The best fantasy series from Terry Pratchett's Discworld to Marlon James' The Dark Star Trilogy

Fantasy fiction, perhaps more than any other genre, gives us the ability to completely lose ourselves in a different world.

From encountering dragons to accompanying characters on dangerous quests, there's no limit to where fantasy fiction will take you.

And what's better than one fantasy book? A whole series set in the same world. Here are nine fantasy fiction series that will transport you to worlds far, far away.

The Troy Trilogy by David Gemmell and Stella Gemmell

The war at Troy has provided fodder for many writers over the years, but the best books are those which take the well-known characters and stories and do something brand new, like in David Gemmell's Troy series. Gemmell took some less-familiar characters from the story of Troy and made them the centre of his books. There is Helikaon, the young prince of Dardania, who is haunted by trauma from his childhood. The priestess Andromache has a spirit and independence which threatens kings. And the warrior Argurios, despite his legend, is consumed by his loneliness and driven by his thoughts of revenge. They find a Troy which is torn apart by destructive rivalries on the outside and eyed by forces on the outside who would see the city's destruction. The first two books in the series – Lord of the Silver Bow and Shield of Thunder – were written by Gemmell. His wife Stella Gemmell finished the final novel, Fall of Kings, after her husband’s death.

The Empire of Salt series by C. F. Iggulden

Beginning with Darien, C. F. Iggulden’s Empire of Salt series is set in the city of Darien, which is at the centre of a dying empire. There, 12 families are competing for a throne that will soon lie empty. Into this city come six strangers: an orphan, an old swordsman, a hunter, a pitiless killer, a young thief and a cynical chancer. The conflict continues in the second book Shiang, concluding in The Sword Saint. The Empire of Salt series is an epic fantasy encompassing multiple lands and peoples, and perfect to lose yourself in. C. F. Iggulden is the fantasy fiction pseudonym for historical fiction writer Conn Iggulden. 

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

YA author Sally Green's second fantasy series is the tale of five teenagers – a princess, a traitor, a soldier, a hunter and a thief – with the fate of the world in their hands. In the first book, The Smoke Thieves, we meet Princess Catherine, who is preparing for a political marriage in Brigant while her true love Ambrose is facing the executioner's block. Meanwhile in Calidor a servant, March, is seeking revenge on the prince who betrayed his people, and in Pitoria Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheap thrills. And in the barren northern territories, Tash is running for her life. As the world shifts and turns, the five find their lives changed and their futures inextricably linked by magic and war. The story continues in The Demon World, and the forthcoming The Burning Kingdoms.

The Dark Star Trilogy by Marlon James

You'll have to be patient when it comes to this series, because only the first book has been released so far, but it's so good you won't want to wait to read it. In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Booker Prize-winning writer Marlon James introduces readers to Tracker, a hunter known throughout 13 kingdoms as someone who is able to search out just about anyone. Tracker always works alone, until he is hired to find a lost child and finds himself part of a group of hunters. His companions are no ordinary men, and include a giant, a witch and a shape-shifting leopard. As the hunt for the boy deepens and becomes more dangerous, Tracker begins to wonder who the child really is and why so many people don't want him found. Full of tension, drama and adventure, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a breathtaking foray into fantasy.

Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

This trio of books – consisting of Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising – is part of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse. In this world exist Grisha, people who have powers such as being able to manipulate wind, control heart rate, and produce fire.

Shadow and Bone introduces Alina Starkov, who discovers she’s a Sun Summoner, a very, very rare type of Grisha who can manipulate light. Her power means she has the potential to destroy The Shadow Fold, a huge swathe of darkness full of monsters.

Other books in the Grishaverse are the Six of Crows duology and the King of Scars duology.

The Shadow and Bone series (and Six of Crows duology) has been turned into a Netflix show starring Ben Barnes and Zoë Wanamaker. 

