Best Fantasy Books Of All Time: Top 7 Novels Most Recommended By Experts

The literary landscape of fantasy continues to flourish, offering readers a captivating escape into fantastical worlds and thrilling adventures. The genre boasts everything from timeless classics that have enthralled generations to exciting new releases pushing the boundaries. Our list of the best fantasy books of all time offers an immersive experience for every kind of reader.

People love the fantasy genre for many reasons, including its ability to provide an outlet from the stresses of everyday life. Fantasy allows us to explore imaginary realms filled with wonder and adventure and to imagine ourselves as heroes embarking on epic journeys. Here are a few reasons why fantasy continues its legacy as a best-selling genre:

  • Escapism: Fantasy provides a much-needed escape from real life. The ability to immerse oneself in fantastical worlds filled with magic, adventure, and extraordinary creatures is appealing to many readers.
  • Exploration of Identity and Morality: Fantasy stories often explore complex themes of identity, morality, and the nature of good and evil.
  • Unbridled Imagination: Fantasy knows no bounds when it comes to imagination. Authors in this genre can create anything they can dream up, from fantastical creatures and magical abilities to intricate worlds with unique rules and systems.
  • Diverse Representation and Worldbuilding: Fantasy has become increasingly diverse in recent years, with authors creating stories that feature characters from all walks of life. This inclusivity allows readers to see themselves reflected in the stories they love and to experience the world through different perspectives.
  • Appeal to All Ages: With a vast range of subgenres and styles to choose from, fantasy offers something for readers of all ages. From lighthearted young adult novels to epic dark fantasy sagas, there is a fantasy story out there for everyone.

The combination of these factors makes fantasy a genre with something to offer for everyone. Our sources helped us explore some of the best fantasy books of all time. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

Dark fantasy books
A fantasy book exploding with magic (Photo by EFKS on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Fantasy Books, According to Readers


1. “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)

“The Lord of the Rings” novels, with their epic scope, richly imagined world, and timeless themes, have captivated readers for generations. Tolkien’s masterful storytelling lets readers dive into an unparalleled world of high fantasy. Pan Macmillan raves, “J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy is a classic of fantasy fiction and is a must-read for all fantasy fans. The story of the hobbit Frodo and his epic quest to reach Mount Doom and defeat the Dark Lord, Sauron, by destroying the One Ring, Tolkien’s epic fantasy was adapted into three of the most popular films of the 2000s.”

“The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)
“The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)

ScreenRant praises, “What makes Tolkien’s work so impressive is the amount of detail put into the world-building.  Influenced by real history, he created a unique world complete with its own lore, languages, and compelling characters. However, it’s the themes Tolkien presents that define ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ It’s the ultimate battle between good and evil.”

Vetted exclaims, “It’s an obvious choice, but I can’t see how any list like this would be complete without J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy. Tolkien is to blame for modern fantasy’s obsession with orcs, elves and dwarves, not to mention Halflings (or Hobbits) and Dark Lords whose names should never be spoken aloud.”

2. “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin (1968)

“A Wizard of Earthsea,” written by Ursula K. Le Guin, is a classic coming-of-age story about a young wizard named Ged. Set in the archipelago of Earthsea, the novel follows Ged’s journey from a cocky apprentice to a powerful wizard who must confront the darkness within himself. Books and Bao says, “‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ established several important staples of the fantasy genre, most obvious of which are magic systems and a school for witches and wizards. After using magic to save his island from raiders, Ged is taken on as a wizard’s apprentice, and later is sent to a magical school in order to mature his mind as well as his magic.”

“A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin (1968)
“A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin (1968)

Esquire elaborates, “Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic 1968 novel is barely 200 pages long, but still manages to introduce a captivating world that spawned five sequels, nine short stories, multiple awards, and two disappointing screen adaptations.”

ProWritingAid describes, “Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most prolific fantasy writers, and ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ is her best-known work. Ged is the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea. In his youth, he accidentally summons a shadow creature, which threatens his magical equilibrium. Ged must master the mighty word of power, tame an ancient dragon, and cross death’s threshold to restore balance to his world.”

3. “Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb (1995)

“Assassin’s Apprentice” catapults readers into a world of political intrigue, magic, and danger. A royal bastard is raised in the shadows of the court, unaware of the destiny that awaits him. Reader’s Digest details, “Robin Hobb’s expansive world covers 13 books and multiple series, but the first trilogy set within the Realm of the Elderlings starts with ‘Assassin’s Apprentice,’ which came out in 1995.”

“Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb (1995)
“Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb (1995)

Penguin Random House comments, “Robin Hobb’s coming of age tale follows Fitz, the illegitimate child of a would-be king, from his beginnings living in a filthy stable to his adult life as a respected and feared assassin. An unlikely kind of hero, Fitz’s tale is sure to amuse readers grown tired of traditional fantasy protagonists.”

