Discover the 8 Best Fantasy Books for Adults

Fantasy books have captivated readers of all ages for centuries, transporting them to magical realms filled with adventure, intrigue, and unforgettable characters. While many associates this genre with children’s literature, numerous fantasy novels are just as enthralling for adult readers. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the popularity of fantasy books among adults, delve into the different subgenres of fantasy, and give you a list of the top 8 fantasy novels that every adult should read.

Discover the Best Fantasy Books for Adults

Why Fantasy Books Are Popular Among Adults

There are several reasons why fantasy books hold a special place in the hearts of many adult readers. Whether it’s the drive to escape reality or the draw of exploring complex themes, fantasy literature has something for everyone. Let’s explore some of the reasons why fantasy books continue to captivate adult readers.

Escapism and Imagination

Fantasy novels provide an immersive experience, transporting readers to worlds where magical creatures roam free, and heroes embark on epic quests. The limitless nature of the genre allows readers to experience emotions and adventures far removed from their everyday lives, providing a welcome reprieve from the pressures and stresses of reality. The vividly concocted realms simultaneously challenge and expand the reader’s imagination, keeping them engaged and enthralled with each turn of the page.

For instance, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling takes readers on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a magical world that is hidden from the non-magical world. The series has captivated millions of readers worldwide, with its intricate world-building, compelling characters, and thrilling plot twists.

Complex Themes and Characters

Adult-oriented fantasy stories often delve into intricate themes that transcend the boundaries of the magical worlds they inhabit. Explorations of morality, politics, religion, and human nature can be interwoven with the fantastical elements, giving readers food for thought on both a personal and a societal level. Moreover, fantasy novels often feature complex and multi-layered characters, who navigate moral ambiguity, face difficult choices, and develop over time. This depth of character and theme provides the emotional resonance and intellectual stimulation for adult readers.

Take, for example, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, which explores themes of power, loyalty, and morality in a medieval-inspired world full of political intrigue, magic, and dragons. The series features a vast array of characters, each with their own motivations, flaws, and desires. The series has been adapted into the popular TV show Game of Thrones, which has a massive following worldwide.

Nostalgia and Connection

For many adults, reading fantasy novels can evoke feelings of nostalgia, bringing back cherished memories of their youth when they first discovered the wonders of fantastical stories. As they continue to enjoy the genre into adulthood, it maintains a unique connection between their past and present selves. The enchanting world of fantasy can act as a bridge to the innocence and joys of childhood, grounding adults in a shared sense of wonder and sparking their imaginations once more.

For instance, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy has been a beloved classic for generations of readers. The books have been adapted into several successful movies, which have introduced the world of Middle Earth to a whole new generation of fans. The books and movies have created a shared cultural experience that has brought together fans of all ages and backgrounds.

In conclusion, fantasy books have a special place in the hearts of many adult readers. Whether it’s the drive to escape reality, the draw of exploring complex themes, or the nostalgia and connection to childhood, fantasy literature has something for everyone. So, pick up a fantasy book today and let yourself be transported to a magical world full of adventure and wonder.

The Different Subgenres of Fantasy

The world of fantasy literature is vast and varied, encompassing numerous subgenres that cater to different tastes and interests. Understanding these subgenres can help readers discover new stories that appeal to their specific preferences. Fantasy literature is a genre that has been around for centuries and has evolved over time to include a wide range of subgenres that cater to different readers. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular subgenres of fantasy.

Epic Fantasy

Epic fantasy, also known as high fantasy, is characterized by its grand scope and sprawling narratives, often taking readers on epic adventures across otherworldly realms. These tales feature heroic protagonists on far-reaching quests against great odds, frequently involving the battle between good and evil. Complex world-building, intricate plotlines and large-scale conflicts are hallmarks of this subgenre. J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” series and George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” are prime examples of epic fantasy.

Epic fantasy is a subgenre that has captured the imagination of readers for generations. The intricate world-building and complex plotlines make it a favorite among readers who enjoy getting lost in a fantastical world. The battle between good and evil is a common theme in epic fantasy, and readers are often drawn to the heroic protagonists who are willing to risk everything to save their world.

Urban Fantasy

Urban fantasy seamlessly blends the magical with the mundane, often taking place in urban settings. This subgenre frequently features supernatural creatures coexisting with humans in contemporary cities, creating a sense of familiarity and contrast for readers. Intriguing plots, attractive characters, and elements of mystery and romance are common in urban fantasy stories. Popular examples include Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” and Cassandra Clare’s “Shadowhunters” series.

Urban fantasy is a subgenre that has gained popularity in recent years. The combination of supernatural creatures in familiar urban settings creates a unique and intriguing world for readers to explore. The elements of mystery and romance add an extra layer of excitement to the stories, and readers are often drawn to the attractive and complex characters.

Dark Fantasy

Dark fantasy is a fascinating hybrid of fantasy with elements of horror, painting a bleak and menacing picture of the supernatural world. This subgenre is marked by its grotesque and unsettling narratives, often exploring the darker side of human nature and the supernatural realm. Memorable examples of dark fantasy titles are Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast” series and Clive Barker’s “Abarat.”

Dark fantasy is a subgenre that is not for the faint of heart. The grotesque and unsettling narratives can be disturbing, but they also provide a unique and thrilling reading experience. The exploration of the darker side of human nature and the supernatural realm is a common theme in dark fantasy, and readers are often drawn to the complex and flawed characters who inhabit this world.