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden's The Winternight Trilogy is heavily influenced by Russian folk tales. The Bear and the Nightingale introduces us to Vasya, who lives in a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia. There, the winds blow cold and an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of Vasya's family. But Vasya knows these are more than just stories, because she can see the spirits that guard her home and feel the forces of dark magic that are growing ever powerful in the woods. Taking readers from the Russian countryside to the centre of a royal court in The Girl in the Tower and then to lands beyond most humans' comprehension in The Winter of the Witch, this series is a dark and dazzling journey into a magical Russia of the past.

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

What list of fantasy books would be complete without the inclusion of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series? The Discworld is a world much like our own, if our own world was a flat planet balanced on the back of four elephants who stand on the back of a giant turtle. The Discworld novels (41 in total) can be read in any order, but the first is The Colour of Magic. This first book introduces readers to the Disc, a planet whose peace and prosperity depends on the survival of the world's first tourist. Unfortunately, the person in charge of protecting that tourist from mercenaries, robbers and Death is a very inept wizard...

The Magician Trilogy by Lev Grossman

The Magician Trilogy follows Quentin Coldwater, whose life is changed forever when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton University and finds his interviewer dead. But a strange envelope with Quentin's name on it sets the young man on a new educational path; instead of enrolling at Princeton he begins to study at Brakebills, a secret college of modern-day sorcerers. Encountering obsession and privilege, Quentin is drawn into a world far darker than he ever imagined. The Magician Trilogy – comprising of The Magicians, The Magician King and The Magician’s Land – are the inspiration for the hit TV show The Magicians, but you know you want to read the books first. 

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin

This series is, of course, better known by the name adopted for the television adaptation: Game of Thrones.

The first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996, and introduces the the continent of Westeros, where a number of families are fighting for control of the throne; a rising supernatural threat in the northernmost area of Westeros; and an attempt by a deposed king’s exiled daughter to assume her dad’s crown.

There are currently five books in the series (two of which are split into two parts each) – A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords Part 1: Steel and Snow, A Storm of Swords Part 2: Blood and Gold, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons Part 1: Dreams and Dust, and A Dance with Dragons Part 2: After the Feast – with Martin working on a sixth. He predicts there will be seven books in total. 

The Ballad of Sir Benfro by J. D. Oswald

If you’re into dragons, then The Ballad of Sir Benfro is the series for you. It follows two unlikely heroes, a young boy called Errol and a dragon called Benfro. Errol has never fit in the small village he lives in – he looks different from the other children and has never known his father. Deep in the forest, Benfro begins his training; he is destined to be a great mage, like his mother. Errol and Benfro will eventually connect to see out their destinies, and see the great dragons return to the kingdom of men. The Ballad of Sir Benfro consists of five books – Dreamwalker, The Rose Cord, The Golden Cage, The Broken World and The Obsidian Throne – perfect to help you escape real life for an extended period of time.

The Tearling Trilogy by Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen's trilogy is the tale of Kelsea Glynn, the sole heir to the throne of Tearling. When readers meeting Kelsea in the first book – The Queen of the Tearling – she has been raised in secret after her mother was murdered for ruining her kingdom. On Kelsea's 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother's guard come to bring her out of hiding in the hopes that she will ascend the throne which has so far been controlled, via Kelsea’s uncle, by the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of the neighbouring realm of Motmesme. The Tearling Trilogy, which continues in the books The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling, tells the story of a kingdom in turmoil, and a woman who must try and rule justly and fairly while her life is at risk.

The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous fantasy series follows the hobbit Frodo as he journeys with a fellowship made up of fellow hobbits, men, a wizard, a dwarf and an elf to destroy the One Ring.

The trilogy – consisting of The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers and The Return of the King – began as a sequel to the children’s book The Hobbit, but became a much larger piece of work.

The books have been adapted a number of times, most famously and successfully as a set of three films directed by Peter Jackson and starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan and Viggo Mortensen. 

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