10 Best Fantasy Book Series Ever (2024)

As any avid reader will tell you, the fantasy genre is overflowing with top-shelf fantasy series – but which of these sagas represents the cream of the crop? Below are our picks for the 10 best fantasy book series ever.

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Related: What Is The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum?

But first, here are 10 honorable mentions (in no particular order) that didn’t quite make the cut:

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia
  2. Temeraire
  3. Harry Potter
  4. His Dark Materials
  5. The Riftwar Saga
  6. Broken Earth
  7. The Poppy War
  8. The Kingkiller Chronicle
  9. The Realm of the Elderlings
  10. The First Law

10. The Dark Tower

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Stephen King’s eight-novel magnum opus The Dark Tower straddles more than one genre. That said, for all its Western trappings and segues into horror, at heart, gunslinger Roland Deschain’s quest for the Dark Tower is a fantasy yarn. There are magical doorways, alternate universes, diabolical crystal balls, and sinister dark lords. Heck, Roland himself is even related to his world’s King Arthur!

As such, it’s a sweeping epic that’s equal parts Lord of the Rings and A Fistful of Dollars that also ties together King’s wider bibliography to dazzling effect. Best of all, King populates The Dark Tower with an ensemble of compelling characters – not least of all flawed protagonist, Roland. Collectively, they’ll carry you through the series’ more bonkers meta-moments all the way to its harrowing finale.

9. The Green Bone Saga

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Looking for a crime-infused fantasy book series? The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee has you covered. Starting with award-winning 2017 installment Jade City, Lee weaves a thrilling, martial arts action-infused tale of warring gangster families. Picture The Godfather meets Hong Kong cinema with magic thrown into the mix, and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.

Indeed, The Godfather‘s influence looms large over Jade City and its sequels. Yet Lee avoids charges of mimckry with the finesse of a Green Bone Warrior, building a universe that easily distinguishes itself from Mario Puzo’s mafia underworld. By the time you’re done with The Green Bone Saga, you’ll know the history and culture of the Kekoneseand their international rivals inside and out! It’s not all about scope, though – Lee makes plenty of room for human drama in the series, too.

8. The Wheel of Time

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Of the many entries on this list of the best fantasy book series ever, Wheel of Time is easily one of the most substantial in terms of sheer page count. Robert Jordan’s high fantasy saga clocks in at 14 doorstop-sized tomes amounting to just under 12,000 pages! That should give you an idea of the scope of Jordan’s story, which chronicles the exploits of Rand al’Thor – an unassuming farm boy destined to save the world or destroy it – and his ever-expanding roster of allies and enemies.

Admittedly, The Wheel of Time comes dangerously close to losing its way halfway through its run. Jordan’s storytelling grasp starts to outweigh his reach, and the narrative slows to a crawl. Fortunately, Jordan gets things back on track by Book 10, and together with Brandon Sanderson (who took over writing duties following Jordan’s death in 2007) delivers a knockout three-part conclusion to Rand’s journey.

Related: Every Wheel of Time Book, Ranked Worst to Best

7. Malazan Book of the Fallen

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Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is not for the faint-hearted. Aside from its staggering length – 10 core entries, plus a bunch of prequels and spinoffs – this fantasy series is dense. There’s intricate plotting, a ton of fully-realized characters, and layers of nuanced social commentary. Indeed, for many would-be readers, this complexity will lead them to bow out early.

Those who stick with Malazan Book of the Fallen will be glad they did, though. Once you’ve wrapped your brain around the series’ labyrinthine lore, it’s less of a slog – and the narrative and thematic payoffs start piling up. Plus, to Erikson’s credit, early entries in the Malazan canon are largely standalone, so you can take a breather before diving back in!

6. The Earthsea Cycle

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The Earthsea Cycle is that rare beast: a fantasy book series ostensibly aimed at kids that grown-ups will enjoy, as well. Across five novels and a raft of short stories, author Ursula K. Le Guin effortlessly balances young protagonist Ged’s coming-of-age journey with weighty themes like the ethics of power, comic balance, and human mortality. Because of this, The Earthsea Cycle will resonate emotionally and intellectually with readers of any age.

It also offers a unique spin on the genre’s typical dichotomy. Whereas most fantasy epics ultimately boil down to a battle between good and evil, The Earthsea Cycle presents a world in which winning a war isn’t the answer to all life’s problems. Instead, Le Guin’s characters typically grapple with their inner darkness – not external forces – to save the day. It’s a refreshingly sophisticated approach that goes a long way to explaining The Earthsea Cycle‘s enduring appeal.

