Children of Virtue and Vengeance cover

18 Epic Fantasy Book Series To Read if You Love ‘Game of Thrones’

So much fantasy, so little time...

It’s a good time to be a fantasy fan. TV is filled with epic series like House of the Dragon, while bookworms have countless novels to choose from.

Recommended Videos

If you’re looking for your next great fantasy series, look no further! Some of these series are classics, while others are new releases. Some are aimed at teens, while others are decidedly more mature. We’re assuming you already know about Lord of the Rings, but if you’re wondering what to read next, here are 18 of the best epic fantasy series out there.

The Legacy of Orïsha Series by Tomi Adeyemi

Children Of Blood And Bone Book Cover
(Henry Holt Company)

In Children of Blood and Bone, Zélie Adebola thinks she’s the last of the maji, magic workers with amazing abilities who were wiped out when magic was purged from the land of Orïsha. Now, Zélie has a chance to bring magic back to the world and avenge her mother’s murder, but first, she has to escape a ruthless prince looking to stamp out the last traces of magic in the world.

Pick up the Legacy of Orisha series if you’re looking for an utterly engrossing page-turner inspired by Nigerian mythology, with characters you’ll instantly fall in love with.

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

Book cover for The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden
(Del Rey Books)

The Winternight trilogy, which starts with The Bear and the Nightingale, tells the story of Vasilisa, a young heroine named after the figure from Russian folklore. Vasilisa lives with her family in a cottage in the wilderness, but they’re soon joined by a new stepmother. Vasilisa’s stepmother is a devout Christian and forbids the family from honoring their household spirits—forcing Vasilisa to use powers she’s long kept secret.

Check this trilogy out if you love folklore, Slavic fairy tales, and rich, complicated villains.

The Perilous Order of Camelot series by A. A. Attanasio

Cover of The Dragon and the Unicorn by A.A. Attanasio.
(Harper Voyager)

The Perilous Order of Camelot, which begins with the novel The Dragon and the Unicorn, is an audacious retelling of the King Arthur legend that weaves in Norse myths, the Roman Empire, astrophysics, and more. Although this series came out in the ’90s, you can still find it in bookstores today.

The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone: Destinies cover image. Alina holding light. Image: Netflix.
(Netflix)

The Grishaverse, consisting of one trilogy, two duologies, and two books of standalone short stories, is Leigh Bardugo’s lush and sprawling world of the Grisha, legendary warriors who practice the “Small Science” (which they’ll never admit is magic). The Grishaverse is largely set in the Imperial Russia-inspired land of Ravka, but the books do make forays into neighboring lands.

If this is your first taste of the Grisha, start with Shadow and Bone, the novel that started it all. Ravka has been torn apart by the Unsea, a vast stretch of darkness that harbors terrifying monsters, and the Grisha are responsible for using their powers to get ships safely across to West Ravka. When a young cartographer, named Alina, discovers that she has the power to summon sunlight and banish the monsters, she’s swept into the Grisha’s secretive and opulent world, where she’s trained to destroy the Unsea for good.

Bonus: once you finish the first trilogy, you can watch the adaptation on Netflix!

The Hild Sequence by Nicola Griffith

Cover of Hild by Nicola Griffith
Picador

The Hild Sequence, which begins with Hild and continues in Menewood, tells the story of St. Hilda of Whitby: 7th century warrior, oracle, and advisor to kings. Although not much is known about the early life of the real St. Hilda, Griffith imagines a lush and vivid backstory for Hild. Filled with blood, romance, and medieval drama, these novels have something for everyone.

You can also check out our interview with Nicola Giffith here!

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Cover of Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
(Spectra)

In the middle of the night, a six-year-old boy is dumped on Prince Verity’s doorstep, where Verity is informed that the boy is the bastard of his brother, the crown prince Chivalry. Thus begins the story of FitzChivalry, the unwanted boy who grows up in the turbulent and precarious court of Buckkeep. Since Fitz can never become proper royalty, he’s trained to become an assassin and told that he’ll spend his life as a pawn of the king. But when raiding ships unleash a terrifying new plague on the land, Fitz has to save his kingdom (while protecting his own secrets).

The Farseer Trilogy, consisting of Assassin’s Apprentice, Fool’s Assassin, and Assassin’s Quest, isn’t just a book about an assassin. It’s a saga filled with adventure and betrayal, and it’s filled with characters and landscapes so vivid you’ll feel like you know them.

