10 Epic Fantasy Books Everyone Must Read

I just discovered the greatest thing ever created: epic fantasy books. I’m usually a YA Fantasy kind of guy, but recently I’ve ventured outside my usual. I’ve found that I’ve actually read quite a few epic fantasy books, just didn’t know that was what they were called.

This whole new world that opened up before me brought an onslaught of hundreds of books to read. But how to narrow it down into just 10 epic fantasy books that every single person on this earth must? I reached out to some of my friends for help and this is what I got.

Consider this list my TBR of epic fantasy books for 2018. Sure, I’ve read some of them, but most I have not. I’ll tell you what I like about the ones I have read, and what I’m looking forward to about the ones I have not. Stick around at the end for a bonus 11th epic fantasy book you’ve probably never heard of but should definitely read.

Epic Fantasy Books Everyone Must Read

Game of Thrones, A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, Song of Ice and Fire, Epic Fantasy Books

1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 5 (8 planned)
Goodreads Rating: 4.45 – 1,519,956 ratings – 47,491 reviews

I can’t have a list of the best epic fantasy books without the granddaddy of all epic fantasy books, A Game of Thrones. Most of you have heard of this. Most of you have probably read it.

It’s not for the feint of heart, and I’ll be honest, I struggled with the books because of this. I generally prefer my fiction pretty clean, and A Game of Thrones is anything but. But I have read the first two or three books. I gave up after that because I just couldn’t handle it anymore (I did mention I prefer YA Fantasy, right?). But it deserves to be on this list because this book has literally shaped the genre.

Name of the Wind, Kingkiller Chronicles, Patrick Rothfuss, Epic Fantasy Books

2. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 2 (3 planned)
Goodreads Rating: 4.55 – 481,442 ratings – 30,177 reviews

Name of the Wind is the number one book on my TBR right now. As a matter of fact. I’ve downloaded it and even read the first chapter, but then life got busy. It’s there, though, calling for me to pick it back up again.

I initially went for this book because of the hype. I mean, aside from A Game of Thrones, I feel like Patrick Rothfuss is the next guy that just about everyone has heard of. But after I got looking into it, it really grabbed me in it’s own right. Come on, the Kingkiller Chronicles, how cool is that? That’s as awesome of a series name as they get.

Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time, Eye of the World, Epic Fantasy Books

3. The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 14
Goodreads Rating: 4.18 – 285,609 ratings – 8,530 reviews

Probably the next series of epic fantasy books I have heard so much about is The Wheel of Time. I’ll be honest, prior to writing this article, I knew very little about The Wheel of Time. All I know is it has some crazy devoted fans and a ton of books that will keep you busy for awhile.

Even after looking this book up, I still really have no idea what it’s about. Something about time hanging in the balance and dangers waiting in the shadows. It seems intriguing enough, but with such a long series, I’m not jumping to read it. I usually enjoy long series, but I’m not ready for the time commitment right now. I’ll get to it eventually because it seems like a key series of epic fantasy books that everyone should read.

Mistborn, The Final Empire, Brandon Sanderson, Epic Fantasy Books

4. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 7
Goodreads Rating: 4.43 – 253,753 ratings – 17,215 reviews

Mistborn is my current obsession. Brandon Sanderson might be my new favorite author as far as epic fantasy books are concerned. He’s witty, ultra creative, and completely clean. This is fantasy that I love to read.

Every book I’ve ever read by Brandon Sanderson has reinvented magic in ways you’ve never dreamed of, and Mistborn is no exception. Sanderson created a magic system based on eating metal. You heard that right. He calls it allomancy. We all have tiny trace amounts of metal in our bodies. In Mistborn, special people can burn these metals to produce spectacular magical effects.

I’m in the middle of the first book, so I can’t speak to the whole series, but if they’re anything like this one, it’ll be stellar.

Discworld, The Color of Magic, Terry Pratchett, Epic Fantasy Books

5. Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 41
Goodreads Rating: 3.98 – 236,790 ratings – 6,849 reviews

Discworld is another series of epic fantasy books that has been recommended to me on multiple occasions. I admit, I find the title a bit funny. All I can think of is a world on a CD. I am so confused.

In any case, this series is massive, and like Robert Jordan’s works, I just can’t bring myself to commit to such an endeavor at this time. I can’t even figure out what this book is about as both Amazon and Goodreads have little to say beyond it involving a tourist and a wizard.

Robin Hobb, Assassin's Apprentice, Farseer Trilogy, Epic Fantasy Books

6. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 3
Goodreads Rating: 4.14 – 171,935 ratings – 6,450 reviews

I just might have to bump Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice much higher up my TBR. The covers look good, the titles are interesting, and I just love the book concept.

Assassins? Check. Court politics? Check. Backstabbing devious plots with a promise of nonstop action? Check. I can’t really say much more about this book. Robin Hobb is one of the few women who write epic fantasy books. You’ll see another one in a few minutes.

Sabriel, Abhorsen, Garth Nix, Epic Fantasy Books

7. Sabriel by Garth Nix

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 5
Goodreads Rating: 4.17 – 149,860 ratings – 5,916 reviews

Sabriel is another book I’ve never heard of before making this list. But surprisingly (to me anyway), it ranks much much higher than one of my all-time favorite authors (#10 below). The old cover is abhorrent, but this one isn’t so bad. It still tells me little about the book.

