Fantasy books take us away from the humdrum of everyday life and into magical realms full of possibilities and wonder. And what’s better than just one book to give you an escape? An entire series. This is an extensive list of must-read fantasy book series that will keep you glued to the page for hours on end.
There’s no way that any one list could contain the wealth of fantasy series available on the shelves today. Have a suggestion for this list? Add it in the comments below!
Stephanie Garber's Caraval series is pure magic. The first book, Caraval, follows two sisters, Scarlett and Tella. Scarlett has dreams of seeing the extraordinary once-a-year performance of Caraval—a show in which the audience participates. But when Tella is kidnapped by the show's organizer, who makes this season's Caraval revolve around her, the lines between what's real and what's not are blurred as Scarlett races to save her sister. The second book in the series, Legendary focuses on Tella as she participates in another dangerous Caraval. The series last and third book, titled Finale, was released in May of this year, and it features the same magic, romance, and intrigue that the series is known for.
The Lyra Novels
The Lyra Novels
Though all five books in the series take place in the fictional world of Lyra, they can be read in any order. From Princess Alethia in Shadow Magic, who is kidnapped on her 20th birthday and must trust in magic to save her kingdom, to Eleret in The Raven Ring, the daring girl who must travel dangerous lands to reclaim her dead mother's belongings—this series is chock full of exciting adventure. A veteran fantasy writer, Wrede has written numerous books and four other series—including The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
The Deryni Series
The Legends of Camber of Culdi Trilogy
Kurtz’s historically-flavored fantasy series is set in the land of Gwynedd, a medieval kingdom similar to the British Isles of the 12th century, with a powerful Holy Church and a feudal government ruled by a hereditary monarchy. The population of Gwynedd includes both humans and Deryni, a race of people with inherent psychic and magical abilities who have been shunned and persecuted for centuries. There are a number of sub-series featuring the Deryni. The Camber of Culdi Trilogy follows Deryni noble Camber as he attempts to oust a tyrant and put the rightful ruling line on the throne.
The Bitterbynde Trilogy
The Bitterbynde Trilogy
Memory loss and a journey of self-discovery play big roles in the Bitterbynde Trilogy—which refers to an unbreakable promise or oath. When a mute woman wakes up with no memory or name, she’s eager to find her past…but the world beyond the castle walls is dangerous. So starts her journey amidst a fantasy world based on Irish legend and myth, where deadly creatures roam and magical beings can help or harm.
The Path Trilogy
Path of Fate
Reisil, an orphan, thinks she’s finally found her place as a healer, which offers her a connection to the community and even acceptance. But little does she know she has the ability to communicate telepathically with animals, making her an ahalad-kaaslane: a guardian who can’t have family or community ties. Though she resists her place at first, Reisil soon comes to realize that fate has a plan for her and she must protect her people.
The Glasswrights’ Guild Series
The Glasswrights' Apprentice
Rani Trader has managed to move up in the world, from the daughter of a merchant to an apprentice in the Glasswrights’ Guild. But when the Crown Prince is murdered, and she’s accused as the killer, she must discover the actual assassin herself. But Rani’s troubles are far from finished there. In this five book historical fantasy series, she is constantly confronted with challenges as she fights to protect herself and those she cares about.
The Sun Wolf & Starhawk Series
The Sun Wolf and Starhawk Series Books 1–3
Hambly’s dark fantasy novels tell a story of war and witchcraft, following Sun Wolf and his lieutenant, Starhawk. In The Ladies of Mandrigyn, the great mercenary Sun Wolf is offered riches for the use of his army against a wizard—but he refuses, leading him to cross the desert in search of a witch who can teach him the ways of sorcery in The Witches of Wenshar. But there’s evil in the air—which even the strongest magic might be useless against. And in the conclusion to the trilogy, The Dark Hand of Magic, Sun Wolf and Starhawk must figure out how to lift an evil wizard’s curse from their old army.
The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Series
Swords and Deviltry
Grand Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy Fritz Leiber writes classics of sword and sorcery. Swords and Deviltry contains the origin story of Leiber’s most famous characters, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Love and loss play a big role throughout the books as the unlikely pair adventure across the lands of Nehwon, meeting wizards, thieves, and others who would like nothing better than to part them from everything they own, including their lives.
The Spellsinger Adventures Series
When college student Jonathan Thomas Meriweather unintentionally is pulled through a portal into a land of magic by a turtle wizard named Clothahump, he finds a strange instrument called a duar—which exerts powerful magic that stops a dark force when played. In order to save this bizarre new world, and his own, he’ll have to learn how to become the “spellsinger.” The eight books of the series bring Jon-Tom into contact with a world of intelligent animals. Far from being the dominant species, humans are equal to the other species—and must join in resisting the assaults of the Plated Folk, large insect-like creatures intent on taking their lands.
