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in March of 2018. From Middle Earth to Westeros and everywhere in between, fantasy books have been bringing incredible worlds to life for many years. With so many great standalone novels and deeply fleshed-out series to choose from, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with options. To help narrow your search, here are some relatively modern and somewhat lesser-known picks for your next trip through imaginary realms. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 19, 2020:
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've almost certainly heard of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, and modern entertainment has probably taught you a little about A Song of Ice and Fire, as well. Of course, there are tons of fantasy novels out there these days, and we wanted to focus on some relatively modern works from living authors that you might not have heard of. "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman is the oldest one on our list and it's exemplary of Gaiman's gritty, modern style of blending ancient mythology with today's reality and adding acerbic wit and unpredictable twists. He's written quite a few other books, but American Gods is by far one of his most popular.
If you've spent any time asking fantasy lovers about their favorite books, you've probably heard Brandon Sanderson's name, and maybe someone's mentioned The Way of Kings, which is the beginning to what Sanderson says will be a massive 10-part endeavor. It's long, and doesn't get right into the action, but a large part of fantasy is the building of a believable and enticing world, which Sanderson does very well. Similarly, The Name of the Wind from Patrick Rothfuss has received absolutely rave reviews from over a half-million readers, with many calling it one of the best books ever to grace the genre. Again, it is pretty long, though. Of similar length is Peter A. Flannery's "Battle Mage", and though it's not nearly as renowned as either of those two, its pace is a bit faster and it holds up better as a standalone work.
Speaking of standalone works, there's a huge tendency to publish trilogies and longer series in the fantasy genre, and while that's great, a cliffhanger can be a devastating thing if you're not ready for it. That's why we recommend N.K. Jemision's "The Fifth Season", the first book in a telekinetically plagued dystopian future trilogy that has already been fully published, so once you devour the first one, you can jump right into the next two.
If you're looking for something more in the grimdark subgenre, The Library at Mount Char is a must-read. With a shocking number of magically grotesque yet enthralling passages, it is not for those with weak stomachs, but if you enjoy somewhat deviant fiction, you will love Scott Hawkins' work. If you want something that's a bit edgy, and definitely written for mature adults, but not really disturbing, The Lies of Locke Lamora from acclaimed writer Scott Lynch should definitely be on your list. In fact, it's the recipient of high praise from Rothfuss, and loaded with humorous and realistic, if highly vulgar and amoral characters.
A Darker Shade of Magic is worth a look if you want somewhat of a departure from traditional fantasy. It blends interdimensional travel with magic and steampunk themes by presenting four alternate versions of Victorian London that all exist at the same time.