50 Best Fantasy Books About Magic You Must Read


Are you on the hunt for enchanting stories filled with magic and wonder? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Below, I’ve compiled a list of 50 incredible fantasy books about magic you must see.

Some feature mystical academies, perilous quests, and other worlds, while others might focus on magic-filled wars, finding out about new supernatural abilities, and more.

If you want to see all of these magical fantasy books named, here’s the list. Otherwise, you’ll find book descriptions and reader ratings and comments below.


The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

Description

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

First on our list of fantasy books about magic 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. 


Battle Mage by Peter A. Flannery

Description

The world is falling to the burning shadow of the Possessed and only the power of a battle mage can save it. But the ancient bond with dragonkind is failing. Of those that answer a summoning too many are black. Black dragons are the enemy of humankind. Black dragons are mad. 

Falco Dante is a weakling in a world of warriors, but worse than this, he is the son of a madman. Driven by grief, Falco makes a decision that will drive him to the brink of despair.

As he tries to come to terms with his actions Falco follows his friends to the Academy of War, an elite training school dedicated to martial excellence. But while his friends make progress he struggles to overcome his doubts and insecurity. Even Queen Catherine of Wrath has her doubts about Falco’s training. 

While the Queen tries to unite the Kingdoms against the Possessed, Falco struggles to overcome his fears. Will he unlock the power trapped inside of him or will he succumb to madness and murder like his father? 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.47

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Second on our list of fantasy books about magic is Battle Mage.

This novel had everything fans were looking for in an epic fantasy story: a coming-of-age tale, heart-pounding battles, magic, dragons and even a dash of romance. As fans rushed through the book’s pages, they found moments of hope and despair, but also victory, sacrifice and more.

Moreover, readers raved about the story’s action scenes. These came across to them as realistic, suspenseful and gripping.

Negative Comments

Critics tended to cite some character-related element as their reason for disliking the book.

For instance, several of them commented that the protagonist seemed too special, quickly becoming the best-of-the-best in so many different arenas. After a while, this grated on them.

Similarly, other critics pointed to the supporting characters. They tended to describe them as seeming to similar, whether it was their dialogue or their problem-solving approaches. Because of this, critics didn’t feel invested in their fates.


The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Description

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Books Cover of The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation — or so she’s been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm.

It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane.

But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission — and her life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

The Burning Sky is another story on our list of fantasy books about magic. Readers said that this fantasy novel takes a variety of beloved Young Adult fantasy tropes and blends them together for an entirely unique and exciting experience.

The story world features elemental powers, mythological creatures and elite boarding school drama.

As for the romance, The Burning Sky pairs the powerful mage protagonist, Iolanthe, with the agenda-driven Prince Titus. Readers frequently remarked that Iolanthe delighted them with her backbone, but also through her cleverness and back-and-forth banter with Titus. She adapts well to her difficult circumstances and refuses to self-pity.

In the past, YA fantasy readers have voiced their frustrations with protagonists who let their romantic feelings cloud their judgement – especially when something as serious as the fate of a kingdom is at stake.

Because of this, readers often made a point of saying that both Iolanthe and Titus didn’t follow this pattern. While their attraction grew, they didn’t let it derail them from their greater missions.

Negative Comments

What did readers who didn’t enjoy The Burning Sky say?

Generally, readers expressed similar sentiments: they disliked both Iolanthe and Titus as characters. Because of this, they couldn’t get invested in their romance.

Why was this? Well, critics of The Burning Sky characterized Iolanthe as a Mary Sue: a character so perfect at all she does and in her attributes that it’s unbelievable.

These readers said that Iolanthe’s ‘Chosen One’ status defined her. She was strong in the sense of being highly competent. However, she didn’t have dreams, hopes or fears of her own that were unrelated to her foretold destiny.

As for Titus, critics said that ultimately, he bothered them as a romantic prospect. He’s set up as a good person who only feigns a spoiled and manipulative persona.

However, these readers said that after a while, this didn’t seem like a mask. Instead, it seemed like his true face. As such, they thought that the story used the characters’ physical attraction to each other to avoid addressing important relational issues.


Firebolt by Adrienne Woods

Description

Dragons. Right. Teenage girls don’t believe in fairy tales, and sixteen-year old Elena Watkins was no different.

Until the night a fairy tale killed her father.

Now Elena’s in a new world, and a new school. The cutest guy around may be an evil dragon, a Prince wants Elena’s heart, and a long dead sorcerer may be waking up to kill her. Oh. And the only way Elena’s going to graduate is on the back of a dragon of her own.

Teenage girls don’t believe in fairy tales. Now it’s time for Elena to believe – in herself. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.98

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Firebolt. Fans of this fantasy novel praised it for its fast pace and lovable character cast. Danger constantly keeps the protagonist, Elena, on the run and readers bit their nails, anxious to know what would happen next.

Add to that great characters and fans were delighted! Each member of the cast had something unique about their personality to enjoy and to distinguish them from one another.

Related to that, several readers described Lucian as a compelling love interest and said that Firebolt’s romance made their hearts flutter.

Negative Comments

What did critics say about Firebolt? Typically, these readers fell into one of two camps: one camp didn’t enjoy Elena as a protagonist, while the other thought the romance between her and Lucian wasn’t convincing.

According to these critics, Elena came across as immature and self-pitying. Because of this, they found themselves irritated with her as the story progressed.

This also made it difficult for them to accept the romance between her and Lucian. Critics struggled to see what they saw in the other that made them so magnetic.


Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw

Description

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 about magic 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.  


Slayers by C. J. Hill

Description

Book Cover of Slayers by C.J. Hill

Sixteen-year-old Tori Hampton may be a socialite and a senator’s daughter, but she’s certainly more than just a pretty face. She’s smart and tough and surprisingly good at outdoor sports.

For as long as she can remember, Tori always had a secret obsession with dragons. And now that she’s attending Dragon Camp for the summer, she can’t wait to indulge her inner fascination.

