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The 45 best fantasy books of all time

Check out our picks of the most exciting new fantasy novels of 2023, the best of 2022, as well as the top fantasy books of all time..

best new book series fantasy

Fantasy books offer readers the perfect escape into another world. Here we share some of the top fantasy books to give you some inspiration for your literary bucket list. From Megan Giddings dystopian The Women Could Fly , to the magical multi-dimensional universe of Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library, and the dark academia world of The Atlas Six – if you’re a fantasy fiction fan we’ve got you covered.

The best new fantasy books of 2023

The thousand eyes, by a. k. larkwood.

Book cover for The Thousand Eyes

The epic sequel to The Unspoken Name – could you sacrifice your dreams to escape a nightmare? Csorwe, Shuthmili and Tal survey abandoned Echentyr worlds to make a living. The empire’s ruins seem harmless but fascinating. Yet disaster strikes when they stumble upon ancient magic during a routine expedition. This revives a warrior who’d slept for an age, reigniting a conflict thousands of years old. And the soldier binds Csorwe to her cause. Shuthmili is desperate to protect the woman she loves. However, as events escalate, she’s torn. Can she help Csorwe by clinging to her own humanity or by embracing her eldritch powers? 

One For My Enemy

By olivie blake.

Book cover for One For My Enemy

In New York City, two rival witch families fight for the upper hand in Olivie Blake's new fantasy fiction. The Antonova sisters and their mother, Baba Yaga, are the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants while the Fedorov brothers and their crime boss father, Koschei the Deathless, dominate the shadows of magical Manhattan. For twelve years, the two families have been in stalemate, but that is about to change. While fate draws together a brother and sister from either side, the siblings still struggle for power, and internal conflicts could destroy each family from within. 

Under the Whispering Door

By tj klune.

Book cover for Under the Whispering Door

TJ Klune brings us a warm hug of a story about a man who spent his life at the office – and his afterlife building a home. When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own sparsely-attended funeral, Wallace is outraged. But he begins to suspect she’s right, and he is in fact dead. Then when Hugo, owner of a most peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace reluctantly accepts the truth. Under the Whispering Door is a witty, haunting and kind love story from TJ Klune – the master of queer fantasy. 

The best fantasy books of 2022

Guns of the dawn, by adrian tchaikovsky.

Book cover for Guns of the Dawn

For generations, peace reigned over Denland – until revolutionaries assassinated their king. Next, they clashed with Lascanne, their neighbour. Both countries are now locked in fierce war, pitching war machines against warlocks. Genteel Emily Marshwic has lost much to the war. Then the call for more soldiers comes for her. Alongside other conscripted women, she finds herself on the battlefield, braving the harsh reality of warfare. But she begins to doubt her country’s cause, and her choices could determine the fate of these two nations.

The Atlas Six

Book cover for The Atlas Six

Dark-academia fantasy novel  The Atlas Six  was originally self-published by Olivie Blake, and was then snapped up for re-publication after it shot to fame on TikTok. The story follows six young magical practitioners as they compete to join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places. Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.

The Atlas Paradox

Book cover for The Atlas Paradox

Six magicians were offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Five are now members of the Society. And two paths lie before them. In the second installment in the Atlas Six series, the secret society of Alexandrians is unmasked. Its newest recruits realize the institute is capable of raw, world-changing power. It’s also headed by a man with plans to change life as we know it – and these are already under way. But the cost of this knowledge is as high as the price of power, and each initiate must choose which faction to follow.

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The Atlas Six books in order

Stone blind, by natalie haynes.

Book cover for Stone Blind

At last, Medusa's story is told. The sole mortal raised in a family of gods, Medusa lives with an urgency that her family will never know, and is alone in her ability to experience change and to be hurt. Then, when the sea god Poseidon commits an unforgivable act in the temple of Athene, the goddess takes her revenge where she can – and Medusa is changed forever. Writhing snakes replace her hair, and her gaze now turns any living creature to stone. Unable to control her new power, she is condemned to a life of shadows and darkness. Until Perseus embarks upon a quest . . .

This retelling of the famed myth of Medusa asks who the real monsters are, after all.

The Discord of Gods

By jenn lyons.

Book cover for The Discord of Gods

The unmissable conclusion to the epic A Chorus of Dragons series by Jenn Lyons, containing the final battle between gods, demons and dragons. As Kihrin seeks an eleventh-hour reprieve for the universe – with Relos Var and the demon Xaltorath continuing to wage war on each other – his body threatens to betray him. Reeling from the aftereffects of a corrupted ritual, one that twisted both him and the last dragons. Worse, he’s now bound to the avatar of a star, a form that’s becoming catastrophically unstable. All of which means he's running out of time. One curse. One man. One destiny.


By susan dennard.

Book cover for Witchshadow

Susan Dennard’s  New York Times  bestselling fantasy series continues – with the story of Iseult, the Threadwitch. The Witchlands have been on the brink of war, and in the fourth book in this epic fantasy series, it arrives. Iseult has found her heartsister Safi at last, but their reunion is brief. For Iseult to stay alive, she must flee Cartorra while Safi remains. As villains from legend reawaken across the Witchlands, only the mythical Cahr Awen can stop the gathering war. Iseult could embrace this power and heal the land, but first she must choose on which side of the shadows her destiny will lie.

The Witchlands series books in order

By frances hardinge.

Book cover for Unraveller

In a world where anyone can cast a life-destroying curse, only one person has the power to unravel them. Kellen does not fully understand his unique gift, but helps those who are cursed, like his friend Nettle who was trapped in the body of a bird for years. She is now Kellen's constant companion and his closest ally. But the Unraveller carries a curse himself and, unless he and Nettle can remove it, Kellen is a danger to everything – and everyone – around him . . .

Legends & Lattes

By travis baldree.

Book cover for Legends & Lattes

After decades of adventuring, Viv the orc barbarian is finally hanging up her sword for good to open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. Even though no one there knows what coffee actually  is . But old rivals and new stand in the way of success, and Thune’s shady underbelly could make it all too easy for Viv to take up the blade once more.

A Taste of Gold and Iron

By alexandra rowland.

Book cover for A Taste of Gold and Iron

Kadou, the modest prince of Arasht, has no plans to wrestle for imperial control with his sister, the queen. Yet he is in conflict with the father of queen's new child, who is a powerful ambassador at the court. Then a hunting expedition goes badly wrong, and Kadou finds himself accused of murder. This sensual tale of courtly intrigue, backstabbing politics and romance set against the backdrop of an Ottoman Empire-inspired world, is a must-read.

A Marvellous Light

By freya marske.

Book cover for A Marvellous Light

For fans of Bridgerton who'd like to welcome magic into their lives. Set in an alternative Edwardian England, this is a comedy of manners, manor houses, and hedge mazes: including a magic-infused murder mystery and a delightful queer romance. Young baronet Robin Blyth thought he was taking up a minor governmental post. However, he's actually been appointed parliamentary liaison to a secret magical society, and he’ll need the help of Edwin Courcey, his adversarial magical-society counterpart, as together they discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles.

A Restless Truth

Book cover for A Restless Truth

In the thrilling follow-up to  A Marvellous Light, Maud Blyth longs for adventure and finds exactly that when she agrees to serve as an old lady's companion on an ocean liner, and on the very first day of the voyage, her companion is found dead. Then, she meets Violet, who is everything Maud has been trained to distrust, yet can’t help but desire: a magician, an actress and a magnet for scandal. Surrounded by open sea and a ship full of suspects, Maud and Violet must work together to locate a magical object worth killing for – and unmask a murderer. All without becoming dead in the water themselves.

Book cover for Wolfsong

When Ox Matheson was twelve his father taught him that he was worthless, destined to be misunderstood, and then he left him. Four years later, the energetic Bennett family moved in next door, harbouring a secret that would change his life forever: they are shapeshifters, and can transform into wolves at will. Drawn into an unimaginable new world, Ox found a friend in Joe, the youngest Bennett brother, but when the pack was pulled apart by tragedy and murder, Joe left town . But now, he has returned, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

The Women Could Fly

By megan giddings.

Book cover for The Women Could Fly

Part fantasy, part dystopia,  The Women Could Fly  is a powerful novel that speaks to our times. In a world where witches are real and unmarried women over the age of thirty must be monitored by the state, Josephine Thomas is twenty-eight, ambivalent about marriage and on the cusp of losing autonomy over her own life. It's been fourteen years since her mother's disappearance, and Jo has heard ever possible explanation from kidnapping to murder . . . to witchcraft; but all these years later, she feels she's never understood her mother more. So when she's offered an opportunity to honour one last request from her mother's will, she takes it . . .

Origins of The Wheel of Time

By michael livingston.

Book cover for Origins of The Wheel of Time

This companion to Robert Jordan's internationally bestselling series, The Wheel of Time, will delve into the creation of a masterpiece, drawing from interviews and an unprecedented examination of his unpublished notes. Michael Livingston tells the behind-the-scenes story of who Jordan was (including a chapter that is the very first published biography of the author), how he worked, and why he holds such an important place in modern literature.

She Who Became the Sun

By shelley parker-chan.

Book cover for She Who Became the Sun

A Number One  Sunday Times  Bestseller, this absorbing historical fantasy novel from Shelley Parker-Chan reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor. In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule, and when a bandit raid wipes out her home and her brother perishes, Zhu resolves to overcome her destiny by taking her dead brother’s identity. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness – and rise as high as she can dream?

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments

By t. l. huchu.

Book cover for Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments

Ropa Mayo finds herself embroiled in another magical crisis in T. L. Huchu's sequel to the much-loved The Library of the Dead . Ropa thought her life would change forever after she discovered an underground occult library, in modern-day Edinburgh. But she's still unsuccessfully chasing a prized magical job with the city's secret societies, until her friend Priya offers her a job at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies – a very specialised hospital. Here, a dangerous new illness is resisting both magical and medical remedies. If Ropa can solve this case, she might stand a chance of impressing her mentor, Sir Callander. 

Black Water Sister

Book cover for Black Water Sister

Broke, jobless and just graduated, Jessamyn is abandoning America to return ‘home’. But as she packs to return to Malaysia, a country she hasn't seen since she was a toddler, she starts to hear a bossy voice in her mind, which belongs to her late grandmother Ah Ma who in life, and apparently in death, worships a local deity, the Black Water Sister. When a business magnate dared to offend her goddess, Ah Ma swore revenge, and she isn't afraid to blackmail her granddaughter into helping her to make mischief . . .

Fury of a Demon

By brian naslund.

Book cover for Fury of a Demon

The third and final instalment in Brian Naslund's Dragons of Terra trilogy has come to paperback this year. Osyrus Ward has subdued most of Terra, but to finish the job and annihilate the dragons he must add to his huge army of skyships and create a machine that possesses unheard-of power. Rebels Bershad and Ashlyn are doing every everything they can to prevent this, but they have been captured in Dainwood by Ward's mercenaries. Ashlyn employs her dark magic against the terrifying forces massing around them, and Bershad summons his history of victory in battle. But will their combined energies be enough to save the world?

The House of Always

Book cover for The House of Always

The House of Always is the fourth book in Jenn Lyons’ epic fantasy series A Chorus of Dragons. As the novel opens, the Eight Immortals have catastrophically failed to stop Kihrin’s enemies, who are moving forward with their plans to free Vol Karoth, the King of Demons. Kihrin has his own ideas about how to fight back, but even if he’s willing to sacrifice everything for victory, the cost may prove too high for his allies. Now they face a choice: can they save the world while saving Kihrin too? Or will they be forced to watch as he becomes the very evil they had all sworn to destroy?

Jenn Lyons on world-building in her fantasy novels

The empire's ruin, by brian staveley.

Book cover for The Empire's Ruin

In the first book in Brian Staveley's epic fantasy trilogy, Ashes of the Unhewn, the great Annurian Empire is on its last legs, and its elite soldiers – the Kettral – are dwindling. Kettral soldier Gwenna Sharpe is given a quest, in order to restore the hawk-riding battalion. She must travel beyond the known world, to the place where the mighty war hawks nest. She will face obstacles along the way, from poisoned land to a monk turned conman to sinister forces massing against the empire. Gwenna's quest to save it is fraught with danger, but full of potential for recovery and renewal.

by Lucy Holland

Book cover for Sistersong

This folklore-inspired tale of betrayal, magic and murder is a 2022 must read. King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure. All three fear a life confined within the hold, protected from Saxon invaders. But when Myrdhin, meddler and magician, arrives, the siblings discover the power within themselves and the land.  

Best fantasy books of all time

Book cover for Bloodwitch

The brilliantly imagined coming-of-age fantasy series, Witchlands, continues with  Bloodwitch . The Bloodwitch Aeduan and Iseult the Threadwitch race for safety, desperate to evade the Raider King. His attempts to subdue the Witchlands are gaining momentum, as his forces sow terror in the mountains, slaughtering innocents. Despite differing goals, Aeduan and Iseult have grown to trust one another in the fight to survive. Yet trust is a tenuous bond . . .

We Free the Stars

By hafsah faizal.

Book cover for We Free the Stars

We Free the Stars  is Hafsah Faizal's spellbinding conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology. The battle is over, but the war is just beginning. Low on resources and allies alike, Zafira and Nasir are determined to finish their mission; to restore magic to their kingdom. But time is running out and if order is to be restored, sacrifices will have to be made. Both hopeful and devastating, this is YA fantasy at it's best. 

Children of Virtue and Vengeance

By tomi adeyemi.

Book cover for Children of Virtue and Vengeance

In this thrilling sequel to Children of Blood and Bone , Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they imagined, reigniting the powers of the maji and some nobles with magic ancestry. With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must find a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart. Children of Virtue and Vengeance is the perfect read for young adult fantasy fanatics. 

Empire in Black and Gold

Book cover for Empire in Black and Gold

This epic fantasy novel is the first book in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s critically acclaimed fantasy series The Shadows of the Apt. The Lowlands have lived in peace and prosperity for decades, but now an ancient Empire is conquering city after city, and the Lowlands are next . . . Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, sees the threat, but can he convince his people of the danger that is coming? 

Adrian Tchaikovsky's books in order

The star-touched queen, by roshani chokshi.

Book cover for The Star-Touched Queen

Maya's world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges her marriage for political advantage. She becomes the Queen of Akaran and the wife of Amar despite a horoscope that promised a marriage of death and destruction. As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire. But Akaran has its own secrets. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger, but who besides her husband can she trust? Steeped in Indian folklore and mythology The Star-Touched Queen is an enthralling fantasy read.

The Lost City

By amanda hocking.

Book cover for The Lost City

The Lost City is the first book in Amanda Hocking's Omte Origins trilogy, an adventure set in her magical Trylle universe. When Ulla Tulin was abandoned as a baby, like many half-blood trolls she was raised by strangers who hid her away. But she never stopped wondering about her birth parents, and so when she hears about a project to help half-blood trolls she's determined to discover her true heritage. She enlists the help of the resourceful Pan and must contend with the mysterious Eliana. But as she and Pan fight to unravel the truth they realise that someone – or something – is determined to stop them . . .

