Sometimes, you just want to escape. And no form of escapism is better than finding yourself in a new fantasy land within the pages of a great book. We’ve selected seven books set in magical fantasy worlds that will open your eyes (and imaginations) to new and exciting adventures. From Witch World to Narnia, these fantasy worlds are simply extraordinary.
City of Broken Magic
In Amicae, an infestation constantly threatens to wipe out magic. That’s where Sweepers come in—a team of exterminators who keep the threat contained. Laura has just started an apprenticeship as a Sweeper, under the employment of Clae, whose family has served as Sweepers in Amicae for generations. Though the magic-destroying monsters continue to infest Amicae, the government tells its citizens that they are free from infestations and that any reoccurrences are due to mob activity. Though Laura and Clae are the only Sweepers in the city, they soon take on Okane—a servant who they free and train as an apprentice. Together, the three of them will have to prepare for the danger that’s coming their way. City of Broken Magic is the first book in a series that will have readers wanting more.
A Man of His Word
Dave Duncan’s epic fantasy saga contains four books about Inos and Rap, a princess and a stable boy who try to find their way back to one another through a series of adventures. Both Dave Duncan’s A Man of His Word and A Handful of Men series take place in Pandemia, a large continent surrounded by smaller lands. In Pandemia, the amount of magic one has is based on how many magic Words one has knowledge of. In most cases, the number of Words you have is equal to how much power you have, with the exception of extraordinary individuals like Rap—who can hold more power per word. Throughout the four-book series, Inos and Rap travel to different lands as they battle adversary after adversary, desperately trying to make their way back to each other.
The Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Volume One
Leiber’s fantasy adventure series is set in the world of Nehwon. His stories primarily take place in the city of Lankhmar, which is nestled west of the Great Salt Marsh and east of the River Hlal. The series follows antiheroes Fafhrd, a barbarian, and the Gray Mouser, a former wizard’s apprentice. Together, they join forces to become rogue swordsmen and embark on adventures both within the realm of Nehwon and beyond. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Featured in 36 stories, which have been collected into seven collections. This volume contains Swords and Deviltry, Swords Against Death, and Swords in the Mist.
Witch World: High Hallack Cycle
Andre Norton’s groundbreaking Witch World combines science fiction with sword and sorcery and high fantasy. The series includes three cycles: Estcarp, High Hallack, and The Turning. On the Witch World, female virgins are the only ones who can possess magic; but all that changes when Simon Tregarth turns out to have magical abilities, and forms a link with his witch wife Jaelithe. The High Hallack cycle is the second expansion of the series, and is set on the titular western continent. The story continues with new characters and their magical adventures—from a group of people determined to find the powerful Zarsthor’s Bane, to a couple who must unlock the secret power housed in a crystal gryphon.
Land of Oz
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
This 1900 novel is also known for its 1939 musical film adaptation, titled The Wizard of Oz, which stars Judy Garland in the role of Dorothy, a young girl from Kansas whose home gets swept up by a cyclone and deposited in the Land of Oz. When it lands, the cyclone kills the Wicked Witch of the East, thus freeing the Munchkins from her evil rule. But in order to get back to Kansas, Dorothy will have to travel to the Emerald City to ask the powerful Wizard of Oz for help. Along the way, she’ll follow the yellow brick road, encounter a Scarecrow who wants a brain, a Tin Woodman who wants a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who wants courage, and come face-to-face with the Wicked Witch of the West.
Piers Anthony's long-running, pun-filled Xanth series might be the most expansive series on this list, if sheer number of books is any indication: currently, Anthony has written over 40 titles set in this magical land. The controversial and highly divisive series is set in a realm where everyone has a single — and totally unique — magical talent. Five Portraits follows the life and adventures of young Astrid Basilisk-Cockatrice, whose very looks can kill. Anthony himself says this book is one of his favorites in the series — which, considering the volume of Xanth titles, is high praise indeed.
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia series begins with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as the Pevensie children are sent to the English countryside at the outbreak of World War II. Inside the home of Professor Digory Kirke’s house, they discover a magical wardrobe that leads them into the land of Narnia. There, they help the talking lion Aslan save Narnia from the evil White Witch. The saga continues in the following six books as we learn more about the magical world full of talking animals and mythical creatures.
This post is sponsored by Tor.com. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for The Portalist to continue publishing the stellar stories you love.
Still from "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) via MGM