We all have our own list of “overlooked” fantasy series. You know the ones which somehow, someway, did not turn into the next Harry Potter — even though you liked it better.
Okay, maybe, some of these fantasy series were not as amazing as novels penned by Tolkien or Abercrombie or Weeks or one of the other “it” writers, but you personally enjoyed them, have not forgotten about them. In fact, whenever the opportunity presents itself, you recommend these forgotten series to your friends, argue that they are worth the trouble of finding at the local used book store or at Amazon.
Well, folks, this list is about just that: the fantasy series that I (and my friends) have enjoyed in our lifetime but not enough of you have given a try. While some of these novels aren’t the best of the best, they were good enough for us to follow unto the end. Which isn’t something we always do.
Now, please keep in mind I and my real life reading buddies have not read every single fantasy book/series out there. (Mainly, this is because there are not enough hours in the day for us to do so and still keep our jobs and wives.) So this list is NOT exhaustive. Just because you don’t see a book on this list doesn’t mean it’s bad — it probably means it is one of those book/series that our collective radar missed, and that is where you come in: I’d very much like you to list other overlooked series you have enjoyed, so we can all try them out!
50) Lyra by Patricia C. Wrede
Peopled by humans, Shee, forest-dwelling, Wyrdsd, and watery Neira, Lyra is a place of beauty and peace–or would be, if it were not for the immensely powerful and evil Shadow-born, straining against the bonds that have held them for millenia.
Purchase The Lyra Novels at Amazon.
49) The Vagrant by Peter Newman
The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race . . . But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.
Purchase The Vagrant at Amazon.
48) A Man of His Word by Dave Duncan
A series of love and adventure following the exploits of childhood friends Inos and Rap as their feelings are tested by the direst of circumstances. But while abduction, magic, and imprisonment conspire to separate them, the two remain steadfast in their determination to be together.
Purchase A Man of His Word: The Complete Series at Amazon.
47) Corum by Michael Moorcock
This volume in Michael Moorcock’s acclaimed Eternal Champion series introduces Corum Jhaelen Irsei, the Prince in the Scarlet Robe, last of the noble race of the Vadhagh and avenger of his Chaos-ravaged world.
Purchase Corum (Eternal Champion) at Amazon.
46) Twilight Reign by Tom Lloyd
Isak is a white-eye, feared and despised in equal measure. Trapped in a life of poverty, hated and abused by his father, Isak dreams of escape, but when his chance comes, it isn’t to a place in the army as he’d expected. Instead, the Gods have marked him out as heir-elect to the brooding Lord Bahl, the Lord of the Fahlan.
Purchase The Stormcaller: The Twilight Reign: Book 1 at Amazon.
45) King Rolen’s Kin by Rowena Cory Daniells
Darkness stirs across Rolencia as untamed magic of the gods wells up from the earth’s heart, twisting the minds of men with terrible visions. Disharmony stirs within King Rolen’s household, and as magic, madness and political machinations threaten to tear Rolencia apart, Rolen’s children must do all they can to restore their father’s kingdom…
Purchase The King’s Bastard at Amazon.
44) DragonCrown War by Michael A. Stackpole
The northern tyrant Chytrine begins a grand crusade to discover all the fragments of the legendary DragonCrown, which will grant her ultimate power and cast the world into a darkness from which it might never emerge.
Purchase The Dark Glory War at Amazon.
43) The Necromancer Chronicles by Amanda Downum
The saga of Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and spy, who finds herself caught up in cataclysmic events in the world. Her journeys taking her from the jungle to the depths of the desert.
Purchase The Drowning City at Amazon.
42) Nightfall by Mickey Zucker Reichert
He has been known by countless names and terrifying deeds throughout the lands of mankind—thief, magic wielder, swordsman, assassin, adventurer. But chief among those names and perhaps the most dangerous of his personae is that of Nightfall, a man—or perhaps the legendary demon himself—gifted with unique powers which any sorcerer would kill to possess.
Purchase Legend of Nightfall at Amazon.
41) Time Master by Louise Cooper
The Seven Gods of Order had ruled unchallenged for an aeon, served by the Adepts of the Circle in their bleak Northern stronghold. But for Tarod – the most enigmatic and formidable sorcerer in the Circle’s ranks – a darker affinity had begun to call.
Purchase The Initiate at Amazon.
40) Renshai by Mickey Zucker Reichert
Due to an ancient prophecy of war, enemies band together to attack the Renshai, the mightiest, most hated and feared of all warrior races. One Renshai escapes, determined to keep the memory of his people alive and to claim his vengeance on the slayers of his race.
