With so many fantasy series out there, picking your first book if you’re new to the genre can be intimidating. You can start with stand-alone fantasy novels, but usually the authors need three books to create a world.
To be classified in the genre, the book usually employs world-building where elements from folklore and mythology are used. Some are inspired by civilizations and governments. These may resemble the real world or are modified. That is why most of these books have a magic system, magical creatures, religion and political machinery, and wars.
Fantasy has different sub-genres ranging from sword and sorcery to Wuxia (it’s Chinese martial arts with elements of fantasy). Here is a list of completed fantasy series from across sub-genres to get you hooked.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien was the first successful fantasy series that has inspired other writers of the genre. Fantasy owes Tolkien a lot for this accomplishment. It tells about the adventures of three humble hobbits who have never seen the world. They were out to fight a Dark Lord who wants to conquer Middle-earth. The series has film and video game adaptations.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling is perhaps the most well-known young adult fantasy series. It is composed of seven books about an orphan who discovers that his parents were wizards who were killed by the most-feared dark wizard. It has a movie series adaptation and a cult following.
Dragonlance Chronicles is a trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. It is the best example of sword and sorcery fantasy. It tells about a group of friends who set out on a journey to become Heroes of the Lance. Dragonlance is also composed of other novels based on the shared universe of the same name.
Avalon Series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana L. Paxson is a retelling of the life of British women under the Romans. Avalon is based on the Arthurian legends with elements from Celtic myths and pre-Christian practices. The series has seven books and is highly recommended if you want to follow lead female characters.
Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind can serve as an introductory series to epic fantasy. It has 17 books about two men and a woman who want to defeat the evil oppressors of the land. The theme is anchored on the 11 Wizard’s Rules, a sort of code of conduct for magic users. The series has a TV adaptation which ran for two seasons.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson is a 14-book series about three friends from a small village who were destined to either break or save the world. One of them is the Dragon Reborn who is supposed to fight the Dark One in the last battle. There is a chance however that he might join the forces of the Dark Lord. The author Jordan died in 2007 and Sanderson took over to write the last three books.