Welcome to the captivating realm of fantasy series! From the vast landscapes of Middle-earth to the intricate web of political intrigue in Westeros, fantasy series have grabbed readers by the ear and dragged them into new, captivating worlds to explore.
Let's take a look at why this is one of the top genres across both adult and young adult fiction, share a few of the best fantasy series of all time (if you haven't read them, you're going to want to!), and even share some tips on how to write fantasy as an author.
This blog post about fantasy book series covers:
First, why are fantasy book series popular?
If you're already a fantasy fan, you may be able to answer this question already. But the best fantasy book series gained immense popularity for several reasons.
Related: High Fantasy vs. Low Fantasy
They pull you in with vast, immersive worlds
The best fantasy book series feature expansive and intricately crafted worlds filled with mythical creatures, unique cultures, and rich histories. Readers are drawn to these immersive settings that allow them to escape from reality and embark on epic adventures.
Worldbuilding is an art, and fantasy fiction authors seem to have mastered it. The sheer amount of detail included in the best fantasy book series is wild. Readers feel like they can explore an entire universe, where everything is new and exciting.
They have very complex and memorable characters
Fantasy series frequently introduce readers to a diverse cast of complex and all different types of characters. From brave heroes to cunning villains, these characters undergo personal growth and transformation throughout the series, forging deep emotional connections with readers.
They create a long-term investment and connection
The best fantasy book series aren't just read and forgotten. They offer readers the opportunity for long-term engagement.
As they become invested in the characters and the world(s), readers eagerly await each new installment, forming communities and engaging in discussions about theories and predictions. This shared enthusiasm and anticipation create a sense of community and connection among fans.
Whereas a standalone book can provide a week or so of entertainment, a good fantasy book series can engage readers for years.
They offer escapism and empowerment
Escapism is the driving factor of many forms of entertainment. Sometimes people just want a break from reality, and a good fantasy book series is the perfect place to find that.
A fantasy series can enable readers to leave behind the confines of reality and explore fantastical realms where anything is possible. They allow readers to imagine themselves as heroes, wielding magic, answering the call to adventure, and making a difference in a world of limitless possibilities.
They aren't afraid to explore different themes at a whole new depth
Fantasy series often tackle complex themes such as power, identity, sacrifice, and the nature of good and evil. Through the lens of fantastical elements, these series offer readers the opportunity to contemplate and reflect on real-world issues in a metaphorical and thought-provoking manner.
The format simply lends itself to endless allegory, as well as the space required to really delve into them.
The popularity of fantasy book series can be attributed to their ability to transport readers to captivating and immersive worlds, the depth and development of characters, engaging storylines, extensive world-building, the sense of community among fans, the escapism they provide, and their exploration of universal themes.
These elements combine to create an enduring reading experience that captivates and resonates with a broad audience.
The 7 best fantasy book series to draw inspiration from as a writer
In a lot of ways, a fantasy book series can benefit the writer just as much as the readers.
If you’re looking for a conduit for creativity and escapism, writing a fantasy series might be for you! There are numerous examples that can serve as valuable sources of inspiration and help writers enhance their craft.
1. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
This epic fantasy series, popularized by the television show Game of Thrones, showcases intricate worldbuilding, complex characters, and multi-layered plotlines. Martin's masterful storytelling and ability to create realistic and morally ambiguous characters can inspire writers to develop compelling narratives and explore the nuances of human nature. It is also a shining example of juggling many narrative perspectives.
2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Considered a must-read classic in the fantasy genre, this trilogy showcases Tolkien's remarkable worldbuilding, lyrical prose, epic hero's journey, and intricate mythologies. Writers can learn from Tolkien's attention to detail, his ability to create immersive settings, and his skill in crafting epic quests and journeys.
I mean, the guy invented multiple languages. No one does worldbuilding like Tolkien.
3. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
This ongoing series follows the journey of the musician and adventurer Kvothe. Rothfuss's lyrical writing style, meticulous attention to detail, and intricate storytelling techniques offer valuable lessons in prose and narrative structure.
4. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is renowned for his inventive magic systems, detailed worldbuilding, and open source writing education. They guy’s a legend.
The Mistborn series showcases his ability to create unique and well-defined magic systems while maintaining a tight plot and well-developed, dynamic characters. Writers can learn a lot from Sanderson's approach to worldbuilding, magic, and plotting.
5. Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin's series explores the world of Earthsea, a realm of islands and magic. Her poetic prose, exploration of themes like balance and the consequences of power, and her portrayal of diverse cultures can inspire other authors to delve into deeper philosophical and ethical questions within their own works.
Not every book has to have a huge ethical dilemma, but if you’re the type of writer who likes to make your readers think, check out Le Guin. There's a reason it's one of the best fantasy book series.
6. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (completed by Brandon Sanderson)
This sprawling epic fantasy book series spans fourteen books and offers a wealth of material for writers to study. Jordan's intricate worldbuilding, extensive character development, and intricate story arcs showcase the depth and complexity that can be achieved in a long-running series.
The series explores themes of destiny, power, and the cyclical nature of time, providing ample inspiration for writers looking to create grand, interconnected narratives. If you want to really just go on and on and on and on with your book series, this might be a good read! (If you’ve got a few years).
7. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is so much the G.O.A.T. of fantasy book series, that we’ll toss him on the list one more time. This ongoing series takes place in the vibrant world of Roshar and follows a diverse cast of characters in a high-stakes struggle. The series boasts detailed worldbuilding, unique magic systems, and meticulous plotting. Sanderson's ability to interweave multiple character arcs and storylines while exploring profound themes, such as justice and redemption, can inspire other authors to create intricate narratives with layered characters and thought-provoking messages.
These are just a few examples of (in my opinion) the absolutely best fantasy book series. But there are many more options that can provide valuable insights and inspiration to writers. Each series has its unique strengths, whether it's world-building, character development, or thematic exploration. By studying these works, writers can learn from the techniques and storytelling prowess of renowned fantasy authors, ultimately refining their own writing skills and approaches. Reading in your genre can also be an inspiring, motivational practice.
Quick tips for your own fantasy book series
Learning how to write a fantasy novel is a blog post in and of itself, but I'll share a few quick steps here to start you on the journey.
Develop your why and the core idea
Many writers benefit from identifying and verbalizing their “Why”. Why do you want to write this? Seriously ask yourself that question, then write it down and keep it in your writing space. The best fantasy book series are long, arduous journeys to write (and to read, if it’s The Wheel of Time), so being able to maintain motivation long-term is essential.
Start by brainstorming and developing the core idea for your fantasy series. Consider the themes, setting, and overall concept that you want to explore. Think about what makes your world unique and what kind of story you want to tell within that world.
Related: 33 Fantasy Writing Prompts
Build your world
Create a detailed and immersive world for your series. Define the geography, history, magic systems, cultures, religions, and societies within your world. Pay attention to the rules and limitations of your magical elements and ensure consistency throughout the series. Flesh out the details of your world to make it come alive for readers.
Create memorable characters
Develop a diverse and complex cast of characters for your series. Consider if you'll use stock characters – if so, how will you make them unique?
Give them distinct personalities, goals, and conflicts. Consider their strengths, weaknesses, and how they evolve throughout the series. Deeply developed and relatable characters can engage readers and keep them invested in the story.
The characters' relationships with each other are also very important to develop and maintain.
Plan each book before you start writing
Outline each book within the series individually. Determine the major events, subplots, and character development that will occur in each installment. Ensure that each book has its own unique story arc while contributing to the larger series narrative.
Most writers won’t plan every book in their series. There are different strategies for huge projects like this, and while having a roadmap can keep you from stumbling around in the dark, some writers simply don’t thrive with a plan.
Follow your bliss.
Track the details
Consistency is crucial in any book series. Pay attention to details such as character traits, worldbuilding elements, and plot threads. Keep track of timelines, character relationships, and any established rules or lore to maintain coherence and avoid plot holes.
I suggest book writing software for fantasy authors, especially if you’re working on a series. Creating an entire world is just so much to manage without it.
Novelpad, the tool I use, allows location, character, and plot tracking, as well as a robust note-taking system where I can link notes to other elements in the project.
Whatever system works best for you, keep track of your world! If this is your first attempt at a fantasy novel, it’s harder to remember things than you might think.
Hopefully this has given you some inspiration and direction in order to write the best fantasy book series you can. It’s going to be a very long, difficult, and hopefully incredibly rewarding experience. Let your imagination kick off its shoes and frolic anywhere it would like to go. Just remember to write it all down.
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