But unbeknownst to Tori, this is no ordinary camp. This is a camp for Slayers — a handful of teens descended from the original knights. And with new dragon eggs about to hatch, the time for the Slayers to save the world is now.

Danger awaits, romance beckons, and their very survival is at stake.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.10

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is Slayers. This novel intrigued readers with its vibrant blend of knights, dragon-slaying and a ‘fish out of water’ modern protagonist.

Speaking of the protagonist, Tori often surprised readers by how likable she was. While the novel convincingly portrays her as the spoiled, privileged daughter of a senator it promises, Tori had more to her than just that. She was also tough, quick-thinking and able to grow out of her flaws.

Readers remarked that she came across as a well-fleshed out character who, despite being an especially gifted lead character, had weaknesses as well.

Others mentioned that while they liked Tori, the entire cast delighted them. These readers thought each one had something different and interesting to add to the story overall and played off of each other nicely.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Slayers, what did they say? Mostly, these readers thought that the book stayed too close to YA conventions even with its refreshing twists.

For instance, these readers mentioned that the gap between Tori’s power levels and the rest of the cast’s seemed excessive. Because of this, she came across to them as a standard over-powered YA protagonist.

Others pointed to the love triangle as what took away from the reading experience. Part of this was because love triangles have become a staple in YA, but another was that they thought the romance lacked authentic chemistry.


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Description

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

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic 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.


Shadowspell Academy by K. F. Breene and Shannon Mayer

Description

You Don’t Choose The Academy. The Academy Chooses You. 

I had no idea how those words would change my life. Or how they’d changed my life already… 

Until the day the most dangerous man I’ve ever met waltzed onto my farm and left us a death sentence. 

In an invitation. 

My younger brother has been chosen for the prestigious, secret magical school hidden within the folds of our mundane world. A place so dangerous, they don’t guarantee you’ll make it out alive. 

If he doesn’t go our entire family will be killed. 

It’s the same invitation my older brother received three years ago — the same place he mysteriously died. 

The academy has already killed one sibling. I’ll be damned if they take another. 

I do the only thing an older sister can: chop off my hair, strap on two bras to flatten the girls, and take my brother’s place. 

Magic and monsters are real. Assassins are coming for me, and the dead are prone to rise. What’s a girl faking it as a boy supposed to do? That’s right — beat the academy at its own game. 

Or die trying. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.00

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another entry on our list of fantasy books about magic is Shadowspell Academy. Fans who loved this book praised it for its wonderful main character and page-turning story.

In particular, they often mentioned that the protagonist was entertaingly witty, selfless and brave. Seeing how she dealt with a world full of danger, mystery, twists and turns riveted them.

Overall, readers described the story as fast-paced, action-packed and wrought with tension.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers had two reasons they didn’t enjoy the story.

The first was that they didn’t connect with the protagonist. Critics’ comments tended to focus on her motivations, saying that her actions would often contradict what the reader had been led to believe was important to her.

The second was that the intriguing aspect of the protagonist forced to stay in disguise didn’t have enough suspense. Several of them said that it seemed unnecessary, especially because several key characters knew the truth. As a result, several of them felt that it was contrived.


Foundation by Mercedes Lackey

Description

Mags had been working at the Pieters’s mine, slaving in the dark, cold seams, looking for sparklies, for as long as he could remember. The children who worked the mine were orphans, kids who had been abandoned, who had lost their parents, or were generally unwanted. But Mags was different.

Mags was “Bad Blood,” because his parents were bandits who had been killed in a raid by the Royal Guard. “Bad Blood” because he’d been found in a cradle in the bandits’s camp. Blood so bad that no one had wanted to take him in except Cole Pieters.

When he was big enough to see over the sides of the sluices he had gone to work at the mine. Mags knew nothing of the world beyond the mine, and was unaware of how unusual his paltry existence was. Then some strangers on huge white horses forced their way past the Pieters family and carried him away to Haven to become a Herald Trainee.

Suddenly the whole world opened up for him. He was warm and well fed for the first time in his life, and he had Dallen, his Companion, who seemed more miraculous than an angel. But the world of the Collegium was not all heavenly.

There was political upheaval in Valdemar’s capital, for the court had been infiltrated by foreign “diplomats,” who seemed to be more interested in seeding discontent than in actual diplomacy…and Mags seemed to be the only one who’d noticed.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.01

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is Foundation by Mercedes Lackey. This story enchanted fans, stirring their emotions through its immersive world and endearing protagonist, Mags.

Readers praised the novel for its characters’ depth, saying that the characters seemed so real that readers felt transported alongside them. Others said that Mags’ perspective made them appreciate the simple things in life, especially as he discovers them for the first time.

Overall, fans described Foundation as perfect for those looking for a warm, feel-good book to read.

Negative Comments

What did Foundation‘s critics say? These readers pointed to either its plot or its ending. They frequently said that the book focused too heavily on character development and this caused its plot to meander. By the time they reached the end, critics thought it seemed rushed.


Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

Description

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone — even the lowborn — a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries.

Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in.

And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves…or step up to be the champion her city needs.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.13

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another one of our fantasy books about magic is Fireborne. Fans reported that this YA fantasy novel bristled with constant suspense, excitement and twists. Reading about the characters’ journey from raw recruits to powerful warriors engrossed them.

Those who love dragons also praised the book for its portrayal of these creatures. On one hand, they’re companions and battle partners. But on the other, they’re symbols of the state’s political and military power – for good or for ill.

Speaking of politics, many readers mentioned that the story’s more nuanced portrayal of regime-change, its thorny conundrums and implementation challenges, made this story a treat.

Negative Comments

While Fireborne had its fans, it also had its critics. So, what did they say?

The most common reason critics didn’t enjoy the novel was that they didn’t think the dragons were given enough focus. The story may have them, but Annie and Lee – the human protagonists – and their relationship with each other took center stage. The dragons, critics said, struck them as scenery rather than characters in their own right.

Others mentioned that they found the romance between Annie and Lee dissatisfying. These readers either didn’t find them convincing as a couple or just didn’t feel strongly enough about the relationship to root for it.


