The Ultimate List of 46 Fantasy Books for Beginners - The Fantasy Review

The Ultimate List of 46 Fantasy Books for Beginners

Here is The Fantasy Review’s Ultimate List of Fantasy Books for Beginners! Of course, we could not add every book and series we wanted to, as that would have made this article a book in itself! But we hope beginners will find this collection a good starting point and find some books that are not always seen on similar lists of fantasy books for beginners.

The comment section is open to all who wish to recommend additional books within these categories. The Lord of the Rings has been left of this list as we figure if you were going to read it, you would!

If you want to jump to any of the main sections, they are as follows:

Easy Standalones

This is a short list of easy standalones to ease you into the fantasy genre. Whether you are looking for something dark, light, or somewhere in the middle, these fantasy books for beginners are a great place to start.

Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

Fantasy Books for Beginners

From the blurb:

Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Review of: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

From the blurb:

In the world of Warbreaker, each person is born endowed with the power of one Breath―which can be sold and collected by others, then used to Awaken objects and even corpses to do their bidding. A few individuals who die in glory return as gods, with the power of thousands of Breath, but no memory of their mortal lives―and are enthroned in the Court of Gods in Hallandren’s capital….

The Keep Within by J.L Worrad

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Review of: The Keep Within by J.L. Worrad

From the blurb:

When Sir Harrance ‘Harry’ Larksdale, bastard brother of the king, falls for a mysterious lad from the mountains, he is unwillingly caught up in a chaotic world of court intrigue and murderous folk tales. Meanwhile Queen Carmotta Il’Lunadella, First-Queen of the Brintland, needs to save her life and her unborn child. With the Third-Queen plotting against her, and rumours of coups rocking the court, Carmotta can rely only on her devious mind and venomous wit.

The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

Fantasy Books for Beginners

From the blurb:

Better to die sharp in war than rust through a time of peace.
A mother struggling to repress her violent past, A son struggling to grasp his violent future, A father blind to the danger that threatens them all. When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire?

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Review of: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

From the blurb:

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success ― not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is….

Fantasy Trilogies for Beginners

Trilogies are a popular way to start reading fantasy books – it is how I started! In fact, the first adult fantasy books I read were trilogies by Trudi Canavan (who is on this list twice!).

The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan

From the blurb:

Each year the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they believe.

The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

From the blurb:

A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash fields.

The Wind on Fire Trilogy by William Nicholson 

Fantasy Books for Beginners

From the blurb:

In Aramanth, exams are everything. When Kestrel rebels, her family are sentenced to the harshest punishment. To save them, Kestrel learns the secret of the wind singer and she sets out to discover the true source of the evil that grips Aramanth.

The Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Check Out: our Interview with Mark Lawrence

From the blurb:

When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were killed before him. By the time he was thirteen, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king…

Longer Series to Try First

These longer fantasy series are still nice and easy-going for beginners, but they are for those who want to sink their teeth into a series longer than three books.

Inda by Sherwood Smith

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Review of: Inda by Sherwood Smith

Check Out: our Interview with Sherwood Smith

From the blurb:

Indevan-Dal is the second son of the Prince and Princess of Choraed Elgaer, destined to become his elder brother Tanrid’s Shield Arm-his military champion. Like all second sons, he is to be privately trained at home by Tanrid, the brother whose lands he will one day protect.

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

From the blurb:

Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world.

This is the tumultuous tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance….

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

From the blurb:

When fifteen-year-old Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Songs of Chaos by Michael R. Miller

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: Songs of Chaos by Michael R. Miller

Check Out: our Interview with Michael R. Miller

From the blurb:

Holt Cook was never meant to be a dragon rider. He has always served the Order Hall of the Crag dutifully, keeping their kitchen pots clean.

But then he discovers a dark secret: dragons do not tolerate weakness among their kin, killing the young they deem flawed. Moved by pity, Holt defies the Order, rescues a doomed egg and vows to protect the blind dragon within….

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Fantasy Books for Beginners

From the blurb:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

Medium Difficulty Fantasy Series

This section is of fantasy book series that are medium difficulty, so you might be able to start with them, but it’s recommended you begin with an easier standalone or trilogy. But, if you’re feeling up to it, dive right in!

The Illborn Saga by Daniel T. Jackson

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: The Illborn Saga by Daniel T. Jackson

Check Out: our Interview with Daniel T. Jackson

From the blurb:

Long ago, The Lord Aiduel emerged from the deserts of the Holy Land, possessed with divine powers. He used these to forcibly unite the peoples of Angall, before His ascension to heaven.

