The best fantasy books of 2020

Looking for the best new fantasy books? Check out our picks of the best fantasy books of 2020  and the top fantasy novels of all time. 

21/10/2020
4 minutes to read

The best fantasy books offer readers the perfect escape into another world. Here, we take a look at the best fantasy books of 2020 and share some of the top fantasy fiction of all time.  From John Gwynne’s Banished Lands, where angels and demons wage war,  to the magical multi-dimensional universe of Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library, if you’re a fantasy fiction fan, we’ve got you covered.

Looking for the very best sci-fi books? Discover our edit, here.

The best new fantasy books of 2020

The Dark Archive

by Genevieve Cogman

Book cover for 9781529000603

The Dark Archive is the seventh fantasy book in Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library series. It's hard to have a relaxing weekend when you're a Librarian spy, and despite her best hopes, Irene's trip to Guernsey is nothing of the sort. Instead of retrieving a rare book, she's almost assassinated . . . When the attacks continue in London, it's clear someone is trying to destroy the Fae-dragon peace treaty. Irene and her friends know they must save the treaty, but when an old enemy demands vengeance and a shocking secret is revealed, can Irene really succeed?

Discover more about The Invisible Library series. 

The Memory of Souls

by Jenn Lyons

Book cover for 9781509879588

The enthralling third novel in Jenn Lyons’s A Chorus of Dragons fantasy book series opens with the city of Atrine in ruins. Having discovered Relos Var’s evil plan, Kirin and his friends must convince a king to perform an ancient ritual which will save humanity – but at what price? And all the time, Kihrin’s connection to the monstrous god Vol Karoth is growing. Can Kihrin save his world, or will he destroy it? Fantasy fans won't want to miss one of the best new fantasy books of 2020. 

The Unspoken Name

by A. K. Larkwood

Book cover for 9781529032741

If you're looking for a new fantasy series to get excited about, A. K. Larkwood's The Serpent Gates is it. In the first book in the series, The Unspoken Name, expect an epic coming-of-age tale that follows Csorwe, who, on her fourteenth birthday will be sacrificed by the death cult who raised her. Offered a chance to escape her fate by a sorcerer who wants her as his assistant, sword-hand and assassin, Csorwe spends years living on a knife-edge until she is forced to confront her past . . .

Inspired by the author's longstanding fascination with villainous sidekicks and the question 'what might it take to stay loyal to a boss who is bad news?', this exciting debut is one of the best fantasy books of 2020.

The Lost City

by Amanda Hocking

Book cover for 9781529001303

According to the New York Times, Amanda Hocking's Trylle Trilogy 'which feature trolls, hobgoblins and fairy-tale elements and keep the pages turning, have generated an excitement not felt in the industry since Stephenie Meyer or perhaps even J. K. Rowling.'

In the wake of this bestselling fantasy series, The Lost City is the first book in Amanda Hocking's Omte Origins trilogy, a new adventure set in her magical Trylle universe and one of the best fantasy books to be released in 2020. 

When Ulla Tulin was abandoned as a baby, like many half-blood trolls she was raised by strangers who hid her away. But she never stopped wondering about her birth parents, and so when she hears about a project to help half-blood trolls she's determined to discover her true heritage. She enlists the help of the resourceful Pan and must contend with the mysterious Eliana. But as she and Pan fight to unravel the truth they realise that someone – or something – is determined to stop them . . . 



The Morning Flower

by Amanda Hocking

Book cover for 9781529001327

The Morning Flower is the highly anticipated second novel in Amanda Hocking's fantasy series, the Omte Origins trilogy.

As they continue on their quest to find the key to Ulla's heritage, Ulla, Pan and Eliana make an incredible discovery in the city of Merellä and embark on a journey that takes them across the world to an ancient city that may hold the answers they seek. But powerful enemies are close behind – and they're catching up fast.

As Eliana faces an impossible choice with far-reaching consequences, Ulla and Pan race to unlock the past and discover an earth-shattering secret that will challenge everything they thought they knew about the troll world. As their enemies draw closer, friendships are pushed to their very limits . . .  but will they break?

Bloodwitch

by Susan Dennard

Book cover for 9781447288862

After the epic world-building and fast-paced adventures in Susan Dennard's previous fantasy books, Truthwitch and Windwitch, existing fans won't need much persuading to be very excited about Bloodwitch, the third novel in the Witchlands series.

Find out more about these epic fantasy novels in our introduction to the world of the Witchlands here.

A Time of Courage

by John Gwynne

Book cover for 9781509813025

No list of the top fantasy books would be complete without a John Gwynne novel. One of the most anticipated publications of 2020, in A Time of Courage, The King of the Otherworld is finally free and angels, demons and heroes face their ultimate fight for the Banished Lands. A Time of Courage, the epic conclusion to the Of Blood and Bone series publishes in April 2020. 

