Top 13 Best adult fantasy novels of all time

Fantasy is a genre of literature that contains magical and mystical elements that do not exist in real life.

While some authors combine real-world and fantastic elements in their works, others create whole imaginary worlds with their own physical rules and logic, as well as populations of imagined races and monsters.

Fantasy is a fictional genre with no real-world or scientific basis.

Dragons and wizards are two things that come to mind when you think of fantasy.

Fairies, kings, and queens are among the characters in this story. Battles of legend. Amulets. Wands of magic Quests.

Fantasy is one of the most popular and cherished literary genres because of its capacity to allow us to suspend disbelief and explore distant realms where anything can happen. 

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Top 13 Best Adult Fantasy Novels & Books (2022): MUST READ

1. The Lord of Rings

It is a wonderful work; an epic tale of friendship, love, and heroism, a book that will set the standard for all future fantasy novels.

Middle-earth is eloquently depicted in Tolkien's descriptive narrative, and the Fellowship's voyage will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered all of the Rings of Power and plans to wield them to dominate Middle-earth.

He only lacks the One Ring, the all-powerful ring that has fallen into the hands of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins.

When his older cousin Bilbo entrusts him with the Ring, young Frodo Baggins is faced with a massive task in a little Shire community. Frodo must leave his home and go across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, where the Ring will be shattered and the Dark Lord's dreadful purpose undone.


  • Writer: JRR Tolkien
  • Publishing year: 1954
  • Amazon rating: 4.6/5

2. Dune 

Welcome to a desert world where water is more valuable than gold, everyone wears moisture-wicking jumpsuits, and huge worm creatures that can kill you at any time emerge from the earth's surface.

Dune is a barren wasteland where competing houses plot against one another in deadly battles that have the potential to change the path of human history. 

Despite the fact that it appears to be science fiction, Frank Herbert's massive tome contains a plethora of fantasy elements such as betrayal, redemption, and liberation, and is rightfully regarded as one of the genre's most important works.

 Herbert's masterwork not only influenced Star Wars, but it also speaks to current issues such as environmental problems, superpower rises, and people exploited in their own country.


  • Writer: Frank Herbert
  • Publishing year: 1965
  • Amazon ratings: 4.5/5

3. The Last Unicorn 

The Last Unicorn is a wonderful narrative about a unicorn living in a forest, and it is considered one of the best fantasy stories ever written.

Hunters arrive in the forest one day and believe it must be home to a unicorn due to the magical protection bestowed upon the woodland's inhabitants. One of the hunters warns the unicorn that she may be the last of her species, prompting her to set off on a journey to find more unicorns or to uncover what happened to them.

With talking animals, witches, a harpy, spells, a magician, and much more, what follows is full of grief, adventure, and amazement. It's another novel that takes grownups back into the world of magic and fairy tales, but it's a firm favourite of mine.

It's another book that takes grownups back into the world of magic and fairy tales, but it's also a favourite among kids of all ages.

The Last Unicorn has since been made into a film. It was adapted into a film in 1982, starring Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, and Christopher Lee


  • Writer: Peter S Beagle
  • Publishing year: 1968
  • Amazon ratings: 4.7/5

4. Good Omens  

Good Omens, which was written in part during phone calls three decades ago, delivers on the promise of a fantasy literature titan match up.

It's the ridiculous narrative of an angel named Aziraphale and a demon named Crowley, who are played with glee by Michael Sheen and David Tennant in this year's Amazon Prime Video series. Good Omens is a fully developed, read-in-an-afternoon pleasure, unlike other fantasy books, which need a substantial commitment.

The events leading up to the End of Days have been set in motion. The forces of Good and Evil are forming up and marching towards Lower Tadfield, a tranquil English village.

War, Famine, Pollution, and Death, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, are gathering. Anathema Device, a descendent of prophetess Agnes Nutter, is attempting to decode her ancestor's enigmatic prophecies.

Witchfinder Shadwell and his aide Newton Pulsifier are also en route to Tadfield to investigate peculiar happenings in the area.

Atlantis is rising, fish are descending from the sky, and everything appears to be falling into place according to the Divine Plan.

