I love to read Epic Fantasy books. Big stakes and different worlds. You know what I don’t love? When books suddenly put sex scenes into books just because, and when they get graphic or overly graphic violence. Because of that, I love to read YA Epic fantasy. I don’t have to worry about suddenly reading a graphic description and having it stuck in my head for years. Seriously, I’ve got a rather graphic description stuck in my head from a book I read 2 decades ago. I also want to look for fun books to recommend to my kids who all love epic fantasy, so here are my 10 YA epic fantasy books (series) to read that go beyond the Lord of the Rings.* It’s going to contribute to my ever-growing epic book lists.
(of course there are affiliate links in here)
What makes something epic fantasy?
You want to hear an epic argument?
Ask someone what makes an epic fantasy book. Or maybe you didn’t know there was a variety of types of fantasy books, I’ve learned quite a lot about this in the past few years as I’ve been reading quite a wide range of books.
But, epic fantasy usually means:
- It takes place completely in a different world, so The Narnia books are not Epic Fantasy.
- There are magical creatures in the books. Think elves, dragons, fairies, and more.
- There is often a magic system in place. Though not always. This is where you start to get into arguments.
- There are high stakes, maybe even world-ending events going on. This is what gets the big arguments going. There are some epic fantasy books that fit the first three rules I said, but that last one just doesn’t happen. There are no high stakes, it’s just a simple adventure journey.
I found some really fun images to make my pictures this time, so you’re getting a lot of pictures today.
5 YA Epic Fantasy books to read
This first suggestion is rather old, I think the first book was published like 50 years ago. Otherwise, these are all published within the last 5 years, and I think most of these were published this year.
- Chronicles of Prydain– Lloyd Alexander was inspired by Welsch folk and fairy tales to create this story. My kids were hooked and desperately wanted to answer the question of Taran’s parents. DESPERATELY wanted this answer for the series. If you enjoy the series, make sure to read The Foundling, which is a series of short stories in the same world.
- Trinian– is HIGH EPIC fantasy, high stakes, and a great read if you’re in the mood for a callback to more classical fantasy tropes. I started reading it when I’d been reading a bunch of urban fantasy, so it took me a few chapters to switch mindsets. It’s well worth taking the time to do this.
- Chimera– is one I found out when my friend said her son was publishing this after working through One Year Adventure Novel (which Princess is working through right now). It’s a short book, and the first in a trilogy (the rest aren’t published yet). Of the books I’ve mentioned so far, this is closer to the feeling of the Prydain books. I’m curious to see where he takes the rest of the trilogy.
- Orphan’s Song– I found this book this spring, and it’s the start of a series, which I haven’t finished yet (I bought about 6 other books at the same time, and promised myself I wouldn’t buy any more new books until I’d read all the books I bought at the homeschool convention, a promise I mostly kept). I love the world build in this one, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing a gryphon as an interesting character in the book.
- Story Peddler– another book I found at the homeschool convention. I had a harder time getting into this book because at first I didn’t like the main character, I did grow to like her, but I loved the magic system in this book. It fascinated me. Random side note, but I got to read a few interviews and interact with the author, and as she writes her books, she designs teas (and you can order them, I tried Braith’s Blend) that make her think of each character. That made me smile so much.
Bonus Not really YA epic fantasy Books:
The Sword of Lyric series– This is probably not going to appeal to the official YA crowd, because the main character is a stereotypical soccer mom with kids in high school, but I loved it. The only thing that makes this book not YA is the main character. YA books tend to have teens or 20-somethings as their main character. This was the book I broke my vow of not buying new books until I read all of the books I bought at the homeschool convention this year. I read this one, and then bought the whole series, I just linked you straight to the whole series
What YA epic fantasy books would you add to this list?
I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list. I actually had two more series I originally added, but I didn’t have enough I could think of offhand to make 10. I’ve been reading a bunch of urban fantasy and steampunk fantasty/alternate history books recently, and so my brain was pulling all of those. I’ve got about 3 more YA epic fantasy books in my to-be-read pile, so I’m sure I’ll add more. I’m also brainstorming some other fun book lists (I just read a fun take on the Cinderella story, which got me thinking of Cinderella rewrites and how many there are, or just fairy tale rewrites).
Of course, once I add all those books in, I’ll have to update all of my super cool looking YA epic fantasy book images.
- Farm books (preschool)
- Rabbit books (preschool)
- Ancient Sumeria booklist
- Oregon Trail booklist
- 10 Grade books made into movies
*Lord of the Rings was not originally written as YA fantasy, but somehow our minds seem to think, it’s older so we can now categorize it as for kids. Yes, people are weird.
natalie planetsmartypants says
This is a great list. I think A read only the first one of your recommendations. I think Ranger Apprentice series would qualify as YA series but I don’t think the rule number 4 is quite met. She has already finished (and I am currently reading) Lycanius series by James Islington but there are a few graphic torture moments in the books that I could do without. Otherwise, it certainly meets the rules…
I went back and forth on Ranger’s Apprentice series. The first book looked like it was heading fantasy with the two random other humanoid races (whose names escape me), but then the rest of the series was more random medieval setting without any fantasy in it.