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9 of the Best Fantasy Novel Opening Examples

These stories grip you from the very first page. 

9 of the best fantasy novel openings

"He was an easy mark."

best fantasy books

The City of Brass

By S.A. Chakraborty

“Locke Lamora stood on the pier in Tal Verrar with the hot wind of a burning ship at his back and the cold bite of a loaded crossbow’s bolt at his neck.” 

red seas under red skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies

By Scott Lynch

“Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.” 

The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char

By Scott Hawkins

“In the myriadic year of our Lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!—Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.” 

2019 Nebula Awards finalists

Gideon the Ninth

By Tamsyn Muir

“Today he would become a god. His mother had told him so.” 

Black Sun Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun

By Rebecca Roanhorse

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.” 

books like a wrinkle in time

A Darker Shade of Magic

By V.E. Schwab

“Knives. Knives everywhere. Coming down like rain.” 

the court of broken knives

The Court of Broken Knives

By Anna Smith Spark

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” 

scariest books ever

The Haunting of Hill House

By Shirley Jackson

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” 

best fantasy books

The Gunslinger

By Stephen King