Top 50 Fantasy Books on Goodreads

Posted by Hayley on August 3, 2018
Goodreads SFF Week 2019

"They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to Middle-earth."
-George R.R. Martin

Within these pages are legends, heroes, myths, and magic. When you really need to escape, is there any better place than an entirely different realm? Always in search of a great book, Goodreads recently set out to uncover readers' all-time 50 most-loved fantasy novels.

These titles were chosen based on reader reviews, so every single book had to meet at least a four-star average rating from the Goodreads community. Then, for good measure, we looked at how many ratings each book has received. We also decided to select the first book in a series (although it's worth noting that the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings as well as George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire have the rare distinction of being above a 4.0 rating).

It's time to unveil the top 50 fantasy books on Goodreads, conjured up in alphabetical order. How many have you read? Tell us in the comments.

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 622 (622 new)


message 1: by Juliet (new)

Juliet Smith I like "A Wrinkle in Time" but feel it belongs more in the Science Fiction category.


message 2: by Angel (new)

Angel It seems the link for Brent Weeks' The Way of Shadows takes you to Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Which explains why I've read and rated a book that I actually haven't read yet.


message 3: by Tanya (new)

Tanya I've read 12, and have another five on my tbr shelf! Hobb is wonderful, not sure I'd classify those Stephen King ones as fantasy though.


message 4: by Christopher (new)

Christopher York 9 of 50


message 5: by Witchwood (new)

Witchwood 14


message 6: by Hope (new)

Hope 20


message 7: by Taryn (new)

Taryn Braband I can’t FATHOM why the Harry Potter series is not included here. Certainly the best of the bunch, although there are many wonderful and well-loved novels I’ve enjoyed throughout my life here.


message 8: by Dtyler99 (new)

Dtyler99 McCaffrey always averred her Pern series was SF, not fantasy. Where the hell is Malazan Book of the Fallen?


message 9: by Lance Gamble (new)

Lance Gamble Steven Erikson's Malazan series is more deserving than several books on this list.


message 10: by Eric (new)

Eric Fletcher I'm surprised I've read 15 of them. But 4 were long enough ago that I don't remember much about them, so I'm probably closer to 11.


message 11: by Anissa (new)

Anissa I've read four. Tolkien, King, Jemisin and L'Engle. It never occurred to me that King's The Stand is fantasy. Also, I really need to read Watership Down.


message 12: by Kristin Hackett (new)

Kristin Hackett (SuperSpaceChick) I've read 20 (I was expecting to have read more on the fantasy list than the sci-fi list and I was correct!) And 10 of these are on my to read shelves.


message 13: by Zachary (new)

Zachary Bitzonis 24


message 14: by Dave (new)

Dave Neuendorf Modesitt's Imager belongs on this list.


message 15: by Michael (new)

Michael Timmins How on earth is there no Malazan books on this list?


message 16: by Zedsdead (new)

Zedsdead 21 read, 5 marked Want-to-read.


message 17: by Mira (new)

Mira 14 read, reading 1, 4 on the To Read shelf.


message 18: by Lloyd D. Bell (new)

Lloyd D. Bell Surprising how few (0) from the old Ballantine adult fantasy series (although Beagle was kind of retroactively added to that). That series was a great mix of seminal and modern works, and is not a bad series to use as a reading list.


message 19: by Kate (new)

Kate How can not a single one of Sarah J Maas's books be on this list? Both the overall score and the number of ratings are higher for most of her novels than quite a few on this list...


message 20: by Doug (new)

Doug 12, with a whole bunch more on the TBR...


message 21: by Linda (new)

Linda C 12


message 22: by Kristie (new)

Kristie Zilis 13


message 23: by Sinead (new)

Sinead Read 8, and have 4 on my TBR list already.

Considering going with The Way of Kings for my next series of books to read?

Also, if the Dark Tower series counts as "Fantasy" it needs to be on this list!


message 24: by Melissa (new)

Melissa 32


message 25: by Kyri (new)

Kyri Freeman I was confused by this and the SF list. Most of my favorite authors don't appear on either. CJ Cherryh, Barbara Hambly and Tanith Lee should appear on both, definitely, just to list a few names among many that are missing. Meanwhile, lots of YA, which to me is a different genre. All these lists are subjective, obviously...


message 26: by Joe (new)

Joe Harrington 9 on fantasy list. Don't quite see the difference in Sci-Fi and Fantasy with respect to some of these.


message 27: by Chris (last edited Aug 20, 2018 09:15AM) (new)

Chris Petschler Agreed with many of these "why is this fantasy" comments, and would like to throw Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy in there...terrific read. Gonna read Malazan and S.Maas' books now too--thanks! :)
Oh...18


message 28: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Taryn wrote: "I can’t FATHOM why the Harry Potter series is not included here. Certainly the best of the bunch, although there are many wonderful and well-loved novels I’ve enjoyed throughout my life here."

