If you want to read the best adult fantasy books, then you need to check these out. They have it all, romance, politics, and magic!
When you are getting into fantasy books, you will probably start with ya fantasy. Most people do because it is a little easier to get into and a little less intimidating, but really, you don’t need to be intimidated by adult fantasy. Not all of the books that fall in the adult age range are long and wordy and intimidating. They aren’t all Lord of the Rings or Wheel of Time, and while I actually really like those books, they are intimidating!
As much as I love a good in-depth world and cool magic system, that doesn’t have to mean wordy and scary to read. Fantasy books can have a fantastic world, cool characters, and great magic without being overly complicated.
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Adult Fantasy Books You Should Read Right Now
If you are looking for some not-so-intimidating adult fantasy books to check out, then I’ve got you! No matter if you are a new fantasy reader or a seasoned one, there is something here that I think will be a good fit for everyone.
The Poppy War – RF Kuang
If you are looking for an easy-to-read fantasy series set in a fantastical version of ancient China, then pick up The Poppy War series by RF Kuang.
This is one of my absolute favorite series. I flew through book one and then dove right into book two, had to wait for the third but now they are all out so you can binge this amazing fantasy series all in one go.
This book follows Rin, a poor war-orphan who decides to take her fate into her own hands and attend a very exclusive military school. She works hard, fights, fails and learns about the magic of the Gods in this dark adult fantasy series.
If you want to pick this one up, I would recommend checking the content warnings, because it does get pretty dark, especially in one chapter a little over halfway through the book. This book is filled with very morally grey and unlikeable characters and truly displays the horrors of war without sugarcoating anything. I have a full Poppy War review here if you are interested in learning more.
The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
If you are a more advanced fantasy reader, then The Broken Earth Series by NK Jemisin is one you need to check out right away. This is what I would classify as Sci-Fantasy. A little bit of Sci-Fi and a whole lot of fantasy all in a post-apocalyptic setting.
The first book follows three women of varying ages. One middle-aged mother, one twenty-something woman, and a young girl all of whom have the ability to control seismic activity. Basically, they have earth magic and it is cool as hell.
Jemisin isn’t for beginners though. Her writing is beautiful, but she doesn’t hold your hand at all. You are thrown right into the middle of this world and will be confused as hell for the majority of the first book, just roll with it because the payoff at the end is well worth it.
One of the characters has her point of view told in the second person though, which I personally enjoy and think adds a lot to the emotional depth of her story, it won’t be a hit for everyone though.
You can watch my full breakdown and spoiler-free review of the Broken Earth Series on my BookTube channel.
The Queens of Renthia by Sarah Beth Durst
One of my favorite adult fantasy books that I read in the past year has to be Queen of Blood, the first book in the Queens of Renthia series by Sarah Beth Durst.
This series is super unique and easy to read, making it perfect for beginner fantasy readers. Book two of this series also has one of my favorite female fantasy characters, a middle-aged mom of two who kicks ass and loves her kids!
Queens of Renthia is set in a world where every element has spirits. Earth spirits, water spirits, fire spirits. These spirits aren’t kind and helpful though, they are out to kill you! The only thing standing between the people and death by air spirit is the Queen. The Queen holds the power to keep the spirits at bay, and every woman who shows the potential to influence spirits goes to be trained to potentially become a future Queen.
We get a fantastic show of female friendship, an unwilling “hero”, and a girl who isn’t too good at magic but still tries her best to help where she can. I can’t way it enough, go check out this severely under-hyped series. Also, check out my full video discussion here.
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
The boys are back in town, and they are ready to get the band back together! Kings of the Wyld is a fun and funny fantasy romp. This book follows aging formerly famous mercenaries who get the band back together to go out for one last tour to save one of their daughters.
Seriously, this book had me laughing so hard. It was funny, it had heart, it was just a good time! If you are a fan of humor and classic rock music, this book is for you! You will even be able to enhance your reading experience by checking out the author’s Kings of the Wyld playlist while you read.
There are so many rock music references in this book that even a casual fan of the genre will be sure to pick up on some of them. This is the one book that I have recommended that my non-reader husband pick up. Even he said it was fun! So check this one out! Then go take a look at my interview with the author himself!
The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson
Would this even be a best of fantasy list without mentioning Brandon Sanderson? He is one of the most well-known fantasy authors, and for good reason. His books are, well, fantastic!
While I could go on and on about all of them, today we are talking specifically about the Mistborn Series. This is pretty much his only completed series, so I say start here! It is part of a bigger world as well. Almost all of his books connect to the Cosmere and there is a lot of Easter eggs and crossover within his other books. You don’t have to worry about that though. There is no prerequisite to reading this Mistborn series.
In book one, The Final Empire, we follow a rag-tag group of magic users who band together to take down the evil lord ruler. This is a heist fantasy with found family and a kick-ass female lead!
This series is perfect for seasoned readers and beginners alike!
House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
If you are looking for a lighter fantasy, check out House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This is an adorable standalone fantasy book set in a world, not unlike our own. We follow Linus, a social worker who deals with magical children. He is assigned to visit a secluded orphanage for magical children and discovers so much more than he ever expected.
This book is just so sweet and heartwarming. As a mom, I love seeing the interactions with the children. As a former Guardian Ad Litem, I love the representation of foster care!
If you want something quick and easy to read, then go check this one out!
The Devabad Series by SA Chakraborty
Another amazing fantasy series written by a woman is the Devabad Series by S. A. Chakraborty. This is a Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy that is just so rich and beautiful.
We follow a poor orphan girl who somehow manages to summon a djinn and must travel to his mythical city in order to learn more about magic, the world, and who she truly is!
This book has it all! Romance, magic, politics, and of course, a badass female protagonist! There is also a lot of food inspiration in this series. This is perfect because it was the first book I used as inspiration for my reading and recipes series!
Must-Read Adult Fantasy Books
I could go on and on for hours about my favorite adult fantasy books and series. I won’t though, so I will leave you with these to get you started!