Everything, that is, except for an unusual angel and demon combo who have lived on Earth for millennia and have become very fond of it. To avoid Armageddon, they must track down and assassinate the man who will bring it about: the Antichrist himself.


  • Writer: Terry Partchett and Neil Gaiman
  • Publishing year: 1990
  • Amazon rating: 4.6/5

5. His Dark Materials

Phillip Pullman's enthralling novel His Dark Materials trilogy has enthralled readers for nearly two decades and has received critical accolades at every stage.

It will make you question all you think you know about your world and make you wonder what is truly out there.

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman is a children's book with enough depth and complexity to please adults.

Lyra Belacqua and Pantalaimon, her daemon (her inner self manifested as an animal), examine reports of children being separated from their spiritual partners. 

This transitions into a fight between humanity and heaven over the course of the three-book series. It's a retelling and inversion of John Milton's epic Paradise Lost, in part.

In late 2019, the second instalment of a three-part sequel trilogy was released.


  • Writer: Phillip Pullman
  • Publishing year: 1995
  • Amazon rating: 4.7/5

6. The Game of Thrones

A paranormal occurrence knocked the seasons out of balance long ago, in a time long forgotten.

Trouble is developing in a world where summers can span decades and winters can last a lifetime.

 The winter is returning, and evil and otherworldly forces are gathering beyond the kingdom's protecting Wall in the icy wastelands to the north of Winterfell. 

The Starks of Winterfell, a family as cruel and uncompromising as the land they were born to, are at the heart of the struggle. This is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together at a period of dark omens, sweeping from a country of severe winter to a far midsummer kingdom of epicurean plenty.

An enigmatic gang of warriors wields weapons made of no human metal, a tribe of violent wildlings drives men insane, a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to reclaim his kingdom, and a brave woman embarks on the most perilous of journeys.

The destiny of the Starks, their allies, and their adversaries hangs perilously in the balance amid schemes and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and fear, as each tries to win the deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.


  • Writer: George R.R. Martin 
  • Publishing year: 1996
  • Amazon rating: 4.6/5

7. The Golem and the Dijnni 

Helene Wecker's debut novel is a terrifying tale of two supernatural beasts unleashed in nineteenth-century New York.

 After a sea voyage, a golem, a Jewish legendary creature, emerges and is trained to pass for a person among the city's diverse ethnic groups. 

At the same time, a tinsmith in New York accidentally releases a genie from a flask after centuries of imprisonment, but he's trapped in human form and looking for a way to restore his full power.

They meet and become friends, and they must work together to avoid being enslaved by an evil sorcerer.


  • Writer: Helene Wrecker
  • Publishing year: 2013
  • Amazon rating: 4.6

8. A Darker Shade of Magic 

This book is about Kell who is one of the last Antari magicians with the uncommon and valued power to travel between parallel London, which include Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was born in Arnes, Red London and now works as an envoy for the Maresh Empire, traveling between White London's periodic deadly regime transitions and George III's court in the dullest of London, the one with no enchantment left to witness.

Kell is an unofficial smuggler, providing services to those ready to pay for even the tiniest glimpses of a world they'll never see.

Kell is now witnessing personally the dangerous effects of this stubborn activity.

Kell flees to Grey London after a trade goes bad, where he meets Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with big ambitions.

She robs him first, then rescues him from a dangerous foe, and ultimately forces Kell to transport her to another realm for a genuine adventure.

Perilous magic is now in play, and treachery lurks around every corner. They must first stay alive in order to save all of the worlds.


  • Writer: V.E. Schwab
  • Publishing year: 2015
  • Amazon rating: 4.4/5

9. Jade City  

Jade City won The World Fantasy Award in 2018 and was nominated for a number of other awards, including the Nebula Awards and the Locus Awards. It's a sprawling tale that many have compared to legendary Hong Kong gangster films.

 The surprise here is that it takes place in Janloon, a mythical metropolis that Lee brilliantly describes.

The central concept of Jade City is, as you might assume, all about jade. This is a mystical stone that can increase a person's natural abilities and is the lifeblood of the city.

It is therefore extremely valuable and is administered by two fighting families. Tensions rise as a new drug arises that allows anyone to access Jade's supernatural abilities, and carnage ensues.


