10 Great Fantasy Books With Animal Companions to Read


Animal companions in fantasy books can come in the more ‘realistic’ forms of dogs and wolves, but also in those of dragons, griffins, unicorns and more.

Often, these stories tug at our heartstrings and bring smiles to our faces. Are you in the mood for a book that will do just that? If you are, this post is for you!

Here are 10 great fantasy books with animal companions to read:

I’ve included book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments for each one of the books in this list below.

But if you’d prefer a quick summary, here’s a comparison chart.


Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold

Description

Born human, raised by wolves, Firekeeper seems the last person anyone would choose to back as a candidate for heir apparent to a royal throne.

Nonetheless, when Firekeeper and her wolf “brother,” Blind Seer, travel with Earl Kestrel’s expedition into the kingdom of Hawk Haven, the earl thrusts the wolf-woman into the midst of the heated intrigue surrounding who will be chosen as the heir of elderly King Tedric. 

Soon, the only thing the competing factions seem able to agree upon is that Firekeeper is an enemy. Firekeeper may not be able to read or write. She may struggle to speak a coherent sentence. However, if there is one thing the wolf-woman has learned from her life among wolves, it is that a strong pack needs an even stronger leader. 

Will Firekeeper win the fight for the throne? Whatever happens, the wolf-woman’s part in the contest will forever change it, even for those who do not see through wolf’s eyes. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.97

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

First on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is Through Wolf’s Eyes, which features a relationship between the human protagonist and her wolf family. Fans of this novel enthused over its incredible characters, all of whom felt flesh-and-blood. 

Readers described these characters, whether main characters or supporting ones, as capturing their hearts and stirring their emotions. Their interactions with each other, their history and growth were touching and organic. 

In addition to that, other readers praised the book for its political intrigue. Richly detailed and nuanced, fans were delighted and eager to find out how each new twist and turn would impact the characters. 

Negative Comments

What did critics say about Through Wolf’s Eyes?

Well, several of them said that the book included too many world-building or character details. However, most of them were generally readers who didn’t enjoy political fantasy. These readers found the scheming uninteresting and, given that the majority of the book revolves around politics, disengaged with the story.


Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Description

Too much time has passed since the powerful dragon Tintaglia helped the people of the Trader cities stave off an invasion of their enemies.

The Traders have forgotten their promises, weary of the labor and expense of tending earthbound dragons who were hatched weak and deformed by a river turned toxic.

If neglected, the creatures will rampage – or die – so it is decreed that they must move farther upriver toward Kelsingra, the mythical homeland whose location is locked deep within the dragons’ uncertain ancestral memories.

Thymara, an unschooled forest girl, and Alise, wife of an unloving and wealthy Trader, are among the disparate group entrusted with escorting the dragons to their new home.

And on an extraordinary odyssey with no promise of return, many lessons will be learned–as dragons and tenders alike experience hardships, betrayals…and joys beyond their wildest imaginings.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.93

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Second on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb. This book launches a series that can serve as a standalone as well as an expansion to Hobb’s previously written Liveship Trader’s trilogy.

Readers familiar with the trilogy described Dragon Keeper as a counterpoint to the cheerier ending in Liveship TradersWhile Liveship Traders ended on a high, this series deals with the aftermath and begins on a low.

The dragons in Dragon Keeper struggled to find a way to outgrown their serpent form in the Liveship Trader’s trilogy, but find now that their success had the horrible downside of killing most of them in the process.

Because of that, fans said that it’s easy to sympathize with the dragons of this tale who, far from their frequent majestic and mighty portrayal in other books, are frail and sickly. Their struggle to survive and thrive struck fans of the book as engaging and inspirational.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy the novel, what did they say? These readers focused on the fact that story itself has little thrills and action. The book’s premise is simple and sports a no-frills plot: Dragon Keeper isn’t a story bristling with twists and turns.

