10 MORE Awesome Fantasy Series That Are Not Potter or LoTR

I received a massive response to my previous post that attempted to showcase some less well-known and under-appreciated fantasy series. Infact I received so many great comments with people recommending their favourite series that I decided to create a definitive list of great fantasy series (stay tuned for that one, it is coming in the next few weeks). But since it is a pretty big job to compile such a list (I already have well over 80 series on the list and it is still growing), I thought I would create this little list of 10 MORE under-appreciated fantasy series in the meantime.

This list incorporates some of the great suggestions made by readers in the comments on my previous post. These are excellent fantasy series that I, for one, enjoyed tremendously and yet most of these still went unmentioned in the comments to my previous post, despite the fact that it received tens of thousands of visitors with people recommending dozens of great series. This should give you an idea of how under-appreciated these series are.

Once again this list will not include, Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” or Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” (you will have to wait for the definitive list to see these) since they have received more than their fair share of spotlight. Without rambling on for too much longer, here is the list of 10 more fantasy series you may not have heard of.

10. Initiate Brother by Sean Russell

There aren’t many mainstream fantasy series that take place in an oriental setting (the only other one I know is number 6 below). So, this series is truly a breath of fresh air. The setting is the Empire of Wa (a sort of amalgamation of Japan and China) and the title character is Brother Shuyun a young Botahist Monk, with a destiny, sent to serve Lord Shonto as a new spiritual advisor. Lord Shonto is probably the main character and we follow his journey as he navigates the plots and intrigues of the imperial court, trying to stave off the wrath of an emperor bent on destroying him and his family.

The scope of the book is epic; there is plenty of politics and plots as well as some nice action thrown in here and there. The dialog is truly magnificent and the author succeeds admirably in creating a sense of mystery around the setting and the people involved. It has been years since I read this, but I have some fond memories that I am now re-reading it :), so read along with me.

[column size=”1-2″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Initiate Brother
The Initiate Brother
[/column] [column size=”1-2″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Gatherer of Clouds
Gatherer of Clouds

9. Dragonlance Legends by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

This series often goes unmentioned as most of the spotlight inevitably goes it its more famous prequel The Dragonlance Chronicles. However, in my opinion this series more than holds its own when compared to Dragonlance Chronicles (just between you and me, I personally enjoy this one more).

The story takes place two years after The War of The Lance as Raistlin Majere sets events in motion to challenge Takhisis (the goddess of darkness) and become one of the gods of Krynn. Without giving away too much of the plot, most of the heroes from the previous trilogy make an appearance here (Tasslehoff, Tanis etc.), with the Majere twins being the main characters. With an adventure that spans multiple time periods in Krynn’s history (Raistlin is a powerful mage after all) this series pits brother against brother in a battle that will decide the fate of the world. This is much more standard fantasy fare, but no less brilliant for being such. This series is pretty much the best of Dragonlance. Highly recommended!

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Time of the Twins
Time of the Twins
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] War of the Twins
War of the Twins
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Test of the Twins
Test of the Twins

8. Chronicles of the Cheysuli by Jennifer Roberson

This is another series that I read a long time ago and haven’t heard anything about since. This series reminded me a little bit of “The Belgariad” by David Eddings in that there is a prophesy that underpins the lives of all the characters in the series. (Note: this series was recommended by reader Erin in a comment on my previous post)

The idea of this series is that there are 3 races in the world, humans, Cheysuli and Ihlini. The Cheysuli are shape-shifters, each bonds with a particular animal when they come of age and from that point on can transform into that animal. The Ihlini are magic users and are mortal enemies of the Cheysuli. Although there are certainly main characters in the books, the conflict between the races is what drives the series. (Hint: the Cheysuli are the good guys, the Ihlini are the bad guys :)).

The series was originally meant to be a trilogy and so the first three books are a bit better than the last 5, but the whole series is certainly original, fast paced and exciting. It is also suitable fare for teens who are into fantasy although, fair warning, there are scenes of extreme graphic violence in these books (i.e. torture). A great read and highly underrated.

[column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Shapechangers
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Song of Homana
The Song of Homana
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Legacy of the Sword
Legacy of the Sword
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Track of the White Wolf
Track of the White Wolf
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] A Pride of Princes
A Pride of Princes
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Daughter of the Lion
Daughter of the Lion
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Flight of the Raven
Flight of the Raven
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”1″ style=”0″] A Tapestry of Lions
A Tapestry of Lions

7. Deryni Chronicles by Katherine Kurtz

I would say this is one of the series that helped launch the fantasy genre to the heights of mainstream appeal that it enjoys today. Yet, when people go on about the virtues of Tolkien or even Edgar Rice Burroughs I never hear them mention Katherine Kurtz and this series.

The main hero in this series is Alaric Morgan a Duke and mentor to the new king Kelson Haldane. Alaric is also half Deryni a powerful race possessing magical powers. This however is not an advantage as the influential Church condemns the magic users and the Deryni are persecuted throughout the land. If this sounds like a pretty generic plot to you, consider that this series was written almost 40 years ago, so the only reason this kind of plot has become generic is because this series and others like it helped make it so.

