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13 Best Fantasy Series (Books You Must Read)

Fantasy books are, more often than not, very epic things. Expansive worlds with entire histories, all built out of the imaginations of a single author.

When you have a fictional fantasy world with its own laws, politics, lore, traditions, and geography, it makes sense to want to make a series out of it.

For that reason, so many fantasy authors can’t simply stop at one book, and end up writing an entire fantasy series set in the world they’ve so carefully crafted.

best fantasy series books

The Best Fantasy Series of Books

And so, if you’re interested in getting lost in some of the best fantasy series of books ever written, these are the ones to jump into.

These authors have cultivated incredibly rich and detailed worlds, and from those exciting worlds have emerged some of the best fantasy series of books you’ll ever read.

Just bear in mind you won’t find any standalone fantasy books here, or even The Lord of the Rings and Gormenghast, since they were both envisioned as singular epics.

If you do want to read more about those classic fantasy epics, and other essential fantasy novels, you can do so right here.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

While including A Song of Ice and Fire on a list of the best fantasy series of books ever might seem like a no-brainer, it’s also an undeniable truth.

George R.R. Martin cultivated an enormous world, complete with its rich and deep histories, cultures, and (most importantly) intricate political systems.

The politics make A Song of Ice and Fire stand out amongst all the best fantasy series and turned Game of Thrones into such a runaway hit of a show.

Across this epic fantasy series, readers follow an enormous cast of characters that grows and diminishes with every heartbeat, as chess pieces move and are removed entirely.

The world grows larger; protagonists are unceremoniously killed off; villains become heroes; betrayal and changed allegiances become par for the course.

No series of fantasy books has ever come close to matching the scope of A Song of Ice and Fire when it comes to its political machinations.

Having based much of his world and its political events on British history, which is itself expansive and epic, it’s no wonder that Westeros (and beyond) is so enormous in scope.

If you love political games and the journeys that heroes and villains alike take across years, you’ll love A Song of Ice and Fire, one of the very best fantasy series of books ever written.

Buy A Song of Ice and Fire here!

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb is my own personal favourite fantasy writer, and she gets bonus points here for having multiple trilogies of fantasy books all set within the same incredible world.

We begin with The Farseer Trilogy, which follows the life of a royal bastard raised by a kindly stablemaster to be an assassin protector of the royal family.

Hobb’s second trilogy, The Liveship Traders, follows a family of seafaring traders in a coastal region of the world where ships come to life.

Robin Hobb has written five trilogies — fifteen fantasy books — all set within a single world which expands in richness and detail with each word she writes.

Her scope might be enormous, but her genius as a fantasy author comes from her compassion towards individuals and their personal struggles.

She has an uncanny ability to make the reader marvel at magical concepts, sweeping epic landscapes and seascapes, but also cry at the personal tragedies of her heroes.

There is so much sympathy and attention poured into her characters, which is what makes them some of the most beloved characters in fantasy fiction.

And also what makes her trilogies some of the best fantasy series of books ever written.

Buy The Farseer Trilogy here!

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

When it comes to the most influential and very best fantasy series of books, The Wheel of Time is another no-brainer.

This is a fantasy series so large in its scope and breadth that its author died before he managed to finish it.

Fortunately, the series was ultimately finished by veteran fantasy author Brandon Sanderson.

Robert Jordan wrote books 1-11, the series prequel New Spring, and he also plotted out the remaining three books.

Sanderson was hand-picked by Jordan’s widow, Harriet McDougal, to do the series justice and finish it as Jordan envisioned.

Authors dying before their works are completed isn’t as uncommon an event as you might think, but it’s rare that a series is completed properly despite the author’s own death.

And what we have as a result is an enormous fantasy epic, heavily inspired by Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Few fantasy series’ have as satisfying a scale and scope as The Wheel of Time, a tale of light vs. dark that takes readers on a long and unforgettable journey.

Essential reading for all fans of epic fantasy.

Buy The Wheel of Time here!

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

the fifth season nk jemisin

Here’s a trilogy of modern fantasy novels that really changed the game, breathing new life into the fantasy genre.

Not only that, but The Broken Earth Trilogy was very much recognised for it, too, with all three books winning the Hugo Award.

This is a series of fantasy books that plays with time and linearity, and that introduces a middle-aged mother as a protagonist, bucking so many trends immediately.

It’s also a trilogy that does away with so many tropes and conventions, pulling them apart and examining them critically, in an almost metatextual way at times.

Like many modern fantasy books, The Broken Earth is also more explicitly allegorical that older fantasy books, specifically pointing to the effects of climate change on a world.

