The Greatest "Fiction, Low Fantasy" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Fiction

Low Fantasy

Low Fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literature that is characterized by its grounding in the real world or a world very similar to ours, with the inclusion of magical or fantastical elements being minimal and often more subtle than in high fantasy genres. Unlike high fantasy, which transports readers to entirely different worlds or realms filled with magic and mythical creatures, low fantasy stories are set in a recognizable world where magic intrudes on reality but does not dominate it. This genre often explores the juxtaposition of the mundane with the extraordinary, focusing on how ordinary characters react to and interact with the slight, often unsettling, supernatural or magical elements that enter their world. The magic in low fantasy can serve as a metaphor for real-world issues, and the stories often delve into themes of moral ambiguity, realism, and the complexities of human nature, making them appealing to readers who enjoy nuanced storytelling that blurs the lines between the fantastical and the plausible.

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  1. 1. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone by J. K Rowling

    The story follows a young boy, Harry Potter, who learns on his 11th birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents' mysterious deaths, the dark wizard who wants to kill him, and the magical stone that holds immense power.

    The 134th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

    This book introduces readers to a flat, disc-shaped world balanced on the back of four elephants who stand on a giant turtle. The story follows an inept and cowardly wizard named Rincewind who is tasked with guiding a naive tourist through this chaotic and fantastical world filled with dragons, trolls, and magic. The narrative is a satirical take on fantasy genre clichés, with humorous and witty commentary throughout.

    The 556th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The BFG by Roald Dahl

    The book tells the story of a young orphan girl who befriends a benevolent giant, known as the Big Friendly Giant (BFG). Together, they embark on a mission to stop the other evil, man-eating giants from terrorizing the human world. With the help of the Queen of England and her armed forces, they manage to capture the evil giants and bring peace. The BFG and the girl then live happily in England, with the BFG delivering good dreams to children and the girl living in a new home at the palace.

    The 612th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K Rowling

    In the final installment of this popular series, the protagonist and his friends decide to leave their school to complete the mission left to them by their late headmaster - to destroy the remaining pieces of the antagonist's soul, hidden in various objects. As they journey through the wizarding world, they uncover the truth about the antagonist's past and the legend of the Deathly Hallows. Amidst the escalating war, they are captured and narrowly escape, leading to the ultimate battle at their school where many lives are lost. The protagonist learns he must sacrifice himself to truly defeat the antagonist, but is given a second chance at life and finally triumphs, ending the war. The story concludes with a glimpse into the peaceful future they have all earned.

    The 878th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

    The novel follows a World War II nurse who accidentally time travels back to 18th century Scotland. There, she meets a handsome and brave Scottish warrior and is torn between her loyalty to her husband in her own time and her growing love for the warrior. As she becomes more entwined in the past, she must navigate the dangers of a time not her own, including political unrest and violence, while trying to find a way back home.

    The 902nd Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

    "Good Omens" is a humorous take on the biblical Apocalypse, following an angel and a demon who have grown fond of Earth and its inhabitants, and are not too keen on the impending end of the world. As they try to locate the misplaced Antichrist and prevent the Four Horsemen from bringing about Armageddon, they encounter an array of quirky characters, including witch-hunters, modern-day witches, and the Four Horsemen themselves. The novel combines comedy, fantasy, and philosophical themes, offering a satirical critique of religious prophecy and human nature.

    The 916th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

    A recently released convict discovers that his wife and best friend died in a car accident. He then meets a mysterious stranger who hires him as a bodyguard. As they journey across America, it is revealed that the stranger is an old god, traveling to rally his fellow forgotten deities to wage a war against the new American gods born from society's modern obsessions with media, technology, drugs, celebrity, and more. The story blends elements of fantasy, mythology, and Americana to explore themes of faith, belief, and the nature of American identity.