This series is an extremely fun read, the good guys are really good and the bad guys are really bad, but don’t let that fool you there is plenty of intrigue and suspense and the action never seems silly or contrived. Have a look at this if only to see where some of today’s big names got their ideas and inspiration from.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Deryni Rising
Deryni Rising
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Deryni Checkmate
Deryni Checkmate
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] High Deryni
High Deryni

6. Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn

As I mentioned previously this is one of only 2 fantasy series that I know with an oriental setting. (Note: this series was recommended by reader Zach in a comment on my previous post).

This series is set in a fantasy land clearly based on Japan and tells the story of Otori Takeo a youth who is also one of the “Hidden” a people persecuted throughout the kingdom for their beliefs. When Takeo’s village is destroyed, he is rescued by Otori Shigeru a Lord of the Otori Clan and is eventually adopted by him. Takeo also falls in love and finds out he is one of a group of people called “the tribe” who have special abilities and demand that he join them. When Shigeru is betrayed and killed Takeo must decide which path he will follow.

This series introduces some unique settings and characters and provides a great blend of high fantasy wrapped up in oriental sensibilities. If you love fantasy but are tired of dragons and trolls, then give this series a try, satisfaction guaranteed!

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Across the Nightingale Floor
Across the Nightingale Floor
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Grass for His Pillow
Grass for His Pillow
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Brilliance of the Moon
Brilliance of the Moon

5. Mancer by Don Callander

I found this series accidentally a few years ago while browsing around my local library and it was one of the most fun reads I’ve ever had. The writing reminds me a bit of Robert Asprin or perhaps even Pierce Anthony, the most interesting thing is that this series is virtually unknown. Try browsing around the web for it and you will find that the information is very sparse.

These books tell the story of Douglas Brightblade who comes to be an apprentice Pyromancer when he sees an ad by an older Pyromancer Flarman Flowerstalk. Douglas learns about the mysteries of fire magic and as the series continues meets his future wife, Myrn Manstar an apprentice Aquamancer, as well as his familiar a talking otter named Marbleheart, while having all sorts of adventures. There are also talking kitchens and magic is not only used to battle evil but also to cook supper and wash underwear :).

These books are a real gem, they are light hearted and fun. The dialogue is often humorous and the bad guys are bumbling buffoons at best. There is no drama and subtle plot twists here and it is certainly not epic in scope. But these are the kind of books that make you feel good about reading them. I very highly recommend these, a relaxing read and a refreshing change of pace. They are however hard to find.

[column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Pyromancer
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Aquamancer
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Geomancer
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Aeromancer

4. Fencer Trilogy by K J Parker

This is an awesome trilogy, a bit rambling at times but it doesn’t detract too much from it. This is a story of Bardas Loredan a fencer-at-law, living in Perimadeia a city that is the merchant capital of the known world. Law cases here are settled using swords rather than words and Bardas is one of the best. When Perimadeia is about to be invaded it falls to Bardas to organise the defence of the city.

One of the things that really struck me about these books is the level of detail and knowledge that Parker puts into describing the sword battles that take place in the book. They are so vivid that you almost feel like you’re part of the action. Another interesting thing is that as a series progress things change quite radically, to give away a little bit of the plot, Bardas changes professions in the second book and lets just say that Parker seems to know a lot about making bows and is somehow able to make it interesting for the rest of us. This one gets my vote and then some.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Colours in the Steel
Colours in the Steel
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Belly of the Bow
The Belly of the Bow
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] The Proof House
The Proof House

3. Runelords by David Farland

I love series that have an innovative magic system and this series certainly delivers in that regard. I must confess, the only reason I picked this one up was because of the cover of the first book, but when I started reading, I couldn’t tear myself away.

Farland creates a massive world with an epic conflict, but the magic system is the real star here. The idea is that people is this world can gift other people with physical and mental attributes, so that a person can give another person their strength which means one person will have the strength of 2 while another becomes as weak as a baby. The person who receives the gift is then obligated to take care of the other.

These gifts are called endowments and people with many endowments are called Runelords. The scope of this system is enormous and the series deals with moral and ethical issues around purchasing endowments and taking care of the givers as well as the implications of having too many endowments and becoming almost super human. Of course all this weaves around a plot with factions and invasions and princesses and supernatural entities. You’ll just have to pick it up and give it a read if you want to know more :).

[column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Sum of All Men
The Sum of All Men
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Brotherhood of the Wolf
Brotherhood of the Wolf
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Wizardborn
[/column] [column size=”1-4″ last=”1″ style=”0″] The Lair of Bones
The Lair of Bones

2. Dragoncrown War Cycle by Michael Stackpole

This series is another epic struggle (you can probably tell I am partial to epic struggles :)). The four books are not really a series but are rather one book followed by a trilogy. The first book is a prequel and tells the story of Tarrant Hawkins as he transitions from boyhood into adulthood and is in the process swept up in events of great significance. The world Stackpole creates is not your standard fantasy setting, I don’t know quite how to describe it; suffice to say it is different, vibrant and alive. You really identify with Tarrant as the book progresses and feel the injustice that leads into the trilogy very strongly towards the end.

