Finding epic high-fantasy books like Lord of the Rings isn’t difficult because J.R.R. Tolkien largely shaped the genre when he published The Hobbit in 1937.
With over 150 million copies sold, The Lord of the Rings is one of the world’s best-selling novels ever. Its voluminous pages have drawn readers into Middle Earth and the unrelenting search for the Dark Lord Sauron’s powerful One Ring. For decades, readers have been engrossed in young Frodo Baggins’ daunting journey to destroy the Ring and its malevolent magic in Mount Doom. From the quaint Shire to the fiery Mordor, Tolkein’s masterful imagery painted unforgettable adventures with Aragon, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, and the gang.
LOTR fans nearly doubled when the novel became a blockbuster film trilogy in 2001. Grossing $281 million, the critically acclaimed motion pictures won an impressive 17 Academy Awards. Since The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, it’s unsure whether there will be more Tolkien adaptations on the big screen. However, more books like Lord of the Rings offer heart-racing fantastical tales.
Many authors have followed in the novel’s footsteps depicting epic struggles between good and evil. Books like Lord of the Rings may not have hobbits, but they’ll deal with similar themes of fellowship, temptation, corruption, and courage.
The following are 50 great books like Lord of the Rings that deserve “precious” space in your library.
#1 – The Chronicles of Prydain
This Newbery Medal-winning pentalogy follows Taran, a young Assistant Pig-Keeper who cares for the prophetic Hen Wen. Dissatisfied, he dreams of becoming an epic hero like the High Prince Gwydion. When the pig escapes, Taran finds his opportunity to enter the forbidden forest and quest for greatness. Along the way, he encounters the stubborn Eilonwy, loyal Gurgi, and cantankerous Doli. Soon Taran’s wrapped into Prydain’s struggle against the Horned King.
#2 – Dragon Wing
Beginning the Death Gate Cycle series, this refined fantasy novel takes place in Arianus, a world composed entirely of air with floating islands. The Low Realm houses dwarves called Gegs who power the water supply. The Mid Realm experiences constant warfare between the elven and human inhabitants. Above them all, powerful wizards control the High Realm. But an assassin and rebellious dwarf threaten to tip Arianus off its axis.
#3 – The Name of the Wind
Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle shares the story of the notorious magician and swordfighter Kvothe from a scribe’s firsthand account. From traveling with the Edema Ruh troupe to begging as a traumatized orphan in Tarbean, readers are transported into the magician’s childhood through his eyes. High-action sequences follow as Kvothe learns to summon the wind and destroy the draccus threatening the town’s patrons.
#4 – Shadowmarch
Published in 2004, Shadowmarch is an intriguing novel set in the Marchlands kingdom where a truce between humans, elves, and dwarves is unraveling. The Shadowline between the Twilight Lands is being invaded by the cruel south empire. The King, Olin Eddon, is taken prisoner. His oldest son Kendrick and younger twins, Barrick and Briony, are left scrambling to thwart malicious takeover. Can their shoulders handle the heavy burden of ruling?
#5 – The Demon King
Cinda Williams Chima
Inspired by books like Lord of the Rings, this fantasy novel centers on the young thief, Hanson Alister, whose life changes with a jewel. Han steals an amulet from the High Wizard’s son, Micah Bayar. He discovers the amulet once belonged to the powerful Demon King, and the Bayars are hunting its return. But keeping it hidden could be the only way to save Fellsmarch.
#6 – The Anubis Gates
Millionaire J. Cochran Darrow has discovered the magical gates to summon Anubis and time travel back to Britain-ruled Egypt. Darrow hires Professor Brendan Doyle to organize the trip and attend Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1810 lecture. But Doctor Romany spies the time traveler and kidnaps him before his return. Doyle manages to escape, but the Doctor and clown-magician Horrabin continue hunting him. Will he remain trapped in the 19th century?
#7 – Stones of Power
Stones of Power is a seven-part series of books like Lord of the Rings centered around the powerful Sipstrassi. The ruthless Witch Queen has assembled armies of undead, blood-thirsty creatures to retrieve the stones. The universe’s hope lies with Thuro, a young teen with kings’ blood. Under the warrior Culain’s wing, Thuro trains to journey into the Circle of Mist and defeat the Witch Queen’s monsters.
#8 – Incarnations of Immortality
Piers Anthony’s eight-part series began in 1983 with On a Pale Horse and continued through 2007 to Under a Velvet Cloak. Each high-fantasy novel introduces an alternate Earth future with certain humans selected as “Incarnations.” The characters change from mortal life into the supernatural offices of Death, Time, Fate, War, Evil, Good, Nature, and Night. Each protagonist will be tested by a wily minor incarnation.
