[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (2023)

Table of Contents
Fantasy literature can be a little difficult to get into if you don't know where to start 25. Northern Lights (Book One of His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman 24. Blood Song (Book One of Raven’s Shadow) by Anthony Ryan 23. Assassin’s Apprentice (Book one of the Farseer Trilogy) by Robin Hobb 22. Red Sister (Book One of The Book of the Ancestor) By Mark Lawrence 21. Nevernight (Book One of The Nevernight Chronicle) by Jay Kristoff 20. The Red Knight (Book one of The Traitor Son Cycle) by Miles Cameron 19. Prince of Fools (Book One of The Red Queen’s War) By Mark Lawrence 18. The Way of Shadows (Book One of The Night Angel Trilogy) by Brent Weeks 17. The Final Empire (Mistborn Book One) by Brandon Sanderson 16. The Ninth Rain (Book One of The Winnowing Flame Trilogy) by Jen Williams 15. The Rage of Dragons (Book one of The Burning) by Evan Winter 14. The Name of the Wind (Book One of The Kingkiller Chronicle) by Patrick Rothfuss 13. The Way of Kings (Book One of The Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson 12. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie 11. Kings of the Wyld (Book One of The Band) by Nicholas Eames 10. Senlin Ascends (Book One of The Books of Babel) by Josiah Bancroft 9. The Poppy War (Book One of The Poppy War) by R. F. Kuang 8. Memories of Ice (Book 3 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson 7. The Shadow Rising (Book Four of The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan 6. Knight’s Shadow (Book Two of The Greatcoats) by Sebastien De Castell 5. Valour (Book Two of The Faithful and the Fallen) by John Gwynne 4. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Book One of The Gentleman Bastards) by Scott Lynch 3. A Game of Thrones (Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R. R. Martin 2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling. 1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien You May Also Be Interested In:

Fantasy literature can be a little difficult to get into if you don't know where to start

Fantasy fiction is great. It’s a literary art form that can take the reader to distant lands and on wild adventures, throw you into the sweaty, heaving mass of a pitched battle and bring you face to face with unknowable evil. The genre has a little something for everyone. Enjoy complex magic systems? You got it. Giant dragons? Sure, why not. Expansive and believable world-building? Hell yes, we’ve got you covered.

With it being so diverse though, fantasy literature is always evolving and expanding in new and intriguing ways, which means lists like this are a great way to find your next exciting read. So strap in, brave adventurer and see not only what classics we have for you but also what new, more contemporary books we have in store!

Before we begin I’ll throw out a SPOILER ALERT!!! Not all of the books in this list will be the first in a series, but where that is the case I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers in my synopsis.

25. Northern Lights (Book One of His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (1)The UK cover of Northern Lights

When Northern Lights is at number 25, you know this is going to be a good list! Published in 1995 (as The Golden Compass in North America), this novel became an instant classic. It follows the beginning of the epic journey of Lyra Belacqua as she searches for those who are close to her, her friend Roger and her Uncle, Lord Asriel who has been experimenting with a substance known only as Dust.

Pullman won both the Carnegie Medal for British children’s books and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for this novel, one of only six books that have won both of these in 45 years. The novel spawned a movie adaptation under the name of The Golden Compass by New Line Cinema and more recently a TV adaptation from the BBC. Any reason to give Iorek, everyone’s favourite polar bear, more screen time is definitely a positive.

24. Blood Song (Book One of Raven’s Shadow) by Anthony Ryan

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (2)Blood Song UK Cover

This critically acclaimed epic fantasy was originally released as a self-published novel but was quickly picked up by Orbit Books and was the UK’s best selling epic fantasy release of 2013.

The story revolves around Vaelin Al Sorna, also known as Hope-Killer to his enemies in the South, as he documents his life and training at the hands of The Sixth Order to a historian who is accompanying him throughout his captivity.

The narrative style of this novel while not unique is certainly interesting enough to keep you hooked from the very first page. Knowing from the outset that the protagonist will end the book in chains whilst also having the reputation of a ruthless killer, it’s easy to see why this book was so well received upon its release.

The prose is well written, the characters are believable if not all likeable and the frequent, bloody violence is visceral. Whilst this is considered to be the best in the series, the sequels are worth a read too. But this did set the bar very, very high.