The Fifth Season

By n. k. jemisin.

Book cover for The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season is the first fantasy novel in N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy. In a far-future Earth, a continent known as the Stillness is plagued by apocalyptic natural disasters known as Seasons, that can last for generations. Book one follows the story of Essun, a woman living an unremarkable life in a quiet town until three tragedies strike in one day. Her husband murders their beloved son in cold blood and kidnaps their daughter, a world-spanning empire falls, and a great rift has been torn into the Stillness throwing ash into the sky and blocking the sun's light for years to come. And so Essun's fight to save her daughters in this dying land, begins . . .

Blood of an Exile

Book cover for Blood of an Exile

In Brian Naslund's must-read debut fantasy novel we meet Bershad, an adventurer sentenced to kill dragons for a living after being caught trying to assassinate a fellow noble. When the king who sentenced Bershad offers him a way out of his forced occupation and exile, Bershad sees a way to earn redemption, but it won't be easy.  Blood of an Exile , the first book in the Dragons of Terra series is packed with adventure and of course, lots of dragons.

Sorcerer to the Crown

Book cover for Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown is the first book in Hugo Award-winning author Zen Cho’s fantasy series. In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England's first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, whose duty it is to keep the levels of magic stable   – but they're failing. The supply of magic is being disrupted by the Fairy Court, and war with France means the government wants to drain this scarce resource even further. When Zacharias meets ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman they find that her recent magical discovery might just change the nature of sorcery forever.  

The Invisible Library

By genevieve cogman.

Book cover for The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library is the astounding debut fantasy book by Genevieve Cogman, and the first novel in The Invisible Library series. Professional spy Irene works for the mysterious Library, along with her enigmatic assistant Kai. Their mission is to steal a dangerous book from an alternative London. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. And to make things more complicated, this alternative world is infested with chaos, full of supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic.

The Invisible Library books in order

By john gwynne.

Book cover for Malice

Malice is the first book in John Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen series , from bestselling author Conn Iggulden. Set in the Banished Lands where armies of men and giants clash in battle, Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.

The Ruin of Kings

Book cover for The Ruin of Kings

The hugely anticipated debut by Jenn Lyons is the first fantasy book in the A Chorus of Dragons series. Brim-full of big ideas – body-swapping, prophecy, rich worldbuilding and grim commentaries on many aspects of empire – to name but a few, this is the tale of Kihrin, a young prince cursed with bad luck and worse prophecy.  The Ruin of Kings  is a fantastically complex and multi-layered fantasy book, and characters like Doc and Galen, alongside Kihrin's own well-balanced set of talents and flaws make this a promising new fantasy series. 

The Tiger and the Wolf

Book cover for The Tiger and the Wolf

The Tiger and the Wolf  is the British Fantasy Award-winning novel from Adrian Tchaikovsky and the first book in his Echoes of the Fall fantasy fiction series. Maniye is an outcast, the daughter of the chieftain of the Wolf clan and the queen of the Tiger clan, clans which have been deadly enemies for generations. Hiding a deadly secret, the power to shapeshift into the form of both a wolf and a tiger, she escapes. But Maniye is crucial to her father’s plan to rule the north, and he is determined to get her back. As she flees, priests foresee danger and rumours of war spread . . . 

by China Miéville

Book cover for King Rat

Blending eerie Pied Piper-influenced fairy tale with the ‘90s South London Drum and Bass scene, China Miéville’s debut is a thrilling urban fantasy novel. When Saul’s father is murdered, in a London where mysterious forces prepare for a showdown, Saul is left to pay for the crime. But help comes in the unlikely form of King Rat, who leads him to freedom where he confronts his inheritance at the gathering of the Junglist Massive.

Children of Blood and Bone

Book cover for Children of Blood and Bone

Tomi Adeyemi’s YA fantasy book is the first in her West African-inspired fantasy fiction series Legacy of Orisha. Zélie remembers when Orisha was full of magic. When different clans ruled with unique powers, including her Reaper mother who could summon forth souls. But everything changed when the ruthless king had anyone with powers killed. Now only a few people still have the power to use magic, and they must stay hidden. Zélie is one of those people, but now she has the chance to bring magic back to her people and strike against the monarchy . . . Tomi Adeyemi is the author of some on the best fantasy books for YA readers in recent years.

The Lord of the Rings

By j. r. r. tolkien.

Book cover for The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy is a classic of fantasy fiction and is a must-read for all fantasy fans. The story of the hobbit Frodo and his epic quest to reach Mount Doom and defeat the Dark Lord, Sauron, by destroying the One Ring, Tolkien’s epic fantasy was adapted into three of the most popular films of the 2000s. One of the best fantasy books ever written. 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

By marlon james.

Book cover for Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Black Leopard, Red Wolf  is the first fantasy novel in Marlon James's Dark Star Trilogy. A New York Times bestseller, National Book Award finalist and Ray Bradbury Prize winner, it's no stranger to accolades. Set in an African-inspired fantasy world, the first book in the series follows Tracker, a mercenary with an extraordinary ability to follow scents, as he hunts down a missing boy. On his journey Tracker's crosses paths with strange companions, from shapeshifters to giants, who seek the same child and hide their own secrets . . .

A Game of Thrones

By george r.r. martin.

Book cover for A Game of Thrones

No list of the best fantasy fiction is complete without George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy fiction series, universally acknowledged to be some of the best fantasy books of all time. The first book in the series gave its name to the TV series that became one of the most talked-about in history. In a world where summers span decades and winter can last a lifetime, the battle for the Iron Throne has begun. The breakout success of A Game of Thrones means the series will feature on best fantasy books lists for years to come.

Books series to read if you love Game of Thrones

The colour of magic, by terry pratchett.

Book cover for The Colour of Magic

Terry Pratchett’s wonderfully inventive fantasy fiction series Discworld begins with  The Colour of Magic . Set in a flat world resting on the back of four elephants who are balanced on the shell of a giant turtle, this is a parallel time and place full of magic. When the first-ever tourist arrives, their survival is charged to a comically inept wizard who must face robbers, mercenaries and Death himself. Terry Pratchett is the author of some of the most-loved fantasy books of all-time.  

The Lie Tree

Book cover for The Lie Tree

When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from the lies. As she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered. Frances Hardinge's wonderfully evocative YA fantasy novel was the Costa Book of the Year 2015, and is one of the best fantasy books for younger readers. 

by Neil Gaiman

Book cover for Stardust

In the tiny town of Wall, young Tristan Thorn is madly in love with the beautiful Victoria Forrester. When she agrees to marry him if he retrieves a fallen star he doesn’t hesitate. But to find the fallen star he’ll need to cross the ancient wall which the town is named for, into a world of magic and danger. This charming fairytale fantasy will delight fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver . 

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The 30 best fantasy book series for escaping to another realm

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Fantasy novels transport readers across magical lands, introduce them to mystical creatures, and take them on mythical adventures. It can be hard to contain a great fantasy story in one novel, so book series let readers revisit their favorite characters and worlds as they take on new enemies, discover new powers, and even fall in love. 

The recommendations on this list aren't just amazing novels — they also make great gifts for the fantasy reader in your life. Many of them come in stunning box sets and gifting the whole series means they can pick up the next book as soon as they close the last. 

Whether the reader in your life loves classic fantasy tales or gripping new fantasy adventures, here are the best fantasy series to gift in 2022.

An enthralling dystopian fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"The Legend" trilogy by Marie Lu, available on Amazon and Target , $25.99

"Legend," the first book in the series, available at Amazon, $7.53

In this dystopian fantasy series set in a future Los Angeles now known as the Republic, 15-year-olds June and Day may never have crossed paths, as she is a prodigy groomed for success and he is the country's most wanted criminal. But when June's brother is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect, the two are set on a collision path toward each other until the truth of what really brought them together is revealed.

A dark academia fantasy trilogy

best new book series fantasy

"The Scholomance" series by Naomi Novik, available on Amazon, $53.87

"A Deadly Education," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble , from $13.89

This series kicks off with " A Deadly Education " where readers are introduced to Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted that students can't leave unless they graduate or die. Full of monsters, magic, and creepy dangers, this trilogy follows El as she navigates her dark powers, finds allies, and tries to survive.

A fantasy series well-known for its TV adaptation

best new book series fantasy

"Game of Thrones" series by George R.R. Martin, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $35.19

"A Song of Ice and Fire," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.29

Now wildly famous after the hit HBO series of the same name, George R.R. Martin's high fantasy series of dragons, seven kingdoms, and deadly winters began with the first novel — " A Song of Ice and Fire " — published in 1996. In this series, families are in a centuries-long power struggle for control of the Iron Throne while protecting the kingdoms from the supernatural creatures that lay beyond the Wall.

A delightfully witchy YA trilogy

best new book series fantasy

"Serpent & Dove" trilogy by Shelby Mahurin, available on Amazon, $32.77

"Serpent & Dove," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble , from $10.39

" Serpent & Dove " is a young adult fantasy trilogy about Louise le Blanc, a witch that fled her coven, abandoned her magic, and settled in Cesarine, a town where witches are feared and burned if discovered. But when Louise is forced into a marriage with a witch hunter from the Church, she must choose to face her enemies, her true feelings, and her magic if she hopes to live.

This fantasy series that ties in epic science fiction elements

best new book series fantasy

"The Broken Earth" series by N.K. Jemisin, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $25.49

"The Fifth Season," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.39

"The Broken Earth" series debuted with the Hugo Award-winning novel " The Fifth Season ," titled after the apocalyptic-level climate change endured every few centuries. In the first novel — known for its intense plot twists — Essun is on a mission to track down her husband who killed her son and kidnapped her daughter as the world deteriorates into devastation.

A fantasy series of magical parallel Londons

best new book series fantasy

"Shades of Magic" series by V.E. Schwab, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $24.49

"A Darker Shade of Magic," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.82

V.E. Schwab is a renowned fantasy writer, most well-known for her " Shades of Magic " series, where readers cross parallel universes with varying degrees of magic alongside a talented smuggler and a cunning thief. The series begins with " A Darker Shade of Magic ," where readers inevitably fall in love with the story of Kell and Lila, two brilliant heroes who must save the worlds from a dangerous rise of magical power.

A seven-book childrens' fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"The Chronicles of Narnia" series by C.S. Lewis, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $20.33

"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.99

"The Chronicles of Narnia" is a seven-book fantasy series first published in 1956 that begins with a young girl named Lucy discovering a magical, wintry world in the back of a wardrobe in " The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ." Trapped under a spell from the evil White Witch, Lucy and her siblings team up with a magical lion to free Narnia from the curse in this series that's been loved by children and adults for nearly 70 years. 

A historical, military fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"The Poppy War" series by R.F. Kuang, available on Amazon, $47.17

"The Poppy War," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.19

" The Poppy War " is the first novel in this historical military fantasy series inspired by the second Sino-Japanese War in 20th-century China. When Rin aces the test to attend the Empire's prestigious military school, she thinks defying everyone's expectations is the last of her problems. While trying to survive at the academy, Rin finds she holds the magical and spiritual gift of shamanism — the ability to interact with spirits — and discovers a Third Poppy War may be closer than they imagined.

An adrenaline-inducing fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"Blood and Ash" series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, available on Kindle, $31.96

"From Blood and Ash," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $17.96

The " Blood and Ash " series has captured readers' hearts since the first book, which has over 150,000 five-star ratings on Goodreads. In " From Blood and Ash ," readers meet Poppy whose upcoming Ascension means the future of her kingdom rests on her shoulders — until a stunning guard named Hawke makes her question what she thought was her destiny. Readers love this series for its action-packed plot, strong heroine, and cliffhanger endings that force them to immediately grab the next book.  

An engrossing fantasy series from Stephen King

best new book series fantasy

"The Dark Tower" series by Stephen King, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $78.99

"The Gunslinger," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.62

In this primarily dark fantasy series, Stephen King blends magical storytelling with elements of westerns, science fiction, and horror in this eight-book story which follows Roland of Gilead, the final gunslinger, on his mission to reach the Dark Tower and save the universe. Though King is mostly known for suspenseful horror, this fantasy series has proven a gripping must-read from " The Gunslinger " through the final installment, " The Dark Tower ."

An emotional fantasy novella series

best new book series fantasy

"Binti" series by Nnedi Okorafor, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.69

"Binti," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.79

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, " Binti " is the first in a series of fantasy novellas featuring earthling Binti, who's been offered a place at the finest university in the galaxy. She must travel through space to reach the school, surviving a furious alien race during her emotional journey.

A fantasy series that began as a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling

best new book series fantasy

"A Court of Thorns and Roses" series by Sarah J. Maas, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $61

"A Court of Thorns and Roses," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.39

Sarah J. Maas is adored for her many sexy and action-packed fantasy series, including " A Court of Thorns and Roses ," a bestselling young adult fantasy series that began as a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling. Feyre is a hunter dragged into a magical kingdom, accused of murdering a faerie. Closely guarded, she begins to discover the secrets of this dangerous land, her mysterious captor, and an ancient curse. 

An epic and beloved fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"The Lord of the Rings" series by J.R.R. Tolkien, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.54

"The Fellowship of the Ring," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.09

Although "The Lord of the Rings" series begins chronologically with " The Hobbit ," " The Fellowship of the Ring " kicks off this epic, high-fantasy adventure with young hobbit Frodo Baggins and his journey across Middle-Earth. Entrusted with the task to destroy a powerful ring, Frodo, along with his hobbit, elf, and wizard companions, sets out to reach the Cracks of Doom and thwart the rise of the Dark Lord.

A dystopian urban fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"The Bone Season" series by Samantha Shannon, available on Kindle, $35.54

"The Bone Season," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.99

Chosen as the first-ever TODAY Book Club pick, " The Bone Season " transports readers to 2059 where dreamwalker Paige Mahoney is scouting the criminal underworld for information by effectively intruding on people's minds. When she's kidnapped and taken to Oxford, a secret city ruled by a race of beings from another world, she must fight to regain her freedom in this original dystopian fantasy brought to life with elements of science fiction.

A captivating high-fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"An Ember in the Ashes" series by Sabaa Tahir, available on Kindle, $39.96

"An Ember in the Ashes," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.38

" An Ember in the Ashes " is a four-book dystopian fantasy series where Laia is a slave in a brutal and tyrannically ruled world under the Martial Empire, living in constant fear. When Laia's brother is arrested, she hatches a plan to rescue him by attending the Empire's military academy and teaming up with Elias, a soldier desperate to be free.

A classic young adult fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"Earthsea Cycle" series by Ursula K. Le Guin available on Amazon, $66.85

"A Wizard of Earthsea," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.36

" Earthsea Cycle " is a high-fantasy series of six books and nine short stories beginning with " A Wizard of Earthsea ," where readers meet Ged, now the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea but once known as Sparrowhawk in his youth. In the first novel, readers follow Sparrowhawk's story of accidentally releasing a shadow over the world and his journey to right his mistake. 