The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Description

Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it’s not his attitude that’s the problem: it’s the trail of magical accidents – lately, disasters – that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained, and his powers are escalating out of control.

After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys’ school on the coast of Maine. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards.

But Seph’s enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students’ powers to serve his own mysterious agenda.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.14

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Wizard Heir. Full of suspense, this novel gripped fans with its mixture of favorite story elements and a sympathetic main character.

Many praised the book for having it all: adventure, magic, action and a touch of romance. 

Aside from that, the story kept readers on the edge of their seat, wondering what would happen to the characters. Seph’s struggle for survival and bravery made him both compelling and someone they wanted to see triumph. Many mentioned how attached they became to him and how they came to admire him. 

Negative Comments

As for critics, these readers tended to say that the story either came across to them as melodramatic or that that the characters weren’t well-fleshed out. Because of this, they found it difficult to get invested in Seph or his story.


Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Description

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for… 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.94

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Stolen Songbird. This novel tantalized fans with its intelligent and brave protagonist, perilous and intriguing world, as well as its touching romance.

Readers frequently described Cécile as a great protagonist to follow, one who struck a balance between fierce and compassionate. Forced into circumstances against her will, she shows resourcefulness and makes plans to better her situation. Fans praised her as someone easy to empathize with, as well as wonderfully humorous.

Related to that, Tristan won them over as a captivating love interest. An intelligent and witty who cared deeply about his people, he came across to them as a nuanced and complex character who fans quickly grew attached to. The slow-burn, hate-to-love relationship between him and Cécile seemed all the more passionate because it was so rife with conflict. Fans found this absolutely riveting.

Lastly, the darkly mesmerizing world of Trollus delighted readers. Whether it was the palace, markets or social hierarchies, the world stood out as vibrant and mysterious. Stolen Songbird, they said, felt truly magical.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Stolen Songbird, what did they say? Overall, critics tended to cite either the protagonist or the romantic development as their reasons.

Several found it frustrating that Cécile, after her kidnapping, didn’t do more to escape. They thought she accepted her captivity too easily. Because of this, they lost respect for her.

Aside from that, critics described the romance as transitioning from hostility to love too suddenly. To these readers, Cécile and Tristan didn’t have enough positive interactions for their new feelings to seem convincing.


Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call

Description

You’ve heard the story before: an orphaned boy, raised by a wise old man, comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil threatening his world.

But what if that hero were destined to become the new dark lord?

The Academy of Chaenbalu has stood against magic for centuries. Hidden from the world, acting from the shadows, it trains its students to detect and retrieve magic artifacts, which it jealously guards from the misuse of others. Because magic is dangerous: something that heals can also harm, and a power that aids one person may destroy another.

Of the academy’s many students, only the most skilled can become avatars — warrior thieves, capable of infiltrating the most heavily guarded vaults — and only the most determined can be trusted to resist the lure of magic. More than anything, Annev de Breth wants to become one of them.

But Annev carries a secret. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents’ killers.

Seventeen years later, he struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When Annev is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy’s masters, he must finally decide whether to accept the truth of who he really is…or embrace the darker truth of what he may one day become.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.94

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is Master of Shadows. Fans loved its unique combination of story elements, saying that the book gave them a delicious mixture of epic fantasy, a school setting and plot full of intrigue.

Many readers said that Annev, the protagonist, and Sodar, his mentor, were excellently portrayed. They also delighted readers through their wonderful mentor-and-apprentice relationship, coming across as like a father and son.

While Annev’s growth treated readers to a moving coming of age tale, his relationship with Sodar added a strong emotional punch to Master of Shadows.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers tended to say that they had difficulty connecting to Annev as a protagonist.

Most of them said it was because he frequently made foolish and naïve decisions, despite growing up in a harsh world. As such, these readers gradually became frustrated with him.


The Risen Shard by D.K. Holmberg

Description

An assassin with no rival meets a magic he cannot defeat. The Chain Breaker Series begins.

Trained to kill from a young age, Gavin Lorren finally escaped that life. No more killing innocents. No more working alone. The jobs are still dangerous, but at least he can choose.

Now an old friend has invited him to the city of Yoran where the work is plentiful. The Roasted Dragon tavern is rough but cozy. The regulars are seedy but welcoming. The owner Jessica is fond of him. It’s almost too good to be true.

His good fortune is fleeting. Gavin finds himself facing a new enemy, fast and deadly El’aras warriors—an ancient race with innate magical talent. By the time he learns sorcery is involved, he’s in too deep. To succeed, he’ll have to uncover parts of his past that he’d hoped to forget.

It will take an assassin without equal to survive.

It will take the Chain Breaker.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.13

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Risen ShardThis action-packed thriller enthralled fans because of its assassin adventures, twists, and its enjoyable character cast.

Describing the story is one that kept them on the edge of their seats, readers said that the layered  plot, betrayals, surprises and more, transported them into The Risen Shard’s world. Many said that they never saw the twists coming. Add to that a fast-pace, action and danger, and fans were completely engrossed.

Several mentioned how much they like that the story was about an assassin. Not only that but despite being the antihero, Gavin immediately made fans like him at once. He wasn’t the only character they liked, though. Readers described the rest of the character cast as enjoyable as well. Each one slowly revealed more layers, giving fans the sense that they’d really gotten to know each character by the end of the book.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, including The Risen Shard. What did they say?

For the most part, these readers had two reasons for disliking the book. The first was that the storyline seemed thin and didn’t grab them.

The second was that the characters didn’t come across to them as fully fleshed out. Due to this, they didn’t feel invested in what happened.


Fledgling by Nicole Conway

Description

When Jaevid Broadfeather is given the rare opportunity to become a dragonrider for the king’s army, the 15-year-old boy has no idea that he is part of a conspiracy that will rock the very foundations of the kingdom.

Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage.

He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy — a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal.

But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline.

Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night.

When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.07

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Fledgling is another one of our fantasy books about magic that readers praised. If you’re looking for a fantasy book that adults, young adults and tweens can enjoy, readers said that this novel is it.