Over eight hundred years later, in a medieval world which is threatened by war and religious persecution, four young men and women begin to develop supernatural abilities. These forbidden and secret powers will shatter the lives that they have known, and will force each of them to confront the mystery of the ethereal Gate which haunts their dreams. What does the dream mean, and how is it connected to their burgeoning abilities?…

The Faithful and the Fallen by John Gwynne

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: The Faithful and the Fallen by John Gwynne

From the blurb:

The world is broken. . .and it can never be made whole again.

Corban wants nothing more than to be a warrior under King Brenin’s rule — to protect and serve. But that day will come all too soon. And the price he pays will be in blood.

Evnis has sacrificed — too much it seems. But what he wants — the power to rule — will soon be in his grasp. And nothing will stop him once he has started on his path.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

From the blurb:

Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow.

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

From the blurb:

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

From the blurb:

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When a vicious band of half-men, half beasts invade the Two Rivers seeking their master’s enemy, Moiraine persuades Rand al’Thor and his friends to leave their home and enter a larger unimaginable world filled with dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

Read our Reviews of: The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

From the blurb:

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

Best Books to Try by Subgenre

There are many subgenres to fantasy, but these are some of the more popular ones. None of these books are super dense or complicated, so can be read by beginners. The subgenres included here are:

Epic Fantasy

The Fury of Kings by R.S. Moule

Read our Review of: The Fury of Kings by R.S. Moule

From the blurb:

After decades of peace, the kingdom of Erland is sliding toward disaster. The rebellious lords of the West are gathering their armies. On the mountain that towers over the capital, strange storms rage.

When the king’s heir is murdered, war seems certain.

The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding

Read our Review of: The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding

Check Out: our Interview with Chris Wooding

From the blurb:

Empires rise, civilisations fall and one culture comes to subsume another. It’s the way of the world . . . sometimes ways of life are improved, sometimes they are not. But the progression of change is huge and – usually – unstoppable.

In this story, the Ossian way of life is fading and the Dachen way is taking its place and Aren is comfortable with that. Even when his parents are accused of treason he supports the establishment and maintains there’s been some mistake . . . which is all it takes to get himself and his best friend arrested . . .

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Read our Review of: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

From the blurb:

My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.

High Fantasy

The Iron Crown by L.L. MacRae

Read our Review of: The Iron Crown by L.L. MacRae

Check Out: our Interview with L.L. MacRae

From the blurb:

Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name.

Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors….

Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan

Read our Review of: Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan

From the blurb:

When Auraya was chosen to become a priestess, she could never have believed that a mere ten years later she would be one of the White, the gods’ most powerful servants.

Sadly, Auraya has little time to adapt to the exceptional powers gifted her by the gods. Mysterious black-clad sorcerers from the south plague the land, and rumours reach the White of an army being raised….

One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

From the blurb:

Elspeth needs a monster. The monster might be her.

Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom she calls home—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.

But nothing comes for free, especially magic….

Urban Fantasy

Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher

Read our Review of: Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher

From the blurb:

On the streets of Boston, the world is divided into the ordinary Usuals, and the paranormal Unorthodox. And in the Department of Unorthodox Affairs, the Auditors are the magical elite, government-sanctioned witches with spells at their command and all the power and prestige that comes with it. Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby is…not one of those witches.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

From the blurb:

Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, and while she was raised by werewolves, she can never be one of them, especially after the pack ran her off for having a forbidden love affair. So she’s turned her talent for fixing cars into a business and now runs a one-woman mechanic shop in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Read our Review of: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

From the blurb:

As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put it mildly—stinks.

Sorcery Reborn by Steve McHugh

From the blurb:

He doesn’t need a weapon. He is the weapon.

After losing his powers in an epic battle between good and evil, former sorcerer Nate Garrett finds himself living as a humble human in Clockwork, Oregon. While the world thinks Nate is dead, his friends continue to fight against Avalon and the evil it’s intent on spreading….

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

From the blurb:

The world of Faerie never disappeared; it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie’s survival—but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born.

Outsiders from birth, these half-human, half-fae children spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Or, in the case of October “Toby” Daye, rejecting it completely. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating into a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, Faerie has other ideas…

Heroic Fantasy

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Read our Review of: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Check Out: our Interview with Nicholas Eames

From the blurb:

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help — the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together.

