If you’ve just closed the cover on The Silmarillion, you’re probably wondering where to go from here. You’re in luck because we have more than 30 books from the 20 best authors like J.R.R. Tolkien ready for you to check out below.
It’s almost impossible to talk about fantasy literature without mentioning J.R.R. Tolkien. Authors will always owe a great debt to The Lord of the Rings, which changed the way the public thought about fantasy. Tolkien’s stories weren’t simple fairy tales for children to listen to at bedtime; these were adult novels dealing with war, trauma, camaraderie, and heartbreak.
Regardless of the fact that most writers don’t imitate Tolkien’s style anymore, and that so much of fantasy literature has moved beyond elves and orcs, you can’t throw a rock today without hitting a book that traces its inspirational lineage back to Tolkien’s oeuvre.
Tolkien was not a particularly prolific author, at least as far as novels go. In fact, that may be the most surprising thing about his career. Check his bibliography on Wikipedia and you’ll notice that the bulk of his work consisted of poetry—which was, admittedly, often related to Middle-earth—and academic essays. Compiled by son Christopher Tolkien, the author’s posthumous publications far outweigh the six books released during his lifetime, at least in terms of page count.
Below, a look at some of Middle-earth’s most famous texts, and 30+ books from the 20 best authors like J.R.R. Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien Books
Tolkien published six books about Middle-earth in his lifetime. They are:
- The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (1937), the prologue to The Lord of the Rings.
- The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), the first book in The Lord of the Rings.
- The Two Towers (1954), the second book in The Lord of the Rings.
- The Return of the King (1955), the third book in The Lord of the Rings.
- The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (1962), a poetry collection.
- The Road Goes Ever On (1967), a collection of Lord of the Rings songs, written with Donald Swann, which is now out of print.
After J.R.R. Tolkien’s death, the author’s son, Christopher Tolkien, edited a number of volumes based on his father’s other writings. These include The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, and The Book of Lost Tales. The most recent Tolkien release, 2022’s The Fall of Númenor, collects the author’s stories of the Second Age of Middle-earth.
Authors Like J.R.R. Tolkien
If you’re a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, read books by these authors next:
Frank Herbert’s Dune saga is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings is to fantasy. In the first installment of this sweeping sci-fi epic, readers meet Paul Atreides, the 14-year-old son of a duke, whose family has been caught in a web of political intrigue. House Atreides has just been given control of Arrakis: the desert planet that serves as the galaxy’s only source of a valuable, mystical spice called melange. When things go sideways for the Atreides, Paul and his mother must flee into Arrakis’ unforgiving desert to seek refuge among the planet’s indigenous tribes.
Juliet Marillier’s six-book Sevenwaters series is a must-read for Tolkien fans. Here, Marillier fleshes out the story of “The Six Swans,” following only-sister Sorcha as she works to save her beloved brothers from a dreadful curse. Sorcha’s adventures begin in Daughter of the Forest.
Fans of The Hobbit in particular will love Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. The series opens with the good creatures of Mossflower Wood teaming up to defend Redwall Abbey from Cluny: a giant, grizzled rat who commands a team of pirates and ruffians. Other books in the series flesh out Redwall Abbey’s history and the further adventures of the small animals who live in Mossflower Wood.
Wesley Chu’s The Art of Prophecy revolves around one singular premise: What if the prophecy that predicted the rise of the Chosen One…was wrong? Here, readers meet Jian, a boy born and raised to defeat an immortal despot called the Eternal Khan. When many begin to suspect that the boy is not the messiah prophesied to save his people, Jian joins forces with three other unlikely heroes—an assassin, a martial arts master, and a soldier without a commander—in a bid to fulfill his destiny.
R.F. Kuang’s Poppy War trilogy is a perfect match for Lord of the Rings fans. The story here centers on Rin, an orphaned girl whose test scores win her a spot at the country’s most prestigious military academy. There, she learns that she has inherited a knack for shamanic magic—a rare and revered talent. Her training could not have come at a better time. War lies just over the horizon. Rin’s home will soon be plunged into a new war…and she may be their only hope for survival.
