The Best Fantasy Book Series

From the Taoist beliefs of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books to the complexity of Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. From the ambition of Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books to the beautifully written Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb. These are - in our opinion - the very best fantasy book series available, and ones we highly recommend everyone read. The criteria? For the purpose of this list we have decided that a series must consist of at least four books. So no trilogies, that is deserving of a page all of its own.

A Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

A Song of Ice and Fire and Robin Hobb’s trilogy of trilogies (Farseer, Liveship and Tawny Man) are quite able to put a very strong case forward for their favoured works but few can deny that the quality and ambition of the ten books that make up A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen are unmatched within the genre.

“Erikson is an extraordinary writer… my advice to anyone who might listen to me is: treat yourself to Gardens of the Moon.” Stephen R. Donaldson

“I stand slack-jawed in awe of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. This masterwork of the imagination may be the high watermark of epic fantasy.” Glen Cook

A Malazan Book of the Fallen reviews: Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Midnight Tides, The Bonehunters, Reaper’s Gale, Toll the Hounds, Dust of Dreams, and The Crippled God

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

George R. R. Martin is a wonderful writer and his fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire is so popular because it is excellent. This not a finished series, only five of the seven books have seen the light of day so far (but those who have watched the HBO series will have a good idea of what is coming next). Inspired by The War of the Roses, the English civil war of the fifteenth century the series features wonderful storytelling, a massive cast of characters that demand your attention and a narrative that shows that all humans of capable of being both cruel yet kind, intelligent yet foolish, brave yet cowardly. My advice to someone who has yet to read this series is this: Forget the hype, try to forget the HBO series – read A Game of Thrones on its own merit and I hope you revel in the experience. It’s rather good you know.

“The sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads… Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias” The Guardian

A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

A saga filled with unforgettable characters and a world steeped in rich history and legend. If you truly love the fantasy genre, passing up a chance to read The Wheel of Time would be an unbelievable mistake.

“With the Wheel of Time, Jordan has come to dominate the world that Tolkien began to reveal” New York Times

The Wheel of Time: The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

Is all the hype about the Harry Potter books justified? In a word, yes, the books are a joy to read and possibly the most rewarding young adult’s book since The Hobbit. Hogwarts is a truly magical place, not only in the most obvious way but also in all the detail that the author has gone to describe it so vibrantly. It is the place that everybody wishes they could of gone to when they where eleven. This book is highly recommended to anybody between the ages of 8 and 80.

“One of the greatest literary adventures of modern times” Sunday Telegraph

The Harry Potter Series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin has a reputation for exploring psychological and sociological themes within her books and this collection is no different. These novels can be read by children and enjoyed from the perspective of magic, wizards, adventure and the beautifully imagined world of Earthsea. They can also be appreciated by adults for the thought-provoking elements that the book conjures. This is a collection that makes you think and leaves you thinking. Ursula Le Guin’s creation, Earthsea – an ancient world of wizards, magic, darkness and light, and an ever-shifting balance of power – is an acknowledged masterpiece.

“One of the major works of fantasy in this century.” Observer

The Earthsea Cycle: The Earthsea Quartet: (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu), The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb is an author of rare skill and imagination and the books (13 and counting) that make up her Elderlings series are among the best the genre has to offer. She writes beautifully and her characters are so real you can almost touch them.

“Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers! what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics.” The Times

The Realm of the Elderlings: Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin’s Quest, Ship of Magic, The Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny, Fool’s Errand, The Golden Fool, Fool’s Fate, Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons, Blood of Dragons, Fool’s Assassin, Fool’s Quest, Assassin’s Fate

The Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood

Duncton Wood is a truly breathtaking and enchanting read that reminds us how savage yet full of love the animal kingdom truly is. It is unfortunate that these works must be compared to Watership Down but that is the only book with which I can really compare it to in terms of story line and excellence. This is a book for adults and is at times as dark as it is uplifting, first published in 1980 and has since become a best-selling novel. A story of courage, loyalty and the power of love… inspired by the shadows and light of England’s most beautiful countryside.

“A breathtaking achievement” Washington Post

The Duncton Chronicles: Duncton Wood, Duncton Quest, Duncton Found, Duncton Tales, Duncton Rising and Duncton Stone

The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman

Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library is a world I want to write in. I want the opportunity to play in this sandbox, to visit the Library and meet someone new, and to take them on adventures through this intricate and magical world of alternate Earths and mysterious interdimensional libraries. If you like you worlds colourful but dark, fantastical and adventurous, this is the book for you. Speak the name of the Library in the Language and the door will open. Step through at your own risk.

The Invisible Library Series: The Invisible Library, The Masked City, The Burning Page, The Lost Plot, The Mortal World and The Secret Chapter

The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever are a series of fantasy novels with tremendous scope and a psychological depth that had never before been attempted. They are very complex pieces of work but at heart you’ll find a good old-fashioned tale of epic fantasy. The series can not be read without the reader’s constant concentration, it is adult fantasy fiction and the casual fantasy reader may need a period of time in which to become accustomed to this – there are no lovable hobbits to ease you into the story, here you have a man that has lost everything, a man who is angry, bitter, an outcast from the life and the world he knew. But the effort spent in reading this series is rewarded ten-times over and I recommend that every fantasy fan read this seminal work.

