The best epic fantasy books with immersive world building

Who am I?

I was bullied throughout grade school until my senior year of high school. As a child, I only read Hardy Boy mysteries, so my mother tried to expand my range of literature by having me read The Hobbit. Reading epic fantasies allowed me to escape into another world and set my imagination on fire. ADHD has always been a part of my life, but fantasy novels helped to channel my creativity, allowing me to sit down and focus on something for hours on end. Readers will find themes from several fantasy authors in my books. They say to write what you know. I know epic fantasy and teen fiction.

I wrote...

The Scions of Faerie: The Faerie Chronicles Book 1

By J.D. Edwards,

Book cover of The Scions of Faerie: The Faerie Chronicles Book 1

What is my book about?

What if every story, every myth, and every legend were true? Driven by a need to rescue his aunt and avenge his parent’s murder, Ian Prescott discovers that the more he learns about his past, the less he knows about himself. Ian’s destiny lies hidden in the past he can’t remember and a future he can only imagine.

Unfortunately, all magic comes with a price. One false move could extinguish all life on Earth and plunge Faerie into chaos. The greater good always involves sacrifice, but every choice has consequences. When the needs of the many conflict with the needs of the few, Ian must decide who lives and who dies: His aunt or his mother’s best friend. How much is a single life worth?

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Paradise War: Book One in The Song of Albion Trilogy

By Stephen R Lawhead,

Book cover of The Paradise War: Book One in The Song of Albion Trilogy

Why this book?

I was 14 years old when I first read The Paradise War, and something about this book captured my imagination and never let go. The richness of the story and the backdrop of Celtic Mythology only added to the immersive world-building of Albion. In many ways, themes from this book inspired my series. The story pulls the reader into its pages, immersing them in a Celtic otherworld: similar to our own, yet different. It’s an adventure you never want to end. I loved the series so much that I read it once a year until I knew the story by heart.

The Scions Of Shannara: The Heritage of Shannara, Book 1

By Terry Brooks,

Book cover of The Scions Of Shannara: The Heritage of Shannara, Book 1

Why this book?

I first read The Scions of Shannara when I was 13 years old. At the time, this book was the first in a new series from Terry Brooks. In less than a year, I devoured his first series, The Shannara Chronicles, and wanted more. Terry did not disappoint. This book picked up 300 years after the original series and expanded his initial world-building of the Four Lands. While it contained Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, and Trolls, like most fantasy books, Terry developed his world based on a post-apocalyptic Earth. The sign of a good series is its ability to connect to the reader’s soul. With The Scions of Shannara, I connected to the story to the point where I became emotional and could not put the book down.

The Fellowship of the Ring: The Lord of the Rings: Part One

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Fellowship of the Ring: The Lord of the Rings: Part One

Why this book?

When it comes to epic fantasies, The Fellowship of the Ring sets the bar by which all other epic fantasy novels are judged. I was 12 years old when I first read The Hobbit and immediately plunged into The Fellowship of the Ring. The depth of Tolkien’s world-building is astounding. I read the series every year for nearly 20 years and continued to gain new insights into Middle Earth and the mind of J. R. R. Tolkien. The Fellowship of the Ring is not merely an epic fantasy; it’s a masterpiece of literature. The world-building is second to none, and the depth of the backstories allowed Christopher Tolkien to author another 20 books based on his father’s notes on Middle Earth. 

The Lightning Thief

By Rick Riordan,

Book cover of The Lightning Thief

Why this book?

I was busy writing my own book when Rick Riordan published The Lightning Thief, and I was blown away by the similarity in concepts. While my epic fantasy books dealt with Celtic mythology, Rick Riordan’s books dealt with Greek mythology. As the years passed, he branched off into Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology, but it all started with The Lightning Thief. I loved how he built his mythological world in parallel with our own. He created a rich, deep world where Greek myths and legends came to life. Although the main character was a young teen, I connected with Percy Jackson and the other characters as an adult. This book proves that you don’t have to be a teenager to enjoy teen fiction.

Eragon: Book I

By Christopher Paolini,

Book cover of Eragon: Book I

Why this book?

Eragon slipped into the reading community quietly and, within a year, was 3rd on the NY Times Bestseller’s List. I read this book in my mid-20s, and I loved its character depth, expansive worldview, and strict magical system. Christopher Paolini was only 15 years old when he wrote Eragon. Still, he found a way to write an epic fantasy without relying on standard fantasy tropes. Alagaësia is a world much like Earth but filled with Elves and Dragons. He’s careful to obey the magical laws he created for his world, and each character is flawed, allowing the reader to find a bit of themselves in the characters. Paolini subtly ties in concepts of love, forgiveness, revenge, and redemption without being preachy or forcing his worldview on others.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Greek mythology, quests, and magic-supernatural?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Greek mythology, quests, and magic-supernatural.

Greek Mythology Explore 39 books about Greek mythology
Quests Explore 31 books about quests
Magic-Supernatural Explore 345 books about magic-supernatural

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like On the Road, The Lord of the Rings, and The Clan of the Cave Bear if you like this list.