15 Best Fantasy Books With Schools and Academies

Fantasy books with schools and academy settings often treat us to exciting coming of age tales. Whether it’s for the chance to see protagonists grow, experience their friendships, enjoy favorite school tropes or something else, these novels have a solid base of fans.

Are you curious what great stories set in schools are out there? If so, this is a list for you!

Here are the 15 best fantasy books with schools and academies:

For the most part, I’ve focused on fantasy books targeting adult readers, since school settings are more common in Young Adult (YA) fantasy. However, several books on the list are YA.

Book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments are also below. But for a quick summary, here’s a comparison chart.

The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington


It has been twenty years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs — once thought of almost as gods — were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict, their much-feared powers mysteriously failing them.

Those who had ruled under them, men and women with a lesser ability known as the Gift, avoided the Augurs’ fate only by submitting themselves to the rebellion’s Four Tenets.

A representation of these laws is now written into the flesh of any who use the Gift, forcing those so marked into absolute obedience.

As a student of the Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war fought — and lost — before he was born. Despised by most beyond the school walls, he and those around him are all but prisoners as they attempt to learn control of the Gift. Worse, as Davian struggles with his lessons, he knows that there is further to fall if he cannot pass his final tests. 

But when Davian discovers he has the ability to wield the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. And to the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.15

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

First on our list of fantasy books with schools is The Shadow of What Was Lost. Fans of this novel praised it for combining their favorite aspects of fantasy, while adding exciting twists and turns. The story kept them guessing, each page filled with intrigue and new questions. 

Others mentioned that The Shadow of What Was Lost delighted them with its detailed, nuanced world-building. Whether it was because of the history, magic systems or more, readers described the story as complex and engaging.

Negative Comments

No book is loved by all, so what comments did critics make?

They generally had two remarks. The first was that they didn’t connect with the characters. These readers  said that they didn’t think that the characters came across as well-fleshed out, either individually or in terms of distinction from one another. The second was that they thought the plot was a well-trodden path. 

Battle Mage by Peter A. Flannery


The world is falling to the burning shadow of the Possessed and only the power of a battle mage can save it. But the ancient bond with dragonkind is failing. Of those that answer a summoning too many are black. Black dragons are the enemy of humankind. Black dragons are mad. 

Falco Dante is a weakling in a world of warriors, but worse than this, he is the son of a madman. Driven by grief, Falco makes a decision that will drive him to the brink of despair.

As he tries to come to terms with his actions Falco follows his friends to the Academy of War, an elite training school dedicated to martial excellence. But while his friends make progress he struggles to overcome his doubts and insecurity. Even Queen Catherine of Wrath has her doubts about Falco’s training. 

While the Queen tries to unite the Kingdoms against the Possessed, Falco struggles to overcome his fears. Will he unlock the power trapped inside of him or will he succumb to madness and murder like his father? 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.47

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Second on our list of fantasy books with schools is Battle Mage.

This novel had everything fans were looking for in an epic fantasy story: a coming-of-age tale, heart-pounding battles, magic, dragons and even a dash of romance. As fans rushed through the book’s pages, they found moments of hope and despair, but also victory, sacrifice and more.

Moreover, readers raved about the story’s action scenes. These came across to them as realistic, suspenseful and gripping.

Negative Comments

Critics tended to cite some character-related element as their reason for disliking the book.

For instance, several of them commented that the protagonist seemed too special, quickly becoming the best-of-the-best in so many different arenas. After a while, this grated on them.

Similarly, other critics pointed to the supporting characters. They tended to describe them as seeming to similar, whether it was their dialogue or their problem-solving approaches. Because of this, critics didn’t feel invested in their fates.

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas


It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Books Cover of The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation — or so she’s been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm.

It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane.

But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission — and her life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

The Burning Sky is another story on our list of fantasy books with schools. Readers said that this fantasy novel takes a variety of beloved Young Adult fantasy tropes and blends them together for an entirely unique and exciting experience.

