The most recommended epic fantasy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 861 experts.

861 authors created a book list connected to epic fantasy, and here are their favorite epic fantasy books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of epic fantasy book?


Book cover of Half the World

RJ Hore Author Of The Dark Lady

From my list on fantasy with a touch of darkness in its soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

An avid reader, and a spec-fiction/fantasy reviewer for CM Canada online, I’ve wanted to tell stories for as long as I can remember. I write “pantser-style” and let the characters run loose, looking at their motivation to steer the tale, often starting with little more than an idea and, if lucky, a character or two. My love of history led me to writing mediaeval or historical fantasy, as my first group of published novels attest, but to avoid stagnation added science fiction and a fantasy detective series of novellas. To date have fourteen novels and three anthologies of my novellas published and have appeared on panels at several cons.

RJ's book list on fantasy with a touch of darkness in its soul

RJ Hore Why did RJ love this book?

Ever read a book you kept putting aside because you wanted to extend the pleasure a bit longer? I didn’t want to set this down. Ready to submit my five picks when I came across this tale. Delicious! By the time I’d finished it replaced one of my choices. Treachery, deceit, blood, with vivid characters you might wish to meet, at a safe distance.

A fantasy world obviously based on the Norse and Byzantium; you are swept away on an adventure. Do you like vivid duel and battle scenes where you can feel every blow? How about devious work behind the scenes? Whom do you trust? Yes, there is even a tinge of romance, and the ladies get more than their equal share of top billing.

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Half the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Grabbed me and refused to let go' George R.R. Martin

Thorn Bathu was born to fight. But when she kills a boy in the training square she finds herself named a murderer.

Fate places her life in the hands of the deep-cunning Father Yarvi as he sets out to cross half the world in search of allies against the ruthless High King.

Beside her is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill. A failure in her eyes and his own, the voyage is his last chance at redemption.

But warriors can be weapons, and weapons are made for one…

Book cover of The Broken Crown

Selah J Tay-Song Author Of Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern

From my list on epic fantasy with characters to fall in love with.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading epic fantasy since I was fourteen, and over the years my taste has evolved. But the one thing that has always drawn me to fantasy, and always will, is the characters. Whether simple and familiar or deep and complex, every good epic fantasy leaves me a little richer in imaginary friends. While writing my own books over the last twenty-five years, I’ve gained the ability to create my own characters to fall in love with. I get to push them to grow and watch them succeed. I hope you will fall in love with the characters in Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern too!

Selah's book list on epic fantasy with characters to fall in love with

Selah J Tay-Song Why did Selah love this book?

The Broken Crown is one of those epic fantasy books that snuck up on me. The story starts slow, but by the end of the book I was deeply in love with the characters. The story follows a host of characters from two very different lands, on the eve of war between their countries. Although the customs of one of the lands seem strange, the trials of the characters are universal. For example, the high-born can only show affection for their loved ones in public one night of the year. In the beginning, we see a main character reveling in her father’s affection that one evening. Later, her father destroys everything important to her in the pursuit of power. Her recollection of that one display of affection becomes a real tear-jerker. If you like a fantasy story with more emotional pain than blood, you’ll love The Broken Crown!

By Michelle West,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Broken Crown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel of the acclaimed Sun Sword series introduces readers to a war-torn world of noble houses divided and demon lords unleashed...

Tor Leonne—the heart of the Dominion of Annagar, where the games of state are about to become a matter of life and death—and where those who seek to seize the crown will be forced to league with a treacherously cunning ally....

Tor Leonne, ancestral seat of power, where Serra Diora Maria di’Marano—the most sought-after beauty in the land, a woman betrayed by all she holds dear—may strike the first blow to change the future of the Dominion…

Book cover of Prince of Fools

Lee Hunt Author Of Last Worst Hopes

From my list on fantasy with unlikely heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sometimes I don’t feel very heroic. Octogenarian old women have been known to pass me going upstairs because I have only one working lung (I was born without a right pulmonary artery). I’m also skinny and a touch under-tall. I work in a profession (geophysicist) few understand, and there just don’t seem to be a lot of tv shows about—unlike all the doctors, lawyers, and police dramas. I think it resonates with a great many people when an unlikely person makes a difference. Each and every one of us can make the world a little bit better. Sometimes, we need to believe in ourselves…and try. Besides, who doesn’t like an underdog? Or stories about them.