The trilogy itself introduces a host of other characters, a powerful but immature mage, a warrior princess who is the hope of her people, a street urchin who is the fulfilment of a prophesy and Tarrant is still there, but not as you remember him. The characters are well developed and the story moves along at a nice pace. Stackpole is also one brave author in that he is not afraid to kill off a main character or two along the way, (you don’t really believe it or expect it until it happens). If you like epic fantasy you will definitely enjoy this series.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] [/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Dark Glory War
The Dark Glory War
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] [/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Fortress Draconis
Fortress Draconis
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] When Dragons Rage
When Dragons Rage
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] The Grand Crusade
The Grand Crusade

1. The Darkness Series by Harry Turtledove

Those of you who like alternate history know that Turtledove is a master of that genre and in this series he brings that expertise to a fantasy setting with a twist. This series is hard to describe. Imagine you were living in a world where society progressed by improving and refining magic rather than inventing technology. Imagine that this world parallelled ours in development and reached a stage where we were around the middle of the 20th century and then a world war broke out, just like it did on our world. This is a story of that time. This series is literally all about a world war fought through magical means and is based very closely on the Second World War. If you are a history buff you will be able to match the countries in the books to their real world counterparts, which from personal experience is pretty cool.

This series is told from a multitude of viewpoints of people who are tied up in the events. There is really no main character here. You will identify with some characters more than with others, but there are way too many to successfully keep track of all of them. The idea of this series is not to tell the story of any particular person, but to almost be a historical account of this fictional war.

This series truly is something completely different in fantasy. Dragons are formed into an air force, tanks are rhino-like creatures and orcas are used like submarines. The weapons do not used bullets but must be charged by magical means. Mage scientists work on great magical weapons that can turn the course of the war overnight. A whole race of people are being rounded up and exterminated and their energy used for magical experiments. At the same time it never seems like individuals can have a major impact on the events (unlike regular fantasy), but are rather moved by events while trying to preserve their lives and struggling to survive.

I will be the first to admit that this series is not for everyone, it is so different from any other fantasy series that it is not possible to make a valid comparison. I will say that if you enjoy reading history you will probably like this. If you like truly epic events and a great story is what you’re after than once again you will probably enjoy this. If however you’re looking for a hero to ride in with a magic horse/sword/ring/wand and save the day for everyone than you will not find that here. I for one would not pass up a chance to read this if I were you if only to experience the different possibilities that the fantasy genre has to offer.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Into the Darkness
Into the Darkness
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Darkness Descending
Darkness Descending
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Through the Darkness
Through the Darkness
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Rulers of the Darkness
Rulers of the Darkness
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Jaws of Darkness
Jaws of Darkness
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] Out of the Darkness
Out of the Darkness

Alright, One More As A Bonus – Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is not really a series. Besides being set in the same world, there is really no common theme, although some of the characters in the books are related to the characters from the other books. However, these books are brilliant. (Note: “The Curse of Chalion” was recommended by reader Kosigan in one of the comments on my previous post). I also heartily recommend these books. “The Curse of Chalion” has won the Mythopoeic Award and was recommended for multiple others while “Paladin of Souls” has won both a Hugo and a Nebula.

If you like Lois McMaster Bujold’s sci-fi series (e.g. “Vorkosigan Saga”) you will definitely enjoy these books. A great quasi-series by a master of sci-fi and fantasy.

[column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] The Curse of Chalion
The Curse of Chalion
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”0″ style=”0″] Paladin of Souls
Paladin of Souls
[/column] [column size=”1-3″ last=”1″ style=”0″] The Hallowed Hunt
The Hallowed Hunt

Stay tuned for my Definitive List of Great Fantasy series which I am compiling right now, subscribe to my feed to be the first to know when it’s up and how you can help make it better.

In the meantime, if you liked these suggestions don’t forget to visit my first post for 10 more great fantasy series you should take for a spin. Once again don’t be afraid to leave a comment if you know an awesome under-appreciated fantasy series that deserves a mention.

  • Will

    Wow, Outstanding post! I am going to have to start some of these series :) You have an amazing understanding of the genre.

  • Anbaraen

    Thanks for the lists. I will definitely be checking out the books listed… As soon as I finish the “Wheel of Time”. :P

    I really appreciate the lists, as I’ve been looking for some… Not as mainstream fantasy, as of late.

  • jon

    How about Glen Cook’s Black Company series? One of my favorites!

  • Dannielle

    Tales of the Otori has a fourth book now – Harsh Cry of the Heron.

  • Krig

    Where is the “Assassins Apprentice” trilogy and the Lord Golden, Golden Fool (or something like that) From Robin Hobb!? They are definately a must read for everybody that loves fantasy.

  • “Golden Fool” is called the “Tawny Man” trilogy :). In my previous post of 10 fantasy series, I mentioned the Soldier Son trilogy by Robin Hobb which caused the “Assassins Apprentice” and “Tawny Man” trilogies to be mentioned in the comments by readers.

