We’re not hoping to give you a lesson in literature, but the following fantasy books are crème de la crème of all times. Yes, there’s Lord of the Rings in there too, but let’s take a look at other great works of fantasy genre by some of the best and finest authors out there.
Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
Definitely a favorite title among millions of fantasy book fans out there. Some say that the actual TV series isn’t as good as the books. The entire series is a work of fiction, but George definitely outdid most of the authors in terms of creative imagination. In some sense, there is realism in Game of Thrones books. The author doesn’t pitch hope, he doesn’t play favorites and obliterates survival whenever the plot thickens.
The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie
Set in medieval times, the protagonist is called Logen Ninfingers; a barbarian who has run out of luck. Soon before he is about to turn into a dead barbarian, he forms alliance with unusual individuals, finds friendship in places he never expected and eventually survives to tell the tale at the end of the day.
Gardens of the Moon – Steven Erikson
Erikson’s saga is a blend between George R.R. Martin and Lord of the Rings. He combines the best of both worlds to offer something worth your time. Start with the Malazan Book of the Fallen, and you will never look back.
The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
A riveting and engrossing tale of villains, heroes, wizards, slaves and warriors – all of them dared to challenge destiny at some point in their lives. Who will end up making a name for himself? Must read it yourself to find out.
Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
It’s Tolkien; does he need any more references or introductions? He is the father of modern day fantasy, and if you are not familiar with his work, go and read Lord of the Rings book series.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
This is a tale of two magicians against the backdrop of a Victorian age. It is the time when magic is restricted to street acts, and the annals of the English literature. Truth be told, it will take you 2 months to get past the first half of the book; you will think it is boring, but wait, it gets better! The second half of the book will just pull you in. You’ll be begging for more, long before it’s over.
The Black Company – Glen Cook
Cook’s finest work is set in a time when there is only darkness. Mankind needs a hero as there has been a prophecy about someone called White Rose. However, Cook’s world is being ruled by evil forces who fight among themselves to gain balance over the region. The Black Company is as realistic as it gets to a fantasy driven plot.
Acts of Caine – Mathew Stover
Ever wanted to read a surrealistic account of someone who’s leading double lives? The main character of the four part book series is a murderous villain in the night, and a powerful ruler by daylight. Loved by many, hated by most, Acts of Caine describes the life events of Hari Michaelson.
The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson
The length of the first book, alone, reflects on Sanderson’s intelligence and creativity levels. The Way of Kings stretches over 10 books, while each being a masterpiece in its own way. This is a story of multiple plot driven characters who belong to different races and civilizations.
Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb
Hobb characterizes the story of Young Fitz, who, despite of being a royal, is shunned by the society and mistreated as an outcast. The book’s main character is eventually brought up as an assassin who has to carve his own destiny.
A Shadow In Summer – Daniel Abraham
Shadow In Summer overlooks a series of book underneath The Long Price Quartet hood. The style of fantasy is not your regular cup of tea; it will grip you in a very different manner. The people in these books appear to be very much real, unlike and as opposed to cardboard characters that are way too predictable.
Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
Lamora, the main character is a thief, a liar and a dishonest person. But despite of his “shortcomings” he is still loved by millions of readers who want to dig deeper in to the protagonist’s world. Locke Lamora’s life takes a U-turn after some deep soul searching, and when he’s pressurized by someone to put everything on the line for the greater good.
Gormenghast Novels – Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast novels are a relic in the fantasy genre. Peake portrays a world with mixed races, bizarre creatures and a doomed lord. Betrayal runs so deep and rich into the veins of Gormenghast empire that the plot is a pure page turner. As a reader, you won’t be able to predict anything, or trust any character to say the least.
The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time spans over 13 books; it gets better after each story ends. Despite of its massive page count, millions of readers yearn to see a Wheel of Time 2 series, where the world is still grey and moralities are just a figment of someone’s imagination.
Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence
Despite of its debut release in 2011, Prince of Thorns still manages to land as a favorite among many old school fantasy book readers. Lawrence’s work is lined up with cynical dark humor, an acquired taste which isn’t for conventional followers out there. The book does have a hero, but it’s the villain that takes away the praises in the end.
Black Sun Rising – C.S. Friedman
This is the story of a sorcerer and a priest warrior. The former is a corrupt, shrewd and dishonest artisan of the black magic, whereas the warrior is willing to sacrifice everything to make sure that no evil deed goes unpunished.
The Troupe – Robert Jackson
Troupe is a very convincing work of fiction by Robert Jackson. Somehow, he has managed to sneak in the horror genre in a fantasy world, the likes of which are admired by Stephen King himself. Definitely worth reading if you can digest the brutal account of incidents of antagonist vs. protagonist’s lives in the Troupe.
Engineer Trilogy – K.J. Parker
This isn’t your typical fantasy book with wizards, conjurers and warriors; this is more like an account of a very different society that lives in a world of mechanics. Engineers are hailed as society’s demigods, and they enjoy many privileges that others can only yearn for.
The Darkness That Comes Before – R. Scott Bakker
Unlike its title, The Darkness That Comes Before is not what typical readers think of it in the first place. Impressions can be daunting, and once you read through the first few chapters, you will see that Bakker wrote this book in a very different light. Let alone, the bloodshed and villainy is so rich that you will be coming back for more before the book has reached its end.
Lord Foul’s Bane – Stephen R. Donaldson
Written in 1977, the book has been translated in different languages, and exceeded over 6 million copies. It all takes off in a tragic world where the anti hero becomes the hero. He is twisted in some way, and dares to question strange things that happen in his distant world. The plot and the story is not leading; you will not be able to take sides with the main characters. The story unfolds in a rather surprising way.
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Does ‘American Gods’ need any introduction? The fantasy series is became popular after its release many years ago. And since then, it only got better because Amazon recently turned the book into a TV Series adaptation under the same title. The main character’s life is filled with accounts of encounter with deities and unexplained events that are worth reading.
The Amulet of Samarkand – Jonathan Stroud
Stroud may have borrowed some of the ideas for Tolkien in this modern day title, but it does not fail to impress its readers. The Amulet of Samarkand is mostly meant for young fantasy readers, but it is equally engrossing for adults as well.
The Dragonbone Chair – Tad Williams
This book is a reprisal, a masterpiece that’s begging to be read by any level of fantasy genre fan. The main character: Simon is a young boy, brought up in the slums of his world, and grows to become a known hero.
Daughter of the Empire – Raymond E. Feist
Daughter of the Empire touches a lot of sensitive issues, such as religion, politics and feudalism. However, the author portrayed it eloquently in a fantasy world, to help preserve readers’ interest and curiosity at the same time.
The Dresden Files
If you have watched some of the recent Hollywood movies with wizard detectives, you are going to love Dresden Files. It is the story of a hidden world within Chicago, a world where mages live by their own rules and code of conduct. You will be reading about creatures, crimes and punishment as Harry Dresden, the main character, tries to being order to Chicago’s underground magic world.