Purchase The Last of the Renshai at Amazon.
39) Seven Forges by James A. Moore
The people of Fellein have lived with legends for many centuries. To their far north, the Blasted Lands, a legacy of an ancient time of cataclysm, are vast, desolate and impassable, but that doesn’t stop the occasional expedition into their fringes in search of any trace of the ancients who had once lived there… and oft-rumored riches.
Purchase Seven Forges at Amazon.
38) Bloodsounder’s Arc by Jeff Salyards
Many tales are told of the Syldoon Empire and its fearsome soldiers, who are known throughout the world for their treachery and atrocities. Some say that the Syldoon eat virgins and babies–or perhaps their own mothers. Arkamondos, a bookish young scribe, suspects that the Syldoon’s dire reputation may have grown in the retelling, but he’s about to find out for himself.
Purchase Scourge of the Betrayer at Amazon.
37) The Silver Call by Dennis L. McKiernan
The dwarven halls of Kraggen-Cor have been overrun by foul creatures for generations, but now a pair of Warrows named Peregrine Fairhill and Cotton Buckleburr join in an epic crusade to drive back the darkness and return the dwarves to their lost homeland.
Purchase The Silver Call at Amazon.
36) The Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney
In a land torn by religious war and chaos, rogue mariner Richard Hawkwood leads an expedition to find a lost continent where safe haven may be found. But before the explorers find sanctuary-they must first survive the journey.
Purchase Hawkwood’s Voyage at Amazon.
35) The Ties That Bind by Rob J. Hayes
The only thing which Jezzet, Thanquil, and the Black Thorn have in common is that they are all damn despicable people. Unfortunately, fate has driven them together, and they must forge an uneasy alliance in order to face an enemy they also have in common.
Purchase The Heresy Within at Amazon.
34) The Swan’s War by Sean Russell
The cataclysm began more than a century earlier, when the King of Ayr died before naming an heir to the throne, and damned his realm to chaos. The cold-blooded conspiracies of the Renne and the Wills–each family desirous of the prize of rule–would sunder the one kingdom, and spawn generations of hatred and discord.
Purchase The One Kingdom at Amazon.
33) Tyrants and Kings by John Marco
This military fantasy trilogy explores the emotional landscapes and moral dilemmas of several individuals caught up in a terrifying crisis that threatens to devastate a world.
Purchase The Jackal of Nar at Amazon.
32) Lord of the Isles by David Drake
Into this world, a sorceress from a thousand years past is cast upon the shore of a small island. She has survived the cataclysm that destroyed the powerful empire of the Isles in her time. She finds herself in a new struggle for dominance and magical power that will shake this world, and others. For The Hooded One, the most powerful sorcerer of all time, has also survived the ancient catastrophe he created.
Purchase Lord of the Isles at Amazon.
31) Psalms of Isaak by Ken Scholes
An ancient weapon has completely destroyed the Androfrancine city of Windwir. Soon all the Kingdoms of the Named Lands will be at one another’s throats, as alliances are challenged or collapse, and the hidden plots of many powers are revealed.
Purchase Lamentation at Amazon.
30) The Bronze Knight by John Marco
Lukien, the Bronze Knight of Liiria, had been taken in by the royal family when, at fourteen, he saved King Akeela’s life, but he’d never forgotten the brutal lessons of the streets he’d grown up on. A bond of loyalty stronger than blood linked these two men—but no two souls could be more different. And neither man could foresee the turmoil the future would wreak on their lives.
Purchase The Eyes of God at Amazon.
29) Instrumentalities of the Night by Glen Cook
Walls of ice push slowly forward to reclaim the world as its two greatest religions fight over the Holy Land, where the Wells of Ihrain spew forth magic. Finally, an uneasy truce exists between the Pramans and the West, but only a spark is needed to start the conflict anew.
Purchase The Tyranny of the Night at Amazon.
28) Kencyrath by P.C. Hodgell
Jame, a young woman missing her memories, struggles out of the haunted wastes into Tai-tastigon, the old, corrupt, rich and god-infested city between the mountains and the lost lands of the Kencyrath. Jame’s struggle to regain her strength, her memories, and the resources to travel to join her people, the Kencyrath, drag her into numerous adventures.
Purchase God Stalk at Amazon.
27) Winds of the Forelands by David B. Coe
For 900 years, the Forelands have enjoyed relative peace after the Qirsi leaders, Weavers whose powerful magic could bend to their will not only the elements but also the thoughts of others, were all killed and the rest of the pale-skinned Qirsi scattered throughout the realm. Now, however, only a Qirsi gleaner can help prevent a devastating civil war.