A mixture of an underdog story and a coming of age tale, readers found themselves inspired and rooting for Jaevid and his dragon throughout the story. In particular, they praised the heartwarming relationship between the two.

By the end of the book, they were eager to hear more about the pair’s adventures.

Negative Comments

What did readers say if they didn’t enjoy the book? A few of them commented that Fledgling had uneven pacing. Sometimes, critics said, the story seemed to jump ahead too quickly. At other times, it seemed too slow.

On the other hand, others said that they found aspects of the story unconvincing. For example, the training scenes seemed artificially harsh to meet an expected fantasy trope, rather than for practical reasons.


Novice Dragoneer by E. E. Knight

Description

In the first book in an exciting and charming new coming-of-age fantasy series from the author of the Age of Fire series, an impoverished girl enters into a military order of dragonriders, but her path won’t be as easy or as straightforward as she expected.

Fourteen-year-old Ileth grew up in an orphanage, and thanks to her stutter was never thought to be destined for much beyond kitchen work and cleaning. But she’s dreamed of serving with the dragons ever since a childhood meeting with a glittering silver dragon and its female dragoneer.

For years she waits, and as soon as she is old enough to join, Ileth runs away to become a novice dragoneer at the ancient human-dragon fortress of the Serpentine.

While most of her fellow apprentices are from rich and influential families, Ileth must fight for her place in the world, even if it includes a duel with her boss at the fish-gutting table. She’s then sent off to the dragon-dancers after a foolish kiss with a famously named boy and given charge of a sickly old dragon with a mysterious past.

But she finds those trials were nothing when she has to take the place of a dead dragoneer and care for his imprisoned dragon in enemy lands…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.08

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is Novice Dragoneer. This novel captured fans’ hearts with its likable protagonist, Ileth, and its intriguing portrayal of dragons.

Ileth struck readers as a courageous, strong-willed main character, one determined to succeed despite all those fighting against her. Several mentioned how refreshing it was that her strength didn’t come from her skills as a warrior, but her ability to persevere to achieve her dreams. As such, these readers found her journey inspiring.

In addition, other fans said that the story’s portrayal of dragons and how the world was impacted by them was excellent. Many described themselves as feeling the same sense of awe and excitement that Ileth did the more she learned about individual dragons as well as the story’s dragon-influenced culture.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics and Novice Dragoneer is no exception. For the most part, these readers either focused on the plot’s pace or the novel’s handling of sexual harassment.

In terms of the former, several critics came in expecting an action-adventure, whereas Novice Dragoneer centers more on Ileth’s personal growth. 

For the latter: when Ileth is sexually harassed, her classmates and teachers blame her instead of the perpetrators. Critics thought that this injustice wasn’t addressed strongly enough. As such, they thought the book glossed over the issue.


The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan

Description

“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

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic 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.


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Description

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

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic 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.


Fatemarked by David Estes

Description

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 about magic 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.


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 tge 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 for taking beloved fantasy elements and turning them into a swashbuckling, magic and 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.


Fledgling by Nicole Conway

Description

When Jaevid Broadfeather is given the rare opportunity to become a dragonrider for the king’s army, the 15-year-old boy has no idea that he is part of a conspiracy that will rock the very foundations of the kingdom.

Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage.

He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy — a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal.

But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline.

Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night.

When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.06

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Fledgling is another fantasy books about magic that readers praised. If you’re looking for a fantasy book that adults, young adults and tweens can enjoy, readers say that this novel is it.

A mixture of an underdog story and a coming-of-age tale, readers found themselves inspired and rooting for Jaevid and his dragon throughout the story. In particular, they praised the heartwarming relationship between the two.

By the end of the book, they were eager to hear more about the pair’s adventures.

Negative Comments

What did readers say if they didn’t enjoy the book? A few of them commented that Fledgling had uneven pacing. Sometimes, critics said, the story seemed to jump ahead too quickly. At other times, it seemed too slow.

On the other hand, others said that they found aspects of the story unconvincing. For example, the training scenes seemed artificially harsh to meet an expected fantasy trope, rather than for practical reasons.


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 books about magic 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.


Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Description

Imagine it were possible to bring the characters from a book to life. Not like when you listen to an audiobook with such enchantment that the characters seem to jump off the pages and into your bedroom…but for real. Imagine they could actually climb out of the pages and into our world.

Then imagine if those characters brought their world into ours.

This is the story of young Meggie, who lives a quiet life alone with her father Mo, a bookbinder, until one cruel night when Mo reads aloud from Inkheart, and an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books.

Somehow, Meggie and Mo must learn to harness the magic that conjured up this nightmare. Somehow they must change the course of the story that has changed their lives forever.

This is Inkheart, a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.88

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

What’s another enchantment-filled story? It’s Inkheart, a fantasy book filled with magic and strong family relationships.  Fans immediately had a reason to bond with the characters in this book: all of them were book-lovers!

Many of readers were delighted by this shared commonality as well as the entire premise of books coming to life. Inkheart, they said, took this idea and delivered on it beautifully.

Moreover, fans said that this immersive adventure kept them turning the pages for hours on end. For some, this was due to its engaging characters, while others cited its vividly expressed world.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Inkheart, what reasons did they give? For the most part, critics said that the book struck them as overly descriptive. Because of this, they tended to characterize the story as slow-paced.


A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Description

Kell is one of the last Antari — magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes — Red London — and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.09

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is A Darker Shade of Magic. This novel grabbed readers’ attention with its characters and their sparklingly vibrant relationships with one another.

Fans praised the character cast, whose members all had different aspects to them that they liked. For instance, while many mentioned liking Rhy because of her fierceness, several readers remarked on how much they bonded to Kell.

Along the same vein, watching these characters they loved interacting and coming to trust each other was a treat for these readers. Whether it was the dynamic between Lila and Kell or Rhy and Kell, fans described their relationships as beautiful.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, so why didn’t these readers like A Darker Shade of Magic?

