Reading fantasy is the ultimate escape: from stress, work, and indeed all of life’s more mundane realities. Because what’s the opposite of reality? Fantasy!
That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive mega-guide of the 100 best fantasy series of all time: to enable your escapism as much as possible. With so many titles to choose from, you’re bound to find something you like — urban, paranormal, epic, and classic fantasy, we’ve got it all. Get ready to dive in!
1. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Before the award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones, there was A Song of Ice and Fire. George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series takes place on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, and revolves around three central plotlines: familial feuds for control of Westeros, the looming threat of the northern-based “Others,” and of course the grand political ambitions of Daenerys Targaryen — perhaps better known as the “Mother of Dragons.”
2. Abhorsen by Garth Nix
The Abhorsen series centers around Sabriel, a girl from Ancelstierre (an alternate version of England) who becomes the protector of the mysterious, reality-bordering “Old Kingdom,” leading herself and her descendants down a path of dark, unpredictable magic.
3. Acacia by David Anthony Durham
When Leodan Akara, peaceful ruler of the “Known World,” passes away, his children must take up his responsibilities… and soon find that their father’s kingdom isn’t quite as harmonious as they thought. The Acacia series follows them in their attempts to preserve peace and keep the Known World from crumbling, not just for their own reputations, but for the good of the people.
4. Alex Verus by Benedict Jacka
After a schism with the mages’ Council, future-seer Alex Verus just wants a quiet life, running his magic shop and staying out of trouble. But that’s not what fate has in mind for him — ironically, getting tangled up again in the world of Light vs. Dark magic is something this diviner never saw coming.
5. Amber Chronicles by Roger Zelazny
The little-known but much-praised Amber Chronicles weaves tales within the two “true” worlds of the series, Amber and Chaos, as well the “Shadow” worlds in the middle, born from the tension between them. Zelazny’s incredible worldbuilding plus his fascinating characters — including superhuman royalty — make this series truly worthy of its “epic” label.
6. Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud
This imaginative four-book sequence follows a teenage magician named Nathaniel and his djinni (or genie), a lively spirit called Bartimaeus who enjoys disobeying his master above all else. Though technically a children’s series, the Bartimaeus Sequence will no doubt entertain readers of all ages with its skillful balance of speculative fiction and magical fantasy.
7. Black Company by Glen Cook
For those craving an out-of-the-box take on fantasy, these are the books for you. Glen Cook’s military fantasy series, Black Company, deals with both an unusual branch of the genre and unusually nuanced questions of morality: the two sides of the main conflict have been described as “evil vs. evil,” and readers may be surprised who they end up rooting for.
8. Black Magician by Trudi Canavan
The Black Magician trilogy tells the story of Sonea, a girl from the slums of the magical country Kyralia. Though normally only upper class-citizens have the capacity for magic, Sonea soon discovers she possesses magical gifts — leading to her capture by the Magician’s Guild of Kyralia and, once she escapes, the necessity of teaching herself how to control her abilities.
9. Boreal Moon by Julian May
Military and political tensions are high among the four kingdoms of the Boreal Sea — but one Prince Conrig, in the kingdom of Cathra, plans to unite them with the help of his lover, Princess Ullanoth of Moss. However, are their motives purely diplomatic, or do they have something else up their sleeves?
10. Bounds of Redemption by M.D. Ireman
As Tallos ventures to the north to recover what he believes will be the corpses of his friend’s children, he only hopes his mission will be swift. He never expects to find something worse than corpses: something that will unleash a much greater struggle for him and his people. Ireman is especially famous for his plot twists, and the flabbergasting turns that take place in this series are “bound” to leave readers gaping.
11. Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin
The title of this inventive series refers to a catastrophic climate change that wreaks havoc on the world every few centuries. The change is brought about by powerful “orogenes,” who can control energy and are persecuted in society for their impact. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy follows three prominent female orogenes throughout history, and how each of their destinies is intertwined with the others.
12. Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence
Prince Jorg Ancrath lived a perfect life until his mother and brother were killed, prompting him to run away and join a band of savages — but he’s not done with the throne just yet. This series tracks Jorg’s dogged pursuit to re-ascend the throne of his “broken empire,” using his street-learned violence to change the rules of the monarchy game.
13. Cassandra Palmer by Karen Chance
Cassie Palmer can see the future and speak to the spirits of the past. But her skills don’t make her immune to danger: it still follows her everywhere she goes, especially in the form of a vampire mobster who wants her dead. Join Cassie on seven nail-biting adventures to elude and defeat her foes, prudently trading her wits and skills for help from the most unlikely of sources.
14. Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill
When grad student Merit is transformed into a vampire, she has to seriously retool her five-year plan into, well, an immortality plan. A light alternative to some of the darker fantasies on this list, the Chicagoland Vampires series will still grip readers with the very real challenges of Merit’s life-adjustment crisis.
15. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Even though you’ve all surely heard of it, we couldn’t leave this absolute legend off the list. An unassuming exploration of an old professor’s house leads to a fantasy saga of epic proportions: full of unforgettable moments, unexpected twists, and mind-bending questions about the universe’s infinite possibilities
16. Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
Another classic fantasy series of yore, the Chronicles of Prydain is a bildungsroman for young Taran, who goes from assistant pig-keeper to heroic fighter over the course of five books. He and his friends must band together to defeat various evils, most notably the Death Lord Arawn, who wishes to conquer Prydain with his bloodthirsty army of the undead.
17. Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
Thomas Covenant is the emblematic antihero of the fantasy genre, reluctant to do anything that doesn’t directly benefit him. But he does have an “antihero’s journey” of sorts — over the three impressive trilogies in this series, he becomes much more altruistic and admirable. For those who tire of the standard “valiant hero swoops in and saves the day” storylines, this original series will reignite your fantasy-loving flame.
18. Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley
This debut trilogy from Staveley involves three royal children, separated at birth, who grow up to become a monk, a soldier, and a politician respectively. If that sounds like the beginning of a joke, they don’t all walk into a bar — rather, they reunite to get to the bottom of an inter-kingdom conspiracy, coming into contact with mysterious gods and unknown magic along the way.
19. Codex Alera by Jim Butcher
From the author of the acclaimed Dresden Files (#30 on this list) comes Codex Alera, another coming-of-age series about a young man called Tavi. Interestingly, Tavi’s plight is the reverse of one of the most common tropes in fantasy: instead of being the “chosen one,” he’s more like the unchosen one. As in, everybody else in Alera has powers except for him. But that only makes his fight to protect his family from danger all the more a thrilling and courageous risk.
20. Coldfire by Celia S. Friedman
The Coldfire trilogy takes place on the planet Erna, where sorcery is conducted through a magical energy source called the Fae. The Fae is also extremely dangerous, however; it destroyed the first waves of colonists on Erna and still poses a constant threat. Priest Damien Vryce wants peace between humans and the Fae more than anything — but how can one man control such a potent force? You’ll find out in this dark and heart-pounding series.
21. Crimson Moon by L.A. Banks
Special Ops soldier Sasha Trudeau is a werewolf attack survivor, serving on an elite team with other survivors to keep paranormal activity out of the public eye. But what Sasha doesn’t realize is that some things are too powerful to be contained — both within herself and out in the world. Lycanthropy, vampirism, and other supernatural forces abound in the Crimson Moon series, as Sasha comes to terms with who she is and what she can do to help protect others.
22. Crown of Stars by Kate Elliott
Novaria is a Westeros-esque alternative Europe, in which tension persists from a long-ago rift between elf-like creatures and humans. The former (called “Ashioi”) have since been banished to another plane of existence by sorcerers, but Novaria continues to struggle. As our human heroes soon figure out, the Ashioi are still closer to them than anyone thinks… and they’re about to unleash a new cataclysm that may destroy all of Novaria in its wake.
23. Dagger and Coin by Daniel Abraham
Nations clash, factions struggle, and individuals strive in this mesmerizing tale of power and control. Though countless plotlines and themes are wrapped up in Abraham’s quintet, the question at the heart of it is: what truly wins wars, the militant (dagger) or monetary (coin)?
24. Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
This series brings together countless age-old sources, from Arthurian legends to Celtic and Norse mythology to English folklore. It features Will Stanton, who discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is an “Old One” and destined to battle forces of evil for the preservation of the “Light.” You might think of it as the 1970s precursor to Harry Potter — kids taking matters into their own hands, getting into trouble, and pretty much always magicking their way out just in time.
25. Dark Tower by Stephen King
This dark fantasy series from the indisputable king of horror follows Roland Deschain, the last member of an Arthur-descending knightly order called the gunslingers. Roland must find the “dark tower,” where all universes are said to meet, before his own crumbles into nonexistence. King really plays with the boundaries of reality and disbelief throughout the series so that both Roland and the reader must interpret and deconstruct the setting for themselves.
26. Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon
When Paksenarrion, aka Paks, finds herself locked into an undesirable arranged marriage, she has no choice but to flee — and what better way to protect herself than by joining a company of mercenaries? Paks soon realizes that she herself is a gifted paladin, and uses her skills to help her comrades and instate the rightful heir to the throne: her friend and commander Kieri.
27. Demon War Cycle by Peter V. Brett
The cycle has raged on for centuries: every night, supernatural demons called corelings arrive to attack and destroy humans, who shrink from them in fear. But humans once fought valiantly against the corelings, and so they will again. In this series, three young survivors of demon assaults stand to take back the realm of the living.
28. Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Just when you think there’s nothing else fresh in the fantasy genre, along comes Discworld. This series pokes fun at classic fantasy tropes: there’s a talentless, cowardly wizard who’s constantly forced into adventures, a skeletal personification of death who rides a horse named Binky, and the entire story takes place on a disc-shaped planet atop four elephants… which themselves stand on top of a turtle. So if you ever get tired of Chosen Ones and medieval-ish settings, just remember there’s always Discworld.
29. Dreamblood by N.K. Jemisin
Ehiru is a peacekeeper in the city of Gujaareh, amassing the city’s collective magic and using it as a shield against the corrupt. Yet when people start dying in their dreams, allegedly in sacrifice to the “dream-goddess” Hananja, Ehiru must go above and beyond the call of duty to discover who’s responsible and what their end goal actually is.
30. Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Wizard Harry Dresden works with the Chicago P.D. to solve their most unsolvable, supernatural cases. From magically mutilated bodies to vampire and werewolf witnesses, this series is a unique whirlwind of hardboiled detective fiction and dark fantasy.
31. Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin
From one of the most renowned fantasy and science fiction writers of all time comes the Earthsea series, a classic yet visionary tale. It tracks the journey of Ged, who grows from a young, immature boy to the greatest magician of his generation, and who must use his powers to save his home of Earthsea from imminent decline.
32. Elemental Assassin by Jennifer Estep
Gin Blanco may be a professional assassin, but her skills are by no means limited to stabbing and shooting. No, Gin is an elemental assassin; she can control the elements of Ice and Stone, using them to kill when needed. And after a betrayal from one of her associates sets her down a road of vengeance, others would be wise to stay out of her way.
33. Empire by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts
The Empire trilogy takes place in a fascinating amalgam setting of medieval Europe and Asia, and stars Mara of the Acoma, the newest Ruling Lady of her empire. Not everyone is happy for her, however; many of those close to the throne want her dead. Even besides the juicy political drama and feminist overtones, there’s another great reason to read this series: it’s part of a mega-verse called The Riftwar Universe, which includes a whopping twenty-seven more books!
34. Farseer by Robin Hobb
Contrary to what his name would suggest, Fitz Farseer can’t see the future, but he does have other talents. Namely, he is an assassin in the land of the the Six Duchies, adjacent to a war being waged by his royal uncle. But who is truly in the right, and with whom will Fitz side in the conflict? The Farseer books answers these questions with wit, intrigue, and a touch of magic.
35. First Law by Joe Abercrombie
If you fast-forward through all the sex and dialogue in GoT to get to the battle scenes, First Law is definitely the series for you. This seriously bloody (and bloody good) trilogy focuses on barbarians and warriors fighting it out in an elaborate medieval European/Mediterranean world.
36. Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
Think Chronicles of Narnia, but older, and in Canada. The Fionavar Tapestry series involves five University of Toronto postgraduates who get sucked into the “first world of the tapestry,” Fionavar. There they discover that they are magical leaders, each based on different legendary figures and roles, and must determine what purpose they will serve within Fionavar — and whether that purpose is worth giving up all they had in the “real” world.
37. Folk of the Air by Holly Black
Jude and her sisters have lived among faeries for years, but they’re still not accepted as part of their world — until Jude makes up her mind to boldly defy the beautiful, cruel Prince Cardan, and succeeds. Now Jude has just as much power as faerie royalty, but she has to figure out how to use it… with Cardan looming over her shoulder all the while.
