Patrick Rothfuss’s trilogy Kingkiller Chronicle has been adored worldwide for years. These books are fully immersive and provide access to a whole new world filled with magic and danger.
These books follow the life of Kvothe, who lives in hiding as a normal man in the countryside. However, Kvothe used to be a wizard, known as the ‘Kingkiller’ and these books tell his story, incorporating assassins, orphans, myths, magic, and adventure.
They are gripping, fast-paced, and action-packed, guaranteed to keep you on your toes. These novels slot into the ‘heroic fantasy’ genre, which comes under the overarching ‘epic fantasy’ genre.
Epic fantasy is a wild, broad-ranging genre that can pretty much cover anything. Epic fantasy books typically center around a quest and incorporate characters that range from witches and wizards to dragons, vampires, and werewolves.
Some of the most famous fantasy novels fit under this bracket, including fantasy masterpieces such as The Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones, both of which will feature on this list.
Epic fantasy is a highly successful genre, encompassing some of the most well-read books ever written and providing stories that have been adapted into some of the highest-grossing films ever made.
There is a fantastic market for epic fantasy novels, mainly because of their ability to merge genres such as sci-fi, adventure, thrillers, and romance.
If you’re a fan of epic fantasy and want some new recommendations or if you’re just getting started on your fantasy journey, you’ve come to the right place. This list of 20 book recommendations will include everything from the favorite fantasy epics to the more niche novels that don’t get as much credit.
Stay tuned to discover 20 must-read epic fantasies that everyone should read.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Arguably one of the most famous epic fantasies available, George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones has taken over the fantasy game and has been adored by fans all over the world.
If you pick any epic fantasy, let it be these books. This series is deserving of the hype – it has received a plethora of awards and inspired the HBO television series which became one of the highest-grossing series of all time.
These books are fully immersive, set in a fantasy land made up of different cities. It has a wide range of interesting characters, all of which have fascinating relationships with each other and bring something new to the story.
Known for its intense battle scenes, disturbing romantic unions, and unpredictable deaths, A Game of Thrones is a real page-turner, guaranteed to keep you on your toes.
Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson
This series is made up of 4 books and plunges you deep into a mythological land, filled with a plethora of interesting species, each of which has different motives and relationships with each other.
The Stormlight Archives books closely follow the war that has broken out between man and immortals and as complex secrets surface, the plot thickens and the war gets more intense.
The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Stephen King is one of the most well-respected and decorated authors of his generation, so you’re safe in the knowledge that these books will be everything they’ve been hyped up to be.
As per usual with King’s books, The Dark Tower series tells a dark and twisted plot, following one of King’s most complex and well-developed characters, The Gunslinger, a ghostly hero that embodies powers of ancient myth and the abilities of a modern warrior.
The Belgariad by David Eddings
This series features a multitude of quests, the first of which follows the journey to retrieve the Orb of Aldur. These books culminate in one long fight against evil, encompassing Gods, mortals, Kings, and magic.
The Belgariad is a story of destiny and hope. David Eddings is a very well-recognized author and these books have been adored since their release in the 1980s.
Magician by Raymond E. Feist
This story follows a magician’s apprentice, the orphan, Pug, whose powers will one day change the course of the future.
Magician centers around the events leading up to, during, and after the gap between worlds is opened and chaos descends on the world. A brilliantly gripping read that immerses you in a magical world you’ll never want to leave.
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Raised as an outcast, Fitz is the illegitimate son of a Prince, one that will never fit in. But Fitz has been trained as an assassin by King Shrewd, who helps him harness his magic and skill. Fitz is ready for his first mission but he has little idea of the perils that lay before him.
Assassin’s Apprentice is an excellently-constructed novel that combines the complex relationship between a family and a neglected child and the sinister, magical skill of an assassin and his missions.
Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
This is a great series that has taken the literary and television worlds by storm! Wheel of Time follows Moiraine Damodred on her quest to find the chosen one that will stand against the greatest evil ever known.
This story incorporates men, beasts, and half-breeds that all come together in one almighty quest.
Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
When her mother dies, Yeine is sent to the city of Sky where she is unexpectedly the heiress to the throne. However, many are willing to fight her for this power and as Yeine learns more about her family’s past, she dives deeper into the battle for the throne, fighting against cousins she never knew.
Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a fantastic story that merges gods, mortals, danger, and power.
The Unwilling by Kelly Brafett
Judah has a hard past but a brilliant gift. She spent her childhood with Gavin, the heir to the Elban Empire and the two remain inseparable.
However, the current Lord Elban plans to use Judah’s powers to obtain more power and authority and with the help of Gavin, she must fight for agency over her powers.
The Unwilling explores deep relationships and power imbalances, set within a brilliantly-constructed fantastical realm, guaranteed to immerse you from the first page.
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
This brilliant series follows a boy, Eragon, who discovers he is a powerful dragon rider. Although he feels like an ordinary boy, with the guidance of a loyal dragon and an ancient powerful sword, Ergaon will become the most powerful dragon rider ever to walk the earth.
The Inheritance Cycle is perfect for fans of A Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings but will be suitable for younger audiences too.
The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Durzo Blint is an assassin, the most skilled and sought-after assassin around. Azoth has grown up in poverty, living life on the edge and never knowing what’s around the corner. Open to risks, he becomes Durzo’s apprentice but in order to be successful he must assume a new name and forget his previous identity.
