22 Exciting Fantasy Books With Action and Adventure


Paired with electric-fast pacing, fantasy books with action promise thrills and adventure. Are you on the look out for stories like this?

If so, this list could have your next great read.

Here are 22 exciting fantasy books with action and adventure:

I’ve included book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments for each book below. 

On the other hand, if you’d like a quick summary, here’s a comparison chart.



The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

Description

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 

First on our list of fantasy books with action is The Way of Shadows. If readers enjoyed this novel, they often praised the story’s fast-pace and gritty and brutal setting. Yet at the same time, it didn’t glamorize the violence and cruelty of Azoth’s world.

Readers also commented that Weeks took character types familiar to them and gave the characters nuance through their personal and moral struggles.

Negative Comments 

Readers who didn’t rate The Way of Shadows highly commented that they thought Weeks’ use of familiar character types made the characters too similar to other fantasy stories.

On the other hand, others mentioned that they thought that Weeks’ plain writing style made it difficult to get drawn into the story.


Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Description

Where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. Criminal mastermind Kelsier teaches Allomancy, the magic of metals, to another Mistborn, urchin Vin 16.

The unlikely heroine is distracted by rich Venture heir Elend. Can Kelsier’s thieving crew take on the tyrant Lord Ruler and bring back color to their world?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.45

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Second on our list of fantasy books with action is Mistborn. Readers described this novel as having elements of and an air of mystery to it that they found delightful.

Moreover, Brandon Sanderson has a reputation for unique magic systems, and this story features just that. The refreshing system of Allomancy delighted fans, many of whom praised how thoroughly it was developed.

Other readers raved about Vin’s exciting journey from distrusting and quiet street urchin to confident and ferocious assassin. They described her growth as authentic and compelling, while also praising her well fleshed-out character along the way.

On a similar note, readers also thoroughly enjoyed Vin and Kelsier’s mentor/mentee relationship. He and Vin’s interactions, fans said, were one of the highlights of the story.

Negative Comments

Not everyone enjoyed Mistborn. These readers said that while the world-building impressed them, they thought the story was slow. The crew’s plans proceed in a rather straightforward manner, while critics hoped for more conflict or complications.

Others expressed disappointment that more female characters didn’t feature in the crew or take part in the revolution overall. While these readers appreciated Vin as the main character, it struck them as unrealistic.


The Goblin Wars by Stuart Thaman

Description

A city without a king, a paladin forsaken by his god, and goblins just beyond the horizon… 

Lady Scrapple lurks in the depths of Kanebullar Mountain, building her army of mindless slaves and waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

As the final pieces are about to fall into place and secure her victory, an anomaly is born. A single goblin stands free of Lady Scrapple’s iron-clad hive mind. 

A few miles west of Kanebullar Mountain, the frontier city of Talonrend perches dangerously on the edge of anarchy. King Lucius Firesbane has disappeared without an heir and left the city leaderless. 

In the face of chaos, one man sets out to find his king. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.76

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

The third story on our list of fantasy books with action is The Goblin Wars. This book delighted readers with its protagonists and unique spin on goblins.

Fans reported that the main characters, in particular, were easy to bond with. As the chapters progressed, the novel revealed new layers to them that made readers eager to hear the rest of their story.

They also mentioned that while goblins might be common fantasy creatures, The Goblin Wars makes them fresh. In particular, readers said that the way the story fleshed out the concept of goblins as part of a hive mind fascinated them.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy The Goblin Wars, what did they say?

Interestingly, critics said the opposite to fans in regards to the characters: they thought that they weren’t nuanced enough. To them, the characters came across as shallow.

A few readers attributed this to the story’s fast-pace. They generally said that because so much happened, there wasn’t enough breathing room to explore the characters.


For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones

Description

A cross between Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber and The Three Musketeers, For the Killing of Kings is the first in a new fantasy trilogy by Howard Andrew Jones.

Their peace was a fragile thing, but it had endured for seven years, mostly because the people of Darassus and the king of the Naor hordes believed his doom was foretold upon the edge of the great sword hung in the hall of champions. Unruly Naor clans might raid across the border, but the king himself would never lead his people to war so long as the blade remained in the hands of his enemies.

But when squire Elenai‘s aging mentor uncovers evidence that the sword in their hall is a forgery, she’s forced to flee Darassus for her life, her only ally the reckless, disillusioned Kyrkenall the archer.

Framed for murder and treason, pursued by the greatest heroes of the realm, they race to recover the real sword, only to stumble into a conspiracy that leads all the way back to the Darassan queen and her secretive advisers.