#9 – The Swans’ War
The King of Ayr died before naming a rightful heir to the throne. Two noble families, the Renne and Wills, begin plotting cold-blooded conspiracies to claim power. Toren Renne dreams of peace away from his kinsmen’s hostility. In the opposing family, Elise Wills desires freedom from her looming marriage to a sinister lord. Can the two unite their enemy houses before Ayr drowns in blood?
#10 – The Stormlight Archive
Published in 2010, The Stormlight Archive is an ongoing fantasy series in the lands of Alethkar and Jah Keved. Both nations divide citizens into classes based on eye color, from the dark-eyed peasants to the light-eyed nobles. It’s been centuries since the Knights Radiant has fallen, but their mystical Shardblades and Shardplates remain. A war is brewing where men from each class will fight for the consecrated power.
#11 – The Magic of Recluce
L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Lerris, a 15-year-old carpenter’s apprentice, is dissatisfied with his trade. He dreams of finding a life better suited to his skills. However, rigid laws governing the isolated land of Recluce only leave two options: permanent exile or the dangergeld. Many don’t survive the latter wanderjahr amid the treacherous lands beyond Recluce. Lerris must learn to use his innate powers, or fall victim to Chaos.
#12 – The Deed of Paksenarrion
Paksenarrian “Paks” Dorthansdotter is an 18-year-old headstrong girl gifted as a paladin in the medieval land of Three Firs. Instead of agreeing to her father’s arranged marriage, Paks joins an army of mercenaries. Through her journey, she realizes that her commander, Duke Kieri Phelan, is the rightful heir to Lyonya. Thus begins her heroic fight to restore the king to his throne and defeat evil gods.
#13 – Eragon
Having sold over 35 million copies, Eragon is a fantasy sensation about a 15-year-old farm boy unaware of his destiny. One day, Eragon finds a mysterious egg that later hatches the dragon he names Saphira. His bond with the loyal creature reveals his role as the Dragon Rider. But the cruel King Galbatorix soon discovers his secret. Armed with an ancient sword, Eragon must outrun the King’s servants to avoid Saphira’s capture.
#14 – The Sundering
For centuries, the Seven Shapers hailing from Uru-Alat’s body have shaped the world in accord. The youngest, Satoris, was too generous in his gifts to Men. Thus began the Shapers’ War that sundered the world. Now Satoris sits in Darkhaven with only his allies, including Commander Tanaros Blacksword. To thwart a new prophecy, Satoris orders Tanaros to capture the Lady of Ellylon. But his feelings for the beautiful Cerelinde could doom Satoris.
#15 – Riddle-Master
Patricia A. McKillip
Penned by a Locus Award-winning author, Riddle-Master is a fantastical trilogy about Morgon, the prince of Hed. He’s proven himself a master of decoding riddles left when the wizards vanished long ago. After winning the crown in a riddle-game, Morgon sets out to claim his bride, Raederle, from King Mathom of An. But his ship is suddenly sunken by mystical shape-changers, leaving Morgon shipwrecked and amnesiac.
#16 – Soldier Son
Another trilogy of books like Lord of the Rings takes place in the Kingdom of Gernia. Nevare Burvelle is the young second son of a newly appointed Lord. By birth, he’s destined to become a soldier. He’s attending the King’s Cavella Academy for military training. Surviving the scorn of his aristocratic classmates won’t be Nevare’s biggest feat though. The King’s campaign for expansion leads him to forest-dwelling barbarians wielding ancient magic.
#17 – The Eye of the World
Life in Emond’s Field has been dull for Rand Al’Thor. That’s until an enchanting young woman shows up. Moraine is an Aes Sedai, a magician capable of wielding the One Power. She brings prophecy that Emond’s Field will experience a terrible awakening. Then, a brutal attack from the beast-men called Trollocs sets the village ablaze. Moraine helps Rand and two friends escape, but their troubles are just beginning.
#18 – Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy
Douglas A. Anderson
Collected by a leading Tolkienist, this anthology features classic tales that sparked the author’s imagination for The Lord of the Rings. From ferocious dragons and swordfighters to swashbucklers and magic rings, each of the 22 stories depict the fantasy landscape before J.R.R. Tolkien. Ride along as courageous, conflicted heroes battle terrible beasts in this extraordinary literary volume.
