Discover the 9 Best Fantasy Action Books to Read Now

Fantasy action books have a long, rich history filled with incredible stories that whisk us away to distant lands, introduce us to unforgettable characters, and leave us craving more. As one of the most popular genres in literature, there’s no shortage of great reads to choose from. In this article, we’ll dive into the origins of fantasy action literature, highlight ten must-read books, explore different subgenres, and discuss the art of worldbuilding and the importance of memorable characters.

Discover the 9 Best Fantasy Action Books to Read Now

The Origins of Fantasy Action Literature

The roots of fantasy action literature can be traced back to ancient mythology and folklore. These tales of gods, heroes, and fantastic creatures inspired the imaginations of countless future writers. From the epic tales of the Greek gods and heroes to the legends of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, these stories have captivated audiences for centuries.

As the genre evolved, it began to incorporate more diverse influences, drawing from a wide range of cultural traditions and literary styles. In the Middle Ages, chivalric romances like “Tristan and Isolde” and “The Song of Roland” introduced elements of courtly love and adventure to the fantasy genre. Later, epic poems like “Beowulf” and “The Odyssey” added new layers of depth and complexity to the genre.

The Evolution of the Genre

Fantasy action as a distinct category really took off in the 19th and 20th centuries, with writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, and C.S. Lewis paving the way. With their groundbreaking stories and richly imagined worlds, these authors helped to define the genre and set the stage for generations of writers to come.

Tolkien, in particular, is often credited with creating the modern fantasy genre with his epic high-fantasy novel, “The Lord of the Rings.” This sweeping tale of hobbits, wizards, and dark lords captured the imaginations of readers around the world and inspired countless imitators and adaptations.

Meanwhile, Howard’s Conan the Barbarian series and Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia introduced new elements of action and adventure to the genre, expanding its scope and appeal.

The growing popularity of tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons in the mid-to-late 20th century also played a role in the genre’s evolution. These games allowed players to create their own characters and explore richly detailed fantasy worlds, inspiring many authors to further explore the possibilities of fantasy action storytelling.

Today, the genre is more diverse and expansive than ever before. As new authors bring fresh perspectives and ideas, the boundaries of fantasy action continue to stretch and evolve.

Key Influences and Pioneers

Beyond mythology and folklore, fantasy action has been influenced by a wide range of sources, from medieval romances and epic poetry to Victorian adventure novels and pulp magazines. Some of the key pioneers in the genre include Lord Dunsany, whose imaginative tales opened up new possibilities for other writers, and H.P. Lovecraft, whose cosmic horror stories featured elements of dark fantasy that would become staples of the genre.

Other significant influences include Edgar Rice Burroughs, who created the iconic character Tarzan and the world of Barsoom in his Mars series. These pioneers helped shape the modern landscape of fantasy action, inspiring countless authors and leaving an indelible mark on the genre.

As the genre continues to evolve, it is clear that its roots in mythology and folklore will always be a key part of its identity. From the gods and heroes of ancient Greece to the dragons and wizards of modern fantasy, the stories of fantasy action will continue to capture our imaginations and transport us to new and exciting worlds.

Top 10 Must-Read Fantasy Action Books

With so many incredible titles to choose from, it can be challenging to decide where to begin your fantasy action reading journey. To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of ten must-read books, with a mix of classic titles and modern masterpieces.

Classic Titles for Every Fan

If you’re a fan of fantasy action books, then you’re probably familiar with some of the genre’s classic titles. These books have stood the test of time and continue to captivate readers of all ages.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – This timeless classic follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who embarks on a dangerous journey to reclaim a treasure stolen by a dragon.

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lew

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The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis – This beloved series takes readers on a journey to the magical land of Narnia, where they’ll encounter talking animals, mythical creatures, and epic battles between good and evil.

The Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks

The Sword of Shannara

The Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks – This epic series follows the adventures of a group of heroes as they battle to save their world from an evil warlock.

Conan the Barbarian stories by Robert E. Howard

Conan the Barbarian stories by Robert E. Howard – These classic tales follow the adventures of Conan, a fierce warrior who battles monsters, sorcerers, and other foes in a savage and brutal world.

Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey

The Dragonriders of Pern: Dragonflight Dragonquest The White Dragon (Pern: The Dragonriders of Pern)

Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey – This imaginative series takes readers to the world of Pern, where they’ll encounter dragons, telepathic bonds, and epic battles against a deadly enemy.

Modern Masterpieces in the Genre

While the classics are always worth reading, there are also many modern masterpieces in the fantasy action genre that are sure to captivate readers.

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

A Song of Ice and Fire

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin – This epic series has become a cultural phenomenon, thanks to its complex characters, intricate plotlines, and shocking twists and turns.