Legend by David Gemmell

From the blurb:

Druss, Captain of the Ax, is the stuff of legends. Tales of his battles are told throughout the land, and the stories expand with each telling. But Druss himself grows older, until finally, the warrior turns his back on glory and retreats to his mountain lair. There he awaits his old enemy: death. 

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

From the blurb:

Long ago, the evil God Torak fought a war to obtain an object of immense power – the Orb of Aldur. But Torak was defeated and the Orb reclaimed by Belgarath the sorcerer.

Garion, a young farm lad, loves the story when he first hears it from the old storyteller. But it has nothing to do with him. Or does it? For the stories also tell of a prophecy that must be fulfilled – a destiny handed down through the generations.

And Torak is stirring again . . .

Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock

From the blurb:

Elric of Melnibone, an albino prince, travels in the Ship Which Sails Over Land and Sea to the city of Dhoz-Kam, through the Shade Gate to the Pulsing Cavern where the magic swords Stormbringer and Mournblade await him

Grimdark Fantasy

Eleventh Cycle by Kian N. Ardalan

Read our Review of: Eleventh Cycle by Kian N. Ardalan

Check Out: our Interview with Kian N. Ardalan

From the blurb:

It has been a thousand years since the last Seed abandoned their duty. The mists are closing in. Finally, the Morning Bell tolls. A new Seed is born, but is it too late?

The rot eats away at mortals. The Witnesses pray so that they may not turn into one of the forgotten. And the constricting mists infect the lands with fear….

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

Read our Review of: The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

From the blurb:

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good….

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Read our Review of: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

From the blurb:

Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian — leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle….

Blackwing by Ed McDonald

From the blurb:

Hope, reason, humanity: the Misery breaks them all.
Under its cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, the arcane remnant of a devastating war with the immortals known as the Deep Kings. The war ended nearly a century ago, and the enemy is kept at bay only by the existence of the Engine, a terrible weapon that protects the Misery’s border. Across the corrupted no-man’s-land teeming with twisted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies bide their time. Watching. Waiting.

Curse of the Fallen by H.C. Newell

Read our Review of: Curse of the Fallen by H.C. Newell

From the blurb:

This Child is not the chosen one. She is a demon to be destroyed.

Born of magic, Nerana is labeled a demon and forced into hiding by the Order of Saro. Living with a curse that binds her to their leader, Nerana seeks to free herself from their hold and soon learns that the path to redemption may prove more fatal than the Order itself.

But for Nerana, this is more than a quest for survival… It’s a promise of revenge….

Progression Fantasy

Unsouled by Will Wight

Read our Review of: Unsouled by Will Wight

From the blurb:

Lindon is born Unsouled, the one person in his family unable to use the magical Paths of the sacred arts. He uses every trick and technique he can borrow or steal to improve his life, but it seems he will never be able to join the ranks of the truly powerful.

Until the heavens descend and show him the future….

The Wandering Inn by pirate aba

From the blurb:

“No killing Goblins.”

So reads the sign outside of The Wandering Inn, a small building run by a young woman named Erin Solstice. She serves pasta with sausage, blue fruit juice, and dead acid flies on request. And she comes from another world. Ours….

Mother of Learning by Domagoj Kurmaić

From the blurb:

Zorian Kazinski has all the time in the world to get stronger, and he plans on taking full advantage of it.

A teenage mage of humble birth and slightly above-average skill, Zorian is attending his third year of education at Cyoria’s magical academy. A driven and quiet young man, he is consumed by a desire to ensure his own future and free himself of the influence of his family, resenting the Kazinskis for favoring his brothers over him. Consequently, Zorian has no time for pointless distractions, much less other people’s problems.

Difficult Fantasy Series 

And we finish this list of 46 fantasy books for beginners with three challenging reads! These are definitely for readers who have plenty of other fantasy books under their belt and are knowledgeable about the genre.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Review of book 1: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

From the blurb:

Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which mirrors our own in frightening ways, Roland tracks The Man in Black, encounters an enticing woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake.

Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Fantasy Books for Beginners

Read our Reviews of: Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

From the blurb:

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

The Black Company by Glen Cook

Fantasy Books for Beginners

From the blurb:

Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead.

Then comes the prophecy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more…

Related to: The Ultimate List of 46 Fantasy Books for Beginners

Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

Back to top