In particular, readers mentioned that this first book in the series struck them as a step up for future books. Alone, it resonates with readers based on how much they enjoy character-driven stories. Even readers who didn’t enjoy the story overall acknowledged that the characterization was strong.

These readers said that the book picks up toward the end. However, before that, they felt that nothing much seemed to happen.


The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Description

Kellen Tavadon, son of the Arch-Mage Lycaelon, thought he knew the way the world worked. His father, leading the wise and benevolent Council of Mages, protected and guided the citizens of the Golden City of the Bells.

Young Mages in training – all men, for women were unfit to practice magic – memorized the intricate details of High Magic and aspired to seats on the council.

Then he found the forbidden Books of Wild Magic – or did they find him? The three slim volumes woke Kellen to the wide world outside the City’s isolating walls. Their Magic was not dead, strangled by rules and regulations. It felt like a living thing, guided by the hearts and minds of those who practiced it and benefited from it.

Questioning everything he has known, Kellen discovers too many of the City’s dark secrets. Banished, with the Outlaw Hunt on his heels, Kellen invokes Wild Magic–and finds himself running for his life with a unicorn at his side.

Kellen’s life changes almost faster than he can understand or accept. Rescued by a unicorn, healed by a female Wild Mage who knows more about Kellen than anyone outside the City should, meeting Elven royalty and Elven warriors, and plunged into a world where the magical beings he has learned about as abstract concepts are flesh and blood creatures – Kellen both revels in and fears his new freedom.

Especially once he learns about Demons. He’d always thought they were another abstract concept-a stand-in for ultimate evil. But if centaurs and dryads are real, then Demons surely are as well.

And the one thing all the Mages of the City agreed on was that practicing Wild Magic corrupted a Mage. Turned him into a Demon. Would that be Kellen’s fate?

Deep in Obsidian Mountain, the Demons are waiting. Since their defeat in the last great War, they’ve been biding their time, sowing the seeds of distrust and discontent between their human and Elven enemies.

Very soon now, when the Demons rise to make war, there will be no alliance between High and Wild Magic to stand against them. And all the world will belong to the Endarkened.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.01

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Third on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is The Outstretched Shadow, where the protagonists have a unicorn companion. This novel intrigued readers with its detailed, fully-realized world-building.

Whether it was the living-and-breathing cultures, societies or settings, The Outstretched Shadow impressed fans with its depth. Several readers commented that Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory take common fantasy tropes and bring out the best in them.

Others mentioned that, in tandem with the world-building, the characters themselves felt vivid and human. As such, readers found both Kellen’s coming of age story and the background characters engaging.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy The Outstretched Shadow, what did they say?

Both critics sand fans aid that the world-building and character development in this tale were excellent. However, to accomplish that, the story lingered heavily on these details. As such, readers consistently said that the book was slow.


Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Description

One boy…

One dragon…

A world of adventure.

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter.

But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power.

With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.

Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders?

The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.89

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Eragona fantasy novel famous in its first release for taking beloved fantasy elements and turning them into a swashbuckling, dragon-filled adventure.

Readers appreciated that much of what they loved seeing in fantasy books featured in this epic: supernatural abilities, sword-fighting, dragon riders, prophecies, elves, hidden realms and of course, the hero pitted against a seemingly invincible empire.

Readers said that Eragon swept them away into the world of Alagaësia and its many interesting characters. They often commented that fans of The Lord of the Rings would find elements to this story that they’d enjoy.

Negative Comments

Unfortunately, the same reason that fans loved this fantasy book was the same reason that critics didn’t: the familiar tropes.

Its similarities to The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars frustrated critics. Whereas ‘The Lord of the Rings meets Star Wars with dragons’ delighted fans, these readers thought that Eragon was too predictable for their taste.

Because of this, several commented that the book might be better suited for first-time fantasy readers.


His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Description

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.

Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle.

For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.06

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is His Majesty’s Dragon. This character-driven tale twists the dragon rider concept by transforming the lone warrior into a fleet.

