The Greatest "Legends" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 268 '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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Legends

The Legends category of books encompasses stories that have been passed down through generations, often featuring mythical or historical figures. These tales are often steeped in folklore and are meant to inspire and entertain readers with their larger-than-life characters and epic adventures. From tales of gods and goddesses to heroic warriors and legendary creatures, Legends books transport readers to fantastical worlds where anything is possible.

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  1. 1. The Aeneid by Virgil

    This epic poem tells the story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travels to Italy, where he becomes the ancestor of the Romans. It includes a series of prophecies about Rome's future and the deeds of heroic individuals, and is divided into two sections, the first illustrating the hero's journey and the second detailing the wars and battles that ensue as Aeneas attempts to establish a new home in Italy. The narrative is deeply imbued with themes of duty, fate, and divine intervention.

  2. 2. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

    "Labyrinths" is a collection of short stories and essays that explore complex themes of infinity, parallel universes, and the blurred lines between reality and illusion. The narratives often feature protagonists who are scholars or librarians, trapped in surreal, metaphysical landscapes. The author's unique writing style combines elements of magical realism, philosophy, and detective fiction, creating an intricate web of narratives that challenge the reader's perception of reality and fiction.

  3. 3. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory

    This classic work is a compilation of stories and legends about the legendary King Arthur, his knights, and the Round Table. It tells of Arthur's rise to power, his quest for the Holy Grail, and his tragic downfall. The book, written in the 15th century, is considered one of the most influential pieces of Arthurian literature and has significantly shaped the modern perception of Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Lancelot, and other iconic characters.

  4. 4. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

    This classic work is a collection of stories set in the Indian jungle, where a human child, Mowgli, is adopted and raised by a pack of wolves. The book follows Mowgli's adventures and lessons learned from his animal friends and foes, including the wise bear Baloo and the cunning panther Bagheera. The book also includes other tales of animals and humans coexisting in the wild, showcasing themes of survival, morality, and the law of the jungle.

  5. 5. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

    The book is a captivating tale about the legendary Robin Hood and his band of merry men in Sherwood Forest. It chronicles their various adventures as they rob from the rich to give to the poor, outwit the Sheriff of Nottingham, and have encounters with characters such as Little John, Friar Tuck, and Maid Marian. The story is filled with humor, action, and a strong sense of justice, painting a vivid picture of medieval England.

  6. 6. Parzival by Wolfram Eschenbach

    "Parzival" is a medieval epic poem that tells the story of a young man's journey from ignorance and folly to wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. The titular character, raised in isolation by his mother, ventures out into the world completely unaware of its ways. His journey leads him to King Arthur's court, where he becomes a knight and embarks on various adventures, including the quest for the Holy Grail. The narrative explores themes of chivalry, courtly love, and the struggle between faith and reason.

  7. 7. The Owl Service by Alan Garner

    "The Owl Service" is a gripping and mysterious novel that follows three teenagers, Alison, Roger, and Gwyn, as they uncover a dark and ancient secret hidden within a Welsh valley. As they become entangled in a haunting and supernatural phenomenon involving an ancient Welsh myth, the three must confront their own fears and unravel the truth before it consumes them. With elements of folklore, mythology, and psychological suspense, this atmospheric tale explores themes of identity, destiny, and the power of ancient forces that still hold sway in the present day.

  8. 8. Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino

    This book is a comprehensive collection of 200 traditional Italian folktales, meticulously gathered from different regions of Italy. The stories range from humor to horror, from fairy tales to moral lessons, from whimsical to deeply symbolic, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Italy. These tales, translated and retold, provide a fascinating insight into the folklore, traditions, and beliefs of Italian people.

  9. 9. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

    "The Crystal Cave" is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of Merlin, the legendary wizard of King Arthur's court. The book follows Merlin's early life, from his birth as the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess to his discovery of his magical powers and his journey to become a wise and powerful advisor to the future King Arthur. Set against the backdrop of early medieval Britain, the novel explores themes of destiny, power, and the struggle between pagan and Christian beliefs.

  10. 10. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

    This classic work of literature revolves around the character of Doctor Faustus, a scholar who is dissatisfied with traditional forms of knowledge and yearns for more. In his quest for ultimate power and understanding, he makes a deal with the devil, selling his soul in exchange for 24 years of service from the devil's agent, Mephistopheles. Despite the pleasures and knowledge he gains, Faustus eventually regrets his deal as he faces eternal damnation, symbolizing the human struggle between ambition and morality.

  11. 11. Lad: a Dog by Albert Payson Terhune

    "Lad: a Dog" is a collection of twelve short stories centered around a rough collie named Lad, who lives with his owners, referred to as the Master and Mistress, at a place called the Place. The stories depict Lad's adventures, his loyalty and courage, and his interactions with other animals and humans. Throughout the stories, Lad proves himself to be an extraordinary dog, exhibiting intelligence, bravery and an unwavering loyalty to his owners.

  12. 12. My Book House by Olive Beaupré Miller

    "My Book House" is a comprehensive collection of literature for children, designed to progress with the reader, starting from nursery rhymes in the first volume to classic literature and poetry in the final volumes. The series, compiled over a span of 50 years, aims to cultivate imagination, foster a love for reading, and encourage moral character in children. It includes stories, poems, and folktales from various cultures around the world, carefully selected and edited to be age-appropriate and engaging.

  13. 13. The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White

    The book is a magical coming-of-age story set in medieval England, following the adventures of a young boy named Wart who is tutored by the eccentric wizard Merlyn. Through a series of fantastical transformations and experiences, Wart learns valuable lessons about life, leadership, and the world around him. Unbeknownst to him, these lessons are preparing him for his ultimate destiny: to pull a legendary sword from a stone and become the future king of England. The narrative combines humor, philosophy, and mythology to explore themes of education, chivalry, and the making of a hero.

  14. 14. Indaba, My Children by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa

    "Indaba, My Children" is a captivating and enlightening collection of African folklore, myths, and legends, passed down through generations. Through vivid storytelling, the book explores the rich cultural heritage of Africa, delving into topics such as creation stories, ancestral spirits, and the power of dreams. With a blend of wisdom, spirituality, and historical insights, the author invites readers to embark on a journey of discovery, offering a deeper understanding of African traditions and the interconnectedness of all living beings.

  15. 15. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

    "Spinning Silver" by Naomi Novik is a retelling of the classic fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin. The story follows three women: Miryem, a moneylender's daughter who turns silver into gold; Wanda, a peasant girl who becomes Miryem's servant; and Irina, a duke's daughter who is forced into marriage with the powerful and dangerous tsar. As their lives become intertwined, they must use their wits and strength to overcome the challenges they face, including the wrath of the magical beings who lurk in the shadows.

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