Discover all the books set in John Gwynne's Banished Lands universe. 

Blood of an Exile

by Brian Naslund

Book cover for 9781529016147

In Brian Naslund's must-read debut fantasy novel we meet Bershad, an adventurer sentenced to kill dragons for a living after being caught trying to assassinate a fellow noble. When the king who sentenced Bershad offers him a way out of his forced occupation and exile, Bershad sees a way to earn redemption, but it won't be easy. Blood of an Exile, the first book in the Dragons of Terra series is packed with adventure and of course, lots of dragons.

Sorcery of a Queen

by Brian Naslund

Book cover for 9781529016178

The second book in this unmissable fantasy series is set after the events of Blood of an Exile, as dragon-slayer Bershad and his crew can only hope they have enough strength to face what's in store next. A foreign emperor is raining an army, and he'll stop at nothing to crush the kingdom and take control of its highly-prized dragons.

The Tyrant

by Seth Dickinson

Book cover for 9781529003284

The third book in Seth Dickinson's critically acclaimed fantasy quartet, Masquerade, The Tyrant is the perfect fantasy novel to pick up if you're looking for a page-turner.

After years of service to the corrupt Imperial Republic of Falcrest, Baru Cormorant finally knows how to shatter it. She’s discovered a deadly, weaponized blood plague, that, if she chooses to release, would kill millions. . . not just in Falcrest, but worldwide.

But, as her divided mind turns on itself, Baru's enemies close in and she must choose between genocidal retribution, and a harder path.


Best fantasy books of all time

Uprooted

by Naomi Novik

Book cover for 9781447294146

In this enthralling fantasy book, a dark enchantment blights the village that Agnieszka calls her home.  Many villagers have been lost to the nearby enchanted forest. The villagers depend on a dark wizard to protect them, but his protection comes at a terrible cost. Every ten years, a village girl must give up everything to serve him, and Agnieszka fears that her best friend Kasia will be the next girl chosen. But when the wizard comes, it's not Kasia he chooses. 

Sorcerer to the Crown

by Zen Cho

Book cover for 9781447299462

Described by M. R. Carey as a ‘joyous mash-up of Jane Austen and high fantasy’, Sorcerer to the Crown is the first book in Hugo Award-winning author Zen Cho’s fantasy series. In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England's first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, whose duty it is to keep the levels of magic stable   – but they're failing. The supply of magic is being disrupted by the Fairy Court, and war with France means the government wants to drain this scarce resource even further. When Zacharias meets ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman they find that her recent magical discovery might just change the nature of sorcery forever.  

The Invisible Library

by Genevieve Cogman

Book cover for 9781447256236

Professional spy Irene works for the mysterious Library, along with her enigmatic assistant Kai. Their mission is to steal a dangerous book from an alternative London. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen . . . To make things more complicated, this alternative world is infested with chaos, full of supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. And Irene’s assistant Kai seems to be hiding a secret . . . The Invisible Library is the first book in Genevieve Cogman's hugely entertaining fantasy book series. 

Discover the world of The Invisible Library series.

The Ruin of Kings

by Jenn Lyons

Book cover for 9781509879502

The hugely anticipated debut by Jenn Lyons is the first fantasy book in the A Chorus of Dragons series. Brim-full of big ideas – body-swapping, prophecy, rich worldbuilding and grim commentaries on many aspects of empire – to name but a few, this is the tale of Kihrin, a young prince cursed with bad luck and worse prophecy. The Ruin of Kings is a fantastically complex and multi-layered fantasy book, and characters like Doc and Galen, alongside Kihrin's own well-balanced set of talents and flaws make this a promising new fantasy series. 

The Fifth Season

by N. K. Jemisin

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Published in 2015, The Fifth Season is the first fantasy novel in N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy. With this remarkable work of fantasy fiction, Jemisin became the first black author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, and what's more, the next two instalments in the series The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky also went on to win the same prize, making Jemisin the first-ever author to win the award for all books in a trilogy.

With fascinating geologic forces and systemic issues of oppression, marginalization and the misuse of power at its heart - The Fifth Season and the entire Broken Earth trilogy is lauded for the complex and richly-coloured world in which it is set. Considered a work of science fantasy, the trilogy is set in a far-future Earth, upon a continent known as the Stillness, which is plagued by apocalyptic natural disasters known as Seasons, that can last for generations. Book one follows the story of Essun, a woman living an unremarkable life in a quiet town until three tragedies strike in one day. Her husband murders their beloved son in cold blood and kidnaps their daughter, a world-spanning empire falls, and a great rift has been torn into the Stillness throwing into the sky enough ash to block the sun's light for years to come. Essun's fight to save her daughters in this dying land, begins . . .

