Best fantasy books (from genre Sword & Sorcery) in my OWN opinion. In this ranking I only place fantasy books which I read and books published in english. Of course - like all rankings of fantasy books - this list is subjective. Now is just only 35, but in few years should be 100.
One of main inspiration is fantasy encyclopedic compedium Manuscript Discovered in a Dragon's Cave (Rękopis znaleziony w Smoczej Jaskini). Andrzej Sapkowski, author this book, is polish writer (father of The Witcher ;) and his list top fantasy books you can find there: Canon of fantasy literature, by Andrzej Sapkowski. If you don't see this fantasy list of books, then you should :-).
In the end you will find some fantasy books which I don't read, but I know that are - in diffirent rankings - the best of fantasy books of all the time.
Top 10 fantasy books of all the time
Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and Silmarilion, J. R. R. Tolkien - The number one in fantasy genree. One of the books which you must read if you are fan of the fantasy. Start Hobbit and then Lord of the Rings. In the end you can read Silmarillion.
Conan, Robert Howard and followers - the Conan stories are the foundation of the Sword and Sorcery sub-genre. Conan is one of the iconic hero in fantasy. If you want read all books of Conan, then prepare for almost 70 books (!).
The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan - world of The Wheel is heavily influenced by Tolkien. If you haven’t read Wheel of Time then start this books. You will spend some time on this saga. There you have 14 books and Robert Jordan have lots to say :-). He died before finish last book. After him, The Wheel of Time was finish by Brandon Sanderson
Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis - Classic fantasy books for kids! Obligatory to read. Great thing is that, you can read also when you are a "big" child - almost 30 years old ;).
Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin - Earthsea is the world of magic, where Ged young boy find that he has gift for sorcery. In six novels Ged find lot of adventures.
The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny - Opus Magnum of Zelazny. Chronicle of Amber are written on 10 books. First five are about Prince Corwin (The Corwin Cycle), next five is about Merlin (The Merln Cycle). Additionaly you also can read some short Zelazny stories from Amber's World.
Discworld, Terry Pratchett - Almost 40 books with specific english sense of humor in fantasy realm ;). To be honest for me, Discworld is great satire for real world.
A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin - Great fantasy series (5 books, 2 in future) which now are very popular (thank to HBO series "Game of Throne"). Epic story that is still being written. intended to be complete in seven volumes, but George R. R. Martin has stated it could go on for longer.
The Witcher, Andrzej Sapkowski - Probably the best polish fantasy saga. On market you will find books about Witcher in english. At this time you can buy: Two books with stories (The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny) and three novels (Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire). Saga about Witcher consist short stories and five novels. Three are published in english. Two will be published soon (In 2016 The Swallow's Tower and in 2017 Lady of the Lake).
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe - Very original books. Hard to define genre (some people says "Science fantasy"), but always recomended in "top 10 of fantasy books" ;).
Kane, Karl Edward Wagner - For me one of the best fantasy books! Kane is great and complicated hero. Every fan of sword and sorcery fantasy (Yes I know that Wagner didn't like this term) should read this stuff (3 novels and 2 collections of stories). "I kill things. It's what I was made to do. I'm rather good at it" quote from The Gothic Touch ;-).
The Once and Future King, T. H. White - Classic fantasy book! The whole world knows and loves this book. It is the magical epic of King Arthur and his shining Camelot; of Merlin and Owl and Guinevere; of beasts who talk and men who fly, of wizardry and war. It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad. It is the fantasy masterpiece by which all others are judged.
Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling - Probably everyone knows who is Harry Potter. Yes try read this books. Its worth your time, when you are normal or "big" kid :-).
The Neverending Story, Michael Ende - Rare gem. Non english fantasy which has global popularity. Great classic book!
The Black Company, Glen Cook - The Black Company is mercenary group. First time in fantasy we have action from soldiers perspective, not "great heroes" aka Conan, Aragorn, Elric, etc.
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Bradley Zimmer - one of the best retteling of Arthur legend. Bradley relates the Arthurian legends from the perspective of the female characters. The book follows the trajectory of Morgaine. 1500 pages... Book is very good, but should be shorter (of course for Me).
Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle - Beautiful fantasy! The unicorn, alone in her enchanted wood, discovers that she may be the last of her kind. Reluctant at first, she sets out on a journey to find her fellow unicorns, even if it means facing the terrifying anger of the Red Bull and malignant evil of the king who wields his power.
Ring of Darkness, Nik Perumov - Middle-earth 300 years after the War of the Ring. We have hobbits, dwarws, elfs and he newest reincarnation of evil in Middle-Earth in the Fourth Age. 3 books, which every fan of Tolkien should try read.
Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman - Richard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart -- and an ordinary life that is changed forever on a day he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. From that moment forward he is propelled into a world he never dreamed existed -- a dark subculture flourish in abandoned subway stations and sewer tunnels below the city -- a world far stranger and more dangerous than the only one he has ever known...
It is a masterful debut novel of darkly hypnotic power, and one of the most absorbing reads to come along in years.
The Broken Sword, Poul Anderson - Recommend fantasy to read, always in 100 top fantasy books. Thor has broken the sword Tyrfing so that it cannot strike at the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree that binds together earth, heaven and hell. But now the mighty sword is needed again to save the elves in their war against the trolls, and only Scafloc, a human child kidnapped and raised by the elves, can hope to persuade Bolverk the ice giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But Scafloc must also confront his shadow self, Valgard the changeling who has taken his place in the world of men.
Three Hearts and Three Lions, Poul Anderson - Another great proposition from Anderson. The gathering forces of the Dark Powers threatened the world of man. The legions of Faery, aided by trolls, demons and the Wild Hunt itself, were poised to overthrow the realms of light. And alone against the armies of Chaos stood one man, the knight of Three Hearts and Three Lions. Carlsen, a twentieth century man snatched out of time to become again the legendary Holger Danske to fight for the world he had helped to build.
Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson - Bestseller and quite oryginal book. There will be some sorcery, some martial-arts. The Mistborn series (3 novels) action is placed in world where for a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory, hero was born...
Jack of Shadows, Roger Zelazny - One of his short novel, worth reading. In Jack Of Shadows, we meet Jack aka Shadowjack, an infamous master thief and the Lord of Shadows, the realm between the two opposing parts of the world - the Lightside and the Darkside. Lightlanders enjoy perpetual light and put their faith in science, while Darksiders dwell in constant darkness and wield magic.
Drenai Series, Gemmel David - Probably the best is first (and chronoligically last one) the Legend. Book about hero Druss. Good is also Waylander.
The First Law, Joe Abercrombie - The First Law Trilogy was great debut and bestseller in USA. There is some magic, sword, good history, and lot of blood and violence. But I bet than The First Law series will be very popular in next years. "Imagine The Lord of the Rings as directed by Kurosawa"
The Kingkiller Chronicle, Patrick Rothfuss - To this day we have (The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear), final book will be The Doors of Stone. Everyone knows this type: very smart child loose his parents. After some adventures he goes to University, where he study. Then author give us more adventures :). And goes, and goes, but Rothfuss book isn't boring. In general - good long fantasy! Waintng for last one!
Shattered Sea, Joe Abercrombie - Another trilogy by Abercrombie. We have brutality, gore, action, swift battles. Very recommended :). “A fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page 1 and refused to let go.” George R. R. Martin
Best Served Cold, The Heroes, A red Country - Stand alone novels from First Law world. Quite good and my favorite is The Heroes.
Dying Earth, Jack Vance - The Dying Earth, six interlinked short stories set on a far future version of Earth. Seekers of wisdom and beauty include lovely lost women, eccentric wizards and man-eating melancholy deodands. Twk-men ride dragonflies and trade information for salt. There are monsters and demons. Each being is morally ambiguous: the evil are charming, the good are dangerous.
The Ice Dragon, George R. R. Martin - Short novel of author A Song of Ice and Fire series. First time in fantasy appears ice dragon. Last but not least: book is for kids.
Dragon Lance ( shared universe created by Laura and Tracy Hickman) - series of fantasy novels in world where dragons are real and very common. Dragonlance began the Chronicles trilogy, a core element of the Dragonlance world. Today we have something like 40-50 novels.
Forgotten Realms, Robert Salvatore - Forgotten Realms is a Dungeons and Dragons setting that focuses primarily on Faerûn, an ancient land of magic and monsters, of peril and wonder. Main hero in this series is black drow Drizzt Do'Urden. There is something lik 20 books about Drizzt and it is good series for younger readers.
The Black Magician Trilogy, Trudi Canavan - fantasy novel series, for young girls ;-).The books follow a slum-dwelling girl named Sonea who, although born and raised in the slums of Imardin, discovers that she has natural magical abilities usually restricted to the upper classes. They describe her attempts to escape capture by the Magicians' Guild and gain control of her powers, her struggle to fit in and learn magic, and ultimately her attempts save Kyralia using the one type of magic forbidden from use. Although the series is composed of only three books, it is accompanied by a prequel entitled The Magician's Apprentice and a sequel series, called The Traitor Spy trilogy.
Others classic fantasy books
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Fritz Leiber
Elric of Melniboné, Michael Moorcock.
Imaro, Charles R. Saunders.
Wizard's First Rule, Terry Goodkind.
The Belgaraid, David Eddings.
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Stephen R. Donaldson.
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