I love love LOVE fantasy.
I’ve spoken before as to why this genre has a special place in my heart, but like all genres, there are sub-genres to consider! Over the years, I’ve actually come to love a few different aspects of fantasy… but my first love was epic fantasy. These intense tales with intricate created worlds, mythical creatures, and magical systems have always tickled my imagination.
In celebration of some of these timeless stories, I’d like to share some pretty great epic fantasy stories.
The Inheritance Cycle
While this series has gotten a lot of negative reviews based on how heavily Paolini relied on Tolkien’s mythologies, it’s still a fantastic series, as far as entertainment value goes. This is also a really good gateway series into epic fantasy. Because this is a YA epic fantasy, it’s a bit lighter on the worldbuilding and of course… there are dragons!
The Lord of the Rings
This is the quintessential epic fantasy, the alpha and omega. I’ve encouraged you lovely readers to venture into the world of Middle Earth before. While I don’t actually love this series, I do have a deep respect for it. If you love the genre, The Lord of the Rings ABSOLUTELY must be on your TBR.
Queen of the Tearling
This series has one of the most controversial endings I’ve ever read. I have a very deep love/hate relationship about it. While it sets itself up as epic fantasy, it’s really more of a dystopia, but it takes time and patience to realize that. However, The Queen of the Tearling is also one of my favorite epic fantasies. I’ve been waiting ages for a new epic fantasy to start that I feel as connected to as this one.
The Blood of Stars
And enter Spin the Dawn and The Blood of Stars series. This is the first novel in an epic fantasy series and it may just fill that hole in my heart left by The Fate of the Tearling. It’s an eastern-inspired epic fantasy, and filled with the appropriate questing and character growth and magic that I love in this genre. I eagerly anticipate the rest of this one….
The Kingkiller Chronicle
The Kingkiller Chronicle is, I dare to say, at A Song of Ice and Fire level of epic fantasy. It is so good and the worldbuilding is woven so expertly throughout the story that you fall in and learn it all easily without feeling like you’re reading a traveller’s guide. There are two things that vex me a little: one, the main character is extremely egotistical; and two, Rothfuss also writes at George R.R. Martin’s pace so… who know when we’re going to see the next book.
Legacy of Orïsha
A lot of people are talking about this series, and rightfully so. It’s an incredible epic fantasy in an African-inspired world and it’s so filled with fire and magic… it’s the sort of thing I need to have converted to a television series. Now that Game of Thrones is over, HBO has an open slot, right? The diversity is part of what makes this so good, but honestly? This series has all the tropes I want from an epic fantasy, but in exciting new ways. I listened to this book twice last year, and am considering a third go. So. Good. Really, I can’t wait for Children of Virtue and Vengeance.
A Song of Ice and Fire
George R. R. Martin
I really don’t think I need to say anything about the epic fantasy masterfulness of A Song of Ice and Fire, thanks to the Game of Thrones television show. The worldbuilding is well-fed into the story and this is the type of story where you can really latch on to the characters and root for them.
While I know the television series has now wrapped up and the little birdies on the internet are saying the series ending will be similar to the show ending… I still can’t wait for the rest of this series to come out. Hopefully that will actually happen?
Song of the Lioness
This was my first love, though at the time, I didn’t equate Song of the Lioness with epic fantasy. To me, this was a cool book in a fantasy world and I wanted to be a knight like Alanna. Ten-year-old me had serious goals. Song of the Lioness is middle grade epic fantasy, but even as an adult, what I love about this series and in fact… Pierce’s whole WORLD… is that they are all tied together. There’s epic fantasy stories written with middle grade, YA, and even on the edge of New Adult-aged characters all in this same world. I’ve grown up with, and I love, all of them.
Oh! And another example of AMAZING epic fantasy that needs to come to the screen… but probably never will.
I haven’t even read the rest of this trilogy yet, but the Graceling Realm series makes the list of my favorite epic fantasy EVER based on Graceling alone. There’s so much that relies on the world to make a good epic fantasy… but journeying is essential. And I know, I know, a lot of people don’t like this aspect of epic fantasy, but I love it. Especially when it’s well-done. Graceling is exceptionally well-done, and the characters we meet are extraordinary, well-developed, and interesting. Epic fantasy (heck, fantasy in general) tends to get some cookie cutter characters so whenever there’s a series with truly unique individuals, my heart leaps with joy.
This series captures my imagination more than any other. While inside Inkworld, it’s an epic fantasy… outside of it, this is magical realism. So I wasn’t sure if I should include it on this list. However, I decided that the world inside the book was interesting enough to make the cut.
This is a world with all the well-used tropes – knights and princes and bards. It’s familiar, but also a little bit darker, and it’s easy to fall in love with this one. I believe the series is technically somewhere in the YA range, but with a little suspension of disbelief, this is a really good one for all ages.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday asked:
Books From My Favorite Genre
Short answer: Obviously, I couldn’t just pick ten books… I had to pick ten series! Although even as I’m wrapping up this post, I’m thinking of all the things I missed. What about the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima? Or the Chronicle of Prydain? Not to mention all the rest of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe…. Guys, I just love epic fantasy.
What is your favorite genre? I’m deep in fantasy, but I do have a growing appreciation for magical realism (which I guess is sort of still fantasy), science fiction, contemporary, and the occasional thriller.