There’s magic in stepping out of reality and into a whole different world where anything is possible. There are a variety of amazing fantasy series by extremely talented writers. While there are many more we would love to lay in bed and read, here is a recommendation of the top five favorite fantasy book series that are not well-known tv shows/movies–yet! These authors are literary masters and have written books you’ll never want to put down.
5 Fantasy Book Series Every Reader Should Know
Written by Raymond E. Feist, The Riftwar Saga is my number one recommendation. My dad bought me part of this series while I was in high school and I haven’t put it down since. Unbeknownst to him, he bought me a saga that is now almost in the middle of the 30-book series—The Serpentwar Saga. It remains my favorite section of The Riftwar Cycle. One of the attributes of this series I love so much is that it isn’t essential to read all the books to understand the storyline. Obviously, it helps to start at the beginning with Magician: Apprentice, but you can follow the characters and stories starting at the beginning of any section of the series. Feist had an intelligent way of writing this incredibly long series by having standalone stories while still connecting them.
The overall arc of The Riftwar Cycle is to bring certain characters and events together that ultimately fight an evil god. Particular strings are being pulled, one character needs to do this and another that, this small battle has to happen here, and so on in order for the final characters to take their last stand and defeat the evil taking over the universe. It all begins with one small, self-conscious boy. The Riftwar Cycle mainly follows Pug, a boy from the small town of Crydee, as he becomes a master magician. He loses loved ones and gains others. He saves people and destroys others. But it’s not always through his perspective or experiences. Along the way you’ll follow Tomas, Pug’s boyhood best friend and keeper of ancient, magical armor and powers; Jimmy the Hand, the boy thief who rises to one of the most powerful positions in the West; Erik and Roo, fugitive best friends who become war heroes and influencers; hop across the rift to follow Mara of Kelewan, who was pulled just moments away from serving in a temple for life; the mysterious Nakor and his never-ending bag of oranges; and so many more. You’ll want to follow every character through his/her journey and hope they come out the other side unscathed.
For a list of how to read the books in chronological order, click here.
For the books within other sections, I suggest finishing the section that starts first, then read the books within that section. For example, read Magician (it’s split into two books), Silverthorn, and Darkness at Sethanon, then go back and read Jimmy the Hand, Honoured Enemy, and Murder in LaMut. Same with the Empire Series that begins in the Magician section.
C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy follows a warrior priest named Damien Vryce on his quest to defeat the demons created by the Fae, while ultimately trying to unite the world. He is one of few priests who can work the Fae, the energy across the planet Erna. The Fae has its own currents and reacts to the human mind. Usually, this creates dangerous demons and other creatures. However, various gods and goddesses are physically created through the Fae. It allows for the planet to evolve quickly due to humans such as the feline-like rakh, who became more humanoid. Some people are born able to see and manipulate the Fae and are called Adepts, while others can learn, becoming sorcerers. The Church battles to bring all the people of Erna together to become one mindset, making the Fae harmless. They have yet to succeed.
Along the way he meets Gerald Tarrant, an Adept with a dark, murderous past (and present) and who, under different circumstances, Damien would more than willingly kill and vice versa. The two are unlikely allies against a darker foe who threatens both their domains. Joining them is Ciani, an Adept who is attacked by demons and has her memories and powers stolen. Damien and Gerald spend the first book hunting down her assailants in the hopes of helping her regain her memories and powers. During their quest, Gerald and Damien find a greater evil plan than stealing powers from Adepts and decide to continue to journey together to hunt this evil and get rid of the Fae forever; turning Gerald more human than he has been in centuries and changing Damien’s black and white world to shades of gray.
We recommend the Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass, but with one caveat–read only the first three. The first three books are a story on their own. Book four veers so far from the original storyline that it becomes uncomfortable. Plot twists are great, but it needs to be within the same guidelines and make sense.
