The first installment, The Blade Itself , explores a broad, world-worn cast: a military officer, a barbarian, a man with magical properties and a torturer. Within his three novels, Abercrombie unravels a world through the eyes of deeply flawed characters, crafting more emotionally engaging stories as a result.
First Book in the Series: The Lies of Locke Lamora Description: The Gentleman Bastards, led by professional thief Locke Lamora, prove that gloriously three-dimensional characters can exist within a rich fantasy world, adding depth to the setting rather than existing in spite of it. With the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Lynch reminds us that fantasy is an absolute joy to read.
Harry Potter by J. But forget the movies, the theme parks, the college Quidditch teams and the ubiquitous halloween costumes. It earned its place alongside the giants of the fantasy genre with gripping tales about the boy who lived. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. But as Lyra attempts to liberate the multiverse from theological rule, His Dark Materials pulls off a monumental accomplishment: enchantment and provocation in equal turn.
The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. And along with the strange and lyrical novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things , there are no other books I would recommend more to someone wanting to dip their toe into fantasy waters.
The Lord of the Rings by J. Every location the Fellowship encountered possessed a rich history and language, showcasing songs and poetry and mythology that always spoke of more beyond the page. But it was the four simple hobbits, bravely facing a world far larger and darker than their home in the Shire, that made every strange encounter relatable. Fighting orcs and spiders and worse, there was a nobility inverse to their size and a struggle between good and evil that resonates 62 years later. The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman. Harry Potter was already for grown-ups.
Despite its magical school setting, the series owed more to the wonder of C. Each book cares a little more deeply about its characters, who face the same struggles for meaning and purpose that the rest of us do. Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. The action spans continents, dimensions and, oh yeah, millennia.
Robust, intriguing systems of magic? Two or three. Add to this a fresh takes on elves, the undead, shapeshifters and dragons as well as the introduction of some new entries for the fantasy menagerie , along with a number of jaw-dropping battles over the course of the series, and you have an epic story that will leave even the most jaded fantasy reader awestruck.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. The second series takes place years later, focusing on best friends living during an Industrial Revolution-like era. Sanderson plans to write two more series one in a modern, urban setting, the other in a futuristic, sci-fi setting , ensuring that Mistborn will appeal to readers of multiple genres.
With a rich history and an original magic system that flourishes alongside the characters, Mistborn proves to be a landmark addition to the fantasy realm. Kylar exists within a gritty world where greed and elemental magic exist in equal measure. Thrust into a conflict of world-shattering significance, he must choose between tranquility or violence to protect the life he knows.
Weeks weaves realistic characters and a creative magic system into a narrative of epic scope, delivering a compelling trilogy that deserves its place among the best stories in fantasy. The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen R. First Book in the Series: Taliesin Description: While you might be tempted to pass on yet another take on the legend of King Arthur, this one is arguably the best. With extensive research to back him up, Stephen R. Lawhead takes on the infamous legend and transforms it into a fascinating story that could have happened.
Arthur does not show up until book three, but the journey to get there is what makes this six-book series so engaging. In a genre overcrowded with Arthurian books and movies, this one is worth the read. The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb. The interwoven stories found in the Realm of the Elderlings novels prove that Hobb can successfully build a rich fantasy world while simultaneously exploring the daily lives of beloved characters.
Redwall by Brian Jacques. But stories following the brave residents of Redwall Abbey and Mossflower Woods are the kind of YA fiction that mesmerizes readers of all ages.
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Published in non-linear order, the series takes place in a familiar medieval world inhabited by various anthropomorphic animals. The danger feels threatening enough to lend high stakes to the battle of good and evil. Shannara by Terry Brooks. This fantasy tale encompasses 10 stories, with each story averaging a trilogy of books. The books are linked together by a family that manifests a magic user or two every few generations, a mysterious druid order and a tree that holds back hoards of demons. Your only question is whether to read the books in the order they were written or to tackle them in chronological order, since Terry Brooks wrote as many stories preceding The Sword of Shannara as those that follow.
There are so many different players on the chessboard, struggling for either power, survival or revenge, that the fifth volume could only deal with half of its key characters. But all of the religions, customs and histories of the seven kingdoms of Westeros and the free cities to the east still fit together as they jostle for position. Martin has been criticized for killing off his characters, but the brutality of this Machiavellian, patriarchal society only serves to make us care more deeply about the innocent and afflicted underdogs of the realm.
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The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. First Book in the Series: The Way of Kings Description: Brandon Sanderson is a masterfully technical worldbuilder, and the magic in his books follows a precise logic that gives it natural boundaries. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then.
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Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world. No one expected them to be heroes. Least of all, them. A Wizard of Earthsea. Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. Where to start? She is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared.
When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive—an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart. He is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. They embark on a perilous journey to save their land and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. But Jack has secrets of his own, and as an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. Elric of Melnibone. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody.
Range of Ghosts. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother who made war to rule the Khaganate. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards.
These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin.
As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom. The Blade Itself. Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle.
But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules. Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.
Enter the wizard, Bayaz. Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. The Lies of Locke Lamora. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. And they are wrong on every count. Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning.
What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards. Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch.
The Grey King is coming. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. Titus Groan , or The Gormenghast Novels , the complete trilogy. Within its vast halls and serpentine corridors, the members of the Groan dynasty and their master Lord Sepulchrave grow increasingly out of touch with a changing world as they pass their days in unending devotion to meaningless rituals and arcane traditions.
Meanwhile, an ambitious kitchen boy named Steerpike rises by devious means to the post of Master of the Ritual while he maneuvers to bring down the Groans. Breathtaking in its power and drenched in dark atmosphere, humor and intrigue, The Gormenghast Novels is a classic, one of the great works of 20th century British literature. Lots of entry points. Chronological: Arrows of the Queen. If you want a stand-alone in this series to see if you want to continue, read By the Sword. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.
But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason that could destroy Queen and kingdom. The Briar King. Fleeing an imaginary attacker, the girls—one of whom is the reckless young daughter of the king—discover the unknown crypt of the legendary, ancestral queen, Virgenya Dare.
Meanwhile, traveling the same road, a scholarly young priest begins an education in the nature of evil, found festering just beneath the surface of the seemingly peaceful land. The royal family itself comes under siege, facing betrayal that only sorcery could accomplish. Now—for three beautiful sisters, for a young man made suddenly into a knight, and for a woman in love with a roguish adventurer—a rising darkness appears, shattering what was once certain, familiar, and good.
These destinies and more will be linked when malevolent forces walk the land. For Crotheny, the most powerful nation in the world, is shaken at its core. And the Briar King, harbinger of death, has awakened from his slumber. The Name of the Wind. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in.
I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. Sold to the Court of Night Blooming Flowers, her fate as a beautiful but anonymous courtesan was sealed. As her nation is besieged by invading hordes from the north, the most unthinkable threat to her beloved home comes from traitors within. Betrayed and blindsided by her own longings, only Phedre and her trusted bodyguard Josselin are left to cross borders and warring armies in a race to stop the final blow from falling.
A Shadow in Summer. Its economy depends on the power of the captive spirit, Seedless, an andat bound to the poet-sorcerer Heshai for life. Enter the Galts, a juggernaut of an empire committed to laying waste to all lands with their ferocious army. Saraykeht, though, has always been too strong for the Galts to attack, but now they see an opportunity. With secret forces inside the city, the Galts prepare to enact their terrible plan.
In the middle is Otah, a simple laborer with a complex past. Otah finds himself as the sole hope of Saraykeht, either he stops the Galts, or the whole city and everyone in it perishes forever. Since its original British publication in , the saga has entranced readers of all ages. It is at once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale.
Barr compared it to Beowulf, C. Lewis to Orlando Furioso, W. Auden to The Thirty-nine Steps. In fact the saga is sui generis — a triumph of imagination which springs to life within its own framework and on its own terms. Before he redeems his birthright, he must pass the breadth of Hybras Isle as prisoner, vagabond, and slave, an acquaintance of faeries, wizards, and errant knights, and lover to a sad and beautiful girl whose fate sets his undying hatred for her tyrannical father—Casmir, King of Lyonesse.
Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands… and not even the people they trust.
Perdido Street Station though I actually read these completely out of order the first time and had no problem. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores.
In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none—not even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory. Servant of the Underworld there are several prequels, but this is book 1. Human sacrifice and the magic of the living blood are the only things keeping the sun in the sky and the earth fertile. A Priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. A Stranger in Olondria. A Stranger in Olondria was written while the author taught in South Sudan.
It is a rich and heady brew which pulls the reader in deeper and still deeper with twists and turns that hearken back to the Gormenghast novels while being as immersive as George R. And so her adventure begins—the adventure that transforms her into a hero remembered in songs, chosen by the gods to restore a lost ruler to his throne.
They are an epic feat of language, an ironic analysis of the foundations of civilization, and a reminder that no weapon is more powerful than a well-honed legend. The Riddle-Master of Hed. Morgon, prince of the simple farmers of Hed, proved himself a master of such riddles when he staked his life to win a crown from the dead Lord of Aum. But now ancient, evil forces were threatening him. Shape changers began replacing friends until no man could be trusted. So Morgon was forced to flee to hostile kingdoms, seeking the High One who ruled from mysterious Erlenstar Mountain.
Ahead lay strange encounters and terrifying adventures. And with him always was the greatest of unsolved riddles — the nature of the three stars on his forehead that seemed to drive him toward his ultimate destiny. Daughter of the Forest. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.
If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. A Game of Thrones. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear.
Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. The Sorcerer of Wildeeps. Two so far, both stand-alone novellas in the same universe. Will there be more? We can only hope. The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.
The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.
The Way of Kings. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them. One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains.