The best fantasy series know how to help you escape the dull reality of your everyday life. The best epic fantasy series, however, know how to immerse you, keep you on the edge of the seat, and present a whole action-packed world. With these criteria in mind (and more) we’ve conducted a list containing the best epic fantasy series ever put on paper. The entries are in no particular order, mostly because they’re all so great and unique it would almost feel unfair to pin them against each other.
Photo Courtesy of New Line Cinema
At the end of the list, if you haven’t read all of these incredible series, you might need to reconsider.
#1 “Lord Of The Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien
You knew it was coming, folks. Lord Of The Rings is pretty much equivalent to “epic fantasy” and this says a lot about the influence Tolkien’s mightiest creation had on literature. The quest to destroy the One Ring to Rule them All propelled the series to one of the bestselling books of all time. What’s more, as we all know, the series also benefitted from a cinematic trilogy which turned out to be just as acclaimed by critics.
#2 “A Song Of Ice And Fire” by George R.R. Martin
Albeit strongly inspired by Tolkien’s works, Martin took the medieval fantasy concept and made it his own. His book series stands as foundation for HBO’s critically acclaimed and Emmy-winning Game Of Thrones. So, if you’ve watched the show and enjoyed it, Martin’s books are an absolute must. Since many details are changed in the show, you’ll enjoy reading about novel things you probably knew nothing about. And the best part? The series is still ongoing.
#3 “Malazan Book Of The Fallen” by Steven Erikson
Published between 1999 and 2011, Malazan Book Of The Fallen is one of the best epic fantasy series around despite it, arguably, not getting as much exposure as the aforementioned. Erikson managed to create an immersive and deeply detailed universe, kept alive by its intricate and well-thought storytelling methods. The series offers the perspective of multiple characters, spanning across thousands of years and multiple continents.
#4 “The Kingkiller Chronicle” by Patrick Rothfuss
The best epic fantasy series could also be the ones currently under development, right? A good example is Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle, which is an ongoing trilogy started in 2007. It details the adventures and life story of Kvothe, a famous musician seeking to become a legendary magician. The story is spanned across two plans: present, where Kvothe is telling the story of his deeds at Waystone Inn, and past, where said deeds are actually unfolding.
#5 “The Chronicles Of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
A resonating name among the best epic fantasy series, The Chronicles Of Narnia have the advantage of being available to a wider demographic. Lewis’ seven-book franchise is the perfect read for children who want a dazzling and immersive introduction into the genre. But, hey, they’re not too shabby for adults either. After all, they’re so popular for a reason.
#6 “The Stormlight Archive” by Brandon Sanderson
Even though there are only two books so far, Sanderson’s franchise seems promising already. It incorporates everything you’d expect from a traditional epic fantasy genre. You’ll get big swords, huge battle sequences, journeying, and everything that you’d love in an RPG, basically. If you’re put off by really long and wordy books then we’re not sure The Stormlight Archive is the best choice since two books feel like four. But if you ask us, they’re totally worth it.
#7 “The Wheel Of Time” by Robert Jordan
Initially planned as a six-book series, The Wheel Of Time ended up spanning across fourteen whole installments. Author Robert Jordan started his work on the novels in 1984 and published the first book in the series in 1990. While he was working on the twelfth entry in the franchise, Jordan died abruptly in 2007. Thanks to the guidance notes left behind, the aforementioned Brandon Sanderson picked up Jordan’s work and finished the series by writing and publishing the last three books.
#8 “The Dagger And The Coin” by Daniel Abraham
The series started in 2011 and it’s currently ongoing. Although it didn’t get spectacular exposure, we feel like it has all the possibilities to become an instant cult classic. Abraham’s The Dagger And The Coin franchise displays the aftermaths of the rise to power of a number of people who don’t know what to do with it. Many consider the series to be one for the “sharp thinking man” as it exploits certain moral grounds.
It’s very likely that you’ve read at least some of the best epic fantasy series out there. But if you haven’t gotten around to checking out the rest of the entries on this list, we wholly recommend it.