The Greatest "High Fantasy" Books of All Time

Click to learn how this list is calculated.

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.

Filter by: Genres Dates Countries
Follow on:

Genres

High Fantasy

High Fantasy, as a literary genre, transports readers to entirely imagined worlds, distinct from our own, where magic, mythical creatures, and epic quests form the backbone of the narrative. These worlds often feature complex political systems, intricate lore, and a clear distinction between good and evil. Central to high fantasy are themes of heroism, adventure, and the struggle against formidable adversaries or forces. The genre is epitomized by works such as J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," where the detailed setting of Middle-earth, complete with its own languages, races, and history, sets the stage for a classic battle between the forces of light and darkness. High Fantasy offers an escape into worlds where the fantastical is the norm, inviting readers to explore realms where the limits are defined only by the breadth of the author's imagination.

Add additional genre filters

Countries

Date Range

Filter

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
  1. 1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

    This epic high-fantasy novel centers around a modest hobbit who is entrusted with the task of destroying a powerful ring that could enable the dark lord to conquer the world. Accompanied by a diverse group of companions, the hobbit embarks on a perilous journey across Middle-earth, battling evil forces and facing numerous challenges. The narrative, rich in mythology and complex themes of good versus evil, friendship, and heroism, has had a profound influence on the fantasy genre.

    The 17th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

    In this fantasy novel, a timid and unadventurous hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is whisked away on a grand adventure by a wizard and a group of dwarves. Their mission is to reclaim the dwarves' homeland and treasure from a fearsome dragon. Throughout the journey, Bilbo grows in courage and cunning, proving himself a true hero as he encounters trolls, goblins, giant spiders, and other perils. The novel culminates with a great battle involving various races of Middle Earth, after which Bilbo returns home, forever changed by his experiences.

    The 189th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

    This fantasy novel follows the story of a young boy named Ged who lives in a world of islands called Earthsea. Ged discovers he has a natural talent for magic and is sent to a school for wizards on the island of Roke. As he grows and learns, his arrogance leads him to unleash a shadow creature that he must then spend years trying to defeat. The book explores themes of balance, power, and the danger of hubris, as Ged learns to control his abilities and accept responsibility for his actions.

    The 199th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

    Four siblings are evacuated from London during World War II and sent to live with an old professor in the countryside. In his house, they discover a magical wardrobe that serves as a portal to the land of Narnia, a world filled with mythical creatures and ruled by an evil White Witch. The children are soon caught up in a struggle to free Narnia from the witch's eternal winter, aided by the majestic lion Aslan. The story combines elements of fantasy, adventure, and Christian allegory.

    The 210th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Once and Future King by T. H. White

    This novel is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, from Arthur's childhood tutelage under the wizard Merlyn to his eventual death. The story follows Arthur's journey from a naive boy to a wise and just king, his establishment of the Round Table, his marriage to Guinevere, and his complex relationship with his illegitimate son, Mordred. The narrative explores themes of power, justice, war, and human nature, offering a nuanced and humanizing portrayal of a well-known mythical figure.

    The 234th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

    This seven-part series follows the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of the fantastical realm of Narnia. The children are magically transported to Narnia from our world, where they aid the noble lion Aslan in his struggles against evil forces in order to restore peace and justice. The series explores themes of good versus evil, the nature of faith, and the power of sacrifice, all set against a richly imagined magical world full of diverse creatures and landscapes.

    The 269th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

    "His Dark Materials" is a fantasy trilogy that follows the journey of a young girl named Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, Pantalaimon, across parallel universes. Throughout their adventures, they encounter a variety of mythical creatures, confront religious and political systems, and grapple with complex themes such as free will, original sin, and the nature of consciousness. The series also delves into the mysteries of Dust, a strange particle integral to the multiverse's function.

    The 344th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban by J. K Rowling

    In this third installment of the popular fantasy series, the protagonist enters his third year at a magical school, only to find out that a notorious prisoner has escaped from a supposedly inescapable prison and is believed to be after him. As the school year progresses, he learns more about his parents' history, uncovers secrets about his professor, and discovers a magical map. He also learns to summon a powerful defensive spell, confronts the escaped prisoner, and uncovers the truth about his parents' betrayal and death. The book ends with him saving an innocent life and learning a valuable lesson about the complexity of human nature and the importance of true friendship.

