The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a gateway to the world of fantasy literature and a staple of every modern reading list. The series is so popular that its fan base is still growing today, years after it was first published. But where should you turn to after you are done with this classic?
Although there is a plethora of series and standalone novels in the fantasy genre there are very few that can come close to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you want to keep exploring fantasy novels but aren’t sure where to start make sure to read this article through since it offers a list of 20 novels and series to check out after you are done with Lord of the Rings.
1. The Bitterbynde Trilogy
The first series on this list is a very popular fantasy series written by the Australian writer Cecilia Dart-Thornton comprised of three books: The Ill-Made, The Lady of the Sorrows, and The Battle of Evernight.
The series follows a nameless mute imprisoned in a tower whose greatest wish is to be free. The foundling goes off in a quest for history, a name, and destiny, with no memories and little hope.
The Ill-Made Mute exposes fantasy fans to a memorable character and an epic fantasy narrative, with roots firmly buried in the ancient mythology of the British Isles.
One of the most praised aspects of the series is the roots of British folklore. Although this enriches the book and makes it even more interesting to read, the readers should be prepared for the classic fairytale abrupt ending.
2. The Well at the World’s End
This particular book may be the best pick for the readers looking for something similar to the Lord of the Rings series since it was one of the inspirations for it.
The Well at the World’s End, published in 1896 and widely regarded as the predecessor to modern medieval and high fantasy, is a wonderful tale of romance and adventure that impacted Tolkien’s writing.
If you are willing to overlook the archaic language you’ll get to enjoy the story of Ralph of Upmeads, the youngest son of the King on his journey to find the Well.
The most interesting part of the book deals with the question of what he’ll do with the power he gained after finding the cup of immortality and wisdom.
Dragonsbane is an extremely interesting fantasy book since it has plenty of magical elements such as magic and magical creatures, but the emphasis is on the characters who are the driving force of the story.
Speaking of the characters, they are extremely unique on their own. Most of the characters are the polar opposite of the character you’d usually find in a fantasy novel. Almost all of the main characters are nerdy and most readers praise this change of pace as one of the book’s selling points.
If you are looking for an escapism novel focused on the series characters and the way the plot impacts them, Dragonsbane is the perfect book for you.
4. The Wheel of Time series
The Wheel of Time is a series by Robert Jordan, highly praised for its worldbuilding. The characters are very well developed which makes the story extremely immersive making it hard to put the books down once you start reading them.
This is also aided by Jordan’s writing style which is often described as easy to read and has a unique style that makes it stand out among the other similar books.
The first book begins with Rand, Mat, and Perrin, three peasant lads, escaping from Shadowspawn, the Dark One’s hideous troops. They encounter Moiraine, a strong Aes Sedai who informs them that the Dark One is plotting to destroy the Wheel of Time.
They quickly understand that they are the only ones who can prevent the Dark One from wreaking havoc on the planet, but the question is how exactly can they do it.
The series makes for an entertaining read the only thing the readers should be prepared for is the fact that the series is made up of 15 books, but if you are ready to spare some time to read it, it will definitely be worth it.
5. The Inheritance Cycle
The series is best known for its first book, Eragon. Although most people have seen the movie adaptation, very few have actually read the book which is a shame.
The book is centered around a world filled with dragons and dragon riders alongside many different magical creatures. The main character, Eragon, comes upon a dragon egg while hunting in the mountains of Alagaesia, he learns that he is descended from a line of famous Dragon Riders.
He must fight the tyrannical king, Galbatorix, and save humans, elves, Urgals, and dwarves alike from death in this action packed tale of magic, battle, and love.
Although the book isn’t as recognized as many would want it to be it is often described as a series that marked many childhoods, so if it sounds interesting to you give it a chance.
6. The Graceling Realm
The Graceling Realm is one of the best fantasy series with a female protagonist. It is centered around a mystic power called Grace and our main character who is a force to figure out the true potential and full extend of her power.
Katsa is a Graceling, one of the few people in her country born with extraordinary abilities. She has the ability to murder a guy with her bare hands. Katsa is the king’s niece, but instead of living a life of luxury, she is forced to work as a thug for the monarch.
This interesting arc makes the series extremely captivating which is why so many people love this series. If the plot seems interesting you should definitely check it out.
7. The Kingkiller Chronicles
The Kingkiller Chronicles are a typical fantasy series full of traditional fantasy tropes. The story follows Kvothe’s life in the hero’s own words, from his youth with a company of traveling actors to his orphanage in a crime-ridden city and his bold attempt to attend the renowned school of magic.
It’s a high-action fantasy epic about a child who grows up to become the most famous magician his planet has ever seen, written with a poet’s hand.
Although the series doesn’t really stand out when it comes to originality it is extremely easy to read since the language the author uses is so immersive and easy to follow.
