Are you looking for a new high fantasy series? Eager to enter a world of dark magic, ancient evil, and epic heroes? Ready for an unforgettable adventure?
If so, you’re in the right place.
Best high fantasy series to read
The following list includes some best-selling, most immersive, enjoyable fantasy book series.
Whichever series you choose to read next, if it’s one of the following, it will surely be a memorable experience.
The series below are prime examples of skilled world-building, in-depth character development, and the respective authors’ ability to convey more significant themes and messages in the fantasy genre.
1. The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A Salvatore
R.A Salvatore’s epic fantasy series, The Dark Elf Trilogy, consists of three books – Homeland (1990), Exile (1990), and Sojourn (1991). The series is a prequel to Salvatore’s The Icewind Dale Trilogy.
The Dark Elf Trilogy follows our protagonist Drizzt Do’Urden, a dark elf or ‘Drow.’
The Drow are a dark, spider-goddess-worshipping evil sub-race of elves. Though Drizzt comes from the Drow, he does not represent their values.
His values and principles contrast the society and environment in which he grew up.
In The Dark Elf Trilogy, we learn how and why Drizzt escaped the Drow. From Homeland through Exile and to Sojourn, we follow Drizzt on his quest to rise above the conditions he was born in. Drizzt breaks the mold and paves his own way.
“There is no pain greater than this, not the cut of a jagged-edged dagger nor the fire of a dragon’s breath. Nothing burns in your heart like the emptiness of losing something, someone, before you truly have learned of its value.”
2. Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K Jemisin
N.K Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy is a Hugo Award-Winning series consisting of three books – The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky – published between 2015 and 2017.
Jemisin has either won or been nominated for several books and short stories since her first book was published in 2010, and her work is a shining example of modern fantasy fiction.
In line with Jemisin’s work, her Broken Earth series focuses on abuse of power and oppression.
Set on a vast continent called the Stillness, a land ravaged by unforgiving apocalyptic events known as Seasons, the series explores the world of the orogenes – a group of Season survivors who command great power over the Earth and for whom training and treatment by the oppressive authority are brutal.
In the first book of the series, The Fifth Season, Jemisin shows off her award-winning talent with the skillful use of perspective shifts. The reader is offered a first, second, and third-person perspective, creating an immersive reading experience.
“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.”
3. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is a must-read for anyone interested in an against-all-odds, coming-of-age fantasy story set against oppressive authority, incredible magic, shape-shifting animal companions (known as ‘daemons’), and multiple worlds.
His Dark Materials consist of three books:
- Northern Lights (1995) (named ‘The Golden Compass’ in North America)
- The Subtle Knife (1997)
- The Amber Spyglass (2000)
The series follows the protagonist Lyra Belacqua, a young girl living with scholars at Oxford University in an alternate universe. Lyra is a strong-headed and curious young girl, and those qualities lead her into a mystery she could never have foreseen.
Kidnappings, corruption of power, and a magical substance known as ‘dust’ lead Lyra and many other fantastic and rich characters to make Pullman’s His Dark Materials a thoroughly enjoyable and immersive read.
Pullman raises critical questions throughout the series on science and faith, power and oppression, and right action.
The first book in the series, Northern Lights (The Golden Compass), sparked much controversy after its release for the way it tackles the oppressive authority and power of religious organizations.
Pullman claims that his books are not a direct attack on a given religion but rather a take on how too much power leads to corruption and oppression in any such organization.
“Seems to me-” Lee said, feeling for the words, “seems to me the place you fight cruelty is where you find it, and the place you give help is where you see it needed…”
4. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
Unlike most of the other fantasy series on this list, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time spans an impressive fourteen volumes.
It was originally intended to be published as a six-part series, but there are fourteen books in the main series, a prequel, and two other related books.
In book one of the series – The Eye of The World (1990) – we are introduced to the protagonist Rand al’Thor, a young sheepherder from the kingdom of Andor.
On a trip to a nearby town to deliver cider, Rand and his friends hear the news that the Dark One is searching for a young man from the area.
Unsure which of the three friends the Dark One wants, all flee, along with other friends and acquaintances, they meet along the way.
The Eye of the World closely follows Rand and the company’s attempts to escape the agents of the Dark One.
The world of The Wheel of Time is incredibly expansive. Although Rand al’Thor is our protagonist, the series follows many other exciting characters, missions, goals, and locations.
“You can never know everything, and part of what you know is always wrong. Perhaps even the most important part. A portion of wisdom lies in knowing that. A portion of courage lies in going on anyway.”
5. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
The Kingkiller Chronicle is a three-part heroic fantasy series by American novelist Patrick Rothfuss. The first two books in the series, published between 2007 and 2011, are:
The third book in the series – The Doors of Stone – has not yet been released but is initially scheduled for Summer 2022.
In the Name of the Wind, the first book in the series, we are introduced to the protagonist Kvothe. Kvothe made a name for himself as a musician and epic adventurer and now runs an inn under a pseudonym to keep his identity private.
One day, Kvothe meets a scribe at the inn and decides to recount the story of his life to his new friend.
The narrative format of Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind sets it apart from other books in the genre. The story begins with a third person, omniscient narrative, but as Kvothe describes his life story to the scribe, the narrative becomes first-person.
Throughout the narrative, we learn of Kvothe’s adventure-filled past, his travels as a musician and wandering trouper, and his journey to infamy as an arcanist (wizard), nicknamed the ‘Kingkiller.’
“When we are children, we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
6. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson is a renowned fantasy writer and creator of several epic fantasy series. The Stormlight Archive is one of his most famous series, though it’s still unfinished. Sanderson intends to write ten books, and four have been published so far.
The series takes place on the planet Roshar and is set in the same world (the Cosmere universe) as Sanderson’s Mistborn and Warbreaker.
In the first book of the series, The Way of Kings, we follow several characters from different countries on Roshar.
As a potentially cataclysmic event looms, one that would destroy the world as the Rosharans know it, they learn to channel a type of magic known as Stormlight.
Stormlight is a vital part of Sanderson’s intricate magic system and helps the main characters deal with the huge challenge they face.
“And so, does the destination matter? Or is it the path we take? I declare that no accomplishment has substance nearly as great as the road used to achieve it. We are not creatures of destinations. It is the journey that shapes us. Our callused feet, our backs strong from carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experiences lived.”
7. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
No list of the best fantasy novels would be complete without JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Originally published in 1954, this timeless classic fantasy series features three books:
There is a wide array of exciting and fantastical characters in the Lord of the Rings, from Hobbits, Elves, and Dwarves to gold-hoarding dragons, powerful wizards, gruesome Orcs, and the unforgettable Dark Lord Sauron.
The series is set in Middle Earth and opens with Bilbo Baggins, an older Hobbit, giving a ring to his nephew Frodo.
The ring, though small, harnesses great power and quickly corrupts its bearer’s mind. Forged by the Dark Lord Sauron, the ring must be destroyed in Sauron’s fire.
Frodo is a small hobbit faced with a monumental task. The series follows his attempts to destroy the One Ring and the characters and events that define his adventure.
It’s hard to argue against The Lord of the Rings as one of the most remarkable fantasy series.
It remains a favorite among lovers of the genre and is so widely known that it’s popular even among those who don’t usually read or enjoy fantasy novels.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.“
8. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones took the world by storm recently.
The book series, which now consists of five books, was already incredibly popular before it became a globally recognized and loved HBO television series.
Currently, the series features five books, but Martin intends for seven. The five currently published are:
The entire series is dense, filled with complex and detailed characters, immersive settings, and a civil war that doesn’t hold back on bloodshed and violence.
The book’s premise is a war between several noble families as they fight for power over Westeros, the fictional continent in which the series takes place.
As the noble houses – Stark, Arryn, Baratheon, Tully, Greyjoy, Lannister, Tyrell, Martell, and Targaryen – fight for power and who should sit on the Iron Throne, a greater threat looms.
The White Walkers, a race of zombie-like ice creatures, threaten Westeros as a great winter approaches. ‘Winter is coming,’ and the opposing houses must face the terrifying threat.
George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones series is up there with JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as one of the most fantastic fantasy book series ever published.
So far, the series has sold over 90 million copies worldwide and has been translated into forty-seven languages. Its HBO screen adaptation reached an average of 44.2 million viewers per episode by its eighth and final season.
“Sometimes, the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose or even seem to work against you. Remember that, Sansa, when you come to play the game.” “What … what game?” “The only game. The game of thrones.”
Why do readers love to immerse themselves in a fantasy world? What is the immense appeal of the fantasy genre?
For most fantasy lovers, the genre offers a vivid, rich backdrop against which interesting and heroic characters deal with life-changing challenges and obstacles.
Though one may consider fantasy a means of escape, it offers one a chance to explore relevant themes in our world without being so direct.
Pullman’s Golden Compass is one example of a fantasy story taken as an attack on a real institution. Still, you don’t need to dig deep to find such parallels and criticism of power structures in any fantasy novel or series.
Corruption of power and the underdog vs. the authority are some of the most common fantasy tropes.
So, if you love the genre and want to immerse yourself in a new fantasy world of epic battles, magic heroes, and powerful wizards, check out any of the series included above!