Readers said that the team-like atmosphere, camaraderie and moving bonds between dragon riders and dragons warmed their hearts. They came into the story to experience the slow-building relationship between dragon and dragon rider, and His Majesty’s Dragon delivered.

In addition, readers also praised the story’s portrayal of aerial combat. They described these as detailed and considered, taking into account technological challenges springing from the story’s historical influence.

Negative Comments

What about readers who didn’t enjoy the novel? Critics generally said the story had little tension or conflict. While His Majesty’s Dragon focuses on the relationship between dragon rider and dragon, even that struck these readers as progressing too easily.

On the other hand, some readers said that the characters themselves struck them as bland. Because of this, they couldn’t get engaged with or invest in them.


Joust by Mercedes Lackey

Description

National best-selling fantasy author Mercedes Lackey creates a vivid, dynamic fusion of the cultures of ancient Egypt and legendary Atlantis with the most exciting and believable portrayal of dragons ever imagined. 

The first book in this thrilling new series introduces us to a young slave who dreams of becoming a jouster — one of the few warriors who can actually ride a flying dragon. And so, in secret, he begins to raise his own dragon…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.02

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is Joust, a coming of age tale set in a lush and simmering desert world. Inspired by Ancient Egypt, the setting was part of why readers said this story allured and intrigued them. The world-building, especially of the cultures and the dragons, struck them as fleshed out and engrossing.

In addition, fans praised the primary characters for coming across as multifaceted and real. In particular, Vetch grew personally but also in his understanding of the greater political and ethical realities of being a dragon rider. Readers found his moral struggles and development in later parts of the book gripping.

Negative Comments

Some readers didn’t think that Joust was the right book for them. In general, critics generally had two reasons they didn’t enjoy the novel.

The first was that they didn’t connect with Vetch, the main character. To them, he came across as overly self-righteous, while all his efforts proceed to smoothly. The story seemed to unduly favor him.

Other readers, however, said that the book itself was slow-paced. They didn’t think that much happened and expected more excitement, twists and turns.


Scorched by Mari Mancusi

Description

Books Cover of Scorched by Mari Mancusi

Trinity

Don’t leave me here…

It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise — her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town.

But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…

Connor

He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb

He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head — a dragon that won’t be tamed.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.78

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is Scorched. Readers often described this YA fantasy novel as ‘Terminator with dragons’, a unique blend of time-travel and dragons that they loved.

They reported that the novel’s fast pacing kept them glued to the pages. Action-packed and exciting, the book also presented a mystery about the two brothers’ true motives and pasts that drew readers in. Several remarked that discerning between the truths and lies was one of Scorcheds highlights.

Others added that they appreciated the portrayal of Emberlyn, the dragon. While some stories characterize dragon allies as friendly and pet-like, Scorched portrays dragons as both deadly and magnificent. These readers enjoyed this intriguing and dangerous atmosphere around Trinity’s flame-breathing ally.

Negative Comments

While Scorched has plenty of fans, some readers didn’t enjoy it. What did critics say?

Their comments were consistent: despite its dragon and apocalyptic spin, the novel came across as familiar YA fantasy. To be more specific, these readers expressed disappointment that the novel features a love triangle and characters with familiar personalities.

These readers described Trinity, Conner and Caleb as standard YA characters. Moreover, they said that the ‘good boy’ versus ‘bad boy’ setup to the romance was standard as well.

Any tension or conflict between the three characters didn’t make an impression: it felt like sights along a well-trodden path rather than a situation that piqued their interest and invested them in the outcome.


A Dragon from the Desert by William King

Description

The biggest problem in fifteen year old Raif’s life used to be finding lost goats. Now, apprenticed to a terrifying war wizard he is caught in the web of intrigue and assassination surrounding the heir to his home kingdom.

And if that was not enough he becomes foster parent to an orphaned dragon. He must do his best to make sure he and his new friend survive the dangers of the deadly world in which they find themselves.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.30

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

And another story on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is A Dragon from the Desert. 