38. Greywalker by Kat Richardson
Harper Blaine is a Seattle P.I. with unusual perceptive abilities, even for a P.I. That’s because she’s a “greywalker,” one who can traverse between the human and supernatural worlds and see things happening on both sides. But is being a greywalker a gift or a curse? Harper’s going to have to find out the hard way.
39. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
What more can be said about Harry Potter? Rowling’s worldbuilding is wondrous to behold, her characterization so extensive that you’ll feel like Harry, Ron, and Hermione are your very own best friends. Not to mention that her stories involve some of the most masterful plot twists you’ll see in any book, from any genre (Prisoner of Azkaban, anyone?). So if for whatever reason you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, just know that it’s never too late to experience the magic.
40. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
And for those who have read Harry Potter and are itching for something similar, you could do much worse than His Dark Materials. Twelve-year-old Lyra Belacqua and her spiritual “dæmon” travel across the many different worlds of this series, on a variety of imaginative missions that will ultimately help save the entire multiverse.
41. The Hollows by Kim Harrison
The Hollows is full of alternative history combined with magical elements, so try to keep up: genetic engineering gone wrong has killed off much of the human population, and supernatural species now live openly among them. Half-mortal, half-magic detective Rachel Morgan is a partner at “Vampiric Charms,” a security/bounty hunting service for this unpredictable new world — and indeed, the assignments she receives are anything but ordinary.
42. Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Fun fact: Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon when he was just a teenager, and initially self-published the book — so it’s a testament to youthful determination if nothing else! The plot is also pretty exciting, however: farm boy Eragon finds a mysterious stone in the mountains near his home, only to realize when it starts to crack that it’s actually a dragon egg. And when you’ve just hatched an unexpected dragon, there’s bound to be trouble ahead.
43. Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
Not to be confused with Paolini’s series, Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy details the story of Yeine, a powerful woman of the Darre tribe, who becomes heir to the throne of all the Arameri people. However, despite her power, she’s still forced to battle the expectations and ill wishes of those against her. Not to mention the struggle to hold on to herself, when the soul of a mystical god is placed inside her mind.
44. Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
This accompaniment to Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (#67 on our list) is just as imaginative and action-packed as its predecessor, if not more so. Infernal Devices follows Tessa Gray, an orphan girl who discovers she can shape-shift and goes to live at the Shadowhunter Institute in nineteenth-century London, where she must learn to control her abilities.
45. Georgina Kincaid by Richelle Mead
Georgina Kincaid may be a succubus, but that doesn’t mean her job doesn’t suck — if she’s not dreading her repulsive clients, she’s arguing with the middle-manager demon who’s her boss. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), there’s always a bit of deadly drama to be found in the realm of the supernatural… and it usually finds Georgina first.
46. Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch
The titular “gentleman bastards” of this series start off pretty much true to their name: Locke Lamora is their gang leader, and thieving and trickery is all he’s ever known. But what happens when someone else tries to con the con man? As their battles of wits and wiles escalate, Locke and his fellow bastards take a journey of both worldly and personal discovery.
47. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
The widely praised Gormenghast series has oft been called a “fantasy of manners.” Rather than a life-or-death battle between massive forces, the books centers around the bizarre dynamics of the Groan family, who live in Gormenghast Castle. It’s The Addams Family meets a Jane Austen novel! In any case, if you’re looking for a total break from the sometimes-exhausting tropes of epic fantasy, you’ll be delighted to pick up Gormenghast.
48. Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston
If Gormenghast is dark fantasy Jane Austen, Joe Pitt is vampire Mario Puzo. Joe Pitt is a New York City vampire living among factions of other vamps, unwilling to commit to a single clan — but being pressured by each of them to join, since he has exclusive underworld connections they all want. In any case, Joe had better watch his back, because their tolerance could turn into suspicion at any moment… and things get messy pretty quickly when you have fangs.
49. Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
Carter and Sadie Kane have been raised apart all their lives. But when their Egyptologist father is captured by Set (the Egyptian god of evil), the two siblings must band together to try and understand their shared history, as well as how they can use it to save their family.
50. Kan Savasci Cycle by Chase Blackwood
This ongoing cycle details the exhilarating journey of Kan Savasci, the “Bane of Verold” (his native land) who steps into his fate as the most powerful, feared warrior of his time — only to disappear when the world needs him most. If you’re looking for a not-too-daunting intro to epic fantasy, this series is the way to go, as only two books have been released so far and you can easily catch up before the next comes out.
51. Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels has magic in her blood, but she doesn’t want anyone to know. Not least because the world she lives in has been wrecked by it: other humans resent magic for taking down their technology in the “magic apocalypse,” while supernatural creatures hunt humans whom they see as a threat. However, after Kate’s guardian is killed, she realizes she can no longer remain passive in her world, and sets off with her sword on her back to become a ruthless mercenary.
52. Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix
Keys to the Kingdom, by the same author as the Abhorsen series, similarly focuses on a young mage coming into their destiny. However, in this case it’s Arthur Penhaligon, who’s to become the heir of “the House” — the focal point of the universe. Arthur must quickly grow into his role as heir and in the process defeat the “Morrow Days” council, who wish to corrupt the House.
53. Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
An unusual format, the Kingkiller Chronicle consists of its protagonist, Kvothe, narrating his life to the scribe who will record it. Kvothe delves into the trauma that befell his childhood and the many battles that wore him down in adulthood… but all the while, his scribe (dubbed “the Chronicler”) takes a slyly active role in the story, knowing it’s not over yet.
54. Kitty Norville by Carrie Vaughn
Closeted werewolf Kitty Norville starts “The Midnight Hour,” a late-night radio show devoted to dissecting supernatural phenomena — not realizing that by shining the spotlight on things that go bump in the night, she’s leading her enemies closer and closer to finding her.
55. Phèdre Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey
Phèdre nó Delaunay is born with a red mote in her eye, marking her as one pricked by “Kushiel’s dart,” an anguissine who derives pleasure from pain. As Phèdre matures, she must figure out how to balance her personal relationships with her cosmic purpose: to provide balance to the universe. This original and provocative trilogy is also just the beginning of the Kushiel's Legacy series, which comprises nine books in total.
56. Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi
Though only one book in this anticipated trilogy has been released so far, Children of Blood and Bone was no doubt the breakout YA fantasy of 2018. It tells the story of Zélie, a young diviner who must restore magic to the land of Orïsha — before its tyrant ruler King Saran destroys her, just as he did her magical ancestors.
57. Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks
Another ongoing series, Lightbringer centers around “the Prism,” the most powerful man in the world of the Seven Satrapies, where magic is channeled through light and color. The Prism of this series, Gavin, contends with stormy relations between the Satrapies, a treacherous brother trying to undercut him, and a secret son whose existence threatens Gavin’s way of life.
58. Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham
The Long Price Quartet begins in the wealthy, seemingly utopian city-state of Saraykeht, where a sorcerer called Heshai stokes the fire beneath the surface. But Heshai grows weak, and Saraykeht becomes vulnerable to attack; the fate of the metropolis now rests in the hands of outsiders, who will use unknown forms of magic to protect it.
59. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The revolutionary magic of Lord of the Rings has united generations, incited epic movies, and probably inspired every series on this list in one way or another. Join Frodo, Sam, Aragon, Gandalf and the rest of the glorious gang in their quest to obliterate the One Ring — facing massive questions of friendship, morality, and what truly lies within each of them along the way.
60. Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Cinderella’s a cyborg, Rapunzel’s a hacker, Snow White has “Lunar Sickness,” and they all hang out in space. If steampunk interstellar princesses is your thing, the Lunar Chronicles are just the series you’ve been looking for. (Plus, for a dose of writerly inspiration, the whole thing started out as a NaNoWriMo project!)
61. Lyonesse Trilogy by Jack Vance
In this Dark Ages-era trilogy, King Casmir is the ruthless and twisted ruler of Lyonesse, intent on marrying his own daughter to consolidate his power. But Princess Suldrun is just as sly as her father, and finds the perfect accomplice to thwart him when a mysterious prince washes up on her shores. Together, they embark on a plan to unite and stabilize all of the Elder Isles, and push Casmir off the Lyonesse throne.
62. Magic Ex Libris by Jim C. Hines
If you loved Inkheart as a kid, you’ll love Magic Ex Libris as an adult. It follows the adventures of Isaac Vainio, a “Libriomancer” who can summon objects and other elements from books into the real world. But when Isaac is attacked by fictional vampires brought to life, he sees firsthand how dangerous libriomancing can be, and must learn how best to control it — even if that means giving up his abilities forever.
63. Magicians by Lev Grossman
Another great mature alternative to a popular kids’ fantasy series is the Magicians trilogy, often described as “grown-up Harry Potter.” Quentin Coldwater attends Brakebills, a magical university where he and his classmates learn the grueling theory and practice of sorcery. Yet despite Quentin’s excitement to become a full-fledged magician, a lurking threat jeopardizes not only his success at Brakebills, but his whole life.
64. Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
Malazan Book of the Fallen is another deeply iconic fantasy series, often cited as one of the best high fantasies in recent years. Its exhaustive narrative spanning multiple continents and thousands of years is too complex to effectively describe here, but all eventually comes back to the Malazan Empire and who gains (as well as who deserves) power within it.
65. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams
Young kitchen worker Simon becomes an apprentice to the League of the Scroll, and dedicates himself to protecting his land of Osten Ard from its formidable enemies. This masterfully plotted, impressively detailed trilogy is also one of George R.R. Martin’s greatest influences, so if you’re looking to write your own HBO-worthy fantasy series, you might want to start here.
66. Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs
Mercy Thompson is just your average mechanic — who also happens to be a shapeshifter in a world full of vampires, werewolves, and other such creatures. When Mercy realizes that some of her supernatural fellows are in danger, she jumps into action, using both her human and superhuman skills to save their lives as well as her own.
67. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
The Mistborn trilogy commences with a prophecy about a hero, as so many fantasies do… only this hero, after repelling “the Darkness” centuries ago, has now come to embody it himself in the form of a tyrant king. Now it’s up to our dark horse champion, Kelsier the Mistborn, to reclaim the world of Scadrial in the name of the Light — but will he be able to resist the pull of darkness, or will he suffer the same fate as the first hero?
68. Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black
Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales series imagines modern heroines in mythical situations. Such as sixteen-year-old Kaye, who accidentally becomes entwined in an age-old conflict between two rival faerie kingdoms. Both darkly themed and written with a light touch, this series is perfect for YA readers who love getting lost in Black’s enchanting world of faeries.
69. Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney
This fast-paced series details a violent war among five nations, with a central narrator who’s at sea, trying to sway the battle in his nation’s favor by colonizing a lost land. Kearney injects a great deal of his own sailing knowledge into the narrative, resulting in vivid descriptions that will make the reader feel like they’re practically at sea themselves.
70. Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Perhaps the best-known urban fantasy series of the twenty-first century, Mortal Instruments follows the path of NYC teenager Clary Fray, who discovers she’s a Shadowhunter — one with the power to hunt demons. Clary is plunged into an underground world full of magical secrets, with demonic danger around every corner and other Shadowhunters who may or may not be trying to sabotage her missions.
71. Night Angel by Brent Weeks
From the author of Lightbringer comes the Night Angel trilogy, another inventive tale about a world of hierarchies and life-defining positions. Over the course of this series, protagonist Azoth rises from lowly “guild rat” to assassin and finally to the destructive Night Angel, ultimately using his immense power to punish those who deserve it.
72. Oath of Empires by Thomas Harlan
Four colorful stories come together in this intricate series about Rome in 600 AD, but with sorcery. Brutal battles are being waged for control of the empire, fought through both military and magical force, and our four central characters each play a surprisingly vital role in the final outcome.
73. October Daye by Seanan McGuire
When an old faerie friend is murdered under strange circumstances, jaded October “Toby” Daye is forced to return to the world she once resolved to leave behind, renewing former alliances and wondering who among them she can really trust.
74. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson has become one of the best-known children’s fantasy series in recent years, and with good reason. Between kids finding out they’re related to Greek gods and having to go on modern-day odysseys to save themselves (and also the world, no big deal), what’s not to like? Even if you’re long past childhood, you’ll still enjoy every minute of Percy and his friends’ mythologically inspired adventures.
75. Powder Mage by Brian McClellan
The Powder Mage trilogy is a “flintlock fantasy,” meaning it’s set during the early stages of the industrial revolution. The titular powder mage, Taniel, is able to extract magic from gunpowder, and uses his supernatural abilities to aid his father in overthrowing the monarchy. But Taniel has no idea about the true consequences of his father’s plans — especially when an ancient curse called “Kresimir’s Promise” comes into play.
76. Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
“If Blue ever kisses her true love, he will die.” Such is the prophecy that kicks off the Raven Cycle: a four-book series revolving around young Blue and the mysterious “Raven boys,” an alluring quartet of private school boys on a highly unusual mission.
77. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
In the Red Queen series, people are divided by blood: red is common and lower-class, while silver blood indicates royal lineage. Mare Barrow is a red-blooded commoner, but with powers that threaten the control of the Silvers. To placate her, they allow her into their upper ranks, calling her a “lost princess” and bettrothing her to a prince. But Mare isn’t in it for the celebrity; little do the Silvers know, this Red princess is about the become the queen of insurrection.
78. Redwall by Brian Jacques
Another landmark children’s fantasy series, Redwall revolves around the animals of Mossflower Woods.These mice, squirrels, badgers, foxes, ravens, snakes and more must live together in harmony, or else fight for the fate of the forest and their own lives. This lively, detailed portrait of the animals’ many generations will delight anyone who’s ever imagined kingdoms out there in the wilderness.
79. Riddle-Master by Patricia A. McKillip
In this Celtic-inspired world of lands ruled by mystical leaders, an evasive figure called “the High One” binds all kingdoms together. This trilogy follows the quest of Morgon of Hed and Raederle of An, two other land-leaders, as they attempt to discover the High One’s identity and how his purpose intertwines with theirs.
80. Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist
The Riftwar Cycle originated with Feist and his friends creating a Dungeons & Dragons alternative: a tabletop/role-playing game based on their own world, Midkemia. Later, Feist expanded the stories of Midkemia and another land, Kelewan, into the Riftwar Universe. The thirty books (yes, you heard that right) of the cycle detail the escapades of people and creatures in many different lands, with all the rollicking excitement and suspense of a live-action game.
81. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronivitch
After witnessing a ghost on the job, Peter Grant of the London Metropolitan Police joins their supernatural specialty branch, becoming an apprentice wizard in the process — the first one in seventy years. As he discovers more about the supernatural realm, he understands that with his new position comes great responsibility, to both humans and the gods and creatures they fear.
82. Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan
Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater are partners in crime, and one of their greatest talents is flying under the radar — until they’re swept up in an assassination plot and sentenced to death. In order to escape, they must run, and the unwitting journey they embark upon is both mythic in scale and very intimate in human emotion.
83. Saga of Recluce by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
In the Recluce universe, magic exists in two forms: order and chaos. “Black” mages can channel order, “white” mages can channel chaos, and “gray” mages can do both, though they are extremely rare. This series, which spans two thousand years, involves a variety of heroes and villains trying to harness their powers and find their fortunes as mages — despite the grave personal costs that magic accrues.
84. Second Apocalypse by R. Scott Bakker
Bakker’s Second Apocalypse series is fascinating because the main character’s powers aren’t derived from a magical source, but rather from logic and reasoning. Warrior Anasûrimbor Kellhus has incredible abilities of prediction and persuasion, leading him to be labeled a diviner. But as Kellhus’s influence grows, those close to him realize that he may not be a force of benevolence after all, and indeed may bring about the “Second Apocalypse” of their universe.
85. Sevenwaters by Juliet Mariller
Told from the perspectives of several generations’ daughters, the Sevenwaters series is a refreshingly female-focused fantasy series. It begins with Sorcha, daughter of Lord Colum, who must save her father and brothers from the spell of an evil enchantress — even after being kidnapped herself. From there Sorcha’s legacy multiplies, with each of the Sevenwaters books focusing on a new daughter and her own unique challenge to fulfill her destiny.
86. Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Magician Kell has the ability to travel among four different parallel Londons: Grey, Red, White, and Black. His life has always been one of transition, always relying on a variety of Londons to serve him… until one day he meets pickpocket Delilah Bard. The two of them soon become embroiled in a plot that could either save or dismantle not just one, but every London they know.
87. Shadowmarch by Tad Williams
Another epic series from the man who inspired George R.R. Martin, Shadowmarch is full of great detail and even more dramatic action. It depicts the struggling province of Southmarch: the true king is imprisoned, his son has just been killed, and his twin children have no idea how to handle their new duties. Things only become more difficult as the twins, Briony and Barrick, learn more about their true ancestry and old enemies who threaten their already-tenuous rule.
88. Shannara by Terry Brooks
In the post-apocalyptic world of the Four Lands, the Sword of Shannara wields ultimate power. Young Shea Ohmsford is the only living descendant of Shannara blood, meaning he is the only the one who can use it — and use it he must, if he is to defeat the Warlock Lord and save the Four Lands from imminent destruction. This pentalogy chronicles Shea’s quest, as well as those of his descendants, to protect their nation with mysterious age-old magic.
89. Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
If Mulan lived in the kingdom of Tortall, she and Alanna of Trebond would be best buds. Alanna may be a young lady, but she knows it’s her destiny to become a knight — so when her twin brother gets sent to knight school against his will, they hatch a plan to secretly switch places. “Alan” then begins the long uphill battle of proving herself to her peers and countrymen: first in disguise, but eventually as her true self, the lioness with a battle cry in her heart.
90. Southern Vampires by Charlaine Harris
A Song of Ice and Fire may have inspired Game of Thrones, but what inspired the equally dramatic (if perhaps less critically acclaimed) HBO series True Blood? The answer is the Southern Vampires series. Charlaine Harris weaves an intricate saga of bloodlust and actual lust in the American South, centering around telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse, who gets caught up in the many complexities of the supernatural world.
91. SPI Files by Lisa Shearin
The Supernatural Protection & Investigation agency handles New York’s most sensitive cases — supernaturally sensitive, that is. From subway monsters to hellfire designer drugs to dragon eggs at the Met, there’s never a dull moment in the life of Detective Makenna Fraser and her SPI associates.
92. Swan’s War by Sean Russell
Not to be confused with Proust, though almost as elaborate, Swan’s War is about a kingdom in turmoil. One king’s failure to name his heir has resulted in a War of the Roses-type scenario, with two families brutally battling for control… yet some still desire peace, believing the houses can be united. What they don’t know is that there are much deeper, malevolent forces at work that conspire to keep the people dying and the kingdom in chaos. And if no one puts a stop to them, not only will peace be impossible, but so will survival in this realm.
93. Sword of Shadows by J.V. Jones
Ash March and Raif Sevrance have always known they are different — not least because their abilities prevent them from connecting with their families and clans, leaving them perpetual outsiders. But it’s these abilities that will ultimately bond them together, allowing them to rescue each other and potentially save everyone in their land from the wrath of the horrific “Endlords.”
94. Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
These twenty-one epic fantasy novels are absolutely perfect for readers looking to really dive into the classic fantasy experience. The heroes of Sword of Truth are on a continuous quest: that quintessential pursuit of evil’s defeat — evil that appears in countless incarnations but is always slain in one thrilling way or another. Though it may not be the most unpredictable series, it’s a great romp to return to time and time again.
95. Temeraire by Naomi Novik
The Temeraire series reimagines the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century upon the backs of — what else? — dragons. The true feat of this series, however, is not imagining the dragons themselves but the societal milieu surrounding them: where they’re based, how they’re viewed in different cultures, and most importantly, the delicate individual relationships between dragons and humans, especially when it comes to working with each other.
96. Theatre Illuminata by Lisa Mantchev
Beatrice Shakespeare has grown up in the Theatre Illuminata, where all the world literally is a stage. And while Beatrice has always enjoyed her lifestyle of drama and entertainment (again, a very literal description), in this series she realizes that dark magic plagues the theatre, and that she may be the only one who can sate it.
97. Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron
The Red Knight is the hero of this medieval-era series, and a worthy one at that: not only is he genetically gifted and expertly trained, he’s also notoriously lucky and shrewd when it comes to picking his battles. Or at least he always has been — until the day he and his company venture to protect a nunnery from wyverns, which sets off a sequence of dark disasters.
98. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
While it may not be the most sophisticated of fantasy plots, the Twilight saga still has a place on this list for its mesmerizing character dynamics and surprisingly lyrical prose. You all probably know the classic “girl meets vampire” story by now, but if you haven’t read the books, just know they hold up better than you think.
99. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
After being imprisoned for a year, young assassin Celaena Sardothien has the chance to get her life back — if she’s willing to risk her death first. She’ll be pitted against other assassins in a competition to serve the king, and if she wins, her crimes will be pardoned. If not, however, she’ll wind up six feet under. Celaena’s just desperate enough to take the deal… but does she have a chance at winning, or is someone out to sabotage her before the contest even begins?
100. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
We’ve really saved one of the best for last with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. The colossal cast of characters, masterfully developed magic system, and creative timeline (or should we say time-wheel) of these books make for an absolutely unforgettable read, even if you’re already a seasoned fantasy enthusiast. Wheel of Time is often ranked next to a A Song of Ice and Fire as one of the most iconic epic fantasy series ever — and it’s especially poignant knowing that, after Jordan passed away in the midst of writing the last installment, friend and fan Brandon Sanderson took over for him in order to finish the series with justice.