Lee's book list on fantasy with unlikely heroes

Lee Hunt Why did Lee love this book?

Was there ever a less heroic leading character than Prince Jalan? Apparently a vain, selfish coward, he would not even be likable if he was not also funny and honest. Well, he is honest some of the time, in his inside voice, even while being a liar to almost everyone else. So, when Jalan gets unwillingly and unwittingly caught up with an enormous Viking to go on a quest to save the world, I had to wonder how this one was going to work out. But it turns out that Jalan may have been lying to himself more than the reader, or himself, even realized, and he may not be quite the coward that he says he is.

By Mark Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of THE BROKEN EMPIRE series comes a brilliant new epic fantasy series, THE RED QUEEN'S WAR.

I'm a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play or bravery.

The Red Queen is dreaded by the kings of the Broken Empire as they dread no other.

Her grandson Jalan Kendeth - womaniser, gambler and all-out cad - is tenth in line to the throne. While his grandmother shapes the destiny of millions, Prince Jalan pursues his debauched…

Melody and the Pier to Forever: Parts Five and Six

By Shawn Michel De Montaigne,

Book cover of Melody and the Pier to Forever: Parts Five and Six

Shawn Michel De Montaigne

New book alert!

What is my book about?

A young adult and epic fantasy novel that begins an entire series, as yet unfinished, about a young girl named Melody who discovers that the pier she lives near goes on forever—a pier that was destroyed by a hurricane that appeared out of blue skies in mere moments in 1983.

Melody doesn't know it, but a king has been searching for her for more than twenty years—longer than she's been alive. His kingdom is readying for the day when they may return to the world found beyond the end of that very pier, a world cast into darkness by an…

Melody and the Pier to Forever: Parts Five and Six

By Shawn Michel De Montaigne,

What is this book about?

Melody Singleton is a bright 13-year-old girl who loves math, classical music, her mom, her best friend Yaeko, and her dog. To her classmates that makes her a nerd, and they cruelly treat her as such. After being expelled from the advanced algebra class for not paying attention, she meets her new teacher, Mr. Conor, who gives her a very strange homework assignment. You see, she got kicked out because she was distracted by a symbol that the rest of us can't see, a beautiful sigil that, incredibly, Mr. Conor can see too, because it's on the assignment he gave…

Book cover of City of Blades

Catherine Lundoff Author Of Silver Moon: A Wolves of Wolf's Point Novel

From my list on fantasy tales about women over 40.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started writing a series about menopausal werewolves eleven years ago, right before my fiftieth birthday. I wanted to see more women like me in science fiction and fantasy: middle-aged and older women who had led full lives but were still up for more adventure, new worlds, eager to see what came next. I also started a bibliography project on older women protagonists in speculative fiction and began proposing and speaking on convention programming about older women in the genre. We’ve had a lot of great discussions and agree that the needle is slowly moving toward more and better representation. I’m thrilled to be a part of that.

Catherine's book list on fantasy tales about women over 40

Catherine Lundoff Why did Catherine love this book?

General Turyin Mulaghesh is on the brink of retiring to her long dreamt of remote island post where she can lay around on a beach, getting happily drunk with a beautiful young man or two and do as little as possible.

But she’s a legendary hero of the Saypuri Republic, or perhaps a war criminal, depending on which side of the many battles that she’s fought you were on. So instead, she gets pushed into one last mission, one that has her confronting the deeds of her past and, possibly, getting a shot at redemption.

She is cynical and sweary and has done terrible things, as well as good ones and, at least for me, is one of the most relatable older women in fantasy. 

By Robert Jackson Bennett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.
A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.
Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.
So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the…

Book cover of The Book That Wouldn't Burn

Kian N. Ardalan Author Of Eleventh Cycle

From my list on think about humanity's legacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Something that annoys me to no end is when people avoid reading fantasy or sci-fi because it isn’t realistic. I argue that realism isn’t about the veracity of flying dragons or building a fusion reactor that can fit in our hands; it’s about the human elements in between. Sci-fi can be a reminder of the dangerous trajectory we are heading in. Fantasy can reflect inequality by condensing resources to one mystical gem. To this end, any book that ends with me understanding the danger of language by describing it as a virus or showing me how books can bridge the gap between past and present makes me grow as a person.

