10 Awesome Fantasy Series That Are Not Potter or LoTR

In my literature related internet journeys I’ve seen the same scenario time and time again. People have finished reading “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings” or are simply just getting into fantasy and are looking for something interesting, asking for advice from the more experienced fantasy readers. Unfortunately the names they are given are always the same:

  • Jordan (“The Wheel of Time”)
  • Martin (“The Song of Ice and Fire”)
  • Goodkind (“The Sword of Truth”)

Don’t get me wrong those are all great authors and great series, but there are many other series and authors that get overlooked when august names such as those start getting thrown around. I love reading fantasy and science fiction I’ve read dozens of different series and hundreds (or possibly even thousands) of individual books. So, I thought I’d make a small list of series’ that never seem to make it into other top 10 lists despite being well written, entertaining, different and in some cases no less epic than “Lord of The Rings”, “Wheel of Time” and others. So, strap yourself in for my list of less well known and under appreciated fantasy series’. Some commentary is included to whet your appetite :).

10. “Farside” by John Dalmas

I had to put this in since it almost never gets mentioned by anyone and it certainly should. The story is mainly about Curtis Macurdy who we meet for the first time as a young boy in pre-depression US. We follow Curtis on his journey to another world where he fights a war and then back to ours where he eventually gets involved in WW2.

I don’t want to give away the plot, but here are a few teasers :). There is magic, but noone ever has god-like powers, all magic is believable and in many ways subtle and blends in well with our world and the other world that is involved in the story. The story has a very low entry barrier, the plot is fairly uncomplicated, the good guys and bad guys pretty well defined (although there are some surprises). The books draw you in almost from page 1 and make you comfortable with the storyline very quickly. I’ve read the series twice, once when I was only getting into fantasy and again very recently. I enjoyed it both times :).

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Lion of Farside
The Lion of Farside
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Bavarian Gate
The Bavarian Gate
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] The Lion Returns
The Lion Returns

9. “Stones of Power” by David Gemmell

David Gemmell is a brilliant author, in my opinion. Say what you will, but he always tells an excellent story, fun from the very first word and always with plenty of action. This series is like 2 series in one, all five books are tied together with a common theme (i.e. the stones of power), but the first 2 books and the last 3 stand alone as separate series.

The last three books are a real treat as far as I am concerned. They tell the story of Jon Shannow a.k.a. “The Jerusalem Man”. It is set in a post apocalyptic Earth and there are guns involved, but the books are nevertheless well and truly fantasy. I found Shannow to be an extremely likeable protagonist, someone you always find yourself rooting for. Once again the barrier of entry is extremely low and the books draw you in from the very first page, highly recommended for budding fantasy enthusiasts as well as veterans.

[column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Ghost King
Ghost King
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Last Sword of Power
Last Sword of Power
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Wolf in Shadow
Wolf in Shadow
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Last Guardian
Last Guardian
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Bloodstone

8. “Incarnations of Immortality” by Piers Anthony

These books are not your average fantasy series. The main idea is that there are certain concepts in the world that have guardians that are the human “incarnation” of that particular concept (i.e. Death, War, Nature etc.). Each of the books in the series deals with a particular person and how they become an incarnation of a particular concept. The first book for example is about a man and how he becomes the physical incarnation of Death by replacing the previous holder of the office. Book six is about a man becoming the incarnation of Evil (i.e. the devil).

The premise of the books is extremely clever. The world is not your typical fantasy world, but is a mirror of our world where things developed differently. As you go through the series you start to meet protagonists from previous books, already holding the offices that they obtained in their volume. Thoroughly enjoyable, but the barrier of entry is a little higher, the books don’t draw you in for a while so you have to give them a chance (i.e. don’t give up in the first few pages).

[column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] On A Pale Horse
On A Pale Horse
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Bearing An Hourglass
Bearing An Hourglass
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] With a Tangled Skein
With a Tangled Skein
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Wielding a Red Sword
Wielding a Red Sword
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Being a Green Mother
Being a Green Mother
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] For Love of Evil
For Love of Evil
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] And Eternity
And Eternity
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Under a Velvet Cloak
Under a Velvet Cloak

7. “Tales of Alvin Maker” by Orson Scott Card

An excellent series by the man who brought us ”Ender’s Game”. The setting is, once again, not what you would expect from a fantasy series, as the action takes place in pre-civil war US. The idea is that in this world, things we would consider superstition, such as hexes are real. Most people have “knacks” which give them almost supernatural ability with a particular aspect of day to day existence (e.g. some might have a knack for cooking or joining wood, dowsers really can find water etc.).