#19 – The Well at the World’s End
In the medieval land of Upmeads, King Peter’s four sons – Blaise, Hugh, Gregory, and Ralph – have a consuming appetite for adventure. The King allows the eldest three to leave, but young Ralph must stay behind. Upset, Ralph visits his grandmother who gives him a beaded necklace. His path unknowingly becomes destined for the Well at the World’s End. Along the journey, Ralph overcomes tragedy and finds first love.
#20 – Graceling
As winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, Graceling is an engrossing read about Katsa, the niece of King Randa of the Middluns. Select people in the kingdom are given a special Grace or talent. Katsa’s is cunning strength for killing. She’s served as Randa’s enforcer and killed men with her bare hands. But then she meets the handsome Po while rescuing Prince Tealiff. Now Katsa questions the true nature of her Grace.
#21 – Sabriel
Sabriel, the daughter of the Abhorson, has lived outside the walled Old Kingdom safe from the power of Free Magic since childhood. After her father vanishes, Sabriel must cross into the unknown for his rescue. Along with her feline Mogget and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, she traverses into the Old Kingdom. While confronting the evil Mordicants and Shadow Hands, Sabriel comes face-to-face with her shocking destiny.
#22 – The Darwath Trilogy
Starting with The Time of the Dark, this well-written trilogy portrays Gil Patterson, a young Californian studying medieval history. She’s obsessed with stories about the Crusades, Bubonic Plague, and Middle Ages. But another beleaguered kingdom haunts her dreams. Gil overlooks the nightmare until a wizard appears in her bedroom. Suddenly she’s thrust into a battle to save the not-so-far land from the destructive Dark Ones.
#23 – The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
Featuring 1,800+ pages of epic fantasy, Brian Staveley’s spellbinding trilogy begins after the murder of the Emperor of Annur. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the realm, find their life-path changed. Kaden, heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent years living among monks in an isolated monastery. Oceans away, Valyn has undergone brutal military training with the Kettral. Minister Adare strives to bring them together and avenge their father.
#24 – The Ill-Made Mute
Atop grand winged stallions, the Stormriders land on the powerful Isse Tower. Far below, the fortress’s servants spread ghastly tales of evil creatures roaming outside Erith. Few have dared to glimpse the outside world, until a lowly, mute foundling. The unnamed soul scales the Tower’s steep walls, sneaks aboard a magical Windship, and dives from the sky. With the cheerful Sianadh, the boy learns his real identity and innate power.
#25 – Sailing to Sarantium
Guy Gavriel Kay
Debuting the Sarantine Mosaic series, this novel introduces the Holy City of Sarantium and its wily Emperor, Valerius II. To erect a fabulous monument in his honor, Valerius holds his soldiers’ pay and hires a renowned mosaicist. Except the man sends his young partner, Caius Crispus of Varena. The country’s queen also forces Crispus to deliver a dangerous message for the Emperor that could cost his life.
#26 – The Gormenghast Novels
Inspiring a major PBS miniseries, this three-part fantasy tale takes place in Castle Gormenghast and begins after the birth of Titus, heir to Lord Sepulchrave. The infant stands to inherit miles of the dreary, crumbling stone fortress. Steerpike, a kitchen boy, schemes to destroy the castle’s order though. After he burns Sepulchrave’s adored library, the Lord takes his life. Now Titus must rise as the 77th Earl of Gormenghast.
#27 – The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Bled dry by ceaseless warfare, the Malazan Empire’s armies are conquering the last remaining Free Cities of Genabackis. Soldiers yearn for respite, but the power-hungry Empress Lassen remains unrelenting. Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners are sent to claim Darujhistan following Lassen’s predatory command. However, it appears the Malazan Empire isn’t alone because sinister shadows are looming ahead.
#28 – A Game of Thrones
George R. R. Martin
Perhaps the most famous books like Lord of the Rings, A Game of Thrones is a five-book series depicting the land of Westeros. Rebellion led by Robert Baratheon has killed the last ruler, King Aerys II. Thus begins a ruthless power struggle between Westeros’ powerful houses – Lannister, Stark, Baratheon, and Targaryen – for the Iron Throne. Bloody fights ensue, but greater threat looms from the Others beyond the 8,000-year-old Wall.
#29 – The Brothers Lionheart
Karl Lejon, a 10-year-old Swede, is dying from tuberculosis. His revered older brother, Jonatan, calms his fears by telling him of an afterlife called Nangijala. During a tragic fire, Jonatan rescues Karl, but jumps to his own death. Grieving, Karl faces his demise crestfallen until he awakens in the Cherry Valley of Nangijala. He’s happily reunited with Jonatan and friends, Sofia and Hubert. But the peaceful haven is soon threatened by the Thorn Rose Valley.