  • MeanJean

    I would hope that the Amber series by Roger Zelazney will have made at least ONE of your lists!
    I love that series.

    • Anon

      I second this!

  • You should check out any of Carol Berg’s writing. Her world building feels so natural and not at all the overwhelming “Whack you in the face with this awesome world” type of stuff that usually occurs in high fantasy. Her writing and characters are deep and engrossing. the duo she has just completed is pretty amazing, as well as her stand-alone “Song of the Beast” (what I’m currently reading)

  • The “Brethren Trilogy” by Robyn Young, although only two thirds released, is superb. Rich in RESEARCHED historical fact blended with some artistic license, Young captures the essence of the Templar Knights through the main character, Will Campbell, and brings a new perspective to this mysterious and often much maligned religious military order of the middle ages.
    Book 1 – Brethren
    Book 2 – Crusade
    Book 3 – Requiem (released Oct, 2008)

  • John R

    You can read more about this trilogy at:

    It’s worth the effort.

  • Armateras

    Needs Joe Abercrombie’s “The First Law” trilogy.

  • David R

    No mention of Stephen R. Donaldson anywhere!?! I’m crushed…

  • Brad G

    After reading both lists, I have found a lot of series now that I haven’t heard of before but will now have to read. Great job!

    Another good one is the “The Death Gate Cycle” by Weis and Hickman.

    • Ben M

      The Death Gate cycle is awesome

      • J.B.

        I was starting to think that I was the only one who liked the Death Gate Cycle

  • hayley m

    Great list, will definitely check some of those out…

    As for Oriental settings, Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts’ trilogy features an Oriental setting. They’re called Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire and Mistress of the Empire. Bloody good books, too…

  • No mention of David Eddings anywhere. :(

  • Wtfux

    What the hell, you left out The Wheel Of Time

  • rhea

    steven erikson’s ‘malazan book of the fallen’ series is easily the best saga i have read, and not very well known, which is a shame.

  • alex

    i agree with Wtfux, wheel of time should most definatly be there. also there are two more books for the otori series, one set before the other after the main trilogy. they are the harsh cry of the heron and heavens net is wide.

  • Kosigan

    Thank you :)

  • Masteradept

    Wonderful List, some I have read and some I will. Thank You for passing on the obvious mainstream authors like Eddings, Jordon, Feist, and Donaldson.

  • Fishbone

    Great List! But, were is Roger Zelazney?

  • scotian

    very descriptive about all of the books, will make sure to check some out.
    I am surprised not to see Terry Goodkind and his series about the ‘Sword Of Truth’, amazing collection

  • Becca

    What about The Amber Chronicles by Roger Zelazny? I highly recommend them, all ten stories can be purchased in one large volume, The Great Book of Amber.


  • matahari

    i think the dark materials trilogy merits a mention here…

  • Chuint

    Why not include The Lost Years of Merlin? I read it a few years back out of boredom and it turned out pretty good. ;)

  • One series I have sadly not seen mentioned in either the comments nor the blog is the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. While he usually writes historical fiction focusing on ancient societies(mostly pre-christian), the Fionavar Tapestry is high fantasy. You can get the books separately or as a collected edition and I just can’t stop reccommending them to any fantasy fan, new or old.

  • Derek

    I stumbled upon your lists and noticed an omission that I kind of expected. That being The Book of The New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. These were the best books I have ever read. However, they can be confusing and complicated at times. There are 4 books plus a fifth I would recommend reading as well. Also, they won the World Science and Nebula awards a number of years ago. Here is a link to a book of the first two books:


  • Brian

    I think Glen Cook’s “Black Company” series definitely deserves a mention here, it changed how I thought of fantasy literature.

  • Perrin

    What about Glen Cook? I’ve not read “Tales of the Black Company”, but the “Garrett, P.I.” series is a brilliant fusion of fantasy and noir.

  • Dr T

    You should add David Drake’s Lord of the isles (with actual Assyrian spells). It is very cyclical (a deliberate choice) but interesting.

    You also need to add Brandon Sanderson’s Well of souls trilogy. It has a fascinating premise and world/magic system. (Sanderson is the person tapped to finish the Wheel of Time)

  • Khetienn

    Thank you for the lists; now I have some new series to go find! I’ve read the Mancer series, and they are great fun to read. I’m glad that they were mentioned.

    As a serires recommendation, I’m going to mention Janny Wurt’s ‘Wars of Light and Shadow’ series. A fantastic read, in my opinion, that really drags you in and doesn’t let go! Janny has a superlative command of the English language, and it shows in her books.

    If you would rather not dive straight in to a currently-unfinished series with 8 finished books (with 3- more planned to finish the series), she has a stand-alone book titled “To Ride Hell’s Chasm’ that I feel showcases some of her best writing to date. I find it nearly impossible to put it down, even after the 6th re-read, and despite knowing what happens.

    …Anyway, just my 2 cents of an author that I really enjoy.