The story world features elemental powers, mythological creatures and elite boarding school drama.

As for the romance, The Burning Sky pairs the powerful mage protagonist, Iolanthe, with the agenda-driven Prince Titus. Readers frequently remarked that Iolanthe delighted them with her backbone, but also through her cleverness and back-and-forth banter with Titus. She adapts well to her difficult circumstances and refuses to self-pity.

In the past, YA fantasy readers have voiced their frustrations with protagonists who let their romantic feelings cloud their judgement – especially when something as serious as the fate of a kingdom is at stake.

Because of this, readers often made a point of saying that both Iolanthe and Titus didn’t follow this pattern. While their attraction grew, they didn’t let it derail them from their greater missions.

Negative Comments

What did readers who didn’t enjoy The Burning Sky say?

Generally, readers expressed similar sentiments: they disliked both Iolanthe and Titus as characters. Because of this, they couldn’t get invested in their romance.

Why was this? Well, critics of The Burning Sky characterized Iolanthe as a Mary Sue: a character so perfect at all she does and in her attributes that it’s unbelievable.

These readers said that Iolanthe’s ‘Chosen One’ status defined her. She was strong in the sense of being highly competent. However, she didn’t have dreams, hopes or fears of her own that were unrelated to her foretold destiny.

As for Titus, critics said that ultimately, he bothered them as a romantic prospect. He’s set up as a good person who only feigns a spoiled and manipulative persona.

However, these readers said that after a while, this didn’t seem like a mask. Instead, it seemed like his true face. As such, they thought that the story used the characters’ physical attraction to each other to avoid addressing important relational issues.

Firebolt by Adrienne Woods


Dragons. Right. Teenage girls don’t believe in fairy tales, and sixteen-year old Elena Watkins was no different.

Until the night a fairy tale killed her father.

Now Elena’s in a new world, and a new school. The cutest guy around may be an evil dragon, a Prince wants Elena’s heart, and a long dead sorcerer may be waking up to kill her. Oh. And the only way Elena’s going to graduate is on the back of a dragon of her own.

Teenage girls don’t believe in fairy tales. Now it’s time for Elena to believe – in herself. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.98

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with schools is Firebolt. Fans of this fantasy novel praised it for its fast pace and lovable character cast. Danger constantly keeps the protagonist, Elena, on the run and readers bit their nails, anxious to know what would happen next.

Add to that great characters and fans were delighted! Each member of the cast had something unique about their personality to enjoy and to distinguish them from one another.

Related to that, several readers described Lucian as a compelling love interest and said that Firebolt’s romance made their hearts flutter.

Negative Comments

What did critics say about Firebolt? Typically, these readers fell into one of two camps: one camp didn’t enjoy Elena as a protagonist, while the other thought the romance between her and Lucian wasn’t convincing.

According to these critics, Elena came across as immature and self-pitying. Because of this, they found themselves irritated with her as the story progressed.

This also made it difficult for them to accept the romance between her and Lucian. Critics struggled to see what they saw in the other that made them so magnetic.

Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw


When a high-ranking officer gallops into the quiet Mistyvales, he brings a warning that shakes the countryfolk to their roots. But for Aedan, a scruffy young adventurer with veins full of fire and a head full of ideas, this officer is not what he seems. 

The events that follow propel Aedan on a journey that only the foolhardy or desperate would risk, leading him to the gates of the nation’s royal academy – a whole world of secrets in itself. 

But this is only the beginning of his discoveries. Something is stirring in the land, something more ominous than the rising threat of hostile nations.

Fearful travellers whisper of an ancient power breathing over Thirna, changing it, waking it. In the very heart of these stirrings, Aedan encounters that which defies belief, leaving him speechless with terror – and wonder. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.35

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Fifth on our list of fantasy books with schools is Dawn of Wonder. Inspired by classic fantasy coming of age tales, this novel delighted readers with a compelling story and lovable characters. 

Fans often said that the novel’s pace was excellent as well, drawing them into action, character-development moments and world-building experiences with graceful ease. 