Books and Bao adds, “The beauty of Hobb’s writing comes in its simplicity. Her worlds are deceptively easy to understand and therefore fall easily into… And this all began with ‘The Farseer Trilogy,’ which itself began with ‘Assassin’s Apprentice,’ a refreshingly short — and therefore perfectly paced — epic fantasy novel.”

4. “The Poppy War” by R.F. Kuang (2018)

“The Poppy War,” written by R.F. Kuang, is a powerful grimdark fantasy set in a world heavily inspired by the history of 20th century China. Kuang’s early-career novel is a best seller and the audiobook, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, is top rated. Reader’s Digest explains, “This remarkable trilogy, which began in 2018, finds inspiration in the Second-Sino Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War and the rise of Mao Zedong. It opens with Rin, who’s on her way to the elite military school Sinegard, despite the odds stacked against her.”

“The Poppy War” by R.F. Kuang (2018)
“The Poppy War” by R.F. Kuang (2018)

ProWritingAid offers, “When ‘The Poppy War’ came out in 2018, it won the Nebula Award and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for best novel. It’s now a popular trilogy inspired by mid-twentieth century China, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Song Dynasty.”

Book Riot states, “This series is one of the best for blending classic tropes of epic historical military fantasy with racism, misogyny, and chosen-one problems. Rin is a poor, dark-skinned girl. There’s no expectation of her. But then she aces the Keju, the test for youth in the empire, which means she’s going to the most elite military school in the Empire.”

5. “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson (2010)

“The Way of Kings” is an enthralling fantasy novel that immerses readers in a war-torn world. Its intricate worldbuilding and exploration of deep themes have captivated readers worldwide. ProWritingAid claims, “In this epic fantasy book where mystical swords and suits of armor transform ordinary men into invincible warriors, kingdoms are won and traded for Shardblades. With an interesting cast of characters from around the fantasy world, they fight their own battles.”

“The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson (2010)
“The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson (2010)

Good Housekeeping relates, “An ambitious, weighty foray into a 10-book series, this book introduces us to the storm-swept Roshar after the fall of the mythical Knights Radiant. It’s a rich world that you can lose yourself in.”

Esquire reviews, “Sanderson rose to prominence by writing the final three books in ‘The Wheel of Time’ series after Robert Jordan’s death in 2007. During the same period of time, Sanderson launched his own 10-volume fantasy epic, ‘The Stormlight Archive,’ beginning with ‘The Way of Kings.’”

6. “The Fifth Season” by N. K. Jemisin (2015)

This award-winning novel follows the stories of three women. Essun is a mother on a desperate journey; Damaya is a young girl with a dangerous ability; and Syenite, a member of a powerful organization. According to Esquire, “N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy is the most lauded fantasy series of its generation, including a record-breaking three Hugo Awards for Best Novel three years in a row. The first book, 2015’s ‘The Fifth Season,’ is a genuine masterclass in worldbuilding, atmosphere, and plotting.”

“The Fifth Season” by N. K. Jemisin (2015)
“The Fifth Season” by N. K. Jemisin (2015)

Pan Macmillan asserts, “‘The Fifth Season’ is the first fantasy novel in N. K. Jemisin’s ‘Broken Earth’ trilogy. In a far-future Earth, a continent known as the Stillness is plagued by apocalyptic natural disasters known as Seasons, that can last for generations.”

Book Riot evaluates, “This novel is absolutely incredible and starts a trilogy in which every book won the Hugo Award for best novel. In this world, magic users are enslaved and controlled. They’re feared for their ability to break the [Earth] but needed for those same skills.”

7. “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins (2015)

In Scott Hawkins’ page-turner, readers are whisked away to a hidden world. Hawkins’ bizarre and unsettling tale is populated by an unforgettable cast of characters, each with their own unique abilities and motivations. Penguin Random House compliments, “This was, hands down, my favorite novel of 2015. Hawkins’ writing and worldbuilding are remarkably assured, especially considering this is his debut novel. The story tracks Carolyn, once human, now a student of the being known as Father, who oversees the library of creation.”

“The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins (2015)
“The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins (2015)

Good Housekeeping assures, “Carolyn and her 11 siblings have spent years cloistered under Father’s strict tutelage, studying the ancient texts in the library that has special powers. Now that he’s gone, a battle is brewing, and no one’s ready for what that entails, least of all the reader.”

Esquire articulates, “Carolyn and her eleven siblings live together in the house of their father, a seemingly immortal man whose library grants them special powers. To say anything else would spoil this riveting, one-of-a-kind novel full of surprises and paced like a thriller.”

You might also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.


Comments are closed.