Fantasy fiction recommendations

A bunch of us on the Bangalore RPG group were chatting about fantasy fiction and I asked what people would consider lesser-known gems of fantasy fiction. Considering a lot of people in the intro thread have mentioned they’re into fantasy, I’ll ask the same question here as well.

Honestly, I’m just shamelessly trawling for recommendations.

The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks has always been one of my favorites.

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What would you then consider mainstream/obvious?

I would consider these as essential fantasy reads for adults (which is why HP and Bartimaeus won’t appear here), in order of preference -

  1. Earthsea
  2. LotR
  3. Kingkiller chronicles (ongoing)
  4. Stormlight archives (ongoing)
  5. Discworld (in particular, the City Watch and Unseen University arcs)
  6. Mistborn series (the second trilogy in particular)

I’m a big fan of Brandon Sanderson in general, mostly because he writes quite prolifically and with a certain guarantee of writing quality.

Earthsea takes top place because it deconstructs many fantasy tropes in a very meta way.

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And what would you consider lesser-known gems?

No particular order, but here’s some of the stuff I don’t see mentioned too often in fantasy recommendations:

  • Beren and Lúthien, JRR Tolkien
  • The Children of Húrin, JRR Tolkien
  • Saga, Brian Vaughan, Fiona Staples
  • The Ring of the Nibelung, P Craig Russell, Linda Kindsierski
  • The Books of Earthsea, Ursula K Le Guin
  • His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  • The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher

Adding to lesser known gems:

  • Anything by Guy Gavriel Kay. I especially recommend Lions of Al-Rassan, historical fantasy-fiction set in Moorish Spain.

If you like reading literary fiction, Broken Earth Trilogy, which is the only series I’ve read that gets away with second-person PoV.

  • Only because it’s new(ish) and I want to spread the gospel - the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown. It’s particularly delightful in audiobook format narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds.

  • +1 to Saga!

  • The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. This strays into literary fiction but is still all kinds of superb.

  • The City and the City by China Mieville.

  • if you’re really going for obscure - Timeburst, by Peggy Burns, published in 1987 and surprisingly good for a children’s book.


I would second Guy Kay wholeheartedly. My personal recommendations are Tigana or Under Heaven. Broken Earth is also amazing.

Thanks for all the amazing recommendations, folks. I’ve added as many as possible to my neverending list of stuff to read next.

To be a seeder and not just a leecher, here are mine:

  • The Wars of Light and Shadow (series, unfinished but only one book left to write) by Janny Wurts
  • Since @cataclasma mentioned China Mieville, my personal favourite is Perdido Street Station
  • Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan sci-fi saga has won all of the awards multiple times, but I also really like her fantasy - Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls
  • It’s probably not super obscure but Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen
  • If you don’t mind adult themes, Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series is great fun

Damn. I could go on all day but I’d better stop here.