They must find a way to clear their names and set things right, all while dodging friends determined to kill them – and the Naor hordes, invading at last with a new and deadly weapon.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.22

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

With a fascinating murder mystery and world-building revealed layer by layer, it isn’t hard to see why readers might love For the Killing of Kings.

Readers also enthused over the odd couple dynamic between the lead characters: one, an idealistic and promising recruit and the other a grizzled, frequently drunk veteran.

Negative Comments

So what did readers say if For the Killing of Kings wasn’t for them? Well, several commented that it was the large number of fight scenes. Action sequences populate the novel, which these readers found themselves skimming rather than immersed in.


Trial of Stone by Andy Peloquin

Description

A kingdom of death. A war for power and profit. Young heroes caught in the crossfire.

Book cover of Trial of Stone

Kodyn expected hardships along his journey to return a kidnapped girl to her father.  Yet harsh deserts and cutthroat bandits prove far less lethal than the foes that await him in Shalandra, the City of the Dead.

In the shadows of golden spires carved from mountain stone, currents of corruption and vice run deep. Priests of the god of death rule with an iron fist, imposing a rigid caste system that elevates some to a life of privilege and condemns others to miserable squalor.

Together with Aisha, a fierce warrior from the north with the mystical ability to speak to the dead, Kodyn must survive the cesspool of high society deceit and betrayal.

Polite smiles hide sharp knives. Killers, criminals, and bloodthirsty cultists lurk around every corner. Can these youths overcome impossible odds to save the realm?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads rating: 4.50

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with action is Trial of Stone. Fans adored the emotional moments in the novel, all of which were driven by characters they could easily get invested in. They mentioned that they loved the characters’ interactions with each other, as well as that the characters’ multidimensionality.

Other readers added that the complex plot in the heart-pounding fight scenes were a delight to read.

Negative Comments 

If Trial of Stone wasn’t their cup of tea, readers had a consistent reason: the world-building came across as overly detailed and complicated to them.

They found the people, places and groups difficult to keep straight and weren’t sure which details were important to remember as they read.


Ice Dragon by D. K. Holmberg

Description

When a mysterious stranger brings word of a dragon, Jason’s whole world changes.

The northern mountain village offers protection from the threat of dragons, but is a difficult place, especially for a misfit like Jason Dreshen.

His days are spent hunting for food for his family, praying for warmth, and trying to hide his strange silver eye that grants him dragon sight.

When a stranger visits during the local Freedom Festival searching for a different kind of dragon, everything changes. 

Forced down the mountainside, Jason learns the truth of powers he’d only heard about in rumors. While running from deadly Dragon Souls, he finds he might have more of a connection to magic than only dragon sight.

In order to save himself and stop the Dragon Souls, he must learn a truth about himself that leads him closer to the one thing he fears above all others: dragons. 

Somehow, he might be the only one able to protect them from the Dragon Souls, but how can he protect what he hates?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.33

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Ice Dragon is next on our list, a newer one of our fantasy books about dragons released in late 2019. Fans of this action-packed fantasy tale praised the story overall, saying it was electrified with suspense, intrigue and – of course! – dragons. 

These readers often said that this book is a treat for dragon-lovers. Aside from Ice Dragon‘s adventure plot, the characters won fans over. Their motivations and who they were shone through. Readers often said that the more they read, the more they came to know and like the characters.

Negative Comments

What did critics of Ice Dragon say?

They had two main comments. First was that the book’s beginning was slow. The second was that they had the sense that the characters held back information. This meant that critics either felt that the story’s world could have been explained more, or that the supporting character cast seemed flat.


Honourkeeper by Nick Kyme

Description

In the ancient days of the Old World, long before the time of men, the dwarfs and elves are at the height of their prosperity.

As King Bagrik of the dwarfs and Prince Ithalred of the elves forge a trade pact, a vast horde of northmen attacks the elf settlement.

When King Bagrik’s son is slain, the dwarfs join forces with the elves, eager for vengeance. Can the dwarfs and the elves put aside their differences long enough to prevail over foe?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with action is Honourkeeper. Fans praised this fantasy novel, saying it was a treat for those looking for a story with a living-and-breathing dwarven culture, as well as a plot jam-packed with action, twists and turns. Its a story set completely in a dwarven world, painted in rich and vivid detail.

But aside from that, readers said that Honourkeeper is full of drama, intrigue and grand battles. It’s also one that gives a tragic and treachery-ladden backstory for the classic ‘dwarves vs elves’ enmity. 

