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Top 25 Must-Read Fantasy Books Of All Time: Masterpieces Every Enthusiast Should Experience

Updated: Aug 5, 2023



How many of these have you read?


Fantasy literature has the power to transport readers to magical worlds, filled with epic adventures, mythical creatures, and heroic journeys. For any fantasy enthusiast, finding the right books to immerse themselves in can be a daunting task, given the vast array of options available. To simplify your journey into the realm of fantasy, we have curated a list of the top 25 must-read fantasy books of all time that promise to leave you spellbound. From the works of renowned authors to hidden gems, this list covers a diverse range of captivating tales that every fantasy enthusiast should experience.


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1. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson:


In the world of Scadrial, where ash falls from the sky and mystical powers reside within the Allomancers, Mistborn follows Vin, a street-savvy thief who discovers her extraordinary abilities. Brandon Sanderson's innovative magic system, intriguing plot twists, and unforgettable characters make this book an instant classic for fantasy lovers. As Vin delves deeper into the underground world of thievery, she realizes that her powers might hold the key to overthrowing a ruthless empire and changing the fate of an entire world.




2. The Dark Tower by Stephen King:


Embark on an otherworldly journey with Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, as he quests for the enigmatic Dark Tower. Stephen King's epic blend of fantasy, science fiction, and horror will keep you enthralled throughout this gripping series. Follow Roland across a decaying and desolate landscape, where he encounters strange companions and faces off against dark forces seeking to bring about the destruction of the Tower—an event that could unravel the very fabric of reality.




3. The Live Ship Traders by Robin Hobb:


Set in the richly detailed world of the Rain Wilds, this series follows the lives of Liveships, sentient ships with distinct personalities. Robin Hobb's masterful storytelling and deep character development weave a captivating tale of adventure, destiny, and sea-faring wonders. As the Vestrit family navigates the treacherous waters of politics, trade, and dragon magic, the Liveships hold secrets that might lead them to the elusive land of Kelsingra, where the ultimate truth about their existence awaits.




4. Malice by John Gwynne:


Enter the world of Banished Lands, where ancient prophecies unfold, and heroes and villains rise. John Gwynne's debut novel sets the stage for an epic fantasy saga filled with war, intrigue, and powerful battles between good and evil. The story follows Corban, a young farm boy with a hidden destiny, as he becomes entangled in a war of ancient gods and mortal beings, where friendships are tested, and alliances forged in blood will determine the fate of kingdoms.




5. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson:


In the city of Elantris, once known for its godlike inhabitants, cursed individuals now struggle to survive. Brandon Sanderson's standalone masterpiece offers a unique take on the concept of magic and redemption, making it a must-read for any fantasy aficionado. As Prince Raoden discovers he has been transformed into an Elantrian, he must navigate the city's political intrigues and a mysterious magical plague to restore hope to the people and bring back the city's former glory.




6. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman:


Join Lyra Belacqua on a journey through parallel worlds as she uncovers the mysteries of Dust and battles formidable adversaries. Philip Pullman's iconic trilogy delves into complex themes and leaves readers pondering philosophical questions long after turning the last page. Set in a world where humans have daemons, animal companions representing their souls, Lyra's quest takes her to the Arctic, where she encounters armored bears, witches, and an interdimensional war that will change the fate of her universe.




7. The Once and Future King by T. H. White:


A classic retelling of the Arthurian legend, T. H. White's work is a timeless masterpiece that explores themes of chivalry, power, and the human condition. Journey to the mystical realm of Camelot and witness the rise of the legendary King Arthur. As Arthur faces moral dilemmas, learns the ways of knighthood under Merlin's tutelage, and forms the Knights of the Round Table, readers are treated to a poignant exploration of power, love, and the cyclical nature of history.




8. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke:


Step into a labyrinthine world of endless halls and surreal beauty with Piranesi, the enigmatic protagonist. Susanna Clarke's atmospheric storytelling and intricate world-building create an immersive and dreamlike reading experience. Within the House— a structure filled with statues, tides, and mystery— Piranesi's discoveries unravel the truth behind his existence and lead to a revelation that redefines the boundaries of reality and imagination.




9. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson:


Steven Erikson's ambitious series takes readers on a sprawling journey through an intricately crafted world of gods, empires, and legendary battles. Prepare to be amazed by the scale and depth of this epic fantasy saga. Spanning multiple continents and thousands of years, the Malazan Empire stands on the brink of collapse as power struggles, ancient beings, and the convergence of destinies drive the world to the brink of cataclysmic change.




10. The First Law by Joe Abercrombie:


Joe Abercrombie's grimdark masterpiece introduces readers to a world of morally gray characters, political intrigue, and gritty realism. This trilogy subverts fantasy tropes and leaves an indelible mark on the genre. As the Inquisition hunts for those with magical abilities, a barbarian warrior, a disgraced nobleman, and a cunning thief find themselves entangled in a web of power and deception, leading to an unforgettable confrontation with destiny.




11. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson:


In the world of Nalthis, where magic is based on Breath and colors hold extraordinary powers, two princesses' destinies intertwine. Brandon Sanderson's ability to craft richly detailed worlds and compelling characters shines in this standalone gem. Sisters Siri and Vivenna find themselves entangled in a world of political intrigue and divine machinations when they become pawns in a high-stakes game orchestrated by divine entities.




12. Jade City by Fonda Lee:


In the bustling city of Janloon, powerful families fight for control over jade, a source of magical power. Fonda Lee's captivating blend of fantasy and gangster drama creates a thrilling and original reading experience. The Kaul family, who possess jade-enhanced abilities, struggles to maintain their hold on Janloon amidst political intrigue, clan rivalries, and a rising tide of violence that threatens to plunge the city into chaos.




13. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan:


Embark on an epic quest to save the world from the Shadow with Rand al'Thor and his companions. Robert Jordan's expansive series weaves an intricate tapestry of prophecies, politics, and adventure that has enthralled readers for decades. As the Dark One's power grows and the Last Battle approaches, Rand must confront his destiny as the Dragon Reborn, leading him and his friends on a perilous journey that will shape the fate of the world.




14. The Dandelion Dynasty by Ken Liu:


Ken Liu's epic saga takes place in a richly imagined East Asian-inspired world, filled with political intrigue, warfare, and philosophical depth. This groundbreaking series showcases the beauty of fantasy infused with diverse cultural influences. Centered around the ruling family of Dara, this epic spans generations, with characters grappling with the burdens of power, loyalty, and the legacy they leave behind.




15. Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson:


In the shattered world of Roshar, powerful beings known as Radiants wield magical Shardblades in a fight against darkness. Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive is a monumental undertaking, with intricate world-building and a sprawling cast of characters that will leave you eagerly anticipating each new installment. Follow Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar as they navigate a world torn by war, political strife, and the mysteries of the ancient Knights Radiant.




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


George R. R. Martin's epic tale of political intrigue and power struggles in the land of Westeros has become a cultural phenomenon. Dive into the world of Game of Thrones and experience the gripping struggles for the Iron Throne. Martin's morally ambiguous characters, unpredictable plot twists, and intricate political machinations have made this series a must-read for fantasy enthusiasts and non-fantasy readers alike.




17. Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin:


Ursula K. Le Guin's iconic series introduces readers to the archipelago of Earthsea, a world where wizards wield great power and words hold true magic. Journey through the coming-of-age adventures of Ged, the young wizard, as he confronts both internal and external foes. Le Guin's lyrical prose and exploration of themes such as balance, the nature of power, and the consequences of one's actions make Earthsea a timeless and thought-provoking classic.




18. The Cosmere by Brandon Sanderson:


Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere universe encompasses various interconnected series, each set on different planets with unique magic systems. Dive into the Cosmere, a world of boundless imagination and grand narratives that rewards readers with endless surprises. Discover the interconnectedness of different stories, characters, and worlds, each contributing to a larger tapestry of epic fantasy.




