A few weeks ago, we talked about some of the best books to pick up right after finishing the critically acclaimed Harry Potter novels. Today’s batch of recommendations is fresh out of the high fantasy brand of baking ovens. While our previous recommendations featured many children’s and pre-teen books, this list is more appropriate for older readers.
High fantasy works are usually set in a starkly different universe as opposed to our own, often built from scratch. You get to dip your toes in deep lore, multiple complex characters, supernatural elements, comprehensively detailed plots, and epic quests. This sub-genre has produced some of the most distinct and beautifully written literature in existence. If you’re looking to make an entry, here are some of the best picks to get you started.
Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as the Ring is entrusted to his care. He must leave his home and make a perilous journey across the realms of Middle-earth to the Crack of Doom, deep inside the territories of the Dark Lord. There he must destroy the Ring forever and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
It is impossible to start a list of such caliber without the legendary series that is The Lord of The Rings. Tolkien was a master of his craft, and there’s no better way to enter the high fantasy sub-category. Grab the complete e-book set for $16.68 on the Amazon Kindle store and $18.29 on the Kobo store.
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.
The popular HBO TV show may have ended, but the books still haven’t. Even if you haven’t watched the hit TV series, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is unmissable for fantasy lovers. The first five installments are available in an omnibus edition for $26.83 on the Amazon Kindle store and $19.69 on the Kobo store.
Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.
The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.
Rothfuss favors a uniquely compelling writing style that draws in the reader even more than the succulent story. You’ll thoroughly enjoy the first two parts in this trilogy, leaving you wanting for the unreleased finale. Get absorbed into the rich and dangerous world of Kvothe for $5.61 on the Amazon Kindle store and $8.79 on the Kobo store.
Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg’s bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.
This one’s a dark tale that follows an anti-hero through a grim and unkind story. You won’t be able to stop until you’ve reached the end of the gripping series. The debut novel in The Broken Empire Series can be found for $7.58 on the Amazon Kindle store and $6.09 on the Kobo store.
From New York Times Bestselling author Brent Weeks…
For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.
For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.
Enter Durzo Blint, an assassin who is unmatched in his profession. This three-part saga from Brent Weeks follows our master killer and his apprentice Azoth as they indulge in the gritty job of taking lives. You can purchase the first book in the series for $5.61 on the Amazon Kindle store and $11.49 on the Kobo store.
The kingdom of the Six Duchies is on the brink of civil war when news breaks that the crown prince has fathered a bastard son and is shamed into abdication. The child’s name is Fitz, and he is despised.
Raised in the castle stables, only the company of the king’s fool, the ragged children of the lower city and his unusual affinity with animals provide Fitz with any comfort.
To be useful to the crown, Fitz is trained as an assassin; and to use the traditional magic of the Farseer family. But his tutor, allied to another political faction, is determined to discredit, even kill him. Fitz must survive: for he may be destined to save the kingdom.
Enter the extraordinary world of Robin Hobb’s magnificent Farseer Trilogy.
What do you get when you mix royalty, assassins, bastards, and magic? This fantastic chronicle from the brilliant mind of Robin Hobb. Pocket the entire trilogy for $15.20 on the Amazon Kindle store or start slow with the first installment for $6.49 on the Kobo store.
Sabriel: Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorsen, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. . . .
Lirael: Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. She doesn’t even have the Sight—the ability to see into possible futures—that is the very birthright of the Clayr. Nevertheless, she must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil—one that threatens to break the very boundary between Life and Death itself. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, to help her, Lirael must find the courage to seek her own hidden destiny.
Take a bite out of this tantalizing fable that plays with the very idea of Life and Death. Necromancers, creepy undead creatures, and legends of old await you in The Old Kingdom Series. Snag an e-book copy of the complete collection for $37.40 on the Amazon Kindle store or $41.09 on the Kobo store.
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Follow Alina Starkov through Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising as she discovers her dormant powers and is swept up in a world of luxury and illusion. As Alina struggles to fit into her new life, a threat to the kingdom of Ravka grows―one that will test old alliances and challenge the very limits of magic, one that will forge a leader from a frightened girl.
Also known as The Grisha Trilogy, this trio of novels follows a strong female lead as she struggles to survive in a war-torn nation, uncovering her own hidden past along the way. The Shadow and Bone Trilogy is collectively available in a single e-book version for $24.60 on the Amazon Kindle Store. You can also get the first part on its own for $8.99 at the Kobo store.
So, these are our best recommendations for readers looking to get started in the high fantasy genre. If your thirst for magic and adventure isn’t quenched by these books, don’t worry. We’ve got many more selections coming your way in the near future. In the meantime, feel free to add your favorites to the list and share with the community in the comments below!
Namerah is a Technology Journalist with experience at leading online publications like Android Central. She has a passion for all things tech and gaming, and has been an honorary Goodreads librarian since 2011. When she isn't writing, she can be found chasing stray cats and dogs in the streets of Dhaka or slaying dragons in the land of Skyrim.