In general, these readers said the story didn’t evoke emotions in them. Some said that this was due to the writing style, while others said that they couldn’t get a clear picture of who the characters were. As a result, they couldn’t connect with them and get invested in the story.


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

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic 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

Description

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 about magic 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.


Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg

Description

Book cover of Smoke and Summons

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon – a raging monster summoned to do his bidding.

Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day – a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom.

But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down….

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.86

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Smoke and Summons. What did fans say? In general, it sounded like what determined whether readers loved this book or didn’t was based on whether they connected with Sandis, the protagonist.

Readers who enjoyed the novel said that they adored her – while naïve, she was also intelligent and full of personal strength. She was determined to do what was right, often felt understandably upset at herself when she was helpless and had a great deal of empathy for others.

But Sandis aside, readers also found the magic system and world fascinating.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Smoke and Summons, it was generally that they couldn’t connect with Sandis.

Some said it was because she made foolish decisions, while others cited the romance between her and Rone (naïve, innocent and selfless girl with jaded, arrogant and selfish boy). To them, Sandis came across as a damsel in distress.


Mage Slave by R.K. Throne

Description

A warrior prince, an enslaved spy, a plot to draw the world to war.

Crown Prince Aven Lanuken wants something more than a trophy for a future wife. He wants a woman who will be more friend than follower. A queen who will be more warrior than diplomat. He wants a partner he can trust… with a dangerous secret that’s kept him trapped in a dark mountain fortress his entire life.

Mage slave Miara wants something more, too — to find an enemy prince. And not to marry him. She’s just received orders for her very first kidnapping. She loathes the idea of it, and it’s probably a suicide mission. But she has never failed a mission before and doesn’t intend to start now.

Of all the women in the world, why does he have to fall for the one trying to kill him?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.89

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Mage Slave, another great story on our list of fantasy books about magic, features a protagonist who shapeshifts into animals. What did fans say about this story? Delighted by the book’s loveable characters and sweet romance, these readers praised the book as a fun adventure.

Whether it was because of their balanced nobility and flaws, strength and vulnerabilities, or grin-inducing banter, Miara and Aven bewitched fans. These immensely likeable protagonists won readers over as a romantic couple as well as a kidnapper and kidnap ‘victim’. Their relationship developed gradually through the story, adding a warm romantic touch to the story.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Mage Slave, what did they say? Overall, these readers tended to stay that either the pace felt slow or that the romance seemed inauthentic because of how quickly it developed.


The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Description

One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale.

She’s a stunner.

Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title — and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.

But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean — the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans — and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.

Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons — from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols — ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.

The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder — but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.76

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Falconer. A fast-paced and magical story, this novel captured fans’ imaginations with its refreshing historical setting, complex protagonist and slow-burn romance.

These readers described this story as having a lightning-fast pace and exciting action. Moreover, many of them were delighted by how different the world was. Its blend of magic and technology intrigued them, as well as its dark and deadly atmosphere.

As for Aileana, the protagonist, these readers praised her for seeming so multidimensional. Filled with rage and grief, she was both sympathetic and admirable to them. On one hand, the ghosts of her past spurred her to become a deadly protagonist they loved to follow. On the other, her healing and growing confidence warmed their hearts.

Related to this, fans remarked that Aileana’s love interest, Kiaran, seemed like just the right person to help her to overcome her weaknesses. At the same time, he struck them as a cunning warrior as well as an understandable and complex character in his own right. Seeing the two fall in love and work together was one of The Falconer‘s highlights.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, so what did these readers say about The Falconer? For the most part, they cited two reasons for disliking the book.

The first reason critics gave was that they didn’t connect with Aileana. For some, she struck them is a standard ‘badass’ protagonist, with not much to differentiate her. This made it difficult for them to see her as a flesh-and-blood character. Others thought she didn’t express enough of her emotions for them to get a strong sense of who she was.

The second reason critics gave was that they thought the romance between her and Kiaran developed too quickly. The two of them knew each other before the events in The Falconer, but readers tended to feel that the backstory formed the bulk of its development. As such, during the story events themselves, the relationship didn’t grip them.


New Moon by Midori Snyder

Description

Since the Burning, Oran has bled under the heel of the Sileans. But there are rumors that four have escaped – four who have the ancient powers of Earth, Fire, Air and Water. And though they are young, they have allies – allies whose sign is scrawled on tavern walls–the blood-red, blade-thin New Moon.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.94

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

The next entry on our list of fantasy books about magic is New Moon. What did readers say about this novel? Well, they praised it for its characterization and its fascinating world-building.

Many of them mentioned how rich the culture, history and mythology of New Moon’s world was. Because of this, the quest for political freedom had resonance for them.

Aside from that however, fans remarked that the characters came across as multidimensional and grew throughout the book and its series. Seeing their interactions with each other was a delight.

Negative Comments

As for critics, these readers tending to say that New Moon was its pacing. Several mentioned that the beginning of the book starts off slow and doesn’t introduce the main characters until later.


Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

Description

Long ago, so the Storyteller claimed, the evil god Torak sought dominion and drove men and gods to war. But Belgrath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

That was only a story, and Garion did not believe in magic dooms, even though the man without a shadow had haunted him for years.

Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved, but did not truly know.

For yet a little while, his dreams of innocence remained safe, untroubled by knowledge of his strange heritage. For a little while…

Thus begins The Belgariad, an epic fantasy of immense scope set against a history of 7,000 years. It tells of the struggles between ancient gods and mighty Kings, and of men in strange lands facing fated events, all bound by a prophecy that must be fulfilled.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating4.15

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings.

You’ve heard the story: an orphan farm-boy or farm-girl survives when a power-hungry villain burns down their hometown. Journeying with their wise mentor, they launch on a quest to defeat the villain while bonding with and learning from powerful warrior companions. Eventually, they discover their secret lineage and part to play in the villain’s downfall.

Well, this is the fantasy book that made that story popular in the first place!