Many mentioned how the book gripped their emotions, making them fear for the characters and feel their losses, while also inspiring them with admiration for the dwarves’ heroism.

Negative Comments

So what did critics say?

Overall, critics tended to describe the book as relatively predictable. For instance, much of the book’s plot involves treachery, but these readers saw through the deceptions quickly. As such, they thought Honourkeeper lacked suspense.


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Description

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price — and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker.

Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction — if they don’t kill each other first.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.46

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with action is Six of Crows. Fans praised the story’s a unique character cast, featuring people from all different walks of life. They often said that it added uniqueness to all of the characters, while also introducing themes of class and race.

On the other hand, other readers remarked that they liked how action-packed and full of witty banter the story was.

Negative Comments 

Readers who didn’t rate Six of Crows highly commented that with so many lead characters, it was hard for them to connect with more than one or two.

It also sounded like they thought there were too many elements in the story that made it difficult for them to suspend their disbelief. For instance, these readers often mentioned that the high fear, praise and success Kaz has, even for a criminal prodigy, seemed unfounded.


Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Description

Book Cover of The Gardens of the Moon

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers.

Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead.

But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.88

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

So what did fans of Gardens of the Moon say? These readers frequently praised the author, Steve Erickson, for taking this fantasy story in a different direction than a more Tolkien-like fantasy: while the book has a similar epic feel and scope, it also has a mystery, violence and tragedy to it that appeal to them.

They also mentioned how imaginative they found the story, particularly the world-building, and appreciated how instantly the story threw them into the story of a gigantic war.

Negative Comments

What did readers who didn’t enjoy the novel say?

It turns out that while they agreed that the story was epic in scope, they often felt like that the sheer amount of information they were told meant that they had little idea of what was happening or why it mattered.

In addition, these readers said it was difficult to get emotionally invested in the characters – there were just too many to cover for them to have much development.

Along a similar vein, others mentioned that the dialogue between the characters felt like standard fantasy book talk rather than individualized speaking styles.


Blood of Aenarion by William King

Description

The twins Tyrion and Teclis are the greatest high elf heroes still to walk the earth. They are as different to one another as darkness and light.

Tyrion is an unparalleled swordsman, a superlative warrior and tactician from birth. He inspires courage and loyalty in those around him. Champion of the Everqueen, he is Ulthuan’s greatest protector.

Teclis’s gift is magic. The greatest natural sorcerer of the age, his power rivals that of fabled Caledor. Wise councillor of the high elves, Teclis was amongst those who first taught magic to the race of men and gave them the means to defend themselves against Chaos…

From their humble origin in the wild lands of Chrace, Tyrion and Teclis were meant for a great destiny. They come from the line of Aenarion, the first king of Ulthuan and cursed champion of that magical island…

When the Witch King Malekith learns of the twins’ existence their lives are imperilled and they are taken to Lothern for their protection and to learn the arts of war.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.09

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on the list of fantasy books with action is Blood of Aenarion. This fantasy novel gripped readers with its fast pace and exciting, grand battles.

Even as the story charged ahead at a breakneck pace, readers reported that it provided engaging and developed main characters as well as a character cast consisting of likable heroes and threatening villains.

The story, readers said, was compelling and a fun, familiar ‘sword and sorcery’ tale done right. Once they picked the book up, fans found themselves glued to the pages.

Negative Comments

Critics of Blood of Aenarion didn’t have a unified reason why they didn’t enjoy the book. For the most part, they characterized this as a light, fun read but not one that astounded them.

What if I had to pick a ‘most common’ criticism? If so, I’d say that critics generally thought that the story came across as a standard ‘coming of age’ fantasy. They seemed to expect a familiar tale, but hoped there would be more twists to it.


Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov

Description

An army is gathering; thousands of giants, ogres, and other creatures are joining forces from all across the Desolate Lands, united, for the first time in history, under one, black banner.

By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom. 

Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.

Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows Shadow Harold on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the Kingdom of Siala.

Harold will be accompanied on his quest by an Elfin princess, Miralissa, her elfin escort, and ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world…and by the king’s court jester (who may be more than he seems…or less).

Reminiscent of Moorcock’s Elric series, Shadow Prowler is the first work to be published in English by the bestselling Russian fantasy author Alexey Pehov.

