20 Best Fantasy Books With Training and Learning

Are you searching for fantasy books where training and learning are important aspects of the story?

If so, whether it come in the form of sword-fighting, magic, poisons, politics or another, this post will have something for you.

Here are the 20 best fantasy books with training and learning:

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.

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

First on our list of fantasy books with training 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.

A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr


In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins.

Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins–but in secret and shadow.

As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.23

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Second on our list of fantasy books with training is A Cast of Stones. Fans praised this book, saying that it bristled with exciting fight scenes and an equally compelling plot.

Others mentioned that Errol’s growth – from broke drunk to expert sword-wielder – was strong. Not only did they say his development felt realistic, but he came across as a likable and easy to empathize with.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Over all, readers who didn’t rate A Cast of Stones highly said that they found the plot too predictable.

On the other hand, others said that they either found the female characters underdeveloped or that they were noticably missing in the cast.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder


Choose: A quick deathor slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace — and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust — and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.15

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Third on our list of fantasy books with training is Poison Study, where the protagonist trains in poisons and food-tasting.

Fans often remarked this story delivered on its exciting premise and featured a main character, Yelena, who was full of moral and psychological depth.

In addition to that, they were delighted that that the romantic chemistry between the tenacious Yelena and Valek, the stoic assassin, was gripping.

Negative Comments

On the other hand, critics said that the language of the story jarred them by alternating between older ‘historical’ verbiage and a modern one.

Along a similar vein, it also tended to be straight to the point – some readers felt that it made the emotions in the story feel flat. Others said that the slow-burn approach to the romance wasn’t their preferred style.

House of Blades by Will Wright


Simon can only watch, helpless, as his family is killed and his friends captured by enemy Travelers — men and women who can summon mystical powers from otherworldly Territories. To top it off, another young man from Simon’s village discovers that he’s a savior prophesied to destroy evil and save the realm.

Prophecy has nothing to say about Simon. He has no special powers, no magical weapons, and no guarantee that he’ll survive. But he sets off anyway, alone, to gain the power he needs to oppose the Travelers and topple their ruthless Overlord. It may not be his destiny, but Simon’s determined to rescue his fellow villagers from certain death.

Because who cares about prophecy, really?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.09

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Fourth on our fantasy books with training is House of Blades by Will Wright. This fast-paced novel twists the ‘Chosen One’ trope – and fans loved it!

Many readers enthused over Simon, the story’s protagonist. They described him as a wonderful lead, saying he was likable, tenacious and sympathetic underdog. Fans found themselves cheering for him to get the recognition he deserved. 

They also added that the magic system in the book fascinated them. Because of its uniqueness and the story’s fast pace, the training scenes were a treat.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers focused on the plot and the characters. Several of them mentioned that the plot seemed disconnected, more like a series of episodes. Others said that the characters didn’t seem well-drawn. Some said that this was because the characters had unclear motivations for their actions, or that Simon doesn’t personally develop much. 

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 training 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.  

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison


The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it.

But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody.

Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor.

All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.04

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Coming up on our list of fantasy books with training is The Goblin Emperor. Rather than an action-packed tale about battles and wars, this story captivated readers with court intrigue and a coming of age story.

Readers praised the book for giving them Maia, the kindhearted main character. Especially given the current slew of grim dark fantasy novels around, he stood out to them as a refreshing change.

He’s a noble and heroic character that they immediately bonded with and wanted to see succeed. In particular, his efforts to improve his new kingdom him and serve his people endeared him to them.

Other readers mentioned the world-building. Some mentioned the nuanced way characters spoke to each other, which took into account the social standing of the person they conversed with. Others mentioned the description of court life. But in either case, readers thought the world was fascinating and vividly realized.

Negative Comments

So why didn’t critics like The Goblin Emperor? Overall, readers tended to cite either the plot or the way the author used language to portray court life.

In terms of the plot, critics said that it meandered: there didn’t seem to be a connecting thread between the events or an ultimate point the plot drove toward.

Others, though, were frustrated by the terminology the story used in its dialogue. For instance, Maia would use the royal ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ to refer to himself when he acted in the capacity of a monarch. While this was and is standard protocol for kings and queens, it nevertheless was too off-putting for critics.

Similarly, some were either confused or bothered by how the story used both ‘you’ (formal second person) and ‘thou’ (informal second person). While there’s a historical basis for using the terms, these readers found it grating.

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn


Book cover of Across the Nightingale Floor

In his black-walled fortress at Inuyama, the warlord Iida Sadamu surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard.

