Hello my darlings,
I don’t know about you, but I think that this moment in time is a perfect time for classic escapism: I love to lose myself in long, juicy fantasy series and romance novels, especially historical romances. I’m talking books on books on books; lush, detailed universes that you can binge read for days on end.
We’re kicking off Books to Binge Read with an annotated list of my top 55 (!) fantasy series recommendations.
Books to Binge Read: Fantasy Series edition.
I have personally read all of these fantasy series and I’m including a brief summary for each. Let’s go!
- The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. A strong female main character, a fascinating and in-depth world, a gorgeous/heart-wrenching love story…I’ve read this series five or six times and I know I’ll be back for more. Read my full review here.
- Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore. These are three companion books written in the same universe rather than a typical series, but the characters do interact with each other. All of them are fantastic! Fire is my favorite, but you should read Graceling first. Read my review here.
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. This series is pretty well known, and for good reason. Badass assassin heroine, fun band of hero friends, interesting powers, dramatic plots!
- Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. These books are badass. The premise: one of three sisters will be Queen, but not until she kills the others. The series was unfinished the last time I checked on it, so that means I have a couple more books to read now!
- The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty. I’ve been raving about this in my IG story and I stand by my raving. It’s fantastic. Go read it.
- Discworld by Terry Pratchett. If you’ve never read Terry Pratchett, now is a PERFECT time. His writing is clever, insouciant, insightful, silly, and full of joy. His many Discworld books all take place in the same universe, but there are sub-series within that: a collection of books about Death, about the witches, about the Guards, etc. You can read them in order or skip around. Mr. DitL and I are doing Discworld on audiobook right now and it’s fantastic. I particularly love Death (he’s a character) and the Guards.
- The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling. I absolutely and unreservedly love the first three books of this series. They’re not as good after that – I haven’t even read the most recent one. But I’ve read the first three over and over and over and over. Magic, elite spies, and a very sweet m/m love story.
- Tamir Triad by Lynn Flewelling. These take place in the same universe as Nightrunner, but many years before. They have a different vibe – they’re spookier and so good. Gender identity is a major theme.
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. These books rock, and it looks like a new one has been published since I last checked! A repressive society, a rebellion led by brave young people, badass swordfighting…etc. It’s great. Read my review of the first book here.
- Damar by Robin McKinley. One of the first ever badass ladyhero fantasy series I ever fell in love with and a perpetual reread for me.
- The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. Epic fantasy at its finest! That description applies to everything I’ve ever read by Brandon Sanderson. Full review here.
- The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. ALSO epic fantasy at its finest.
- Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I deeply, truly, passionately love the first book in this series. The second book is just north of mediocre. Kind of heartbreaking, but now I just reread Seraphina and ignore Shadow Scale.
- Shadowshaper Cypher by Daniel José Older. I have only read the first one of these but it was good! Urban fantasy set in Brooklyn.
- The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole. These are YA epic fantasy with a strong romance element. I got the first one of these from and publisher and had bought the rest of the books within a day or two – I devoured them. Actually, maybe I’ll reread these next. They are great.
- The Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. Classic, classic fantasy and one of the first series I ever fell in love with. Set in the dragon-filled Pern universe. I used to read my mom’s old paperbacks over and over.
- The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. Another Pern series formative to my early reading years. These do require a little bit of forgiveness due to what feminism looked like at the time they were written: there are some relationship moments in these books that make me raise an eyebrow now.
- The Diviners by Libba Bray. 1920’s YA fantasy. Lustrous and absorbing. There is a Museum of Creepy Crawlies.
- Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. These often get lumped in with Twilight, but they’re different and much better! Kind of a Gossip Girl meets Buffy vibe. I own these books and I’ve read them all several times.
- The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. I know I was just throwing shade at Twilight – and it’s true that I don’t think they’re the best books – but they’re a fun read and they were a major cultural moment, so why not give them a whirl?
- Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Sarcasm, dark humor, crime, mythological figures, complicated blending of the supernatural and science. I only read the first in the series, but I would totally go back for more.
- The Magicians by Lev Grossman. These books are WILD. They are partly set at a magical boarding school, but they’re not similar to Harry Potter – lots of drugs and sex and death and danger and heartbreak. They’re fascinating and unique. They have a certain amount of satire directed at other fantasy series – there’s a Narnia parallel as well.
- The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. This is a SciFi/Fantasy fractured fairy tales series set in kind of a dystopian future? It’s great. It’s really a little more SciFi…but I’m letting it be on the list anyway. (Warning: this series contains a pandemic.)
- Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green. This is one of those fantasy series that is sort of a joke about fantasy tropes but also a story in its own right.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. How could I not include these? J.K. Rowling has disillusioned a lot of her readers this year by saying terrible things on Twitter, but that’s not Harry’s fault. I will always love these books. I particularly recommend the Audiobooks read by Jim Dale. So soothing.
- The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. These are another childhood favorite for me. They’re true Middle Grade novels – for a younger audience than YA. I still love to read them, especially as Audiobooks when I’m trying to relax.
- The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare. This series is a great, fun read. Cassandra Clare likes beautiful doomed boys, love triangles, dramatic reveals, and star-crossed love.
- The Infernal Devices by by Cassandra Clare. Same universe as The Mortal Instruments, but at a different time. Same description as the above. (There are more Mortal Instruments books now I think, but I haven’t read them.)
- Tales of the King’s Blades by Dave Duncan. Men with swords! Camaraderie! Betrayal! Magic! Good stuff. Amazon seems to be fuzzy on the order of this series, but you can find that on Goodreads.
- Caraval by Stephanie Garber. These books are vibrant and creative. The world is fascinating – sort of a Hunger Games premise in a Moulin Rouge universe? The plot and character development could be better, but this series is an enjoyable spectacle.
- Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce. Another series I mainlined during my formative years. Middle grade, fiercely feminist and utterly fantastic. For more books, read on through The Circle Opens and The Circle Reforged. Warning: Briar’s Book (Circle Opens #4) contains a pandemic.
- Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, Protector of the Small, Daughter of the Lioness, and The Legend of Beka Cooper. by Tamora Pierce. More of my nearest and dearest. These are several separate series, but they’re all in the Tortall universe and I like to read them all through as one GIANT series. Middle grade, but more mature than Circle of Magic. If you want to understand what makes me who I am, read these books. They’re in my blood.Warning: In The Hand of the Goddess (Lioness #2) contains a pandemic.
- The Cahraman Trilogy: A Retelling of Aladdin by Lucy Tempest. This series is great! I’ve only read the first two books, but it’s a little bit fractured fairy tale, a little bit reality TV show inspired scenario, and very creative and enjoyable.
- The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson. I felt a little lukewarm about this series when I first started it, but I couldn’t get the characters out of my head. When I went back and read the rest of it, I liked the whole much better than just the first installment. The main character really comes into her own over the larger arc.
- Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. This book is beautifully written and its world takes place in a stunningly created universe, but I have to warn you that I found the series as a whole to be a little bit of a bummer. For me to want to reread these books, I would have needed the characters to encounter 15-20% less tragedy. Read these if you like having your heartstrings tugged.
- Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi. These books are awesome. Vivid and creative, set in a fascinating world. Warning: this series is unfinished and currently ends on a major cliffhanger.
- The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. Apparently I read these books in 2015 and I am having a hard time remembering them? But I gave them a 4/5 on Goodreads and they sound awesome!
- Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox. These books are bright, fresh, and creative, with interesting and unusual magic. Full review here.
- The Kingkiller Chronicle Series by Patrick Rothfuss. This is a very well-loved epic fantasy series. I definitely enjoyed it, but it’s not one of my ultra all time faves. It’s a little wordy and it has a vibe that I associate with classic epic fantasy written by male authors that I’m tired of. Still worth a read!
- The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I absolutely LOVED the first book in this series, but the second book went in an unexpected direction and it made me mad so I never read the third book. The first book was so good that I may go back and give it another chance.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. This is a middle grade series about kids in the modern age who discover they’re descended from Greek gods. Great on audiobook.
- The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray. Magical powers in a girl’s boarding school in the late 1800’s. Beautiful and absorbing.
- The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. A lot of people LOVE this YA series. I definitely enjoyed it, but I didn’t feel like my whole heart was pulled into it. It’s an urban fantasy, magic in the real world, “look how beautiful these broken boys are” kind of series. Lots of sweet, lovely angst.
- Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David. This is another somewhat satirical series with a bit of a Terry Pratchett vibe, but sharper and darker. Lots of puns and jokes about the genre.
- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. I don’t love these books just like I didn’t love their tv show. Too complicated and dark for me, too much political maneuvering and violence against women. But if you liked the tv show, this could be a great time for you to try the books!
- The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett. This series was unfinished when I read its first book, but it was very creative and well done. I’d go back for more.
- The Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. Classic for a reason! Always worth a revisit.
- All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Vampires and witches! This could sound a little bit like academic Twilight on paper, but the story is much more complex and the writing more nuanced (and just better). Involves magical books and lots of historical tidbits (including some very historically accurate jewelry moments).