The Way of Shadows walks you through the journey of becoming an assassin, a path destined for danger and maybe even death. Azoth is going to need skill and a whole lot of courage if he’s going to make it in this new world.
Discworld by Terry Pratchett
This is one of the most famous fantasy series written by the iconic Terry Pratchett, who has produced some of the most well-loved fantasy books ever.
This is a whacky novel series, set in Discworld, the magical world that exists on top of four elephants, who take it in turns to stand on top of a huge star turtle.
If that’s not weird enough, the story follows Rincewind, a failed wizard with a new responsibility – destined for yet another failure.
Discworld incorporates monsters, death, robbers, and a lot of very interesting and odd plot lines. These books are a little more light-hearted but are worth the read if you can get your head around the weird setting!
Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber
Set in an ancient city called Lankhmar, and follows two unlikely friends as their relationship strengthens. One barbarian and one apprenticed magician lead this story through new lands that incorporate princesses, wizards, sorcery, and dragons.
Swords and Deviltry is not the most well-known fantasy series in comparison with some of the giants on this list but it has received a wide range of positive reviews from its readers.
Portal of a Thousand Worlds by Dave Duncan
This multidimensional book encompasses everything any fantasy lover could want. Set in the Good Land, Portal of a Thousand Worlds draws upon Imperial Chinese history, telling a story of rebellion, politics, shape-shifting, murder, and dark magic.
Beginning with the rumored opening of the Portal of a Thousand Worlds, which once brought chaos into the world, this story follows a spectrum of characters forced to survive through turmoil.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is a beast of a novel series, arguably the most famous fantasy trilogy of all time. Its intrinsic detail will transport you to Middle Earth and its complex characters, unpredictable deaths, and fantastically orchestrated battle scenes will keep you gripped until the very end.
Chances are if you’re a fantasy fan, you’ve probably already read The Lord of the Rings but if not, here’s a brief synopsis.
Frodo Baggins is a Hobbit living a quiet life in the Shire until he finds a ring that once belonged to his uncle, Bilbo. With the guidance of his wizard friend, Gandalf, Frodo realizes that this ring is one of the most powerful forces in the world and if not destroyed, will have severe implications for everyone.
This is the story of Frodo and a group of others, made up of elves, dwarves, hobbits, wizards, and men, who make the trek across the world to destroy the ring.
Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence
This is the story of Jal, the Red Queen’s grandson, who is unreliable, irresponsible, and destined for failure. But he has a useful power no one else does and is needed to defeat the Silent Sister.
The Prince of Fools is an excellent book with twists in every chapter that will keep you guessing.
The Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch
The Gentleman Bastard follows Locke Lamora, a con artist and thief whose reputation has generated fear everywhere.
His group, The Gentleman Bastards run the city of Camorr, an ancient land now under threat. Rumor has it, the Grey King is coming and no one can stop this powerful King, except Locke.
Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
Vaelin was abandoned as a child and left to be trained as a warrior of the Faith. He must embark on a new course and undertake new, dangerous challenges guaranteed to push him to his limits.
Blood Song is the story of Vaelin’s development, he is destined for greatness but the question is, will he ever get there?
Gardens of the Moon by Stephen Erikson
The Malazan Empire is filled to the brim with humans, dragons, mages, gods, and immortals, the landscape of danger, confrontation, and battles.
Empress Laseen runs the land brutally, using her Claw assassins to do her dirty work for her. Rebellion is on the horizon and when the combined forces of all these creatures come together, bloodshed is inevitable.
Gardens of the Moon is a tale of battle, anger, and fantastical war, appealing to fans of violence, thrill, and fantasy alike.
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
Furies of Calderon is set in the fantastical land of Alera, where Tavi, a 15-year-old boy, struggles with the furies. The furies are the elements – earth, water, fire, and metal, powerful resources that can be used and exploited by fury crafters.
Chaos looms and rebels incite war. Tavi must learn fast and pluck up the courage to fight before war breaks out and destroys Alera.
Epic fantasies are excellently crafted and wonderfully imaginative, the perfect way to escape the boring realities of our lives. Any of these 20 books will serve as fantastic fantasy reads but be sure to check out some of the most famous ones if you haven’t already and find out what everyone’s raving about!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most famous epic fantasy book of all time?
The Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones are the best-selling fantasy books worldwide.
What is the difference between epic fantasy and other fantasy subgenres?
Epic fantasy is a larger story – typically made up into a novel series, epic fantasies span a long period of time, keeping track of a list of characters, and including a variety of fantastical elements including powers, different lands, and creatures.
Are epic fantasies fast-paced?
It depends on the novel you’re reading but many of these stories are gripping and action-packed, so you’ll read them quickly. However, epic fantasies have a reputation for high page counts, so if you want a quick read, perhaps veer away from this genre.
Is Kingkiller Chronicle worth reading?
Many have reviewed this trilogy claiming it is one of the best epic fantasies they’ve ever read. The plots are complex, the characters are engaging, and the fantastical world is immersive – you won’t get many more epic fantasies that trump this one.
Is Kingkiller Chronicle finished?
No – the trilogy is well-known for being unfinished. Fans wait eagerly for the next book’s release but there has been no update on when the book will come out. Despite this, fans say the books are well-worth reading anyway.
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