Fans went into the story knowing that by now, these ‘Chosen One’ tropes and twists would be familiar. As such, they described Pawn of Prophecy as classic, comfortable fantasy done at its best. Readers described the story itself as a heartwarming adventure and its detail and epic scope as impressive.

Others said that they enjoyed the characters, whether it be Garion, the protagonist, or the rest of the cast. As they accompanied the characters along the tale, they felt that they grew to know them.

In short, if you want to read the ‘Chosen One’ story at its arguable best, this may be the book for you.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Pawn of Prophecy, it was mostly for the very reasons that others loved it. What fans described as a classic, comfortable story is what critics described as cliché.

All the expected ‘Chosen One’ story elements originate in this book. However, many readers came into it without knowing this. As such, they were understandably disappointed when none of the traditional tropes had a twist to it. The story came across as overly predictable while the characters seemed stock rather than fresh.

Other readers, however, were frustrated by the characters. They described Garion, the protagonist, as purely tugged along by the plot or others instead of initiating actions himself.

His guardians and traveling companions also frustrated them. Rather than likable wise mentors, these characters struck readers as condescending to Garion and sabotaging his growth.


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

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Mistborn. 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.


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Description

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life — a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.98

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Shadow and Bone. Fans praised this twist-filled novel for its dazzling world-building and likeable characters. 

Describing the world of Ravka as dark and entrancing, these readers were intrigued by the unique magic system, the theories and history behind the grisha, and more. 

On top of that, fans praised the characters and Alina in particular. While she started off as a naïve and even feeble character, readers empathized with her insecurities and mistakes. By the end of the book, they were delighted by her growth into a strong, confident protagonist.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, including Shadow and BoneWhat did these readers say? For the most part, they either said they disliked the protagonist, or that the book too closely resembled standard YA books. In terms of Alina, critics found her difficult to respect, describing her as weak and a ‘damsel in distress’, despite her incredible powers.


Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Description

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians.

He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different.

For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all.

Eventually Strange’s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.82

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. This novel captured fans’ imaginations with its historical realism and matching writing style.

For instance, readers often said that the book read like a Jane Austen or Charles Dickens novel, with the same dry humor, wit and detached prose. They described this story as one with a meandering pace, one they enjoyed savoring.

As for the world-building, fans praised Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell for how well-realized and true to history it was. Blending historical fiction and fantasy, this novel captured not just the sights and sounds, but the attitudes and culture as well. Characters reacted to the fantastical elements of the story just as readers expected 19th century Englishmen and women to act.

All in all, fans described it as rich, intricately detailed and a wonderful blend of history and imagination.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, what did they say? It turns out that what fans liked, critics disliked.

Critics described the book as slow and lengthy, one that included details unrelated to the plot (particularly in the footnotes). Aside from that, the writing style struck them as dry and pretentious.


The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Description

In a world where magic is tightly controlled, the most powerful man in history must choose between his kingdom and his son in the first book in the epic NYT bestselling Lightbringer series.

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.

When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.24

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. There’s very little that fans didn’t praise about this novel: they lauded the characters, the unique magic system, the constant action, and humor.

However, if I have to narrow it down to the two main aspects readers enjoyed the most, it would be the characters and the magic system. The novel is told in multiple point of views with varied characters whom all have different backgrounds, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Some inspired their sympathy and others impress them, but all invoked emotions. Fans were enthralled by all of them.

As for the magic system, readers were delighted by the story’s color and light-based powers. Not only did it strike them as unique, but it was easy to understand and used in unexpected and innovative ways.

Negative Comments

What reasons did readers give for disliking this novel? Overall, critics tended to say that The Black Prism’s crude humor graded on them.

Sometimes they said this came through in the characters, such as the teenage Kip, who struck them as immature and prone to whining. At others, the characters might explicitly lust after each other during moments that seemed totally bewildering to critics.


A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Description

Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.

A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.

There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate…or die!

The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.

El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.23

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story our list of fantasy books about magic is A Deadly Education. This novel enthralled fans with its fantastic characters and its rich world-building.

These readers described the entire character cast as likeable in their own ways. For instance, some entertained them with their wit, others with their nobility.

In particular though, fans praised El, saying she was a smart, tough protagonist. She had a chip on her shoulder, but her reasons for it stirred their sympathy.

As for the world-building, fans were delighted with how the world fleshed out, deepened and gained nuance with each page. It kept becoming more fascinating, completely transporting these readers into A Deadly Education’s world.

Negative Comments

No story is without its critics, including A Deadly Education. If readers disliked this audiobook, what did they say?

For the most part, critics said it featured heavy exposition. While this information provided world-building, these readers thought it came across as tangential.


The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Description

I long for the days before the Last Desolation. Before the Heralds abandoned us and the Knights Radiant turned against us. When there was still magic in Roshar and honor in the hearts of men.

In the end, not war but victory proved the greater test. Did our foes see that the harder they fought, the fiercer our resistance? Fire and hammer forge a sword; time and neglect rust it away. So we won the world, yet lost it.

Now there are four whom we watch: the surgeon, forced to forsake healing and fight in the most brutal war of our time; the assassin, who weeps as he kills; the liar, who wears her scholar’s mantle over a thief’s heart; and the prince, whose eyes open to the ancient past as his thirst for battle wanes.

One of them may redeem us. One of them will destroy us. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.65

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Way of Kings. If readers enjoyed this novel, they often enthused over the story’s grand scope – both in terms of the world-building and the stakes – and its intriguing cast of characters.

Fans remarked that The Way of Kings world-building was phenomenal, sweeping them into the story’s world with intricate and fascinating details. Whether it was the politics, history, cultures or more, the book brought its setting to life.

Along a similar vein to that, fans enjoyed the book’s vibrant and varied character cast. Since these characters came from all walks and stages of life, their different perspectives brought a sense of grandeur to the tale that these readers had rarely seen in other fantasy books.

Negative Comments

In terms of criticisms, readers who didn’t enjoy The Way of Kings generally cited its strengths as also its weaknesses.

For instance, these readers agreed that its world-building and rules for how supernatural powers worked were excellent. However, they said the explanations and overall focus on these were too much. Because of this, they said that the book became sluggish.

Others, though, said that the story in general had a slow pace. The book is long and much of the beginning and middle sets up a faster second half. As such, critics thought that not much happened for long periods of time.


Stormwarden by Janny Wurts

Description

For the first time in audio, the Cycle of Fire Trilogy, a stout and epic tale mixing sci-fi and fantasy by acclaimed author Janny Wurts.

This classic fantasy trilogy follows three young people struggling to free the Stormwarden, the last of the elemental power-wielding Vaere sorcerers, so that he can battle the humanity-threatening demonkind.

Far in the future, a human-crewed starship crashes on a distant planet, carrying alien POWs taken to help discover the secrets of a deadly foe, the group mind known as the Gierj.

In time, the humans revert to a feudal society, the aliens are seen as “demons”, and the starship’s computer survives as a “magical” entity known as the Vaere.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating3.82

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic Stormwarden. Fans were enthralled by this story because of its spellbinding plot and likable main characters. 

In terms of the plot, these readers described it as fast-paced, suspenseful and wonderfully unpredictable. Paired with plenty of action, this created a tension-filled, exciting story-line that kept fans at the edge of their seats.

As for the characters, readers praised them as multidimensional and nuanced. Forced to made difficult decisions and learn from their mistakes, the protagonists impressed them with their well-fleshed out strengths, weaknesses, virtues and flaws. At times, they admired the characters and at others, they disliked them. But in either case, fans appreciated their authenticity.

Negative Comments

What did critics of Stormwarden say? Typically, these readers described the story as having moments where it focused too little on important details while providing too much in less important ones. For instance, some mentioned that the characters’ backstories weren’t given much of the spotlight, but the intricacies of sailing were. 


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 about magic 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.


Enchanting the Elven Mage by Alisha Klapheke

Description

A human princess. An elven warrior. A betrothal bound in a curse.

Today, Aury learned three things: One, she is a princess. Two, she might be a powerful mage. And three, a brutal mountain elf is on his way to the kingdom for their marriage.

Aury can’t escape her newly revealed royal parents quickly enough. If they think she is going to marry some vicious elven warrior mage, they have another thing coming.

They claim she’s a mage too, but she has yet to prove it. She heads to the magic military order to get her rune-marked staff and learn everything she can. If she becomes the weapon they need instead of her not-if-she-can-help-it husband, they’ll send the mountain elf packing, right?

If they don’t, she will.

Filip is certain of three truths: One, he is bound to wed a stubborn mule of a princess. Two, the union will give his people the farmland they desperately need. Three, his nightmare of a bride has wild magic that will probably kill him before their wedding day. But he will die before he gives up on winning her hand.

War is coming, and the first battle will be fought in the heart.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.67

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Enchanting the Elven MageFans described this story as a beautiful and slightly darker retelling of Sleeping Beauty, full of shocking twists and turns that kept them on the edge of their seats.

On top of that, fans praised Enchanting the Elven Mage’s main characters, whose dynamic personalities gripped and delighted them. In addition, several found themselves grinning throughout, thanks to the pair’s witty thoughts and banter with each other. 

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, including Enchanting the Elven MageWhat did these readers say?

For the most part, the biggest complaint readers had regarding this book was the ending. They felt it ended too fast and left more to be desired, especially since this is a standalone novel. Aside from that, other readers pointed to the world building, saying that there didn’t seem to be much. As a result, the setting came across to them as a little plain. 


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 about magic 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.


Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Description

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

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is Poison Study Fans of this intrigue-filled tale delighted in its exciting premise and the protagonist’s moral and psychological depth.

In addition, many praised the romantic chemistry between Yelena, the tenacious and determined female lead, and Valek, the stoic assassin, describing it as gripping.

Negative Comments

Readers who didn’t rate the novel highly said that the language of the story jarred them by alternating between older ‘historical’ verbiage and a modern one.

Along a similar vein, Poison Study‘s writing is straight to the point. Some readers felt that this flattened the emotions in the story. Others said that the slow-burn approach to the romance wasn’t their preferred style.


The Demon King by Cinda Chima Williams

Description

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell — the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked — as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them.

Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history — it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains — riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea — the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her…

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.12

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments 

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Demon King by Cinda Chima Williams. This novel enthralled fans with its captivating characters and rich plot. 

Readers praised Raisa and Hans, the main characters, saying that they were interesting and multidimensional. With such different backgrounds, personalities and perspectives, the combination of the two together brought the story’s world to life. 

Fans also mentioned how the plot itself was full of twists and turns. Sub-plots intersected, overlapped and built on one another, making the court intrigue all that much more absorbing.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers tended to say that they didn’t connect with Raisa or Han. If not that, they weren’t drawn into the story. 

In terms of Han and Raisa, several critics described them as stereotypical Young Adult Fantasy characters. For example, Raisa reminded them of a standard rebellious princess, whose reasons for putting herself in danger struck them as either foolish or selfish. Because of this, these readers weren’t invested in what happened to her. 

On the other hand, some critics said that they found The Demon King slow-paced and without much action.


Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

Description

Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king’s fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river. 

It’s there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right.

But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood and the secrets of the royal family she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.01

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Troubled Waters. This novel enchanted readers primarily through Zoe, it’s protagonist, and the authentic romance between her and her love interest.

Fans described Zoe as a refreshing heroine, one that starts off in a vulnerable state but grows into a strong and self-possessed individual. Her journey moved these readers, who found her relatable and appreciated that she wasn’t the hyper-competent protagonist type.

In addition, others said that Troubled Water’s romance caught their attention. They contrasted it with romances in other fantasy books, which they said tended to say relied on ‘love at first sight’ with little substance behind it. Not so with this novel, which fans praised as having two strong characters who have gain trust and mutual respect for each other. These readers praised it as heartwarming.

Negative Comments

What did critics say about Troubled Waters? Well, they tended to focus on either Zoe as a protagonist or the story’s means of characterizing its cast.

