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If you are looking to delve into the world of fantasy fiction but are not sure where to start – let’s face it, there is many a fantasy fiction novel published to choose from – then there is no better way to begin than starting with a fantasy book series.
Fantasy fiction books tend to be based on world-building; a creation straight out of the author’s head. There are characters, places, food, races, battles and make-believe worlds (amongst other author creations) to immerse yourself and get lost in.
With a series, the adventure does not end with one book, indeed the authors of these series need more room to empty their ideas into and, inevitability, they become trilogies, chronicles and endless book series in which you as the reader can acquaint yourself with page after page of fantasy fiction magic.
But where to begin, which world do you start with? With so many to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to these 9 must-read fantasy fiction series:
1 | His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass make up this trilogy following the adventures of Lyra from world to world.
The story can only be described as epic and mirror the struggles we face in our own worlds.
Amidst the danger of the story, there are many worlds that are similar to ours and others like Citagazze – that are unfamiliar and dangerous. The characters of Lyra’s Oxford all have their very own Daemon: an animal that looks like a pet but are in fact part of their soul. Check out the beautiful gift edition of His Dark Materials.
2 | The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman
There are two books out in this series so far:
The first book is a precursor to Book 2 in this series and follows the story of Malcolm through the great flood.
Book 2, is very different and not only makes sense of book one but you are instantly thrown back into His Dark Materials as you follow Lyra and her Daemon at a crossroads in their relationship and the new dangers they must face together.
3 | J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings Trilogy
Unless you have lived under a rock for nearly the whole of the last century, then you can be forgiven for not knowing what this book series is and who J. R. R. Tolkien is, but the rest of you …
Seriously though, if you have heard of Lord of The Rings, you’ve even watched the films, but still haven’t picked up the books then I highly recommend reading the trilogy. Besides the wizards and elves, it is full of the wondrous charm of Hobbits (I just love how much they like food!), and an action-packed adventure from start to finish, and truly the first real fantasy fiction series. If you would like an introduction to the trilogy, then why not try The Hobbit first, however, most of the box sets include this book.
4 | J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series
Maybe you think you are too old or maybe too young to start these magical books?
Firstly, the Harry Potter books are literally for all ages – the first two books in the series (Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets) granted, are probably best suited for the younger age group, but when you read from book 3 in the series onward (The Prisoner of Azkaban), Rowling starts to develop her detective style and also the darker side of the magical world.
There are so many wonderful and funny characters to fall in love with, and it’s a series that once you have read it you will come back to it time and time again. No one is too young or too old to read these books!
Haven’t got time to read them? I recommend you listen to the audible versions narrated by Stephen Fry, starting with The Philosopher’s Stone!
5 | C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the most beloved children’s fantasy fiction series that adults can also cherish.
With a classic tale of good versus evil, each of the seven novels is a narration of this magical world, is talking animals, witches, and mystical beings through the adventures of child protagonists.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is probably the best known in the series, but fans continue to debate amongst themselves which is their preferred book. However, with over 95 million copies sold worldwide, it’s fair to say this fantasy fiction series is amongst the best there is.
6 | Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy
Following the gifted Vasya, who can see the spirits and dark magic of stories frowned upon by the church, this series is nothing but enchanting.
Inspired by Arden’s love of Russian Folklore, The Winternight Trilogy is a dark but beautifully written adult fantasy fiction series you won’t be able to put down.
Read my audiobook review of the first book in the trilogy, The Bear & The Nightingale.
7 | The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
If we are talking about dark fantasy fiction, then get your hands on the first two books in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles.
The books follow the story of a mystery innkeeper called Kvothe and takes you through his humble beginnings as an orphan to the notorious magician, thief, lover and assassin, amongst other accomplishments.
The series so far is funny, wild, sometimes frustrating if not unbelievable even for fantasy fiction. Yet The Name of the Wind will get under your skin, and you’ll be onto The Wise Man’s Fear in no time – you will be utterly intrigued to find out the rest of Kvothe’s story, along with the rest of us.
8 | George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire
George R. R. Martin released the first book in his A Song of Ice and Fire Series back in 1996. Since then, he has published six more books in the series, HBO adapted the current books into a series (which has now finished), and the series is still yet to be completed.
But don’t let that put you off. Martin is still working on finishing the series and although the HBO adaption was very good … well, the books are always better than a TV programme or film.
9 | Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
If you want to enter a world that has everything and more, then get stuck into all 40 – yes, there are 40 altogether – of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.
That sheer volume of works in this series can be daunting but you can approach the reading of them in several ways – indeed, it’s recommended by diehard fans of Discworld.
You could start chronologically with The Colour of Magic; thematically with The City Watch books or even Tiffany Aching & The Nac Mac Feegies. Not sure? Then try one of the stand-alone books in Discworld such as Wyrd Sisters or Small Gods.
No matter what book you choose to enter Pratchett’s world through, his energetic narrative, humour and language will get you hooked in no time at all.
Best Must-Read Fantasy Fiction Series
There are many fantasy fiction worlds out there waiting to entice new readers but you don’t need to feel overwhelmed or pressured to keep up with the latest series.
Start with the classics such as Lord of The Rings or delve into the madness of Discworld. Whichever series you choose to enter the many realms of fantasy fiction, once you dip your toe in you will continue to return.