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


No list of must-read fantasy books would be complete without mentioning Tolkien's magnum opus. Follow Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship of the Ring on their perilous quest to destroy the One Ring and save Middle-earth from darkness. Tolkien's meticulous world-building, rich mythology, and profound themes of heroism and sacrifice have secured the Lord of the Rings' place as a cornerstone of the fantasy genre.




20. Discworld by Terry Pratchett:


Terry Pratchett's Discworld series offers a delightful blend of fantasy, satire, and humor. Set on a flat, disc-shaped world supported by four elephants on the back of a giant turtle, Discworld is home to a myriad of quirky characters and laugh-out-loud situations. Pratchett uses the whimsical setting to satirize various aspects of society, making it both entertaining and thought-provoking.




21. A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie:


The start of a new trilogy in Abercrombie's First Law world, A Little Hatred introduces readers to a new generation of characters, while still retaining the grit and wit that fans love. Political intrigue and visceral battles make this a worthy addition to the series. As new conflicts arise and old grudges resurface, the characters must navigate a world on the brink of industrial revolution, where old certainties crumble, and a new era of chaos and ambition begins.




22. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay:


In the land of Tigana, cursed by a tyrant's spell, a group of rebels fights to restore their nation's name and identity. Guy Gavriel Kay's lyrical prose and emotionally charged storytelling make Tigana an unforgettable journey through love, loss, and redemption. As the rebels' quest unfolds, the narrative explores themes of identity, memory, and the price of forgetting.




23. Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe:


Severian, an apprentice torturer with a unique destiny, navigates a beautifully crafted and enigmatic world in Gene Wolfe's masterpiece. With a blend of science fiction and fantasy, Book of the New Sun follows Severian's journey as he rises to power and faces ancient secrets that will reshape the future of humanity. Wolfe's poetic prose and intricate storytelling make this series an intellectually stimulating and immersive reading experience.




24. Murderbot by Martha Wells:


In a future where sentient robots known as SecUnits are supposed to follow strict protocols, Murderbot, a rogue SecUnit, explores the meaning of freedom and identity. Martha Wells' thrilling and introspective series follows Murderbot as it navigates a world of corporate intrigue, dangerous missions, and unexpected alliances. With its wry humor and poignant exploration of artificial intelligence, Murderbot captivates readers with its unique perspective on humanity.




25. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb:


Set in the Kingdom of the Six Duchies, The Farseer Trilogy follows FitzChivalry Farseer, a royal bastard with a powerful connection to the telepathic magic known as the Wit. Robin Hobb's richly detailed world-building and deeply emotional storytelling immerse readers in a tale of political intrigue, courtly machinations, and a bond between man and animal. As Fitz navigates the complexities of his dual identity, he becomes entangled in a web of courtly politics and learns the true meaning of loyalty and sacrifice.



Conclusion:


Whether you're an avid fantasy reader or someone looking to venture into the genre for the first time, these 25 must-read fantasy books offer an exceptional range of worlds, characters, and themes that will ignite your imagination and captivate your heart. From epic quests and magical battles to introspective journeys and moral dilemmas, these masterpieces showcase the boundless creativity and storytelling prowess of their authors.


In the realm of fantasy, these books have stood the test of time and have garnered a dedicated following of enthusiasts who eagerly pass them down from generation to generation. So, immerse yourself in the magical worlds of Mistborn, His Dark Materials, and The Wheel of Time, or explore the satirical hilarity of Discworld. Lose yourself in the intricate political intrigue of A Song of Ice and Fire or the emotional depth of Tigana.


As you journey through the pages of these timeless tales, you'll find that each book not only provides entertainment but also offers insights into the human condition, the pursuit of power, the complexities of love and friendship, and the eternal struggle between good and evil. So, dear fantasy enthusiast, buckle up and let these 25 masterpieces take you on unforgettable adventures that will stay with you long after you've turned the final page. Happy reading!

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