Here at All Timelines, we love long-form storytelling. As a result, we also love long fantasy series, the more books, the happier we are. A good portion of the traffic we get on this site are people looking to read one of the many series located in our fantasy timelines page. So to help with those recommendations, here are our 11 best fantasy book series recommendation. These range in theme from YA fantasy, to epic fantasy, to urban fantasy. We will try not to pick and choose between subgenres, though we will keep it somewhat clean (sorry Game of Thrones).
Do you disagree with something on this list? Be sure to leave any comments you have below (keep it classy friends). Remember this is just our list, and we’d love to hear yours as well. We hope you enjoy!
If there’s one shared universe that you can get lost in forever, it’s The Forgotten Realms. The series began as a way of fleshing out a popular Dungeons & Dragons setting, but quickly became its own living, breathing story. The series now has over 400 novels or short stories (which you can find listed chronologically on our Forgotten Realms timeline) and a massive fan base. Much of the story focuses on a dark elf character called Drizzt Do’urden, and if you want a narrative that is easier to follow, he’s probably the best character to focus on.
The Dresden Files is a popular urban fantasy series that takes place in Chicago. It focuses on Harry Dresden, a wizard protecting the city of Chicago from various threats including demons, vampires, werewolves, the works. A slightly more adult series, we recommend caution for younger readers.
Where to start: Start at the beginning with Storm Front and continue on from there.
If you want something completely different from your typical fantasy, be sure to pick up books in the Discworld series. The late author Terry Pratchett was a comedic writer, and these books are absolutely hilarious. However, they also maintain a respect for traditional fantasy tropes and Pratchett creates a fantasy world that easily stands on its own despite its comedic farce.
Where to start: We recommend starting with the first book written in the series, The Color of Magic.
The Dark Tower series is kind of a mishmash of multiple genres, including western, dark fantasy, and science fiction. As one would expect from an author like Stephen King, the plot goes into some dark places, but the writing is brilliant. Plus a feature film is in the works starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. So if you haven’t read this series yet, you should.
Where to start: Start with Gunslinger, the first book in the series.
Another massive undertaking, the Malazan Book of the Fallen series spans multiple characters, multiple continents, and thousands of years. If you want something so detailed that it feels real, you should definitely check this series out.
Where to start: Again, we recommend starting at the beginning, with Gardens of the Moon, the first book to be written.
The Shannara series was recently adapted for an MTV series, and has regained some of its old popularity. The series is a massive list of books that also span thousands of years. The twist? Well we’ll let you discover that for yourself. But if you’re looking for an easy-to-read high fantasy series, this is the one for you.
Where to start: There are two good starting places. Either start with the original trilogy, or read the Word and the Void trilogy. The Word/Void trilogy is an urban fantasy that is dramatically different in tone from the rest of the books, but stands on its own, takes place first chronologically, and is a good place to break into Terry Brooks works.
A classic on the level of Lord of the Rings, the Dark is Rising series could be considered the ancestor of modern YA fantasy. The books hold a depth found in few fantasy series, but are still fun and easy to read.
Where to start: There are only five books in this series, so start at the beginning with Over Sea, Under Stone.
If you’re a fan of epic fantasy, you’ve probably at least heard of The Wheel of Time series. Few books series paint a fantasy world that feels so believable. The cultures, magic system, and character development are very authentic, and we highly recommend this series.
Where to start: We recommend starting at the beginning with Eye of the World. After you’ve read at least the first 3 books, then you can go back and read the prequel novel if you want.
Okay, let’s face it. Everyone knows who Harry Potter is. But this is a list about our best fantasy books series, and that list would not be complete without Harry Potter. Plus, this series is starting to expand into a cross-platform experience with original films and theatre productions to compliment the core 7 books.
Where to start: Do we really need to tell you on this one? Start with book one, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Okay we might be cheating on this one a bit. The Cosmere is technically several series of books, including Mistborn, the Stormlight Archives, and Elantris. However, even though these series stand on their own, the careful reader will discover that they are all part of a larger shared universe called the Cosmere. Brandon Sanderson has been praised by his excellent writing, his unexpected plot twists, and his incredibly expansive worlds. Don’t forget to check it out.
Where to start: We recommend starting with the original Mistborn trilogy, then delve into some of the standalones like Elantris and Warbreaker before moving on to tackle some of the big books like The Stormlight Archives.
Of course, at the top of our best fantasy book series list is the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. This series originally captured the essence of modern fantasy. So many of the tropes that he used inspired thousands of writers. By today’s standards many might find the Lord of the Rings tough to get through, but there’s no doubt that Tolkien pioneered the concept of “worldbuilding,” creating worlds that are so detailed they feel real.
Where to start: If you want something more enjoyable and easier to get through, start with The Hobbit, before moving on to the main trilogy.
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