    The 1051st Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

    In a magical land where witches and wizards exist, a young hat maker named Sophie is cursed by a jealous witch and transformed into an old woman. Determined to break the curse, Sophie seeks refuge in the mysterious moving castle of the feared wizard Howl. As Sophie navigates the castle's enchanting rooms and encounters its eccentric inhabitants, she discovers the power of love, friendship, and self-acceptance. Together with Howl and his apprentice Michael, Sophie embarks on a captivating journey filled with adventure, magic, and unexpected twists that will change their lives forever.

    The 1100th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Sandman by Neil Gaiman

    "Sandman" is a dark and fantastical series that follows the character Dream, also known as Morpheus, one of the seven Endless who personify certain universal concepts that transcend beyond gods. The narrative explores Dream's realm and responsibilities, his interactions with humans, gods, and his own family, as well as the consequences when he is captured and subsequently escapes after 70 years. The series is renowned for its blending of myth, history, and contemporary issues, creating a richly nuanced universe that delves into the nature of storytelling itself.

    The 1102nd Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

    A woman searches for her kidnapped daughter in a world ravaged by a catastrophic climate change event known as the Fifth Season. Simultaneously, the narrative follows a young girl with destructive powers and a man struggling to control his own similar abilities. The story explores themes of oppression, survival, and the destructive power of nature, all set in a dystopian world where the earth is constantly in flux, and society is strictly divided and controlled.

    The 1261st Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

    In "Mythago Wood," a man named Steven Huxley delves into the mysterious depths of Ryhope Wood, a forest that holds ancient and mythical creatures known as mythagos. As he explores the ever-changing landscape, Steven encounters his deceased father's mythago, a powerful and seductive woman named Guiwenneth. Drawn into a world of magic and danger, Steven must confront his own desires and confront the dark secrets that lie within the heart of the wood.

    The 1299th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

    A 12-year-old genius and criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl, kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short, for a large ransom of gold with the help of his bodyguard, Butler, to restore his family's fortune. In the process, he discovers an underground world of armed and dangerous fairies. The fairies fight back with magic, cunning, and technological weapons leading to a high-stakes battle of wits.

    The 1605th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

    In this dark and imaginative fantasy, a young Londoner named Richard Mayhew finds his mundane life turned upside down when he stumbles upon a young woman named Door, bleeding on the sidewalk. After aiding her, he is thrust into the shadowy, parallel world of London Below, a realm of magic, danger, and intrigue that exists beneath the streets of London Above. As Richard journeys through this eerie underworld with a cast of bizarre and fantastical characters, he must confront malevolent forces and unravel a complex conspiracy to help Door discover why her family was murdered, all while trying to find a way back to his old life.

    The 1657th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Gunslinger by Stephen King

    In a desolate and archaic world that mirrors the Old West, a stoic and enigmatic gunslinger embarks on a relentless quest across a desolate landscape to find the mysterious figure known as the Man in Black. Along his journey, he encounters strange characters, reflects on his troubled past, and confronts both physical and metaphysical challenges. His ultimate goal is to reach the elusive Dark Tower, a place that is said to be the nexus of all universes, where he believes he can right the wrongs of his decaying world. The narrative blends elements of fantasy, horror, and Western genres, creating a unique and haunting tapestry that sets the stage for an epic series of interdimensional proportions.

    The 1668th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

    "The Book of the New Sun" is a four-volume science fiction series set in a far future, post-apocalyptic Earth, known as Urth. The story follows a journeyman torturer named Severian who is exiled for showing mercy to one of his victims. As he navigates through a world filled with strange and mythical creatures, political intrigue, and ancient technology often perceived as magic, Severian discovers his destiny is far greater than he could have ever imagined. The narrative is dense and complex, filled with allegory and symbolism, making it a challenging yet rewarding read.

    The 1692nd Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: Lightning Thief, The by Rick Riordan

    The first book in the series introduces Percy Jackson, a young boy with dyslexia and ADHD, who discovers he's actually a demigod, the son of Poseidon. Percy is sent to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods on Long Island, where he learns about his divine ancestry and powers. When Zeus's master lightning bolt is stolen, Percy, along with his friends Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and Grover (a satyr), is tasked with preventing a war among the gods by retrieving the bolt. The trio embarks on a cross-country adventure to confront the thief and restore peace in the divine world.