Tolkien fans are sure to love either of Tasha Suri’s fantasy series. The Burning Kingdoms series follows an exiled princess and her handmaid—who is secretly a priestess from an old religious order—as they team up to take down the princess’ cruel brother. Suri’s earlier novels, The Books of Ambha, center on a young woman whose powerful family wish to use her innate magical abilities for their own ends.
N.K. Jemisin has spent more than a decade writing award-winning science fiction and fantasy. We recommend Tolkien fans begin with her Inheritance trilogy. The story begins in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Yeine is the young chief of a tribe of warrior women, and the daughter of an exiled princess. Now, Yeine’s mother is dead, and the girl’s grandfather has summoned her to a great city to make her his heir. There are more than a few problems with this plan, not least of which is that the king already has two living heirs.
Much has been written about imperialism in The Lord of the Rings. C.L. Clark tackles colonialism and military occupation in The Unbroken. The novel introduces readers to Touraine and Luca: two women who have complicated relationships with the nation they grew up in. One is a soldier, stolen away from her family as a child and forced to return only when people in her homeland begin to push back against occupying forces. The other is a member of the ruling class, desperate to overthrow her uncle and in need of some boots on the ground. Touraine and Luca’s adventures continue in The Faithless.
Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander drew from the same well to write their fantasy stories. Both Tolkien’s Silmarillion and Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain were based on the Welsh Mabinogion: a collection of myths, fairy tales, and early versions of Arthurian legend. The Chronicles of Prydain begin with The Book of Three, in which an Assistant Pig-Keeper sets out on an adventure after his charge—a psychic pig named Hen Wen—goes missing.
G.R. Macallister’s series-starter, Scorpica, introduces readers to the Five Queendoms. The alliances in this confederation of nations become strained when people stop giving birth to daughters. As the years stretch on, the last generation of girls must come together to usher in a new age in their ever-changing world—or die trying.
How about a 15-book series to keep you reading long after your bedtime? Like many fantasy series, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time is all about the struggle between good and evil. It features a massive cast, thousands of years of lore, and a level of worldbuilding and detail Tolkien himself would approve of. The story begins in The Eye of the World.
Vaishnavi Patel’s 2022 debut, Kaikeyi, retells the Ramayana with a focus on one of the story’s villains. The only daughter of an inexplicably banished mother, Kaikeyi was born into a world in which women are little more than pawns and servants to the men in power. She leverages what little power she has in her arranged marriage to gain as much control over her situation as possible. Then Kaikeyi discovers what she’s truly capable of, and all bets are off.
Robin Hobb is ultra-prolific, so allow us to narrow the field for newcomers. We recommend that Tolkien fans start with Hobb’s Farseer and Fitz and the Fool trilogies. Farseer introduces readers to young Fitz, the heir apparent’s bastard nephew, whom the royal family elects to train as an assassin. In Fitz and the Fool, Fitz is a middle-aged man living a quiet, assassination-free life, who is called back into service to protect his daughter, Bee.
K.S. Villoso’s Chronicles of the Wolf Queen tell the story of Talyien, a warrior queen who answers her estranged husband’s invitation, only to find herself caught up in an assassination plot. This is a grimdark high fantasy that anyone looking for a grittier, dirtier version of Middle-earth will enjoy. Beginning in The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, Queen Talyien’s adventures continue in The Ikessar Falcon and The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng.
Guy Gavriel Kay
Tolkien’s Middle-earth has been frequently likened to a foundational mythos for England. That’s hardly a surprise; much of the setting feels like a romanticized version of medieval Britain. Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay writes fantasy novels that are heavily inspired by life in various empires throughout the Middle Ages. We recommend picking up The Lions of Al-Rassan, about members of three different religions living in a nation based on medieval Spain, and Children of Earth and Sky, which takes place in the same world and follows a seemingly random assortment of people whose fates have—unbeknownst to them—become intertwined.
The sheer size of Mercedes Lackey’s oeuvre shouldn’t discourage newcomers from diving in. Her Valdemar books cover several millennia in the fictional country’s history, and they’re just what Tolkien fans need on their nightstands. We recommend starting with the first book in Lackey’s Arrows trilogy. Arrows of the Queen centers on a girl named Talia, who’s rescued from an arranged marriage when she is called to join the Heralds: Valdemar’s force of magical guardians.