23. Assassin’s Apprentice (Book one of the Farseer Trilogy) by Robin Hobb

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (3)

Assassins Apprentice Illustrated Edition Cover

FitzChivalry Farseer is a young child growing up in Buckkeep Castle who discovers he is the bastard son of a Prince. The story covers the early life of Fitz as he becomes the King’s sworn man and begins his training as an assassin to safeguard the throne - at any cost.

Published in 1995, the novel gained a mostly positive reaction from fans and critics alike and it is no surprise. Hobb is a master storyteller who can write a first-person narrative better than most others and makes you genuinely care about her characters. The book spawned not only the two sequels in the trilogy but also further series based not only around the beloved characters from this series but also in the wider world.

22. Red Sister (Book One of The Book of the Ancestor) By Mark Lawrence

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Red Sister

Nona Grey is a nine-year-old peasant girl who has the blood of one of the four old magics running through her. Sold into slavery and eventually trained in a convent for a deadly sect of nuns after committing a vicious attempted murder, Nona must learn how deadly the politics of an ever-shrinking world can be

As a big fan of Lawrence's work, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the first book in his new trilogy. Whilst this takes us away from The Broken Empire and into an entirely new world, Abeth is no less compelling a place to read about. It is a place covered in snow and ice with only a thin band of habitable land known as The Corridor running around the centre of the planet. It is a brutal, hostile place and this comes across in the bleak and violent upbringing that Nona and her friends face throughout this novel. The magic system is fresh and interesting and the plot is full of characters you can’t help but love. Also murder Nuns. Need I say more.

21. Nevernight (Book One of The Nevernight Chronicle) by Jay Kristoff

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The UK Cover of Nevernight

Mia Corvere, an orphan of a murdered powerful family, finds herself under the tutelage of killers, con artists, thieves and a wise-cracking demon in the form of a shadow cat as she trains to become the perfect tool of her revenge in the ranks of the most secretive murder cult in the world.

Set in a world with three suns that hardly ever set, darkness is used to powerful effect in this book. Mia is a deeply flawed girl who faces many of her own personal struggles whilst trying to explain her affinity for the few shadows there are in her world. The plot is exciting, the narrative style is fun and informative without ever becoming information overload, as it has numerous interesting and often hilarious footnotes throughout. The school setting is becoming more and more common throughout fantasy fiction, but if this can be described as Hogwarts for murderers, what isn’t to love about this book?

20. The Red Knight (Book one of The Traitor Son Cycle) by Miles Cameron

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The Red Knight UK Cover

How hard do you think it would be to protect an Abbess and her Nunnery on the edge of the Wild, an unfriendly wilderness that’s teeming with all kinds of smart and deadly creatures? How about if instead of just protecting said Nunnery, you were under siege from these creatures and having to fight a small war? The Red Knight knows as this is exactly the situation he and his mercenary company find themselves in, battling the forces of the Wild with no end in sight.

The Red Knight is the first in a series that charts the rise to power of the unstoppable titular character. He’s young, well trained and has the advantages of birth on his side and heads a lethal mercenary company to boot.

This book can be a little confusing at first as Cameron draws heavily from real Medieval European religious beliefs (which make up the magic system) and arms and armour use (as the author is also a medieval reenactor) but it really is worth sticking around for the ride. The battles are bloody and the monsters realistic, with believable motivations. This is also one of my favourite fantasy sieges EVER.

19. Prince of Fools (Book One of The Red Queen’s War) By Mark Lawrence

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Prince of Fools UK Cover

Meet Prince Jalan Kendeth; drinker, gambler and notorious philanderer and a minor royal who is tenth in line for the throne. Jalan enjoys the relative lack of responsibility, unfortunately for him, he can also see the Silent Sister. Upon escaping a death trap set for him, Jalan finds his fate entwined with that of Snorri, a warrior of the frozen north on a mission to rescue his wife and child, all against the backdrop of hidden powers controlling the nations and rumours of an undead army on the march across Kingdoms.

I’m going to start by saying I absolutely LOVE this book, which hopefully will only go to show how strong I feel the rest of the books on this list are. Despite its at times generic-sounding characters or plot, this book is anything but. Jalan is hilarious and loveable, even if he shouldn’t be. Snorri is a warrior who could have jumped straight out of the Norse sagas of old, a brave, honest and honourable warrior and these two combined make for the best “buddy adventure” as I’m calling it that I can recommend.

