7 epic fantasies to read if you liked The Kingkiller Chronicle
High fantasies to escape into (while you wait for that third book)
For fans of The Kingkiller Chronicle, it's a tough life. Those waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish Winds of Winter have five other books and eight seasons of television to get them through. Kingkiller fans? Two books and a near decade-long wait for the third. What to do with all that time?
Here are series offering that same vivacious high fantasy escape. From classics like "A Song of Ice and Fire" to YA hits like Eragon, there's something for everyone here. Take a look, you might just find your favorite new story.
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1. Wheel of Time
This sprawling fantasy series is the platonic ideal of magical literature: complex worldbuilding, detailed mythology and mechanics, and 14 whole books (and two prequels) to get through, bringing the page total up to more than 12,000. The plot is broad but explores classic mythological archetypes like good vs. evil and the hero's journey.
Don't have the energy for all that reading? Amazon's television adaptation was filming in Prague until the coronavirus delayed production. But rest assured an epic, Rosamund Pike-starring series is on its way, eventually.
2. A Song of Ice and Fire
It may seem like a cop-out to recommend the book series Kingkiller is always compared to, but you can't really mention one without the other. The A Song of Ice and Fire books are the political drama to Kingkiller's adventure dramedy, and that's a useful comparison in weighing the success of both books. A Song of Ice and Fire has already proven itself a cultural phenomenon, and with a possible Kingkiller screen adaptation on the way, comparing and contrasting the two could be a barometer for its success as well.
Brandon Sanderson is the master of magical fantasy. His magic systems are complex, but straightforward enough that 30 pages in, it'll feel like second nature. In one of his most famous series, Mistborn, magic is held in metals, and specific metals hold specific qualities. These powers can be gained through allomancy (metabolizing the metal), feruchemy (wearing the metal), or hemalurgy (transferring the power through blood).
Of course, the magic system is only a small part of the wide world of Scadrial. Sanderson is also excellent in building a world that feels similar enough to be relatable, but tweaking it enough to stoke a discomfort that will keep you reading.
4. Red Queen's War
Much like The Kingkiller Chronicle, The Red Queen's War series has an unlikely protagonist, a minor royal living a life of luxury who is then forced into a whirlwind of political intrigue. Of course, that's not the entire story, there's also a zombie war, magic spells, Norse mythology, and plenty of obstacles along the way. It's just a rollicking good time, and that's only the first book.
5. The Inheritance Cycle
The Inheritance Cycle, otherwise known as the Eragon books, is a young adult series with serious high fantasy ambitions. Don't let the YA label sway you, this story grapples with death, family drama, and rebellious uprising, all while including dragons.
With four books in the series, it's an undertaking, although the language is a great deal simpler than other high fantasy novels. Treat it like a palate cleanser between the other series on this list: a long, but breezy, read.
6. Gentleman Bastards
The Gentleman Bastard series is the Now You See Me of fantasy novels. A group of con artists who enjoy a good meal swindle their way through misadventures under the leadership of master thief Locke Lamora. The first book has an interesting story conceit: the chapters alternate between the present, where Locke and the gang must fight off a rival syndicate in the underground crime world, and flashback sequences describing how the gang got to this point.
Only three books have been released of the announced seven, all of which will follow Locke and his friends. With a sequel series planned afterward, now's the time to jump on this series before it gets too daunting.
7. The Stormlight Archive
Fans of the retrospective storytelling aspect of The Kingkiller Chronicle will love the style of The Stormlight Archive, which is told from multiple characters' points of view as they go about seemingly unconnected lives, but slowly merge and clash. There's also a number of interludes with minor characters, filling in historical details and background info.
The world of these novels is one of high drama: gigantic recurring storms make magical gemstones glow, giving them the power to transmute matter in the right hands. On top of the magical system, the world of Roshar also has an eye-color-based societal system. It's these little details that can tip a novel from good to great.