The best fantasy books with stories you’ll love at any age

Who am I?

As a child, my parents and teachers struggled to turn me into a reader. Summer reading assignments only compounded the problem. That changed when I discovered classic fantasy stories built around worlds filled with questing heroes, sorcerous villains, and dragons. The combination of fantastic worlds and wonderful characters creates a magical experience enjoyable for readers of any age. My nine published books follow this recipe—characters readers care about in worlds they want to live in. My recommended books engage readers of any age without resorting to foul language, overt sex, or graphic violence.

I wrote...

The Poisoned Princess: Warders Book 1

By Armen Pogharian,

Book cover of The Poisoned Princess: Warders Book 1

What is my book about?

Falsely convicted and exiled for attacking his friend, half-elven half-barbarian Toran flees to neighboring Eridan. Following his uncle’s advice, he finds work in the seedy Knife & Cat tavern. During the princess’s welcoming parade, Toran uses elven skills and barbarian battle rage to thwart her assassination. His actions earn him an invitation to join the secret protectors of Eridan, the Warders.

A second attempt succeeds in poisoning the princess but fails to kill her. Toran, a veteran dwarf agent, and the princess's lady in waiting embark on a mission to retrieve the antidote's key ingredient. Other Warder agents work with the thieves' guild to protect the comatose princess from the assassin, the sorceress Skade, and an unknown traitor within the royal household.

The books I picked & why

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The Hobbit

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Hobbit

Why this book?

Tolkien’s Middle-Earth is a world for readers to lose themselves in. Before The Hobbit, I thought of elves as toymakers and cobblers, dwarves were one-dimensional characters with silly names, and trolls lived under bridges. Tolkien’s tale of lost kingdoms, magic swords, and a dragon’s stolen treasure changed everything. The Hobbit transformed dwarves into mighty warriors and craftsmen, while elves became masters of magic and lore. The story includes evil goblins, a skin-changer, giant spiders, a talking dragon, and most important of all, the titular character, Bilbo Baggins. Dragged into the ‘miserable adventure’ by a wizard known for his fireworks, Bilbo often misses the creature comforts of home, but the quest cannot succeed without him. This was my first true fantasy read and remains a favorite.

Magician: Apprentice

By Raymond E. Feist,

Book cover of Magician: Apprentice

Why this book?

Magician: Apprentice is the gateway to Feist’s fantastic Midkemia, a world of heroes, magic, monsters, and political intrigue. In a remote corner of the Kingdom, orphan Pug struggles to learn magic. After saving the duke’s daughter, Pug joins the court, which is where the story takes an unexpected twist. The Kingdom comes under attack by invaders from another world. Pug and his friend Tomas become embroiled in the struggle, which pushes each to become more than they ever dreamed possible. The arc of the story continues through three more surprise-filled books. Impressively, Feist continues to spin out new tales exploring every corner of Midkemia, but it all starts with Pug. Midkemia is my favorite fantasy world.

Pawn of Prophecy

By David Eddings,

Book cover of Pawn of Prophecy

Why this book?

This is the first in an epic 10-book high fantasy series featuring a great ensemble cast. While there are no elves or dwarves, Eddings fills his world with culturally distinct kingdoms and all the political intrigue that entails. Plot driving prophecy has become a bit of a trope, but Eddings adds the twist of competing prophecies with missing elements. The opposing views or interpretations create the grand arc of the tale. The story’s flow reflects then contemporary issues such as the cold war and religion including cults and zealots. I never interpreted it as an allegory, but rather a framework. As a teen I lived in this tale, as an adult I still enjoy rereading it.

The Ruins of Gorlan: Book 1

By John Flanagan,

Book cover of The Ruins of Gorlan: Book 1

Why this book?

The Ruins of Gorlan is not my favorite book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, but it lays the essential groundwork to fully enjoy the later books. Other than a few outliers, the series doesn’t include non-humans or real magic. While Flanagan’s world shares many characteristics of middle-age Eurasia and Africa, it remains a distinct creation. The stories are well-established, highly suspenseful, action-filled tales featuring, kidnappings, rescues, revolts, treachery, piracy, romance, and everything else you’d expect from a Saturday matinee movie. The series stems from stories Flanagan wrote to spark his son’s reading interest—a path I too followed. I particularly love that while the writing is appropriate for a middle-grader, the characters are complex enough to engage older readers, too.

The Amulet of Samarkand

By Jonathan Stroud,

Book cover of The Amulet of Samarkand

Why this book?

The first book in Bartimaeus trilogyThe Amulet of Samarkand is a dystopian fantasy. Set in an alternate London, where elite human magicians exploit their control over reluctant demons to rule the British empire. They jealously guard their power through an oppressive bureaucracy, strict cultural rules, and social stratification. Ensconced within the lower rungs of power, Nathaniel hatches a scheme to challenge the order. He summons an ancient djinni, Bartimaeus. While the demon is compelled to follow Nathaniel’s commands, he is not a willing partner. As Nathaniel’s machinations uncover a rebellion, the relationship between the two grows to grudging respect. I loved the references to history and mythology delivered through Bartimaeus’s snarky biting wit. This tale of espionage and intrigue has something for all readers.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in wizards, heroes, and prophecy?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about wizards, heroes, and prophecy.

Wizards Explore 68 books about wizards
Heroes Explore 47 books about heroes
Prophecy Explore 21 books about prophecy

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Prayer for the Dying, The Handmaid's Tale, and The Book Thief if you like this list.