Tolkien fans will find much to love in Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty tetralogy, which wrapped up with Speaking Bones in 2022. The series begins with The Grace of Kings, in which a bandit joins forces with a nobleman to take down a tyrannical emperor.
Like Mercedes Lackey, the late Anne McCaffrey wrote lengthy series that readers continue to enjoy today. We recommend starting with Acorna: The Unicorn Girl, a sci-fi novel about a mysterious child with healing powers, co-written with Margaret Ball; The Ship Who Sang, which follows Helva, a woman whose poor prognosis at birth led to her transformation into the brain of a spaceship; and Dragonsong, a Dragonriders of Pern novel in which a girl forbidden from pursuing a career in music finds some unlikely allies hiding just around the corner.
For a vast, sweeping epic on the scale of Lord of the Rings, look no further than Samantha Shannon’s Priory of the Orange Tree. Here, a queen, the spy who serves as her lady-in-waiting, and a dragon-rider from the other side of the world must reckon with the re-emergence of an ancient enemy—one many believe to have been permanently defeated. The story continues in A Day of Fallen Night.
There you have it, folks—more than 30 great books by the 20 best authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, all ready for you to sink your teeth into. Your TBR just got a lot longer.
What book should I read if I liked The Hobbit?
Assuming you’ve already read The Lord of the Rings, you’re sure to love books from plenty of authors on this list. Those who write stories closest to the themes and stylings of The Hobbit include Lloyd Alexander and Anne McCaffrey. Try starting with Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain and McCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy.
Should I read Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion first?
We recommend reading The Lord of the Rings before reading The Silmarillion.
Is Tolkien high or low fantasy?
J.R.R. Tolkien’s work is considered high fantasy.
Is Dungeons & Dragons inspired by Tolkien?
Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax drew from many fantasy novels when writing his long-running tabletop roleplaying game. In a 2000 interview with Lord of the Rings fansite TheOneRing.net, Gygax noted that “Tolkien’s work…had a strong impact on A/D&D games,” adding: “A look at my recommended fantasy books…will show a long list of other influential fantasy authors, though.”
How many books did J.R.R. Tolkien write about Middle-Earth?
Tolkien wrote a lot of stories set in Middle-Earth, including books, poems, songs, and lore. All in all, there is a twelve-volume series containing Tolkien’s Middle-Earth writing.
What is J.R.R. Tolkien’s longest book?
The longest single book Tolkien wrote was The Fellowship of the Ring which has a staggering 187,751 words.
Which books did J.R.R. Tolkien write?
Here is a complete overview of all of his wonderful books, in chronological order of publication date:
1. English Vocabulary (1922)
2. Songs for the Philologist (1936)
3. The Hobbit (1937)
4. On Fairy Stories (1947)
5. Farmer Giles of Ham (1949)
6. The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
7. The Two Towers (1954)
8. The Return of the King (1955)
9. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1961)
10. The Tolkien Reader (1966)
11. Smith of Wootton Major (1967)
12. The Road Goes Ever On (1967)
13. Leaf By Niggle (1969)
14. Bilbo’s Last Song (1974)
15. Sir Gawain, Pearl and Sir Orfeo (1975)
16. The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth (1975)
17. The Father Christmas Letters (1976)
18. The Silmarillion (1977)
19. Pictures by JRR Tolkien (1979)
20. Poems and Stories (1980)
21. Unfinished Tales (1980)
22. The Letters of JRR Tolkien (1981)
23. The Old English Exodus (1981)
24. Mr. Bliss (1982)
25. Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays (1983)
26. Finn and Hengest (1983)
27. The Book of Lost Tales 1 (1983)
28. The Book of Lost Tales 2 (1984)
29. The Lays of Beleriand (1985)
30. The Shaping of Middle Earth (1986)
31. The Lost Road and Other Writings (1987)
32. The Return of the Shadow (1988)
33. The Treason of Isengard (1989)
34. The War of the Ring (1990)
35. Sauron Deafeated (1992)
36. Morgoth’s Ring (1993)
37. The War of the Jewels (1994)
38. The Peoples of Middle Earth (1996)
39. Roverandom (1998)
40. Beowulf and the Critics (2002)
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