Reader Recommendations – Fantasy

I’ve already asked about which vampire & shapeshifter, demons, fae & magic, young adult paranormal and science fiction romance novels everyone would recommend.  This week, let’s take the same question, but this time, let’s focus on what started it all – fantasy.

I didn’t start out enjoying urban fantasy, but the straight fantasy novels of Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman.  From there, I found the great Drizzt series by RA Salvatore, which starts with Homeland; then I found the urban fantasy genre and was totally swept up.  As I look back, when it comes to straight fantasy, my number one recommendation is Maria Snyder’s Study series (Poison Study) and now I would have no problem recommending Robin Hobb’s Rain Wilds series (Dragon Keeper) or Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series (Daughter of the Blood).  But after all that, I couldn’t give any other kind of recommendation.

My list of recommendations for fantasy is sorely lacking, so what have I missed being published in the fantasy world?  Which book do I need to read, like now?  What are your automatic buys?

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. I’m a big fan of Greg Keyes’s Kingdom of Thorn and Bone books (The Briar King, The Charnel Prince, The Blood Knight, and The Born Queen).

    I also really love Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series (Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, and Child of the Prophecy — followed by Heir to Sevenwaters, which I have not yet read).

    I’m so hit or miss with fantasy that when I find one I really like, I get a little desperate to find more. I read Celine Kiernan’s The Poison Throne last week and loved it. Can’t recommend it highly enough. And I’m dying to know what’ll happen in the next two books.

  2. I absolutely loved Anne Bishop’s Ephemera series, first Sebastian and then Belladonna. I love Tolkien’s trilogy – heck, I even read it to my kids when they were little – but many of his ideas are better than his writing, IMO. The Hobbit, though and once again IMO, is a masterpiece. I also loved Patricia Briggs’ When Demons Walk.

  3. I love Anne Bishop – these are the books I would take with me to a isolated island. Have you tried her other novels, the Ephemera duology, or the Pillars of the World trilogy?

    I have Maria Snyder’s _Poison Study_ in my TBR pile – will try that one soon.

    One series I keep recommending left and right (because it is so effing awesome) is Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswoman series – starts with _The Steerswoman’s Road_ (a re-issue which contains the first 2 books, _The Steerswoman_ and _The Outskirter’s Secret_). It contains very little romance, but, as I said, awesome. I wish she would hurry writing book #5.

    Joanne Bertin’s _The Last Dragonlord_ is not only great fantasy, it also has one of the most wonderful love stories. Dunno if it is still in print, though.

    You weren’t really asking for UF, but if you haven’t tried Charles de Lint, you need to. His novels are classic. I like to think that Urban Fantasy started with him. Try _Moonheart_ or _Jack of Kinrowan_.

    And last but not least, Lynn Kurland’s Nine Kingdom trilogy (Star of the Morning, The Mage’s Daughter, Princess of the Sword). Sigh. Auto-buy! She’s started a new trilogy in January, btw.

  4. I am a huge Anne Bishop fan and have Maria Snyder on the “to-read” shelf.

    My current favorite fantasy recommendations: _The Name of the Wind_ by Patrick Rothfuss and Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy (first book _The Way of Shadows_). Both, in my opinion, represent classic epic fantasy.

  5. You have to try Alison Croggon’s Pellinor series. It’s in the teen section, but it’s an amazing read!

  6. I’ll second the nomination for George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series. Those books are amazing. The first book (A Game of Thrones) is being made into a television series for HBO.

    Jim Butcher’s “Codex Alera” series is good, and Patrick Rothfuss’ “The Name of the Wind” is very good too.

    Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel” series is fantastic. The first three books are wonderful. The rest of the books follow the story of a different character than the first three books did, and I didn’t like those as much but they were still good.

  7. I don’t know if you would put this in your fae & magic section, but I’d include ANY book by Juliet Marillier here. Especially her Sevenwaters series – they are all to die for.

  8. I will second Kristin Cashore, but also would like to add an oldie but goodie. Tanya Huff’s Wizard of the Grove. Another YA one would be Shannon Hale’s The Bayern Series. Goose Girl is so far my fav. if you like fairy tales.

  9. I like Katherine Kerr, Gail Z. Martin, David Gemmell and many of the other already mentioned (G.R.R. Martin, Shinn, Rothfuss, and Butcher). I second Patricia Briggs books for fantasy. I loved Steal the Dragon and Where Demons Walk.

  10. *frantically writing all these books down into her TBR pile* Awesome suggestions – I second Kristin Cashore, Juliet Marillier and Patrick Rothfuss! They’re all on auto-buy for me. :) Maria Snyder is also awesome.

    Also good to see Sharon Shinn, Jacqueline Carey and Celine Kiernan here – I haven’t read any of them, but just ordered the first book in each of their series a couple days ago, so looking forward to getting those! :)

    I really enjoyed Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy too.

    But Cashore, Marillier and Rothfuss are the best of the best that I’ve found. :)

  11. THE ELVENBANE by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey

    WIZARD’S FIRST RULE by Terry Goodkind

    THE EYE OF THE WORLD by Robert Jordan

    A GAME OF THRONES by George R.R. Martin

    The DragonLance series (I haven’t read much of the newer stuff, but THE LEGEND OF HUMA and the Dragonlance Chronicles – DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT, DRAGONS OF WINTER NIGHT, and DRAGONS OF SPRING DAWNING – are must-reads).

    Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.

    I know I’m forgetting some staples, but those are a good start.


    • @Jess – I did enjoy Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind, but he kind of lost my interest by the fifth or sixth book. I may have read to many straight fantasies in a row, but I do want to re-read them. Have you seen the series on HBO yet?

  12. I don’t see Raymond Feist on the list here. He has a few wonderful series out and stand alone books. Though many of his books are linked together, you can read the series’ and stand alone books separately. I am slowly working my way through the list of books from the beginning. I have not read another book for a while now, and will have to get back to his series.

    Here is a link to his site with the list of series’ in order.

    I have also been following a few other new authors:
    Ken Scholes with the Palms of Isaak series, 1st book is Lamentation.
    Michael J. Sullivan with the Riyria Revelations, 1st book is The Crown Conspiracy.

    I am sure I can come up with more for you too. :)

    I am currently reading The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan. I am about 1/2 way through it and I am really sucked into it.

    Hope this helps you out. :)

  13. Hi Jackie, no, I haven’t. The first book is worth a read, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to finish the series. I’ve read up to #8, but, like you, the series didn’t hold my interest. When I realized I felt like I was reading out of a sense of obligation instead of a desire to find out what happens, I stopped. Same thing with the WHEEL OF TIME series.

    Martin’s series is about to become a show on HBO, too! Very much looking forward to it. :)

    I remembered another series I just recently read, and can’t believe I forgot to mention! Julia Knight’s ILFAYNE’S BANE and LOVE IS MY SIN are both excellent.

    C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy (BLACK SUN RISING, CROWN OF SHADOWS and WHEN TRUE NIGHT FALLS) are incredible. Highly recommend them.


  14. Hi Jackie,

    My semi-automatic buy is Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series. I stumbled upon Dragon in a bookstore while I was on the road (I think…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) I cracked open the cover and read the first paragraph. If you’re familiar with the book, it has a doozy of a first line.

    I’m also a fan of first-person narrative so the friend-to-friend narration is great for me.

    For anyone curious, Vlad Taltos is a Jhereg assassin whose profession leads him into mysterious situations, which he resolves through investigation. Sort of a cross between one of the hitokiri of Japan and Sam Spade, set in the world of Draghera where humans aren’t what we think of as humans…

    I read them out of order, reading Dragon first, so didn’t get disillusioned by some of the early books, or the politico of Teckla. I’d almost recommend reading it this way as it gives you a great character introduction and you aren’t lost with back story, as Brust tells it because Vlad has lost some of his memories too.

    Other authors I pick up from that section (which isn’t classified as Urban Fantasy) are Peter David (Sir Apropos of Nothing series is CJ Cherryh’s Hammerfall books.


  15. weird. I lost some text there…

    In the other authors section, it took out the Troy Game and Wayfarer series by Sara Douglass and Jim C. Hines…then CJ Cherryh…

    really weird.

  16. I hope I’m not too late to get in on this, because I have a wonderful recommendation for you!

    Check out Bloodline: Alliance by L.R. Saul. It tackles subjects such as injustice, suffering, racism, prejudice, and hatred and is truly a metaphor for our own world wrapped up in the plot twists and mystery of a very authentic fantasy novel. I was recently introduced to it, and have been recommending it ever since!

    Take care and happy reading!

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