  • Thompson B

    There’s a brilliant trilogy of which it always seems no one knows.. C. S. Lewis’ untitled space trilogy. The titles of its volumes are the following:

    Out of the Silent Planet
    That Hideous Strength

    If you haven’t read it (I’m going to presumptuously assume you haven’t, since it isn’t on either of your present lists), I highly recommend finding the time to read at least the first, which is quite short – shorter by far than its sequels. The series is different from most that you’ve chosen and described in that it isn’t based around a system of magic or around fantasy lands in the past (or present). I really can’t say more about it here without divulging at least a few of its revelations, but it begins in England and quickly establishes for the reader a strangely and resonantly possible reality of this solar system, of humanity and humanity’s allies, and of the universe. I passionately recommend it to everyone.

  • You’re right, I haven’t read the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis, although I have heard of it.

    Now that you’ve given it such a glowing recommendation I’ll have to go and check it out :).

    From what I remember, that trilogy is more science fiction rather than fantasy, luckily I like sci-fi just as much as I like fantasy :).

  • Alex

    You should add The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, by Ted Williams, and The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings.

  • Rhys

    Anything by Ian Irvine is beautiful, real and completly fantastical. Ian Irvine in one word… brilliant.

  • Anthony Oak

    I found out your other list some days ago and were going to make a comment about the Otori Tales and was very pleased to find them in this list. The thing is that nowadays there are two more books, one prequel(The Harsh Cry of the Heron) and a sequel talking about the past of Shigeru (Heaven’s Net is Wide).

    Another series that I think is great is the World of Watches Tetralogy by Sergey Lukyanenko.

    Also I live in Portugal and there is a promising young writer here called Filipe Faria he has a series of 5 books (which I think will have 7 on the end) called “The Allaryia Chronicles”. I don’t think there any translations in english yet but his writing is great, maybe a little similar to LOTR but he his a young writer.

  • Beam

    Looks like my comments have come too late. But I would like to add a few of my favorite series to the list:

    “Black Jewels” Trilogy by Anne Bishop

    “Kushiel” series by Jacqueline Carey

    “Fire/Magic/ect Study” by Maria V. Snyder

    “Lost/Forgotten/etc Truth” by Dawn Cook

    “Archangel” series by Sharon Shinn

    I have moved around quite a bit in the last few years, and these are the books that have managed to survive untold number of “purges” associated with the moving process, to be lugged repeatedly from city to city…

  • Brand

    I just want to recommend The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny, 10 incredibly awesome books (particularly the first 5). To summarize in a sentence: Its the story of a half-mad royal family that rules the world.

  • matt

    What about “Wheel of Time”, “Death Gate Cycle”, “Dark Elf Trilogy”, “Song of Ice and Fire”, “Dark Tower”, “Vampire Chronicle” just to name a few.

  • I would throw in two things.

    1) The Dark Tower by Stephen King pwns everything on this list.
    2) The fantasy genre is for lamers and pussies. Read some sci-fi if you want to be entertained.

  • Jim Tinsley

    How about “Wizards First Rule” by Terry Goodkind, one of my favorites.

  • Sarah

    Thanks for the recommendations! There’s one I would definitely add though — the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. It’s won a ton of awards, and rightly so. I’ve never had more fun reading (and rereading, and rereading again) so many books. Completely original, satyrical, wildly funny, and deep. I know this sounds like something off of a book-jacket, but I don’t care. :)

  • Micah

    I’d like to throw The Malazan Book of the Fallen series into the ring. 10 book series with some great characters. A few books wander a bit but by and large a great series of reads.

  • Ryan

    All of these are great selections. I would just like to add any of the books by Christopher Stasheff as well as the series of books by Robert Newcomb. I just finished Lamentation by Ken Scholes and am about to start on the Shadows Trilogy by Brent Weeks; can’t wait.

  • Kane

    Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

  • Charlie

    Love your lists, you introduced me to Recluse. To you people hollerin’ about WoT, in the first post OP said he’s going to introduce people to books other than
    “- Jordan (“The Wheel of Time”)
    – Martin (“The Song of Ice and Fire”)
    – Goodkind (“The Sword of Truth”)”

  • troy

    How about “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin and the rest of that series? I really liked that that book.

  • Katherine

    I LOVE LORD OF THE RINGS THEY ARE THE BEST BOOKS(AND MOVIES) EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Harry Potter is bad though I don’t like it at all.

  • BN

    Janny Wurts, The Cycle Of Fire

  • Zaki

    Great posts! I can’t wait for the next one, keep up the good work!

  • Twenty series and no Lynn Flewelling? Excellent stuff, some of the best “standard fantasy” I’ve read in recent years.

  • Not sure whether this fits in Fantasy, specifically, but it certainly has swords & sorcery: Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy. Very well written, we’re given the first-person story of Merlin from his early life as a boy to his old age in King Arthur’s Britain. Stewart did extensive research for the book and incorporated many old legends. I’ve read a lot of Arthurian stories, but this series is definitely my favorite.

  • Jake Scott

    What about George RR Martin A Song of Ice and Fire???!!!

