Fantasy is an important genre for all readers. In a previous post I did write about the importance of fantasy as a whole. For me, reading a great fantasy book does wonders for me. For one, who doesn’t love a great story? Fantasy books contain great stories that you can completely get lost in. Furthermore it’s also full of many lessons and this sort of literature often provokes many new debates and conversations to take place. In this blog post, I plan to write a fantasy reading list which will be made up of all the best fantasy books that I have read. Some of these books I have reviewed in length on other blog posts so if you’re interested in reading them, I’ll leave the links to those blog posts at the bottom of this article. Enjoy!
1) The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien
The hobbit is a fantasy series that nearly everyone has heard about once in their lives. At least people in the west. The story of the hobbit is the prelude to the famous story of the lord of the rings. In order to properly understand the Lord of the rings series it’s important that you understand the series of the hobbit. The book is about the adventures of a hobbit called Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo used to live an ordinary life until one day a wizard shows up at his door and asks him to join him and his friends on a life risking adventure. The series goes through his entire adventure. Bilbo would go on to later become a father figure for the protagonist of Lord of the rings, Frodo Baggins.
“Smaug certainly looked fast asleep, when Bilbo peeped once more from the entrance. He was just about to step out onto the floor when he caught a sudden thin ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug’s left eye. He was only pretending to be sleep! He was watching the tunnel entrance!
Whisked from his comfortable hobbit-hole by Gandalf the wizard and a band of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.” – GoodReads
2) A Game of Thrones – George RR Martin
7 different kingdoms exist within the world of game of thrones. All 7 kingdoms are ruled by one king, a man called Robert Baratheon. Robert Baratheon is assisted by his hand (prime minister) and trusted friend. A man called Jon Arryn. One day Jon Arryn is mysteriously poisoned to death. King Robert calls upon his best friend, Ned Stark (ruler of the northern kingdom) to come and be his new hand. Ned Stark begins inspecting the death of Jon Arryn and as he does this he begins to discover a great conspiracy. In different parts of the realm, different people from different backgrounds eye up the throne and wait for their chance to launch a campaign.
“Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.” – Blurb
3) Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone – J.K. Rowling
In a world where you can be born with the powers of magic some people are called wizards and some people are just muggles (regular human beings). Harry Potter, a young boy with a scar on his forehead received a visit and a letter informing him that he should make his way to a private magic school which only wizards can attend. His life is secretly in danger as he who must not be named, the most powerful evil wizards wants to kill Harry for some unknown reason. Harry is okay however, since he has many allies, including his best friends Ron and Hermione as well as some teachers at Hogwarts. Together they will go on many adventures.
“Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy – until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason … HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!” – GoodReads
4) Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship of The Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
Young Frodo Baggins enjoys his life in his tiny village. He especially loves his relative/father figure Bilbo Baggins. A man who’s been on many adventures and has returned from his adventures with a ring. A ring he held on to for decades. Little did he know that ring was a source of great power. One day an evil powerful enemy appears to return to the realm seeking a ring. Bilbo is an old man who’s grown fond of the power the ring offers. So Gandalf the wizard, gives possession of the ring to Frodo, a young innocent lad and Frodo is tasked with the job of bringing that ring to somewhere where it can be destroyed. He’ll have to survive a crazy journey but Frodo will be protected by a guardian of great fighters called the fellowship.
“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkeness bind them
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, The Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.” – GoodReads
5) Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
It is definitely uncommon to put two books of the same trilogy on the same list but this just goes to show how special this book is. When I first started reading Harry Potter, everyone kept telling me that the ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ book would be the best book of the series. I felt like I specifically enjoyed deathly hallows quite a lot just because of the unique things of a story that I’m attracted to. However, this book made the list just because of how it kept me at the edge of my seat throughout the entire time I was reading it. A prisoner escapes from the scariest most well fortified prison of the wizarding world. It’s home to the worst type of wizarding criminals. This criminal, however, is apparently looking to kill Harry Potter.
“For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts . . . he’s at Hogwarts.”
Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.”
6) The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
People might debate if this is fantasy or not but what’s more fantasy than a group of people fighting to death in a modified fake arena. The story of the hunger games works this way. An oppressive government ruled over 13 districts. Nearly all districts are poor labourers with practically no wealth and the capital is place where people have abundant wealth and are pompous rich folk. Every year, the rulers choose 1 boy and 1 girl from each district to go to the hunger games. A place where they have to fight to the death and survive in ‘games’ all for the entertainment of the corrupt people of the capital. One day in the 12th district, a young girl is chosen and her older sister, the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen steps up and volunteers for her sister. How will she survive the hunger games? Will she come out alive? Or will she outmanoeuvre this oppressive government?
“In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.”
7) Divergent – Veronica Roth
The divergent is an interesting story and just like the previously mentioned books became a incredibly popular when filmed. The divergent is a story about a society that is split up into different factions. One faction is where all the academics are. Another faction is where all the labourers are. Another faction is where all the warriors are. The story about a woman who doesn’t fit into any of them because she has the ability to fit into everyone. She is a specific type of person that the government is looking to hunt down. What will happen to this lady that has to masquerade as something other than herself.
“In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.” – GoodReads
8) Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
A very interesting book that I picked up this year after seeing the show on Netflix absolutely blow up. I enjoyed the show and I can’t wait for the next season to come out. The story is about a swathe of impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. She has her best friend, Malyen that she loves and lives for who was a fellow orphan at their orphanage. Once her powers are discovered, dark forces gather to hunt her down.
“Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.”
9) The Maze Runner – James Dashner
Who hasn’t heard of the Maze Runner film? There is a reason why the film was a hit across the planet. The book is an absolute thriller that starts after the main character wakes up in a new area. Soon he finds out he’s trapped in a place and the only way out is by travelling through a maze. This area he is in is run by a group of people and each person has duty. Runners are the people who run through a large dangerous maze and try to figure out how the maze works and perhaps even escape. Will the main character Thomas be able to escape the maze?
“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.” – GoodReads
10) A Book of Hidden Things – Francesco Dimitri
An interesting book which tells the tale of a group of friends that grew up together and eventually had to go their own separate ways. One day, just before they left and went their own ways, they decided that they would meet every year at the same time and place that they were at now. That, no matter how busy they might have been, they would always find the time to keep to this pact. They kept by the tradition. One day, one of their intelligent unique friends, art, disappears completely. Where did he go? The secret to his disappearance opens up the most incredible fantasy story that changes all of their lives.
“Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up.
A visit to his house increases the friends’ worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can’t go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss’s daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.”
11) The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
My cousin recommended to me that I read this book. I picked it up and it mentioned the story to me of a young boy who started off as a shepherd so he could travel the world. As he travels the world he meets the most interesting of people and becomes a part of the most interesting adventure which eventually leads to him gaining so much wisdom about life and the world all around him.
“Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids.
Along the way he meets a Romany woman, a man who calls himself a king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the right direction for his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or whether Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path; but what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of treasure within.
Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.”
12) The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
Don’t think for one moment that this book is at 12th place because it is the one that I enjoyed the least. No it’s actually the opposite. For a while I contemplated whether or not I should include this book into this list. Then I thought about it, what’s more fantasy than a woman who appears in a midnight library after she attempts suicide? Where every book at the library is a chance for her to try a different variation of her life. A different direction her life could have headed in. This deeply heart-touching story highlights why we should all take better care of our mental health and not give up on life. This is, possibly, the best book that I have read all year. It certainly is the one that touched me the most. A great piece of writing.
“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.“
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