- The Gentlemen Bastards by Scott Lynch. Okay. I once wrote a fairly mixed review for the first book in this series, The Lies of Locke Lamora. But you know what? I decided to give it another change recently and I’m liking it MUCH more the second time around. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. The Gentlemen Bastards are a crew of sarcastic con men who get in lots of trouble. What’s not to love? It gets to be on the list.
- The Wheel of Time Kindle by Robert Jordan. This is one of the great classic, iconic fantasy series of all time. I don’t love it as much as some people do, but I still enjoyed reading it.
- Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien. I almost didn’t include these because they’re so obvious. This series is beautiful, legendary, and of huge cultural importance. I’ve never fallen in wildly in love with it, but I enjoyed reading it. I recently revisited The Hobbit on audiobook and I liked it much better than I ever have before. I may have to give LotR the same treatment.
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. This series is YA and I would describe it as for people who love fairy tales; the kind that are beautiful but can also give you nightmares, not the Disney kind.
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. I’ve been revisiting these and they’re beautiful and serene. More Christian messaging than I remember, but still enjoyable.
- So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. A middle grade classic I first listened to on tape during a family road trip from Maryland to Maine. I don’t love all of the books in this series equally – they take a rapid turn to SciFi and that’s not really my thing – but the first few are fantastic.
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I somehow have only read one of these? But I love this author and I have no hesitation recommending anything by her.
That’s it for now! Come back soon for Books to Binge Read: Romance Series edition.
If you want more book recs, you can see my What I’m Reading archive here, my Best Books of the Year posts here, my master list of book recs here, and Books That Make Me Feel Better here.
The links in this post all go to Amazon, because that’s the easiest for me and I personally prefer Kindle books. They are also affiliate links, so if you click through this post I’ll get a few pennies to put towards my own book buying.
If you’re buying hard copies of books to binge read please consider ordering through an independent bookstore to help support small businesses in this difficult economic time! Legendary Romance bookstore The Ripped Bodice is even offering custom care packages. If you live in the DC area, here’s a list of local bookstores offering curbside pickup and other accommodations.
If none of this helps, I would like to remind you there is a song for this: Muppet Treasure Island’s CABIN FEVER. Sing along to the video, learn the dance. Show me on IG.
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Diane Shetler says
Love many of these and also recommend Maria Snyder’s books. An absolute favorite of mine is the series by Megan Whalen Turner beginning with The Thief. And don’t miss Cynthia Voigt – Jackaroo etc.
Ooh yes! Great recs. Thank you!
Have you read the poison study books by Maria v Snyder? I love them! I would also recommend Michelle Sagara’s chronicles of Elantra! Sometimes the writing on that one isn’t amazing but the storyline is great!!
Ooh I haven’t read either of those! I’ll have to check them out. Thanks so much for your recommendations!
Mikelle Goodman says
I was literally coming to the comments to say thank you and that you should read Maria V Snyder. SOOO good. I come back to these like I do the Tamora Peirce world.
Oooh good to know!! Tamora Pierce is a superfavorite of mine, so that’s a powerful rec for Maria V Snyder.
Thanks so much!
I adore Leigh Bardugo and Brandon Sanderson! Cassandra Clare is fab too.
I absolutely fell in love with seraphina, it’s one of my favorite books and I’m so glad you mentioned it because hardly anyone does.
I don’t think you mentioned it here but the Simon Snow trilogy is fantastic as well.
Love this list, thanks so much for sharing!
Yesss I LOVE Simon Snow. I’ve only read the first book and Fangirl, but I love them both. I’m going to have to go track down the others now.
Have you tried The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Colgan?
Ooh, no I haven’t! It has a great title, though. Thanks for the rec!
Yvette Castro says
Have you read the Sevenwaters Trilogy, the first 2 books are great, the 3rd did a decent job finishing up the story.
Oh no I haven’t! Thanks so much for the rec, I will have to check it out.
Yvette Rochelle Castro says
Have you read the Sevenwaters Trilogy. By Juliet Marrilier, hands down my fav trilogy.
Yvette Castrp says
Ignore this one did not realize I submitted it
Thanks for the list, Becky! Many unknowns for me so that’s great. If you like some darker fantasy I can recommend Michael Moorcock with his Elric saga. And all the books by Gene Wolfe are wonderfully written but particularly his Book of the New Sun. He was also the inventor of Pringles incidentally.
Looking forward to more recommendations!
Ooh, fun! Thanks so much for your recommendations, Eirk. I’ll have to check them out.
All Things Tyrica says
Reading fantasy books always brings out the kid in me. Thanks for the list! I will try and procure some of them and read them. Thanks!
I’m so glad you love fantasy too! I hope that you love whichever of these you decide to try reading. Please feel free to come back and check in about what you ended up going for!