This is hands down Mark’s best book and the beginning of his best series, still set in The Broken Empire but showing us so much more of the world he began to create in his Broken Empire trilogy. Mark’s prose is as beautiful as ever, bordering on poetic whilst still eliciting excitement at every turn of the page.

“I'm a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play or bravery.” - Prince Jalan

18. The Way of Shadows (Book One of The Night Angel Trilogy) by Brent Weeks

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The Way of Shadows UK Cover

Azoth, an orphan and member of a street gang in the Warrens in Cenaria City, dreams of a bigger life for himself. He wants to be apprenticed to Durzo Blint, a world-famous assassin, so he can learn his trade and never have to be scared of anyone again. Sometimes, you should be careful what you wish for.

This novel was a struggle to put down. The style of writing was so accessible that pages and chapters just flew by without me knowing how long I had been sat for. The characters in this book are not good people and they make no excuses for their behaviour, especially Durzo who is a violent and foul-mouthed professional killer. Compare him with his rival who is a degenerate murderer who just happens to get paid for what he’s good at and you see that the moral standing of the characters isn’t around who’s good and bad but who is bad and less bad.

The plot for this book was a rollercoaster and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next, and oh my god. That ending. If you’re going to read this book, have the follow-up, Shadows Edge, to hand.

17. The Final Empire (Mistborn Book One) by Brandon Sanderson

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The Final Empire UK Cover

The first in the Mistborn trilogy, this book asks the question: what if the villain won? The Final Empire follows the adventures of Vin, Kelsier and their ragtag band of misfits who plan to overthrow a tyrant and bring equality to the world.

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the magic system in this book is incredibly well thought out. The swallowing and ‘burning’ of different metals for different effects isn’t something I have encountered before or since and makes for some of the most imaginative fight sequences in any fantasy novel to date. Add to that a genuinely intriguing plot and you’ll be wanting to follow the downfall of the Lord Ruler every step of the way

16. The Ninth Rain (Book One of The Winnowing Flame Trilogy) by Jen Williams

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The Ninth Rain UK Cover

A unique blend of sci-fi and fantasy, The Ninth Rain plunges us into the world of Sarn, which over centuries has been invaded and permanently changed by the alien Jure’lia. These invasions, or Rains as they have come to be known, were repeatedly fended off by the Eborans, a race of especially strong and long-lived individuals who were provided war beasts by their tree god Ygseril. With their God now dead, how will Ebora react when Sarn once again looks to them for help when the ninth rain is threatening to fall?

The story follows three unlikely companions: Vintage, a wealthy explorer with a hunger to understand the Jure’lia and their technology. Tormalin, one of the last remaining Eborans on Sarn after his people started to be wiped out by plague and Noon, a Fell-witch and murderer capable of using winnow fire who has escaped from captivity. This novel is full to the brim with adventure, questions and an expertly crafted back story with some truly well thought out pacing. Jen truly is an author to watch.

15. The Rage of Dragons (Book one of The Burning) by Evan Winter

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The Rage of Dragons UK Cover

In this African inspired novel, Tau is born on one of the lower rungs of society and has no gift. When those closest to him are brutally murdered by those higher up he decides to become the greatest swordsman the world has ever seen to exact his revenge - by any means necessary.

What started as a self-published sensation, The Rage of Dragons was taken to print in 2019 and very quickly garnered critical acclaim for its African inspired world and impressive world-building. In 2020 Time magazine placed it in their top 100 greatest fantasy novels of all time and its success gained Evan a four-book deal. Dragons, demons, betrayal and hardship, this has it all. If you couldn’t tell, do not miss out on this incredible book.

14. The Name of the Wind (Book One of The Kingkiller Chronicle) by Patrick Rothfuss

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The Name of the Wind UK Cover

A seemingly permanent fixture on any top fantasy book list, the book is split into the third person and the first-person narrative as the main character and all-round genius Kvothe narrates his life from a young age and through his initial trials and tribulations that all help to shape the legend that he becomes.

Patrick Rothfuss is the first of three authors on this list who make up the unholy trifecta of authors whose highly anticipated works never seem to be coming. That being said, upon its release this book was something special. It was a breath of fresh air in the fantasy market and had fans clamouring for the sequel in short order. This is a beautifully written book with scenes that will forever stick in my head.

If you want epic, large scale battles then this isn’t a fantasy novel for you. This book is for lovers of words, and the book itself reflects that in how important words and their meanings are throughout the story. This is no ordinary fantasy book, it is a tale for the ages

13. The Way of Kings (Book One of The Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson

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The Way of Kings UK Cover

The second book on our list by the literary machine that is Brandon Sanderson, this book marks the first in his as yet unfinished epic fantasy series The Stormlight Archive.

