If you like a good magical contest, then you will fall head over heels for these amazing fantasy competition books.
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Back again to talk about another super popular fantasy trope. This time it is a magical competition. There were so many books I found to put on this list, so honestly, this may be quite the long one, but I promise it will be worth it.
So if you are looking for some heart-pounding fantasy competition books, then keep reading and make sure you have your Amazon wishlist open because you are going to want ALL of these!
Must Read Fantasy Competition Books
Some of these books are YA fantasy, some are adult fantasy, but all of them are worth the read!
Race the Sands
Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst is one of my favorite adult fantasy standalone books. We follow a mom main character who just wants to take care of her daughter, as well as a young runaway who wants to escape her terrible family.
Together, the mom and the runaway train to run the epic annual monster races. These races are fierce and dangerous, but the winner will be wealthy beyond measure!
Along with the race/competition aspect of this book, there is also a large dose of political intrigue with an underlying murder mystery thrown in for fun!
So if you want a fast-paced and fun adult fantasy book with a badass mom main character as well as a cool competition, then you need to pick this one up right away!
The Night Circus
If you are a fan of whimsy and soft magic, then the Night Circus by Erin Morganstern may just be the perfect fantasy contest book for you.
This book is a historical fantasy set around a magical circus, need I say more? Well, if you must know more then I will tell you!
We follow a girl and a boy through their entire lives. From childhood, these two individuals are set on a path where they must compete against one another without knowing what to do or even the real stakes of the contest.
This book is beautiful, but I recommend going into it without knowing too much. It makes it much more fun that way.
All you really need to know is that there is a magical contest, a whimsical circus, and a beautiful romance!
The Hunger Games
When you think of fantasy competition books, The Hunger Games is probably one of the first ones that come to mind. This is a YA dystopian classic that I am sure everyone has read by this point. If you haven’t read it, then you have probably seen the movies.
This book series is set in a future America where kids are basically forced to compete in a televised competition to the death. We have all of the “typical” YA tropes like a love triangle, not like other girls, dead parent… All the things I shouldn’t love but for some reason I just do.
This book has been compared to Battle Royalle, and I can totally see the comparison! Though this book doesn’t have any magic in it, it still gets commonly classified as fantasy, even though I would say it is more dystopian.
So if for some reason you are one of the few people in the world who haven’t read this book yet, I really recommend picking it up, even if just to see what all the hype is all about.
All of Us Villains
This is one I would say is like a Hunger Games story but with magic! I mean, what else do you need, right!?!
All of Us Villains follows teens from multiple magical families who are destined to compete in a “to the death” competition in order to determine which family will control all of the magic.
Once a secret, this competition is now ALL the talk of the town since a tell-all book was released and no one knows who the author was. These kids must now figure out a way to survive. All while possibly trying to break the curse that makes them compete in the first place.
I had a lot of fun reading this one and think it is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games who want more magic in their books.
This is probably one of the most underrated YA fantasy books right now. Not only does Fireborne have an amazingly political plot, but there are also dragons! I don’t know about you, but dragons always make me want to read a book.
Fireborne is basically a gender-swapped Anastasia retelling, with dragons! Leo, our Anastasia, watched his whole royal family be slaughtered. After the rebellion, he was sent to an orphanage in secret. There, he met a young girl named Annie and they became best friends. Annie’s family was killed by Leos back when they were in power.
When they are older, we follow them as they are training to be dragon riders. This first book has them competing in a dragon-riding competition to see who will be the leader of their dragon army.
This book is so much fun and so fast-paced. You get romance ( just a little), politics, oh and did I mention dragons?
If you haven’t read this one yet, now is the time! Book 2 is already out, and book 3 will be coming out in 2022!
An Unkindness of Magicians
In this book, we start with a once-in-a-generation magical competition where the winner’s family gets to control all of the magic in the magical world. Sounds familiar right? but no worries, it is completely different than All of Us Villains.
We follow Sydney, an unknown magician who ends up competing as the champion for a new house. The competition starts out harmless, but as the contest continues, the tasks grow more deadly.
This book is a great adult standalone! We get to really explore the cost of magic and what happens when magicians try to find loopholes and avoid paying the cost.
There is also an overarching murder mystery. If you want a fast adult standalone, then this is one you need to pick up.
The Prison Healer
The Prison Healer is a rather new book that I read last year. It was honestly quite the surprise. I received it in a FairyLoot box and hadn’t heard anyone talk about it. After reading it though, it was all I wanted to talk about.
We follow Kiva, a young girl who is the healer in a deadly prison. She has been in this prison for 10 years. Kiva does the intake and medical exams for all of the new prisoners.
When the new prisoner who comes in happens to be a rebel queen though, her life is turned upside down. She must keep the queen alive at all costs. In a cryptic letter, she is told to do so, and because of that, she volunteers to undergo a magical trial to determine the innocence of the queen.
Not only do we get a really fun competition aspect, but there is a lot of mystery surrounding the queen and Kiva’s connection with the rebels. We also get a really sweet romance that I absolutely loved!
While technically sci-fi and not a fantasy, Red Rising is another really fun competition book. Technically, this is YA but a lot of the themes and violence make it feel much more adult. Honestly, this felt a lot like a Hunger Games in space, and I didn’t hate it.
We follow Darrow, a “red”, the lowest of the lowest class. After a traumatic event, he undergoes surgery to make himself into a “gold” the top tier of this society.
In doing so, he goes into this elite school and has to enter into a war competition. Many people die, and we get a real Hunger Games feel even though this isn’t the last man standing type competition.
If you want competition in space, then Red Rising may be the book for you.
Where Dreams Descend
We follow Kallia, a female magician who is essentially trapped in a house in the middle of the woods. There, she performs every night for guests and bar patrons. Until one day she escapes and runs off to a nearby main city.
There, she enters a stage magician competition. Unfortunately, women aren’t really seen as stage magicians, but she does it anyway! The competition is the main aspect of this book, along with the romance.
This is the first book in a duology, and I highly recommend that you pick it up.
So if you are looking for some fun fantasy competition books, you have a pretty good list here to start you out!