10 best fantasy novels

Lose yourself in an alternate reality with a gripping read

There have been so many brilliant fantasy books this year that it’s really quite hard to thin them down to just ten.

Some notable mentions not on this list include The Paradox by Charlie Fletcher, which is about a secret society watching over the boundaries between the supernatural and the mundane; The Traitor by Seth Dickinson, which tackles sexuality in a stunning geopolitical fantasy; and China Mieville’s collection of short stories, Three Moments of an Explosion.

We’ve made sure to stick to novels here, and those geared more towards adults rather than children.

1. Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb: £20, harpercollins.co.uk

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Robin Hobb’s absorbing style draws you in and this is the second book in a new series that sees her return focus to her cult characters FitzChivalry Farseer and The Fool. 

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2. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman: £7.99, panmacmillan.com

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Irene is a spy who works for the Library, an organisation that steals works of fiction from alternate realities. Read this magic-infused instalment before getting your hands on the sequel, out in December. 

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3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: £9.99, hachettechildrens.co.uk

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This is basically Ocean’s Eleven set in a Game of Thrones-esque world, following a young criminal mastermind tasked with breaking into an unbreachable building and freeing a hostage to win vast wealth. The result is a pacey read with electric prose and well-drawn characters.

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4. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas: £7.19, bloomsbury.com

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This author's characters are some of the most positive, strong portrayals of women in modern fantasy. The fourth volume in her best-selling high-fantasy series continues protagonist Celaena Sardothien’s journey of revenge. 

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5. Arcadia by Iain Pears: £18.99, faber.co.uk 

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With 10 different strands, crossing three interlocking worlds and 10 people all looking for answers, this book’s so complex it’s tied to an app, which means you can read the story in a multitude of different ways to create your own version of events.

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6. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson: £12.91, amazon.co.uk  

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The American author’s back with another trilogy set in his award-winning Mistborn universe. Set 300 years later, his world is now firmly in the throes of an industrial revolution – with magic in the mix. 

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7. Half a War by Joe Abercrombie: £12.99, harpercollins.co.uk 

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The final instalment in the Shattered Sea trilogy demonstrates that Abercrombie is a worthy heir to George RR Martin’s throne. This is zippy, and a heart-wrencher. 

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8. The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon: £7.19, bloomsbury.com 

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With the third book in Shannon’s future-dystopia series about oppressed clairvoyants due next year, read its predecessors now. This, book two in the sequence, sees psychic protagonist Paige become the most wanted person in London after escaping from a penal colony.

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9. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen: £6.74, amazon.co.uk

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Part Western, part supernatural mystery, this stands out for its tough lead Nettie Lonesome, an outsider treated like a slave at home, until she fights off an attacker, with violent and unexpected consequences. This is an important book that features a trans heroine in a sometimes diversity-lacking genre. 

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10. Angel of Storms by Trudi Canavan: £13.60, amazon.co.uk

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The second novel in The Millennium’s Rule series, this is another page-turner from one of fantasy’s best-selling authors. In this, rumour has it, the old ruler of all the worlds is back and enforcing his cruel ways.  

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