The story’s main character is Alvin, who was born the seventh son of a seventh son, which is extremely auspicious as you might imagine :). Alvin has extremely powerful knacks, and the books are about his journey to fulfill his destiny as a Maker. Along the way he meets many historical figures of that period (such as Abraham Lincoln). I found this series to be a real page-turner, it is worth reading simply to experience the authentic language used throughout the books. Be warned though, this series is still unfinished, and will leave you with a massive case of “wanting more” :).

[column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Seventh Son
Seventh Son
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Red Prophet
Red Prophet
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Prentice Alvin
Prentice Alvin
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Alvin Journeyman
Alvin Journeyman
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Heartfire
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Crystal City
The Crystal City
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Master Alvin

6. “The Deed of Paksenarrion” by Elizabeth Moon

Another trilogy that I’ve never heard mentioned along side the greats and it certainly deserves a place. This is more along the vein of traditional fantasy (i.e. swords and sorcery). There is not a lot of “sorcery” in these books as most supernatural powers are divinely bestowed (the books have a highly developed pantheon of deities and saints).

The story follows the journey of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter. We meet Paks as a country girl escaping an arranged marriage to join a mercenary company. We stay with her as she becomes a veteran soldier and continues on her way to becoming a paladin.

The books are page turners from the very first page and I found it extremely rewarding for some reason to see Paks develop from a virtual country bumpkin into an educated and confident warrior for good. In a refreshing twist to books where the protagonist is a girl, there is no handsome price that sweeps our hero off her feet at some point in the series. Two thumbs up.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Sheepfarmer's Daughter
Sheepfarmer’s Daughter
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Divided Allegiance
Divided Allegiance
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Oath of Gold
Oath of Gold

5. “Lion of Macedon” by David Gemmell

This is almost not a series as it is only two books, but I simply couldn’t resist including it even if it meant that David Gemmell makes a second appearance on the list. In usual Gemmell style, the action starts from the word go and doesn’t let up. These books are the story of Parmenion, a boy who grows up in Sparta and eventually becomes one of the most trusted generals to Alexander of Macedon.

As you might have gathered, this is a historically based series; it nevertheless falls firmly into the realms of fantasy. The interesting thing about this series is that the “Stones of Power” from the other Gemmell series that I mentioned on this list, also make an appearance a few times in these books. It is pretty awesome how two unrelated series can be tenuously tied together like this. A cool hero to root for, plenty of action plus all the other trappings of an excellent fantasy series, this is one you shouldn’t miss.

[column size=”1-2″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Lion of Macedon
Lion of Macedon
[/column] [column size=”1-2″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Dark Prince
Dark Prince

4. “Soldier Son” by Robin Hobb

Unlike some of the other series in this list, this one has a much higher barrier of entry. It is not really one that draws you in from the first page, but then none of Robin Hobb’s books are. Having said that, if you do stick with it for a while, you will discover an author and a series that you will fall in love with. Hobb’s characterisation and narrative are second to none and this series is deep and engaging. It is different in that the “good guys” and “bad guys” are not really well defined. The main character is not “super-human” and in some situations is at the mercy of events (which is a lot more like real life).

The story is about Nevare, who is the second son of a “new” lord. In this world, the second son of a lord is destined to become a soldier and Nevare looks forward to this as he grows up. However events beyond his control conspire to keep him from this goal, but his journey is no less interesting for the lack of fighting.

If you want a series that makes you think, where the world is not black and white and where even main characters are fallible and all too human, this series is definitely for you.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Shaman's Crossing
Shaman’s Crossing
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Forest Mage
Forest Mage
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Renegade's Magic
Renegade’s Magic

3. “Codex Alera” by Jim Butcher

There was a point where I thought that I had surely tried every flavour of fantasy that could possibly exist and then I discovered this series :). In these books just about all people have some control over elemental powers that are called “furies”. The only person who seems to be weak and powerless in a world of mages is the hero, Tavi. We follow Tavi as he uses his ingenuity to get along in the world without any supernatural abilities, but will he be this powerless forever? I just can’t help but root for the underdog :).