Fans said that this coming of age story was full of intriguing characters and world-building. They often remarked that the world seemed to constantly develop as they turned the pages, while the characters grew in depth.

All on all, these readers praised the book, saying its world and the characters were likable, easy to connect to and root for. 

Negative Comments

Critics, on the other hand, mostly said that the story was slow. These readers seemed to expect the story to be less character-driven and more plot-driven. 


The Last Flight by Liane Merciel

Description

The Grey Wardens are heroes across Thedas once again: the Archdemon has been defeated with relative ease and the scattered darkspawn are being driven back underground. The Blight is over. 

Or so it seems.

Valya, a young elven mage recently recruited into the Wardens, has been tasked with studying the historical record of previous Blights in order to gain insight into newly reported, and disturbing, darkspawn phenomena. 

Her research into the Fourth Blight leads her to an encoded reference scrawled in the margins of an ancient map, and to the hidden diary of Issenya, one of the last of the fabled griffon riders. 

As the dark secrets buried in Isseyna’s story unfold, Valya begins to question everything she thought she knew about the heroic Grey Wardens…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.98

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is The Last Flight, a novel set in the Dragon Age universe.

Fans reported that readers didn’t need to be familiar with Dragon Age to enjoy the book. Instead, they praised the story’s dark fantasy atmosphere, its intriguing portrayal of griffins and their bond with their riders, and the story’s tragic anti-hero protagonist.

Isseya struck readers as a compelling character who was easy to empathize with – even when her ‘ends justifies the means’ mentality caused her to act ruthlessly.

Others said that the story overall moved them, broke their hearts, and even made them think. The story seemed to examine how desperation shapes people for good or for ill, as well as how effective (or not) ruthlessness is in the most dire situations.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy The Last Flight, they had a few reasons. Several neither expected nor liked the tragic direction the story headed. Because of this, these readers reached the end of the novel upset and depressed.

Other readers, however, mentioned that they couldn’t connect with the characters. Because they didn’t feel attached to the cast, they didn’t feel invested in the characters’ victories or defeats. As a result, the story fell flat.


Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green

Description

Book Cover of Blue Moon Rising

Rupert didn’t especially want to be a prince. And he certainly never asked to be the second son of a royal line that really didn’t need a spare.

So he was sent out to slay a dragon and prove himself-a quest straight out of legend.

But he also discovered the kinds of things legends tend to leave out, as well as the usual demons, goblins, the dreaded Night Witch-and even worse terrors hidden in the shadows of Darkwood. 

Rupert did find a fiery dragon-and a beautiful princess to rescue. But the dragon turned out to be a better friend than anyone back at the castle, and with the evil of Darkwood spreading, Rupert was going to need all the friends he could get.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.09

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

And last on our list of fantasy books with animal companions is Blue Moon Rising, where protagonist Rupert is accompanied by a dragon. 

A unique blend of comedy and fantasy, readers who praised Blue Moon Rising applauded it for being fast-paced, witty and humorous. Especially considering its a lengthy page-count!

They also mentioned how memorable and fun each of the characters were. Unlike other books were only the main character shines, readers happily reported that it wasn’t just Rupert who delighted them. The entire cast was a pleasure to read about for hundreds of pages.

All in all, readers described Blue Moon Rising as a comedic, action-packed adventure suitable for all ages. Since gritty dark fantasy is the current trend, this book came across as a refreshing change!

Negative Comments

So if readers didn’t enjoy the novel, what did they say?

Well, some of them said that they found the story too fast-paced. These readers thought that because of the pacing, the book sacrificed characterization. They would have preferred that the cast have more details fleshing them out.

Others reported that the story’s humor didn’t resonate with them. In their view, the story’s light tone jarred with the fact that the characters fought to stop an impending, demon-fueled apocalypse.


10 Great Fantasy Books With Animal Companions to Read

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10 Great Fantasy Books With Animal Companions to Read


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