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Best Literary Fantasy Books

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The crowd-ranked version of the Best Literary Fantasy Books list. This list contains fantasy books that an English English professor would be proud to read. Literary fantasy might feature superb prose, intelligent ideas, deep thematic frameworks, and other literary devices. Vote on the items and/or submit your own literary fantasy suggestions to share with the public
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1

The Lord Of The Rings

by J.R.R. Tolkien

The 50th anniversary one-volume edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic
 
"An extraordinary work -- pure excitement." -- New York Times Book Review
 
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

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The Once And Future King

by T. H. White

5 avg rating

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10

Gormenghast

by Mervyn Peake

3 avg rating
A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and a dazzling array of bizarre creatures inhabit the magical world of the Gormenghast novels which, along with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, reign as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of it all is the seventy-seventh Earl, Titus Groan, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom, unless the conniving Steerpike, who is determined to rise above his menial position and control the House of Groan, has his way.

In these extraordinary novels, Peake has created a world where all is like a dream--lush, fantastical, and vivid. Accompanying the text are Peake's own drawings, illustrating the whole assembly of strange and marvelous creatures that inhabit Gormenghast.
Introductory Essays by Anthony Burgess and Quentin Crisp
Twelve critical essays
Fragment of the unpublished novel, Titus Awakes

"Mervyn Peake is a finer poet than Edgar Allan Poe, and he is therefore able to maintain his world of fantasy brilliantly through three novels. It is a very, very great work . . . a classic of our age."-- Robertson Davies

"[Peake's books] are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience."-- C. S. Lewis

"This extravagant epic about a labyrinthine castle populated with conniving Dickensian grotesques is the true fantasy classic of our time."-- The Washington Post Book World

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16

Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

Time Magazine #1 Book of the Year « Book Sense Book of the Year « People Top Ten Books of the Year « Winner of the Hugo Award « A New York Times Notable Book of the Year « Salon.com Top Ten of 2004 «Winner of the World Fantasy Award « Nancy Pearl's Top 12 Books of 2004 « Washington Post Book World's Best of 2004 « Christian Science Monitor Best Fiction 2004 « San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2004 « Winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel « Chicago Tribune Best of 2004 « Seattle Times 25 Best Books of 2004 « Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 12 Books of 2004 « Village Voice "Top Shelf" « Raleigh News & Observer Best of 2004 « Rocky Mountain News critics' favorites of 2004 « Kansas City Star 100 Newsworthy Books of 2004 « Fort Worth Star-Telegram 10 Best Books of 2004 « Hartford Courant Best Books of 2004

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17

The Book Of The New Sun

by Gene Wolfe

5 avg rating
The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe's most remarkable work, hailed as "a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis" by Publishers Weekly, and "one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century" by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Shadow & Claw brings together the first two books of the tetralogy in one volume:

The Shadow of the Torturer is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession -- showing mercy toward his victim.

Ursula K. Le Guin said, "Magic stuff . . . a masterpiece . . . the best science fiction I've read in years!"

The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

"Arguably the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced [is] the four-volume Book of the New Sun."--Chicago Sun-Times

"The Book of the New Sun establishes his preeminence, pure and simple. . . . The Book of the New Sun contains elements of Spenserian allegory, Swiftian satire, Dickensian social consciousness and Wagnerian mythology. Wolfe creates a truly alien social order that the reader comes to experience from within . . . once into it, there is no stopping."--The New York Times Book Review

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Watership Down

by Richard Adams

5 avg rating
A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for over thirty years, Richard Adams's Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England's Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.

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The Chronicles Of Narnia

by C. S. Lewis

Narnia . . . where a dragon awakens . . . where stars walk the earth . . . where anything can happen.

Experience The Chronicles of Narnia in its entirety in time for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third movie in the motion picture epic. This movie tie-in box contains the rack editions of all seven of C. S. Lewis's classic stories:

  • The Magician's Nephew
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle

The box features stills from the movie, and each book inside has cover art by Cliff Nielson and the original black-and-white interior illustrations by Pauline Baynes. The journey begins long before the Dawn Treader sets sail and ends long after its voyage, so don't miss out on any part of this definitive fantasy series of our time!

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Earthsea Trilogy

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea marks the first of the six now beloved Earthsea titles. Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tumultuous tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

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13

The Last Unicorn

by Peter S. Beagle

4 avg rating
The 30th anniversary of a fantasy classic from Peter S. Beagle!