5. Mistborn

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There’s a reason Robert Jordan’s widow Harriet McDougal recruited Brandon Sanderson to finish The Wheel of Time: the guy’s a great fantasy writer. And arguably his finest contribution to the genre is Mistborn, which is not just one of the best fantasy book series of the last 20 years, but one of the best ever, period. The seven Mistborn novels released to date are all rollicking reads, thanks in no small part to Sanderson’s knack for pay off-driven long-form storytelling.

The scribe also knows a thing or two about designing magic systems. If you’re keen on supernatural forces grounded in clearly defined rules, Mistborn is the series for you. Sanderson’s three branches of metal-based magic are pretty airtight, and reward readers eager to delve into their inner workings. At the same time, Mistborn‘s magic is also simple enough that more casual fans can just sit back and enjoy the books’ cool fights (of which there are many).

4. The Inheritance Trilogy

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N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy – not to be confused with Ian Douglas’ trio of novels of the same name, or Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle – is all about quality over quantity. None of the books are overly long (the most substantial is under 600 pages), and all of them focus on a single setting, the floating city of Sky. This specificity is ultimately one of The Inheritance Trilogy‘s biggest strengths, as it allows Jemisin to dig deep into characters’ relationships and the caste-organized society they’re part of.

Speaking of romance, fans of romance-infused fantasy are well catered for here, too. All three Inheritance Trilogy volumes have plenty of amorous activity, with mortal/god pairings leading the pack. Don’t worry if love-dovey stuff turns you off, though. The Inheritance Trilogy‘s plot has plenty of other drivers, most notably the murder mystery in Book 1, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. So, there’s something for everyone in this fantasy book series.

Related: All Game of Thrones Books, Ranked Worst to Best

3. A Song of Ice and Fire

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The inspiration for HBO’s Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is one of the more delightfully subversive fantasy offerings out there. Indeed, Martin regularly zigs where other writers would zag – including bumping off key characters – as he charts his sweeping saga of warring houses and approaching otherworldly horrors. What’s more, companion works such as Fire & Blood and Tales of Dunk and Egg further add to the richness of Martin’s world.

In fact, the main reason we didn’t rank A Song of Ice and Fire higher is simply because it’s not finished – and with two books still outstanding, risks staying that way. Oh, and Books 4 and 5 (really one mega-tome split in two) weren’t as satisfying as we’d have hoped. Yet A Song of Ice and Fire gets so much right – expect engrossing characters and political entrigue, fiendish plotting, and clever real-world allegory – that even at it’s least effective, it’s impossible to put down.

2. Discworld

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While most of the titles on this list of the best fantasy book series ever boast at least some humor, only one is out-and-out side-splitting: Discworld. The late Terry Pratchett brought a distinctly British comic sensibility to all 41 Discworld novels, taking aim at everything from genre tropes to real-world concerns. The gags come thick and fast, too – even the footnotes are guffaw-inducing.

Yet Discworld isn’t just funny. Pratchett sneaks in some disarmingly affecting character arcs and heady themes alongside all the high and low-brow frivolity. For example, a story about the race to save Discworld‘s Santa surrogate doubles as a commentary on the importance of belief to human existence. What’s more, the books bounce between protagonists, so things never get stale.

1. The Lord of the Rings

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Honestly, how could we not include The Lord of the Rings (as well as J.R.R. Tolkien’s wider Middle-earth legendarium) on this list? Sure, you can quibble over the accessiblity of Tolkien’s more archaic prose, however, we’d argue it’s part of the book’s immersive effect. Besides, no other writer before or since has topped the sheer magnitude of The Lord of the Rings and its associated works’ world-building. Tolkien didn’t cut corners – he devised a detailed faux-history and several functioning languages – resulting in a made-up world that feels utterly real.

But the true secret sauce of Tolkien’s Middle-earth stories isn’t their epic scale – it’s the timelessness of their characters. Whether it’s Bilbo’s coming-of-age in The Hobbit, Frodo’s struggle with temptation in The Lord of the Rings, or the valor and skullduggery that shape an entire world in The Silmarillion, there’s a surprising amount we can relate to, here. Your mileage will vary on Tolkien’s use of song and The Hobbit‘s more juvenile tone, but this is undeniably elite-tier fantasy.

And that’s our picks for the 10 best fantasy book series of all time!

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A Song of Ice and Fire
Lord of the Rings
The Wheel of Time

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10 Best Fantasy Book Series Ever (2024)
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