  • Writer: Fonda Lee
  • Publishing year: 2018
  • Amazon rating: 4.4

10. The Priory of the Orange Tree 

A divided world A dynasty devoid of heirs. An old foe has resurfaced. Inys has been ruled for a thousand years by the House of Berethnet.

Queen Sabran the Ninth, who is still unmarried, needs to have a daughter to save her kingdom from destruction, but assassins are closing in on her.

At court, Ead Duryan is a stranger. Despite her status as lady-in-waiting, she is a member of a secret organisation of mages.

 Sabran is guarded by Ead, who uses prohibited magic to keep an eye on her.

Tane has been training to be a dragon rider since she was a child across the dark sea, but she is forced to make a decision that may destroy her life. Meanwhile, the split East and West refuse to negotiate, and chaotic forces awaken.


  • Writer: Samantha Shannon
  • Publishing year: 2019
  • Amazon rating: 4.6/5

11. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 

In despair, a young woman makes a Faustian pact to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets in France, 1714.

As a young lady discovers how far she will go to leave her mark on the world, Addie LaRue embarks on a magnificent voyage that will take her across eras and continents, across history and art.

But all changes when Addie runs across a young man in a hidden bookstore after nearly 300 years and he knows her name.


  • Writer: V.E. Schwab
  • Publishing year: 2020
  • Amazon rating: 4.5/5

12. Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky) 

The first instalment of the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by pre-Columbian cultures and weaved into a story of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

The winter solstice is generally a time for joy and rejuvenation in the holy city of Tova, but this year it falls on the same day as a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event prophesied by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the universe.

Meanwhile, a ship sets sail from a faraway city, heading for Tova and scheduled to arrive on the solstice. Xiala, the ship's captain, is a disgraced Teek whose song has the ability to soothe the waters surrounding her as well as twist a man's mind.

Her ship only has one passenger on board. Serapio, a young guy who is blind, scarred, and veiled with fate, is described as harmless. When a man is described as innocuous, as Xiala knows, he frequently turns out to be a villain.


  • Writer: Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Publishing year: 2020
  • Amazon rating: 4.5/5

13. House of Earth and Blood 

With distinctive characters, searing romance, and page-turning suspense, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the grief of loss, the price of freedom, and the power of love in this stunningly original new fantasy series.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life, working hard during the day and partying hard at night, until one of her closest friends was murdered by a monster, leaving her bereft, injured, and alone.

When the accused is arrested, but the crimes continue, Bryce finds herself at the centre of the investigation. To avenge their murders, she'll go to any length.

Hunt Athalar, a fallen angel who was formerly enslaved by the Archangels he tried to overthrow.

 His ruthless abilities and vast power have been trained for one purpose: to mercilessly slaughter his boss's enemies. With a demon spreading havoc in the city, he's offered a tempting deal: if he helps Bryce track down the murderer, he'll be set free.

Bryce and Hunt uncover a horrific power that threatens everything and everyone they care about as they go deeper into Crescent City's underworld, and they discover a blazing passion in each other, one that, if they allow it, may set them both free.


  • Writer: Sarah J Mass
  • Publishing year: 2020
  • Amazon rating: 4.7/5

Final Words

The books on the list above are some of the best adult fantasy literature ever written. They have a fantastic storyline with fascinating fantasy creatures that will make you fantasise like a child. The books listed above will not let you down and will entertain you in the manner you expect a fantasy book to.

However, the same factors that make it so popular can make it a difficult genre to break into; for example, readers can get lost (in a bad way) in a long book involving multiple families, kingdoms, and events that are difficult to keep track of, or feel as if the detail-rich worlds of fairies or goblins are not adequately explained in books that assume readers have prior knowledge of such creatures.

Literary fiction provides much-needed escapism for many readers, allowing them to cope with the stresses of everyday life. Fictional stories can take readers out of their brains, even when the characters inhabit a recognised world and relate to the human condition. In the fantasy genre, this effect is even more prominent. Fantasy authors explore issues by constructing their own worlds, where dragons battle in the skies, extra-terrestrial diplomats struggle to keep peace between planets, and unusual species cohabitate Earth with humans, free of scientific and societal constraints and limited only by their imaginations.

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