5 YA Fantasy Series to Read Before Trying Adult Fantasy - The Fantasy Review

5 YA Fantasy Series to Read Before Trying Adult Fantasy

When I was a freshman in college, a friend saw me reading A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin before class. She told me that she tried reading A Game of Thrones because she had started watching the show, but she had to put it down because she just couldn’t understand what was going on in the book. 

I think a lot of people have similar experiences, in that they jump into the “Big Books” of epic/high fantasy and end up being confused or overwhelmed. If you read Tolkien in elementary school, then that’s great! But in general, I think it’s good to get some “practice” for reading high fantasy novels, especially by starting with YA fantasy. 

If you want to read A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings or any other fantasy series of epic proportions, I suggest trying these fantastic 5 YA fantasy series to read first!

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

5 YA Fantasy Series to Read

Most epic fantasy books—or fantasy books in general—have the central theme of “Good vs Evil”. Daughter of Smoke and Bone has literal angels fighting literal demons… or does it?

This trilogy has a unique but accessible mythology, evocative writing that inspires wanderlust, and characters that are colorful but still relatable. Book One in particular has a narrative style that utilizes flashbacks, something that quite a few epic fantasies have.

The trilogy also starts off at a real-life location—Prague—but eventually moves on to a more fantastical setting.

2. The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

the winner's trilogy

The Winner’s Trilogy is one of those weird vague-fantasy-historical-fiction blends that became a trend sometime between 2014-2016. This trilogy is a must-read if you want to get a feel for the political intrigues and conflicts that are a common part of epic fantasy books.

This is also a refreshing story because the main character, Kestrel, is known for her cleverness and strategic knowledge rather than fighting skills. The Winner’s Trilogy features duels, strategic planning, war, horses, music and oh so much heartache. 

3. The Cruel Prince Trilogy by Holly Black

5 YA Fantasy Series to Read

Epic fantasy series usually involve a lot of scheming and backstabbing and plotting. And by backstabbing I should put a lot of emphasis on the STABBING part because can you really call a book ‘epic fantasy’ if no one is maimed or murdered?

The Cruel Prince is good reading practice if you flinch at violence in novels. I don’t really know when YA fantasies started getting darker, but this trilogy does not shy away from blood and pointy objects.

P.S. I literally SCREAMED at the plot twist at the end and my mom glared at me for the rest of the day. Read this, please. 

4. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

throne of glass series

If you haven’t heard of this series, from which underground bunker did you emerge from my friend? I think I may be cheating here because at some point in this series it graduated from YA to ‘New Adult’ because of Maas’ desire to write smutty fairies. *snickers*  

That being said, Throne of Glass has an immense fantasy world that just grows throughout the books, and a cast of characters that you’ll love, or hate, or love to hate…or hate to love? You’ll be emotionally invested is what I’m saying.

This series may also get you used to reading books with PLENTY of characters, as epic fantasy novels commonly have huge casts of characters. It also features fey and vicious witches and WYVERNS AND FIRE. 

5. The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) by Christopher Paolini

Ignore the fact that Christopher Paolini borrowed heavily from Tolkien. Don’t even speak of the movie adaptation. (The Percy Jackson movie is an Oscar nominee compared to the sad film Eragon fans got.)

This is the series that got me interested in fantasy worlds that were completely different from the one we inhabit. People who criticize this for being a Tolkien-copy fail to realize the potential Eragon has of encouraging new readers to read more complex fantasy novels.

The Inheritance Cycle series encompasses the whole feel of epic fantasies, and I don’t think I would have become interested in reading high fantasy if it were not for Eragon and his talking dragon.

Let us know in the comments if you have read or are planning to read any of these! 

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