Magical Realism

Magical realism is a unique blend of fantasy and literary fiction, intertwining magical elements with the everyday realities of life. This subgenre often focuses on the human experience, using magical elements as an allegory to examine issues such as love, loss, and personal growth. Notable examples of magical realism include Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children.”

Magical realism is a subgenre that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. The magical elements are seamlessly woven into the everyday realities of life, creating a world that is both familiar and fantastical. The focus on the human experience and the use of magical elements as an allegory make magical realism a thought-provoking and emotional reading experience.

Historical Fantasy

Historical fantasy is a genre that merges fantastical elements with accurate historical settings, bringing a fresh perspective to well-known historical events and periods. These fantastical retellings often incorporate magic, mythical creatures, and supernatural occurrences, while maintaining the authenticity of the era being chronicled. Examples include Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” and Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.”

Historical fantasy is a subgenre that provides a unique and exciting twist on well-known historical events and periods. The incorporation of magic, mythical creatures, and supernatural occurrences adds a fantastical element to the stories while maintaining the authenticity of the era being chronicled. Readers who enjoy history and fantasy will find historical fantasy to be a perfect blend of the two genres.

In conclusion, the world of fantasy literature is vast and varied, offering something for every reader. Whether you prefer epic adventures, urban settings, dark and unsettling narratives, magical realism, or historical events with a fantastical twist, there is a subgenre of fantasy that will appeal to your interests. So explore the world of fantasy and discover new stories that will transport you to otherworldly realms and capture your imagination.

As one of the most highly acclaimed fantasy novels of recent years, “The Name of the Wind” is a must-read for any fan of the genre. The story follows the life of Kvothe, a legendary wizard and musician, as he recounts his adventures and struggles to a chronicler. With beautiful prose and a richly detailed world, this book is sure to captivate readers from beginning to end.

“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

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No list of top fantasy books would be complete without this classic trilogy. Tolkien’s masterful storytelling and world-building have inspired countless other authors and shaped the fantasy genre as we know it today. Readers will be swept away by the epic tale of Frodo and his companions as they journey across Middle-earth to destroy the One Ring.

You can find this book here.

“The First Law” trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

The First Law Trilogy

For readers who enjoy dark and gritty fantasy, “The First Law” trilogy is a must-read. Set in a violent and brutal world, the story follows a diverse cast of characters as they navigate political intrigue, war, and betrayal. Abercrombie’s writing is both visceral and thought-provoking, making this series a standout in the genre.

“The Broken Empire” trilogy by Mark Lawrence

The Broken Empire

This series is a perfect choice for readers who enjoy antiheroes and morally ambiguous characters. The story follows Jorg Ancrath, a ruthless and cunning prince who will stop at nothing to gain power and exact revenge. Lawrence’s writing is sharp and engaging, and the world-building is both dark and fascinating.

You can find this book here.

“The Malazan Book of the Fallen” series by Steven Erikson

Malazan Book of the Fallen

This epic series is known for its sprawling scope and complex storytelling. Set in a vast and detailed world, “The Malazan Book of the Fallen” follows a large cast of characters as they navigate war, politics, and magic. Erikson’s writing is both poetic and brutal, making this series a challenging but rewarding read.

“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman

American Gods

Blending mythology, fantasy, and Americana, “American Gods” is a unique and captivating novel. The story follows Shadow, a recently released convict, as he becomes embroiled in a conflict between the old gods of mythology and the new gods of modern society. Gaiman’s writing is both witty and insightful, making this book a standout in the genre.

“The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch

Gentleman Bastard

This fast-paced and thrilling novel follows the exploits of Locke Lamora, a master thief and con artist, as he navigates the dangerous underworld of the city of Camorr. With a cast of colorful characters and a gripping plot, “The Lies of Locke Lamora” is a must-read for fans of heist stories and fantasy.

“The Magicians” trilogy by Lev Grossman

The Magicians

This series is a unique blend of fantasy and literary fiction, exploring the lives of a group of college students who discover a magical world hidden within our own. With complex characters and a nuanced exploration of the nature of magic, “The Magicians” is a must-read for anyone looking for a fresh take on the genre.

“The Stormlight Archive” series by Brandon Sanderson

The Stormlight Archive

This epic series is set in a detailed and fascinating world, with intricate magic systems and rich history. The story follows a diverse cast of characters as they navigate a world on the brink of war and unravel the mysteries of their past. Sanderson’s writing is both engaging and accessible, making this series a great starting point for readers new to the genre.

You can find this book here.

These 8 fantasy books for adults are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the range of stories and subgenres available in the world of fantasy. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the genre, there’s sure to be a book on this list that will capture your imagination and transport you to new and exciting worlds.


Why should adults read fantasy?

Fantasy books are a great form of escape that many adults find beneficial, particularly if they’re enduring huge amounts of stress or want to rid themselves of the boring 9 to 5.

Can adults read YA fantasy?

Although YA books are tailored for younger readers, many adults still enjoy the characters and plot lines in these books. Don’t restrict yourself because you think you may be too young for certain books!

What’s the best fantasy book for adults?

That all depends on opinion. George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones series is a popular epic fantasy, but the works of Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman have all been favorites among adults.

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