Fantasy is such a delightful genre– at least, the die-hard fans will tell you as much.
Even if you’re a hater, you can’t deny its magical allure, except you’re, well, a hater.
If you’re a neutral, perhaps, one who has never read anything in the genre before, this piece is for you. While our authority at such things is not yet quite of the certified or global renown sort, we can guarantee you that we speak from a place of vast knowledge that only comes from several years of critically reading fantasy.
Suppose you’re looking to get into fantasy fully or perhaps just cautiously nibble on its crumbs to assess its overall taste better. In that case, we have just the thing for you by way of newbie recommendations.
Here are the top 6 fantasy series that are absolutely essential for you as a newbie:
These are the reads that go down like chocolate or ice cream and tantalize with every lick:
The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
As a newbie fantasy reader, you can hardly go wrong with Brandon Sanderson’s much-beloved offering straight from the Cosmere.
It’s got everything you’d expect of a fantasy series- an awesome world, tyranny and suffering, a rebellion, badass fighting, heroes to root for, and villains to hate forever.
Plus, if you ever thought that Hogwarts and wand-magic were a cool idea, then you’ll surely be thrilled by Allomancy and Feruchemy.
Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
There really isn’t much to say about the Wheel of Time, except you have been unfortunate enough to have never heard of the books in your life.
Thankfully, Amazon Prime is giving this series the much-needed publicity it deserves, even if they’re currently doing a shoddy job of it.
Wheel of Time is the fantasy in your head, the fantasy that you always imagined fantasy to be. In truth, its 14-book-long entirety is enough to shock a newbie fantasy reader back into the relative safety of quick-read-novellas and short stories (and staying there forever).
However, if you’re brave enough, it’s sure to be one of your best-ever reads. Read the first three books to see if it’s your thing, and then make up your mind from there.
The Morally Grey
There is no clear-cut good vs. evil here, only many shades of grey. These series are for you if you’re avoiding the classic tropes.
A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R. Martin
G.R.R Martin’s blockbuster, fire-breathing fantasy series shot to new levels of fame after HBO’s adaptation, which, unfortunately, came to a disappointing end.
Nevertheless, the books’ sheer unpredictability, arrogantly smooth writing style, and the fanbase’s toxic endearment to an author who is apparently deaf to their cries and demands for book 6 (at least for the past 12 years, at the time of writing this article) make it a must-read fantasy series for newbies.
I don’t think anyone can argue much with this inclusion. If the last two paragraphs of text have made you a bit book-thirsty, you can whet your dry tongue with this review of A Game of Thrones or some thoughts on HBO’s House of Dragons.
The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
If A Song of Ice and Fire is GrimDark, The First Law can be called GrimBlack.
In many ways, The First Law is similar to G.R.R. Martin’s outstanding work- morally gray characters and a plot less reliant on magic than regular fantasy books. However, The First Law has something that A Song of Ice and Fire doesn’t have- Joe Abercrobie’s divinity-touched writing.
If you’re a fan of great writing and frustratingly memorable MCs who don’t know wrong from right, then Logen Ninefingers and dan Glokta aren’t characters you should miss out on in your fantasy-reading journey.
If you’re a fan of the classic tropes, young, impulsive characters, and particularly enjoy more than a touch of romance in your books, then check out these two series:
The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A Chakraborty
Chakaraborty’s brilliant trilogy is the newest set of releases on this list, and from the first few pages, it’s easy to see why.
What the author does with Islamic/Arabian mythology is as mystically alluring as the many relics and artifacts native to The Fertile Crescent. Words simply do not do justice- you must read it yourself to experience it.
Aladdin meets Sinbad meets regular YA in this fantastic tale. There’s plenty of sand, minarets, turbans, djinn, harems, and much more!
You can’t get out of reading this one!
The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Although some hardcore Rick Riordan fans will complain about the absence of the classic Percy Jackson and The Olympians series, few will argue against the inclusion of The Heroes of Olympus in its stead.
The series will particularly appeal to geeks and nerds of Greek and Roman mythology, as the author beautifully weaves together an irresistible blend of classical mythology, fantasy, and modern-day young, relatable characters.
The Heroes of Olympus has love triangles, character development, great characters, thrilling twists, and several funny moments- the complete, fun read!
You haven’t read mytho-fantasy if you haven’t read any of the Percy Jackson books!
There’s really no satisfying this ever-thirsty, fanatic literary fanbase. That’s why we’ve decided to include two special mentions:
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
While the Lord of The Rings is Tokien’s most famous work, the prequel book to that series, The Hobbit, is a more fun and enjoyable read.
If you’ve seen the movies or the latest Amazon Prime adaptation and enjoyed the cinematography and dialogue, the best introduction to Middle-Earth for you is to delve into The Hobbit. Unlike the other pieces recommended in this article, The Hobbit can be read as a standalone.
By reading it, you get to enjoy all of the magical wonders of The Lord of The Rings without the admittedly boring, near-Shakespearan, flat writing style of the main series.
The Malazan Book of The Fallen by Steven Erikson
Darkness took on new shades of dark the day Steven Erikson decided to pen down the first words of Gardens of the Moon.
By the time he’d finished his 10-book epic work, the darkness was already stifling, with light only a distant memory in the minds of his characters and audience. Nevertheless, in the process, he ensured that his work would never be forgotten, cementing his name and legacy in the classic fantasy pantheon.
The Malazan Book of The Fallen will never go out of fashion, and if you haven’t read it, well…. what are you doing with your life??
Welcome to this fantastic journey! You might eventually have other preferred genres as your reading tastes evolve, but there’s one thing certain here- there’s no genre quite like fantasy. It stands all on its own, incomparable to the others.
And, to the die-hards who read this piece out of curiosity to see if their favorites made the cut, you’re free to bash my head (and my pen) in the comments section below. Just be aware that my mace and sling (complete with a pouch of Goliath-forehead-sized stones) are equally within reach.