Reddit’s Fantasy group recently asked everyone to name their favorite under-rated or under-read fantasy novels, and the response has been extraordinary! So far the list is enormous, and filled with amazing books that all deserve a larger readership. While the editing process is ongoing, we thought we’d write up the top five choices from the list, just to get everyone started on their next “to be read” pile! Check out the whole list here, and peruse at the top five below.
Acts of Caine series—Matthew Woodring Stover
Matthew Stover has written many novels within the Star Wars Universe, including the novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. However, the work that topped the under-rated fantasy list is the Acts of Caine series. Beginning with Heroes Die, and continuing with Blade of Tyshalle, Caine Black Knife, and the most recent, Caine’s Law, Stover tells the story of Caine, a fighter living two lives.
In the land of Ankhana he is known as the Blade of Tyshalle, and has killed his share of monarchs and commoners, villains and heroes. He is relentless, unstoppable, simply the best there is at what he does. At home on Earth, he is is Hari Michaelson, and his violent adventures in Ankhana command an audience of billions. Yet he is shackled by a rigid caste society, bound to ignore the grim fact that he kills men on a far-off world for the entertainment of his own planet. When his estranged wife, Pallas Rill, disappears into the slums of Akhana, he must defy the rulers of both worlds to save her life…and his own.
Three Parts Dead—Max Gladstone
A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart. Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.
Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith. When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.
The Whitefire Crossing—Courtney Schafer
Dev is a smuggler with the perfect cover. He’s in high demand as a guide for the caravans that carry legitimate goods from the city of Ninavel into the country of Alathia. The route through the Whitefire Mountains is treacherous, and Dev is one of the few climbers who knows how to cross them safely. With his skill and connections, it’s easy enough to slip contraband charms from Ninavel—where any magic is fair game, no matter how dark—into Alathia, where most magic is outlawed.
But smuggling a few charms is one thing; smuggling a person through the warded Alathian border is near suicidal. Having made a promise to a dying friend, Dev is forced to take on a singularly dangerous cargo: Kiran. A young apprentice on the run from one of the most powerful mages in Ninavel, Kiran is desperate enough to pay a fortune to sneak into a country where discovery means certain execution – and he’ll do whatever it takes to prevent Dev from finding out the terrible truth behind his getaway.
Tales of the Ketty Jay series—Chris Wooding
Beginning with Retribution Falls and continuing with The Black Lung Captain, The Iron Jackal, and Ace of Skulls, Chris Woodring’s series takes you aboard the Ketty Jay, and airship crewed by the most unlikely sky pirates you’ve ever met! Darian Frey has begun to think he’s not cut out for piracy after all. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. The crew dodges bullets, government conspiracies, and the occasional enraged ex-fiancee as they search for fame and fortune in the skies.
The Wars of Light and Shadow series—Janny Wurts
The Wars of Light and Shadow is a monumental fantasy series, told through multiple perspectives, which tackles the conflict between two half-brothers, Lysaer, Lord of Light and Arithon, Master of Shadow. We are introduced to the brothers and their world in The Curse of the Mistwraith. The world of Athera lives in eternal fog, its skies obscured by the malevolent Mistwraith. Only the combined powers of two half-brothers can challenge the Mistwraith’s stranglehold Arithon and Lysaer will find that they are inescapably bound inside a pattern of events dictated by their own deepest convictions. Yet there is more at stake than one battle with the Mistwraith—as the sorcerers of the Fellowship of Seven know well. For between them the half-brothers hold the balance of the world, its harmony and its future, in their hands.