The best fantasy books that are off the beaten path

The Books I Picked & Why

The Name of the Wind

By Patrick Rothfuss

Book cover of The Name of the Wind

Why this book?

This is by far the most well-written book I’ve ever read. Not only is the story rich and exciting, he has a way of describing the scene that helps paint a vivid image in your mind of what is happening as if you are present and part of the plot at the time.

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By David Gemmell

Book cover of Waylander

Why this book?

Gemmel is still the only author who writes heroic fantasy in a way that inspires you. His style is unmatched, his heroes are all larger than life and their battle scenes are exquisite. He has an attention to detail that allows you to bond with the character and care for each of them.

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The Lies of Locke Lamora

By Scott Lynch

Book cover of The Lies of Locke Lamora

Why this book?

These are the character you would like to be. They are tricksters, rogues, assassins, and thieves, all rolled into one. The Gentlemen bastards is a series of heists (and one rigged election) in a world where your enemies are mages and all you have to rely on are your wits.

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Empire in Black and Gold

By Adrian Tchaikovsky

Book cover of Empire in Black and Gold

Why this book?

Ten glorious books about deceitful spiders, brave dragonflies, and steadfast beetles. In a world where people possess the traits of different insects, the wasps are expanding their empire. One lone beetle decides to challenge them. Shadows of the Apt turns traditional fantasy on its head by bringing together a whole new set of protagonists - Mantis who are skilled swordsmen beyond compare, Spiders who can craft deceitful webs of intrigue, Ants who can operate within a hive mind, and the like. The storytelling is unique for never before have there been characters like this, on a scale as massive as the insect kingdom.

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Mistress of the Empire

By Raymond E. Feist, Janny Wurts

Book cover of Mistress of the Empire

Why this book?

In a magical world, based in Japan, a young girl needs to rely on her wits to survive. A highly political intrigue-filled thriller. This book is easily one of the best examples of Asian fantasy done right. What I like about the book is the way the characters are brought to life. The female lead Mara of the Acoma starts the story in a desperately vulnerable position and finds a way to work within the rigidly hierarchical and misogynistic system she is part of to effect change from within. The challenges she faces don't appear contrived in any way and her solutions are masterfully implemented. 

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