If you’re a fan of fantasy, you may have heard of a subgenre known as “progression fantasy.” This type of story typically involves characters who gain new skills, powers, or abilities over time, often through rigorous training and hard work. The result is an exciting and engaging journey of self-discovery and personal growth that many readers find irresistible.
Understanding Progression Fantasy
What is Progression Fantasy?
At its core, progression fantasy is all about character development. This genre takes the traditional fantasy tropes of magic, adventure, and exploration and adds a new twist: a focus on the protagonist’s personal growth and self-improvement. Characters in progression fantasy stories may start out as weak or powerless, but through training, perseverance, and determination, they can become incredibly powerful and skilled.
For example, in the popular series “The Kingkiller Chronicle” by Patrick Rothfuss, the protagonist Kvothe starts out as a young orphan living on the streets. However, through his passion for music and his dedication to learning magic, he becomes one of the most powerful and skilled individuals in his world.
Key Elements of Progression Fantasy
There are several key elements that make progression fantasy unique. For one, these stories tend to be very detail-oriented, with a strong emphasis on world-building and magic systems. This attention to detail can make the world feel incredibly rich and immersive for readers.
Another key element of progression fantasy is the use of training and skill-building as a central theme. Characters in these stories often spend significant amounts of time honing their abilities and learning new skills, which can be both entertaining and inspiring for readers.
Finally, progression fantasy typically has a strong underdog theme, with the protagonist starting out as an unknown or underestimated character who goes on to achieve great things. This can be incredibly empowering for readers who may feel like they are facing similar challenges in their own lives.
The Appeal of Progression Fantasy
So why do readers love progression fantasy? For many, it’s the sense of accomplishment and growth that these stories offer. Watching a character overcome their limitations and become stronger and more skilled is incredibly satisfying. Additionally, progression fantasy often features complex and imaginative magic systems that can be incredibly fun to explore.
Furthermore, progression fantasy can offer a sense of escapism for readers. By immersing themselves in a richly detailed and imaginative world, readers can temporarily forget about their own problems and lose themselves in the story.
Overall, progression fantasy is a genre that offers a unique blend of character development, world-building, and underdog themes that can be incredibly compelling for readers. Whether you’re a fan of traditional fantasy or just looking for a new type of story to explore, progression fantasy is definitely worth checking out.
Top Progression Fantasy Series
Progression fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that emphasizes the protagonist’s journey from a weak and powerless character to a strong and skilled hero. Here are some of the top progression fantasy series that you should check out:
The Cradle Series by Will Wight
The Cradle series is a popular and highly regarded progression fantasy series that follows the story of Lindon, a lowly “unsouled” youth who is deemed worthless by his society due to his lack of magic. In this world, magic is everything, and those who possess it are considered superior to those who don’t. However, Lindon refuses to give up and embarks on a journey to become a powerful fighter and prove his worth. The series is known for its imaginative world-building, intricate magic system, and engaging characters.
The world of Cradle is vast and diverse, with different factions and clans vying for power and influence. The magic system is based on the manipulation of vital aura, a type of energy that flows through all living things. Lindon must learn how to harness this energy and use it to his advantage if he wants to survive in this cutthroat world.
The Arcane Ascension Series by Andrew Rowe
The Arcane Ascension series is another popular example of the progression fantasy genre. The series follows the story of Corin Cadence, a young man attending a magical academy who seeks to gain new powers and abilities. In this world, magic is divided into different disciplines, and each discipline has its own set of rules and limitations. Corin must navigate these complexities and overcome various challenges if he wants to become a powerful mage.
The world of Arcane Ascension is filled with mysteries and secrets, and Corin must uncover them if he wants to unlock his full potential. Along the way, he forms alliances with other students and battles dangerous creatures and rival factions. The series is known for its complex magic system and engaging characters.
The Sufficiently Advanced Magic Series by Andrew Rowe
Another Andrew Rowe series, Sufficiently Advanced Magic follows the story of magical academy student Corin Cadence as he seeks to unravel a deadly mystery and unlock new powers. Like Arcane Ascension, this series features complex magic systems and engaging characters. However, Sufficiently Advanced Magic also incorporates elements of dungeon crawling and RPG-style gameplay.
In this world, magic is governed by a set of rules and regulations, and those who break them face severe consequences. Corin must tread carefully as he navigates the dangerous world of magical politics and uncovers the truth behind a sinister conspiracy.
The Mage Errant Series by John Bierce
The Mage Errant series is a popular progression fantasy series that follows the story of Hugh of Emblin, a young man attending a magical academy who seeks to unlock the secrets of magic and uncover a plot against his school. The series is known for its imaginative world-building and engaging characters.
Unlike other magical academies, the one Hugh attends focuses on practical applications of magic rather than theoretical knowledge. Hugh must learn how to use his magic to solve problems and overcome obstacles, all while dealing with the machinations of his enemies.
If you’re a fan of fantasy and love stories about characters who grow and evolve over time, then these progression fantasy series are definitely worth checking out!
