The 14 Fantasy Series Every Bookworm Must Read
Looking for the ultimate list of geeky reads? Ahead, we're highlighting our editor's picks for must-read epic fantasy series, with all the elements of the genre: a large cast of characters, a magical alternative world, and complex, integrated plotlines. And if science fiction is more your thing, bookmark our guide to the greatest sci-fi reads too.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
GRRM's epic fantasy series-turned-hit HBO series has won the hearts of fantasy and nonfantasy readers alike. A Song of Ice and Fire's mélange of house politics, interweaving character arcs, warfare, historical fiction, romance, and well, dragons in the world of Westeros and Essos never lets you down. There are seven books planned for the series, but only five have been released thus far.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Arguably, two of the greatest classics of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and prequel The Hobbit, offer a thrilling adventure tale full of wizardry, Hobbits, an all-seeing eye, and Smaug.
Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
The part-fantasy, part-romance seven-piece Outlander series is one of our top picks because of its vigilant female protagonist, Claire Randall, who, at the height of World War II, travels back in time and meets James Alexander Fraser. Needless to say, adventures ensue in this masterpiece of historical fiction.
The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
The Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy is a modern marvel in the world of epic fantasy. The books follow the story of Kvothe, who attempts to enter an esteemed school of magic and eventually becomes one of the most notorious magicians of all time. It's Harry Potter — for grown-ups.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The seven-part Chronicles of Narnia classics are a testament to bravery, fear, belief, and magic. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is just one part of Peter, Edmund, Lucy, and Susan's epic adventures in the land of Narnia.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Lyra, the heroine of the His Dark Materials trilogy, is an orphan whose infectious audacity in Philip Pullman's science- and theology-intensive imagined world appeals to readers of all ages.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The literature juggernaut of our era, the seven-part Harry Potter series dives deep into the magical world of the books' protagonist of the same name. The highly entertaining, humorous, and fantastical Harry Potter series tells a traditional tale of good vs. evil, but through the lens of an alternative universe of witches, wizards, Muggles, and goblins.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time was originally planned as a six-book series but has since expanded to 14 volumes. Those interested in European and Asian mythology will be enthralled by Robert Jordan's epic novels, which integrate elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, duality, balance, and eternal prophecies. Like other classics in the genre, The Wheel of Time books feature a large cast of characters and complex systems that exist only in its imaginary world.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
The Mistborn series, about the failed hero of a prophecy, has all the elements of classic fantasy: a multicharacter arc, an original magic system, and climactic, high-action events. While the books are on the longer side, the story line is fast-paced and will draw you right in.
The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
The 12 books of The Sword of Truth series are not for the faint of heart. There are some vivid adult themes in this tale of the magically gifted people of the New World and the Old World. Preserving family legacy, revenge, sorcery, fallen empires . . . this series has it all.
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
The 14-part urban fantasy Dresden Files novels are written in the first person and offer an intimate look into the supernatural activity of modern-day Chicago.
Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde
Wordsmiths will enjoy the seven-part Thursday Next series, written by the whip smart Jasper Fforde. The alternative history novels are set in a world where England is a republic and the countries of the United Kingdom are separated by intense politics. Genetic engineering and shadow governments play a huge role in this series that refuses to be pigeonholed into any single genre.
Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
The 10 volumes of Malazan Book of the Fallen follow the complicated plots of the Malazan Empire, which is plagued by bitter warfare, ancient sorcerers, and imperial legions. Steven Erikson's literature is most often compared to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.