The best fantasy novels with the most beautiful endings

Who am I?

My first two lessons as a geophysicist were confusing opposites. My supervisor told me that I must carry my investigations to professional conclusions, while the very best physicists showed me that good scientists are the most parsimonious about what they conclude. It's a battle between humility and the need to tell a story. We human beings crave a nice, neat ending, and we often only get one in fantasy, for the real world is complex. It was this insight that led me to start every story I ever wrote with at least a concept for the ending. If we are going to go anywhere with our narratives, we better first consider where that is.


I wrote...

Book cover of Bed of Rose and Thorns

What is my book about?

Sir Ezra wears plate armor to hide his true nature. He is an Elysian Bell, a being of pure and powerful emotions. His secret love for the Queen ended in a night of passion, blood, and her promise to kill him. When the Queen disappears, Ezra must find her.

The books I picked & why

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The Curse of Chalion

By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Book cover of The Curse of Chalion

Why this book?

The Curse of Chalion may be the best work of fiction I have ever read. Bujold is a phenomenal writer—her prose grips from the first pages, and her construction of character, theme and plot is astounding. I have never read a novel where the outcome seemed more hopeless, and one in which I knew that the author would not pull off some cheap Deus ex machina trick. Caz, Iselle and Betriz appear to be completely and totally doomed in this well thought out novel. But Bujold pulls off an ending that not only pulls together the character and thematic arcs of the novel, but reaches the sublime for its brilliant perfection. Prepare for goosebumps.

The Curse of Chalion

By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril returns to the noble household he once served as page and is named secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule. It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it must ultimately lead him to the place he most fears: the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies who once placed him in chains now occupy lofty positions.

But it is more than the traitorous intrigues of villains that threaten Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle here, for a sinister curse hangs like a…


Red Sister

By Mark Lawrence,

Book cover of Red Sister

Why this book?

I fell in love with Lawrence’s character Nona, and was not at first sure why. Being a poorly mannered eater of breakfast was the least of her bad habits. She was also a serial liar and killer. We find out, as Nona’s true story is unveiled, that she has her reasons. And she surprises us again and again throughout the story. But it is the ending that is most sweet, for this little killer is driven by love and the desire for friendship. And when she speaks her final words, we love her too.

Red Sister

By Mark Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's not until you're broken that you find your sharpest edge.

"I was born for killing - the gods made me to ruin."

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices' skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don't truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought…


Last Argument Of Kings

By Joe Abercrombie,

Book cover of Last Argument Of Kings

Why this book?

Sometimes we think we are reading fiction as an exercise in entertainment, and fantasy as a guilty pleasure. Abercrombie is a favorite writer of mine because his work does all that, but he also surprises with sharp insight every single time. Last Argument of Kings ends his First Law Trilogy with the most surprising reveal of all—that the moral center does not exist. Not at all. All the blood and death that his characters have dealt out and survived are not in service to some higher good. More than just an exercise in cynicism or a service to violence, this story shines a light on power, politics and the people who stand atop the heap. And somehow Abercrombie does this all while making you laugh and shake your head in amazement.

Last Argument Of Kings

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Argument Of Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The end is coming.

Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him - but it's going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there's only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It's past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.

With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no-one is safe, and no-one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him.…


The Dragon's Path

By Daniel Abraham,

Book cover of The Dragon's Path

Why this book?

I stopped and blinked at the end of the first chapter, knowing the author had touched on something brilliant. His character, Kit, asked something I never expected to read in a fantasy novel. I broke out in goose bumps as I thought to myself, where will this go? An ending is a conclusion, and both feel best when they are strong and unquestionable. So, what happens when we find a book that makes us question what is true? Not an abstract quest towards the meaning of life or epistemology, but an indictment of human dogmatism, The Dragon’s Path will make you laugh at your own desire for simple, unquestionable answers.

The Dragon's Path

By Daniel Abraham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Everything I look for in a fantasy." -- George R. R. Martin

All paths lead to war. . .

Marcus' hero days are behind him. He knows too well that even the smallest war still means somebody's death. When his men are impressed into a doomed army, staying out of a battle he wants no part of requires some unorthodox steps.

Cithrin is an orphan, ward of a banking house. Her job is to smuggle a nation's wealth across a war zone, hiding the gold from both sides. She knows the secret life of commerce like a second language, but…


Best Served Cold

By Joe Abercrombie,

Book cover of Best Served Cold

Why this book?

Who doesn’t want to right the wrongs committed against them? I try to be a grown up and move on with my life when someone antagonizes me, but sometimes I wish there was justice in the world. Who doesn’t, even if sometimes we know we are not being mature? Revenge is the ultimate ending, and Abercrombie’s clever stand-alone novel examines just how cold it really can be. It turns out, not at all. Monza has been screwed over bad. She has every reason to want to get even—which means everyone who tried to kill her needs to end up dead. The bodies certainly pile up but when she reaches victory, Monza finds it more absurd than cold. Entertaining, thought-provoking, and more than a little darkly humorous. Take it with a shadowy laugh.

Best Served Cold

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Best Served Cold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in curses, convents, and torture?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about curses, convents, and torture.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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