#30 – The Earthsea Quartet
Ursula K. Le Guin
Nebula Award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin paints a vivid picture of the fantastical island world of Earthsea. Ged, a young dragonlord nicknamed “Sparrowhawk,” is sent to Roke to master wizardry. Innate power quickly promotes Ged as an Archmage. But one spell gone awry rips the world’s fabric and allows a shadow creature to pass through. Ged must now save the High Priestess Tenar from the labyrinth of darkness.
#31 – His Dark Materials
Named among Newsweek’s “Top 100 Books of all Time,” this high-fantasy trilogy follows the perilous journey of two ordinary pre-teens, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, across parallel universes. Teaming up in Cittagazze, the pair investigate a mysterious substance called “Dust.” Along with her daemon Pantalaimon, Lyra helps Will search for his father who vanished during an expedition. But soon the haunted otherworlds come to rely on them.
#32 – The Hunger Games
Apocalypse has turned the ruined North America into the dystopian Panem. The Capitol boasts supreme authority over citizens in the 12 surrounding districts. For televised entertainment, the Capitol forces 24 teens to fight to the death in the “Hunger Games.” Struggling to support her family, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen is devastated when her young sister Primose is chosen. Although it’s likely a death sentence, Katniss volunteers as tribute and enters the Arena.
#33 – The Lion of Farside
Curtis Macurdy’s family has been farming the American Midwest for generations. He feels content tilling the land along with his gorgeous wife, Varia. Suddenly Varia is taken from the farm to a magical, alternative world separated from Earth. Fearlessly, Curtis broaches the dimensional gates for her rescue from the Sisterhood. Bumps along the way turn him into the invincible warlord Makurdi capable of crushing nations.
#34 – The Killing Moon
N. K. Jemisin
Beginning The Dreamblood series of books like Lord of the Rings, this 448-page novel focuses on Ehiru, a priest of the dream-goddess called the Gatherer. It’s his duty to harvest magic from people’s sleeping minds to heal those deemed corrupt. But then a cruel conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh. Someone is stalking dreamers as prey and killing them. Ehiru must rise to protect the city from being devoured by black magic.
#35 – The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
Thomas Covenant, a cynical author, has his life changed with a leprosy diagnosis. Sent to a leprosarium, he’s left abandoned by his wife and shunned by society. On a rare trip into town, Thomas meets a beggar who gives a puzzling admonition to “be true.” That night, he awakens in a fantasy world called the Land. Thomas learns he’s been summoned by the wicked Cavewight Drool Rockworm as the Land’s savior.
#36 – Harper Hall Trilogy
Anne McCaffrey’s spin-off YA trilogy from the Dragonriders of Pern introduces Menolly, a 15-year-old blessed with musical talent. She’s raised on an isolated fishing village on Pern where composition isn’t part of a young girl’s future. Despite her father’s wishes, Menolly flees Half Circle Hold for an apprenticeship at Harper Hall. However, her journey ends abruptly in deathly rain called Threadfall. Can she find her way back to music?
#37 – Lion of Macedon
Tamis, a young sorceress, sees dark visions of forces threatening Greece. She believes a half-blood Spartan named Parmenion is the only hope. Despite being despised for his mixed parentage, Parmenion is athletic, strong, and a cunning strategist. Tamis uses her magic to transform him from professional runner to mercenary general. His heroic military triumphs lead him to serving Philip of Macedon and battling the Dark God.
#38 – The Steel Remains
Richard K. Morgan
Nearly a decade after the Human-Kiriath Alliance defeated the invading Scaled Folk, war heroes are still struggling to adjust. Gil Eskiath is shunned from his aristocratic family because he’s gay. Lady Kir-Archeth Indamaninarmal, a half-breed, is left abandoned when the Kiriath retreat. Egar Dragonbane lives unhappily in the steppe as a nomad clan leader. But when a prophecy threatens the return of the Aldrain, the three comrades must unite again.
#39 – Lyonesse Trilogy
Set during the Dark Ages, the Lyonesse Trilogy takes place on the mythical Elder Isles west of France and beneath the Atlantic. Suldrun is the daughter of the scheming King Casimir of Lyonesse. Tired with her stubbornness, Casimir exiles her to the castle’s garden. One day, Ailias, the Prince of Troicent, washes ashore after shipwreck. Although their families are constantly at war, Ailias and Suldrun’s doomed relationship quickly blossoms.