  • Barry Hughart, _Bridge of Birds_, _Eight Skilled Gentlemen_, and _The Story of the Stone_.

  • Have you tried the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper? It builds upon British mythology from the Windsor region with characters such as Hern the rider. Great series from the 70’s.

    • I have actually given it a look a few ago, I never really got into it, but might give it another go.

  • Jeff

    Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is not far from, if not, the best series that I’ve ever read. Glen Cook’s Black Company is also pretty fantastic.

  • veela2792

    The Bartimaeus trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud.

  • the darkness series is definitely worth reading.
    i only get the chance to read 1/2 book because i lost it. too bad.

  • I read both sets of comments and can’t believe that no one has recommended The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. OK, it’s Book 1 of a trilogy and it’s the only one out now. But . . .wow. That’s all I will say about it.

    It maybe hard to find, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Great Game trilogy by Dave Duncan. It’s a world-crossing series and (in our time) it takes place during WWI. That becomes an extremely important fact in the last book, but I won’t spoil it. The series is “Past Imperative”, “Present Tense”, and “Future Indefinite”

    • I haven’t read Patrick Rothfuss before, but might give it a go since you’ve enjoyed it so much. Although it’s not really a series until it gets at least two books (I am nitpicking) :).

      I have however read The Great Game and I agree it is a very decent series and highly underrated.

  • Jose Casanova

    I’m appalled that anything by John Marco hasn’t been mentioned here. The Eyes of God and its sequels, The Devil’s Armor and The Sword of Angels are books that I very much enjoy and recommend. The plot seems very cliche at the beginning of the first book, but gets quite interested (and odd) in the middle. Marco’s prose is alluring, in my opinion. I seriously recommend them. The three books make up a trilogy, but are individually quite long (700 pg. + each book), but I suggest you at least read The Eyes of God when you get the chance.

    Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara is another series I’d recommend. The first series that got me into fantasy (and thus reading) was the Chronicles of Merlin by T.A. Baron–really good books, though they might be a bit too childish (I started reading them when I was 12), but heavily recommended by me nonetheless.

    I must also add another voice to the rising chorus of suggesting the Chronicles of Amber, though I prefer the latter half books over the former half; I don’t quite know why.

    • Chronicles of Amber is good although not my favourite. I’ve read some of the Shannara books (there are quite a few these days) once again, I enjoyed it but wouldn’t rave about it. I vaguely remember chronicles of merlin :).

      I’ll definitely give John Marco a gander when I get the chance.

    • Ryan

      Agreed, I was looking for John Marco the second I saw this list. However, I’ve only read the Tyrants and Kings trilogy. The Jackal of Nar was one of my favorite books back in the day. I will definitely check out The Eyes of God when I get the chance!

  • Tucker!

    Awesome to see K. J. Parker on this list, but I must say, his Engineer Trilogy was way better than the Fencer Trilogy. I loved the first book of the Fencer, but I still haven’t managed to drag myself through the second one. On the other hand, I couldn’t stop reading the Engineer trilogy. He puts the same level of knowledge into those books, and the characters are amazing!

    • Ah, cheers for that, I haven’t read the Engineer trilogy, it’s been a long time since I read Fencer as well. You’re right that the second book was a slow starter, but it grew on me after a while :). I’ll check out Engineer when I get the chance.

  • Masterson

    Terry Goodkind????
    where is he? that series was amazing.
    Sword of Truth series!! both your lists are faulty sir.
    Get to reading.

    • Sword of truth is well and truly mainstream, it is a decent series and props to him for finishing such a massive work. Having said that – deus ex machina much? Unlike series such, George R Martins song of ice and fire, the later books in sword of truth feel tacked-on and it is clear that they were not though out beforehand. The way he expanded the world at his convenience was somewhat jarring as well. Good series overall and well known/regarded, but by no means the best.

  • Cathy

    I absolutely must recommend the work of Sara Douglass. I won’t describe the plots too much, as you can find them quite easily on Google or Wikipedia, but suffice to say they are deserving of the adjective epic.

    The Troy Game – It takes place on Earth, and centres around a group of characters who are reincarnated at the end of each book, often taking the form of famous characters from history, as each character tries to control the Troy Game.

    The Wayfarer Redemption – consists of two trilogies, the Axis Trilogy and the Wayfarer’s Redemption trilogy. The story is two dense to concisely describe, but I highly recommend it.

  • Allison

    While I love both your lists, and wrote down many titles that seem really interesting, I’m mostly shocked and amazed that I don’t know a single book on either list! I am HUGE fantasy reader, and while granted, most of the stuff I like would probably be classified as “girl fantasy”, I always thought I’d hit a pretty wide range. Apparently not.

