The best fantasy book series of all time (2021 edition)
Any list of the best fantasy book series of all time is going to be controversial. To make our list, I’ve only included series that have ended – so that means no song of ice and fire, even though it’s one of the best. I picked only one from each author, although several people here have more than one great series to their credit; it just seemed fairer that way. There are a few classics here and also a few more recent entries, but they all deserve their place for one reason or another. So, without further ado, here are ten of the best fantasy book series of all time.
The best series of fantastic books
1. The Black Magician Trilogy – Trudi Canavan
First book: The Magicians Guild (2001)
The Black Magician Trilogy is YA, but that shouldn’t put you off if you’ve never read it before. If you like magic in your fantasy, the title should also let you know that this is something you need in your life. If you are looking to move on from a certain wizard boy, then this will be the series to help you do that.
Sonea is a girl born in the slums of Imardin, only to find that she has the same magical talents as some of the upper class. The trilogy follows her as she tries to escape the Guild of Magicians, who want to control her powers, and how she learns her magic and uses it to save her country.
2. The Daevabad – SA Chakraborty trilogy
First book: The City of Brass (2017)
The Daevabad Trilogy is the latest entry on this list, with the latest book The Empire of Gold released last year. It might seem premature to include it on a list of the best fantasy book series of all time, but it’s easily one of the most exciting series of recent years.
If you like your whimsy with the flavor of alternate history then these books are for you. Set in another 18th century Ottoman Empire, our hero is Nahri, a crook who reads palms and deceives Ottoman nobles with their money. She summons a jinn during an exorcism, and thus begins a journey full of magic, monsters, love and a devastating civil war that threatens to tear the world apart.
3. The Far Far Trilogy – Robin Hobb
First book: The Apprentice Assassin (1995)
Hobbs is one of the authors who easily could have had more than one entry on this list; his prolific writing is really a thing to see. Her Farseer trilogy has, since completing it in 1997, spawned second and third trilogies, The Tawny Man Trilogy and Fitz And The Fool, written years later – so if you like the characters in the Farseer trilogy. , it’s good to know that there is more to their story.
In the Farseer Trilogy, FitzChivalry Farseer is an assassin who learns his trade in a realm where his uncle fights a war against an enemy who transforms his people into emotionless zombie-like creatures. Fans of these books especially love the characters and their intricacies – and the number of novels that feature Fitz tells you just how popular he is.
4. The Sword of Truth – Terry Goodkind
First book: Wizard’s First Rule (1994)
Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series is the kind of thing you might think of if I said the best fantasy book series ever; it’s old school and it’s epic, spanning twenty-one books written over nearly a quarter of a century. Goodkind also wrote most of the books on his own, with the exception of the final trilogy, which means the series is easy to get on and off – and if you don’t like a book, you can just skip it easily. next.
It’s hard to sum up something as epic as this series, but in essence we’re following Richard Cypher, a young man defending the New World from the Imperial Order and the Old World. It’s a series about freedom and the fight to defend freedom at all costs.
5. The Earthsea cycle – Ursula K. Le Guin
First book: A Wizard of Earthsea (1968)
You can’t talk about the best fantasy series without Earthsea. One of the oldest on the list – the first book came out in 1968 – it’s a true classic. Much like Sword of Truth, there are plenty of Earthsea stories to go through; in addition to the original trilogy, Le Guin has published two other novels and a collection of short stories.
Earthsea is made up of a large number of islands, and it is a world of magic. One of the things that really sets it apart from a lot of others is that it doesn’t have the stereotypical “vaguely medieval European” vibe of many fantasy series. Even in 1968, Le Guin was working hard to portray characters of different races in his stories, and that’s admirable.
6. The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan
First book: Eye of the World (1990)
The Wheel of Time is another giant series, which has fourteen volumes published over twenty-three years, and easily deserves its place as one of the best fantasy book series of all time. Author Robert Jordan died in 2007 after the publication of eleven books, but he left very detailed notes and Brandon Sanderson completed the series for him.
If you think of epic high fantasy, The Wheel of Time is exactly the sort of thing that comes to mind. Dark agents of the Shadowed One seek out the Dragon Reborn, a prophesied savior. Three young men from an unpretentious village are swept from their homes and set out to unite the kingdoms against the Dark One.
7. The Broken Earth series – NK Jemisin
First book: The Fifth Season (2015)
Jemisin has achieved several firsts with his Broken Earth series. As well as being the first black female author to win the Hugo for Best Novel, she was also the first person to win the Hugo for Best Novel three years in a row – for every book in the Broken Earth series. And in doing so, she was also the first person to win the award for every book in a trilogy. There are no small feats when it comes to Jemisin and this trilogy.
In the distant post-apocalyptic future, the country is rocked by frequent disastrous events that continually shatter and reshape not only the world, but also the people who must survive it. The world-building of the Broken Earth trilogy is what really sets it apart, as well as the diverse character cast.
8. Discworld – Terry Pratchett
First book: The Color of Magic (1983)
If you don’t like epic fantasy style, then Discworld is the series for you. In forty-one charming and hilarious novels, Pratchett immerses his readers in a world so teeming with life it’s hard to even know where to begin to describe it.
From the hard-working City Watch police in the sprawling city of Ankh-Morpork to the witches of the Ramtop mountains, there’s no one who can’t find something to love in Discworld. And if you’re someone who would dismiss Discworld for being not only fantastic but comedic as well, know that Pratchett also writes such sharp satire that unsuspecting readers will cut themselves off. There isn’t a single social issue that he hasn’t covered.
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
First book: Northern Lights / The Golden Compass (1995)
His Dark Materials have found a new audience thanks to the very good BBC TV show of the past few years, but the best way to find these books is to read them. There is simply no comparison there. Pullman’s masterpiece in a writing career full of excellent work, these are technically young adult novels – but young adults so incredibly good that adult readers were more than willing to give it a chance.
In a world not entirely different from ours, the series follows Lyra and Will through a series of parallel worlds, pursued by the almighty Magisterium – a clear facsimile of the Catholic Church. Pullman has been criticized for his treatment of religion in His Dark Materials, but the books are an incredible exploration of philosophy, theology, and physics as well as organized faith, and have much more to say than the fantasy novel. way worth hearing. .
10. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
First book: Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
It is illegal to write a list of the best fantasy book series of all time and not include The Lord of the Rings. I don’t make the rules. It was literally formative for much of the fantasy that followed, helping to shape the genre in ways few other stories have. It’s not just one of the best fantasy books of all time – it’s one of the best-selling books of all time, full stop.
We all know the story of The Lord of the Rings, even though we’ve never read the books, so I’m not going to summarize it here. The story itself has a fairly straightforward good versus evil tale, Chosen One. But it’s Tolkien’s world-building that is truly a model for so many fantasy writers who have come after him. It was immersed in Middle-earth in a way that few authors have been immersed in their creations – The Lord of the Rings is only a tiny part of something much bigger.
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