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The Age of Unreason Series
This imaginative alternate history series features many noteworthy people from the past, including Sir Isaac Newton, King Louis XIV, Ben Franklin, and Blackbeard. In Newton’s Cannon, Newton discovers a substance called philosopher’s mercury in 1681, which can manipulate earth, water, air, and fire. But his discovery could lead to disastrous consequences for the world, as King Louis XIV searches for the key to world domination while his mistress secretly tries to prevent it.
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The Harry Potter Series
The Harry Potter Series
Beloved by readers of all ages, one of the most popular fantasy series of all time follows the adventures of Harry Potter—a boy who finds out that he’s a wizard. Harry tries to live a “normal” life, studying at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and forming lasting relationships with his best friends Ron and Hermione. But Harry’s not a normal wizard. Evil wizard Lord Voldemort is out to destroy him—and Harry will have to band together with his friends to fight.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Lord of the Rings
The epic Lord of the Rings trilogy has provided the inspiration for numerous modern fantasy series. Beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien created the world as a sequel to his 1937 novel The Hobbit, in which Bilbo Baggins finds the One Ring. The Dark Lord Sauron created the ring and hoped to overrule and corrupt all other rings worn by the leaders of the Men, Elves, and Dwarves. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bilbo’s cousin Frodo sets off on a journey to destroy the ring before Sauron can retrieve it.
The Towers Trilogy
In the City, people with magic are guaranteed a life free from hardship. But Xhea has no magical skills that will protect her—only an ability to see ghosts, which gets her into trouble when she takes possession of a spirit from a girl who’s still alive. The first book in an epic dystopian fantasy trilogy, Radiant will appeal to Game of Thrones readers who loves the complex, fierce women of Westeros.
A Song of Ice and Fire Series
A Song of Ice and Fire Series
George R.R. Martin’s sprawling epic fantasy books take place in the kingdom of Westeros, as different Houses fight for the right to sit on the iron throne. The immensely popular series currently contains five books, with a sixth eagerly awaited by fans. From dragons to court intrigue, family feuds to bloodshed, this series and its many characters have it all.
The Chronicles of Narnia Series
The Chronicles of Narnia Collection
The beloved children’s fantasy series, of which The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first published, follows the adventures of the Pevensie children after they discover a magical wardrobe that transports them into the land of Narnia, populated by talking animals, dryads, and other creatures of myth. Throughout the seven-book series at least one of the Pevensie children is usually present, but the books were not published in chronological order. The series explore the idyllic land of Narnia, how evil was brought to it, and different characters’ quests to save it.
The Discworld Series
The Color of Magic
If you think seven books makes for a lengthy series, try the 41 Discworld books on for size. Terry Pratchett’s series takes place on Discworld—a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle. The books are full of comedy, invention, and well-realized characters, and sometimes parody other authors and series, like Shakespeare and Beatrix Potter. Terry Pratchett was named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature” in 1998.
The Kingkiller Chronicle Series
The Name of the Wind
This series, which is not yet complete and currently contains two novels and a companion novella, is a fantasy autobiography of Kvothe, an adventurer and famous musician who is said to have killed a king and started the war that is presently taking place. Framed as an “oral autobiography,” the books are told from the perspective of Kvothe and include interactions between him and Chronicler, the recorder of his account.
In the first book, The Name of the Wind, Kvothe tells of his tragic beginnings—his family’s traveling troupe was killed by the Chandrian—and his determination to get to The University so he can find out as much as possible about the Chandrian and their reason for the murders. The adventure continues with The Wise Man’s Fear, and the third in the series, currently titled as The Doors of Stone, has no release date yet.
His Dark Materials Series
His Dark Materials Omnibus
Pullman’s trilogy, which begins with the #1 New York Times bestseller The Golden Compass, follows Lyra and Will as they travel through parallel universes. Though adventure and suspense are vital parts of the story, physics, philosophy, and theology also play important roles, as Mrs. Coulter and the Church kidnap children in order to do research on Dust—which they believe to be the physical form of Original Sin.
The Mistborn Series
Mistborn: The Final Empire
The Mistborn series contains two different series within it. The original trilogy—consisting of The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages—was then extended with the four Wax and Wayne titles. The story follows Kelsier, who lives in a world that’s completely lost hope—where the Skaa have slaved miserably and the Lord Ruler has held ultimate power. But when the half-Skaa Kelsier discovers he has the powers of a Mistborn, he’ll have to recruit an army and then some if he’s to defeat the Lord Ruler.