    The 451st Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K Rowling

    In this fourth installment of a popular fantasy series, a young wizard finds himself unexpectedly entered into a dangerous tournament between rival schools of magic. He must compete in a series of challenging tasks, including a deadly dragon chase and a terrifying underwater rescue mission. Meanwhile, he's dealing with regular teen issues like crushes, jealousy, and school dances. But as he unravels the mystery behind his selection for the tournament, he uncovers a dark plot that puts his life in danger and hints at the return of a powerful dark wizard.

    The 495th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

    This epic fantasy novel is set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where 'summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime'. The story follows three main plot lines: the Stark family's struggle to control the North; the exiled Targaryen siblings' attempt to regain the throne; and the Night's Watch's fight against the supernatural beings beyond the Wall. As these stories intertwine, a game of power, politics, and survival unfolds, where you either win or you die.

    The 572nd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets by J. K Rowling

    In this second installment of a magical series, a young wizard returns to his school of witchcraft and wizardry for his second year, only to find that a mysterious entity is petrifying his classmates. With the help of his friends, he uncovers the dark history of the school, including a secret chamber hidden within the castle. Inside this chamber lurks a creature controlled by a memory from the past, and the young wizard must face it to save his school.

    The 597th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

    This novel reimagines the Arthurian legends from the perspectives of the women involved. It centers around Morgaine, Arthur's half-sister, who is a priestess of Avalon, and Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's queen. The story explores their roles in the political and spiritual conflicts that arise as Christianity begins to replace the old pagan ways. It delves into themes of love, loyalty, and power, while offering a fresh take on a classic tale.

    The 640th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K Rowling

    In the fifth installment of this iconic series, the young wizard Harry Potter returns for his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, only to discover that much of the wizarding world, including the Ministry of Magic, is in denial about the teenager's recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry is also beset by disturbing dreams while the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been stationed at Hogwarts to protect the school, and Harry's budding abilities as a wizard are put to the test. Meanwhile, a secret society, the Order of the Phoenix, is working to fight Voldemort and his followers, and Harry's role in the coming conflict is becoming ever more significant.

    The 694th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Little, Big by John Crowley

    "Little, Big" is a complex tale that weaves together elements of magical realism, fantasy, and family saga. The story follows the Drinkwater family who live in an eccentric house known as Edgewood, which is somehow bigger on the inside than the outside. The family is connected to the realm of Faerie, and the narrative explores their interactions with this magical world. The book spans multiple generations and intertwines the lives of its characters with the cycles of history and myth, creating a multi-layered narrative about love, family, destiny, and the nature of storytelling itself.

    The 732nd Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K Rowling

    In the sixth installment of the series, the protagonist returns for his sixth year at a magical school, where he excels in potions class with the help of an old textbook once belonging to the mysterious "Half-Blood Prince". As he delves deeper into his enemy's past through private lessons with the headmaster, he learns more about the Dark wizard's history and his own destiny. Amidst this, the school is no longer the safe haven it once was, and danger lurks within the castle walls. The year ends with a devastating loss, setting the stage for the final showdown.

    The 739th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

    "The Faerie Queene" is an epic allegorical poem that follows several medieval knights, representing various virtues, as they navigate quests assigned by the Faerie Queene. The narrative is deeply imbued with Christian symbolism and Elizabethan political allegory. Each book in the series focuses on a particular virtue and the knight who embodies it, presenting a complex, interconnected tapestry of moral, ethical, and political conduct. The poem is renowned for its intricate allegories, rich characterization, and the creation of a unique verse form known as the Spenserian stanza.

    The 852nd Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

    Set in a parallel 19th-century England, this novel tells the story of two practicing magicians, Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange. Norrell, who aims to restore magic to respectability in England, is initially thrilled by Strange's natural aptitude for magic, and the two form a student-teacher relationship. However, their partnership soon deteriorates into rivalry as Strange, driven by the loss of his wife to the fairy realm, seeks to reintroduce the old, wilder forms of magic that Norrell disdains. Their conflict escalates, culminating in a magical duel that has profound consequences for the future of magic in England.

