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Audiobook List

19 Best Fantasy Audiobooks

I get excited by a good book, and sometimes read more quickly than I should. Audiobooks slow me down to a more humane pace, allowing me to really spend time in the words of a book instead of blasting through it. Listening to an audiobook can give me a surprisingly deeper reading experience than, well, reading. I’m not ever giving up paper books, but I’m impressed at the depth of the experience of a really well-done audiobook.

 

19
Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon – 1991
Narrated by Davina Porter
32 hours, 38 minutes
Book 1 of 8 in the Outlander series

Scottish Highlands, 1945. Claire Randall, a former British combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding clans in the year of Our Lord… 1743.

Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.

“Marvelous and fantastic adventures, romance, sex . . . perfect escape reading.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

18
The Rage of Dragons
by Evan Winter – 2017
Narrated by Prentice Onayemi
16 hours, 15 minutes
Book 1 of 2 in The Burning series

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.

Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.

Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

“Winter’s stunning debut fantasy epic is rich in complex characters and a well-wrought world with both European and African influences.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

17
Trail of Lightning
by Rebecca Roanhorse – 2018
Narrated by Tanis Parenteau
8 hours, 58 minutes
Book 1 of 2 in The Sixth World series

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the reservation, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.

“Roanhorse vividly depicts Navajo land, legends, and culture in her marvelous fantasy debut.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

16
A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness – 2011
Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
23 hours, 59 minutes
Book 1 of 3 in the All Souls Trilogy

Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

“A thoroughly grown-up novel packed with gorgeous historical detail and a gutsy, brainy heroine to match… Harkness writes with thrilling gusto about the magical world.”
—Entertainment Weekly

15
Uprooted
by Naomi Novik – 2015
Narrated by Julia Emelin
17 hours, 44 minutes

Winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel.

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests, and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for 10 years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia—all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

“Breathtaking . . . [Novik] weaves a tale that is both elegantly grand and earthily humble, familiar as a Grimm fairy tale yet fresh, original, and totally irresistible. This will be a must-read for fantasy fans for years to come.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

14
Rivers of London
by Ben Aaronovitch – 2011
Narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
10 hours, 37 minutes
Book 1 of 7 in the Rivers of London series

My name is Peter Grant, and until January, I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (and as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit—we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to—and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.

Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in 50 years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden. And there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love: a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos—or die trying.

“The perfect blend of CSI and Harry Potter.”
—io9

13
Assassin's Apprentice
by Robin Hobb – 1995
Narrated by Paul Boehmer
17 hours, 18 minutes
Book 1 of 3 in The Farseer Trilogy

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

“A gleaming debut in the crowded field of epic fantasies . . . a delightful take on the powers and politics behind the throne.”
—Publishers Weekly

12
The Cycle of Arawn
by Edward W. Robertson – 2014
Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds
65 hours, 54 minutes

If you’re stuck inside, why not commit to a whole trilogy?

The White Tree (book one): In Mallon, the dark magic of the nether has been banned for centuries. Its users have been driven out or killed. Its secrets lost.

But the holy book of the nethermancers has just been found by a boy named Dante.

As he works to unlock the book’s power, he’s attacked in the street. The nethermancers aren’t gone—and they want their book back. Caught between death cultists and the law, Dante fights for his life, aided by his growing skills and a brash bodyguard named Blays. Together they’re drawn into a centuries-old conflict that brings Mallon to the brink of civil war.

Surviving won’t be easy. But if they make it out alive, they’ll step down the path to becoming two of the greatest warriors the world has ever known.

The Great Rift (book two): Dante and Blays have averted war against their new home of Narashtovik. But they didn’t do so alone. It’s time to repay their debts.

The norren who helped them remain enslaved by the Gaskan Empire. While arming the norren clans for rebellion, Dante hears one of them is in possession of the legendary Quivering Bow. If he can track down the weapon, it could secure norren independence.

But the wheels of war have already begun to turn. As Gask moves to crush the rebellion, Dante and Blays find themselves at the head of a campaign for survival—for norren and Narashtovik alike.

The Black Star (book three): Blaming the Gaskan king for the loss of his love, Lira, Blays infiltrates the enemy nobility. There he schemes to bankrupt Gask and drive its ruler from the throne. But Dante’s been waiting for Blays’s return. If he finds and exposes him, Blays will be executed as a spy.

As they squabble, strange lights shine in the east. Harbingers of a long-forgotten threat. If the signs go ignored, Narashtovik will be annihilated by an enemy it never knew it had.

11
A Game of Thrones
by George R. R. Martin – 1996
Narrated by Roy Dotrice
33 hours, 46 minutes
Book 1 of 5 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series

Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.