As a single book, it is very hard to summarise because there is just so much story here. Set on the world of Roshar, a world that is continually swept by highstorms, the story follows an ex-soldier turned slave, a scholar with a dark past and a shady goal to achieve and a high prince who is struggling to find his place in the world. All against the backdrop of a massive war of revenge against the race that murdered the Alethi King.

The scope of this narrative is nothing short of epic, with each volume being best described as a tome in its hardback form. This series will without a doubt be a keystone in fantasy literature forever, breathed in the same awed tones as The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time.

12. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

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The Heroes UK Cover

Set across a three day battle between The Union and The North, The Heroes follows a cast of characters across both sides of the conflict as they vie for control of the battlefield whilst desperately trying to keep their heads on their shoulders.

This is not the first nor the last book written within Joe Abercrombie’s world of The First Law, nor is it part of one of the trilogies based in this world. It is instead a stand-alone novel that can be read on its own but will be enjoyed much more by fans who have read the previous books.

This book deserves a place on this list as it is the perfect showcase of what one of the most prominent fantasy authors in the world does best. As you read you can almost feel the press of bodies against you in pitched battle, the viscera spattering your face as weapons are swung and the suffocation of being caught amid two masses of bodies clashing together.

Sprinkle all of the above with Joe’s trademark dark humour and this book really does stand out amongst the rest of his already stellar works.

11. Kings of the Wyld (Book One of The Band) by Nicholas Eames

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (15)

Kings of the Wyld UK Cover

Winner of the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut Novel.

Winner of the Reddit/Fantasy Award for Best Debut Novel

Fantasy Faction’s ‘Best Book of the Year’ 2017

Ladies and Gents I present to you Kings of the Wyld.

In a world where mercenary groups, or “Bands” are revered and treated like rock stars, these individuals with a thirst for violence are treated as celebrities and all the perks that entails. Clay Cooper, a retired mercenary from one of the most successful bands of his day is living a quiet, peaceful retirement. That is until his friend Gabe, the leader of their old band, turns up on his doorstep with a problem. His daughter is in trouble. Having formed a band of her own, she is trapped in a city under siege by the creatures of the Wylde, a vicious horde that will kill anyone in its way. As the tag line for the book says “It’s time to get the band back together.”

H’oh boy was this one a lot of fun. This novel has everything I could possibly ask for in a book. The plot moves at a breakneck pace yet sacrifices nothing in the way of storytelling to achieve this. The action sequences are well written and imaginative, showing that the members of Saga are older if not necessarily wiser and are incredibly lucky most of the time. And the characters themselves are all flawed but loveable in their own way. I know that sounds cliche but honestly, you will love these guys.

The book has lots of little nods and easter eggs for lovers of rock music throughout, from things as obvious as Bands going on tour to different arenas to throwaway sentences you might miss, this is one of the most fun books I’ve ever read and is an absolute masterclass in what fantasy fiction can be.

And if you love this book as much as I do, it even has its own Spotify playlist as curated by the author himself.

http://<iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/7rcKByoNlqnz7GcRVsxdGJ" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>

10. Senlin Ascends (Book One of The Books of Babel) by Josiah Bancroft

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Thew UK Cover of Senlin Ascends

Thomas Senlin, mild-mannered and unassuming school headmaster, visits the mythical Tower of Babel with his new wife on their honeymoon only for Marya to go missing not long after arrival. Thomas must face his fears and become the man he’s not as he enters the weird, wonderful and incredibly dangerous lower floors of the tower to find his lost love.

Another self-published wonder, this series is going to leave its mark on the fantasy landscape for years to come. This book is exceptional. I spent far too much time trying to get the placement of this book in the list right and even now I wonder if I’ve ranked it high enough. Senlin Ascends is so compelling, that it’s impossible to not want to turn the next page. Learning about the different levels of the tower and its inhabitants is interesting and one of the joys of reading this book. And it is utterly heartbreaking in all the right ways, in all the right places.

Please do yourself a favour and read this wonderful sci-fi/ steampunk/ fantasy masterpiece.

9. The Poppy War (Book One of The Poppy War) by R. F. Kuang

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (17)

The Poppy War UK Cover

Drawing its inspiration from mid-20th-century China and the second Sino-Japanese war, The Poppy War transports us to an Oriental setting that is rarely seen in fantasy. The story centres on Rin, a young peasant girl and ward of two opium dealers, who decides to change her future and work hard to be entered into Sinegard, the most prestigious Academy in the Empire. As war begins to brew and Rin is sent to the front lines, she must decide whether to embrace her shamanic powers or watch those around her fight a hopeless war.

Another book that begins in a school of some kind, make no mistake that this book is a dark tale of warfare. The horrors and brutality of war are not shied away from, especially as we reach the latter part of the novel, and this book does deal with some heavy topics such as genocide, drug use and addiction.

The easily accessible writing style and larger than life characters make for an enjoyable read and the pages disappear in a blur. This first book is a wonder and the sequels build the series into something not soon to be forgotten, making it no wonder that a tv series is already in development.

8. Memories of Ice (Book 3 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson

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Memories of Ice UK Cover

Set at roughly the same time as the utterly heartbreaking events of Deadhouse Gates and Coltaine’s Chain of Dogs, Memories of Ice returns us to some of our favourite characters that were missing from book two. Now outlawed by the Empress, The Bridgeburners must form uneasy alliances if they are to stand in the way of the terrifying religious empire of the Pannion Domin, led by the Pannion Seer. Such allies include The Grey Swords, who have been instructed to hold the besieged city of Capustan at all costs.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is epic in scope and has worldbuilding as I have never read before. The series as a whole is one of the most important works of fantasy that has ever been put to paper so being able to pick the best of the series is harder than you’d think. This book started to show the reader what the stakes were in terms of victory and defeat and for the first time made you understand that none of your favourite characters were safe for any reason at all.

The heartbreak continues in this tale but also lets you never lose sight of hope and the better things to come. It really is a shame that this series doesn’t have a bigger audience but I cannot urge you enough to go and pick up Gardens of the Moon and begin this journey today.

7. The Shadow Rising (Book Four of The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan

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The Shadow Rising UK Cover

The Stone of Tear has fallen and Rand Al’Thor has claimed Callandor. The Prophecies of The Dragon are slowly being fulfilled and the world holds its breath. Rand and co. must venture into the Aiel Waste for Rand to prove himself as the Chief of Chiefs of the Aiel clans in order to return to the West at the head of the greatest army the world has ever seen.

The Wheel of Time is one of the go-to fantasy series that most readers will find coming their way at one point or another. To say it is a classic is an understatement, the scope of the world-building and the sweeping narrative encompasses everything great about the genre.

The Shadow Rising is widely considered to be the strongest book in the series and it’s easy to see why. A LOT of important events begging to unfurl in this entry as the stakes are raised and different cultures begin to be fleshed out. The only reason this isn’t higher on the list is because of the slump in quality at the back end of the series (I’m looking at you Crossroads of Twilight) and Jordan’s often tedious and sometimes borderline if not outright offensive portrayal of women in his books. The final three books in the series were finished off by none other than Brandon Sanderson, rounding out one of the best fantasy series out there to date.

6. Knight’s Shadow (Book Two of The Greatcoats) by Sebastien De Castell

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Knights Shadow UK Cover

Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor of The Greatcoats, is not having the easiest time. He fulfilled his dead King’s wish, putting himself and his friends Kest and Brasti through hell along with himself. Now, he must see the heir to the throne placed safely in her rightful place in a Kingdom where the Dukes don’t want to lose power. This would be hard enough without The Dashini, legendary assassins, chasing him down. And if the heir wasn’t a thirteen-year-old girl. Oh, and if he hadn’t been poisoned.

For those of you who don’t know, The Greatcoats is a swashbuckling fantasy romp in the same vein as The Three Musketeers if those Musketeers were sweary, sarcastic and always on the receiving end of bad luck. This book is hands down one of the most enjoyable books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s thrilling, exciting, interesting and laugh out loud hilarious. It also has moments of being very, very dark. I could honestly write pages about this book so before I go on too long I’ll end with this:

“No more armour. No more knights”

Those six simple, harrowing words will stay with me forever.

5. Valour (Book Two of The Faithful and the Fallen) by John Gwynne

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (21)

Valour UK Cover

War has erupted in The Banished Lands. Corban has no choice but to flee his homeland with his companions in search of allies. Veradis must return to his King’s side, but duty weighs heavy on his shoulders. Maquin wants nothing but revenge and justice for a fallen friend. The prophesied clash between The Dark Sun and The Bright Star is moving ever closer.