The book was translated by Andrew Bromfield, best known for his work on the highly successful Night Watch series. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.96

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with action is Shadow Prowler. Fans went into this story expecting its heavy use of classic fantasy tropes. As such, they weren’t bothered by it and instead delighted in the book’s spin on common characters, origins and setups.

Readers also praised the fun and often hilarious interactions between the characters. Circumstances force fantasy groups typically at each other’s throats to work together, whether that be dwarfs and goblins or elves and orcs. Their clashes kept readers grinning.

Aside from that, readers mentioned that a combination of Shadow Prowler‘s lightning-fast pace and its smooth-talking, witty main character immediately absorbed them into the story.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t like Shadow Prowler, what did they say?

Typically, these were readers who couldn’t buy into the premise line. They either described the story as cliche overall or didn’t think the book added enough twists to specific tropes.

Other readers said that they thought that the main character, Shadow Harold, initially entertained them with his sarcasm. However, eventually the humor began to come across as predictable.


Dragon Champion by E. E. Knight

Description

High in the mountains, deep in the safety of a cave, a brood of dragons is born. The four young ones are among the last of a dying breed—the last hope for dragons’ survival.

But hope shatters when a murderous group of slave-trader dwarves breaks into the cave, leaving a wake of death and destruction…

Only young Auron, a rare, defenseless gray dragon, manages to escape. Armed with nothing but his claws and a boundless determination to survive, he sets off in search of his kind.

But to find other dragons — or, at least, find out who’s killing them off — Auron will have to search a world of mercenary elves, vicious humans, and dangers of all kinds.

Finding allies in the strangest places — and finding himself along the way — Auron is about to make the trek of a lifetime.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.98

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with action is Dragon Champion, a coming of age tale told from the perspective of a dragon. Readers characterized this as an action-filled story that adult fantasy readers and young adult readers would find delightful!

The point of view of Auron, Dragon Champion‘s scaled protagonist, fascinated them. Unlike stories where the non-human characters come across as human in all but name, Auron has a perspective that comes across as suitably and intriguingly alien.

Negative Comments

On the other hand, readers who didn’t enjoy Dragon Champion cited the on-going violence as a negative. Several critics felt there was too much brutality overall, but others narrowed in on how much of that brutality came from the hands of the protagonist.

For instance, the first chapter features the protagonist hatching – and then immediately killing his siblings. Readers described the rest of the story’s tone as the same. Because of this, it made the story’s antagonists disconcertingly justified and Auron seem like a cold-blooded killer.

Other readers, though, said that the fight scenes were so frequent that they lost their impact. Instead of inspiring excitement, the action-oriented moments lulled them into apathy.


Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce

Description

Jan, the prince of the unicorns, is high-spirited, reckless – and the despair of his mighty father, Korr.

Reluctantly, Korr allows Jan to accompany the other initiate warriors on a pilgrimage. Soon Jan’s curiosity leads him, along with his friend Dagg, and their mentor, the female warrior Tek, into the greatest dangers – deadly gryphons, sly pans, wyverns, pards, and renegade unicorns.

Yet time after time they are rescued, leading Jan to wonder: Am I the heir to a special destiny?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.14

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Birth of the Firebringer is next on our list of fantasy books with action. Written with lavish and evocative prose, this novel powerfully brought its story to life for readers. Readers consistently praised the book for how beautifully its mythic world, characters and plot were crafted.

Other readers enthused over the storyline. They described the book as rife with twists and an electric pacing. Once they started reading, they found themselves charging through the pages until the very end.

Negative Comments

What did critics of Birth of the Firebringer say? They had two general reasons why they didn’t enjoy the story.

The first was that Birth of the Firebringer struck them as more of a prequel to a story than the story itself. In particular, these readers mentioned that because the book ends on a cliffhanger, they felt that it didn’t have a satisfying conclusion.

Others expressed disappointment that Birth of the Firebringer portrays unicorns without magical abilities. To these readers, this strayed too far from what appealed to them about unicorns in the first place.


The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsey Buroker

Description

Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads.

But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed. 

Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin, is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down.

Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills…or someone wants her dead. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.04

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with action is The Emperor’s Edge. Readers who enjoyed this fantastical adventure mentioned how colorful, witty and entertaining the characters were.

Bursting at the seams with a light, fun tone, readers praised this steampunk epic fantasy as a delight. In addition, the slow-burn romance between the two leads had plenty of humor that kept fans grinning.

Negative Comments

So what did critics say? It turns out that the same fun tone that appealed to fans had the opposite effect on critics. 