Kian's book list on think about humanity's legacy

Kian N. Ardalan Why did Kian love this book?

Books are what connect us to the past and remind us of the present.

My love for Mark Lawrence’s work began when I saw the cover for King of Thorns at a bookstore. I went ahead and ordered Prince of Thorns the same day and never looked back. So it comes with a heavy heart when I say that this has taken the spot as my favorite book by Mark.

What a beautiful, simple idea to base a story around the library of Babel. Pop culture still invokes imagery regarding the library of Alexandria. Books, and by extension, libraries, connect us to our past. They are the legacy that we leave behind, and they are vessels for the zeitgeist that different points of existence embody.

By Mark Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Book That Wouldn't Burn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All books, no matter their binding, will fall to dust. The stories they carry may last longer. They might outlive the paper, the library, even the language in which they were first written.

The greatest story can reach the stars . . .

This is the start of an incredible new journey from the internationally bestselling author of Prince of Thorns, in which, though the pen may be mightier than the sword, blood will be spilled and cities burned...

Evar has lived his whole life trapped within a vast library, older than empires and larger than cities.

Livira has spent…

Book cover of The Book of Lost Tales, Part One

Ben Monroe Author Of The Seething

From Ben's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Dad Horror & fantasy fan Dreamer

Ben's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Ben's 15-year-old's favorite books.

Ben Monroe Why did Ben love this book?

This is an odd book in some ways. It’s half narrative, half editorial commentary. But I absolutely loved it as a look at the creative process and writing for the sheer joy of writing.

What we have here is a few early stories by Tolkien which show the genesis of his Middle-earth setting along with commentary by his son Christopher. You see Tolkien’s ideas evolve, which was a great reminder that writing is often about polishing, editing, and distilling concepts.

But it was also fun to read, knowing it was just stuff Tolkien was playing with. At the time of writing, he had no thoughts of publishing it. Indeed, it was never published until a few years after his death. He was just writing and creating for his own enjoyment.

Book cover of Agincourt: A Novel

Ethan Bale Author Of Hawker and the King's Jewel

From my list on medieval epic adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I started my career in journalism I was a voracious reader of historical novels. I devoured epic adventure about medieval Europe and eventually got involved in European martial arts: fighting in full armour in tournaments and melees. My love of history finally won out over my day job of defence reporting and I began penning novels. The books I most enjoy are more than just battle tales, they’re about people. Good historical fiction isn’t just about the history. It needs more than volleys of arrows and swinging swords, it needs characters you care about. These books combine authenticity with passionate, compelling writing and unique characters you won’t soon forget.

Ethan's book list on medieval epic adventures

Ethan Bale Why did Ethan love this book?

Cornwell is one of the best—if not the best—historical novelists writing today.

In Azincourt, we follow one English longbowman on an epic adventure that culminates in one of the most famous battles in history. Cornwell deftly weaves in authentic period detail without hitting you over the head with it.

Most importantly, he is a master of characterisation and rich prose who makes you truly care about the people on the page. Leavened with humor, grittiness, and an engaging romance set amidst war, I found it a compelling and moving read.

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An extraordinary and dramatic depiction of the legendary battle of Agincourt from the number one historical novelist

Azincourt, fought on October 25th 1415, St Crispin's Day, is one of England's best-known battles, in part through the brilliant depiction of it in Shakespeare's Henry V, in part because it was a brilliant and unexpected English victory and in part because it was the first battle won by the use of the longbow - a weapon developed by the English which enabled them to dominate the European battlefields for the rest of the century.

Bernard Cornwell's Azincourt is a vivid, breathtaking and…

Book cover of A Little Hatred

James Dwyer Author Of The Memory of Blades

From my list on fantasy with dark humour and light entertainment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer by day and martial arts instructor by night, so when not spending time with my wife and kids, I love nothing more than to read, write, and fight. My favourite books are the ones filled with irreverent characters, who can smirk and joke at any grim situation, laughing the light of entertainment through the darkest of ordeals. These are the type of books I’m always drawn to, both in writing and in reading, where I can imagine taking any standout character and dropping them into a completely different book, then sitting back to watch the chaos they could make.

