5 Riveting Fantasy Books With Non-Human Protagonists


Fantasy books often dazzle us with their otherworldly universes, realms of non-human characters, and those characters’ unique perspectives. Mostly, though, fantasy novels are lead by a human – or human-like – protagonists.

Well, not this time!

I’ve delved into the internet to ferret out incredible fantasy books with non-human protagonists. Some of these protagonists are dragons, while others unicorns, elves or even a goblin.

If you’re in the mood for a refreshingly different fantasy novels, check out the five stories on our list.

Here are five great fantasy books with non-human protagonists:

And for those of you looking for fantasy books with non-human protagonists that are darker tales, this list of fantasy vampire books could be where you find your next great read.


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.

Book cover of Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

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

First on our list of fantasy books with non-human protagonists 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 Traders. While Liveship Tradersended 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. In and of itself, 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 did say that the book picks up toward the end. However, before that, they felt that nothing much seemed to happen.


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.

Book cover of Dragon Champion by E.E Knight

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: 3.97

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next up 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 inhuman.

Negative Comments

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

For instance, the first chapter features the protagonist hatching – and then killing his siblings. Readers described the rest of the story’s tone as the same. 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.


The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Description

The Last Unicorn is one of the true classics of fantasy, ranking with Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Beagle writes a shimmering prose-poetry, the voice of fairy tales and childhood:

Book cover of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night.

But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.

The unicorn discovers that she is the last unicorn in the world, and sets off to find the others.

She meets Schmendrick the Magician – whose magic seldom works, and never as he intended – when he rescues her from Mommy Fortuna’s Midnight Carnival, where only some of the mythical beasts displayed are illusions.

They are joined by Molly Grue, who believes in legends despite her experiences with a Robin Hood wannabe and his unmerry men.

Ahead wait King Haggard and his Red Bull, who banished unicorns from the land.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.18

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Third on our list of fantasy books with non-human protagonists is The Last Unicorn, a cherished classic by Peter S. Beagle! Readers who raved about this books said that it was imaginative, magical and unexpectedly profound. Beagle’s poetic prose wove a spell over these readers, who said the novel immersed them in its world and characters.

Others mentioned how much they appreciated the story’s message. Brimming with themes of hope even in despairing circumstances, the story touched and inspired them.

Negative Comments

Readers who didn’t think The Last Unicorn was their cup of tea said the book was slow-paced and didn’t grip them. Moreover, several readers mentioned that the plot itself seemed episodic and disjointed.

The story didn’t seem to build up toward anything, while the individual events came across more as a happening rather than a step along a larger narrative journey.


A Goblin’s Tale by Scott Straughan

Description

A new, darker age is dawning. The greed of kings has ignited a seemingly endless war. As men fight, the monsters of the untamed wilds are devouring the frontier. Villages are abandoned as fields go fallow. Murderous bandits roam the desolation. 

Book cover of A Goblin's Tale by Scott Straughan

None of that matters to a nameless goblin slave. He just wants to eat as much food as he can shove into his mouth when no one is looking, but fate runs a twisted course, so instead he is whisked away to the far off Iron Teeth Mountains.

To stay alive, he will have to evolve into something more than a simple goblin, and carve a bloody path through the forests of the North. 

However, first he has to get over his crippling fear of trees, and survive in a place where everything considers him to be the perfect size for a quick snack…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.26

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Just as you would expect, A Goblin’s Tale is a story told from the perspective of a goblin. Readers loved the refreshing concept of this book and found it an often funny adventure.

Others enthused that they enjoyed the main character, who, while no hero, was charmingly likable.

Negative Comments

Readers who didn’t like the A Goblin’s Tale said that they liked the concept, but found the book’s execution of it disappointing. These readers described it as a series of individual adventures rather than a novel with a connecting story.

They also mentioned that the supporting characters, world-building and plot were blatant, standard fantasy fair.


The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien

Description

The story of the creation of the world and of the First Age, this is the ancient drama to which the characters in The Lord of the Rings look back and in whose events some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part.

The three Silmarils were jewels created by Fëanor, most gifted of the Elves.

Within them was imprisoned the Light of the Two Trees of Valinor before the Trees themselves were destroyed by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord.

Thereafter, the unsullied Light of Valinor lived on only in the Silmarils, but they were seized by Morgoth and set in his crown, which was guarded in the impenetrable fortress of Angband in the north of Middle-earth.

The Silmarillion is the history of the rebellion of Fëanor and his kindred against the gods, their exile from Valinor and return to Middle-earth, and their war, hopeless despite all their heroism, against the great Enemy.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Last on our list of fantasy books with non-human protagonists is The Silmarillion. The protagonists for this tale are predominantly elves and beings that Tolkien likened to angels.

It’s hard to find a fantasy book reader who hasn’t heard of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, but less have heard about Tolkien’s mythological epic, The Silmarillion. So what did readers say about this novel?

Positive reviewers rave about its world-building, which they characterized as grand, rich and on a level rarely seen in other novels. Readers frequently said that this gives a deep sense of history not just to The Silmarillion story, but to Tolkien’s other works as well.

Negative Comments

So what did readers who didn’t enjoy The Silmarillion say? Well, it turns out that many of the reasons readers liked it were often the reason others didn’t.

These readers found that the novel’s historical writing style made the experience more like reading a history book. They also mentioned that new names, places and events might have made The Silmarillion epic in scope, but they also seemed to pop up non-stop.

This, plus the historical writing style, meant there wasn’t much time to learn about the characters or care about them.


5 Riveting Fantasy Books With Non-Human Protagonists

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?


A comparison chart of the ratings and price range of 5 fantasy books with non-human protagonists.

5 Riveting Fantasy Books With Non-Human Protagonists


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