We Are The Knights Who Say F*** - Best Grimdark High Fantasy

This list is for books which fall into the genre of high fantasy (constructed-world setting as opposed to one very similar to reality, significant magical/supernatural elements) with a much higher degree of "gritty realism", cynicism, death, destruction, misery and general unpleasantness than is often associated with the genre. Books of this sort often focus more on realistic human evil (political skulduggery, slavery, oppression, sexual violence etc.) than more traditional high fantasy, sometimes deliberately deconstructing the latter. Usually, when well executed these books will induce depression, cynicism and nihilism in their readers.

This genre has of course been popularized by George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series and its TV adaptation, and this list could basically be called "Stuff Like Game of Thrones". However, there are plenty of earlier examples, and the criteria for inclusion in the list are pretty subjective. If a book/series focuses primarily on purely supernatural threats (a nonhuman Dark Lord with an army of mindless soldiers and suchlike) and displays a high degree of idealism, it shouldn't go on this list. Crucially, this means that large amounts of violence/sex don't necessarily by themselves qualify a book for this list - a story can feature graphic sex and/or violence and still be idealistic/wish-fulfilling/uplifting, whereas true grimdark fantasy will avoid the notion of solving real-world problems easily even if it doesn't feature a lot of (im)mature content.

Note that to prevent overload by long series, only the first book in a series should go on this list, unless it can be argued that a series only became grimdark in later books.

(Title inspired by the third image on this page.)
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4.44 avg rating — 2,130,495 ratings
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4.17 avg rating — 184,594 ratings
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3.90 avg rating — 46,886 ratings
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3.89 avg rating — 100,270 ratings
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3.85 avg rating — 103,032 ratings
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3.75 avg rating — 1,782 ratings
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4.26 avg rating — 251,003 ratings
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3.80 avg rating — 18,454 ratings
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3.94 avg rating — 67,839 ratings
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4.38 avg rating — 79,889 ratings
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3.74 avg rating — 15,266 ratings
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4.27 avg rating — 186 ratings
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3.99 avg rating — 316 ratings
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4.27 avg rating — 28,011 ratings
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3.99 avg rating — 6,952 ratings
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Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Keith 4282 books
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Martyn 549 books
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Khurram 390 books
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ke-sha 9901 books
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Ian 144 books
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Fiona 1118 books
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Hurayrah 8787 books
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message 1: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Stanley I feel like The Pillars of the Earth should almost go on this list, except it isn't fantasy! It's historical fiction. It reads a lot LIKe fantasy though, just without magic and monsters! :P


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