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Lyonesse

by Jack Vance

5 avg rating

A monument of fantastic literature to stand beside such classics as DUNE and THE LORD OF THE RINGS, LYONESSE evokes the Elder Isles, a baroque land of pre-Arthurian myth now lost beneath the Atlantic, where powerful sorcerers, aloof faeries, stalwart champions, and nobles eccentric, magnanimous, and cruel pursue intrigue among their separate worlds. In this first book of the trilogy, Suldrun's Garden, Prince Aillas of Troicinet is betrayed on his first diplomatic voyage and cast into the sea. Before he redeems his birthright, he must pass the breadth of Hybras Isle as prisoner, vagabond, and slave, an acquaintance of faeries, wizards, and errant knights, and lover to a sad and beautiful girl whose fate sets his bitter rivalry with the tyrant Casmir, King of Lyonesse.

This eBook was assembled from the definitive Vance Integral Edition text, which was re-edited from its original publication under the supervision of Mr. Vance himself.

World Fantasy Award nominee.

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Taboom

by Stephen A. Dougherty

5 avg rating
Taboom, set a billion-plus years in our future, is the castle home and launch point for an adventurous princess. Taboom is also a compound word of what happens when Taboos go Boom... Yes, there is plenty of sex and violence. Also, Dragons! Taboom skews excessively into a rich environment of magic, sexual perversity, and other fantastical adventures.
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Little, Big

by John Crowley

3 avg rating

John Crowley's masterful Little, Big is the epic story of Smoky Barnable, an anonymous young man who travels by foot from the City to a place called Edgewood—not found on any map—to marry Daily Alice Drinkawater, as was prophesied. It is the story of four generations of a singular family, living in a house that is many houses on the magical border of an otherworld. It is a story of fantastic love and heartrending loss; of impossible things and unshakable destinies; and of the great Tale that envelops us all. It is a wonder.

World Fantasy
Nebula
Hugo
BSFA
BSFA
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King Elfland's Daughter

by Lord Dunsany

The poetic style and sweeping grandeur of The King of Elfland's Daughter has made it one of the most beloved fantasy novels of our time, a masterpiece that influenced some of the greatest contemporary fantasists. The heartbreaking story of a marriage between a mortal man and an elf princess is a masterful tapestry of the fairy tale following the "happily ever after."
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Elric Of Melinbone

by Michael Moorcock

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The Worm Ouroboros

by E. R. Eddision

5 avg rating
This anthology is a thorough introduction to classic literature for those who have not yet experienced these literary masterworks. For those who have known and loved these works in the past, this is an invitation to reunite with old friends in a fresh new format. From Shakespeare s finesse to Oscar Wilde s wit, this unique collection brings together works as diverse and influential as The Pilgrim s Progress and Othello. As an anthology that invites readers to immerse themselves in the masterpieces of the literary giants, it is must-have addition to any library.

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The Name Of The Wind

by Patrick Rothfuss

4.38 avg rating
Discover #1 New York Times-bestselling Patrick Rothfuss’ epic fantasy series, The Kingkiller Chronicle.
 
“I just love the world of Patrick Rothfuss.” —Lin-Manuel Miranda • “He’s bloody good, this Rothfuss guy.” —George R. R. Martin • “Rothfuss has real talent.” —Terry Brooks
 
OVER 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD!
 
DAY ONE: THE NAME OF THE WIND
 
My name is Kvothe.
 
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
 
You may have heard of me.
 
So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.  

 
Praise for The Kingkiller Chronicle:
 
“The best epic fantasy I read last year.... He’s bloody good, this Rothfuss guy.”
George R. R. MartinNew York Times-bestselling author of A Song of Ice and Fire
 
“Rothfuss has real talent, and his tale of Kvothe is deep and intricate and wondrous.” 
Terry BrooksNew York Times-bestselling author of Shannara
 
"It is a rare and great pleasure to find a fantasist writing...with true music in the words."
Ursula K. Le Guin, award-winning author of Earthsea
 
"The characters are real and the magic is true.” 
Robin HobbNew York Times-bestselling author of Assassin’s Apprentice
 
"Masterful.... There is a beauty to Pat's writing that defies description." 
Brandon SandersonNew York Times-bestselling author of Mistborn

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Phantastes

by George MacDonald

The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Fiction; English fiction; Fiction / Fantasy / General; Fiction / Fantasy / Epic; Fiction / Romance / General; Fiction / Romance / Fantasy; Juvenile Fiction / Fairy Tales
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The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

by Neil Gaiman

A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.

This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real...

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The Book Of Lost Things

by John Connolly

5 avg rating
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother. He is angry and alone, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in his imagination, he finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a land that is a strange reflection of his own world, populated by heroes and monsters, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book... The Book of Lost Things.

An imaginative tale about navigating the journey into adulthood, while doing your best to hang on to your childhood.

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