Standalone Progression Fantasy Books
Mother of Learning by Domagoj Kurmaic
Mother of Learning is a popular standalone progression fantasy novel that follows the story of Zorian, a mage who is trapped in a month-long time loop. As he relives the same month over and over, Zorian seeks to unravel the mysteries of his world and become more powerful. The novel is known for its complex magic system and engaging plot.
Zorian’s journey is not an easy one. He faces numerous challenges and obstacles as he tries to break free from the time loop. One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is the way it explores the consequences of time travel. Zorian’s actions have far-reaching consequences, and he must be careful not to make mistakes that could have disastrous effects on his world.
The magic system in Mother of Learning is also a highlight of the novel. It is intricate and well thought out, with different types of magic having their own strengths and weaknesses. Zorian must learn to master different types of magic in order to overcome the challenges he faces.
Street Cultivation by Sarah Lin
Street Cultivation is another standalone progression fantasy novel that follows the story of Wei, a martial artist who seeks to become more powerful and gain a position in his clan. The novel is known for its exciting fight scenes and engaging characters.
Wei’s journey is one of self-discovery and growth. He must learn to overcome his own limitations and push himself to become stronger. The novel explores themes of perseverance and determination, as Wei faces numerous setbacks and challenges on his path to greatness.
The fight scenes in Street Cultivation are a particular highlight. They are well-choreographed and exciting, with a focus on strategy and technique rather than brute strength. The novel also delves into the politics of Wei’s clan, adding an extra layer of intrigue and complexity to the story.
The Wandering Inn by Pirateaba
The Wandering Inn is a popular web serial that follows the story of Erin Solstice, a young woman who runs an inn in a fantasy world. Over time, Erin gains new skills and powers as she navigates the unique challenges of her world. The serial is known for its imaginative world-building and engaging characters.
Erin’s journey is one of exploration and discovery. She must learn to adapt to the strange and often dangerous world around her, while also dealing with the challenges of running an inn. The novel explores themes of community and friendship, as Erin forms bonds with the various characters she meets.
The world-building in The Wandering Inn is a standout feature of the serial. The world is rich and detailed, with a wide variety of different races and cultures. The novel also explores the consequences of magic on society, with different groups having different attitudes toward it.
Overall, these three standalone progression fantasy novels offer unique and engaging stories that are sure to captivate readers. Whether you are looking for complex magic systems, exciting fight scenes, or imaginative world-building, there is something here for everyone.
Progression Fantasy in Web Novels and Web Serials
Progression fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literature that focuses on the growth and development of the main character(s) over the course of the story. It often features a unique magic system, and the protagonist(s) typically start out weak and gradually become stronger through training, experience, and the acquisition of new skills and powers.
A Practical Guide to Evil by Erratic Errata
A Practical Guide to Evil is a web serial that has gained a cult following among fans of progression fantasy. The story follows Catherine Foundling, a young woman who dreams of becoming a villain in a world where good and evil are clearly defined. The serial is known for its engaging characters and complex political intrigue.
Catherine is a fascinating protagonist because she defies the typical hero archetype. She’s not afraid to make difficult decisions or get her hands dirty, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals. As the story progresses, we see her grow in both power and cunning, and it’s a joy to watch her schemes unfold.
The Gods are Bastards by D. D. Webb
The Gods are Bastards is another popular web serial that falls under the progression fantasy umbrella. The story takes place in a world where gods and demons are real and follows a group of students at a magical academy as they navigate the dangerous and unpredictable landscape around them.
The world-building in The Gods are Bastards is top-notch. The author has created a richly detailed universe filled with unique creatures, interesting cultures, and complex political systems. The characters are equally well-crafted, each with their own distinct personalities and motivations.
Azarinth Healer by Rhaegar
Azarinth Healer is a web novel that has been praised for its exciting fight scenes and intricate world-building. The story follows Azarinth, a woman with the power to heal who sets out on a journey to become stronger and more powerful.
Azarinth is a compelling protagonist because she’s not content to simply rest on her healing abilities. She’s determined to become a formidable fighter as well, and we see her train and hone her skills over the course of the story. The magic system in Azarinth Healer is also noteworthy, as it’s based on a unique combination of elements and forces that make for some truly epic battles.
In conclusion, progression fantasy is a subgenre that has exploded in popularity in recent years, and web novels and web serials have played a major role in that trend. Whether you’re a fan of political intrigue, epic battles, or richly drawn worlds, there’s sure to be a progression fantasy story out there that will capture your imagination.
What is a progression fantasy book?
This is a subgenre of fantasy that shows the protagonist(s) and their powers/abilities get better, more developed, or more intense over time.
What is the difference between a progression fantasy book and a LitRPG novel?
Progression fantasy concentrates on the development of the characters and/or fantastical setting in some way, whereas LitRPG novels have a distinct video game feel to them.
What is an example of a progression fantasy book?
Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe is a great example of a progression fantasy book.