This list of the top 10 fantasy books with magic is ordered by considering a book’s: Magic System; Worldbuilding; and Characters.
The best magic systems are more likely to come out on top, a this is a list about books with magic, but let’s quit the preamble and get into these fantasy tomes.
#10 – The Cradle Series by Will Wight
You might have noticed I reviewed book 1 in the Cradle series by Will Wight, Unsouled, very recently, so, yes, I am not very far into this series. However, after that first entry, I already believe it has earned a spot on this list.
Lindon is our main charcater and he’s such a great hero! He will sacrifice himself for a cause he thinks is right, and will work non-stop to improve himself – more specifically, he is consumed with a desperate need to become more magically adept.
The magic system is fantastic and I can’t wait to learn more about it and see how much more there is to discover. I can’t say much about it for fear of spoilers, but what I will say is that the system has levels, and these levels influence your social status (kind of).
#9 – The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin
If your favourite type of magic is the whimsical, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin is a fantastic choice. Her writing style is poetic and beautiful to read. The characters are such wonderful creations and so is the world they inhabit.
The magic system is fun, especially with the “Wizard School” trope – which inspired Patrick Rothfuss and J. K. Rowling in their own fantasy worlds. I would say the Kingkiller Chronicle is the most similar.
Kingkiller Chronicle series is not on this lst, because this magic system is quite similar and I think the books on this list are better, however you can call it an honourable mention.
#8 – The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Talking about magic systems that are similar to Earthsea, The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini is a fantastic, engaging series. The magic is all about True Names etc… and I love it.
This might not be the most complex fantasy series in the world, and a lot of people talk down about it these days. But, many of us grew up reading Eragon and the rest of this series, and for me it was one of the first series I finished and reread over and over – I loved these books and they helped get me into reading even more fantasy.
I think that despite the homage to Tolkien‘s work, this world, the characters and the writing style make The Inheritance Cycle some of the best books with magic.
#7 – The Poppy War Trilogy by R. F. Kuang
These books are great, and it’s the magic system that puts them at #7 on this list. It’s complex and dangerous, making the risks of using magic almost not worth it for the characters.
Rin is a difficult character to follow, but these books aren’t supposed to be easy, light reads! If you want to read books not set in a medieval European fantasy world, with a magic system that drives it’s user’s mad – these are the books for you.
#6 – The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
I have read 15 out of the 17 books in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher(so far) and that’s all because of Harry Dresden. He’s a bit chauvinistic, especially in the first few books, but after that cringey start these books have become some of my absolute favourites in the fantasy genre, despite not being that into urban fantasy.
The magic in this series in fantastic, with Harry Dresden, Wizard, growing in strength and skill over the many entries. Additonally, there are supernatural allies and threats with huge amounts of power, which really puts things in perspective.
It’s a fun magic system and fantastically crafted setting – definitely worth a read!
#5 – Stephen King’s Multiverse
The Stephen King multiverse is one of horror, thrills, emotional rollercoasters and more – if you can think of it, King has probably written about it.
Many of his works are connected in his multiverse, and the creepy things you see, as well as some cool, incredible powerful things, are all linked to the same magic system.
I haven’t read a huge amount of Stephen King (yet!), so click here to learn more. It is #5 on this list because of absolutely massive scope it has!
#4 – The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan is a fantasy classic of 14 books and 1 prequel novel. This series is well-loved by fans, and recently had an Amazon TV series adaptation. This is a pretty good time to get on the Wheel of Time train!
The magic system is interesting – there are two sides of the source of magic: One side of the source is accessable and used by women; the other half is accessable by men, however it was tainted by the Dark One, so any man who uses this magic will eventually go mad.
I am at book 5 in this series and have loved all the entries so far – they are definitely worth a read!
#3 – Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
It is no surprise to anyone that Brandon Sanderson is on this list, especially the Mistborn series. If you have watched any fantasy Top 10 list videos on BookTube or seen any fantasy Top “insert number here” articles, you will have seen this series or at least Brandon Sanderson’s name on them.
There are a few reasons for that, but the one I’m going to run with right now is the magic systems. Readers of The Cosmere, Brandon Sanderson’s fictional universe were many of his stories take place, will adore his magic systems – especially the one in the Mistborn series.
Mistborns can ingest metal alloys to make them powerful, and the different alloys allow them to have specific abilities. I won’t say anymore in case you want to discover this all for yourself – and I really think you should!
After many years away from reading much fantasy, I discovered the Mistborn Trilogy (Era 1) and loved it! It got me right back into the fantasy genre and I haven’t stopped reading as an adult since!
#2 – Age of the Five by Trudi Canavan
The truth is, I’m biased. Like anyone, I love the books that make me nostaligic and I read these books well over 10 years ago. I was 11 when I found the first 2 books, Priestess of the White and Last of the Wilds in a little bookshop on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.
I devoured these books on a holiday where I was stuck in a cottage with no TV, in the middle of nowhere, and only my books to read. I was bored of Harry Potter and didn’t like any of the books on offer at the cottage.
These books gripped me and never let go. Sure, I asked my mum what a brothel was and what a whore was, but I don’t remember really understanding anyway! I just loved the magic of the story – these gods that were real, waging war with potentially false gods of another country through their diciples, the White.
I will stop going on about this and let you read my reviews if you are interested – you should definitely read these books! They never get talked about enough and I will never know why!
#1 – Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
And finally, the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. This series only beat number 2 for the top spot because as much as I love Age of the Five, that trilogy just can’t compete with this epic series.
The magic system is what we are focusing on for this list, so I will try to do so! The magic users in these books use Warrens to harness their power. This power is raw and brutal – the corpses it can leave in its wake on a battlefield will be charred and brutalised.
These Warrens can also create beauty, and be clever and intricate. There is so much to them, but with a spoiler-free summary, all I can say is that this is one of the most impressive and interesting magic systems I have ever read about.
If you like gods messing with mortals, and mortals ascending into gods, you will love this series.
This has been my Top 10 Fantasy Books With Magic! What books have I missed? What are your favourites and have I convinced you to read any new series? Let me know down in the comments or on Discord!