    My best would include:
    Dragon Prince and Dragon Token trilogies by Melanie Rawn (6 books total)
    Exiles series by Melanie Rawn (3 total, 1 is not written yet)
    Daughter of the Forest series by Juliet Marillier (great for anyone who likes Celtic fantasy – 4 books now total)
    Rhapsody by Elizabeth Hayden (especially great if you like or play music – 6 books now total, and not yet finished)
    Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (Scottish historical fiction, with fantasy elements, mostly time travel)
    Guy Gavriel Kay – He’s got mostly stand-alones, but like, 6 of them, and they are ALL great

    • The range of fantasy sub-genres on offer has really expanded over the last 15 years or so, it’s not just about swords and sorcery any more. There is high fantasy, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, alternate history etc. Anyone would struggle to read deeply across all the sub-genres, I try to read stuff that I know I would like and branch out into sub genres I wouldn’t normally read only on recommendation from people I trust :). It sounds like you read what you enjoy which is great, I have read melanie rawn, elizabeth haydon and guy gavriel kay, all good stuff. I do hope you enjoy some of the books from my lists I’d like to think i am a trustworthy recommender :).

    • Joan

      I second Elizabeth Haydon, her Rhapsody series is excellent, one of the best I have read.

  • Readeater

    These two lists of books have been the most helpful things on the iternet and in general for my reading for the past 2 years. I keep coming back to this site after I finish a series to find a new one. Thank you.

    • I am glad you found them helpful, I keep meaning to do a few more similar ones, such as one on science fiction series etc. but time seems to always get away from me lately :(.

  • Marcus B

    Ok, a couple of great books an authors ar listed above.. so why am i gonna complain :)

    Starter, The books of GOR i know them well but i dont think that new fantasy readers that have worked there way through all the “big” works now of it.

    Seccond, The Larion Senate is really underesimatied.

    Ohh and Gene Wolfe and the new sun (nothing for beginners)

    From what books youve reccomend i think that we shall truley listen to your reccomendations.. Fom onw that of all recomndations seen here i havent read dragoncrown war cycle but that will change

  • Aly

    Did that list of fantasy series ever get made? Post says in a few weeks, but given the post is over a year old its a bit hard to find.

    • Unfortunately it didn’t :(, I did compile a list of series which ended up being massive, but to format it into a decent post, was taking hours and hours with no end in sight, I didn’t have that much time to devote to it and still don’t, maybe I’ll give it a bash again next time I’m on holidays.

      • Aly

        If you ever get the chance, even a totally unformatted partial list by email would be brilliant.

  • Brent

    I just read Dawnthief by James Barclay. Heres the thing, I have read so many fantasy books I aways know what gonna happen next, I know the hero will succeed or that the spell will work. Not so in this book, I never saw any of it coming and it blew my mind. A must read.

  • Chase porier

    The series Ranger’s Apperintice by John Flanagon I think that’s how u spell his name . This series is one of te best series that I have
    reed So u should check it out there r urently 7 books out

  • Zack

    So most of my books are currently in storage but here are a few that I’m either currently reading or have especially stuck with me

    Sherwood Smith-Inda, The Fox, King’s Shield, Treason’s Shore
    Steven Erikson-Malazan Book of the Fallen
    Jennifer Fallon-Second Sons Series
    Jennifer Fallon-Tide Lords Series
    Brandon Sanserson-Mistborn Series
    Glen Cook-I have yet to find any of his series that I don’t think is worth reading
    Dennis L. McKiernan
    Timothy Zahn (Sci Fi, not fantasy, but still good)
    So many more…but that’s all I’ve got off the top of my head

    • I’ll cast another vote for Sanderson’s mistborn, great read.

  • Sulkaman

    You have done such a nice job or providing insight to the series that you note and perhaps more importantly, you have created a foundation for dialogue around all kinds of other series. Thanks much for taking the time.


  • Jim Roberts

    Linking around and ended up here. Thought I would add one of my favorite series which is “the book of swords by Fred Saberhagen.

  • Sulkaman

    The Empire of Man Series by David Weber is definitely worth reading. Particularly March to the Sea.


    • Sulkaman

      I should add, this is more SF than Fantasy. Sorry if you are only a fantasy reader, but since we are talking series here, I thought I would throw this in because I just finished it.

      • It is definitely sci-fi, and it is a decent series, but does degrade a bit towards the end in my opinion.

  • Jeff Smith

    While you put out a good list, including some of the great series, you missed some very notable ones, including many of my favorites;
    Pern-Anne McCaffrey, the Vlad Taltos books (series untitled so far as I know)-Steven Brust, The Riftwar series-Raymond Feist , Chronicles of Valdemar and Elemental Masters-Mercedes Lackey, and especially the Belgariad-David Eddings.
    I’m making note of some of the sets you reccomend, and plan to try them. Do yourself a favor and try these.

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  • clarktrekkie

    Try the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. They are the freakin best. There is 11 books in the series plus a prequel (Debt of Bones) and a after words novel (Law of Nines). The books are amazing and I wish there were more in the series.

  • Chris

    Add to the list Mary Stewart’s series beginning with The Crystal Cave. It is a great story that falls within the Sword and Sorcery camp, but is pure literature.

  • Erika

    I suggest for younger readers to try The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy, by Clare Dunkle. It’s quite good.