Fantasy has a nasty habit of falling into tropes, meaning that fans start to expect certain things from a genre that should be all about imagination and creativity.

Jemisin built a world unlike any you’ve ever seen in fantasy, telling readers that fantasy is about building something unique from your imagination.

And there are few things as exciting and unique as this; The Broken Earth Trilogy is one of the best fantasy series of books ever written by anyone.

Buy The Broken Earth here!

The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

the discworld

Sir Terry Pratchett was a gift to the world of literature. His Discworld series includes forty-one novels, all set within the same strange and wonderful world.

That world is a flat disc, orbited by a sun and moon, that sits atop four elephants which, in turn, stand on the back of a giant turtle, hurtling itself through space.

Some of the most eccentric and hilarious people you’ll ever meet in fantasy fiction live on this disc. Many of them will become your favourite characters and protagonists.

For decades, Sir Terry gently expanded the Discworld by having us follow the adventure and exploits of characters like Captain Sam Vimes, the witch Granny Weatherwax, the wizard Rincewind, and even Death himself.

Pratchett used the Discworld to explore real-world social and political issues through clever wit and satire.

Touching on issues of politics, religion, policing, class, capitalism, and so much more, Pratchett knew the power of allegory through fantasy fiction.

He was one of the few writers to use the power of fantasy in a more explicitly satirical and allegorical way, making him a genius of the genre.

An incredible satirist, a kind and empathetic man, truly one-of-a-kind.

Pratchett’s Discworld is a beautiful place, and readers have forty-one novels through which they can explore it to their heart’s content.

Nothing in the world like the Discworld contains one of the best fantasy series in the world of fiction.

Buy the first Discworld book here!

The First Law by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Closely following Robin Hobb, Joe Abercrombie is my other personal favourite fantasy writer, a master of grimdark fantasy like no other.

While Abercrombie has written a fantasy YA fantasy trilogy set in a cold and desolate Viking-inspired world called Shattered Sea, he’s best known for his First Law series.

The First Law is a series of fantasy books comprising a trilogy that begins with The Blade Itself, as well as three standalone novels, a short story collection, and a second full trilogy of novels.

This is a welcomingly unique approach to fantasy fiction, creating an epic and expansive grimdark world and exploring it through trilogy, standalone novels, and short stories.

What a refreshing way to tour readers around your world, shifting publication style to dig into the cracks of your world.

Like with Pratchett’s Discworld, Abercrombie continues to expand his world in terms of time and space, with the First Law’s second trilogy being set during an industrial revolution.

Shifting from medieval-inspired fantasy to industrial fantasy is such an exciting and welcome change.

Abercrombie does so many things differently, things that really allow him to stand out from the crowd of fantasy authors.

If you love grimdark fantasy and want to spend time in a world that shifts and changes with the tide, The First Law is one of the best fantasy series of books you could ever read.

Buy The First Law here!

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

earthsea books

Ursula K. Le Guin was a gift to science fiction and fantasy genres.

Celebrated for her standalone speculative science fiction novels like The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, she also crafted her own expansive fantasy world.

This world, made up of islands and archipelagos in a vast ocean, is called the Earthsea, and it follows the story of a shepherd boy on a remote island who grows into a wise and powerful wizard.

Magic schools, reckless youths growing into wise men, unique and intriguing magic systems; The Earthsea Cycle has (and invented) many of the genre’s beloved tropes.

Le Guin was a gift to the genres of science fiction and fantasy, and the landscape of fantasy fiction would look very different without the gifts that she gave us.

If you’ve never read The Earthsea Cycle, it is one of the most important and best fantasy series you’ll ever read.

Buy The Earthsea Cycle here!

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

mistborn brandon sanderson

For years now, Brandon Sanderson has been one of the fantasy genre’s most beloved and celebrated authors. Hand-picked by Robert Jordan’s widow to finish his Wheel of Time series, Sanderson has also created his own vast and exciting fantasy worlds.

Sanderson’s first novel, The Final Empire, was the first in a trilogy which later expanded into an entire series of epic fantasy novels.

This series, known as Mistborn, is a colossal undertaking for any fantasy fan, bolstered by intricate world-building, a satisfying magic system, and so much personal and political growth.

We begin with an empire controlled by an immortal god-like thing known as the Lord Ruler, and a group of underclass slaves who form a rebellion to tear down an empire which has stood for a thousand years.

Mistborn‘s magic system, Allomancy, involved ingesting a burning different metals to awaken certain powers, such as the ability to calm or enrage other people’s emotions, strengthen one’s own body, and move in unique ways.

