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.
- 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.
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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