The Tiger and the Wolf

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Book cover for 9781447234579

The Tiger and the Wolf is the British Fantasy Award-winning novel from Adrian Tchaikovsky and the first book in his Echoes of the Fall fantasy fiction series. Maniye is an outcast, the daughter of the chieftain of the Wolf clan and the queen of the Tiger clan, clans which have been deadly enemies for generations. Hiding a deadly secret, the power to shapeshift into the form of both a wolf and a tiger, she escapes. But Maniye is crucial to her father’s plan to rule the north, and he is determined to get her back. As she flees, priests foresee danger and rumours of war spread . . . 

Discover all the books in the Echoes of the Fall series here

King Rat

by China Miéville

Book cover for 9780330534215

Blending eerie Pied Piper-influenced fairy tale with the ‘90s South London Drum and Bass scene, China Miéville’s debut is a thrilling urban fantasy novel. When Saul’s father is murdered, in a London where mysterious forces prepare for a showdown, Saul is left to pay for the crime. But help comes in the unlikely form of King Rat, who leads him to freedom where he confronts his inheritance at the gathering of the Junglist Massive.

Eragon

by Christopher Paolini

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Eragon is the bestselling first instalment in Christopher Paolini's beloved fantasy series, The Inheritance Cycle. 

At the story’s opening, fifteen-year-old Eragon is a poor farmhand living in Alagaësia, a land ruled over by the fallen dragon rider, and now evil, Galbatorix. When Eragon finds a mysterious stone in the mountains, he hopes it may hold some value, but his life is changed forever when the strange polished stone, hatches . . . 

Dragons were thought to be extinct . . . so when Saphira emerges from her egg, Eragon raises her in secret until two dark Ra’zac come looking for the stone.

Eragon’s once simple life is thrust into peril. In a world of magic and unimaginable dangers, the fate of the entire Empire soon rests upon his shoulders, and to survive he must take up the legendary mantle of the once-peaceful Dragon Riders . . . but can he?

The story of an unbreakable bond between boy and dragon and their fight to fulfil their destinies, Eragon has all the vital components of a page-turning fantasy book.

For those who love the work of master storyteller Paolini, this year sees the release of his unmissable science fiction debut To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.

Children of Blood and Bone

by Tomi Adeyemi

Book cover for 9781509871353

Tomi Adeyemi’s YA fantasy book is the first in her West African-inspired fantasy fiction series Legacy of Orisha. Zélie remembers when Orisha was full of magic. When different clans ruled with unique powers, including her Reaper mother who could summon forth souls. But everything changed when the ruthless king had anyone with powers killed. Now only a few people still have the power to use magic, and they must stay hidden. Zélie is one of those people, but now she has the chance to bring magic back to her people and strike against the monarchy . . .

Find out more about the clans of Orïsha with our guide. 

The Lord of the Rings

by J. R. R. Tolkien

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J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy is a classic of fantasy fiction and a must-read for all fantasy book fans. The story of the hobbit Frodo and his epic quest to reach Mount Doom and defeat the Dark Lord, Sauron, by destroying the One Ring, Tolkien’s epic fantasy was adapted into three of the most popular films of the 2000s.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

by Marlon James

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Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the first novel in Marlon James's Dark Star Trilogy. A New York Times bestseller, National Book Award finalist and Ray Bradbury Prize winner, its no stranger to accolades.

Set in an African-inspired fantasy world, the first book in the series follows Tracker, a mercenary with an extraordinary ability to follow scents, as he hunts down a missing boy. On his journey Tracker's crosses paths with strange companions, from shapeshifters to giants, who seek the same child and hide their own secrets . . .

A Game of Thrones

by George R.R. Martin

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No list of the best fantasy books is complete without George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy fiction series. The first book in the series gave its name to the TV series that became one of the most talked-about in history. In a world where summers span decades and winter can last a lifetime, the battle for the Iron Throne has begun.

If you're a fan of A Game of Thrones, don't miss our edit of the fantasy book series to read next.

The Colour of Magic

by Terry Pratchett

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Terry Pratchett’s wonderfully inventive fantasy fiction series Discworld begins with The Colour of Magic. Set in a flat world resting on the back of four elephants who are balanced on the shell of a giant turtle, this is a parallel time and place full of magic. When the first-ever tourist arrives, their survival is charged to a comically inept wizard who must face robbers, mercenaries and Death himself. Terry Pratchett is the author of some of the most-loved fantasy books of all-time.  

The Lie Tree

by Frances Hardinge

Book cover for 9781509868162

When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from the lies.

As she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father's murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide.

Frances Hardinge's wonderfully evocative YA fantasy novel was the Costa Book of the Year 2015. 

If you're still looking for your next read, find our full selection of fantasy books here