Purchase Rules of Ascension at Amazon.
26) A Handful of Men by Dave Duncan
Fifteen years after their adventures in A Man of His Word, Inos and Rap are busy living their lives in the little backwater kingdom of Krasnegar, not wishing for any more excitement. But now the end of the millennium promises cataclysmic upheaval on a scale never before imagined, and Inos and Rap are going to be involved.
Purchase A Handful of Men at Amazon.
25) Lon Tobyn Chronicle by David B. Coe
Tobyn-Ser is a gentle, bounteous land of small villages and close-knit communities, of dark woods and swift-running streams, of broad plains and clear lakes. But its idyllic peace is being disturbed by terrible rumors of mages seen committing horrible, violent acts!
Purchase Children of Amarid at Amazon.
24) The Empty Throne by Daniel Polansky
They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. Twenty five years ago mankind rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. And now whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed.
Purchase Those Above at Amazon.
23) The Tales of Einarinn by Juliet E. McKenna
Magic? It’s for the rich, the powerful…the Archmage and his elite wizards and cloud-masters. Livak is not among them. She haunts the back taverns of the realm, careful to appear neither rich nor poor, neither tall nor short . . . neither man nor woman. Obscurity is her protection, thievery her livelihood, and gambling her weakness.
Purchase The Thief’s Gamble at Amazon.
22) The Seer King by Chris Bunch
Hotheaded young cavalry officer Damastes and the radical wizard Tenedos were expected to die in a mountain ambush. But their enemies underestimated the amazing power of the seer and the bravery of the soldier. As this unlikely team begins to outwit necromancers and usurpers, word spreads that theirs is a path of destiny.
Purchase The Seer King at Amazon.
21) Bazil Broketail by Christopher Rowley
Dragon Bazil Broketail and his Orphanboy Relkin face off against the forces of the Dark Masters of Padmasa, as the city of Marneri fights for its very survival.
Purchase Bazil Broketail at Amazon.
20) The Videssos Cycle by Harry Turtledove
The Roman military tribune Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and his legion find themselves under a strange night sky, full of unfamiliar stars, where Rome and Gaul are unknown. They are in an outpost of the embattled Empire of Videssos—a world that will test their skill and courage as no soldiers have ever been tested before.
Purchase Videssos Cycle: Volume One at Amazon.
19) Heart of the World by Col Buchanan
The Holy Empire of Mann, an empire and religion born from a nihilistic urban cult, has been conquering nation after nation. Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins, the Roshun, who offer protection through the threat of vendetta. Now, as Ash sets out to fulfill a mandate, his journey takes him into the heart of the conflict between the Empire and the Free Ports…into bloodshed and death.
Purchase Farlander at Amazon.
18) Chronicles of Tornor by Elizabeth A. Lynn
Tornor Keep is the legendary tower that guards the winter end of a summer land. But when Tornor is overrun by raiders, a young prince is the tower’s last hope-in an enchanting story of a time far removed from our, and a land alive with warriors, lovers, war and honor.
Purchase Watchtower at Amazon.
17) Echoes of Empire by Mark T. Barnes
An uneasy peace has existed since the fall of the Awakened Empire centuries ago. Now the hybrid Avān share the land with the people they once conquered: the star-born humans; the spectral, undead Nomads; and the Elemental Masters. But now civil war threatens to draw all of Shrīan into a vicious struggle sparked by one man’s lust for power, and his drive to cheat death.
Purchase The Garden of Stones at Amazon.
16) Manifest Delusions by Michael R. Fletcher
Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.
Purchase Beyond Redemption at Amazon.
15) Dread Empire by Glen Cook
Across the mountains called Dragon’s Teeth, beyond the chill reach of the Werewind and the fires of the world’s beginning, above the walls of the castle Fangdred, stands Windtower. From this lonely keep the Star Rider calls forth the war that even wizards dread, fought for a woman’s hundred-lifetime love.
Purchase A Cruel Wind at Amazon.
The world grows colder with each passing year, the longer winters and ever-deepening snows awaking ancient fears within the Dengan Packstead, fears of invasion by armed and desperate nomads, attack by the witchlike and mysterious Silth, able to kill with their minds alone, and of the Grauken, that desperate time when intellect gives way to buried cannibalistic instinct, when meth feeds upon meth.
Purchase Darkwar at Amazon.
13) Dragon’s Winter by Elizabeth A. Lynn
Since his twin’s theft of his talisman, Karadur Atani can never become a dragon king. Instead, his dragon’s heart remains imprisoned in the body of a broken man.But when his brother returns, cloaked in a veil of black magic, Karadur Atani will fight for his birthright — once and for all…
Purchase Dragon’s Winter at Amazon.