I could not agree more! Harry Potter has reinvigorated the fantasy genre for generations. The list is less credible without him. It is nice to include new books readers may not have yet read, but immense popularity should be a plus on this type of list.


message 29: by Robin (new)

Robin Prak 20


message 30: by Katie (new)

Katie Suratt Taryn wrote: "I can’t FATHOM why the Harry Potter series is not included here. Certainly the best of the bunch, although there are many wonderful and well-loved novels I’ve enjoyed throughout my life here."

Maybe it's considered "Youth" fantasy? I agree it's one of the best though, regardless.


message 31: by Matthew (last edited Aug 20, 2018 09:55AM) (new)

Matthew Kossler Brent Weeks and Brandon Sanderson but no Stephen Erickson? Really? Wheel of Time Shouldn't have made the cut - Malazan is a towering body of work that has it all - world building, characters, enough sub plots to make Martin look like a single-threaded storyteller. Still, this seems like a list of very deserving authors. And, Pat "Never gonna finish it" Rothfuss shouldn't be on the list either, until he finishes a story :). Although I really, really hope he does.

Edit: 30 out of 50 read.
Edit of the edit: removing comments about omitted authors that weren't actually omitted, even though they should have been. Time to get my eyes checked!


message 32: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale Taryn wrote: "I can’t FATHOM why the Harry Potter series is not included here. Certainly the best of the bunch, although there are many wonderful and well-loved novels I’ve enjoyed throughout my life here."

Probably because it didn't meet the basic requirement of an aggregate 4.0 stars rating. Did you NOT read the introduction which stated the requirements to be included in the list?

Don't read Watership Down if you like bunnies, Anissa. I've heard it's actually pretty bleak.

Michael and Kate, see my comment to Taryn above.


message 33: by Anne (new)

Anne 26 for me


message 34: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Durbin I think Dennis McKiernan's series about Mithgar should be added. I am probably commiting heresy here but I liked his Iron Tower Trilogy better than Tolkein's ring trilogy.


message 35: by J.M. (new)

J.M. I’ve read 22 of these and have six others in my Kindle to-read queue. My Top 50 list might be about halfway similar to the above one.


message 36: by Mary (new)

Mary Berg 19, and some very strange inclusions (and lacks thereof)


message 37: by Candace (new)

Candace Eight.
Hello!? The Harry Potter books should be on here!


message 38: by Robert (new)

Robert God awful list. How much is Gaiman paying you


message 39: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Amber wrote: "Taryn wrote: "I can’t FATHOM why the Harry Potter series is not included here. Certainly the best of the bunch, although there are many wonderful and well-loved novels I’ve enjoyed throughout my li..."

According to my goodreads browser, all 7 books have over a 4.0 rating. Not a small feat.


message 40: by Steph (new)

Steph LaPlante Eight. The Darker Shade of Magic series was absolutely amazing! I've read a few on this list but when opening the link was not expecting some of the books listed here, and was shocked at a few that were missing. I'm surprised Harry Potter isn't on here.


message 41: by Greg (new)

Greg Garguilo Half. Very disappointed some of these books get a 4 star+ rating. Missing others.


message 42: by Thanasis (new)

Thanasis 13


message 43: by Angela (new)

Angela As someone else mentioned, I believe Harry Potter is listed as a YA series by it's author. Which would also be the reason some other books are not listed here, perhaps the author/publisher does not assign them into this genre.

Taryn wrote: "I can’t FATHOM why the Harry Potter series is not included here. Certainly the best of the bunch, although there are many wonderful and well-loved novels I’ve enjoyed throughout my life here."

Jenny wrote: "I could not agree more! Harry Potter has reinvigorated the fantasy genre for generations. The list is less credible without him. It is nice to include new books readers may not have yet read, but immense popularity should be a plus on this type of list."


message 44: by Anissa (new)

Anissa Amber wrote: "Don't read Watership Down if you like bunnies, Anissa. I've heard it's actually pretty bleak.."

Good point (I recall as a child hearing about a harrowing scene of farmer closing the rabbit holes & trapping them in their warrens to die of suffocation because the field needs to be used) but I'm going to have to marshal myself to the task for it being a classic. At least as an adult, I can have a calming glass of wine while I read it.


message 45: by Leslie (new)

Leslie 22


message 46: by Huma (new)

Huma I have only read 4 but I was expecting Harry Potter to be on this list too.


message 47: by Annabeth (new)

Annabeth Wow, I've only read 7 of these! I need to step up my game xD Adding most of the rest to my TBR.


message 48: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Kolka Juliet wrote: "I like "A Wrinkle in Time" but feel it belongs more in the Science Fiction category."

Science Fantasy is a thing, see Star Wars for reference.


message 49: by David (new)

David 7


message 50: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Kolka 21 for me.


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