Categories
Grimdark List

26 Best Grimdark Books

 

Art by Kai Lim

Grimdark is a fantasy subgenre that is particularly dystopian, amoral, or violent. Its protagonists tend toward the conflicted antihero, and its worlds are often brutal and nihilistic. The writing also tends to be much grittier and realistic. A whimsical quest to get the magic doohickey this is not.

The slightly overwrought term is inspired by the tagline of the tabletop strategy game Warhammer 40,000: “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war.”

Categories
List Witch

23 Best Witch Books

 

Art by Yoshitaka Amano

Women through the ages have been burned or beloved as witches, seen as everything from green-skinned child-eating cacklers to protectors with near god(goddess?)-like powers.

Categories
List Urban

25 Best Urban Fantasy Books

 

From Shadowrun, a cyberpunk fantasy RPG game.

Here, “urban fantasy” means “supernatural events in a contemporary city,” and ranges from noir wizards, infernal assassins, fairy wars, and a veritable parade of kick-ass young heroines. The tone can swing from seriously violent and dark, to more teen-friendly paranormal romance.

If you find a book you like, you’re in luck: chances are it’s a part of a lengthy series.

Categories
Dragons List

18 Best Dragon Books

No mythical creature exemplifies fantasy fiction more than dragons, whether it’s the cunning, predatory dragon of the west or the wise, benevolent dragons of the east.

Categories
List Romance

21 Best Fantasy Romance Books

Fantasy romance is a wildly popular subgenre, and if you’re looking for love (and lust) in stories about a young woman hoping for more excitement in life, or a secret princess saddled with powers she neither understands nor wants, you’re in the right place.

Categories
List Pirate

21 Best Pirate Fantasy Books

Perhaps nowhere does storytelling so totally reverse reality as when it deals with pirates. It’s difficult not to like swashbuckling rogues tweaking the noses of the uptight British ninnies as they ply their brave way across the wild, lusty seas.

Of course, actual pirates were about as romantic as the tortures they would inflict on prisoners, including holding lighted matches to the victim’s eyes or keel-hauling, where a sailor had a rope tied to each arm and thrown off the bow of a ship. The unfortunate was then dragged along the length of ship, scraping against the sharp barnacles and probably drowning.

Fun fact: “Avast!” means “Stop!” or “Stand still!” not “Hello, fellow pirate!”

Categories
Epic List

27 Mindblowingly Epic Fantasy Books

Epic fantasy is usually big, loud fun: kingdoms in peril, good about to be obliterated by dark evil, and scrappy adventurers defying death in nearly every chapter.

While there’s plenty of fun to be had in the Quest for the Magic Thingy, the trend toward focusing on character and realism is welcome, and some of the books on this list flip on its head the whole idea of what “epic” means.

Categories
List

29 Best Fantasy Books of All Time

“Best” is a hugely subjective term, and not to be trusted. So here, “Best” means, “a consensus based on dozens of other lists, infused with my own personal bias.”

Categories
List Series

29 Best Fantasy Series

Fantasy has more book series than any other genre. Science fiction is in second place with hundreds of series, but fantasy is at the top.

Unfortunately, this means that there are more fantasy series than one can read in a lifetime. Here are some of the best ones out there.

Categories
List Vampires

25 Best Vampire Books

 

Detail from the cover of A Clutch of Vampires by Raymond T. McNally, drawn by Edward Gorey

Vampires have gone from being seen as unfortunate creatures operating under a dread curse (Nosferatu) to pretty, brooding superheroes (Twilight). They’re the ultimate bad boys: tall, dark, and handsome taken to a feral, gothic extreme.

There are all sorts of vampires in the list below: angry, scared, young, old, terrifying, hilarious, confused, weak, strong, monstrous, and human.