Surviving Twenty Something

14 Unputdownable Immersive Fantasy Reads

BooksJordanna Rowan
14 Unputdownable Immersive Fantasy Reads

I'm kind on board with the belief that everyone can enjoy a good fantasy story.

After all, fantasy isn't really one kind of story. Anyone who has read a book can tell you that Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and American Gods have very, very few things in common. Sure, there's often magic, sometimes fantastical settings (although sometimes not), occaaaasionally mythical creatures— but beyond that? The many books that fall into the fantasy genre are as varied as... a very varied thing. 

I've always loved fantasy, but I find that there are lots of people who enjoy many of these books, even if they think they don't! So whether you're a life-long devotee, a recent convert, or a newbie gingerly dipping their toes into the water, I think there's something on the list of beloved reads for everyone.

pre-s: I'd totally love for you to leave some of your favourite fantasy reads in the comments.

 

 
 

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1. The Name of the Wind

PATRICK ROTHFUSS

So begins the tale of Kvothe— currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeeper— from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief, and the infamous assassin.


2. A Darker Shade of Magic

v.e. schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.


3. American Gods

Neil Gaiman

If you are to survive, you must believe. Shadow Moon has served his time, but hours before his release from prison, his beloved wife is killed in a freak accident. Dazed, he boards a plane home where he meets the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, who professes both to know Shadow and to be king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange road trip across the USA, encountering a kaleidoscopic cast of characters along the way. Yet all around them a storm threatens to break. The war has already begun, an epic struggle for the very soul of America, and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.


4. The Vorrh

Brian Catling

Next to the colonial town of Essenwald sits the Vorrh, a vast—perhaps endless—forest. Sentient and magical, the Vorrh bends time and wipes memory. Legend has it that the Garden of Eden still exists at its heart. Now, a renegade English soldier aims to be the first human to traverse its expanse. Armed with only a strange bow, he begins his journey, but some fear the consequences of his mission, and a native marksman has been chosen to stop him. While fact and fictional blend, and the hunter will become the hunted, and everyone’s fate hangs in the balance, under the will of the Vorrh.


5. Assassin's Apprentice

ROBIN HOBB

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.


6. Monstress

Marjorie Liu, SANA TAKEDA

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900's Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.


7. Uprooted

NAOMI NOVIK

Agnieszka loves her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river— but the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things.


8. The Ocean aT THE END OF THE LANE

Neil Gaiman

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral, drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. Though he hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.


9. The Bone Season

SAMANTHA SHANNON

Enter the world of Paige Mahoney, a gifted clairvoyant, a "dreamwalker," in the year 2059. Her natural talents are considered treasonous under the current regime. Snatched away to a secret prison, she encounters another race, the Rephaim, creatures who wish to control the powers of Paige and those like her. One in particular will be assigned as her keeper, her trainer. But his motives are mysterious. To regain her freedom, Paige must learn to trust, in the prison where she is meant to die.


10. SANDMAN

NEIL GAIMAN, SAM KIETH, MIKE DRINGENBERG

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.


11. The Magicians

lev grossman

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory.



12. THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA

Scott Lynch

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he's part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city. But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa's power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming.


13. SABRIEL

GARTH NIX

Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorsen, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.


14. JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL

Susanna Clarke

At the dawn of the 1800s, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history when most people believe magic to be long dead in— until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another practicing magician comes forth to become Norrell's student: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.


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14 Unputdownable Immersive Fantasy Reads // I'm kind on board with the belief that everyone can enjoy a good fantasy story. After all, fantasy isn't really one kind of story. Anyone who has read a book can tell you that Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and American Gods have very, very few things in common. Whether you're a life-long devotee, a recent convert, or a newbie gingerly dipping their toes into the water, I think there's something on the list of beloved reads for everyone.