Many also praised the story itself, saying that it was a powerful and epic adventure. Several of their favorite fantasy book elements featured in the novel: daring escapades, ancient mysteries and charming humor.

With likable characters leading the way, these readers flew through the pages, eager to see what would happen next. 

Negative Comments

In terms of what critics said, most tended to say that Dawn of Wonder struck them as a relatively standard fantasy book. These readers said that they had this impression in terms of the plot as well as the characters.  

Slayers by C. J. Hill


Book Cover of Slayers by C.J. Hill

Sixteen-year-old Tori Hampton may be a socialite and a senator’s daughter, but she’s certainly more than just a pretty face. She’s smart and tough and surprisingly good at outdoor sports.

For as long as she can remember, Tori always had a secret obsession with dragons. And now that she’s attending Dragon Camp for the summer, she can’t wait to indulge her inner fascination.

But unbeknownst to Tori, this is no ordinary camp. This is a camp for Slayers — a handful of teens descended from the original knights. And with new dragon eggs about to hatch, the time for the Slayers to save the world is now.

Danger awaits, romance beckons, and their very survival is at stake.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.10

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with schools is Slayers. This novel intrigued readers with its vibrant blend of knights, dragon-slaying and a ‘fish out of water’ modern protagonist.

Speaking of the protagonist, Tori often surprised readers by how likable she was. While the novel convincingly portrays her as the spoiled, privileged daughter of a senator it promises, Tori had more to her than just that. She was also tough, quick-thinking and able to grow out of her flaws.

Readers remarked that she came across as a well-fleshed out character who, despite being an especially gifted lead character, had weaknesses as well.

Others mentioned that while they liked Tori, the entire cast delighted them. These readers thought each one had something different and interesting to add to the story overall and played off of each other nicely.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Slayers, what did they say? Mostly, these readers thought that the book stayed too close to YA conventions even with its refreshing twists.

For instance, these readers mentioned that the gap between Tori’s power levels and the rest of the cast’s seemed excessive. Because of this, she came across to them as a standard over-powered YA protagonist.

Others pointed to the love triangle as what took away from the reading experience. Part of this was because love triangles have become a staple in YA, but another was that they thought the romance lacked authentic chemistry.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss


My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life.

I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature — the story of a hero told in his own voice.

It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.54

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with schools is The Name of the Wind. This coming of age novel has legions of raving fans. In fact, as of this writing, 69% of Goodreads reviewers rated this story a 5.

Why did this story captivate so many people? Readers suggested that its power came from a convergence of several great strengths. First off, fans praised the nuance and believably of the main character’s, Kvothe’s, point of view.

Kvothe felt real and so very human to these readers, who immediately bonded with him. They described The Name of the Wind‘s character portrayal and development as incredible.

Other readers pointed to the story’s simultaneously intricate and expansive world-building, as well as the poetic prose used to describe it. The Name of the Wind details legends, religions, magic systems and more in a vivid and engaging manner. All of this happened without ‘info-dumping’ on or confusing readers.

Negative Comments

If so many readers adored The Name of the Wind, what made readers who didn’t feel this way?

Those who didn’t enjoy the book had two main reasons. The first was that they came into the story expecting a fast-paced, thrilling ride with clear direction and purpose. Instead, The Name of the Wind is a character-driven story that focuses on immersing the reader in its characters and world. Because of this, critics described the story as slow and found themselves asking, ‘Where is this story going?’

The second main reason had to do with the main character, Kvothe. Unlike fans, critics simply didn’t like him.

Some attributed this to his extraordinary skills, which spanned multiple disciplines. At some point, they thought that this wasn’t just unrealistic, but irritating. Kvothe stopped seeming like character to them and started seeming like a wish-fulfillment tool.

Along the same lines, another reason these critics cited was Kvothe’s character flaws. It wasn’t that he had flaws that bothered them; instead, these readers were frustrated because they didn’t feel that Kvothe’s arrogance was portrayed as a negative. Either that, or it didn’t have negative consequences.

