My Top Ten Favourite Fantasy Series
Updated: Jan 10
I'm a big fantasy reader. It's my favourite genre, and the one that got me into reading. I've read a lot of fantasy series that I have loved so, I went on Goodreads and picked out some of my favourite fantasy books. Most ended up being series. Then I had to go through and chose which ones I would include on this list, as I read mostly fantasy. Unfortunately, some of my favourites had to be cut for various reasons. Anyway, let's get to it. Here are my top ten favourite fantasy books and series.
Before we get started, I would like to say that there are some cases were I haven't finished more popular series, like The Mortal Instruments, or just didn't enjoy them, like the Shadow and Bone Trilogy.
10. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (3 books out, 1 book coming out)
"You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it." - An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes follows two protagonists, Laia, and Elias. Laia is a slave, part of the nation the Martial Empire enslaved. When her brother is taken by the Empire she looks for help from the rebels. But they won't help her for free. She has to spy on the Commandant. And Elias, the Commandant's son, is soon graduating from the greatest military school in the Martial Empire. Then is pulled into a series of trials to become the new Emperor. Soon, their two paths meet, and their choices could change the path of the Empire, forever,
I really loved this book, although I haven't gotten the chance to read the third book. I loved the different cultures intertwined into it. There is two, as far as I remember, the Scholars and the Martials. I know there are more of them, but I can't recall any. The Martials are strict and disciplined. Whereas, the Scholars are creative and a bit more free, before the Martial Empire enslaved them. The villains were also very well written. They were sociopathic, and cruel. They did regret certain things that they did, too, which showed that they still had some human still inside them. It made it hard to hate them, sometimes, too, but then you remembered all that they did and there is no pity, no sympathy. They choose what they did, and they can't change that. Last but not least, this book is chock-full of emotions, there is horror, and fury, and everything else. Definitely a book I am going to re-read soon.
9. Frostblood by Elly Blake (3 books out, finished)
"Face them all like a warrior, whether you are one or not." - Frostblood, Elly Blake
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Frostblood has a very well thought out magic system. There are only two potential powers in the book, power over ice, a Frostblood, and power over fire, a Fireblood. I thought that the limits of the magic were really thought out. Also, I loved the main character, Ruby. She was fierce, sarcastic, and full of attitude, even after her mother's death. The humour was also the kind that you couldn't stop laughing at. I think I might have almost laughed myself off my chair at one time.
8. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (6 books, finished)
"Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies." - Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead
Vampire Academy is about vampires, as you can tell from the title. There are three classifications of vampires. Moroi, who need blood as sustenance, but don't burn to ash in the sunlight or crave the death of who they drink from. They also can control one of the four elements, fire, water, earth and air. Then there are Dhampir, half vampire, half human, who are the protectors of Moroi royalty. They're stronger than a normal humans, faster, but are able to eat normal food. They also are able to walk out into the sun with no discomfort, unlike the Moroi, who are uncomfortable in the sun. And lastly, the Strigoi, who are the stereotypical bloodthirsty vampires who can't go out into the sun, and usually kill whoever is in their way. We follow Rose Hathaway, a future protector of Lissa Dragomir, the last of her royal bloodline, and her struggles to protect her best friend, Lissa. Rose and Lissa arrive at St. Vladimir's Academy, where most vampires go to both normal classes, like Math and English, but also to harness their power and vampire heritage.
I loved following Rose's story through the six books in the series. She made a great character arc from cocky, promiscuous guardian in training to confident, battle trained full guardian. I really related to Rose in some ways, like her fierceness and determination. Also, the love interests for Rose were beautifully written as well as the other friendships she created along the story line. Rose and Lissa's friendship was so interesting and fulfilling to read because they were such good friends. The history behind the whole supernatural vampire world was so interesting and well made, and the royal families were interesting to read about. There were also some great action scenes in which Rose and her friends got to show their prowess in fighting, and I always enjoy a good fight scene.
7. Talon by Julie Kagawa (5 books, finished series)
“They wanted me to sit, listen, learn, be quiet, when I wanted to run, shout, jump, fly.” - Talon, Julie Kagawa
Talon follows two organizations, Talon, an organization that tries to keep dragons alive, and is made up of dragons, and The Order of Saint George, highly trained humans trying to get rid of dragons altogether. In this world dragons can Shift to look like human beings. Then there is Ember, a young dragon, who is put into society to blend in with the social norms of the normal world. There she meets both Riley, a rogue dragon, and Garret, a St. George soldier who is trying to hunt her down. While she, and her twin brother, train for their positions in Talon they also have to hide their true nature from humans, and Ember soon starts to question the organization.
