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HQ’s Top 10 Fantasy Book Must-Reads

After completing our primary research, the team at Best Fantasy Books HQ was so surprised by some of the omissions from the Consolidated User Poll List we felt compelled to share our personal Top 10.

Disagree with us, or know of other books you were surprised to see excluded?  Let us know!


#1  The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive Book 1), Brandon Sanderson 

Through some magical process, Brandon Sanderson has found a way combine key aspects from some of the best works of all time into something completely new and utterly amazing.   Epic world-building with histories spanning millennia?  Check.  Superior character depth built through time-spanning narratives?  It’s in there.  Completely original magic system?  Yep, got that too.  Did we also mention fight scenes and battles of monumental proportion?

Even with only 2 of a proposed 10 books published, Stormlight tops our list based on the amazing groundwork that has been laid, and Sanderson’s proven ability to ensure each and every novel in his series is action packed.

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 #2  The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1), Patrick Rothfuss

Bottom line: this series is an instant classic. Brilliant storytelling takes readers on a ride of emotional highs and lows, all building to eventually sync the two different timelines in which we follow our protagonist, Kvothe.

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#3  A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 1), George R.R. Martin

For many years, ASoIaF was the undisputed champion of modern epic fantasy.  Book comparisons would often start with “Yeah, Book XYZ is really good…..not as good as Game of Thrones, but still very good.”

Our top three were almost too close to call, and while Thrones was ultimately edged out by two newcomers A Song of Ice and Fire still reigns as the best drama on this list.  Amidst the action and intrigue, Martin’s work really shines as he tackles several issues that are frequently grossly oversimplified in the genre.  If realistic fantasy fiction exists, this is it.

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 #4 Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow Book 1), Anthony Ryan

Blood Song was originally independently published by Ryan, but following its viral success Ryan was quickly picked-up by Penguin Books for a 3-book deal.  Ryan is a newcomer to the fantasy scene, which is the only possible explanation we can find for why or how this series isn’t in the top 10 on all of the fan polls we follow.

Blood Song beings as a gripping tale of ten youths, volunteered by their families for lifelong service into the realm’s elite fighting force.  Those who survive to adulthood (spoiler alert: not many of them do) quickly find themselves in the schemes of a much larger (and even more dangerous) world.

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 #5 The Blade Itself (First Law Book 1), Joe Abercrombie

The best and most accurate description of this series remains as follows: the characters include a narcissistic royal, a sadistic torturer, and a schizophrenic, murderous barbarian….and those are the good guys. So true! Never before has such an amazing pack of anti-heroes been assembled, and you will, without question, be cheering for them by the end. First Law is graphic, brutal, and in an unexpected twist, surprisingly thought provoking. There are so many pearls of wisdom and insight amidst the carnage that they shine through despite the intensity of their surroundings. Did I mention the dark humor? Some of the lines are so great you’ll try to remember them for later use, but ultimately find they are just too dark to actually say aloud. If you can handle the heat, these books (as well as the follow-ups) are amazing.  Challenge yourself by trying to spot the psychopath (finding the torturer is too easy).

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 #6 Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Ready for a change of pace?  One of only two set (mostly) in modern day planet Earth (Dresden Files being the other), this book is so conceptually clever and well executed when you finish it we can almost guarantee your next purchase will be American Gods (Gaiman) and/or The Color of Magic (Pratchett) to search for the true source of Good Omens’ creative genius (answer: both authors).  Think of Omens as a slightly less silly (but equally charming) fantasy counterpart to Sci-Fi classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is some the highest praise we here at Best Fantasy Books HQ are capable of giving.

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#7 Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire Book 1), Mark Lawrence

Psychopathy (noun) definition: personality disorder characterized by diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior.  See also: Jorg Ancrath

Jorg, the Prince of Thorns, is debatably the most psychopathic main character in all of Fantasy, and will stop at absolutely nothing to get the revenge he seeks for the brutal murder of his mother. His actions will literally make you cringe, and yet somehow you will love him for it.

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#8  The Black Prism (Lightbringer Book 1), Brent Weeks

We loved Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy, and Lightbringer proves that he still continues to improve as an author.

What we especially love (aside from lots of amazing action) is the character complexity, particularly with of one of our heroes, Kip.  No matter what Kip accomplishes in life his self-esteem remains that of the bullied youth from a small town, and yet……Kip will not back down from anyone.  The comments Kip makes to dangerous figures of power and authority will leave you both stunned in amazement and laughing with joy.

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 #9 Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn Trilogy), Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn was the breakthrough series for one of today’s hottest fantasy names, Brandon Sanderson.  Mistborn is set in a unique, almost Steampunk world (the follow-up book Alloy of Law is full-blown Steampunk, set in the same world but several years after the conclusion of the Mistborn Trilogy) with compelling characters, an exciting plot, and THREE completely unique magic systems utilizing diabolically complex methods for combined employment.

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After reading these it will be clear why Brandon was entrusted with the completion of the Wheel of Time.

#10 Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1), Jim Butcher

Who’s the most unlucky private detective and professional wizard in modern day Chicago? You guessed it, Harry Dresden. Ever wonder how superheroes make money for groceries? Welcome to Harry’s world, where you have the ability to shoot gouts of flame with the power of your mind….but also have to keep your powers hidden from normal humans. The result?  Unimaginable power, but you can’t pay your rent. There are few characters easier to root for than Harry. There are even fewer who take as many butt-kickings from pretty much everything supernatural of which you have ever heard as he works tirelessly behind the scenes to defend his hometown (and the world) from destruction. There are 20 (or so) total books planned, but don’t be intimidated. Each novel works well as a stand-alone, but also keeps pulling the reader through with background story arcs that span over several books or even the whole series.

Read a Free Sample or Buy it Now Here!

This post first appeared on Best Fantasy Books HQ: The Homeplace Of Epic Fanta, please read the originial post: here

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HQ’s Top 10 Fantasy Book Must-Reads


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