    The 877th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

    The book follows the journey of a young girl in a parallel universe where people's souls exist outside of their bodies as animal companions, called daemons. When her friend is kidnapped by a mysterious organization, she sets off on a quest to rescue him, armed with a truth-telling device known as the golden compass. Along the way, she encounters a variety of characters, including witches, armored bears, and aeronauts, and uncovers a sinister plot involving the children of her world.

    The 929th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

    In this enchanting fantasy tale, a solitary unicorn, believing she is the last of her kind, embarks on a poignant journey to discover what has become of the other unicorns. Along the way, she is joined by a bumbling magician and a tough yet tender-hearted woman. Together, they face trials and confront an evil king to unravel the mystery of the missing unicorns. The unicorn must also grapple with the complexities of love, the loss of innocence, and the painful beauty of existence, as she seeks to restore her kind and witness the return of magic to the world.

    The 972nd Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

    "The Neverending Story" is a captivating fantasy novel that follows the adventures of a young boy named Bastian. When he stumbles upon a mysterious book, he becomes engrossed in the magical world of Fantastica, where he must embark on a perilous quest to save the realm from destruction. As Bastian's imagination intertwines with reality, he discovers the power of storytelling and the importance of believing in oneself. This enchanting tale explores themes of courage, friendship, and the boundless nature of imagination.

    The 997th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. The Last Battle: The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

    In the final installment of the series, Narnia faces its darkest hour. A false Aslan is commanding everyone to work tirelessly for the cruel Calormenes. Many Narnians are deceived by this false god and his prophet, an ape. However, a small band of loyal Narnians, led by King Tirian, fights back against the invaders. The friends of Narnia, children from another world, are summoned once again to help in this last battle. The fate of Narnia hangs in the balance and the final battle between good and evil determines the future of the magical land.

    The 1088th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

    In a world where telepathic dragons and their riders protect the land from the destructive Thread that rains down from the sky, a young woman unexpectedly becomes the new Weyrwoman, bonding with the last queen dragon. As the traditional ways of the past clash with the urgent need to defend their world, she and her enigmatic dragonrider ally must rediscover ancient secrets and take to the skies in a perilous quest to unite the dragonriders and save their planet from annihilation. Their journey is fraught with challenges, both political and personal, as they strive to harness the full power of the dragons and ensure the survival of their way of life.

    The 1206th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

    In "The Dark Is Rising," a young boy named Will Stanton discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is the last of the Old Ones, a group of immortal beings who must protect the world from the forces of darkness. As he embarks on a dangerous quest to find six powerful signs, Will must navigate a treacherous battle between good and evil, facing ancient magic, time travel, and his own inner demons along the way. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Will must embrace his destiny and harness his newfound powers to save humanity from the rising darkness.

    The 1226th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

    The book is a collection of mythopoeic stories that form the prelude to a well-known fantasy saga, detailing the creation of the world and the history of its early ages. It encompasses the tragic tale of the quest for the titular jewels, which imbue their creators with great power and beauty. The narrative follows the rebellion of a group of elves against the gods, the subsequent wars and the downfall of noble houses, interwoven with themes of heroism, fate, and the struggle against the ultimate evil. The work is rich with languages, cultures, and epic poetry, setting the stage for the later adventures in the renowned fantasy realm.

    The 1261st Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Magician by Raymond E. Feist

    The book is a fantasy epic that follows the journey of a young boy named Pug, who rises from humble beginnings as an orphaned kitchen boy to become a powerful magician in the Kingdom of the Isles. His life takes a dramatic turn when he and his friend Tomas are swept into a conflict against an ancient enemy from another world, threatening not only their homeland but also the very fabric of reality. As Pug masters the arts of magic under the tutelage of the enigmatic magician Kulgan, he must navigate a path fraught with danger, political intrigue, and war. Alongside a diverse cast of characters, Pug's destiny unfolds as he becomes a key player in the struggle to save his world from destruction.

    The 1342nd 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