The Wheel of Time Series
The Eye of the World
James Oliver Rigney, Jr., who wrote under the pen name Robert Jordan, died while writing the 11th book in The Wheel of Time series—causing publishers to bring in fan and author Brandon Sanderson to finish it. As it turned out, the book was far too large to be published as one volume, which is why there are now 14 in the series. Taking place in the country of Andor, the series follows a group in search of the Dragon Reborn to aid in the fight against the Dark One. As time progresses, the protagonists split up in order to unite different kingdoms against the Dark One’s forces.
The Temeraire Series
His Majesty's Dragon
Novik’s reimagining of the Napoleonic Wars, with dragons of different breeds used as air power in the British defense against their would-be invader, is told in a series of nine books centered around the dragon Temeraire and his inseparable captain, William Laurence. Though it’s an alternate history, the Temeraire series sticks to the historical record for much of its course and eventually expands to events in China, South America, Australia and elsewhere. The epic scope of the series obviously appealed to Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who acquired film rights.
The Inheritance Cycle Series
The Inheritance Cycle
Christopher Paolini became a bestselling author at the age of 19 when Eragon, the first in his series, became an international fantasy sensation.The four-book Inheritance Cycle is composed of four books which follow the adventures of a teenage boy, Eragon, and his dragon Saphira. Though he begins as a poor farm boy, Eragon’s destiny to become a Dragon Rider is soon revealed, and his choices will either save or destroy the Empire from King Galbatorix.
The Dark is Rising Sequence
Over Sea, Under Stone
The five books that compose The Dark is Rising Sequence depict a struggle between the Light and the Dark—forces of good and evil—and are based on Arthurian legends and Celtic and Norse mythology. In the first book, Over Sea, Under Stone, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of their holiday home in Cornwall—a map that leads to far more than they can imagine.
The Magicians Trilogy
The Magicians Trilogy
Now a popular television series, the Magicians trilogy follows Quentin Coldwater, a teenager who discovers he has magical abilities and is accepted into Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. In the books, Quentin is a fan of books called “Fillory and Further,” which play an integral role in shaping a Narnia-like plotline—leading the cast of characters to return magic to a fantasy world.
Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden
This series takes place in the Elder Isles—a mythological pre-Arthurian place, below the Atlantic. Here, magical folk like faeries and sorcerers live. The first novel in the series, Lyonesse: Suldrun’s Garden, follows Prince Aillas of Troicinet—who, after being betrayed, must fight his way through the ranks of Hybras Isle before redeeming his birthright.
The Dagger and the Coin Series
The Dragon's Path
The high fantasy novel by Daniel Abraham (also the co-author of The Expanse series) includes five books, the last of which was released in 2016. The novel centers on a war that’s been building, and the characters that are either reluctant or eager to fight. The epic series is told from multiple points of view (even switching within chapters) to get you inside the minds of the characters.
The Raven Cycle Series
The Raven Boys
The Raven Cycle consists of four books, and follows Blue Sargent—who is the only person in her family who isn’t psychic. She befriends a group of boys, Gansey, Ronan, and Adam, who call themselves the Raven Boys, and are on the hunt for the “sleeping” Welsh king, Glendower. But Blue has a secret: Her true love is fated to die when they kiss…and the name of her true love is Gansey.
The Acacia Trilogy
Acacia: The War with the Mein
Epic fantasy series often introduce members of the royal family who are destined for some kind of tragedy. The Acacia trilogy is no different. When an assassin changes the lives of four siblings, they become separated and far from the safe and clean world they once lived in. Aliver, Corinn, Mena, and Dariel must now conquer their own fears and doubts to take back their world. But not everyone has the same end goal…
The Drenai Saga Series
The 11 books in the Drenai series tell the history of the Drenai Nation and heroes within it throughout the ages. Like The Chronicles of Narnia, it was not written chronologically, and can thus be read in a different order than publication. The first book in the series, Legend, tells the story of the Dros Delnoch (the fortress protecting the Drenai heartlands), and the Nadir people who are trying to invade it.
The Farseer Trilogy
This trilogy follows Fitz, the bastard son of Price Chivalry, who is training to be an assassin while trying to keep the throne out of his Uncle Regal’s hands. Meanwhile, his other uncle, Prince Verity, is attempting to stop the Red-Ship Raiders, who are attacking their kingdom by turning the people into Forged ones—which causes a zombie-like, emotionless state.
