Top Ten Tuesday (7): Top Ten All Time Favorite Fantasy Books


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are talking about our Top Ten Favorite Books in a Genre of our choice, and I pick fantasy.  This list will be a mix of adult and YA books.  It will also probably lean toward books I’ve read more recently because if I didn’t review it on Goodreads, I might as well never have read it.

Top 10 All Time Favorite Fantasy Books

1. The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – This is the beginning of a series of a bunch of interrelated trilogies, but it’s the first one that really grabbed my heart.  Fitz is one of my favorite characters in all of fantasy. If you like communicating animals, dragons, a great underdog tale, and court intrigue, you will love this one. 

asassins apprentice

2.  The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I feel like this is a popular one, but if you haven’t read it, I think it’s a great entry point into epic fantasy.  This book follows a guy named Kvothe telling his life story over the course of three days, and each book in the trilogy represents a day of the story. It’s so great and an excellent entry point into epic fantasy, even though it’s a chunker.

name of the wind

3. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – This is taking a little bit of a risk because only the first book in the trilogy is out, but I instantly fell in love with this book as soon as I read it.  It is slightly reminiscent of The Name of the Wind in that it is a scribe telling the story of a guy known as The Hope Killer, but in many ways I actually loved this book even more. Shocking, I know, but you REALLY need to try this one if you like fantasy at all.

blood song

4.  The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavirel Kay – This is actually just a  placeholder for all of Guy Gavriel Kay’s stuff (except, oddly enough, the Fionavar trilogy, which I personally didn’t like).  But this one, A Song for ArbonneSailing to Sarantium, or Tigana… basically the list goes on and on. His writing is this gorgeous historical, magical prose with characters that you just must love. Lions is one of the only books that I have ever read, closed, and then immediately re-opened because I wasn’t ready to let go.


5.  Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier – This is kind of also a Marilliet placeholder because I totally love her works, but also this is such an excellent entry point to fairy tale retellings and fantasy.  This is a retelling of the Wild Swans fairy tale, but it completely stands on its own.  The romance is pitch-perfect, Sorcha is an amazing female protagonist, and man I just love love love this book.

Daughter of the Forest

6. The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson – This is definitely a Sanderson placeholder.  I am an absolute Fanderson – he basically can do no wrong in my eyes.  I absolutely adore the Mistborn trilogy, I love Warbreaker, I love Way of Kings, I love Steelheart, and you KNOW I love The Emperor’s Soul…. ugh, I just love them all. I think this one is probably the best entry point to Sanderson.  That said, The Emperor’s Soul would also be a great starting place since it’s a short story that I feel like gives a really good test to see if you like his writing style.

final empire

7.  Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor – This is where the YA fantasy recommendations start.  I love Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and I actually think it would be a great cross over into adult fantasy. The world-building is just freaking amazing, the realistic writing of Prague makes you feel like you are right there, and it’s one of my absolute favorite story that incorporates angels.

smoke and bone

8.  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente – This is just so different than anything else I’ve ever read.  The language is so fantastical, the world is immersive, and the characters just stick right with you.  I get totally transported to this world when I read these books, and I highly recommend them.


9.  The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – This is a freaking amazing series that focuses on Eugenidies, who (as you might guess) is a thief.  He gets caught in a nearby kingdom and ends up being asked to go on a journey in order to help the king.  Gen is one of my favorite male protagonists for sure.  And for those of you who like The Winner’s Curse, the author of that said in a recent Twitter chat that this series was one of her inspirations.


10. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – This is a throwback recommendation – it was a Newberry honor winner in 1983! It follows the story of Harry Crewe, an orphan girl, who has just moved to a border town that basically is the last defense against a tribe of people known as the Hillfolk.  For reasons that are not immediately apparent, Harry is kidnapped by the Hillfolk King and ends up learning a lot about herself.  The book was so enjoyable and I highly recommend it.

blue sword

11. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – This is a bonus choice and is really representative of one of my favorite sub-genres in fantasy, which is urban fantasy.  I love the Dresden File series (though for me they get great starting at around book 4), and I also love the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.  These are great reading slump busters for me because they are characters I love in realistic settings with excellent magic and supernatural characters.  They also generally read as standalones, even though they are all related in one big series.  Just excellent.

So how about you?  Do you like fantasy as much as I do?  What are some of your favorites?  I had to leave off SO MANY that I really love, and chose to lean a bit more toward adult stuff since I think the YA stuff gets pretty good coverage in the blogosphere (at least the corner I hang out in).  Are any of these on your TBR?


44 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday (7): Top Ten All Time Favorite Fantasy Books

    • I think if you like romance, you might enjoy it. There is a good romantic story, and it’s mostly set in the “real world,” so no elves or dwarves or too much magic to deal with if that’s part of what keeps you away.