This series drew me in straight away and I found myself reading continuously until I finished the first book (this doesn’t happen often to me any more). The world Butcher paints is vibrant and alive (even if it is based on Rome which is pretty standard fare for fantasy). As you can imagine the magic in these book is particularly well thought out and integrated into the fabric of the world.

The only disappointing this about this series is that it is unfinished with 2 more books still to be written. I for one can’t wait.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Furies of Calderon
Furies of Calderon
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Academ's Fury
Academ’s Fury
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Cursor's Fury
Cursor’s Fury
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Captain's Fury
Captain’s Fury
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Princeps’ Fury
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] (Upcoming)

2. “Prince of Nothing” by R. Scott Bakker

I had to include this one because once again I don’t often hear it mentioned along with others that are considered great, and in this case I really don’t understand it, since it is easily as good if not better than most. Fair warning, this is not for those who are expecting an easy read. I started the first book of this series twice before I got into it as it doesn’t really draw you in until well into the story. But once it does, it is absolutely unbelievable.

This series is epic in every sense of the word. The world is truly enormous even if it doesn’t seem so at first and the scale of events that takes place is truly mind boggling. There are many characters who are central to the story but the main character would have to be Anasurimbor Kellhus, a Dunyain monk descended from a line of kings who is in search of his father. For centuries the Dunyain monks have been bred for intellect and trained to predict the effect of their actions and manipulate those around them in any way they wish. This makes Kellhus as near to superhuman as someone can be.

At the same time, a Holy War is called in the city of Momemn, the Consul – an ancient evil is once again stirring, the sorcerous schools and the church are manoeuvring to gain advantage. I have to stop :), there is too much going on to easily describe in a short paragraph. Suffice to say that this is fantasy not for the faint hearted. If you really appreciate events of epic scope, political intrigue and a profusion of character viewpoints, you will appreciate this series, I certainly did.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Darkness That Comes Before
The Darkness That Comes Before
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Warrior Prophet
The Warrior Prophet
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] The Thousandfold Thought
The Thousandfold Thought

1. “Saga of Recluse” by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

I had to put this series in first place for it truly is a saga. It currently stands at 15 books and there may be more forthcoming. Don’t be put off by the length however, this series is not chronological and doesn’t follow the same characters. Rather, this series is set at different stages in the history of the same world. What ties this series together is the set of natural laws that govern the world where it is set. This series is in fact multiple series as well as several stand-alone books that are all set in the same universe. However, the world is so rich and well represented in every book that it well and truly becomes another character and this is what makes all of these books a series and ties everything together so well.

The idea is that there exists a world where two natural forces are in constant opposition, Order and Chaos. Order very loosely represents “good” and Chaos “loosely” represents evil, order is black and chaos is white, which turns your thinking topsy-turvy for a bit until you realise that, there is no good and evil since order and chaos are just natural forces. Order and chaos acts in the world through mages that have control over the powers of their particular natural force, as well as through foci, who are extra powerful mages.

The books are not written in chronological order and jump back and forth in the timeline of the world to tell the story of significant events that have happened. The books can be read in chronological order as well, but the author recommends reading them in the order they were written and so do I.

This series is truly brilliant, with every book read you get more and more of an appreciation of how detailed and well thought out the world actually is. In addition the characters are all likeable and you can really identify with their story no matter what their affiliation, order or chaos (although you do lean towards favouring order :)). Modesitt has a very distinct writing style that I for one find extremely appealing. Not only do you get to look at the characters from their eyes, but also from the eyes of those around them as well as those far away who are affected by what the characters set in motion. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

[column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Magic of Recluce
The Magic of Recluce
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Towers of the Sunset
The Towers of the Sunset
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Magic Engineer
The Magic Engineer
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Order War
The Order War
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”1″ style=”0″] The Death of Chaos
The Death of Chaos
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Fall of Angels
Fall of Angels
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Chaos Balance
The Chaos Balance
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The White Order
The White Order
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Colors of Chaos
Colors of Chaos
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Magi'i of Cyador
Magi’i of Cyador
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Scion of Cyador
Scion of Cyador
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Wellspring of Chaos
Wellspring of Chaos
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Ordermaster
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Natural Ordermage
Natural Ordermage
[/column] [column size=”1-5″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Mage-Guard of Hamor
Mage-Guard of Hamor

Well, I hope you pick up some of these great books and give them a go; I promise you won’t be disappointed. The only thing I feel bad about is all the authors and series’ that didn’t make it on this list (there were many), perhaps another list is in order simply to give them a fair go.