The Emperor’s Edge doesn’t take itself too seriously, which meant that positive reviewers didn’t mind that the political backdrop and technology weren’t further detailed. Negative reviewers, though, felt that without more explanations, it was difficult to accept some aspects of the plot.


The Red Knight by Miles Cameron

Description

Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.

Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern’s jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders.

But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men – or worse, a company of mercenaries – against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.

It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it.

The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he’s determined to turn a profit.

So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery, it’s just another job. The abby is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can’t deal with.

Only it’s not just a job. It’s going to be a war…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.11

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with action is The Red Knight. What did fans say about this novel?

Firstly, they praised the story’s living-and-breathing world-building. The author, Christian Cameron, also writes historical fiction focused around the medieval era. As such, readers praised the story’s details around medieval living, weapons and warfare, which they said was uniquely immersive and refreshing.

Fans also enjoyed the protagonist, who entertained them with both his humor and his impressive martial exploits. Especially when paired with a character cast including mercenaries, knights, nuns and more, seeing him interact with other characters was a delight.

Negative Comments

So what did critics of The Red Knight say? For the most part, the main reasons readers didn’t enjoy the book had to do how it portrayed romance or religion.

In terms of the former, critics said that the Red Knight’s interest in Amicia came across as too sudden. After that, it struck them as a situation where he followed her around to wear down her resistance to his advances. Readers described this as anything from irritating to disturbing.

In terms of the book’s world-building, The Red Knight outright includes Christianity rather than takes inspiration from it. Whether readers shared the Christian faith, had a different one or none at all, they tended to find this jarring or even offensive. On one hand, the story mentioned real religious concepts and people. But on the other, it also had characters throwing fireballs and turning invisible.

While readers’ feelings were mixed, at the very least they tended to say this confused them and broke their immersion in the story.


Dragon Weather by Lawrence Watt-Evans

Description

Arlian had never left his home village in the Obsidian Mountains. The green hills, white peaks, and black glass were all he had ever known of life, and though he dreamed of travel and adventure, he knew deep in his heart that he would probably never leave.

Until the dragon weather came. Incredible heat, oppressive humidity, dark and angry clouds . . . and dragons. Dragons with no feelings, no empathy, no use for humans; dragons who destroyed his entire village and everyone in it. Everyone, that is, except Arlian.

Orphaned and alone, Arlian the child is captured by looters and sold as a mining slave. Seven years later Arlian the man escapes, fueled by years of hatred for the dragons, bandits, and slavers that took his youth away – and a personal vow to exact retribution from those who have wronged him.

As Arlian makes his way through life, he is obsessed with the concept of justice, and that obsession informs every task, every decision.

Even Black, the man he befriends and grows to love as a brother, has little influence against Arlian’s obsession. His entire life has one purpose, and one purpose only: to mete out justice.

But can one righteous man change the entire world for the better? Or is he doomed by his own actions to become as unjust as those he seeks to destroy?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.00

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next up on our list of fantasy books with action is Dragon Weathera novel readers praised for its exhilarating action and break-neck pacing. The story is a tale of Arlian’s quest for vengeance and his growth along the way.

As such, readers appreciated the book’s honest and ugly portrayal of combat. The battles were intense and brutal, even bloodcurdling. Those who enjoyed grittier and darker fantasies thought this was a great aspect of the novel.

Moreover, Arlian’s character growth into a more mature and gracious individual was insightful enough to make these readers think about issues of justice and revenge while not coming across as preachy.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Dragon Weather though, it was for the same reason many of the book’s fans loved it: the brutality.

Dragon Weather takes no prisoners with its portrayal of violence and cruelty. Readers mentioned, for instance, that characters have their hands and feet chopped off. Others said that the frequently sexual assault and abuse the women in the story faced particularly upset them.


The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Description

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist.

As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler.

But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game — or die trying.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.30

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments 

Another story on our list of fantasy books with action is The Lies of Locke Lamora. Readers who rated this novel highly commented on the great dark humor as well as how fun the schemes and the gang’s camaraderie was to read. It starts off as more of a caper story, but the book shifts to a mystery plot as well.

Others mentioned that they liked that the author didn’t shy away from making the world-building violent or dark; it gave a sense of realism and depth.

Negative Comments

Readers who didn’t rate The Lies of Locke Lamora highly often mentioned that they found it lingered too long on descriptions of the world. To them, it felt like digressions.

The story is also told from both the present and the past – readers either perceived this as either increasing the tension or interrupting the fast-pace.


The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Description

Living in peaceful Shady Vale, Shea Ohmsford knew little of the troubles that plagued the rest of the world.