12) Winter King’s War by Susan Dexter
Master magician Blais was dead, murdered by the evil ice-lord Nimir. Now there was only Tristan, an ill-trained apprentice, to carry on the quest to rescue Allaire, a princess held in enchanted sleep in Nimir’s frozen halls. Though a thousand master mages had already failed in the quest, Tristan must succeed — or all of Calandra would be doomed by Nimir’s greed.
Purchase The Ring of Allaire at Amazon.
11) Chronicles of the Exile by Marc Turner
A book giving its wielder power over the dead has been stolen from a fellowship of mages. The thief, a crafty, power-hungry necromancer, intends to use the Book of Lost Souls to resurrect an ancient race and challenge the gods for dominion of the underworld. However, a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed.
Purchase When the Heavens Fall at Amazon.
10) Tales of Noreela by Tim Lebbon
Kosar the thief senses that Rafe Baburn is no ordinary boy. After witnessing a madman plunder Rafe’s village and murder his parents, Kosar knows the boy needs his help. And now, for a reason he cannot fathom, others are seeking the boy’s destruction.
Purchase Dusk at Amazon.
9) Oath of Empire by Thomas Harlan
In A.D. 600, the Empire still stands, supported by the Legions and Thaumaturges of Rome. Now the Emperor of the West will come to the aid of the Emperor of the East to lift the siege of Constantinople and carry a great war to the very doorstep of the Shahanshah of Persia. It is a war that will be fought with armies both conventional and magical, with bright swords and the darkest necromancy.
Purchase The Shadow of Ararat at Amazon.
8) Children Trilogy by Ben Peek
The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world’s ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. But now a new god has arisen and war looms.
Purchase The Godless at Amazon.
7) The Gates of the World by K.M. McKinley
The order of the world is in turmoil. An age of industry is beginning, an age of machines fuelled by magic. Sprawling cities rise, strange devices stalk the land. New money brings new power. The balance between the Hundred Kingdoms is upset. For the first time in generations the threat of war looms.
Purchase The Iron Ship at Amazon.
6) Sundered World by Nathan Garrison
The Empire is Shrouded, not only by the barrier that covers the land, but by the lies and oppression of the mierothi regime. Magic is the privilege of the elite, and the people of this shadowed country have forgotten what it means to hope under their rule. But there are some who would resist, with plans put into motion millennia before.
Purchase Veiled Empire at Amazon.
5) Legends of the Nameless Dwarf by D.P. Prior
For more than a thousand years, the dwarves have hidden away from the world in their ravine city of Arx Gravis. Governed by an inflexible council whose sole aim is to avoid the errors of the past, the defining virtue of their society is that nothing should ever change. But when the Scriptorium is broken into, and a Ravine Guard sees a homunculus fleeing the scene of the crime, events are set in motion that will ensure nothing will ever be the same again.
Purchase Carnifex at Amazon.
4) Far Called Trilogy by Stephen Hunt
Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He’s living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter …on those occasions when he isn’t having to bail him out of one scrape or another. His days of adventure are – thankfully – long behind him. Or are they?
Purchase In Dark Service at Amazon.
3) Ringdancers by Jane S. Fancher
As Rhomatum is plagued by political unrest and threatened by enemy city-states, three brothers–heirs to the ruling Rhomandi family, yet torn apart by jealousy, mistrust and political polarization–must overcome their personal differences in order to overthrow the cruel reign of their aged great-aunt who controls the Leythium Rings that mean life for all.
Purchase Ring of Lightning at Amazon.
2) Tales of the Taormin by Cheryl J. Franklin
A young noblewoman gifted with the power of sorcery flees the anti-magic society where she lives and joins up with a band of Venturers, unwittingly taking part in a mission that will ultimately force her to choose sides in a war of magic.
Purchase Tales of the Taormin at Amazon.
1) Morigu by Mark C. Perry
Not too long ago, a horrendous war was fought against an evil god. Every creature and divine being taking sides — even mother earth herself. The forces of good only triumphing when they did the impossible and infused the remaining magic of the world into young King Fealoth, turning him into a living god. Fealoth then chaining the evil one in the darkness outside creation.
Joy and hope returned to the lands. Goodness and light had triumphed over evilness and darkness. An unrivaled age of tranquility was assured to last forever.