James' book list on fantasy with dark humour and light entertainment

James Dwyer Why did James love this book?

Joe Abercrombie is the king of writing casual comic conversations in dire situations. His seventh book in this world, A Little Hatred is the first in a new trilogy, the freshest from a seven-year gap in the series, and one of the best for the sheer quality of standout characters. Savine dan Glokta is my favourite – “What an honour to see you, my lady.” “Isn’t it though!” – followed closely by Teufel, the brass-knuckled spy; Gunnar Broad, the man or bull (if he wears his spectacles); and Bremer dan Gorst, the deadliest man in the union who can only speak in a high-pitched squeak.

Not only is this a book you can read without prior knowledge of the previous six, this book will also convince you to go back and read all those other books, then re-read this again for it to take on an entirely different light, become…

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Little Hatred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Funny and sardonic, violent and compelling' Guardian

'A tale of brute force and subtle magic on the cusp of an industrial revolution ... Buckle your seat belts for this one' Robin Hobb

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On the battlefields of the North, the next generation of would-be heroes rushes to make the same bloody mistakes as the last.

While the age of the machine dawns, the age of magic refuses to die. One might glimpse the future,…

Book cover of Year One

Jali Henry Author Of Cursed Charm

From my list on addictive urban fantasy with strong female leads.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an avid reader as a child. Then I became a teenager and started hating it! Why? Because the teachers at school started pushing classical literature on me. I didn’t read for years until a friend introduced me to fantasy. I fell in love and haven’t looked back. I love commercial fantasy fiction that has lots of action, where the writer focuses less on elegant prose and more on plot and characters. I aim to write the kind of books that readers get addicted to, where they can disappear into another world and forget they are reading – the kind of books I love to read!

Jali's book list on addictive urban fantasy with strong female leads

Jali Henry Why did Jali love this book?

This is a dystopian fantasy set in a future world in which a virus has wiped out most of the planet except those left behind have magical powers.

I love dystopian future books. I also love fantasy so this was a match made in heaven for me. Nora created such a detailed yet believable universe. There is a powerful female lead and she is pitted against the evil version of herself in a battle to end or save the world.

It’s got magic, it’s got action, it’s got romance, it’s got everything! I was hooked from start to finish and devoured all three books in a couple of weeks.

By Nora Roberts,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Year One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A stunning new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts―Year One is an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magick, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives…

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed―and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been…

Book cover of Gifts

Fiona J. R. Titchenell Author Of Pinnacle City: A Superhero Noir

From my list on superhero comic book fans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Novels are my medium and my first love, but I’m a huge fan of comic books too. Even though visual arts have never been my strength, I adore how many different things are possible in superhero stories. Sci-fi and epic fantasy and all different kinds of horror coexist in these enormous fictional universes. You’ve got comedic, child-friendly mysteries and pitch-black serial killer thrillers and deep meditations on love and family all going on at once. Comic book tropes and general disregard for genre boundaries definitely inform my writing style, and I love when I discover other novelists who incorporate comic book inspiration in various ways.

Fiona's book list on superhero comic book fans

Fiona J. R. Titchenell Why did Fiona love this book?

Superpowers are a classic allegory for coming of age, and Gifts uses them as such in an especially timeless and effective way. When the children of the Uplands reach adolescence, they develop powerful gifts that can be equal parts useful and dangerous. Most of them start off applying these gifts exactly according to their parents’ instructions. But ultimately, their gifts are their own, and part of accepting them is accepting the responsibility of choosing how to use them. It’s a wonderfully moody, atmospheric exploration of uses and abuses of power.

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gifts 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?

'She's showing no signs of losing her brilliance. She is unparalleled in creating fantasy peopled by finely drawn and complex characters... GIFTS has the simplicity of fairy tale and the power of myth' GUARDIAN

'Le Guin is a writer of phenomenal power' OBSERVER

Orrec, the son of the Brantor of Caspromant, and Gry, daughter of the Brantors of Barre and Rodd, have grown up together, running half-wild across the Uplands. The people there are like their land: harsh and fierce and prideful; ever at war with each other.

Only the gifts keep the fragile peace. The Barre gift is calling…