The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, the Unbeliever: Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War, The Power that Preserves, The Wounded Land, The One Tree, White Gold Wielder, The Runes of the Earth, Fatal Revenant, Against All Things Ending and The Last Dark

The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney

You could say that if Ursula Le Guin and The Sixth Sense merged then the outcome may be as good as The Spook’s Apprentice. I would heavily recommend The Spook’s Apprentice to young adults looking for a fantastic series. Chilling, memorable, full of wonderful characters and written in a fluid style that makes the narrative accessible to all ages.

The Wardstone Chronicles: The Spook’s Apprentice, The Spook’s Curse, The Spook’s Secret, The Spook’s Battle, The Spook’s Mistake, The Spook’s Sacrifice, The Spook’s Nightmare, The Spook’s Destiny, Spook’s: I Am Grimalkin, The Spook’s Blood, Spook’s: Slither’s Tale, Spook’s: Alice and The Spook’s Revenge

The Mythago Cycle by Robert Holdstock

For all its savagery, you are hoping that there is, somewhere in this world, a wood like this in existence. Mythago Wood is a fantasy masterpiece.

The Mythago Cycle: Mythago Wood, Lavondyss, The Bone Forest, The Hollowing, Merlin’s Wood, Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn and Avilion

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Great characters, a mystery that twists and turns like a corkscrew and above all, Harry, a wizard with a world weary sense of humour, who takes life on the chin.

The Dresden Files: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, Cold Days, Skin Game, Peace Talks and Battle Ground

Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde

A great combination of humour thriller, science-fiction, detective and fantasy,. In my opinion this book really takes the fantasy fiction genre further. I know I am going to repeat myself but this series is how Thursday would have said it: “mad as pants”. It combines some great elements that truly make this book comes to life in more than one dimension. Combining funny and witty dialogues but also numerous literary ideas with the bookworms and names of several of the characters make this a terrific read and should be compulsory for everyone.

Thursday Next: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of our Thursdays is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower boasts some of the best characters in fantasy and the first instalment introduces to us the obsessive and lonely gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, and the innocent yet world-weary Jake of New York. And as we read they form a tender and loving relationship that is pivotal to all that follows. From the beginnings in the desert and through events and flashbacks we then visit the doomed town of Tull, visit Gilead, see the New York of Jake’s when and finally travel through the mountains to the moment when Roland faces the most difficult decision of his life. King’s magnum opus is a towering achievement.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower

The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Stylishly creepy; at turns gorgeous, humorous, horrifying and awe-inspiring.

“Stunningly original” The Guardian

The Edge Chronicles: The Curse of the Gloamglozer, The Winter Knights, Clash of the Sky Galleons, Beyond the Deepwoods, Stormchaser, Midnight Over Sanctaphrax, Last of the Sky Pirates, Vox, Freeglader, The Immortals and The Lost Barkscrolls

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

There are no larger than life characters to be found in The Black Company, all contain frailties and failings that are found in all humans. The books are beautifully amoral and contain no two-dimensional characters. Wonderfully amoral books, often dark and containing violent battles and fantastic characters. Glen Cook changed the face of the fantasy genre forever – and for the better.

Chronicles of the Black Company: The Black Company, Shadows Linger, The White Rose, Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, Bleak Seasons, She Is The Darkness, Water Sleeps and Soldiers Live

Riftwar Saga by Raymond E Feist

If you gain any enjoyment whatsoever from reading fantasy then this is a series that you simply must read. One of the highest regarded fantasy book series of all time, it is epic in scope, moves at a breathless speed, and is full to the brim with intrigue and action.

The Riftwar Saga: Magician, Silverthorn, A Darkness at Sethanon, Prince of the Blood and The Kings Buccaneer

The Rigante Novels by David Gemmell

A book by David Gemmell is about morally grey heroes, who fight for what they believe in, and regularly get kicked in the nuts by fate. A tavern brawler who selflessly stands up when faced with injustice. A drunkard that, without a moment of hesitation, sacrifices his life in favour of an innocent family. A burly woodcutter that travels to all corners of the world to rescue his captured crush. A pacifistic priest forced to slay numerous enemies. These tales tell of honour and glory, duty and loyalty, courage and resolve, all coated in a wonderful blend of action, black humour and suspense.

The Rigante Novels: Sword In The Storm, Midnight Falcon, Ravenheart and Stormrider

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Be careful! Once you have read and enjoyed one Discworld novel you may find yourself making your way through the whole series of 41 books.

Discworld: The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rights, Mort, Sourcery, Wyrd Sisters, Pyramids, Guards! Guards!, Faust Eric, Moving Pictures, Reaper Man and 31 more

Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

When you put your mind to considering some of the greatest writers of the English language, it is a source of continuing pity that Isobelle Carmody’s name is not up there along with some of the greats like Tolkien, Lewis and Hemingway. Though some of her work has been criticized, writing science fiction, fantasy, children’s and young adult literature, Carmody is probably most well known and praised for her work on the Obernewtyn Chronicles.