We follow Axis, the prophesized Starman, as he discovers his parentage and unknown powers to defeat the great evil to the north, Gorgreal. Everything he has ever been taught is turned upside down as he finds he must ally with those he was taught were evil. His noble half-brother, always jealous of Axis’s fighting prowess and prestige, attempts to thwart him at every turn and even marries the Lady Faraday, who begins a romance with Axis prior to her marriage. But Faraday has her own part to play in the prophecy and the introduction of Azhure, a woman with a mysterious past and strange scars, catches Axis’s eye and heart while Faraday fulfills her destiny. Axis must unite the humans, Icarii, and Avar together against Gorgrael if he ever hopes to save them all.
This 14-book series by the late Robert Jordan is pretty well known and will be made into a television series soon. I find myself lost in this series and continually turning pages without realizing how long I’ve been reading. Jordan did a beautiful job on pacing, character development, and action. It begins with three young adults who are ta’veren, people who unintentionally move people and events around them, leaving their small town and suddenly grow up without the reader even realizing it.
The character development is such a smooth transition that you find yourself thinking, “When did this person gain so much confidence and loyal followers?” But you never question that the character has done so because you’ve seen the character go through the experiences needed. Different nations have their own cultures, clothing, customs, housing, and more that are easily distinguishable from the rest, which makes reading the series much easier due to how often and far the characters travel.
Rand is the strongest ta’veren of the three and pulls everyone around him, while the other two pull even more followers to them, strengthening Rand’s base and his fight against the Dark One. He can channel the One Power and is destined to go mad doing so, just like every man who can channel due to the taint the Dark One put on it centuries before. Perrin, the soft-spoken blacksmith, learns he has ancient powers of his own that he struggles against, while Mat, the cunning troublemaker and gambler of their small town, finds himself an unwilling general of a thousand battles against the Dark One.
They’re joined by Nynaeve and Egwene, young women from their village, who can channel the female side of the One Power and begin their journey to become Aes Sedai, women who can channel and pull the strings of every nation. The five villagers are escorted by Moiraine, an Aes Sedai, and her Warder, Lan, out of Emond’s Field and into a dangerous journey where anyone can be an enemy and anyone can be watching. They’re pulled into different directions and grow on their journeys, fighting the Forsaken, Trollocs, Myrdraal, and more. The Seanchan, followers of the legendary Artur Hawkwing from centuries past who sailed west and were forgotten, create an interesting twist to the never-ending calamities following Rand and the others. In the end, they come together and combine their experiences in an attempt to defeat the Dark One forever.
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini is another great read. Even though Eragon was made into a movie, it was so far off from the book that they may as well not even exist together. The books are well written, and the storyline is enrapturing, which is the complete opposite of the movie. If you’ve seen the movie, give the books a chance and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
This saga is set in a fantasy world where a nation is ruled by a cruel leader named Galbatorix. He was a Dragon Rider whose dragon was killed and he went mad. He murdered many of the other Dragon Riders and stole one of their dragons to keep as his own, forcing it to serve him. Only three dragon eggs are known to remain, waiting on worthy riders. The story begins with a small village boy named Eragon who comes across a blue dragon egg by accident. The egg hatches and out comes a beautiful blue dragon he magically bonds with and she names herself Saphira, a dragon name the local storyteller Brom has told Eragon and which Eragon tells her.
With this bond comes magical powers he must learn, along with escaping from Galbatorix’s henchmen, as Galbatorix wants Saphira for himself and will allow no other Dragon Rider within his domain. Brom escapes their town with Eragon and begins to teach him the magic of a Dragon Rider and sword fighting since Brom was a former Dragon Rider himself and was in hiding. During his travels, Eragon comes across the elf Arya, his new friend Murtagh, dwarves and elves in hiding, and the Varden, a group of rebels trying to pull down Galbatorix. Eragon and Saphira must find a way to defeat Galbatorix with their new group of allies and finally break Alagaësia free of his tyrannical rule.
Sometimes you just need to escape from the real world for a few minutes—or a few hours. Ready for a mental getaway? Grab the first book in the series of your choice and settle into a world of the imaginary; preferably with your feet up and your beverage rested securely on its coaster. Each of these great fantasy book series offers a uniquely riveting experience.
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