    The 1921st Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

    A young girl named Coraline Jones moves into a new home and discovers a secret door leading to an alternate version of her life, where her "Other Mother" and "Other Father" reside. Although this parallel world seems better at first, she soon realizes that her Other Parents want to keep her there permanently and that they are not as they appear. Coraline must use her bravery and wits to save herself and her real parents, who have been kidnapped by the Other Mother, and free the souls of other children trapped in this alternate world.

    The 2442nd Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

    "Night Watch" is a satirical fantasy novel that follows the story of Sam Vimes, a city watch commander who is transported back in time. He must navigate the complexities of the past, assume the identity of his old mentor, and prevent a violent revolution, all while trying to find a way back to his own time. The book is filled with humor, social commentary, and a detailed fantasy world.

    The 2738th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

    In this enchanting twist on the Cinderella fairy tale, a young girl named Ella is cursed with the "gift" of obedience by a well-meaning but misguided fairy. This compulsion forces her to obey any direct command, leading to a life of manipulation and frustration. Determined to reclaim control over her life, Ella embarks on a quest to find the fairy who cursed her and break the spell. Along the way, she encounters ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and a charming prince, weaving a story of self-discovery, resilience, and the power of true love. Her journey is not only about breaking the curse but also about finding her voice and the strength to stand up for herself in a world that tries to define her destiny.

    The 2923rd Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

    The book revolves around a young girl named Meggie and her father Mo, who possesses a unique ability to bring characters from books to life by reading aloud. This gift, however, comes with a price, as they are entangled in a dangerous adventure when a villain from a fantasy book called "Inkheart" is accidentally summoned into the real world. As they struggle to fix the chaos caused by this crossover, they must navigate a treacherous world of magic and betrayal, while attempting to thwart the villain's sinister plans and protect the balance between reality and the fantastical realms of literature.

    The 3185th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

    This novel tells the story of a young princess who is bored with her life and decides to go live with dragons instead of marrying a prince as expected. She becomes the servant of a dragon and learns about magic, dealing with wizards, and how to outsmart those who underestimate her. The book is a humorous and empowering twist on traditional fairy tale tropes, emphasizing the importance of intelligence and independence over beauty and obedience.

    The 3191st Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

    In a world where magic has been suppressed and the maji people have been oppressed, Zélie, a young maji girl, embarks on a dangerous quest to restore magic and bring justice to her people. Alongside her brother and a rogue princess, Zélie must confront her own powers and face formidable enemies, navigating a treacherous landscape of betrayal and sacrifice. As they race against time, Zélie discovers that she may hold the key to not only saving her people, but also to changing the destiny of their entire nation.

    The 3194th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

    The novel tells the story of two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who are unknowingly bound to each other in a lifelong competition set up by their mentors. The stage for their contest is an enchanting, nocturnal circus that travels around the world, known as Le Cirque des Rêves. As the competition progresses, the pair fall in love, which leads to dangerous consequences and threatens the existence of the circus.

    The 3242nd Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

    In a fantastical satire of holiday traditions, the very existence of the Discworld's version of Santa Claus, known as the Hogfather, is threatened when a sinister plot is hatched to eliminate him. As belief in the Hogfather wanes, the personification of Death steps in to fill his boots, delivering presents to the children of the Discworld in an attempt to keep the spirit of the holiday alive. Meanwhile, Death's granddaughter, a plucky and resourceful young woman, works to unravel the conspiracy and restore the natural order. The story humorously explores themes of belief, tradition, and the nature of reality through a quirky and whimsical narrative that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

    The 3353rd Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

    The novel follows a young apprentice torturer named Severian who is exiled for showing mercy to one of his victims by allowing her to die. As he travels through a futuristic, dystopian world, he becomes embroiled in a series of political and supernatural events, while also grappling with his own moral compass and the nature of his profession. The story is steeped in allegory and symbolism, with a narrative that explores themes of memory, truth, and the nature of storytelling.

    The 3720th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download