Obernewtyn: Obernewtyn, The Farseekers, Ashling, The Keeping Place, Wavesong, The Stone Key, The Sending and The Red Queen

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

The Book of the New Sun is a science fantasy classic that improves with every read. Too often overlooked, possibly due to being dense in allegory and symbolism, the joy of coming to understand Wolfe’s craft is part of the joy of reading it. The lead character Severan, is an unreliable narrator, and this adds another layer of complexity. If you’re a fan of both science fiction and fantasy, it is a must-read.

The Book of the New Sun: The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, Sword & Citadel, The Sword of Lictor, The Citadel of Autarch, The Urth of the New Sun and Shadow & Claw

A Tale of Einarinn by Juliet E McKenna

This is a series which looks at a whole range of different cultures and how they interact with one another, and how a relatively normal girl who was making a living on the outskirts of society managed to land in extraordinary circumstances. If you’re looking for a great fantasy series to get into, give this a go.

A Tale of Einarinn: The Thief’s Gamble, The Swordsman’s Oath, The Gambler’s Fortune, The Warrior’s Bond and The Assassin’s Edge

The Drenai Novels by David Gemmell

David Gemmell is a master of heroic fantasy. Gemmell’s characters are always struggling with their inner demons: past mistakes, hubris, greed, you name it. Yet in spite of these ‘flaws’ the protagonists fight for what they think is right. Or just because they like fighting… The worlds Gemmell creates are dark, cruel and full of danger.

The Drenai Novels: Legend, The King Beyond the Gate, Waylander, Quest for Lost Heroes, Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf, The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend, The Legend of Deathwalker, Winter Warriors, Hero in the Shadows, White Wolf and The Swords of Night and Day



The Wheel of Time is one of the greatest Epic Fantasy series, but the Fantasy genre is so much more than Epic Fantasy and so it becomes hard to fit everyone's favourite series into a Top 10. While this may not be my Top 10, these are all great series deserving of the various accolades bestowed upon them. My Top 10 fantasy series in no particular order: - Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson - Harry Potter by JK Rowling - The Dark Tower by Stephen King - The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind - His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman - The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody - The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Fiest - The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde - The Stone Dance of the Chameleon by Ricardo Pinto - The Old Kingdom (Abhorsen) by Garth Nix Other series that I wanted to fit in there but just couldn't were Wheel of Time, Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card, Word/Void by Terry Brooks, Magic Kingdom for Sale by Terry Brooks, The Engineer Trilogy by K. J. Parker, New Crobuzon by China Mieville, A Song of Ice and Fire by GRRM, The Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch, Discworld by Terry Pratchett... the list goes on and on...



A Song of Ice and Fire is just as good as LOTR, possibly better, and Harry Potter, while not technically as good of writing as the rest (I think it's pretty close) definitely deserves respect for its success.



I think The Age Of The Five trilogy or The Black Magician trilogy should be on there. They're by Trudi Canavan and are completely amazing and gripping! (:



A Song of Ice and Fire, so far, is almost as good as LOTR. Read it! You will have it in your hand every spare moment you get until you finish A Feast for Crows. I only hope the series actually gets finished. Superbly written, fantastically formed characters, fascinating setting. All in all, a 10 out of 10 read. Also, Harry Potter should not be on that list. I don't think mediocre series' should be put on a top 10 list. HP ain't bad but can't compete with the other heavyweights on the list!



Bartimaeus Trilogy? :{ (You're right, I agree, it needs to be in there, may turn the list up to 11 - Ed) (Hi Burr - Bartimaeus can be found on our recommended trilogy page - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)



What about The Dresden Files? It should be on the list, it's a pretty cool series even if it's not yet complete?? (Hi Simon, good call and the Dresden Files are now listed - Lee @ Fantasy Book Review)



A very good list. The series that I've read are much better than those that have been left off such as WoT. And I agree that Fire and Ice may never be completed, it's dubious to include it.


Eamonn Sullivan

A Song of Ice and Fire is brilliant, however it is not complete. Martin has only completed the first 4 of these books and I think we've been waiting since 2005/6 since he published book 4. It's conceivable that Martin may not finish this series for 10 more years. Do you really want to wait that long? In saying that, they are brilliant books.



... Twilight? Not really. Discworld! It should be on the list - it's such an epic series!



The Prince of Nothing (R. Scott Bakker series) is amazing too!



Although Twilight is an entertaining read it is nothing more than cheap thrills filled with angst. It shouldn't be on the list. Wheel of Time, in my opinion, should be, but it did have some problems along the middle of the series. It's still my favourite but I can see why it wouldn't be on here. Terry Pratchett has written so many books, all of which can't really be described as a series and can't be seen as anything by themselves. Maybe they just couldn't be defined as easily.