The only downside to this series is the fact that it is not finished yet, however, this doesn’t mean that you should skip it. If you are impatient but still want to check this series out you can always wait until more of the series is published.
8. Throne of the Crescent Moon
This is Throne of the Crescent Moon, a series that has been likened to Robert E. Howard’s sword-and-sorcery Conan novels by fans. Look here for a novel set in a medieval European setting that keeps the treachery and thrills of previous high fantasy tales.
The series is inspired by the Middle East culture which is quite a refreshment from what the fantasy genres have to offer to the readers. If you read a lot of fantasy novels this series will be a great change of pace for you which is why you should check it out.
9. The Seven Realms Series
This series is another one praised for being set in a very develošed fantasy world. Despite the amazing world, the story takes place in, it’s the characters that truly take the show.
One of the most amazing things about the series is the dynamic between the main characters since the two are so different, but are forced to work together.
Though they come from separate worlds, Han, the former street lord of the Raggers, and Princess Raisa, the Fells’ heir to the throne, are bound together by the Breaking, an age-old agreement that balances the powers of the clan, wizards, and the royal family an arrangement on the verge of disintegrating.
This entire relationship develops from the two of them not knowing each other and the realms trembling in fear of the two of them meeting, which makes an extremely interesting read for any fantasy fans who prefer stories focused on the characters.
10. The Abhorsen Trilogy
Although this series is quite a bit darker than the Lord of the Rings trilogy the source material it is based on is actually similar. Both feature extremely rich worlds filled with interesting characters who are bound by some form of a magical event.
The series immerses readers in a world where the barrier between the living and the dead is blurred, if not completely erased. Sabriel, the main character, attends boarding school on the border of Alcestierre and the Old Kingdom, where Free Magic reigns supreme and the Dead refuse to die.
When her father, Abhorsen, the necromancer in charge of controlling the passage to Death, goes missing, she must enter the Old Kingdom and embark on a perilous journey to find him, as well as stop the evil known as Kerrigor, who has risen from Death and is hell-bent on destroying the Old Kingdom and Alcestierre beyond the wall.
If you are prepared for the darker tone and plot make sure to give this book a chance.
11. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
Although at first, it may not seem like this is a fantasy series it makes for an extremely entertaining read. This ten-book tale follows Thomas Covenant, a poor writer whose destiny in life is to be a social outcast.
His leprosy, as well as his bad attitude toward others, have contributed to his isolation. He may be unattached to this world, but he is destined to be the hero of another, The Land.
Thomas finds himself in this alternative universe, fighting actual beings of evil, specifically, The Despiser, who seeks vengeance for his imprisonment.
His path is unlike other heroes’, who are solely concerned with doing good. Thomas recognizes that good and evil must coexist as two sides of the same coin by nature, yet he cannot allow evil to triumph.
This exact conflict makes this series so interesting. Most fantasy novels have a clean-cut dynamic between good and evil characters, so a story that acknowledges that things are a bit different in the real world could be quite a refreshment from the traditional fantasy novels.
12. The Legend of Drizzt
This series is another one on this list with an amazing world its story takes place in. The society the story takes place in is so well written that it makes the reader connect with the story in a matter of chapters.
The story follows its protagonist, Drizzt, a male elf born into a matriarchal culture, who is desperate to flee Menzoberranzan’s tyrannical regime. He transforms into a warrior-hero and sets off on adventurous, often perilous adventures with his companions.
Every one of Drizzt’s exploits and battles is detailed in this massive series. His character is so well-liked that he even appears in the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
Thi series is not talked about often since there aren’t many fantasy fans who actually read the entire series, since a book made out of 38 books is quite intimidating, but the ones who read it agree that it was worth it.
13. The Dragon Sword and the Wind Child
Saya, the main character of this series is a teen who mostly ignores the fight between the forces of light and the forces of evil until she discovers that she is a reincarnated priestess of the Goddess of Dark.
Readers of The Lord of the Rings will like the reluctant protagonist and the conflict of feeling tugged between light and dark although it’s worth noting that light and dark in this novel don’t simply mean good and evil, and it’s been characterized as atmospheric.
This interesting setting and the spin on the usually clean-cut roles in the fantasy novels, paired up with the Japanese origins of the story makes this story stand out among the other works on this list.
14. Song of Blood and Stone
Song of Blood and Stone is a new book that introduces us to a magical system of Earthsingers and The Silent, as well as two warring planets separated by a frail curtain known as The Mantle.
Jasminda, an Earthsinger living among The Silent, encounters Jack, a spy from the other side of the Mantle, and discovers that the separation is crumbling, jeopardizing the peace and endangering countless lives.
The author had created a compelling narrative with strong characters, tackling themes of race, homophobia, respectability politics, xenophobia, and more while also constructing a rich fantasy world.