  1. I LOVE fantasy! I’m on a real fantasy kick at the moment, ever since I read Throne of Glass (total favourite) 🙂 I really want to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Gosh, why haven’t I even read it yet??!! My TTT!

  2. Ohhh this list. I’ve read about half of the books you mention here and loved them all (well, aside from the Dresden Files. Not a fan of those!). I’ve been meaning to read some Hobb for ages though, and think I’ll source copies of The Blue Sword and The Thief – they both look really good.

    Have you read any Jacqueline Carey? I think she’s quite similar to Kay, who is rapidly becoming my favourite author 😀

    • Oh, I almost put Jacqueline Carey on this list to be honest – I freaking LOVE the Phedre series. But since none of these others were “adult” in that way, I decided to skip it. But yes, she was a very close #12 on this list!

      I DEFINITELY recommend Hobb – SO good. And The Blue Sword and The Thief are both excellent as well. I hope you enjoy!

      Dresden’s not for everyone, but if you like strong females and want to give urban fantasy another shot, I’d recommend the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Just so good!

    • Oh I just LOVE that series. It always takes me a minute to adjust to the writing style, but then it’s like falling straight down the rabbit hole and I barely even look up from the book until it’s over. I hope you enjoy!

  3. yay for Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I do love that series & probably would not have even picked it up if I had known it was about angels. 🙂 I also think I want to pick up some Dresden Files books b/c I like more realistic fantasy & your description sounds a bit like Supernatural to me.

    • Dresden is basically a wizard private investigator in Chicago who interacts with vampires (of all kinds), the fae, werewolves, other wizards… basically you name it, it’s in that series! The first three books are only ok for me, but then the series takes this amazing turn and becomes really awesome.

      Another great urban fantasy series is Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. She’s a shapeshifter, which means she can transform into a coyote, who was raised by werewolves. Now she’s an unassuming car mechanic in the Washington state area who gets up to all kinds of crazy stuff with her various fairy, vampire, werewolf friends. Great love story in that one as well, and I LOVE Mercy.

      I also think Name of the Wind would qualify as realistic fantasy, even though it’s not set in “our” world. Guy Gavriel Kay DEFINITELY would, even though it’s more “historical” in tone.

  4. I’m slowly starting to read more fantasy, so I’ll definitely have to keep your recs in mind for future reading. I was instantly interested in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I mean with a title like that how can it not be good! Also, The Thief and Daughter of the Forest sound awesome!

    • I love the Fairyland books and they really are like nothing else. The Thief is maybe the least really fantasy-like book on this list and is a good starting place for sure! And if you love retellings and romance, you will love Daughters of the Forest!

  5. I came so close to choosing fantasy as my genre today Emily– but I’m more versed in Contemp YA so I ent with that instead. But fantasy is becoming a favorite genre to escape to lately so I’m excited to discover a few on your list I haven’t heard of . I’ve read the Taylor (fabulous!) and the McKinley ( though my fave of her books is Sunshine actually) and I’ve read two books in The Queens Thief series (incredible– must finish that one day.) My library has the Rothfuss series and I’m running out of excuses to read it even though it’s sheer mass freaks me out a little! I own Daughter of the Forest but haven’t read, and I’m very curious about the Ryan bk because I hear lots of readers raving over it. Such a comprehensive it’s– thank you for sharing it– I’m adding some of these to my TBR for sure:)

  6. I love your list so much because there are so many on here that I haven’t read that sound amazing!! My to-read list just got a lot longer! I recently finished Marillier’s Shadowfell and really liked it so I’ll be looking up her other books for sure. The Thief is already on my to-read list and it looks great. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Top Ten All Time Favourite Books in The Fantasy Genre | Brin's Book Blog

  8. Great selection! I have Robin Hobb and Juliet Marillier on my list as well. 🙂

    The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley looks really good. I have heard of the author but haven’t yet read any of her books – will definitely have to check them out.

  9. I’ve only read Daughter of Smoke and Bone on your list, but I loved it! I thought the sequel was even better, so I can’t wait for the conclusion to come out later this year!

  10. So many of these are on my TBR list!

    Funny enough, I was talking to another blogger about The Assassin’s Apprentice this morning. It’s been on my TBR for about four years now, so I’ve completely forgotten what it’s about and why I wanted to read it in the first place! I’ve never met anybody that DIDN’T like it though, so maybe it’s time I dusted it off and gave it a go 🙂

  11. Oh my goodness! Someone who has read both The Blue Sword and The Queen’s Thief series! I think I may love you! I love both Robin McKinley and Megan Whalen Turner a lot! I totally agree with most of your list! I haven’t read Robin Hobb, Juliet Marillier, or Anthony Ryan yet. I need to get on that.

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