The best fantasy series with powerful worldbuilding and characters you’ll love

Who am I?

I grew up reading The Brothers Grimm, Enid Blyton, and any number of stories that would come under the Fantasy umbrella. Later on, I fell in love with Garion and his friends in The Belgariad and The Malloreon. Later, I delved into the literature and Science Fiction of Iain (M.) Banks, and latched onto Terry Pratchett’s Death to navigate the vast Discworld series. I find I always return to Fantasy, and seek to come away from a book feeling as though I’ve made friends within the pages. This, too, was my goal when I took up writing.


I wrote...

Healer's Touch

By Deb E. Howell,

Book cover of Healer's Touch

What is my book about?

The Young Riders meets The Vampire Diaries in this tale of brother versus brother and blood-magic set in a gaslamp fantasy world. Llew has learned to survive the streets of the gold-mining town of Cheer, a hard existence made tougher when her so-called friend accuses Llew of murder, sending her to the gallows. But she doesn’t stay dead for long.

Escaping the hangman’s noose sees Llew fall into the hands of Jonas: the man with the knife and the power to kill Llew’s kind. If Llew can nurture the attraction he has to her, maybe she can keep that knife from her heart. But lurking in the shadows is Braph: the man who has learned to combine Healer and Warrior magics into addictive magical potential.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Emperor's Edge

Deb E. Howell Why did I love this book?

If, like me, you want to fall in love with a book’s characters and then stick with them for an entire series, and you feel like a story just isn’t complete without some romantic and/or sexual tension woven through, then I think you may enjoy this one as much as I did. Each book follows Amaranthe Lockdon and one other of the main characters, so you really get to know them well. I love how the books are structured. And Sicarius is a dangerous and compelling love interest.

By Lindsay Buroker,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Emperor's Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin, is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down.…


Book cover of The Demon King

Deb E. Howell Why did I love this book?

While this series is aimed at a younger audience, I found it just as enjoyable as anything aimed at adult readers. Yes, again, it is the fledgling, maturing, and sometimes troubled romance that will likely draw you through, however, the worldbuilding and external conflict is easily as captivating as the internal as you join reformed thief Han Alister on his quest to leave his previous career and reputation behind.

By Cinda Williams Chima,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Demon King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima presents the first installment in a thrilling new fantasy series, in which the lives of Han Alister and the brave Princess Raisa collide in a magical and dangerous adventure.
One day Han Alister catches three young wizard setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet away from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against him. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, Han…


Book cover of Kushiel's Scion

Deb E. Howell Why did I love this book?

I read this before I read the preceding trilogy: Phèdre’s Trilogy, and was well drawn in without the background knowledge that may have come from reading the two series in order. I later did read Phèdre’s Trilogy and enjoyed it, but it was Imriel’s Trilogy that really captured me. I love that while most Fantasy series will focus on aggressive politics and war, these series are more about the arts and diplomacy and humans being very human in all their facets. Imriel was a captivating character who I was eager to follow along with as I discovered the world he lived in.

By Jacqueline Carey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kushiel's Scion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imriel de la Courcel's birth parents are history's most reviled traitors, but his adoptive parents, the Comtesse Phedre and the warrior-priest Joscelin, are Terre d'Ange's greatest champions.

Stolen, tortured and enslaved as a young boy, Imriel is now a Prince of the Blood; third in line for the throne in a land that revels in art, beauty and desire. It is a court steeped in deeply laid conspiracies---and there are many who would see the young prince dead. Some despise him out of hatred for his mother, Melisande, who nearly destroyed the entire realm in her quest for power. Others…


Book cover of The Black Prism

Deb E. Howell Why did I love this book?

If there was ever a book or series that I wish I could put my own name to, it’s this one. Mr. Weeks had me on page 2 with the line “It was the kind of beauty that made you shit your pants” and kept me with the fascinating light-based magic system and the visuals it set off in my head. And then, as the book progresses, you get the sense you’re in the hands of someone with an understanding of psychology and he’s sitting back steepling his fingers with glee as you try to follow where he is taking you. Once again, I grew attached to several of the characters and found myself in awe of the talent on display here.

By Brent Weeks,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Black Prism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a world where magic is tightly controlled, the most powerful man in history must choose between his kingdom and his son - in the first book of the New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series, one of the most popular fantasy epics of the decade.

EVERY LIGHT CASTS A SHADOW.

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.

When Guile discovers he…


Book cover of The Warded Man

Deb E. Howell Why did I love this book?

I’m not helping with the tendency for people to get Brent Weeks and Peter V. Brett confused, am I? Oh well… 

This series had a fascinating setup of a world in which demons rise in the night and humans must retreat within a warded perimeter, whether that is a home, a town, or just a space to sleep by the road with wards placed around the edges. Or, you get inventive and ward your own skin. I found myself deeply drawn in and I came to care about the characters… Sensing a theme?

By Peter V. Brett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Warded Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The stunning debut fantasy novel from author Peter V. Brett.

The Painted Man, book one of the Demon Cycle, is a captivating and thrilling fantasy adventure, pulling the reader into a world of demons, darkness and heroes.

Sometimes there is very good reason to be afraid of the dark...

Eleven-year-old Arlen lives with his parents on their small farmstead, half a day's ride from the isolated hamlet of Tibbet's Brook.

As dusk falls upon Arlen's world, a strange mist rises from the ground; a mist that promises a violent death to any foolish enough to brave the coming darkness, for…


You might also like...

Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

By Mary Kendall,

Book cover of Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

Mary Kendall Author Of Campbell's Boy

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Storyteller Historian Walking enthusiast Yogi

Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Miranda falls in love with her dream house but soon discovers it's an affair with complications. A lot of them. Rosewood is a centuries old, tumble-down, gambrel roofed charmer located in an isolated, coastal corner of Virginia referred to as "strange". Known for long-standing and antiquated customs, an almost indecipherable brogue and possible witchcraft connections, Miranda shrugs all locational concerns aside to pursue her new love.

When an archeological dig is undertaken at the property, a series of incidents commences that goes beyond just "bumps in the night". Awakened one night by the eerie glow from a ring of fire around her house, Miranda must decide. Should she leave Rosewood or stay---and potentially pay the ultimate price?

Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

By Mary Kendall,

What is this book about?

After a logics professor buys the house of her dreams, she must contend with unexplainable happenings. An ancient blue bottle appears to be at the root of the mysterious incidents, but is it?

Miranda falls in love with her dream house but soon discovers it's an affair with complications. A lot of them. Rosewood is a centuries old, tumble-down, gambrel roofed charmer located in an isolated, coastal corner of Virginia referred to as ""strange"". Known for long-standing and antiquated customs, an almost indecipherable brogue and possible witchcraft connections, Miranda shrugs all locational concerns aside to pursue her new love.

When…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in worldbuilding, wizards, and war?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about worldbuilding, wizards, and war.

Worldbuilding Explore 133 books about worldbuilding
Wizards Explore 94 books about wizards
War Explore 1,813 books about war