Fantasy Book Recommendations

Whether you’re in the mood for high fantasy that takes place in other worlds, or low fantasy where the magic happens in our own world, this list contains some of the best fantasy books of all time! We’ll include both classic fantasy novels and modern fantasy, well-known and more obscure. Get ready for epic quests, magical beings, and good-vs-evil showdowns that provide the ultimate literary escape.

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A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (1968)

Reviewed by Eric

Come and step into the exotic and fantastical world of Ursula K. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. Set in a magical archipelago where sorcery is fueled by place and name, and story and myth run deep, A Wizard of Earthsea presents the tale of a young wizard named Ged. In an act of pride and foolishness, Ged releases an evil creature into the world and must go on a quest for the knowledge and wisdom needed to defeat it. This is a story about power and the wisdom to use it well, how even little actions can affect the balance of the wider world, and how (and why) the greatest among us are often also the most humble.

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones (1998)

Reviewed by Eric

Fantasy heroics meet corporate evil in Diana Wynne Jones’ Dark Lord of Derkholm, a comedic fantasy novel which is far different from your standard fantasy novel. Set in a fantasy world which has been taken over by a ruthless entrepreneur from our world and turned into an oversized theme park for droves of careless, destructive, and obnoxious tourists, this novel follows the attempts of Derk, a rather bumbling wizard, and the members of his family as they attempt to free their world from the clutches of its corporate overlord. In the process this novel examines an evil not grown out of dark magic or evil gods but rather the everyday greed and lust for control of the human heart.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937, 1950s)

Reviewed by Eric

Tolkien’s great fantasy epic belongs without any doubt on any fantasy booklist. I don’t care that everyone and their grandma knows about this series, I’m putting it here and if you like fantasy, and haven’t yet read it, well, then you need to get a copy and settle in with your beverage of choice because this book will blow your mind and take your breath away. At the same time.

Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings is, in my mind, largely responsible for the modern fantasy genre. In it, and its prequel The Hobbit, Tolkien spins a 1,000+ pages tale full of unlikely heroes, menacing evil, ancient histories, powerful and malicious artifacts, wizards, orcs, eagles (always eagles), elves, dwarves, humans, etc. Tolkien’s world is richly and deeply imagined, and full of themes of nobility, courage, friendship, and faithfulness. If you are tired of contemporary lit’s penchant for damaged antiheroes as protagonists, (re)turn to the original king of epic fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien.