#1 Daughter of the Empire
Series: Kelewan Empire
Authors: Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts
Told from the persepctive of a woman in the Tsurani homeworld of Kelewan, this is a brillaint expansion on a facinating peoples referred to in Feist’s Riftwar saga. I loved every moment, disappearing for two days as I devoured all three books in the trilogy. Everything from the characters to the highly memorable world-buidling had me hooked from start to finish. I loved them so much, that no book has managed to stack up since. Read full review
#2 Dragon Weather
Series: Obsidian Chronicles
Author: Lawrence Watt-Evans
You might recognize this from my Dragon Bulletin, as it’s still one of the best books I’ve read in the entire genre. Adrian was only 11 when a dragon destroyed his village, killing everyone but him. Left alone and defenseless, he is soon captured and sold into slavery, sent to work the mines of the Lord Dragon. As Adrian grows through the story, he seeks vengeance on those who wronged him. I have to say I loved every moment of this trilogy – so much so that I bought them in hardcover. Watt-Evans is an excellent writer. He has a way of drawing you in, making every moment is engaging and entertaining. Not only is it an amazing dragon book, it just plain good fantasy!
#4 Magician: Apprentice
Series: The Riftwar Saga
Author: Raymond E. Feist
This is a story about a young orphaned boy named Pug who is chosen as the apprentice to Master Kulgan, a magician. When invaders from another world threaten the kingdom, Pug finds himself swept up on an epic adventure that will take him to places he never could’ve imagined. As the long-time favorite of my family, “Magician: Apprentice” is the book that first inspired my love of the genre. I’ve gone through hundreds of books since then, and it is still one of the best novels I’ve ever read. It’s got all of the elements I loved about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it is written in a much more vibrant and story-driven manner. I highly recommend it for both hard-core fantasy fans and those hoping to give the genre a try. You wont be disappointed. Read full review
#4 Heart of Myrial
Series: The Shadowleague
Author: Maggie Furey
Myrial is a world divided by magical walls, giving each species within it an isolated sanctuary. Dark powers have been unleashed in the land, and the worst is about to happen. Hurling towards apocalypse, the walls are beginning to crumble, and only a select few from a secret society of guardians can stop it. I have read so many fantasy books that, after a while, they all start to sound the same. What Furey does is give you dynamic and interesting characters, a unique and fascinating world, and a cleverly woven plot to make for one of the best books out there. Despite my best efforts, she is still relatively unheard-of, and that is a shame. Her novels rival and beat some of the most well-known books in the genre. I LOVED this trilogy.
#5 The Name of the Wind
Series: Kingkiller Chronicles
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Kvothe is a young man with an impossible task: locating the men that killed his family – beings that supposedly don’t exist. In this seemingly never-ending search for justice, he manages to work his way to become the most notorious magician his world has ever seen. There is not a single thing I didn’t like about this book. In fact, the only reason it’s not higher on the list is that I’ve only just discovered it. The characters come alive, and are much more than words on a page, the story is beautifully written, bringing the story to life without being overdone, and the plot is one of the most well-woven that I’ve ever read. I am dying for the final book, that’s all I’m saying. Read full Review
Series: Dragon Jousters
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Also a duplicate from my Dragon Bulletin, Vetch is a young slave who yearns to become a jouster – a warrior who rides a dragon into battle. Sold into a house of riders, he soon finds himself caring for the great beasts. It isn’t long before he gets the idea to raise one in secret… This is by-far my favorite Mercedes Lackey series, and she’s got a lot to choose from. Oddly, I love books that teach you things. After reading “Joust” I felt like I knew a lot more about how to care for and train dragons (useless knowledge, I realize, but filled with awesomeness nonetheless). This was one of the most fun books to read – I loved it!
#7 First Truth
Author: Dawn Cook (aka Kim Harrison)
Despite her father’s best efforts, Alyssa didn’t believe in magic. Not even when it compelled her to journey to the Hold, a fortress hidden in the wilderness where students come to learn the craft. Finding it almost abandoned, Alyssa works with some trusted companions to save it from destruction and finds the courage to embrace her father’s legacy. I’ll be the first to admit that nothing particularily epic happens in this series, but that didn’t diminish my love for it in the least. The love story element has always been one of my favorites, but that’s not even the best part. There is such a momentum built up throughout the series that by the time I made it to the final book, I was up all night finding out what happens. Read full review
Series: Legend of Drizzt
Author: R.A. Salvatore
“Homeland’ is not just the first of an amazing trilogy, but is also the beginning of the brilliant “Legend of Drizzt” saga. A well-rounded prequel, it takes you deep into the kingdom of Menzoberranzan where dark elves rule with unabashed cruelty. Among them dwells Drizzt, an anomaly with honor and compassion who yearns for a different life. A tad slow to start, the story soon launches to become one of the most epic fantasy adventures in the genre. I’ve read this first trilogy several times, and find new things to appreciate about it each time I do. One of the best characters in fantasy history, Drizzt will always keep you wanting more! Read full review
#9 Wayfarer Redemption
Series: Wayfarer Redemption
Author: Sara Douglass
A heroic story about a woman who defies all odds to learn the true nature of her people. She unveils a secret in the process that might save the world from ultimate destruction at the hands of an evil lord and his terrifying ice demons. I’m still reeling from this series years later, and am biding my time until I can get back and read it again. So so memorable, and the characters and plot are amazing. It is such a well-rounded series that I think it deserves a lot more attention than it’s gotten. I would love to see this one made into a film.
#10 Kushiel’s Dart
Series: Kushiel’s Legacy
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Submission was never so powerful… following the story of Phedre no Delaunay, this book will take you on one heck of a adventure. Filled with intrigue, history, love, and passion, this is one of the most unique books you’ll ever read. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate politics, but reading about them in this format was actually quite entertaining. I remember tiny details about this book, and the characters really resonated with me. Definitely an excellent historical/romantic/fantasy fusion.
Honorable Mentions! (Because what book lover doesn’t experience turmoil when trying to narrow down their favorites?)
Series: Isles of Glory
Author: Glenda Larke
Facing the struggles of a female half-breed, Blaze is the ultimate minority in this world. She is also an aware – a gifted person who senses magic. She uses this talent to hunt down dark sorcerers, hoping to earn a place in an unforgiving society. My favorite element of this series was the phenomenal world-building. I love the totoal escape Larke provides, and have found all of her works to be totally transporting. Because of this, she has become one of my all-time favorite authors! Her “Stormlord” series easily makes it into the top 20.
HM#2 Wizard’s First Rule
Series: Sword of Truth
Author: Terry Goodkind
This is a story about a young woodsman named Richard who journeys across the boundary separating his home from the magic-infested land beyond. Destined for a role which he’s not yet ready for, he relies on the wit and wisdom of his companions to help him defeat the evil Darken Rahl. The second and third time I read this book, even I had to admit it was a bit wordy. The first time around, I was so absorbed in the story that I didn’t notice or care – it was an incredibly gripping story. It also has my all-time favorite female character: Kahlen.
HM#3 Thief’s Gamble
Series: Tales of Einarinn
Author: Juliet E. McKenna
Searching for an important artifact, Livak is a young scholar who sets out with an almost-mage and a wizard to track them down. Faced with many obstacles to their quest, she takes a gamble that just might prove to be the worst decision she’s ever made… or best. I really appreciate the characters, the adventure, and the world-building in this series. McKenna takes you all over this land in a way that I found totally entertaining.
Author: Brandon Sanderson
In a world where metals are the source of power, an unlikely cast of miscreants just might have what it takes to save the world. One of the most excellent cast of characters in any fantasy novel I’ve read, each one was dynamic and interesting. To top that off, the magic system was also original, and the plot was a complex and fascinating culmination of events that I am still reeling from. Loved it!
These are my favorites, now what about YOU? What books make the top of your fantasy list?
by Niki Hawkes