The Dark Swan Series
The Dark Swan series
In this thrilling series, Mead combines the grounded urban realism of the mortal world with the fantastical and intricate world building of what she calls the “Otherworld.” Powerful and formidable shaman Eugenie Markham makes her living as a mercenary. However, when a dark prophecy unveils that her first-born child will be an apocalyptic-level threat, every Otherworld bad boy either wants to kill her or sleep with her.
With the powers inside of her growing, Eugenie faces the increasing threats to the world with magnetic shapeshifter Kiyo and alluring fairy king Dorian at her side. Lively, sexy, and action-packed, this is the kind of story that makes you want to read the books again as soon as you finish.
The Gentleman Bastard Sequence
The Gentleman Bastard series
Scott Lynch delivers three great books in a projected series of seven. His first novel of the series, The Lies of Locke Lamora, introduces readers to a group of con artists who call themselves the “Gentleman Bastards.” Dividing the story into two tightly woven narratives from the past and the present, Lynch builds an encompassing and engaging picture of the con artists. This wicked romp through the criminal underworld follows the central character, Locke, as he relieves the rich from their wealth in the Venice-inspired city of Camorr, faces his dark past on exotic shores, and battle poisonous magics.
The A Man of His Word Series
A Man of His Word
This four-part series embraces the classic tale of a romance between a Princess and a stable boy, transforming the trope into an original and engrossing high fantasy adventure. In Pandemia, a land full of elves, imps, and gnomes, two old friends—Inos and Rap—are constantly torn apart by magic, kidnapping, and conspiracies. What’s worse, the newness of adulthood throws them into the confusion of complicated feelings, and leaves them scrambling to keep up. Driven by love and undeterred by those who wish to keep them apart, Inos and Rap cross strange new lands and defy death itself to stay together.
The Black Company Series
Chronicles of the Black Company
This nine-book bestselling series is currently ongoing, with its tenth and final novel, A Pitiless Rain, with an undetermined release date. Cook melds the fantasy genre with grisly military fiction in these novels which follow the history of an elite mercenary unit—The Black Company. The overarching story of this series is split into three sections: The Books of the North, The Books of the South, and The Books of Glittering Stone. Readers are taken on a journey that begins with the Company’s affairs with the Empire of Lady, then takes them on an adventure back to the Company’s origins, and twists through the Company’s triumphs over enemies on their path to their destiny.
Though the history of these mercenaries spans centuries, the series only focuses on a select four decade period. There is, however, a spin-off novel—The Silver Spike—which acts as a prequel to the series’ timeline.
The Dark Glass Series
Through a Dark Glass
New York Times bestselling author Barb Hendee takes a captivating idea and runs with it. Rather than centering her series on a character, Hendee’s novels follow the effects that a mysterious and magical mirror have on different women in a Medieval landscape. In the first book, Through a Dark Glass, Megan of Chaumont is tasked to choose a member of the brutal Volodane family to wed. When the enchanted mirror finds its way to Megan, it shows her how each of her possible paths may unfold—for better or worse.
Each of the other three novels feature heroines whose lives are uprooted by their duties as young women, be it through marriage, abduction, or familial secrets. Hendee’s exploration of the imperfect choices these women are forced to make gives power to women who often lack agency in the fantasy genre.
The Dresden Files Series
This ongoing series boasts fifteen published novels thus far, combining the excitement of contemporary fantasy with the grit of hard-boiled detective fiction. Surly wizard Harry Dresden is a private investigator of the supernatural. While he takes on many clients—humans and nonhumans alike—he is also the world’s only “consulting wizard” for the Chicago PDs Special Investigation Unit.
Magic is met with disbelief and disdain from society at large, but that matters very little to Dresden so long as he can cash his checks. However, as his cases grow more dangerous and start to appear connected, Dresen plays a vital role in keeping the world safe.
The Xanth Series
The Xanth Novels Books 38–40
With its first book, A Spell for Chameleon, published in 1977, the Xanth series is incredibly expansive. Forty-one novels have been published within the series, with a new addition, Fire Sail, set to arrive on November 5th of this year. Playful and wickedly unique, Anthony’s novels take place in the wonderful land of Xanth, where every human who lives there is born with a magical ability unique to only them.
The books don’t follow one linear story, instead bouncing between different protagonists and eventually moving on to the magical creatures that were initially intended to act as antagonists to the human characters. From the lonesome longing of a harpy-goblin to the unwanted affections of a zombie king, this series delivers something for everyone.
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