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.
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
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.
The Realm of the Elderlings 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.
The Wheel of Time 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.
Read More: The Best Romantasy Books
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.
The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. 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.
The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett
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.
The First Law 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.
The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin
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.
Legends of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong
Legends of the Condor Heroes is a long-running fantasy series by Chinese author Jin Yong, beginning with the novel A Hero Born. Lovingly translated into English by Anna Holmwood and Gigi Chang, these books belong to the wuxia genre of Chinese epic fantasy.
Wuxia is a popular style of adventure fiction defined by its focus on martial arts, and this particular series is set in 13th China, while the Jin and Song dynasties were at war.
Our protagonist is Guo Jing, a boy whose father was a legendary warrior and martial artist who is killed by the Jin army as the series begins. Guo Jing is then raised in Mongolia and taught to become a master of martial arts by seven other legendary warriors.
Film fans will be familiar with the movies of Yi-Mou Zhang, director of the wuxia films Hero and House of Flying Daggers. This series of epic fantasy novels is similar in tone and style, and its writing flows with a wonderful fluidity and a gripping pace.
Mistborn by 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.
Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding
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.
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The works of J.R.R. Tolkien, set in the fantasy world of Middle-earth, are often what people first think of when they think “fantasy” in any sense.
For that reason, they’re the most obvious choice (and that’s why they’re not at the very top of this list). But obvious or not, they are a beautiful, revolutionary, expansive, and vital element of the fantasy genre.
Many of us read The Hobbit as children, and if you return to it now you’ll find that the novel remains a truly captivating, charming, and sweeping adventure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
After writing the first ever fantasy novel, Tolkien immeasurably expanded the world of Middle-earth with The Lord of the Rings trilogy: a sweeping saga of war, adventure, and victory over evil.
This is a world of greedy, dragons, of little folk in quiet villages, of immortal elves, angelic wizards, armies of deadly orcs, and so much more.
There has never been, and never will be anything quite like Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and exploring this enormous fantasy series of books from where it began in The Hobbit is a truly unforgettable adventure.
The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski
Most fantasy fans will be familiar with The Witcher, made popular first by a trilogy of video game adaptations from Polish developer CD Projekt RED, and then later adapted to TV by Netflix. It’s an enormous series steeped in lore, with a setting and bestiary inspired by Eastern European folklore.
All of this began with a series of fantasy novels and short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, written throughout the 1990s. The first book in the series, The Last Wish, was translated into English by Danusia Stok and — very much bucking the trend of fantasy books — is a short story collection, rather than a novel.
There are seven stories in this book, with the very first simply being titled The Witcher, and this is where series protagonist Geralt of Rivia was first introduced.
While this collection of stories gives us a satisfying overview of the world and its characters, five novels would eventually follow, collected as The Witcher Saga, and a standalone novel was written several years later.
All in all, fans have a five-novel series, a sixth standalone novel, two short stories collections, a selection of video games, and a TV series to enjoy. The world of The Witcher is vast indeed.
Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson
This magical fantasy series began with the titular Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (or HMRC — get it?), and continues with The Shadow Cabinet and the upcoming Human Rites.
Set in modern day UK, HMRC presents us with an alternative world in which witches and warlocks exist, but few ordinary humans (or “mundanes”) known of their existence.
Around the world, there are covens who answer to their governments, and that of the British Isles is the titular Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (named in respect for secret royal witch Anne Boleyn, not Elizabeth II).
Our protagonists are a group of thirty-something witches living in London and Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. These women were all childhood friends, and their roles as witches have sent them down unique paths.
One is the head of HMRC; another has left to set up her own coven in London for queer and minority ethnic witches. Two others are living relatively peaceful lives up north.
But when a young orphaned warlock is found, one who is extraordinarily powerful, whispers of a doomsday prophecy surface with him, and our protagonists must decide how to deal with him.
It transpires soon enough that this child, Theo, is in fact transgender, which explains his power (witches are always far more powerful than warlocks), and Theo is now being raised and trained with kindness in Hebden Bridge.
After the dramatic conclusion of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, its sequel The Shadow Cabinet continues to expand on Dawson’s excellent wold-building and character growth, raising the stakes and spreading beyond the UK’s borders.
Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is a fantasy series that excels at blending modern-day life with the magical and the impossible. A wonderful adult fantasy series for fans of magic, witchcraft, and urban fantasy.
The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence
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.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
British author C.S. Lewis, friend of fantasy legend J.R.R. Tolkien (above), brought us what is not only one of the best-loved and long-lasting fantasy series’ ever, but also one of the most popular and revered series’ of children’s books.
The Chronicles of Narnia, inspired by Lewis’ own relationship to religion and the stories of The Bible, is a collection of seven fantasy novels for children. While they were written during a specific time, they maintain a timeless quality that still enchants children and adults alike to this day.
Beginning with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, this series begins with four children evacuated to a country estate from London during WWII. There, they find a magic portal that takes them to the fantasy world of Narnia.
While his friend Tolkien was inspired by the folk tales and mythologies, of Europe, Lewis was inspired by the Christian mythos. The first novel’s titular lion, Aslan, represents Jesus Christ, and these stories are allegorical to those found in The Bible.
Green Creek by TJ Klune
TJ Klune is an author of queer adult fantasy known for injecting romance and positivity into his stories, including his breakout hit The House in the Cerulean Sea.
Green Creek, named for the town in which it’s set, is his first full fantasy series, and it begins with Wolfsong, a book which answers the question, “What if Twilight was gay and also actually good?”
Wolfsong follows a boy named Oxnard Matheson (Ox for short). The first thing we see Ox do is say goodbye to his deadbeat dad as he leaves home for good. Soon after, his life is changed by the arrival of strange new neighbours.
Those neighbours are the Bennett family: a mother and father, the father’s brother, and three young sons. (Why Klune chose to name the mother Elizabeth Bennett is beyond me).
It soon transpires that the Bennett family are werewolves, that Ox’s friend and boss Gordo is a witch, and that Ox has become tethered to these people, bound forever to the family’s youngest son, Joe.
Wolfsong is a fantasy romance about gay werewolves, and it is an example of how to blend urban fantasy, romance, and queerness together into something savage, intense, heartbreaking, and sometimes cruel.
This is an expansive fantasy series that switches protagonists from book to book as the narrative grows and the world expands, with Gordo the tattooed witch taking the protagonist role in Ravensong, the series’ second book.
The Grishaverse by 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.
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.
The Dark Tower by 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.
Magic of the Lost by C.L. Clark
This fantasy series, which begins with The Unbroken, is set in a world of empire and rebellion.
The Empire of Balladaire has taken the land of Qazāl, to the south, and many of Qazāl’s children have been taken by the empire to be raised as soldiers.
Touraine is one of those children. Twenty years have passed since she was taken, given a new name, and raised as a fighter by the army of Balladaire. Now, she is a loyal lieutenant.
She and several other conscripts have been sent back to their homeland, along with Luca, the princess of Balladaire, to quash a rising rebellion by freedom fighters in Qazāl.
This rebellion will test Touraine’s loyalties to the empire that stole and raised her.
And muddying these waters further is a growing and complex relationship between her and the princess, who takes a quick liking to Touraine after the soldier foils an assassination attempt on the princess.
Two queer protagonists on opposite sides of a war between colonisers and rebels. A captivating and addictive setup.
Magic of the Lost is a fantasy series that offers the world of epic fantasy a refreshing take: a world of empire and rebellion, deftly presented with drama, tension, and excellent world-building.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
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.