The Dark Star Trilogy by Marlon James

Moon Witch Spider King
(Penguin)

Don’t try to find volume 3 of this trilogy yet, because it’s still a work in progress. Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the first volume in the series, introduces a skilled hunter named Tracker, who has been tasked with finding a missing boy. Tracker teams up with a ragtag band, and as they track down the boy, Tracker begins to wonder what deeper mysteries are brewing beneath his disappearance.

Rooted in African history and mythology, the Dark Star books are filled with deliciously hallucinogenic imagery and prose. Pick this series up if you enjoy fantasy that feels more literary than pulp (not that there’s anything wrong with pulp!).

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

fifth season book cover
(Orbit)

The first book of N. K. Jemisin’s award-winning Broken Earth series, The Fifth Season, begins with the end of the world. Essun, an orogene with the power to manipulate energy, is living out her days in a small community in the Stillness, a continent that’s periodically rocked by massive geological events called “Fifth Seasons.” When a season is triggered by the continent splitting in half, Essun and her neighbors have to flee to avoid the oncoming destruction.

You could argue that the Broken Earth books are technically science fiction, since the landscape contains artifacts from a vanished advanced civilization, but the series still has the look and feel of an epic fantasy series. Jemisin’s talent for worldbuilding is unsurpassed, and one of the best parts of the series is the way the secrets of the Stillness’s past are gradually revealed, with puzzle pieces you didn’t even know were there gradually falling into place.

The Poppy War Series by R. F. Kuang

The Poppy War by RF Kuang book cover. (Image: Harpers Voyager)
(Harper Voyager)

Rin is an unlikely hero: she’s an orphan and a peasant whom her guardians plan to marry off at the first opportunity. However, Rin stuns everyone around her, including herself, when she aces the entrance exam to the prestigious Academies. Not only that, but Rin has latent abilities as a shaman. As Rin begins her time as a student, war looms on the horizon.

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

Cover of A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.
(Clarion Books)

Long before Hogwarts, there was Roke, a legendary school of wizardry in the archipelago of Earthsea. A young boy named Sparrowhawk shows a talent for magic and is fostered by the reclusive wizard Ogion. When Sparrowhawk, arrogant and impatient to master magic, accidentally unleashes a malicious shadow being that will stop at nothing to possess him, the entire course of his life is changed forever.

A Wizard of Earthsea, the first book in the cycle, is a classic in its own right, but the rest of the series is just as good. Be sure to read The Tombs of Atuan, which introduces the child priestess Arha, or “the eaten one,” who’s bound to an ancient spirit that demands unwavering worship. The Earthsea Cycle is smart, moving, and engrossing: everything you could possibly want in a fantasy saga.

The Sevenwaters Series by Juliet Marillier

Cover of Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
(Tor Books)

The Sevenwaters series, which consists of two trilogies, starts with an adaptation of the fairy tale “The Twelve Wild Swans” called Daughter of the Forest. Sorcha, a young woman growing up in medieval Ireland, has a talent for growing medicinal plants and talking to the Good Folk. When her stepmother Oonagh places a curse on her family, bewitching her father and turning her brothers into swans, Sorcha must follow the guidance of the faerie folk to break the spell.

Read Juliet Marillier’s work if you love romance, strong women, fairy lore, and medieval Irish vibes. Although the first trilogy in the Sevenwaters series quickly moves from Sorcha to her descendants, the second trilogy focuses on one generation of Sevenwaters sisters, with each book giving a sister her own enchanted adventure in the forest.

The Dragonriders of Pern Books by Anne McCaffrey

Illustration of a man riding a white dragon.
(Del Rey)

This is another series that’s technically science fiction, but has an unmistakable fantasy feel. When human settlers arrive on the planet Pern, they make a terrible discovery: every so often, the sky fills with a deadly thread-like substance that kills on contact. Luckily, the settlers figure out how to genetically modify the planet’s fire lizards to create telepathic dragons that can incinerate the Thread before it hits the ground.

There are a lot of Pern books, so if you only want to read the very best, start with the first book in the first trilogy, Dragonflight. After that, skip over to the Harper Hall Trilogy, which tells the story of Menolly, a gifted musician who’s denied the right to play music because she’s a girl.

The Temeraire Series by Naomi Novik

Cover of His Majesty's Dragon.
(Del Rey)

Do you like dragons? Of course you do—you’re reading this book list. Do you like dragons combined with the Napoleonic wars? You might! That’s the premise of Naomi Novik’s nine-book Temeraire series, which begins with His Majesty’s Dragon. As France fights Britain using dragons in aerial combat, Captain Will Laurence finds an unhatched dragon egg containing his future mount, the dragon Temeraire.