This book seems to promise a land with magic, which already gets my attention. It’s a land of undying men where the lines between life and death are blurred. I don’t really know what all that’s supposed to mean, but it involves a quest to find a father in these undying lands.

These epic fantasy books are only on my list because of their ratings and a singular recommendation to me, but I hope you like them.

Dragonflight, Dragonriders of Pern, Pern, Anne McCaffery, Epic Fantasy Books

8. Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffery

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 25
Goodreads Rating: 4.10 – 105,166 ratings – 2,510 reviews

Yet another series I had not heard of before today. I’m learning so much diving into this new genre. How about you? Another big series of epic fantasy books, too. Epic fantasy books are known for their multitude of books. That’s what makes them, well, epic.

This is the first dragon book to make it on the list. Well I think so anyway, besides A Game of Thrones, which I didn’t get far enough in the series to reach the dragons, but I understand they’re there. Dragon are cool, but they need to be done right. I’ll reserve my judgement until I’ve read these books.

This is a classic zero to hero story. The main character starts out as a “ragged kitchen girl” according to the blurb, but all that changes when she meets and bonds with a queen dragon.

Terry Brooks, Sword of Shannara, The Sword of Shannara, Epic Fantasy Books

9. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 30
Goodreads Rating: 3.76 – 69,519 ratings – 3,311 reviews

These epic fantasy books are pretty high on my list. The Sword of Shannara got made into a TV series, I think, so some of you may be familiar with it. It’s new to me, but the latest book, The Black Elfstone, has an awesome cover. I love it.

Covers mean a lot to me. This old cover to the left isn’t super thrilling, but if the newer books pique my interest like this one, I’ll go back and read the whole series.

This book promises an ancient evil (ominous, no?) and elves, dwarves and all that good stuff. Right up my alley. Oh, and a special all-powerful weapon only usable by one person. Yea, that pretty much sums it up. It might be overused, but I still love it and so do 69,519 other people according to Goodreads.

The Crystal Shard, Legend of Drizzt, R.A. Salvatore, Salvatore, Epic Fantasy Books

10. The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore

Amazon | Goodreads
Number of Books: 30
Goodreads Rating: 3.86 – 36,983 ratings – 744 reviews

The Legend of Drizzt is a series of epic fantasy books that I’ve actually completely read. That’s right, this was my first introduction to the world of epic fantasy, but I didn’t know that’s what it was. I love Drizzt, and his tale starts with The Crystal Shard.

I love this book and will rave about it all day long. Don’t get me started. The Crystal Shard is my #2 recommendation (second only to Mistborn) to anyone who has never read many epic fantasy books. And that cover, oh do I love it. That’s the epitome of epic right there.



Don’t see your favorite epic fantasy book? Share it with me in the comments below. I’d like to add it to my list.

Ash and Steel, Epic Fantasy, T.L. Branson

BONUS: 11. Ash and Steel by T.L. Branson

Ash and Steel is a short story introducing my upcoming debut epic fantasy series, Soul Render. Both Sanderson and Salvatore provided inspiration for Soul Render. If you like the books on this list, then be sure to download your FREE copy of Ash and Steel.

To learn more about Soul Render, read the full synopsis or check out the map of Aralith, the world of Soul Stones.

6 thoughts on “10 Epic Fantasy Books Everyone Must Read

  1. Ah, epics!

    From the above list, I’d endorse The Wheel of Time — though it’s REALLY long and unfathomably complicated; and the Dragonriders of Pern (though it’s actually science fiction, not fantasy; it just feels like fantasy).

    I read The Sword of Shannara, but it seemed so complete a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings that I never went any further.

    I assume you’ve already read LotR, since that’s THE seminal epic fantasy (of the modern era).

    There’s something to be said for Kathryn Kurtz’s Deryni books, though they may not be quite the epic you have in mind; Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed of Paksenarrion; Sheri Tepper’s weird but fascinating True Game series; Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber (epic in their own way); Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword; and various treatments of the Arthurian legends (I have a pair of old blog posts describing those).

    In the young people’s division, kudos goes to Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series, and C.S. Lewis’s Narnian chronicles.

    Sorry to ramble on — I can never resist a chance to share admired books. 🙂

    1. Absolutely, yea I forgot to mention Lord of the Rings. It sort of seems less epic to me, but definitely is because of the intricate world building for sure.

      Another I left out but remembered was recommended to me was Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth. That’s definitely another good one and would rank around 3rd or 4th based on ratings. I left out so many others that were recommended to me as well. I could probably do another 10 in a different post there are just so many.

  2. All Classics in their own right! I have read most of them and would tell you to read as many of them as you can. Thanks to your list, I now have three more series to look at. I also recommend the classic White Gold Wielder by Stephen R. Donaldson, Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings and The Symphony of Ages by Elizabeth Haydon, these are just to name a few. To me, good Fantasy takes you away to another world, where life is different. It’s a story that draws you in and holds you with it’s believability and you actually care what happens to the characters. It teaches you about values and that like real life, it is not perfect.

    1. Thanks Frank,

      I’m thankful for more great stories to look into. I love fantasy for all the same reasons as you. I’ve never cared about characters as much as I have when reading a fantasy book. There’s something about the genre that takes an unknown place and yet makes you feel like you’re part of it.

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