The youth Takeo has been brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people who have taught him only the ways of peace.

But unbeknownst to him, his father was a celebrated assassin and a member of the Tribe, an ancient network of families with extraordinary, preternatural skills.

When Takeo’s village is pillaged, he is rescued and adopted by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru. Under the tutelage of Shigeru, he learns that he too possesses the skills of the Tribe. And, with this knowledge, he embarks on a journey that will lead him across the famed nightingale floor — and to his own unimaginable destiny… 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.06

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with training is Across the Nightingale Floor, which stars a main character who trains to become an unbeatable assassin.

This book transported readers into its world through its beautiful, evocative atmosphere. As for its story, fans praised the book for being both heartfelt and brutal.

A coming of age novel, it features plenty of assassination training and lessons, which these readers loved. They also mentioned that while the main characters are teenagers, the storytelling and themes made it more of an adult-targeted fantasy novel than a Young Adult one.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t give Across the Nightingale Floor a high rating, they had two consistent comments.

The first was that they didn’t like the fact that the romance between the two protagonists started with love at first sight. As the story progressed, it didn’t develop much beyond that.

The second comment readers made was that they wanted an even stronger portrayal of Japanese culture. These readers came into the reading experience saying that they expected a historical fiction setting. Instead, they came across the supernatural elements and found it jarring.

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence


I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

Book cover of Red Sister

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth.

Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out.

Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive… 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.26

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with training is Red Sister. This novel’s fans raved about the fascinating concept of warrior nuns and the story’s immersive school setting.

They mentioned that all the familiar adolescent coming of age elements they loved featured in the story. The girls experience friendship, betrayal, bitter competition and more. Moreover, despite a large cast of characters, they said that the girls and women that made it up felt three-dimensional.

Readers also praised Mark Lawrence’s evocative prose. The story features the author’s trademark grit and violence – one that pulls no punches toward its child-aged characters – but readers said they were impressed by its dramatic and lyrical writing style.

Negative Comments

So if readers didn’t enjoy Red Sister, what did they say? Well, these readers remarked that Red Sister was a coming of age story set in a training and school setting.

It was precisely this that bothered them: these readers generally didn’t enjoy stories centered around that particular subject matter. For them, reading about the girls training, studying and having classes wasn’t interesting.

But if a mismatch between reader expectations and the book’s subject matter wasn’t at play, readers occasionally commented that they didn’t feel invested in Nona, the main character. These readers found that other characters in the cast more interesting and said that she would have made a better supporting character.

Joust by Mercedes Lackey


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 training 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.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik


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 training 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.

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks


For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted.

As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.15

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments 

If readers enjoyed The Way of Shadows, they often praised the story’s fast-pace and gritty, brutal setting. All of this was done without glamorizing the violence and cruelty of Azoth’s world. Rather, it was done through a sober lens that fans found emotionally powerful.

These readers also remarked on how much they liked the characters. On one had, the book features character types familiar to them. However, it gave each of these characters nuance through their personal and moral struggles.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? In general, readers who didn’t rate The Way of Shadows highly said that the story’s of familiar character types made the characters too similar to other fantasy stories.

Apart from that, others mentioned that they thought that the book’s plain writing style made it difficult to get drawn into the story.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini


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

Next up is Eragon, an epic fantasy book where the protagonist trains to become a dragon-rider. This story is known for taking beloved fantasy elements and mixing 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 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 Lord of the Rings and Star Wars frustrated critics. Whereas ‘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.

The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon


Paksenarrion wasn’t planning to submit to an unwelcome marriage and a lifetime of poverty, so she left her village with a plan and her grandfather’s sword. And a few weeks later, she was installed as Duke Phelan’s newest recruit in a company of soldiers for hire, her arms training about to begin.

But when Paks sees combat, she’s stabbed with an ensorcelled knife and barely survives. Then the near-misses start mounting up, raising questions about this young fighter. Is she attracting evil because she is a danger to them all? Or is there another reason malignant forces seek her life?

Paks will face the spider-minions of the Webmistress Achrya, orcs and the corrupted men who serve blood mage Liart, Master of Torments.

She will also earn the gratitude of elves and of her Duke. And through conflict she will learn she has powers of her own and a destiny.

To become a gods-chosen Paladin of Gird, and a target for the ultimate torture.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.30

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with training is The Deed of Paksenarrion. This is a compilation of three different books centering around Paksenarrion (Paks), who trains to become a soldier and, eventually, as paladin.