Do you know and a love a fantasy series that is perhaps not well known or under-appreciated by the rest of the world? Do leave a comment and tell me what it is and perhaps it may make it onto the next list, or even bump one of the entries off this list :).

You can now see my list of 10 MORE Awesome Fantasy Series That Are Not Potter or LoTR.

  • Blaine M

    I throw my two cents in with Tales of the Black Company, by Glen Cook.

    • KentS

      Any list which leaves off Tales of the Black Company or the Vlad Taltos series by Stephen Brust is incomplete. I enjoyed Deed of Paksenarrion, but it’s too uneven to be on a top 10 list.

  • BlackVoid

    Brandon Sanderson: Mistborn trilogy
    Joe Abercrombie: The First Law trilogy
    Brent Weeks: Way of Shadows trilogy
    Paul Kearney: Sea Beggars trilogy (unfinished)

    Heck, even Salvatore beats the likes of Robin Hobb. Hobb’s world is incredibly standard fantasy fare, nothing interesting. Try any of the above for something unique.

    • I’ve read all of those including Salvatore :). Those are all great series, and if I was compiling another list today, I would probably include most of them. However, I would not replace any of the entires on the existing list. I don’t think any of the series you mentioned have quite the depth and scope of Bakker’s series. And certainly none of them ever venture into making the world as much of a character as Saga of Recluse does – Recluse is quite unique in that way.

      Butchers Codex Alera is at least as good as any of those series. Gemmel’s Jerusalem man is a more memorable character than you will find in any of those series. Deed of Paksenarion is comparable to all of the ones you mentioned and is probably the most like them in style.

      The Piers Anthony series as well as Orson Scott Card’s one treat the fantasy genre in a completely unique fashion, while all of your series are reasonably standard fantasy fare.

      I am not sure what your beef with Robin Hobb is, I admit, they are not the fastest paced books, but as far as characterization goes, she can’t be beat. And what do you mean, “even Salvatore”, some (not all) of his books are awesome, so it’s not as if he is the bottom rung of fantasy authors. Drizzt is one of my favourite characters of all time.

      • Erin

        I loved Bakker’s series as well as the Butcher. Loved the detail of the reading and controlling people, from a completely different angle. Butcher was just candy to read. Always something awesome happening.

  • Kazmi

    Great list; agree with Recluse saga being at the top (although I’ve only read 3 or 4 books so far)…Would have loved to see Scott Rohan’s Winter of the World series though; one of my all time favorites :)

  • Kean

    The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson is by far one of the best series I’ve read, in my opinion second only to WoT. His imagery, plot line, sub plots, everything, is superb. He has a tad different way of telling stories though, it may confuse some at first, but stick with it for at least three books before deciding you don’t want to read it.

    • Isaac

      Totally agree. I love this series. Quirky style – interesting characters – and one of my favourites.

    • Kellenved

      Erikson is the most versatile writer I’ve ever read. Deepest and most visceral books, written in the most serious yet humorous tones. Minimal summarization, only dialogue and detailed scenery. A challenging 1st book only because the author doesn’t baby you, just drops you into a fully-fleshed fantasy universe, but if you trust him he never leaves you confused or lost

  • Sulkaman


    Have you had a chance to read anything by David Eddings? I am currently almost done with the second book of the Elenium series and find the series quite enjoyable thus far.

    1. The Diamond Throne
    2. The Ruby Knight
    3. The Sapphire Rose

    • Lizzy

      My favorite by Eddings is the Belgariad series and the Malorean. Fantastic reads.

  • JJ

    Thank you for your list! Have you read the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey?

  • Maria

    Best book I’ve ever read would have to be The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s his first book and it is a magnificent work. It should be number one in all the lists.

    • ceo408

      I completely agree! He should not go without mention. I just read the first two books, and I am still not fully recovered from their brilliance!

  • Diana

    Thank you so much for this list- I have been looking everywhere for new fantasy series!

  • Vixis

    My recommendation, which seems to have fallen off everyone’s radar, is Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Earthsea” Cycle. Brilliant albeit for the young adult.