I really loved this series. I've only read the first three books, but all three of them were interesting and kept me engaged throughout the whole of the book. The characters were beautifully written, all with their own individual personalities, even for the side characters. Also, the relationships, both romantic and platonic, were amazing. I loved reading about Ember and her twin, Dante, as they were so different, but still loved each other no matter what. The first book, Talon, was a bit easier to swallow, as it was an introduction as to what Talon and St. George stood for, as Ember, part of Talon, and Garret, part of St. George, were starting to question what the organizations really did versus what they thought the organizations really did. And the friendship that slowly develops between Ember and Garret was amazing, since they were supposed to be enemies. Last but not least, the best part of the book, were the dragons. They had to learn how to Shift into humans to disguise themselves among them. I would really recommend this series for any reader, as an introduction to fantasy, because it is easier to get your head around the world since it's based on Earth, in America.
6. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (3 books, finished series)
"The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn't let weakness live." - Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton
Rebel of the Sands is about a girl named Amani Al'Hiza, who is poor, an orphan, and female. In the desert, where she lives, being even one is dangerous, but she's all three. She's also a talented gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back country town where she’s destined to wind up either wed or dead. Then she meets Jin, a foreigner, in a shooting competition and sees him as the perfect escape route.
I, again, loved this book. I haven’t read the third and final book yet, but I am really looking forward to doing so. Amani was so interesting read about. She’s tough, a fighter, and, one of the very rare things in YA, a tomboy. And her aim with a gun is something I wish I had. Also, the mythology that comes with the story, that is explained more in the book than in the description, is so in depth. So is the world-building. The author created a mythology-filled, new fantasy world, based in a desert. She also created new, fantastical creatures that were so interesting to see.
5. Furyborn by Claire Legrand (1 book out, 2 coming out)
"We live in a world where good kings die and those foolish enough to hope for something better are killed where they stand." - Furyborn, Claire Legrand
Furyborn follows two girls, who live centuries apart. Rielle Dardenne exposed herself as one of the two prophesied queens, who has the ability to control all elements, when she saves her best friend from an assassination. The prophecy mentions two queens, a wueen of light and a queen of blood, and Rielle has to go through seven elemental trials to prove she’s the Sun Queen. If she fails, she’ll be executed, unless the trials kill her first. One thousand years later, Queen Rielle is a fairytale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Empire, she believes she’s untouchable. Until her mother vanishes. Eliana then joins a rebel captain to find her mother and soon discovers that the evil at the Empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As the story progresses both girls stories intersect, and how well they’re intertwined is amazing, but also a spoiler. So I won't say anything. Rielle is smart, and a bit of a hopeless romantic. Then, Eliana is a fierce, cocky fighter, who doesn't take shit from anyone. One of the things I really loved about this book was the characters. Especially, the great representation of strong female characters, which is usually really poorly done. These girls can take care of themselves, and don't need anyone else to. Whether they have diplomatic or combat skills, most of the characters in general are strong. And the world is amazing. It is full of angels, and spirits. Traitors and loyalists. The world-building, in my personal opinion, was amazing. All in all, any high fantasy fan would love this book.
4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (3 books out, finished)
"Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic." - Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is about an art student named Karou who lives in Prague. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious missions, she speaks many languages, and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head. Also, she’s about to be stuck in the middle of an otherworldly war. But, why is she so important? And who is she, that makes her so important? She’s about to find out. Then beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alleyway in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past.
This book was amazing. Although it wasn’t high fantasy, like a lot of other books on this list, it was still filled with all kinds of fantastical beings, mostly angels and chimera. The author’s idea of angels was amazing. They were fire-filled, cruel, beautiful beings. And chimera are the opposite. They’re creatures mashed up into other creatures. Snake and human? Sure. Human, antelope, and bat? Why the hell not. There are plenty of other combinations, some creepier and deadlier than others. Also, the characters are all so unique, and all of them, even the side characters, go through such massive character arcs. It was so beautifully written. Although, I have to say that a good portion of the book is based off of a forbidden romance, which some readers didn't enjoy, but I not-so-secretly did. The romance, the action, everything is so beautiful.
3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (4 books out, 4 coming out)
"Don't feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy." - A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses is about a huntress, Feyre, who lives in a post-war fantasy world. One day she shouts down a wolf, who she suspects is Fae, and soon a beast-like creature appears at her door demanding retribution. Feyre is dragged into the world of the Fae and discovers that her captor isn’t an animal but Tamlin, one of the lethal faeries who once ruled their world. As Feyre dwells on his estate, her feelings transform from icy hostility to fiery passion. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it or doom Tamlin, and his world, forever.