Instead, they saw it as another instance of the story unduly favoring him.

Shadowspell Academy by K. F. Breene and Shannon Mayer


You Don’t Choose The Academy. The Academy Chooses You. 

I had no idea how those words would change my life. Or how they’d changed my life already… 

Until the day the most dangerous man I’ve ever met waltzed onto my farm and left us a death sentence. 

In an invitation. 

My younger brother has been chosen for the prestigious, secret magical school hidden within the folds of our mundane world. A place so dangerous, they don’t guarantee you’ll make it out alive. 

If he doesn’t go our entire family will be killed. 

It’s the same invitation my older brother received three years ago — the same place he mysteriously died. 

The academy has already killed one sibling. I’ll be damned if they take another. 

I do the only thing an older sister can: chop off my hair, strap on two bras to flatten the girls, and take my brother’s place. 

Magic and monsters are real. Assassins are coming for me, and the dead are prone to rise. What’s a girl faking it as a boy supposed to do? That’s right — beat the academy at its own game. 

Or die trying. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.00

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another entry on our list of fantasy books with schools is Shadowspell Academy. Fans who loved this book praised it for its wonderful main character and page-turning story.

In particular, they often mentioned that the protagonist was entertaingly witty, selfless and brave. Seeing how she dealt with a world full of danger, mystery, twists and turns riveted them.

Overall, readers described the story as fast-paced, action-packed and wrought with tension.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers had two reasons they didn’t enjoy the story.

The first was that they didn’t connect with the protagonist. Critics’ comments tended to focus on her motivations, saying that her actions would often contradict what the reader had been led to believe was important to her.

The second was that the intriguing aspect of the protagonist forced to stay in disguise didn’t have enough suspense. Several of them said that it seemed unnecessary, especially because several key characters knew the truth. As a result, several of them felt that it was contrived.

Foundation by Mercedes Lackey


Mags had been working at the Pieters’s mine, slaving in the dark, cold seams, looking for sparklies, for as long as he could remember. The children who worked the mine were orphans, kids who had been abandoned, who had lost their parents, or were generally unwanted. But Mags was different.

Mags was “Bad Blood,” because his parents were bandits who had been killed in a raid by the Royal Guard. “Bad Blood” because he’d been found in a cradle in the bandits’s camp. Blood so bad that no one had wanted to take him in except Cole Pieters.

When he was big enough to see over the sides of the sluices he had gone to work at the mine. Mags knew nothing of the world beyond the mine, and was unaware of how unusual his paltry existence was. Then some strangers on huge white horses forced their way past the Pieters family and carried him away to Haven to become a Herald Trainee.

Suddenly the whole world opened up for him. He was warm and well fed for the first time in his life, and he had Dallen, his Companion, who seemed more miraculous than an angel. But the world of the Collegium was not all heavenly.

There was political upheaval in Valdemar’s capital, for the court had been infiltrated by foreign “diplomats,” who seemed to be more interested in seeding discontent than in actual diplomacy…and Mags seemed to be the only one who’d noticed.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.01

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with schools is Foundation by Mercedes Lackey. This story enchanted fans, stirring their emotions through its immersive world and endearing protagonist, Mags.

Readers praised the novel for its characters’ depth, saying that the characters seemed so real that readers felt transported alongside them. Others said that Mags’ perspective made them appreciate the simple things in life, especially as he discovers them for the first time.

Overall, fans described Foundation as perfect for those looking for a warm, feel-good book to read.

Negative Comments

What did Foundation‘s critics say? These readers pointed to either its plot or its ending. They frequently said that the book focused too heavily on character development and this caused its plot to meander. By the time they reached the end, critics thought it seemed rushed.

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda


Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone — even the lowborn — a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries.

Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in.

And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves…or step up to be the champion her city needs.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.13

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another one of our fantasy books with schools is Fireborne. Fans reported that this YA fantasy novel bristled with constant suspense, excitement and twists. Reading about the characters’ journey from raw recruits to powerful warriors engrossed them.