  • Mindy

    Since someone mentioned… for a y.a. series (or several) try Tamora Pierce, each series, starting with The Song of the Lioness quartet, features a brilliant heroin, a fantastically detailed world, and an immense pantheon of meddling Gods and Goddesses.
    Also,stepping away from y.a., Jennifer Roberson’s ‘Sword’ series is amazing. It’s all in first person, which I usually detest, from the perspective of a cocky bastard, ditto, but done so well that it was still immediately engaging. Another intricately devised world with multiple vastly different cultures and seamless character development make it another winner.

    • Kimber Leon

      Mindy, Thankyou for mentioning Tamora Pierce! In my opinion, her Circle of Magic series, then her sequal series the Circle Opens, are both brilliantly written! I have read hundreds of fantasy books, and yet I still get drawn back to her writing everytime I really want to have a great time. The way she intergrates magic into everyday tasks is not shy from brilliant and her characters and so well written. Not only are their amazing “evil” characters, but the main characters have to battle against internal forces as well as natural forces that tie in so well with the story. Pierce did an amazing job at these books and I highly recomend them!

    • Doug

      Agree completely! Even as a middle aged male, I love Tamora’s series; it catches the essence of choice and honor.

  • Lexymon

    Great list! Some interesting new stuff to track down and try out.
    I realise that as a list of 10 it obviously had to leave out many great series, and totally understand the absence of Pratchett, Pullman, LeGuin and all the other well known but brilliant series. I have to admit I haven’t trawled through all of the comments so I don’t know if it’s come up yet but as a young adult series the Tamora Pierce Lioness series was great as a teenager. Also Scott Lynch’s unfinished Locke Lamora series are among my absolute favourites of the fantasy genre. Still waiting for the third though!

    • Lexymon

      haha! Just realised Tamora Pierce is mentioned in the post directly before my own. Whoops.

  • Adam

    The Amber Series by Roger Zelazny is fantastic.

    • Mack

      Haha, it is! My boyfriend was named after a character in that series, so he’s having me read them.

  • GS

    I have never touched any of these books but I will say beyond any doubt in my mind that THE BEST FANTASY SERIES OF ALL TIME IS….(drumroll) !

  • Mack

    The Dresden Files should be on here too. :)

    Awesome to see John on this list. He’s a friend of my dad’s; I met him when I was a little girl and I’ve read several of his books since. :D His books helped me get past the big names and start delving into some less talked-about works.

    • I agree, I’ve recently decided to try the dresden files and devoured the whole series, awesome stuff :)

    • Doug

      Dresden Files are good, albeit a bit “thin”. IMHO

  • Emperor Ethan

    I appreciate this, I will have to try a couple of these series. One I would include is the Terry Pratchett Discworld series. Although it is satire to a degree, it blends seamlessly with some really good fantasy. That and the fact that basically any of the individual books stands alone. Except for Night watch, which stinks.

  • Megan B.

    The Great Book of Amber is an incredible series, written by Roger Zelazny. It’s an extremely detailed world with a large cast of characters, but I’m always rooting for the main character :) I highly recommend it.

  • Heinrich Crouse

    The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and virtually anything by Stephen Donaldson I rate higher than most of these popular authors. Your list is comprehensive, but not very interesting to me. Basically top 10 in sales. They’re certainly on the shelves in any large bookstore. No mention of Frank Herbert! Shocking! Futuristic science, sure, but fantastic in every sense of the word. His worlds are more detailed and complex than anything I’ve read. The Dune series is but one of his creations. Not even the best one. Ian M banks? The Culture? Good on you for getting the debate going.

    • Dale

      @Heinrich Hey!

      Stephen Donaldson I struggled through…too depressing man! The supreme efforts and utter soul destroying journeys are too much for me. Have you read any of the Gap Cycle? What are they like? The outline’s sound compelling! Are they as heavy as the Chronicles?

      BTW I agree with you RE FH and IMB! Love their work to!

      • The Gap Cycle was good. Donaldson is always good.

  • peka

    Hi,we have similar taste for books so i hope that zou can help me with my search..
    Couple a years a go i read a series about a young girll which came from underground ghetto of once prosperous city,whic now have small secure zone reserved for nobility…
    After youth struggle teft/and worse crime she came to secure zone to be part of a police force,where she meets old friend/love from childhood…
    This child hood friend toghether with red dragon shoolar (most of the time in human form]are main characters
    there is also a thief lord ,boss in one of the ghettos not sure about his relationship with main characters
    Well ,my problem is i cant remember name of series or author of the book,but i would very much like to reread and finish this series…
    Thanks for help if any 1 knows which series author this is ,please pm

  • Alyssa

    I know this is more for 12-13 year olds, but the The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart are amazing. I was obsessed with them. In the book there are illustrations by Chirs Riddell and they are just fantastic. They bring the books to life.