“Martin makes a triumphant return to high fantasy . . . [with] superbly developed characters, accomplished prose, and sheer bloodymindedness.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review

10
The Way of Kings
by Brandon Sanderson – 2010
Narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer
45 hours, 29 minutes
Book 1 of 4 in The Stormlight Archive series
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, a young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

“Sanderson is a master of hooking the reader in the first few pages, and once again he doesn’t disappoint. Fans and lovers of epic fantasy will find the ending satisfying, yet will eagerly await the next volume.”
―Library Journal

9
The Fifth Season
by N. K. Jemisin – 2015
Narrated by Robin Miles
15 hours, 27 minutes
Book 1 of 3 in The Broken Earth series

This is the way the world ends…for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

“Jemisin’s graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Narrated by Robin Miles. 15 hours, 27 minutes.

8
Storm Front
by Jim Butcher – 2000
Narrated by James Marsters
8 hours, 1 minute
Book 1 of 17 in The Dresden Files series

As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put it mildly—stinks.

So when the Chicago P.D. bring him in to consult on a double homicide committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name…

“Butcher…spins an excellent noirish detective yarn in a well-crafted, supernaturally-charged setting. The supporting cast is again fantastic, and Harry’s wit continues to fly in the face of a peril-fraught plot.”
—Booklist (starred review)

7
The Blade Itself
by Joe Abercrombie – 2019
Narrated by Steven Pacey
22 hours, 15 minutes
Book 1 of 3 in The First Law Trilogy

Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian—leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.

“There is a gritty edge to his world and an awareness of the human cost of violence that is very contemporary.”
―The Times

6
Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi – 2018
Narrated by Bahni Turpin
17 hours, 44 minutes
Book 1 of 2 in the Legacy of Orïsha series

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers―and her growing feelings for an enemy.

“A refreshing YA fantasy with an all–West African cast of characters that should be on every shelf.”
―School Library Journal (starred review)

5
The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss – 2007
Narrated by Nick Podehl
27 hours, 55 minutes
Book 1 of 2 in The Kingkiller Chronicle series

Kvothe, the hero and villain of a thousand tales, disappears for years and is presumed dead. Then he is tracked down by a biographer who discovers he’s living under an assumed name while running an inn. The biographer gets Kvothe’s story, which focuses around two imperatives: his desire to learn the higher magic of naming, and his need to discover as much as possible about the Chandrian, the demons of legend who murdered his family.

“The originality of Rothfuss’s outstanding debut fantasy, the first of a trilogy, lies less in its unnamed imaginary world than in its precise execution.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

4
The Fellowship of the Ring
by J. R. R. Tolkein – 1954
Narrated by Rob Inglis
19 hours, 7 minutes
Book 1 of 3 in The Lord of the Rings series

Oh, you know this one.

3
Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas – 2012
Narrated by Elizabeth Evans
12 hours, 47 minutes
Book 1 of 7 in the Throne of Glass series

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

“A teenage assassin, a rebel princess, menacing gargoyles, supernatural portals and a glass castle prove to be as thrilling as they sound. . . Celaena is still just a teenager trying to forge her way, giving the story timelessness. This commingling of comedy, brutality and fantasy evokes a rich alternate universe with a spitfire young woman as its brightest star.”
―Kirkus Reviews

2
Guards! Guards!
by Terry Pratchett – 1989
Narrated by Nigel Planer
10 hours, 7 minutes
Book 8 of 40 in the Discworld series

I’m a huge Terry Pratchett and Discworld fan, and this book is one of the best in terms of clever plot, fascinating characters, interesting use of magic, and Pratchett’s clear-eyed but sympathetic take on human nature. It’s also hilarious.

Long believed extinct, a superb specimen of draco nobilis (“noble dragon” for those who don’t understand italics) has appeared in Discworld’s greatest city. Not only does this unwelcome visitor have a nasty habit of charbroiling everything in its path, in rather short order it is crowned King (it is a noble dragon, after all…). How did it get there? How is the Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night involved? Can the bumbling City Watch restore order—and the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork—to power?

“This is one of Pratchett’s best books. Hilarious and highly recommended.”
—The Times

1
The Screaming Staircase
by Jonathan Stroud – 2013
Narrated by Miranda Raison
10 hours, 10 minutes
Book 1 of 5 in the Lockwood & Co. series

Everyone in my family is a huge Lockwood & Co. fan.

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see—and eradicate—these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

“The genuinely likable members of Lockwood & Co. persevere through the evil machinations of the living and the dead and manage to come out with their skins, and their senses of humor, intact.”
—School Library Journal

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