A historical, magical, and whimsical fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"The Daevabad Trilogy" by S.A. Chakraborty, available on Kindle, $35.47

"The City of Brass," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $11

Set in 18th century Cairo, Nahri is a con woman who gets by on what seems like magic, though she's never believed any of it to be real. When she accidentally summons a mysterious warrior during a con, Nahri becomes bound to a legendary city laced with enchantments — and her schemes could leave her facing deadly consequences.

A dramatic fantasy series set in an Asia-inspired metropolis

best new book series fantasy

"Green Bone Saga" series by Fonda Lee, available on Kindle, $29.97

"Jade City," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.99

Winner of the 2018 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, Fonda Lee's " Jade City " is the first in an urban fantasy trilogy about the Green Bone warriors who use jade to enhance their magic and defend the island of Kekon. Four siblings of the Kaul family battle rival clans as a powerful new drug emerges, allowing anyone to wield the coveted jade and resulting in a violent (and lethal) clan war.

A magical and romantic fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"Earthsinger Chronicles" series by L. Penelope, available on Kindle, $50.96

"Song of Blood & Stone," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $16.73

Selected as one of "TIME Magazine's Best Fantasy Books of All Time, " " Song of Blood & Stone " is a romantic fantasy novel where a crack in a magical vial threatens to tear two kingdoms apart. Jasminda and her Earthsong gift seem to be the only hope to heal the nation and prevent a rising war.

A mythological fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series by Rick Riordan, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.80

"The Lightning Thief," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.99

In " The Lightning Thief ," fantasy lovers meet Percy Jackson, a young boy who learns he's a demigod and the son of Poseidon. He sets out with the daughter of Athena across the United States to catch the thief who stole Zeus' lightning bolt and prevent a war between the gods. The Percy Jackson mythological fantasy series has thoroughly engrossed readers of all ages across its five books.

A series of witches, wizards, and romance

best new book series fantasy

"The Kingston Cycle" series by C. L. Polk, available on Kindle, $26.97

"Witchmark," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.69

" The Kingston Cycle " is an award-winning queer fantasy romance series starring Miles Singer, who tried to escape his troubled past and darkly destined future by joining the war efforts, faking his death, and reinventing himself as a doctor. When a tragedy forces Miles to expose his magical healing powers, he risks his freedom to investigate the murder in this series of magical battles, betrayals, and heartwarming romance.

An intense fantasy faerie series

best new book series fantasy

"The Folk of the Air" series by Holly Black, available on Amazon, $22.49

"The Cruel Prince," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.34

" The Folk of the Air " series begins with " The Cruel Prince ," where human Jude and her sisters live amongst the fey in the High Court of Faerie, taken against their will to live there after their parents' murders. Desperate to be one of the fey regardless of her mortality and their hatred of humans, Jude attempts to live among them, navigating their violence — and her complicated feelings for their prince.

A gripping fantasy series about demon hunters

best new book series fantasy

"The Mortal Instruments" series by Cassandra Clare, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $36

"City of Bones," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.24

Cassandra Clare's " The Mortal Instruments " series kicked off with the bestselling " City of Bones " in 2007, a paranormal fantasy novel where 15-year-old Clary Fray meets the Shadowhunters, a group of warriors who purge demons from the Earth. There are six books and three companions to the series through which readers experience dramatic betrayals, unsuspected evil, and exhilarating love.

A fantasy series set in a Dungeons & Dragons realm

best new book series fantasy

"The Legend of Drizzt" series by R.A. Salvatore, available on Kindle, $233.70

"Homeland," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.43

Drizzt Do'Urden is a dark elf who is destined to defend the world after emerging from an Underdark where his family wants him dead in this epic fantasy series with over 50 novels, companions, and short story compilations. This series takes place in the Forgotten Realm, a dimension in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, making this series a perfect collection for any high fantasy fan.

A fantasy series of good vs evil

best new book series fantasy

"Sword of Truth" series by Terry Goodkind, available on Amazon, $25.97

"Wizard's First Rule," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.29

In this 21-book epic adventure fantasy series, each novel can act as a stand-alone book, but reading them in order takes readers on an epic high fantasy adventure that begins after Richard Cypher sets out to investigate his father's murder. As he navigates the woods, he meets Kahlan Amnell, who is being hunted by assassins. Together, they embark on a dangerous and magical journey of destiny, nightmarish creatures, and bending morality.

A destined faerie fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"The Iron Fey" series by Julie Kagawa, available on Kindle, $19.99

"The Iron King," the first book in the series, available on Amazon  and Bookshop , from $10.99

In " The Iron Fey " series, Meghan is living a seemingly normal life until a dark stranger unveils a twisted secret: That she is the daughter of a faery king and a pawn in their deadly war. Action-packed and gripping from the start, this faerie series is full of romance, mystery, humor, and features characters from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

A paranormal fantasy series with angels and vampires

best new book series fantasy

"Guild Hunter" series by Nalini Singh, available on Kindle, $121.85

"Angel's Blood," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.99

With 12 books, four novellas, and 13 short stories published since the series launched in 2009, the " Guild Hunter " books are set in a world where angels rule over humans and vampires. When vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is hired by the powerful archangel Raphael, she's tasked to find an archangel gone rogue. Though the mission is dangerous and potentially impossible, Elena knows failure is not an option in this inaugural book of a gripping urban/paranormal fantasy series. With 12 books, four novellas, and 13 short stories published since the series launched in 2009, the "Guild Hunter" books are set in a world where angels rule over humans and vampires. When vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is hired by the powerful archangel Raphael, she's tasked to find an archangel gone rogue. Though the mission is dangerous and potentially impossible, Elena knows failure is not an option in this inaugural book of a gripping urban/paranormal fantasy series.

A post-apocalyptic dystopian fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"Penryn & the End of Days" series by Susan Ee, available on Kindle, $13.47

"Angelfall," the first book in the series, available on Amazon  and Bookshop , from $7.43

In 2020, " Angelfall " — the first book in the " Penryn & the End of Days " series- ranked as one of " TIME Magazine's" Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time . In this paranormal and post-apocalyptic fantasy series, Penryn is 17 when the angels of the apocalypse descend upon the earth and capture her little sister. She teams up with a wounded enemy angel — her only hope for survival and finding her sister.

A romantic historical fantasy series

best new book series fantasy

"The Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon, available on Amazon, $63

"Outlander," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.29

The " Outlander " series was originally a practice novel for Diana Gabaldon in the 1980s, yet quickly became a bestselling historical fantasy series, with the ninth book due to be published later this year. It's about a woman named Clare who, while on a romantic trip with her husband after World War II, accidentally time travels to Scotland in 1743 where she embarks on an unprecedented journey and falls in love with a Highland warrior. 

A fantasy series with an elaborate and dangerous heist

best new book series fantasy

"Mistborn" series by Brandon Sanderson, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $20.48

"Mistborn: The Final Empire," the first book in the series, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.29

The " Mistborn " saga is a high fantasy series made up of the original trilogy, a four-book additional series set 300 years later, and a third trilogy comprising books 8-10 which is currently in the works. The series' first book is " Mistborn: The Final Empire ," where readers are introduced to the land of Scadrial, ruled by an immortal and unyielding Lord Ruler. Kelsier is a famous thief who leads an elaborate heist with a team of rebels to overthrow the emperor.

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The Best Fantasy Novels of 2022

From dark academia to epic journeys, the best fantasy of the year comes in all shapes and sizes..

best new book series fantasy

If, in the year of our Lord 2022, the phrase fantasy books evokes nothing but decades-old series of thousand-page sword-and-sorcery door stoppers set in slightly altered versions of medieval Europe, well, we’re thrilled to tell you that you have some catching up to do. Today’s fantasy fiction refuses to be constrained by the dominant cultural stereotype. There’s room for door stoppers, to be sure, but there’s so much more out there. The books on this list are the cream of this year’s crop, from dark academia to mythological retellings to epic journeys, set in alternate versions of our reality and in worlds completely foreign to us.

In the interest of covering the widest variety of books and authors, we’re not including sequels or series entries here, but 2022 was a rich year for those, too. Don’t miss A.K. Larkwood’s The Thousand Eyes (the second entry in her Serpent Gates series), N.K. Jemisin’s The World We Make (the second and final book in her Great Cities duology), Naomi Novik’s The Golden Enclaves (the final book of the Scholomance trilogy), and Tamsyn Muir’s Nona the Ninth (third in the Locked Tomb series).

10. The Atlas Six , Olivie Blake

best new book series fantasy

Olivie Blake’s runaway self-published #BookTok sensation turned traditionally published No. 1 New York Times best seller is the real deal. Equal parts Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History , the novel follows six magical adepts (called “medeians”) who have been chosen to compete for a spot in the ultra-elite, ultrasecretive Alexandrian Society, whose members are caretakers of the world’s lost knowledge. Five will be admitted, and the sixth — well, don’t worry too much about the sixth. The joy here is in sinking fully into these characters’ personalities, powers, quirks, foibles, assignations, and betrayals as they maneuver their way toward a place in the group. (Plus, we’re always a sucker for a good fantasy library.) It’s an immensely satisfying read, and if you love it, the sequel came out in October.

9. The Book Eaters, Sunyi Dean

best new book series fantasy

A reclusive family lives in self-imposed isolation on the Yorkshire moors: They are Book Eaters who live on pages and the stories they contain. But the Book Eaters are a dying breed, and their daughters are forced into arranged marriages in the interest of furthering the population. When Devon gives birth to a son, Cai, with a rare mutation — he eats not books but minds — she finds herself on the run from her controlling relatives, driven at all costs to protect her child and find a way to make a life for herself in the human world. This fantastical, often horrifying premise sets the scene for a remarkably nuanced exploration of the triumphs and sacrifices of motherhood (Devon must procure victims for Cai to subsist on even as she searches for a fabled drug that will allow him to live something closer to a normal life) and an affirming, if difficult, journey of self-determination as Devon comes into her own sexuality and agency.

8. Nettle & Bone , T. Kingfisher

best new book series fantasy

For those of us who grew up on a diet of a certain kind of ’80s and ’90s fantasy (think Patricia C. Wrede, Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett), tucking into a T. Kingfisher book feels a bit like coming home to a house you’ve long loved only to find that some industrious, careful soul has dismantled the building board by board, removed the dry rot and plugged the leaks, and reconstructed the pieces into something familiar, spectacular, and utterly surprising. This is the key, though: The  feeling  is the same. You already know all the individual components of  Nettle & Bone : a plucky heroine whose family is in danger, an evil prince, a helpful(ish) witch, a fairy godmother, a disgraced knight, three impossible tasks, and not one but  two  delightful enchanted animals. But this isn’t a retelling; this is someone with a deep love for fantasy, folklore, and fairy tales picking the best parts from a smorgasbord of story elements and stitching them into something sparklingly original. Morbid but funny, cozy but with real danger at its heart,  Nettle & Bone  is the fairy tale this year needed.

7. Saturnalia , Stephanie Feldman

best new book series fantasy

A fascinating, genre-bending dystopian fantasy-thriller-ecohorror hybrid, Stephanie Feldman’s Saturnalia imagines a magical near-future Philadelphia studded with mysterious, mythologically connected secret societies and a populace that has bent back toward paganism as the world burns. On the feast of Saturnalia each year, debauched revelry is the order of the day. Nina, a fortune teller who removed herself from the elite ranks of the Saturn Club three years prior, undertakes a heist for a friend during the festival but finds herself drawn into a much darker, more dangerous plot before night’s end. Feldman builds an engrossing, upsetting vision of the future that’s at once grim and wondrous — a magical feat in and of itself.

6. Spear , Nicola Griffith

best new book series fantasy

Inclusive retellings of misunderstood figures of myth and folklore are very much in vogue right now, but vanishingly few of them are written by authors as talented as Nicola Griffith. She has been writing singular queer speculative fiction for 30 years now (when Ursula K. Le Guin says your debut novel has a “very interesting take on gender,” you’ve planted your flag early), and this short novel is as strong as anything she has written. Spear reimagines the legend of Percival, the Welsh Grail knight later supplanted by Sir Galahad, as the story of a nameless girl raised in isolation but called to adventure, romance, and glory. The book is steeped in research (but never weighed down by it) and told in prose as incisive and devastatingly beautiful as any we’ve read this year.

5. The Spear Cuts Through Water , Simon Jimenez

best new book series fantasy

Formally ambitious and imaginatively rich beyond wonder, Simon Jimenez’s sophomore novel is a marvel. On the surface, this is the story of two soldiers shepherding a dying goddess across a landscape populated by miracles, oddities, and monsters to bring down a tyrannical emperor. That alone would be enough, but Jimenez’s command of prose and playfulness of thought is used to incredible effect to show how oral traditions can transform a tale. The frame narrative (calling it a frame narrative is reductive, but it works for simplicity’s sake) is set generations later than the main story and shifts from recounted myth to immersive storytelling by way of a theater accessed through dreams; it’s a timeline that intersects with the main story in unexpected and magical ways. This book must be read to be believed.

4. The Women Could Fly , Megan Giddings

best new book series fantasy

Megan Giddings’s remarkable second novel takes place in an oppressively racist and misogynist totalitarian version of the United States that simultaneously fears, covets, and punishes women’s power. Witches are real, and any woman not married by 30 will have her autonomy curtailed by force under suspicion of witchcraft, especially if she’s not white. Jo — Black, bisexual, and 28— is at a crossroads. She’s staring down the deadline for marriage (to a man, of course) and haunted by the disappearance of her mother (a suspected witch), which happened when Jo was a teenager. But when new clues about her mother’s fate arise, Jo finds herself in the midst of a community unlike any she has ever experienced. It’s a harrowing and beautiful book, and Giddings never lets the immediacy of her subject matter overbalance her graceful storytelling and the deep humanity of her characters.

3. The Ballad of Perilous Graves, Alex Jennings

best new book series fantasy

Some of the best fantasy starts from a place of metaphor made literal. A visitor to New Orleans in our reality may observe that music seems to be the city’s lifeblood; in Alex Jennings’s exceptional urban-fantasy debut, the magic of song is quite literally the engine that keeps the phantasmagorical city of Nola alive. But some of the songs that form its foundation have escaped from the piano of Doctor Professor, Nola’s “haint” musician emeritus, and it’s up to a plucky and powerful set of young characters to track them down before the city crumbles around them. Just as Nola overflows with personified song, vivid art, zombie cabs, talkative nutria, sky trolleys, and floating graffiti, Perilous Graves is full to bursting with surreal ideas, gloriously unique characters, unapologetic Blackness, and a soul-deep love for New Orleans and its people.

2. Babel, or the Necessity of Violence , R.F. Kuang

best new book series fantasy

R.F. Kuang’s Poppy War trilogy made her an instant name in the fantasy world, and her first stand-alone novel once again shows us why. In Babel , the work of translation is the source of magic, which is in turn the source of the British Empire’s power. At Oxford, a team of young translators finds “match-pairs,” or words and phrases translated from one language to another. The gap in meaning or connotation between the two holds immense power, and the empire uses that power to maintain its stranglehold on the rest of the world. The protagonists are young people snatched from their homelands (China, Haiti, India) who were raised to support Britain but are coming into their own awareness about imperialism, academia, racism, and what revolutionary decolonization could look like in practice. Babel is not an easy read — Kuang isn’t here to hold your hand through your feelings about colonialism, and she doesn’t shy away from the ugliest pieces of imperialist history. Rather, she challenges us to actively engage with the story in a way that more casual readers may not be used to. But it’s worth it: Babel is a monumental work that rewards the effort you put into it.