    • Jilliterate

      I agree. I read those twice. Fantastic!

  • NikkiR

    I am reading Trudi Canavan at the moment and thoroughly enjoying the series called the Black Magician. She also tends to write in trilogies as with Robin Hobb. Worth reading….

  • Jilliterate

    Thank you!!
    This is awesome and just what I needed today.

  • Doug

    How about the Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen? The early books were great; the latter books were a bit too much rehashing….

  • mark

    I applaud your use of both Piers Anthony and Orson Scott Card’s best fantasy work. Anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure would do well to read both. Anthony’s Xanth series is superb for the more lighthearted reader and Orson Scott Card’s done some amazing science fiction as well.

  • Aunt Edna, calling from Lawrence Welk Village

    I’ve not taken the time to read all 280 comments so I may be repeating someone here.
    Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffery
    Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan ~~ actually for middle school kids, but I liked them
    Herald-Mage by Mercedes Lackey
    Shannara by Terry Brooks
    Landover by Terry Brooks
    Ghatti’s Tale by Gayle Greeno
    Dune by Herbert
    Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
    Singing Ships by Anne McCaffrey

  • Conner

    Why isn’t “Twilight” on here?

    just kidding.

    • Jilliterate


  • fanasticity

    I would recommend the chronicles of Thomas Covenant to any fantasy lover. An epic series on written with the same depth of description as Lord of the Rings with one of the best anti-heroes. Stephen Donaldson gives fantasy a fresh face with a rich universe filled with lore.

    • Oh wow…the memories!! Great stuff!

    • DDD II

      Also one of my favorites, check it out if it is new to you.

  • rushil

    great work really yet you leave out percy jackson series i would recommend it

  • cedric

    i think that A Song of Ice and Fire is one of the best fantasy series ever

    • Di


    • Robert Jory

      Yea it’s nice to have a series where you don’t know who is going to die. I hate books that you just know the main character will make it out somehow because the whole series is about them.

  • Nikki

    I’m coming into the discussion a bit late, and have not checked every comment to see if this author is mentioned, but I adore the Deverry series by Katherine Kerr. Gave my eldest son a name from the books.

  • Joe Rocker

    The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Not just for childern.

  • Ben

    What about David Edding Belgariad, Mallorean, or Sparhawk series?

  • Lizzy

    I always promote Brandon Sanderson… Granted, he’s finishing up for Jordan, but his series Mistborn blows my mind, and his stand alone novels are always really well developed.

    • Myriamin

      yeah. and elantris was also awesome. but mistborn was absolutely amazying

    • M

      Totally agree…Brandon Sanderson is one of my fave authors in the fantasy genre

  • kudujerky

    whaaat?! no mention of terry brooks shannara series? unfortunate.

  • Jilliterate

    I’m on the last available Bakker series, “The White Luck Warrior.” SO glad I stumbled to this list…Bakker is brilliant and I haven’t been able to put him down since “The Darkness that Comes Before.” When you want fantasy you get philosophy, although that pendulum swings both ways and I never feel cheated. It’s rather dark and so wont be for everyone, but his writing is rich and eloquent and thoughtful.

    Anyway, thank you for putting this list together! I’m re-reading to see what else to try.

  • Will

    I’ve seen a ton of lists by a ton of people, but as soon as I saw the Incarnations of Immortality included on you list, you gained a ton of credibility. When I saw the Recluse Saga as your #1, which I’ve read through about 7 times now, I knew I had to check out the rest of the books on your list. I’ll let you know what I think.

    I agree with some of the posters that the Belgariad by Eddings deserves to be on the list, if not because it’s a ton of fun, but because it has converted more people into fans of the genre than any other series that I know.

    Great job on the list, buddy.

    • Will

      I just finished The Crystal City. Wow. That was an amazing read. I loved how well-known figures of the period kept making all those cameos. I’m definitely going to make my way through the rest of your list. Cheers.

