I know why you’re here. You’ve been asking yourself a question I often find myself pondering: Which fantasy book should I read next? It’s a damn hard decision. There are so many amazing works of fantasy fiction out there that picking your next adventure is a real challenge.
Unlike other genres of fiction, fantasy is usually a real investment. Some books can span upwards of 200k words, with series racking up months of dedicated reading time. Getting your next fantasy choice right is essential, but you also don’t want to spend too much time researching either; not when you just want to jump into a new world and get lost in a novel’s pages.
So, that’s what we’re doing today. From the best new fantasy books of 2019, to some of the more well-known classics, we explore what you should read in flowchart form. All to help you answer the question, what fantasy book should I read next?
If you want a bit more info on which fantasy you should read next, there will be a few details below on each as well.
The Classic Epic Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is perhaps the fantasy book. Tolkien's epic inspired much of the contemporary genre, primarily through his incredible world-building and cultural inventions. When considering which fantasy book you should read next, it’s tough not to consider The Lord of the Rings as a contender, especially if you have never tried it.
The Easy Read Classic: His Dark Materials
Despite misconceptions, His Dark Materials is not a children’s book, although it does feature a child protagonist. Still, its themes and readability are lighter than Tolkien's for the most part, which makes it a great fantasy novel to read if you are looking for something classic but don’t fancy the somewhat more convoluted sentence structure and detailed world of The Lord of the Rings.
The Shannara Series: A Bit of a Hidden Icon
To say Shannara isn’t successful would be an insult to Terry Brooks. The epic fantasy series has sold in the millions, but despite its success over the many decades it has spanned, the series isn’t quite the household name of His Dark Materials or The Lord of the Rings. This is perhaps, in part, due to the fact it hasn’t made its way to movie theatres. Whatever the reasoning, it’s a series many fantasy fans haven’t gotten round to yet, which is why when asking yourself, what fantasy book should I read next? Terry Brooks’ Shannara novels should definitely be in contention.
The Legend of Grimdark: The First Law Trilogy
What is grimdark fantasy? It’s the rising start of the fantasy world, and Joe Abercrombie is the author who really stamped its mark on the mainstream. One of the most successful dark fantasy writers of the modern era, his First Law trilogy is absolutely unmissable for any fantasy fiction fanatic. Unlike G.R.R Martin’s works though, which also take a dark turn, the stories here are very focused and driven towards a conclusive end. The world isn’t small, and the stories aren’t simplistic, but it isn’t quite like Westeros in terms of scale. Perfect for those who want a wild and grim ride.
A Song of Ice and Fire: The Modern Classic
Need I really say anything about this one? If you are asking what fantasy book should I read next and A Song of Ice and Fire hasn’t entered your mind, you must be living under a rock. The Game of Thrones phenomena has catapulted fantasy fiction back into the limelight, making the book series a temptation for newcomers and veterans alike. Like Tolkien, this world is seriously deep and expansive. Reading ASOIAF is an investment. If you want to really get lost in a world, it’s a must.
The New Game of Thrones? The Stormlight Archives
The Stormlight series is far from the dark world that Game of Thrones inhabits, but it has similarities to G.R.R Martin’s work when it comes to sheer expansiveness. This series is truly epic in scale and themes. If you are looking for something a little newer than ASOIAF, or have already read the series and want another long-lasting saga to sink your teeth into, Stormlight is where you should look.
Six of Crows: Short But Sweet Epic
Six of Crows is undoubtedly epic. Its plot takes you on a breathtaking journey of magic and wonder, but unlike series like Stormlight, there is more focus to the madness. Whereas some sagas take the idea of epic and run with it in a very literal sense, Six of Crows tailors the ideas behind the epic fantasy into a succinct story that still features the beloved tropes. Essentially, it’s an epic fantasy that you can enjoy without committing to a massive time sink.
Raven’s Mark Trilogy: An Undiscovered Gem
Dark fantasy has become hugely popular in new series, yet few do it so much justice as the books in the Raven’s Mark trilogy. These little-known novels feature excellent examples of exciting narrative and character development. The stories really take advantage of the grimdark fantasy ideas to lead you on a journey of unexpected twists and turns.
The Poppy War: A New Classic?
When anyone asks me what fantasy should I read next, The Poppy War is usually top of my list. A grimdark adventure into a world modelled on feudal Japan, this book leads you on a brilliant but uncomfortable ride that can only be described as unrelenting. A spectacular new addition to the fantasy genre, The Poppy War received acclaim right out the gate, and is a safe bet for anyone who enjoys darker fantasy.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf: A Different Kind of Fantasy
There are two kinds of people that I cannot recommend Black Leopard to enough: fantasy fiction fans that have read almost everything, and those who avoid the genre because they aren’t keen on the usual style and tropes. This book is very different to anything you will have read in the fantasy genre before. Its narrative style is almost like a stream of conscious, and its draw of inspiration from African culture provides a fresh take on the fantasy world. Definitely one to try if you want something that falls outside the box.
Children of Blood and Bone: A Complex Young Adult Novel
Highly-praised new fantasy novel Children of Blood and Bone is another book on this list that draws inspiration from African cultures and the Black Lives Matter movement, alongside major pop-culture narrative hits like Harry Potter and Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s this blending of ideas and themes that makes Children of Blood and Bone an instant classic and a must-read young adult fantasy book.
The Shameless Plug: The Azrian Anthology
Maybe you aren’t looking for a full-scale novel to read. Maybe you are looking for a few short stories that provide the escapism of fantasy but are easy to shift in and out of? The Azrian Anthology features ten fantasy short stories that could be just perfect for you. From tales of crazed God-fearing villagers to mysterious creatures and twisted magic, there is something for all fantasy fans to enjoy. The Azrian Anthology is available both as a fantasy eBook, or if you want to read short stories online, each can be found separately.