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Wheel of Time

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – This sprawling series follows a group of heroes as they battle to save their world from an ancient evil.

The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson

The Stormlight Archive

The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson – This imaginative series takes readers to a world of magic, where they’ll encounter powerful beings, epic battles, and complex characters.

The Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss

The Kingkiller Chronicle

The Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss – This series follows the adventures of Kvothe, a legendary hero who must battle to save his world from a deadly threat.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – This gripping novel introduces readers to Kvothe and his world, setting the stage for an epic series that is sure to captivate readers for years to come.

Whether you’re a fan of classic titles or modern masterpieces, there’s no shortage of incredible fantasy action books to choose from. So why not dive into one of these amazing titles today and embark on an unforgettable reading journey?

Exploring Different Subgenres of Fantasy Action

The broader genre of fantasy action contains numerous subgenres, each with its own unique elements and appeal. By taking a closer look at some of these subgenres, you can discover even more fantastic worlds and stories to enjoy.

High Fantasy and Epic Adventures

High fantasy, also known as epic fantasy, often features grand tales of adventure and heroism in richly-constructed secondary worlds. The stakes are high, with the fate of entire civilizations hanging in the balance. Books like The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan are prime examples of high fantasy, where mighty heroes embark on epic quests to battle evil and save their worlds.

Urban Fantasy and Supernatural Thrills

Urban fantasy blends elements of fantasy action with a modern, city-based setting, often featuring supernatural creatures that secretly live among us. Books like The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher and the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne are great examples of urban fantasy, with action-packed stories that bring magic and danger into the contemporary world.

Dark Fantasy and Horror Crossovers

Dark fantasy combines the fantastical elements of the genre with a darker, more horror-like atmosphere. These stories often explore the grimmer side of magic and supernatural beings, with morally ambiguous characters and mature themes. Examples of dark fantasy include The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie and The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence.

The Art of Worldbuilding in Fantasy Action

One of the most crucial aspects of a compelling fantasy action story is its worldbuilding. The ability to create an immersive, believable world that captivates readers is a vital skill for any fantasy author. Let’s delve into some key components of worldbuilding in the genre.

Crafting Unique and Immersive Settings

A well-realized setting can be as important as the characters and plot in a fantasy action story. The best authors create worlds rich in detail and history, with distinct landscapes, cultures, and mythologies. They weave elements of their settings into the very fabric of their stories, making the world feel like a living, breathing entity all its own.

Developing Engaging Magic Systems

Another essential aspect of worldbuilding in fantasy action is the creation of engaging magic systems. The rules and limitations of magic in a story can make the difference between an exciting, immersive world and one that feels clichéd or unbelievable. Many authors, such as Brandon Sanderson, are known for their intricate, well-developed magic systems that add depth and complexity to their narrative.

Memorable Characters and Relationships in Fantasy Action

No fantasy action story is complete without memorable characters and engaging relationships. These elements draw the reader into the adventure, making the struggles, triumphs, and growth of the characters feel all the more poignant and relatable.

Heroic Protagonists and Their Journeys

The very heart of a great fantasy action story is its protagonist. Often set on a heroic journey, these characters face trials and tribulations that test their strength and courage. As they overcome obstacles and grow into their destinies, readers can’t help but be drawn into their tale. Examples of such protagonists include Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings and Daenerys Targaryen from A Song of Ice and Fire.

Complex Villains and Their Motivations

Equally important as the heroes are the villains in a fantasy action story. A compelling antagonist can elevate the stakes and add depth to a tale. The best villains are complex characters with understandable motivations, rather than one-dimensional evil beings. Think of Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter or Sauron from The Lord of the Rings – they are compelling characters because of their well-developed motivations and unique personalities.

The Importance of Side Characters and Allies

Finally, the supporting cast of characters in a fantasy action story can provide essential depth and color to the narrative. Well-developed side characters and allies bring the world to life and often play pivotal roles in the story. They can offer insight, humor, and camaraderie, making the journey all the more engaging and believable.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of the genre or a newcomer eager to explore, there’s a wealth of fantastic fantasy action books waiting to be discovered. From classic masterpieces to modern gems, the adventures are endless – so dive in and let these incredible stories transport you to other worlds and thrilling experiences.


Are standalone fantasies better than fantasy series?

It comes down to personal preference. Some readers prefer to dive into a richly detailed story that spans multiple books, whereas other people want a more concise, tightly written narrative.

Do all fantasy books include action?

No, not necessarily. In recent years, cozy and clean fantasies have grown in popularity. These narratives rarely include violence and instead, focus on plots with lower stakes.

What age range are fantasy action books appropriate for?

There are fantasy action books for every age range. From middle-grade to young adult and adult fiction, there is a wide range of age-appropriate fantasy action books for every reader.

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Eddison Monroe
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