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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.

The works cited on this Greatest Fantasy Fiction 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.

Some debate may arise over whether certain works listed here are really fantasy fiction or are just mainstream works with a few fantastic elements. For this list 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 is ongoing. Check back periodically to get the latest revisions.

Latest update: August 12, 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. 800–1200
The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor
Anonymous
Persia
Story collection
c. 800–1400
One Thousand and One Nights
Anonymous
Persia
Story collection
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
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
 
The Princess and the Goblin
George MacDonald
Scotland
Novel
1886
Howl's Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones
England
Novel
1887
She
H. Rider Haggard
England
Novel
1891
Oscar Wilde
Ireland
Novel
1895
Lilith
George MacDonald
Scotland
Novel
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
1904
Peter Pan
J.M Barrie
Scotland
Play
1911
Casting the Runes
M.R. James
England
Story
1922
The Worm Ouroboros
E.R. Eddison
England
Novel
1924
The King of Elfland's Daiughter
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
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
 
United States
Novel
 
Dragonflight
Anne McCaffrey
United States
Novel
1969
The House on the Strand
Daphne du Maurier
England
Novel
1970
Swords and Deviltry
Fritz Leiber
United States
Story collection
 
Deryni Rising
Katherine Kurtz
UISA
Novel
1971
The Tombs of Atuan
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 Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
Stephen King
United States
Novel
 
The Stand
Stephen King
United States
Novel
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
 
The Belgariad
David Eddings
United States
Novel
 
Magician
Raymond E. Feist
United States
Novel
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
1983–2015
Discworld
Terry Patchett
England
Novel series
1984
The Summer Tree
Guy Gavriel Kay
Canada
Novel
 
Legend
David Gemmell
England
Novel
 
Mythago Wood
Robert Holdstock
England
Novel
 
The Eye of the World
Robert Jordan
United States
Novel
 
Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman
United States
Novel
1987
War for the Oaks
Emma Bull
United States
Novel
 
The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
Stephen King
United States
Novel
1988
The Dragonbone Chair
Tad Williams
United States
Novel
1989–1996
Sandman
Neil Gaiman
England
Graphic novels
1990
Tigana
Guy Gavriel Kay
Canada
Novel
 
Good Omens
Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
England
Novel
1991
Nine Princes in Amber
Roger Zelazny
United States
Novel
1994
Wizard's First Rule
Terry Goodkind
United States
Novel
1995
Northern Lights
Philip Pullman
England
Novel
 
Assassin’s Apprentice
Robin Robin Hobb
United States
Novel
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
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J.K. Rowling
England
Novel
 
Ella Enchanted
Gail Carson Levine
United States
Novel
1998
Stardust
Neil Gaiman
England
Novel
1999
Gardens of the Moons
Steven Erikson
Canada
Novel
2000
Perdido Street Station
China China
England
Novel
 
The Amber Spyglass
Philip Pullman
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
The 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 Magicians
Lev Grossman
United States
Novel
2011
Prince of Thorns
Mark Lawrence
England
Novel
 
The Paper Managerie
Ken Liu
United States
Story
 
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
United States
Novel
 
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Catherynne M. Valente
United States
Novel
2015–2017
Broken Earth Trilogy
N.K. Jemison
United States
Novel
2016
The Paper Managerie and Other Stories
Ken Liu
United States
Story
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