One of the biggest perks of cracking open an epic fantasy novel is being immersed in an expansive and detailed world. What fantasy fan doesn't get excited when the first pages of a novel features a detailed map? We want to get lost in a multitude of peoples and places, where magic and monsters challenge our heroes at every turn.
The epic series Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont was a world before it was ever a book series. The authors used its concept for table-top games, then made into a movie script, and finally a series of novels. It's little wonder then that the series and its world-building feels so detailed, despite the fact that the planet is never actually named.
We follow the characters across multiple continents as they face sorcerers and assassins, empires and gods. The scope is massive, the villains are terrifying, the adventures are unforgettable, and the stakes are life-or-death. If you love this series for its expansive world-building, here are nine more epic fantasy series that promise (almost) endless journeys within their pages.
More series with masterful world-building like Malazan Book of the Fallen
The Voyage of Odysseus
When Eperitus, a young Greek warrior, unknowingly helps Odysseus, the Prince of Ithaca, from an attack, they begin a friendship that takes them on an epic adventure. Starting ten years before the Trojan War and extending to Odysseus’s infamous journey home afterwards, the series explores the many landscapes and cultures surrounding Ancient Greece through new eyes. Iliffe builds a captivating world filled with meddling gods and struggling heroes that adds imagination and dimension to the known ancient world and the epic poem.
The Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Volume One
Sometimes you don’t get the heroes you need. Or deserve. Or even asked for. Sometimes they’re not even heroes at all.
Fafhrd and Mouser have never met an adventure they didn’t like. They aren’t galivanting across Nehwon to fight evil or right terrible wrongs. Instead, they follow their whims for their own amusement and gain. They travel through bustling cities and foreboding forests populated by monsters, supernatural creatures, and a variety of different people. The series is full of danger, magic, and plenty of intrigue, adding depth and detail to a vivid and imaginative world grounded in realistic characters.
A Handful of Men
Fifteen years ago, Rap got his happily ever after. But war never left Pandemia, and if Rap wants to avoid the end of the world, he’s going to have to save it. Again.
The series is based fifteen years after Duncan's Man of His Word quartet. We get to know Pandemia through the eyes of the new generation, giving both history and current events while weaving in the state of the world. With two series made up of four books each, there is plenty of magical mayhem to entertain any epic fantasy lover.
The Soul Thief
On the night of Corban’s exile while he slept in the nearby woods, Viking raiders destroyed his home. Vowing vengeance, he sets off down the coast of Britain and across the sea, searching for his abducted sister. With historical undertones woven into the plot, this six-book series transports the reader into the Viking era and stays there for fifty years.
A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle Series Book 1)
When young wizard Sparrowhawk tampered with buried secrets in search of power, he unleashed a dark shadow on the world. As he learns to master his powers, he travels across the vast archipelago that makes up the world. With an intricate magic system, characters who have to fight their own demons to succeed, and spread across six books and multiple short stories, The Earthsea Cycle is a must-read for epic fantasy lovers.
The Grace of Kings
Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu are unlikely friends. But as the tide turns against the emperor, the two find themselves leading opposing factions in how the new world should be run. A fictionalized reimagining of the Han Dynasty and the Chu Han Contention, this series spans decades through complicated and complex events. Even though the story is focused on its two main characters, the narration spans a multitude of characters struggling to survive a world beset by war, shapeshifting gods, and monstrous creatures.
The Broken Earth Trilogy
Set on a supercontinent called the Stillness, The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin features a world that is not just a place to live—it's often a cause of death. Jemisin excels at showing how people have adapted and evolved over time to survive in such a dangerous world, as well as the societal fallout that comes along with it. She immerses you in not just the details of the world but the atmosphere. It’s rich and lived in, with characters that feel real and a story you’ll find yourself lost in.
Mistborn: The Final Empire
It isn’t hard to imagine that a world raining ash for a thousand years is going to have some fairly epic world-building woven into the pages. The Mistborn Saga delivers just that: The magic system is intricate and unique, giving the characters added depth and helping create intense action during battles and fights. The ash clouds and mist give Scadrial an eerie atmosphere that Sanderson uses to build the mystery and lore with tension that vibrates to the very end.
The Wheel of Time (14 Book Set)
As the Wheel of Time turns, ages come and go, turning legends into myths before they’re forgotten and then reborn. Rand al’Thor never expected to be the one chosen by prophecy to defeat the Dark One. But when his village is attacked, he and his friends leave with Moiraine Damodred, one of the Aes Sedai. The series spans an impressive 14 books with dozens of short stories, prologues, and novellas woven throughout the timeline to create an expansive world packed with intricate detail.