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The Greatest Fantasy Fiction

Fantasy fiction is sometimes considered the less reputable step-sister of science fiction. But fantasy has played an honourable role in literature ever since the first stories were told on this planet, long before the invention of science fiction.

The works cited on this Greatest Fantasy Fiction list have been selected based on the same research and surveys that helped us create the Greatest Literature of All Time list, as well as all our other "greatest" lists.

For this list, priority is given to major works of fantasy—novels, novellas and other epic works—though exceptions have been made to include some of the more significant shorter pieces.

Some debate may arise over whether certain works are really fantasy fiction or just mainstream works with a few fantastic elements. We have tried to follow the consensus of readers, writers and critics as well as we could determine it.

Still, nothing in literature is settled forever, and the efforts to discover new titles and to reassess old titles in this genre are ongoing. Check back periodically to get the latest revisions.

Latest update: November 9, 2022

The 111 greatest fantasy fiction works of all time

Click linked titles and authors for details, critiques and comments.

c.800 BCE
Greece
Poetry
c.150
The Golden Ass
Lucius Apuleius
Rome
Prose narrative
c.700
England
Poetry
c.800–1400
One Thousand and One Nights
Anonymous
Persia
Story collection
including Tale of the Fisherman and the Jinni, The Tale of the Three Apples, The Barber's Tale of Himself, and others
1485
Le Morte d'Arthur
Thomas Malory
England
Poetry
1605
Investiture of the Gods
Xu Zhonglin
China
Novel
1611
England
Play
1786
Vathek
William Beckford
England
Novel
1812–1857
Germany
Story collection
including Cinderella, Little Red Cap, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Tom Thumb, and others
1827
Flowers in a Mirror
Li Ruzhen
China
Novel
1839
The Fall of the House of Usher
United States
Story
1842
The Masque of the Red Death
United States
Story
1858
Phantastes
George MacDonald
Scotland
Novel
1865
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
England
Novel
1871
Through the Looking-Glass
Lewis Carroll
England
Novel
1872
Fairy Tales and Stories
Hans Christian Andersen
Denmark
Story collection
1887
She
H. Rider Haggard
England
Novel
1891
Oscar Wilde
Ireland
Novel
1893
The Damned Thing
Ambrose Bierce
United States
Story
1896
The Well at the World's End
William Morris
England
Novel
1897
Ireland
Novel
1900
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
United States
Novel
1902
W.W. Jacobs
England
Story
1907
Algernon Blackwood
England
Story
1911
Casting the Runes
M.R. James
England
Story
1922
The Worm Ouroboros
E.R. Eddison
England
Novel
1924
The King of Elfland's Daughter
Lord Dunsany
Ireland
Novel
1937
The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien
England
Novel
1938
The Sword in the Stone
T.H. White
England
Novel
1946–1959
Gormenghast
Mervyn Peake
England
Novel series
1950
The Dying Earth
Jack Vance
United States
Story collection
1950–1956
C.S. Lewis
England
Novel series
including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; and others
1952
Travel Light
Naomi Mitchison
England
Novel
1954
Conan the Barbarian
Robert E. Howard
United States
Story collection
1954–1955
Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien
England
Novel
1958
The Once and Future King
T.H. White
England
Novel
1962
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury
United States
Novel
 
A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L'Engle
United States
Novel
1965
Frank Herbert
United States
Novel
1967
The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov
Russia
Novel
1968
The Last Unicorn
Peter S. Beagle
United States
Novel
 
Dragonflight
Anne McCaffrey
United States
Novel
1968–2001
United States
Novel
1970
Swords and Deviltry
Fritz Leiber
United States
Story collection
 
Nine Princes in Amber
Roger Zelazny
United States
Novel
1972
Watership Down
Richard Adams
England
Novel
 
Elric of Melniboné
Michael Moorcock
England
Novel
1973
The Dark Is Rising
Susan Cooper
England
Novel
 
The Princess Bride
William Goldman
United States
Novel
1976
The Riddle-Master of Hed
Patricia A. McKillip
United States
Novel
 