This book and series is amazing, as I’ve already said about every book on here. I really do love all of these books, but these last three hold a very special place in my heart and on my bookshelves. The high fantasy world is amazingly made, with the world expanding as you go through the series. Feyre’s character is amazing to read about, too. She’s fierce and stubborn. She’s loyal to her family, too. Although she makes some bad decisions, that is the beauty of her. She’s not perfect. She’s flawed, and in young adult you don’t see enough of that. Another thing is that the villain is so beautifully written, and by the end of the book you really want her dead, just like the majority of the characters. Lovers of urban fantasy, and prophecies would love this series.
2. The Finisher by David Baldacci (4 books out, finished)
“But if you don’t know where you want to go, I suppose any path will get you there.” - The Finisher, David Baldacci
The Finisher is about Vega Jane, who had never left Wormwood, an unusual village in the middle of a dangerous place, called the Quag. The Quag is filled with deadly creatures and impossible to cross, so everyone stays in Wormwood, the only known safe place. Then Quentin Hermes, Vega’s mentor, disappears into the Quag, and he’s left a very dangerous trail of clues for Vega to decode. Although it doesn’t look threatening, Wormwood is filled with people who would kill to keep their secrets. And Vega is determined to find out the truth, but the closer she gets the more risks she takes.
This book is, also, amazing. Before I found my number one on the list, or ACOTAR, number three, I was stuck after finishing the series that got me into reading, the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. I didn’t know what to read, or what I was interested in. Then I read The Finisher, and fell in love with the first book. At first I didn’t know that it was going to be a series, but I soon saw the second book, The Keeper, at the bookstore and had to pick it up. I loved Vega, who was a bit of a tomboy, and stubborn as hell, and her best friend Delph, a shy, strong, smart guy. They were an unstoppable team, and I couldn’t be happier with their friendship. The creatures that the author also made was amazing. They were weird and unusual. The world was also really well developed, making it enjoyable to read, and interesting because it wasn’t anything like our world.
So, now we’re approaching my favourite, number one recommended fantasy book. Before we get there I thought I would include those that didn’t make it to the number 10 slot or above. I would like to say that these are in no particular order.
First, we have Firstlife by Gena Showalter. This book follows a girl named Tenley “Ten” Lockwood, who lives in a world where your firstlife isn’t your last. When you die in your firstlife, you go into secondlife, where there are two worlds battling for control. Myriad and Troika are these two worlds, one dark and one light, constantly battling. And Ten has to pick which world she’s going to after her firstlife is over and her secondlife begins.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is also an amazing fantasy series following witches, and the different powers they wield. This book follows two best friends, Safiya and Iseult. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to know when someone’s lying, and one of the most rare and desired witches. Iseult is a Threadwitch, able to see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her, but is unable to see her own.
Last but not least, we have Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is based in fantasy world where the queen of this world has female triplets, every single time they give birth. Each triplet has a power, an ability, and each has to kill the others for the throne. In Three Dark Crowns we follow these three sisters, Mirabella, Katharine, and Arsinoe. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe is a naturalist and is said to be able to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. The last queen standing gets the crown.
And now, for my number one favourite fantasy book… *imaginary drumroll*
1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (8 books out, 1 coming out, finished)
"You could rattle the stars," she whispered. "You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most." - Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass follows an eighteen year old assassin named Celaena Sardothien. She is taken out of Endovier, a prison, to compete in a competition to become the King’s Champion. The King’s Champion is basically the king’s assassin, they kill whoever they are told to kill, and get paid for it. Soon, the competition starts, and mysterious deaths of some of the other 26 competitiors do too.
This is a series, and my favourite series out of all the genres I’ve read. I love the sarcasm, the kick ass characters, the complex plans, and the mystery behind everything. Celaena is one of my favourite characters, and her character arc is amazing. Although, the magic system doesn’t come in until the last part of Throne of Glass, and the second book, Crown of Midnight, I also love the magic system. There are rare gifts, and not so rare gifts. There are things that deter and stop magic altogether, and there are limits to magic. Overall, this book is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone, no matter what genre you read. Young adult, or adult, fantasy, or romance. Whatever. Also, I would like to mention that the series has ended and the last book, that is coming out in 2019, is a companion that happens ten years, from what I know, after the last book.
I have so much more to say about these books, but I shouldn’t make this post any longer than it is. There is one theme that all of these books share, except fantasy, and that is strong female characters. I am aware of that and I would like to point out that I am a high school female who is a feminist. Not to the extreme, but I believe in equal rights. And I don’t think that there are enough strong female characters in books, and if there are, they aren’t written well. I would also like to warn everyone that there is some explicit language and scenes, both sexual and violent, in most of these books. I know not everyone likes those things, but I would still recommend that you give every book a chance. They are filled with magic, heroism, and badass characters. I hope you enjoy any that you read!