Reminiscent of Star Wars, with a massive empire to overthrow and powers similar to those granted by the Force, Mistborn is an incredible and vast fantasy series of books that you won’t soon forget.

Buy the first Mistborn trilogy here!

Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls fantasy game of thrones

Frustratingly, this is something of a hidden gem. I say frustratingly because it very much should not be.

Chris Wooding’s series of four steampunk fantasy novels, beginning with Retribution Falls, is a masterful fantasy series that is too often overlooked by fans of the genre.

Perfect for fans of Cowboy Bebop and Firefly, Tales of the Ketty Jay is a heart-pounding, often hilarious thrillride of a fantasy series.

We follow Frey, captain of an airship called the Ketty Jay, crewed by a batch of runaways and ne’er do wells who take on (often illegal) odd and dangerous jobs for money.

The world of this fantasy series is deceptively complex, and important political issues of class and race and explored in poignant allegorical ways.

At its heart, Tales of the Ketty Jay is a series about a found family of miscreants with hearts of gold, going on personal and interpersonal journeys together.

A real masterpiece and a hidden gem of a series; one of the best fantasy series of books I’ve ever read, and one I’ll forever shout from the rooftops about.

Buy Tales of the Ketty Jay here!

The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

prince of thorns

Mark Lawrence turned a lot of heads with The Broken Empire; a series that came into popularity as Game of Thrones was taking off.

This was a moment where fantasy fans new and old were accepting the more gritty, grim, bloody, and sexually explicit side of fantasy fiction.

And The Broken Empire is very much all of these; beginning with a grimdark fantasy trilogy that follows a near-psychopathic antihero on a journey of greed and redemption.

After the trilogy concluded, Lawrence immediately brought fans more of the good stuff, with a new trilogy set in that same world (think The Legend of Korra to The Last Airbender).

This is also a series that, at first, only subtly hints at being a post-apocalyptic world. Slowly but surely, we come to recognise this landscape as a Europe of the far, far future.

A bleak medieval world that should absolutely be explored by fans of grimdark fantasy.

Buy The Broken Empire here!

The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo

shadow and bone leigh bardugo

Leigh Bardugo set the world of YA fantasy on fire with her Shadow and Bone trilogy and its Six of Crows spin-off duology.

While she has also done great things for the world of dark academia with The Ninth House and Hell Bent, she also created a sweeping YA fantasy world with The Grishaverse.

A trilogy and a pair of duologies — that’s plenty of time and space to play with when creating an intricate and exciting fantasy world.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Being YA fantasy, tropes and cliches abound, but this is also a uniquely exciting fantasy world thanks to its pre-revolution Russian influences.

Bardugo wrote a trilogy of novels that is beautiful in its simplicity and execution, before upping the ante with the beloved and wicked Six of Crows duology.

If you want a YA fantasy series to really sink your teeth into and get lost in, Bardugo’s Grishaverse is an absolute must-read.

Buy Shadow and Bone here!

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

The Dark Tower The Gunslinger stephen king

Stephen King is the most successful and renowned horror writer in history, having written such classics as Cujo, The Shining, Carrie, IT, and so many more.

But he also spent several years writing an incredible fantasy epic like no other: a series of eight fantasy novels called The Dark Tower.

Increasing constantly in size, scale, and strangeness, there is nothing in the world of fantasy fiction that even closely resembles the unique world of The Dark Tower.

Beginning as a simple Western-inspired chase through a post-apocalyptic landscape, The Dark Tower quickly descends into a manic multiversal epic journey.

Blending urban fantasy and horror with, as I said, Western and post-apocalyptic aesthetics, The Dark Tower is a truly original and wonderfully bizarre fantasy series.

If you like your fantasy worlds to be strange in ways you can’t even fathom, The Dark Tower is certainly one of the best fantasy series of books for you.

Buy The Dark Tower here!

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

northern lights

British author Philip Pullman turned so many heads for so many reasons when he created the beloved YA urban fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials.

Beginning with Northern Lights, this is a fantasy series set in an alternative version of modern England’s historic city of Oxford.

This is a world of witches and talking armoured polar bears, and a world where parts of our souls live on the outside as our animal-like companions.

His Dark Materials is also an explicitly anti-theistic series of fantasy books, which is one of the reasons that many heads were turned.

As an angry anti-theistic teenager who didn’t grow up reading, His Dark Materials changed me forever, and I can’t thank it enough for that.

There hasn’t been anything quite like His Dark Materials since Pullman wrote it, and so this remains one of the best fantasy series of books ever written.

Buy His Dark Materials here!

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