Interview With the Vampire
Anne Rice
United States
Novel
1977
The Sword of Shannara
Terry Brooks
United States
Novel
 
Lord Foul’s Bane
Stephen R. Donaldson
United States
Novel
1978
The Stand
Stephen King
United States
Novel
1978–2004
The Dark Tower
Stephen King
United States
Novel series
including The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, and others
1980
The Book of the New Sun
Gene Wolfe
United States
Novel
1981
Little, Big
John Crowley
United States
Novel
1982
The Elfstones of Shannara
Terry Brooks
United States
Novel
 
Magician
Raymond E. Feist
United States
Novel
1982–1984
The Belgariad
David Eddings
United States
Novel series
1983
The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley
United States
Novel
 
Jhereg
Steven Brust
United States
Novel
 
The Anubis Gates
Tim Powers
United States
Novel
1984
The Summer Tree
Guy Gavriel Kay
Canada
Novel
 
Legend
David Gemmell
England
Novel
 
Mythago Wood
Robert Holdstock
England
Novel
 
Fire and Hemlock
Diane Wynne Jones
England
Novel
 
The Eye of the World
Robert Jordan
United States
Novel
 
Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman
United States
Novel
1984—1986
The Fionvar Tapestry
Guy Gavriel Kay
Canada
Novel
1985
Perfume
Patrick Suskind
Germany
Novel
1986
Replay
Ken Grimwood
United States
Novel
 
Howl's Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones
England
Novel
1987
War for the Oaks
Emma Bull
United States
Novel
 
Buffalo Girls, Won't You Come Out Tonight
Ursula K. Le Guin
United States
Story
1989–1996
Sandman
Neil Gaiman
England
Graphic novels
1990
Tigana
Guy Gavriel Kay
Canada
Novel
 
Good Omens
Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
England
Novel
1991–
Outlander
Diane Gabaldon
United States
Novel series
1995
The Prestige
Christopher Priest
England
Novel
 
Assassin’s Apprentice
Robin Robin Hobb
United States
Novel
1995–2000
His Dark Materials
Philip Pullman
England
Novel series
including Northern Lights (The Golden Compass), The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass
1995–2003
The Old Kingdom
Garth Nix
Australia
Novel series
1996
Neverwhere
Neil Gaiman
England
Novel
1996–
A Song of Ice and Fire
George R.R. Martin
United States
Novel series
1997
Ella Enchanted
Gail Carson Levine
United States
Novel
1997–2007
Harry Potter
J.K. Rowling
England
Novel series
including Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, ...and the Chamber of Secrets, ...and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and others
1998
Stardust
Neil Gaiman
England
Novel
2000
Perdido Street Station
China China
England
Novel
 
The Storm Front
Jim Butcher
United States
Novel
2001
American Gods
Neil Gaiman
England
Novel
2002
Coraline
Neil Gaiman
England
Novella
 
Eragon
Christopher Paolini
United States
Novel
2004
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
England
Novel
2005
Twilight
Stephenie Meyer
United States
Novel
2006
The Lies of Locke Lamora
Scott Lynch
United States
Novel
2006–2008
Mistborn: Era One
Brandon Sanderson
United States
Novel series
2007
The Name of the Wind
Patrick Rothfuss
United States
Novel
2008
The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman
England
Novel
 
Graceling
Kristin Cashore
United States
Novel
2009
The City & the City
China Miéville
England
Novel
 
The Magicians
Lev Grossman
United States
Novel
2011
Prince of Thorns
Mark Lawrence
England
Novel
 
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Catherynne M. Valente
United States
Novel
 
Amng Others
Jo Walton
Wales / Canada
Novel
2015
The Devourers
Indra Das
India
Novel
2015–2017
Broken Earth Trilogy
N.K. Jemisin
United States
Novel
including The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky
2016
The Paper Managerie and Other Stories
Ken Liu
United States
Story collection
2017
The Changeling
Victor LaValle
United States
Novel
2018
Circe
Madeline Miller
United States
Novel
2019
This Is How You Lose the Time War
Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone
Canada, United States
Novella