For the former, these readers described Zoe as overly favored by the story. For example, some of them said she adapted too easily to the changes around her while others said she’d make frustrating decisions but face no consequences for it. As a result, these readers found her unlikeable.

In terms of the latter, critics said that the book tended to characterize its cast by astrology descriptions rather than showing those traits in action.

On the other hand, other readers didn’t mind being told about a character’s traits, but didn’t like how frequently those traits were attributed to the character’s astrological sign. This group of readers started to feel that the astrological signs dominated characters instead of informing about them.


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Description

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.10

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Children of Blood and BoneThis much-hailed novel dazzled its fans with its exhilarating action, unique world, as well as the racial diversity of its characters.

With a lightning-fast pace, Children of Blood and Bone sent readers flying through its pages. Several described themselves as on the edge of their seat, wondering what would happen next. Moreover, even as the book introduced a fascinating world inspired by West African mythology, its plot was full of action. Whether it was the battles, chase scenes or twists, each was filled with suspense and their deadly stakes kept fans riveted. 

In addition to that, several readers praised Children of Blood and Bone for its significance in the larger cultural discussion around diversity and representation. Because of this, these fans enjoyed the book for giving them a wonderful story, but also the ability to take part in a greater cultural moment.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, including Children of Blood and BoneIf readers disliked this story, what did they say?

For the most part, these readers described it as a standard Young Adult Fantasy, except for its non-European setting. Whether it was the plot, characters or romance, critics said they were overly-familiar. They appreciated Children of Blood and Bone‘s racial diversity, but weren’t moved by the story itself.

Others pointed to the romance in particular, saying that Inan and Zélie fell in love immediately, rather than gradually transitioning from enemies to romantic partners. Because of this, these readers thought their feelings came across as contrived.


The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso

Description

Book cover of The Raven Tower

The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.

Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.

Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar — and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim — before it destroys the world. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.97

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Obsidian Tower. This suspenseful character-driven novel gripped fans with its captivating world-building and likeable characters.

Readers enthused over The Obsidian Tower’s world, impressed by how unique it was. Moreover, different facets and nuances made it feel both magical and immersive. Whether it was the castles, the politics, lore or magic, fans felt as if they could live and breathe in the world.

On top of that, they often described the characters as entertaining. Some fascinated them because of their humor, while others caught their attention with their thoughtfulness or quirkiness. Overall, they praised Ryx and the rest of the cast as great to spend time with.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy The Obsidian Tower, what did they say? In general, critics pointed to the story’s pacing or Ryx as their reasons for disliking it.

Those that described the pace as slow suggested this was because the story’s plot centered around political intrigue. Since they expected a more action-packed tale, The Obsidian Tower struck them as uneventful.

As for critics who disliked Ryx, they described her as a passive character without goals of her own. Rather than driving the plot, she seemed dragged through the story by other characters.


The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

Descriptions

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 story on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Dragonbone Chair. This novel 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.


Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Description

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all — the Crown Prince Aldrik — she finds herself enticed into his world.

Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.01

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

The next story on our list of fantasy books about magic is Air Awakens, a novel fans excitedly compared to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Many of them mentioned that it was a perfect combination of new elements as well as familiar favorite tropes: elemental magic, court intrigue, romance and more.

But overall, fans praised the book for its characters as well as its enemies-to-lovers romance. Vhalla’s evolution from timid librarian to brave warrior impressed them as well as made her easy to cheer on.

Moreover,  these readers were delighted by the slow-burn, conflict-filled relationship between Vhalla and Aldrik. Several mentioned that their romance grew at a convincing pace, allowing the two characters to learn more about each other and develop a friendship.

As for Aldrik himself, fans said they enjoyed him as a love interest, saying he was a mysterious and misunderstood ‘bad boy’ type who was delightfully witty and sympathetic.

Negative Comments

What did critics say about Air Awakens? For the most part, readers focused on the characters, saying that they didn’t connect with them.

For instance, some said that Vhalla came across alternately as weak or arrogant. But most of these critics focused on Aldrik, the love interest, who they perceived as acting like a bully. As such, they found the romance between him and Vhalla upsetting rather than romantic.


The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Description

In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.31

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Last on our list of fantasy books about magic is The Bone Shard Daughter. Fans praised this novel for its refreshing and intriguing mix of story elements, as well as its likeable characters.

These readers said that the story featured multiple points of view, each of which had a captivating character. While this tale was full of plot twists and emotions, the characters kept them glued to The Bone Shard Daughter’s pages. Each had their own distinct personality, moving struggles and authentic relationships. Fans were eager to stay with them through their triumphs and struggles, wanting to find out what would happen.

Negative Comments

What did critics of The Bone Shard Daughter say?

In general, these readers didn’t feel an emotional investment in the characters. Some of them said this was because of the multiple points of view. Since there were several, these readers didn’t feel they had enough time to get to know the cast.


50 Best Fantasy Books About Magic You Must Read

Here are 50 of the best fantasy books about magic you must read:

  • The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington
  • Battle Mage by Peter A. Flannery
  • The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
  • Firebolt by Adrienne Woods
  • Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw
  • Slayers by C. J. Hill
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Shadowspell Academy by K. F. Breene and Shannon Mayer
  • Foundation by Mercedes Lackey
  • Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
  • The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
  • Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
  • Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call
  • The Risen Shard by D.K. Holmberg
  • Fledgling by Nicole Conway
  • Novice Dragoneer by E. E. Knight
  • The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Fatemarked by David Estes
  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  • Fledgling by Nicole Conway
  • The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  • Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
  • The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
  • Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg
  • Mage Slave by R. K. Thorne
  • The Falconer by Elizabeth May
  • New Moon by Midori Snyder
  • Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
  • The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
  • Stormwarden by Janny Wurts
  • Trial of Stone by Andy Peloquin
  • Enchanting the Elven Mage by Alisha Klapheke
  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • Blood of Aenarion by William King
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  • The Demon King by Cinda Chima Williams
  • Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso
  • The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
  • Air Awakens by Elise Kova
  • The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

N.S. Mirage

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

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