Readers reported that author Elizabeth Moon’s background as a Marine shone through. The details she included brought Paksenarrion’s training, camaraderie between the soldiers and trials to life in a fascinating and believable way.

Moreover, readers said that this made Paksenarrion and her upright character even more admirable. Her sincere righteousness, several readers said, was what one of the strongest reasons why they appreciated and bonded with her.

In addition, fans praised the book for its deep and hope-filled take on pain and suffering. Rather than only break and embitter a person, The Deed of Paksenarrion shows how pain and suffering can instead shape one into a better and stronger individual.

Readers applauded the book for its portrayal, especially since the fantasy genre has a reputation for making its ‘knight in shining armor’ characters bland.

Because they were weathering difficult situations in their own lives, some fans even mentioned that Paksenarrion’s struggles and eventual triumph here was particularly meaningful for them.

Negative Comments

What did readers who didn’t enjoy The Deed of Paksensarrion say?

Critics generally said one of two things. Firstly, they said they didn’t feel enough of a connection to Paksenarrion.

Originally published in the 1980s, the novel uses a narration style that puts more emotional distance between the reader and the book’s characters. As such, these readers said that it was difficult to get a sense of Paksenarrion’s personality and emotions. Rather than experiencing her story with her, it seemed they were watching her move through it.

Secondly, critics said that the book’s descriptions lasted too long. On one hand, they agreed that the author’s background as a Marine gave each scene she wrote a great sense of realism. But on the other, they said it eventually bogged down the story.

Combined with the distance they felt toward Paksenarrion, this resulted in readers saying the book seemed episodic rather than a seamlessly progressing story.

Stiger’s Tigers by Marc Alan Edelheit


A nobleman from an infamous family, Ben Stiger finds himself freshly assigned to Third Legion, Seventh Company as a lowly lieutenant in the opening stages of war between the Empire and the Kingdom of the Rivan.

Third Legion has been tasked with pursuing a retreating Rivan army back to the border where the Empire can take the fight into enemy territory. However, a major obstacle stands in Third Legion’s path: the river Hana. The crossing is sure to be contested and dangerous.

Should Third Legion fail to force a crossing, the entire campaign could grind to a disastrous halt. 

This is Stiger’s first military appointment. Inexperienced, young and unsure of himself, Stiger is ostracized by his fellow lieutenants. Worse, he’s been placed under the command of an incompetent officer.

With life and reputation on the line, he must learn to understand men far beneath his station and lead them into battle. Stiger struggles not only against the enemy, but against his family’s history and his own side to prove himself worthy of serving the empire he loves and earning the respect of the men he leads. 

Set amidst the backdrop of an epic war, there are greater forces at work than the young Stiger can even begin to imagine, setting him on the dangerous and lonely path of destiny. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.20

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another one of our fantasy books with training is Stiger’s Tigers, where Stiger trains as a lieutenant and also trains an army.

First of all, readers praised this book for its Roman-inspired setting and ability to transport them into its world. Rarely seen in fantasy, this blend of ancient Rome as well as elves, dwarves and more excited readers.

Moreover, they reported that the book sports convincing and intriguing details on Roman military tactics and warfare. Readers who loved military-centric fantasy in particular found this a treat!

Others remarked that this character-focused fantasy book is full of fascinating characters and conflicts between them. Stiger, the protagonist, immediately won them over with his no-nonsense attitude and strong sense of honor and duty. The odds are stacked against him, especially with a treacherous leadership, and readers rooted for him the entire way.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Stiger’s Tigers, what did they say?

Typically, critics expected pulse-pounding battles to riddle the book. Instead, the majority of the novel focused on Stiger’s trials as he won the respect of his soldiers and trained this ragtag group for war.

As such, these readers tended to think that the story’s pacing was slow and that it didn’t have enough action overall. Some of them arrived at the end of the novel with the impression that the book read more like a prequel.

Fatemarked by David Estes


They are the fatemarked.

Misunderstood. Worshiped. Hated. Murdered at birth.

Their time to step into the light has come.

An ancient prophecy foretold their coming, the chosen few who will bring peace to a land embroiled in a century of mistrust and war. When kings start dying, that hope and belief swiftly turns to fear.

Roan Loren is one of the fatemarked, but has hidden his mark of power his entire life, fearing the damage it might cause to those around him.

A great evil is coming. He can’t hide anymore.