#40 – The Hobbit
J. R. R. Tolkien
No list of books like Lord of the Rings would be complete without its exciting prelude, The Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit living comfortably in the Shire. His contentment is disrupted when the wizard Gandalf and several dwarves land on his porch though. They whisk him away to raid the treasure guarded by Smaug the Magnificent. Bilbo reluctantly joins, unknowing that he’ll find the coveted One Ring atop Lonely Mountain.
#41 – Tales of Alvin Maker
Orson Scott Card
The Tales of Alvin Maker series features six alternate history novels set on the American frontier in the early 1800s. Alvin Miller, the seventh son of a seventh son, finds he can change living and non-living matter by will alone. He’s the first Maker to be born in a century. Alvin must learn the utilize his gift wisely because dark forces are actively seeking his demise.
#42 – The Blade Itself
Logen Ninefingers, a ruthless barbarian, once worked for the blood-thirsty King of the North. After switching sides, he becomes a valuable intel source for the fraught Union. Glokta, a cripple turned torturer, gets roped into helping secure the Union’s position. Captain Jezal dan Luthar leaves his sheltered noble life and manages to win the contest for Union champion. With some influence from the wizard Bayaz, the three find their lives intersecting.
#43 – The Magicians
Adapted into an original Syfy series, The Magicians is a popular urban fantasy novel about a high school math genius named Quentin Coldwater. He’s obsessed with reading about and finding the magical land of Fillory. When he’s admitted into a prestigious wizardry school, Quentin believes his wildest wishes were granted. But his newfound magic takes him down a rabbit hole of profligacy and uncovers dark secrets about Fillory.
#44 – Dragonsbane
A vicious, fire-breathing dragon is stalking the Southlands. Crown Prince Gareth endeavors to find Lord Aversin, the Dragonsbane, to kill it. He ventures across shadowed lands to find the mighty hero. Except he discovers that Aversin is actually a squat, ignoble man who uses poison instead of lances. But the Southlands are threatened, so Gareth and a puny witch named Jenny Waynest, drag Aversin back to fight the beast.
#45 – With Fire and Sword
Set in the 17th century, this historical fiction novel takes readers to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth controlling eastern Europe. Domestic dispute between Bohdan Hmyelnitzi and his neighbor have sparked the Cossack rebellion in Ukraine. Smoldering resentments spread like wildlife as the Cossack army grows and pillages to Warsaw. Yan Skshetuski, the Prince’s commander, witnesses his adored Helen kidnapped by the Cossacks. Now Yan must fight for both Poland’s survival and his love.
#46 – The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth
Fans of books like Lord of the Rings can untangle the intricate details of Tolkien’s work by purchasing The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth. This 592-page novel provides indispensable references for every creature, place, and event within the epic fantasy. From The Hobbit to The Silmarillion, the guide presents an encyclopedic view for discovering every wonder involved in the fantastical universe.
#47 – The Chronicles of Narnia
Four ordinary children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy – are sent to Professor Digory Kirke’s countryside home for safety from World War II’s London attacks. The inquisitive Pevensies soon happen upon a wardrobe that leads to a magical land called Narnia. During their first trip, the siblings help the lion Aslan defeat the wicked White Witch. Each subsequent novel details the children’s adventures to protect Narnia.
#48 – The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen
After a gruesome accident kills his parents, Felix enrolls at Portland College hoping to endure the experience. He starts believing he can overcome his past with help from his fun, famous roommate. However, a turbulent storm looms on the horizon. A disfigured giant embarks on a vicious rampage murdering teens who flunk his “test.” An ancient society of assassins awakens to eradicate the serial killer. And Felix finds himself at the epicenter.
#49 – Arcane
For 14-year-old Augum and her best friends Bridget and Leera, becoming a warlock is a dream come true. Looming threats against the Kingdom make the role even more dangerous though. The tyrannous Lord of the Legion has overthrown the ruler. He’s hunting for seven mythical artifacts believed to hold supreme power. Augum’s beloved mentor, Anna Atticus Stone, holds one. Now the young warlock must test his skills and protect the artifact from cruel hands.
#50 – The Axe and the Throne
Beginning the Bounds of Redemption series, this adult fantasy novel introduces Tallos, an ordinary man dedicated to an extraordinary voyage. Despite his wife’s pleading, he’s committed to searching for his friend’s oldest sons who were kidnapped by Northmen. Tallos fears the boys are already dead, but endeavors to return their corpses home. However, the Viking-esque savages and cruel, immortal creatures he meets are far worse than expected.
Few novels can stand among J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic atop the fantasy pillars, but these top 50 books like Lord of the Rings deliver more exciting, uplifting tales where brave underdogs like Frodo triumph over evil.