Earthsinger Chronicles by L. Penelope

Cover of Song of Blood and stone by L. Penelope.
(St. Martin’s Griffin)

The Earthsinger Chronicles, which begins with Song of Blood & Stone, focus on Jasminda, a mild-mannered farmer who’s shunned for the color of her skin and her rare gift of Earthsong. When Jasminda meets Jack, a spy from the kingdom of Elsira. The peace between Elsira and Lagrimar is brittle, and Jasminda learns that the barrier between them, the Mantle, is weakening.

Named one of Time‘s best fantasy books of all time, Song of Blood & Stone launches an unforgettable saga.

Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce

Cover of Alanna: The First Adventures by Tamora Pierce
(Atheneum Books)

If you haven’t discovered the magic of Alanna yet, then you’re missing out! In this classic YA series, Alanna of Trebond wants nothing more than to be a warrior, but she’s born into a world in which women are forbidden from wielding a sword. Luckily, Alanna and her brother Thom come up with a genius plan: they’ll simply switch places, with Alanna training to be a knight and Thom learning magic in a convent. This four-part series, which starts with Alanna: The First Adventure, follows Alanna as she grows into a fierce and capable knight.

The Between Earth and Sky Trilogy by Rebecca Roanhorse

Book Cover for Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
(Saga Press)

On the day of a solar eclipse, a ship departs for the holy city of Tova with two passengers: Xiala, a young woman gifted with formidable magical abilities, and a mysterious, scarred man named Serapio. Thus begins a story of political intrigue and destiny.

Based on Mesoamerican mythology and civilization, the Between Earth and Sky trilogy—starting with the acclaimed novel Black Sun—is Roanhorse’s most ambitious and triumphant project yet.

An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir

Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Image: Razorbill.)
(Razorbill)

Laia is a girl growing up in the impoverished backstreets of the Rome-inspired Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested by Martial forces, Laia decides she’ll do anything to save him, but her courage is put to the test she’s recruited as a spy in the Empire’s most dangerous, heavily guarded military academy.

An Ember in the Ashes and the three books that follow it are danger-filled quests that’ll get your heart pumping. Laia is an immensely likable and sympathetic protagonist, pushing herself to the very limits of physical and emotional endurance.

The Celestial Kingdom series by Sue Lynn Tan

Cover of Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
(Harper Voyager)

The Celestial Kingdom series, which begins with Daughter of the Moon Goddess, tells the story of Xingyin, daughter of the exiled goddess Chang’e. Xingyin grows up in her mother’s lonely palace on the moon, but when her existence is discovered, she’s forced to flee to the Celestial Kingdom. There, she hides her identity, earns a place at court, and makes a potentially deadly mistake: she falls in love. Thus begins an epic romance of divine proportions.


Any amazing fantasy series we left out? Let us know in the comments!

(featured image: Rich Deas for Henry Holt)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article Conservative Book Banners Are Redacting Entire Textbook Chapters in Texas Schools
A book with redacted sections
Read Article So What Happened With the Ending of ‘Iron Flame’?
Cover art for Rebecca Yarrow's "Iron Flame"
Read Article How Much of ‘Bridgerton’s Romantic Drama Is Historically Accurate?
Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Bridgerton season 3
Read Article Julia Quinn’s Many ‘Bridgerton’ Books Offer So Much More Regency Romance
The covers for Bridgerton books with Netflix tie-in covers, including The Duke & I, The Viscount Who Loved Me, and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
Read Article The 19 Best Standalone Fantasy Novels if You’re Looking For a Quick Adventure
Black mermaid looking up at the surface and swimming in front of whales. One of the covers for "The Deep." Image: Simon & Schuster
Related Content
Read Article Conservative Book Banners Are Redacting Entire Textbook Chapters in Texas Schools
A book with redacted sections
Read Article So What Happened With the Ending of ‘Iron Flame’?
Cover art for Rebecca Yarrow's "Iron Flame"
Read Article How Much of ‘Bridgerton’s Romantic Drama Is Historically Accurate?
Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Bridgerton season 3
Read Article Julia Quinn’s Many ‘Bridgerton’ Books Offer So Much More Regency Romance
The covers for Bridgerton books with Netflix tie-in covers, including The Duke & I, The Viscount Who Loved Me, and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
Read Article The 19 Best Standalone Fantasy Novels if You’re Looking For a Quick Adventure
Black mermaid looking up at the surface and swimming in front of whales. One of the covers for "The Deep." Image: Simon & Schuster
Author
Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>