In the spirit of fantasy epics like Throne of Glass and The Lord of the Rings, enter a world of magic and dragons, kings and queens, and victory and defeat, during a time when honor and valor still meant something. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.03

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with training is Fatemarked. This fast-paced novel won fans for its epic story line, rich world-building, and captivating characters. Readers mentioned how distinct the character cast was, with each having their own personality and relatability.

Others mentioned that even as the story developed the characters and its world, it also had plenty of action and electrifying battles. This kept the book moving at an intense and thrilling pace the entire time.

Negative Comments

In general, critics of Fatemarked said that the overall tone of the story or its characters. For the former, they described the book as too bleak and heavy. This depress them enough that they didn’t want to continue reading.

In terms of the latter, these readers suggested that the novel’s dialogue and characters came across as either bland or geared to a younger readership. As such, these critics found it difficult to bond to them or get invested in the story.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb


Book cover of Assassin's Apprentice

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely.

Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship.

But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.16

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with training is Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb.

Readers who loved this book enjoyed the slow burn nature of the story, which focused heavily on character growth and world-building. Although a fantasy book about assassins, Assassin’s Apprentice is primarily the story of a boy growing into adulthood without the love of a family.

As such, Fitz’s journey provoked deep feelings from these readers, who found themselves strongly invested in the characters and sharing their hopes and fears.

In addition, they also remarked that there wasn’t a single character they felt apathetic about. Even though Fitz is the main character, fans said that – whether it was love or hate – they felt something for all the characters in the cast.

Negative Comments

If you’re a reader looking for an action-packed, adrenaline-charged adventure, readers confirmed that Assassin’s Apprentice won’t be your cup of tea.

Expecting action and suspense, readers who didn’t enjoy the novel found its pacing slow. Plenty of tragic events happen in Fitz’ life, but they seemed more like meanderings than building blocks serving a larger narrative purpose.

Others mentioned that Fitz, despite aging around ten years, doesn’t seem to change much character-wise. Readers get to know him, but not see him change or to grow based on what happens. This made it difficult for some of these readers to connect to him.

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima


An epic battle between good and evil…

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers.

Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great – until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us.

At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game – a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind – he’s one of the last of the warriors – at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.94

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

And next on our list of fantasy books with training is The Warrior Heir. This fantasy novel tantalized fans with its blend of a likable protagonist, action, and a world similar to our own but with intriguing twists. 

In particular, readers were fascinated by the magic system and world-building in The Warrior Heir, saying that the powers the various guilds had and how they vied for power was refreshingly different.

Aside from that many praised the story for its overall epic feel, along with non-stop suspense and adventure.  

Negative Comments

So what did critics say about The Warrior Heir?

Overall, these readers said that the book had several noticeable character types and common plot tropes. Because of this, they thought the story came across as bland and couldn’t get invested in it.

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

Next on our list of fantasy books with training 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. 

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams


A war fueled by the powers of dark sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard — for Prester John, the High King, lies dying.

And with his death, the Storm King, the undead ruler of the elf-like Sithi, seizes the chance to regain his lost realm through a pact with the newly ascended king.

Knowing the consequences of this bargain, the king’s younger brother joins with a small, scattered group of scholars, the League of the Scroll, to confront the true danger threatening Osten Ard. 

Simon, a kitchen boy from the royal castle unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League, will be sent on a quest that offers the only hope of salvation, a deadly riddle concerning long-lost swords of power.

Compelled by fate and perilous magics, he must leave the only home he’s ever known and face enemies more terrifying than Osten Ard has ever seen, even as the land itself begins to die.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.95

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another one of our fantasy books with training is The Dragonbone Chair. This fantasy book captivated readers with its rich world-building and great characters.

Consistently, fans described the story’s world as grand and intricate, with each page bringing new lore and depth. The setting seemed to come alive, making them eager to know more.

Other fans praised The Dragonbone Chair for its character development. Simon, the protagonist, grows from what readers occasionally described as a petulant child to a mature warrior. Compelling and believable, this gradual change in Simon kept readers turning the pages.

Many mentioned how attached they became to him and how this made each trial and victory in the novel far more gripping and meaningful.

Negative Comments

What did readers who didn’t enjoy The Dragonbone Chair say? Overall, critics focused on the book’s pacing.

They characterized the book as slow, with a barrage of descriptions centered on small details and long explanations.

Along a similar note, these readers also tended to say that the plot suffered because of this: it came across as meandering and plodding.

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

And last on our list of fantasy books with training 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.

20 Best Fantasy Books With Training and Learning

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?

20 Best Fantasy Books With Training and Learning


N.S. Mirage

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

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