A generation lives and dies. History becomes legend. And, without warning, the long vanquished creatures of the dark arise, sweeping over everything. The atrocities they commit are staggering: vampires, goblins, and other vile creatures destroying mindlessly. The gods do not seem to care, even once mortal Fealoth. All looks lost. Destruction of the very world seems inevitable until mother earth sends out here lone champion: the Morigu. Yet even she does not know if the insanity laying behind his eyes will save the world from the evil one or deliver it to him!
Great story. Hopefully, one day the author will get around to finishing it.
Purchase Morigu: The Desecration at Amazon.
Those are our picks. And, yes, we tried to chose as many obscure, overlooked series as we could. But please list other fantasy series that you enjoyed and believe are “overlooked” by readers.
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY OTHER BEST OF FANTASY LISTS!
Reblogged this on Legends of Windemere.
Always amazing to see how many fantasy authors are out there. You really only hear about a few, so it makes the genre seem so small. We’re not really known for running into each other either. Some I thought of:
Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
Books of Lost Swords by Fred Saberhagen
Not 100% certain these count. They might be better known in fantasy reader circles and not outside the genre.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Reblogged this on Steve Boseley and commented:
For lovers of fantasy, here’s a list of FIFTY series to get to work on…
Oh! My! Goodness! Do you have the slightest idea of what this post is going to do to my wish-list?
Actually I had my sights already set on the Vagrant series, but now there are so many other competitors… Where to start? Where to start? :-9
Thanks for sharing!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I love the idea of knowing more series and books but I kind of hate you for making me want to buy them even though I already have a lot to read xD great post anyway 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’ve read a lot of these too. While a couple of them I wish were better known, I think the majority are obscure for a reason and a good reason at that 🙂
How LONG did it take you to type this up? 50 books, with blurbs and links?!? I’m surprised you didn’t turn it into a series.
But it was a lot of fun reading over these and “remembering” the good ones…
LikeLiked by 1 person
It actually took longer for our group to decide on the fifty series to put on here than actually typing it all. And I personally agree that not all of these series are great, but my friends felt they deserved to be on here as books that are underrated, under-read, and worth giving a try. 🙂
LikeLiked by 2 people
I’m more impressed that you know real life people with tastes like these.
I wish I had a group. Of course, then I’d fight with some of them and storm off, so maybe all things considering, I’ll leave the people thing to others 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person
Daaaamn. Havent heard of any of these…. all look great tho
Thanks, that’s a really interesting list – I vaguely remember a couple of them, but no more than that.
For next time, though, a small suggestions: a sentence or two of what you thought about them, what they’re like, why you think they’re interesting, etc? Something to help people to what might interest them, as fantasy plot blurbs do tend to all sound quite alike after a while…
A damn shame that R. Scott Bakker’s The Second Apocalypse (The Prince of Nothing/The Aspect-Emperor/forthcoming third series) didn’t make the list.
I don’t think anyone would call those “overlooked” though, as they constantly make “Best of…” lists and have sold well. The problem with “overlooked” lists is always judging where that cutoff is – and I think this list does it very well.
Great list! I’ve read at least some of 14 of them, and some are among my favourite series ever (though there are one or two on there that I’d say should stay overlooked…). If there were one series I could add to this list, it would be K V Johansen’s loose “Caravan Road” series, starting with Blackdog, then the Marakand books. Gods, demons, devils, wizards, assassins, priestesses, and caravan guards, all stretched out along a wonderfully evoked Silk Road style setting.
Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
Here’s an interesting list of overlooked fantasy series – how many have you read on this list? Thanks Bookwraiths!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I am wondering if you could help me identify a book (Which I personally believe should be on this list!) I first read the book in 2013 but it was potentially released before then. I believe I obtained the book from Amazon but it is not saved to my order history.
The plot revolves around a man who has died after falling from a Ferris wheel after fighting with a man. The man wakes up in heaven and I believe he meets famous people (Potentially Isaac Newton and the Angel Gabriel?) He is not allowed to enter hell and must instead venture through hell to locate this other man he was fighting with who has also died. He is given clues, riddles or a guide that foretells the adventures through hell.
He is accompanied by a samurai warrior (potentially called Kat), they encounter an Evil Wizard or the like during their traverse of hell and he is the main bad guy throughout, I think they first encounter him in a village of many women who are just given numbers or letters for names.
They also encounter a Knight who joins them in their quest alongside (I want to say fairy or angel) and the two become the love interests. (The knight and fairy(?)). They also encounter a silent Indian before entering a labyrinth.
I know towards the end they finally make it to a tower or castle within hell (which I believe is the title of the book?!) and I believe Napoleon is the ruler of hell.
I really hope you can help me identify this book. Many thanks in advance if you know what I am talking about!