  • Matt cloud

    Of fantasy series I will give serious nods to the gunslinger, Dresden files, codex Alera, stones of power, plus the biggies. Possibly forgotten are piers Anthony with his apprentice adept series, c.s. Lewis with the space trilogy, and if u mention david gemmel please remember the rivaled series. Last thought, though terribly written the repairman jack series by F Paul Wilson are hard to put down

    • Matt cloud

      Rigante series by gemmel sorry

  • Di

    Terry Goodkind – Sword of truth.

  • I would add all the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce to that list. Especially some of the newer series are fantastic.
    Other than that I will look forward to reading a lot of these :-)

  • Dana

    The Green Rider series by Krsten Britain is by far my favourite, although I need to admit I haven’t read that many books on the above list. I’m not too into the “epic” fantasy, but I believe Britain comes close and nails it for me. No one has ever seemed to heard of her, so I thought I’d share! I think they’re worth a read :)

  • Marc Soda

    The absolute best I’ve read in a very long time:

    Patrick Rothfuss – The Kingkiller Chronicle

    • Myriamin

      I am reading the second volume.

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  • Gotrek and Felix series is also amazing…

  • ross

    The Abarat books by Clive barker are some of the best modern fantasy i have read, the main character is believable, there are plot twists with every book, and the ending of the third is one of the biggest cliff hangers i’ve ever read. not to mention been brought to tears near the end of the third, and in the middle of the first.
    if your looking for a funny fantasy, check out Mogworld by Yahtzee. it will challenge everything you can think of when you think fantasy/video games.
    and for younger readers, or people like me that still read young adult fantasy, any of Garth Nix’s books, but personally, the keys to the kingdom, and Derek Landy’s Skullduggery Pleasant books (I could have died! My shoelace was untied)

  • Markus

    And once again “Dragonlance” by Magret Weiss And Tracy Hickman dosnt make the list…

    • jay

      pre-dragon lance Weiss and Hickman write 4 books that were exceptionally good as well too.

  • Missing from this list:

    Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe – higher barrier to entry but in all ways fantastic, especially the prose

    Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny – low barrier to entry but deepens at the perfect pace

    Prospero’s Daughter by L. Jagi Lamplighter – a hodgepodge of components blended gracefully

    • The two Amber series are among my favorites. Zelazny was terrific!

  • Josie

    the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay is the best trilogy I have EVER read..I recommend them to anyone..please read them, i have read them numerous times and still enjoy the story like its the first time.

  • I agree with 1-6, hands down. But you need to add Oath of Fealty, Kings of the North, and Echos of Betrayal to the Paksenarrion (Elizabeth Moon) series. The tale isn’t complete until you’ve read those. Also! Must add Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files to the list. <3 Gotta love your friendly neighborhood wizard!

  • If you like other races, other worlds, excellent character development etc then Tad Williams is toward the top of my list. I would start with the Dragonbone Chair series. Excellent.

  • Gmeredith

    My favorite author is Robin Hobb! I love the Farseer Trilogy and The Tawny Man trilogy. Hobb is an amazing author and she has changed my life through Fitz’s eyes!

  • Sir Alec Guiness Stout

    Cool list. Haven’t read Incarnations since I was a kid but that is a great series that was different than anything else I was reading at the time. Now onto reading some Modesitt Jr. I *think* I read some of the Recluse series years ago but heck all of the fantasy book covers look the same. :)

  • Nate

    The Belgariad. One of my favourite ever. In the middle of reading it AGAIN.

    • Anthony

      And the 2nd series, The Mallorean. Both great series’ with a very easy reading level for younger readers. Written by David Eddings for those interested in looking it up.

    • Josie Spencer

      I know, right? I’ve always thought that Hollywood is missing out on not creating these two series as movies. I read them again every few years and they still hold me captive all the way to the last book.

  • What no Feist

  • The Elric Saga – dark fantasy but so good. If you haven’t been introduced to Elric and Stormbringer you are incomplete.

    The Chonicles of Amber – awesome!

    Too many great ones to name. I see some reading ahead of me! Great posts everyone!

  • Kathryn Kelly

    Stumbled on this, I had to just add here that If one were to start
    reading Robin Hobb I would start with the Farseer’s trilogy and Tawny
    man trilogy. Both were fantastic but also her Liveship Traders Trilogy
    are excellent. Soldier Son trilogy books were not my favorite :( The latter was not in the high fantasy style of the others. Maybe I’m just nostalgic.

    Great list though, I’m both pleased and annoyed my list of books to buy has grown longer.

    edit: also thanks to the author for reminding me to finish jim butcher’s series.

