The best warm and witty fantasy adventure books

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve adored fantasy adventures for as long as I could read. A good story is a mirror of life, and sometimes life can feel hard, cold, and impersonal. Yet life can also be an adventure, and like fictional heroes, the way in which we overcome our challenges is what makes us truly human. And sometimes it’s the actions of fantastical or inhuman creatures that show us true humanity. When a hero overcomes their challenges in a way that shows humanity, I stand up and cheer. When they do it in a way that’s creative or funny, I laugh. When an author can do both, I treasure it.

I wrote...

Harpyness is Only Skin Deep

By D. H. Willison,

Book cover of Harpyness is Only Skin Deep

What is my book about?

Unassuming human Darin yearns with every fiber of his being to be the grand hero from countless books and games. Yet when given the chance for a one-way trip to the fantastical world of Arvia, he quickly realizes he’s terrible at it. Yet it’s qualities he’s always undervalued—quick-wittedness and empathy—that save his life when he encounters the ferocious harpy Rinloh. Harpyness is Only Skin Deep is about friendships that defy all odds, laughing at the absurdities of life, and seeing the good in the worst monsters in the realm.

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

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Another Fine Myth

D. H. Willison Why did I love this book?

Another Fine Myth is one of my most reread books.

Skeeve, the main character, just feels so darned human. He’s a nobody with no real talent thrown into a deadly magical conspiracy and reluctantly taken on as an apprentice by a grumpy demon sorcerer who’s lost his magic powers. And while the pairing seems so unlikely, the friendship that develops between them warms my heart every time.

Plus, it’s such a great blend of fast-paced adventures, and slower cozy moments to reflect and build friendships. It also contains my favorite scene in all of fantasy, when our demon talks would-be assassins not only out of killing the pair, but also out of their entire bankroll! 

By Robert Asprin, Walter Velez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Another Fine Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Skeeve is a magician’s apprentice (and a wanna-be thief) until an assassin’s bolt kills his master, Garkin. Along with Aahz, the green-scaled, purple-tongued demon and master magician summoned by Garkin, he sets out on a quest to get even. The road to vengeance is bound to prove rocky, however, because Skeeve can barely light a candle with his beginning magic, and Aahz has lost his own considerable magical abilities as a consequence of Garkin’s summoning spell. Before they can confront the power-mad wizard who ordered Garkin’s assassination, they must survive a trip to a weird alternate dimension, encounters with Impish…

Book cover of Mort

D. H. Willison Why did I love this book?

While it’s hard to pick a single favorite among the Discworld series, Mort stands out for me as a mix of a bizarre concept, quirky characters you can cheer for, and unexpected plot twists.

It’s hard to imagine a book about death being so funny, but the outlandish premise sets a stage rife with opportunities for humor. And yet, it’s the characters that really carry the story. Characters of this world have a wide spectrum of moralities, and yet despite their flaws and mistakes, you find yourself cheering for them.

By Terry Pratchett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Cracking dialogue, compelling illogic and unchained whimsy' Sunday Times

The Discworld is very much like our own - if our own were to consist of a flat planet balanced on the back of four elephants which stand on the back of a giant turtle, that is . . .

Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job.

Death is the Grim Reaper of the Discworld, a black-robed skeleton carrying a scythe who must collect a minimum number of souls in order to keep the momentum of dying, well . . . alive.


Book cover of Cinnamon Bun

D. H. Willison Why did I love this book?

Cinnamon Bun is a litRPG with heart.

Starting at zero may be typical for a litRPG, but Broccoli Bunch, heroine of the story, sets herself apart by humanizing all the creatures of her new world rather than devaluing them as objects to be slaughtered in the quest for power, glory, and loot. While fighting monsters in pursuit of some grand quest is commonplace in fantasy, within the litRPG subgenre, it’s practically the sole focus.

Which is why to me, our compassionate heroine Broccoli Bunch trying to make friends with all the monsters in the world is such a satisfying breath of fresh air.

By Ravens Dagger,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of Swordheart

D. H. Willison Why did I love this book?

With its combination of mature, flawed characters, slow-burn romance, and just the right amount of magic and wonder in the world, Swordheart is one of my favorite fantasy romances.

It’s an odd couple: a quirky widow for whom life on the road, and certainly pursuit by all manner of bandits is unfamiliar territory, together with a grumpy warrior imprisoned in an enchanted sword. Yet the two draw closer as they overcome countless obstacles together. 

By T. Kingfisher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Halla is a housekeeper who has suddenly inherited her great-uncle's estate… and, unfortunately, his relatives. Sarkis is an immortal swordsman trapped in a prison of enchanted steel. When Halla draws the sword that imprisons him, Sarkis finds himself attempting to defend his new wielder against everything from bandits and roving inquisitors to her own in-laws… and the sword itself may prove to be the greatest threat of all.

Book cover of Promised Rewards

D. H. Willison Why did I love this book?

Another odd couple adventure story, the travels and adventures of Sigurt and the Bard in a historical setting were fun, authentic, and a reminder that grand adventures don’t always need magic.

With a bard as a pov character, there was a lot of song in the book, and the modest aspirations of our heroes (a decent meal and sleeping by the fire) are a welcome change from the powerful and ambitious protagonists you often see in the genre. 

You might also like...

Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

By Ralph Hickok,

Book cover of Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

Ralph Hickok Author Of Vagabond Halfback: The Saga of Johnny Blood McNally

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Green Bay and my dad was the official scorer for the Packers, so I was immersed in pro football history even as a child. During my careers as a newspaper feature writer and editor and as an advertising copywriter, I also became a sports historian. My magnum opus was “The Encyclopedia of North American Sports History,” 650,000 words. But my favorite by far is my biography of Johnny Blood. I was 12 or 13 when I decided I wanted to write it, 33 when I began working on it, 38 when I finished it, and 78 when it was finally published.

Ralph's book list on the history of pro football

What is my book about?

From Kirkus Reviews: "This debut short-story collection paints the wistful life of a newspaper journalist as seen through his sexual and romantic encounters...

Throughout, Hickok writes in an assured style, pulling readers along. The narrow sexual focus results in a distorted picture, yet other aspects of Art's life emerge at the edges—his intelligence, his career as a journalist, and even the sincerity with which he gives in to his male urges and construes sex as love... 

Subdued yet alluring; a pensive reflection on the male psyche."

Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

By Ralph Hickok,

What is this book about?

A man arrives in a new city, hoping to start a new life, but he’s still haunted by memories of past loves…
A 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl have a brief romantic encounter when their families are vacationing in neighboring lakeside cottages…
Two teenagers enjoy sexual experimentation when she babysits for her little brother while her parents are out drinking…
A high school boy has a crush on an older woman who identifies with Molly Bloom…
A college freshman falls in love with a high school freshman and is amazed at the depths of her passion…
A guy wins…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in swords, the personification of death, and demons?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about swords, the personification of death, and demons.

Swords Explore 11 books about swords
The Personification Of Death Explore 12 books about the personification of death
Demons Explore 116 books about demons