Thanks for the list. Some good suggestions on there, don’t agree with all of them though. I adore Rothfuss. Slow Regard of Silent Things was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Warning to whomever reads this – don’t read it before reading the KKC series, it won’t make sense.
Have you ever heard of The never Night Chronicle? Series by Jay Kristoff? I’m only on the second book but I’ve enjoyed it. Managed to make me cry. To me, thats the mark of a good book.
Two stand alone books I’d suggest, just for your own pleasure and not to add to this list – Ombre in Shadow, by Patricia McKillip (such a beautiful book) and Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirlees. Lud in the Mist isn’t a book for light reading, it takes some thought sometimes to understand. Mirlees was clearly a very intelligent individual. Not a book for anyone who is at YA level of reading and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, its just that Mirlees’ writing can be very poetic and demands thought from the reader which you are ultimately rewarded for.
Thanks so much for the additional recommendations! I always appreciate hearing about new titles that are worth adding to library hold list.
I second the recommendations for N.K. Jemisin and all the Pullman books. You and the reading gang might also my favorite author, Lois McMaster Bujold, who has two fantasy worlds with a bunch of stories belonging to each as well as a sci-fi series. The fantasies are the Chalion novels and the delightful Penric and Desdemona novellas, all of which take place in the World of Five Gods, and The Sharing Knife series. The Penric and Sharing Knife books are easy to get into; the Chalion books are terrific but denser.
Ooh yes!! These all sound fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!
I love this list. It has a few of my favorite authors as well as some of the authors/books I can’t wait to read. I’d like to also suggest N.K. Jemisin. I’m currently reading her Inheritance Trilogy and am absolutely loving it.
If people are in the Tulsa, OK area, we have several independent bookstore options so don’t forget about us. I work at Magic City Books, which is a nonprofit, independent bookstore in Downtown Tulsa. We offer online purchasing and curbside pickup as well. I know the other stores do curbside for sure. I don’t know about their online options though. Don’t forget about our little stores. Mask up and come for a visit. We’d love to see you. Sorry for the shameless plug :).
No need to be sorry!! Independent bookstores are one of my very favorite things and I don’t mind shameless plugs 😉 we’ve gotta keep the little stores alive! I’m glad you spoke up.
I’m in the middle of N.K Jemisin’s Broken Earth series and oh my goodness she is an incredible writer. I know I want to read more from her.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Great list! You should also check out the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden. Has it’s roots in Russian fairytales and is SO good. Laini Taylor has also written the Strange the Dreamer duology. Similar to DoSaB in it’s tragedy, but her writing is just exquisite!
Ooh that sounds fantastic! Thank you for the rec.
Jean Travers says
You didn’t mention Robin Hobb.we own all her books and our daughter is now reading them . Loved them all – bought them as they were published and couldn’t wait for the next one.
Really like Brandon Sanderson and am into book 4 of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.
I’ve actually never read anything by Robin Hobb! I will have to check her out. Thanks so much for the rec!
Divine Box says
This is surely an amazing list. Few books I have already read and rest will start reading soon. Thank you for the list. Already bookmarked the page.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the list! I hope you find some new books to love.
The red wolf quintet was excellent more fantasy adventure but worth the read.
Ooh good to know! Thank you for the rec.
Brooke H says
I adore Damar and Robin McKinley, and since you do too, I *highly* recommend Patricia McKillip’s work. Especially her Riddlemaster series. I first read it in high school and have reread it about once every two years since. She has some truly lovely stand alone books as well, and I hope you enjoy them!
Oooh yes!! I will have to check this out. Definitely sounds like my kind of thing.
Thanks so much for the recommendation!
Harsh Shah says
Oh, That’s really great list of books. Bookmarked this page 🙂 Thanks for the list Becky
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I had a lot of fun putting this list together.
Happy reading and thanks so much for commenting!
I love this! Can’t wait to sit down and read a few of these! One recommendation though, if you haven’t yet read them, the series following Raymond E Feist’s “Magician” is an amazing series, definitely a must read!
Ooh I haven’t read those! Thanks for the tip, and I’m so glad you enjoyed my list!
terry prachett, anne mccaffrey, robin mckinley, tolkien of course, c s lewis, madeline l’engle…YESYESYES.
may i suggest all of the “earthsea” books by ursula k leguin; “the last unicorn” by peter s beagle (ok, not a series, but so wry, charming, and intelligent; those who only know the bad film version may not know how good the original story is); and “his dark materials” by phillip pullman…
Oooh yes! I’m not at all surprised to find out that we love many of the same books. I read The Last Unicorn a million years ago and obviously I need to revisit it – same for His Dark Materials.
I’ve never properly read Earthsea but it’s one of those classics I’ve always intended to get down to eventually. Maybe now is a good time!