Those who love dragons also praised the book for its portrayal of these creatures. On one hand, they’re companions and battle partners. But on the other, they’re symbols of the state’s political and military power – for good or for ill.

Speaking of politics, many readers mentioned that the story’s more nuanced portrayal of regime-change, its thorny conundrums and implementation challenges, made this story a treat.

Negative Comments

While Fireborne had its fans, it also had its critics. So, what did they say?

The most common reason critics didn’t enjoy the novel was that they didn’t think the dragons were given enough focus. The story may have them, but Annie and Lee – the human protagonists – and their relationship with each other took center stage. The dragons, critics said, struck them as scenery rather than characters in their own right.

Others mentioned that they found the romance between Annie and Lee dissatisfying. These readers either didn’t find them convincing as a couple or just didn’t feel strongly enough about the relationship to root for it.

The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima


Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it’s not his attitude that’s the problem: it’s the trail of magical accidents – lately, disasters – that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained, and his powers are escalating out of control.

After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys’ school on the coast of Maine. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards.

But Seph’s enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students’ powers to serve his own mysterious agenda.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.14

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with schools is The Wizard Heir. Full of suspense, this novel gripped fans with its mixture of favorite story elements and a sympathetic main character.

Many praised the book for having it all: adventure, magic, action and a touch of romance. 

Aside from that, the story kept readers on the edge of their seat, wondering what would happen to the characters. Seph’s struggle for survival and bravery made him both compelling and someone they wanted to see triumph. Many mentioned how attached they became to him and how they came to admire him. 

Negative Comments

As for critics, these readers tended to say that the story either came across to them as melodramatic or that that the characters weren’t well-fleshed out. Because of this, they found it difficult to get invested in Seph or his story.

Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call


You’ve heard the story before: an orphaned boy, raised by a wise old man, comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil threatening his world.

But what if that hero were destined to become the new dark lord?

The Academy of Chaenbalu has stood against magic for centuries. Hidden from the world, acting from the shadows, it trains its students to detect and retrieve magic artifacts, which it jealously guards from the misuse of others. Because magic is dangerous: something that heals can also harm, and a power that aids one person may destroy another.

Of the academy’s many students, only the most skilled can become avatars — warrior thieves, capable of infiltrating the most heavily guarded vaults — and only the most determined can be trusted to resist the lure of magic. More than anything, Annev de Breth wants to become one of them.

But Annev carries a secret. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents’ killers.

Seventeen years later, he struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When Annev is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy’s masters, he must finally decide whether to accept the truth of who he really is…or embrace the darker truth of what he may one day become.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.94

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with schools is Master of Shadows. Fans loved its unique combination of story elements, saying that the book gave them a delicious mixture of epic fantasy, a school setting and plot full of intrigue.

Many readers said that Annev, the protagonist, and Sodar, his mentor, were excellently portrayed. They also delighted readers through their wonderful mentor-and-apprentice relationship, coming across as like a father and son.

While Annev’s growth treated readers to a moving coming of age tale, his relationship with Sodar added a strong emotional punch to Master of Shadows.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers tended to say that they had difficulty connecting to Annev as a protagonist.

Most of them said it was because he frequently made foolish and naïve decisions, despite growing up in a harsh world. As such, these readers gradually became frustrated with him.

Fledgling by Nicole Conway


When Jaevid Broadfeather is given the rare opportunity to become a dragonrider for the king’s army, the 15-year-old boy has no idea that he is part of a conspiracy that will rock the very foundations of the kingdom.

Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage.

He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy — a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal.

But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline.

Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night.

When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.07

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Fledgling is another one of our fantasy books with schools that readers praised. If you’re looking for a fantasy book that adults, young adults and tweens can enjoy, readers said that this novel is it.

A mixture of an underdog story and a coming of age tale, readers found themselves inspired and rooting for Jaevid and his dragon throughout the story. In particular, they praised the heartwarming relationship between the two.

By the end of the book, they were eager to hear more about the pair’s adventures.

Negative Comments

What did readers say if they didn’t enjoy the book? A few of them commented that Fledgling had uneven pacing. Sometimes, critics said, the story seemed to jump ahead too quickly. At other times, it seemed too slow.

On the other hand, others said that they found aspects of the story unconvincing. For example, the training scenes seemed artificially harsh to meet an expected fantasy trope, rather than for practical reasons.

Novice Dragoneer by E. E. Knight


In the first book in an exciting and charming new coming-of-age fantasy series from the author of the Age of Fire series, an impoverished girl enters into a military order of dragonriders, but her path won’t be as easy or as straightforward as she expected.

Fourteen-year-old Ileth grew up in an orphanage, and thanks to her stutter was never thought to be destined for much beyond kitchen work and cleaning. But she’s dreamed of serving with the dragons ever since a childhood meeting with a glittering silver dragon and its female dragoneer.

For years she waits, and as soon as she is old enough to join, Ileth runs away to become a novice dragoneer at the ancient human-dragon fortress of the Serpentine.

While most of her fellow apprentices are from rich and influential families, Ileth must fight for her place in the world, even if it includes a duel with her boss at the fish-gutting table. She’s then sent off to the dragon-dancers after a foolish kiss with a famously named boy and given charge of a sickly old dragon with a mysterious past.

But she finds those trials were nothing when she has to take the place of a dead dragoneer and care for his imprisoned dragon in enemy lands…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.08

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with schools is Novice Dragoneer. This novel captured fans’ hearts with its likable protagonist, Ileth, and its intriguing portrayal of dragons.

Ileth struck readers as a courageous, strong-willed main character, one determined to succeed despite all those fighting against her. Several mentioned how refreshing it was that her strength didn’t come from her skills as a warrior, but her ability to persevere to achieve her dreams. As such, these readers found her journey inspiring.

In addition, other fans said that the story’s portrayal of dragons and how the world was impacted by them was excellent. Many described themselves as feeling the same sense of awe and excitement that Ileth did the more she learned about individual dragons as well as the story’s dragon-influenced culture.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics and Novice Dragoneer is no exception. For the most part, these readers either focused on the plot’s pace or the novel’s handling of sexual harassment.

In terms of the former, several critics came in expecting an action-adventure, whereas Novice Dragoneer centers more on Ileth’s personal growth. 

For the latter: when Ileth is sexually harassed, her classmates and teachers blame her instead of the perpetrators. Critics thought that this injustice wasn’t addressed strongly enough. As such, they thought the book glossed over the issue.

The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan


“We should expect this young woman to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician.”

This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work -— until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders…and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.

What the Magicians’ Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.95

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Last on our list of fantasy books with schools is The Magician’s Guild.

This novel delighted fans with its likable, intriguing protagonist and exciting plot. They reported that while the beginning of the book took its time, it suddenly gained lighting-fast pace. At that point, every moment exhilarated them.

Fans also mentioned how much they enjoyed all the characters, all of whom were distinct and fleshed out the dynamics of the cast. However, Sonea, the protagonist, was often their favorite.

While gifted, Sonea also came across to them as kind, brave and realistic. Despite her immense powers, she wasn’t flawless and was instead easy to relate to.

Negative Comments

What did critics say about The Magician’s Guild?

Overall, these readers said they either didn’t connect with the characters or that they thought that the story’s world was thinly developed.

For the former, some said Sonea frustrated them because she tended to be a reactive protagonist rather than a proactive one. Her stubbornness and distrust, as well, reached the point where it bothered them. 

In terms of the story’s world though, critics described it as painted with too many generalizations. For instance, they described the story as defining entire character groups as either heroes or villains because of the actions of a single one of their members. Because of this, these critics thought the world-building was unconvincing.

15 Best Fantasy Books With Schools and Academies

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?

15 Best Fantasy Books With Schools and Academies


N.S. Mirage

I'm Natalie, an avid fantasy reader here to help readers find exciting, otherworldly books.

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