5 Coming of Age Fantasy Books for Adult Readers


Coming of age fantasy books trace the growth of a character from humble beginnings to pinnacles of greatness. Moving, insightful and often inspiring, coming of age fantasy books never lack fans.

While common in novels targeted to younger readers, which coming of age fantasy books also have plenty of adult fans?

Here are five coming of age fantasy books for adult readers:

Along with a quick comparison chart of these coming of age fantasy books below, here are heartwarming fantasy novels with similar themes.


Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Description

One boy…
One dragon…
A world of adventure.

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

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

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

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

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

The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.89

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Eragona fantasy novel famous in its first release for taking beloved fantasy elements and mixing them together to create 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.

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


The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Description

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

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

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

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

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

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.95

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

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

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

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

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

Negative Comments

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

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

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


Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Description

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: 4.15

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another one of our coming of age fantasy books for adults is Assassin’s Apprentice.

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 remarked that there wasn’t a single character they felt apathetic about. Fans said that they felt something for all the characters, whether it be love or hate.

Negative Comments

Are you a reader looking for an action-packed, adrenaline-charged adventure? If so, 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.


Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

Description

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.

Book cover of Across the Nightingale Floor

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 coming of age fantasy books for adults is Across the Nightingale Floor! 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.

This coming of age novel features plenty of assassination training and lessons, which these readers loved. They also mentioned that while the protagonists 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.


Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker

Description

Book cover of Age of Assassins

To catch an assassin, use an assassin…

Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives.

But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life.

Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.

In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.98

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Last on the list of coming of age fantasy books for adults is Age of Assassins.

This assassin story is jam-packed with mystery and political intrigue. Readers who enjoyed the book came in expecting it to be similar to Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, a novel they also loved. They weren’t disappointed: it’s a character-driven story with a main character who’s easy to empathize with.

Moreover, readers remarked that the master-apprentice relationship between Girton and Merela was both heartwarming and a highlight.

Other readers mentioned that they greatly enjoyed the plot, a rare combination of a mystery and a traditional fantasy. Not only did these readers find it made the book unique, but it also captivated them.

Negative Comments

So if readers didn’t enjoy Age of Assassins, what did they say? Well, most of these reader expected a thriller bristling with anti-heroes, electrifying fight scenes and a game of cat-and-mouse. Since Age of Assassins is very much a character-driven novel, it didn’t match their expectations.

Other readers said that they thought the mystery plot didn’t have enough suspense. Due to this, these readers found it difficult to get deeply interested in the story until toward the end of the book.


Coming of Age Fantasy Books for Adult Readers

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?



Coming of Age Fantasy Books for Adults


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