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A complete guide to the best fantasy books ever published

All handpicked by The Weekly…

Looking to escape to an otherworldly reality? Then fantasy is the book genre for you.

Whether you’re a newbie to the genre or consider yourself a fantasy aficionado, we’ve answered any and all questions you may have below.

Oh and we’ve rounded up the best fantasy books that you simply must add to your reading list too!

What is the most selling fantasy book?

The best-selling fantasy book series of all time is the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, selling more than 500 million copies worldwide.

What was the first popular fantasy novel?

JRR Tolkien, the author of the Middle-earth saga, is often regarded as the ‘Father of Fantasy’.

And his book The Lord of the Rings – originally published as three volumes over 1954 and 1955 – is incredibly popular; in fact, it’s one of the best-selling books ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.

However, many consider The King of the Golden River, by John Ruskin and published in 1851, as the first popular fantasy book.

The King of the Golden River follows Gluck, who – along with his two, cruel older brothers – learns how to turn the Golden River into real gold.

Ultimately, the book illustrates that prioritising money over people can only lead to trouble.

What are the best fantasy books of all time?

This is really a matter of opinion; meaning there’s no one correct answer.

However, I’ve listed some of my favourite fantasy books below:

the cover of the name of the wind, one of the best fantasy books

01

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind is the first book of the The Kingkiller Chronicle, a planned fantasy trilogy. It is a fantastic book – the characters are incredibly well-developed (especially the protagonist Kvothe), the worldbuilding is magically intricate and thorough, and the writing is wonderfully descriptive; almost poetic.

However, while I highly recommend this to those looking for a good fantasy book, I must warn you that, as of 2024, the trilogy is incomplete. The Name of the Wind was released in 2007 and its sequel The Wise Man’s Fear was released in 2011 but there’s no word on when (or if) the third book – titled The Doors of Stone – will be released.

the cover of the night circus, one of the best fantasy books

02

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book centres around the magical circus, Le Cirque des Rêves. To really simplify the plot, two of its performers, Celia and Marco have both been trained since childhood to compete against each other in the “game” – a duel, that unbeknownst to Celia and Marco, will only end when one of them is dead.

Ultimately, the setting is what makes The Night Circus such a wonderful fantasy book; Le Cirque des Rêves is enchanting and you’ll wish it was a real circus you could visit. Plus, while you’ll enjoy The Night Circus on your first read, it’s infinitely better the second time as you’ll pick up on several brilliant but extremely nuanced plot points.

the cover of a game of thrones, one of the best fantasy books

03

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

The book that inspired the widely popular and award-winning television series of the same name, A Game of Thrones is the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Set in a Medieval-like time period, A Game of Thrones is told from the perspective of eight of the main characters – Lord Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark, Lady Catelyn Stark, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister and Princess Daenerys Targaryen.

There are a lot of characters in this book but they are somehow all well-formed. Plus, A Game of Thrones isn’t formulaic or filled with fantasy cliches; there’s no hero male character who goes on a coming-of-age-journey to defeat the big bad.

Furthermore, no-one is safe; the main characters can and will be killed off. However, like The Name of the Wind, the final two books in this series are yet to be released so, be warned that if you start A Game of Thrones and then read the four books that were released after it, you’ll have to wait a while for the conclusion.

Or stream Game of Thrones now on BINGE from $10/mth, with a 7-day free trial.

the cover of fourth wing, one of the best fantasy books

04

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

The first book in the Empyrean series, Fourth Wing follows Violet Sorrengail. Violet is a twenty-something-year-old who begins attending Basgiath War College. Initially, she has plans to join the Scribe Quadrant, where students are expected to record history and protect the archives.

However, she is forced to join the deadly Riders Quadrant – where students are trained to fight on dragon-back – by her mother, a military general. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the fantasy genre, Fourth Wing is the perfect book for you. But if you’re a fantasy connoisseur, be warned that it’s a little formulaic. With that being said though, Fourth Wing is fast-paced, action-packed, and fleshed out when it comes to the worldbuilding.

the cover of american gods

05

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

What makes American Gods so enjoyable is the concept; old gods (like Odin, Czernobog and Ganesha) have begun losing their powers as less and less people believe in them and new gods (embodiments of what most Americans now inadvertently worship, like technology, television and the stock market) have sprung up.

The main plot of the book follows Shadow, an ex-convict who begins working as a bodyguard for Mr Wednesday – a mysterious con man. Ultimately, Shadow learns that Mr Wednesday is actually the Norse god Odin and plans to recruit other old gods before waging war on the new gods.

The plot of American Gods is much more nuanced and complex than that but we can’t say anything further without giving it all away. Well-written, thrilling and a wonderful critique of modern-day America, American Gods is a must-read for fantasy lovers.

Or stream American Gods on Prime Video from $6.58/mth, with a 30-day free trial.

the cover of the lion, the witch and the wardrobe

06

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

It’s a classic for a reason. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is simply a pleasure to read. The book, which is the first in The Chronicles of Narnia series (at least, in publishing order. In chronological order, it’s second), follows the four Pevensie children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy – as they discover a wardrobe that leads to the magical land of Narnia.

Once there, the siblings must help a powerful and wise lion named Aslan save Narnia from the White Witch’s evil enchantment. I will admit that the book’s a little preachy at times and the allegory for Christianity is very apparent, but ultimately, the quality of writing is exceptional and the Pevensie characters are wonderfully developed; meaning the book is well-worth your time.

Or stream Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe now on Disney Plus from $13.99/mth.

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