  • Arpit

    Read the Shannara series by Terry Brooks… Simply awesome…

  • Mark

    Didn’t see it flying around but if you have a nose at Stephen lawhead and his song of Albion trilogy, and will lend my applause to David Eddings the belgariad and the mallorean (awesome books read at least thirty times) and the Katherine Kerr deverry cycle…..outstanding, what about Stephen kings dark tower set?

  • robhuffstedtler

    I’m a little surprised that none of the other commenters mentioned the The Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook. The first three are excellent. After that, the quality becomes a bit variable.

  • Daisy-Ree

    Percy Jackson should’ve been on this list, it’s a modern take on Ancient Greek fantasy. Never heard of any of these.

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  • Georgii

    Chronicles of Amber is one of my top ones

    • CharlieD

      My Favorite

  • rhiannon

    The nightrunner seried by lynn flewellyn

  • Drea

    The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett is phenomenal!

  • ntr

    how on earth is patrick rothfuss not on this list

  • taylor

    His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
    Dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
    Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

    • Yup, His Dark Materials is awesome! Also the first part is available in a movie, The Golden Compass.

  • Rikki

    I had to look over this list several times to make sure I wasn’t missing it… Please tell me you just haven’t read The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, and THAT’s why it didn’t make the list? Granted, King is pretty main stream, but I only know a handful of people who have read these particular books of his. They are amazing. Read them if you haven’t, or do the people a favor and add them to your list if you have!! SO good.

  • Haloe

    I won’t read all the comments, so if I’m repeating someone.. well I won’t apologize because these books are worth mentioning a million times over. The Three Worlds Cycle by Ian Irvine. It consists of The View From The Mirror Quartet, The Well Of Echos Quartet and The Song Of Tears Trilogy. Absolutely fantastic read. Highly recommended!

  • Rad

    Terry Pratchett and Terry Brooks.

  • wap

    Scott Lynch and his “Gentlemen Bastard” series is really fantasy of top level:
    Magic, guilds, elderglass cities, lots of action and even a love interest! Try it!

  • Teaura

    Katharine Kerr, Daggerspell series

  • Cameron

    The Rai-Kirah trilogy by Carol Berg is simply amazing (Transformation, Revelation, Restoration).

  • David

    Stephen King- Dark Tower Series

  • hank scorpio

    Oz…by L. Frank Baum.

  • Myriamin

    Farseer trilogy, Mistborn, emperor’s soul, Broken empire, Red queen, Enchanted Forest Chronicles, some of my favorites

  • titi

    Really disappointed to not see The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay on here. It’s similar to LOTR in that it is an “epic” fantasy but it’s so, so, so much better. I HIGHLY recommend reading anything by Kay. That man is a genius.

  • Also, Roger Zelazny – Nine Princes in Amber!

  • adam

    another which should definitely have made this list is “The way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson who completed the Wheel of Time series in wake of Jordan’s passing

  • MuadDib

    Some of my favorites are The Elric Saga, Michael Moorcock Xanth, Piers Anthony The Dark Elf Trilogy, R A Salvatore Myth Adventures, Robert Aspin The Apprentice Adept, Piers Anthony The Woods Out Back, R A Salvatore

  • Rick A

    Why isn’t A Song of Fire & Ice present in this list? It is one of the best fantasy series ever written.

  • wtf

    You forgot The Demon Wars

  • There’s another world feel about a lot of these novels, so tempting to crack open and check out. -Jackson

  • Felix

    Wow I can’t believe Robert Jordan’s wheel of time or terry goodkinds’s sword of truth or ra Salvatore legend of drizzt is in there anywhere at all ……amazing!!

  • Nir

    I’m surprised Vlad Taltos series (Jhereg etc.) isn’t here… One of the best series I’ve ever read.

  • Riddhi

    I would recommend the Book of Lies Series as well.

  • muchi carter

    Waaaaait…. Are you guys seriously forgetting the inheritance cycle(eragon by Christopher paolini! Beautiful character building …his ability to create this world was just amazing. And the Dragons man….speechlessness also the creatures have me tongue tide

  • Rico Setiawan

    the best underdog become the ruler, codex alera, already finish all 6

  • Tim Hernandez

    You left out Michael Scott Rohan and his The Winter of the World Series (not Wi tee if the World by Ken Follet) and Tad Williams and his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy.