Deciding on the best Fantasy series of books is practically impossible without causing a discussion that leads to argument. In this list, we tried to touch on most of the sub-genres, including some of the more well known and popular series these days, like A Song of Ice and Fire and The First Law Trilogy, while also paying respect to the older ones, still influencing many writers and fans to this day, beginning with The Lord of The rings, but also mentioning Elric and Chronicles of Amber.
A Song of Ice and Fire
George R.R. Martin isn’t the first to do somewhat realistic, gritty, violent and dark medieval fantasy. However, his creation has been the most successful, resulting in possibly the biggest TV show in the world (Game of Thrones), and the world of Westeros that has millions waiting for the final two books to be delivered. The series so far consists of five novels, kinda of prequels in Dunk & Egg and a universe encyclopedia.
The Lord of the Rings
Not the first Fantasy series, but simply the most important fantasy series. Sure, the tropes of good vs evil cemented by J.R.R. Tolkien are being challenged, flipped and broken today, but it’s hard to think of any fantasy work today that doesn’t have some sort of influence from the massive, immersive universe Tolkien created. This link is for the 50th anniversary, one-volume edition, but you can get each of the books separately if you want.
The Elric of Melnibone Series
Elric is fantasy tropes turned upside down. Michael Moorcock, the author, was influenced by much more than just Conan the Barbarian, but Elric of Melnibone is the exact opposite of Conan. Complex instead of simple, frail instead of strong, decaying instead of rising. The Elric Saga consists of three parts.
The First Law Trilogy
Joe Abercrombie created a world based on some typical fantasy-medieval tropes, including the contrast between magic and brute force, a glorious past as the backdrop to a decaying present, and combines action and pragmatism with careful, but not over indulgent world building. It’s similar and obviously influenced by A Song of Ice and Fire, but is it’s own creation, maybe even better. The trilogy includes The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings.
The Wheel of Time
A mega series penned by Robert Jordan, who started it out in 1984 (first book release). He dies in 2007 while working on what should have been the final novel, which was eventually split into three books, authored by Brandon Sanderson based on Jordan’s remaining work. Few series provide this kind of depth when it comes to world building and the magic that comes with it. The series is 14 novels long.
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know what Harry Potter is. J.K. Rowling, original or heavily influenced by others, helped usher in a new age of interest in fantasy books through the tales of Harry, Ron and Hermione, which might not tingle the taste bud of elitists, but weave books that are simply difficult to put down, even if they aren’t as dark and serious as some would like their fantasy to be. There were 8 movies, but “only” 7 novels.
The Chronicles of Amber
A massive tale consisting of two story arcs, each spanning five novels and more than 20 years between the first novel and the 10th one coming out. Written by Roger Zelazny, the Amber Chronicles are filled with elements from Norse, Japanese and Irish mythology, Arthurian legend as well as several references to real history, including Williams Shakespeare. The Great Book of Amber is the combining of all 10 novels in one volume.
The Broken Empire
Mark Lawrence wrote a trilogy that includes Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns, which plays on themes of family dramas and a coming of age stories, with a twist in the usual tale, bringing forth a protagonist so traumatised it turns him far more vicious and unethical than we’ve come accustomed to. There’s a good chance you’ll want to re-read immediately upon finishing the books.
The Dark Tower
Just when Stephen King seems to be done with Ronaldo Deschain, he comes up with a new idea to continue what he considers one big uber novel, and each book a part of that grand story. It’s western meets dark fantasy if one has to categorize it, describing a world that’s falling apart, and little by little going out of order in every possible way. There have been 8 novels so far, with the 7th one being the end of the series in terms of chronology, although it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Most people know The Witcher as a Video Game series, but the terrific games are what comes after The Witcher saga ends. Andrzej Sapkowski wrote short stories, collected in two books, before the main Witcher series begins, spanning five novels that tell the story of Geralt of Rivia and his connection to Ciri, a child of destiny. There are five novels, with the english translation for the fifth one (Lady of the Lake) coming in 2017, although there are unofficial translations to find online.
If fantasy is something you want to put on hold, maybe popular science works for you right now: Here’s our top 10.