1. Siren Queen , Nghi Vo

best new book series fantasy

In an alternate version of pre-Code Hollywood where aspiring actors often meet their end as fodder for the sinister ritual magic that powers the studio system, Luli Wei is determined to be a star. The odds, of course, are stacked against her as she’s a gay Chinese American woman, but driven by her ambition and willingness to play the studio heads’ dark game, she finds her breakout role: not as a heroine but a monster. Yet as she sinks further into the murk of the industry, risking her own soul in the process, Luli finds love — and a greater purpose if she can muster the strength to see it through. Coming hot on the heels of last year’s The Chosen and the Beautiful , a queer, immigrant reimagining of The Great Gatsby , Siren Queen establishes Vo as an uncommonly talented new voice in fantasy, one who writes from a place of anger, insight, and deep compassion.

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The 25 Best Fantasy Book Series Ever Written

Rachel Strolle

Magical worlds, mythical beasts and fan-favorite characters—you'll find them all in the best fantasy book series of all time

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25 Best Fantasy Book Series Ever Written Ft Via Merchant

The best fantasy book series ever written

Fantasy is one of the most well-known—and well-loved— book genres , so it’s no great surprise that many of the best fantasy book series have become part of pop culture. (Admit it: Even if you haven’t read Lord of the Rings , you’ve heard that “one does not simply walk into Mordor.”) It’s easy to understand the appeal of fantasy book series: Much of the genre provides an outlet in which readers can escape their reality and explore a new one. The best books may see you journeying across Middle-earth with hobbits, finding a gem in the center of a clan war or even destroying some ghosts—there’s no shortage of magical moments to be found in these pages.

Whether bestsellers, award winners, record breakers, classics or underrated gems, these book series are all incredible picks for spending a day (or days) in a make-believe world. We rounded up dozens of book recommendations for incredible fantasy series with the hope that magic will find its way into your heart and onto your bookshelves.

Join the free Reader’s Digest Book Club for great reads, monthly discussions, author Q&As and a community of book lovers.

Jade City Ecomm Via Amazon.com

1. The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee

Series starter: Jade City

What you’re in for: A war between rival gangster families

Jade City hit shelves in 2017, kicking off a must-read fantasy book series and nabbing a World Fantasy Award in the process. Green Bone Warriors have long protected the island of Kekon from invaders, using the island’s jade to enhance their magic. Now, with no war to fight, warrior families such as the Kauls have turned their attention to new battles—namely fighting for control of both the capital city and the jade market. With a new drug giving everyone the power to wield jade, a clan war quickly brews between the Kauls and a rival family. Looking for more enthralling books by Asian authors ? Our list has you covered.

The Poppy War Ecomm Via Amazon.com

2. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Series starter: The Poppy War

What you’re in for: Crushing choices in battle, forbidden magic and a descent into villainy

This remarkable trilogy, which began in 2018, finds inspiration in the Second-Sino Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War and the rise of Mao Zedong. It opens with Rin, who’s on her way to the elite military school Sinegard, despite the odds stacked against her. (She’s a dark-skinned war orphan who managed to escape her guardians by passing an empire-wide test called the Keju.) A rare gift for the art of shamanism further separates Rin from her classmates and sets her up as a key player in the Third Poppy War that lurks in the near future. But saving her people will come at a steep cost. If you’re into audiobooks , Emily Woo Zeller’s narration of this one further cements its status as one of the best fantasy book series around.

A Wizard Of Earthsea Ecomm Via Amazon.com

3. Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

Series starter: A Wizard of Earthsea

What you’re in for: Character-driven fantasy

Ursula K. Le Guin is widely regarded as a pillar in science fiction and fantasy, and if you’ve never read one of her books, 1968’s A Wizard of Earthsea is a good place to start. The series starter tells the story of Sparrowhawk, a young and cocky boy who grows into the great sorcerer Ged. But between the first and last pages of this coming-of-age story, there are adventures with a dragon and that whole business of unleashing a shadow creature into the world. If you’re really committed to the world, invest instead in The Books of Earthsea , a gorgeously illustrated tome containing all the Earthsea Cycle books.

Lord Of The Rings The Fellowship Of The Ring Ecomm Via Amazon.com

4. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Series starter: The Fellowship of the Ring

What you’re in for: Road trip shenanigans and expansive world

It’s hard to imagine a time without Lord of the Rings , but before 1954, the world had never heard of hobbits, Mordor or the One Ring to rule them all. This isn’t simply one of the best fantasy book series; it’s the defining fantasy series of the past century. The story follows Frodo Baggins, a young hobbit entrusted with the One Ring, which was forged and fueled by the Dark Lord Sauron, granting him dominion over Middle-earth. On his perilous journey to destroy the ring, Frodo joins forces with a trio of hobbits, a wizard, an elf, a dwarf and a human ranger who’s more than he seems. All the while, the merry band of travelers must avoid orcs, giant spiders and a creature who desires the ring for itself. Go ahead and watch the prequel Amazon Prime TV show , but read the book series first.

A Darker Shade Of Magic Ecomm Via Amazon.com

5. Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Series starter: A Darker Shade of Magic

What you’re in for: Parallel worlds and dynamic characters

One of the best fiction books of 2015, V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic  spawned a string of bestselling fantasy novels and now includes a comic book prequel series and a soon-to-be-released sequel series. Kell has been raised alongside the royal family of Red London, and he serves as an ambassador. As an Antari, he possesses the magical ability to travel through parallel Londons, which he uses to his benefit as a smuggler. In magic-less Grey London, he collides with thief Delilah Bard, whose request for help in saving all the worlds kicks off an adventure full of richly crafted characters and fascinating settings.

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6. Earthsinger Chronicles by L. Penelope

Series starter: Song of Blood & Stone

What you’re in for: Romantic fantasy

L. Penelope’s 2015 fantasy book series follows Jasminda, who lives on a farm in Elsira, shunned for both the Earthsong abilities that live within her and the color of her skin. When soldiers from neighboring Lagrimar pass through her valley—a seemingly impossible feat considering the magical veil separating the two countries—Jasminda learns that the veil is cracking. Should it fall, newly mobilized Lagrimari forces will head her way. Tossed headfirst into a brewing conflict, Jasminda joins forces with an Elsirian spy to unravel the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps and save her people. Not sure what to read next? If you love high-fantasy worlds like this, pick up the Witcher series and dive into another imaginative world.

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7. Discworld by Terry Pratchett

S eries starter: The Color of Magic

What you’re in for: Lots of laughs and a vast imagination

Terry Pratchett’s sweeping world began in 1983 and spanned 41 volumes over his lifetime. Dive in to The Color of Magic to meet Rincewind, a wizard—though not necessarily a talented one. He lives within the Discworld, an alternate dimension on the back of a giant turtle that is not the No. 1 tourist destination in the universe. And yet here is Twoflower, Discworld’s first visitor, who’s determined to see everything and who has arrived with his own multi-legged luggage. A lot of fantasy series books are as imaginative as Pratchett’s, but few are as genuinely funny as these books .

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8. The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Series starter: The Fifth Season

What you’re in for: Inventive world-building and unbeatable writing

The only series ever to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel for every single installment (making N.K. Jemisin the only author to win the Hugo three years running), The Broken Earth Trilogy is widely regarded among fantasy fans as one of the best fantasy book series of all time. This skillfully constructed 2015 science fantasy takes place in a land called the Stillness, the only continent on a planet that goes through cataclysmic climate change (referred to as a “fifth season”) every few centuries. Following a young girl learning to harness her earth-based powers, a woman attempting to save her daughter from her murderous husband and a gifted woman with immense power, Jemisin’s tale is one you desperately need to read. When you’re done, make sure to check out even more books from incredible Black authors .

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9. The Singing Hills Cycle by Nghi Vo

Series starter: The Empress of Salt and Fortune

What you’re in for: A cinematic world and low page counts

How’s this for a fun and original way to read a fantasy book series: The cleric Chih links all the books in this collection of novellas, but you can read them in any order. From the rise of an empress traveling toward a political marriage to near-immortal martial artists to the love story between a tiger and a scholar, the tales in The Singing Hills Cycle , which began in 2020, make this one of the best fantasy series for readers who love stories about stories. As an added bonus, all are short-and-sweet reads .

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10. The Drowning Empire by Andrea Stewart

Series starter: The Bone Shard Daughter

What you’re in for: Deeply developed characters and an intriguing magic system

The Drowning Empire is a fresh entry into the best fantasy book series, featuring a world filled with bone-shard magic. Kicking off with 2020’s The Bone Shard Daughter , the series tracks the emperor’s daughter, Lin, in her attempt to make a name for herself. Snubbed as heir to the throne and trapped in the palace, she turns to the costly art of bone shard magic. Equally as compelling are Jovis, who’s on a quest to find his missing wife, and Phalue, who’s contemplating the vast circumstantial differences between her upbringing and beliefs and her partner’s. Stay tuned for the epic finale, one of the most anticipated books of April 2023.

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11. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Series starter: The Lightning Thief

What you’re in for: Greek mythology

Rick Riordan introduced the world to Percy Jackson in 2005, and the lovable character has since appeared in the original five fantasy series books, in addition to a sequel series and a set of graphic novel adaptations. The books have spawned a world of spin-offs (as well as two film adaptations and an upcoming author-involved TV show on Disney+). It all starts with The Lightning Thief : Percy is the prime suspect in a theft, but to his shock, he’s accused of nabbing Zeus’s legendary lightning bolt. Reeling from the discovery that his father is the Greek god Poseidon, he has 10 days to return the bolt to its owner—and no idea where it might be.

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12. Bone Street Rumba by Daniel José Older

Series starter: Half-Resurrection Blues

What you’re in for: New York City magic and ghostbusting

Carlos Delacruz may have died, but that doesn’t stop him from leading this highly underrated urban fantasy series, which began in 2015. Resurrected and now living as a “halfie” who belongs to both the living and the dead, he works as an agent for the New York City Council of the Dead. In the process of eliminating the city’s ghostly inhabitants, he discovers that he’s not the only halfie walking around. And one of them is seeking to open up the underworld.

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13. Patternist by Octavia E. Butler

Series starter: Wild Seed

What you’re in for: Ancient spirits and tumultuous relationships

Octavia E. Butler is a name all speculative fiction fans should know—as is this series. It began with 1977’s Patternmaster , but don’t start there. As noted on the late author’s website, to read in chronological order, start with Wild Seed . Doro is an ancient spirit who can’t survive without a human host, so he jumps from body to body, killing each to stay alive. Everything changes when he meets an entity named Anyanwu, who has the ability to heal with a bite. Their relationship, and the resulting power struggle, spans centuries and continents. Next, pick up Butler’s Fledgling , a thoughtful and engrossing vampire novel .

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14. The Dandelion Dynasty by Ken Liu

Series starter: The Grace of Kings

What you’re in for: Shapeshifting gods, tough battles and reimagined history

The first entry in this quartet arrived in 2015, launching readers into a historical fantasy based on China’s Han Dynasty. In the uprising against the emperor, bandit Kuni Garu and onetime noble Mata Zyndu toss aside their differences to take part in the fight. But that kinship dissolves once the emperor is overthrown, and they end up leading opposing factions with two very different ideas of rule. If you love historical fiction or political fantasy, don’t miss this series.

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15. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson)

Series starter: The Eye of the World

What you’re in for: Epic fantasy and a long series that’ll keep you reading

You may be familiar with this title from the Amazon TV adaptation , but before it busted Prime Video records, it hit bestseller lists as one of the best fantasy book series for high-fantasy lovers. Told over 14 volumes, starting with 1990’s The Eye of the World , the story begins as powerful channeler Moiraine Damodred journeys to find a prophesized hero who may be able to battle the Dark One. The series is the brainchild of Robert Jordan, who wrote all but the final books. Before his death, he passed plans for the series end to fantasy titan Brandon Sanderson, who co-wrote the last three books.

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16. Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi

Series starter: Inuyasha, Vol. 1

What you’re in for: Iconic illustrations and a historical, demon-filled Japan

This one’s for manga lovers, graphic novel fans and, well, anyone who appreciates expansive fantasy novels. The first volume launched in 1997, and both the manga and its anime adaptation have been highly influential in the fantasy world. The story kicks off with a time travel adventure : The well that resides on the site of Kagome’s family shrine is something she barely thought about—until she learns it’s actually a gate to feudal Japan. Pulled into a world in which demons battle for a magical gem of great power, Kagome finds an ally in Inuyasha, a half-demon who she accidentally freed from his imprisonment.

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17. Heaven Official’s Blessing: Tian Guan Ci Fu by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

Series starter: Heaven Official’s Blessing, Vol. 1

What you’re in for: Chronicles of a (most of the time) god

First published in the United States in 2021, the English translation of Chinese author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s Heaven Official’s Blessing made a big splash, immediately hitting the New York Times bestseller list. (By then, it was already a smash hit in China.) With the next seven volumes following quickly on its heels (all will be released by mid-September 2023), now is the time to pick up the story of Xie Lian, whose mortal life ended several centuries ago. On the ground after ascending to godhood (again), he must work to pay back his debts and stay godly.

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18 . Temeraire by Naomi Novik

Series starter: His Majesty’s Dragon

What you’re in for: Battle dragons and historical war

Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, beginning with 2006’s His Majesty’s Dragon , is a fresh fantasy reimagining of the Napoleonic Wars. Rather than aircraft, Britain’s defense relies on dragon warriors. Once a captain of the high seas, Will Laurence takes to the skies after seizing an unhatched dragon egg from a French ship. He joins the Aerial Corps and enters a world he’s wildly unfamiliar with, forging an unforgettable bond as master of the dragon Temeraire.

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19. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Series starter: An Ember in the Ashes

What you’re in for: Roman Empire–inspired world and an epic romance

In Sabaa Tahir’s bestselling 2015 teen novel , An Ember in the Ashes , two teens living in the brutal Martial Empire have little in common. Laia is undercover at the empire’s military academy, spying for the rebels in exchange for her imprisoned brother’s rescue. Elias is the son of a commander, dreaming of escaping the empire. When their paths collide, their world will never be the same. Next, check out our recommendations for fantasy romance books .

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20. The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

Series starter: The Bear and the Nightingale

What you’re in for: Original fairy tale feelings

Launching in 2017 with the bestselling The Bear and the Nightingale , this series follows Vasya and her siblings, who live in a nearly year-round winter. They spend their nights listening to stories by the fire, with Vasya’s favorite being that of Frost, a fearful demon who claims the souls of the unwary. When Vasya’s new stepmother forbids them from honoring the spirits that guard against evil, she’ll need to reach deep inside herself to restore the safety they once felt by the fire.

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21. Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Series starter: Assassin’s Apprentice

What you’re in for: Political chess and secret missions

Robin Hobb’s expansive world covers 13 books and multiple series, but the first trilogy set within the Realm of the Elderlings starts with Assassin’s Apprentice , which came out in 1995. Fitz may have been raised apart from royalty, but he still has a powerful destiny. As the bastard of a prince, he’s treated more as a threat than a son. Luckily, there is one who hasn’t cast him away, a devious king who’s spent years secretly training Fitz to become an assassin. With magic in his veins and a life lived in the shadow of a court where he’s never quite belonged, he embarks on his very first mission.

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22. Between Earth and Sky by Rebecca Roanhorse

Series starter: Black Sun

What you’re in for: Outcasts, political intrigue and a world inspired by pre-Columbian civilizations

With the third book set to release in August 2023, you have plenty of time to immerse yourself in Rebecca Roanhorse’s outstanding world, starting with 2020’s Black Sun . Tova’s annual celebration of the winter solstice is one filled with joy … normally. But this year, two things threaten the celebration: a solar eclipse, bringing with it a prophesied unbalanced world, and the arrival of a ship from distant lands. It carries only two beings, a captain with magical abilities and a blind young man who has a bone to pick with the Sun Priest. If you’re looking to read more Native American books (and you should!) this is a good place to begin.

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23. Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Series starter: Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1

What you’re in for: Alchemy, a large and exciting cast of characters and brotherly devotion

This manga series, originally published in Japan in 2002 and released in the United States in 2005, is a classic for a reason. It’s been adapted into two separate anime series and spans 27 glorious volumes. Eric and Alphonse Elric were experimenting with an alchemical ritual to bring their mother back to life when it failed, tearing them apart, leaving Eric with only one arm and leg, and sending Alphonse’s soul into a suit of armor. Now, the two must journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone to restore their bodies. Even if you’ve never read a manga before, the storytelling in this one makes it well worth your time.

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24. Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore

Series starter: Graceling

What you’re in for: Young women coming to terms with their power

With her 2008 blockbuster, Graceling , Kristin Cashore introduced readers to an expansive world filled with strong-willed characters and a fascinating magic system. While Graceling Realm is undoubtedly one of the best fantasy book series for teens, it appeals to adult readers as well. In the Seven Realms, there are those who are born graced, possessing two different color eyes and a skill of great power. Graceling introduces us to Katsa, a graced assassin serving as the king’s enforcer. Fire (my all-time-favorite fantasy book) takes us across the mountains and decades into the past to meet Fire, the last remaining human monster. Bitterblue and the titular character struggle with sins of the father, while Winterkeep and Seasparrow , published about a decade after the initial trilogy, continue the breathtaking story.

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25. Kingston Cycle by C.L. Polk

Series starter: Witchmark

What you’re in for: Romance and an Edwardian England–inspired world

Whether you gobble up romance novels , prefer historical fiction or gravitate toward fantasy, you’ll find a new favorite in C.L. Polk’s Kingston Cycle . This series of romantic LGBTQ books began with 2018’s Witchmark , winner of a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Miles Singer was low on options from the moment of his birth. To escape two equally unsavory fates—enslavement or a witches’ asylum—he opts to fight in a war. After faking his death and taking a job as a doctor, Miles inadvertently reveals his magical ability while tending to a poisoned patient. Throwing caution to the wind, he risks everything and depends on a handsome stranger to discover the truth.

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Rachel Strolle

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The best science fiction and fantasy books of 2022

Impressive debuts, returning favorites, and much more

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We’ve run through our favorite games , movies , and TV shows of 2022, and now it’s time to talk about our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of the year.

2022’s best SFF books feel like an apt reflection of the past few years, as so much has changed. It may come as no surprise that this year ushered in a tidal wave of terrifying gothics and hauntings — books where protagonists were trapped in by the spaces around them. Science fiction gave us visions of the future, from white flight and space exploration to hopeful philosophical ramblings about the nature of being alive to post-pandemic technofuturism. At the same time, much of this year’s best fantasy looked backward, retelling mythologies and critiquing institutions of power.

This list has a range of titles from beloved authors, impressive debuts, and short-story collections, that all share one thing in common: We absolutely loved the time we spent with them. And we hope you do too. The list is in reverse chronological order of release, so the most recently released books will be at the top — with honorable mentions at the end.

The cover for Africa Risen, featuring a Black person whose hair is blending in with green growth behind them, wearing a colorfully painted outfit that looks like a space suit

Africa Risen edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight

Africa Risen showcases some of the most talented contemporary speculative writers — ranging from established writers to debut authors — whose works are set in Africa and across the African diaspora. This large volume reimagines fantasy and science fiction with stories about capturing lost memories and minds, those of climate crisis, and interpretations of folklore and myth. Stories range from whimsical and imaginative to hefty and contemplative, and each is the perfect size to read over a morning commute or before bed (which is how I have been slowly savoring this book). The breadth of this anthology harkens back to the seminal Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora . Africa Risen ’s editors take care, in their introduction, to mention numerous other publishers and collections of short speculative fiction set in the African diaspora and written by Black authors — including independent presses, zines, and other short-story collections. As the editors write in their introduction: “Africa isn’t rising — it’s already here.” — Nicole Clark

Cover image for Heart of the Sun Warrior, a colorful image with a castle, clouds, and a person aiming a bow.

Heart of the Sun Warrior (The Celestial Kingdom #2) by Sue Lynn Tan

Sue Lynn Tan’s debut, Daughter of the Moon Goddess , took the world by storm earlier this year. And she published the second in the duology this year as well, gifting us with a short wait and another romance- and action-packed adventure. In the first book, Xingyin, daughter of the moon goddess Chang’e, worked her way into the palace’s army in order to ensure her family’s survival — falling for Liwei the prince, son of the Celestial Emperor, in the process.

Heart of the Sun Warrior picks up right where the previous book left off, throwing Xingyin back into action. The Celestial Emperor once again found reason to punish the moon goddess and her daughter, forcing them to flee for their lives. Wenzhi attempts to curry Xingyin’s favor, even after his betrayals. It is unwise to attempt to outsmart the gods, but this is once again the choice our heroine is given. This sequel packs an impressive, near-breathless amount of plot into its pages, telling a tale of love for one’s family, and the quiet dignity of never giving up. — NC

Cover image for N.K. Jemisin’s The World We Make, with a black-and-white apartment building that has colorful octopus-like graffiti on it

The World We Make (Great Cities #2) by N.K. Jemisin

New York City may be the fifth character in Sex and the City , but it’s all six main characters in The World We Make . The conclusion to Jemisin’s Great Cities duology finds five of the city’s avatars still struggling to figure out how to stop the R’lyeh — a feat made more difficult without the aid of Staten Island, who remains allied with the enemy despite idly watching her borough’s boroughness be leached out of existence. The rest of the city is similarly threatened by a popular mayoral candidate whose campaign built on hateful rhetoric and gentrification threatens the very fabric — and existence — of the city. The battle for New York is thus fought across two planes in The World We Make , with some of the avatars focusing on the multidimensional fight for survival against an eldritch terror, and others standing off against Proud Men chanting “Make New York great again.” Subtle, this book is not. Though not as strong as the first installment in the duology, The World We Make still has enough grit, heart, and humor to propel you through to the very end. Though maybe I’m biased. I am a New Yorker, after all. — Sadie Gennis

Cover image for Bliss Montage by Ling Ma, with oranges in plastic wrapping

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

Bliss Montage is a departure from Ling Ma’s bestselling debut, Severance , in the best of ways. I was sucked into this collection of short stories from the very first page as Ma melds the fantastical with reality, serving it all in a witty deadpan. The opening paragraph from “Los Angeles” immediately sets the tone:

The house in which we live has three wings. The west wing is where the Husband and I live. The east wing is where the children and their attending au pairs live. And lastly, the largest but ugliest wing, extending behind the house like a gnarled, broken arm, is where my 100 ex-boyfriends live. We live in L.A.

Stories deftly blur the lines between reality and satire, borrowing from speculative fiction conventions to create something entirely new and satisfyingly odd. It is a must-read. — NC

Cover image for The Spear Cuts Through Water, which depicts two figures fighting — one with a spear, one with a sword — through an opening in a tree canopy.

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

The Spear Cuts Through Water is many things. At its core, it’s the tale of Jun and Keema, two strangers who help a fallen god escape her captivity at the hands of her cruel husband, the emperor, and their sons, aptly dubbed the Three Terrors. But Jun and Keema’s adventure is actually being acted out in a magical theater in another dimension hundreds of years later, with the book’s narrative winds between Jun and Keema’s story, the performance of it, and the experience of one man watching from the audience — though he’s fated to forget what he’s witnessed as soon as he leaves the theater.

The Spear Cuts Through Water recalls Gabriel García Márquez with its surreal fluidity, though the way Jimenez weaves together first-, second-, and third-person perspectives creates an immersive style just his own. And his decision to consistently disrupt the primary story with the flowing thoughts of surrounding characters gives you the sense that you’re floating through this world, both tethered to and set free by Jimenez’s mesmerizing prose.

So, as I said, The Spear Cuts Through Water is many, many things. It’s a spellbinding tribute to oral storytelling and folklore. It’s a thoughtful exploration of identity and family. But more than anything, The Spear Cuts Through Water is a love story, and one unlike anything you’ve read before. — SG

Cover image for The Oldeander Sword, featuring a woman in a gorgeous dress lifting up a green curtain while holding a sword.

The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri

While the first Burning Kingdoms book was a beautifully lush piece of world-building and slow-burn romance, The Oleander Sword is a brutal epic that relentlessly builds toward utter devastation. The Jasmine Throne ends with Malini’s and Priya’s paths diverging, as Malini wages her vengeful war against her brother to claim the throne and Priya steps into her role as an Elder of Ahiranya. But when the two women see an opportunity to come together to help each of their people, the lovestruck pair leap at the chance to reunite and end Parijatdvipa’s reign. Malini’s brother is not the only threat facing the kingdom, though. The rot continues to spread throughout the kingdom, and new revelations about the Yaska leave Priya and Bhumika reevaluating their people’s history and relationship to their faith. A series already beloved for its thorniness, Suri muddies the dynamics further in The Oleander Sword as political plots, romantic desires, and religious beliefs intertwine and clash in in engrossing and often heartbreaking ways. — SG

The cover image for Babel, a stark black-and-white drawing of a tall tower, with white birds around it and smaller buildings.

Babel: Or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang

In this masterful, lengthy book, R.F. Kuang sharply critiques British imperialism and the bureaucratic institutions that hold it up — particularly academic scholarship and monarchy. Historical fiction intertwines with fantasy, as a cohort of four students pursue translation studies at Oxford’s Babel. The end goal of their academic pursuits is to make magic-imbued silver for the crown. These magical silver bars are created through a process of translation — namely, that bit of meaning that’s lost between words in different languages, or as they’ve evolved over time.

One such example comes early in the book: the gulf between triacle and treacle , the former from Old French and Middle English with herbalist connotations of curing poisons and ailments. The contemporary in English is a kind of sweet and bitter syrup. This creates a silver bar with the power to heal, and that leaves a sweet aftertaste in the mouth. It is also the bar that Professor Lovell uses to save Robin Swift (this is the English name the boy chooses) from cholera in 1828, before whisking him from his home in Canton.

While studying at Babel, Robin and his cohort are given access to abundant resources they could have never dreamed of. At the same time, they see the ugly agenda of Oxford, and how even their mother tongues become tools of British imperialism. Their professors and classmates see the value in the silver they may produce, with their knowledge of such “exotic” languages, but view those who live in foreign countries as less than human and ultimately expendable. Robin and his friends must choose between two paths set before them: comfort and wealth in the bosom of the crown, or simply burning it all down. — NC

Cover image for Ramona Emerson’s Shutter, featuring a person walking down a dirt road in a red and brown landscape, as seen through  concentric circles.

Shutter by Ramona Emerson

The National Book Award-winning novel follows a forensic photographer who — unfortunately for her — can see ghosts. The traumatized spirits haunt Rita at all hours, refusing to let her sleep and purposefully sabotaging her life. These hauntings are also what pushed her out of the Navajo reservation she grew up on, where even discussing death was seen as taboo. But no ghost has given her as much trouble as an alleged suicide victim, whose crime scene Rita is sent to photograph at the start of the novel. The rageful ghost is insistent that she was murdered and won’t stop terrorizing Ramona until her case is solved. Soon, Rita is in deep over her head as she finds herself immersed in a web of crime and corruption involving one of New Mexico’s top cartels.

A thrilling yet melancholy read, Shutter delivers on all levels. But be warned: If you can’t stomach too much gore, you might need to skim through the crime scene descriptions where Emerson’s own experience as a forensic photographer shines through in her grisly prose. — SG

Cover image for Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, featuring a woman in a teal dress standing in a large orange doorway, surrounded by growing vines on the house.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s newest novel is a retelling of the 1896 classic by H.G. Wells. But Moreno-Garcia sets it in 1871 in Yucatán, during the Caste War — a time when the Mayan people fought back against their Mexican and European oppressors.

As in her other works, this Gothic tale is told through the perspective of the young woman at its center. Sequestered in her father’s estate in the Yucatán Peninsula, Carlota Moreau lives alongside hybrid creatures, formed of animal and human DNA. She grows up alongside these hybrids, treating them as siblings, though the outside world would see them otherwise. She has long suffered from a “disease of the blood” that her father has treated with a regular injection of jaguar “gemmules.” To keep their work private, her father claims that he runs a sanatorium — attempting to hide the Lovecraftian horrors that lie within.

Carlota loves her home, and feels as if no other place would contain such natural beauty — though she begins to suspect all is not well. When Eduardo Lizalde, son of the doctor’s benefactor, visits the estate, her doubts only intensify. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau explores themes of colonization, class, and what it means to be human, all while being a suspenseful page turner. — NC

Cover image for A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, filled with bright colors and an orange skyline with circular shapes, as well as a cart going along a hilly road.

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers’ newest installment of her Monk and Robot series follows Sibling Dex and Splendid Speckled Mosscap’s journey through the wilds of future human civilization. A Psalm for the Wild-Built , the first in the series, details the context of this world. In the future, AI has gained sentience — and in response, humans decided to let them form agency and leave to build their own civilization in the wilderness.

Sibling Dex had been a Tea Monk, a profession that led them to human settlements; they would prepare tea and chat or offer guidance to those who sought their various brews. But one day the monk chose to eschew this path, leaving behind their profession to wander in the wilderness — where they stumbled upon Mosscap, a robot on a quest to learn about humans and their needs. In the first book, the two wander through uninhabited lands, discussing philosophical questions about the nature of being alive. In this second slim volume, the two finally enter a settlement of humans.

Chambers builds an alternate, gentler world than the one we live in — though it has its fair share of melancholy, sorrow, and prejudice. Through their questions back and forth, Dex and Mosscap get closer to the tender marrow of what keeps them going, and what their friendship might look like once their “quests” have come to a close. Chambers’ work has been called “hopepunk” by various critics, and this small novel continues on this theme. — NC

The cover image for Ken Liu’s Speaking Bones, which depicts a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables inside an antlered skull.

Speaking Bones by Ken Liu

I was dreading having to write this blurb because it’s incredibly intimidating — and I think, frankly, impossible — to do justice to Speaking Bones in a few hundred words or less. Though, my struggle is thematically aligned with one of the Dandelion Dynasty series’ larger points: that people’s truths are too complicated and contradictory to ever be fully captured. Often, the intricacies of people’s hearts, minds, and relationships become stripped of context, simplified, misinterpreted, or erased until what’s left is a cohesive, neatly wrapped-up history that’s easy to digest. But even within these stories, there’s truth and there’s power. And learning how to wield the power of storytelling is just as important in Speaking Bones as the ability to wield a sword, the might of a garinafin, or the grace of kings.

Speaking Bones is a detail-rich, multigenerational saga with a scope and ambition that would be unwieldy if not helmed by someone of Liu’s masterful talent. There are gods and war, political cunning and philosophical debates, pages upon pages of technical specifications for inventions, and dialogue that reads more like poetry. The questions the book raises and the empathy it extols are not things easily forgotten. But what has stayed with me the most is the gap between the characters’ stories that I read and the ways those stories get retold — within the book, but also outside it, as I try to share my love for this story with others. There’s so much that gets lost in that translation, but it doesn’t make either version any less true. — SG

Cover image of Saara El-Arifi’s The Final Strife, with a dark-skinned woman with long hair backgrounded by blue flowers.

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi

This epic fantasy remixes tropes to create something entirely new and impossible to put down. As in other dystopias, society is separated by a strict class system — this time by blood color. Embers have red blood, which affords them the powers and privileges of blood magic. Dusters, the middle classes, have blue blood, while Ghostings, the servant class who are maimed at birth, have transparent blood.

Sylah was raised as a Duster and trained to overthrow the Embers by winning the Wardens’ annual trials. But when the rebellion was quashed — killing her family, or so she believed — she coped by turning to other vices, hoping to vanish into the background. All of this changes when she sneaks into an Ember princess’s quarters and gets roped right back in. The Final Strife sets its bureaucratic squabbles and a gripping love triangle against the backdrop of a deadly competition. It’s thrilling and entertaining from start to finish. — NC

The cover image of Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda, featuring a woman in a red dress standing in front of a dilapidated building and behind some spiky plants.

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

If you loved Mexican Gothic , then The Hacienda will be right up your (haunted) alley. This Gothic is set at the lavish Hacienda San Isidro, in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence. Beatriz faces dire prospects — her father had been executed, and she and her mother are near penniless. When Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes marriage, she feels as if her problems have been solved. She’ll turn Hacienda San Isidro into the home she and her mother have long craved, with bright windows and beautiful gardens.

But the Hacienda is not what it first appears. It is profoundly haunted, projecting visions of blood-soaked floors and walls caved in, blacking out the lights and rattling doors. In this tale, the monster is in the house — but the monster also is the house. Beatriz is abandoned without allies: Rodolfo has left on a business trip and his sister, who lives at the estate, turns her nose at Beatriz at every turn. Who will save her from this house? And who will give her and her mother a place to live if she cannot make this work? Only Padre Andrés, the young priest — with other secrets of his own — is there to help. — NC

Cover for Eyes of the Void, which features a planet and multiple space ships.

Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Architects, an alien species of moon-sized planet destroyers, are back, and the one thing that used to ward them off is no longer effective. So, how does humanity respond? With infighting, power grabs, and petty squabbles. At the center of all this is Idris Tellemier, the only person to ever communicate with an Architect, who spends the majority of Eyes of the Void being bargained over, used, and kidnapped for political gain and protection. But while Idris is the one burdened with saving the world, his friends on the Vulture God are tasked with saving Idris. Eyes of the Void finds Solace, Kris, Kit, and Ollie (who rightfully gets her own POV chapters this time around) navigating the tense political atmosphere and facing down enemies ranging from the Architects to cultists to their own people in order to protect their unusual family.

Adrian Tchaikovsky has built a dizzyingly complicated narrative, and his inventive world-building gets a chance to shine in Eyes of the Void, as the Vulture God crew becomes further entangled with new characters, species, and cultures — most of whom the crew finds various ways to piss off. And though the book raises more questions than answers, the compounding mysteries raise the stakes to heart-pounding heights as Idris’ quest to learn how to stop the Architects unravels startling truths about the very makeup of the universe. — SG

The cover for John Gwynne’s The Hunger of the Gods, which features a very angry wolf.

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

In its second outing, The Bloodsworn Saga remains a merciless and brutal series filled with graphic action, impeccable world-building, and an ever-growing ensemble of characters who straddle the lines of morality. Only now, it’s no longer just about mortals fighting for power, revenge, or family. Gods have returned to Vigrið, throwing the balance of society into chaos. As many scramble to find footholds of power in the shifting world order, our original protagonists — Okra, Elvar, and Varg — continue resolutely down their paths to rescue and avenge those taken from them, even if that means fighting (or enslaving) a god. While characters’ storylines were largely separate in the first novel, here they weave in and out of each other’s lives as fate and (mis)fortune reveal how intricately their paths intertwined. Tightly paced and with invigorating action throughout, The Hunger of the Gods is the epic payoff to the foundation Gwynne meticulously laid down in The Shadow of the Gods and a thrilling setup for the series conclusion. — SG

The cover for Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House, with a pixelated image of horizontal lines of all kinds of colors.

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

Like A Visit From the Goon Squad before it, The Candy House , the newest novel from Jennifer Egan, is written in the mode of its subject matter. While the 2010 outing’s connected-yet-discrete short stories functioned much like a mixtape, or an experimental album from a band that had gotten sick of releasing catchy singles, The Candy House functions more like the omniscient, hyper-reactive style of communication that defines social media, and the internet writ large.

Following ancillary characters from Goon Squad , the sort-of sequel focuses on a groundbreaking consciousness-sharing app, its celebrity creator, and the multifarious cast that gave rise to its existence. As in Goon Squad, and even Manhattan Beach , Egan is above deploying the ramifications of such a godlike technology for soapbox diatribes — instead, she explores her own winding maze of characters and conflicting interests with disgust, empathy, and some of the year’s best prose: ”My problem is the same one had by everyone who gathers information: What to do with it? How to sort and shape and use it? How to keep from drowning in it? Not every story needs to be told.”

Above all, The Candy House explores both the danger and the sublime in humans’ compulsion to share their lives with others. Weaving stories from dozens of points of view in New York, the redwood forests, and the deserts of the American Southwest, among many others, it’s a sobering reminder that the connective technology — the “social media” — that could either save or ruin us is already here. — Mike Mahardy

The cover for Sea of Tranquility showing a moon behind the horizon

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Emily St. John Mandel has demonstrated her talent for penning interlacing stories, with both Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel introducing their casts in piecemeal fashion, slowly revealing how each of these characters know each other. Sea of Tranquility is even more sprawling, stretching from the 1910s and into the further future, a time when people live in moon colonies. The book also creates an official Mandel multiverse , if that’s your thing, with characters from The Glass Hotel serving as some of the novel’s primary focuses.

My favorite part of Sea of Tranquility is its wholesale embrace of one of my favorite science fiction tropes. It’s a time travel story with a number of well-plotted turns, all in Mandel’s fluid, introspective writing style. It’s a great read for anyone who loves The Matrix movies or enjoyed Disney’s Loki (but maybe wished it stuck the landing a bit better). — NC

The cover of This Rebel Heart, with a young woman overlaidd on a burning city.

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

Budapest is where Csilla’s family has lived for hundreds of years. It’s also where they died. In 1956, seven years after her parents were executed by the Soviet police, Jewish newspaper typist Csilla and her aunt are preparing to flee to Israel. But after chance encounters with a student revolutionary and an angel of death, Csilla begins questioning what means more to her: fighting to survive or fighting for a better life.

With its richly drawn characters and gutting depictions of post-Holocaust trauma and antisemitism, This Rebel Heart is a grounded, often heartbreaking account of Jewish life under Russian occupation. As Csilla finds herself on the forefront of the Hungarian revolution, she navigates the dueling realities that have shaped her — remembering and forgetting, survival and freedom, and loving a city that has never loved her back. Elegantly blending history with magical realism and Jewish folklore, Katherine Locke has created a profound tribute to those willing to risk everything for hope. — SG

The cover of The Way Spring Arrives And Other Stories, a collection of Chinese science fiction and fantasy in translation from a visionary team of female and nonbinary creators, edited and collected by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang. The cover features flowers.

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories edited and collected by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang

Chinese science fiction has become increasingly popular in the United States, as Ken Liu (an accomplished author in his own right) translated Liu Cixin’s groundbreaking Three-Body Problem into English. Since then, Chinese speculative fiction has gained popularity, making way for other literary talent.

The Way Spring Arrives is a collection of 17 Chinese science fiction and fantasy stories — and all of them have been written, translated, and edited entirely by women and nonbinary writers. Curated by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang, the excellent collection spans topics and tropes. — NC

The cover for Goliath showing big block text in front of a few profile images of a Black woman

Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi

In the near future, a mass white flight to space colonies has left the largely poor, BIPOC population to eke out an existence on Earth, which has become uninhabitable after ecological and human-made disasters. But though the powerful and privileged abandoned the planet, the system they profit off of remains intact. Now, years later, the space colonists have begun to return — some to gentrify the neighborhoods their ancestors deserted and others as trauma tourists seeking to gawk at those who’d been left behind. A nonlinear series of vignettes, Goliath switches between several characters’ perspectives, but the main focus is on a group of stackers, a Black and brown crew of workers who scrape by salvaging bricks from demolished buildings to send to the colonies. With no hope of circumstances improving, they’ve long ago come to accept that grief will be the primary constant in their inevitably short lives — if the cancerous air doesn’t kill them, the automated drone police will. But while so much of their lives are defined by pain, the stackers keep moving forward, searching for meaning and fleeting moments of joy in a world designed to destroy them.

Impressive in its scale, ambition, and range of voice, Goliath is a shattering work that is so much more than the sum of its parts. In addition to the stackers, Tochi Onyebuchi weaves in tales of a gay white couple leaving the colonies to play pioneer on Earth, a journalist hoping to tell the stackers’ story (but really, hoping to assuage her white guilt), an incarcerated Yale grad who becomes a negotiator in a prison protest, and a Black marshal dragging a slaver across the West to retrieve the body of a murdered boy. Goliath is simultaneously sprawling and intimate, exploring racism, classism, gentrification, the prison system, and the climate crisis through brief moments in these largely disconnected lives. But taken together, these small moments add up to a powerful look at America’s broken system and the harrowing trajectory we find ourselves on. — SG

The cover for Akata Woman showing the semi-profile of a woman with an afro, illustrated in grayscale

Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor

If the first two installments in The Nsibidi Scripts series were about Sunny discovering and exploring her identity, Akata Woman is about her defining it. The inventive, adventurous novel follows Sunny during a period of great growth as she and Chichi are forced to uphold their bargain with the giant spider Udide to return her stolen ghazal. With Orlu and Sasha tagging along, the coven’s treacherous journey to retrieve the ancient scroll leads them to discover breathtaking new worlds and the increasing limits of their juju abilities. But as Sunny strains to keep up with her rapidly evolving powers, she must also face the growing fracture in her relationship with her spirit face, Anyanwu.

Being doubled and being a free agent both carry heavy burdens in Leopard culture, but throughout Akata Woman , Sunny discovers a strength and comfort in who she is and what she can do. It’s yet another beautiful leg in Sunny’s coming-of-age journey, made all the more impactful by Nnedi Okorafor’s rhythmic prose. — SG

The cover for How High We Go in the Dark which shows clouds as a backdrop

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year so far — and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s my absolute favorite by the end of the year. Tender and dystopian, the pandemic novel is told in a series of vignettes, each exposing a different pocket of future society — and eventually connecting through characters and circumstances.

Nagamatsu sharply paints a picture of society inevitably building industry out of grief, as people fight for basic human dignity and struggle to hold onto memories of loved ones. It’s an ambitious critique of late-stage capitalism, wrapped up in a series of family dramas that sound wild out of context: a robo-dog toy that contains recordings of a deceased mother’s lullabies, a euthanasia state park for children whose parents want them to have happy final memories, and tech-bro-created funereal currencies are just a few of the scenarios. — NC

The cover of Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lyn Tann, with a blue background, flowers, a figure in a dress, and the moon.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

This heartfelt, lyrical fantasy follows Xingyin, a young immortal raised in secret by her mother Chang’e, the moon goddess exiled to a life of solitude by the cruel Celestial Emperor. But when Xingyin’s existence is discovered, she must flee the only home she’s ever known and carve a new path for herself while hiding the truth of who she is.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess sweeps through the years of Xinglin’s journey with efficient, effortless speed, chronicling her evolution from a sheltered child to the Celestial prince’s unlikely but dearest companion and a decorated archer serving the very emperor she despises. All the while, Xingyin must juggle the desires and duties she develops in her new life with her long-held determination to free her mother from under the emperor’s thumb. A story about how far we go for love and the painful choices we must make along the way, Daughter of the Moon Goddess weaves together Chinese mythology, court intrigue, romance, action, and betrayal into one of the year’s most exciting debuts. –SG


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The Best Fantasy Book Series

From the Taoist beliefs of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books to the complexity of Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. From the ambition of Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books to the beautifully written Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb. These are - in our opinion - the very best fantasy book series available, and ones we highly recommend everyone read. The criteria? For the purpose of this list we have decided that a series must consist of at least four books. So no trilogies, that is deserving of a page all of its own.

A Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

A Song of Ice and Fire and Robin Hobb’s trilogy of trilogies (Farseer, Liveship and Tawny Man) are quite able to put a very strong case forward for their favoured works but few can deny that the quality and ambition of the ten books that make up A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen are unmatched within the genre.

“Erikson is an extraordinary writer… my advice to anyone who might listen to me is: treat yourself to Gardens of the Moon.” Stephen R. Donaldson

“I stand slack-jawed in awe of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. This masterwork of the imagination may be the high watermark of epic fantasy.” Glen Cook

A Malazan Book of the Fallen reviews: Gardens of the Moon , Deadhouse Gates , Memories of Ice , House of Chains , Midnight Tides , The Bonehunters , Reaper’s Gale , Toll the Hounds , Dust of Dreams , and The Crippled God

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

George R. R. Martin is a wonderful writer and his fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire is so popular because it is excellent. This not a finished series, only five of the seven books have seen the light of day so far (but those who have watched the HBO series will have a good idea of what is coming next). Inspired by The War of the Roses, the English civil war of the fifteenth century the series features wonderful storytelling, a massive cast of characters that demand your attention and a narrative that shows that all humans of capable of being both cruel yet kind, intelligent yet foolish, brave yet cowardly. My advice to someone who has yet to read this series is this: Forget the hype, try to forget the HBO series – read A Game of Thrones on its own merit and I hope you revel in the experience. It’s rather good you know.

“The sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads… Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias” The Guardian

A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones , A Clash of Kings , A Storm of Swords , A Feast for Crows , A Dance with Dragons , The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

A saga filled with unforgettable characters and a world steeped in rich history and legend. If you truly love the fantasy genre, passing up a chance to read The Wheel of Time would be an unbelievable mistake.

“With the Wheel of Time, Jordan has come to dominate the world that Tolkien began to reveal” New York Times

The Wheel of Time: The Eye of the World , The Great Hunt , The Dragon Reborn , The Shadow Rising , The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

Is all the hype about the Harry Potter books justified? In a word, yes, the books are a joy to read and possibly the most rewarding young adult’s book since The Hobbit. Hogwarts is a truly magical place, not only in the most obvious way but also in all the detail that the author has gone to describe it so vibrantly. It is the place that everybody wishes they could of gone to when they where eleven. This book is highly recommended to anybody between the ages of 8 and 80.

“One of the greatest literary adventures of modern times” Sunday Telegraph

The Harry Potter Series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone , Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets , Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban , Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire , Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix , Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin has a reputation for exploring psychological and sociological themes within her books and this collection is no different. These novels can be read by children and enjoyed from the perspective of magic, wizards, adventure and the beautifully imagined world of Earthsea. They can also be appreciated by adults for the thought-provoking elements that the book conjures. This is a collection that makes you think and leaves you thinking. Ursula Le Guin’s creation, Earthsea – an ancient world of wizards, magic, darkness and light, and an ever-shifting balance of power – is an acknowledged masterpiece.

“One of the major works of fantasy in this century.” Observer

The Earthsea Cycle: The Earthsea Quartet: (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu) , The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

“Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers! what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics.” The Times

The Realm of the Elderlings: Assassin’s Apprentice , Royal Assassin , Assassin’s Quest , Ship of Magic , The Mad Ship , Ship of Destiny , Fool’s Errand , The Golden Fool , Fool’s Fate , Dragon Keeper , Dragon Haven , City of Dragons , Blood of Dragons , Fool’s Assassin , Fool’s Quest , Assassin’s Fate

The Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood

Duncton Wood is a truly breathtaking and enchanting read that reminds us how savage yet full of love the animal kingdom truly is. It is unfortunate that these works must be compared to Watership Down but that is the only book with which I can really compare it to in terms of story line and excellence. This is a book for adults and is at times as dark as it is uplifting, first published in 1980 and has since become a best-selling novel. A story of courage, loyalty and the power of love… inspired by the shadows and light of England’s most beautiful countryside.

“A breathtaking achievement” Washington Post

The Duncton Chronicles: Duncton Wood , Duncton Quest , Duncton Found , Duncton Tales, Duncton Rising and Duncton Stone

The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman

Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library is a world I want to write in. I want the opportunity to play in this sandbox, to visit the Library and meet someone new, and to take them on adventures through this intricate and magical world of alternate Earths and mysterious interdimensional libraries. If you like you worlds colourful but dark, fantastical and adventurous, this is the book for you. Speak the name of the Library in the Language and the door will open. Step through at your own risk.

The Invisible Library Series: The Invisible Library , The Masked City , The Burning Page , The Lost Plot , The Mortal World and The Secret Chapter

The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever are a series of fantasy novels with tremendous scope and a psychological depth that had never before been attempted. They are very complex pieces of work but at heart you’ll find a good old-fashioned tale of epic fantasy. The series can not be read without the reader’s constant concentration, it is adult fantasy fiction and the casual fantasy reader may need a period of time in which to become accustomed to this – there are no lovable hobbits to ease you into the story, here you have a man that has lost everything, a man who is angry, bitter, an outcast from the life and the world he knew. But the effort spent in reading this series is rewarded ten-times over and I recommend that every fantasy fan read this seminal work.

The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, the Unbeliever: Lord Foul’s Bane , The Illearth War , The Power that Preserves , The Wounded Land , The One Tree , White Gold Wielder , The Runes of the Earth , Fatal Revenant , Against All Things Ending and The Last Dark

The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney

You could say that if Ursula Le Guin and The Sixth Sense merged then the outcome may be as good as The Spook’s Apprentice. I would heavily recommend The Spook’s Apprentice to young adults looking for a fantastic series. Chilling, memorable, full of wonderful characters and written in a fluid style that makes the narrative accessible to all ages.

The Wardstone Chronicles: The Spook’s Apprentice , The Spook’s Curse , The Spook’s Secret , The Spook’s Battle , The Spook’s Mistake , The Spook’s Sacrifice , The Spook’s Nightmare , The Spook’s Destiny , Spook’s: I Am Grimalkin , The Spook’s Blood , Spook’s: Slither’s Tale , Spook’s: Alice and The Spook’s Revenge

The Mythago Cycle by Robert Holdstock

For all its savagery, you are hoping that there is, somewhere in this world, a wood like this in existence. Mythago Wood is a fantasy masterpiece.

The Mythago Cycle: Mythago Wood , Lavondyss , The Bone Forest, The Hollowing , Merlin’s Wood, Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn and Avilion

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Great characters, a mystery that twists and turns like a corkscrew and above all, Harry, a wizard with a world weary sense of humour, who takes life on the chin.

The Dresden Files: Storm Front , Fool Moon , Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Turn Coat , Changes, Ghost Story, Cold Days , Skin Game , Peace Talks and Battle Ground

Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde

A great combination of humour thriller, science-fiction, detective and fantasy,. In my opinion this book really takes the fantasy fiction genre further. I know I am going to repeat myself but this series is how Thursday would have said it: “mad as pants”. It combines some great elements that truly make this book comes to life in more than one dimension. Combining funny and witty dialogues but also numerous literary ideas with the bookworms and names of several of the characters make this a terrific read and should be compulsory for everyone.

Thursday Next: The Eyre Affair , Lost in a Good Book , The Well of Lost Plots , Something Rotten , First Among Sequels , One of our Thursdays is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower boasts some of the best characters in fantasy and the first instalment introduces to us the obsessive and lonely gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, and the innocent yet world-weary Jake of New York. And as we read they form a tender and loving relationship that is pivotal to all that follows. From the beginnings in the desert and through events and flashbacks we then visit the doomed town of Tull, visit Gilead, see the New York of Jake’s when and finally travel through the mountains to the moment when Roland faces the most difficult decision of his life. King’s magnum opus is a towering achievement.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger , The Drawing of the Three , The Waste Lands , Wizard and Glass , The Wind Through the Keyhole , Wolves of the Calla , Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower

The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Stylishly creepy; at turns gorgeous, humorous, horrifying and awe-inspiring.

“Stunningly original” The Guardian

The Edge Chronicles: The Curse of the Gloamglozer , The Winter Knights, Clash of the Sky Galleons, Beyond the Deepwoods , Stormchaser , Midnight Over Sanctaphrax , Last of the Sky Pirates , Vox, Freeglader, The Immortals and The Lost Barkscrolls

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

There are no larger than life characters to be found in The Black Company, all contain frailties and failings that are found in all humans. The books are beautifully amoral and contain no two-dimensional characters. Wonderfully amoral books, often dark and containing violent battles and fantastic characters. Glen Cook changed the face of the fantasy genre forever – and for the better.

Chronicles of the Black Company: The Black Company , Shadows Linger , The White Rose , Shadow Games , Dreams of Steel , Bleak Seasons , She Is The Darkness , Water Sleeps and Soldiers Live

Riftwar Saga by Raymond E Feist

If you gain any enjoyment whatsoever from reading fantasy then this is a series that you simply must read. One of the highest regarded fantasy book series of all time, it is epic in scope, moves at a breathless speed, and is full to the brim with intrigue and action.

The Riftwar Saga: Magician , Silverthorn , A Darkness at Sethanon , Prince of the Blood and The Kings Buccaneer

The Rigante Novels by David Gemmell

A book by David Gemmell is about morally grey heroes, who fight for what they believe in, and regularly get kicked in the nuts by fate. A tavern brawler who selflessly stands up when faced with injustice. A drunkard that, without a moment of hesitation, sacrifices his life in favour of an innocent family. A burly woodcutter that travels to all corners of the world to rescue his captured crush. A pacifistic priest forced to slay numerous enemies. These tales tell of honour and glory, duty and loyalty, courage and resolve, all coated in a wonderful blend of action, black humour and suspense.

The Rigante Novels: Sword In The Storm, Midnight Falcon, Ravenheart and Stormrider

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Be careful! Once you have read and enjoyed one Discworld novel you may find yourself making your way through the whole series of 41 books.

Discworld: The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rights, Mort, Sourcery, Wyrd Sisters, Pyramids, Guards! Guards!, Faust Eric, Moving Pictures, Reaper Man and 31 more

Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

When you put your mind to considering some of the greatest writers of the English language, it is a source of continuing pity that Isobelle Carmody’s name is not up there along with some of the greats like Tolkien, Lewis and Hemingway. Though some of her work has been criticized, writing science fiction, fantasy, children’s and young adult literature, Carmody is probably most well known and praised for her work on the Obernewtyn Chronicles.

Obernewtyn: Obernewtyn, The Farseekers, Ashling, The Keeping Place, Wavesong, The Stone Key, The Sending and The Red Queen

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

The Book of the New Sun is a science fantasy classic that improves with every read. Too often overlooked, possibly due to being dense in allegory and symbolism, the joy of coming to understand Wolfe’s craft is part of the joy of reading it. The lead character Severan, is an unreliable narrator, and this adds another layer of complexity. If you’re a fan of both science fiction and fantasy, it is a must-read.

The Book of the New Sun: The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, Sword & Citadel, The Sword of Lictor, The Citadel of Autarch, The Urth of the New Sun and Shadow & Claw

A Tale of Einarinn by Juliet E McKenna

This is a series which looks at a whole range of different cultures and how they interact with one another, and how a relatively normal girl who was making a living on the outskirts of society managed to land in extraordinary circumstances. If you’re looking for a great fantasy series to get into, give this a go.

A Tale of Einarinn: The Thief’s Gamble, The Swordsman’s Oath, The Gambler’s Fortune, The Warrior’s Bond and The Assassin’s Edge

The Drenai Novels by David Gemmell

David Gemmell is a master of heroic fantasy. Gemmell’s characters are always struggling with their inner demons: past mistakes, hubris, greed, you name it. Yet in spite of these ‘flaws’ the protagonists fight for what they think is right. Or just because they like fighting… The worlds Gemmell creates are dark, cruel and full of danger.

The Drenai Novels: Legend, The King Beyond the Gate, Waylander, Quest for Lost Heroes, Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf, The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend, The Legend of Deathwalker, Winter Warriors, Hero in the Shadows, White Wolf and The Swords of Night and Day

Bartimaeus Trilogy? :{ (You're right, I agree, it needs to be in there, may turn the list up to 11 - Ed) (Hi Burr - Bartimaeus can be found on our recommended trilogy page - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)
What about The Dresden Files? It should be on the list, it's a pretty cool series even if it's not yet complete?? (Hi Simon, good call and the Dresden Files are now listed - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)
A very good list. The series that I've read are much better than those that have been left off such as WoT. And I agree that Fire and Ice may never be completed, it's dubious to include it.

Eamonn Sullivan

A Song of Ice and Fire is brilliant, however it is not complete. Martin has only completed the first 4 of these books and I think we've been waiting since 2005/6 since he published book 4. It's conceivable that Martin may not finish this series for 10 more years. Do you really want to wait that long? In saying that, they are brilliant books.
... Twilight? Not really. Discworld! It should be on the list - it's such an epic series!
The Prince of Nothing (R. Scott Bakker series) is amazing too!
Although Twilight is an entertaining read it is nothing more than cheap thrills filled with angst. It shouldn't be on the list. Wheel of Time, in my opinion, should be, but it did have some problems along the middle of the series. It's still my favourite but I can see why it wouldn't be on here. Terry Pratchett has written so many books, all of which can't really be described as a series and can't be seen as anything by themselves. Maybe they just couldn't be defined as easily.

The Best Fantasy Books of 2022

The Best Fantasy Books of 2022

The year of our Lord 2022 was a heck of a time to be a fantasy fan—in multiple mediums. While we were all rejoicing over the arrival of long-awaited adaptations like The Wheel of Time , The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power , and The Sandman on our screens, the shelves at local bookstores were full to bursting with thrilling, magical new titles, in a perfect storm of new release kismet. Delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the publishing industry finally began to truly ease, favorite authors were crossing genres to write in the adult fantasy space, and multiple highly anticipated sequels and series’ conclusions seemed to arrive on what seemed like a monthly basis.

What I’m saying is, there were a lot of incredible fantasy releases in 2022—more than could possibly fit on a single list or that one person could even feasibly get through in a single calendar year. So here’s our attempt to narrow it down a little bit for you—the best fantasy books our team here at Paste Books read this year, which will hopefully have something for everyone.


Unlike so many stories that have come before it, there are no easy answers in the series finale The Golden Enclaves . Everyone is complicit to some degree in the damaging choices that have built the world they’re living in and even the happy endings in this story come with bittersweet sacrifices attached. But the tale is full of clever twists and meaningful resolutions to almost every major character’s arc, some that pay off groundwork laid hundreds of pages prior. Most importantly, this final installment ultimately embraces a larger message of hope and resilience, one that says there’s nothing we’ve done that’s so bad we can’t fix it—if we all simply choose to find a better way together and refuse to give up on each other. I’m not sure that there’s a more appropriate moment to put that kind of call to action out in the world than right now. It’s a rich, fully satisfying conclusion that makes the whole trilogy stronger and more meaningful in retrospect. —-Lacy Baugher Milas

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While Bryce remains a generally delightful heroine, the novel gradually unspools a much larger and more intricate tale than the adventures of a college grad and her friends, largely focused on the brewing rebellion against the god-like beings known as the Asteri (who claim to possess the power of the stars). Its sprawling scope encompasses nearly a dozen main characters, with multiple romances and competing narrative threads, and its story is so complicated there are moments where it feels like the novel’s eight-hundred-plus-page count isn’t quite long enough.