  • JoJo

    People have listed most of my favorites (Cook, etc.) in the comments, but no one has mentioned two:

    – Patricia McKillip’s Riddle Master Trilogy. It is 3 well-written books describing events in the life of a man born with 3 stars on his forehead who is a savant when it comes to solving riddles, except for why there are stars on his forehead. An excellent read; there are links to descriptions of the books here:


    – Sheri Tepper’s New Game series. It is 9 books — 3 trilogies — each expanding in scope on the previous one. At the end of the first trilogy, you think you understand what’s going on, then in the second trilogy (a prequel trilogy to the first), the scale of the conflict expands and you think you understand what’s happening; then it happens again in the third trilogy, which wraps things up nicely. Amazon has the first trilogy available in a single volume; the others can be hard to find these days, but are well worth the effort:



    • GRR

      I second the recommendation for the Riddlemaster trilogy. Absolutely wonderful, and a very fast read.

  • psuedocide

    Night angel/ lightbringer series by brent weeks
    mistborn / 17th shard books by brandon sanderson

  • vaibhav

    malazan tale of the fallen is easily the best series ever written ,the list looked like composed by a ignorant fool

  • Ben M

    I would suggest that you read an awesome series that got me started on fantasy and that is The True Game series by Sheri S Tepper. It is an unbelievable read

  • SilverSiren

    I am really excited the Deryni series was up there. I read it a long time ago and even named my son after King Kelson Haldane. His first and middle names are Kelson Anthony while the boy king is named Kelson Cinhil Rhys Anthony Haldane. I was going to put the other two middle names in for him as well but the nurse at the hospital was having a hard enough time just spelling Kelson… *grins*

  • Jason

    You’re still missing anything by R.A. Salvatore and his Drow series. Any of the individual stories surrounding Drizzt or even his entire story line are not overly common and if not still ongoing would be largely unknown to new fantasy readers.

  • xdmuch

    Oh man, no mention of Tamora Pierce’s many excellent fantasy series with strong female characters (who aren’t just the stereotypical “strong female character”)? Sad day!

  • random reader

    You should definitely look into David B. Coe. I love his work!!! He builds such great, complex worlds in his series: Lon Tobyn Chronicle, Blood of the Southlands, and (my favorite) Winds of the Forelands!! Please give it a look for your next list!!!!!!

  • Juan Lobo

    Thanks for the list!, i will leave a recomendation, there is an epic saga by an Argentinian writer, Liliana Bodoc, it is called “La saga de los confines” there is already a French version, and the English one should be coming out soon with the name “Saga of the borderlands”. It’s 3 books long, and as a LOTR, Conan fan i definitley reccomend it….

  • GRR

    I’m a little surprised not to see Zelazny’s Amber series (5 x 2) mentioned at all. He was an outstanding writer, and the Amber books rank among his best work. Piers Anthony, by contrast, I find trite and tiresome.

  • mwahahahahaha

    I reckon Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy is brilliant, although his other stuff’s not as good

  • Sam

    How are Percy Jackson, The Heroes of Olympus, and The Kane Chronicles not on these lists? They are THE best series EVER!!!

  • Rami

    I like that your list consists of some older works and not just names that are already popularized. I’ve read a few of these series and have every intention to read your recommendations. It’s always great to find someone who reads great books. I’ll hope to hear more.

  • Rad

    Trite: (of a remark, opinion, or idea) overused and consequently of little import; lacking originality or freshness.
    I disagree. Piers Anthony may not be your cup of tea but his writing is not trite or lacking in originality. The Incarnations series mentioned is very original and fascinating. His Xanth series on the other hand is about as silly as they come. Still not trite. If you want to be a literary snob feel free to join Goodreads. Lot’s of trite types there. lol

  • India

    I am sad to not see The Belgariad and Malloreon series by David Eddings not mentioned in either the article or the comments. Two fantastic fantasy series revolving around a young boy destiny, a battle between gods, and the uniting of a split universe. Plenty of magic and a plethora of sarcasm. I have enjoyed reading the two series over and over again despite having lost two of the books.

  • Chris

    What a brilliant list! I’m a lifelong sci-fi & fantasy reader and these are all good recommendations. For me I’d add:

    The Fionavar Tapestry (Trilogy) by Guy Gavriel Kay – The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, The Darkest Road. I go back this series at least every other year. Not big books, but so so beautifully written.

    The Wraeththu Chronicles by Storm Constantine – The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire. There’s a lot of books in this universe which has been expanded and expanded both by Storm and by selected fanfic writers (who she actively encourages), but these first three are naively magical in a way that’s difficult to describe. Also, they’re very hard to classify as specifically fantasy or sci-fi. They’re unique.

    The Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies by Melanie Rawn. Sadly they seem to be out of print now, but you might be able to scoop up used editions on Amazon (as I just had to in order to reread them). Definitely worth the effort.

  • I am so glad that The Darkness series got the top spot. I am someone who almost exclusively reads non-fiction, yet when I happily stumbled upon the second book one year it became my favorite book ever. I have now read the first three several times. I’ve always wanted to read the rest. Haven’t found a library yet that has these. They all have Guns of the South though