If you are looking for a good fantasy novel which deals with serious issues as well this is the right series for you.
15. A Wizard of Earthsea
Whereas The Lord of the Rings is a sprawling epic, A Wizard of Earthsea is more akin to The Hobbit in that it follows Ged, a young wizard who must deal with the terrible consequences of his pride and ignorance.
Many avid fantasy readers often compare these two series, even going as far as saying that they are as important for the fantasy genre, but since A Wizard of Earthsea is often overlooked many people don’t even know about it.
Most of the people who read it will agree that it is absolutely worth reading, especially right after the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Le Guin is one of the most recognized fantasy writers in the modern literary world and is often brought up in discussions about great worldbuilders.
The world is extremely immersive and the characters inhabiting it are all well developed and following an arch to redemption. The storyline is focused mostly on the characters, their personal journies and growth, but that by no means takes away from the action in this series. If you liked Lord of the Rings or any other stories among Tolkien’s work this series should be next on your list.
16. Aurora Rising
Although the story of this series is set in space there are quite a few fantasy elements in it. Regardless of this, Aurora Rising may be one of the best follow-up books on this list.
Just like The Lord of the Rings, this series is focused on a group of characters who bonded over achieving a common goal that has a lot to do with defeating the forces of evil.
Aurora Rising is set a few hundred years in the future and follows a bedraggled group of cadets led by the academy’s crown jewel, a student called Tyler, who finds himself among the dregs after his own act of heroism causes him to be late for graduation.
The gang soon comes together around a bizarre mystery involving telekinesis, conspiracy, and a girl who has been in cyber sleep for centuries.
17. An Ember in the Ashes
Laia and Elias, a slave and a soldier in the Martial Empire, are the central protagonists. They begin to investigate the powers of evil that drive the brutality they live in, discovering a peculiar combination of unpleasant people and old magic.
The series features everything a good fantasy novel should have, a well-created world with unique characters driven by very different motives, however, where the plot is the shining point of this particular series.
Certain storylines stretch over several chapters and sometimes seem like they won’t ever get resolved. However, it is quite common that the readers receive answers at a point where they have already forgotten about them.
The unexpected developments in the plot will make it extremely hard to let the book out of your hands, which is why you should differently add it to your reading list.
18. Sorcerer to the Crown
This narrative stands on its own two feet, and it belongs in the same league as works like Lord of the Rings, where the unexpected hero is the main draw.
Despite the fact that Zacharias and Prunella are scorned for their race and sex, the reintroduction of magic to England is in their skilled hands. The political intrigue of the Regency era is combined with a mystical realm and clever characterization to create an incredibly complicated and fascinating book.
Although it is brought up often the book is easy to read since the plot is faster paced than a traditional work in the fantasy genre. Most of the people who read it often mentioned that the piece managed to manipulate their emotions quite easily and awoke reactions every so often.
Despite the dynamics between the characters is quite lighthearted, the villain of the series is terrifying and it doesn’t come in the form of a magical beast, but rather as corrupt bureaucracy and that’s something quite uncommon in the fantasy genre.
Silmarilion is one of Tolkien’s earliest works. It contains the developed mythology of Arda and it includes the history of Middle-earth, the place where Lord of the Rings takes place.
Reading this piece is something many Lord of the Rings fans naturally do after finishing the original trilogy. You can find additional information about almost anything that could have interested the readers from the Lord of the Rings original trilogy.
Though the stories are written to read like folktales and legends from our own world, they include enough detail for fans and historians to write hundreds, if not thousands, of pages about the events, people, and mythology involved.
This is the actual worth of Tolkien’s invention, The Silmarillion, which builds on all that has occurred outside of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien never finished writing all that was intended before he died, therefore the work put into the novel extended his whole lifetime. Instead, it was his son Christopher who finished it.
To be fair, the book is a bit difficult to go through. The way it was written is more complex than a typical fantasy novel and reading it is time-consuming which is often pointed to as the main reason why Silmarilion doesn’t have the same mainstream popularity as the rest of Tolkien’s works.
Despite this reading, it is worth all of it in the end and it will enrich your Lord of the Rings experience.
20. The Hobbit
Speaking of the rest of Tolkien’s works, the next series on this list is the prequel series for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit. The series follows Bilbo Baggins on his adventures that are often referenced in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Although the series can be read on its own and is definitely entertaining enough to be a stand-alone series, most people recommend reading it as a follow-up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It is much more lighthearted than the Lord of the Rings trilogy making it much easier to read. This is mainly due to the fact that the series was written for children rather than adults.
Just like with Silmarilion, the additional information the series offers makes The Lord of the Rings trilogy so much more interesting which is why you should check it out right after you are done with The Lord of the Rings trilogy.