The best fantasy novels combining adventures, escape, and characters you love or love to hate

Who am I?

I’m an English author who lives in France. As a child I made up stories of princes and princesses to help my sister sleep. My favorite university course involved French medieval tales of adventure, romance, and fantastical worlds. So when I read my first fantasy novel, I was hooked! I have travelled the world, sailed down the Yangste, survived an earthquake in Cairo, picnicked in the Serengeti. These adventures are great for inspiration, but all that travelling requires much waiting around at airports - ideal moments to read, and over the years I have read all the classic fantasies and never been disappointed. I hope you will love them too. 


I wrote...

Lumina: Volume 1 - The Dragonlite Legacy

By Paddy Tyrrell,

Book cover of Lumina: Volume 1 - The Dragonlite Legacy

What is my book about?

Davron wants to find his exiled brother; Chrystala wants to save her race. With the Dragon King hell-bent on stopping them, will they both die trying? The birth of golden babies in Lumina heralds the onset of war. The people call them bronzites, first segregate them, and then banish them. A dangerous move. The Dragon King is attacking the country’s borders. If he wins support from the bronzites, Lumina is lost.

When young aristocrat, Davron, discovers he has a bronzite brother, he sets out to find him. At his side travels Chrystala. A bronzite, she has twice his strength and three times his determination. When the Black Dragon kidnaps Chrystala, Davron is faced with a terrible choice: save his friend or save his nation.

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).

Titus Groan

By Mervyn Peake,

Book cover of Titus Groan

Why this book?

This was the first fantasy novel I ever bought and I was enchanted by the beautiful imagery and wonderful writing. Fresh from studying medieval French stories of love and tragedy and fantastic worlds, it was a joy to find a modern version where imagination combined with danger and complex characters. A gothic fantasy in a decayed and dilapidated castle that dominates all with its crumbling presence. Dark, and menacing, full of secret passages and gloomy attics, a place of dust and danger. I wanted to write a book just like that one day!

Titus Groan

By Mervyn Peake,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Titus Groan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first volume of the GORMENGHAST trilogy of fantasy novels. Titus Groan is born the heir to Gormenghast castle, and finds himself in a world predetermined by complex rituals that have been made obscure by the passage of time. Along the corridors of the castle, the child encounters some of the dark characters who will shape his life.


The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Why this book?

A classic, I know, and nowadays everyone is familiar with Lord of the Rings, but when I read the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, there were no films, and everything was left to your imagination. I became hooked on the epic fantasy genre, swept up in the adventure, the interplay between characters, my emotional involvement with them, and the clash between good and evil. It was my first introduction to elves and their enchanted kingdom, to evil at its monstrous worst, and to the idea of a quest that changes the character and beliefs of the hero and his or her companions. I would later use this concept in my own writing. 

The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

46 authors picked The Lord of the Rings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…


The White Dragon

By Anne McCaffrey,

Book cover of The White Dragon

Why this book?

This was my introduction to dragons and one I will never forget! A dragon just had to become a feature in my book. It’s hard to know which of the excellent Dragonriders of Pern novels to choose. So why did I choose The White Dragon? Well, I was still young enough to identify with the ‘coming of age’ story of Jaxom, and I’ve always been on the side of the underdog. Jaxom’s white dragon was the runt of the litter and Jaxom himself was the target of bullying. The close union of these two is a theme that stuck with me and which I picked up in my own writing, where friendship is the key to survival. 

The White Dragon

By Anne McCaffrey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The White Dragon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Never had there been as close a bonding as the one that existed between the young Lord Jaxom and his extraordinary white dragon, Ruth. Pure white and incredibly agile, Ruth possessed remarkable qualities. Not only could he communicate with the iridescent, fluttering fire lizards, but he could fly. Back in time to any WHEN with unfailing accuracy. Nearly everyone else on Pern thought Ruth was a runt who would never amount to anything, but Jaxom knew his dragon was special. In secret they trained to fight against the burning threads from the Red Planet, to fly Back in time as…


Dune

By Frank Herbert,

Book cover of Dune

Why this book?

I had thought that science fiction rather than pure fantasy would not appeal to me, but this novel changed my mind. It rammed home the message that the world created by the author dictates the challenges faced by the characters, and plays as strong a role in the story as the adventures and the characters themselves. Like my favourite fantasy novelists, Frank Herbert had delivered an imaginative world peopled by strong characters. As with many of the great fantasies the threats come not just from other characters but also from the world itself, in this case the giant sandworms protecting the precious life-giving spice.

Dune

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

41 authors picked Dune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…


The Eye of the World: The Wheel of Time Book One

By Robert Jordan,

Book cover of The Eye of the World: The Wheel of Time Book One

Why this book?

Although the first novel in this series was not produced until 1990, it was still unusual and refreshing for me to discover a society where women rather than men wielded power. But these women were as flawed as their male counterparts and the struggle between good and evil continued unabated. Religion is a key theme, and having been brought up in a mixed-religion family, I was curious about different types of religion, particularly the conflict between the beliefs upon which they were based (usually good) versus the destruction and cruelty caused by most of them at some time in history. It seems, at least in fantasies, that power corrupts whether it be political, gender-driven, or religious! 

The Eye of the World: The Wheel of Time Book One

By Robert Jordan,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Eye of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 .

Since its debut in 1990, The Wheel…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in good and evil, extraterrestrial life, and nobility?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about good and evil, extraterrestrial life, and nobility.

Good And Evil Explore 89 books about good and evil
Extraterrestrial Life Explore 150 books about extraterrestrial life
Nobility Explore 68 books about nobility

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Winter King, Rendezvous with Rama, and Norse Mythology if you like this list.