5 Gripping Fantasy Books About Wars to Read Right Now

Many fantasy stories are action-oriented, with some featuring one-on-one sword-fights and others sporting epic battles. Related to those, what fantasy books are out there that center on wars?

If you’re looking for fantastic fantasy books that shine the spotlight on soldiers, knights, warriors, generals and more, you’re in luck.

Here are 5 gripping fantasy books about wars to read:

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

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

Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan


An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the world of his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy.

A world on the cusp of a new age…

The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past.

Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

Sedition is a dangerous word…

The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.

The past haunts us all…

As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.42

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

First on our list of fantasy books about wars is Sins of the Empire. This fantasy novel seized the fans’ attentions with its distinctive characters and deadly action scenes. If you’re a reader who enjoys dark fantasy that doesn’t shy away from blood or grittiness, this could be a tale for you.

Aside from that, several readers praised Sins of the Empire for having both a fast-pace and characters that came to life. Not only did they resonate with fans as ‘real’ human beings, but each one had readers caring about what happened to them. While the book has its intense action scenes, these readers described its focus on its characters as a highlight.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Sins of Empire, what reasons did they give?

Overall, critics said that they found it difficult to get invested in the story. For some, this was because of the characters, who they tended to say didn’t stand out to them. For others, the world didn’t seem fleshed out enough for the major conflicts in it to have emotional weight.

Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory


She is the unwanted spawn of a mad king and queen, her lands lost before her birth; her family — her very name — erased from history. Cursed by many, yet protected by an even greater curse.

She was born on a night of storm and terror, raised in protected concealment, then banished from the only home she had ever known — an ancient enemy’s final stroke in a war begun centuries before.

Secret studies of hidden lore reveal the truth of the prophecy that heralded her coming. Dark dreams teach lessons of war and duty, of strategy and magecraft, that she could not learn in a thousand lifetimes.

She does not have a thousand lifetimes. She has just one — and time is running out. For the prophecy spoke not just of her, but of a great Darkness that would destroy the elven kingdoms. A Darkness that is coming ever closer.

She is Vieliessar Farcarinon and she must save her people. Even if she must shatter custom and destroy the world she was born to rule.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.06

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Second on our list of fantasy books about wars is Crown of Vengeance by authors Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. Readers delighted by this book called it a vast epic, covering a large cast of characters over a great length of time.

These readers praised the story’s complexity, realism and its well fleshed-out characters. When the circumstances of the story turned against their favorite characters, these fans found themselves feeling for their loses as well as rooting for their comebacks.

Negative Comments

If Crown of Vengeance wasn’t a reader’s cup of tea, what did they say?

Readers who didn’t enjoy this novel were frustrated by its several over-familiar story elements. For instance, the book features a ‘chosen one’ that’s the subject of a prophecy, a special school for the gifted, and a ‘bonded mate’ romance sub-plot.

Other readers said that the book had plenty of battle scenes – too much, in fact. Crown of Vengeance is action-packed, but the action won’t necessarily have the amount of tension, suspense or stakes to keep readers on the edge of their seats. After a while, these readers found themselves lulled into indifference.

The Red Knight by Miles Cameron


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 about wars 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.

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 about wars 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.

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

And the last story on our list of fantasy books about wars 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.

5 Gripping Fantasy Books About Wars to Read Right Now

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?

5 Gripping Fantasy Books About Wars to Read Right Now


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