"Top Ten Tuesday" is a meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Every week a new topic is selected in advance and participating bloggers must make a list in regards to the topic!
Going into the process of compiling this list I made a decision. All of the books on the list had to be completely fantasy. No dystopians like The Hunger Games where you know it's just the future and no books where they have the real world secretly running right alongside the fantasy one, so that ruled out Harry Potter and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The books had to have completely different worlds, all coming from the authors imagination (or in one case, based off Europe, but still extremely different.) This was no easy task! I've read very few series that can meet this criteria. I went through all of the books I had read and found only fifteen series! This is tragic! All of the books below are books I absolutely adore! Some of my favourite series are listed below, and they're my favourites across any genre. Though I have read only fifteen series, it was still incredibly hard to cut that down to ten as I love the fantasy I have read!
However I do need more books like these in my life! If you can recommend any other series meeting the criteria above please, please let me know in the comments!
1. The Magicians' Guild
"We should expect this young woman to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician."
This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work-—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders...and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.
What the Magicians' Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.
This is one of my favourite series. It was the first time I really fell in love with a book. I've lost the dust jackets to the series, the pages have yellowed completely and the spines are not in the best conditions. I've read this series more than any other book or series. It would be a great introduction to fantasy as it could be described as "light". There's no incredibly complex descriptions or concepts as there can be in other fantasy books. Definitely start with this one if you're looking for your first YA fantasy!
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.
Seraphina needs no more explaining than dragons! This one may be a bit more complex, but it's still quite accessible to anyone just getting into reading fantasy. At first it may seem a bit strange, but as the book goes on you'll fall in love with the characters and this world!
3. The School for Good and Evil
The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.
This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?
The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.
I had thought this book sounded good but didn't bother buying it as I saw it was middle grade. Then another blogger posted a picture of the map featured in the book. It was gorgeous! Definitely the prettiest map in a book I've ever seen. So I got my hands on it and decided to give it a go. It was amazing! This is very "light" fantasy, it is after all directed at a younger age group, but it is superb! I had such fun reading it and couldn't wait to read the next in the series. I've done so and now I'm slowly dying while waiting for the third book. If you like princesses and princes then read this! If you don't then still read this and the next book as we see everything turned around!
4. Throne of Glass
Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?
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It's no secret how much I love this series. The story, the characters, the setting - all amazing! I enjoyed Throne of Glass, but didn't think it was fantastic. What had me foaming at the mouth for the next book was the possibilities. I couldn't stop day-dreaming about what would happen inn the next book. Then Crown of Midnight lived up to my expectations completely, but was still a four star read. Then along came Heir of Fire, which immediately received five stars as it totally exceeded my expectations. I can't stop day-dreaming about what will happen in the next book, and I know Maas will completely exceed my expectations again. If you haven't read this series yet, then get on it!
5. Kushiel's Dart
The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.
Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.
Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.
This is another fantastic series that I would recommend to fantasy fans who haven't gotten to it yet. This book is perfect for anyone making the jump from romance to fantasy as it contains plenty of sexy times, though perhaps not the kind you'd usually read. The world isn't to complicated to get your head around as it's set in an alternate Europe.
6. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is full of twists and turns. Not for the faint of heart, I wouldn't recommend this as your first foray into fantasy. But if you've read a few other fantasy novels and are comfortable with the world building and political intrigue, then this one is a fantastic read!
7. The Queen of Attolia
Revenge When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.
...but Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.
...at what price? When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago...
This is by far my all time favourite series. It just doesn't get any better than this! The Queen of Attolia is the second book in The Queen's Thief series. It's the first book I read in the series and I loved it! The author states on her website that the series can be read in any order and she does feel there are spoilers in the first book for the second book and vice versa. The Thief was fun, but if I had read that first, I doubt I would have continued on with the series. The only thing I can say that may deter you from starting the series is that it's so good you'll want to read every book immediately and we've been waiting on the fifth book for four years now with no sign of it releasing any time soon. There's no name, no synopsis and no release date yet, which is killing me!
8. The Seer and the Sword
Flame-haired Princess Torina knows nothing of battles and conquest until her father, the king of Bellandra, returns home with an orphaned prince from the neighbouring enemy kingdom. The boy prince is offered to Torina as a slave, but she frees him from his bonds and their unusual friendship develops in the years that follow.
But Torina faces terrible danger - she has an amazing gift that many would kill for, and when her father is brutally murdered she is forced to flee for her life. An evil usurper takes over her rightful throne, and the kingdom is ruled by cruelty and fear. Can Torina's gift - to look into the future of others - help her win back what is rightly hers?
This is an epic fantasy of extraordinary scope and vision. Its twists and turns will leave readers breathless.
Isn't that old-school cover just fabulous! This is one of those books I used to read constantly. I originally got it from the library when I was about 11 and I would hold it for weeks. I racked up some hefty library fees due to this book! I'd bring it back and the next day I'd be up to the library again to get it out. As I read other fantasy my obsession with The Seer and the Sword came to an end. Until this summer when I was in New York! On my last day I went to Books of Wonder and couldn't believe how expensive the books were! I had never been charged the actualy price on the book my entire life! SO I headed over to the bargain section and there it was. The Seer and the Sword hardback for only $3!! Of course it wasn't the awesome cover above, but now I actually own a copy!
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.
With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.
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I read this one years and years ago. To be honest, I can't remember much a bout it, and I'm pretty sure I was too young to understand most of it. This is an example of getting ahead of yourself and not working your way up to the more complex fantasy. Don;t do what I did! All I can remember is that I really enjoyed it. I definitely need a reread soon!
10. Ella Enchanted
At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you'll ever read.Add to Goodreads
Gail Carson Levine's examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.
Confession time: This is not the cover I own. The one I own is a little bit more embarrassing. I first got this book as a gift from my nanny. She had bought a children's magazine for me and the book came with it. It was a thin flimsy thing, with the movie tie-in cover on it. The book has now nearly completely fallen apart from all of the rereads it has endured. The back was lost long ago along with the epilogue, but the book still comes out when I'm in the mood for a good book. This re-telling off Cinderella is one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading and is by far my all time favourite standalone. If you're jumping into the world of fantasy for the first time, consider beginning with Ella Enchanted. Trust me, you won't regret it!
That's yet another Top Ten Tuesday from me, I hope you enjoyed it! If you can think of any books I haven't mentioned that match my criteria than please let me know!
Are you a fantasy reader? Have you read any of these books? If you haven't do you think you will? Let me know in the comments below!