Then the giant, forbidding Allanon revealed that the supposedly dead Warlock Lord was plotting to destroy the world.

The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness was the Sword of Shannara, which could only be used by a true heir of Shannara – Shea being the last of the bloodline, upon whom all hope rested.

Soon a Skull Bearer, dread minion of Evil, flew into the Vale, seeking to destroy Shea. To save the Vale, Shea fled, drawing the Skull Bearer after him…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.76

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Our next fantasy book with action is The Sword of Shannara, featuring Shea, a part-elven protagonist. Fans of this The Lord of the Rings-inspired fantasy novel enjoyed that it was a classic fantasy tale and said it was done beautifully.

Readers remarked that while the world-building is vivid, the characters captured their imaginations. This lovable team inspired them their devotion to each other as well as warmed them with overall themes of friendship, goodness, hope and more. 

Other readers enthused that The Sword of Shannara‘s exciting, action-packed plot was immensely compelling. Especially given how attached they became to the story’s characters, readers said this made it hard to put the book down. The battles in particular gripped them and had them on the edge of their seats.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? For the most part, readers who didn’t enjoy The Sword of Shannara objected to how similar it was to The Lord of the Rings. Several expected some similarities, but found far more than they’d anticipated.

Because of this, these critics perceived the book as persistently filled with over-familiar story elements. Instead of being moved by the story, they found themselves desensitized to it.


Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon

Description

Rhapsody is a woman, a Singer of some talent, who is swept up into events of world-shattering import.

On the run from an old romantic interest who won’t take no for an answer, Rhapsody literally bumps into a couple of shady characters: half-breeds who come to her rescue in the nick of time. Only the rescue turns into an abduction, and Rhapsody soon finds herself dragged along on an epic voyage, one that spans centuries and ranges across a wonder-filled fantasy world.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.95

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with action is Rhapsody. Readers who rated this story highly often remarked on the vivid world-building as well as the varied and developed cast of characters.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t rate the novel highly, they typically mentioned that the main character seemed too idealized and that the middle of the story was slow-paced.


The Captive Flame by Richard Lee Byers

Description

Aoth and his band of mercenaries, the Brotherhood of the Griffin, are hired to put a stop to a disturbing series of ritualistic killings.

While they manage to defeat the perpetrators, Aoth can’t seem to shake the feeling that there’s more to these mysterious murders than meets the eye.

Still, he resists the urge to investigate. After all, it’s just business. Until an assassin’s knife almost finds a home between his shoulder blades, and Aoth finds himself tangled in a lethal web of intrigue.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.11

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with action is The Captive Flame. This thrilling fantasy tale captured readers’ attention with its fast pace and engrossing twists and swerves. Once picked up, readers said, they found themselves flying through the pages to the end of the book.

Overall, while readers commented that the story doesn’t have ‘breakthrough’ elements, per se, but is a delightfully quick and entertaining read.

Negative Comments

So what did readers who didn’t enjoy The Captive Flame say? In general, critics commented that the story is a decent ‘hack-and-slash’ adventure, but not phenomenal.

For reasons why, some cited its characters, which they described as not particularly memorable characters.

Others, though, said that the story’s pacing was uneven. At times it seemed too slow, while at the other times it seemed too rushed. Because of this, some critics described the story as disjointed or seeming to jump around.


Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Description

Book cover of Half a King

Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.97

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another one of our fantasy books with action is Half a King. Readers who praised this novel reported enthusiastically that it had Joe Abercrombie’s penchant for gritty, dark and even grim settings.

While Half a King targets young adults, these readers had read Abercrombie’s adult-targeted fantasy books. They were pleased that this book still had what they enjoyed about his world-building. They also mentioned that while the story is a grim and fast-paced survival tale, it never made them feel bleak or overwhelmed.

Another highlight they mentioned was the characters. From the main character, Yarvi, to the rest of the cast, each added to the story in their own way. Several fans mentioned that the genuine friendship between the characters was particularly moving for them.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t connect with the story, they often said it was because they found it overly familiar. While a thriller, Half a King struck these readers as a standard revenge story in both plot and character cast.

They appreciated that Yarvi was an intelligent and cunning version of the avenging hero rather than the typical warrior archetype. However, they mentioned that they’d seen this particular twist used in previous stories as well.


Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green

Description

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 action is Blue Moon Rising

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.


22 Exciting Fantasy Books With Action and Adventure

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?





22 Exciting Fantasy Books With Action and Adventure


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