That said, every flaw in House of Sky and Breath will likely be erased by the book’s ending, the sort of gutsy, inevitably controversial storytelling twist that is either going to make fans utterly ecstatic or mildly furious. How the events of this book’s final fifteen pages—which are maddening and exhilarating and nothing that anyone likely expected—will play out in Maas’ subsequent books to come is anyone’s guess. But what a ride we’re in for. —Lacy Baugher Milas

babel cover.jpeg

To be clear, Babel is an incredible feat of writing and absolutely the most ambitious fantasy novel you’ll read this year. It’s a book with plenty of flaws, but its obvious depth of research, lovely prose, fascinating linguistic-based magical system, and utter dedication to giving voice to sorts of topics we rarely see tackled at this level of depth in this genre make it a book that’s worth your time. It’s not a perfect story—but as you’ll learn within these pages, almost nothing is—but author R.F. Kuang absolutely gets an A for effort. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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Leslye Penelope sets her story in 1920s Washington D.C., an era of thriving creativity within the African American community. While racial injustice is never far distant from the story, that’s not the point of the story. It’s the idea of building community—and the power of that same community to help a person know exactly who they are—that drives the book’s larger narrative forward. A heist is central to the plot, but the objective isn’t wealth or glory; by the end, the goal is saving the people who are in the thick of this world with them, facing the same prejudice and discrimination, no matter how rich or poor. Brightly painted with hues and shades of magic, set against a backdrop of jazz music and drag balls, Penelope has taken a specific historical place and moment and made them feel vibrantly alive. She expertly weaves threads of folklore, mythology, and Bible stories into the tapestry of the setting, creating a texture that ties the story to this world and its history while allowing the fantastic to breathe and flow. —Alana Joli Abbot

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From its ragtag group of heroes—which includes witches, demons, and resurrected bone animals—to its unflinchingly honest representation of the abuse and misogyny that makes much of its traditionally framed fantasy world go round, there’s a specifically wonderful alchemy at work in T. Kingfisher’s Nettle and Bone that threads the thin line between humor, horror, and heart in order to create something that feels both fresh and utterly necessary. (This is the only book that has an entry on multiple Paste Books “Best of the Year” lists—and there’s a reason for that.) A true delight from the first page to the last, it’s a deeply feminist, fiercely funny fairytale that delightful and unexpectedly subverts so many of the tropes we typically see in stories like it. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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Thanks to the thorough world-building that takes place in Jasmine Throne , sequel The Oleander Sword is able to hit the ground running, weaving together the battle for the fate of a kingdom, the future of the series’ central relationship, and the threat of an encroaching magical disease known as the rot into something truly epic in scope. Wrestling with issues of theology, politics, magic, family, and love, this is a sequel that takes everything you loved about the first book in the series and cranks it up to eleven before essentially smashing it on the ground while you watch. Though its ending is the emotional equivalent of a knife to the heart for almost every major character, it’s hard to see how things could have gone any other way. (Which is part of the reason this book is so great.) It’s going to be a long wait for the trilogy’s third installment. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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Though it contains some subtle homages to rom-comes of yore, Megan Bannen’s adult debut The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is wholly unique, with an imagined setting that will hook you in from page one and keep you reading until the catharsis of its ending.

The novel’s greatest strength is found in the relationship at its center. Hart and Mercy have an undeniable connection from the moment they start sharing the text together, and whether they’re sniping or unconsciously admiring each other’s attributes, their building tension is heading in a divinely inevitable direction. More than physical chemistry (although even that is exquisite, both teased and fully realized), the most heartwrenching revelation comes from understanding that these two people are quite lonely, and even though they aren’t initially aware of their true romantic potential, their souls figure it out for them first, reaching across the yawning chasm of misunderstanding that separates them and bringing them together to forge a fulfilled whole. With The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy , Bannen has crafted a fantasy romance that should be on everyone’s radar—a story about love, about loss, and yes, about death, but ultimately about how important it is to live, especially when you find the one person you want to spend that life with most. —Carly Lane

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But since the Locked Tomb series as a whole frequently defies description, it shouldn’t shock anyone that its latest installment, Nona the Ninth , does too.

A book that wasn’t even supposed to exist in the first place—the bones of this story were originally slated for the first act of the upcoming series finale Alecto the Ninth — Nona is the series’ most personal and human. To be fair, it also contains just as much violence and cruelty as its predecessors. Characters die, get resurrected, and swap bodies just as easily as ever. But where Gideon the Ninth ended in tragedy and Harrow the Ninth was a study in grief, Nona the Ninth feels like something altogether different: A story about life, and maybe even a little bit about hope. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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The adult fantasy debut from popular YA author Rebecca Ross, A River Enchanted contains many of the same strengths that can be found in her YA writing: Slow-burn love stories and enemies that gradually turn into lovers to reluctant Chosen Ones and family members willing to trade anything for one another. And yet, thanks to her delicately intricate writing, Ross makes these tropes feel fresher than they have any right to be.

A story that mixes fantasy staples with political intrigue and a dash of mystery on top, A River Enchanted is, quite simply enchanting. Set on a vividly imagined, clearly Scottish-inspired island known as Cadence whose people have existed under a curse for centuries—which leaves their land literally torn in two—the story follows two former childhood rivals forced to work together for the betterment of their kingdom and their adventures through a lush, vividly realized world of fairies and elemental spirits. And it’s gorgeous, in every sense of the word. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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It’s hard to believe that Abdullah, an American-Kuwaiti writer who grew up on some of the traditional tales she embellishes, is a debut writer. The prose is polished, the world rich with depth, and the characterizations endearing. With lies and secrets, she lulls her readers in with a story that feels familiar, simultaneously crafting a tale that undermines expectations. The finale changes the stakes for the series to come, and while it’s not quite a cliffhanger, the last pages are told almost breathlessly. The wait for the second book will be long, with no publication date yet announced, leaving readers to imagine an endless desert filled with ruins and danger—and jinn. —Alana Joli Abbott

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A gorgeously written coming of age story about a young woman’s struggle to free her mother from a magical imprisonment, Daughter of the Moon Goddess is packed with lush descriptions of immortal life and beautiful, intricately rendered settings. Its strong grounding in Chinese mythology and culture makes even the most well worn or expected tropes feel magical and fresh, and its story is nonstop adventure as Xingyin goes on all manner of quests to try and prove herself to the emperor of the Celestial Kingdom.

Throw in some dragons, mer folk, demons, and a love triangle where both sides are (initially at least!) compelling options for our heroine, and you can’t ask for much more in a story like this. Bonus points, the book’s sequel, Heart of the Sun Warrior also hit shelves in November of this year, meaning you can read this entire magical duology right now. — Lacy Baugher Milas

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But where For the Wolf focused primarily on Redarys’s journey into the Wilderwood and her slow-burn love story with Eammon, the titular Wolf of the forest, For the Throne follows the story of her sister Neve’s journey through the Shadowlands, the dark inversion of the golden magical forest above and a terrifying place populated by bones, dying gods, and the villainous Five Kings, semi-immortal murderous despots who long return to the real world and reclaim their powers. A beautifully balanced tale of love in many forms, For the Throne is not just a satisfying conclusion to the story that began in For the Wolf , but a bittersweet reminder that in real stories, happily ever after doesn’t exist, and it’s up to us to muddle through the best we can and try to make a future with the people we love. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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Black has spoken before about the ways that shifting to writing an adult novel has allowed her to explore more complex sorts of issues, such as the stagnation of adulthood and the ways we’re less able to adapt and change as we get older than perhaps we once were. And that’s honestly a big part of the reason why young con woman Charlie feels so relatable as a heroine. Because even though you (probably?) can’t magically control your shadow, well, who among us hasn’t wondered what we were doing with our lives? Or questioned whether we were failing at this whole adulting thing? And while the story isn’t perfect—it drags in more than a few places, and doesn’t fully explain the hierarchy and rules of shadow magic as well as some readers would likely prefer—it’s an exciting introduction to a new world of seemingly limitless possibility. And a story that feels like it could go anywhere. —Lacy Baugher Milas

best books of 2022

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The 10 Best Fantasy Book Series of All Time

The 10 Best Fantasy Book Series of All Time

Asking any group of fantasy readers which are the “best fantasy books” is a truly dangerous proposition.

Because there are just so many amazing books to choose from.

And I mean that 100% literally: from among the thousands of epic, awe-inspiring, moving, action-packed, and breathtakingly beautifully-crafted stories authors have gifted us for over 100 years, it’s pretty much impossible to narrow it down to just a few.

But I’m going to give it a try!

Long before I got up the courage to write what is now the Darkblade Series (my first of 40+ novels), I was a die-hard fantasy reader—and still am to this day. I’ve read every one of the books on my list below multiple times, and will highly recommend them to anyone who asks for fantasy book/series recommendations.

Check out my list of the best fantasy books below, and perhaps you might just find yourself a spectacular new read—or an old, familiar favorite.

I’ve also put together a list of what I think are the best science fiction books  if you’re curious.

best new book series fantasy

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Is there any other book series truly deserving to top this particular list? Lord of the Rings is the first epic high fantasy novel series, and to this day, one of the absolute best.

Few stories are as memorable as Frodo’s journey to throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom, of Aragorn’s battles beside the elf Legolas and dwarf Gimli against hordes of orcs, of Gandalf’s plunge into the depths of Moria while fighting the terrible Balrog, and, most of all, the courage and loyalty of Samwise Gamgee.

Even now, nearly a century after its release, it is still one of the best-loved and most-read fantasy series. And the movie series by Peter Jackson is still regarded as one of the best movie trilogies of all time—not fantasy movies alone, but in any genre.

Published : 1954 (though The Hobbit , its prequel, was published in 1937)

best new book series fantasy

Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard (and others)

Before there was Lord of the Rings , there was Conan the Barbarian , the fierce, ruthless, utterly unstoppable reaver of Cimmeria.

Robert E. Howard’s sprawling series of short stories and novels introduced fantasy readers to entire corners of our world as of yet unknown—or lost to time—with breathtaking and daring adventures taking place in the mystical and marvelous Hyborian Age.

Thief, warrior, rebel, and king, Conan was everything readers love, never defeated, never equaled, always emerging triumphant at the end—often with the love of a fair maiden to boot.

Though Robert E. Howard only wrote 21 Conan stories over his lifetime, over the years since his death, multiple writers have taken up the pen and continued his truly amazing story.

Published : 1932

best new book series fantasy

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

As Lord of the Rings introduced the world to a new flavor of story (grand, stirring epics), so, too, did Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time .

Inspired by the great works of J.R.R. Tolkien and others, Robert Jordan penned the world-spanning journey that started with five youths from a town in the middle of nowhere, who grew into the heroes needed to save the world from Shai’tan, the Dark One.

Spanning fourteen volumes, the story weaves politics, magic, intrigue, grand battles, and subtly nuanced characters together into a truly spellbinding masterpiece of epic fantasy.

Though the author died before completing the last book, his protégé, Brandon Sanderson (see below) saw his life’s work to fruition, and with it forever established the Wheel of Time as one of the greatest works of fiction ever written .

Published : 1990

best new book series fantasy

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

Where Robert Jordan strove for the grand and epic, The Name of the Wind excels in bringing to life people and making them feel truly relatable and real.

The prose itself is glorious, with writing that seems to sing on every page and brings images to life in your mind with vivid clarity. The main character, Kvothe is flawed yet utterly believable as the “hero” to follow, and the magic system is complex but understandable enough that it draws you in.

There are no grand battles or world-shaking magical displays; no, the story is much smaller, a coming-of-age tale that shows the truth of regret, loss, and love.

Unfortunately, we readers have been waiting on the promised third (and final) book since 2011, with no promise of its release anytime soon.

Published : 2007

best new book series fantasy

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

HBO’s Game of Thrones  put this series on the radar of the world at large, drawing in even non-fantasy readers from around the globe with its compelling narrative, gritty world, and complex political interplay between the many fascinating characters. But long before the show graced our TV screens, we fantasy readers had fallen in love with—and been utterly shocked by—the world of Westeros and Essos as written in A Song of Ice and Fire .

The story of the dynastic war among the many factions and houses of Westeros felt like something out of the history books, yet brought so beautifully alive that we couldn’t help being drawn in.

Though the last two books remain to be written (as with The Kingkiller Chronicles ), we die-hards still hold out hope that we will one day soon learn who ascends the Iron Throne once and for all.

Published : 1996

best new book series fantasy

The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson

Before he took up his pen to complete The Wheel of Time series after the passing of his mentor, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson was an established author in his own right, with the Mistborn series being a much-loved addition to the world of fantasy fiction. But his work on the sprawling epic instilled in him a love of grand-scale fantasy, and gave rise to The Stormlight Archives .

As Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time served as tentpoles to their eras, so is The Stormlight Archives to our modern era of fantasy fiction.

It’s as complex and awe-inspiring as the original “masters of fantasy”, but written for today’s audience, with modern sensibilities and themes that are relatable to current generations.

All wrapped up in a truly spectacular, action-packed, magic-rich story with compelling characters that you can’t help but love. With a planned ten books (four of which are currently released), it’s an endeavour of legendary proportions.

Published : 2010

best new book series fantasy

Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia were intended to be children’s stories, but over the decades, have become some of the best-loved fantasy novels by readers of all ages.

Every book takes you on a simple yet wondrous adventure through the realm of Narnia, home to talking animals and ancient magics. Through the eyes of children from our world exploring this fantastical kingdom, we come to understand the subtler truths woven beneath the action-packed adventures.

Though the work is heavily inspired by Christian apologetics, with Christian-based themes throughout all seven books, they were not intended to be allegorical, merely an expression of the author’s thoughts and opinions on the struggles the young heroes faced.

The result, however, is a book far deeper than it might appear on the surface, one that has shaped modern literature—both adults and children’s fiction—for decades.

Published : 1950

best new book series fantasy

Dragonlance by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragons have always been a beloved aspect of fantasy fiction, so any series that revolves so heavily around dragons is bound to be well-received. And yet it was the non-dragon characters—of Tanis Half-Elven, Tasslehoff Burfoot the kender, Flint Fireforge the dwarf, Sturm Brightblade the human knight, and the Majere brothers, Caramon and Raistlin—who were truly the best-loved of the series.

For through their rises and falls, strengths and weaknesses, we experienced what it meant to be a hero, and how even the mightiest heroes could succumb.

The Dragonlance novels were born from the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, among the first to bring the fascinating world into stirring, heart-pounding novels—of which, there are now over 190.

Published : 1984

best new book series fantasy

Icewind Dale by R. A. Salvatore

The Icewind Dale Trilogy did something fascinating: they took a typical “villain” (a dark elf, which had until that time, been typically an “evil” race) and created a flawed hero or anti-hero.

Drizzt Do’Urden was born to darkness, but found his way into the light, and within the heart his own people had tried to twist to evil, settled a deep sense of justice and a desire to search for good.

Drizzt’s stories are all fascinating tales that dive into the high cost of his fight to remain moral and upright, but every one is a thrill ride of swordplay, magic, intrigue, and epic battles.

Few characters have captured the imagination of fantasy readers like Drizzt the dark elf with hits magical blades and his faithful panther companion Gwynhevar.

The Forgotten Realms novels, of which these were the first, have gone on to become some of the most recognizable and best-loved fantasy novels of the modern era.

Published : 1988

best new book series fantasy

Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Ask any fantasy reader what makes the Malazan Book of the Fallen so spectacular, and each will have a different answer for you. That’s because Malazan is an epic of such shockingly grand scale that it’s nearly impossible to absorb everything on the first, second, or even third reading.

No, it takes multiple journeys through the world of the Malazan Empire to peel away the many, many layers cleverly penned by Steven Erikson, and even then, there will always be more.

The scope is audaciously epic, the plot complex (and often mystifying), the characters fascinating yet so wonderfully human.

Among the ten books are countless moments that stay burned into your memory forever—from the Chain of Dogs to the half-moon of Anomander Rake to the magic of Dragnipur to the Crippled God himself.

Published : 1999

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