The Top 10 Best Fantasy Books

#1: A Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin)

This brilliant fantasy series starts with A Game of Thrones. What can I say about this series other then read it! It’s well-regarded as one of the best fantasy series. This is a novel that leaves most other fantasy books in the dust. It’s the best of the best, the crème de le crème. Its gritty, brutal, not for the faint of heart and just so damn addicting.

Martin has created something special with this book. The vast scope of his plots span continents and like an onion, each plot hides beneath it the other. The author does new things with the fantasy genre: no character is safe from the author’s noose; at any moment main characters can die. This seemingly ties various plots into twisted tangles, but martin is the master trickster and purposefully weaves the story arcs into something even stronger. It’s almost impossible to predict the plot lines. What’s also interesting is the author takes dastardly characters and slowly remakes them, over the course of the series, into incredibly interesting – even likable — personalities.

If you are new the genre and are looking for the best of the best, read Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (starts with A Game of Thrones) for a delightful ride into the fantastic world of fantasy. This is a novel that shows how good fantasy books can be!

#2: The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Steven Erikson)

Fantasy these days has been pretty stagnant, at least in the epic fantasy genre, since Tolkien. Fortunately, Erickson remakes the genre into something radically different, something unique and compelling. Erickson’s work is vast in scope, tying dozens of plot lines into a cohesive whole. No other author can write battle scenes like this man. When he writes battle, you see it. If you want some fantasy where the action is so sharp you can feel the blade cut skin, battles so loud you can hear the crash of spear on shield, then pick up this astounding series. This book is genre redefining and hands down one of the best fantasy books you can read.




#3: The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss)

A stunning debut, The Name of the Wind has one of the most compelling stories you’ll ever read. Every one I’ve recommended this book to raves about it. And, I’m willing to bet, you will too. Rothfuss takes some standard fantasy conventions reformulates them in to a superbly addicting blend. Great writing, a very compelling plot, fantastic characterization, and well-drawn world make this book one of my top fantasy book recommendations. This is a fantasy book for women, men, and children alike. All I can say is: read this fantasy novel!

#4: Tigana (Guy Gaveriel Kay)

Kay is the best character writer in the fantasy genre. He writes fantasy books that are not so much about the “fantasy” aspect as they are about character. And what character’s he has indeed. You won’t find cookie cutouts in his world. This man is a master wordsmith. His prose is beautiful and his plotting is always tight. Tigana is perhaps the most emotional fantasy book I have read. If you want to experience the whole gamut human emotions, read this hauntingly beautiful novel. As a bonus, this is a standalone novel, proving that standalones can bump shoulders with the big boy epic fantasies too. This is one fantasy book that will make you cry. I guarantee it.

#5: The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R Tolkien)

There is a saying that’s pretty close to reality: “The world is divided into two groups: those who have read Lord of the Rings and those who have not.” If you count yourself a fantasy aficionado, you owe it to yourself to have read Lord of the Rings. It’s the father of all fantasy, a book that spawned a genre, and a masterpiece of the English Language.

Tolkien has always been about the world in which his characters live, never about the characters which live in his world. He created a world full of myth and legend, starkly real and full of mystery. There is always some strange power deep in a mountain, or some magical glade in the heart of a forest. There are worlds deep in the world, and worlds high in the heavens. It’s a land full of wonder, a world too large to explore; it’s an earth that still has mysteries and unknown lands.

#6: The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One) (Joe Abercrombie)

A rousing entry into the fantasy genre. It’s action packed, witty, twisted, funny, and so addictive it should be illegal. This is “Lord of the Rings.” The Blade Itself is a new type of fantasy. It takes the standard fantasy conventions and weaves them into something completely new. Those jaded on how trivial and cliché the fantasy genre has become will feel a hurricane of fresh air with this book. It’s probably one of the most remarkable books that’s come out in a long time and has rejuvenated the fantasy genre. One of the best fantasy books, hands down.

#7: The Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan)

I can truthfully say that Jordan is the King of Fantasy, if not in complexity, then in page count. This monstrously big series spans over 13 massive books (each at least 700 pages). Including “A Wheel of Time” on this list invariably riles certain people. The past several years a new type of fantasy has come to the fore of the genre: gone are the hopefully optimistic village boys wielding magic swords on a quest to defeat the impossible; in their place, a gritty fantasy has arisen; a stark genre where the very conventions of what it means to be a hero are challenged: worlds are made of gray not black and white; heroes may be both a villain and savior; love is powerful, but ultimately ephemeral; heroes die and villains live. It’s complex stuff that is often genre blending.

The Wheel of Time is a cornerstone in the fantasy genre. It’s practically impossible to browse through the fantasy section of any bookstore without running into Jordan’s half a dozen books, all occupying a prodigious amount of shelf space. Jordon’s monstrosity – and yes, it is a monstrosity – weighs in at 12 books so far, enough to break more than one back.

While the quality of the latter half of his series dramatically decreased as Jordan became lost in his own world, the final book is scheduled to be released next year. Jordan passed away this year, but Brandon Sanderson is completing the novel.

As a whole, The Wheel of Time is rattling adventure that will suck you in. It’s massive in scope, but the world is meticulously drawn, the characters (mostly) well drawn, and a very addictive plot that spans over twelve very large books. With the impact these books have had on the fantasy genre, you owe itself to at least read the first book. It’s a great fantasy book, and a whole lot of fun!

#8: The Farseer Trilogy (Robin Hobb)

Hobb is one of the best characterization writers in the Fantasy genre. Her characters are vividly real, leaping out of the pages into our minds as living characters. She has no qualms about allowing her protagonist to suffer. If her protagonist falls into a pit, no Dues Ex Machina breaks the fall — the protagonist will break both legs — and likely the arms too. Her Farseer books are full of fantastic characters and an interesting, mysterious world to explore. Toss in a gripping plot, and these books make for some fantastic reads.

Hobb is perhaps the best character writer in the fantasy genre. If you are looking for some meticulously drawn characters and a world full of wonder and mystery, read these books. Hobb never stoops to using Dues Ex Machina in her novels; her characters suffer, and suffer greatly, which makes them all the more compelling. Those looking for a hero that can survive every situation without a scratch by pulling out a new superpower, look elsewhere. There is something deeply compelling about the world she creates in this series. Maybe it’s the mysteries promised by her world, the faraway places that promise secrets, or maybe it’s the vivid characters that jump out from the very sheets of paper into our minds and real and living characters. Whatever it is, this novel has it.

I highly recommend that every fantasy reader should read this trilogy. It’s a masterpiece of fantasy and one of the most emotional fantasy books in the entire genre.

#9: The Darkness That Comes Before (R. Scott Bakker)

Fantasy books with real philosophy – who would have thought? Those of you looking for more of the “village boy defeats dark wizard conceit”, look elsewhere. Those that want a brutal, gritty, twisted story that’s as cerebral as it is action packed, read this book/series. This is a fantasy series that does new things with the genre and I highly recommend it as one of the best fantasy books in the genre.

#10: Mythago Wood (Robert Holdstock)

Myth and reality coexist in this stunning and beautiful novel by Robert Holdstock. With a theme slightly similar to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Mythago Woods is a treat you will relish. If you are bored with all that epic fantasy pervading the shelves these days, well, pick this wonder full and different fantasy novel up.

Go to the Best rel=nofollow []Fantasy Books website to see a more detailed and expanded version of this list.

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The Fantasy Book Guru (expert on all things fantasy)

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