This book continues minutes after the shocking and heartbreaking ending of Malice and tension doesn’t drop throughout the novel. This book is utterly breathtaking. The plot is relentless and once it has you, it will not let go. The characters are genuinely some of the best you will ever read in the genre. Period. You get to see events unfold through the eyes of characters on both sides of the conflict and you genuinely care about their motivations. Although if you don’t feel very real hate for Lykos throughout this book, you have no soul.

The action sequences are violent and gritty and you can almost feel the shield wall closing in around you. I’ll make this statement and die on this hill defending this opinion: nobody, and I mean NOBODY, writes battles like John Gwynne.

Truth and courage my friends.

4. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Book One of The Gentleman Bastards) by Scott Lynch

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (22)

The Lies of Locke Lamora UK Cover

Locke Lamora is a thief, a con artist and the legendary Thorn of Camorr. The legends about him are entirely wrong, much to Locke’s annoyance. He and his merry band of con-artists, The Gentleman Bastards, find themselves embroiled in a clandestine war in the seedy criminal underworld of Camorr and only Locke’s genius and guile can help them survive.

A short disclaimer: this novel is my favourite fantasy book of all time. The only reason it isn’t sitting at number one is because of the commercial success and wider importance of the top three books. This book is clever beyond reason, compelling in its plot with characters you just can’t help but love. The combination of edge of your seat heist story and laugh out loud comedy is the perfect blend of entertainment. The interludes provide perfect points for the backstory to be fed to you, easing the tension back slightly and pulling the plot back down from barreling on at full throttle.

Sadly, due to personal circumstances, Scott joins our list as the second author whose work we are desperately waiting for. After an almost eight-year wait, book four “The Thorn of Emberlain” cannot get here soon enough.

3. A Game of Thrones (Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R. R. Martin

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (23)

A Game of Thrones UK Cover

After the Hand of the king is found dead Lord Eddard Stark, The Warden of the North is asked by his friend King Robert To come to Kings’ Landing and take over the role himself. Thus begins one of the most intriguing, plot twisty, character murdering franchises of all time.

Obviously, this was going to make its way onto our list. The book that spawned one of the largest cultural phenomenons the world has ever seen, A Game of Thrones was published back in 1996 to critical acclaim, winning numerous awards for its complex and interesting plot and its morally ambiguous characters.

No matter how you felt about the final season, the build-up to it was nothing short of incredible and, in my opinion, the books are even better. The lore, the backstory, the sub-plots. Almost everything that made the TV show such a smash hit is present as its source material but somehow just better. You can lose yourself for literally days on end in the history of The Seven Kingdoms and never get bored. This is political fantasy at its very best.

Unfortunately, George completes the trinity of authors whose work we are impatient to see. I know you’ve been a busy boy George but ten years is painful.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling.

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The Original Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone UK Cover

The first book in the iconic series starts the journey of The Boy Who Lived as he learns about his magical heritage and his history with the evil Lord Voldemort. Beginning his magical education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the series only gets darker from this point on.

The book that started it all, it is responsible for the creation of the third highest-grossing movie franchise of all time and a whole host of other entertainment mediums. At this point, everyone has encountered The Wizarding World in some form or another but none of it will ever be as enjoyable as reading these books for the first time and getting completely lost in the world they create.

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien

[Top 25] Best Fantasy Books of All Time (25)

A Title That Needs No Introduction

“One Ring to rule them all. One ring to find them. One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them”

Come on, this was always going to be at number one and just for good measure, I’m including not one but all three books here. The Grandfather of fantasy literature, The Lord of the Rings set the standard by which fantasy fiction would be judged from that point on.

Expanding on the world that Tolkien created in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings follows the epic journey of Frodo Baggins and his friends as they embark on an epic quest to destroy The One Ring and defeat the evil Sauron for good.

While the concept may now be outdated, at the time this trilogy was one of a kind and created a lot of fantasy tropes that authors use to this day. Arguably, without these classic novels, this genre would not exist in the form that it does today, so for that, we have a lot to be thankful for. Besides, they gave us one of the most exceptional movie trilogies of all time too!

So there we have it. The top 25 best fantasy books of all time. No, the list may not be what you expected but I promise you that each book on this list will have far-reaching influences for years to come, so get involved and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

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